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British tax authorities just out-mafia’d the IRS

British tax authorities just out-mafia’d the IRS.

hm-revenue-customs

A few months ago, I told you about a bold reportpublished within the IRS that absolutely blasted the agency’s mafia tactics.

In its 2013 annual report to Congress, the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate wrote that the IRS shows “disrespect for the law and a disregard for taxpayer rights.”

Further, the report says that the current system “disproportionately burdens those who [make] honest mistakes,” and that “tax requirements have become so confusing and the compliance burden so great that taxpayers are giving up their U.S. citizenship in record numbers.”

We all know the stories. The IRS has nearly infinite power to do whatever it wants, including freezing you out of your own bank account without so much as a phone call, let alone due process.

In the Land of the Free, people think they’re innocent until proven guilty. This is total BS. If you are only suspected of wrongdoing, you can be locked out of your entire savings.

This is an incredible amount of authority to wield.

But the British government has just gone even further.

Buried in its most recent budget package is a curt little paragraph that reads “The Government will modernise and strengthen [the tax agency’s] debt collection powers to recover financial assets from the bank accounts of debtors who owe over £1,000 of tax.”

Read that one more time just to let it sink in.

The British government is setting an absurdly low threshold at £1,000… about $1,650 in back taxes.

And they’re saying that if the tax authorities believe you owe even just a minor tax debt, they will not only FREEZE your assets, they’ll dip into your bank account and TAKE whatever they want.

Judge, jury, and executioner. They get to decide in their sole discretion if you owe them money, and they get to take as much as they want to satisfy the debt.

It’s unbelievable.

I can’t even begin to imagine why any Brit in his/her right mind would continue to hold a substantial amount of savings in UK banks.

You are practically begging for the government to relieve you of your hard-earned savings.

Even if you haven’t done anything wrong, and have paid up everything that you owe, the slightest clerical error could have them plunging their filthy hands into your account.

These issues are worldwide. Whether you’re in the US, UK, France, Cyprus, etc., when governments go bankrupt, these are precisely the sorts of tactics they resort to.

Rational, thinking people need to be aware of this trend. And it behooves absolutely everyone to come up with a plan B. Because at the rate things are going, Plan B may very soon become Plan A.

by Simon Black

Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, permanent traveler, free man, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter and crash course is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom.

World War 1 All Over Again — Paul Craig Roberts – PaulCraigRoberts.org

World War 1 All Over Again — Paul Craig Roberts – PaulCraigRoberts.org.

World War 1 All Over Again
The same fools play the same game

Paul Craig Roberts

“If you reduce the lie to a scientific system put it on thick and heavy, and with great effort and sufficient finances scatter it all over the world as the pure truth, you can deceive whole nations for a long time and drive them to slaughter for causes in which they have not the slightest interest.” — Chief French Editor, Behind the Scenes in French Journalism, describing the organization of World War 1 propaganda in France.

Did US Secretary of State John Kerry ask you before he delivered an all or nothing ultimatum to Russia? Did he ask Congress? Did he ask the countries of western and eastern Europe–NATO members who Kerry has committed to whatever the consequences will be of Washington’s inflexible, arrogant, aggressive provocation of Russia, a well-armed nuclear power? Did Kerry ask Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Mexico, South America, Africa, China, Central Asia, all of whom would be adversely affected by a world war provoked by the crazed criminals in Washington?

No.

He did not.

The exceptional, indispensable, arrogant, self-righteous United States government does not need to ask anyone. Washington speaks not merely for itself. Washington represents the country chosen by history (and the neoconservatives) to speak not merely for itself, but for the entire world.

Whatever Washington says is truth. Whatever Washington does is legal, in accordance with both domestic and international law. When Washington invades countries and destroys them, sends in drones and missiles, blows up people attending weddings, funerals and children’s soccer games, Washington is practicing human rights and bringing democracy to the people. Whenever a country tries to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, the country is engaging in terrorism, al-Qaeda connections, human rights violations, and suppressing democracy.

We are watching this audacity play out now in the confrontation with Russia that Washington’s coup in Ukraine has provoked. Obama and Kerry have been advised by the idiots that comprise the US government that Russia will surrender and accept Washington’s will if Washington is sufficiently insistent.

Apparently, no one has asked the advisors what happens if ultimatums are given, and the Russians do not submit.

This pretty much sums up the sad state of the US Constitution

This pretty much sums up the sad state of the US Constitution.

US Constitution

March 14, 2014
Ambergris Caye, Belize

My research team recently passed along a piece of legislation they were looking at called the “ENFORCE the Law Act of 2014.”

It immediately piqued my interest… because anytime you see all CAPS in government documents, it signifies some absurd acronym. And the ‘ENFORCE the Law Act’ did not disappoint.

ENFORCE stands for “Executive Needs to Faithfully Observe and Respect Congressional Enactments”.

And the stated objective of the legislation is “to protect the separation of powers in the Constitution of the United States by ensuring that the President takes care that the laws be faithfully executed. . .”

The bill goes on with specific language to authorize Congress bringing civil legal action against the President of the United States, or any cabinet secretary, for implementing some rule or executive order that does not conform with Article II of the Constitution.

This pretty much sums up the sad state of affairs in the Land of the Free.

When Congress has to pass a new law just to get the President of the United States to, you know, follow the Constitution that he swore to ‘support and defend’, you can be certain that the system has become broken beyond all repair.

This isn’t a commentary on the current POTUS; the disturbing trend of rapidly expanding executive abuse has been increasing for years.

It has nothing to do with Mr. Obama, or Mr. Bush before him, or future Presidents that will continue to expand their offices.

It’s the system itself that is fundamentally flawed. The model is simply no longer valid. Having an election and voting in a new commander-in-chief won’t fix the problem. All you’re doing is changing the players. It’s time to change the game.

The Big Secret Behind the CIA-Congressional Battle Washington’s Blog

The Big Secret Behind the CIA-Congressional Battle Washington’s Blog.

What You DON’T KNOW About CIA Fight with Congress

You’ve heard that there’s a big battle between the CIA and Congress over the CIA spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s review of documents related to the Bush-era torture program.

Many are calling it a “constitutional crisis“. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa calls it potential “treason“.

The congress members complaining about spying by the CIA are right, of course.

