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US Bureaucracy Is Losing Its Mind, and Its Grip

18 hours 48 min ago

Some of you will scoff. “North has gone round the bend this time.” On the contrary: the United States government has gone round the bend . . . again.

I begin with North’s law of bureaucracy: “Some bureaucrat will inevitably enforce an official rule to the point of utter imbecility.” There are no known exceptions to this law. It is right up there with the second law of thermodynamics.

But you want evidence. I offer this: a recent article in The Scotsman, whose very name exudes both high culture and low, low prices.

Let me also invoke the words of Dave Barry: “I am not making this up.”

BAGPIPERS have expressed their fear over a new law which led to two US teenagers having their pipes seized by border control staff at the weekend.

Campbell Webster, 17 and Eryk Bean, 17, both from New Hampshire, had their pipes seized while travelling between Canada and the US, just two days before they were due to fly to Scotland for the World Pipe Band Championships.

Mr Webster’s pipes, which were previously used by his father in his role as an official piper to the Queen, were confiscated by officials because they are made out of ivory.

New laws brought in earlier this year mean that owners of pipes containing ivory must get a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) certificate from the US Fish and Wildlife Service in order to transport their pipes across borders.

And pipers hoping to travel to Scotland for the competition will have to make an appointment with officials at a “designated” port and make a declaration on their customs form.

But pipers say the confusing rules, brought in at the end of June, are causing “significant concern” – with many unsure how the new laws work.

Mr Webster, from Concord, New Hampshire, had his £6,000 bagpipes taken off him by US Border Patrol in Vermont just two days before he was due to fly to Scotland.

The teenager said he had a CITES permit but was told he needed it amended to allow him to travel through smaller border crossings.

After beginning a campaign online, Mr Webster had his pipes returned on Tuesday.

He said: “My friend and I both had our pipes seized by the US government Sunday night.

“We were told we were never going to see them again.”

It gets worse – or better, if you are someone (as I am) who makes a living by spotting tidbits like this one.

First, ponder this: to take bagpipes across a U.S. border, you must have written permission from the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The United States of America long ago began its journey down the rabbit hole made famous in Alice in Wonderland. To see just how far down the hole we have gone, consider this official elucidation of the law.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said: “To take bagpipes with elephant ivory out of the United States and back, musicians need to obtain a CITES document from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and leave and return to the country via one of our 38 designated ports.

“Musicians should contact the port 48 hours in advance to arrange to declare their instrument and obtain Service clearance on departure or arrival.

“If musicians want to travel internationally from other U.S. airports or across land borders, they must also apply for a designated port exception permit and pay inspection fees.”

The two young men were trying to cross the border at a port of exit that was not one of the 38 designated ports. They lost their bagpipes, which have probably been shipped to the same storage facility that houses the Ark of the Covenant.

I choose not to offer a modification of the old line of the free trade party: “When bagpipes do not cross borders, armies will.” This I because I am well aware of the modern history of bagpipes. The invading British Army usually crossed borders with a contingent of pipers to announce its arrival. The scene in Gunga Din is on target. The natives heard the British troops coming before they saw them. But I am a great proponent of the peacetime uses of bagpipes. Like nuclear fission, the bagpipe is not all bad.

Bagpipes and liberty: they go together, at least when separated from British foreign policy.

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22 Ways To Get a Better Night’s Sleep

18 hours 48 min ago

Last week we discussed the nature of sleep and why it’s so important that you get enough of it.

If you’ve had trouble falling asleep for years, the information may have made you feel more frustrated than inspired. Fear not! Today we’ll take a look at a wide range of tips for slumbering soundly, night after night.

If you’ve been getting okay sleep, my goal is that you’ll find a tip that can help you make it much better.

Before we begin, the important thing to understand is that getting a good night’s sleep is an all-day affair. How you wake up, what you do during the day, and your nightly routine can all affect the quality and quantity of your sleep. Below are some research-backed tips that you can employ from dawn to dusk to prepare your body and mind for sleep. Make sure to experiment; what works for someone else might not work for you. You might consider investing in a sleep tracker or downloading a sleep-tracking app so you can measure the effects of your sleep experimentation.

Preparing For Good Sleep

1. Invest in a good mattressRemember, you’ll spend an average of 24 years – 24 years! – of your life sleeping. So there’s no investment that yields a better ROI than a mattress that helps you slumber soundly (and that’s not always the most expensive one, either). Pick the mattress that’s right for you. If the manufacturer lets you test it out for a trial period, all the better.

While you’re at it, change your sheets once a week. Nothing feels better than getting into a bed with nice, clean linen.

2. Find your ideal sleeping schedule by going camping for a week. If you want to find the ideal amount of sleep your unique body craves, as well as its ideal wake time, go camping for a week. Researchers at the University of Colorado found that participants who roughed it in the great outdoors shifted their sleeping schedule to one that lined up more with the earth’s natural solar day and night. In the absence of artificial light, they returned to their primeval pattern. On average, the participants went to bed earlier, woke up earlier, and slept longer. Even self-proclaimed night owls shifted to a sleep/wake cycle that lined up with the natural solar day and night and started going to sleep well before their “normal” bedtime back home. (This suggests that their night owl-ness may be driven more by preference and habit than their biological makeup.)

Even if your “real life” schedule can’t accommodate the natural sleeping schedule you uncover while slumbering in the wild, it can provide you ideals to shoot for. And the experiment should at least give you an idea of how much sleep your body needs to feel fully rested. Shoot for that number, whatever your schedule may be.

And if you’re suffering massive sleep debt, a week of camping away from artificial light and the stresses of modern life is a great way to catch up on some much-needed Zs.

When You Wake Up and During the Day

3. Stick to a consistent schedule. Our bodies are evolved to sleep at a regular schedule. Ideally, that schedule would align with the earth’s natural day and night cycle. In our modern 24/7 society, that sort of schedule is not possible for most of us. But we can do our best to be consistent with the sleep schedule that we do have. Experiment, find the schedule that works for you, and then stick to it like clockwork — that means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day – even on weekends!

4. Wake up at the same time every morning. If for any reason you have to go to bed later than usual, try to still wake up at the same time. This is particularly important if you’re trying to establish a new, healthier sleep schedule. The time of your waking seems to set the schedule of when you’ll start feeling sleepy later in the day. Thus, if you go to bed late, and then wake up late, it’ll start a cycle that messes up your whole rhythm. If you instead get up early even after going to bed late, you’re more likely to feel tired at the desired time.

5. Never hit the snooze button. In hitting the snooze button you may think you’re giving your body and mind the bit of extra sleep that it needs, but you’re actually just setting yourself up to feel groggier than you would have if you’d just gotten right out of bed. You see, when you hit snooze and drift back to sleep, rather than returning to the lighter sleep stage you were just in (in which your body may have already been preparing to wake up), you may begin a new sleep cycle altogether. Then, when the alarm goes off the second time, it’ll likely catch you in a deeper stage of sleep, leaving you feeling groggy, ill-rested, and looking for a mallet to smash your alarm clock. To help rid yourself of this habit, try placing your alarm (be it a phone or a clock) in a place where you’ll have to physically get out of bed to turn it off.

6. Expose yourself to bright light as soon as you get up. Bright light, particularly blue light, sends a signal to our brain to stop releasing melatonin and to start raising cortisol levels to help wake us up. Research suggests that morning exposure to bright light not only helps wake you up, but can also help you get to sleep later that night. Early morning light may even help regulate your metabolism; one study showed a correlation between exposure to light in the morning and a healthy BMI. The author of that study, Dr. Phyllis C. Zee, explains: “Light is the most potent agent to synchronize your internal body clock that regulates circadian rhythms, which in turn also regulates energy balance. The message is that you should get more bright light between 8 a.m. and noon.”

If you wake up after the sun rises, take a 20-minute walk in the morning to let your eyes bask in its dawning rays. But exposure to bright light is particularly helpful if you rise when it’s still dark. In such a case, you’ll have to bring in an artificial source of light. One thing that I’ve had a lot of success with is Philips goLITE BLU. I turn it on and sit in front of it for 20 minutes while I’m doing my morning routine.

While the blue light emitted from your electronic devices isn’t as strong, taking a look at your laptop as soon as you get out of bed can help wake you up too; however, checking your email first thing in the morning can also induce crankiness and doesn’t get your morning off to the right, focused start.

7. Exercise every day. Dimes to donuts your hard-toiling great-grandpa didn’t have any trouble getting to sleep at night. Manual labor is truly the best sleeping aid of all.

In our techno-industrial economy where most of us sit at a desk all day, the next best thing to pushing a plow is doing a daily bout of exercise. The research suggests that regular exercisers sleep better than those who don’t. If possible, you may consider exercising in the morning to help wake you up. If nighttime exercise is the only thing you can do, that’s fine as well. Just not too close to bedtime.

8. Try intermittent fasting. Research suggests that intermittent fasting can help you get better sleep at night. A simple way to implement intermittent fasting is to begin your fast at 7 or 8PM and then skip breakfast the next morning and don’t eat until lunch. From 12PM until 7PM you can eat. If you want to incorporate a bedtime snack into your routine (see below), you’ll need to use a different schedule, shifting your feeding window until later in the day.

9. Avoid caffeine late in the day. Caffeine is a stimulant that will keep you awake if you take it too late in the day. Keep in mind that the half-life (how long it lingers in your body) of caffeine is three to five hours, meaning that that cup of Joe you drank at 4PM could still be having a stimulating effect on you at 9PM. If you’re having trouble sleeping, consider cutting the caffeine at around mid-day or early afternoon.

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The US Promised Not To Weaponize Ebola

18 hours 48 min ago

German High Government Official Seeks Washington’s Reassurance that the US did Not Weaponize the Species of Ebola that Germany Made Available to Washington

Washington has not provided the reassurance. By providing the virus to Washington prior to effective reassurances, Germany is complicit in the breakout of a bio-warfare grade of ebola, which has now spread to the US and Europe.

At this point, it is not clear that this ebola strain will be contained or whether Washington has any intention or ability to contain it. The arrogance and inhumanity of Washington is beyond comprehension.

US Army withheld promise from Germany that Ebola virus wouldn’t be weaponized 

Published time: October 20, 2014 17:17

The United States has withheld assurances from Germany that the Ebola virus – among other related diseases – would not be weaponized in the event of Germany exporting it to the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases.

German MFA Deputy Head of Division for Export Control Markus Klinger provided a paper to the US consulate’s Economics Office (Econoff), “seeking additional assurances related to a proposed export of extremely dangerous pathogens.”

Germany subsequently made two follow-up requests and clarifications to the Army, according to the unclassified Wikileaks cable.

”This matter concerns the complete genome of viruses such as the Zaire Ebola virus, the Lake Victoria Marburg virus, the Machupo virus and the Lassa virus, which are absolutely among the most dangerous pathogens in the world,” the request notes.

“The delivery would place the recipient in the position of being able to create replicating recombinant infectious species of these viruses,” the cable notes.

However, it also points out that Germany has in place an “exceptionally restrictive policy,” adding that approval would not be granted to the export until US assurance was provided.

”A decision about the export has not yet been made. Given the foregoing, we would appreciate confirmation that the end use certificate really is from the Department of the Army and of the accuracy of the data contained therein,” the document stated.

There is no follow-up document available to confirm whether the US Army eventually provided Germany with the necessary guarantees. 

