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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Daily Drift

The Sixteenth of our trees of December ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   
Everyone Loves Chocolate-Covered Bacon ... !
Today is  - National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day

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The Pacific
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Today in History

1431   Henry VI of England is crowned King of France.  
1653   Oliver Cromwell takes on dictatorial powers with the title of "Lord Protector."  
1773   To protest the tax on tea from England, a group of young Americans, disguised as Indians, throw chests of tea from British ships in Boston Harbor.
1835   A fire in New York City destroys property estimated to be worth $20,000,000. It lasts two days, ravages 17 blocks, and destroys 674 buildings including the Stock Exchange, Merchants' Exchange, Post Office, and the South Dutch cult building.  
1863   Confederate General Joseph Johnston takes command of the Army of Tennessee.  
1864   Union forces under General George H. Thomas win the battle at Nashville, smashing an entire Confederate army.  
1930   In Spain, a general strike is called in support of the revolution.  
1939   The National Women's Party urges immediate congressional action on equal rights.  
1940   British troops carry out an air raid on Italian Somalia.  
1944   Germany mounts a major offensive in the Ardennes Forest in Belgium. As the center of the Allied line falls back, it creates a bulge, leading to the name–the Battle of the Bulge.  
1949   Chinese Communist leader Mao Tse-tung is received at the Kremlin in Moscow.  
1950   President Harry Truman declares a state of National Emergency as Chinese communists invade deeper into South Korea.  
1976   President Jimmy Carter appoints Andrew Young as Ambassador to the United Nations.
 1978   Cleveland becomes the first U.S. city to default since the depression.  
1998   The United States launches a missile attack on Iraq for failing to comply with United Nations weapons inspectors.  
2003   The shrub signs the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, which establishes the United States' first national standards regarding email and gives the Federal Trade Commission authority to enforce the act.

Dos And Don'ts For Common Colds

Covering your chest with brown paper and vinegar, soaking your feet in hot water, or wearing wet socks - the old cures for the common cold can seem laughable in light of modern medicine.
Yet the apparent benefits of many of the treatments we take for granted today - such as dosing up on vitamins or snorting salt water - evaporate under scrutiny. So what works and what doesn’t? BBC Future has sifted through the evidence to find out.

Happy-go-lucky ... score better returns

stockshotceoHappy-go-lucky CEOs score better returns

A CEO’s natural sunny disposition can have an impact on the way the market reacts to announcements of company earnings, according to research from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder […]

All that and more ...


5 Big Signs The Global Engine of Deceit, Lies, and Control Are Coming To End

by Marco Torres
If you don’t see it coming, you may have been hiding in a very dark place for the last decade. The lies, deceit, fear-mongering and illusions portrayed by elite controlling entities of the world are slowly crumbling right in front of their eyes as the world is awakening. Here are 5 signs that the era of deception and duplicity is coming to an end.
http://themindunleashed.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/global.jpg1. Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex Has Been Exposed
Perhaps one of the biggest controlling entities of the world is the pharmaceutical industrial complex who has deceived billions for almost two centuries. Their corruption, fabrications and outright deceit has enveloped almost every nation on Earth. In the last decade alone, millions have outcasted drugs and vaccines from their circle of trust. More people are coming to discover that this powerful group of criminals will stop at nothing to sell their snake oil to the public. Over the last several years, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Novartis — and all other pharmaceutical giants, which once seemed unassailable are slowly drowning. Drug discovery jobs have disappeared by the thousands in the United States and by the hundreds in Europe as the industry has cut costs in order to adjust to what is widely perceived as the end of the blockbuster-drug era.
People are getting it. From the H1N1 scandal to HPV….from Lipitor to Vioxx, the public is catching on that most modern day diseases are man-made to sell us more poison in a vicious cycle which perpetuates until our death. Research is now showing that natural health products are as effective as man-made drugs and for the first time in history, the natural health industry is aiming to amend legislation to allow physicians to include natural health products in their practice–a change that could revolutionize the allopathic treatment model.
2. The Media Is No Longer Capable of Instilling Trust
Recent polls now show that an overwhelming 80% of the population no longer trusts mainstream newscasts. From the lies and promotion of wars to our health, the mainstream media is incapable of generating any unbiased newsworthy content without corporate or government propaganda. Conan O’Brien easily revealed how mainstream media’s scripted taking points are just a farce. This happens almost everyday on any issue you can imagine, across all networks at any time. The media, as they say “is a joke” branded to program the minds of millions though manipulation and deception. But their dominion and monopoly has been thwarted by the alternative media who are now fully engaged in exposing every lie one at a time….and we are achieving great success.
3. The Conventional Food Industry is Collapsing
By observing the chess match between anti-GMO camps and Monsanto (and their lobbyists), we see a clear indication that big agriculture, biotech and the entire food industry is in turmoil. Trade agreements currently being drafted in developed nations are attempting to secure legislation dictating all GMO labeling as illegal. Resistance against GMOs are being defined as “anti-free trade practices” that governments are attempting to enforce in the form of economic sanctions against nations that attempt to ban GMOs. Labeling initiatives spawned by various groups are being exposed as controlled opposition and the true intentions and transparency of these organizations is inevitable. Food giants are being held accountable for their manufacturing processes, toxic ingredients and lack of credibility.
All of these things are sure signs that the biotech industry is losing control as the entire world is awakening to the dangers of genetically modified foods and the conventional food supply. Technology is coming forward that will soon allow on-the-spot tests for environmental toxins, GMOs, pesticides, food safety and more with their smartphones and other hand-held devices as a defiant public will stop at nothing to regain independence within the food supply.
4. The Freedom Movement Is Gaining Momentum
De facto foreign administrations of unelected industrialists, financiers, academics, military leaders along with representatives from our elected government officials have been very busy the past century implementing changes into nations who were once sovereign and free. However, they have no real authority to restrict public mobility, free trade or limit access to anything. That means that everybody is free to drive without insurance, driver’s license, license plates, free to trade any articles of exchange including vitamins, supplements, healing modalities and free to consume and ingest anything they wish without restriction. This is a right of all people born on any land, and the movement to educate millions on these issues is rising across the globe. Mass populations are starting to see the reality that there is no longer sovereignty within nations. The people of these nations have lost their ability to write their own laws, avoid arrest, injury and damage from corporations which seek to remove all the freedoms from the people.
The elite societies of the world are now petrified of the awakening of these fundamental human rights. This is the fear of every official who deems their opinion can be enforced over others through artificial laws that don’t hold any weight in the highest courts. We are now declaring those rights more than ever and every beneficiary of the corrupt system is sending the police to insist that we are in wrong and they are right. It is about knowing what absolute sovereignty truly is and embracing the power to express that right regardless of anybody else’s interpretation. Police are being held accountable for these injustices and their homes and possessions are being taken from them in the highest courts as the people fight for their rights to be free and will accept no damage by illegal enforcement (the police) in the interim.
5. The Liberation of Nature and Abolishment of All Things Toxic Is Now Inevitable
More than a dozen U.S. states have now completely decriminalized the act of possessing marijuana and both Colorado and Washington have made it legal to possess, sell, transport and cultivate the plant. But soon it may be legalized across the entire country. That is quite the 180 from the federal government’s tune in 2011 when they decreed that marijuana had no accepted medical use and should remain classified as a highly dangerous drug like heroin. Nobody has the right to criminalize or restrict anybody from possessing a plant or smoking it for that matter. The rights of people to interact with nature are being recognized on all levels and cannabis liberation is a amazing step forward.
The restoration of clean drinking water through the removal of toxic fluoride is another example of how governments can no longer contain their lies, in this case the 60-year old deception of fluoride. Almost the entire world is now coming full circle to the health consequences of poisoning the water supply with fluoride. Most developed nations, including all of Japan and 97% of western Europe, do not fluoridate their water. Israel was recently added to that list. Many communities, over the last few years, stopped fluoridation in the US, Canada, New Zealandand Australia. Recently, both Wichita, Kansas and Portland, Oregonrejected fluoridation 60% to 40%. Hamilton, NZ, councilors voted 7-1 to stop 50 years of fluoridation after councilors listened to several days of testimony from those for and against fluoridation. Windsor, Ontario, stopped 51 years of fluoridation. Sixteen regional councils have halted or rejected fluoridation in Queensland since mandatory fluoridation was dropped there in Nov. 2012.
The news is spreading and a renaissance is blooming worldwide. There is no stopping it. The potential war in Syria which has no support from the American public, is a beautiful reminder that people are tuning into their own hearts and wisdom as they come to understand that war will never accomplish anything but create more war.
Get ready my friends because we are headed for an incredible ride as we pave the way for a new consciousness as we rebuild the Earth, take back our power as united and free citizens of this wonderful planet.

