Everyone is curious who those unmarked men in unforms that have been seen in youtube clips from the Crimea are. Courtesy of Russian blogger Lev Shlosberg who writes for the newspaper Pskovskaya Guberniya, we now have an answer: according to him they are the officers of the 76th Chernihov (Pskov) Storm Troops Division and have slowly dispersed across key choke points in Ukraine.
According to one of the participants in the operation, officers and contractors of the 76th Shock Troops Division have been re-locating to Ukrainian territory since last week. By early this week, there were already more than 100 soldiers. The last of the famous detachments was sent on Thursday, 27 February. They are fully armed, with 5,000 rounds of ammunition per person. There is one truck per 10 soldiers, and they are completely loaded with weapons including flame-throwers. Upon arrival on the territory of Ukraine, they did not report their geographical locations to people, and they were assigned local tasks. Most likely, this was Sevastopol and Simferopol. Emergency troops remain in Yysk, and did not take part in the operation. The barracks of the 76th Storm Troops Division on Margelova Street in Pskov is practically empty.
Some background on the 76th:
Originally established in 1939 as the 157th Rifle Brigade, division gained prominence during WWII as the 76th Guards Rifle Division fighting on the USSR’s southern frontiers. From 1988-1992 the 76th Airborne Division, as it had become known, engaged in preventative security, averting the possible outbreak of war in former USSR territory. The division battled alongside Chechen paramilitary forces in the 1990s to wrest control of Chechen territories from Chechen separatists in the first and second Chechen wars. In 2006 the 76th Airborne Division became an Air Assault Division. During the 2008 Battle of Tskhinvali 76th Airborne Division assaults were instrumental in driving Georgian troops from South Ossetia in the Southern Caucasus.
The 76th Division comprises three regiments – the 104th, 234th and 237th, whose ranks are filled by full time professional servicemen, as opposed to conscripts. The division is equipped with the most sophisticated weaponry in modern warfare, such as the ‘smart’ precision guided munitions, guided missiles and 2S9 NONA self-propelled mortar vehicles.
Perhaps not surprising, it was the 76th that was also involved in Syria:
Given the worsening crisis in Syria, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper reported that the Russian army is apparently being prepared for a mission in Syria. Citing anonymous sources in the military leadership, the newspaper said that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the general staff to work out a plan for military operations outside Russia, including in Syria.
The units being prepared for an intervention are the 76th Division of airborne forces (an especially experienced unit of the Russian army), the 15th Army Division, as well as special forces from a brigade of the Black Sea fleet, which has a base in the Syrian port of Tartus.
The details of the operational plan are being prepared by the working parties of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, to which most of the post-Soviet states belong, as well as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, to which China and Russia belong.
And the 76th appears to have been busy today: Ayder Muzhdabayev, deputy editor of Moskovsky Komsomolets, reported on Facebook 2 hours ago:
Urgent from Crimea
Armed divisions have seized the state television station (GTRK) of Crimea. All the staff have gathered together at the Crimean Tatar TV channel ATR, hundreds of others have come. They are waiting for the seizure. Several APCs have arrived. For now, they’ve passed by. They are also expected seizure of the building of the Crimean Tatar’s Medjlis [Assembly]. People are already going there. Everyone is afraid of what will happen tonight. There it is.
Friends, colleagues, take care of yourself! Don’t resist the military. God save Crimea!
It would appear Putin is not exactly deterred by Obama’s harsh language.
Obama is scheduled to speak on the Ukraine 4:45pm. He may not even be half an hour last this time. And while we are waiting, we just got this:
- U.S. BELIEVES GROUND TROUPS IN CRIMEA ARE INDEED RUSSIAN: CNN
Perhaps this confirms there are no Russian troops on the ground after all.
Well that was quick:
- OBAMA SAYS ‘DEEPLY CONCERNED’ BY RUSSIAN MILITARY MOVEMENTS
- OBAMA SAYS “THERE WILL BE COSTS” FOR MILITARY INTERVENTION IN UKRAINE
- OBAMA SAYS “UKRAINE PEOPLE DESERVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO DETERMINE THEIR OWN FUTURE”
- OBAMA SAYS HE COMMENDS RESTRAINT OF UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT
- OBAMA SAYS BIDEN HAS SPOKEN WITH PRIME MINISTER OF UKRAINE
- OBAMA SAYS U.S. SUPPORTS UKRANIAN SOVERIGNTY
And… that’s it: no statement on what if anything the US will do if Russia keeps its presence there and continues piling troops and equipment.