But they are hypocrites. Specifically, these same congress members  didn’t raise a peep when the government was spying on the people … and instead defended the government’s mass surveillance at every opportunity.

There are hundreds of thousands of Google hits for the search term “Hypocrisy CIA Senate Feinstein“.

High-level NSA whistleblower Bill BinneyEdward Snowden, a very high-level former CIA officer, aformer FBI agent and many others are all slamming Congress for the hypocrisy

Even Jon Stewart has lambasted them:

(And this isn’t the first time that Congress has been hypocritical when the spying was turned against them personally.)

A corrupt CIA is certainly part of the problem.   After all, the same guy who was the lawyer for the CIA torture unit – and who was mentioned 1,600 times in the Senate intelligence report on torture – is now the chief counsel for the CIA … the guy working so hard to make sure the torture report is never released. (He was also involved in the destruction of tapes documenting CIA torture … discussed more fully below).

And don’t let Obama fool you: The White House is a big part of the problem as well.

Obama has for years prevented the Senate Intelligence report on torture – what the CIA’s spying is all about – from being declassified.

Glenn Greenwald tweets:

Could someone remind me who appointed [CIA director] John Brennan and to whom he reports? Having trouble finding it in most discussions ….

Obama appointed current CIA-director John Brennan, who – before the appointment – had expressly endorsed torture, assassination of unidentified strangers (including Americans) without due process, and spying on all Americans, and got caught in numerous lies related to national security and defense.   (Indeed, Brennan insisted that he be sworn in with a copy of the Constitution which didn’t include the Bill of Rights.)

The White House has also withheld 9,400 documents from the Senate’s CIA torture investigation. McClatchy reports:

The White House has been withholding for five years more than 9,000 top-secret documents sought by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for its investigation into the now-defunct CIA detention and interrogation program, even though President Barack Obama hasn’t exercised a claim of executive privilege.

In contrast to public assertions that it supports the committee’s work, the White House has ignored or rejected offers in multiple meetings and in letters to find ways for the committee to review the records, a McClatchy investigation has found.

And Senator Mark Udall said that Obama knew about the CIA’s spying on Congress.

Not Just the CIA … And Not a New Problem

But it’s not just the CIA.   And there has been a constitutional crisis for a long time.

For example, the FBI collected files on everyone.  As the New York Times reports:

J. Edgar Hoover compiled secret dossiers on the sexual peccadillos and private misbehavior of those he labeled as enemies — really dangerous people like … President John F. Kennedy, for example.

The NSA has been spying on – and intimidating – its “overseers” in Washington.  Indeed, the NSA spied on anti-war Congress members in the 1970s … including the chair of the Congressional Committee investigating illegal NSA spying.

One of the NSA  whistleblower sources for the big 2005 New York Times exposé on illegal spying – Russel Tice – says that the NSA illegally spied on General Petraeus and other generals, Supreme Court Justice Alito and all of the other supreme court justices, the White House spokesman, and many other top officials.

The Washington Times reported in 2006 that – when Tice offered to testify to Congress about this illegal spying – he was informed by the NSA that the Senate and House intelligence committees were not cleared to hear such information:

Renee Seymour, director of NSA special access programs stated in a Jan. 9 letter to Russ Tice that he should not testify about secret electronic intelligence programs because members and staff of the House and Senate intelligence committees do not have the proper security clearances for the secret intelligence.

(And see this.)

Former high-level NSA executive Bill Binney points out how absurd that statement is:

Russ Tice … was prepared to testify to Congress to this, too, and so NSA sent him a letter saying, we agree that you have a right to go to Congress to testify, but we have to advise you that the intelligence committees that you want to testify to are not cleared for the programs you want to speak about. Now, that fundamentally is an open admission … by NSA that they are violating the intelligence acts of 1947 and 1978, which require NSA and all other intelligence agencies to notify Congress of all the programs that they’re running so they can have effective oversight, which they’ve never had anyway.

Binney confirmed to Washington’s Blog:

The violations of law and the constitution are being openly admitted by both Congress and the NSA.

The Other Story Getting Lost In the Shuffle

And there’s another story getting lost in the shuffle …

Sure, the top independent interrogation experts say that torture is ineffective … and actually harmsnational security. You’ve probably already heard arguments one way or the other on this issue, and likely have made up your mind about it.

But remember, the torture used by the U.S. on the Guantanamo suspects was of a “special” type.

Specifically, Senator Levin revealed that the the U.S. used Communist torture techniques specifically aimed at creating false confessions. And see these important reports from McClatchyNew York TimesCNN and Huffington Post.

In other words, we’re not just talking about torture.  We’re talking about deploying a special type of torture in order to get FALSE confessions.

In addition, the Atlantic notes:

America is likely to torture again, if we aren’t doing it already.

(And see this and this.)

A related part of this underreported story is that the CIA’s torture program ended up deceiving the 9/11 Commission. Specifically, the 9/11 Commission Report was largely based on third-hand accountsof what tortured detainees said, with two of the three parties in the communication being government employees. The 9/11 Commissioners were not allowed to speak with the detainees, or even their interrogators. Instead, they got their information third-hand. The Commission itself didn’t really trust the interrogation testimony… yet published it as if it were Gospel.

New York Times investigative reporter Philip Shenon noted in a 2009 essay in Newsweek that the 9/11 Commission Report was unreliable because most of the information was based on the statements of tortured detainees.

NBC News reported:

  • Much of the 9/11 Commission Report was based upon the testimony of people who were tortured
  • At least four of the people whose interrogation figured in the 9/11 Commission Report have claimed that they told interrogators information as a way to stop being “tortured.”
  • One of the Commission’s main sources of information was tortured until he agreed to sign a confession that he was NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO READ
  • The 9/11 Commission itself doubted the accuracy of the torture confessions, and yet kept their doubts to themselves

And the CIA videotaped the interrogation of 9/11 suspects, but falsely told the 9/11 Commission that there were no videotapes or other records of the interrogations, and then illegally destroyed all of the tapes and transcripts of the interrogations. (As discussed above, the current head CIA lawyer helped to destroy the tapes.)

9/11 Commission co-chairs Thomas Keane and Lee Hamilton wrote:

Those who knew about those videotapes — and did not tell us about them — obstructed our investigation.