Uruguay Takes on London Bankers, Marlboro Mad Men and the TPP

by Michael Meurer
What the hell is happening in tiny Uruguay? South America's second smallest country, with a population of just 3.4 million, has generated international headlines out of proportion to its size over the past year by becoming the first nation to legalize marijuana in December 2013, by welcoming Syrian refugees into the country in October 2014 and by accepting the first six US prisoners resettled to South America from the Guantánamo Bay prison on December 6, 2014.
Outgoing President Jose Mujica, a colorful former Tupamaros rebel who was imprisoned and brutally tortured by the military during the era of the disappeared in the 1970s under US-supported Operation Condor in Uruguay, Chile, Argentina and other nations of the Southern Cone, is a favorite media subject and has been at the center of these actions.
Yet an even larger story with deeper historical roots and global implications is unfolding simultaneously in Uruguay with minimal media attention. Uruguay has spent the last decade quietly defying the new transnational order of global banks, multinational corporations and supranational trade tribunals and is now in a fight for its survival as an independent nation. It is a rich and important story that needs to be told.
The 2014 Presidential Election
For the past 10 years, Uruguayans have been conducting a left-leaning experiment in economic and social democracy, turning themselves into a Latin American version of Switzerland in the process. Under the leadership of the left-leaning Broad Front party, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports that Uruguay has enjoyed annual economic growth of 5.6 percent since 2004, compared to 1.2 percent annual growth over the last five years in Switzerland. The Swiss have decriminalized marijuana and gay marriage. Uruguay has legalized both. Prostitution is legal in both countries, and each provides universal health care. According to the Happy Planet Index, Uruguay has the same low per capita environmental footprint as Switzerland, with a similarly widespread sense of well-being among its people in spite of significantly lower per capita GDP.
Yet unlike Switzerland, with its highly developed financial services sector and, until recently, safe haven tax policies for global capital, Uruguay has become a prime target for the wrath of multinational corporations and the London bankers who fund them.

From the bankers' perspective, Uruguay is setting a bad example by taking care of their people instead of catering to global financial speculators.

