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Daily Archives: December 27, 2013

» Saudi blogger may face death penalty for apostasy Alex Jones’ Infowars: There’s a war on for your mind!

» Saudi blogger may face death penalty for apostasy Alex Jones’ Infowars: There’s a war on for your mind!.

Saudi Arabia: release @raif_badawi now. We won’t accept anything less. He needs to join his lovely wife and kids. He must be free.

— Maryam Namazie (@MaryamNamazie) December 26, 2013

Saudi blogger and activist, Raif Badawi, currently serving his 7-year prison term for “insulting Islam”, may soon appear in a higher court on graver charges of apostasy. If found guilty, he could be sentenced to death.

Bringing Badawi back to court to face graver charges was recommended by a judge in Saudi Arabia, the activist’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, told CNN on Wednesday. The news has caused an uproar in social media.

Raif Badawi is the founder of the Free Saudi Liberals website, created in 2008 to discuss the role of religion in Saudi Arabia freely. Badawi’s persecution for what was described as “insulting Islam” started the same year the site was set up. The blogger then fled the country to escape arrest. He returned when the charges against him were dropped, but was eventually jailed in June 2012.

In July this year, a criminal court in Jeddah found the man guilty of insulting Islam through his online forum and of violating Saudi Arabia’s anti-cybercrime law. Badawi was sentenced to 600 lashes and 7 years in prison.

The court’s ruling was condemned by international human rights watchdogs.

A choice Muslims have to make: Will you demand the freedom of blogger Raif Badawi or will u back the Saudi regime? pic.twitter.com/rRDdq9n0aN

— Tarek Fatah (@TarekFatah) December 26, 2013

“This incredibly harsh sentence for a peaceful blogger makes a mockery of Saudi Arabia’s claims that it supports reform and religious dialogue,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “A man who wanted to discuss religion has already been locked up for a year and now faces 600 lashes and seven years in prison.”

Badawi’s possible retrial is the latest episode in the country’s crackdown on dissent. Four members of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) were jailed in 2013. In the most recent case in December, 24-year-old Omar al-Saed was sentenced to four years in prison and 300 lashes after calling for political reform. Amnesty International called for the activist’s immediate release.

“Amnesty International considers Omar al-Hamid al-Saed to be a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for his peaceful activities as a member of ACPRA and calls on the Saudi Arabian authorities to immediately and conditionally release him and to ensure that he is not subjected to flogging or any other corporal punishment,” the group’s public statement , released on December 19 reads.

Earlier, the watchdog criticized Saudi Arabia for failing to follow up on any of its promises to improve the country’s human rights record. The pledges were made following a 2009 review, issued by the UN Human Rights Council.

“Four years ago, Saudi Arabian diplomats came to Geneva and accepted a string of recommendations to improve human rights in the country. Since then, not only have the authorities failed to act, but they have ratcheted up the repression,” Philip Luther, Director of Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International said in October.

Amnesty’s criticism however did not prevent Saudi Arabia from being elected to the UN Human Rights Council in November. Its three-year term in UNHRC starts January 1, 2014.

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PatternDynamics: Following The Way Nature Organizes Itself to Deal with Complexity

PatternDynamics: Following The Way Nature Organizes Itself to Deal with Complexity.

by David MacLeod, originally published by Integral Permaculture  | TODAY

The natural world is staggeringly complex, and yet amazingly elegant in how it manages the multitude of interconnected parts into organized, unified wholes that thrive. What is the secret for harnessing this elegance for use in human systems? Tim Winton found that observation of the most common patterns found in the natural world led to the development of high level principles which can then be used to address the most complex challenges that human systems face.

After learning some of the common patterns found in all natural systems, we can then begin to recognize these patterns in human systems , and learn how to balance the ones that are skewed, and to integrate in the ones might add a greater level of enduring health. We can “make a deeper difference by changing the system!”

change the system

PatternDynamics is a systems thinking tool for creating systems level change that Winton has been developing over 20 years as he’s worked in diverse fields, including: environmental services contractor, organic farmer, sustainability educator, designer, project manager, consultant, executive leadership, and corporate governance.

What is unique about PatternDynamics is that it combines the patterns of nature with the power of language, to produce a sustainability pattern language.

In a recent paper by Barrett Brown, referring to a study he had done in 2012 of top performing organizational leaders, he observed that these top leaders “use three powerful thinking tools to design their initiatives and guide execution. They are (a) Integral theory, (b) Complexity theory, and (c) Systems theory. These models help them to step back from the project, get up on to the balcony, and take a broad view of the whole situation. They use these tools to make sense of complex, rapidly changing situations and navigate through them securely.”

