Category Archives: Corruption

Drug Dealers, Polluters and Sex Traffickers: Welcome to Oligarch Cloud Cuckoo Land

Men’s evil manners live in brass; their virtues
We write in water.
Henry VIII (IV.ii.)

The notion that American oligarchs amass great wealth due to their extraordinary intelligence has become a deeply engrained tenet of liberal fundamentalist dogma. For in order for neoliberalism to maintain popular support it is necessary that the media relentlessly extol the virtues of the new robber barons. This myth of the meritocracy is sustained with fawning from the presstitutes, but also from the dubious practice of philanthrocapitalism. And yet cracks have appeared in the meritocratic facade which even the mass media has not been able to conceal.

From Andrew Carnegie to Henry Clay Frick, from John D. Rockefeller to Cornelius Vanderbilt, American capitalists have long embraced philanthropy as a means with which to not only deify themselves, but to also glorify and perpetuate a system anchored in authoritarianism, cruelty, and the impoverishment of millions.

Jeffrey Epstein hails from this blood-soaked lineage, as his rise was inextricably linked with a culture in thrall to the lie that those who are the most virtuous acquire the most wealth. A sex trafficker, who for decades managed to maintain a carefully cultivated image of an urbane and munificent New Yorker, Epstein had become a magnet for careerists, opportunists, and fellow con artists alike.

Helaine Olen writes in The Washington Post:

The major lie of the age of wealth inequality is that the moneyed are somehow better than the rest of us day-to-day working schlubs. The aristocracy of prewar Europe had their bloodlines. Our latter-day meritocratic aristocrats, we are told, possess the modern equivalent, which is extraordinary intelligence. The slothful working class are slaves to short-term pleasure. The rich, on the other hand, are disciplined. They wake up early, and they refuse to live beyond their means.

This is a lie. The Epstein scandal proves it.

Epstein preyed not only on destitute American girls from broken homes, but also on foreign girls, some of whom did not speak English, making them even more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Writing in The Miami Herald, Julie K. Brown writes that “after the FBI case was closed in 2008, witnesses and alleged victims testified in civil court that there were hundreds of girls who were brought to Epstein’s homes, including girls from Europe, Latin America and former Soviet Republic countries.”

The suspicious deal worked out a little over a decade ago by Epstein’s high powered legal team allowed their client to get off with incredibly lenient sentencing terms, and served to protect other creatures of dubious repute who may have been involved in a vast criminal network. Brown continues: “The deal, called a federal non-prosecution agreement, was sealed so that no one — not even his victims — could know the full scope of Epstein’s crimes and who else was involved.”

Epstein’s “black book” contained personal phone numbers belonging to such “masters of the universe” as Donald Trump, Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Senator Ted Kennedy, Henry Kissinger, David Koch, Ehud Barak, John Kerry, David Rockefeller, Michael Bloomfield, Leslie Wexner, Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth, Saudi King Salman and Edward de Rothschild. Irregardless of whether these plutocrats were involved in the abuse of minors, the fact that Epstein was permitted to inhabit this peculiar parallel legal system for so many years signifies the degradation of checks and balances which has opened up the floodgates of the West to barbarism.

Ghislaine Maxwell, who allegedly procured underage girls for Epstein, founded the TerraMar Project in 2012, a nonprofit ostensibly devoted to protecting the world’s oceans. Ghislaine’s father, Robert Maxwell, was a Mossad agent, and some have speculated that she may have introduced her boyfriend to the Israeli intelligence services.

There is a high degree of probability that Epstein was running a blackmail operation in conjunction with an intelligence agency (or agencies), as he had hidden cameras scattered throughout the rooms of his many residences, and appeared to be filming his guests as they were “getting a massage.” Epstein also had an Austrian passport, coveted by spies, due to Austria’s neutrality.

Chicago criminal defense attorney Leonard C. Goodman writes in the Chicago Reader:

A public criminal trial would have made it very hard to cover up Epstein’s relationship to intelligence agencies. These are the agencies that tell our presidents which countries to bomb, what leaders to depose, and which terrorists to assassinate by drone.

Frequently referred to by the presstitutes as a “disgraced financier,” despite the fact that no one has seen a website for the firm which he allegedly operated; and often referred to as “pedophile Jeffrey Epstein,” as if he were a lone villain acting all by himself, Epstein’s life personifies the depravity of contemporary American society. Moreover, this “financial genius” was somehow able to acquire one of the most luxurious residences in Manhattan (21,000-square-feet, and steps from Central Park), a 10,000 acre ranch in New Mexico, an apartment in Paris, a luxury villa in Palm Beach; and two islands in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Little Saint James and Great Saint James.

Epstein’s charitable donations were clearly a smokescreen designed to disguise extremely nefarious activities. The mega-rich in other countries may be crooks (consider Pablo Escobar, described by Wikipedia as a “narcoterrorist”), but not wealthy Americans, who are simply smarter than everyone else. That Epstein came from a working class family, and that his father, Seymour Epstein, worked for the New York Parks Department as a groundskeeper, only deepens the mystery of where this money really came from.

Ever the debonair cool guy of Manhattan’s in-crowd, Epstein donated to the Independent Filmmaker Project, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Ballet Palm Beach, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Cancer Research Wellness Institute and the Melanoma Research Alliance. In May of 2012, PR Newswire ran an article titled “The Largest Private Funder of Melanoma Research Receives Vital Support From Activist Jeffrey Epstein.”

One of Epstein’s favorite places to donate was Harvard, as this allowed him to hobnob with a variety of influential academics and scientists. As John Patrick writes in The Washington Examiner:

The disgraced finance mogul donated millions to Harvard endeavors from the late 1990s throughout the 2000s, including a $6.5 million donation to Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, and a $2 million pledged donation for Harvard’s Jewish organization Hillel. Plus, Epstein contributed more than $100,000 to a Harvard performing arts organization, and gave a gift of more than $100,000 to a non-profit run by Elsa New, wife of former Harvard president and Clinton administration member Larry Summers.

Epstein also donated $2.5 million to Ohio State University and $800,000 to MIT. Taking hypocrisy to new heights, he even donated to the Women Global Cancer Initiative, the Mount Sinai Breast Health Resource Program; and to The Hewitt School, a prep school for girls on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Underscoring the netherworld of imaginary morality that our plutocrats inhabit, Epstein told the New York Post that “I’m not a sexual predator, I’m an ‘offender.’ It’s the difference between a murderer and a person who steals a bagel.”

Bernie Madoff, another exhilarating New York success story, was managing – at least according to his computer printouts – the astronomical sum of $50 billion, and was equally fond of donating to charitable causes. Yeshiva University, The Ramaz School, Maimonides School, and the Hadassah Women’s Organization were some of the institutions that suffered serious losses when Madoff’s firm revealed itself to be the biggest Ponzi scheme in history.

Cousins of human traffickers, polluters also need to unwind from time to time, and what better way to bask in the grandeurs of perdition than donate to the arts? The New York State Theater, an important performing arts space within Lincoln Center and home to the New York City Ballet, was renamed the David H. Koch Theater in 2008; while the Metropolitan Museum of Art now offers the David H. Koch Plaza, whose namesake paid $65 million to have the new plaza built in his name. The Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT is another child born of Koch philanthropy.

The Charles Koch Foundation has donated enormous sums of money to hundreds of universities with the aim of inculcating impressionable young minds with their reactionary ethos, which is anchored in the idea that all attempts at corporate regulation and maintaining a public sector should be jettisoned. The Koch brothers donated over $95 million to George Mason University, which is a public university, and this led to the Charles Koch Foundation being granted a significant amount of leverage with regard to the hiring and firing of faculty.

Steven Pearlstein writes in The Washington Post:

When someone gives $10 million to an engineering school rather than the college of humanities, it changes the university’s priorities. When someone endows a center to study the causes and consequences of climate change, it affects who is hired and what is taught and researched. When someone gives enough to name a school after a public figure, it shapes a school’s ideological profile. It would be great if all donations were unrestricted, but they aren’t. Many donors have agendas. The Kochs are just an extreme example.

The Koch brothers have left behind a toxic legacy from Corpus Christi, Texas; to Chicago and Detroit; to Crossett, Arkansas; to New Delhi, India, and beyond. Greenpeace posits that “Koch Industries is a major polluter, with ongoing incidents and violations of environmental laws.” Tim Dickinson writes in Rolling Stone that “Thanks in part to its 2005 purchase of paper-mill giant Georgia-Pacific, Koch Industries dumps more pollutants into the nation’s waterways than General Electric and International Paper combined.” He goes on to point out that “Koch generates 24 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year.” Together, Charles and David Koch accumulated around $100 billion.

The Sackler Family, which owns Purdue Pharma and made billions off of the opioid crisis, deceived doctors about the highly addictive nature of OxyContin. This particularly dangerous opioid was promoted in part through dishonest advertising, but also though manipulating physicians into believing the drug was safe. Patrick Radden Keefe writes in The New Yorker that “The marketing of OxyContin relied on an empirical circularity: the company convinced doctors of the drug’s safety with literature that had been produced by doctors who were paid, or funded, by the company.” The Sackler family is now attempting to sell the drug abroad through Mundipharma, a Purdue subsidiary, and is marketing OxyContin in Asia, South America and the Middle East.