Act 1: Japanese Prime Minister Had to Fly In to Fukushima In the Middle of the Night to Get the Scoop from Low-Level Nuclear Workers … Because Tepco Wouldn’t Tell Him the Truth
In this 27-second video, Amy Goodman summarizes her interview with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan:
We just came from Tokyo. We broadcast for three days from Japan. And we’re going to play the interview I did with the former prime minister, the one in charge at the time [of the Fukushima disaster], Naoto Kan. He said it was extremely difficult to get a straight answer from TEPCO, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, that ran the plants, and he had to fly in. He figured the only place he could get a straight, nonpolitical answer—he flew in the middle of the night to the plant to talk to the workers to figure out whether he had to evacuate 50 million people in Tokyo.
This is not the first time Tepco has been less than honest:
- An official Japanese government investigation concluded that the Fukushima accident was a “man-made” disaster, caused by “collusion” between government and Tepco and bad reactor design
- Tepco knew right after the 2011 accident that 3 nuclear reactors had lost containment, that the nuclear fuel had “gone missing”, and that there was in fact no real containment at all. Tepco has desperately been trying to cover this up for 2 and a half years … instead pretending that the reactors were in “cold shutdown”
- Tepco admitted that it’s known for 2 years that massive amounts of radioactive water are leaking into the groundwater and Pacific Ocean, but covered it up
- Tepco falsely claimed that all of the radiation was somehow contained in the harbor right outside the nuclear plants
- Tepco has substantially under-reported the amount of radiation released at Fukushima
- Tepco – with no financial incentive to actually fix things – has only been pretending to clean it up. And see this
Act 2: U.S.Nuclear Authorities Were Extremely Worried About West Coast Getting Hit By Fukushima Radiation … But Publicly Said It Was Safe
Nuclear expert Ed Lyman – chief scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists – said:
While the U.S. government was telling the American people there was nothing to fear from Fukushima and that U.S. plants aren’t vulnerable to the same problems, internally, they were—there was a much different story. So we’ve learned from a lot of Freedom of Information Act documents that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the White House were actually very concerned about the potential impact of radiation from Fukushima affecting not only Americans in Tokyo, which was more than a hundred miles away from the plant, but also Americans on the West Coast. And they were furiously running calculations to try to figure out how bad it could get. But there was no sense of this in what they were telling the public.
Indeed, Seattle residents were exposed to dangerous radioactive “hot particles” because the government didn’t warn residents:
This is similar to the Japanese government withholding radiation plume data from evacuating Fukushima residents … which caused them to evacuate to areas of very high radiation.
EneNews rounds up details on the freedom of information act information.
As RRSP season closes and many Canadians prepare for tax time, a CBC Marketplace investigation reveals that financial advisers at some of Canada’s top banks and firms are giving consumers inaccurate, misleading and inappropriate advice.
Meanwhile, consumers face a complicated patchwork of regulatory bodies if they want to complain about bad investment advice, as some investor rights groups call for more robust consumer protection rules.
Since a third of Canadians rely on advisers to help them make financial decisions, Marketplace sent a person wearing hidden cameras to visit the five big banks and five popular investment firms in Ontario. The full investigation, Show Me The Money, reveals how individual banks and firms performed. The show, including practical tips on how to hire a financial adviser, airs Friday at 8:00 p.m. (8:30 p.m. NL) on CBC Television.
“That’s one of the worst pieces of advice I’ve ever heard in my life,” financial analyst and former adviser Preet Banerjee told Marketplace co-host Erica Johnson when shown hidden camera footage of one of the tests. “That was atrocious. That’s the only word to describe that advice.”
Hidden camera investigation
The tests revealed a wide range in the quality of advisers. Some performed well, giving clear answers and asking appropriate questions about the tester’s financial situation and risk tolerance. Other interactions, however, Banerjee found troubling.
In some cases, information was incorrect or misleading – even in response to direct questions, such as how fees are calculated. Some gave unrealistic promises about returns, including one adviser who said that a $50,000 investment should increase by $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000 in one year.