And famed Permaculture teacher Toby Hemenway (author of Gaia’s Garden)recently posted on his blog the following recommendation: “To enrich our ability to use recipes and put them into context, without engaging in a full-blown design analysis from scratch, we can use pattern languages. The term was coined by architect Christopher Alexander to mean a structured grammar of good design examples and practices in a given field—architecture, software design, urban planning, and so forth— that allow people with only modest training to solve complex problems in design. … Like recipes, pattern languages are plug-and-play rather than original designs, but they allow plenty of improvisation and flexibility in implementation, and can result in rich, detailed solutions that fit. A handbook of pattern languages for the basic human needs and societal functions, structured along permaculture principles, would be a worthy project for a generation of designers.”[my emphasis]

PatternDynamics is firmly rooted in Integral theory, Complexity theory, and Systems theory, and as well contains Permaculture’s emphasis on patterns and principles (PatternDynamics was developed during Tim’s time as Director of the Permaforest Trust, a 170 acre Permaculture education center in New South Wales, Australia). In addition a fifth strong influence was Alexander’s ideas on pattern languaging. These five robust theories and practical application tools provide a very firm foundation that will continue to support PatternDynamics long into the future as it continues to evolve. It is probably not the recipe book that Hemenway envisions, rather the patterns are more like a set of key ingredients from which we are invited to collaborate to co-create the needed recipes for a given context. The goal is to facilitate collective intelligence.

Tim Winton“The key to complexity is systems thinking, and the key to systems thinking is patterns. The key to patterns is using them as a language – an idea I borrowed from architect and mathematician Christopher Alexander’s book ‘Notes on the Synthesis of Form’.”
– Tim Winton

Systems thinking itself is complex and difficult to learn, which is why the series of Patterns in PatternDynamics can be so helpful in simplifying that complexity – “If we don’t have a symbol for something, it does not become enacted in our reality” Winton says.

order_chart

Secondly, as these Patterns become part of a shared language, this gives us the ability to collaborate with others –hence the facilitation of collective intelligence. Noting the increased complexity in our human systems, Winton states that “No longer is any one person brilliant enough to solve the complex problems we face; we really have to use our collective intelligence.” This innovative method of facilitating collective intelligence is proposed as an essential 21st century skill.

Speaking for myself, after completing the Level II training in PatternDynamics, I notice that I am starting to see “wholes” much more often, in extremely diverse systems. Everything from systems at work in my own body, to systems in organizations I’m involved with, to the systemic problems facing our world, and all the way up to long term processes going on in our universe. Being able to see these wholes then helps the next step – ideas are flowing more easily on how to balance and integrate to improve the health of the systems I am involved with.

Therefore, it is with some excitement that I am preparing to host a One Day PatternDynamics Workshop on January 26, 2014 here in Bellingham, Washington. Click Here for more information about this event. A workshop is also being held in Oakland, CA on January18th – more info here.

Related:

To read a longer article I co-wrote about an introductory workshop I attended last year, go here: Integral Leadership Review

 

The Stock Market Has Officially Entered Crazytown Territory

The Stock Market Has Officially Entered Crazytown Territory.

Looney Tunes - Photo by Ramon F VelasquezIt is time to crank up the Looney Tunes theme song because Wall Street has officially entered crazytown territory.  Stocks just keep going higher and higher, and at this point what is happening in the stock market does not bear any resemblance to what is going on in the overall economy whatsoever.  So how long can this irrational state of affairs possibly continue?  Stocks seem to go up no matter what happens.  If there is good news, stocks go up.  If there is bad news, stocks go up.  If there is no news, stocks go up.  On Thursday, the day after Christmas, the Dow was up another 122 points to another new all-time record high.  In fact, the Dow has had an astonishing 50 record high closes this year.  This reminds me of the kind of euphoria that we witnessed during the peak of the housing bubble.  At the time, housing prices just kept going higher and higher and everyone rushed to buy before they were “priced out of the market”.  But we all know how that ended, and this stock market bubble is headed for a similar ending.

It is almost as if Wall Street has not learned any lessons from the last two major stock market crashes at all.  Just look at Twitter.  At the current price, Twitter is supposedly worth 40.7 BILLION dollars.  But Twitter is not profitable.  It is a seven-year-old company that has never made a single dollar of profit.

Not one single dollar.

In fact, Twitter actually lost 64.6 million dollars last quarter alone.  And Twitter is expected to continue losing money for all of 2015 as well.

But Twitter stock is up 82 percent over the last 30 days, and nobody can really give a rational reason for why this is happening.

Overall, the Dow is up more than 25 percent so far this year.  Unless something really weird happens over the next few days, it will be the best year for the Dow since 1996.

It has been a wonderful run for Wall Street.  Unfortunately, there are a whole host of signs that we have entered very dangerous territory.

The median price-to-earnings ratio on the S&P 500 has reached an all-time record high, and margin debt at the New York Stock Exchange has reached a level that we have never seen before.  In other words, stocks are massively overpriced and people have been borrowing huge amounts of money to buy stocks.  These are behaviors that we also saw just before the last two stock market bubbles burst.

And of course the most troubling sign is that even as the stock market soars to unprecedented heights, the state of the overall U.S. economy is actually getting worse…

-During the last full week before Christmas, U.S. store visits were 21 percent lower than a year earlier and retail sales were 3.1 percentlower than a year earlier.

-The number of mortgage applications just hit a new 13 year low.

-The yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries just hit 3 percent.