It is noteworthy that Arthur Sackler aggressively marketed Librium and Valium in the 1960s, which earned tremendous profits for Hoffmann-La Roche, and also led many Americans down a path towards abuse and addiction. Judith Warner writes in Time:

Valium has long served extremely well as a vehicle for proving the perfidy of psychiatrists and the drug companies behind them. It was indeed dispensed in outrageous-seeming numbers in the 1960s and early 1970s. It did indeed lead to tragic levels of abuse and addiction.

The Sacklers are now one of our richest families. Like Epstein, the Sackler family sought to cultivate a worldly image anchored in their patronage of education and the arts, and some of the most prestigious museums in the Western world have galleries and wings named after them.

At the Guggenheim, there is the Sackler Center for Arts Education; at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there is the Sackler Wing; and at the American Museum of Natural History, there is the Sackler Educational Laboratory. At Harvard, there is the Arthur M. Sackler Museum; in Washington DC, the Sackler Gallery; and at the Brooklyn Museum, the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. Moreover, there are Sackler wings and educational institutions at renowned British museums such as the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology, the British Museum, the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum and at the Tate Modern. The Sacklers have also donated to the Royal Ballet School, the Royal Botanic Gardens, and the Royal Opera. Perhaps the Whitney Museum of American Art, which has a board run largely by war profiteers, could receive the funds accumulated from the many lawsuits arrayed against Purdue and be renamed the Sackler.

Not content with defiling artistic institutions with their blood money, the Sacklers have donated to educational institutions. At Columbia, there is the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology; and at Oxford, the Sackler Library; at Yale, there is the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Institute for Biological, Physical and Engineering Sciences.

Particularly egregious conflicts of interest are the Sackler Brain and Spine Institute at NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical and Physical Sciences at Weill Cornell, and the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts. No less disturbing, in the winter of 2010 Thomas J. Lynch Jr., MD, was named Richard Sackler and Jonathan Sackler Professor of Medicine and Director of the Yale Cancer Center. The Sacklers have also donated millions to Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard’s oldest teaching hospital. Andrew Joseph writes in “Purdue Cemented Ties with Universities and Hospitals to Expand Opioid Sales, Documents Contend,” that “At Mass. General, the agreement with Purdue allowed the company to suggest curriculum for pain education.” No less outrageous, in Israel there is the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University. Emblazoned in its lobby are the words “Dedicated to Mankind for the Health of All People.”

Some arts institutions have disassociated themselves from the Sacklers, such as the Louvre, which took down the Sackler name from its Wing of Oriental Antiquities. A number of prominent museums, such as the Guggenheim, the Met, and the Tate galleries have refused to accept further donations from the Sacklers, although the name continues to sully their august halls.

Teva Pharmaceuticals has likewise played a role in the opioid crisis, and partners with Mount Sinai, a blatant conflict of interest. Ostensibly, they will treat “multiple chronic conditions” together. Teva has donated to a wide variety of health care organizations and gave $2.5 million to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. In an article in The Times of Israel titled “Federal Data Reveals Extent of Teva’s Role in Fueling US Opioid Crisis,” the authors write that between 2006 and 2012 “Teva Pharmaceuticals USA produced 690 million opioid pills.”

When not getting Americans addicted to opioids and psychotropic drugs, Johnson and Johnson delights in donating to Johnson & Johnson Vision and the Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP), both of which make endearing videos replete with cute kids and teary-eyed grandparents.

Indeed, this was how some of the most diabolical drug dealers in America, were, at least for a time, able to convey an image of benevolence, munificence and altruism. Keefe writes that “Over time, the origins of a clan’s largesse are largely forgotten, and we recall only the philanthropic legacy, prompted by the name on the building.”

Where are our heroes, America? Our novelists, labor leaders, artists and intellectuals? What would Thoreau, Frederick Douglass, or Mark Twain say about these soulless creatures who sought to use their lucre to envelop themselves in a halo of veneration and hagiography? A society that prostrates itself at the altar of depravity is a society of death.

Let us disenthrall ourselves from the shackles of materialism and careerism. Let us cast the false idol of avarice from the tallest cliffs, and from its ashes embrace a phoenix reborn, a harbinger of compassion, altruism and justice.

WWF Execs Knowingly Funding Rights Abuses in Africa

A new and devastating investigation by Buzzfeed News has revealed that WWF’s director & board had detailed evidence of “widespread” atrocities being committed by rangers it funds and equips, but kept the information secret.

It’s the latest finding from a Buzzfeed investigation that has brought to light a series of secret WWF reports, proving the organization has known for years that the rangers it funds in central Africa commit gross human rights abuses among the local population.

Survival International has been highlighting these abuses, among the Baka and Bayaka people, for more than three decades, but WWF has always claimed ignorance.

It’s now proven that the highest levels of management in WWF have known about the abuses, but continued funding and equipping the rangers, and pushing for the creation of yet more protected areas on Baka and Bayaka land.Congolese officials hand the top official (and WWF employee) of Salonga National Park an assault rifle. Some of the park’s guards have been accused of gang rape, torture and murder.

Congolese officials hand the top official (and WWF employee) of Salonga National Park an assault rifle. Some of the park’s guards have been accused of gang rape, torture and murder.
© Sinziana-Maria Demian / WWF

Buzzfeed has revealed a series of reports:

– April 2015: WWF commissioned an indigenous expert to prepare a report on the charity’s work in Cameroon. He found WWF “shared responsibility” for ranger violence.

– July 2017: WWF sent a consultant to a proposed new park, Messok Dja, in the Rep. of Congo. He found villagers were afraid of “repression from eco-guards.”

– January 2018: WWF asked UK-based human rights lawyer Paul Chiy to follow up on the 2015 Cameroon report. He finds “valid” and “grossly understated” evidence of human rights abuses.

– December 2018: WWF asked Chiy to conduct another assessment into parks it funds in Dem. Rep. of Congo, Rep. of Congo and Central African Republic. Its contents are unknown.

– March 2019: A confidential report commissioned by WWF and the Congolese government finds evidence that WWF-backed rangers raped pregnant women and tortured villagers.

The charity is now being investigated by authorities in the U.S., UK and Germany. Survival is campaigning for the organization to scrap its plans for a new protected area, Messok Dja, in the Congo, which does not have the Baka’s consent.

“I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as President.” Really!

It is time for the House of Representatives to announce comprehensive articles of impeachment against the chronic outlaw and violator of the public trust—President Donald J. Trump who won the Electoral College, but lost the popular vote.

Six House Committees have been investigating and assembling for months the necessary evidence. Mr. Trump himself has taunted the House to impeach him. He has openly and brazenly defied Congressional subpoenas for documents and block subpoenaed witnesses from testifying. This obstruction of Congress is an ongoing impeachable offense—a grave one in the opinions of James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and the other framers of our Constitution, who knew the importance of critical separation of powers.

These Committees are documenting his massive obstruction of justice, otherwise known as blocking law enforcement and the rule of law through intimidation, firings, and other forms of political coercion. They are filling in the details of the ten categories of obstruction described in the Mueller Report. They are cataloguing all the ways Trump is using his office to enrich his businesses—openly promoting his hotels before foreign governments and their agents.

Committee investigators are peeling off layer after layer of Trump’s demanding from Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine to investigate a possible opponent to his re-election—Joe Biden and his son, having suspended nearly $400 million in U.S. aid to Ukraine to pressure Mr. Zelensky.

The “abuse of the public trust,” in Alexander Hamilton’s phrase is overflowing. Over ten thousand Trump lies mean cover-ups, secrecy in government, deceiving innocent citizens about the air, food, water, and workplace danger, megalomania, about drug prices and health insurance for all. Lies matter; they tell us something about the President’s mental instability, his detachment from reality, and the willingness of a large minority of the people to believe the fibs—even when they are about their own crucial livelihoods, health, and safety.

Being a serial sexual predator and earlier bragging about how he accosted women are a brutish model for youngsters. Legislators like Senator Al Franken lost his position for doing one percent of Donald’s criminal and tortious acts. What would Hamilton also think of the Commander in Chief saying that if he is impeached, there might be a civil war? Incitation to mass violence for his political survival is not a minor matter.

Then there are the lawless uses of armed force abroad anywhere Trump wants, regardless of the absence of Congressional appropriations or declarations of war. Dragnet enforcement without judicial warrants are a federal crime. The same for threatening registered federal whistleblowers.

The House of Representatives already has enough evidence of Trump spending money for purposes not authorized by Congress, such as shifting $3.5 billion from Pentagon schools and other services to building his porous wall. If he reads the Constitution, the “power of the purse” was exclusively given to Congress.

