Unlike so many television shows, House of Cards shows how politicians use their power to help themselves and their friends – not the people who elected them. The fictional character at the center of the series, Frank Underwood, shows us the pitfalls of bureaucratic democracy. As professor Steve Horwitz explains in this brief clip, the series exposes the truth of public choice theory, rent seeking behavior, psychopathic tendencies, Machiavellian inclinations, corruption, and scandal. House of Cards is not that far from reality theses days and the following 3 lessons should be heeded by every voter.
When the Arab Spring sprung a few years ago, the world’s eyes only really cared about one nation. If Saudi Arabia’s elite could not keep paying off their poor, an uprising in the world’s largest oil supplier could have significant (and catastrophic) consequences for the rest of the world. Of course, between being paid to lose weight (in gold) and raising unemployment insurance, the government has kept trouble at bay. However, things are shifting. As DPA repots, two police were killed after coming under heavy gunfire while trying to arrest several Shiite activists. Of course, this is a one off but notable in its occurrence for the first time since 2011. Saudi Arabia blames Iran of inciting its Shiite citizens to disturb security and stability.
Two policemen and two fugitives were killed Thursday in Saudi Arabia when security forces tried to arrest the wanted men, the Interior Ministry said.
The incident occurred in Awwamiyyeh, in Qatif governorate, a stronghold of the country’s Shiite opposition.
Police came under heavy fire while carrying out the arrest operation and were forced to shoot back, ministry spokesman General Mansour al-Turki said.
A wave of protest swept the Shiite-dominated Qatif area, in eastern Saudi Arabia, in 2011. Since then there have been a number of shooting incidents, while authorities have pursued wanted Shiite activists.
The Shiites accuse authorities in the kingdom, which is dominated by the hardline Sunni Wahhabi tendency, of discrimination. Saudi Arabia denies this, describing the protesters as “rioters” financed by foreign countries to cause unrest in the world’s top oil exporter.
Saudi Arabia blames Iran of inciting its Shiite citizens to disturb security and stability.
In January, the US embassy in Riyadh warned its citizens against travelling to the district after gunmen attacked the car of two German diplomats.
Security forces who tried to arrest those suspected of being behind “armed unrest” were shot at and retaliated, a ministry spokesman was quoted as saying.
They seized “two weapons, a large quantity of ammunition, a bulletproof vest and weapons sights,” he added, warning the authorities would crush any such resistance with “an iron fist”.
Awamiya has continued to experience problems despite the end of mass protests that erupted in the eastern region in March 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring.
“The American people are very leery of getting involved in another squabble in some other country,” warns Ron Paul following the breakdown in the truce in Ukraine and President Obama’s drawing of more red-lines. In this succinct interview with FOX, the former congressman sums it up perfectly, “That’s their business, and it certainly isn’t ours,” he said. “We’ve tried it for too long, and the American people are sick and tired of it, and we’re also out of money.” Indeed, but the Keynesians must be getting excited…
“the further we stay away from there, the better…”
“I would be willing to wager most of the people in the Ukraine would like to see the United States stay out, and they’d like to see the Russians stay out.”
February 19th, 2014
(Image Courtesy NavySeals.com)
The threat of a breakdown of our national power infrastructure has been a growing concern for the last decade. With the invention of “Super EMP” electro-magnetic pulse weapons, the possibility of Carrington-class solar flares, and the potential for cyber attackers to remotely compromise our interconnected computer systems, there may come a time in our country’s future when our entire way of life is threatened because we no longer have access to the one thing that keeps it all moving – electricity. Outgoing Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano recently suggested that such a widespread outage is imminent and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke who is a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee concluded that the chance of a serious geo-magnetic event crippling our power grid is 100%.
The threat is real.
And as recently as last year Americans got a taste of what such an attack may look like. Though not reported at the time out of national security concerns, it was recently revealed that an entire domestic power grid sub-station came under attack in what seems to be a professionally executed assault. The attackers first cut phone lines from the sub-station and they then proceeded to fire 100 rounds from long-range at critical components such as the generators that keep the station cooling systems operational. This resulted in millions of dollars worth of damage and a reported electrical outage that spanned nearly a month.
According to officials this was a sophisticated attack likely involving the coordination of multiple individuals. And they’re not the only ones who think so.
(Closed Circuit cameras capture San Josa, CA power grid sniper attack)
US Navy Seals have said it is a carbon copy of how they would carry out such an operation.