For many more signs like this, please see my previous article entitled “37 Reasons Why ‘The Economic Recovery Of 2013’ Is A Giant Lie“.

And most Americans don’t realize this, but the U.S. financial system and the overall U.S. economy are now in much weaker condition than they were the last time we had a major financial crash back in 2008.  Employment is at a much lower level than it was back then and our banking system is much more vulnerable than it was back then.  Just before the last financial crash, the U.S. national debt was sitting atabout 10 trillion dollars, but today it has risen to more than 17.2 trillion dollars.  The following excerpt from a recent article posted on thedailycrux.com contains even more facts and figures which show how our “balance sheet numbers” continue to get even worse…

Since the fourth quarter of 2009, the U.S. current account deficit has been more than $100 billion per quarter. As a result, foreigners now own $4.2 trillion more U.S. investment assets than we own abroad. That’s $1.7 trillion more than when Buffett first warned about this huge problem in 2003. Said another way, the problem is 68% bigger now.

And here’s a number no one else will tell you – not even Buffett. Foreigners now own $25 trillion in U.S. assets. And yet… we continue to consume far more than we produce, and we borrow massively to finance our deficits.

Since 2007, the total government debt in the U.S. (federal, state, and local) has doubled from around $10 trillion to $20 trillion.

Meanwhile, the size of Fannie and Freddie’s mortgage book declined slightly since 2007, falling from $4.9 trillion to $4.6 trillion. That’s some good news, right?

Nope. The excesses just moved to a new agency. The “other” federal mortgage bank, the Federal Housing Administration, now is originating 20% of all mortgages in the U.S., up from less than 5% in 2007.

Student debt, also spurred on by government guarantees, has also boomed, doubling since 2007 to more than $1 trillion. Altogether, total debt in our economy has grown from around $50 trillion to more than $60 trillion since 2007.

So don’t be fooled by this irrational stock market bubble.

Just because a bunch of half-crazed investors are going into massive amounts of debt in a desperate attempt to make a quick buck does not mean that the overall economy is in good shape.

In fact, much of the country is in such rough shape that “reverse shopping” has become a huge trend.  Even big corporations such as McDonald’s are urging their employees to return their Christmas gifts in order to bring in some much needed money…

In a stark reminder of how tough things still are for low-income families in America, McDonalds has advised workers to dig themselves “out of holiday debt” by cashing in their Christmas haul.

“You may want to consider returning some of your unopened purchases that may not seem as appealing as they did,” said a website set up for employees.

“Selling some of your unwanted possessions on eBay or Craigslist could bring in some quick cash.”

This irrational stock market bubble is not going to last for too much longer.  And a lot of top financial experts are now warning their clients to prepare for the worst.  For example, David John Marotta of Marotta Wealth Management recently told his clients that they should all have a“bug-out bag” that contains food, a gun and some ammunition…

A top financial advisor, worried that Obamacare, theNSA spying scandal and spiraling national debt is increasing the chances for a fiscal and social disaster, is recommending that Americans prepare a “bug-out bag” that includes food, a gun and ammo to help them stay alive.

David John Marotta, a Wall Street expert and financial advisor and Forbes contributor, said in a note to investors, “Firearms are the last item on the list, but they are on the list. There are some terrible people in this world. And you are safer when your trusted neighbors have firearms.”

His memo is part of a series addressing the potential for a “financial apocalypse.” His view, however, is that the problems plaguing the country won’t result in armageddon. “There is the possibility of a precipitous decline, although a long and drawn out malaise is much more likely,” said the Charlottesville, Va.-based president of Marotta Wealth Management.

So what do you think is coming in 2014?

 

Don’t Feed the Libertarian Trolls – Rebutted!

Don’t Feed the Libertarian Trolls – Rebutted!.

The following video was produced by Stefan Molyneux

In the following video, Libertarian activist Stefan Molyneux thoroughly dismantles a leftist propaganda article attacking our movement, which has grown exponentially in the past several years.  I highly recommend watching his entire rebuttal, primarily because the leftist arguments presented are the most common out-of-hand dismissals of the Liberty Movement and Libertarianism today.

A decade ago, when I was a registered Democrat, I became utterly disgusted with the Alinsky-style debate tactics used by the leftists around me.  To me, the dishonesty and the distraction felt unnecessary.  Why couldn’t Democrats simply argue based on the core facts and truths inherent in the discussion?  Why did they need to put on such grandiose theatrics, veiling thin social insight with layer upon layer of pomp and pretension?  Isn’t that the kind of behavior they were always accusing conservatives of?

What I realized was that “neo-libs”, some of whom were my associates and friends, were just as afraid of a fair fight as the “neo-cons” they despised.  The two political orientations were far similar than anyone wanted to admit, and indeed, at the top of the pyramid Democrats and Republicans were essentially identical in their motivations and goals.  At the bottom of the pyramid where the common leftist resides, there is no examination of state power.  They aren’t concerned about the system itself, they are only concerned about the system ending up in the hands of conservatives.  They believe that only THEY have the wisdom and benevolence to utilize the government machine to its best purposes.  What they do not seem to have the reason or intelligence to grasp, however, is that you do not use the state, the state always uses YOU.  Perhaps if Democrats finally understood this they would stop supporting the evil and unconstitutional policies promoted by the Obama Administration; the same policies they used to protest back when Bush was in office.

