Zebra 3 Report by Joe Anybody
Tuesday, 10 April 2012
VIDEO: Ralph Nader at Powells Books - Portland Oregon 4.9.12
Now Playing: Mobile T gives a report back with video from Ralph Nader speaking in PDX
Ralph Nader in PDX 4\9\12 Reportback:
Its been two years since Ralph Nader came to Portland, but he made it worth the wait when he held an open to the public book signing at Powell's City of Books yesterday (4/9). Naders new book, Getting Steamed to Overcome Capitalism, mesmorized the audience in the brightly lit Pearl room on the third floor of Powell's. Attendance was enormous with people crowding even the aisles of books to get a glimpse of and hear the man the commonwealth and corporations are secretly afraid of. As I made my way to the media corner, I heard a thunderous deep voice gradually rising as Mr. Nader once again became enraged within himself and moved the book release into lecture mode.
Nader Delivers Powerful Speech @ Book Signing Event In PDX
Ralph Nader comes to Portland! Nader gave a powerful lecture and released his new book "Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism" for a Q & A and signing at Powell's City of Books in downtown Portland. Look for Joe Anybody's video of Naders lecture/symposium at Lewis & Clark College in southwest Portland to follow this event on the same day.
This new book seems to reach into the psyche of the average person who is interested in learning about the shady practices that large Pac-Man corporations are using to exploit the people and hoard so called "capital". Nader emphasised the "fire in your gut" or boiling point analogy after using cold hard facts to astonish his audience and talked numbers in the sense of our government spending excess money on foreign wars not neccessary or worth fighting.
He also spoke about the statistics of those without healthcare and compared the US to other successful coutries which utilize a broad universal healthcare system. Another representative of Occupy Portland (Cameron Whittman) was there and questioned Nader and he responded with positive motivation for the Occupy movement, stressing that Occupy does need some leadership and that we the people can make a difference.
Mr. Nader also held a Q&A about his book and many good questions and comments were offered up. A question by Mobile T, to Nader was on his view of ALEC, and he responded with a firestorm shaming them on everything from corporate manipulation to enactment of bad legislature.
Though the word "Occupy" was never included in the title or context of the book, it's almost as if it was written with the intention of motivating those who are now joining forces as a social movement. Hence Occupy.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 23 September 2012 3:13 PM PDT
Friday, 30 March 2012
Bradley Manning - 2 years in prison and still no trial 3.30.12
Now Playing: Bradley Manning Still Months from Trial -- Two Years After Arrest
Still Months from Trial
Two Years After Arrest
Author and Blogger for The Nation
This week marks a kind of double anniversary.
Two years ago on this date, Julian Assange was in Iceland readying the release of the shocking material that would catapult his group, WikiLeaks (and himself) to worldwide fame: the "Collateral Murder" video, an aerial view of U.S. Apache helicopters firing on Iraqi civilians and two Reuters journalists in 2007, plus celebratory dialogue from the gunners. It would be the first of four major WikiLeaks releases that year, as it was followed by the Afghanistan and Iraq "war logs" and "Cablegate."
One man has been accused of leaking all of that (and more), and we mark a separate anniversary related to PFC Bradley Manning.
A year ago this month, protests were held here and abroad, calling for Manning's release from semi-solitary confinement, under inhumane conditions, at the Quantico base in Virginia. He had been on a "perosnal injury" watch for months (despite his protests), rarely let out of his cell, forced to sleep without a standard pillow and blanket, and even at times stripped naked at night. Protesters were arrested at the White House -- and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's chief spokesman, P.J. Crowley, had been forced out when he protested these conditions.
All of this would help provoke Manning's transfer to Leavenworth prison in Kansas in April 2011, where he would enjoy more freedom and privacy. But one factor remains: nearly two years after his arrest, in May 2010, he still has not faced his court-martial trial on the 22 charges brought against him -- including "aiding the enemy," which could bring the death sentence (though likely lead to life in prison instead).
This week, a book about this two year period that I've written with Kevin Gosztola has been published: Truth and Consequences: The U.S. vs. Bradley Manning. As we point out near the close of our story: "His court martial was expected to begin this August, even though Manning's defense had been saying the government could hold the trial in May. This means that when Manning goes on trial he will have been in confinement for eight hundred days. "
The book brings this home by tracing Manning's saga from his arrest and brutal incarceration to the present day, with a day-by-day account of the hearings, including testimony by Adrian Lamo. Gosztola, who assisted me on my two previous books on this subject and now writes daily for Firedoglake.com, was one of the very few journalists who attended both of the key court martial hearings for Manning: last December and then just two weeks ago. So the book, in both print and as an e-book, is amazingly up to date.
The book concludes with Gosztola raising questions after the latest hearing in mid-March: "Goal? Aggravate and bother media to the point that they wonder if it is even worth it to cover the proceedings? Lose them somewhere along the way to the actual start of Manning's trial? That way when the date finally comes for the trial the press won't really know the scale of the games played by the government to interfere with the ability of Manning's lawyers to defend him.
"Or, more insidious, prolong the pre-trial. Make the defense choose between a speedy trial or fighting for the right to evidence and potential witnesses to mount a proper defense. It's up to Manning, but at this rate, he could be in pre-trial confinement for almost a thousand days before he finally gets to the first day of his trial."
The new Manning book is just out in both print and e-book. Mitchell's other current book is "Journeys With Beethoven." He has written a dozen previous books and blogs daily at The Nation.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 9:07 AM PDT
Tuesday, 27 March 2012
The Illegitimacy of Violence, the Violence of Legitimacy -repost-
Now Playing: what is violence - think again its not ... "what they tell you"
The Illegitimacy of Violence, the Violence of Legitimacyauthor: Crimethinc http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2012/03/414660.shtml
What is violence? Who gets to define it? Does it have a place in the pursuit of liberation? These age-old questions have returned to the fore during the Occupy movement. But this discussion never takes place on a level playing field; while some delegitimize violence, the language of legitimacy itself paves the way for the authorities to employ it.
The Illegitimacy of Violence,
the Violence of Legitimacy
What is violence? Who gets to define it? Does it have a place in the pursuit of liberation? These age-old questions have returned to the fore during the Occupy movement. But this discussion never takes place on a level playing field; while some delegitimize violence, the language of legitimacy itself paves the way for the authorities to employ it.
"Though lines of police on horses, and with dogs, charged the main street outside the police station to push rioters back, there were significant pockets of violence which they could not reach."
-The New York Times, on the UK riots of August 2011
During the 2001 FTAA summit in Quebec City, one newspaper famously reported that violence erupted when protesters began throwing tear gas canisters back at the lines of riot police. When the authorities are perceived to have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force, "violence" is often used to denote illegitimate use of force—anything that interrupts or escapes their control. This makes the term something of a floating signifier, since it is also understood to mean "harm or threat that violates consent."
This is further complicated by the ways our society is based on and permeated by harm or threat that violates consent. In this sense, isn't it violent to live on colonized territory, destroying ecosystems through our daily consumption and benefitting from economic relations that are forced on others at gunpoint? Isn't it violent for armed guards to keep food and land, once a commons shared by all, from those who need them? Is it more violent to resist the police who evict people from their homes, or to stand aside while people are made homeless? Is it more violent to throw tear gas canisters back at police, or to denounce those who throw them back as "violent," giving police a free hand to do worse?
In this state of affairs, there is no such thing as nonviolence—the closest we can hope to come is to negate the harm or threat posed by the proponents of top-down violence. And when so many people are invested in the privileges this violence affords them, it's naïve to think that we could defend ourselves and others among the dispossessed without violating the wishes of at least a few bankers and landlords. So instead of asking whether an action is violent, we might do better to ask simply: does it counteract power disparities, or reinforce them?
This is the fundamental anarchist question. We can ask it in every situation; every further question about values, tactics, and strategy proceeds from it. When the question can be framed thus, why would anyone want to drag the debate back to the dichotomy of violence and nonviolence?
The discourse of violence and nonviolence is attractive above all because it offers an easy way to claim the higher moral ground. This makes it seductive both for criticizing the state and for competing against other activists for influence. But in a hierarchical society, gaining the higher ground often reinforces hierarchy itself.