Bioweapons were outlawed in the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972 and was signed and ratified by 179 signatories, including Germany, the US and Russia.

It dictates that signatories, “under all circumstances the use of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons is effectively prohibited by the Convention” and “the determination of States parties to condemn any use of biological agents or toxins other than for peaceful purposes, by anyone at any time.”

Don’t Become a Debt Slave

18 hours 48 min ago

Who can afford to spend $30,000 – the average purchase price paid as of 2013 – on a new car?

The answer is … very few.

Most new car “buyers” are in fact debtors. They sign loan documents and make monthly payments. Typically, for five years, the length of the average new car loan. Some extend this to six years – and sevenyears is not unheard of.

Some of you may remember when the typical new car loan was three years.

What’s happened?

Several things.

First – and most obviously – cars have become more expensive in real/inflation-adjusted terms. In 1970, a full-size family car – something like a Chevrolet Impala sedan – had a base price just over $3,000 (see here). Using the government’s own inflation calculator, this works out to just over $18,000 in 2014 dollars (see here). In contrast, a 2014 Chevy Impala has a base price just under $27,000 ($26,910).

Now, it’s true the ’14 Impala is a much better-equipped car than its 1970 counterpart. The ’14 comes standard with air conditioning and power everything, while the ’70 came standard with power nothing – and AC was optional. But the fact remains that the buy-in price of the ’14 Impala is about $10k higher than the ’70 Impala. And it is not possible to order a “de-contented” or “stripped” Impala without AC and other cost-adders. If you want the new car, you must come up with the money.

The problem, of course, is that most people haven’t got it. Wages (real take-home pay) haven’t increased appreciably since 1970 for most people. And the cost of nearly everything – excepting consumer electronics – continues to go up. Especially important things like food and fuel. It doesn’t leave much left for car buying.

So, most people borrow.

At interest.

For a long time.

Payment schedules are now close to twice as long as they were circa 1970 because otherwise, very few people could even afford to assume the debt load. That 2014 Impala, for instance, would cost you about $450/month for 60 months (five years) assuming no interest. On the 1970 “three year plan,” the monthly payment would be $750.

Which is why the five (and six) year plans are now the rule.

I expect this to trend to continue for the simple reason that cars are not going to getcheaper – at least, not unless the government stops piling on the mandates. If anything, these compliance costs are going to go up rather than down. Because there appears to be a complete disconnect between awareness of economic (and engineering) realities and the cost-no-object demands of politicians and regulators in Washington.

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The Rich Man’s Panic of 2014

18 hours 48 min ago

The rumors we were reporting on the street about the Hedge Funds appear to be true. They have been unable to see time as so often the case and have been hit with the worst losses in Industry’s history since 2011. This may indeed contribute to what we see with the postponement of the Phase Transition being set in motion with the rush into bonds.

This is turning out to be the “Rich Man’s Panic of 2014″ that has produced a bloodbath among many hedge funds who often trade-off of just opinion interspersed with fundamentals. This is shaping up to be perhaps the industry’s worst loss since late 2011 when then as well they could not see the change in trend.

The $2.8 trillion hedge-fund world has not proven to be great market timers. After all, it was Long-Term Capital Management that needed to be bailed out for its massive losses on Russian bet. They are often praised for going with the trend, yet wiped out when that trend shifts unable to see TIME. Far too many are simply fundamental traders rather than technical. They scour the surface looking for sure bets like takeovers and broad economic trends. This time, they were hit also unable to see the coming rise in volatility our models were warning about would begin in 2014 with September.

The losses came with the sharp sudden rise in volatility in stocks, bonds, currencies and commodities. The Wall Street Journal reported firms that were hit such as Jana Partners LLC, Discovery Capital Management LLC and Paulson & Co., all of which have posted losses ranging from 5% to 11% for the month. With retail participation at record lows, the market became a crowded affair with everyone on the same side. That has historically been a danger for any market.

The Wall Street Journal quoted one  executive saying “An idyllic investment environment amid an improving economy…and then cue the music…dun-dun…dun-dun…dun-dun,” wrote Paul Westhead, chief executive of $4 billion fund Rimrock Capital Management LLC, in a letter to investors.

So where will fund managers go now? It appears they run into the arms of bonds. They appear to have a best one year before getting really wiped out on that one. Fr too many are just fundamental traders with inconsistent winning streaks that last for 3 to 4 years at a time.

Some funds were counter-trend plays and they made money into last week, However, such funds are typically the minority. It often takes real experience to know when to play counter-trend moves.

US 30 years Bonds back to 1798 – Dow Jones Industrials back to 1790

The crisis we face in all financial markets cannot be ascertained with models back-tested only a few decades. We need extensive databases to correlate human interaction when events unfold and how long do trends even last. We must explore the fourth dimension – TIME. This is where history counts. If we do not understand history, as Lady Thatcher said – we might be condemned to repeat its mistakes.

Reprinted from Armstrong Economics.

Pro-Gold Guys Ahead in Switzerland

18 hours 48 min ago

The first poll of how the Swiss people will vote in the “Save Our Swiss Gold” initiative on November 30th shows that the Swiss are leaning towards voting for the pro-gold initiative.

Gold Initiative Poll Results –  20 Minuten

The poll had quite a large sample of 13,397 people from all over Switzerland who participated in the first phase of the 20 Minuten online survey on October 15.

The poll shows that 45% approve the Swiss gold initiative and 39% are against. There are 29% firm yes voters and 28% firm no voters (see graph). The poll shows 16% are leaning towards a yes or are “more yes” and 11% are leaning towards a no or are “more no.”

20 Minuten or 20 Minutes in English, is a very popular German language free daily newspaper and online paper in Switzerland, published in a tabloid format and online.

The political scientist Lucas Leeman and Fabio Wasserfallen organised the survey according to demographic, geographic and political variables and it is weighted so that the sample corresponds as closely as possible the structure of the voting population according to 20 Minuten.

There are a lot of swing voters with 16% undecided and not wanting to commit themselves.

The poll suggests that the Swiss gold initiative remains tightly in the balance and may be much closer than is commonly expected.

Swiss Gold Reserves

Some have suggested that as this was an online poll, caution may be needed as the 13,397 people polled are likely to be more digital savvy and younger. However, it is still believed to give a good barometer of sentiment just five weeks before the poll and before there has been concerted campaigning by either side.

20 Minuten is distributed to commuters at over 150 train stations across the country. Since September 2004, the German language edition has been the most widely read daily newspaper in Switzerland, surpassing Blick. The audited distribution in 2004 was 329,242 (WEMF AG) and it had a readership of an estimated 782,000 according to Wikipedia.

The three key measures of the “Save Our Swiss Gold” initiative are the following:

* an increase in gold holdings of the SNB to reflect an allocation of 20% of total reserves (today gold accounts for 7.7% of total reserves)* and a moratorium on the sale of Swiss gold reserves​* the repatriation of Swiss gold reserves – some of which are believed to be in the UK and Canada

Reprinted with permission from GoldCore.

Fight the Deep State

18 hours 48 min ago

The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, said Thomas Jefferson. We must remain vigilant individually and collectively- that is, if we value our liberties and integrity. We must utilize all we can in our fight against those who stand between us and our liberties.

There are collective actions that we can take. No one can deny the power of a united front in taking on the establishment: collective protests, collective boycotting, social networking to spread blacked-out information and new …

There also are many actions that we can take as individuals. At its face value, each individual action and its impact may appear insignificant. However, when you start adding them together you see and understand their amazing effects:

Think about individual families who have decided to take a stand against the institutionalization and indoctrination of their children by the establishment:

There are about 2.2 million home-educated students in the United States. There were an estimated 1.73 to 2.35 million children (in grades K to 12) home educated during the spring of 2010 in the United States (Ray, 2011). It appears the homeschool population is continuing to grow (at an estimated 2% to 8% per annum over the past few years).

A recent report in Education News states that, since 1999, the number of children who are homeschooled has increased by 75%. Though homeschooled children represent only 4% of all school-age children nationwide, the number of children whose parents choose to educate them at home rather than a traditional academic setting is growing seven times faster than the number of children enrolling in grades K-12 every year.

We are looking at individual choice and actions that amount to millions collectively. Can anyone deny the power and impact reflected in these numbers? Well, it starts with one, only one individual family unit.

There are so many examples that illustrate individual actions growing into a massive front in challenging the establishment: Saying no to mass medication and vaccination, refusing body scanners at the airports, boycotting and weaning ourselves from the establishment media …

That brings me to the topic of empowerment and independence that comes with self-publishing. I believe I have earned the right to speak up on this issue. I loathe people who engage in practices that contradict what they preach in public. I have disdain for those who never practice what they advocate and preach (Well, that takes care of every single political and public figure we have. Doesn’t it?!).

With my first book, Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story, I was kind of led to the path of self-publishing.  Here is how it went:

I had to obtain legal services and fight the government to clear my book for publication. As a former FBI contractor with Top Secret Clearance I had, without realizing it at the time (aka naivety), signed away my right to publish any nonfiction books without obtaining prepublication review and approval from the Justice Department and the FBI. To make a long story short (-er), DOJ-FBI refused to clear a single word in my book manuscript. They claimed that everything, every single word in my manuscript, was considered classified, thus not allowed to be published. If you think this is some kind of fantasy or embellishment, please read the following: Click Here As you can see by the documented evidence, the Kafkaesque situation is as real as it comes in the so-called Land of the Free.

Anyhow. What happened next? The DOJ-FBI authorities held on to their ludicrous assertion. They put their foot down and said: Dare to publish this, and we’ll send you to jail with a one-way ticket. Guess what I did? For those of you who have been with and known me this doesn’t come as a surprise. I said: ‘I dare you.’ I took my chances. I want to emphasize ‘I’ since doing so, publishing Classified Woman without government approval, only put me at risk- If I published the book I was going to be the only liable party.

You’d think, with scandalous publicity like that (The Forbidden Book, The New & Real Fahrenheit 451), the top US publishers would have fallen all over each other to get the right to print and publicize the book. Wouldn’t you? Not so. The top 5 publishers (in size only) refused to touch the book. They said things like: We don’t want to get into some hot water with the FBI, or, we will only publish this if we have undisputable approval from the government …

Then I went to Mid-Size publishers. The majority of mid-size establishment publishers responded along the same lines as their bigger brothers. A couple of them differed by using other ludicrous lines such as: ‘Your book gets into the Obama administration (and it makes him look bad). Your case happened during the Bush Administration. We will be willing to consider it if you end the book with Chapter 18 and get rid of the chapters dealing with the Obama Admin.’ I said: over my dead body- this was a true account, not subject to any establishment modification.

In the end I was left with only one choice in order to publish this book, and do so with integrity and truthfulness. That choice was: Self-Publishing. At the time, self-publishing was fairly new, and it came with a bunch of stereotype and a bad reputation (of course, by the mainstream media and establishment), and loads of stigmatization. In order to make the best out of a hard situation, and to lessen the negativities attached to self-published books, I decided to approach the self-publication process as any traditional publishing house would: I searched, found, and hired a highly-respected and experienced editor who had worked with one of the top 3 publishing houses for decades; I brought on board an award-winning book cover designer who also had worked with one of the top three publishers for several decades; I also hired one of the top book interior designers in the industry and employed the assistance of independent proofreaders …

In the end we came up with a good quality and solidly produced book that we could all be proud of:  A book that did not differ from those published by the establishment publishers in look and feel; a book that differed greatly from those taken on and altered by the establishment publishers when it came to its content. And contrary to all the negative predictions, Classified Woman became fairly successful. Without any marketing dollars and power, without any coverage (without a single word from the mainstream media), and without utilizing the polarized partisanship divide, we were able to make it possible for Classified Woman to achieve the status of a very successful nonfiction book – based on mainstream establishment standards.