Others failed to adequately assess the customer’s risk profile, which advisers are supposed to use to ascertain the suitability of investment products they recommend to a person.
In an unusual twist, one firm tried to recruit the Marketplace tester to become an adviser herself. While some designations and certifications do require training, and individuals have to be licensed to sell specific products, “financial adviser” is not a protected term. There are currently about 100,000 advisers in Canada.
Several advisers in the Marketplace test neglected to include any conversation of paying down debt in their financial advice, which Banerjee says reveals a conflict of interest that most consumers don’t consider as they’re weighing the recommendations of an adviser.
“If you invest there’s a commission involved with that, or a percentage of assets,” he said. “But if you pay down debt, there’s no financial incentive for the adviser to do that. So that’s one of those conflicts of interests that people should know about.”
As a result of the Marketplace investigation, one firm suspended the employee and reported the behaviour to the regulatory body, the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).
Change coming slowly
The Marketplace test was similar to a broader mystery-shopper test in the UK by the Financial Services Authority. That test included 231 mystery shopping tests of investment advice at six major firms. The results of that test, made public last year, found that more than 25 per cent of investment advice was of poor quality because it was unsuitable or because the adviser did not collect enough information to be able to make the recommendations.
Ontario firms could face a test this year, as the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) conducts a mystery shop to determine the quality of investment advice. While the OSC declined to provide specific details about its test to Marketplace, the results are expected to become public later this year.
However, investor rights advocates are critical of slow-moving efforts to provide better consumer protection. In a letter to the OSC, the Investor Advisory Panel pressed for reform, including how fees are structured and how complaints are investigated. “We have debated, discussed and studied the issues and their solutions for many years. It is time for decisions that will lead to a more robust investor protection regime in Canada.”
Among the most pressing issues: Financial advisers are not in fact required to act in the client’s best interest.
“There’s a big debate raging about that very issue right now,” says Banerjee. “So, it seems in a couple of years they will be bound to do what’s in the client’s best interest. But right now that’s not actually regulation.”
That runs contrary to the very reason many Canadians turn to advisers in the first place.
“If you walk into a financial institution, I think the average person on the street assumes they’re going to have someone who’s going to take care of all their financial issues,” says Banerjee. “But on the other side of the desk, there’s a wide range of people that you could see. Some of them are just order-takers or salespeople and others are true financial planning professionals.”
Patchwork complaints process
For consumers struggling with the consequences of bad investment advice, a confusing patchwork of organizations oversee complaints, including IIROC, the Mutual Fund Dealers Association (MFDA) and provincial securities associations. Each body oversees different types of complaints, depending on the nature of the complaint or the type of product the adviser is licensed to sell.
The Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) also investigates complaints, but only for participating banks and firms. And OBSI has limited enforcement powers, offering only non-binding recommendations, so it’s entirely up to the bank or firm to decide whether or not to comply.
OBSI’s 2013 report, released this week, reveals a sharp increase in the number of banks and firms refusing to compensate investors for mistakes.
According to the report, banks and investment firms refused to pay back investors even when OBSI found wrongdoing in 10 cases last year. In total, investors were denied more than $1.3 million in restitution. The OBSI report called this trend “disappointing.”
Marketplace notified all of the banks and firms about the test and approached some for interviews, but all declined. Some viewed the test as an isolated incident; others vowed to investigate and take appropriate measures.
A fire at the the Hazelwood open-cut coal mine has turned a large swathe of Morwell, Australia into something out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Mordor.
The fire at the mine has been blazing for three weeks and is believed to be the result of a bushfire started by an arsonist. The town of Morwell and its 14,000 inhabitants has been blanketed in smoke and authorities fear it could take months to completely extinguish the blaze. The town is about 150 km east of Melbourne.
The blaze poses a difficult challenge for firefighters because even when flames are extinguished the coal continues to smoulder. The fire can reignite at any moment and rages underground. Firefighters are concerned about the danger posed by landslides caused by the huge quantity of water being used on the flames.
Let’s hope they get things under control soon.