My former party and its acolytes are drowning in a sea of their own hypocrisy.  Is it any wonder why I became a Libertarian?

Brandon Smith, Founder Of Alt-Market.com

 

oftwominds-Charles Hugh Smith: The Only Leverage We Have Is Extreme Frugality

oftwominds-Charles Hugh Smith: The Only Leverage We Have Is Extreme Frugality.

Debt is serfdom, capital in all its forms is freedom. The only leverage available to all is extreme frugality in service of accumulating productive capital.

There are only three ways to better oneself financially: marry someone with money, inherit money or accumulate capital/savings and invest it in productive assets. (We’ll leave out lobbying the Federal government for a fat contract, faking disability, selling derivatives designed to default and other criminal activities.)

The only way to accumulate capital to invest is to spend considerably less than you earn. For a variety of reasons, humans seem predisposed to spend more as their income rises. Thus the person making $30,000 a year imagines that if only they could earn $100,000 a year, they could save half of their net income. Yet when that happy day arrives, they generally find their expenses have risen in tandem with their income, and the anticipated ease of saving large chunks of money never materializes.

What qualifies as extreme frugality? Saving a third of one’s net income is a good start, though putting aside half of one’s net income is even better.

The lower one’s income, the more creative one has to be to save a significant percentage of one’s net income. On the plus side, the income tax burden for lower-income workers is low, so relatively little of gross income is lost to taxes.

The second half of the job is investing the accumulated capital in productive assets and/or enterprises. The root of capitalism is capital, and that includes not just financial capital (cash) but social capital (the value of one’s networks and associations) and human capital (one’s skills and experience and ability to master new knowledge and skills).

Cash invested in tools and new skills and collaborative networks can leverage a relatively modest sum of cash capital into a significant income stream, something that cannot be said of financial investments in a zero-interest rate world.

We hear a lot about the rising cost of college and the impossibility of getting a degree without loans or tens of thousands of dollars contributed by parents. I think my own experience is instructive, as there is another path: extreme frugality.

At 19, my two sets of parents were unable to provide me with more than a rust-bucket old car. My father sent me an airline ticket to visit him, but nobody ponied up any cash for tuition, books, or living expenses.


Step One was eliminating housing costs until I earned enough to pay rent. By good fortune, I was able to secure a work-trade housing situation: I was given a room filled with boxes of accounting records, and a path through the boxes to a bathroom and tiny kitchenette in trade for yard work.

Step Two: cut all other expenses to the bone. Since I was working for a remodeling contractor, I needed the car to get to the various jobsites, but I bicycled whenever possible to save on gasoline. I prepared all my own meals and avoided buying snacks, drinks, etc. until my income rose enough to swing such luxuries. I can count the number of drinks or meals I bought on campus in four years on one hand.

Music purchased: none. (We played our own music or listened to the radio on the jobsite.) Clothes purchased new: none. (That’s what church jumble sales/bazaars are for: $1 shirts, etc.) And so on.

Step Three: find a job with upside earnings and skills. I’d worked in snack bars and mowed lawns, but construction opened up opportunities to advance my skills and gain sufficient proficiency to deserve a raise in pay.

Since I wasn’t guaranteed any opportunity for advancement, I volunteered to work Saturdays for my bosses or anyone else on the crew who had sidework on the weekends. I volunteered my construction services to community groups to gain experience (there’s nothing like being responsible for the project, as opposed to just following orders) and open access to new networks of productive, accomplished people.

For example, I rebuilt the rotted redwood rear steps to the historic Agee House in the back of Manoa Valley for free. (Sadly, this wonderful building burned down a few years later.)

In business, the word “hustle” has the negative connotation of high pressure sales or a scam. In sports, it has a positive connotation of devoting more energy and effort as a means of compensating for lower skills or physical size. Step Three requires hustle: when you don’t have any advantages of capital, connections or skills, you have to acquire those by hustle and initiative.

Step Four: apply for obscure, small-sum scholarships. $500 may not sound like a lot, but it means competition will be lower and if you get it, that’s $500 you don’t have to earn. As you build your networks in the community, put the word out you’re looking for small scholarships for next semester’s tuition. In general, people tend to respond more positively to helping you with a specific goal rather than an open-ended or undefined goal such as “I need money for college.”

Step Five: work productively and ambitiously, i.e. work a lot but work smart. It never occurred to me that working 25+ hours a week and taking a full load of classes (4-5 classes and 15+ credits a semester) was something to bemoan–I was having a great time, and earned a 3.5 grade point average and my B.A. in four years.

60-hour work weeks should be considered the minimum effort necessary–but only if those hours are 100% productive work, not hours interrupted with games, phone calls, goofing off, etc. Those 60 hours are flat-out, power-out-the-work hours, not hours diluted by half-effort, distractions, etc.

Step Six: learn to do things yourself that cost money, such as maintaining your car. It’s not that hard to change the oil and other basics of maintenance.