Legitimacy is one of the currencies that are unequally distributed in our society, through which its disparities are maintained. Defining people or actions as violent is a way of excluding them from legitimate discourse, of silencing and shutting out. This parallels and reinforces other forms of marginalization: a wealthy white person can act "nonviolently" in ways that would be seen as violent were a poor person of color to do the same thing. In an unequal society, the defining of "violence" is no more neutral than any other tool.
Defining people or actions as violent also has immediate consequences: it justifies the use of force against them. This has been an essential step in practically every campaign targeting communities of color, protest movements, and others on the wrong side of capitalism. If you've attended enough mobilizations, you know that it's often possible to anticipate exactly how much violence the police will use against a demonstration by the way the story is presented on the news the night before. In this regard, pundits and even rival organizers can participate in policing alongside the police, determining who is a legitimate target by the way they frame the narrative.
On the one-year anniversary of the Egyptian uprising, the military lifted the Emergency Laws—"except in thug-related cases." The popular upheaval of 2011 had forced the authorities to legitimize previously unacceptable forms of resistance, with Obama characterizing as "nonviolent" an uprising in which thousands had fought police and burned down police stations. In order to re-legitimize the legal apparatus of the dictatorship, it was necessary to create a new distinction between violent "thugs" and the rest of the population. Yet the substance of this distinction was never spelled out; in practice, "thug" is simply the word for a person targeted by the Emergency Laws. From the perspective of the authorities, ideally the infliction of violence itself would suffice to brand its victims as violent—i.e., as legitimate targets.
So when a broad enough part of the population engages in resistance, the authorities have to redefine it as nonviolent, even if it would previously have been considered violent. Otherwise, the dichotomy between violence and legitimacy might erode—and without that dichotomy, it would be much harder to justify the use of force against those who threaten the status quo. By the same token, the more ground we cede in what we permit the authorities to define as violent, the more they will sweep into that category, and the greater risk all of us will face. One consequence of the past several decades of self-described nonviolent civil disobedience is that some people regard merely raising one's voice as violent; this makes it possible to portray those who take even the most tentative steps to protect themselves against police violence as violent thugs.
"The individuals who linked arms and actively resisted, that in itself is an act of violence... linking arms in a human chain when ordered to step aside is not a nonviolent protest."
-UC police captain Margo Bennett,
quoted in The San Francisco Chronicle,
justifying the use of force against students
at the University of California at Berkeley
The Master's Tools: Delegitimization, Misrepresentation, and Division
Violent repression is only one side of the two-pronged strategy by which social movements are suppressed. For this repression to succeed, movements must be divided into legitimate and illegitimate, and the former convinced to disown the latter—usually in return for privileges or concessions. We can see this process up close in the efforts of professional journalists like Chris Hedges and Rebecca Solnit to demonize rivals in the Occupy movement.
In last year's Throwing Out the Master's Tools and Building a Better House: Thoughts on the Importance of Nonviolence in the Occupy Revolution," Rebecca Solnit mixed together moral and strategic arguments against "violence," hedging her bets with a sort of US exceptionalism: Zapatistas can carry guns and Egyptian rebels set buildings on fire, but let no one so much as burn a trash can in the US. At base, her argument was that only "people power" can achieve revolutionary social change—and that "people power" is necessarily nonviolent.
Solnit should know that the defining of violence isn't neutral: in her article "The Myth of Seattle Violence," she recounted her unsuccessful struggle to get the New York Times to stop representing the demonstrations against the 1999 WTO summit in Seattle as "violent." In consistently emphasizing violence as her central category, Solnit is reinforcing the effectiveness of one of the tools that will inevitably be used against protesters—including her—whenever it serves the interests of the powerful.
Solnit reserves particular ire for those who endorse diversity of tactics as a way to preclude the aforementioned dividing of movements. Several paragraphs of "Throwing Out the Master's Tools" were devoted to denouncing the CrimethInc. "Dear Occupiers" pamphlet: Solnit proclaimed it "a screed in justification of violence," "empty machismo peppered with insults," and stooped to ad hominem attacks on authors about whom she admittedly knew nothing.
As anyone can readily ascertain, the majority of "Dear Occupiers" simply reviews the systemic problems with capitalism; the advocacy of diversity of tactics is limited to a couple subdued paragraphs. Why would an award-winning author represent this as a pro-violence screed?
Perhaps for the same reason that she joins the authorities in delegitimizing violence even when this equips them to delegitimize her own efforts: Solnit's leverage in social movements and her privileges in capitalist society are both staked on the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate. If social movements ever cease to be managed from the top down—if they stop policing themselves—the Hedges and Solnits of the world will be out of a job literally as well as figuratively. That would explain why they perceive their worst enemies to be those who soberly advise against dividing movements into legitimate and illegitimate factions.
It's hard to imagine Solnit would have represented "Dear Occupiers" the way she did if she expected her audience to read it. Given her readership, this is a fairly safe bet—Solnit is often published in the corporate media, while CrimethInc. literature is distributed only through grass-roots networks; in any case, she didn't include a link. Chris Hedges took similar liberties in his notorious "The Cancer in Occupy," a litany of outrageous generalizations about "black bloc anarchists." It seems that both authors' ultimate goal is silencing: Why would you want to hear what those people have to say? They're violent thugs.
The title of Solnit's article is a reference to Audre Lorde's influential text, "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House." Lorde's text was not an endorsement of nonviolence; even Derrick Jensen, whom Hedges quotes approvingly, has debunked such misuse of this quotation. Here, let it suffice to repeat that the most powerful of the master's tools is not violence, but delegitimization and division—as Lorde emphasized in her text. To defend our movements against these, Lorde exhorted us:
"Difference must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark... Only within that interdependency of different strengths, acknowledged and equal, can the power to seek new ways of being in the world generate, as well as the courage and sustenance to act where there are no charters."
If we are to survive, that means:
"... learning how to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes reviled, and how to make common cause with those others identified as outside the structures in order to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish... learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house."
It is particularly shameless that Solnit would quote Lorde's argument against silencing out of context in order to delegitimize and divide. But perhaps we should not be surprised when successful professionals sell out anonymous poor people: they have to defend their class interests, or else risk joining us. For the mechanisms that raise people to positions of influence within activist hierarchies and liberal media are not neutral, either; they reward docility, often coded as "nonviolence," rendering invisible those whose efforts actually threaten capitalism and hierarchy.
The Lure of Legitimacy
When we want to be taken seriously, it's tempting to claim legitimacy any way we can. But if we don't want to reinforce the hierarchies of our society, we should be careful not to validate forms of legitimacy that perpetuate them.
It is easy to recognize how this works in some situations: when we evaluate people on the basis of their academic credentials, for example, this prioritizes abstract knowledge over lived experience, centralizing those who can get a fair shot in academia and marginalizing everyone else. In other cases, this occurs more subtly. We emphasize our status as community organizers, implying that those who lack the time or resources for such pursuits are less entitled to speak. We claim credibility as longtime locals, implicitly delegitimizing all who are not—including immigrants who have been forced to move to our neighborhoods because their communities have been wrecked by processes originating in ours. We justify our struggles on the basis of our roles within capitalist society—as students, workers, taxpayers, citizens—not realizing how much harder this can make it for the unemployed, homeless, and excluded to justify theirs.
We're often surprised by the resulting blowback. Politicians discredit our comrades with the very vocabulary we popularized: "Those aren't activists, they're homeless people pretending to be activists." "We're not targeting communities of color, we're protecting them from criminal activity." Yet we prepared the way for this ourselves by affirming language that makes legitimacy conditional.
When we emphasize that our movements are and must be nonviolent, we're doing the same thing. This creates an Other that is outside the protection of whatever legitimacy we win for ourselves—that is, in short, a legitimate target for violence. Anyone who pulls their comrades free from the police rather than waiting passively to be arrested—anyone who makes shields to protect themselves from rubber bullets rather than abandoning the streets to the police—anyone who is charged with assault on an officer for being assaulted by one: all these unfortunates are thrown to the wolves as the violent ones, the bad apples. Those who must wear masks even in legal actions because of their precarious employment or immigration status are denounced as cancer, betrayed in return for a few crumbs of legitimacy from the powers that be. We Good Citizens can afford to be perfectly transparent; we would never commit a crime or harbor a potential criminal in our midst.