HERE WE GO: Ukraine Acting President Says Russia Has Invaded Ukraine, As 2000 Russian Troops, Military Jets Arrive | Zero Hedge
Here we go:
- UKRAINE ACTING PRESIDENT TURCHYNOV STARTS BRIEFING
- UKRAINE LEADER SAYS RUSSIA STARTS AGGRESSION AGAINST COUNTRY
- UKRAINE SAYS RUSSIA INVADED UKRAINE UNDER GUISE OF EXERCISE
- UKRAINE LEADER SAYS RUSSIA TRYING TO PROVOKE CONFLICT
- UKRAINE LEADER SAYS RUSSIA SEEKING TO ANNEX CRIMEA
- UKRAINE’S TURCHYNOV SAYS WILL DEFEND ITS INDEPENDENCE
- UKRAINE ACTING PRESIDENT ACCUSES RUSSIA OF WORKING ON A SCENARIO LIKE BEFORE WAR WITH GEORGIA
At the same time, Ukraine Pravda is reporting that Russian military planes are now landing in the Crimea.
Russian airplanes are landing in Crimea from the direction of Russia, and a column of APCs is heading from the east toward Simferopol.
There are reports of at least 5 large IL-76 planes landing in the district of the military airfield in the town of Gvardeyskoye.
Various sources are reporting that a column of 10 Russian APCs is heading from Sevastopol toward Simfereopol.
Interfax Ukraine reports that all air traffic is halted at the Belbek Airport in Sevastopol due to the seizure of the landing strip by unknown persons.
“There are about 400 people now in the Belbek airport. They have occpuied the landing strip and any movement of planes is stopped,” said a source.
Finally. AFP reports:
- 2,000 RUSSIAN SOLDIERS LAND IN CRIMEA IN ARMED INVASION, KIEV OFFICIAL SAYS — AFP
Is it starting?
Privatisation of state-owned companies is a critical element of the 10 billion-euro rescue package [EPA]
|The Cypriot parliament has thrown out a vital privatisation bill the country needs to secure the next batch of international bailout money to avoid bankruptcy.
The country’s opposition-dominated parliament will vote again next week on a proposed road map for the sale of state assets following concerns that workers’ rights will not be safeguarded.
Government spokesman Christos Stylianides said on Friday that the legislation would be amended to accommodate concerns over rights and submitted to the House of Representatives again.
Prodromos Prodromou, the spokesman for the ruling right-wing Democratic Rally party, told The Associated Press news agency that politicians would re-convene on Tuesday, a day before the deadline set by creditors in order to release a 236 million-euro ($326 million) instalment.
The privatisation of state-owned companies is a critical element of a 10 billion-euro ($13.81 billion) rescue package for Cyprus, which agreed to the measures a year ago in a deal with other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund.
However, opposition to the privatisation plans has become strong, especially from left-wing parties that fear mass layoffs and the sale of national wealth. Workers at the state electricity, telecommunications and ports authorities have staged strikes to protest the bill.
The setback was particularly galling for the Cypriot government, which has repeatedly earned praise from lenders for exceeding its reform targets.
“Privatisations are a clear obligation,” Finance Minister Harris Georgiades recently said. “We have to understand that that if we sink, then we’ll all go down together.'”
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, who brokered the initial accord with lenders a year ago, said reforms would continue. “I am determined that the country continue its path towards stabilisation and recovery,” he said on his official Twitter account.
Reform efforts were almost derailed in September when parliament again vetoed a bill recapitalising cooperative banks, before another hastily-convened session later approved it.
The terms of the rescue package took a huge toll on Cypriot banks after authorities seized large chunks of uninsured deposits, shut down the second largest lender and imposed capital controls.
More APCs And Helicopters As The Airspace Closes: The Latest Developments From The Ukraine | Zero Hedge
While the latest official development surrounding the Ukraine crisis is that in under two hours, or at 3pm, the UN Security council will meet to discuss the situation in Crimea, Censor.net, citing Christopher Miller, the editor of Kyiv Post, reported the following:
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) February 28, 2014
Below is the google translated story from Censor:
In Crimea, Black Sea Fleet commander of Russian Federation Alexander Vitko announced the beginning of the war with Ukraine. Such information TSN confirmed MP from the “homeland”, the former chairman of the Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people Mustafa Cemil
According to him, on Thursday, February 27 in Sevastopol Vice Admiral Vitko gathered all the generals and said, “We start war with Ukraine. ”
About the Jemilev meeting only became known today, February 28.
In addition, according to the deputy, the morning without permission border of Ukraine, trying to bypass finders crossed four helicopters from Anapa. Moreover, he noted that Ukraine is now Russia does not oppose, and Ukrainians are on the verge of very dramatic events.