Was it difficult? Sure.

Was it expensive? Of course- we had to get a small loan for production.

Was it worth it? You bet. It became a book that not only challenged the establishment with its content, but also with its quality and the way it was published independently. It is a book that I am proud of. It is a book that is measured and judged solely by its readers- the real people, not by tools of propaganda created and promoted by the Deep State.

I challenged the establishment by writing this book in the first place. I continued the challenge throughout the retaliation and threats issued by the government. Further, I challenged and boycotted the mainstream establishment corporations by publishing it independently.

This is why I decided to do exactly the same thing with my new book The Lone Gladio. Of course, this time around I had none of the previous big obstacles: As a fiction book I did not have to submit the manuscript to the government. Because of that, and considering the relative success of my previous book, this time around I actually had a few publishers approach me with offers to get the rights to publish this book. I did not have to think about it; not even for a second. My answer was firm: No. I am going to publish this independently.

Writing The Lone Gladio was my way of challenging the criminal establishment- the Deep State, as an individual.

Self-publishing The Lone Gladio was my way of boycotting and challenging the mainstream establishment publishing houses- The mega corporations that have become the mouthpiece and propaganda outlets of the Deep State, as an individual.

Bringing The Lone Gladio directly to you, the people, was, and is, my way of bypassing the mainstream media and channels, and making them irrelevant, as an individual.

Spreading the info and getting the word out on this book is up to you, the people, to take on, as one way to challenge and counter the establishment and its mega corporations, collectively.

Utilizing this book to inform and educate others on the Deep State is also up to you, the people, both as individuals and collectively.

I, Sibel Edmonds, as an individual, have taken on, challenged and countered the establishment with The Lone Gladio.

You, the people, collectively, can utilize this effort to collectively challenge and counter the establishment by being the media and network to spread the word and to inform others.

The price of our freedom and liberty is indeed eternal vigilance. We must do all we can for our freedom- individually and collectively. And we must never give up. Never.

Listen to the podcast

Reprinted with permission from Boiling Frogs Post.

The Dangers of Ancestor Worship

18 hours 48 min ago

Murray Rothbard pointed out in “Anatomy of the State” that worship of one’s ancestors “becomes a none too subtle means of worship of one’s ancient rulers.”

I think this point has been vastly understated since then.  This phenomenon represents a large factor explaining why there is such momentum behind state worship in our time.  On those occasions when I have been allowed to have in-depth conversations that get to the roots of people’s undying devotion to statism, I often hit a common nerve after most of the logical reasons to oppose statism are admitted too.  (Getting to this point is rare by the way since anger, silence, and blank stares are the usual reaction when there is no defense to an indefensible position.)

The struck nerve relates to a deep-seated reverence that many people maintain for their ancestors.  People want to think, “My daddy was a good guy.”  Their uncles were good guys.  Their grandpa was a good guy.  They were spiritual.  They were honest.  They worked hard.  They told the truth.  They were respectful to others.  They would help someone in need.  Therefore, certainly, they would not have committed a chunk of their lives to something unjust.

Usually the unchallengeable position revolves around Daddy’s or Grandpa’s participation in WWI or WWII (or Vietnam, Korea, etc).  Ron Paul’s opposition to a century of perpetual war is taken as a personal insult directly impugning the family tree of so many people.

However, if those war participants were alive and were given a chance to truthfully explain their options, their dilemma would possibly be clearer.  Ten million people were drafted during WWII.  Those that were drafted had the biggest chance of going to the most life-threatening duty, specifically the infantry.  So, another six million volunteered, avoided the draft, and were thereby allowed to choose their arena of duty.   Most of those chose either the Navy or the Army Air Corps where their chances of survival were significantly better.  It was either wait for the almost inevitable draft or take preemptive action to get “in” officially, but remain mostly out of the line of fire.  My father and father-in-law both took the latter option.  People often bestow veteran worship on deceased relatives, even those who expressed dissatisfaction with what they were involved in.

When the decades roll by and state-sponsored textbooks cull out the honest, horrifying, heart-wrenching, family-shredding historical accounts from those periods, descendants that want to honor their ancestors are often satisfied to regurgitate the state-promoted explanation which fosters the conclusion that daddy did the honorable, just, noble, Godly thing.  We usually want to speak well of the departed that are close relatives.  People pull out daddy’s medals or insignia and speak honorably of him.  Daddy and Grandpa are probably not around anymore to set things straight.  Or, maybe they wouldn’t set things straight.  Maybe they would want to be known as good guys and take the truth and corresponding guilt to their graves while trying to not think about that wretched time in their lives.

This feeling also exists when Daddy or Mama was a cop, a bureaucrat, a public school teacher, a fire fighter, etc.  The descendants want to think that their ancestors conducted their affairs honestly without taking anything unjustly from anyone.

There is also a significant religion-for-profit promotion of state-ancestor worship.  People look to their ancestors as those who passed them the mantle of religion; the “faith of our fathers.”  That heritage was passed down to the descendants from a virtuous ancestor.  The tradition of religion becomes all bound up in war and the state because the forefathers may have been almost inextricably linked to the state in their particular era of oppression.  The desire to see ancestors as virtuous, even in statism, sometimes also manifests itself in a desire to reunite as a family with missed ancestors in a glorious afterlife as a loving virtuous family.  This virtuous family life may not have been a complete reality on earth for that family, but a reverence for the dear departed may block out the possibility that the departed’s renowned visible participation in the evil of statism will ever be something that can be rejected philosophically without a feeling of betrayal for the revered departed.

Hardly any logic can break through the wall of support for statism when these spiritual longings fuel a desire to sanctify evil bloody coercion in order to cleanse the memory of a cherished relative.  Daddy’s participation in war becomes much more palatable if daddy was doing the Godly thing.  Paid preachers know this and many weave together worship of warfare and overall statism with reverence for the living and departed members of that caste in messages that are designed to assuage any negative feelings in the minds of the listeners.   Rather than discussing the wretched events that daddy and his colleagues were forced to participate in, they would rather sanctify ancestors’ actions making them clean as the driven snow.  People will pay handsomely for this type of moral whitewashing of their heritage.  The family history indicating that the relative participated in statism needs to become part of a religiously-backed complete package of a good man; a good family.

The warmongering preachers who make money violating the teachings of the Prince of Peace, couldn’t make money preaching such a gross distortion if the congregants didn’t want to pay to hear it.  In those cases, the church goers themselves advocate a worship of the state and are paying for a philosophy that allows them to feel better about their ancestors and current relatives who are part of the state system.  People want to hear that their spiritual forefathers were justified in doing things that the state coerced or lied them into.

Overt worship of the military is usually uttered and promoted by persons who have relatives that are, or were, in the military.   Nowadays, the “Support the Troops” sticker on the car ahead of you almost always indicates that a relative of the praiser is, or was, involved in the warfare state.  It is largely understood that the praisers, and the ones calling for praise, are the ones who either have a financial stake, want social status emanating from laudatory praise, or want to revere their ancestors who participated in the system.

But I think that most people would rather live in a world where they can speak the truth.  Rather than accepting that “lying is a part of growing up” and that at a certain age you join the inner circle of adults that learn that lies and deceit represent the “cold hard reality about how the world really works,” non-sociopathic people feel better being able to speak openly about the moral reality that they clearly perceive in their minds.   Breaking out of a lifestyle of deception into one of honest interaction definitely improves one’s outlook.  And it is fun to talk openly to people and to not nibble around the edges when describing the 800-pound gorilla in the room.  It is enjoyable to have friends that laugh at the state-supporting fallacies in the main stream media.  In this day and age, you can actually have contact with those honest people that you didn’t even know existed in the past.  Would you rather that your pool of associates shrinks down to a small un-talkative group that only rubber stamps in a short abbreviated fashion the collectivist conclusions of the day; or would you rather joyously discuss a brighter future with those who also excitedly discuss the logic and philosophy behind the world that surrounds us.

I can hardly believe that I have, this week, had interaction with some of the most significant writers, thinkers, and truth tellers of our time.  And, I did it for free with just a few clicks on a keyboard.  No postage stamp, no long distance bill.  I have done the same for free with Skype and with Google Hangouts video chat.  It is quite a fantastic feeling.  And it is never too late to start a legacy of openness.  It is much better than the short stilted conversations that end with awkward defensive silence.  Sure, you occasionally get the blank stares.  But, ultimately, despite the initial hard stares, a lot of your collectivist acquaintances will see you as a source of truth even if they never click “like” on your weird (read truthful) facebook posts.

Ron Paul’s focus on the Fed as the financial source of many of the state’s evils was an area that was previously understated from the perspective of what was financially pushing the state along.  From the “social” side, the worship of ancestors, and consequently the misdeeds of their rulers, has a similar understated importance for its weight in perpetuating the social momentum of statism.

Ebola: a Scurvy-Like Illness?

18 hours 48 min ago

This past weekend, I travelled to Indiana to give a lecture.  During my driving time, I was thinking about the Ebola problem.  Ebola eventually kills by causing massive bleeding.  Patients suffering with Ebola may bleed out of every orifice as well as from the nipples.

To cure Ebola, the media has been reporting that there is a race to bring a vaccine to market.  However, a vaccine probably won’t help those already infected with Ebola.  Other pharmaceutical companies are researching anti-viral drugs that will kill Ebola.

At present there is no Big Pharma treatment for Ebola.  The CDC recognizes this fact.  The CDC states, “Recovery from Ebola depends on good supportive clinical care and the patient’s immune response (my emphasis). People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years.”

In this case, I agree with the CDC.  What we should focus on is supporting the immune system so that it has a chance to fight back against viruses–like Ebola–and other foreign invaders.  How is that accomplished?  Supplying the immune system with the nutrients it needs is the best way to ensure that it can fight off foreign invaders.

Let’s go back to the first paragraph in this post–Ebola kills, in part, by causing massive bleeding.  Not everyone bleeds with Ebola, but it does occur late in the course of the illness.

Scurvy is a condition of severe vitamin C deficiency.   Symptoms of scurvy include diarrhea, fever paralysis and bleeding.  All of these symptoms occur in an Ebola infection.  Perhaps the Ebola infection is causing a scurvy-like syndrome as the body’s store of vitamin C is used up fighting the infection.  Remember, we cannot manufacture vitamin C–we must ingest it from our diet.  Acute scurvy-like illnesses have been described in other infectious cases.

Read the rest of the article

Is the Chair of St. Peter Vacant?

18 hours 48 min ago

Normally a synod of Catholic bishops does not provide fireworks rivaling the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where Mayor Richard Daley’s boys in blue ran up the score on the radicals in Grant Park.

But, on Oct. 13, there emanated from the Synod on the Family in Rome a 12-page report from a committee picked by Pope Francis himself — and the secondary explosions have not ceased.

The report recognized the “positive aspects of civil unions and cohabitation” and said “homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.” As for Catholics who divorce and remarry without an annulment, we must avoid “any language or behavior that might make them feel discriminated against.”

