Category Archives: Covid-19

People Are Rising Up Against The Elites, So Should We

Protest in Peru:  The people demand neither corruption or exploitation

This weekend, ten thousand people took to the streets in Guatemala to protest the President and Congress over a proposed budget, the largest in its history, that cuts funds for health care and education as poverty rises, and provides slush funds to politicians and governments. In Colombia, the people held a national strike to protest their violent, right-wing government. In Peru, protests against a right-wing power grab have ousted one appointed president and people are demanding a new government and constitution. And people in Chile won the right to a new constitution. Now they are defending the process to make sure it represents them.

Across the Atlantic Ocean in Nigeria, in what began as a response to ongoing and severe state violence, the #EndSARS movement, has evolved to a struggle for full liberation from a corrupt and repressive government. Their new hashtag is #EndBadGovernanceInNigeria. I spoke with Abiodun Aremu, a long time movement leader in Lagos, on Clearing the FOG, about the current conditions and history of looting and exploitation by those in power.

In these countries and more, the people are rising up against the elite power structure to fight for their rights. Across borders, we share a common enemy, neoliberal economies that funnel wealth to the top, deregulate industries so they violate worker rights and destroy the environment, and impose austerity programs to deny our basic necessities. We also share a common vision for a world where the self-determination of peoples is respected and all people have equitable access to a life of dignity and prosperity.

Boxes of food were handed out by the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Gene J. Puskar/AP.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has a new report that finds the economy, which improved slightly over the summer, is stagnating again. As the provisions from the CARES Act expire, poverty is rising, especially for black and brown people. Women are also being adversely impacted because of the lack of childcare. Most of the jobs that have been lost, 52 percent, are low-wage jobs.

They point to a recent study from the Department of Health and Human Services that predicts ten million more people will become impoverished by the end of this year. Currently, 24 million adults say they don’t have enough food in their homes and 80 million adults say they are struggling to afford basic necessities. Without adequate support from the government, the economy won’t recover and people will continue to suffer.

The COVID-19 pandemic is surging with more than 200,000 cases in one day last week and deaths are rising again. Across the country, hospitals are struggling without enough beds and the staff to care for patients. The United States is expected to remain at this crisis level through the winter unless drastic steps are taken such as a national shut down, including all non-essential businesses. At present, that is not an option being considered by either President Trump or President-Elect Biden.

Both Trump and Biden are putting corporate profits over the needs of people by focusing on reopening businesses rather than providing the relief people desperately need. The Institute for Policy Studies reports that billionaires have increased their wealth by nearly $1 trillion since the start of the pandemic while their workers are left unprotected and without increases in their wages. They specifically call out a “delinquent dozen” of “pandemic profiteers.”

David McNew/Getty Images.

As Congress refuses to provide support for the millions who have lost their jobs, their health insurance and their homes, people are calling on the incoming Biden administration to take immediate action. For example, David Dayen points out that a provision in the Affordable Care Act allows the President to use executive power to expand Medicare to whomever needs it.

Biden, unfortunately, has made it clear that he opposes Medicare for All.  I spoke about the COVID-19 crisis and our for-profit healthcare system with Chris Hedges on his program, On Contact, this weekend.

This past week, more than 235 organizations called on Joe Biden to cancel student debt, which can also be done using executive power. Student debt has reached a staggering $1.6 trillion, a burden that is crippling people in the current recession. The groups state, “Cancellation will help jumpstart spending, create jobs, and add to the GDP. Short-term payment suspension alone is not enough to help struggling borrowers who are unemployed, already in default, or in serious delinquency.”

In addition to failing to address the pandemic and economic hardship at home, the United States government also inflicts pain and suffering across the planet through the many regime change efforts and military aggressions. Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies outlined ten steps Joe Biden could take immediately to change our foreign policy to one that is in line with international law, provides humanitarian aid instead of bombs and reduces the threat of nuclear war.

Federal spending on the security state dwarfs what is spent on domestic needs. Only 32 percent of the federal discretionary budget is used for health care, education, energy and housing and the biggest chunk of that goes to the Veterans Health Administration. The rest goes to the Pentagon, Homeland Security, the State Department, and NASA. Imagine what could be done to provide universal health care, child care, fully-funded education through the university level, low-cost clean energy and affordable housing if we stopped our wars and brought the military home.

Sean Rayford/New York Times.

Now that it is clear the next president will be Joe Biden, some people may think it is time to relax and let him go to work running the country. This is the message the power holders want the people to hear. The Biden administration will go to great lengths to give the appearance that it is different and that it will make positive changes, but just as we have experienced over and over again, when it comes to domestic economic policy or foreign policy, there is little difference between Democratic and Republican administrations. Both serve the wealthy class and the military industrial complex.

The power elites are never going to give us what we need. We must demand it. As we see people in other countries doing, we must organize and mobilize with a clear set of demands now. Joe Biden can take immediate steps to relieve suffering, and in a time of crisis as we are in now, he can do it using executive power. We must not give Biden a honeymoon. We must not be fooled by the excuses used to convince us it can’t be done.

The post People Are Rising Up Against The Elites, So Should We first appeared on Dissident Voice.

People Are Rising Up Against The Elites, So Should We

Protest in Peru:  The people demand neither corruption or exploitation

This weekend, ten thousand people took to the streets in Guatemala to protest the President and Congress over a proposed budget, the largest in its history, that cuts funds for health care and education as poverty rises, and provides slush funds to politicians and governments. In Colombia, the people held a national strike to protest their violent, right-wing government. In Peru, protests against a right-wing power grab have ousted one appointed president and people are demanding a new government and constitution. And people in Chile won the right to a new constitution. Now they are defending the process to make sure it represents them.

Across the Atlantic Ocean in Nigeria, in what began as a response to ongoing and severe state violence, the #EndSARS movement, has evolved to a struggle for full liberation from a corrupt and repressive government. Their new hashtag is #EndBadGovernanceInNigeria. I spoke with Abiodun Aremu, a long time movement leader in Lagos, on Clearing the FOG, about the current conditions and history of looting and exploitation by those in power.

In these countries and more, the people are rising up against the elite power structure to fight for their rights. Across borders, we share a common enemy, neoliberal economies that funnel wealth to the top, deregulate industries so they violate worker rights and destroy the environment, and impose austerity programs to deny our basic necessities. We also share a common vision for a world where the self-determination of peoples is respected and all people have equitable access to a life of dignity and prosperity.

Boxes of food were handed out by the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Gene J. Puskar/AP.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has a new report that finds the economy, which improved slightly over the summer, is stagnating again. As the provisions from the CARES Act expire, poverty is rising, especially for black and brown people. Women are also being adversely impacted because of the lack of childcare. Most of the jobs that have been lost, 52 percent, are low-wage jobs.

They point to a recent study from the Department of Health and Human Services that predicts ten million more people will become impoverished by the end of this year. Currently, 24 million adults say they don’t have enough food in their homes and 80 million adults say they are struggling to afford basic necessities. Without adequate support from the government, the economy won’t recover and people will continue to suffer.

The COVID-19 pandemic is surging with more than 200,000 cases in one day last week and deaths are rising again. Across the country, hospitals are struggling without enough beds and the staff to care for patients. The United States is expected to remain at this crisis level through the winter unless drastic steps are taken such as a national shut down, including all non-essential businesses. At present, that is not an option being considered by either President Trump or President-Elect Biden.

Both Trump and Biden are putting corporate profits over the needs of people by focusing on reopening businesses rather than providing the relief people desperately need. The Institute for Policy Studies reports that billionaires have increased their wealth by nearly $1 trillion since the start of the pandemic while their workers are left unprotected and without increases in their wages. They specifically call out a “delinquent dozen” of “pandemic profiteers.”

David McNew/Getty Images.

As Congress refuses to provide support for the millions who have lost their jobs, their health insurance and their homes, people are calling on the incoming Biden administration to take immediate action. For example, David Dayen points out that a provision in the Affordable Care Act allows the President to use executive power to expand Medicare to whomever needs it.

Biden, unfortunately, has made it clear that he opposes Medicare for All.  I spoke about the COVID-19 crisis and our for-profit healthcare system with Chris Hedges on his program, On Contact, this weekend.

This past week, more than 235 organizations called on Joe Biden to cancel student debt, which can also be done using executive power. Student debt has reached a staggering $1.6 trillion, a burden that is crippling people in the current recession. The groups state, “Cancellation will help jumpstart spending, create jobs, and add to the GDP. Short-term payment suspension alone is not enough to help struggling borrowers who are unemployed, already in default, or in serious delinquency.”

In addition to failing to address the pandemic and economic hardship at home, the United States government also inflicts pain and suffering across the planet through the many regime change efforts and military aggressions. Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies outlined ten steps Joe Biden could take immediately to change our foreign policy to one that is in line with international law, provides humanitarian aid instead of bombs and reduces the threat of nuclear war.

Federal spending on the security state dwarfs what is spent on domestic needs. Only 32 percent of the federal discretionary budget is used for health care, education, energy and housing and the biggest chunk of that goes to the Veterans Health Administration. The rest goes to the Pentagon, Homeland Security, the State Department, and NASA. Imagine what could be done to provide universal health care, child care, fully-funded education through the university level, low-cost clean energy and affordable housing if we stopped our wars and brought the military home.

Sean Rayford/New York Times.

Now that it is clear the next president will be Joe Biden, some people may think it is time to relax and let him go to work running the country. This is the message the power holders want the people to hear. The Biden administration will go to great lengths to give the appearance that it is different and that it will make positive changes, but just as we have experienced over and over again, when it comes to domestic economic policy or foreign policy, there is little difference between Democratic and Republican administrations. Both serve the wealthy class and the military industrial complex.

The power elites are never going to give us what we need. We must demand it. As we see people in other countries doing, we must organize and mobilize with a clear set of demands now. Joe Biden can take immediate steps to relieve suffering, and in a time of crisis as we are in now, he can do it using executive power. We must not give Biden a honeymoon. We must not be fooled by the excuses used to convince us it can’t be done.

The post People Are Rising Up Against The Elites, So Should We first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Fascist Kabuki

There is no question that most television is a waste of time. The people connected with it realize how bad programming is and go ahead with their shows as cynically as possible. Producers are turning out programs that literally make me sick. TV seems to re-infect itself each year, using the same approach to shows and making them worse each season.
— Richard Boone, Hanford Sentinel, 1960

…the intelligence empire’s efforts to manufacture the truth and mold public opinion are more vast and varied than ever before. One of its foremost assets? Hollywood.
— Nicholas Schou, The Atlantic, July 2016

Like Saddam’s WMD in 2002, the threat posed by the tightening credit of 2008 was made to seem infinite for being undefined, but this time the terrible menace just below the horizon was global, and the fabric of reality itself, now daily called “capitalism” in the world media heretofore shy of this term, was threatened with extinction: without any real reportage, newscasts disseminated narratemes from Hollywood disaster films presaging total obliteration of the familiar. Strife was promised in terrifying and titillating epic visions – of a period of riotous turbulence, of systems crashing and structures imploding, of reigning isms lying in ruin and our species’ hubris chastised, of hedonistic society abruptly repentant in the wake of cataclysm, of wastelands of Darwininan struggle, all lying just around an epochal bend – but first, with special vividness, of perilously inadequate economic plumbing, suggesting that if the “toxic assets” “clogging the system” were not cleared without delay, at any moment the world would be submerged in deep financial shit.
— Alphonse van Worden, The Protocols of the Learned Lacanian of Ljublitzia, June 2016

There is a huge amount of material on CIA involvement in Hollywood. This is not new, but it seems to have been compartmentalized by most Americans and shuttled off into the dark corners of their consciousness. Most people largely don’t want to know. And the reasons for this are complex. But before digging into that, it’s not only the CIA that shapes entertainment, it’s nearly all institutions of government and almost all corporations and media itself. Giant media conglomerates are in a sense hardly distinguishable from the CIA and Pentagon and State Department. Which is rather close to the classic definition of fascism.

The esteemed former University of Southern California law professor Erwin Chemerinsky agrees. In Operation­Hollywood, Chemerinsky asserts that “the Supreme Court has said that above all, the First Amendment means that the government cannot participate in viewpoint discrimination.” It “cannot favor some speech due to its viewpoint and disfavor another because of its viewpoint.” Moreover, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his 1995 decision Rosenberger ­v.­The ­University ­of­ Virginia that the government must abstain from “regulating speech when the specific motivating ideology or the opinion or perspective of the speaker is the rationale for the restriction.
— Tricia Jenkins, The CIA in Hollywood, March 2016

And yet this is what happens constantly.

…they have become very good at persuading the public that a good movie is the one that opened strongest last weekend, even if the critics hated it. The media helps them do it, by reporting on box office figures without discussing the ways that those figures are manipulated. The media are part of the gravy train anyway, because of the ad campaign revenue.”
— Paul Brynes, Sydney Herald, 2014

Now, again, the cooperation of the CIA and Pentagon is well known. Two films that won Oscars for best picture (Argo and Hurt Locker) were essentially pure CIA and Pentagon propaganda. And this to not even get into stuff like Zero Dark Thirty. But what is more pernicious is how, in turn, all public narratives have taken on the quality of a Hollywood movie. And today this is evident in the way the Covid lockdowns are being depicted. Watch the opening episodes of any of the Dick Wolf TV franchises this new season: Chicago Med, FBI: Most Wanted, etc., and you see blatant unquestioning support for the government narrative (FBI agent advises daughter to not leave the house without her mask). This exactly meets the definition of propaganda. Dissenting views are completely absent. In Chicago Med the pandemic is depicted as if it were bubonic plague. Public discourse on the pandemic reflects TV’s treatment.

In fact, dissent is usually portrayed as dangerous and unpatriotic. The looming question is, then, why do so many people attack dissenters when they know (because the information has been around and available for thirty years) the government (and Hollywood) lie…they lie all the time. In fact, they ONLY lie.