“The only way out here, I think that we have the strength to impose emergency rule, bring our troops and take control of all state institutions,” – said Cemil.
He asked about acting Ukrainian President empowered Commander of the Armed Forces, Alexander Turchinov.
“Now I’m with Turchynov said that what we have military units, the forces necessary to throw everything in the Crimea. Elsewhere us no threat yet, enter PE and throw under control. But again, there is concern that we provoke, that we may not have enough forces, “- stated the MP.
He believes Russia will not go to full-scale war, but “the country must defend their dignity, basic rights of its citizens.”
“I constantly call and say: if Ukraine can not do something, let us at least a weapon,” – said the ex- Head of Mejlis.
Moreover, he noted that the Crimean Tatars no sense to stand with machine guns and pistols against “armed to the teeth with the Russian army” which means “let the people to death.”
Is this merely a provocation from the Tatar source, or a glimpse into the endgame? We will find out soon. In the meantime, here are some of the other more recent developments from the Ukraine:
- UKRAINE CITES RUSSIAN VIOLATIONS OF AIRSPACE, FLEET ACCORDS
- UKRAINE URGES RUSSIA TO RETURN MILITARY UNITS TO BASES
- UKRAINE ISSUES NOTE OF PROTEST TO RUSSIA OVER CRIMEA
- UKRAINE SAYS DIDN’T ASK RUSSIA TO HELP MAINTAIN CIVIL ORDER
Ukrainian international airline says it has cancelled flights to #Crimea because “airspace is closed” -Reuters
— LBCI News English (@LBCI_News_EN) February 28, 2014
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) February 28, 2014
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— ????? ?????? (@oivshina) February 28, 2014
And more choppers:
(February 28, 2014)
Instability starts on the periphery and moves into the core.
While it is clear that the instability in periphery nations is arising from dynamics unique to each nation, there is one unifying causal factor: the spoils system in each nation is breaking down.
Every nation-state, from brutal dictatorships to nominal democracies, ultimately depends on a spoils system that provides the various factions, classes, etc., with sufficient material and status benefits to accept the Status Quo arrangement.
The more a regime relies on oppression for its legitimacy (for example, North Korea or Saddam’s Iraq), the greater its vulnerability to erosion in the spoils system, which naturally favor the military and the regime’s Elites.
In broad brush, the spoils available for distribution are the surplus generated by the national economy. In the case of North Korea, this surplus stems from extortion (of donations from other nations), satrapy (free oil from China) and illicit activities (arms sales and counterfeiting). A common source of surplus is oil (Venezuela, Iraq, Iran) or some other desirable commodity.
The vast majority of surpluses outside oil exporting nations have been generated by three factors: cheap energy, rising productivity and the expansion of credit. If we examine periods of rapid expansion and generalized prosperity, we find these three factors were active: cheap energy, rising productivity and ample credit.
Just look at Europe and the U.S. in the 1950s and 60s, Japan in the 1960s and 70s, and China in the 1980s and 90s for examples.
Any reversal in these factors reduces surplus and the spoils being distributed.Sharply higher energy costs crimp profits and cause recessions, stagnating productivity leads to near-zero growth and institutional/state sclerosis and credit contraction leads to recession and the destruction of malinvestments.
Since ruling Elites are by definition constantly picking winners and losers, any Status Quo operated by Elites is systematically malinvesting on a gargantuan scale. This is the ontological imperative of any Elite: skim as much of the national surplus as possible and funnel it to cronies and loyal toadies. The prudent Elites (and imprudent Elites don’t last long–the spoils system is quite Darwinian) set aside enough surplus to distribute as spoils, effectively buying the complicity of key sectors, classes, factions, etc.
Thus the default policy of any ruling Elite is bread and circuses: supply the potentially disruptive masses with food and entertainment, and they’ll continue their grudging support of whatever arrangement is supplying the bread and circuses.
Any mob that appears threatening can be dissipated with a “whiff of grapeshot.”
In the U.S., the spoils system is almost unlimited: corporate welfare for capital, food stamps and SSI disability for the lumpenproletariat, big-bucks jobs as water-carriers for the Elites for technocrats in the State, finance, think tanks, elite universities and Corporate America sectors, a variety of quasi-secure lower-level positions as enforcers, lackeys, apparatchiks and factotums and a smattering of tax subsidies (mortgage interest deduction, etc.) to placate what’s left of the non-state-dependent middle class.