If you push yourself and maintain a disciplined life, huge amounts of work can be ground through in a few hours. This is as true of digging a ditch as it is of plowing through texts and writing papers.

Tuition at the state university I attended (the University of Hawaii at Manoa) has risen enormously in the decades since I worked my way through college (roughly $9,000 a year now), but it’s still possible to work one’s way through if the student pursues all six steps assiduously and with perseverance and hustle and secures full-time work in summers.

One reason I did not bemoan working long hours and practicing extreme frugality was that this was still the default setting in a few dwindling enclaves of our culture and economy. The idea that you could borrow money for everything you wanted had not yet conquered the culture and economy: thrift in service of big goals was still a cultural norm.

In other words, what I did wasn’t heroic or unusual; it was the norm.

I should mention that my university years overlapped with the deepest recession (at that time) since the Great Depression: 1973-74. Work was hard to come by, gasoline skyrocketed in price, and inflation started to outpace wages, especially in the low-wage jobs typically available to college students.

It was not a cakewalk by any means.

The upside of relentlessly pursuing Steps One – Six is tremendous: personal integrity, financial independence, and the other powerful freedoms that accrue to these foundations. Measured by income and things I owned, I was “poor.” But measured by independence and by skills and networks gained, I was wealthy in many important ways.

Extreme frugality enabled me to not just finish college in four years but to buy a (cheap) parcel of land while still a student with cash and have a substantial savings account by graduation day.

I don’t look back on those years of voluntary deprivation in service of independence, freedom, knowledge, and social and human capital as “poor me:” I see them as the extremely positive, productive template that I have followed in the decades since. I never did marry or inherit money, and so whatever I have now is the direct result of extreme frugality in service of integrity, independence and the accrual of capital that can be productively invested.

The only leverage available to all is extreme frugality in service of accumulating savings that can be productively invested in building human, social and financial capital.

Debt is serfdom, capital in all its forms is freedom.

Debt = Serfdom (April 2, 2013)

How Frugal Are You? (August 7, 2010)

 

Chinese Media Compares Japan PM To “Terrorists And Fascists”; Blasts Abe’s Homage To “Devils”, Urges Boycott | Zero Hedge

Chinese Media Compares Japan PM To “Terrorists And Fascists”; Blasts Abe’s Homage To “Devils”, Urges Boycott | Zero Hedge.

On Thursday, Japan prime minister Shinzo Abe stunned the world by defying everyone – including the EU and the US whose embassy sent a tersely worded letter in which is said that it is “disappointed that Japan’s leadership has taken an action that will exacerbate tensions with Japan’s neighbors” – when he visited the Yasukuni Shrine where Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal after World War Two are honored along with those who died in battle, for the first time in 7 years. The response was fast and furious. Below, courtesy of Reuters, is a snapshot of the morning after in the Chinese media. The reviews of Abe’s action were not glowing.

In an editorial headlined “Abe’s paying homage to the devils makes people outraged”, the Chinese military’s People’s Liberation Army Daily said Abe’s action had “seriously undermined the stability of the region”.

“On one hand, Abe is paying homage to war criminals, and on the other hand, he talks about improving relations with China, South Korea and other countries,” the newspaper said. “It is simply a sham, a mouthful of lies.

“Today, the Chinese people have the ability to defend peace and they have a greater ability to stop all provocative militarism.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Abe’s visit to the shrine “has already attracted the Chinese people’s ire and denunciation”.

“How can a person who is not willing to face up to their own history, to facts, win the trust of the international community or cause people to believe he has a role to play in maintaining regional and global peace and stability?” Hua said at a daily news briefing.

In a separate commentary published under the pen name “Zhong Sheng”, or “Voice of China”, the Communist Party’s People’s Daily said: “History tells us that if people do not correctly understand the evils of the fascist war, cannot reflect on war crimes, a country can never (achieve) true rejuvenation.

The Global Times, an influential nationalistic tabloid owned by the People’s Daily, urged China to shut its door to Abe and other Japanese officials who have visited the shrine this year.

“If condemnations are China’s only recourse, then the nation is giving up its international political rights easily,” the newspaper said. “Ineffective countermeasures will make China be seen as a ‘paper tiger’ in the eyes of the rest of the world.

“In the eyes of China, Abe, behaving like a political villain, is much like the terrorists and fascists on the commonly seen blacklists.”

A survey on China’s Sina Weibo microblogging site on Thursday showed that almost 70 percent of respondents would support a boycott of Japanese goods, with many users expressing outrage at the shrine visit. The survey was later removed.

And yet, all of this appears set to blow over since China, like America, is now more focused on daily noise: the topic was not one of the most talked about on Weibo, with people being more distracted by the latest celebrity gossip and the upcoming new year.

 

Why Political Protests Ultimately Always Fail | The Underground Investor

Why Political Protests Ultimately Always Fail | The Underground Investor.