In November 2014, Uruguayan voters voiced approval for their government's policies of social tolerance and public spending on early childhood education, affordable universal health care and social safety net programs by re-electing former president Tabaré Vasquez from the ruling Broad Front party. With support from allied green and radical left parties, Vasquez won a landslide victory against a neoliberal opponent who ran on a platform of slashing public sector spending and opening the nation's economy to foreign investors. Instead, Vasquez's return to the presidency in 2015 will extend the Uruguayan social democratic experiment another five years to 2020. London's neoliberal, supply-side bankers are not amused.
Less than a week after Uruguayan election results were certified, Capital Economics, a London-based financial think tank aligned with British Prime Minister David Cameron's brand of aggressive neoliberalism, issued an economic report sternly warning that Uruguay is going to face tough economic times after electing another leftist president unless they change their ways. The language of the Capital Economics report is telling:
Capital Economics concludes that given Vazquez' promises of continuity and more social spending, and the Uruguayan economy running at full capacity, any attempt to bolster domestic demand most likely will generate more inflation and more strains in the balance of payments.
"Our view is that policymakers need to tighten fiscal policy and pass supply side reforms to boost medium-term growth," says the report.
Likewise wage indexation is widespread in Uruguay and according to the IMF, as many as 90 percent of labor contracts are indexed, which contributes to high and persistent inflation. "More generally, reducing the power of trade unions will help to ease labor market rigidities."
This report reprimanding Uruguay was published against the backdrop of the most aggressive assault on the public sector in British history. The Cameron government is proposing cuts of 22.2 percent to the national budget by 2020, with cuts of 41 percent to "unprotected" programs, which translates as discretionary social welfare spending.
The leftist economic experiment taking place at the opposite end of the globe in tiny Uruguay is more than the bankers in London can tolerate, never mind that Uruguay, with minimal military expenses, has annual deficits nearly 600 percent lower than the UK as a percent of GDP. From the bankers' perspective, Uruguay is setting a bad example by taking care of their people instead of catering to global financial speculators.
If the Capital Economics report is decoded, it functions as a virtual thesaurus for the language of financial tyranny, bullying and terror used by the new regime of global capital headquartered in London and New York.
Decoding the Language of Neoliberal Bankers
Capital Economics wants to ensure that Uruguay adopts polices that ease "labor market rigidities." While the preciosity of this formulation is not without entertainment value, in plain language, it means union busting in order to lower wages.
Capital Economics also insists that "supply-side reforms" are essential for Uruguay's survival. Here is a typical list of such reforms.
  • Cutting government spending, taxes and policies to cut government borrowing
  • Passing laws to control trade union powers
  • Reducing red tape to cut the costs of doing business
  • Implementing measures to improve the flexibility of the labor market, or reforming employment laws
  • Enforcing policies to boost competition such as deregulation
  • Privatization of state assets
  • Opening up an economy to overseas trade and investment
  • Opening up an economy to inward labor migration
In sum, the London financial establishment is telling pesky leftist Uruguay that it needs to crush its unions by encouraging an influx of low-wage, immigrant workers to reduce labor costs, slash social spending and privatize as much of the public sector as possible.
It is important to note that 55 percent of Uruguay's government bond debt is held by foreign investors, many of them British. The anti-labor austerity program being recommended by Capital Economics would be disastrous for Uruguay's domestic programs and quality of life, but it would provide a profiteering opportunity for speculative bankers in London by temporarily increasing the value of Uruguayan bonds. This is what is really meant by "a boost in medium-term growth."
The TTIP and TPP
The neoliberal assault on export-dependent Uruguay is likely to intensify in the next few years, and not solely because of their deficit spending on popular social welfare programs that fly in the face of economic austerity recommended by London bankers and the IMF. Uruguay has also become a lightning rod for the global financial elite because they are challenging the legitimacy of international trade tribunals that lie at the heart of the proposed TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) trade agreements.

Uruguay's encounter with the emerging regime of transnational corporate governance started when the National Ministry of Public Health mandated that vivid written and pictorial warnings about health risks from smoking needed to cover 50 percent of cigarette package surface area.

Contrary to advance PR by cheerleaders such as Cameron and US President Barack Obama, the TTIP and TPP are not designed to promote trade. The cumulative effect of TTIP and TPP would be the establishment of a transnational governing structure that supersedes the current order of sovereign nation-states that are, at least in theory and sometimes in practice, democratically accountable to their own people.
Proposed signatories to the TTIP and TPP all fall within the sphere of US-UK-EU economic influence, which explains why Russia, Africa, the Islamic nations and the leftist regimes of Latin America are excluded. This is the fabled capitalist "new world order" dreamed of by the shrub's daddy more than 20 years ago.
Uruguay looms disproportionately large on the global stage at the moment because they have unwittingly vaulted into the vanguard of a global backlash against the TPP and TTIP due to a seemingly unrelated dispute with the international tobacco industry.
Enter Marlboro's Mad Men
Uruguay's encounter with the emerging regime of transnational corporate governance started in 2005, under the first administration of incoming president Tabaré Vasquez, when the National Ministry of Public Health mandated that vivid written and pictorial warnings about health risks from smoking needed to cover 50 percent of cigarette package surface area. In 2009, this was increased to 80 percent of surface area. Uruguay was tackling an epidemic of smoking-related health problems, especially among young people and pregnant women. Smoking has since dropped from 40 percent of the adult population to 23 percent in 2014, and from 33 percent to 12 percent among teenagers.

"The costs of defending these cases are enormous, so tobacco companies are trying to pick off lower-income countries that can't spend the money and political capital to defend themselves against industry."