Now, recent polls suggest that half of Americans reject the idea of more lockdowns. That’s a lot of people. Yet very few of those people speak up, or post opinions on social media. And this is an interesting phenomenon. There is an enormous fear of being called ‘conspiracy theorist’ or ‘anti vaxxer’ or ‘Covid truther’ etc. There is a tacit assault on the truth itself embedded in this stigmatizing. A pathologization of the search for truth. And this seems something that has arisen out of the culture of social media.

One understands that if the law says wear a mask or be fined, then people will wear the mask. But there is no law (yet) in expressing a dissenting opinion. And this lynch mob mentality has, predictably, attracted the most virulent xenophobic and racist memes and opinions possible. Of course, major social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are perilously close to outright censorship now. One is labeled dangerous if one questions the narrative on the pandemic. Simply pointing out that the fatality rate is extremely low despite all the lurid headlines is cause for censorship on Facebook. Stating facts has become, quite literally, dangerous.

But there is another layer involved in the shaping of opinion. And perhaps it is better to describe this as the shaping of consciousness itself. And this is because it’s really not just opinion, it’s something both more expansive and much deeper. One aspect is the now glaring infantilizing of the public. Here is n interesting side bar.

And one aspect of this childishness is the aforementioned compartmentalization. Many of these people attacking dissenters well know the government lies. Ask them about WMDs or Yellow Cake in Niger, or mobile chemical weapons labs, or even the guns to Contras and US trained death squads in Central America. They know they were lied to. And yet they desperately cling to official narrative regards Covid.

Deception can be coercive. When it succeeds, it can give power to the deceiver.
— Sissela Bok, Lying; Moral Choice in Public and Private Life, September 1999

The public has little interest in the Pentagon Papers, in John Podesta’s leaked emails, or in why Gary Webb was murdered. The official narratives regarding the break-up of Yugoslavia, or the coup in Honduras, or the killing of Gaddafi — the official narratives to any of these have been debunked years ago, and yet the lies persist and continue to shape opinion. When the U.S. helped with the fascist coup in Bolivia, the story was on the front page of most news outlets. When the socialist party was re-elected the story was seen, literally, nowhere. Most people think the coup was a popular victory for the people of Bolivia. Same with Hugo Chavez and the narrative in Venezuela. (see the debunking of liberal icon John Oliver here.)

Now, two things to note here. One is that much of the pandemic suspension of rights was possible because of the Patriot Act. And, two, the rabid anti-communism that runs through U.S. history and U.S. educational institutions has left a residue that clings with particular tenacity to the white liberal class. The most ardent virtue signalling is found among the affluent liberals of urban America. And these are people with great visibility and are also the target demographic for advertisers.

The clumsily-titled Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (USA PATRIOT Act, or USAPA) introduced a plethora of legislative changes which significantly increased the surveillance and investigative powers of law enforcement agencies in the United States. The Act did not, however, provide for the system of checks and balances that traditionally safeguards civil liberties in the face of such legislation. Legislative proposals in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were introduced less than a week after the attacks. { } One of the most striking features of the USA PATRIOT Act is the lack of debate surrounding its introduction.
— Epic.Org, Electronic Information Privacy Center, May 2015

There isn’t even the spirit any more that was in Vietnam, of skepticism, and the sense that the patriotic thing to do is to tell the American people the truth and to try to be impartial and not to be the cat’s paw of the government. But when I say this on TV the reaction is overwhelming; there is tremendous hostility to the free press in this country.
— John MacArthur, Harpers, Censorship and the War on Terrorism

The government has simply abandoned the idea of referendum, or really, it was never considered (which Neil Clark wrote about here.)

The same hostility to free speech is found regards actual democracy. Now, this is not a majority opinion, I don’t think, but like the lockdown polls my guess would be about half. So who makes up this half of the U.S. that is hostile to stuff like free speech or democratic procedures? Again, my guess is the educated white liberal class. These are the people who exhibited an outsize hatred of Trump to the extent that anything he said was going to be opposed and this includes the pandemic. These are the people who beatified Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Who refuse any criticism of Obama, and who love FBI directors if they were against the Donald. Why? I have no real answers except that in the age of screen culture the waves of opinion form quickly and migrate often and rarely can be rationally explained. Something in cyber culture (more acute due to the lockdowns) encourages simplistic narratives of good and evil. And in times of acute precarity there seems a default setting of ‘trust’ regarding state institutions. This also all falls under infantilism.

There are psychological aspects to this beyond just the inherent influence of screen culture. And this is a subject that does not lend itself to simplistic discourse.

We see that the object is being treated in the same way as our own ego, so that when we are in love a considerable amount of narcissistic libido overflows on the object. It is even obvious, in many forms of love choice, that the object serves as a substitute for some unattained ego ideal of our own. We love it on account of the perfections which we have striven to reach for our own ego, and which we should now like to procure in this roundabout way as a means of satisfying our narcissism.
— Sigmund Freud, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, 1921

Because there is no single Fuhrer figure in contemporary America, this libidinal attachment is diffused over a variety of figures. Why, for example, is Dr. Fauci so respected? Nothing in his dodgy career history explains this. Why are the countless dissenting doctors and respected researchers ignored? The only answer I have is that visibility on the screens of mass media amounts to a kind of Fuhrer stature. Like Max Headroom Fuhrers. There is an inherent authority in the close up, (Godard may have said that) and that is what TV and its extension to laptop and tablet screens achieves. The public is in thrall to figures of authority, even if entirely artificial. Or, rather, they are in thrall to ‘their’ screen images. The ones they identify with and feel they own. Politics is expressed much as shopping is expressed. The identification in the political sphere (and with history) is identical to how this public identifies with Hollywood’s protagonists.

Just as people do not believe deep down in their hearts that Jews are the devil, they do not fully believe in the leader. They do not really identify with him but act on this identification, represent their own enthusiasm, and thus participate in the leader’s performance. It is through this representation that they find a balance between their instinctual urges continually mobilized and the historical stage of enlightenment which they have attained and which can not be arbitrarily revoked. It is probably the distrust of the fiction of his own ‘group psychology’ that makes the fascist masses so merciless and unshakable.
— Theodor Adorno, Freudian Theory and the Pattern of Fascist Propaganda, 1951

This is an important observation of Adorno. The bad faith that resonates throughout the U.S. public discourse is an engine for resentment and rage. And everything has come to feel like a fiction. There is also a strange merging of several tributaries of social movements. One is the Green New Deal (and just read Cory Morningstar on this) and another is the Covid-19 pandemic, and the lockdowns, and then the Klaus Schwab (and Bill Gates and friends) so called Great Reset.

These are the privatised corporate movements that are passed off (on screens) as social reform. Now, the same can be said of Black Lives Matter but to a far less degree because that movement is far less unified. And Defunding the Police even more so, and this because much of that is driven by the formerly incarcerated. But the principle remains.

The Covid phenomenon, however, stands apart as the most drastic and grotesque manufacturing of crisis perhaps ever. Maybe in human history, actually. There is no crisis. The flu has similar numbers for fatalities and for infection. And now much state policy is attached to positive test results for a test nobody (even the manufacturers) really trusts. So who is driving this hysteria? Almost nobody can argue the lockdowns will cause more death, and more suffering. Already there are acute spikes in suicide, and drug overdose, as well as domestic abuse and depression and homelessness. The answer to who constitutes the engine behind this hysteria is likely the same people, by and large, who are driving the above mentioned attempts to rescue Capitalism. Or rather, to control the demolition of capitalism and the transition into a new feudalism.

World systems theorists like Wallerstein and Amin had been since the destruction of the USSR chronicling an unprecedented ruling class offensive to push forward a transformation out of an obsolescent form of competitive capitalism to the next shape of class rule; popular dissident economists and social theorists like Robin Blackburn, Michael Hudson, Naomi Klein, and Robert Brenner had simultaneously been tracking the increasing precariousness of the financialized post-Bretton Woods arrangements. Indeed Klein had recently published an enormous bestseller The Shock Doctrine which, for all its many flaws, provided a neologism for ruling class praxis that vividly conveyed its premeditated malice, violence and cunning, and which was well suited to advance conversations across social strata and diverse communities about the events unfolding in 2008.
— Alponse van Worden (Ibid.)

Van Worden’s critique is actually about Slavoj Zizek, and it is worth noting the malevolent influence of ersatz Marxists like Zizek (and Jacobin magazine and Bhaskar Sunkara, and these days even Counterpunch, sadly, and Chris Hedges, and many crypto LaRouchites, etc.) who are all now actively aligned with U.S. Imperialist interests. And all of whom have embraced a faux green ‘woke’ subject position that is merely more mystification and obscuring of genuine class analysis. For the real barometer for genuine opposition has become the ‘drama of the mask’. Where only recently it was the thermometer, the 1 degree or 2 degrees or whatever, that anchored most climate discourse, today there is the mask. There is ‘herd immunity’ (called mass murder by the folks at Counterpunch). There is the same guilt tripping, the same virtue signalling, and the same bad faith. And the bad faith is palpable, for when expressing ‘concern’ for victims of the pandemic, one can hear the echoes of the same concern many expressed for the victims of child abuse during the recovered memories trials, or of late, too, the overpopulation proponents — like Prince William and Bill Gates. They do not care about victims, they care about saving themselves — but that can only reach their conscious mind by first saving capitalism.

The current bad faith can also be linked to the collapse of the U.S.S.R. The emotional and psychic vacuum, even if largely unconscious for many, left by the fall of Soviet communism, was (and is) enormous. And out of this vacuum came the front edges of the new woke fascism.

Today, social conditions have produced uncritical acceptance of authority among large parts of the population. Among others, even those one might expect to criticise the status quo, we see only despair. The upsurge in interest in deterministic utopian or pessimistic thinking, influenced by the rapid technological change speaks volumes about the powerlessness felt even by those least susceptible to fascist propaganda.
— Max L. Feldman, Seductive Fascist Style, Verso blog, September 2019

And the style coordinates for concern invariably enclose rank sentimentalism. For as James Baldwin noted sentimentality is The Mask of Cruelty. This public bathos has multiplied across all areas of discussion, and it points back to just how harmful the erosion of education has been, and maybe in particular the loss of arts education. For the American public today is both tone deaf and stunningly deficient in aesthetic understanding. They have gone from bad taste to no taste.

Not that long ago, Hollywood was still capable of making meaningful movies.

Based on what little reliable information has been published about the CIA and Hollywood, the agency’s covert manipulation of the entertainment industry appears to have markedly decreased during the next two decades. In the 1970s, following the Watergate scandal and shocking congressional revelations about the CIA, a Hollywood backlash against the spy agency even took shape. A series of anti-authority thrillers, including classic conspiracy films like Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation and Alan Pakula’s The Parallax View (both released in 1974) and Sydney Pollack’s Three Days of the Condor (1975), depicted the national security state as a malevolent force, with Condor, starring Robert Redford as a CIA whistle-blower, taking specific aim at the agency as an institution capable of killing anyone who gets in its way, even its own agents.
— Nicholas Schou,  Spooked, 2016

The shift began in the late 70s. And it escalated profoundly in the 90s under Bill Clinton. For the Clintons saw the importance of Hollywood. A huge number of former Clinton interns are now Hollywood producers. (interesting aside, Clinton screened the 1998 Ed Zwick film The Siege in the White House — a story of terrorists attacking NYC leading to martial law).

Today, however, there are fewer people actually going to the cinema. People watch at home, on laptops and stream from a myriad of platforms. This is the Netflix era. Something else has changed, too. Hollywood has actually stopped being a source of entertainment. I mean it “is” still that, but it is more a sort of religious domain and something like a companion. This is an atomized and lonely society. Electronic devices are left on in many homes 24/7. It is the background white noise of daily life. There are TVs in most restaurants now. There are TVs in doctor’s offices and in all manner of waiting rooms. I saw wide screen monitors at the unemployment office. I saw them at the DMV. Life is chronicled on screens, and I suspect Jonathan Beller is right that our unconscious is now a film strip.

The new woke fascism is, however, much like all fascist movements. I sense too much is made of the technological revolution (sic). Even critics of the fourth industrial revolution are besotted by AI and the fantasies of mass surveillance and facial recognition and the like. The truth is, of course, it doesn’t really have to work, people only have to believe it does. But technology is now a form of mystification. The woke fascism is, like earlier forms, attached to ideas of not just obedience, but duty to obey. And in this sense Americans have always been prime targets for fascism. They see life as a struggle and a conquest. Today the duty to the state is camouflaged to a degree, the state has as a stand-in varieties of environmental constructs (Gaia, etc). The overpopulation eugenicists constantly reiterate their love of nature, of the “planet”. But this is a planet for ‘them’, not for you. And the fascist system is always, to a large extent, petit-bourgeois. So, into this Hollywood has increasingly created stories of technological heroism, and of duty to the authority of those who create and operate that technology. And to valorize the white middle class (Spielberg is the avatar for suburban heroic) As I have written before, Terminator 2 was the story of androids as better parents than humans.

What I am trying to point out is that the CIA is trying to circulate whitewashed images of itself through popular media. Further, it is trying to weave those images into the fabric of society in such a way that viewers see them as a “natural” reflection of the Agency, rather than one that is partially constructed and manipulated by the government.
— Tricia Jenkins (Ibid.)

And it is Trump who is, maybe, the ultimate expression of this decline into ‘no taste’. Trump can’t be understood. He speaks in gibberish. Biden is only very slightly better in terms of speaking English. His clear early stage dementia is maybe the perfect sound track for the Covid experiment. And yet, the petit-bourgeoisie applaud him (and Kamala Harris) as if an exorcism has been completed and the Virgin Spring is born.

And lest anyone have doubts about the underlying agenda(s) of the Covid lockdowns, and in particular Bill Gates… read Jacob Levich.

Here are just a few of Gates’ suggestions..(found in his op ed in the NY Times, and one in the New England Journal of Medicine) which I take from the Levich article…

Work closely with Western military forces, specifically NATO, in operations targeting the developing world. (Planning “should include military alliances such as NATO”; “in a severe epidemic, the military forces of many or all middle- and high-income countries might have to work together.”)