And the Othering of violence smooths the way for the violence of Othering. The ones who bear the worst consequences of this are not the middle class brats pilloried in internet flame wars, but the same people on the wrong side of every other dividing line in capitalism: the poor, the marginalized, those who have no credentials, no institutions to stand up for them, no incentive to play the political games that are slanted in favor of the authorities and perhaps also a few jet-setting activists.
Simply delegitimizing violence can't put an end to it. The disparities of this society couldn't be maintained without it, and the desperate will always respond by acting out, especially when they sense that they've been abandoned to their fate. But this kind of delegitimization can create a gulf between the angry and the morally upright, the "irrational" and the rational, the violent and the social. We saw the consequences of this in the UK riots of August 2011, when many of the disenfranchised, despairing of bettering themselves through any legitimate means, hazarded a private war against property, the police, and the rest of society. Some of them had attempted to participate in previous popular movements, only to be stigmatized as hooligans; not surprisingly, their rebellion took an antisocial turn, resulting in five deaths and further alienating them from other sectors of the population.
The responsibility for this tragedy rests not only on the rebels themselves, nor on those who imposed the injustices from which they suffered, but also upon the activists who stigmatized them rather than joining in creating a movement that could channel their anger. If there is no connection between those who intend to transform society and those who suffer most within it, no common cause between the hopeful and the enraged, then when the latter rebel, the former will disown them, and the latter will be crushed along with all hope of real change. No effort to do away with hierarchy can succeed while excluding the disenfranchised, the Others.
What should be our basis for legitimacy, then, if not our commitment to legality, nonviolence, or any other standard that hangs our potential comrades out to dry? How do we explain what we're doing and why we're entitled to do it? We have to mint and circulate a currency of legitimacy that is not controlled by our rulers, that doesn't create Others.
As anarchists, we hold that our desires and well-being and those of our fellow creatures are the only meaningful basis for action. Rather than classifying actions as violent or nonviolent, we focus on whether they extend or curtail freedom. Rather than insisting that we are nonviolent, we emphasize the necessity of interrupting the violence inherent in top-down rule. This might be inconvenient for those accustomed to seeking dialogue with the powerful, but it is unavoidable for everyone who truly wishes to abolish their power.
Conclusion: Back to Strategy
But how do we interrupt the violence of top-down rule? The partisans of nonviolence frame their argument in strategic as well as moral terms: violence alienates the masses, preventing us from building the "people power" we need to triumph.
There is a kernel of truth at the heart of this. If violence is understood as illegitimate use of force, their argument can be summarized as a tautology: delegitimized action is unpopular.
Indeed, those who take the legitimacy of capitalist society for granted are liable to see anyone who takes material steps to counteract its disparities as violent. The challenge facing us, then, is to legitimize concrete forms of resistance: not on the grounds that they are nonviolent, but on the grounds that they are liberating, that they fulfill real needs and desires.
This is not an easy matter. Even when we passionately believe in what we are doing, if it is not widely recognized as legitimate we tend to sputter when asked to explain ourselves. If only we could stay within the bounds prescribed for us within this system while we go about overthrowing it! The Occupy movement was characterized by attempts to do just that—citizens insisting on their right to occupy public parks on the basis of obscure legal loopholes, making tortuous justifications no more convincing to onlookers than to the authorities. People want to redress the injustices around them, but in a highly regulated and controlled society, there's so little they feel entitled to do.
Solnit may be right that the emphasis on nonviolence was essential to the initial success of Occupy Wall Street: people want some assurance that they're not going to have to leave their comfort zones, and that what they're doing will make sense to everyone else. But it often happens that the preconditions for a movement become limitations that it must transcend: Occupy Oakland remained vibrant after other occupations died down because it embraced a diversity of tactics, not despite this. Likewise, if we really want to transform our society, we can't remain forever within the narrow boundaries of what the authorities deem legitimate: we have to extend the range of what people feel entitled to do.
All the media coverage in the world won't help us if we fail to create a situation in which people feel entitled to defend themselves and each other.
Legitimizing resistance, expanding what is acceptable, is not going to be popular at first—it never is, precisely because of the tautology set forth above. It takes consistent effort to shift the discourse: calmly facing outrage and recriminations, humbly emphasizing our own criteria for what is legitimate.
Whether we think this challenge is worthwhile depends on our long-term goals. As David Graeber has pointed out, conflicts over goals often masquerade as moral and strategic differences. Making nonviolence the central tenet of our movement makes good sense if our long-term goal is not to challenge the fundamental structure of our society, but to build a mass movement that can wield legitimacy as defined by the powerful—and that is prepared to police itself accordingly. But if we really want to transform our society, we have to transform the discourse of legitimacy, not just position ourselves well within it as it currently exists. If we focus only on the latter, we will find that terrain slipping constantly from beneath our feet, and that many of those with whom we need to find common cause can never share it with us.
It's important to have strategic debates: shifting away from the discourse of nonviolence doesn't mean we have to endorse every single broken window as a good idea.. But it only obstructs these debates when dogmatists insist that all who do not share their goals and assumptions—not to say their class interests!—have no strategic sense. It's also not strategic to focus on delegitimizing each other's efforts rather than coordinating to act together where we overlap. That's the point of affirming a diversity of tactics: to build a movement that has space for all of us, yet leaves no space for domination and silencing—a "people power" that can both expand and intensify.
Debating Tactics: Remember to Ask, "What Works?"
Historicizing "Violence": Thoughts on the Hedges/Graeber Debate
"Those who said that the Egyptian revolution was peaceful did not see the horrors that police visited upon us, nor did they see the resistance and even force that revolutionaries used against the police to defend their tentative occupations and spaces: by the government's own admission, 99 police stations were put to the torch, thousands of police cars were destroyed, and all of the ruling party's offices around Egypt were burned down. Barricades were erected, officers were beaten back and pelted with rocks even as they fired tear gas and live ammunition on us . . . if the state had given up immediately we would have been overjoyed, but as they sought to abuse us, beat us, kill us, we knew that there was no other option than to fight back."
- Solidarity statement from Cairo to Occupy Wall Street, October 24, 2011
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:01 AM PDT
Monday, 19 March 2012
No Child Left Behind - War Machine Recruiter Farce continues in 2012
Now Playing: Military recruiters dirty bloody claws in our school system
As many of you know, under No Child Left Behind, schools receiving federal funding MUST release students' personal information to military recruiters if they are to continue to receive funding. Students (and their families) may "opt-out" of this provision of the No Child Left Behind Act during their annual fall high school registration. While Opt-Out is an important first step, there are other insidious ways in which the military can gain access to student information.
Please read the petition below and "sign on" as you feel appropriate by clicking on the link.
Just some explanation of terms:
NNOMY: National Network Opposing Militarization of Youth
ASVAB: Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (test)
For more information on the "issues," please see:
http://www.themmob.org/lmca ("Leave My Child Alone!"), which has information on Opt-Out, JAMRS (the Pentagon consumer database) and ASVAB
An excellent article appeared in MOTHER JONES in September, 2009, entitled, "A Few Good Kids? How the No Child Left Behind Act allowed military recruiters to collect info on millions of unsuspecting teens."
Thanks very much for supporting students' rights to privacy.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:01 AM PDT
Thursday, 15 March 2012
You cant repeat this nor share it - says who? ISP and Police State-ism
Now Playing: ISP and copyright - Intellectual property
Whiskey & Gunpowder
by Jeffrey Tucker
March 16, 2012
Auburn, Alabama, U.S.A.
ISPs as Hirelings for the Police State
- :: the original article was found here :: -
Remember that battle over SOPA, in which the world's largest websites beat back a congressional threat that would have changed the Internet forever? It was pretty obvious within a day after this Pyrrhic victory that the existing laws in place were enough to give the government the power to wreck the digital world. But how would it happen? How would government end digital freedom?
Well, the excuse is obvious. It is "intellectual property." This phrase serves the same purpose for would-be censors that "terrorism" does for warmongers. It is a way to ramp up government control while kicking sand in the faces of those who would oppose such control. Are you for terrorism? Are you for theft?
It's rather easy to detect normal theft. One day, I have a planter on my porch. The next day, the planter is on your porch, and it got there without my permission. Or one day, I'm driving my car. The next day, you are driving my car because you took it from me in the night. This is the way normal theft occurs. You can tell when it has happened. And the means of redress are obvious.