That previous presidents have done some of the latter offenses does not exonerate Trump’s violations. The Congress has to draw the line and stop the ever-faster drift under both parties toward executive tyranny in the White House.

The polls are moving over 50% in favor of impeachment. Other people wish Congress would focus on kitchen-table issues. They need to know that Trump’s impeachable offenses include wholesale taking the federal cops off the corporate crime beat. He is making your air, water, food, and workplaces more hazardous by removing or weakening health and safety standards that save lives and diminish sicknesses. He’s allowing more greenhouse gases to be emitted, worsening the climate disruptions which he says is a “Chinese hoax.”

Law enforcement to protect your family budget has reached a record low. The loan sharks, credit, insurance, and banking industries know that. Fines imposed on wrongdoers by Trump’s agencies have dropped precipitously (see Public Citizen’s report, “Corporate Impunity”). With Trump, you’re paying higher taxes as the wealthy classes get off and savor their large Trumpian tax escapes.

The foregoing is to urge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to deliver a full hand of serious impeachable offenses to the Congress and the American people. The Ukraine shakedown is important, but not sufficient to let people realize all the other things Trump is doing to them, their families, their Constitution, and their democracy.

The full, despicable portrait of Donald J. Trump must be revealed to provide the maximum possible public understanding. For over two and a half years, too many of his absurd tweets and assertions have gone without official rebuttals. His tactic is to dominate the news cycle every day as if his presidency is a reality show and he is the star.

The mass media is starting to wise up about being used and abused by Trump’s fulminations and incitements. It is time for the mass media, and its broadening coverage of the forthcoming, nationally televised House impeachment proceedings, to prove it too can expose Trump’s assault on both our Constitution’s law of the land and the citizenry.

The Obscured Horror Show

Karl Marx used a metaphor about a camera obscura to describe the contortions in the interpretations of ideology, and it’s also an interesting metaphor to think about how information is delivered to us from power. A camera obscura receives an image from a tiny hole where the image is then projected in a state that is inverted and reversed, such is the perspective given to us by the powers that be where we are fed a myopic view and what is shown to the people is the opposite of what is really going on. The pictures taken from the camera obscura of the ruling class are then captioned for the people by the corporate media and government PR providing obscured narration around the already obscured images which are carefully curated so that nothing is ever perceived by the people other than what is intended by the propagandist photographers.

The actions taken by elites must be obscured because if they were done right in front of you sans the gaslighting it would strike anyone in a mindset outside of an indoctrinated culture to be horrified. And when the events that occur every day in our society are thought of on a small scale without the socially applied labels, it’s clear to see the type of people we are truly dealing with, and why ousting their system from power is likely the only option if the story of humanity is to have a next chapter. Because these are not people acting in good faith; rather these are people who rule over us and are addicted to power and will do or say anything to get another hit to satisfy their addiction, which includes obliterating the natural environment that every living thing on the planet depends on and is only done so that a few people can have greater ego status and some meaningless luxuries.

Continuing to trust the US government to not start another war based on false pretenses or trusting politicians and the corporate state to stop the environmental destruction is akin to trusting Freddy Krueger to babysit your kids and expect it’s going to end up in something other than a horror show…

Well, Mr Krueger, let’s take a quick look at your babysitter qualifications before the wife and I head out for the evening. I see here you have no references and have some rather gruesome scars, how did that happen? Oh, some parents burned you alive after you diddled and murdered their kids? I see. Still, I’m not going to jump to any conclusions and disqualify you on that alone, I do believe in second chances. Sooo what are those knives on your hand for? You say they’re just decorative? Ok, but they look awfully sharp. And that’s a rather creepy maniacal laugh you have there, that doesn’t seem quite right, but still, I think it’s going to be fine. We’ll be back at 10, call us if you need anything and there’s money to order a pizza on the kitchen counter.

The American people are equally as naive, trusting their government, banks, and corporations who are just as crazy as a horror movie slasher and the evidence is directly in front of us. Acting as if we need a military this large which is ostensibly for defending the US is like Freddy telling you his glove with knives is only for easy access to kitchen utensils. They are both obviously for murdering people.

These corporatists and politicians are well dressed raging narcissists who speak with a specific nomenclature and a twisted tongue directly for the purpose of deceiving the masses. People like those in power now have been running these power games for a very long time and they have no intent of ever changing. They lure the masses in with carefully crafted words every election season and the people gab and gossip over which one of these lying psychopaths is better than the other. Sure Michael Myers has an excellent foreign policy, but Leatherface seems to have good domestic fiscal policy, but then again, I really like what Jason Voorhees has been grunting about immigration.

Right now the people still remain unconvinced a Freddy Krueger-ish ruling elite are bad guys, and perhaps it’s not as obvious when they lack a maniacal guffaw, don’t openly look hideous, or wear blood stained knives on their hands. But let’s think about what is being done by those in power through a clear lens and hopefully reach a point of socioeconomic enlightenment. To illustrate the point of their insanities it’s best to think of their actions on a smaller scale and ask yourself if these people and their social construct are something we can ever trust given their history and present state. And will this system somehow turn things around and become the altruistic thing they pretend to be in photographs crafted by the camera obscura.

So it is pertinent to ask what kind of people are these that would make others homeless out of nothing but greed. Let’s hypothetically ask an ethical question here. If there were only two people in the world and five homes available, would it not be the height of selfishness to claim all the homes for yourself and keep the other person out of the available homes by threat of violence while the existing structures sat and rotted away unused? Yet banks, corporations, and government policy allow this kind of behavior to happen ubiquitously in every area afflicted with capitalism, and they call it freedom for moneyed elites to be allowed to do so in the vaunted “free” market system. They say it’s not greed you see, it’s freedom for the powerful to do as they please. It’s like saying Ted Bundy has a god given right to murder women and proclaiming it liberty for the serial killer.

Here’s another. If people were starving and you had a warehouse full of groceries in your backyard and you threw out the fruits and veggies with a spot or two and refused to even let the starving people use the garbage you threw out what kind of person would you be? Yet this is exactly what capitalist grocers routinely do and worse, as it’s a special kind of awful to have buildings full of food and that sits unused while others go without proper nourishment. And again to excuse this behavior of hoarding because people in power tell you that you’re not working hard enough for them, and even after a lifetime of work it’s still not enough to qualify you to have a right to food if you don’t have enough of their money which they can, and do, create out of thin air in computers and handout in large amounts to cover the imbalances in their financial and banking systems. To those in charge, it’s more just that a person starve than a banking system go unbalanced, or god forbid, take a financial loss.

Or consider this.  If you were to throw a party and you caught someone smoking a joint in your house would a rational reaction to this be to strip search them, lock them in your closet, and then force them to pay you a fine for smoking? Then after keeping them as punishment in your closet from several months to a couple years you proceed to track them and make them report back to you that they found a job you approve of, while also demanding they come by and piss in a cup so that you can be sure they haven’t decided to smoke pot again, and if they don’t abide by your rules you threaten to throw them back into the closet. And you do all this while telling them it’s for their own good and the good of the greater society. Is this sane behavior? Yet again, we accept a nation state that does this and worse on a massive scale.

Or what if a group of your neighbors, who happen to have the most weapons, stopped by one evening to tell you that you can no longer grow vegetables on open unused land and can no longer fish out of a local lake, and that all these resources would now be managed by them. They will give you an allowance if you do their work in a manner fitting to them so you can now buy food only from their approved sources. And if you work hard enough and pay tribute to them with the allowance they have given you then they may even let you stay in your home. Remember, if you don’t obey what they say and refuse to live by their laws, they will be forced to kidnap you and incarcerate you, and if you run from them when they try and kidnap you then they will get their guns and shoot at you simply because you ran. Sounds nuts, right? Yet, here we are with a very similar way of being only applied to billions.

Or what if your neighbor next-door started investing heavily in tanks and missiles and they shoot at your kids whenever they come close to the property line. And when questioned why they are doing such things they claim it’s for their own protection when almost no one else in the neighborhood has a single gun. Then one day your crazy neighbor knocks on your door and tells you the guy down the street is a danger to everyone, this supposed threat down the street also happens to have a large RV camper you’ve seen your neighbor eyeing repeatedly, and now they want your kids to take some of their guns over there and murder them even though you have no idea what those people down the street actually did or if the situation could be resolved through a dialectical conversation instead of resorting to violence. Regardless, they refuse to have a conversation and inform you that if your child doesn’t want to murder someone for them they’ll lock them in their basement for punishment. It doesn’t seem rational, does it? But it seems rational for the US to do these things and continue to have a military many times the size of any other nation while they make claims they are the ones being threatened.

And it’s worth pointing out again, these psychopathic behaviors are everywhere and people will still treat this system and its election theater with utmost seriousness. Many of the problems we face are solvable, yet they persist, and it never seems to cross the mind of the common voter that these injustices persist precisely because those in power are doing something awful, the people simply cannot fathom that those they elect to rule would act with such disregard for the well being for others. The people buy into a society that has the worst kind of morals built into it and continue to pretend like there is something here worth saving. To the blind masses it still seems rational to cast votes for people to rule over us while these psychos ramp up their discipline, surveil, and punishment tactics and spread endless warfare and pain across the planet.