Suspend constitutional guarantees in sovereign nations affected by epidemics. (“Because democratic countries try to avoid abridging individuals’ rights to travel and free assembly, they might be too slow to restrict activities that help spread disease.”)

Create worldwide surveillance networks, presumably free of privacy protections, that would make information about people in developing countries instantly available to the imperial core.  (“Access to satellite photography and cell-phone data” would permit tracking “the movement of populations and individuals in the affected region.”)

The drama of the mask is one of transitioning into full tilt fascism. And instead of black shirts, we have black (and blue and rainbow) masks. But there are already police in most European countries, and in the U.S. (in places) enforcing lockdown restrictions and punishing those who literally and figuratively refuse the mask. Businesses are aligned with their new duty to the state. To the system. Those businesses that are still open, that is.

Homelessness is reaching proportions never even dreamed of even by dystopian Sci Fi writers. And with this is coming a new criminalizing of poverty. The poor were always resented in America, but now those who do the resenting are feeling emboldened by a new religious fervor. And the empire of screens is there to validate that fervor. A patriotic fervor for some, a new woke ‘concern’ for others. Put on the mask because you CARE about people. And nothing is too severe for those who refuse. There is an overwhelming self righteousness in American society today. The next stage will be mandatory vaccination. And with that we will have arrived at an existence of pure symbolism, disconnected from reality. It is fascist Kabuki, a political drama of stylized symbolic gestures and mime, all performed behind a mask.

The post Fascist Kabuki first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Germans are Back!

Break out the Wagner, folks … the Germans are back! No, not the warm, fuzzy, pussified, peace-loving, post-war Germans … the Germans! You know the ones I mean. The “I didn’t know where the trains were going” Germans. The “I was just following orders” Germans. The other Germans.

Yeah … those Germans.

In case you missed it, on November 18, the German parliament passed a law, the so-called “Infection Protection Act” (“Das Infektionsschutzgesetz” in German) formally granting the government the authority to issue whatever edicts it wants under the guise of protecting the public health. The government has been doing this anyway — ordering lockdowns, curfews, travel bans, banning demonstrations, raiding homes and businesses, ordering everyone to wear medical masks, harassing and arresting dissidents, etc. — but now it has been “legitimized” by the Bundestag, enshrined into law, and presumably stamped with one of those intricate official stamps that German bureaucrats like to stamp things with.

Now, this “Infection Protection Act,” which was rushed through the parliament, is not in any way comparable to the “Enabling Act of 1933,” which formally granted the government the authority to issue whatever edicts it wanted under the guise of remedying the distress of the people. Yes, I realize that sounds quite similar, but, according to the government and the German media, there is no absolutely equivalence whatsoever, and anyone who suggests there is is “a far-right AfD extremist,” “a neo-Nazi conspiracy theorist,” or “an anti-vax esotericist,” or whatever.

As the Protection Act was being legitimized (i.e., the current one, not the one in 1933), tens of thousands of anti-totalitarian protesters gathered in the streets, many of them carrying copies of the Grundgesetz (i.e., the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany), which the parliament had just abrogated. They were met by thousands of riot police, who declared the demonstration “illegal” (because many of the protesters were not wearing masks), beat up and arrested hundreds of them, and then hosed down the rest with water cannons.

The German media — which are totally objective, and not at all like Goebbels’ Ministry of Propaganda in the Nazi era — dutifully reminded the German public that these protesters were all “Corona Deniers,” “far-right extremists,” “conspiracy theorists,” “anti-vaxxers,” “neo-Nazis,” and so on, so they probably got what they deserved. Also, a spokesperson for the Berlin police (who bear absolutely no resemblance to the Gestapo, or the Stasi, or any other notorious official-ideology-enforcing goons) pointed out that their water cannons were only being used to “irrigate” the protesters (i.e., not being aimed directly at them) because there were so many “Corona Denier” children in their ranks.

According to the government, the German media, the intelligentsia, and, basically, anyone in public life who wants to remain there, these “Corona Deniers” are becoming a problem. They are spreading baseless “conspiracy theories” that are threatening the public health and causing distress to the German people (e.g., that the vast majority of those infected suffer only mild to moderate flu symptoms or, more commonly, no symptoms at all, and that over 99.7% survive). They are walking around without medical-looking masks, which is making a mockery of the government and media’s efforts to convince the public that they are under attack by an apocalyptic plague. They are posting scientific facts on the Internet. They are staging these protests and otherwise challenging the government’s right to declare a “health emergency,” suspend the German constitution indefinitely, and rule society by decree and force.

Despite the German government and media’s efforts to demonize anyone not obediently parroting the official “New Normal” narrative as a “dangerous neo-Nazi Corona Denier,” the “Corona Denialism” movement is growing, not just in Germany, but all throughout Europe. Clearly, the time is coming for Germany to take stronger measures against this threat. The health of the Vater … uh, the nation, is at stake! Fortunately, this “Infection Protection Act” will provide the government with the authority it needs to conceive and carry out some kind of … well, you know, solution. Allowing these degenerate anti-social deviants to run around challenging the German government’s absolute power is not an option, not in a time of national health emergency! These “Nazi-sympathizing Corona Deniers” must be rooted out and dealt with, mercilessly!

I’m not privy to the details, of course, but, it being Germany, I imagine some sort of Special Task Force has been set up to efficiently deal with the “Corona Denier Problem.” Steps are clearly already being taken. Alternative media outlets are being deplatformed (because, according the media, they are “Querfront magazines”). In April, a well-known dissident lawyer was forcibly committed to a psychiatric ward (but the authorities and the media assured us that it had nothing to do with her dissident views, or with the lawsuits she was filing against the government; she just coincidentally became completely paranoid). Heavily-armed police are arresting YouTubers (although it isn’t clear exactly what for, as the authorities have released no details and the mainstream media is not reporting it).

In the run-up to the 29 August demonstration, at which the government granted some neo-Nazis de-facto permission to “storm the Reichstag,” so that the media could film it and discredit the real protest, one German politician went so far as to call for “Corona Deniers” to be deported … presumably on trains, somewhere to the east.

But seriously, I don’t mean to pick on the Germans. I love the Germans. I live in Germany. And they’re hardly the only ones implementing the new pathologized totalitarianism. It’s just that, given their not-too-distant history, it is rather depressing, and more than a little frightening, to watch as Germany is once again transformed into a totalitarian state, where the police are hunting down the mask-less on the streets, raiding restaurants, bars, and people’s homes, where goose-stepping little Good German citizens are peering into the windows of Yoga studios to see if they are violating “social distancing rules,” where I can’t take a walk or shop for groceries without being surrounded by hostile, glaring, sometimes verbally-abusive Germans, who are infuriated that I’m not wearing a mask, and otherwise mindlessly following orders, and who robotically remind me, “Es ist Pflicht! Es ist Pflicht!”

Yes, I am fully aware that it is “Pflicht.” If I had any doubt as to whether it was “Pflicht,” the Berlin Senate cleared that up when they commissioned and ran this charming advert instructing me to fuck myself if I don’t want to follow their “Corona orders” and profess my belief in their new Big Lie.

And OK, before the Literalist Society starts flooding me with outraged emails, no, I’m not calling these Germans “Nazis.” I am calling them “totalitarians.” Which, at this point, given everything we know, if you’re still pretending that this coronavirus in any way warrants the increasingly ridiculous “emergency measures” we are being subjected to, I’m sorry, but that is what you are.

You may not believe that is what you are … totalitarians never do, not until it is far too late.

It functions like a cult, totalitarianism. It creeps up on you, little by little, little lie by little lie, accommodation by accommodation, rationalization by rationalization … until one day you find yourself taking orders from some twisted little narcissistic nihilist on a mission to remake the entire world. You don’t surrender to it all at once. You do it over the course of weeks and months. Imperceptibly, it becomes your reality. You do not recognize that you are in it, because everything you see is part of it, and everyone you know is in it … except for the others, who are not part of it. The “deniers.” The “deviants.” The “foreigners.” The “strangers.” The “Covidiots.” The “virus spreaders.”

See, although the narratives and symbols may change, totalitarianism is totalitarianism. It doesn’t really matter which uniform it wears, or which language it speaks … it is the same abomination. It is an idol, a simulacrum of the hubris of man, formed from the clay of the minds of the masses by megalomaniacal spiritual cripples who want to exterminate what they cannot control. And what they want to control is always everything. Everything that reminds them of their weakness and their shame. You. Me. Society. The world. Laughter. Love. Honor. Faith. The past. The future. Life. Death. Everything that will not obey them.

Unfortunately, once this kind of thing gets started, and reaches the stage we are currently experiencing, more often than not, it does not stop, not until cities lie in ruins or fields are littered with human skulls. It might us take ten or twelve years to get there, but, make no mistake, that’s where we’re headed, where totalitarianism is always headed … if you don’t believe me, just ask the Germans.

The post The Germans are Back! first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Active Shooter in the Brain

Oh, the act of deactivating, the process of disconnecting, the very process of uncluttering the brain — bye-bye Facebook — Emancipation!

Pin on Funny Bone

Some might say we are caught in a fun-house . . . or caught in a psych ward. I have more and more people in my sphere — work, friends, email world, Facebook world, family — who are not only showing signs of insanity, but also lobotomy, or massive electro-shock therapy (sic-sick). They actually buy into that Matrix shit, that we are part of a sophisticated code god, a program that creates the “reality” we are in. A Super Duper Mario Brothers Hollywood style. Really, and then the ancient astronauts and those aliens that had to help build Chichén Itzá and the great Pyramids of Gaza.

Conversations about this new normal sort of circle the drain, and in so many instance, the putrid politics of “never Trump” come spewing from the mouths of these people, unsolicited. And as a frame of reference, this “Trump is Gone Now — Hurray for Harris and Biden” (sigh of relief, smiles, giddy chortles) — I am back in the back of the back of the intellectual and political bus. You see, many of us know, through study, travel, experience, rebuff — that the system both Biden and Trump adore is the shooter in the brain. Active Shooter in the House. Active Shooter in the Books they Read (not many). Active Shooter in their Consumer Choices. Active Shooter in the Work Places. Active Shooter in the State Capitals. These Active Shooters are everywhere, and have been since the founding of the Active Shooter Society that is called United (hahaha) States (really?) of America (a map maker, man!).

Pin on Greeting Cards and Party Supply. Home and Garden

Just the way the Kingdom of Puritans and Kingdom of Capital laid the groundwork for this sick-in-the-head, sick-in-the-heart, sick-in-the-spirit, sick-in-the-body, sick-in-the-spirit, sick-in-the-commercial-culture has galvanized all those parts to the Active Shooter scenario and Active Shooter response to everything.

A Good Indian is a Dead Indian. There Will be Blood. Atonement for their Savagery. Beat the Dickens Out of their Native Soil/Soil/Spiritual Being. It’s that Collective Psychological Response to the Active Shooter White Patriarchal Rapist/Land Stealer/Murderer Government working out of the White House vis-à-vis all those houses of ill repute, from the CIA, to Pentagon, from NASA, to Every University, from the New York Times to Netflix, from Bank of America to BlackRock, from Jerusalem, to Geneva. Here a few other things these presidents said —

In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt promoted putting “dangerous or undesirable aliens or citizens” in “concentration camps.” During World War II, Roosevelt signed an executive order that led hundreds of thousands of people of Japanese descent––including 80,000 U.S. citizens––to be incarcerated in concentration camps on the West Coast of the U.S. The U.S. was in a war against Japan at the time. It was also fighting Italy and Germany, but did not broadly incarcerate people in the U.S. of Italian and German descent.

  • In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower told Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren white Southerners “are not bad people. All they are concerned about is to see that their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some big overgrown Negroes” while discussing the desegregation of schools.
  • Johnson is often credited as one of the most consequential presidents with respect to civil rights, having signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. But for much of his political career, Johnson opposed civil rights legislation. According to a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography on Johnson, during the two decades he served in the U.S. Senate he would use the phrase “nigger bill.” Johnson also reportedly defended appointing Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court––the court’s first black justice in U.S. history––by stating, “Son, when I appoint a nigger to the court, I want everyone to know he’s a nigger.”
  • Recorded conversations of Nixon’s time in the Oval Office reveal extremely bigoted views of black people, among other groups. In one conversation, Nixon said, “We’re going to [put] more of these little Negro bastards on the welfare rolls at $2,400 a family—let people like [New York Sen.] Pat Moynihan … believe in all that crap. But I don’t believe in it. Work, work—throw ’em off the rolls. That’s the key.”
  • Nixon added, “I have the greatest affection for [blacks], but I know they’re not going to make it for 500 years. They aren’t. You know it, too. The Mexicans are a different cup of tea. They have a heritage. At the present time they steal, they’re dishonest, but they do have some concept of family life. They don’t live like a bunch of dogs, which the Negroes do live like.” On Jewish people, Nixon said, “The Jews are just a very aggressive and abrasive and obnoxious personality.”

And then, butter-for-brains Vice President Joe Biden, with more and more of his racist toes and feet in his mouth — “The way Trump deals with people based on the color of their skin, their national origin, where they’re from, is absolutely sickening,” Biden said. “No sitting president has ever done this, never, never, never. No Republican president has done this, this no Democratic president,” he continued. “We’ve had racists and they’ve existed, they’ve tried to get elected president but he’s the first one that has. And the way he pits people against one another is all designed to divide the country, divide people, not pull them together.”

Shall I say more about the absurdity of the presidential election/selection? I’d end up in the poor house if I gave a reader a penny for each racist thought-or-statement written by or yammered by USA politicos, media mavens, Holly-Dirters, authors, celebrities, Fortune 1000-ers, et al!