***

Government officials decided not to inform a lawfully constituted body, created by Congress and the president, to investigate one the greatest tragedies to confront this country. We call that obstruction.

In other words,  we’ve got a rogue government.  That’s the big story behind the CIA-congressional battle.

The Big Secret Behind the CIA-Congressional Battle Washington's Blog

The Big Secret Behind the CIA-Congressional Battle Washington’s Blog.

What You DON’T KNOW About CIA Fight with Congress

You’ve heard that there’s a big battle between the CIA and Congress over the CIA spying on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s review of documents related to the Bush-era torture program.

Many are calling it a “constitutional crisis“. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa calls it potential “treason“.

The congress members complaining about spying by the CIA are right, of course.

But they are hypocrites. Specifically, these same congress members  didn’t raise a peep when the government was spying on the people … and instead defended the government’s mass surveillance at every opportunity.

There are hundreds of thousands of Google hits for the search term “Hypocrisy CIA Senate Feinstein“.

High-level NSA whistleblower Bill BinneyEdward Snowden, a very high-level former CIA officer, aformer FBI agent and many others are all slamming Congress for the hypocrisy

Even Jon Stewart has lambasted them:

(And this isn’t the first time that Congress has been hypocritical when the spying was turned against them personally.)

A corrupt CIA is certainly part of the problem.   After all, the same guy who was the lawyer for the CIA torture unit – and who was mentioned 1,600 times in the Senate intelligence report on torture – is now the chief counsel for the CIA … the guy working so hard to make sure the torture report is never released. (He was also involved in the destruction of tapes documenting CIA torture … discussed more fully below).

And don’t let Obama fool you: The White House is a big part of the problem as well.

Obama has for years prevented the Senate Intelligence report on torture – what the CIA’s spying is all about – from being declassified.

Glenn Greenwald tweets:

Could someone remind me who appointed [CIA director] John Brennan and to whom he reports? Having trouble finding it in most discussions ….

Obama appointed current CIA-director John Brennan, who – before the appointment – had expressly endorsed torture, assassination of unidentified strangers (including Americans) without due process, and spying on all Americans, and got caught in numerous lies related to national security and defense.   (Indeed, Brennan insisted that he be sworn in with a copy of the Constitution which didn’t include the Bill of Rights.)

The White House has also withheld 9,400 documents from the Senate’s CIA torture investigation. McClatchy reports:

The White House has been withholding for five years more than 9,000 top-secret documents sought by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for its investigation into the now-defunct CIA detention and interrogation program, even though President Barack Obama hasn’t exercised a claim of executive privilege.

In contrast to public assertions that it supports the committee’s work, the White House has ignored or rejected offers in multiple meetings and in letters to find ways for the committee to review the records, a McClatchy investigation has found.

And Senator Mark Udall said that Obama knew about the CIA’s spying on Congress.

Not Just the CIA … And Not a New Problem

But it’s not just the CIA.   And there has been a constitutional crisis for a long time.

For example, the FBI collected files on everyone.  As the New York Times reports:

J. Edgar Hoover compiled secret dossiers on the sexual peccadillos and private misbehavior of those he labeled as enemies — really dangerous people like … President John F. Kennedy, for example.

The NSA has been spying on – and intimidating – its “overseers” in Washington.  Indeed, the NSA spied on anti-war Congress members in the 1970s … including the chair of the Congressional Committee investigating illegal NSA spying.

One of the NSA  whistleblower sources for the big 2005 New York Times exposé on illegal spying – Russel Tice – says that the NSA illegally spied on General Petraeus and other generals, Supreme Court Justice Alito and all of the other supreme court justices, the White House spokesman, and many other top officials.

The Washington Times reported in 2006 that – when Tice offered to testify to Congress about this illegal spying – he was informed by the NSA that the Senate and House intelligence committees were not cleared to hear such information:

Renee Seymour, director of NSA special access programs stated in a Jan. 9 letter to Russ Tice that he should not testify about secret electronic intelligence programs because members and staff of the House and Senate intelligence committees do not have the proper security clearances for the secret intelligence.

(And see this.)

Former high-level NSA executive Bill Binney points out how absurd that statement is:

Russ Tice … was prepared to testify to Congress to this, too, and so NSA sent him a letter saying, we agree that you have a right to go to Congress to testify, but we have to advise you that the intelligence committees that you want to testify to are not cleared for the programs you want to speak about. Now, that fundamentally is an open admission … by NSA that they are violating the intelligence acts of 1947 and 1978, which require NSA and all other intelligence agencies to notify Congress of all the programs that they’re running so they can have effective oversight, which they’ve never had anyway.

Binney confirmed to Washington’s Blog:

The violations of law and the constitution are being openly admitted by both Congress and the NSA.

The Other Story Getting Lost In the Shuffle

And there’s another story getting lost in the shuffle …

Sure, the top independent interrogation experts say that torture is ineffective … and actually harmsnational security. You’ve probably already heard arguments one way or the other on this issue, and likely have made up your mind about it.

But remember, the torture used by the U.S. on the Guantanamo suspects was of a “special” type.

Specifically, Senator Levin revealed that the the U.S. used Communist torture techniques specifically aimed at creating false confessions. And see these important reports from McClatchyNew York TimesCNN and Huffington Post.

In other words, we’re not just talking about torture.  We’re talking about deploying a special type of torture in order to get FALSE confessions.

In addition, the Atlantic notes:

America is likely to torture again, if we aren’t doing it already.

(And see this and this.)

A related part of this underreported story is that the CIA’s torture program ended up deceiving the 9/11 Commission. Specifically, the 9/11 Commission Report was largely based on third-hand accountsof what tortured detainees said, with two of the three parties in the communication being government employees. The 9/11 Commissioners were not allowed to speak with the detainees, or even their interrogators. Instead, they got their information third-hand. The Commission itself didn’t really trust the interrogation testimony… yet published it as if it were Gospel.

New York Times investigative reporter Philip Shenon noted in a 2009 essay in Newsweek that the 9/11 Commission Report was unreliable because most of the information was based on the statements of tortured detainees.