In the ultimate irony, Phillip Morris, which moved its global headquarters to Switzerland in 2002 for tax and liability avoidance, sued Uruguay in 2010 over the new labeling requirements under the terms of a bilateral trade agreement between the two countries. The Phillip Morris suit, which seeks $25 million in damages and weakening of the Uruguayan labeling requirement, is being prosecuted through the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington, DC. The ICSID is chaired by the president of the World Bank and funded from the Bank's budget. It is a supranational trade tribunal that specializes in international state dispute settlements (ISDS).
ISDS are at the core of both the TPP and TTIP, but on a truly global scale. If Uruguay were to prevail against Phillip Morris, the ramifications for TPP and TTIP enforcement, and the new global order the treaties represent would be far reaching.
Phillip Morris, which makes Marlboro, the world's best-selling and most valuable cigarette brand, has annual revenues greater than Uruguay's entire GDP - $80 billion vs. $59 billion. According to Ellen R. Shaffer, co-director of the Center for Policy Analysis, "The costs of defending these cases are enormous, so tobacco companies are trying to pick off lower-income countries that can't spend the money and political capital to defend themselves against industry." Uruguay is so fiscally constrained, it has been receiving financial assistance to cover its legal fees from Bloomberg Philanthropies, headed by Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City and an avid anti-smoking crusader.
Phillip Morris argues in its suit that both its profits and its "brand" are being severely damaged by Uruguay's anti-smoking campaign, noting that the company's brand represents "a long-term significant investment." In a further punitive action, the company closed its cigarette factory in Uruguay after filing the suit, throwing 40 people out of work. The Uruguayan government responded by rehiring eight of the workers as anti-smoking health advisers, and in October 2014, they filed a 500-page defense and rebuttal to the Phillip Morris suit with the ICSID.
In the defense document, which has not yet been publicly released, Uruguay reportedly cites its obligations to protect the health of its citizens under the World Health Organization's 2005 Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international agreement that has been signed by nearly 200 nations and includes recommendations for health warnings on cigarette packages.
Silvina Echarte Acevedo is the legal adviser heading the Uruguayan Ministry of Public Health's defense. She recently told The Independent: "They [Phillip Morris] are bullying us because we are small. This is like David and Goliath. But we will fight because it is our right and duty as a government to protect our citizens' health."

The fact that a sovereign nation trying to protect the health of its people is being forced to defend itself in expensive litigation against the profiteering of a multinational corporation in front of a supranational World Bank tribunal is already far down the wrong path.

While Uruguay's brave and principled stand against Phillip Morris is heartening, it is also a preview of what could become the prevailing reality if the TTIP and TPP are allowed to go forward. The tobacco behemoth is also using international trade tribunals to sue the governments of Australia and Thailand over their attempts to place more prominent health warnings on cigarette packaging. The lawsuit against Thailand was successful and is being appealed by the Thai government. The litigation in various trade tribunals against the governments of Uruguay, Australia and Thailand has already intimidated both New Zealand and Britain into delaying proposed cigarette label changes similar to Australia's.
Organizations aligned with Uruguay against Phillip Morris include the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization, as well as a loose coalition of anti-smoking NGOs.
In this moment, we are all Uruguayans. Their little heralded stand against the emerging model of transnational governance by multinational corporations and global banks is everyone's battle. A Uruguayan victory at the ICSID tribunal has the potential to set a welcome precedent in favor of local governance versus the kind of transnational order envisioned in agreements such as the TTIP and TPP, yet it is a battle that is being fought on enemy territory. The fact that a sovereign nation trying to protect the health of its people is being forced to defend itself in expensive litigation against the profiteering of a multinational corporation in front of a supranational World Bank tribunal is already far down the wrong path.
In a touching display of bipartisanship, passage of the TPP is a top priority for President Obama, Mitch McConnell (r-Kentucky) and John Boehner (r-Ohio) when the new Republican-controlled Congress convenes in January 2015. However, there is opposition in both the Democratic and Republican congressional caucuses that may be responsive to public opinion.
More troubling for proponents of TPP and TTIP is the resistance of several proposed member states who are balking at the erosion of their national sovereignty. These states include Japan, Thailand and most recently, the European Union, which is concerned about being forced to import US meat, poultry and produce, which they deride as "Frankenfoods," due to lax US regulation of additives, hormones and GMOs.
For anyone interested in voicing support for Uruguay's position, contact information for ICSID can be found online. To register support for Uruguay and opposition to the TTIP and TPP within the United States, contact information for the White House and individual senators is available online, while Public Citizen has a portal for registering opposition with House members.
In the interim, viva Uruguay!