With the continual panic and lockdown mentality and genuflection to authority, this society pre-and post-Trump has been the bum’s rush for me and my ilk. When we put this society through the settler-colonial lens, we are lambasted on both sides of the political manure pile. “You know, the Indians were not all these noble savages. You know, they came here using the Land Bridge. You know, progress means adaptation.” These people have always believed in American exceptionalism, believed in the red and white and blue. Always believed those alabaster statues of Lincoln or Jefferson or even Martin Luther King. That Active Shooter in the House is what creates that Collective Stockholm Syndrome. It can be collective in rarified forms — the Stockholm Syndrome of Branch Davidians or MAGA or QAnon. The Stockholm Syndrome of Greta/350.org/David Attenborough. The Stockholm Syndrome of K-Street. Stockholm Syndrome of the Military Police State. Stockholm Syndrome of Techies and Bezos Types. That Syndrome is the result of the Active Shooter Mindset.

Siberian eatery is ideal spot for a Putin fan | Reuters

Until we end up here, in Lockdown, in a society where stores are boarded up. Streets are empty. Barricades of the mind and spirit erected from sea to shining sea. Incomes frozen. Assets Hacked. Lives Set Inside that Funhouse, or to use non-PC lingo, Madhouse. That Active Shooter rules of engagement also include not speaking out and not moving too quickly, or use anything in reach to subdue and escape, or to crawl and stop and hide. Lights out, doors locked, no sounds, no whispering, nothing, just crouch and hold still until, what? Whirling Blackhawks and Rumbling SWAT Armored Vehicles with Machine Gun Turrets?

The perceptions from the individual and collective Stockholm Syndrome, and the intellectual actions and inactions in this Active Shooter Lockdown Abide by All Leaders’ Laws/Regulations/Rules/ Fines/Admonishments/ Recommendations/Edicts/Penalties/Crimes/Offenses/Dictates, well, that certainly has constructed a very mean and very ostrich like society, and the see-hear-speak no evil and head in the sand and the lashing out and the hyper propaganda and the hyper-knee jerking, and, well, with it all facilitated by unsocial media, we are in the super minority if we dare question the question and the responses and the answers. We dare to go up against any of the narratives, and alas, we then become the pariah and the Scarlet-ed Letter “A” for Anarchist or Anachronistic or Abnormal or Ambiguous or Antagonistic or Adversarial or Asymptomatic or Argumentative or even the letter “A” for Anticlockwise.

“All forms of perception are “subjective” in the sense that they represent only those aspects and properties of the world that can be detected by an organism’s sensory transducers. Hence all perception is subjective in the sense of being partial. Moreover, once organisms reach a stage of cognitive complexity where they start to encode some sort of model of the surrounding world through their sensory contact with it, then the result is subjective in an even deeper sense. For what is represented will only comprise those aspects of the world that potentially matter to the organism (whether this is explicitly represented in the organism’s values, or implicit in the lifestyle that has been selected for it by evolution).”

— Peter Carruthers, from Human and Animal Minds: The Consciousness Questions Laid to Rest ( Oxford University Press, Jan 5, 2020;  p. 68)

Imagine that, the very act of just shutting it off, that Fuck You Book, that social ingratiation book, that rotting of the brain book. I was on it only because I had to set up an account for the nonprofit that was/is Gig Economizing me to work on their rather bombastic project of getting billionaires and millionaires and governments and philanthropies to put in “cash” transfers to poor people during, before and after (there will be no after) the Plan-demic Covid-19, SARS-CoV2, corona virus thing. Then, with the multitasking aplomb of wanting to take a break from this or that writing project, alas, I ended up messing with the Paul Haeder Facebook page, and then “befriending” a thousand or so, and then letting loose the philosophical and political tirades of our age. I did end up exposing folk to left of left stuff, to things that are pretty mainstream to me like Black Agenda Report, and groups like the Black Alliance for Peace. Discourse around why Trump or Trump-lite or Pence or GOP-lite, or DNC, or AOC or Biden-Obama-Hillary lite, and the hard stuff brewed by Empire of the Capitalists, that it’s all the same to revolutionaries or those with the Scarlet Letter “A” emblazoned on our t-shirts. Pure addictive and mind-blowing shit, this country is, and that is the unholy alliance of a country tis of me based on torture, raping, burning, immolating, murdering, beheading, pollution, animal slaughter, and air and soil and water destruction, all in the name of toilet paper for the masses, and kingdoms of jewels, banks, homes, mansions, castles for the Capitalists in Power. The ethanol brain rot of Capitalism a la North America.

I would throw out bombs on why Biden and Trump come from the same patriarchal DNA, how the Democratic Party Machine is as Bad and Corrupt as the Republican Party Machine. How the Machine is greased with Capital, and the Machine is not of, for, by, with, entwinned to the People, US, but for the banks. The techno-fascists, and brothers and sister of the Military Industrial Complex of Another and Another and Another Mother/Mothership.

United Snakes of America. United States of BlackRock. Un-united States of Capitalism, what have you, in variations on the theme, well, those stars on that other Banner, tell the story, and the story shifts with the logos, and those stores are indeed just banners, hiding the real sophisticated thugs of Transnational, Transhuman, Transcultural, Transhumane capital.

Corporate Logo Flags (US Flag) from Reclaim Democracy

In that abortion of Facebook just days ago, I find myself less distracted, though I have always worked as a writer, done my time in the world of nature, walks, paddles, bike riding, and now another gig for the 63-going-on-64-white (self-loathing, sort of)-communist-male-who-has-to-in-polite (mixed up)-company-call-himself-socialist. This one, well, full-time, with benefits, and back in the slog of things, working with adults with developmental and intellectual (and psychological and physical) disabilities. As a counselor, in this case all-around job-employment counselor, developers, what have you. Back to getting my expired certificates re-upped, and then all the vocational rehabilitation and department of human services and department of developmental disabilities courses and trainings. Deja vu, and well, in the beach life of the Central Oregon Coast, my spouse and I have to work, even though it feels fluttering around here that half the people are retired and enjoying high lifestyle, or at least solid retired middle class, and then, there are those who service this place, and many of them are struggling big time. In Oregon with the Nanny Governor and the schizophrenia of Red-Neck and Blue-Neck, the pain of businesses shuttering and main streets depopulating, well, this makes for a very hard time for the clientele I work with — how to get a job for someone who has to usually work 20 hours or less to keep the SSI under wraps. People who are not “normally” those we see in the workplace (the highest unemployment rate for any demographic is adults with developmental disabilities — think 83 percent). Getting creative in Plan-Demic times, well, I am up for the challenge, but alas, working that 40-hour a week schedule, and then doing my own thing as a journalist and novelist and such, well, I have to utilize as much brain-space and keyboard and mouse time as possible for MY work.

Facebook was a kick for a while, then for many of those nanoseconds (they do add up to minutes and then an hour is wasted on Fucker-Berg’s Mind Manipulation Tool, I was put on 24 hour and then three-day and then one week suspension. Expelled from posting and commenting. Then, to make matters even more hilarious (sad, too) those dyed in the wool exceptionalists, those with the Democratic Party diarrhea dreams dream, I just had to call it quits. They are the worse of the worse, the same as Christian MAGA and Conservative MAGA and Military MAGA and Retiree MAGA and Female MAGA, and the like. Total cognitive dissonance, and the Active Shooter mind-scape, well, that got the best of me (not really). Endless stupid dead-end posts and mini-discussions about why Trump is in and why Biden is bad, and, then, just coming from this angle as a communist, err, in Active Shooter land, a “socialist,” the arguments are back on the table about how great it is to have that first person of color in as VP-soon-to-be-Prez . . . (1928-’32, Charles Curtis, Herbert Hoover’s Vice President, was a member of the Kaw Nation).

Endless stupidity about the lesser of two evils, about the evils of two lessers, about how a Biden win will allow for pressure on the left side of things to move the party and the country leftier . . . . Right! Bankers, bombers, baggers, bottom-feeders, bombasts, buccaneers, bag men/women, broadcasters, botulism boys, and the like, already lined up for the Harris-Biden Kill Show. Active Shooters show. Then, the Trump All Encompassing Digital and Cable Network . . . . all the while the offense industrialists (elites in and out of the military industrial complex) will bilk the nation, the globe, the resources until a future is this below, the fighting orangutan’s, a la Homo Psychopithecus!

Alternate text

PETITION TARGETCambodian Ambassador to the United States Chum Sounry

The Phnom Penh Safari zoo in Cambodia showcases disturbing orangutan boxing matches, forcing innocent apes to fight each other in a boxing ring. The animals are also made to ride bikes, hula-hoop, and wear degrading outfits, as shown in numerous TripAdvisor photos.

Orangutans aren’t the only animals abused at this zoo: tigers jump through flaming hoops and cower in fear of trainers’ electric prods; crocodiles are hit with sticks and have their mouths taped shut for selfie opportunities; and elephants are controlled with bullhooks.

The animals appear neglected, too. The tigers are declawed and extremely thinaccording to EARS Asia. And the drinking water is filthy, according to a Khmer Times article that has since been deleted.

Animals do not exist for human amusement. They deserve natural habitats and loving caretakers, not cruel zoos where they’re forced to perform for park-goers.

The abuse must stop. Sign this petition urging Cambodian Ambassador to the United States Chum Sounry to call for an end to all cruel animal performances at the zoo and push for a thorough investigation into the animals’ treatment.

The abusive husband in this loveless marriage of capitalists ruling the roost, writing the narrative, spinning the malignant history, fears the loss of her/his master because that abusive system has turned him/her into a clinging hopey-dopey thing who believes all those decades of oppression will somehow be redefined to allow this shattered individual and collective to lose all self-esteem to the point that we are no longer capable of imagining a life without our parasitic master.

We are collectively servants of those masters who have for centuries plotted and prodded populations into fearing agency, revolution and radical transformation. We are that Disney-fied and Disney-fed collective, and those elites especially, yammering and yammering about the LGBTQA+ minority’s play (Lin-Manuel Miranda), “Hamilton,” being so wonderous and so emblematic of the good of this nation, well, not a one would question the slaver’s role in America — a slaver, new documents do show that not only was Alexander Hamilton a slave trader for his in-law family, the Schuyler’s, his own account books demonstrate that Hamilton bought, sold and personally owned slaves. But try and have that conversation about Miranda and the elite’s bullshit love of this bullshit play on Fuck-You-Book, or in person (of course, masked up and at least six feet of separation, please, and no more than 8 gathered in an open space, please or else!!!).

I would have expected a few of the people on Fuck-You-And-The-Horse-You-Rode-Into-Town-On BOOK, to nuance the Biden-Harris gig, the bullshit nature of GOP and DNC, and the trillions thrown at the sex addicts and money changers in the billionaire class, while mom and pop, sister and brother, downtrodden and almost-to-be-downtrodden, get shit from Pelosi and Mitch, but instead, the Collective Stockholm Syndrome of the liberal lite kind has just plummeted our 2021 into the new normal of following more anti-civil rights and anti-free speech and anti-freedom of movement laws backed by thousand-dollar fines, the fuzz with their assault rifles and, well, the GIANT Scarlet Letter A for, well, fill in the blank of anti- as prefix. You get expelled from Zoom Doom school, get cut from the team, get sacked, get ostracized, and get kicked to the curb if you dare question narratives of the ruling class. Dare to question this science (sic) versus that science. You know, that is the mob mentality of America, whether it is in the village square burning heretics, or on the greasy grass mowing down dancers and drummers. We are in a Little Bighorn, and the Big-Small-wannabe Eichmann’s are there, mostly, in places of “authority,” the elites, the nanny governors and their cadre of pencil neck followers, the compliant ones, the ones who follow order, those who say LGBTQA+, but are hope-dopey Stockholm Syndrome sufferers of the major kind, creating dictate after dictate.

You can’t even talk about small businesses closing. Can’t talk about the renter and mortgage class (sic) sticking it and sticking it and resticking it to the masses. Imagine this fucked up Corona World, where stupidity and no-deep questioning rule. Can you imagine scum bucket governors from red and blue states, yammering and yammering.

There is no plan for the resettling in and after Plan-demic. But there is that Fourth Industrial Revolution, the big plans by big tech, and the Google world and the economies of scale of the Amazon-kind variety and the satellites launched at sunset and the Elon Musks and the entire shit-show that is Forbes and Rockefeller and Council on Foreign Affairs, the Aspen Institute, the Federalist Society, the Family, the TED Talk crews, all of them, from QAnon to the Tweets, and everything in between, it is the world of the ACTIVE Shooter, and duck and cover, the name of one generation’s game, and now, the slave master will say, “All Money, All Movements, All Things” will and must be on a digital platform. Passports from Hell to Enter a New Hell. No Travel Unless Eyes Are Scanned and Vaccination Record Checked.

Somehow, that has been the pathway of the elites, from Holly-Dirt, to the schools, to the drone programs at two-bit community colleges, to the food purveyors. We have colonized each generation, and the baselines of old hopes — agency, real food, real relationships with people-land-planet, real debate, real learning, real arguing, real water, real air, real art, real feelings, real history, real enfranchisement, real conversations — that too has been put on Red Flag Active Shooter hold. Deep Sixed.

Conversations and philosophical constructions and deconstructions are put on hold as the majority of people in the United Snakes of BlackRock, well, they talk about “things” as bifurcated nonsense, politics, histrionics, heliographs, shit shows and PT Barnum One-Upping Scams of the Mind and of the Culture.

I love what John Steppling has to say in the front of his essay, The Mechanical Soul:

One of the reasons I keep writing about AI is that the entire construct of an artificial intelligence has become both a symbol and metaphor for contemporary thought, and, is part of this ongoing reshaping of human consciousness.

I admit I am surprised how many people believe in the entire project of AI. Clearly it holds something very appealing that people WANT to believe in. And a key element in this is the idea of predictability. And predicting means controlling. So, in one sense, there is nothing new in this desire to foretell the future.

Now the first problem when discussing “consciousness” is that finding a definition for that word is nearly impossible.