NBC News reported:

  • Much of the 9/11 Commission Report was based upon the testimony of people who were tortured
  • At least four of the people whose interrogation figured in the 9/11 Commission Report have claimed that they told interrogators information as a way to stop being “tortured.”
  • One of the Commission’s main sources of information was tortured until he agreed to sign a confession that he was NOT EVEN ALLOWED TO READ
  • The 9/11 Commission itself doubted the accuracy of the torture confessions, and yet kept their doubts to themselves

And the CIA videotaped the interrogation of 9/11 suspects, but falsely told the 9/11 Commission that there were no videotapes or other records of the interrogations, and then illegally destroyed all of the tapes and transcripts of the interrogations. (As discussed above, the current head CIA lawyer helped to destroy the tapes.)

9/11 Commission co-chairs Thomas Keane and Lee Hamilton wrote:

Those who knew about those videotapes — and did not tell us about them — obstructed our investigation.

***

Government officials decided not to inform a lawfully constituted body, created by Congress and the president, to investigate one the greatest tragedies to confront this country. We call that obstruction.

In other words,  we’ve got a rogue government.  That’s the big story behind the CIA-congressional battle.

oftwominds-Charles Hugh Smith: The Dollar and the Deep State

oftwominds-Charles Hugh Smith: The Dollar and the Deep State.

If we consider the Fed’s policies (tapering, etc.) solely within the narrow confines of the corporatocracy or a strictly financial context, we are in effect touching the foot of the elephant and declaring the creature to be short and roundish.

I have been studying the Deep State for 40 years, before it had gained the nifty name “deep state.” What others describe as the Deep State I term the National Security State which enables the American Empire, a vast structure that incorporates hard and soft power–military, diplomatic, intelligence, finance, commercial, energy, media, higher education–in a system of global domination and influence.

Back in 2007 I drew a simplified chart of the Imperial structure, what I called the Elite Maintaining and Extending Global Dominance (EMEGD):

At a very superficial level, some pundits have sought a Master Control in the Trilateral Commission or similar elite gatherings. Such groups are certainly one cell within the Empire, but each is no more important than other parts, just as killer T-cells are just one of dozens of cell types in the immune system.

One key feature of the Deep State is that it makes decisions behind closed doors and the surface government simply ratifies or approves the decisions. A second key feature is that the Deep State decision-makers have access to an entire world of secret intelligence.

Here is an example from the late 1960s, when the mere existence of the National Security Agency (NSA) was a state secret. Though the Soviet Union made every effort to hide its failures in space, it was an ill-kept secret that a number of their manned flights failed in space and the astronauts died.

The NSA had tapped the main undersea cables, and may have already had other collection capabilities in place, for the U.S. intercepted a tearful phone call from Soviet Leader Brezhnev to the doomed astronauts, a call made once it had become clear there was no hope of their capsule returning to Earth.

Former congressional staff member Mike Lofgren described the Deep State in his recent essay Anatomy of the Deep State:

There is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol. The subsurface part of the iceberg I shall call the Deep State, which operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power.

The term “Deep State” was coined in Turkey and is said to be a system composed of high-level elements within the intelligence services, military, security, judiciary and organized crime.

I use the term to mean a hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process.

I would say that only senior military or intelligence officers have any realistic grasp of the true scope, power and complexity of the Deep State and its Empire.Those with no grasp of military matters cannot possibly understand the Deep State. If you don’t have any real sense of the scope of the National Security State, you are in effect touching the foot of the elephant and declaring the creature is perhaps two feet tall.

The Deep State arose in World War II, as the mechanisms of electoral governance had failed to prepare the nation for global war. The goal of winning the war relegated the conventional electoral government to rubber-stamping Deep State decisions and policies.

After the war, the need to stabilize (if not “win”) the Cold War actually extended the Deep State. Now, the global war on terror (GWOT) is the justification.

One way to understand the Deep State is to trace the vectors of dependency. The Deep State needs the nation to survive, but the nation does not need the Deep State to survive (despite the groupthink within the Deep State that “we are the only thing keeping this thing together.”)

The nation would survive without the Federal Reserve, but the Federal Reserve would not survive without the Deep State. The Fed is not the Deep State; it is merely a tool of the Deep State.

This brings us to the U.S. dollar and the Deep State. The Deep State doesn’t really care about the signal noise of the economy–mortgage rates, minimum wages, unemployment, etc., any more that it cares about the political circus (“step right up to the Clinton sideshow, folks”) or the bickering over regulations by various camps.

What the Deep State cares about are the U.S. dollar, water, energy, minerals and access to those commodities (alliances, sea lanes, etc.). As I have mentioned before, consider the trade enabled by the reserve currency (the dollar): we print/create money out of thin air and exchange this for oil, commodities, electronics, etc.

If this isn’t the greatest trade on Earth–exchanging paper for real stuff– what is?While I am sympathetic to the strictly financial arguments that predict hyper-inflation and the destruction of the U.S. dollar, they are in effect touching the toe of the elephant.

The financial argument is this: we can print money but we can’t print more oil, coal, ground water, etc., and so eventually the claims on real wealth (i.e. dollars) will so far exceed the real wealth that the claims on wealth will collapse.

So far as this goes, it makes perfect sense. But let’s approach this from the geopolitical-strategic perspective of the Deep State: why would the Deep State allow policies that would bring about the destruction of its key global asset, the U.S. dollar?

There is simply no way the Deep State is going to support policies that would fatally weaken the dollar, or passively watch a subsidiary of the Deep State (the Fed) damage the Deep State itself.

The strictly financial arguments for hyper-inflation and the destruction of the U.S. dollar implicitly assume a system that operates like a line of dominoes: if the Fed prints money, that will inevitably start the dominoes falling, with the final domino being the reserve currency.

Setting aside the complexity of Triffin’s Paradox and other key dynamics within the reserve currency, we can safely predict that the Deep State will do whatever is necessary to maintain the dollar’s reserve status and purchasing power.

Understanding the “Exorbitant Privilege” of the U.S. Dollar (November 19, 2012)

What Will Benefit from Global Recession? The U.S. Dollar (October 9, 2012)

Recall Triffin’s primary point: countries like China that run trade surpluses cannot host reserve currencies, as that requires running large structural trade deficits.