Hailed by gay rights groups, the document stunned traditionalists.

“Undignified. Shameful. Completely Wrong,” said Cardinal Gerhard Muller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and guardian of Catholic orthodoxy.

He was echoed by Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. “The document lacks a solid foundation in the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterium,” said Cardinal Burke. “It gives the impression of inventing … what one Synod Father called ‘revolutionary’ teaching on marriage and the family.”

Cardinal Burke called on the pope for a restatement of Catholic teaching on marriage and morality, saying, “It is long overdue.” The pope has relieved Cardinal Burke of his post.

Voice of the Family, a coalition of international pro-life groups, calls the document a “betrayal.”

Irish representative Patrick Buckley said it “represents an attack on marriage and the family” by “in effect giving tacit approval of adulterous relationships.” The report, he adds, “fails to recognize that homosexual inclination is objectively disordered.”

Cardinal Walter Kasper has been the prime mover of the liberalization of Catholic teaching on sexual morality. When an African bishop objected to the report, Kasper retorted, “You can’t speak about this with Africans. … It’s not possible. … It’s a taboo.”

Hearing this insult, Burke went upside the head of his brother cardinal:

“It is profoundly sad and scandalous that such remarks were made by a cardinal of the church. They are a further indication of the determination … to advance Cardinal Kasper’s false positions, even by means of racist remarks about a significant and highly respected part of the Synod membership.”

In the report voted on by the full synod and released this weekend, the language most offensive to orthodox Catholics was gone.

But the synod meets again next year, and the stakes could scarcely be higher for the church and pope.

In his remarks at the synod’s close, Pope Francis mocked “so-called traditionalists” for their “hostile rigidity.”

That is one way of putting it. Another is that traditionalists believe moral truth does not change, nor can Catholic doctrines be altered.

Even a pope cannot do that.

Should such be attempted, the pope would be speaking heresy. And as it is Catholic doctrine that the pope is infallible, that he cannot err when speaking ex cathedra on faith and morals, this would imply that Francis was not a valid pope and the chair of Peter is empty.

We would then be reading about schismatics and sedevacantists.

The Catholic Church is not the Democratic Party of Obama, Hillary and Joe, where principled positions on abortion, homosexuality and same-sex marriage “evolve.” And when did flexibility in matters of moral principle become a virtue for Catholics?

Indeed, it was in defense of the indissolubility of marriage that Pope Clement VII excommunicated Henry VIII who held the title “Defender of the Faith” for refuting the heresies of Luther.

When Henry wished to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn, Pope Clement said this was not possible. His stand for marriage caused the Catholic Church to lose England.

One wonders what this pope thinks of Pope Clement’s “rigidity.”

While Francis I has nether denied not sought to change any doctrine, Cardinal Burke is correct. The pope has “done a lot of harm.” He has created confusion among the faithful and is soon going to have to speak with clarity on the unchanging truths of Catholicism.

In his beatification of Paul VI on Sunday, Pope Francis celebrated change. “God is not afraid of new things,” he said, “we are making every effort to adapt ways and methods … to the changing conditions of society.”

But among the social changes since Vatican II and Paul VI have been the West’s embrace of no-fault divorce, limitless promiscuity, abortion on demand and same-sex marriage.

Should the church “adapt” to these changes in society?

Should the church accommodate itself to a culture as decadent as ours? Or should the church stand against it and speak moral truth to cultural and political power, as the early martyrs did to Rome?

Pope Francis is hugely popular. But his worldly popularity has not come without cost to the church he leads and the truths he is sworn to uphold.

“Who am I to judge?” says the pope. But wasn’t that always part of the job description? And if not thee, Your Holiness, who?

Governments, as Parasites, Feast on Inflation

18 hours 48 min ago

In an article in the UK’s Telegraph on October 10, veteran economic correspondent Ambrose Evans-Pritchard laid bare the essential truth of the nearly universal current embrace of inflation as an economic panacea. While politicians, CEOs and economists talk about demand stimulus and the avoidance of a deflationary trap, Evans-Pritchard reminds us that inflation is all, and always, about debt management.

Every year the levels of government debt as a percentage of GDP, for both emerging market and developed economies, continue to go higher and higher. As the ratios push out into uncharted territories, particularly in Europe’s southern tier, the ability to “inflate away” debt through monetization remains the only means available to postpone default. Evans-Pritchard quotes a Bank of America analyst as saying that even “low inflation” (not to mention actual deflation) is the “biggest threat to the dynamics of public debt.” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde ramped up the rhetoric further when she recently told the Washington Press Club that “deflation is the ogre that must be fought decisively.” In other words, governments need inflation to remain viable. It’s the drug they just can’t do without.

But as this simple truth is just too embarrassing to admit, politicians and central bankers (and their academic, journalistic, and financial apologists) have concocted a variety of tortured theories as to why inflation is not just good for overly indebted governments, but an essential economic good for all. In a propaganda victory that even Goebbels would envy, it is now widely accepted that purchasing power must decrease for an economy to grow.

Despite centuries of economic evidence to the contrary,they argue that if prices do not rise by at least 2% per year consumers will not spend, business will not hire, and economies will slip into an intractable deflationary death spiral. To prevent this, they recommend governments spend without raising taxes. Not only would such a move involve a direct stimulus by increased government spending, but the money printed by the central bank to finance the deficit will push up prices, which they argue is very healthy for the economy. As the Church Lady used to say, “How convenient.”

Offering voters something for nothing is the Holy Grail of politics. But as a matter of reality, voters should know that a free lunch always comes with a cost. This isn’t even economics, its physics.

When increased government spending is paid for with higher taxes, workers notice that their paychecks have been reduced. This provides clear evidence that government spending comes with a cost. But this bright line is much more difficult to see when the spending is paid for by inflation (printing money). But the net impact on consumers is the same.

Inflation does not reduce the nominal amount of one’s paycheck. But rising prices reduce the amount of goods and services it can buy. So when governments run deficits, workers will be stuck with the bill. Whether they pay though higher taxes or inflation, their standard of living will be diminished. The main difference is that workers know to blame government for higher taxes, which explains why politicians prefer inflation.

To give cover to this tendency, economists have come up with the bizarre concept that falling, or even stable, prices squelch demand and deter consumption. The idea is that if consumers know that something will cost less in the future (even if it’s just 2% less) they will defer their purchases indefinitely, perhaps waiting for the cost of their desired product or service to approach zero. They argue that this can push an economy into a deflationary spiral of falling prices and diminished demand which may be impossible to escape.

But this idea ignores the time value of a product or service (people will tend to pay more for something they can enjoy sooner rather than later) and the economic law that shows how demand goes up as the price falls. But common sense has absolutely nothing to do with the current practice of economics. Instead, the dominant argument is that inflation is needed to seed the economy with demand.

However, this argument is merely a smoke screen. The only thing that inflation can do is to help governments spend. Economies do just fine with low inflation. In fact during the late 19th century, in the Great Sag, the United States experienced sustained deflation while creating much faster economic growth than we have seen in the last few generations. As recently as during the early 1960s the U.S. experienced consistently low inflation (barely 2%) and strong economic growth based on government figures. But in their call for more inflation, modern economists tend to forget or downplay those periods.

But inflation is actually more economically harmful than taxation. By blurring the link between higher government spending and reduced purchasing power, the public is less likely to oppose government expansion. And therein lies the truth. Inflation is not needed to grow economies but to grow governments.

The problem is particularly acute in Europe where countries of radically different fiscal characteristics have been locked into a politically unworkable monetary union. On one side are countries like Italy, Spain, and France whose governments have been notorious for offering generous benefits for which they can’t pay. Before adopting the euro, these countries had currencies that were not known for their bankability. Germany, on the other hand, had built its reputation on balanced budgets and a strong Deutsche Mark. But given the strict monetary restrictions that were needed to grease the skids toward union, the European Central Bank has not been able to create inflation as freely as the U.S. or Japan. As a result, the debt crisis there has been placed in particularly sharp focus, as the problem is perceived to be much larger than in other developed countries that can print at will.

The calls for more inflation in Europe should be raising hackles on the streets of the Continent. But Keynesian economists have provided cover for politicians for years, and true to form, they have again risen to the occasion. While it is understandable that governments are motivated to champion inflation, it is harder to see why professional economists are similarly inspired. Perhaps they believe modern economics has the magic ability to create something from nothing. But the idea that a properly applied macroeconomic formula can somehow circumvent the laws of supply and demand is ludicrous and dangerous.

Of course, the idea that governments can hold inflation to just 2% per annum is preposterous. Once it breaches that level, governments will be powerless to contain it. The endgame will be hyperinflation. That is because escalating levels of debt will prevent them from raising interest rates high enough to break the inflationary spiral. The last time that inflation really got out of hand was back in the early 1980s when a boldly inspired Federal Reserve was able to put the genie back in the bottle by hiking interest rates all the way up to 18%. The economy not only survived that harsh medicine, but it prospered as a result. Does anyone seriously believe that we could survive even a quarter of that dosage today?

Since the central banks are now destined to forever remain behind the inflation curve, it will continue to accelerate until the real threat of hyperinflation looms much larger than did the contrived threat of deflation.

The Battle for Raw Milk

18 hours 49 min ago

By Dr. Mercola

Raw milk dairy products from organically raised pasture-fed cows rank among some of the healthiest foods you can consume. It’s far superior in terms of health benefits compared to pasteurized milk, and if statistics are any indication, it’s safer, too.

While many believe that milk must be pasteurized before it can be safely consumed, it’s worth remembering that raw milk was consumed for eons before the invention of pasteurization.

It’s also important to realize that pasteurization is only really required for certain kinds of milk; specifically that from cows raised in crowded and unsanitary conditions, which is what you find in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). It really needs to be pasture-raised, NOT pasteurized.

Organically raised cows that are allowed to roam free on pasture where they can graze for their natural food source produce very different milk. Their living conditions promote and maintain their health and optimize their milk in terms of the nutrients and beneficial bacteria it contains.

The Case Against Pasteurization

Pasteurization destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamins, damages milk proteins, destroys vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, kills beneficial bacteria, and actually promotes the growth of disease-causing pathogens.

Normally, healthy microbes help keep pathogens in check, but since pasteurization kills everything, a massive void is left and it is very easy for disease-causing microbes to contaminate the great culture media in a pasteurized product.

Pasteurization also destroys many of the enzymes that are needed for digestion. As a result, drinking pasteurized milk can tax your pancreas, contribute to leaky gut or holes in the lining of your intestine, and promote disease—particularly allergies.

All of this makes the war on raw milk all the more disconcerting. There are many raw foods sold, yet raw dairy is being singled out for elimination.

Could you imagine if raw oysters, for example, suddenly became a “forbidden” food? Everyone knows there are risks to eating raw oysters. Yet people do it all the time and feed them to their children.

The fact is, ANY food, if poorly handled, carries the risk for disease. Ironically enough, the vast majority of foodborne illness is actually caused by highly processed foods, including pasteurized milk.