“Moreover, the explicit dualistic beliefs of children in Western cultures get less strong with age (Bering 2006). This suggests that dualism is the default setting of the folk-psychological system, which gets weakened by cultural input in scientific cultures—at least at the level of explicit verbal expression—rather than depending on such input (Riekki et al.2013;Willard & Norenzayan 2013; Forstmann & Burgmer 2015). Indeed, dualist intuitions are prevalent in both children and adults, even in cultures whose norms discourage overt attention to mental states, albeit becoming weaker as a function of exposure to Western education (Chudek et al.2018).” –Peter Carruthers (Human and Animal Minds)

With Facebook and Twitter and even consumption of the low art of Netflix and everything on the Internet, that is, almost all of it on the Web, we are losing the race for dualistic beliefs, of holding many counter-arguments in our brains, and even just considering counter-intuitive things. But, the news, the real news, should send shudders down any human’s spine — Bend, Oregon, on the frigid east side of the Cascade Range, is currently without a warming shelter, largely due to complaints by rich residents about a location. Early Tuesday morning, the body of Dave Melvin Savory, 57, a homeless double amputee, was found slumped against a dumpster outside a Rite Aid pharmacy.

Finally, of course, any real leftist would be cheering the defeat and dethroning of any ruler of the empire. Christ, just watching both sides of the sewer pond is what a revolutionary would hope for. Trump defeated and his slim-balls and himself slipping and sliding in their own shit, that is a good day to be a human being. And, the end of Biden and Harris and all the hit men he and she are hiring on for the Biden-Harris Empire Shit Show, that too will be a very good day for humanity.

Something About Heads on Pikes and All Chained up in the Docks? Banned on Facebook.

America’s Active Shooters!!!

One-time rival Senator Kamala Harris backs Joe Biden for president | amNewYork
Oh Say Can You See by the Dawn’s Early Covid Lockdown…
Pope Francis offers prayers for President Trump - The Dialog
… and Christian Bombs Bursting in Air while laughing all the way to the bank!

Final Note — Imagine this shit show America, and this blog, and the few things I wrote in it, enough to toss me to the curb. Big Brother and Big Sister, they are all watching. Just this recent new job, I was told by a person in the nonprofit involved in hiring me that “I Googled you . . . I had to really get beyond that to think, ‘there is more to this guy than all that.'” Hmm. Is this the proverbial digital straw that broke the human being’s back?

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The Secret Agenda of the World Bank and IMF

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) work hand in glove – smoothly. Not only are they regularly lending huge sums of money to horror regimes around the world, but they blackmail poor nations into accepting draconian conditions imposed by the west. In other words, the WB and the IMF are guilty of the most atrocious human rights abuses.

You couldn’t tell when you read above the entrance of the World Bank the noble phrase, “Our Dream is World Free of Poverty”. To this hypocrisy I can only add, ”…And we make sure it will just remain a dream.” This says both, the lie and the criminal nature of the two International Financial Institutions, created under the Charter of the United Nations but instigated by the United States.

The front of these institutions is brilliant. What meets the eye are investments in social infrastructure, in schools, health systems, basic needs like drinking water, sanitation – even environmental protection – over all “Poverty Alleviation”; i.e., A World Free of Poverty. But how fake this is today and was already in the 1970’s and 1980’s is astounding. Gradually people are opening their eyes to an abject reality, of exploitation and coercion and outright blackmail. And that, under the auspices of the United Nations. What does it tell you about the UN system? In what hands are the UN? The world organization was created in San Francisco, California, on 24 October 1945, just after WWII, by 51 nations, committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.

The UN replaced the League of Nations which was part of the Peace Agreement after WWI, the Treaty of Versailles. It became effective on 10 January 1920, was headquartered in Geneva Switzerland, with the purpose of disarmament, preventing war through collective security, settling disputes between countries, through negotiation diplomacy and improving global welfare. In hindsight it is easy to see that the entire UN system was set up as a hypocritical farce, making people believe that their mighty leaders only wanted peace. These mighty leaders were all westerners; the same that less than 20 years after the creation of the noble League of Nations, started World War II.

*****

This little introduction provides the context for what was eventually to become the UN-backed outgrowth for global theft, for impoverishing nations around the world, for exploitation of people, for human rights abuses and for shoveling huge amounts of assets from the bottom, from the people, to the oligarchy, the ever-smaller corporate elite – the so-called Bretton Woods Institutions.

In July 1944 more than 700 delegates of 44 Allied Nations (allied with the winners of WWII, including the Soviet Union) met at the Mount Washington Hotel, situated in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, United States, to regulate the international monetary and financial order after WWII. Let’s be sure, this conference was carried out under the auspices of the United States, the self-declared winner of WWII, and from now on forward the master over the financial order of the world – which was not immediately visible, an agenda hidden in plain sight.

The IMF was officially created to ‘regulate’ the western, so-called convertible currencies, those that subscribed to apply the rules of the new gold standard; i.e., US$ 35 / Troy Ounce (about 31.1 grams). Note that the gold standard, although applicable equally to 44 allied nations, was linked to the price of gold nominated in US dollars, not based on a basket of the value of the 44 national currencies. This already was enough reason to question the future system and how it would play out. But nobody questioned the arrangement. Hard to believe, though, that of all these national economists, none dared question the treacherous nature of the gold-standard set-up.

The World Bank, or the Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), was officially set up to administer the Marshall Plan for the Reconstruction of war-destroyed Europe. The Marshall Plan was a donation by the United Stated and was named for U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall, who proposed it in 1947. The plan gave $13.2 billion in foreign aid to European countries that had been devastated physically and economically by World War II. It was to be implemented from 1948 to 1952 which, of course, was much too short a time, and stretched into the early 1960s. In today’s terms the Marshall plan would be worth about 10 times more, or some US$ 135 billion.

The Marshall Plan was, and still is, a Revolving Fund, paid back by the countries in question, so that it could be relent. The Marshall Plan money was lent out multiple times and was therefore very effective. The European counterpart to the World Bank-administered Marshall Fund was a newly to be created bank set up under the German Ministry of Finance, The German Bank for Reconstruction and Development (KfW – German acronym for “Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau”).

KfW, as the World Bank’s European counterpart still exists and dedicates itself mostly to development projects in the Global South, now primarily with funds from the German Government and borrowed from the German and European capital markets. KfW often cooperates on joint projects with the World Bank. Today there is still a special Department within KfW that deals exclusively with Marshall Plan Fund money. These still revolving funds are used for lending to poor southern regions in Europe, and also to prop up Eastern European economies, and they were used especially to integrate former East-Germany into today’s “Grand Germany”.

Two elements of the Marshall Plan are particularly striking and noteworthy. First, the reconstruction plan created a bind, a dependence between the US and Europe, the very Europe that was largely destroyed by the western allied forces, while basically WWII was largely won by the Soviet Union, the huge sacrifices of the USSR – with an estimated 25 to 30 million deaths. So, the Marshall Plan was also designed as a shield against communist Russia; i.e., the USSR.

While officially the Soviet Union was an ally of the western powers, US, UK, and France, in reality the communist USSR was an arch-enemy of the west, especially the United States. With the Marshall Plan money, the US bought Europe’s alliance, a dependence that has not ended to this day – and has, and still is, preventing Europe from establishing normal relations with Russia, even though the Soviet Union disappeared three decades ago. The ensuing Cold War after WWII against the USSR, also all based on flagrant lies, was direct testimony for another western propaganda farce whichm to this day, most Europeans haven’t grasped yet.

Second, the US imposition of a US-dollar based reconstruction fund was not only creating a European dollar dependence, but was also laying the ground work for a singular currency, eventually to invade Europe — what we know today has become the Euro. The Euro is nothing but the foster child of the dollar, as it was created under the same image as the US-dollar.  It is a fiat currency, backed by nothing. The United Europe, or now called the European Union, was never really a union. It was never a European idea, but put forward by US Secret Services in disguise of a few treacherous European honchos. And every attempt to create a United Europe, a European Federation, with a European Constitution, similar to the United States, was bitterly sabotaged by the US, mostly through the US mole in the EU, namely the UK.

The US didn’t want a strong Europe, both economically and possibly over time also militarily (pop. EU 450 million, vs US pop. 330 million; 2019 EU GDP US$ 20.3 trillion equivalent, vs US GDP US$ 21.4 trillion. Most economists would agree that a common currency for a loose group of countries has no future, is not sustainable. There is no common Constitution, thus no common objective, financially, economically and militarily. A common currency is not sustainable in the long run under these unstable circumstances. This is more than visible only 20 years into the Euro. The eurozone is a desperate mess. In comes the European Central Bank (ECB), also a creation inspired by the FED and the US Treasury. The ECB has really no Central Bank function. It is rather a watch dog. Because each EU member country has still her own Central Bank, though with a drastically reduced sovereignty which the eurozone countries conceded to the ECB, without receiving any equivalent rights.

Out of the currently 27 EU members, only 19 are part of the Euro-zone. Those countries not part of the Eurozone; i.e., Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Sweden and more, have preserved their sovereign financial policy and do not depend on the ECB. This means had Greece opted out of the Eurozone when they were hit with the 2008/2009 manufactured “crisis”, Greece would now be well on her way to full recovery. It would not have been subject to the whims and dictates of the IMF, the infamous troika, European Commission (EC), ECB and IMF, but could have chosen to arrange their debt internally, as most debt was internal debt, no need to borrow from abroad.

In a 2015 bailout referendum, the Greek population voted overwhelmingly against the bailout, meaning against the new gigantic debt. However, the then Greek President Tsipras, went ahead as if the referendum had never taken place and approved the huge bailout despite almost 70% of the popular vote against it.

This is a clear indication of fraud, that no fair play was going on. Tsipras and/or his families may have been coerced to accept the bailout – or else. We may never know the true reason why Tsipras sold his people, the wellbeing of the Greek people to the oligarchs behind the IMF and World Bank – and put them into abject misery, with the highest unemployment in Europe, rampant poverty and skyrocketing suicide rates.

Greece may serve as an example on how other EU countries may fare if they don’t “behave” – meaning adhere to the unwritten golden rules of obedience to the international money masters.

This is scary.

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And now, in these times of covid, it is relatively easy. Poor countries, particularly in the Global South, already indebted by the plandemic, are increasing their foreign debt in order to provide their populations with basic needs. Or so they make you believe. Much of the debt accumulated by developing countries is domestic or internal debt, like the debt of the Global North. It doesn’t really need foreign lending institutions to wipe out local debt. Or have you seen one of the rich Global North countries borrowing from the IMF or the World Bank to master their debt?  Hardly!

So why would the Global South fall for it? Part corruption, part coercion, and partly direct blackmail. Yes, blackmail, one of the international biggest crimes imaginable, being committed by the foremost international UN-chartered financial institutions, the WB and the IMF.

For example, the whole world is wondering how come that an invisible enemy, a corona virus, hit all 193 UN member countries at once, so that Dr. Tedros, Director General of WHO, declares on 11 March a pandemic – no reason whatsoever since there were only 4,617 cases globally – but the planned result was a total worldwide lockdown on 16 March 2020. No exceptions. There were some countries who didn’t take it so seriously, like Brazil, Sweden, Belarus, some African countries, like Madagascar and Tanzania – developed their own rules and realized that wearing masks did more harm than good, and social distancing would destroy the social fabric of their cultures and future generations.

But the satanic deep dark state didn’t want anything to do with “independent” countries. They all had to follow the dictate from way above, from the Gates, Rockefellers, Soroses, et al elite, soon to be reinforced by Klaus Schwab, serving as the chief henchman of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Suddenly, you see in Brazil a drastic surge in new “cases”, no questions asked, massive testing, no matter that the infamous PCR tests are worthless, according to most serious scientists – see The COVID-19 RT-PCR Test: How to Mislead All Humanity. Using a “Test” To Lock Down Society (by Pascal Sacré – 5 November 2020)
(only sold and corrupted scientists, those paid by the national authorities, would still insist on the RT-PCR tests). Brazil’s Bolsonaro gets sick with the virus and the death count increases exponentially – as the Brazilian economy falls apart.

Coincidence? Hardly.

In comes the World Bank and/or the IMF, offering massive help mostly debt relief, either as grant or as low interest loans. But with massive strings attached: You must follow the rules laid out by WHO, you must follow the rules on massive testing on vaccination, when they become available, mandatary vaccination – if you conform to these and other country-specific rules, like letting western corporations tap your natural resources, continue privatizing your social infrastructure and services – you may receive, WB and IMF assistance.

Already in May 2020 the World Bank Group announced its emergency operations to fight COVID-19 had already reached 100 developing countries – home to 70% of the world’s population with lending of US$ 160 billion-plus. This means, by today, 6 months later and in the midst of the “Second Wave” the number of countries and the number of loans or “relief’ grants must have increased exponentially, having reached close to the 193 UN member countries. Which explains how all, literally all countries, even the most objecting African countries, like Madagascar and Tanzania, among the poorest of the poor, have succumbed to the coercion or blackmail of the infamous Bretton Woods Institutions.

These institutions have no quarrels in generating dollars, as the dollar is fiat money, not backed by any economy – but can be produced literally from hot air and lent to poor countries, either as debt or as grant. These countries, henceforth and for pressure of the international financial institutions, will forever become dependent on the western masters of salvation.  Covid-19 is the perfect tool for the financial markets to shovel assets from the bottom to the top.

In order to maximize the concentration of the riches on top, maybe one or two or even three new covid waves may be necessary. That’s all planned, The WEF has already foreseen the coming scenarios by its tyrannical book Covid-19 – The Great Reset. It’s all laid out. And our western intellectuals read it, analyze it, criticize it, but we do not shred it apart – we let it stand, and watch how the word moves in the Reset direction. And the plan is dutifully executed by the World Bank and the IMF – all under the guise of doing good for the world.

What’s different from the World Bank and IMF’s role before the covid plandemic?  Nothing. Just the cause for exploitation, indebtment, enslavement. When covid came along it became easy. Before then and up to the end of 2019, developing countries, mostly rich in natural resources of the kind the west covets, oil, gold, copper and other minerals, such as rare earths, would be approached by the WB, the IMF or both.