According to Sky News the FBI doesn’t believe this was an act of terrorism – thoughstamping your own gold coins, questioning mainstream ideologies, or purchasing food in bulk do qualify as suspected terrorist operations:
The FBI says it does not believe the attack was terrorism. No one has been arrested.
There are differing opinions at government agencies about what happened. Head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Jon Wellinghoff called it “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred.”
Investigators don’t know for sure who did it or why, but it’s clear that our power grid has not been secured, despite billions of dollars being spent on the security of the homeland over the last decade.
If a few individuals with an AK-47 are capable of bringing down a sub-station and 17 massive transformers that provide power to hundreds of thousands of people, consider what would happen if a rogue terrorist organization or foreign-sponsored military teams were to target 100 key power stations that provide the electricity for tens of millions of people.
Next time they might not be bringing an AK-47. They could target sub-station components with easily obtained explosive through U.S. black markets and take down scores of transformers that switch electricity across the grid. Should those transformers be destroyed (and not just damaged as they were in this recent attack), then it could take months or years to restore conditions to 100%.
Most transformer components are manufactured overseas and production time in opportune conditions is about 18 months. If hundreds of these transformers were all of a sudden destroyed there is simply no way to bring everything back online in any reasonable amount of time.
As the threat of a power grid outage becomes ever more real, we strongly urge readers to develop a personal preparedness plan that includes long-term food supplies, water, and self defense strategies.
Preparing one second after such an event will be too late.
Hattip Underground Medic
The Impending Dangers of Nuclear War: America’s W88 Thermonuclear Warhead is 30 Times a Hiroshima Bomb | Global Research
The US, the UK, Russia, China and France are rebuilding or upgrading their arsenals of nuclear weapons. The other four nuclear states(Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea) too are ‘improving’ their arsenals. As we discuss the statistics and strategies of ‘nuclear arsenals’ and ‘nuclear deterrence’ it can be hard to keep in mind the reality underlying the abstract discussions.
The nine nuclear states have over 10,000 nuclear weapons in their stockpiles1. This is enough to wipe out the entire population of the planet many times over together with all other life forms.
Is this sane? Has the human race lost its senses? A single United States thermonuclear warhead, designated W88, has an estimated ‘yield’ of 475 kilotons2. The ‘yield’ is the destructive power expressed in tons of TNT equivalent.
The W88 is over 30 times more destructive than the bomb which wiped out Hiroshima.
A single W88 could completely destroy London, Moscow or New York. Each bomb on a major city would kill millions of people; women, children, babies, old people, everyone. The suffering would be indescribable and for many would go on for months and years before death. No emergency services could begin to cope There would be no relief. What sort of people would do such a thing? What kind of human would threaten such an atrocity?
The US government has 5 nuclear submarines on patrol at all times carrying 1000 times the destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb3. Is it possible to imagine the degree of paranoia represented by such a standing threat? The UK government has started to spend one hundred billion pounds on rebuilding its Trident fleet of nuclear submarines, each one with the capacity to incinerate over 40 million people. This is being done at a time when many citizens are suffering from inadequate defences against flooding and when the social services are being radically cut back.
The situation is being rendered even more dangerous by the US and Russia who keep 1,800 weapons on high alert atop long-range ballistic missiles that are ready to launch 5 to 15 minutes after receiving an order!
It is ironic that the worst offenders are the five permanent members of the ‘Security’ Council of the United Nations. They have had 69 years to get rid of their nuclear weapons while all that the citizens of the world hear from them are windy speeches around purported good intentions which never come to fruition.
Citizens of the world have simultaneously become aware that the nuclear states do not intend to get rid of their nuclear weapons and that their existence imposes a permanent and intolerable threat to us all. The existence of nuclear weapons means they could be used by accident, by misunderstanding or by malicious intent. How can we ever be sure that some deranged psychopath will not gain power in one of the nuclear states and deceive him/herself into believing that it is in their best interests to make a first strike? How can we ever be sure that some terrorist organisations will not hack into the electronic control systems and carry out the launching themselves? And we now know that even a small nuclear exchange could be a lethal threat to everyone on the planet. In a limited nuclear war between India and Pakistan 20 million people would die from the nuclear blasts, fires, and radioactive fallout. And the fallout would have global consequences that would kill millions of people, disrupt climate patterns, and threaten global agricultural collapse4.
Furthermore decent people round the globe know that the existence of nuclear weapons is a brooding evil which undermines the moral integrity of humankind. As the great moral leader Desmond Tutu wrote “Nuclear weapons are an obscenity. They are the very antithesis of humanity5…’
The only remedy is an enforced world ban on the existence of nuclear weapons. The other weapons of mass destruction have already been banned. It is the turn of the last and most destructive of them all.