Welcome to the Age of Authoritarianism – Sponsored by the 1 Percent

The 21st century is seeing the spread of the authoritarian principle that far from being the origin of authority …
The recent troubles in Ferguson and elsewhere have highlighted not only America’s deep and pervasive racism, but the growth of the American police state, a police increasingly difficult to tell apart from our military not only in clothing but in equipment, as the above photo shows.
What we were worrying about in 2011 at the height of the Occupy Movement continues to be a cause for worry today at the height of the I Can’t Breathe movement.
Fox News can spin our fears (and so make a mockery of them) as really having to do with attacks on so-called “freedom of religion” and the “right to bear arms” but these are not the essence of the police state despite what happened to a gun rights activist in Houston when he ran afoul of a bullying cop.
We cannot compare what happened to the open carry advocate to what happened to Michael Brown. If, as Open Carry Texas insists, the Houston cop is a felon for demanding ID, how is it that Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson Police Department, or NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who actually killed the people they confronted, are not?
Edward Snowden said the surveillance state “undermines the entire system of justice,” but it is not only the justice system under attack, but the idea of democracy itself.
The 18th century saw the spread of democracy, of the principle that political power derives not from dog, not from kings, but from the will of the people. But the 21st century is seeing the spread of the authoritarian principle that far from being the origin of authority, people must obey authority
Having defeated the Soviet Union, the United States has begun to look more, not less, like its former adversary, which epitomized the idea that everybody is equal, except for those who are not.
We’ve seen the Supreme Court destroy the Constitution by handing our democracy over to corporations. Mitt Romney said, “Corporations are people, my friend,” and the Supreme Court agreed.
We don’t get to vote for corporations. We have no control over corporations. If corporations control our government, as is increasingly the case, where does that leave “We the People”?
We have already seen that the filthy rich will stop at nothing to make themselves even richer – and at our expense.
As Bernie Sanders puts it, “Many people think Congress regulates Wall Street, but in fact it is Wall Street that regulates Congress.”
This is a mockery of the very principals of democracy. The people, increasingly, do not wield power, but must yield to power. Speaking truth to power carries with it increasingly stiff penalties.
It is not simply that we are surveilled down to the last private detail of our lives everywhere we go, but try to surveil authority and see what happens. Look how far the First Amendment gets you even in the United States – the origin of the 18th century’s democratic wave – if you film police engaged in abusive and freedom-violating behavior.
This is despite, we are reminded, repeated court rulings (and the Department of Justice) have upheld a citizen’s right to record the police. Technically we have that right; but exercising it will get you beat and arrested. Even if you’re a journalist. Even with freedom of the press.
BraveNewFilms shows us how “Protect & Serve” became “Search & Destroy,” a War on Drugs followed by a War on Terror:
Just this past weekend, as Revolution News puts it,
Berkeley protesters got the crap kicked out of them by police this weekend as thousands of students took to the streets to participate in #BlackLivesMatter protests that have erupted across the country after 2 grand juries refused to indict police officers in cases of police brutality against unarmed black men.
The mainstream, that is to say, corporate media, focuses on the violence of the demonstrations while ignoring the violence of the authorities, who are often responsible for the violence in the first place.
And it’s not just the United States. Edward Snowden says surveillance is far worse in Britain with its “system of regulation where anything goes,” and punishing people for “Disobedience to authority” has become all the rage in Europe as well:
In Spain, a draconian new “gag law,” which, Revolution News reports, “essentially legalizes human rights abuses.” Distributing or even taking images like the photo below “can get you a 30.000€ fine.”
Human Rights Watch reports that fear of home-grown terrorism in Europe has driven authorities to abandon any idea of winning hearts and minds, and “engaging in the battle of ideas” has now become less and intellectual exercise and more a physical, a euphemism for brutality while mass surveillance has become endemic.
We all remember how the authorities responded to the largely peaceful Occupy Movement. Not only were the demonstrators demonized but the authorities targeted the media, attempting to keep them away from the protestors. The police restricted who would have access to the demonstrations and, more importantly, to the police response.
We hear a lot about private use of drones, or their use by corporations, but it’s the official use of drones we should be worrying about.
We are essentially terrorists now to our own government if we so much as raise our voices in opposition, or attempt to exercise or supposedly inalienable right to free speech.
Human Rights Watch’s Benjamin Ward points out that,
Terrorism is a tactic of the weak—asymmetric warfare designed to provoke a strategic over-reaction. When it succeeds, societies become more closed and rights are curtailed, especially for groups perceived to be associated with the threat. If European governments forget the hard-learned lessons of the last decade and return again to anything-goes, abusive measures, Europeans will be less safe, not more, and those who threaten will be the victors.
Another concern is that our governments are doing the enemy’s work for them. If we dismantle our own democracy in fear for our democracy, what are we left defending? We are supposed to be exporting democracy, not importing oligarchy, theocracy, and totalitarianism.
The Alien and Sedition Acts confirmed from our earliest days as a republic that we were willing to curtail freedom to protect it, a tendency confirmed by Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, and again, by 2001’s Patriot Act. While all these are done in the name of the people, they are done to the people. The dichotomy is glaring.
While it is wrong for Wall Street to control our government, it is far more wrong for our government to control us, because that means corporations truly are people and that – necessarily – we are not.
We have see how far governments are willing to go to suppress our freedoms in their supposed defense. The question is, just how far are We the People not only willing, but able to go, to protect ourselves, as Thomas Jefferson would have put it, from our governments?
In other words, from the 1 Percent, who, while railing against government controls, control our governments, and through that control, you and me?

Noam Chomsky: Reagan Was an ‘Extreme Racist’ Who Re-Enslaved African Americans

The famed scholar blames the drug war for subjugating African Americans.
In an interview with GRITtv’s Laura Flanders, linguist and political analyst Noam Chomsky discussed how the events in Ferguson, Missouri and the protests that followed demonstrate just how little race relations in the United States have advanced since the end of the Civil War.
“This is a very racist society,” Chomsky said, “it’s pretty shocking. What’s happened to African-Americans in the last 30 years is similar to what [Douglas Blackmon in Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II] describes happening in the late 19th Century.”
Blackmon’s book describes what he calls the “Age of Neoslavery,” in which newly freed slaves found themselves entangled in a legal system built upon involuntary servitude — which included the selling of black men convicted of crimes like vagrancy and changing employers without receiving permission.
“The constitutional amendments that were supposed to free African-American slaves did something for about 10 years, then there was a North-South compact that granted the former the slave-owning states the right to do whatever they wanted,” he explained. “And what they did was criminalize black life, and that created a kind of slave force. It threw mostly black males into jail, where they became a perfect labor force, much better than slaves.”
“If you’re a slave owner, you have to pay for — you have to keep your ‘capital’ alive. But if the state does it for you, that’s terrific. No strikes, no disobedience, the perfect labor force. A lot of the American Industrial Revolution in the late 19th, early 20th Century was based on that. It pretty must lasted until World War II.”
“After that,” Chomsky said, “African-Americans had about two decades in which they had a shot of entering [American] society. A black worker could get a job in an auto plant, as the unions were still functioning, and he could buy a small house and send his kid to college. But by the 1970s and 1980s it’s going back to the criminalization of black life.”
“It’s called the drug war, and it’s a racist war. Ronald Reagan was an extreme racist — though he denied it — but the whole drug war is designed, from policing to eventual release from prison, to make it impossible for black men and, increasingly, women to be part of [American] society.”
“In fact,” he continued, “if you look at American history, the first slaves came over in 1619, and that’s half a millennium. There have only been three or four decades in which African-Americans have had a limited degree of freedom — not entirely, but at least some.”
“They have been re-criminalized and turned into a slave labor force — that’s prison labor,” Chomsky concluded. “This is American history. To break out of that is no small trick.”