Raw Milk Access Threatened in Illinois

At present, my home state of Illinois is pushing to restrict raw milk sales. According to WGEM news:1

“The FDA estimates up to 400,000 Illinois residents drink raw milk and local dairy farmers say those consumers will lose out if new restrictions are put in place…”

For over 30 years, the unlicensed on-farm sale of raw milk has been legal by government policy in Illinois. It’s a policy that has worked well and with no reports of foodborne illness attributed to Illinois raw milk producers going back at least as far back as 1998, if not further back.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) issued proposed regulations on September 5 that a number of raw milk producers believe would put them out of business. The burdensome, restrictive rules include provisions that would require a producer with even just one cow or goat to have a permit and would be subject to regular inspections and testing; the rules would also prohibit unlicensed dairy farmers from giving raw milk to guests at their home.

A workgroup consisting mostly of IDPH officials and dairy industry reps drafted the proposed rules; raw milk producers and consumers were also part of the workgroup but their input was ignored. The group wasn’t funded by the legislature but rather by a grant from FDA, the most anti-raw milk government agency in the country. An FDA official who was part of that workgroup stated that FDA considers all raw milk potentially adulterated.

Opposition by raw milk producers and consumers to the rules is also understandable when you consider that the proposed rules would place regulation with an agency (IDPH) that was complicit in an attempt to ban raw milk in the state legislature earlier this year. In March, a consortium of county health departments tacked on an amendment to ban raw milk sales in a bogus bill to amend the Access to Restrooms Act (i.e., changing the word “the” to “the”). IDPH knew of the effort but did nothing to stop the consortium when it had the chance to do so. This happened just a few months after raw milk producers and consumers worked in good faith with IDPH to draft reasonable regulations governing raw milk sales and production in Illinois.

An official with IDPH has admitted that the regulations the department wants to become law would not be passed by the Illinois legislature if submitted as a bill. If it wouldn’t pass through the people’s branch of government, why should the agency adopt it as law?

IDPH will be holding a hearing on the proposed rules on Thursday, November 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 the Illinois Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. Shortly after the hearing, the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) will begin its review of the proposed regulations. JCAR has the power to reject the regulations. Illinois residents are encouraged to attend the November 6 hearing and to contact JCAR, asking its members to reject the proposed rules. Click here for details.

Raw Milk Issue Goes to Wisconsin Supreme Court

Meanwhile, parties to three different cases in Wisconsin are petitioning the state’s Supreme Court to decide, among other matters, whether obtaining and consuming raw milk is in fact a constitutional right. As reported by the Green Bay Press Gazette:2

“The plaintiffs ‘believe they have a fundamental constitutional right to choose what they eat and to choose where that food comes from,’ food rights activist Gayle Loiselle said. ‘We have constitutional rights to conduct business directly between farmers and citizens without government interference and without middlemen like food processors or distributors.’”

At present, Wisconsin allows “incidental” sales of raw milk; however, the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) interprets “incidental sales” in such a way as to limit the availability of raw milk to the consumer as much as it possibly can (e.g., one-time purchase at a given farm).

In one of the cases, a suit brought by members of the Nourished By Nature food buyers club (NBN) and farmers Mark and Petra Zinniker to get a court order upholding an agreement in which the Zinnikers boarded cows wholly owned by NBN and provided raw milk to club members, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Patrick J. Fiedler declared that

  • Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to own and use a dairy cow or a dairy herd.
  • Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to consume the milk from their own cow.
  • Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to board their cow at the farm of a farmer.
  • The Zinniker Plaintiffs’ private contract does not fall outside the scope of the States’ police power.
  • Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice.

In another of the cases, dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger was acquitted on three of four criminal charges for violations of the state Food and Dairy code, but was convicted on a fourth charge for violating a holding order when he removed food from refrigerators in his farm store that had been sealed by DATCP during a farm raid. Jurors later complained that the judge presiding over the trial, Guy Reynolds, prevented them from hearing evidence that would have changed their verdict on the hold order.

The judge’s conduct was biased against Hershberger throughout the trial; at one point, the judge admonished attorneys and witnesses for Hershberger that they were not to say the words “raw milk” and “liberty” before the jury.

The Wisconsin court cases typify what is happening elsewhere in the country where judges rubber-stamp the actions of overreaching government agencies interfering with people trying to obtain the foods they want to eat.

Raw Milk Bans Are Not Really About Food Safety; They’re About Market Control…

While the US government, public health, and dairy industry officials say they want to restrict the sale and distribution of raw milk because of safety concerns, it’s quite clear that safety isn’t the motivating factor.

The REAL issue is control of the dairy market.

You might think that, should raw dairy become the norm, the dairy industry would simply follow suit and switch over to producing raw products. But it’s not that simple. In fact, it would be virtually impossible for a CAFO operation to start producing safe raw milk.

CAFO cows tend to produce milk that is unhealthy and unsafe to drink raw because grains, antibiotics, and growth hormones, are necessary since the animals live in such unsanitary conditions. This changes the pH balance and the natural bacteria present in the cow’s gut. This in turn affects the natural beneficial bacteria and pathogens can widely contaminate the milk.

The fact of the matter is that Big Dairy depends on pasteurization, and this is why dairy lobbyists will stop at nothing to persuade government agencies to restrict or outright ban raw milk produced by much smaller organic or pastured dairy farms.

It’s really about eliminating competition, not about eliminating a major safety hazard. If it were, raw seafood and uncooked meats would surely be outlawed as well. Another control factor relates to the processing industry itself. He who controls the processing controls the market, including pricing.

Data Shows Superior Safety of Raw Milk Compared to Other Foods

Three years ago, Wise Traditions published research by Dr. Ted Beals MD,34 which reveals that you are 35,000 times more likely to get sick from other foods (most of which are processed) than you are from raw milk. If those aren’t reasonable odds for choosing raw milk, I don’t know what is. In his 2011 presentation given at the 3rd International Raw Milk Symposium, Dr. Beals also noted that:5

  • The CDC estimates more than 845,000 Americans acquire diarrhea caused by contaminated food, but only an average of 34 of those cases are attributed to drinking raw milk
  • CDC estimates an annual average of more than 63,150 Americans acquire diarrhea caused by food contaminated with E. coli. On average, just five of those are attributed to drinking raw milk
  • CDC estimates an annual average of more than 1 million Americans acquire diarrhea caused by food contaminated withSalmonella. On average, three of those are attributed to drinking raw milk

Furthermore, “those who wish to ban all milk that is not pasteurized use the horrors of Listeria monocytogenes’ systemic diseases to support their cause,” he says. “They consistently broadcast the high mortality and focus on the susceptibility of women who might be pregnant, fetuses, newborns and the elderly. However, Listeria monocytogenes has never been a significant public health risk from drinking fresh raw milk.”

Citing health concerns make absolutely no sense whatsoever when statistics are reviewed. As of 2010, there were well over 9.3 million consumers of raw milk in the US, yet only an average of 42 illnesses annually could be traced back to raw milk consumption. Meanwhile, there are an estimated total of 48 million cases of foodborne illness occurring each year in the US—from foods other than raw milk! As noted by Dr. Beals in his 2011 presentation:

“It is irresponsible for a senior national government administrator to testify that because of those 42 people, raw milk is inherently hazardous, parents should not be allowed to decide which foods they serve their children and milk should be banned across the nation unless it has been pasteurized.”

If you’re curious, you can check the CDC’s Foodborne Outbreak Database6 for yourself to see which foods, and which pathogens or contaminants, have reportedly caused illness over the past decades. At present, the database contains reports from 1998 up until 2012. All sorts of foods are represented, from salads to breads, pastas, various meat dishes, potatoes, and even beer… So while raw milk is featured as a cause of illness, if we use 2012 as an example, coleslaw, chicken, fish, and salad were still more common sources of illness that year. Yet no one is suggesting we ban the sale of any of those foods “to protect human health.”

The Benefits Clearly Outweigh the Potential Risks of Drinking Grass-Fed Raw Milk

While pasteurized milk have few if any redeeming qualities besides being readily available at every convenience store, raw milk from grass-fed cows has a number of health benefits you simply will not obtain from drinking pasteurized and homogenized CAFO milk. For example, raw grass-fed milk is:

Where to Find Raw Milk

There are several resources out there to help you locate raw milk and other dairy products, and the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund provides a state-by-state review of raw milk laws, in case you don’t already know what your state’s rules are.

One alternative to raw milk that is now available in some US food stores is lightly pasteurized and non-homogenized organic milk. If your local store doesn’t carry it yet, you can ask them to do so. As a last resort, if you cannot obtain raw milk, or for whatever reason choose not to, you could opt for organic pasteurized milk. At least you’ll avoid many of the detriments of CAFO dairy that way—including antibiotics, recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), and other drugs. You’ll also avoid a source of genetically engineered organisms (GMOs) and glyphosate, as CAFO cattle are typically fed genetically engineered grains.

Important Raw Milk Bills That Could Usher in More Food Freedom

Raw milk is the only food banned in interstate commerce. This makes it challenging for small farmers to share their raw milk products with people living across state lines. Such nonsensical bans have resulted in an increasing number of violent crack-downs on peaceful dairy farmers who want nothing more than to provide their customers with high-quality food.

Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky has plans to introduce a series of “food freedom” bills; he introduced the first two of those bills this spring, legislation that could be a big step forward for the raw milk movement. According to Massie, these bills are intended to improve consumer food choices while protecting local farmers from federal interference:

  • The Milk Freedom Act of 2014 (HR 4307): The bill would prohibit the federal government from interfering with the interstate traffic of raw milk products, offering relief for small farmers who have been harassed, fined, or prosecuted for distributing raw milk.
  • The Interstate Milk Freedom Act of 2014 (HR 4308): This bill would prevent the federal government from interfering with trade of unpasteurized natural milk or milk products between states where distribution or sale of such products is already legal.

To protect food freedom and freedom of choice for all Americans, I urge you to contact your government representatives, and ask them to vote YES on both HB 4307 and HB 4308. The Farm-to-Consumer Defense Fund has created an online petition to FAX your message to your U.S. Representative and both Senators. Please take a moment to sign the petition right now.

Sources and References

Government Slavery

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 02:01

Former Clinton Administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich recently called on the government to force young people to spend two years either “serving” in the military or performing some other type of government-directed “community service.” Neoconservative Senator John McCain has introduced legislation creating a mandatory national service program very similar to Reich’s proposal. It is not surprising that both a prominent progressive and a leading neocon would support mandatory national service, as this is an issue that has long united authoritarians on the left and right.

Proponents of national service claim that young people have a moral obligation to give something back to society. But giving the government power to decide our moral obligations is an invitation to totalitarianism.

Mandatory national service is not just anti-liberty, it is un-American. Whether or not they admit it, supporters of mandatory national service do not believe that individuals have “inalienable rights.” Instead, they believe that rights are gifts from the government, and, since government is the source of our rights, government can abridge or even take away those rights whenever Congress decides.

Mandatory national service also undermines private charitable institutions. In a free society, many people will give their time or money to service projects to help better their communities, working with religious or civic associations. But in a society with government-enforced national service, these associations are likely to become more reliant on government-supplied forced labor. They will then begin to tailor their programs to satisfy the demands of government bureaucrats instead of the needs of the community.

The very worst form of national service is, of course, the military draft, which forces young people to kill or be killed on government orders. The draft lowers the cost of an interventionist foreign policy because government need not compete with private employers for recruits. Anyone who refuses a draft notice runs the risk of being jailed, so government can provide lower pay and benefits to draftees than to volunteers.