All these first world nation-states are eager to tell you how free you are. Essentially free to pay their taxes, work their jobs, and contribute to their capitalist growth in some manner. But if you’re so free then try to get a group of people and attempt to escape their system. Try to secede from their rule at any size and you’ll be met with instant opposition. Leaving their system isn’t an option. You can perhaps live in another nation-state they recognize, but you cannot start your own, and even the ones they recognize who don’t behave in an economic manner that pays proper tribute to the ruling classes will be put under threat. The planet is owned by a cartel of mafiosos with important sounding titles, where sovereignty is granted not by the will of a people to be free, but from the existing powers that be.

Everything nation-states, capitalists, or any social structure in a hierarchical form does is horrific and iniquitous while being normalized by way of semantics. Only when their actions are reframed under an objective lens without the titles, badges, and uniforms does the picture become clear and sanity returns. We are collectively captured by mavens in the art of cruelty, and not only do the collective people openly fight against their rule, but we can’t accept or even be brought to discuss the true intent of their actions.

“Ukrainegate” Teaches Us More About Ourselves Than Trump Or Biden

Anti-Imperialism protest in the Phillippines. Photo: Carlo Manalansan by Bulatlat

‘Ukrainegate’ has opened the floodgates of impeachment in Washington, DC. President Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky provided such an opportunity that Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who resisted pressure for impeachment, is now on board along with a majority of the party. Democrats are moving quickly to make Trump the third president ever to be impeached.

Conviction is up to the Republican-controlled Senate, where a two-thirds vote is required, so that is very unlikely. Trump will probably be the Republican nominee even though he has never broken 50 percent support in the polls. Chris Hedges writes that a partisan impeachment will anger the people in Trump’s base who view him as challenging the establishment and could backfire for the Democrats.

The political impact of impeachment depends on how the Democrats build their case and whether it becomes bi-partisan. Richard Nixon grew more unpopular and public support for his impeachment grew during the process. Bill Clinton consistently had more than 60 percent support during his presidency, ending with 66 percent popularity while support for impeachment decreased as it progressed. Trump starts with a historically low level of popularity, whether an angered base and failed impeachment in the Senate will help Trump is too soon to say.

Impeachment by the House seems inevitable even though less than a majority of voters currently support it. The Democrats need to be careful because shining a light on Ukraine, where Obama-Biden conducted the most open coup in US history (until the recent Trump failed coup in Venezuela,) could undermine Joe Biden, their highest polling candidate. It will also expose the ugly realities of US foreign policy, the corporate control of both parties and the need for fundamental change in US politics.

Joe Biden with Petro Poroshenko, who was an informant for the US government for six years before becoming president. Photo: Sergey Dolzhenko for EPA.

The US Coup in Ukraine

The openness of the US coup in Ukraine is something to behold. In December 2013, Victoria Nuland, the Assistant US Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia, bragged to a meeting of the International Business Conference sponsored by the US-Ukrainian Foundation that the US had ‘invested’ more than $5 billion and “five years worth of work and preparation” to bring Ukraine into the US orbit. In November 2013, President Yanuyovch rejected an EU Agreement in favor of joining Russia’s Common Union with the other Commonwealth Independent States.

The timeline of events around the coup shows pressure and bribery were being used including the promise of a $1.5 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan and $850 million from the World Bank. Nuland described three trips to Ukraine where she made it “absolutely clear” to Yanukovych that the US required “immediate steps” …to “get back into conversation with Europe and the IMF.” Threats and payoffs were the modes of US operation.

Nuland was also meeting with the Ukrainian opposition including the neo-Nazi Svoboda party. Less than one month before the coup removed Yanuyovch on January 30, 2014, the State Department announced Nuland would be meeting “with government officials, opposition leaders, civil society and business leaders to encourage agreement on a new government and plan of action.” On February 4, Nuland was caught speaking on a taped open telephone conversation with US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, discussing the next government saying,  “I think Yats is the guy,” referring to Holocaust-denier, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who became the post-coup prime minister. In the call, she also urged that Yats should work with neo-Nazis.

Shortly after Yats became Prime Minister, Joe Biden called him. Biden was the White House point-person on Ukraine. At a press conference, Obama touted Biden’s role while stumbling over Yats’ name, saying: “Vice President Biden just spoke with Prime Minister [pause] – the prime minister of Ukraine to assure him that in this difficult moment the United States supports his government’s efforts.”

In addition to Yats, the post-coup president of Ukraine was known by US authorities as “Our Ukraine Insider” or “OU.” A series of Wikileaks documents showed OU had been working as an informant for the United States for six years. A Wikileaks cable made clear the US considered Petro Poroshenko to be corrupt but his “price had to be paid.” In a cable involving Secretary of State Clinton, OU explained the value of the US being in Crimea — Russia’s only seaport and long-time naval base.

OU added another US agent, Natalia Jaresko, a long-time State Department official, who went to Ukraine after the U.S.-sponsored Orange Revolution. Jaresko was made a Ukrainian citizen by OU on the same day he appointed her finance minister. Between the Orange Revolution and the 2014 coup, William Boardman reports, Jaresko ran a hedge fund in Ukraine used to manage “a CIA fund that supported ‘pro-democracy movements’ and laundered much of the $5 billion the US spent supporting the Maidan protests that led to the Kiev coup.” Jaresko received $1.77 million in bonuses from the tax-payer funded investment project in addition to her $150,000 annual salary. She is now head of the “La Junta” in Puerto Rico.

In addition to controlling the top government posts in Ukraine, the US moved to control key economic sectors. Regarding agriculture, Monsanto was given the ability to buy property (which had been previously forbidden) and an $8.7 billion IMF loan required Ukraine to allow biotech farming and the sale of Monsanto’s poison crops and chemicals thereby destroying farmland that was one of the most pristine in Europe.

Regarding energy, the largest private gas company in Ukraine, Bursima Holdings, appointed Vice President Joe Biden‘s son, Hunter Biden, and a close friend of Secretary of State John Kerry, and Devon Archer, the college roommate of Kerry’s stepson, to the board. Archer also served as an adviser to Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, co-chaired his National Finance Committee and serves as a trustee of the Heinz Family Office, which manages the family business. Hunter Biden and Archer, along with Christopher Heinz, co-founded Rosemont Seneca Partners.

President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky meet in New York on September 25, 2019, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Photo: Saul Loeb for Getty Images

Trump’s Phone Call with Zelensky Urging Investigation of Biden

Donald Trump is concerned about Biden as a political opponent in the 2020 election. Although he is fading in current polls, Biden still leads among Democrats seeking the nomination and defeats Trump in all head-to-head polls, as do other leading Democratic candidates.

The impeachment spike occurred because of a July 25 telephone call between Trump and President Zelensky where Trump urged Zelensky to investigate Biden. A CIA official filed a whistleblower complaint about it and the Inspector General sent a letter to Jerry Maguire, Director of National Intelligence, who initially withheld both from Congress. The Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, Michael Atkinson, found the complaint to be “credible” and “of urgent concern” and alerted Rep. Adam Schiff, the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, about it. The administration has taken steps to restrict access to records of the call, the transcript of which has still not been provided to Congress.

Since December 2018, Rudy Guiliani had been pressuring Ukraine to investigate Biden and Hunter Biden’s involvement with Bursima. The April 21 election of Zelensky and July 21 Parliamentary elections, which brought in a new government, undid much of Guiliani’s lobbying. Trump’s call after the legislative elections, ostensibly to congratulate Zelensky, included multiple mentions of the need to investigate Biden. The Washington Post reports, “Days after the two presidents spoke…Giuliani met with an aide to the Ukrainian president in Madrid and spelled out two specific cases he believed Ukraine should pursue. One was a probe of a Ukrainian gas tycoon who had Biden’s son Hunter on his board. Another was an allegation that Democrats colluded with Ukraine to release information on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort during the 2016 election.”

Manafort was one of the few convictions from the Mueller investigation. Manafort was indicted on twelve counts, including committing conspiracy against the United States by failing to register as a foreign agent of Ukraine. Manafort pleaded guilty to that charge in September 2018.

Democrats calling for impeachment describe Trump’s actions as coercing a foreign nation into the 2020 elections by pressuring them to investigate a chief rival, Joe Biden. Trump withheld military funding for Ukraine and scheduling a meeting with Zelensky at the White House as coercive instruments. US policy in Ukraine has emphasized militarism against Russia since the coup. The New Yorker reports, “McCain was calling for the U.S. to arm Ukraine for defense against a ‘Russian invasion’ that he sees as part of Putin’s plan to ‘re-establish the old Russian empire.’ McCain also called for the U.S. to send military ‘advisors.’”

Trump says he is waiting to see if Zelensky will “play ball” with the US. Trump is using threats and payoffs in Ukraine, just as Joe Biden did.