Currently in Bangkok, Thailand, protests against the government remain strong with tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands regularly gathering across the city in an attempt to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office. However, there are many reasons why such protests never achieve their long-term goals, even when they achieve their short-term objectives. For example, were the protestors to successfully oust current PM Yingluck Shinawatra from office as they so desire, the political system is so corrupt that another corrupt PM would just replace her. Therefore, the protestors, who fail to understand and attack the root of the underlying problems of corruption- the bankers that monopolize control of the country’s monetary supply- instead attack the symptoms and manifestations of the corruption. Thus, corruption will always remain. When a Prime Minister or President anywhere in the world states,and actually does, the following: “I will rout out all bankers that manipulate interest rates, stock markets, commodity markets, real estate markets, forex markets and every single banker that prevents free markets from operating within my country”, then that will be a politician worthy of the people’s support. Any politician that fails to do this is unworthy of leading their country and unworthy of the respect of the citizens whom they supposedly serve. Though there have been some violent confrontations among Thai protesters and police thus far, since the bankers that run all countries know that the people’s focus on a corrupt politician is a welcome distraction from the true culprits of economic malaise (them), they are willing not to escalate violence against the protesters. However, if the protesters ever turn their protests to the people they should be trying to kick out of their country – the banking elite – such tolerance will go right out the window, as it did with the US police and Occupy Wall Street protesters when the Occupy Wall Streeters brought much too much attention upon them corrupt banking cartels for their comfort.

thailand political protests, yingluck shinawatra

bprotests

 Thailand Political Protests, Sukhumvit Road, 22 December 2013

Kicking Yingluck Shinawatra out of office in Thailand, as is the misinformed goal of the protesters, will bring no sustainable change to Thailand despite the misguided ideals among the protesters that doing so will bring about a “better tomorrow” for their country. Leave the same corrupt bankers in control of your country and they will replace an ousted corrupt politician with another. One merely needs to learn from the mistakes of other misguided citizens. In Mexico in 2000, Mexicans were enormously ecstatic in replacing the corrupt Ernesto Zedillo and the 71-year ruling PRI government with Vicente Fox, until Fox revealed his true colors as a corrupt wolf in sheep’s clothing. In America in 2009, corrupt Barack Obama replaced corrupt George W. Bush, and so on and so on. There is an old saying that we must be the change we desire to be. The problem with this saying is that many of us will support corruption as long as we benefit from that corrupt leader because we have a “what’s in it for me?” mentality that is detrimental for not only the citizens of the countries in which we reside, but also for the citizens of the world. Until we can expand our horizons beyond our socio-economic demographic and beyond our countries to support integrity, honor, courage and justice for all peoples in all countries outside of our race, religious and political affiliations, and socio-economic statuses, we will continue to fail to bring about real positive change in this world no matter how many hundreds of thousands of people stand beside us and protest corruption in this world.

In the end, ousting political leaders is just about cutting off one of the snakes from the head of Medusa only to see another one grow back in its place. I spoke today to a good friend that attended the protests. He said that he spoke to an elderly woman that told him she was participating in the anti-government protests so she could leave a better country for her grandchildren. This false belief is precisely what is wrong with political protests of this nature, because ousting Yingluck Shinawatra from Thailand will accomplish nothing long-term in preventing corruption if the criminal bankers that back all corrupt politicians are not ousted along with her.  If we desire real change, we must unite with all of our brothers and sisters engaged in similar struggles around the world and attack the individuals that fund these corrupt politicians and rout the money masters behind these politicians out of our countries first and foremost. And that is how we can bring about real, sustainable positive change for all of humanity. If political protests focused on the real culprits of economic instability within their countries, then they could be immensely successful in bringing about real change. However, as long as they focus on distractions and the players of the game rather than the real culprits, politicians will continue to sell all of us “hope” and “change we can believe in” and continue laughing behind our backs all the way to the bank.

Why Political Protests End Up Changing Absolutely Nothing

 

Glenn Greenwald and Sibel Edmonds: Two Whistleblowing Heroes Washington’s Blog

Glenn Greenwald and Sibel Edmonds: Two Whistleblowing Heroes Washington’s Blog.

Greenwald and Edmonds Have Both Done Tremendous Good

Glenn Greenwald and Sibel Edmonds are both heroes.

Greenwald has not only published the Snowden leaks, but has railed against torture, drone warfare, government secrecy and many other forms of government corruption and abuse for many years.

Former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds was very well known after 9/11 for her allegations about corruption in U.S. intelligence agencies.

Edmonds was been deemed credible by:

The ACLU described Edmonds as:

The most gagged person in the history of the United States of America.

As such, Edmonds knows what it’s like to be a whistleblower.

And famed Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg – who is a hero to Greenwald and Snowden – says that Edmonds possesses information “far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers”.

Additionally, Edmonds broke the story this summer that a former NSA whistleblower says the government is using the information obtained by spying to blackmail people … including government officials. Edmonds’ reporting led PBS and other media to interview the whistleblower.

Greenwald has recently become much better-known that Edmonds:

But that doesn’t mean that she should be brushed off as unimportant.