As the burden of our hyper-interventionist foreign policy increases, it is increasingly likely that there will be serious attempts to reinstate the military draft. General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, continues to suggest that US troops on the ground may be needed to fight “Operation Inherent Resolve” in Iraq and Syria. A major escalation requiring a large US troop deployment will likely add pressure to consider a military draft.

The only real way the American people can protect their children from the military draft is to demand an end to the foreign policy that sees the US military as the solution to any and every problem — from ISIS to Ebola — anywhere in the world.

Some who share my opposition to a militaristic foreign policy support the draft because they think a draft will increase public opposition to war. However, the existence of a draft did not stop the American government from launching unconstitutional wars in Vietnam and Korea. While the draft did play a role in mobilizing political opposition to Vietnam, it took almost a decade and the death of thousands of American draftees for that opposition to reach critical mass.

It is baffling that conservatives who (properly) oppose raising taxes would support any form of national service, including the military draft. It is similarly baffling that liberals who oppose government interference with our personal lives would support mandatory national service. Mandatory national service is a totalitarian policy that should be rejected by all who value liberty.

See the Ron Paul File

The Season of Your Birth

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 02:01

Babies born in the summer are much more likely to suffer from mood swings when they grow up while those born in the winter are less likely to become irritable adults, scientists claim.

Researchers studied 400 people and matched their personality type to when in the year they were born.

They claim that people born at certain times of the year have a far greater chance of developing certain types of temperaments, which can lead to mood disorders.

The scientists, from Budapest, said this was because the seasons had an influence on certain monoamine neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, which control mood, however more research was needed to find out why.

They discovered that the number of people with a “cyclothymic” temperament, characterised by rapid, frequent swings between sad and cheerful moods, was significantly higher in those born in the summer.

Those with a hyperthymic temperament, a tendency to be excessively positive, was significantly higher among those born in the spring and summer.

The study also found that those born in the autumn were less likely to be depressive, while those born in winter were less likely to be irritable.

Read the rest of the article

What Happened in the Ebola Hospital

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 02:01

When Thomas Eric Duncan first came into the hospital, he arrived with an elevated temperature, but was sent home.

On his return visit to the hospital, he was brought in by ambulance under the suspicion from him and family members that he may have Ebola.

Mr. Duncan was left for several hours, not in isolation, in an area where other patients were present.

No one knew what the protocols were or were able to verify what kind of personal protective equipment should be worn and there was no training.

Subsequently a nurse supervisor arrived and demanded that he be moved to an isolation unit– yet faced resistance from other hospital authorities.

Lab specimens from Mr. Duncan were sent through the hospital tube system without being specially sealed and hand delivered. The result is that the entire tube system by which all lab specimens are sent was potentially contaminated.

There was no advance preparedness on what to do with the patient, there was no protocol, there was no system. The nurses were asked to call the Infectious Disease Department.  The Infectious Disease Department did not have clear policies to provide either.

Initial nurses who interacted with Mr. Duncan nurses wore a non-impermeable gown front and back, three pairs of gloves, with no taping around wrists, surgical masks, with the option of N-95s, and face shields.  Some supervisors said that even the N-95 masks were not necessary.

The suits they were given still exposed their necks, the part closest to their face and mouth.  They had suits with booties and hoods, three pairs of gloves, no tape.

For their necks, nurses had to use medical tape, that is not impermeable and has permeable seams, to wrap around their necks in order to protect themselves, and had to put on the tape and take it off on their own.

(For the rest of their testimony, click the link.)

Continue Reading on

No Hazmat Suits for the Soldiers

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 02:01

Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division deployed to Ebola hotspots in West Africa to battle the deadly disease will not receive full protective Hazmat suits for their mission.

Instead, the troops will be given only masks and gloves to protect them from the potentially fatal virus, General David Rodriguez said at a Pentagon briefing.

The Kentucky-based Army division is being sent to Liberia to help coordinate the response to the epidemic, and will primarily be building hospitals and treatment and training centers. 

Major General Darryl Williams, the commander of US troops in Africa, claimed that the soldiers would not need full protective Hazmat suits as they would not be coming into direct contact with anyone infected with Ebola, Nashville Public Radio reports.

He said: ‘They don’t need the whole suit – as such – because they’re not going to be in contact with any of the people.’

General Rodriguez said that soldiers’ health will be monitored through surveys and taking their temperatures on their way in and out of camps. If a serviceman does get sick, they will be flown home immediately for treatment.

The troops will be housed either in tent cities at military airfields or in Liberian Ministry of Defense facilities.

Next week, the 101st Airborne will hold a traditional pre-deployment ceremony – known as a ‘color casing’ – before departing for Liberia.

As the Ebola threat evolves, the Pentagon has acknowledged the size and duration of the mission in West Africa could too. 

Deployments might even top the current projection of nearly 4,000, an increase from an earlier estimate of around 3,000.

The military has already stood up a headquarters in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, and hopes to have a 25-bed field hospital up and running by the middle of this month. It also aims to quickly build up to 17 Ebola treatment units.

Read the rest of the article

Rat City

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 02:01

A new study has found that New York City’s rats are hosts to at least 18 new viruses, never before encountered and unknown to science. There is a risk of a “a public health nightmare.”

The research was conducted by a team from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, who analyzed viruses in Manhattan rats.

“Everybody’s looking all over the world, in all sorts of exotic places, including us. But nobody’s looking right under our noses,” Ian Lipkin, a professor of neurology and pathology at Columbia, told the New York Times.

The initial report was published in mBio magazine on Tuesday and focused on 133 rats scientists had analyzed that had demonstrated a variety of pathogens. Some of them transmit food-borne diseases, and some, like Seoul Hantavirus, have never been seen in New York before. Finally, there are at least 18 completely new pathogens to science.

Two pathogens are similar to one that causes Hepatitis C and could help the researchers fight the disease.

“We … identified a wide range of known and novel viruses from groups that contain important human pathogens,” the researchers said in their study.

“Rats are sentinels for human disease. They’re all over the city; uptown, downtown, underground. Everywhere they go, they collect microbes and amplify them. And because these animals live close to people, there is ample opportunity for exchange,” Lipkin said.

Since the 1990s, Dr Lipkin has been working on extracting pathogens from infected hosts. In 2012, his team decided to test New York rats, but it turned out that luring a rat into a trap is more difficult in New York than in any other city.

“New York rats are a lot wilier than rats in other cities. We had to bait traps and just leave them open for a week,” Cadhla Firth, Dr. Lipkin’s colleague, told The New York Times.

Once the rats were caught, scientists tested their blood, urine, feces and tissues, extracted DNA from samples in order to get pathogens.

First, bacterias that trigger food poisoning, Salmonella and a strain of E. coli known to cause terrible diarrhea, were found. Also, pathogens that cause fevers were discovered: Seoul Hantavirus and Leptospira.

Luckily, scientists didn’t find one of the most hazardous germs that infects rats in other countries: Yersinia pestis, which causes bubonic plague.

Experts are already ringing alarm bells over the findings.

The study was called “shocking and surprising” and “a recipe for a public health nightmare” by Peter Daszak, the president of EcoHealth Alliance.

The findings were described as “groundbreaking” by David Patrick, the director of the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia.

“These viruses may or may not have any links to human illness, but it is good to be able to describe them in detail,” he stressed.

Some of the experts are doubtful if the results will lead to any breakthrough discoveries, as it hasn’t yet been clarified how much locals are affected by rat pathogens.

“I don’t see it as a call to wage war on rats just yet,” said Angela Luis, a biologist at the University of Montana.

New York has been rated the fourth on the pest control firm Orkin’s list of “rattiest” American cities – behind Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington DC.

Reprinted with permission from Russia Today.

One Simple Step to a Longer, Healthier Life

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 02:01

By Dr. Mercola

The more time you spend sitting, the shorter and less healthy your life will tend to be—that’s the new consensus among researchers. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) now lists inactivity as the fourth biggest killer of adults worldwide, responsible for nine percent of premature deaths.1

In fact, the medical literature now contains over 10,000 studies showing that frequent, prolonged sitting—at work, commuting, and watching TV at night—significantly impacts your cardiovascular and metabolic function.

For example, one 2012 meta-analysis2 found that those who sat for the longest periods of time on a daily basis were twice as likely to have diabetes or heart disease, compared to those who sat the least.

Of great importance is the finding that prolonged sitting is an independent risk factor for poor health and early death; studies have shown these risks apply even if you’re very fit and maintain a regular workout schedule.

Why Gym Rats Aren’t Exempt

The problem is that an hour of exercise here and there, even if it’s vigorous, cannot counteract the harm incurred during the hours you’re sitting still. For example, one recent study3 found that six hours of uninterrupted sitting effectively counteracted the positive health benefits of a whole hour of exercise.

Basically, this means that even if you spend two to three hours in the gym each week, if you have a full-time sit-down job, many of those exercise benefits are simply evaporated.

I think it’s quite clear that you need both intense exercise, and daily intermittent or non-exercise movement in order to optimize your health and prolong your life. It’s not a matter of choosing one over the other. You really do need both.

As for intermittent movement, the key, experts say, is to avoid sitting for more than 50 minutes out of each hour. Ideally, you’d want to sit for a maximum of about three hours a day—a far cry from today’s norm.

The average American office worker can sit for 13 to 15 hours a day! This means that most people need to figure out how to get out of their chair for several hours each day.

One Hour of Sitting Can Cut Arterial Blood Flow in Half

According to David Dunstan with the Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, the lack of muscle contraction caused by sitting decreases blood flow through your body, thereby reducing the efficiency of biological processes.

“In addition to engaging in regular health enhancing exercise, people should be encouraged to also think what they do during the long periods in the day in which they are not exercising,” he says.4

One of the most recent studies56 in this field found that just one hour of sitting impaired blood flow to the main leg artery by as much as 50 percent! On the upside, simply taking a five minute walk for every hour spent sitting was found to ameliorate the heart disease risks associated with chronic sitting.

Although benefits were shown after just a five minute walk in this study, Dr. James Levineco-director of Obesity Solutions at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix and Arizona State University, recommends getting at least 10 minutes of movement for every hour you sit down.

As explained by Dr. Levine, when you have been sitting for a long period of time and then get up, at a molecular level, within 90 seconds of getting off your bottom, the muscular and cellular systems that process blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol—which are mediated by insulin—are activated.

As soon as you stand up, a series of molecular mechanisms at the cell level set off a cascade of activities that impact the cellular functioning of your muscles. The way your body handles blood sugar is beneficially impacted, for example. Therefore, the disease prevention for diabetes comes into play.

Get Up and Walk at Least Once Every Hour

All of these molecular effects are activated simply by weight-bearing; by carrying your bodyweight upon your legs. Those cellular mechanisms are also responsible for pushing fuels into your cells.

Dr. Joan Vernikos,7 former director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division and author of Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, is another expert who has done much to educate us on the hazards of sitting.

In my previous interview with her, she revealed the dynamics involved. In essence, sitting prevents your body from interacting with and exerting itself against gravity. While not nearly as severe as the antigravity experienced by astronauts, uninterrupted sitting mimics a microgravity situation, which has the effect of accelerating the aging process.

Physical movements, such as standing up or bending down, increase the force of gravity on your body, and this is key to counteracting the cellular degeneration that occurs when you’re sitting down. Based on Dr. Vernikos’ research, I started recommending standing up and doing some exercises at your desk every 10-15 minutes, but after discussing the issue with Dr. Levine and reading his book, Get Up!: Why Your Chair Is Killing You and What You Can Do About It, I’m convinced that’s not even enough…

I really think the answer is to stand up as much as possible. Walking for five minutes every hour you sit is really the bare bones minimum; it’s still far from ideal. It would seem far wiser to strive to sit as little as possible, ideally less than three hours a day.