In my view, the euro currency is a regional experiment in the “bancor” model,where a supra-national currency supposedly eliminates Triffin’s Paradox. It has failed, partly because supra-national currencies don’t resolve Triffin’s dilemma, they simply obfuscate it with sovereign credit imbalances that eventually moot the currency’s ability to function as intended.

Many people assume the corporatocracy rules the nation, but the corporatocracy is simply another tool of the Deep State. Many pundits declare that the Powers That Be want a weaker dollar to boost exports, but this sort of strictly financial concern is only of passing interest to the Deep State.
The corporatocracy (banking/financialization, etc.) has captured the machinery of regulation and governance, but these are surface effects of the electoral government that rubber-stamps policies set by the Deep State.

The corporatocracy is a useful global tool of the Deep State, but its lobbying of the visible government is mostly signal noise to the Deep State. The only sectors that matter are the defense, energy, agriculture and international financial sectors that supply the Imperial Project and project power.

What would best serve the Deep State is a dollar that increases in purchasing power and extends the Deep State’s power. It is widely assumed that the Fed creating a few trillion dollars has created a massive surplus of dollars that will guarantee a slide in the dollar’s purchasing power and its demise as the reserve currency.

Those who believe the Fed’s expansion of its balance sheet will weaken the dollar are forgetting that from the point of view of the outside world, the Fed’s actions are not so much expanding the supply of dollars as offsetting the contraction caused by deleveraging.

I would argue that the dollar will soon be scarce, and the simple but profound laws of supply and demand will push the dollar’s value not just higher but much higher. The problem going forward for exporting nations will be the scarcity of dollars.

If we consider the Fed’s policies (tapering, etc.) solely within the narrow confines of the corporatocracy or a strictly financial context, we are in effect touching the foot of the elephant and declaring the creature to be short and roundish. The elephant is the Deep State and its Imperial Project.

Washington’s Blog | Liberal Politicians Launched the Idea of “Free Trade Agreements” In the 1960s to Strip Nations of Sovereignty and Hand Power Over to Global Corporations

Washington’s Blog |

Liberal Politicians Launched the Idea of “Free Trade Agreements” In the 1960s to Strip Nations of Sovereignty and Hand Power Over to Global Corporations

 

It’s Not Only Conservative Politicians Backing Giant Multinational Corporations Over National Sovereignty

Preface: Liberals might assume that it is Republicans who are cheerleaders for global corporations at the expense of government.  But, as shown below, liberal politicians have been just as bad … or worse.

Matt Stoller – who writes for Salon and has contributed to Politico, Alternet, Salon, The Nation and Reuters – knows his way around Washington.

Stoller – a prominent liberal – has scoured the Congressional Record to unearth hidden historical facts.  For example, Stoller has previously shown that the U.S. government push for a “New World Order” is no wacky conspiracy theory, but extensively documented in the Congressional Record.

Now, Stoller uses the Congressional Record to show that “free trade” pacts were always aboutweakening nation-states to promote rule by multinationals:

Political officials (liberal ones, actually) engaged in an actual campaign to get rid of countries with their pesky parochial interests, and have the whole world managed by global corporations. Yup, this actually was explicit in the 1960s, as opposed to today’s passive aggressive arguments which amount to the same thing.

***

Liberal internationalists, including people like Chase CEO David Rockefeller and former Undersecretary of State and an architect of 1960s American trade policies George Ball, began pressing for reductions in non-tariff barriers, which they perceived as the next set of trade impediments to pull down. But the idea behind getting rid of these barriers wasn’t about free trade, it was about reorganizing the world so that corporations could manage resources for “the benefit of mankind”. It was a weird utopian vision that you can hear today in the current United States Trade Representative Michael Froman’s speeches. I’ve spoken with Froman about this history, and Froman himself does not seem to know much about it. But he is captive of these ideas, nonetheless, as is much of the elite class. They do not know the original ideology behind what is now just bureaucratic true believer-ism, they just know that free trade is good and right and true.

But back to the 1967 hearing. In the opening statement, before a legion of impressive Senators and Congressmen, Ball attacks the very notion of sovereignty. He goes after the idea that “business decisions” could be “frustrated by a multiplicity of different restrictions by relatively small nation states that are based on parochial considerations,” and lauds the multinational corporation as the most perfect structure devised for the benefit of mankind. He also foreshadows our modern world by suggesting that commercial, monetary, and antitrust policies should just be and will inevitably be handled by supranational organizations. [Background.]

Here’s just some of that statement. It really is worth reading, I’ve bolded the surprising parts.

“For the widespread development of the multinational corporation is one of our major accomplishments in the years since the war, though its meaning and importance have not been generally understood. For the first time in history man has at his command an instrument that enables him to employ resource flexibility to meet the needs of peopels all over the world. Today a corporate management in Detroit or New York or London or Dusseldorf may decide that it can best serve the market of country Z by combining the resources of country X with labor and plan facilities in country Y – and it may alter that decision 6 months from now if changes occur in costs or price or transport. It is the ability to look out over the world and freely survey all possible sources of production… that is enabling man to employ the world’s finite stock of resources with a new degree of efficiency for the benefit of all mandkind.

But to fulfill its full potential the multinational corporation must be able to operate with little regard for national boundaries – or, in other words, for restrictions imposed by individual national governments.

To achieve such a free trading environment we must do far more than merely reduce or eliminate tariffs. We must move in the direction of common fiscal concepts, a common monetary policy, and common ideas of commercial responsibility. Already the economically advanced nations have made some progress in all of these areas through such agencies as the OECD and the committees it has sponsored, the Group of Ten, and the IMF, but we still have a long way to go. In my view, we could steer a faster and more direct course… by agreeing that what we seek at the end of the voyage is the full realization of the benefits of a world economy.

Implied in this, of course, is a considerable erosion of the rigid concepts of national sovereignty, but that erosion is taking place every day as national economies grow increasingly interdependent, and I think it desirable that this process be consciously continued. What I am recommending is nothing so unreal and idealistic as a world government, since I have spent too many years in the guerrilla warfare of practical diplomacy to be bemused by utopian visions. But it seems beyond question that modern business – sustained and reinforced by modern technology – has outgrown the constrictive limits of the antiquated political structures in which most of the world is organized, and that itself is a political fact which cannot be ignored. For the explosion of business beyond national borders will tend to create needs and pressures that can help alter political structures to fit the requirements of modern man far more adequately than the present crazy quilt of small national states. And meanwhile, commercial, monetary, and antitrust policies – and even the domiciliary supervision of earth-straddling corporations – will have to be increasingly entrusted to supranational institutions….