Now imagine a different scenario. One day, the paragraph above appears on the website for Laissez Faire Books. The next day, it appears on your Facebook page or blog. But it is not thereby removed from lfb.org. Instead, it is copied. A second instance of the paragraph has been created, taking nothing from me. My paragraph still exists. And let's say this happens 10 billion times in the course of a few minutes, as can happen in the digital world.
Is this a case of mass looting, or is it a mass compliment to me?
Copyright law sees this as theft. But how can that be? The whole merit of the digital world rests on the remarkable scalability of everything digitized. That's the basis of the economy of the Internet. Its capacity for inspiring and achieving infinite emulation and sharing is unparalleled in history. It's what makes the Internet different from parchment, vinyl or television. Remove that, and you gut the unique energy of the medium.
Intellectual property law became universal only about 120 years ago. It was gradually expanded over the course of the century, invading the digital realm in the 1980s and expanding its coverage ever since. How do you make copies illegal in a medium that specializes in its capacity for sharing, multiplying, linking and community formation? You need totalitarian control.
But how is the government going to do it? Well, consider how the government went about ramping up the tax state during the 1940s. Instead of just taxing people directly, it leaned on private businesses to do it, via the "withholding tax." Business was forced to become the tax collector for the state. And it was the same with health care. Instead of just mandating universal coverage, it leaned on private business to do the government's bidding. Business became the health care provider through mandate.
The same is now happening with the enforcement of intellectual property on the Web. All the latest reports say that ISPs (Internet service providers) have struck at deal with old-line media companies to start policing the way users of the Internet surf, upload, download and link.
There will be several warnings, and then, presumably, after some point, access will be cut off. They will do this based on the IP address of the user. In other words, ISPs will be doing the dirty work for the state. Probably, they struck the deal just because 1) the laws are already in place, and 2) they are probably trying to avoid a worse fate.
To be sure, some of this is already going on. If you use WordPress or Blogger for blogging, you probably already know this. Open and aggressive violators are presented with notices, whether the violation took place knowingly or not. For several years, YouTube has been blanking out the audio on home videos if the music is under copyright. And innumerable upload sites blast away anything that is under question, presuming guilt before it is proven.
Even an open Creative Commons announcement that grants permission to copy is not always enough. The presumption is that every duplication is a crime. Every upload is suspect, and every download is, too.
And contrary to what people claim, it is not always easy to tell the difference between protected property and common property. Copyright law is notoriously difficult to figure out. Sometimes the answer is obvious, as with material published before 1922. But there is this huge land of publication between that time and 1963 in which renewals are sometimes fuzzy, especially when multiple authors are involved.
Patent is an even worse case. Right now, everyone is suing everyone else for whatever. It has become a wicked game in which the competition takes place not in the arena of consumer service, but in the courts via various forms of trolling and legal blackmail.
In the end, all these disputes are won by the companies with the deepest pockets. I've seen copyright disputes that are settled on this basis alone, regardless of the merits of the case. In the end, it is too expensive for the little guys to defend themselves against large corporate interests, so the little guys invariably relent to avoid super-costly litigation.
This is the way it will be in the future. The big boys will run the show, doing for the state what the state is unable to do for itself, and they will do it on behalf of big corporate interests. This does terrible things to the competitive culture. It does even worse things to the culture of community sharing that has created a vast world of miracles and marvels available to the whole of humanity. It is a case of man's cruelty to man, serving no purpose except the material interests of large corporations that are determined to slow the path of progress for humanity.
However, it is not all dark. Every legal imposition creates incentives for the geeks of the world to find the workaround. There will always be a way. Just as the speak-easies remained open in the 1920s, there will always be zones of freedom in the digital world. And I have no doubt that, in the end, the freedom of information will win this. The tragedy is that there will be many speed bumps along the way to victory.
Executive editor, Laissez Faire Books
2 suggested Zebra3 Report links:
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:01 AM PDT
Wednesday, 14 March 2012
Thinking Positive and Creative Outlooks from Ivysea
Now Playing: Ivysea information on life changes and uncertainty
Topic: SMILE SMILE SMILE
http://www.ivysea.com/pages/Seazine_current.html ADOPTING A SPIRIT OF CREATIVE ADVENTUREWe don't always see tension or transition as an invitation to creative adventure, do we?
It can be hard when we're caught up in the stress of change or that place of creative tension, standing at the precipice of the unknown, to see the possibilities for something new and wonderful wanting to be born and experienced, and to give ourselves over to it.
No matter how many times I've been immersed in the creative process, or found myself in that tense, creative transition-space between something ending and something new beginning, I've felt the tension and an almost unbearable restlessness in it.
After all, creativity and stepping into the unknown take a lot of courage, along with a sense of heartful conviction and a strong vision. And we find all of these within us.
There have been times, in that 'unknown' place, when I've retreated to the known and seemingly comfortable. But sometimes, I've found the courage to wait there in that tension, step into the unknown, and let some new thing find expression through me.
When I've found my way to the latter, it's because I've immersed myself in inspiration.
Recently, I've found inspiration from the late Irish Poet, John O'Donohue, who wrote in his book, Beauty, that when 'we begin to awaken to the light of soul … we learn to befriend our complexity and see the dance of opposition within us not as a negative or destructive thing but as an invitation to creative adventure."
The 'light of soul' that O'Donohue speaks of must be tended, nourished, and brought back to life through regular inspiration.
These are often parts of ourselves -- inspiration, imagination, our wild and creative hearts -- that have been exiled in our focus on the 'business of survival', yet they're vital to our creativity, expression, authenticity, and deep meaning.
Yet when we heed their call and begin to reclaim them, we begin to feel whole again -- we feel the depth of inspiration returning to us, awakening our hearts so that we may bring our fuller selves into our relationships, our work, and all else that we do.
Between each of the stages in the creative cycle, we feel the tension and friction that gives heat to the creative process. It can be almost unbearable to wait in that place of tension, and we feel the pull to return to the familiar, the old.
Yet O'Donohue also wrote, in his poem 'For the Interim Time':
"As far as you can, hold your confidence.
Do not allow confusion to squander
This call which is loosening
Your roots in false ground,
That you might come free
From all you have outgrown."
If we have the courage and patience to wait, to engage that place of tension as 'creative adventure', something new -- something that has long awaited to finds its voice and expression through us -- can be born. And then, we find ourselves free, and rooted in 'true ground'. EMBRACING UNCERTAINTY?There's a whole lot going on with most of us these days, isn't there?Navigating change and uncertainty is, to me, a real art, and takes an artist's perspective.Just like with art, it takes inspiration and lots of practice, as well as a willingness to be taken on a journey whose destination isn't quite clear.Over the years, whether I've liked it or not,
whether I felt ready for it or not, I've had a lot of practice when it comes to change and uncertainty.The fear that gets stirred up, the fatigue, and the constricted mind-chatter have sometimes been too familiar to me.I've known well the constriction in my body and breathing, too, once the fear-chatter gets triggered.But there's something else, too:
an unexpected excitement when I can relax the constriction and find a certain perspective -- and shift the stories and 'broken record' chatter that I'm holding about what's going on.That's where the art and the practice come in
-- a sort of creative, curious 'beginner's mind' that also makes good use of the resources and tools I've gathered along the way.And stoking the courage that's tucked away inside of me, too.I'm still practicing, because these days, it seems that there's always something changing, and some new challenge popping up just to keep me on my toes.Does this sound familiar to you?You'll find an article below
on one 'mind shift' or perspective that I always find helpful, even if I have to remind myself daily and practice some more.The article includes one of my favorite bits of wisdom from the fab John O'Donahue. This inspiration was copied from: http://www.ivysea.com/pages/Seazine_current.html
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:01 AM PDT
Thursday, 23 February 2012
Who is following me in that car - Read what to do here
Now Playing: Is a car following you? - read some Ideas on what to do if...
What should you do if you suspect a car has been following you? | Quora Link
What You Should Do if You Suspect a Car Is Following You
The artile below was copied from KATU
It's unlikely that most of us will be followed by a car, but chances are you've had a sneaking suspicion before that you'd like to put to rest. To regain your peace of mind, security and investigations expert Brandon Gregg offers up a few tricks to both detect if you're being followed and what you can do about it.