Walking Is ‘Good Medicine’

Many researchers are now starting to reemphasize the importance of walking. According to Katy Bowman,8 a scientist and author of the book: Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement:

 “Walking is a superfood. It’s the defining movement of a human. It’s a lot easier to get movement than it is to get exercise. Actively sedentary is a new category of people who are fit for one hour but sitting around the rest of the day. You can’t offset 10 hours of stillness with one hour of exercise.”

I believe high intensity exercises are an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but considering the fact that more than half of American men, and 60 percent of American women, never engage in any vigorous physical activity lasting more than 10 minutes per week,9 it’s clear that most people need to begin by simply getting more non-exercise movement into their daily routine.

The elderly and those struggling with chronic disease that prevents them from engaging in more strenuous fitness regimens would also do well to consider moving around more. While walking is often underestimated, studies show you can reap significant health benefits from it.

For example, one recent study1011 found that walking for two miles a day or more can cut your chances of hospitalization from a severe episode of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by about half. Another study12 published last year found that daily walking reduced the risk of stroke in men over the age of 60. Walking for at least an hour or two could cut a man’s stroke risk by as much as one-third, and it didn’t matter how brisk the pace was. Taking a three-hour long walk each day slashed the risk by two-thirds.

How to Get More Movement into Your Day

I recommend using a pedometer, or better yet, one of the newer fitness trackers that can also give you feedback on your sleeping patterns, which is another important aspect of good health. I use the Jawbone UP24, which is one of the best ones out now, but far better ones will be available in the near future. For example, the MisFit13 is a new fitness tracker that tracks your steps and your sleep and is only $50.It looks like a watch but does not tell time.

At first, you may be surprised to realize just how little you move each day. Setting a goal of say 7-10,000 steps a day (which is just over three to five miles, or 6-9 kilometers) can go a long way toward getting more movement into your life. I personally am doing about 14,000-15,000 steps a day. The only way I can get this many steps in is to walk for 90 minutes, which I do barefoot on the beach. Tracking your steps can also show you how simple and seemingly minor changes to the way you move around at work can add up. For example, you can:

  • Walk across the hall to talk to a coworker instead of sending an email
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Park your car further away from the entrance
  • Take a longer, roundabout way to your desk

Other simple ways to increase your physical movement and avoid sitting down at work include:

  • Organize the layout of your office space in such a way that you have to stand up to reach oft-used files, the telephone, or your printer, rather than having everything within easy reach.
  • Use an exercise ball for a chair. Unlike sitting in a chair, sitting on an exercise ball engages your core muscles and helps improve balance and flexibility. Occasional bouncing can also help your body interact with gravity to a greater degree than sitting on a stationary chair. But this is a concession and it is still sitting, so standing would be a better option.
  • Alternatively, use an upright wooden chair with no armrest, which will force you to sit up straight, and encourage shifting your body more frequently than a cushy office chair.
  • Set a timer to remind you to stand up and move about for at least 10 minutes each hour. You can either walk, stand, or take the opportunity to do a few simple exercises by your desk. For an extensive list of videos demonstrating such exercises, please see my previous article, “Intermittent Movement Benefits Your Health. Here’s How to Get More of It into Your Work Day
  • Use a standing workstation. For a demonstration on proper posture, whether you’re sitting or using a standing workstation, check out Kelly Starrett’s video in this previous article.

Intense Exercise and Intermittent Movement = A Winning Health and Fitness Combination

I’ve been passionate about exercising for nearly 50 years now and have been very fit for most of my life. But I still modify my exercise program based on new information. Several years ago, Phil Campbell helped me understand the importance of high intensity exercise and its value in increasing growth hormone. Then Dr. McGuff helped me understand how Super Slow weight training might be an even more superior form of high intensity training, compared to high intensity cardio.

Now I’ve made another important modification, and that is to sit as little as possible. I now strive to sit less than an hour a day. Remarkably, it wasn’t until I began to really limit my sitting that my chronic back pain disappeared. I had previously tried six different chiropractors, posture exercises, Foundation Training, ab work, inversion tables, standing up every 15 minutes to stretch, and strength training. But nothing would touch it—until I radically reduced my sitting. For the last few months, I have limited my sitting to under an hour a day except when travelling on a plane.

I want to stress that walking 7,000-10,000 steps is in addition to, not in place of, your normal exercise program. (It’s even better if you can walk barefoot so you can get grounded, and better yet, if you can walk on the beach by the ocean.) I really believe the combination of high intensity training with non-exercise activities like walking 10,000 steps a day, along with avoiding sitting whenever possible, is the key to being truly fit and enjoying a pain-free life.

Sources and References

Embarrassing Economists

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 02:01

So as to give some perspective, I’m going to ask readers for their guesses about human behavior before explaining my embarrassment by some of my fellow economists.

Suppose the prices of ladies jewelry rose by 100 percent. What would you predict would happen to sales? What about a 25 or 50 percent price increase? I’m going to guess that the average person would predict that sales would fall.

Would you make the same prediction about auto sales if cars’ prices rose by 100 percent or 25 or 50 percent? Suppose that you’re the CEO of General Motors and your sales manager tells you the company could increase auto sales by advertising a 100 percent or 50 percent price increase. I’m guessing that you’d fire the sales manager for both lunacy and incompetency.

Let’s try one more. What would you predict would happen to housing sales if prices rose by 50 percent? I’m guessing you’d predict a decline in sales. You say, “OK, Williams, you’re really trying our patience with these obvious questions. What’s your point?”

It turns out that there’s a law in economics known as the first fundamental law of demand, to which there are no known real-world exceptions. The law states that the higher the price of something the less people will take of it and vice versa. Another way of stating this very simple law is: There exists a price whereby people can be induced to take more of something, and there exists a price whereby people will take less of something.

Some people suggest that if the price of something is raised, buyers will take more or the same amount. That’s silly because there’d be no limit to the price that sellers would charge. For example, if a grocer knew he would sell more — or the same amount of — milk at $8 a gallon than at $4 a gallon, why in the world would he sell it at $4? Then the question becomes: Why would he sell it at $8 if people would buy the same amount at a higher price?

There are economists, most notably Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, who suggest that the law of demand applies to everything except labor prices (wages) of low-skilled workers.

Krugman says that paying fast-food workers $15 an hour wouldn’t cause big companies such as McDonald’s to cut jobs. In other words, Krugman argues that raising the minimum wage doesn’t change employer behavior.

Before we address Krugman’s fallacious argument, think about this: One of Galileo’s laws says the influence of gravity on a falling body in a vacuum is to cause it to accelerate at a rate of 32 feet per second per second. That applies to a falling rock, steel ball or feather. What would you think of the reasoning capacity of a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who’d argue that because human beings are not rocks, steel balls or feathers, Galileo’s law of falling bodies doesn’t apply to them?

Krugman says that most minimum-wage workers are employed in what he calls non-tradable industries — industries that can’t move to China. He says that there are few mechanization opportunities where minimum-wage workers are employed — for example, fast-food restaurants, hotels, etc. That being the case, he contends, seeing as there aren’t good substitutes for minimum-wage workers, they won’t suffer unemployment from increases in the minimum wage. In other words, the law of demand doesn’t apply to them.

Let’s look at some of the history of some of Krugman’s non-tradable industries. During the 1940s and ’50s, there were very few self-serve gasoline stations. There were also theater ushers to show patrons to their seats. In 1900, 41 percent of the U.S. labor force was employed in agriculture. Now most gas stations are self-serve. Theater ushers disappeared. And only 2 percent of today’s labor force works in agricultural jobs. There are many other examples of buyers of labor services seeking and ultimately finding substitutes when labor prices rise. It’s economic malpractice for economists to suggest that they don’t.

Our Enemy, the Spy State

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 02:01

Here’s a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! stat from our new age of national security. How many Americans have security clearances? The answer: 5.1 million, a figure that reflects the explosive growth of the national security state in the post-9/11 era. Imagine the kind of system needed just to vet that many people for access to our secret world (to the tune of billions of dollars). We’re talking here about the total population of Norway and significantly more people than you can find in Costa Rica, Ireland, or New Zealand. And yet it’s only about 1.6% of the American population, while on ever more matters, the unvetted 98.4% of us are meant to be left in the dark.

For our own safety, of course. That goes without saying.

All of this offers a new definition of democracy in which we, the people, are to know only what the national security state cares to tell us.  Under this system, ignorance is the necessary, legally enforced prerequisite for feeling protected.  In this sense, it is telling that the only crime for which those inside the national security state can be held accountable in post-9/11 Washington is not potential perjury before Congress, or the destruction of evidence of a crime, or torture, or kidnapping, or assassination, or the deaths of prisoners in an extralegal prison system, but whistleblowing; that is, telling the American people something about what their government is actually doing.  And that crime, and only that crime, has been prosecuted to the full extent of the law (and beyond) with a vigor unmatched in American history.  To offer a single example, the only American to go to jail for the CIA’s Bush-era torture program was John Kiriakou, a CIA whistleblower who revealed the name of an agent involved in the program to a reporter.

In these years, as power drained from Congress, an increasingly imperial White House has launched various wars (redefined by its lawyers as anything but), as well as a global assassination campaign in which the White House has its own “kill list” and the president himself decides on global hits.  Then, without regard for national sovereignty or the fact that someone is an American citizen (and upon the secret invocation of legal mumbo-jumbo), the drones are sent off to do the necessary killing.

And yet that doesn’t mean that we, the people, know nothing.  Against increasing odds, there has been some fine reporting in the mainstream media by the likes of James Risen and Barton Gellman on the security state’s post-legal activities and above all, despite the Obama administration’s regular use of the World War I era Espionage Act, whistleblowers have stepped forward from within the government to offer us sometimes staggering amounts of information about the system that has been set up in our name but without our knowledge.

Among them, one young man, whose name is now known worldwide, stands out.  In June of last year, thanks to journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras, Edward Snowden, a contractor for the NSA and previously the CIA, stepped into our lives from a hotel room in Hong Kong.  With a treasure trove of documents that are still being released, he changed the way just about all of us view our world.  He has been charged under the Espionage Act.  If indeed he was a “spy,” then the spying he did was for us, for the American people and for the world.  What he revealed to a stunned planet was a global surveillance state whose reach and ambitions were unique, a system based on a single premise: that privacy was no more and that no one was, in theory (and to a remarkable extent in practice), unsurveillable.

Its builders imagined only one exemption: themselves.  This was undoubtedly at least part of the reason why, when Snowden let us peek in on them, they reacted with such over-the-top venom.  Whatever they felt at a policy level, it’s clear that they also felt violated, something that, as far as we can tell, left them with no empathy whatsoever for the rest of us.  One thing that Snowden proved, however, was that the system they built was ready-made for blowback.

Sixteen months after his NSA documents began to be released by the Guardian and theWashington Post, I think it may be possible to speak of the Snowden Era.  And now, a remarkable new film, Citizenfour, which had its premiere at the New York Film Festival on October 10th and will open in select theaters nationwide on October 24th, offers us a window into just how it all happened.  It is already being mentioned as a possible Oscar winner.