We will never be able to put the world’s resources to use with full efficiency so long as business decisions are frustrated by a multiplicity of different restrictions by relatively small nation states that are based on parochial considerations, reflect no common philosophy, and are keyed to no common goal.” ***

These [“free trade”] agreements are not and never have been about trade. You simply cannot disentangle colonialism, the American effort to create the European Union, and American trade efforts. After their opening statements, Ball and Rockefeller go on on to talk about how European states need to be wedged into a common monetary union with our trade efforts and that Latin America needs to be managed into prosperity by the US and Africa by Europe. Through such efforts, they thought that the US could put together a global economy over the next thirty years. Thirty years later was 1997, which was exactly when NAFTA was being implemented and China was nearing its entry into the WTO. Impeccable predictions, gents.

***

I guess it turns out that the conspiracy theorists who believe in UN-controlled black helicopters aren’t as wrong as you might think about trade policy, and not just because United Technologies, which actually makes black helicopters, has endorsed the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

***

These agreements are about getting rid of national sovereignty, and the people who first pressed for NAFTA were explicit about it. They really did want a global government for corporations.

***

Ball in particular expressed his idea of a government by the corporations, for the corporations, in order to benefit all mankind. Keep that in mind when you think you’re being paranoid.

The full hearing can be downloaded here, though it is a big file.

The bottom line is not that liberals – or conservatives – are evil.

It’s that neither the Democratic or Republican parties reflect the true values of the American people (and see this).

Indeed, a scripted psuedo-war between the parties is often used by the powers-that-be as a way to divide and conquer the American people, so that we are too distracted to stand up to reclaim our power from the idiots in both parties who are only governing for their own profit … and a small handful of their buddies. See thisthisthisthisthisthisthisthisthis and this.

Why Banks Are Doomed: Technology and Risk

It’s not just that banks are no longer needed–they pose a needless and potentially catastrophic risk to the nation. To understand why, we need to understand the key characteristics of risk.

The entire banking sector is based on two illusions:

1. Thanks to modern portfolio management, bank debt is now riskless.

2. Technology only enhances banks’ tools to skim profits; it does not undermine the fundamental role of banks.

The global financial meltdown of 2008-09 definitively proved riskless bank debt is an illusion. If you want to understand why risk cannot eliminated, please read Benoit Mandelbrot’s book The (Mis)Behavior of Markets.

Technology does not just enable high-frequency trading; it enables capital and borrowers to bypass banks entirely. I addressed this yesterday in Banks Are Obsolete: The Entire Parasitic Sector Can Be Eliminated.

Unfortunately for banks, higher education, buggy whip manufacturers, etc., monopoly and propaganda are no match for technology. Just because a system worked in the past in a specific set of technological constraints does not mean it continues to be a practical solution when those technological constraints dissolve.

Continue reading →

Banks Are Obsolete: The Entire Parasitic Sector Can Be Eliminated

What else can we do with the $1.25 trillion we’ll save by eliminating these obsolete financial middleman parasites? A lot.

Technology has leapfrogged the banking sector, rendering it as obsolete as buggy whips. So why are we devoting 9% of our economy to an obsolete parasite?Financial sector profits now total a staggering 4.5% of GDP (gross domestic product), while the expenses generated by financial churning account for another 4.5% of the economy.

Continue reading →

Operation Nazification

Annie Jacobsen’s new book is called Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America.  It isn’t terribly secret anymore, of course, and it was never very intelligent.  Jacobsen has added some details, and the U.S. government is still hiding many more.  But the basic facts have been available; they’re just left out of most U.S. history books, movies, and television programs.

After World War II, the U.S. military hired sixteen hundred former Nazi scientists and doctors, including some of Adolf Hitler’s closest collaborators, including men responsible for murder, slavery, and human experimentation, including men convicted of war crimes, men acquitted of war crimes, and men who never stood trial.  Some of the Nazis tried at Nuremberg had already been working for the U.S. in either Germany or the U.S. prior to the trials.  Some were protected from their past by the U.S. government for years, as they lived and worked in Boston Harbor, Long Island, Maryland, Ohio, Texas, Alabama, and elsewhere, or were flown by the U.S. government to Argentina to protect them from prosecution.  Some trial transcripts were classified in their entirety to avoid exposing the pasts of important U.S. scientists. Some of the Nazis brought over were frauds who had passed themselves off as scientists, some of whom subsequently learned their fields while working for the U.S. military.

The U.S. occupiers of Germany after World War II declared that all military research in Germany was to cease, as part of the process of denazification.  Yet that research went on and expanded in secret, under U.S. authority, both in Germany and in the United States, as part of a process that it’s possible to view as nazification.  Not only scientists were hired. Former Nazi spies, most of them former S.S., were hired by the U.S. in post-war Germany to spy on — and torture — Soviets.

The U.S. military shifted in numerous ways when former Nazis were put into prominent positions. It was Nazi rocket scientists who proposed placing nuclear bombs on rockets and began developing the intercontinental ballistic missile.  It was Nazi engineers who had designed Hitler’s bunker beneath Berlin, who now designed underground fortresses for the U.S. government in the Catoctin and Blue Ridge Mountains.  Known Nazi liars were employed by the U.S. military to draft classified intelligence briefs falsely hyping the Soviet menace. Nazi scientists developed U.S. chemical and biological weapons programs, bringing over their knowledge of tabun and sarin, not to mention thalidomide — and their eagerness for human experimentation, which the U.S. military and the newly created CIA readily engaged in on a major scale.  Every bizarre and gruesome notion of how a person might be assassinated or an army immobilized was of interest to their research. New weapons were developed, including VX and Agent Orange.  A new drive to visit and weaponize outerspace was created, and former Nazis were put in charge of a new agency called NASA.