The spoils system is not only the foundation of every Elites’ political legitimacy, it is the thin layer of plaster that covers all the longstanding ethnic, regional, linguistic, religious and political fault lines that run beneath current nation-state arrangements.
As noted in yesterday’s entry Ukraine: A Deep State Analysis, numerous national borders were drawn after World War II (1945) with little regard for historical divisions between various groups or preceding borders.
Entire nations were penciled into existence by Imperial diktat in complete disregard for existing historical groups–Iraq and Syria being just two examples of many.
As long as the stick of repression and the carrot of the spoils system were sufficiently persuasive, the tectonic plates beneath the regime were masked. But once the spoils system and the machinery of suppression crack, the old rivalries arise anew.
The spoils system can crack for two reasons: either the national surplus declines so there simply isn’t enough spoils left to keep everyone placated, or the spoils diversion to the Elites and their cronies exceeds the tipping point of legitimacy.
Greece and Venezuela are examples of the first dynamic, and Ukraine is an example of the second dynamic. Greece essentially funded its vast spoils distribution system with borrowed money. When the regime’s free-money machine finally broke, the spoils system crashed along with the legitimacy of the Status Quo.
Venezuela is suffering a similar crash, based not on a withdrawal of credit but on the current Elites’ destruction of the nation’s oil industry and what was left of its productive private economy.
In Ukraine, the plundering of the national surplus by oligarchic Elites finally exceeded the populace’s threshold of legitimacy, and once the armed forces and police refused to murder their cousins, brothers, nieces and nephews in the streets, the Status Quo arrangement collapsed.
Now that the spoils system has crumbled, all the historical tectonics and fault lines are emerging in full force. the same can be said of Iraq and many other inherently unstable nation-states/regimes.
Why is the periphery crumbling? It’s simple: the conditions that enabled rising national surpluses and the distribution of spoils is breaking down for three reasons:
1. Energy is no longer cheap (compared to past prices)
2. The low-hanging fruit of higher productivity has all been plucked
3. The free-money flood of cheap, limitless credit is drying up
As regimes find surplus and credit are both contracting, their ability to placate every key group with spoils is also declining, and the conflicts between them can no longer be patched over with bribery or brutality.
Instability starts on the periphery and moves into the core. I have covered this in depth a number of times:
Instability Start on the Margins (October 31, 2013)
The Core-Periphery Model (June 11, 2013)
EU Leaders Throw Europe a Plutonium Life Preserver (October 27, 2011)
Everywhere, the instability from a failing spoils system is seeping from the periphery into the core: the E.U., the U.S., China and India. Two Powder Kegs Ready to Blow: China & India (January 23, 2014)
This erosion of the spoils system has a peculiar characteristic: once the old spoils system cracks and collapses, it cannot be put back together. A new arrangement arises, despite the best self-serving efforts of the current Elites.
The Declaration of Independence boldly states:
“When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
Thomas Jefferson, writing on behalf of the independent-minded colonists in 1776, backed up the Declaration’s conclusion with numerous examples of British tyranny, stating: “To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”
Compare them to the United States and global system we live under today.
Are we now free? Examine the balance of power between individuals, endowed with natural rights by God, and government, Constitutionally bound to only limited powers, as well as the leading corporations of the private sector.
A 1946 national archive film released by Encyclopedia Britannica titled “Despotism” outlines several yardsticks for measuring the balance of power of a free society and that of an outright a despotism, according to scales of respect, power, economic distribution and information. Concentrated power and wealth, centralized information and monopolistic or oligopolistic control in any one of these areas tends to negatively affect the others, and renders freedom a mere illusion.
“Look beyond fine words and noble phrases,” the analyst in the archive film warns. The rhetoric of freedom in America or anywhere else on planet Earth is irrelevant if the power, wealth and opportunity resides in the hands of just a few, or worse a single entity. By any yardstick, society today is very far gone; the once free United States of America is far down the path of dictatorship, though it keeps wrapped in the stars and stripes of the flag and the lofty words of its founding ideals.
Now what? It is the duty of free people to seek and demand a better society once again.