They could receive debt relief, so-called structural adjustment loans, no matter whether or not they really needed such debt. Today these loans come in all names, forms, shapes and colors, literally like color-revolutions, for instance, often as budget support operations.  I simply call them blank checks – nobody controls what’s happening with the money. However, the countries have to restructure their economies, rationalizing their public services, privatizing water, education, health services, electricity, highways, railroads – and granting foreign concessions for the exploitation of natural resources.

Most of this fraud –fraud on “robbing” national resources — passes unseen by the public at large, but countries become increasingly dependent on the western paymasters. People’s and institutional sovereignty is gone. There is always a corrupter and a corruptee. Unfortunately, they are still omni-present in the Global South. Often, for a chunk of money, the countries are forced to vote with the US for or against certain UN resolutions which are of interest to the US. Here we go – the corrupt system of the UN.

And, of course, when the two Bretton Woods organizations were created in 1944, the voting system decided is not one country, one vote as in theory it is in the UN, but the US has an absolute veto right in both organizations. Their voting rights are calculated in function of their capital contribution which derives from a complex formula, based on GDP and other economic indicators. In both institutions the US voting right and also veto right is about 17%. Both institutions have 189 member countries. None of these other countries have a voting right higher than 17%. The EU would have, but they were never allowed by the US to become a country or a Federation.

*****

Covid has laid bare, if it wasn’t already before, how these “official” international, UN-chartered Bretton Woods financial institutions are fully integrated in the UN system – in which most of the countries still trust, maybe for lack of anything better.

Question, however: What is better, a hypocritical corrupt system that provides the “appearance”, or the abolition of a dystopian system and the courage to create a new one, under new democratic circumstances and with sovereign rights by each participating country?

• First published by the New Eastern Outlook – NEO

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Crisis, What Crisis? Hypocrisy and Public Health in the UK

On 12 March 2020, British PM Boris Johnson, referring to COVID-19, informed the public:

We’ve all got to be clear; this is the worst public health crisis for a generation.

Since that time, we have seen lockdowns, an ongoing government-backed fear campaign, fundamental rights being stripped away, dissent censored, inflated COVID-19 death numbers and the use of a flawed PCR test to label perfectly healthy individuals as COVID-19 ‘cases’ in order to fit the narrative of a ‘second wave’.

But, just for a moment, consider an alternative scenario.

The government is extremely worried about a substance that could be contributing to a spiralling public health crisis that has been decades in the making. It has been detected in food and in urine. The government has therefore decided to carry out mass urine testing. It has found millions of ‘cases’. The more it tests, the more ‘cases’ it finds. The government and the media promote the message we are all at risk and should get tested. Hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent to allow for the testing of the entire population.

All cafes, pubs, restaurants and food stores are locked down, aside from those designated to sell only food that is regarded as ‘safe’ by the government. All weddings, parties and get-togethers are banned because contaminated food might be passed around.

Severe restrictions are put in place because this ‘stuff’ is in the air, water, plants, animals, grains, vegetables and meats. And it is in beer and wine, children’s breakfast cereal and snack bars and even in our vaccines. Everyone is under virtual house arrest until this public health crisis is addressed.

Daily government briefings are held on TV with the PM and health officials in attendance. The PM tells everyone that this thing is linked to various conditions, including obesity, depression, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, autism, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease, brain, breast and prostate cancer, miscarriage, birth defects and declining sperm counts.

Imagine that scenario. But the substance being referred to is very real. It is heavily associated with all the conditions mentioned and is present in our urine and food. But the government does nothing. It does not just do nothing but actively facilitates the marketing of this substance and collude with its manufacturers.

And the name of this ‘stuff’? Glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide. The main culprit — Monsanto’s Roundup. But it is not just glyphosate. It is the cocktail of agricultural chemicals that have been in use for decades.

The real public health crisis

Earlier this year, in a 29-page open letter to Fiona Godlee, editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal, environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason spent 11 pages documenting the spiralling rates of disease that she says (supported by numerous research studies cited) are largely the result of exposure to health-damaging agrochemicals, including glyphosate-based herbicides.

The amount of glyphosate-based herbicide sprayed by UK farmers on crops has gone from 226,762 kg in 1990 to 2,240,408 kg in 2016, a 10-fold increase. In her letter, Mason discussed links between multiple pesticide residues (including glyphosate) in food and steady increases in the number of cancers both in the UK as well as allergic diseases, chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, obesity and many other conditions.

Agrochemicals are a major contributory factor for the spikes in these diseases and conditions. This is the real public health crisis affecting the UK. Each year, there are steady increases in the numbers of new cancers in the UK and increases in deaths from the same cancers, with treatments not making any difference to the numbers.

While there is much talk of the coronavirus placing immense strain on an underfunded NHS, the health service is already creaking. And people’s immune systems are already strongly compromised due to what Mason outlines. But do we see a ‘lockdown’ on the activities of the global agrochemical conglomerates? Not at all.

We see governments and public health bodies working hand in glove with the agrochemicals manufacturers to ensure ‘business as usual’.

It might seem strange to many that the UK government is seemingly going out of its way (by stripping people of their freedoms) under the guise of a public health crisis but is all too willing to oversee a massive, ongoing one caused by the chemical pollution of our bodies.

Unlike COVID-19, this is a ‘silent’ crisis that actually does affect all sections of the population and causes immense widespread suffering. It is silent because the mainstream media and various official reports in the UK have consistently ignored or downplayed the role of pesticides in fueling this situation.

Hundreds of lawsuits are pending against Bayer in the US, filed by people alleging that exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide caused them or their loved ones to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma and that Monsanto covered up the risks (Roundup is linked to cancers of the bone, colon, kidney, liver, melanoma, pancreas and thyroid).

The WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has declared glyphosate as a 2A carcinogen. In 2017, in a public hearing in Brussels, Dr Christopher Portier and Dr Kate Guyton defended IARC’s position. Portier drew attention to the significance of statistically significant tumour findings that had not been discussed in any of the existing reviews on glyphosate.

Portier concluded that as the regulatory bodies, the European Food Safety Authority and the European Chemicals Agency’s analyses were scientifically flawed. These organisations had also used industry studies that were not in the public domain for ‘reasons of commercial confidentiality’ to support their case that glyphosate was not carcinogenic.

Mason has written numerous open letters to officials citing reams of statistical data to support the contention that agrochemicals, especially Monsanto’s glyphosate-based Roundup, have devastated the natural environment and have also led to spiraling rates of illness and disease, not least among children.

Regulators around the world have falsely assumed that it is safe to use pesticides at industrial scales across landscapes and the effects of dosing whole regions with chemicals have been largely ignored.

A report delivered to the UN Human Rights Council says that pesticides have catastrophic impacts on the environment, human health and society as a whole.

Authored by Hilal Elver, UN special rapporteur on the right to food, and Baskut Tuncak, UN special rapporteur on toxics, the report states:

Chronic exposure to pesticides has been linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, hormone disruption, developmental disorders and sterility.

The authors argue:

While scientific research confirms the adverse effects of pesticides, proving a definitive link between exposure and human diseases or conditions or harm to the ecosystem presents a considerable challenge. This challenge has been exacerbated by a systematic denial, fuelled by the pesticide and agro-industry, of the magnitude of the damage inflicted by these chemicals and aggressive, unethical marketing tactics.

Elver says:

The power of the corporations over governments and over the scientific community is extremely important. If you want to deal with pesticides, you have to deal with the companies.

Tuncak states:

Paediatricians have referred to childhood exposure to pesticides as creating a “silent pandemic” of disease and disability. Exposure in pregnancy and childhood is linked to birth defects, diabetes and cancer. Because a child’s developing body is more sensitive to exposure than adults and takes in more of everything – relative to their size, children eat, breathe and drink much more than adults – they are particularly vulnerable to these toxic chemicals.

According to Tuncak, increasing evidence shows that even at “low” doses of childhood exposure, irreversible health impacts can result. But most victims cannot prove the cause of their disability or disease, limiting our ability to hold those responsible to account.

He concludes:

The overwhelming reliance of regulators on industry-funded studies, the exclusion of independent science from assessments and the confidentiality of studies relied upon by authorities must change.

The authors were severely critical of the global corporations that manufacture pesticides, accusing them of the “systematic denial of harms”, “aggressive, unethical marketing tactics” and heavy lobbying of governments which has “obstructed reforms and paralysed global pesticide restrictions”.

Way back in 1962, Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring raised the red flag about the use of harmful synthetic pesticides; yet, despite the warnings, the agrochemical giants have ever since been poisoning humans and the planet, raking in enormous profits.

Michael McCarthy, writer and naturalist, says that three generations of industrialised farming with a vast tide of poisons pouring over the land year after year after year since the end of the Second World War is the true price of pesticide-based agriculture, which society has for so long blithely accepted.

Power is now increasingly concentrated in the hands of a handful of transnational agribusiness corporations which put profit and market control ahead of food security, health and nutrition and biodiversity. Due to their political influence and financial clout, these companies are waging a chemical warfare on nature and people, while seeking to convince us that their model of agriculture — based on proprietary seeds and chemicals — is essential for feeding a burgeoning global population.

Consider that none of the more than 400 pesticides that have been authorised in the UK have been tested for long-term actions on the brain: in the foetus, in children or in adults.

Theo Colborn’s crucial research in the early 1990s showed that endocrine disrupters (EDCs) were changing humans and the environment, but this research was ignored by officials. Glyphosate is an EDC and a nervous system disrupting chemical.

In the book published in 1996 Our Stolen Future: How Man-made Chemicals are Threatening our Fertility, Intelligence and Survival Colborn and colleagues revealed the full horror of what was happening to the world as a result of contamination with EDCs. There was emerging scientific research about how a wide range of these chemicals can disrupt delicate hormone systems in humans. These systems play a critical role in processes ranging from human sexual development to behaviour, intelligence and the functioning of the immune system.

In addition to glyphosate, EDCs include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). DDT, chlordane, lindane, aldrin, dieldrin, endrin, toxaphene, heptachlor, dioxin, atrazine and dacthal.

In 2007, 25 experts in environmental health from 11 countries (including from the UK) met on the Faroes and contributed to this statement:

The periods of embryonic, foetal and infant development are remarkably susceptible to environmental hazards. Toxic exposures to chemical pollutants during these windows of increased susceptibility can cause disease and disability in infants, children and across the entire span of human life.

The Department of Health’s School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (SFVS) has residues of 123 different pesticides that impact the gut microbiome. Obesity is associated with low diversity of bacteria in the microbiome and glyphosate adversely affects or destroys much of the beneficial bacteria. Roundup (and other biocides) is linked to gross obesity, neuropsychiatric disorders and other chronic diseases, which are all on the rise and adversely impact brain development in children and adolescents.

Moreover, type 2 diabetes is associated with being very overweight. According to NHS data, almost four in five of 715 children suffering from it were also obese.

Graham MacGregor, a professor of cardiovascular health at Queen Mary University of London who is also the chair of the campaign group Action on Sugar, says:

Type 2 diabetes is a disaster for the child and their family and for the NHS. If a child gets type 2 diabetes, it’s condemning them to a lot of complications of that condition, such as blindness, amputations and kidney disease.

He went on to explain that we are in a crisis and that the government does not seem to be taking action. UK obesity levels now exceed those of the US.

The human microbiome is of vital importance to human health yet it is under chemical attack. Glyphosate disrupts the shikimate pathway within these gut bacteria and is a strong chelator of essential minerals.

Many key neurotransmitters are located in the gut. Aside from affecting the functioning of major organs, these transmitters affect our moods and thinking. There is strong evidence that gut bacteria can have a direct physical impact on the brain.

Dr Michael Antoniou of King’s College London has found that Roundup herbicide and its active ingredient glyphosate cause a dramatic increase in the levels of two substances, shikimic acid and 3-dehydroshikimic acid, in the gut, which are a direct indication that the EPSPS enzyme of the shikimic acid pathway has been severely inhibited. Roundup and glyphosate affected the microbiome at all dose levels tested, causing shifts in bacterial populations.

A quarter of all food and over a third of fruit and vegetables consumed in the UK contain pesticide cocktails, with some items containing traces of up to 14 different pesticides. The industry (for it is the industry that does the testing, on behalf of regulators) only tests one pesticide at a time, whereas farmers spray a cocktail of pesticides.

Ian Boyd, the former Chief Scientific Adviser to Defra, says pesticides, once they have been authorised, are never reviewed.

Glyphosate is distributed to every organ of the body and has multiple actions: it is an herbicide, an antibiotic, a fungicide, an antiprotozoal, an organic phosphonate, a growth regulator, a toxicant, a virulence enhancer and is persistent in the soil. It chelates (captures) and washes out the following minerals: boron, calcium, cobalt, copper, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, nickel and zinc.

In a paper published in King’s Law Journal –  ‘The Chemical Anthropocene: Glyphosate as a Case Study of Pesticide Exposures’ – the authors Alessandra Arcuri and Yogi Hale Hendlin state:

As the science against glyphosate safety mounts and lawsuits threaten its chemical manufacture’s profits, the next generation of GMO crops are being keyed to the pesticide dicamba, sold commercially as XtendiMax® – and poised to be the next glyphosate. Regulatory agencies have historically been quick to approve products but slow to reconsider regulations after the decades of accumulated harms become apparent.

They add that the entrenched asymmetries between public and ecological health and fast-to-market new chemicals is exacerbated by the seeming lack of institutionalised precautionary policies.

Britain and the US are in the midst of a barely reported public health crisis. These countries are experiencing not merely a slowdown in life expectancy, which in many other rich countries is continuing to lengthen, but the start of an alarming increase in death rates across all our populations, men and women alike. People are needlessly dying early.

Research by US-based EWG found glyphosate residues on popular oat cereals, oatmeal, granola and snack bars. Almost 75% of the 45 samples tested had glyphosate levels higher than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health with an adequate margin of safety. Disturbing levels of such residues have been detected in the UK too.