Permanent war thinking, limitless war thinking, and creative war thinking in which science and technology overshadowed death and suffering, all went mainstream.  When a former Nazi spoke to a women’s luncheon at the Rochester Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1953, the event’s headline was “Buzz Bomb Mastermind to Address Jaycees Today.”  That doesn’t sound terribly odd to us, but might have shocked anyone living in the United States anytime prior to World War II.  Watch this Walt Disney television program featuring a former Nazi who worked slaves to death in a cave building rockets.  Before long, President Dwight Eisenhower would be lamenting that “the total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government.” Eisenhower was not referring to Nazism but to the power of the military-industrial complex.  Yet, when asked whom he had in mind in remarking in the same speech that “public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite,” Eisenhower named two scientists, one of them the former Nazi in the Disney video linked above.

The decision to inject 1,600 of Hitler’s scientific-technological elite into the U.S. military was driven by fears of the USSR, both reasonable and the result of fraudulent fear mongering.  The decision evolved over time and was the product of many misguided minds. But the buck stopped with President Harry S Truman.  Henry Wallace, Truman’s predecessor as vice-president who we like to imagine would have guided the world in a better direction than Truman did as president, actually pushed Truman to hire the Nazis as a jobs program.  It would be good for American industry, said our progressive hero.  Truman’s subordinates debated, but Truman decided.  As bits of Operation Paperclip became known, the American Federation of Scientists, Albert Einstein, and others urged Truman to end it. Nuclear physicist Hans Bethe and his colleague Henri Sack asked Truman:

“Did the fact that the Germans might save the nation millions of dollars imply that permanent residence and citizenship could be bought? Could the United States count on [the German scientists] to work for peace when their indoctrinated hatred against the Russians might contribute to increase the divergence between the great powers? Had the war been fought to allow Nazi ideology to creep into our educational and scientific institutions by the back door? Do we want science at any price?”

In 1947 Operation Paperclip, still rather small, was in danger of being terminated. Instead, Truman transformed the U.S. military with the National Security Act, and created the best ally that Operation Paperclip could want: the CIA. Now the program took off, intentionally and willfully, with the full knowledge and understanding of the same U.S. President who had declared as a senator that if the Russians were winning the U.S. should help the Germans, and vice versa, to ensure that the most people possible died, the same president who viciously and pointlessly dropped two nuclear bombs on Japanese cities, the same president who brought us the war on Korea, the war without declaration, the secret wars, the permanent expanded empire of bases, the military secrecy in all matters, the imperial presidency, and the military-industrial complex.  The U.S. Chemical Warfare Service took up the study of German chemical weapons at the end of the war as a means to continue in existence.  George Merck both diagnosed biological weapons threats for the military and sold the military vaccines to handle them.  War was business and business was going to be good for a long time to come.

But how big a change did the United States go through after World War II, and how much of it can be credited to Operation Paperclip?  Isn’t a government that would give immunity to both Nazi and Japanese war criminals in order to learn their criminal ways already in a bad place?  As one of the defendants argued in trial at Nuremberg, the U.S. had already engaged in its own experiments on humans using almost identical justifications to those offered by the Nazis.  If that defendant had been aware, he could have pointed out that the U.S. was in that very moment engaged in such experiments in Guatemala.  The Nazis had learned some of their eugenics and other nasty inclinations from Americans.  Some of the Paperclip scientists had worked in the U.S. before the war, as many Americans had worked in Germany.  These were not isolated worlds.

Looking beyond the secondary, scandalous, and sadistic crimes of war, what about the crime of war itself?  We picture the United States as less guilty because it maneuvered the Japanese into the first attack, and because it did prosecute some of the war’s losers.  But an impartial trial would have prosecuted Americans too.  Bombs dropped on civilians killed and injured and destroyed more than any concentration camps — camps that in Germany had been modeled in part after U.S. camps for native Americans.  Is it possible that Nazi scientists blended into the U.S. military so well because an institution that had already done what it had done to the Philippines was not in all that much need of nazification?

Yet, somehow, we think of the firebombing of Japanese cities and the complete leveling of German cities as less offensive that the hiring of Nazi scientists.  But what is it that offends us about Nazi scientists?  I don’t think it should be that they engaged in mass-murder for the wrong side, an error balanced out in some minds but their later work for mass-murder by the right side.  And I don’t think it should be entirely that they engaged in sick human experimentation and forced labor.  I do think those actions should offend us.  But so should the construction of rockets that take thousands of lives.  And it should offend us whomever it’s done for.

It’s curious to imagine a civilized society somewhere on earth some years from now. Would an immigrant with a past in the U.S. military be able to find a job? Would a review be needed? Had they tortured prisoners? Had they drone-struck children? Had they leveled houses or shot up civilians in any number of countries? Had they used cluster bombs? Depleted uranium? White phosphorous? Had they ever worked in the U.S. prison system? Immigrant detention system? Death row? How thorough a review would be needed? Would there be some level of just-following-orders behavior that would be deemed acceptable? Would it matter, not just what the person had done, but how they thought about the world?

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : At the Fed, The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : At the Fed, The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same.

written by ron paul
sunday february 16, 2014
Ronpaul Tst

Last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen testified before Congress for the first time since replacing Ben Bernanke at the beginning of the month. Her testimony confirmed what many of us suspected, that interventionist Keynesian policies at the Federal Reserve are well-entrenched and far from over. Mrs. Yellen practically bent over backwards to reassure Wall Street that the Fed would continue its accommodative monetary policy well into any new economic recovery. The same monetary policy that got us into this mess will remain in place until the next crisis hits.

Isn’t it amazing that the same people who failed to see the real estate bubble developing, the same people who were so confident about economic recovery that they were talking about “green shoots” five years ago, the same people who have presided over the continued destruction of the dollar’s purchasing power never suffer any repercussions for the failures they have caused? They treat the people of the United States as though we were pawns in a giant chess game, one in which they always win and we the people always lose. No matter how badly they fail, they always get a blank check to do more of the same.

It is about time that the power brokers in Washington paid attention to what the Austrian economists have been saying for decades. Our economic crises are caused by central bank infusions of easy money into the banking system. This easy money distorts the structure of production and results in malinvested resources, an allocation of resources into economic bubbles and away from sectors that actually serve consumers’ needs. The only true solution to these burst bubbles is to allow the malinvested resources to be liquidated and put to use in other areas. Yet the Federal Reserve’s solution has always been to pump more money and credit into the financial system in order to keep the boom period going, and Mrs. Yellen’s proposals are no exception.