Joe Biden points to some faces in the crowd with his son Hunter in Washington, D.C., January 20, 2009. Photo: Carlos Barria For Reuters.

The Risk to Biden Grows

While Trump is deservedly at serious risk for impeachment, the risk to Biden is also growing. Politico reports that Joe Biden is waging war on the Hunter Biden-Ukraine reporting. The risk to Biden is existential, he needs Democrats to remain silent and for the impeachment inquiry not to examine what Trump was investigating in Ukraine.

In January 2018, Biden bragged on video in his speech to the Council on Foreign Relations how he pressured Ukraine to fire Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin saying he would not approve a $1 billion dollar IMF loan if Shokin was not fired before Biden left Ukraine during a six-hour visit.  On April 1, The Hill published an article that reports: “The prosecutor [Biden] got fired was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe into the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings that employed Biden’s younger son, Hunter, as a board member.” They report Rosemont Seneca Partners received “regular transfers into one of its accounts — usually more than $166,000 a month — from Burisma from spring 2014 through fall 2015,” confirmed by US banking records. Shokin’s file shows prosecutors identified Hunter Biden, business partner Devon Archer, and their firm, Rosemont Seneca, as potential recipients of the money.

The article further reports that Shokin wrote before he was fired that he had made “specific plans” for the investigation that “included interrogations and other crime-investigation procedures into all members of the executive board, including Hunter Biden.” This is consistent with a sworn affidavit of Shokin (see shokin-ukraine-prosecutor-sworn-statement) where he said, “Poroshenko asked me to resign due to pressure from…Joe Biden…who was threatening to withhold USD $1 billion in subsidies to Ukraine until I was removed.” There were no complaints against Shokin at the time. He explains, “The truth is I was forced out because I was leading a wide-ranging corruption probe of Bursima Holdings.” Shokin describes how Poroshenko had asked him to end the probe multiple times and he had refused.

The Hill reports that “interviews with a half-dozen senior Ukrainian officials confirm Biden’s account, though they claim the pressure was applied over several months in late 2015 and early 2016, not just six hours of one dramatic day.” Obama named Biden the administration’s point man on Ukraine in February 2014, after the coup and as Crimea was voting to return to Russia.

The New Yorker not only details Hunter’s personal and professional problems but also reports that Guiliani said “in the fall of 2018, he spoke to Viktor Shokin, Ukraine’s former Prosecutor General. Shokin told him that Vice-President Biden had him fired in 2016 because he was investigating Burisma and the company’s payments to Hunter and Archer. Giuliani said that, in January 2019, he met with Yurii Lutsenko, Ukraine’s current prosecutor general, in New York, and Lutsenko confirmed Shokin’s version of events.” Biden and his supporters are working to change the narrative, perhaps the impeachment inquiry will get the facts out.

This weekend, Mykola Azarov, Ukraine’s former prime minister from 2010-2014, said in an interview that Ukraine must investigate whether Hunter Biden’s role in Burisma complied with the country’s laws; i.e., investigate what Biden had done for Burisma to justify his remuneration. Further, he said allegations that Joe Biden had gotten Ukraine’s prosecutor general fired to protect his son must also be investigated. On Friday, Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau said it was investigating activity at Burisma between 2010-2012, but it was not looking into changes to its board in 2014 when Hunter Biden joined.

Protesters opposing a coup against Nicolás Maduro outside the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC, on May 16, 2019. Photo: Jose Luis Magana for AP.

The Quagmire Of US Imperialism

The Ukraine crisis exposes the bipartisan corruption inherent in the US imperialist foreign policy. An investigation into Ukraine may expose what are actually common practices by both Democratic and Republican administrations in regime change efforts. As John Kiriakou explained when he gave a talk at the Venezuelan Embassy during the Embassy Protection Collective action, the CIA has a secret regime change office that provides plans to overthrow any government the US chooses to target. These plans involve similar tactics – the investment of large amounts of money into NGOs (often ‘human rights groups’), support for a violent opposition, installing US-trained and controlled leaders and payoffs for those involved.

In the past, these practices occurred behind closed doors, but now it seems the ruling class has become so brazen, it doesn’t try very hard to hide what it’s doing. This provides an opportunity for the public to discuss whether or not the current foreign policy is serving our interests or the world. If we agree that it doesn’t, then it is up to us to organize to change it.

Regime change efforts have had disastrous consequences. Certainly, no country is better off than it was before US interference.  Look at Iraq and Libya, thriving countries that were thrown into chaos, for recent examples. Ukraine has elected a new government, but its GDP is 24 percent smaller now than it was in 1993, and corruption has continued. And the echoes of US regime change from 1953 in removing Mohammad Mosaddegh, the elected Prime Minister of Iran, continue to reverberate and poison relations between the US and Iran.

Other countries have resisted regime change but have paid a heavy price. Syria is trying to rebuild after more than eight years of war instigated and supported by the US. Venezuela is resisting ongoing coup attempts and brutal unilateral coercive measures imposed by the US. This week at the United Nations, Venezuela successfully prevented the US from removing its diplomats but the US doubled down on its regime change tactics. Even leading Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are making false claims about Venezuela.

As residents in a corrupt, corporate-controlled, imperialist country, we have a responsibility to ourselves and the world to take action to stop the US disastrous foreign policy. The world is changing. The US will no longer be the hegemon. Will we allow the US to continue wreaking havoc as it goes down, or are we ready to change course and become a cooperative member of the global community? Last weekend, we held the People’s Mobilization to Stop the US War Machine. On October 11, we’ll participate in the Rage Against the War Machine actions at the White House. We are committed to organizing to end US imperialism because it is fundamental in creating the future world we need.

Chakras, Subtle Bodies and the Aura

It’s a modest apartment in Newport where I sit with Susan Swift to go over “quite the life” as any listener might say about this feisty, spiritual and articulate, world-traveling woman.

The hitching post Susan and I tie our respective philosophical steeds on is “philosophy” and “fate,” although we could have brought in a whole team of other steeds to pull the conversation toward all spiritual directions.

“I know what is mine to do,” the 73-year-old Swift states early on in our talk. Since her life here on the coast — Five Rivers first — not only started in 1972 as a search for environmental justice, she also fell into a what would be a life-long walkabout as a student of karma, Dharma and the meaning of interconnected “souls.”

Before the Central Coast mountains, Waldport, Seal Rock and Newport, Susan was living the Southern California lifestyle in Compton.

The Alsea basin seems worlds away from her birthplace of Inglewood. Quickly, though, she and her husband and a whole slew of residents became embroiled in cloak and dagger drama, rising to the level of the US Forest Service spraying chemicals on their land, Dow Chemical and their lawyers attempting to wear down citizens’ groups, bugged telephones, and various sundry nefarious things unfolding in a seemingly isolated rural community.

One of Susan’s cohorts has already been featured in my column Deep Dive — Carol Van Strum. For more information on those battles with toxics, bad science and broken promises by officials breaking the rule of protecting public health, safety and welfare, read Oregon Coast TODAY, “A Real-Life Toxic Avenger.”

Sometimes a young life lived produces an amazingly detailed and complex life, for sure. However, in the end, when a journalist runs into a person like Swift, with seven-plus decades under her belt, a series of floodgates open up.

Toxins, Dirty Water, Building Family

Sure, Citizens Against Toxic Sprays is a big part of her foundation, 45 years ago when she was living in the woods, in a teepee and a small shack with Calvin Parker, husband number two (one of three, but who’s counting), and her son Joe Lund from a previous marriage.

C.A.T.S. was created with the organizing skills of Susan and others in the rural community, propelled by fear — the debilitating, permanent and deadly harm being perpetrated by officials and for-profit companies upon adults, children, pets, penned animals, wildlife and drinking water through herbicide spraying.

There’s plenty of newspaper copy and radio clips on Susan’s life out here, her singing, putting on events for the legal battle against the chemical companies and their spraying ways; her work on the Lincoln County Planning Commission and other issues tied to public health. She’s been featured in a November 23, 1980 article in Salem’s Statesman Journal.

What anchors much of what I see while talking with Susan (and in reporting on the people of this area) is best captured in one short passage from that article about Susan written by Kristine Rosemary with the Statesman Journal:

Now, to make any sense of the art of diplomacy as practiced in the hidden rural valleys and insulated towns of the Oregon Coast Range, you must consider this: It is a place of overlapping generations of emigrants, each with its own notions of how to live with the land. Rain and shards of Chinese-looking mists blow into those hollows in a thrashing wind. And writhing vines of domestic blackberry gone feral make a slow triumph of thorns. The children of homesteaders who came to farm these fertile valleys were joined 50 years after, by a second wave of urban exiles.

An emblematic quote and a microcosm of what this Oregon Coast now faces with population influxes, lack of affordable housing, more pollution to contend with, climate change and shifting economic, cultural and generational baselines. What is left out even in this Statesman Journal’s prescient description is what’s not included so many times in countless articles — who was here first.