There are shockingly high levels of weed killer in UK breakfast cereals. After testing these cereals at the Health Research Institute in Iowa, Dr Fagan, director of the centre, said:

These results are consistently concerning. The levels consumed in a single daily helping of any one of these cereals, even the one with the lowest level of contamination, is sufficient to put the person’s glyphosate levels above the levels that cause fatty liver disease in rats (and likely in people).

Glyphosate also causes epigenetic changes in humans and animals: diseases skip a generation. Washington State University researchers have found a variety of diseases and other health problems in the second- and third-generation offspring of rats exposed to glyphosate. In the first study of its kind, the researchers saw descendants of exposed rats developing prostate, kidney and ovarian diseases, obesity and birth abnormalities.

Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers say they saw “dramatic increases” in several pathologies affecting the second and third generations. The second generation had “significant increases” in testis, ovary and mammary gland diseases as well as obesity. In third-generation males, the researchers saw a 30% incidence of prostate disease — three times the rate of a control population. The third generation of females had a 40% incidence of kidney disease, or four times the rate of the controls.

More than one-third of the second-generation mothers had unsuccessful pregnancies, with most of those affected dying. Two out of five males and females in the third generation were obese.

Researchers call this phenomenon “generational toxicology” and they have seen it over the years in fungicides, pesticides, jet fuel, the plastics compound bisphenol A, the insect repellent DEET and the herbicide atrazine. At work are epigenetic changes that turn genes on and off, often because of environmental influences.

A study published in February 2019 found glyphosate increased the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma by as much as 41%. A Washington State University study published in December 2019 found state residents living close to areas subject to treatments with the herbicide are one-third more likely to die an early death from Parkinson’s disease.

Robert F Kennedy Jr, one of the attorney’s fighting Bayer (which has bought Monsanto) in the US courts, has explained that for four decades Monsanto manoeuvred to conceal Roundup’s carcinogenicity by capturing regulatory agencies, corrupting public officials, bribing scientists and engaging in scientific fraud to delay its day of reckoning. He says that Monsanto also faces cascading scientific evidence linking glyphosate to a constellation of other injuries that have become prevalent since its introduction, including obesity, depression, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, autism, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease, brain, breast and prostate cancer, miscarriage, birth defects and declining sperm counts.

Moreover, strong science suggests glyphosate is the culprit in the exploding epidemics of celiac disease, colitis, gluten sensitivities, diabetes and non-alcoholic liver cancer which, for the first time, is attacking children as young as 10.

And yet, as Mason has described in her work, the UK government had colluded with Monsanto for many years.

Boris Johnson, in his first speech to parliament as PM, said:

Let’s start now to liberate the UK’s extraordinary bioscience sector from anti-genetic modification rules…

This could mean the irresponsible introduction of genetically modified Roundup Ready food crops to the UK, which would see the amount of glyphosate in British food reaching new levels (levels which are already disturbing).

So much for protecting public health.

Government collusion

David Cameron appointed Michael Pragnell, founder of Syngenta and former Chairman of CropLife International, to the board of Cancer Research UK (CRUK) in 2010. He became Chairman in 2011. At one time or another, CropLife International´s member list has included BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, FMC Corp, Monsanto, Sumitomo and Syngenta. Many of these make their own formulated glyphosate.

Syngenta is a member of the European Glyphosate Task Force, which sought to renew (and succeeded in renewing) European glyphosate registration. Not surprisingly, the CRUK website denies that there is any link between pesticides and cancer.

In February 2019, at a Brexit meeting on the UK chemicals sector, UK regulators and senior officials from government departments listened to the priorities of the Bayer Crop Science Division. During the meeting (Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum Keynote Seminar: Priorities for UK chemicals sector – challenges, opportunities and the future for regulation post-Brexit), Janet Williams, head of regulatory science at Bayer Crop Science Division, made her priorities for agricultural chemical manufacturers known.

Dave Bench was also a speaker. Bench is a senior scientist at the UK Chemicals, Health and Safety Executive and director of the agency’s EU exit plan and has previously stated that the regulatory system for pesticides is robust and balances the risks of pesticides against the benefits to society.

That statement was merely for public consumption and the benefit of the agrochemical industry. The industry (for it is the industry that does the testing, on behalf of regulators) only tests one pesticide at a time, whereas farmers spray a cocktail of pesticides.

But such is the British government’s willingness to protect pesticide companies that it is handing agrochemical giants BASF and Bayer enormous pay-outs of Covid-19 support cash. The announcement came just weeks after Bayer shareholders voted to pay £2.75 billion in dividends. The fact that Bayer then went on to receive £600 million from the government speaks volumes of where the government’s priorities lie.

In Mason’s report, ‘Why Does Bayer Crop Science Control Chemicals in Brexit Britain’, she states that Bayer is having secret meetings with the British government to determine which agrochemicals are to be used after Brexit once Britain is ‘free’ of EU restrictions and becomes as deregulated as the US.

Such collusion comes as little surprise as the government’s ‘strategy for UK life sciences’ is already dependent on funding from pharmaceutical corporations and the pesticides industry.

Syngenta’s parent company was in 2010 AstraZeneca. At that time, Syngenta and AstraZeneca were represented on the UK Advisory Committee on Pesticides and the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Foods, Consumer Products and the Environment. The founder of Syngenta, Michael Pragnell, was the Chairman of Cancer Research UK (CRUK) from 2011-2017. CRUK started by giving money (£450 million a year) to the Government’s Strategy for UK Life Sciences and AstraZeneca provided 22 compounds to academic research to develop medicines. AstraZeneca manufactured six different anti-cancer drugs mainly aimed at breast and prostate cancer.

It seems like a highly profitable and cosy relationship between the agrochemical and pharmaceuticals sectors and the government at the expense of public health.

In finishing, let us take a brief look at the Washington-based International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI). Its members have occupied key positions on EU and UN regulatory panels. It is, however, an industry lobby group that masquerades as a scientific health charity.

The ILSI describes its mission as “pursuing objectivity, clarity and reproducibility” to “benefit the public good”. But researchers from the University of Cambridge, Bocconi University in Milan and the US Right to Know campaign assessed over 17,000 pages of documents under US freedom of information laws to present evidence of influence peddling.

ILSI Vice-President, Prof Alan Boobis, is currently the Chairman of the UK Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (CoT).

He was directly responsible for authorising chemicals such as glyphosate, chlorothalonil, clothianidin and chlorpyrifos that are impacting human health and creating a crisis in biodiversity. His group and others have authorised glyphosate repeatedly. He and David Coggon, the previous Chairman of CoT (2008-2015), were appointed as experts on Science Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA), a group allied with the agrochemical industry and is fighting for higher pesticide exposure.

The reality of the agrochemical industry is masked by well-funded public relations machinery. The industry subverts official agencies and regulatory bodies and supports prolific lobby organisations and (‘public scientists’) which masquerade as neutral institutions.

And for the record, it is possible to farm productively and profitably without the use of synthetic agrochemicals – and to achieve food security. For instance, see the article ‘A Skeptical Farmer’s Monster Message on Profitability’ based on one US farmer’s journey from chemical-dependent farming to organic on his 8,000-acre farm (discussed on the AgWeb site) or ‘The Untold Success Story of Agroecology in Africa’ in the journal Development (2015). From the Tigray region of Ethiopia to various high-level (UN) reports that have recommended agroecology there are many examples, too many to discuss here.

The UK government says it cares so much about the nation’s health (the infection mortality rate for COVID-19 appears to be similar to those of a bad seasonal flu) but has presided over and facilitated a genuine public health crisis for years. And it is now pumping billions of pounds of public money into a track, trace and test regime when it could have used it to boost overall NHS capacity; remember when the government stated that the initial lockdown was implemented to protect the NHS?

In fact, the government is spending the equivalent of 77% of the NHS annual revenue budget on an “unevaluated, underdesigned national programme leading to an insufficiently supported intervention – in many cases for the wrong people” says a recent editorial in the BMJ.

In the meantime, it is investing heavily in a (possibly mandatory) vaccine that based on the design of the trials – according to a recent article in the same journal – may have no discernible impact on saving lives or preventing serious outcomes or the transmission spread of infection.

Readers can access all Rosemary Mason’s reports on the academia.edu site

The post Crisis, What Crisis? Hypocrisy and Public Health in the UK first appeared on Dissident Voice.

World Economic Forum (WEF) Step Two:  “Resetting the Future of Work Agenda” After The Great Reset

The WEF gang have just published (October 2020) a so-called White Paper, entitled “Resetting the Future of Work Agenda in a Post-Covid World”.

This 31-page document reads like a blueprint on how to “execute” because an execution it would be – “Covid-19 – The Great Reset” (July 2020), by Klaus Schwab, founder and CEO (since the foundation of the WEF in 1974) and his associate Thierry Malleret. They call “Resetting the Future” a White Paper, meaning it’s not quite a final version. It is a draft of sorts, a trial balloon, to measure people’s reactions. It reads indeed like an executioner’s tale. Many people may not read it, have no awareness of its existence. If they would, they would go up in arms and take up arms to fight this latest Nazi-enterprise offered to the world by the WEF.

It promises a horrifying future to some 80%-plus of the (surviving) population. George Orwell’s “1984” reads like a benign fantasy as compared to what the WEF has in mind for humanity.

The time frame is ten years. By 2030 the UN agenda 2021–2030 should be implemented.

Planned business measures in response to COVID-19:

  • An acceleration of digitized work processes, leading to 84% of all work processes as digital, or virtual/video conferences.
  • Some 83% of people are planned to work remotely; i.e., no more interaction between colleagues, absolute social distancing, separation of humanity from the human contact.
  • About 50% of all tasks are planned to be automated; in other words, human input will be drastically diminished, even while remote working.
  • Accelerate the digitization of upskilling/reskilling (e.g. education technology providers).  42% of skill upgrading or training for new skills will be digitized, in other words, no human contact, all on computer, Artificial Intelligence (AI), algorithms.
  • Accelerate the implementation of upskilling/reskilling programs.  35% of skills are planned to be “re-tooled”; i.e., existing skills are planned to be abandoned, declared defunct.
  • Accelerate ongoing organizational transformations (e.g. restructuring). 34% of current organizational set-ups are planned to be “restructured’, or in other words, existing organizational structures will be declared obsolete to make space for new sets of organizational frameworks, digital structures that provide utmost control over all activities.
  • Temporarily reassign workers to different tasks. This is expected to touch 30% of the work force. That also means completely different pay-scales, most probably unlivable wages, which would make the also planned “universal basic salary” or “basic income” a wage that allows you barely to survive, an obvious need. But it would make you totally dependent on the system, a digital system, where you have no control whatsoever.
  • Temporarily reduce workforce. This is projected as affecting 28% of the population. It is an additional unemployment figure, in disguise, as the “temporarily” will never come back to full-time.
  • Permanently reduce workforce: 13% permanently reduced workforce.
  • Temporarily increase workforce: 5%. There is no reference to what type of workforce, probably unskilled labor that sooner or later will also be replaced by automation, by AI and robotization of the workplace.
  • No specific measures implemented: 4%.  Does that mean a mere 4% will remain untouched? From the algorithm and AI-directed new work places? As small and insignificant as the figure is, it sounds like “wishful thinking”, never to be accomplished.
  • Permanently increase workforce. A mere 1% is projected as “permanently increased workforce”. This is, of course, not even cosmetics. It is a joke.

This is the state of the affair – of implementation of The Great Reset.  The Great Reset also foresees a credit scheme, whereby all personal debt would be “forgiven” against handing over all personal assets to an administrative body or agency – could possibly be the IMF.

So, you would own nothing and be happy. Because all your necessities will be provided for.  Also, it should not occur to you to disagree with the system, because by now each one of you has been covid-vaccinated and nano-chipped so that with 5G and soon to come 6G, your mind can be read and influenced.

Please do not call this conspiracy theory. DARPADefense Advanced Research Projects Agency is part of the Pentagon – and has years ago developed the technology. It is just a matter of time to implement it. And Implemented it will be, if We, The People, do not protest.  Massive Civil Disobedience is of the order and that rather sooner than later.

The more we wait with action, the more we sleepwalk into this absolute human disaster.

Human contact is being eviscerated.

This has several advantages for this Nazi-type novel WEF approach to humanity – to controlling humanity.  We, The People, cannot rebel.  We have no longer cohesion among ourselves.  “We, The People”, will be played against each other and there is an absolute digital control over humanity executed by a small super elite. We have no access to this digital control.  It is way beyond our reach. The idea is that we will gradually grow into it, those of us who may survive. Within a generation or so it is expected to become the New Normal.

The “survival angle” is an aspect not mentioned directly either in The Great Reset, or the “Implementation Guide”; i.e., in the White Paper “Resetting the Future of Work Agenda in a Post-Covid World”.

Bill Gates, the Rockefellers, Kissinger et al, have never even made a secret out of their strong opinion that the world is over-populated and that a sizable amount of people have to be literally eliminated. We are dealing with eugenicists.

A perfect method for decimating the world population are Bill Gates initiated and WHO-supported vaccination programs. Scandals of such disastrous and children-killing programs abound in India (in the 1990s), Kenya (2014 forward) and other parts of the world. See also a very revealing TedTalk by Bill Gates of February 2010, “Innovating to Zero”, just about at the time when the “2010 Rockefeller Report” was issued, the very report that has given us so far the “Lockstep Scenario”, and we are living it. Hardly protesting it; the entire world – 193 UN member countries — has been coopted or coerced into following this abject human rights abuse on a global scale.

What either report, “The Great Reset” and the “Resetting the Future of Work Agenda” fails to mention is who is going to enforce these draconian new rules? They are supposedly the same forces which now are being trained for urban warfare and for suppressing riots and social unrest.  They are the police and the military.