The Main Difference Between Greenwald and Edmonds

Greenwald and Edmonds have butted heads concerning allegations that Greenwald’s new employer – EBay founder Pierre Omidyar – has cooperated with the NSA and is suppressing Snowden documents.   (We have no idea whether or not the allegations are true,  because we have not talked to any sources who would know.)

But we believe that a more important difference between Greenwald and Edmonds has to do with their interest in false flag terrorism.

Specifically, governments from around the world have ADMITTED that they carry out false flag terror… terrorist acts which they falsely blame on their enemies in order to justify.

Edmonds frequently writes on the topic … but Greenwald has never written a single word on it.

Given that the NSA spied on the 9/11 hijackers and Americans BEFORE 9/11, and that one of the NSA’s main justifications for spying – the lone wolf terrorist – is a myth, Greenwald should be naturally-curious about this topic.

And given that the NSA has carried out offensive attacks which were intentionally made to look like mere equipment malfunction,  Greenwald should be interested in this area.

And given that it is well-documented that false flag terror has routinely been used by governments around the world (Christian, Muslim, Jewish and otherwise) to consolidate control and justify wars – two topics that Greenwald repeatedly addresses – it seems like false flags should be an area of interest for Greenwald.

The bottom line is that Greenwald has done a tremendous amount of good for many years writing about spying, secrecy, torture and war.

His blind spot appears to be false flag terror…

 

Fury with MPs is main reason for not voting – poll | Politics | The Guardian

Fury with MPs is main reason for not voting – poll | Politics | The Guardian.

The Houses of Parliament at dusk

The Houses of Parliament at dusk. Rage against politicians is the dominant sentiment across just about every sub-stratum of the electorate. Photograph: Andrew Winning/Reuters

Nearly half of Britons say they are angry with politics and politicians, according to a Guardian/ICM poll analysing the disconnect between British people and their democracy.

The research, which explores the reasons behind the precipitous drop in voter turnout – particularly among under-30s – finds that it is anger with the political class and broken promises made by high-profile figures that most rile voters, rather than boredom with Westminster.

Asked for the single word best describing “how or what you instinctively feel” about politics and politicians in general, 47% of respondents answered “angry”, against 25% who said they were chiefly “bored”.

Negative sentiments vastly outnumber positive, with only 16% reporting feeling “respectful” towards people doing a difficult job, while a vanishingly small proportion of 2% claim to feel “inspired”.

Graphic: voter apathy, ballot blocksResponding to fears about disengagement by young people from politics, the Tory MP Chloe Smith, a former minister at 31, told the Guardian there was a danger of a political disconnect between young and old, with “generations far apart and not talking to each other”. One of her ministerial briefs included improving voter engagement.

“I think there is an existential problem coming for traditional forms of British democracy, which it is in everyone’s interests, all of us as democrats, to respond to,” she said. “We have to demonstrate what politics is for, why a young person’s individual action in voting matters.”

When Harold Wilson won the 1964 election, more than three quarters of people cast their vote and turnout was roughly equal across the generations. But according to data from Ipsos Mori, at the last election 76% of over-65s were still voting, while only 46% aged 18-24 were going to the ballot box.

Graphic: voter apathy, rageRage is the dominant sentiment across just about every sub-stratum of the electorate, but is especially marked among men, northerners, voters over 45 and the lower DE occupational grade.

Labour voters, too, are disproportionately cross. But supporters of Ukip, the party that put itself on the map in 2013 with big gains in local elections, reflect the mood of the times most intensely: more than two-thirds, 68%, say the thought of politics and politicians makes them more angry than anything else.

Deborah Mattinson, a former pollster to Gordon Brown and now an expert at BritainThinks, believes politicians have not begun to grasp the scale of the problem. “Voter disengagement is getting worse and worse,” she says. “Nobody is really taking it seriously enough.”

Recent high-profile celebrity interventions on the subject have served to underline the growing disconnection. The former England footballer Michael Owen told the Guardian for the paper’s series on voter apathythat he had never voted.

Graphic: voter apathy, power brokersRussell Brand expressed the disaffection of many in October when he told Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight that he had never voted because he “can’t be arsed”, adding later: “The only reason to vote is if the vote represents power or change. I don’t think it does.”

After the interview, which received more than 10m hits on YouTube, Paxman said he understood Brand’s decision, dubbing Westminster politics a “green-bench pantomime … a remote and self-important echo-chamber”.

Reflecting such sentiments, the polling shows that ennui is more marked among the young, rivalling fury as the dominant feeling about politics among voters aged 18-24, who are evenly split 34%-34% between boredom and anger.

Graphic: voter apathy, talkBoredom is marked in one other group, too – those voters of all ages who admit to being unlikely to vote. But even among those who rate their chance of turning out as four or lower on a 10-point scale, the angry marginally outnumber the bored, by 41% to 40%. When asked what puts people off voting, the cause of that anger is the perception that politicians do not keep their promises. Nearly two voters in every three, 64%, nominated the failure of governments to honour their pledges as something that would put them off casting a ballot – higher than any other factor.

In the week that the former Labour minister Denis MacShane was jailed for fraud, the continuing damage done to parliament’s reputation by the expenses scandal of 2009 is also plain – 46% of respondents identify the sense that “MPs are just on the take” as a thought that would discourage them from turning up at the polling station.