The Siuslaw and Kuitsh people began settling the coast more than 9,000 years ago. They have probably lived in the same locations for hundreds of generations.

Who knows if that paper mill, hotel or housing development was built on an ancient significant site? Or on top of sacred burial grounds, or over summer root-picking fields or a shaman’s spiritual place?

Coast as Healing Center

Susan Swift, RN, formerly known as Mrs. Parker, Swedish massage therapist, is keenly aware of Native American history as her daughter, Autumn Rayne, is part Cheyenne. What has been germinated from those early days in Five Rivers, then in Waldport, and then to the Valley and even Portland, is a determined septuagenarian who has lived on a wildlife refuge in India, ended up in Egypt on a spiritual journey and has met the Dali Lama.

There are stories layered onto life lessons, like shoots on an old fig tree. Her past, Susan says, is her journey forward. She’s helped Mo and her husband (of the Oregon Coast’s famed seafood and chowder restaurants, Mo’s) get through the last days of their lives as their in-home certified care taker. She’s played guitar and sang with husband number three — musician and instrument maker, and she’s chased elephants out of her garden of succulents.

Iterations of her life include head of the Lincoln County Planning Commission, nursing school, working at a mental health unit in Portland, and now writing, which she’s recently pursued in a memoir workshop at the senior center.

The coast is the healing breath she takes with her wherever she ventures. Susan believes she has past lives (that we all do) to account for and to make amends with, as well as to understand in order to carry forth on a pathway to enlightenment. Ironically, Susan Swift says her gift of energy empathy and nursing came at a young age: “I first learned my hands could take away pain when I was 10 years old.”

Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.

— Thích Nh?t H?nh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist

Do what you love because the universe will support you. Speak and say what you want.

Be specific. Then get out of the way and let the universe take care of the details.

— Susan Swift, July 8, 2019

She laughs because her prayers for a partner were answered, but she wasn’t specific enough — “I didn’t mention that partner should be on the same continent.” That spiritual partner was living in India.

She went to India for a workshop with 45 people from 15 countries. That’s where she met this tall, dark handsome Reiki master. “He was raised Muslim, and I was raised Christian, and we came to the same spiritual place, looking for the same spiritual answers.” That was in 2005. She returned to the USA and had a spiritual awakening with him over the years — sharing emails, letters, phone calls.

“In 2010, I retired, closed up the Vancouver house, put everything I owned into my son’s house in Covington, Washington.” She spent a total of four years in India, on a wildlife refuge: Mudamalli Wildlife Refuge in Tamil Nadu. Her partner was Nijamudeen. Susan was “totally embraced by this huge Muslim family.”

Her travails get complicated as Susan courses back and forth through her own chronological history and these many points of enlightenment in her 73 years. She has a thousand stories floating around her cranium. I fill pages and pages of notes.

How she got to India, with her healing touch on a dog that had been attacked by a black panther, covers all levels of spiritual and geographical ground. She went to Egypt in 2003 on a prayer for peace journey with 250 people from 25 nations. She talks excitedly about going down the Nile and to a resort on the Red Sea. She talks about the guides and hotel charges playing the song, “Imagine” by John Lennon, wherever they went since the tour’s theme was taken from the songwriter’s famous piece.

The trip was part of a far-reaching international push to get George W. Bush and his administration to hold off on a violent attack on Iraq, to instead follow international players’ plans to get Saddam Hussein to agree to step down with loads of money.

“I told an Egyptian woman that this was my first use of a passport as an American, and I was ashamed and told her I couldn’t handle it. She held me and told me calmly: ‘America is the world’s great hope for democracy and freedoms. We understand that your president was appointed by the court and wasn’t elected by the people of your country.’”

The Enlightened Being is Really Inside Our “self”

Now rewind to 1982, and Susan Parker is headed for Seaside, to catch a talk by the Dali Llama concerning China’s latest offer to return Tibet to China. “It was quite an entourage. I was at the greeting line. Oh my gosh, there I was telling the Dali Llama I was so honored and most joyful about his visit, with my sandalwood mala in my hand. He leaned in and bonked third eyes with me.”

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A life is not always marked out with milestones set forth in an organized and clear path, but for the sake of brevity, it might be wise to follow our Central Coast resident using a timeline to get through some of her dynamic, compelling life chapters.

She grew up in a working-class family in Compton, and as stated earlier, she knew she had healing hands as a youngster placing them on her mom’s two ruptured spinal discs. The young Susan wanted to be outside playing baseball, “but my hands seemed to know what to do with the muscle spasms the size of my fists.”

Those healing hands more than five decades later would take care of a large tumor on Nami (Namaste), the Basenji dog in India she adopted, and used her healing words to help Gemmee, who has his shoulder gashed after it had outrun a black panther. “Nami never barked, just commented about everything in this yodeling song.”

Back to the Land on the Lam

Back to how she ended up in Five Rivers — she was with Calvin Parker, a Northern Montana Cheyenne she met in Pasadena. He was a sergeant in the US Army, about to be sent to Vietnam. He ended up AWOL, and the couple moved to Five Rivers where his sister was living in an old school house.

They lived in a 15-by-30, cold-water shack heated by a wood-burning-stove. “During this time, I was dreaming of a dark-haired, light-eyed girl.” (which eventually was their daughter, Autumn Rayne)

Susan ended up taking minutes for the local school committee. She found an old mimeograph machine and put together the Five Rivers Run-off Community Newsletter, stuffing flyers into mailboxes. That’s when she took notice of the herbicides issue popping up in editorials inside the Newport News Times.

“I hadn’t gone to school at that point, but I created a health form survey, passing it out door to door, all the way from Highway 34 to the mill. So many miscarriages, tumors and cancers were reported.” That was 1974, and Susan Swift shakes her head as she tells me that a scientist from OSU still advocates there is nothing wrong with 2,4,5-T.

This community of mostly women fighting the forest service and prevailing conservative strains of science worked together to build their adopted family on many levels. Susan laughs again recalling she was living in a teepee with two kids before getting her first place in Waldport. She was a single mom with a three- and 11-year-old. “They were exposed to musicians and artists coming and going all the time.” Joseph Lund graduated from Waldport High in 1985, and did the first video yearbook for the school.

She became an EMT-in-training for the Waldport Ambulance, graduating as the first woman to drive the ambulance. She ended working at a spa in Yachats. In 1978 she was lecturing at Lane Community College teaching different classes on the health effects of herbicide exposure, chemical releases in forestry and the dioxin molecule, diagramming it on the board, showing students how it worked.

She moved into her first house in Seal Rock, and put out her first shingle, “Susan Parker, LMT,” above a Waldport barbershop. The place became a center for healing. Transpersonal healing, encounters with lives, and more would begin to charge her life and encompass her interests.

“No matter what you believe, doing things out of compassion for others is as healing as we can get.”

She moved to Newport in the 1980s, at this point managing the Ocean Food Co-op. She was one of the spearheads to create an Oceana board of directors, hire a paid bookkeeper and charge a $10 yearly fee.

She met Husband Number Three at an open mic session at a local bar and eatery in Waldport. He was a guitarist and “amazingly gifted instrument maker.”

“I bought a guitar for twenty-five dollars cash and twenty-five in food stamps. I taught myself guitar and sang the songs I wanted to sing . . . positive ones. That’s when he said, ‘I like your voice.’” The marriage lasted one and a half years, but they are still friends.

With a belief in past lives, Susan takes many things both in stride and contextualized through transpersonal psychology, but she also has both feet in the waters of transglobal spirituality and multiple contexts for enlightenment and “godliness.”

Healing & Being in the Right Place Spiritually

Fate, she calls it, or her life’s proscribed journey points. She even ended up getting the finances for nursing school after working hard to take care of Mo (Mohava Niemi) who she was with until Mo died in 1992, as well as taking care of Mo’s spouse, Dutch Niemi, until he too passed on.

Dutch (he was a Finnish fisherman) had always wanted to send a child in need to college, but instead after Susan’s healing ways and hearing all the people taking care of his medical needs tell Susan she was a born natural for RN school, Dutch came through. “Dutch said he wanted to help me. That $9,000 helped me pay off bills and made it possible to go to nursing school.”

She worked for Dutch on weekends while she was at Good Samaritan Hospital in Corvallis. That healing and spiritual medical caretaking continued after nursing school graduation. She worked for a Portland neurosurgeon for three years, and she worked with the Oregon State Mental Hospital Portland campus as the lead nurse for six.

Her first nursing job was at Corvallis Manor, but she also took her caring hands and gifted spirit of empathy to a group home for developmentally disabled adults, Portland’s Eliot House.

“I treated every patient as a precious soul.”

While there was a 20-year absence from Lincoln County between 1994 and 2014, the draw to this area has been strong. She has joined up with Lincoln County Community Rights which just celebrated the two-year anniversary of its successful effort to ban aerial spraying in Lincoln County.