And finally there is hope. The huge burgeoning of awareness in the citizens of the world is bearing fruit.
There are 9 nuclear states and there are 183 non-nuclear states. The security of the non-nuclear states is threatened by the irresponsible and self-focused behaviour of the 9 others. But these 9 are outnumbered by 20 to one. The non-nuclear majority which do not feel the need for a lethal ‘security’ crutch have decided to take the initiative. And rather than focus on the numbers and ‘yields’ of the weapons it was wisely decided to concentrate on the effects on humanity of the use of nuclear weapons. The next logical development, as the nuclear states continue to deny their obligations to shed their arsenals, is for the non-nuclear states to proceed independently to enact a treaty outlawing these weapons internationally. By focusing attention on the humanitarian consequences of their use they are well on their way to doing so.
The first International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons was held in 2013. Humanity owes a great debt to Norway for this initiative.
This ground-breaking and historic conference was attended by delegates from 127 countries and 70 nongovernmental organizations. The nuclear states were invited but declined to attend. It is not easy to face up to the implications of these arsenals especially if you bear the primary responsibility. India and Pakistan sent observers.
After hearing presentations from a wide range of experts on the various effects of nuclear weapon detonations the conference concluded that “it is unlikely that any state or international body could address the immediate humanitarian emergency caused by a nuclear weapon detonation in an adequate manner and provide sufficient assistance to those affected.” Conference members also agreed that the effects of a nuclear weapon detonation will not be constrained by national borders but will produce significant negative regional and global effects6.
Mexico offered to host a follow-up meeting to this conference and such is the vital importance of this approach that other states declared their intention to organise additional events on this subject.
The Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons was held in Nayarit, Mexico, on 13 and 14 February 2014. It included delegations representing 146 States, the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement and civil society organizations.
The powerful summary statement of the conference Chair pointed out that the broad participation of states and civil society reflected the burgeoning awareness that this issue is of the utmost importance to all the peoples of the world. Due to ‘…proliferation, the vulnerability of nuclear command and control networks to cyber-attacks and to human error and potential access to nuclear weapons by non-state actors, in particularly terrorist groups’ the risks are ‘growing globally’.
The risks of ‘accidental, mistaken, unauthorised or intentional use is growing significantly due to more countries holding weapons on higher levels of combat readiness’. As awareness of the humanitarian impact grows hearts and minds are being changed worldwide. These weapons must be outlawed; ‘in the past, weapons have been eliminated after they have been outlawed. We believe this is the path to achieve a world without nuclear weapons’. He called for a ‘legally binding instrument’ and declared that the, ‘time has come to initiate a diplomatic process conducive to this goal. Our belief is that this process should comprise a specific timeframe, the definition of the most appropriate fora, and a clear and substantive framework, making the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons the essence of disarmament efforts. It is time to take action 7.’
The Third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons will be held in Austria later this year. The movement for an international ban is unstoppable.
The International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)8 is a coalition of over 350 organisations in 90 countries. Ray Acheson, in her closing statement on behalf of ICAN to the Second Conference included the words ‘The claim by some states that they continue to need these weapons to deter their adversaries has been exposed by the evidence presented at this conference and in Oslo as a reckless and unsanctionable gamble with our future’.
She went on to explain that the use against cities of less than one percent of existing weapons would put billions of lives in jeopardy and have a long lasting detrimental effect on both the planet’s climate and agriculture. She insisted that we must act to get rid of them or they will be used by accident, misunderstanding or malicious intent. Getting rid of them will take courageous leadership by states but such leadership will have the support of civil society. She concluded ‘It is time to change the status quo. It is time we ban nuclear weapons.
So with these and other major forces at work there is an unstoppable movement towards banning these Armageddon machines. The nuclear states have become a sorry sight. Frozen in a realm of outdated thinking which was always inhuman; their leaders frightened and paranoid and prepared to put the survival of humanity in jeopardy simply in order to feel important and powerful as they strut, uncomprehending, on the world stage.
Their brief and nightmarish ascendancy is over. The world has moved on.