The dangerous myth at the heart of wingnut ideology

The wingnuts believe the separation of cult and state is a modern conceit. It couldn't be further from the truth
The dangerous myth at the heart of conservative ideology
Rick Santorum is a terrible person, but when it comes to being a conduit for some of the hoariest, long-standing myths of the wingnuts, he’s ol’ reliable. His latest bleatings are of particular interest, because, without meaning to, Santorum managed to articulate one of the biggest lies that has fueled the wingnuts for decades now: The myth that America was “supposed” to be a theocracy, but somehow lost its way.
In a conference call with members of the wingnut christian cabal STAND America, a caller went on a rant about how Democrats are pushing a secret agenda to push “a number of the tenets of The Communist Manifesto,” a book the caller seemed to believe was about “amnesty, the elevation of pornography, homosexuality, gay marriage, voter fraud, open borders, mass self-importation of illegal immigrants and things of that nature.” (Zero of these issues are mentioned in The Communist Manifesto, a book about the role of labor in capitalist societies.)
Santorum latched onto this old-fashioned red-baiting and said, “The words ‘separation of church and state’ is not in the U.S. Constitution, but it was in the constitution of the former Soviet Union. That’s where it very, very comfortably sat, not in ours.”
This myth–that separation of church and state is a modern invention created by communists/liberals/atheists and shoved down the throats of a christian America until it forgot its theocratic roots–is a popular one on the right, perhaps the defining myth that created the modern conservative movement. It’s also pure malarkey. Even just reading the first amendment to the Constitution shows that this line is self-serving nonsense dished out by people who wish to believe they are patriots while standing against America’s grand tradition of secularism. The Constitution explicitly prohibits any law “respecting an establishment of religion,” a phrase that is so obviously about the separation of church and state that even the most literal-minded among us can get that.
But even if you are remarkably dim-witted, Thomas Jefferson was happy to spell it out in a letter reassuring the Danbury baptists that the U.S. government intended to be secular: “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his dog, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Cult and State.”
A look at history tells us two important things that wingnut christians spend their lives refusing to believe. One, the founders clearly and unmistakably believed, correctly, that freedom of religion is incompatible with state-sponsored religion. Two, many christians at the time agreed, believing that faith was stronger and more sincere if it is freely chosen instead of compelled by the government.
But it’s more than just wishful thinking that leads modern conservatives to lie to themselves and others about these basic facts. The invocation of “communism” gives the game away, because it was fear of communism, more than any other factor, that allowed theocrats to really gain a toehold in modern America. During the mid-century, anti-communist fever caused many Americans to look for any and every way to distinguish ourselves culturally from the communists and religiosity, because communism is an atheist ideology, seemed like an ideal way.
This is why, for instance, the phrase “under dog” wasn’t added to the Pledge of Allegiance,which was written in 1892, until the year 1954, at the height of Cold War paranoia. Indeed, it’s also not a coincidence that the same conservatives who were highly paranoid about communism infiltrating American society at that time also became the backbone of the burgeoning religious right. Communism became such an excellent pretext to push for theocratic government at home that many conservatives have probably forgotten that it really was just a pretext.
Believing that secularism is a recent invention of liberals–or worse, of secret communists working a very long takeover of the U.S. from the inside–is convenient for conservatives, but the truth of the matter is that secularism is a very long tradition indeed. This isn’t just because the founders said so when they wrote the Constitution, either. As documented by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the belief that school prayer was widely accepted and normal right up until the Supreme Court banned it in 1962 is false. Secularism was baked into the idea of public education right from the beginning, when “Horace Mann, the father of our public school system, championed the elimination of sectarianism from American schools.”
Which isn’t to say there was never any Bible teaching or prayer in schools, of course. Sadly, this country has always been plagued by theocrats who want to use taxpayer dollars to push their religion and they frequently get away with it. Plus, most education prior to the establishment of the public school system was religious in nature, with kids learning to read from christian texts, and it took awhile to unlearn those habits. But, as FFRF lays out, bans on prayer and Bible readings in schools were the norm by the end of the late 19th century and luminaries like Theodore Roosevelt would often say things like it is “not our business to have the protestant bible or the catholic vulgate or the talmud read in these schools.”
Any honest reading of American history does not suggest a christian nation that has had secularism forced on it in recent years by liberal forces, but the opposite. Ours is a country that has always been basically secular but has always had to contend with a loud-mouthed minority of theocrats who periodically succeed at using government to push religion until the forces of secularism beat them back again. It’s obvious why wingnut christians would like to believe otherwise. Believing they’re an oppressed group being denied their birthright is a lot more fun than accepting that they are an oppressive group trying to steal basic freedoms from everyone else. But just because they wish it doesn’t make it so.

Rachel Maddow Blasts The Media For Trying To Turn Liberal Democrats Into teabaggers

rachel maddow democrats not the tea party
Rachel Maddow called out the mainstream political media for trying to turn liberals like Elizabeth Warren and Nancy Pelosi into teabaggers.
Maddow said,
One of the main most basic reforms. One of the most necessary things that we did to protect ourselves from another total collapse of the financial system to insulate taxpayers so that we didn’t have to pay for what the banks did wrong, finally. That is what they just undid. That is why Democrats got so mad. It’s a really simple idea. It’s called Section 716 of The Dodd-Frank Act, and the banks hate it. Of course they do. Who wouldn’t want the United States taxpayers to promise to come and rescue you if you lost money? You can keep all the upside, but if it goes south, the taxpayers will pay. Who wouldn’t want that?

But that simple thing. That’s the basis of the giant fight in Washington that took the whole Beltway by surprise. And because that’s what the fight was about, that’s why the headliner in the Democratic Party leading the fight was seen to Sen. Elizabeth Warren. It’s not just that she is a liberal, and Democrats like her, and everybody knows her name. It’s subject specific. This is her wheelhouse. This is how she came to Washington in the first place, right? Elizabeth Warren first became known as a public figure because she was tapped by President Obama to oversee the bailout. I mean, her outrage over the banks screwing the taxpayers is the whole reason why she got into politics.


This is a substantive fight about a specific thing. This is not just liberals blowing off steam.
The Beltway has been saying oh, look liberals blowing off steam. That’s not what this is. The Beltway wants the left and right to be mirror images of each other. What’s the lefty version of the tea party? They want the center to always be correct, and they want the ideological edges to always be equally crazy and impractical in just the same way. But it’s almost never what’s going on, and it’s not what’s going on here.