She’s done some driving for Yaquina Cab, shuttling people to and from the hospital. In this interview, Susan and I gravitate back to her story and her natural gifts — her abilities to organize and to start things, and her deep well of beliefs around alternative healing, energy fields on the body, and reincarnation.

These are book-level ideas, sculpted around a life still in the making, but one lived complexly and with mindfulness: with the added hues and tones of adventure, unique healing and death and dying situations painted in. One can hope she will see the light and eventually put down in writing a life well-lived, one where young and old might learn new (or old) meditative and mediation practices.

In our vapid celebrity culture, which is obsessed with putting the limelight on the rich, famous, or infamous, an authentic woman’s gritty and universal story should be compelling, to say the least.

“We have a choice everyday how we think. What you focus on, expands. We can choose how to go through this life. We need to just get out of our own way and begin living.”

•••

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Hong Kong and the Audacity of the United States

People often ask and hint at the similarities between the Hong Kong protests and the French Yellow Vests. The former started on 31 March and are approaching their 19th week. The Yellow Vests (YV) have celebrated last weekend their 40th week of protests. As of recently some voices of Macron-infiltrates into the YV movement – or Fifth Columnists – have suggested that the YVs may support the Hong Kong protesters in solidarity for freedom….

Well, that didn’t go down well with the highly educated and well informed YV. Many of them actually felt insulted by the Macronites – ‘for whom does this guy [Macron] take us?’  And right they are. There is not a shred of comparison between the two movements, except that they are protests but for widely different reasons, and serving widely different agendas. The YV can in no way be associated with the Hong Kong “protests” which are equal to US funded Color Revolutions.

We, the YV leaders said, are fighting against an ever more totalitarian French government that is ever more stealing our legitimate income in the form of all sorts of taxes and keeps a minimum wage on which ever more French families cannot survive. Life is unaffordable on a regular workers pension. The Macron Government is creating poverty, by shifting the financial resources, the few that are left, from the bottom to the top. That’s what we are fighting and protesting against. We want a fundamental change in the French economic structure and the French leadership. You see, all of this has nothing to do with the Washington funded Hong Protests that are directed on Washington’s behalf by Hong Kongers against the Government of Mainland China.

It couldn’t be clearer. The French Yellow Vests know what they are fighting for. The Hong Kong protesters, most of them, follow a few leaders under false pretenses against their country, against Beijing. Granted, many of the protesters are pro-westerners, they sing the US National Anthem, and wave the British flag – the flag of their former colonialists.

Actually, funding to destabilize Hong Kong in the future has already started at the latest in 1994, three years before the official Handover of Hong Kong by the UK to the Beijing Government. Way before the official date of returning Hong Kong in 1997 to the Peoples Republic of China (PRC), the US built up a network of Fifth Columnists in Hong Kong.

Washington pours millions into creating unrest in Hong Kong, similarly as in Ukraine, when the US State Department financed the preparation of the 2014 coup at least 5 years ahead at the tune of US$ 5 billion, according to Victoria Nuland’s, Deputy Secretary of State, own admission, directly and through NED, the National Endowment for Democracy, an “NGO” which it isn’t. It is rather the extended or soft arm of the CIA, receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from the State Department for their ‘regime changing’ activities around the globe.

In 1991, The Washington Post quoted a NED founder, Allen Weinstein, as saying “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA”.  Couldn’t have been said better. We see the results all over the world.

Precisely this has happened in Hong Kong and is going on until this day and probably way beyond. The US will not let go. Especially now that most people who have at least a limited understanding on how these western manipulations work, comprehend and see for themselves who is sowing the unrests. Take the 22-year-old student and western hero of the 2014 Umbrella Revolution, Joshua Wong, trained. programmed and funded by the US State Department / NED / CIA. He is again a main player in the current protest movement. Wong is the on-the-ground boy for the local media tycoon, Jimmy Lai, who has spent millions of his own money in the 2014 “Occupy Central” protests (Umbrella Revolution).

The oligarch uses his funds widely to finance protest leaders and protest groups. He also created his own National Party, with significant xenophobic connotations. Yet Mr. Lai is very close to the Trump Administration and met, along with many of his protest leaders, with the US envoy in Hong Kong, as well as with National Security Advisor John Bolton and other US officials. On July 8, Mr. Jimmy Lai met US Vice President Mike Pence at the White House.

Lai has full support of the US Government to fire on and promote these protest groups. Yet, if asked, the protesters have no precise plan or strategy of what they want. The island is largely divided. By far not all protesters want to separate from the mainland. They feel Chinese and express their disgust with Jimmy Lai’s radical anti-Beijing propaganda. They call him a traitor.

Mr. Lai was born in 1948 in mainland China, in an impoverished family in Canton. He was educated to fifth grade level and smuggled to Hong Kong in a small boat at age 13. In HK he worked as a child laborer in a garment factory at about the equivalent of US$ 8 per month. In 1975 he bought a bankrupt garment factory for a pittance and created Giordano, producing sweaters and other clothing for mostly US clients, like J.C. Penny, Montgomery Ward and others. Mr. Lai today is openly criticized even by his own people as a conspirator behind the violence of the HK riots, or protests, as he prefers to call them.

The protests started with a ‘controversial’ extradition law – which, by the way, exists between most States in the United States, as well as between nations in Europe and to a large extent internationally. Therefore, this is nothing unusual. Yet, its importance was blown out of proportion by the western media and by Mr. Lai’s own local media to distort the picture. A minority, of course, would like their full independence from China which is totally against the agreement signed between the UK and Beijing at the so-called 1997 Handover.

A few days ago, the US sent a couple of war ships into China waters at Hong Kong. They had the audacity to ask Beijing to grant them the right to dock at Hong Kong harbor. Beijing, of course, refused and warned Washington – do not meddle in our internal affairs. Of course, Washington has no intention to heed China’s advice – they never do. They have been inoculated with the view that the exceptional nation calls the shots. Always. Nobody else should even dare to contradict them. Period.

On July 3, The China Daily pointedly reported:

The ideologues in Western governments never cease in their efforts to engineer unrest against governments that are not to their liking, even though their actions have caused misery and chaos in country after country in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Now they are trying the same trick in China.

The US tactics in Hong Kong, may be combined with Trump’s trade war, with the Pentagon’s greater presence – mainly new military bases and navy presence in the Indo-Pacific region – Obama’s (in)famous Pivot to Asia which prompted Obama to order 60% of the US Navy fleet to the South China Sea.

All of this and more are part of a destabilization war with China. Washington is afraid of China’s rising economic power in the world, of China’s monetary system, that is based on economic output and on gold, not fiat money like the US Dollar and the Euro and other currencies following the western turbo-capitalist system; and Washington is afraid of losing its dollar hegemony, as the Chinese yuan is gradually taking over the dollar’s role as world reserve currency.

Hong Kong was basically stolen by the Brits in 1842 at the heights of the Opium Wars. Under pressure of the British military might, China ceded Hong Kong under the Treaty of Nanking, signed on 29 August 1842. Hong Kong became, thus, a Crown Colony of the British Empire.  Under a convention of 1898, Hong Kong was leased to Britain for 99 years.

After 155 years of British colonial oppression of the people of Hong Kong, it was time to normalize the status of Hong Kong as what it always should have been, namely an integral territory of China. The “One Country, Two Systems” agreement of 1997, returned Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China, but the parties agreed to leave the capitalist system in place for 50 years. The agreement also stipulated that all intervention and colonial claims on Hong Kong were supposed to end. Full sovereignty was to return to China. What’s happening now – US-UK fomented riots to seek independence of the island, is in total disregard of the 1997 Handover Treaty.

The US inspired and funded protests are destined to challenge the HK-China sovereignty clause, by mobilizing public opinion that wants full “freedom”; i.e., independence from China.

The 50 years of the usual abusive capitalist continuation would allow the imperialist US and UK to maintain economic control over Hong Kong and thereby exert economic influence over the PRC. How wrong they were!  In 1997 Hong Kong’s GDP constituted 27% of the PRC’s GDP.  Today that proportion shrunk to a mere 3%. China’s rapidly growing level of development, especially the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which the west chose to literally ignore until about a year ago, has become a vital threat to the US corporate world.

What the US and UK – and the rest of the West – is particularly interested in is HK’s special banking position in the world. Through Singapore and Hong Kong, Wall Street and key European banks, in cohorts with their not so ‘ethically-clean’ and often fraudulent HSBC partner, pretend to control and influence Asian economics and especially attempt to prevent China to take over the Asian financial markets. Hong Kong has the most liberal banking laws, possibly worldwide, where illegal money transactions, money laundering, shady investments in the billions can be carried out and nobody watches. Maintaining HK as long as possible with this special nation status and wielding influence and control over PRC’s financial markets is one of the western goals.

But little does the West understand that China and other eastern countries, plus Russia, India, Pakistan, have already largely detached, or are in the process of detaching, from the dollar economy and are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Let’s face it, the SCO comprises about half of the world’s population and controls about one third of the globe’s economic output.