It seems the Democratic Republic of Congo has been learning its diplomacy from other nations…
- *DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO POLICE FIRE ON OPPOSITION RALLY
- *CONGO POLICE FIRED TEAR GAS, BULLETS AT RALLY IN BUKAVU
- *CONGO POLICE BLOCKED OPPOSITION LEADER KAMERHE AT RALLY
- *CONGO OPPOSITION SAY SEVERAL WOUNDED AFTER SHOTS FIRED
Of course, we will have to see if China (who has been building interest in Africa), Russia, the US, or France (who seem to like to stir things up in Africa) get involved?
With all eyes focused on Ukraine, the situation in Venezuela has once again escalated as protest leader Leopoldo Lopez’ arrest (and possible 10 year jail sentence) prompted more violence overnight. However, as we warned, the government crackdown is starting to raise concerns about the stability of the government.
- *VENEZUELA PROTESTS ESCALATING INTO NATIONWIDE UNREST: IHS
- *ESCALATION OF PROTESTS PUTS STABILITY OF GOVT AT RISK: IHS
- *RISING VIOLENCE COULD LEAD TO MADURO OUSTER BY MILITARY: IHS
As opposition leader Capriles asks Venezuela’s military to uphold the constitution, he exclaims that “the poor’ must participate for government to change.
- *VENEZUELA HATILLO MAYOR DAVID SMOLANSKY SPEAKS IN CARACAS
- *VENEZUELA PEOPLE WON’T STAY QUIET: SMOLANSKY
- *SMOLANSKY SAYS VENEZUELA SUFFERED TERROR LAST NIGHT
- *SMOLANSKY CALLS FOR MASSIVE VENEZUELA PROTESTS SATURDAY
The opposition leader speaks:
- *VENEZUELA OFFICIALS SHOT AT PROTESTERS YDAY: CAPRILES
- *VENEZUELA ARMED FORCES SHOULD ALLOW PEACEFUL MARCHES: SMOLANSKY
- *VENEZUELA STRENGTHENING TIES WITH CUBA, RAMIREZ SAYS
- *VENEZUELA GOVT USING VIOLENCE TO HIDE ECO PROBLEMS: CAPRILES
- *CAPRILES SAYS SOME IN VENEZUELA GOVT WANT MADURO OUT
- *CAPRILES ASKS VENEZUELA ARMED FORCES TO UPHOLD CONSTITUTION
- *VENEZUELA POOR MUST PARTICIPATE FOR GOVT TO CHANGE: CAPRILES
- *CAPRILES SAYS HE WON’T BE FORCED TO TALK TO VENEZUELA GOVT
And IHS warns:
- *VENEZUELA PROTESTS ESCALATING INTO NATIONWIDE UNREST: IHS
- *ESCALATION OF PROTESTS PUTS STABILITY OF GOVT AT RISK: IHS
- *RISING VIOLENCE COULD LEAD TO MADURO OUSTER BY MILITARY: IHS
Images from last night suggest this is getting considerably worse…despite Maduro’s claims of “absolute calm”
and of course the terrible death of a former Miss Venezuela…
At least 50 are dead, according to Reuters, and hundreds injured as fresh fighting broke out in central Kiev this morning breaking the apparent truce that was in place last night. Who is to blame is up for discussion but of little import in the end as the death toll mounts and live ammunition is being used by the police. A Ukrainian presidential statement said dozens of police were killed or woundedduring the opposition offensive hours after Yanukovich and opposition leaders had agreed on a truce… Other witnesses said they saw government snipers firing into the civilian crowds during the clashes.
The Protesters reportedly captured police…
Activists who recaptured the square, known as Maidan or “Euro-Maidan” to the opposition, appeared to lead away several uniformed officers. Dozens of wounded protesters were being given makeshift first aid treatment in the lobby of the Ukraine Hotel, where many foreign correspondents are staying.
Reporters said there were bullet holes in the walls and windows of the hotel overlooking the square. Both sides have accused the other of using live ammunition.
“Black smoke, denotations and gunfire around presidential palace … Officials panicky,” tweeted Polish minister Radoslaw Sikorski to explain the delay in the meeting at Yanukovich’s office, a few hundred meters from the square.
But the protesters had a different view…
Protesters were in a truculent mood despite the overnight lull and columns of men, bearing clubs and chanting patriotic songs headed to Independence Square at 8:30 a.m. (0130 ET).
“What truce? There is no truce! It is simply war ahead of us! They are provoking us. They throw grenades at us. Burn our homes. We have been here for three months and during that time nothing burned,” said 23-year-old Petro Maksimchuk.
“These are not people. They are killers. Sanctions will not help. They all should be sent into isolation in Siberia.”
The question is – is this Obama’s line being crossed?
Civilians taking live fire:
Other images show a country in collapse