Brandon's answer comes from a question on Quora and provides a lot of detail, but here's the gist:
- Make four right or left turns. It's unlikely anyone will also be traveling in a complete circle, so if the car is still behind you after 360 degrees you can be fairly certain you are being followed.
- If you're on the highway, get off and then back on. Again, this is something most people will not do when driving so you're likely being followed if a car is still behind you when you get back on the highway. If this happens, pull over to the side of the highway. If you're being followed by a surveillance team, they will not pull over because it's too obvious. They may, however, wait at the next exit so if you want to lose them don't choose the next exit or the exit that you usually take.
If any of these techniques lead you to believe you're being followed, call the police. Brandon elaborates:
If it's a local police surveillance, dispatch will put the call out and the undercover unit will cancel it and move along for now. If it's feds/state police, they most likely did not tell their brothers in blue about their surveillance and local PD will roll up on the vehicle. Watch them run the plates and then back off. If its a PI or stalker, local PD will light them up, tell them to move along or even let the reporting party know what is going on.
Police officers who also posted answers to this question agree that phoning the police is among the first things you should do if you believe you are, indeed, being followed. To read more on the subject, check out the full thread over at Quora.
What should you do if you suspect a car has been following you? | Quora
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:01 AM PST
Military Freak - killing soldiers is his job
Now Playing: To put it politely as best as I can = Fuk This Guy
Meet an officer who has been
killing soldiers at Ft. Lewis
PTSD misdiagnosis scandal leads to firings
It's all smiles for Col. Homas; he's got a sweet job, with no accountability for his actions—even if dozens of wounded soldiers die on his watch.
BY KEVIN BAKER
The author is a former infantry Staff Sergeant—with 28 months in Iraq—who was stationed at Ft. Lewis and went through the medical discharge process at Madigan Healthcare System.
Col. Dallas Homas was administratively removed from his position as head of the Army’s Madigan Healthcare System near Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, Army officials announced Feb. 20. Col. Homas, a West Point graduate, had headed the medical center since March 2011.
Col. Homas was removed during an Army inquiry into the practice of intentionally not diagnosing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in soldiers. Such a diagnosis entitles one to certain rights, benefits and compensation.
Col. Homas, the commander in charge of making sure soldiers on base are being cared for, denied soldiers their right to medical treatment and other rights to “save taxpayer money”—an absurd statement considering the multi-million dollar defense budget that has unlimited funds for corporate defense contractors, but suddenly “not enough money” when we’re entitled to compensation for legitimate psychological wounds.
Just weeks earlier, two top doctors in charge of PTSD at Ft. Lewis were also fired.
Already, as a result of the inquiry, 14 soldiers have been diagnosed with PTSD after having been being previously misdiagnosed. There is no telling how many more received a bogus diagnosis and are now in Afghanistan, not receiving the treatment they need, and not being awarded the disability and compensation they deserve.
And with record suicides in the Army over the past 3 years—many of which occurred among Ft. Lewis soldiers—it is undeniable that Col. Homas and all other officers and doctors involved in this process have blood on their hands.
Changes a result of public pressure for soldiers, military families, vets
Col. Homas has been removed not because the Army cares about our lives, but because of external pressure. Over the past two years, March Forward! has launched campaign after campaign against the inadequate treatment of soldiers suffering from PTSD. We have exposed several egregious cases to the media, built nationwide pressure through public campaigns, circulated petitions nationwide that garnered thousands of signatures, organized thousands to call and email the Ft. Lewis command, and worked with military family members and soldiers to bring real heat to the officers at Ft. Lewis. In conjunction with our efforts, Ft. Lewis also has at its gates the G.I. coffeehouse Coffee Strong, helping soldiers on base learn about their rights and speak out about mistreatment.
It is no coincidence that the target of so much organizing is now the focus of an Army inquiry and firings.
Col. Homas is typical, not just a bad apple
There is nothing unique about the way Colonial Dallas Homas dealt with soldiers suffering from PTSD who were seeking help. Ft. Lewis is one of the most troubled bases in the U.S. military in regards to suicide.
I remember his predecessor, an officer by the name of Col. Edwards at Madigan hospital when I was just starting my medical discharge process. He interviewed me for roughly thirty seconds before he told the doctors I was fit for duty and had to deploy again. This is what is considered adequate for these officers to make a diagnosis that will impact the rest of our lives—or a diagnosis that will be responsible for soldiers losing them.
They excuse their behavior by accusing us of just faking our symptoms because we are lazy—or, “malingering”. The behavior of officers who accuse service members of “malingering” is not uncommon. What strikes me as odd is that the same officers who will put our lives at risk—but don’t deploy themselves—are so untrusting of enlisted soldiers who have been in combat. They call us “fakers” when we come home from a world they will never see.
The suicides that have taken place at Ft. Lewis are a direct result of the failure of the base and its head officer corps to do anything meaningful to address the crisis of PTSD, as if our lives mean nothing to them.
No accountability for ruining countless lives
Col. Homas has been relieved of his duties and will most likely take a position else where continuing his dishonest work. The Army just needed a cosmetic change—Homas will continue working in a plush office, until he retires with a fat pension. That’s “punishment” for an officer who has been directly responsible for soldier suicides and destroyed families.
Let’s just look at this in comparison for a moment.
If an enlisted soldier loses a pair of night vision goggles, they face a dock in pay, extra duty, restriction to the barracks and demotion in rank. We as enlisted face the harshest punishment even for situations completely out of our control (this was shown during our recent successful campaign against the ridiculous lockdown of B Co., 4/9 Infantry).
But when the head of the mental health department on a base that is on the brink of disaster, continues to refuse to diagnose PTSD, calls soldiers “malingerers” and denies them the right to heal which results in the highest suicide rates among all of the CONUS bases, he is simply relieved of his position and sent somewhere else. Col. Homas's allegiance, like that of the incoming officer, are not to serve the soldiers but to serve the interests of the Pentagon and protect the funds allotted to the Army.
For the countless lives that have been needlessly lost to suicide at Ft. Lewis, and the families who are suffering, Col. Homas and all other officers and doctors involved in the practice of denying PTSD claims should be brought up on criminal charges.
The Pentagon won’t change things—but we can
Col. Mike Heimall, Homas' replacement, has no allegiance to enlisted personnel and will continue to function as did Col. Homas and other officers in charge before them. They will continue to attempt to sweep the suicide epidemic under the rug. We can expect no meaningful change from the change of command, except what they are forced to do. The officer corps at Ft. Lewis, Madigan and the crony-healthcare system has not only helped facilitate soldiers' suicides but they have stolen husbands, wives, sons, daughters, friends and loved ones from our lives.
Real change within the military never has nor will it ever come from the top. This change of command is a direct result of our actions as enlisted service members, vets and family and friends to organize and beat the drums of truth. The lies this base spews will continue to kill soldiers who are suffering from untreated PTSD. Ft. Lewis and all those in charge of medical practice who have cheated service members out of their lives should be tried in court and held accountable for their dishonesty that has led to a massive suicide epidemic.
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:01 AM PST
Wednesday, 22 February 2012
Menu of Tactics for Protesting and Occupying
Now Playing: OCCU-PIE MENU OF TACTIES
Occu-pie Menu of Tactics
Posted by nowisthetimeus on February 21, 2012
Tired of the boo-hoo-hum-drum of the Nonviolence/Diversity of Tactics debate?
Liberate yourself by using this handy dandy planning menu for your next Occu-pie!
Menu subject to changes according to whims. Just can’t decide? Ask about our daily specials!