Therefore, the SCO members do no longer depend on the western financial markets and monetary manipulations. In fact, Shanghai has in the last decades grown to become China’s financial hub with way more importance for China than Hong Kong. So, it is very unlikely that China will crack down on Hong Kong for the protests. There is too much political capital to be lost by interfering. The West and Hong Kong protesters may as well riot themselves into rot.

But if China gets tired of these incessant western provocations and really wants to put an end to them, the PRC could take over Hong Kong in less than 48 hours, abridge the 50 years of western capitalism and make HK a full-fledged province of China, no privileges, no special status, just a part of sovereign China. End of story.

• First published in New Eastern Outlook – NEO

Jewish Settlers Rule the Roost in Israel, But at What Price?

Israeli Jewish settlers are on a rampage in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. While settler violence is part of everyday routine in Palestine, the violence of recent weeks is directly linked to the general elections in Israel, scheduled to be held on September 17.

The previous elections, on April 9, failed to bring about political stability. Although Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu is now the longest-serving prime minister in the 71-year history of the country, he was still unable to form a government coalition.

Tarnished by a series of corruption cases involving himself, his family and aides, Netanyahu’s leadership is in an unenviable position. Police investigators are closing in on him, while opportunistic political allies, the likes of Avigdor Lieberman, are twisting his arm with the hope of exacting future political concessions.

The political crisis in Israel is not the outcome of a resurrected Labor or invigorated central parties, but the failure of the Right (including far-right and ultra-nationalist parties) to articulate a unified political agenda.

Illegal Jewish settlers understand well that the future identity of any right-wing government coalition will have lasting impact on their colonial enterprise. The settlers, however, are not exactly worried, since all major political parties, including that of the Blue and White, the centrist party of Benjamin Gantz, have made the support for Jewish colonies an important aspect in their campaigns.

The decisive vote of the Jewish settlers of the West Bank and their backers inside Israel became very clear in the last elections. Subsequently, their power forced Gantz to adopt an entirely different political stance since April.

The man who, on April 7 (two days before the last elections), criticized Netanyahu’s “irresponsible” announcement regarding his intention to annex the West Bank, is now a great supporter of the settlements. According to the Israeli news website Arutz Sheva, Gantz vowed to continue expanding the settlements “from a strategic point of view and not as a political strategy”.

Considering the shift in Gantz’ perspective regarding the settlements, Netanyahu is left with no other option but to up the ante, as he is now pushing for complete and irreversible annexation of the West Bank.

Annexing the West Bank, from Netanyahu’s viewpoint, is a sound political strategy. The Israeli prime minister is, of course, oblivious to international law which sees Israel’s military and settler presence as illegal. But neither Netanyahu, nor any other Israeli leader, for that matter, have ever cared about international law whatsoever. All that truly counts for Israel is Washington’s support, which is often blind and unconditional.

According to the Times of Israel newspaper, Netanyahu is now officially lobbying for a public statement by US President Donald Trump to back Israel’s annexation of the West Bank.

Although the White House refused to comment on the story, and an official in Netanyahu’s office claimed that it was “incorrect”, the Israeli right is on the fast track of making that annexation possible.

Encouraged by US Ambassador David Friedman’s comment that “Israel has the right to retain some of the West Bank”, more Israeli officials are speaking boldly and openly regarding their intentions of making that annexation possible.

Netanyahu had, himself, hinted at that possibility in August during a visit to the illegal settlement of Beit El. “We come to build. Our hands will reach out and we will deepen our roots in our homeland – in all parts of it,” Netanyahu said, during a ceremony celebrating the expansion of the illegal settlements to include 650 more housing units.

Unlike Netanyahu, former Israeli justice minister and leader of the newly-formed United Right, Ayelet Shaked, didn’t speak in code. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, she called for the full annexation of Area C, which constitutes nearly 60 percent of the West Bank. “We have to apply sovereignty to Judea and Samaria,” she said, referring to the Palestinian land using biblical designations.

Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Information Minister Gilad Erdan, however, wants to go the extra mile. According to Arutz Sheva and the Jerusalem Post, Erdan has called for the annexation of all illegal settlements in the West Bank and the ouster of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas as well.

Now situated at the center of Israeli politics, Jewish settlers are enjoying the spectacle as they are being courted by all major political parties. Their increased violence in the West Bank is a form of political muscle-flexing, an expression of dominance and a brutish display of political priorities.

“There’s only one flag from the Jordan to the sea – the flag of Israel,” was the slogan of a rally involving over 1,200 Jewish settlers who roamed the streets of the Palestinian city of Hebron (Al-Khalil) on August 14. The settlers, together with Israeli soldiers, stormed al-Shuhada street and harassed Palestinians and international activists in the beleaguered Palestinian city.

Just a few days earlier, an estimated 1,700 Jewish settlers, backed by Israeli police, stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, over 60 Palestinians were wounded when Israeli forces and settlers attacked worshippers.

The violent scene was repeated in Nablus, where armed women settlers stormed the town of al-Masoudiya and conducted “military training” under the protection of the Israeli occupation army.

The settlers’ message is clear: we now rule the roost, not only in the West Bank, but in Israeli politics as well.

All of this is happening as if it is entirely an Israeli political affair. The PA, which has now been dropped out of American political calculations altogether, is left to issue occasional, irrelevant press releases about its intention to hold Israel accountable according to international law.

But the guardians of international law are also suspiciously absent. Neither the United Nations, nor advocates of democracy and international law in the European Union, seem interested in confronting Israeli intransigence and blatant violations of human rights.

With Jewish settlers dictating the political agenda in Israel, and constantly provoking Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, violence is likely to grow exponentially in the coming months. As is often the case, this violence will be used strategically by the Israeli government, this time to set the stage for a final and complete annexation of Palestinian land, a disastrous outcome by any count.

Persistent Fraudulent Enrollment in Charter Schools

While privately-operated nonprofit and for-profit charter schools have long engaged in a broad range of fraudulent student enrollment practices, yet another avalanche of news reports on such dishonest practices has recently appeared.

There seems to be no end to astonishing news in the unregulated and segregated charter school sector. Controversy, scandal, and charter schools have been fellow-travelers for more than 25 years.

Virtual charter schools, perhaps the most unsuccessful and unethical of all types of charter schools, have a long-standing tradition of enrolling “ghost students” (students that do not exist) in order to embezzle millions of public dollars. This, of course, is always accompanied by Enron-style accounting in an attempt to conceal such damaging financial malfeasance.

The latest debacle in the troubled charter school sector is the massive virtual Epic Charter School Network which operates mainly in Oklahoma. It has made headlines everywhere for enrolling “ghost students” and for engaging in other crimes and unethical behavior for a long time.

In related news, two scandal-ridden online charter schools in Indiana were also recently exposed and criticized for engaging in some of the same crimes as Epic and other cyber charter schools. Together, these virtual schools inflated their enrollments by thousands of students to pilfer enormous sums of public funds.

Sadly, many other examples of inflated enrollments and other scandalous practices in nonprofit and for-profit charter schools could be cited. Corruption plagues the entire charter school sector.

Keeping in mind that the final and highest stage of capitalism ensures greater parasitism, crime, corruption, and violence across society and many sectors, the public should expect a further intensification of fraud, corruption, and controversy from all types of charter schools in the coming months and years.

Whether they are nonprofit or for-profit, virtual or brick-and-mortar, as privatized and marketized arrangements charter schools engender more corruption in education and society. Privatization, as a general rule, is synonymous with corruption and inferior service.

“More regulation” and “better oversight” will not solve the problems plaguing the charter school sector. Charter schools are deregulated schools by definition; they are a main expression of neoliberal education arrangements. Further, the charter school sector is full of wealthy, arrogant, and defensive advocates who will not tolerate any individual or organization that attempts to stop their assault on public education, society, the economy, and the national interest. Charter school owners-operators are determined to seize as much public funds and public property as possible.

But this does not mean resistance is pointless or that the rich and their cheerleaders cannot be defeated. It means the public must develop new and creative ways to deprive the rich of their power to deprive the public of its claims and interests.

It can be done.

No public funds or public property must go to privately-operated charter schools. All public funds and public property must remain in the hands of the public. This is especially true given the fact that charter schools are not public schools, as many court cases in different jurisdictions have ruled over the years.

Rentier Britain: All the Rent Goes to the 1%

There are three fundamental issues that lie at the heart of our current economic malaise: the first is unearned income and wealth from land rent, second the creation of money by privately owned banks, and the third is rent-seeking that is used to juice profits out of intellectual property through copyright and patents.

But the political class, supported by lobbying, continues to avoid addressing these issues. So monopolies grow larger and larger, and as they do, more and more people are excluded from the economy.

To really address the root causes, why don’t we start by calling out the rentier economy as a structural issue that no progressive society can actually afford?

Host Ross Ashcroft is joined by the economist, author and co-founder of Basic Income Earth Network Prof. Guy Standing to discuss rentier capitalism and reclaiming the commons.