Only around a third of potential voters, 34% of the total, say they are put off by careerist candidates who “don’t say what they believe”. Just 26% regard the parties as “so similar that [voting] makes little difference”, and only 25% see the failure of the parties to “represent my mix of views” as a particular problem.

Meanwhile, the mechanics of democracy – the focus of thinktank proposals for automatic postal ballots or weekend voting – emerge as a virtual irrelevance.

Only 2% of the electorate regard the inconvenience of registering and then casting a vote as a reason not to do so, suggesting that proposed measures such as weekend or electronic voting are unlikely to make a big difference to election turnout.

Other findings though suggest that Britons remain convinced that politics matters. An overwhelming 86% told ICM that the “decisions politicians make” are either “very important” or “fairly important” to their own lives, as against just one in ten who said that such choices were “not that” or “not at all” important in day-to-day life. And there is remarkably little difference between voters and non-voters here: even among those unlikely to turn-out some 80% do believe that political choices will affect them.

Furthermore, Britons continue to talk politics regularly. A clear majority of the electorate as a whole, 62% of respondents, claim to discuss “politics or the sort of issues affected by politics” with friends and family at least once every fortnight, and a substantial minority of 29% claims to do so at least “every few days”. Across the population, the pollster estimates an average of 72 political discussions a year. ICM finds somewhat less frequent political discussion among the youth and among likely non-voters, but even among these disaffected groups such conversations will crop up in more weeks than not.

ICM Research interviewed an online sample of 2023 adults aged 18+ online on 20-22 December 2013. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

 

Beirut Blast Killing Ex-Minister Shows Creeping Syrian Divisions – Bloomberg

Beirut Blast Killing Ex-Minister Shows Creeping Syrian Divisions – Bloomberg.

A car bomb shook downtown Beirut today, killing former Finance Minister Mohamad Chatah and five other people, underscoring how the fallout from Syria’s civil war is deepening divisions in neighboring Lebanon.

Fifty others were injured when the bomb, rigged with about 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of explosives packed inside a stolen Honda, detonated around 9:45 a.m. local time, the state-run National News Agency reported. Chatah, 62, a member of the Western-backed March 14 coalition, was traveling to meet other people in the group when the attack occurred.

The strike was the first to target a member of the March 14 organization since a wave of explosions began shaking Lebanon in July. Most of the assaults have targeted Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group, a member of the rival March 8 alliance that has supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“This comes in the context of the Sunni-Shiite conflict triggered by the war in Syria,” Sami Nader, a professor of international relations at Beirut’s St. Joseph University, said in a telephone interview. This blast was a “direct message to the moderate Sunnis in Lebanon and their Saudi supporters,” he said.

News of the death of Chatah, an adviser to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, was posted on March 14’s official website.

Security officials and forensic experts inspected the scene of the blast in an area of Beirut that houses the Parliament building, government headquarters and Hariri’s house, where the March 14 coalition was set to meet. Hariri has been living abroad for security reasons.

Hezbollah Powers

The attack occurred amid deep divisions in Lebanon over the war in Syria, pitting mostly Sunni rebels against Assad, who is an Alawite, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. March 14, a coalition of several parties including the mostly Sunni Muslim Future Movement, supports the opposition while the March 8 alliance, which includes Iran-backed Hezbollah, supports Assad.

In his last statement on Twitter, posted shortly before today’s blast, Chatah, a Sunni Muslim, wrote that Hezbollah “is pressing hard to be granted similar powers in security & foreign policy” that Syria exercised in Lebanon for 15 years.

Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terrorist group, with a stronghold in southern Lebanon, receives support from Iran. The group has sent fighters to support Assad’s army in Syria.

“This ugly crime comes in the framework of the crimes and bombings that aim at destroying the country,” Hezbollah said in an e-mailed statement. The group “strongly condemns the crime” that led to Chatah’s death, it said.

Violence Surging

Iran, whose Beirut embassy was targeted by twin blasts last month, alleged today’s attack carried “fingerprints of the Zionist enemy,” the Islamic Republic’s ambassador to Lebanon, Ghzanfar Asl Roknabadi, told Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV today in an interview.

Violence has surged in Lebanon in the six months since Hezbollah acknowledged joining Assad’s side in the Syrian civil war. Attackers have targeted Hezbollah strongholds in Beirut and the Bekaa Valley while twin explosions also ripped through Sunni Muslim mosques in the northern city of Tripoli.

Chatah’s assassination came two weeks before the U.N.- backed Special Tribunal for Lebanonbegins the trial of four Hezbollah suspects over the 2005 killing of Hariri’s father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

“This is a message of terror to Lebanon,” Hariri said in a statement on Future TV, adding that those responsible for assassinating Chatah were the same who killed his father.

Chatah spent years learning and working in the U.S., according to his resume. In 1983 he received a doctorate in economics from the University of Texas. From 1997 to 1999 he was Lebanon’s ambassador to Washington. A former adviser to the International Monetary Fund, Chatah was married and had two children.

 

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