- A la mode = sustained actions
- Whipped Cream = flash actions
- Fudge = clandestine action
- Sprinkles = family friendly
Fruit and Cheeze platters (pairs well with Whine)
Letters of opposition or support
Declarations by organizations and institutions
Signed public statements
Declarations of indictment and intention
Group or mass petitions
Slogans, caricatures, and symbols
Banners, posters, and displayed communications
Leaflets, pamphlets, and books
Newspapers and journals
Records, radio, and television
Skywriting and earthwriting
Pie Eating Contest
American Apple Pie (And other fruits)
Displays of flags and symbolic colors
Wearing of symbols
Prayer and worship
Delivering symbolic objects
Destruction of own property
Displays of portraits
Paint as protest
New signs and names
Cobbler with Crumble topping
Humorous skits and pranks
Performances of plays and music
All you can eat dessert Buffet
Homage at burial places
Assemblies of protest or support
Camouflaged meetings of protest
Fat Free Desserts
Turning one’s back
Tart Custard Pies
Selective social boycott
Custard Cream Pies
Suspension of social and sports activities
Boycott of social affairs
Withdrawal from social institutions
Total personal noncooperation
“Flight” of workers
Protest emigration (hijrat)
Nonconsumption of boycotted goods
Policy of austerity
Refusal to rent
National consumers’ boycott
International consumers’ boycott
79. Producers’ boycott
Sorry, Vending Machine Broken
Suppliers’ and handlers’ boycott
Refusal to let or sell property
Refusal of industrial assistance
Merchants’ “general strike”
Withdrawal of bank deposits
Refusal to pay fees, dues, and assessments
Refusal to pay debts or interest
Severance of funds and credit
Refusal of a government’s money
Fair Trade Organic Chocolates
Blacklisting of traders
International sellers’ embargo
International buyers’ embargo
International trade embargo
Quickie walkout (lightning strike)
Farm Workers’ strike
Refusal of impressed labor
Reporting “sick” (sick-in)
Strike by resignation
Withholding or withdrawal of allegiance
Refusal of public support
Literature and speeches advocating resistance
Boycott of legislative bodies
Boycott of elections
Boycott of government employment and positions
Boycott of government depts., agencies, and other bodies
Withdrawal from government educational institutions
Boycott of government-supported organizations
Refusal of assistance to enforcement agents
Removal of own signs and placemarks
Refusal to accept appointed officials
Refusal to dissolve existing institutions
Reluctant and slow compliance
Nonobedience in absence of direct supervision
Refusal of an assemblage or meeting to disperse
Noncooperation with conscription and deportation
Hiding, escape, and false identities
Civil disobedience of “illegitimate” laws
Selective refusal of assistance by government aides
Blocking of lines of command and information
Stalling and obstruction
General administrative noncooperation
Deliberate inefficiency and selective noncooperation by enforcement agents
Quasi-legal evasions and delays
Noncooperation by constituent governmental units
Changes in diplomatic and other representations
Delay and cancellation of diplomatic events
Withholding of diplomatic recognition
Severance of diplomatic relations
Withdrawal from international organizations
Refusal of membership in international bodies
Expulsion from international organizations
Self-exposure to the elements
Fast of moral pressure
Nonviolent air raids
Establishing new social patterns
Overloading of facilities
Alternative social institutions
Alternative communication system
Nonviolent land seizure
Defiance of blockades
Politically motivated counterfeiting
Seizure of assets
Alternative transportation systems
Alternative economic institutions
Overloading of administrative systems
Disclosing identities of secret agents
Civil disobedience of “neutral” laws
Work-on without collaboration
Dual sovereignty and parallel government
Please make a request to our suggestion box below:
Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:10 PM PST
Updated: Wednesday, 22 February 2012 12:11 PM PST
Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Is a US war with Iran Inevitable - USA is bound and determined
Now Playing: From: The Daily Reckoning
________________________________________ From: The Daily Reckoning [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2012 12:37 PM
Is a US-Iran War Inevitable? The Daily Reckoning U.S. Edition Home . Archives . Unsubscribe The Daily Reckoning | Thursday, February 16, 2012 • Doug Casey gives us his odds on an all-out military conflict with Iran, • What would be the consequences should war eventuate? And how do you prepare? • Plus, Bill Bonner on Facebook’s IPO, Mr. Government Fixer in Europe and plenty more...
Checking in from Buenos Aires, Argentina... Joel Bowman We have in stall for you today, Fellow Reckoner, an interview with Mr. Douglas Casey. You’ll shortly discover that the topic, Iran and the possibility — says Doug, “probability” — of war with that sovereign nation, demands the discussion run a little longer than our usual feature piece. As such, our preamble will be correspondingly shorter than usual. Please enjoy Doug’s characteristically thought-provoking insights. Should you wish to opine on this important topic, feel free to direct your email to us here: firstname.lastname@example.org. We will feature a selection of your emails in future reckonings. World oil production is about to be shaken to its core... You won’t believe which nation analysts at Wall Street’s biggest banks expect to become the world’s biggest energy producer by 2017 — or the effect it will have on America... our economy... our future... Click here to see who is set to become the new king of oil — and how you can use the news to go for big profits as early as this MAY! The Daily Reckoning Presents Is a US-Iran War Inevitable? An Interview with Doug Casey, conducted by Louis James Doug Casey US-Iranian saber-rattling or impending shoot-out? In his usual, candid manner, contrarian investor Doug Casey talks about why he believes it’s serious this time... why the US is the greatest threat to peace today... why Iran might move towards a gold standard... and what smart investors should do. L: Doug, I’ve heard you say you think the US is setting Iran up to be the next fall guy in the wag-the-dog show — do you think it could really come to open warfare? Doug: Yes, I do. It could just be saber rattling during an election year, but Western powers have been provoking Iran for years now — two decades, really. I just saw another report proclaiming that Iran is likely to attack the US, which is about as absurd as the allegations Bush made about Iraq bombing the US, when he fomented that invasion. It’s starting to look rather serious at this point, so I do think the odds favor actual fighting in the not-too-distant future. L: Could they really be so stupid? Doug: You know the answer to that one. We’re dealing with criminal personalities on both sides, and criminals are basically very stupid — meaning they have an unwitting tendency to self-destruction. One thing to remember is that most of those in power in the West still believe the old economic fallacy that war is good for the economy. L: The old broken-window fallacy. Paraphrasing Arlo Guthrie, it’s hard to believe anyone could get away with making a mistake that dumb for that long. Doug: People like those in power still suffer the delusion that it was World War II that ended the Great Depression for the US. Actually, it was only after the end of the war that the depression ended, in 1946. In his book World Economic Development: 1979 and Beyond, Herman Kahn documented long-term growth throughout the 20th century. Between 1914 to 1946 — a very tough time, with WWI, the Great Depression, and WWII — the world economy still grew at something like 1.8%. I believe real growth would have been several times as great, were it not for the state and its products. But people still believe that spending money on things that explode and kill and destroy is somehow good for the economy. L: I suppose they think it’s okay if it creates jobs here and destroys lives and livelihoods “over there.” But aside from the fact that it’s not safe to assume today’s enemies are not capable of bringing the battle onto US soil, it still ignores the fact that you’re spending money on stuff that gets destroyed — like broken windows — and that impoverishes us all. Worse, the cost is not just economic. Doug: That’s right. This coming war with Iran has the potential to turn into something resembling WWIII, with enormous consequences. Now, it’s hard to speak with any certainty on such matters, because most of what we have to go on are press reports. Governments keep most really critical facts on their doings to themselves, and what you read in the press is as likely as not just a warmed-over government press release — in other words, propaganda. Meaningless, if not actively deceptive. It is correctly said that in war, truth is the first casualty. L: But we do have the Internet these days, with indie reporters offering coverage ignored by the talking heads in the mainstream media. Doug: True; it doesn’t keep the chattering classes honest, but it does provide some diversity of spin, from which we can try to infer what’s really going on. And from all the various sources — mainstream and alternative, Western and from within the Muslim world — I have to say that it appears to me that the Iranians are not actually developing nuclear weapons. L: Then why do they act in such aggressive and bombastic ways? Doug: Western powers are pushing them around, telling them what they can and cannot do, and treating them like children or mental incompetents with no right of self-determination. How else would you expect them to react? They may have a collectivist theocratic regime, but it’s also a proud and ancient culture. Now, as you know, I don’t think there should be any countries at all — not in the sense of the modern nation-state, and I’m certainly no fan of the Tehran regime, but Iran is a sovereign state. The Iranians resent people from other countries assuming the right to tell them what they can and cannot do with their uranium enrichment program, just as people in the US would if Iranians told them what to do with... well, anything. L: Do you have specific data to substantiate your view that Iran is not focused on creating nuclear weapons? Doug: I was just reading about an official report that says that Iran