The people who revolted inside the Beltway were not, HEY BELTWAY, were not the Democratic equivalent of Michele Bachmann, and Steve King, and Louie Gohmert. The people who revolted inside the Democratic Party. It’s not a mirror image. They weren’t the fringe of the party like the revolters on the right….This wasn’t the Louie Gohmert fringe of the Democratic Party. This was the leadership and most of the Democratic Party, who all said no against the wishes of their own White House.
Maddow made two points. The liberal Democratic pushback is based on policy, not ideology. The Democrats who revolted aren’t a fringe movement. Beyond what Maddow said, I would add that what is going on with the government funding bill is the physical movement of the Democratic Party to the left.
The people who are standing up against the policy riders in this bill are going to agree with their party probably ninety percent or more of the time. The Democratic Party is not divided like the Republicans, but Democrats are signaling that the party is moving to the left. The same behavior occurred when President Obama teamed up with congressional liberals to kill a bill that would have given hundreds of millions of dollars in permanent tax cuts to corporations.
The mainstream press is now saying that Elizabeth Warren is the new Ted Cruz, but this comparison is completely wrong. Cruz is a self-serving grandstander, who is trying get elected president by opposing everything and causing chaos. Warren and the Democrats are fighting because they disagree with something in the government funding bill.
Mainstream media laziness is one of the main reasons why the public is poorly informed. When journalists who are supposed to be political reporters insist on painting by the numbers instead of thinking, the result is poor coverage that misses the point of the issues of our day.

Democrats Score Major Win For Obama Nominees While Passing Government Funding Bill, 56-40

obama accomplishments and legacy
Democrats squeezed repugicans for a major victory on dozens of Obama nominees while passing the government funding bill
Democrats Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, Sherrod Brown, Ed Markey, Ron Wyden, Amy Klobuchar and others voted against bill. Independent Bernie Sanders also voted against the bill. The repugicans Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Tim Scott, Rand Paul, John McCain, Rob Portman, Lindsey Graham and Mike Lee were also among those who voted against the bill.
Members of the Democratic caucus were opposed to the bill because it weakened a regulation in the Dodd-Frank Act. Bernie Sanders opposed the bill because it slashed public employee pensions while also rolling back campaign finance laws.
A Democratic aide told The Hill that repugicans cut a deal to give Democrats everything they wanted as far as getting President Obama’s nominees confirmed, “It was a rout. They gave us everything.”
Everything in this case involves lifting the repugican filibuster on 24 Obama nominees.
It would be easy to overlook, but Senate Democrats have made sure that the nation will have a Surgeon General and several federal judges appointed.
Liberals fought the good fight, but in the end the dual pressures of wanting to avoid a government shutdown and a desire to go home for xmas was too much to overcome.
The good news is that the government will be funded through September 2015. The bad news is that the riders that repugicans attached to the bill will be their new way of getting their agenda passed.
This time a majority of Democrats felt that they had to go along with this odious bill. In the future, this tactic will be certain to face presidential vetoes and solid Democratic opposition.

The Truth Be Told


US Probation Office Recommends Ten Years In Prison For repugican Bob McDonnell

Bob McDonnell, Maureen McDonnell
The U.S. probation office recommends that former Virginia governor Robert McDonnell spend at least ten years in prison for the eleven counts of corruption he was found guilty of committing. The probation office calculated a recommended sentence of between ten and thirteen years in prison for the disgraced public official. U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer is not required to issue a sentence within the guidelines. He can exercise discretion to decrease or increase the penalty. However, legal analysts have pointed out that Spencer has typically given sentences that fall within the guidelines suggested by the U.S. probation office.
About a year ago, McDonnell turned down an offer to take a plea agreement that would have cost him no more than three years behind bars. He could have pled guilty to a single count of lying to a bank and escaped with probation or a much shorter prison term. However, McDonnell rejected that deal. Now having been convicted of eleven separate charges, he could spend over a decade in prison for his crimes.
The ex-Governor is scheduled to be sentenced on January 6th of next year. His wife will have her sentence handed down on February 20th. McDonnell was once viewed as a rising star within the repugican cabal. His name was floated as a potential running mate for Mitt Romney in 2012, and at one time, he was listed as a potential future presidential candidate for the repugican cabal. As Governor of a large swing state, repugican agitators expected him to have a favorable resume for winning a national election. However, that was before his star power unraveled in the face of serious corruption charges. Now Robert McDonnell can look forward to spending time in prison. If the judge follows the sentencing recommendations, McDonnell may spend the next decade behind bars.

Congress Just Passed A Law Requiring Police Departments To Count How Many People They Shoot

by Nicole Flatow
Eric Garner Protesters This week as all eyes were on budget deal wrangling, with little attention and fanfare, Congress actually got something done to reform the police. It passed a bill that could result in complete, national data on police shootings and other deaths in law enforcement custody.
Right now, we have nothing close to that. Police departments are not required to report information about police to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Some do, others don’t, others submit it some years and not others or submit potentially incomplete numbers, making it near-impossible to know how many people police kill every year. Based on the figures that are reported to the federal government, ProPublica recently concluded that young black men are 21 times more likely to be killed by police than whites.
Under the bill awaiting Obama’s signature, states receiving federal funds would be required to report every quarter on deaths in law enforcement custody. This includes not those who are killed by police during a stop, arrest, or other interaction. It also includes those who die in jail or prison. And it requires details about these shootings including gender, race, as well as at least some circumstances surrounding the death.
The bill is a reauthorization of legislation that expired in 2006. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) has been trying to revive it since then without success. Scott told the Washington Post the first time the bill passed in 2000, it took years before data started to come in, because of “the way government works,” and then the bill expired. But if states don’t report information, the federal government could use its power to withhold funds to force compliance. It passed the House last year, but finally moved through the Senate this week on the momentum of post-Ferguson outrage.
The bill also “[r]equires the Attorney General to study such information and report on means by which it can be used to reduce the number of such deaths.”