Part of our People’s Organization of Civil Disobedience will be on how to focus on and talking to, educating, informing the police and military of what they will be used for by this small elite, and that in the end they are also just human beings like the rest of us.  Therefore they better stand up in defense of the people, of humanity. The same needs to be done to teachers and medical personnel – information, the unfettered truth

That’s the challenge. If we succeed the game is over. But it’s a long way. Media disinformation is brutal and powerful and hard to contradict for “us” without any sizable budget for counter-propaganda, and as a group of people which is ever more divided by the very media. The mandatory wearing masks and social distancing has already made enemies of what we used to be, colleagues, friends. Even within families, this very dictate has managed to create rifts and discord.

No fear – but shredding “Resetting the Future of Work Agenda” and the “The Great Reset” literally to pieces — with a human alternative that would do away with organizations like the WEF, and coopted UN agencies like WHO, UNICEF, WTO, World Bank, IMF — and maybe even the entire UN system — and incarcerate their leaders after giving them due process — Nuremberg style.

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Pandemic Panhandling Update

Three months ago in August, I wrote a piece called Pandemic Panhandling, wherein I began with a brief recounting of the ways in which the music industry collapsed over the course of my musical career, prior to the pandemic, and then I wrote about some of the ways in which things have gotten exponentially worse for most formerly working musicians since the pandemic, in the US and many other places.

A lot has happened since then for everyone, but specifically in the lives of cultural workers, musicians, most artists generally, and me in particular, that an update on the subject seems to be in order.  One of the things that’s happened since my last missive on the subject is the publication of an excellent book called The Death of the Artist, which I have been reading lately with great interest.  (I’ll be interviewing the author for my livestream show/podcast on November 25th.)

One of the many striking aspects of William Deresiewicz’s book is the way he lays out how in each different art form, whether we’re talking about musicians, painters, writers, filmmakers and so many others, along with the rise of the internet there has been an accompanying rise of gigantic corporate efforts to take advantage of the chaos by going in for the kill and reshaping industry after industry in such a way that it is only profitable for a tiny minority, mainly those who run the tech corporations, while most everyone else suffers to one degree or another.  Having been so focused on trying to survive within the ever-changing landscape of the music industry, such as it is, it’s been eye-opening to discover that there are so many more evil, predatory corporations out there than I was previously aware of.  Spotify is only one of them.

Another striking piece of knowledge that the book elucidates at every turn is how prominent a role different forms of privilege play in whether someone might manage to survive as a working artist of some kind.  The fact made clear by the 2010 census is that if you are a person in the US making a living as an artist, it is overwhelmingly likely that you are white — like me, four out of five working artists in the US are white.

The way privilege plays into the making of this statistic can be very insidious.  For example, the old trope of the adult artist living in their parents’ basement.  The image is meant to convey a lack of success.  But then, for many working artists, it is the fact that their parents have a basement that they can live in that may be what is making it possible for them to survive as artists, since their rent is probably very low, if they are paying any at all.  And who owns houses?  Who owns houses with extra space in them?  Just the way home ownership is distributed along race and class lines in this country makes it easy, if you think about it, to realize why there is this racial disparity.

In my previous Pandemic Pandhandling piece, while I described some of the extreme difficulties faced by working artists, or formerly working artists, during and prior to the pandemic, I also was inspired to write the piece as a macabre sort of celebration of the fact that just in time for the pandemic to hit, I had finally reached a certain level of success in a years-long effort to use platforms like Patreon to build a base of ongoing, crowdfunded patronage, since this has indeed become the main way for people to still make a living as musicians, in lieu of the income that used to come in from CD sales and gigs.

Of course, that four out of five statistic is prior to the pandemic — years prior.  I can only try to imagine what it must be now.  If you had a day job, you probably lost it, because it was probably in the service sector.  Either way, you lost all your gigs.  If you don’t have a trust fund — a phenomenon representing the livelihoods of no small number of that white majority of working artists — and your unemployment money either never arrived or ran out, then all you might have left are some combination of credit cards, sponging off of relatives better off than you are, if you have any, and the very popular alternative of crowdfunding your survival, through platforms like Patreon.  And who gets the credit card offers, who has the relatives to sponge off of, and who has the network of fans with disposable income to support you on Patreon?  Not that any of this is an exclusively white thing, but with each new factor, the picture gets more and more pale.

And who are these primarily white artists?  Among the ones surviving on the patronage model, it would appear that the vast majority of the ones who might be making a living are barely making more than a typical full-time employee at an Oregon McDonald’s outlet.  This group is estimated to represent no more than 2% of the artists who are on Patreon, the most popular platform for people engaged in this model of survival.

Knowing that due to so many factors, the overwhelming majority of working artists in the US are white, it’s a bit surreal to also be referring to this group as struggling and marginalized.  But in many ways, whoever the artists are, they/we overwhelmingly make no more than a typical minimum-wage worker, even if we may like our jobs a lot more.  And we are being priced out of cities like Portland, as a group, at a roughly similar rate as Black people are being gentrified out of this city.  Our widespread presence in this city back in the 1990’s may have been one of the main reasons for the city’s ongoing gentrification in the first place, but nowadays you’ll rarely find a “keep Portland weird” bumper sticker on any car that doesn’t belong to a real estate broker.

As one of the few working artists still living in Portland, having hopefully by now established what a rarefied little club I’m in, at the risk of self-indulgence, I feel compelled to use my own situation to update folks on where things are at, both because you may be interested, if you’re reading this, and because my situation, as rarefied as it is, is also representative for at least a few others.

During the first few months of the pandemic, there was a lot more money floating around, and a lot more concern in the media about the welfare of people working in industries that had been totally devastated by social distancing, such as what they call entertainment and service industries, among so many others.  I, along with many other artists I keep track of, gained a lot of supporters on Patreon.  I had gigs lined up in nine countries, and lost a lot of projected income as a result of all the tours being canceled, but during those months when I should have been on tour, some of the gig organizers managed to pay me anyway, and a bunch of folks made one-off donations, several over $1,000.  We were so flush with cash that we paid off half of our credit card debt while continuing to cover rent and food.  We donated money to other people and networks, and made posters, stickers and banners for the struggle around evictions here in Portland.

That was my world in August.  Things have changed since then, and there is every indication that it’s not unique for me.  I can confirm what is repeated daily on Marketplace — the money that was in the economy from the one bailout is gone.  While recurring patrons remain, the flurry of one-off donations is over.  While the patrons alone more or less cover rent and food, they don’t go any further than that, so the cost of our son’s preschool, which started up again since I last wrote on this subject, is now putting us further in debt with each passing month.

Another way to put it is there are no rules to this game, but to the extent that there are any, I think I’m following them.  That is, first I built up a global fan base by touring and recording and doing all sorts of things that are currently impossible.  Then I set up a multi-faceted system of begging online through various platforms, as we are all told is the new normal, since the demise of the CD, the download, and the paying gig.  Then I started producing more content online that might interest this wonderful group of several hundred people who support me on an ongoing basis.  And the ranks of supporters continues to grow — just not quite at the pace expenses are growing.

While doing all the livestreaming and online panhandling as per my profession in its current incarnation, like so many other unemployed people during the pandemic, I was trying to collect money from the Employment Department.  I began this process in early April, when the Congress announced that gig workers like me could now qualify.  Since last August, I finally connected with someone from the department on the phone, and got my claim reengaged, since the initial rejection I received in June.  It is now November, and I’m still waiting to receive a cent from the Oregon Employment Department, along with tens of thousands of other unemployed gig workers in this state.

The governor here in Oregon announced that the food assistance program would be expanded during the pandemic, so that people who wouldn’t normally qualify would now qualify for some assistance.  For three consecutive months, we benefitted greatly from having an extra $500 a month to spend on groceries for our family of five.  But my efforts to receive ongoing food assistance aside from the special pandemic offerings were rebuffed.  It turns out that even without any gigs, I still make too much money from Patreon to qualify for food assistance — even though it’s not enough money to cover the combined costs of food, rent and preschool.  I am lately often reminded of British punk rocker TV Smith’s wonderful song, it’s “Expensive Being Poor.”

For me, as with so many others, the entire financial equation would be radically transformed if not for the monthly need to set aside around half of my earnings for the landlord corporation.  If we were living in my mother’s basement, we would be fine.  My mother, however, is also a musician, and she already lives in the basement.  She’s doing fine there, too, and she owns that basement, and I’m not trying to elicit any sympathy for her.  It’s just that there is no basement for us to live in, for all practical purposes.  My father, also a musician, moved out of the suburban home he was living in when he retired, out of financial necessity, and moved into a much smaller place — no basement there either.  Again, not trying to elicit sympathy for him, and he’s doing fine, too.  The fact that I was raised by musicians gave me so many advantages in the pursuit of my own musical career, I wouldn’t even know where to start listing them.  So much privilege.  But still no free basement.

So I, and so many other privileged working musicians, to say nothing of everybody else, sink slowly deeper into debt and wait to see what happens.  We keep close track of all the same things.  Will that windfall from the Employment Department ever arrive?  For how much longer can we keep deferring this car loan?  Will the moratorium on evictions be extended in January?  Will Congress ever pass a second bailout, perhaps one that includes rent relief?  So much unknown, and so many more things to think about, lying awake in bed at 4 am.

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A Dedicated Obsession: Washington’s Continuing Iran Sanctions Regime

One dogma that is likely to persist in US foreign policy during a Biden presidency will be the sanctions regime adopted towards Iran.  Every messianic state craves clearly scripted enemies, and the demonology about the Islamic Republic is not going to go begging.  Elliot Abrahams, the current US special representative for Iran, told Associated Press on November 12 that, “Even if you went back to the (nuclear deal) and even if the Iranians were willing to return … this newly enriched uranium, you would not have solved these fundamental questions of whether Iran is going to be permitted to violate long-term commitments it has made to the world community.”

It is worth pointing out that it was President Donald Trump who proved so itchy to renege on the nuclear deal to begin with.  In May 2018, his administration formally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the long negotiated harvest of the Obama administration in July 2015.  Over the course of 120 days, it re-imposed all previously lifted economic sanctions, including “secondary sanctions” on non-US entities conducting financial or commercial transactions with Iran. A unilateral shredding of Washington’s own undertakings was made while still expecting the mullahs to continue in sweet compliance.

The less than compliant response from Tehran has not made this one of Trump’s finer moments: an abandonment of nuclear limits marked out by the agreement; a resumption of the nuclear program; an increasingly emboldened stance in the Middle East.  According to UN inspectors, Iran’s enriched stockpile currently lies at 2,440 kilograms.  Under the deal, it would have been under 300 kilograms.  All of this took place despite the precipitous fall in oil exports, a decline in currency value and a steep rise in inflation.

Even before the pandemic, human rights organisations were already warning about the broader health implications of a brutal sanctions regime.  As Human Rights Watch explained in an October 2019 report, the consequences of such sanctions “pose a serious threat to Iranians’ right to health and access to essential medicines – and has almost certainly contributed to documented shortages – ranging from a lack of critical drugs for epilepsy patients to limited chemotherapy medications for Iranians with cancer.”

The US State Department and the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control continue to maintain that humanitarian goods, which also covers medicine and medical supplies, are exempt in the sanctions policy.  A rosily inaccurate picture, given the imposition of sanctions on 18 Iranian banks including those entities engaged in financing foods and medicines.  To this comes the added complication of what the US considers “dual use” items: hazmat suits, face shields, oxygen generators, air filters.  Decisions to grant exemptions, the purview of bureaucrats, are tardily made.

The advent of the novel coronavirus pandemic inspired a ghoulish train of thought in the Trump administration.  Easing sanctions to better enable Iran to cope with COVID-19 was never entertained.  Instead, as Djavad Salehi-Isfahani of the Brookings Institute observed, “the US piled on more sanctions, and chose to ignore calls from world leaders, former US diplomats, and the United Nations to ease sanctions.”  Such a bloodthirsty sentiment was captured by the Wall Street Journal in March 2020, whose editors decided that sanctions should continue, despite Iran becoming a pandemic hotspot.  “If American sanctions were the culprit, it might be reasonable to consider lifting them.  But the regime’s incompetence and self-interest are to blame.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif thought differently of it, accusing the US of “medical terrorism” in blunting Tehran’s efforts to access financial resources during the COVID-19 crisis.  Hadi Yazdani, a physician and a member of the reformist Union of Islamic People Party, sports a more nuanced view: US sanctions have well hobbled the government’s pandemic policy, but so has inefficiency and habitual bureaucratic mismanagement.

The dedicatedly nasty sanctions regime encouraged and enforced by the United States is now frustrating efforts in the country to make advance payment to the COVAX facility, created to assist in providing future COVID-19 vaccines to more indigent states.  This will become more pressing, given rising death tolls.  (On November 13, 461 were reported in the state media.)

The rate of COVID-19 infections is also scorching: 11,737 cases over 24 hours from Friday, according to Sima Sadat Lari, a health ministry spokeswoman who has become the regular herald of doom.  She also admitted that various questions on the vaccines remained unanswered, notably in terms of “how effective the vaccine is and for what groups it is more effective.”

During the transition period in US politics, we can expect the Trump administration to be particularly testy about modifying its position on sanctions.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continues to busy himself with blacklisting Iranian entities.  The Treasury Department, for instance, recently placed a supply chain network on the list, claiming it “facilitated the procurement of sensitive goods, including US-origin electronic components” for an Iranian entity linked to the production of “military communication systems, avionics, information technology, electronic warfare, and missile launchers.”

Pompeo — and in this, he has a few devotees — argues that a return to the nuclear deal would be dotty and dangerous.  “It’s a crazy idea to think that you’re going to get back into a deal that permitted a clean pathway for the Iranians to have a nuclear weapon by which they could terrorize the entire world.”  President-elect Joe Biden, for his part, insists that Iran “must return to strict compliance with the deal.  If it does so, I would rejoin the agreement and use our renewed commitment to diplomacy to work with our allies to strengthen and extend it, while more effectively pushing back against Iran’s other destabilizing activities.”

The statements of the president-elect suggest nothing comforting to health specialists and policy makers bearing witness to the suffering caused by sanctions.  Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy might be abandoned in name, but will continue exerting a haunting influence.  The hawks in the Republican Party will be sharpening their talons, ever watchful of any softening towards Tehran.

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