is still not able to enrich uranium to the level needed to make nuclear weapons. Uranium occurs in two isotopes with half-lives long enough to make it possible to find reasonable amounts of them in the earth’s crust: U235 and U238. Most of it is U238 — 99.3% — but it’s the U235 that’s fissile, meaning, it’s the one you want for making nuclear reactors and weapons. So you have to enrich your uranium — to about 20%-30% U235 to make reactor fuel and 90% or better to make weapons. L: That’s why the Russians are able to sell “downblended” uranium from decommissioned nuclear weapons for use as reactor fuel. So, you’re saying the reports indicate that Iran is not capable of enriching uranium beyond the level needed for reactors? Doug: Yes. But again, I have to stress that reliable information is very hard to come by. Remember when the US accused Iraq of having a program to develop so-called weapons of mass destruction? Apart from the fact that, except for nuclear weapons, that term is a complete misnomer, they had no such thing. It was either lousy intelligence or outright fabrication — and I suspect the latter. So how can we trust what they tell us today? Only a fool would be so naïve. L: Indeed. Doug: In any event, why shouldn’t Iran have nuclear weapons? I wish none of these countries had them, but they do. No one stopped China, no one stopped North Korea, Pakistan, Israel, India, France, nor any of the others in the disreputable club that have them. L: Wasn’t it too late to intervene by the time those countries announced their nuclear capabilities? Doug: I don’t think so. Israel was friendly, so Western powers looked the other way. North Korea was too rabid, so they were left alone. The other countries are too big. The cat’s out of the bag at this point; any country can develop nuclear weapons, if it really wants to. But it’s easier and cheaper to bribe a general — or maybe just a supply sergeant — in India, Pakistan, or Russia to get what you want. Moreover, with the US on the rampage, prosecuting its counterproductive and unwinnable War on Terror, a lot of governments, especially ones unpopular in the West, have got to be thinking about acquiring nuclear capabilities. If Saddam had actually had nukes, the US would have left him alone, just as they’ve left the Kims to rot in the workers’ paradise they’ve made out of North Korea. It makes sense for a country stricken from the US’s official “nice” list and moved over to the “naughty” category to have some nukes. Everyone needs and wants a slingshot to keep the bully of the block at bay. If you oppose nuclear proliferation, your first target should be US foreign policy, which is the biggest impetus behind the scramble to arms. L: What about the argument that Iran would use nuclear weapons on Israel, if it had them? Doug: That’s ridiculous. It’s true that just one or two nukes would turn most of Israel to glass, but it’s a matter of mutually assured destruction (MAD), just as the détente between the US and USSR was. Israel is reported to have about 200 nuclear weapons, and the Iranians know it. Even if they launched a successful first strike against Israel, they would get wiped off the face of the earth in response. The regime in Iran is repressive and borderline lunatic, but they aren’t that stupid. No way are they going to attack Israel with nukes. They not only cannot, but should not, be singled out for exclusion from the nuclear club. L: But they’re part of the axis of evil, don’t you know? Doug: Speaking of evil, it’s evil to initiate the use of force or fraud. If Iran enriches uranium or even builds tools for war, that’s not evil per se. But using force to stop them from doing something that is not in itself wrong is wrong, and that would make Iran’s attackers the axis of evil. In my mind, the US is the biggest threat to peace in the world today. I can easily imagine those in power in the US starting a war over any silly pretext, real or imagined. It could easily happen by accident at this point. Things go wrong. Maybe some young hotheads in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard decide to take a boat out and attack a US frigate — launch a few RPGs at it before they’re blown out of the water. Then the US feels it needs to mete out some punishment and launches a strike against the base the boat came from — which would be attacking the Iranian mainland — and the thing spins completely out of control. Could happen at the drop of a hat. Maybe the commander of a US ship has a streak of General Jack D. Ripper from Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove in him. Maybe the Russians or the Chinese — who are aiding the Iranians — mount a false-flag incident, because they want to see the US get involved in another tar baby. L: So... another case of not just doing the wrong thing, but the exact opposite of the right thing, with economic, political, and ultimately physical world consequences. Doug: That’s right. Just look at what they’re doing now, trying to isolate Iran from the world with an embargo. That could be seen as an act of war. L: Well, wait a minute. A blockade is regarded as an act of war, but if Western countries decide to harm their own economies by not trading with Iran, that’s unfriendly, but not force or fraud. Doug: Well, it would be forcing citizens in those Western countries to pay higher prices for things, denying them the choice of buying oil from Iran if they wanted to. But I agree; that’s more a matter of criminal tyranny and stupidity than an act of war. Still it sure is prodding Iran, throwing rocks at the hornets’ nest, as the US did with Japan before WWII. The Japanese basically have no domestic oil production and were getting their oil from the US and the Dutch East Indies. The US cut off both supplies, backing them into a corner, leaving them little choice but an aggressive response. At any rate, I think all of this could backfire on the US. Since the Iranians apparently can’t clear deposits through New York, where international dollar trades clear, they’ve made a very commonsense move to cut the US out of the middle and sell their oil directly to India, without using dollars. I think other countries will follow — and then what? Iran isn’t going to want bushels and bushels of rupiah or yen or whatever. I think the odds favor them turning to gold. It’s said that’s one of the means of payment the Indians will be using. Gold is the logical choice and the next step in the demise of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. There’s a lot of demand for the dollar to buy and sell oil. If countries stop using it, demand for the dollar would fall, at the very time the US is greatly increasing the supply of dollars. The day is coming when trillions of dollars outside the US will only be spendable inside the US. At that point it’s game over for the dollar. L: You’ve talked about the world going back onto a gold standard before. What do you say to the people who say that gold is a barbaric relic from the past that doesn’t work in a modern economy — they can’t go around with pockets full of doubloons to buy cars or chests full of treasure to buy houses... Doug: Such people are not thinking rationally and are economically ignorant. As always, we should start with a definition: what is money? The short answer is that it’s a store of wealth and medium of exchange. For reasons we’ve discussed and as Aristotle outlined over 2,000 years ago, gold is simply the best form of money ever adopted. And in our modern world, you don’t have to physically cart the stuff around. You can, but you can also transfer ownership of physical gold electronically, through services like GoldMoney.com. L: Note: We do endorse GoldMoney.com as a convenient and reliable way to own, trade, and transfer gold, but readers should be advised that Doug is an investor in it. Doug: Right. I like to put my money where my mouth is. L: Okay, so you see this trend being bullish for gold, clear enough. But most of the gold ever produced in the world still exists in purified form in various vaults around the planet. Gold doesn’t get used up like silver does, so there’s plenty of supply. So, would the physical need for gold as money really impact the price of gold and related equities, or would that be more a function of governments further debasing their currencies? Doug: Well, it’s estimated that there are some six billion ounces of refined gold in human possession around the world, or, somewhat less than one ounce per person. Global gold production is said to be about 80 million ounces a year, or about a 1.3% annual increase in the supply of gold. That would be the steady, “natural” rate of inflation if we were on a gold standard. The amount of various currency units in the world is increasing at a much, much faster pace than 1.3%. Nobody really knows, not even the Fed, but depending on how you define the money supply, it would take $10,000 to $50,000 — or more — per ounce to back all of the dollars in existence with gold. Whatever the correct number is, I expect gold’s price in dollars to increase dramatically as the world moves closer to and eventually adopts a gold standard. L: So, any investment implications beyond the obvious? Buy gold and silver for prudence and protection, buy gold stocks for speculative leverage? Doug: That’s the basic recipe. And diversify your holdings internationally. You can never tell when the government of your home country will have a psychotic break. L: What do you say to the people afraid that in a world so traumatized as to go back onto a gold standard, the risk of owning any paper asset, including gold stocks, would be too high? No one will trade gold stocks for a can of dog food in a Mad Max world... Doug: That’s a valid concern. You can’t eat paper, and even owning shares in a gold mine may not be of much use in a real economic cataclysm — the US government shut down gold mining during WWII as a nonessential industry. It could happen again. But that’s why, as you said, we own gold for prudence, and the stocks are strictly speculative vehicles. But let’s have some perspective. The security of your stock portfolio may become the least of your concerns if the US starts a war with Iran that touches off WWIII. If that happens, the US government and population will both turn hysterical, and the whole country will be locked down like a prison. What was once America will become even more of a police state than it is now. Who knows where that would end? So, one of the most intelligent things you can do is as