Director Laura Poitras, like reporter Glenn Greenwald, is now known almost as widely as Snowden himself, for helping facilitate his entry into the world.  Her new film, the last in a trilogy she’s completed (the previous two being My Country, My Country on the Iraq War and The Oath on Guantanamo), takes you back to June 2013 and locks you in that Hong Kong hotel room with Snowden, Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill of the Guardian, and Poitras herself for eight days that changed the world.  It’s a riveting, surprisingly unclaustrophic, and unforgettable experience.

Before that moment, we were quite literally in the dark.  After it, we have a better sense, at least, of the nature of the darkness that envelops us. Having seen her film in a packed house at the New York Film Festival, I sat down with Poitras in a tiny conference room at the Loews Regency Hotel in New York City to discuss just how our world has changed and her part in it.

Tom Engelhardt: Could you start by laying out briefly what you think we’ve learned from Edward Snowden about how our world really works?

Laura Poitras: The most striking thing Snowden has revealed is the depth of what the NSA and the Five Eyes countries [Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Great Britain, and the U.S.] are doing, their hunger for all data, for total bulk dragnet surveillance where they try to collect all communications and do it all sorts of different ways. Their ethos is “collect it all.” I worked on a story with Jim Risen of the New York Times about a document — a four-year plan for signals intelligence — in which they describe the era as being “the golden age of signals intelligence.”  For them, that’s what the Internet is: the basis for a golden age to spy on everyone.

This focus on bulk, dragnet, suspicionless surveillance of the planet is certainly what’s most staggering.  There were many programs that did that.  In addition, you have both the NSA and the GCHQ [British intelligence] doing things like targeting engineers at telecoms.  There was an article published at The Intercept that cited an NSA document Snowden provided, part of which was titled “I Hunt Sysadmins” [systems administrators].  They try to find the custodians of information, the people who are the gateway to customer data, and target them.  So there’s this passive collection of everything, and then things that they can’t get that way, they go after in other ways.

I think one of the most shocking things is how little our elected officials knew about what the NSA was doing.  Congress is learning from the reporting and that’s staggering.  Snowden and [former NSA employee] William Binney, who’s also in the film as a whistleblower from a different generation, are technical people who understand the dangers.  We laypeople may have some understanding of these technologies, but they really grasp the dangers of how they can be used.  One of the most frightening things, I think, is the capacity for retroactive searching, so you can go back in time and trace who someone is in contact with and where they’ve been.  Certainly, when it comes to my profession as a journalist, that allows the government to trace what you’re reporting, who you’re talking to, and where you’ve been.  So no matter whether or not I have a commitment to protect my sources, the government may still have information that might allow them to identify whom I’m talking to.

TE: To ask the same question another way, what would the world be like without Edward Snowden?  After all, it seems to me that, in some sense, we are now in the Snowden era.

LP: I agree that Snowden has presented us with choices on how we want to move forward into the future.  We’re at a crossroads and we still don’t quite know which path we’re going to take.  Without Snowden, just about everyone would still be in the dark about the amount of information the government is collecting. I think that Snowden has changed consciousness about the dangers of surveillance.  We see lawyers who take their phones out of meetings now.  People are starting to understand that the devices we carry with us reveal our location, who we’re talking to, and all kinds of other information.  So you have a genuine shift of consciousness post the Snowden revelations.

TE: There’s clearly been no evidence of a shift in governmental consciousness, though.

LP: Those who are experts in the fields of surveillance, privacy, and technology say that there need to be two tracks: a policy track and a technology track.  The technology track is encryption.  It works and if you want privacy, then you should use it.  We’ve already seen shifts happening in some of the big companies — Google, Apple — that now understand how vulnerable their customer data is, and that if it’s vulnerable, then their business is, too, and so you see a beefing up of encryption technologies.  At the same time, no programs have been dismantled at the governmental level, despite international pressure.

TE: In Citizenfour, we spend what must be an hour essentially locked in a room in a Hong Kong hotel with Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, Ewan MacAskill, and you, and it’s riveting.  Snowden is almost preternaturally prepossessing and self-possessed.  I think of a novelist whose dream character just walks into his or her head.  It must have been like that with you and Snowden.  But what if he’d been a graying guy with the same documents and far less intelligent things to say about them?  In other words, how exactly did who he was make your movie and remake our world?

LP: Those are two questions.  One is: What was my initial experience?  The other: How do I think it impacted the movie?  We’ve been editing it and showing it to small groups, and I had no doubt that he’s articulate and genuine on screen.  But to see him in a full room [at the New York Film Festival premiere on the night of October 10th], I’m like, wow!  He really commands the screen! And I experienced the film in a new way with a packed house.

TE: But how did you experience him the first time yourself?  I mean you didn’t know who you were going to meet, right?

LP: So I was in correspondence with an anonymous source for about five months and in the process of developing a dialogue you build ideas, of course, about who that person might be.  My idea was that he was in his late forties, early fifties.  I figured he must be Internet generation because he was super tech-savvy, but I thought that, given the level of access and information he was able to discuss, he had to be older.  And so my first experience was that I had to do a reboot of my expectations.  Like fantastic, great, he’s young and charismatic and I was like wow, this is so disorienting, I have to reboot.  In retrospect, I can see that it’s really powerful that somebody so smart, so young, and with so much to lose risked so much.

He was so at peace with the choice he had made and knowing that the consequences could mean the end of his life and that this was still the right decision.  He believed in it, and whatever the consequences, he was willing to accept them.  To meet somebody who has made those kinds of decisions is extraordinary.  And to be able to document that and also how Glenn [Greenwald] stepped in and pushed for this reporting to happen in an aggressive way changed the narrative. Because Glenn and I come at it from an outsider’s perspective, the narrative unfolded in a way that nobody quite knew how to respond to.  That’s why I think the government was initially on its heels.  You know, it’s not everyday that a whistleblower is actually willing to be identified.

TE: My guess is that Snowden has given us the feeling that we now grasp the nature of the global surveillance state that is watching us, but I always think to myself, well, he was just one guy coming out of one of 17 interlocked intelligence outfits. Given the remarkable way your film ends — the punch line, you might say — with another source or sources coming forward from somewhere inside that world to reveal, among other things, information about the enormous watchlist that you yourself are on, I’m curious: What do you think is still to be known?  I suspect that if whistleblowers were to emerge from the top five or six agencies, the CIA, the DIA, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, and so on, with similar documentation to Snowden’s, we would simply be staggered by the system that’s been created in our name.

LP: I can’t speculate on what we don’t know, but I think you’re right in terms of the scale and scope of things and the need for that information to be made public. I mean, just consider the CIA and its effort to suppress the Senate’s review of its torture program. Take in the fact that we live in a country that a) legalized torture and b) where no one was ever held to account for it, and now the government’s internal look at what happened is being suppressed by the CIA.  That’s a frightening landscape to be in.

In terms of sources coming forward, I really reject this idea of talking about one, two, three sources.  There are many sources that have informed the reporting we’ve done and I think that Americans owe them a debt of gratitude for taking the risk they do.  From a personal perspective, because I’m on a watchlist and went through years of trying to find out why, of having the government refuse to confirm or deny the very existence of such a list, it’s so meaningful to have its existence brought into the open so that the public knows there is a watchlist, and so that the courts can now address the legality of it.  I mean, the person who revealed this has done a huge public service and I’m personally thankful.

TE: You’re referring to the unknown leaker who’s mentioned visually and elliptically at the end of your movie and who revealed that the major watchlist your on has more than 1.2 million names on it.  In that context, what’s it like to travel as Laura Poitras today?  How do you embody the new national security state?

LP: In 2012, I was ready to edit and I chose to leave the U.S. because I didn’t feel I could protect my source footage when I crossed the U.S. border.  The decision was based on six years of being stopped and questioned every time I returned to the United States.  And I just did the math and realized that the risks were too high to edit in the U.S., so I started working in Berlin in 2012.  And then, in January 2013, I got the first email from Snowden.

TE: So you were protecting…

LP: …other footage.  I had been filming with NSA whistleblower William Binney, with Julian Assange, with Jacob Appelbaum of the Tor Project, people who have also been targeted by the U.S., and I felt that this material I had was not safe.  I was put on a watchlist in 2006.  I was detained and questioned at the border returning to the U.S. probably around 40 times.  If I counted domestic stops and every time I was stopped at European transit points, you’re probably getting closer to 80 to 100 times. It became a regular thing, being asked where I’d been and who I’d met with. I found myself caught up in a system you can’t ever seem to get out of, this Kafkaesque watchlist that the U.S. doesn’t even acknowledge.

TE: Were you stopped this time coming in?

LP: I was not. The detentions stopped in 2012 after a pretty extraordinary incident.

I was coming back in through Newark Airport and I was stopped.  I took out my notebook because I always take notes on what time I’m stopped and who the agents are and stuff like that.  This time, they threatened to handcuff me for taking notes.  They said, “Put the pen down!” They claimed my pen could be a weapon and hurt someone.

“Put the pen down! The pen is dangerous!” And I’m like, you’re not… you’ve got to be crazy. Several people yelled at me every time I moved my pen down to take notes as if it were a knife. After that, I decided this has gotten crazy, I’d better do something and I called Glenn. He wrote a piece about my experiences. In response to his article, they actually backed off.

TE:  Snowden has told us a lot about the global surveillance structure that’s been built.  We know a lot less about what they are doing with all this information.  I’m struck at how poorly they’ve been able to use such information in, for example, their war on terror.  I mean, they always seem to be a step behind in the Middle East — not just behind events but behind what I think someone using purely open source information could tell them.  This I find startling.  What sense do you have of what they’re doing with the reams, the yottabytes, of data they’re pulling in?

LP: Snowden and many other people, including Bill Binney, have said that this mentality — of trying to suck up everything they can — has left them drowning in information and so they miss what would be considered more obvious leads.  In the end, the system they’ve created doesn’t lead to what they describe as their goal, which is security, because they have too much information to process.

I don’t quite know how to fully understand it.  I think about this a lot because I made a film about the Iraq War and one about Guantanamo.  From my perspective, in response to the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. took a small, very radical group of terrorists and engaged in activities that have created two generations of anti-American sentiment motivated by things like Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.  Instead of figuring out a way to respond to a small group of people, we’ve created generations of people who are really angry and hate us.  And then I think, if the goal is security, how do these two things align, because there are more people who hate the United States right now, more people intent on doing us harm?  So either the goal that they proclaim is not the goal or they’re just unable to come to terms with the fact that we’ve made huge mistakes in how we’ve responded.

TE: I’m struck by the fact that failure has, in its own way, been a launching pad for success.  I mean, the building of an unparallelled intelligence apparatus and the greatest explosion of intelligence gathering in history came out of the 9/11 failure.  Nobody was held accountable, nobody was punished, nobody was demoted or anything, and every similar failure, including the one on the White House lawn recently, simply leads to the bolstering of the system.

LP: So how do you understand that?

TE: I don’t think that these are people who are thinking: we need to fail to succeed. I’m not conspiratorial in that way, but I do think that, strangely, failure has built the system and I find that odd. More than that I don’t know.

LP: I don’t disagree. The fact that the CIA knew that two of the 9/11 hijackers were entering the United States and didn’t notify the FBI and that nobody lost their job is shocking.  Instead, we occupied Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11.  I mean, how did those choices get made?

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