Georgia cops pay $100K for jailing woman who said "Fuck the police"

Amy Barnes was jailed and held in solitary in 2012 when she called out "fuck the police" as she bicycled past Cobb County cops who were questioning a suspect by the roadside.
Audio from one of the officers, recorded on the cruiser's dashcam, has him saying, "That ain't happening." The officers arrested Barnes for disorderly conduct, and rather than citing and releasing her, arrested her and jailed her for 24h, part of it in solitary confinement.
The judge in her case dismissed the charge. Barnes subsequently sued and won a $100,000 settlement from the county.
Counts says the settlement is reminder of everyone's constitutional rights.
"It's important to understand that people have a right to express their ideas and no matter how offensive it's not a basis for penalizing someone. And that's just wrong it violates the first amendment."
A Cobb county spokesman acknowledged "The commission did approve a settlement offer at Tuesdays meeting. And that the documents have not been executed."
Barnes has been involved in recent Atlanta protests and unrest surrounding police conduct in Ferguson and other incidents.

Two brothers faked spoiled spuds in $2 million federal insurance swindle

potato1In Fargo, North Dakota, two brothers were convicted this week of destroying potatoes so they could collect crop insurance payments. Their scheme defrauded the federal government of about $2 million, said prosecutors.
From the Associated Press:

Jurors found Aaron Johnson, 50, and Derek Johnson, 47, of the Cooperstown area, guilty of conspiring to receive illegal payments and giving false statements.
Prosecutors said the brothers exploited the federal government's crop insurance program, meant to help farmers recover from losses due to naturally occurring events, including bad weather and the wet breakdown of inner potatoes after harvest. Prosecutors said that among other things, the brothers used chemicals to accelerate deterioration.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nick Chase said that the crop insurance program is based on trust. "The fact that they so blatantly violated that trust makes me very pleased about the verdict," he said in a telephone interview after the verdict was announced

Father fined after three-year-old boy crashed his car into bus shelter

A father been ordered to pay 8,000 kronor (£650, $1,000) after his three-year-old son managed to hijack his car and drive into a bus shelter in central Gävle, Sweden.
The father was told to pay the 8,000 kronor for putting other people's lives in danger.
The incident occurred in mid-September, when the father briefly left the child unattended in the car.
The boy then managed to turn the ignition key and rammed the vehicle into a bus shelter. Two people sitting at the shelter and the three-year-old driver were all unhurt.

Preschool blames hand sanitizer for 4-year-old girl's drunkenness

The owner of an early childhood center in Invercargill, New Zealand, where a 4-year-old girl became grossly intoxicated says the girl consumed alcohol-based hand sanitizer and the center would not be using the product again. Jackie Woodward, owner of the Woodhouse Early Learning Center, has spoken of the "horrific" few days she and her staff have endured after the girl was hospitalized in a drunken stupor shortly after leaving the premises.
The girl was picked up by her mother, Terri Hawke, from the center at 5.30pm on Monday. But the mother soon became alarmed at her behavior and rushed her to hospital, where she collapsed into a nurse's arms and was later diagnosed as being intoxicated. Her alcohol reading was 188mg, nearly four times over the legal driving limit. Woodward said they believed the girl had climbed onto a bookshelf and reached the hand sanitizer connected to the wall above while the on-duty staff member was putting on a load of washing in another room.
There was "no liquor anywhere in the center at all" that the child could have got access to, she said. The mother has criticized Woodward's staff for failing to pick up that her daughter was drunk. Woodward said the only sign the girl was not acting normally was when she stumbled at about 5.15pm, but she put it down to the soles falling off her sandals. Woodward, who has removed the hand sanitizer from its position and put it in a locked room, said she would not be using the product again, instead sourcing non-alcoholic hand cleaning products.
"I had no idea it was 60 to 70 per cent alcohol content." She was relieved the child was okay. "That's the main thing for us." Doug Sellman, director of the National Addictions Center University of Otago, Christchurch, said an average-sized 4-year-old girl would need about 40ml, or eight teaspoons, of hand sanitizer to reach a 188mg level. If she had drunk wine she would have needed one glass to reach the 188mg level, and 1.5 small cans of beer would have been sufficient.

Random Celebrity Photos


Natalie Wood
Early promotional photo of the beautiful and talented actress. Her fear of water and death by drowning near Santa Catalina Island, California in 1981 still fuels the Hollywood rumor mill on slow news days.
Source: cordura
Natalie Wood

Gingerbread Bakery Makes an Impressive Resume

Chef Thomas Keller owns the renowned Bouchon Bakery in Napa, California. Oliver Bernardino is a 23-year-old pastry cook in Vancouver who idolizes Keller and would love to work for him. Instead of sending a letter or a resume, Bernardino spent 70 hours baking and constructing an exact replica of the Bouchon Bakery out of gingerbread!
"I wanted to make something that I was truly inspired by, and would motivate me to bring out my best work," says Bernardino. So he meticulously studied the Bouchon Bakery cookbook, his own photos from the visit, and info on the Web to replicate the look, down to tiny details like a table stacked with Keller's signature TKOs, blue apron, and a roll of green painter's tape and a Sharpie, used in Keller's kitchens to mark containers. "It's a take on what I thought their version of a 'plate of cookies for Santa' would look like," he says. Other replica elements include a macaron tree, a stack of baguettes, and the bakery's signature yellow awnings. "I was also really happy with how the benches and garbage bins came out," he says.
Bernardino’s gingerbread bakery is now on display in an exhibit called Gingerbread Lane at the Vancouver Hyatt, to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Read more about it and see pictures from all angles at San Francisco Eater.