I’ve been saying for years: diversify your assets and your physical presence internationally. Having some place you like to spend time off the beaten track, where you can ride the storm out, should be top priority for everyone who can afford it. Preparing for the worst at home should be top priority for those who can’t. L: Would you care to put odds on open war between the US and Iran? Doug: I’d say it’s highly probable within the next two to four years — say, between 50% and 75% — that an actual shooting war will break out. L: Not much time to prepare. I sure hope all our readers are doing what they can. Doug: Me too. L: Right then. Thanks for your thoughts and guidance, Doug. Doug: You’re welcome. We’ll talk again soon. P.S. To get an even better sense of how badly a US-Iran war could hurt the American economy, readers can view our free report here. It’s the first step to take to prepare yourself and your investments for what lies ahead. Regards, Doug Casey and Louis James, for The Daily Reckoning Joel’s Note: Predictions vary widely on where the price of oil might go should (another) war break out in the Gulf. We’ve seen forecasts of $300 per barrel batted about, which doesn’t feel like a huge stretch to us. Iran contributes significantly more to current global supply than did Iraq before it, and few doubt that a strangulation of the all-important Strait of Hormuz would rocket prices higher...wherever “higher” might be. Needless to say, this further underscores the need for energy independence at home. And Byron King, Agora’s resident geologist, reckons he’s found out how to make that a reality. He reveals all in his “Re-made in America” presentation. Give it a look here. Now here is a stimulus plan that CAN work Ordinary people all across the nation have quietly started rebuilding their wealth — and returning their life to normal — with a very unusual and unexpected stimulus plan of their own... A flurry of new jobs... $75,000-a-year salaries... explosive growth in personal bank accounts... cash payments of up to $35,000 a month — people from all walks of life are starting to cash in on it in one way or another. Click here now to get full details on what is happening and how YOU can be one of the people who profits from it too. Bill Bonner A Greek Debt Crisis Recap Bill Bonner Reckoning from Rancho Santana, Nicaragua... The Dow down 97 points yesterday. And the Greek story nears its conclusion... The Germans agree to bail out the country...at least for a while... ..and the Greeks agree to act more like Germans...at least while everyone is looking... But now everybody agrees that the farce has gone on long enough. Let’s recap: The big banks lent the Greeks money. Then, the bankers paid themselves big bonuses, rewards for having booked so much business. The Greeks spent it like they stole it...which they practically did. With the help of Goldman Sachs, they rigged their accounts so as to appear to be better credit risks than they really were. Then, of course, the Greeks could not repay. Since they gained independence from the Ottoman Turks in 1828, the Greeks never, ever repaid a loan as promised. Instead, they were in default about half the time. But rather than let Mr. Market sort it out...as he had every other time, Mr. Government Fixer stepped in. He promised to manage the situation so that the careless lenders wouldn’t have to take the losses they deserved. How? By lending the borrower more money! So, the Greeks were given more money...and told to straighten up. And the Greeks made an effort. Rather than spend money as freely as before, they cut back. Thousands of government employees were laid off, budgets trimmed...belts tightened. This, naturally, led to an economic slump. GDP fell at a 5% rate in the 3rd quarter of last year. In the 4th quarter it was falling even faster, at a 7% annual rate. The New York Times reports: By many indicators, Greece is devolving into something unprecedented in modern Western experience. A quarter of all Greek companies have gone out of business since 2009, and half of all small businesses in the country say they are unable to meet payroll. The suicide rate increased by 40 percent in the first half of 2011. A barter economy has sprung up, as people try to work around a broken financial system. Nearly half the population under 25 is unemployed. Last September, organizers of a government-sponsored seminar on emigrating to Australia, an event that drew 42 people a year earlier, were overwhelmed when 12,000 people signed up. ... The situation at the macro level is, if anything, even more transformational. The Chinese have largely taken over Piraeus, Greece’s main port, with an eye to make it a conduit for shipping goods into Europe. ... The latest austerity plan meant to satisfy Greece’s creditors and allow for new infusions of financial aid may have averted involuntary default — and a global economic downturn — but will nonetheless make life for ordinary Greeks even more difficult. The plan reduces the minimum wage by more than 20 percent, mandates thousands of layoffs and reduces some pensions, probably ensuring that strikes and demonstrations will continue to be a feature of the Greek landscape. As in Argentina 10 years ago, the Greek middle class is being hit hard. The upper classes are protected. They own stocks. They have bank accounts in foreign countries. And the lower classes had nothing before the crisis. They haven’t lost a penny. But the middle classes lose jobs, income...and benefits. That is what is happening in America too. Middle class wealth, built up between 1980 and 2007, was largely an illusion. It was money borrowed from the future... Now, it must be paid back. And there’s not much Mr. Government Fixer can do about it. The problem is too much debt. Adding more debt doesn’t help. And more thoughts... “But Bill, aren’t you being a little simplistic,” asks a Dear Reader. “The idea is not to add debt for its own sake. The idea is just to try to mediate the social consequences of private sector de- leveraging while giving the economy time to get back on its feet. Why won’t that work?” Why won’t it work? We repeat the question to give us time to think... ..oh yes...it won’t work because it ignores the reason the economy was knocked on its derriere in the first place. If the cause of the setback had been interest rates that were too high...or a natural disaster...the strategy might work. Just as an ancient Pharaoh made Bible fame by saving grain in the fat years and then releasing it when the harvests failed, so might a sage government today draw on its own surpluses to help soften the blow of a bad winter or an earthquake. But the government has no surpluses. Only deficits. And you can’t mitigate the damage of an earthquake by setting off a nuclear explosion. Neither can you solve the problem of too much debt by adding to it. When an economy has too much debt, there’s only one solution. Debt delenda est. Debt must be eliminated. It can be done in the old fashioned way — by Mr. Market. Or it can be done by Mr. Government Fixer. Mr. Market will do it quickly...efficiently...and brutally. Mr. Government Fixer will hesitate...equivocate...vacillate...prevaricate...and generally fornicate everything up. He will protect the guilty insiders...at the expense of the innocent taxpayers and general public. And in the end, he will let the debtor default, too, for he will have no other choice. *** We warned you about buying Facebook. Here, another colleague, Dan Ferris, elaborates: Buying the Facebook IPO at its rumored valuation level would be a big mistake. Buying the other social networking companies at current valuations is also a mistake. Dan thinks the whole market has been infected by a bullishness. If you’re eating, sleeping, and breathing in lots of news, it’s virtually impossible not to get infected. For example, check out the American Association of Individual Investors Sentiment Survey. Every week, they ask investors if they’re bullish, neutral, or bearish on stocks for the next six months. In the most recent survey 43.l8% of those surveyed were bullish...and just 25.1% were bearish. (The average level of bullishness is 39% and the average bearish reading is 31%, so the latest survey is showing extreme bullishness.) Dan thinks that investors — most of them — routinely buy the wrong investments at the wrong time: A famous study shows how investors ruin their results by letting the market’s ups and downs rule their decisions. Market research firm Dalbar runs an ongoing study comparing stock market returns (the S&P Index) with real investors’ returns. As of the 20-year period ended December 31, 2010, stocks returned 9.14% per year, on average, but investors earned just 3.27% per year during the period.” Investors got slighted because they got scared at the bottom and sold, and bought back in only after a rising market fueled their confidence. Plenty of professionals make money following the market’s trends, but their methods are highly technical and unemotional. That’s the opposite of the hysteria that sinks so many investors. Getting caught up in bullishness gives many investors another reason to fool themselves in thinking they are smarter than they really are. Regards, Bill Bonner, for The Daily Reckoning ---------------------------------------- Here at The Daily Reckoning, we value your questions and comments. If you would like to send us a few thoughts of your own, please address them to your managing editor at email@example.com Where to Wait Out the Great Correction How Warren Buffett Looks at Stocks vs. Gold Investing How to Ruin Your Economy and Influence People Greece Negotiations Drag On Eurozone Economy Contracts Making Sense of Rising US Gas Prices ________________________________________ The Daily Reckoning: Now in its 11th year, The Daily Reckoning is the flagship e-letter of Baltimore-based financial research firm and publishing group Agora Financial, a subsidiary of Agora Inc. The Daily Reckoning provides over half a million subscribers with literary economic perspective, global market analysis, and contrarian investment ideas. Published daily in six countries and three languages, each issue delivers a feature-length article by a senior member of our team and a guest essay from one of many leading thinkers and nationally acclaimed columnists. 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Posted by Joe Anybody
at 12:01 AM PST
Updated: Thursday, 16 February 2012 2:33 PM PST
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