Every time the Fed engages in this loose monetary policy, it just sows the seeds for the next crisis, making the next crash even worse. Look at charts of the federal funds rate to see how the Fed has had to lower interest rates further and longer with each successive crisis. From six percent, to three percent, to one percent, and now the Fed is at zero. Some Keynesian economists have even urged central banks to drop interest rates below zero, which would mean charging people to keep money in bank accounts.

Chairman Yellen understands how ludicrous negative interest rates are, and she said as much in her question and answer period last week. But that zero lower rate means the Fed has had to resort to unusual and extraordinary measures: quantitative easing. As a result, the Fed now sits on a balance sheet equivalent to nearly 25 percent of US GDP, and is committing to continuing to purchase tens of billions more dollars of assets each month.

When will this madness stop? Sound economic growth is based on savings and investment, deferring consumption today in order to consume more in the future. Everything the Fed is doing is exactly the opposite, engaging in short-sighted policies in an attempt to spur consumption today, which will lead to a depletion of capital, a crippling of the economy, and the impoverishment of future generations. We owe it not only to ourselves, but to our children and our grandchildren, to rein in the Federal Reserve and end once and for all its misguided and destructive monetary policy.

Ellsberg: “I Am Grateful to Snowden for Having Given Us a Constitutional Crisis … a Crisis Instead of a Silent Coup” Washington’s Blog

Ellsberg: “I Am Grateful to Snowden for Having Given Us a Constitutional Crisis … a Crisis Instead of a Silent Coup” Washington’s Blog.

What Snowden Has Revealed … Is a Broken System of Our Constitution, And He’s Given Us the Opportunity To Get It Back

Daniel Ellsberg told Amy Goodman:

[Snowden] came to believe, as I did, having made those oaths initially and the promises of nondisclosure, which were not oaths, but they are contractual agreements not to do that, which he later violated, as I did—he made those in good faith, by everything known to me, and came to realize, I think, eventually, as he said, that a nondisclosure agreement in this case and the secrecy conflicted with his oath, so help me God, to defend and support the Constitution of the United States, and it was a supervening—a superseding authority there that it was his responsibility really to inform the public, because, as he said, he could see that no one else would do it.

***

Congress knew [that Clapper’s statements that the NSA doesn’t spy on the American people] hey were false, the people he was talking to, the dozen, even the man who had asked the question, Senator Wyden. What we saw, what Snowden saw and what we all saw, was that we couldn’t rely on the so-called Oversight Committee of Congress to reveal, even when they knew that they were being lied to, and that’s because they were bound by secrecy, NSA secrecy and their own rule. The secrecy system here, in other words, has totally corrupted the checks and balances on which our democracy depends.

And I think the—I am grateful to Snowden for having given us a constitutional crisis, a crisis instead of a silent coup, as after 9/11 an executive coup, or a creeping usurpation of authority. He has confronted us. He has revealed documents now that prove that the oversight process, both in the judiciary, in the FISC, the secret court, and the secret committees in Congress who keep their secrets from them, even when two of them, Wyden and Udall, felt that these were outrageous, were shocking, were probably unconstitutional, and yet did not feel that they could inform even their fellow colleagues or their staff of thisWhat Snowden has revealed, in other words, is a broken system of our Constitution, and he’s given us the opportunity to get it back, to retrieve our civil liberties, but more than that, to retrieve the separation of powers here on which our democracy depends.

Do more to prevent war | www.timesrecord.com | The Times Record

Do more to prevent war | www.timesrecord.com | The Times Record.

BY DAVID SWANSON
GUEST COLUMN


David Swanson

David Swanson

Polls showed a large percentage of us in this country supporting the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and even — though somewhat reduced — the invasion of Iraq in 2003. But not long after, and ever since, a majority of us have said those were mistakes.

We’ve opposed attacking Iran whenever that idea has entered the news. We opposed bombing Libya in 2011 and were ignored, as was Congress. And, by the way, advocates of that happy little war are rather quiet about the chaos it created.

But last September, the word on our televisions was that missiles must be sent to strike Syria. President Barack Obama and the leaders of both big political parties said they favored it. Wall Street believed it would happen, judging by Raytheon’s stock. When U.S. intelligence agencies declined to make the president’s case, he released a “government” assessment without them.

Remarkably, we didn’t accept that choice. A majority of us favored humanitarian aid, but no missiles, and no arming of one side in the war. We had the benefit of many people within the government and the military agreeing with us. And when Congress was pressured to demand approval power, Obama granted it.

It helped more that members of Congress were in their districts with people getting in their faces. It was with Congress indicating its refusal to support a war that Obama and Kerry accepted the pre-existing Russian offer to negotiate. In fact, the day before they made that decision, the State Department had stressed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would never ever give up his chemical weapons, and Kerry’s remarks on that solution had been “rhetorical.”

The war in Syria goes on. Washington sent guns, but refrained from air strikes. Major humanitarian aid would cost far less than missiles and guns, but hasn’t materialized. The children we were supposed to care about enough to bomb their country are still suffering, and most of us still care.

But a U.S. war was prevented.

We’re seeing the same thing play out in Washington right now on the question of whether to impose yet more sanctions on Iran, shred a negotiated agreement with Iran, and commit the United States to joining in any war between Israel and Iran.

In January, a bill to do all of that looked likely to pass through the Senate. Public pressure has been one factor in, thus far, slowing it down.

Are we moving away from war?

The ongoing war in Afghanistan, and White House efforts to extend it beyond this year, might suggest otherwise. The military budget that still eats up, across various departments, roughly half of federal discretionary spending, and which is roughly the size of all other countries’ military spending combined, might suggest otherwise. The failure to repeal the authorizations for war from 2001 and 2003, and the establishment of permanent practices of surveillance and detention and secrecy justified by a permanent state of war, might suggest otherwise. As might the ongoing missile strikes from drones over a number of nations.

But you’ll notice that they don’t ask us before launching drone strikes, and that their assurances that no innocent people are harmed have proven highly misleading.

War may be becoming acceptable only as what its advocates have long claimed it was: a last resort. Of course if we can really make that true, we’ll never have a war again.

DAVID SWANSON will be speaking at 3 p.m. Feb. 15 at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick.

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