Posted By Luther Blissett By CJ Hopkins: Consent Factory 6/11/19

As predicted, the global capitalist ruling classes have been using every weapon in their arsenal to marginalize, stigmatize, delegitimize, and otherwise eliminate any and all forms of dissent from neoliberal ideology, and in particular from their new official narrative … “Democracy versus The Putin-Nazis.” 

Back in January 2018, I wrote this piece about The War on Dissent, which, in case you haven’t noticed, is going gangbusters. 

For over two years, the corporate media have been pounding out an endless series of variations on this major theme, namely, that “democracy is under attack” by a conspiracy of Russians and neo-Nazis that magically materialized out of the ether during the Summer of 2016. 

The intelligence agencies, political elites, academia, celebrities, social media personalities, and other organs of the culture industry have been systematically reifying this official narrative through constant repetition. 

The Western masses have been inundated with innumerable articles, editorials, television news and talk show segments, books, social media posts, and various other forms of messaging whipping up hysteria over “Russians” and “fascists.” 

At this point, it is no longer just propaganda. 

It has become the new “truth.” It has become “reality.” 

Becoming “reality” is, of course, the ultimate goal of every ideology. An ideology is just a system of ideas, and is thus fair game for critique and dissent. “Reality” is not fair game for dissent. 

It is not up for debate or challenge, not by “serious,” “legitimate” people. “Reality” is simply “the way it is.” 

It is axiomatic. 
It is apothegmatic. 
It’s not a belief or an interpretation. 
It is not subject to change or revision. 
It is the immortal, immutable Word of God … or whatever deity or deity-like concept the ruling classes and the masses they rule accept as the Final Arbiter of Truth. 

In our case, this would be Science, or Reason, rather than some supernatural being, but in terms of ideology there isn’t much difference. 

Every system of belief, regardless of its nature, ultimately depends on political power and power relations to enforce its beliefs, which is to say, to make them “real.” 

OK, whenever I write about “reality” and “truth,” I get a few rather angry responses from folks who appear to think I’m denying the existence of objective reality. 

I’m not … for example, this chair I’m sitting on is absolutely part of objective reality, a physical object that actually exists. 

The screen you’re probably reading these words on is also part of objective reality. 

I am not saying there is no reality. 

What I’m saying is, “reality” is a concept, a concept invented and developed by people … a concept that serves a variety of purposes, some philosophical, some political. 

It’s the political purposes I’m interested in. 

Think of “reality” as an ideological tool … a tool in the hands of those with the power to designate what is “real” and what isn’t. 

Doctors, teachers, politicians, police, scientists, priests, pundits, experts, parents — these are the enforcers of “reality.” 

The powerless do not get to decide what is “real.” 

Ask someone suffering from schizophrenia. 
Or … I’m sorry, is it bipolar disorder? 
Or oppositional defiant disorder? 

I can’t keep all these new disorders psychiatrists keep “discovering” straight. 

Or ask a Palestinian living in Gaza. 
Or the mother of a Black kid the cops shot for no reason. 
Ask Julian Assange. 
Ask the families of all those “enemy combatants” Obama droned. 
Ask the “conspiracy theorists” on Twitter digitally screaming at anyone who will listen about what is and isn’t “the truth.” 

Each of them will give you their version of “reality,” and you and I may agree with some of them, and some of their beliefs may be supported with facts, but that will not make what they believe “reality.” 

Power is what makes “reality” “reality.” 
Not facts. 
Not evidence. 
Not knowledge. 

Those in power, or aligned with those in power, or parroting the narratives of those in power, understand this (whether consciously or not). 

Those without power mostly do not, and thus we continue to “speak truth to power,” as if those in power gave a shit. 

They don’t. 

The powerful are not arguing with us. 

They are not attempting to win a debate about what is and isn’t “true,” or what did or didn’t “really” happen. 

They are declaring what did or didn’t happen. 

They are telling us what is and is not “reality,” and demonstrating what happens to those who disagree. 

The “Democracy versus The Putin-Nazis” narrative is our new “reality,” whether we like it or not. 

It does not matter one iota that there is zero evidence to support this narrative, other than the claims of intelligence agencies, politicians, the corporate media, and other servants of the ruling classes. 

The Russians are “attacking democracy” because the ruling classes tell us they are. 

“Fascism is on the march again” because the ruling classes say it is. 

Anyone who disagrees is a “Putin-sympathizer,” a “Putin-apologist,” or “linked to Russia,” or “favored by Russia,” or an “anti-Semite,” or a “fascist apologist.” 

Question the official narrative about the Gratuitously Baby Gassing Monster of Syria and you’re an Assad apologist, a Russian bot network, or a plagiarizing Red-Brown infiltrator. 

Criticize the corporate media for disseminating cheap McCarthyite smears, and you’re a Tulsi-stanning Hindu Nazi-apologist. 

God help you if you should appear on FOX, in which case you are a Nazi-legitimizer! 

A cursory check of the Internet today revealed that “far-right Facebook groups are spreading hate to millions in Europe” by means of some sort of hypnogenic content that just looking at it turns you into a Nazi. 

Our democracy-loving friends at The Atlantic Council are disappointed by Trump’s refusal to sign the “Christchurch Call,” a multilateral statement encouraging corporations to censor the Internet … and fascism is fashionable in Italy again!” 

This post-Orwellian, neo-McCarthyite mass hysteria is not going to stop … not until the global capitalist ruling classes have suppressed the current “populist” insurgency and restored “normality” throughout the Western world. 

Until then, it’s going to be pretty much non-stop “Democracy versus the Putin-Nazis.” 

So, unless you’re enjoying our new “reality,” or are willing to conform to it for some other reason, prepare to be smeared as “a Russia-loving, Putin-apologizing conspiracy theorist,” or a “fascism-enabling, Trump-loving Nazi,” or some other type of insidiously Slavic, white supremacist, mass-murder enthusiast. 

Things are only going to get uglier as the American election season ramps up. 

I mean, come on … you don’t really believe that the global capitalist ruling classes are going to let Trump serve a second term, do you?
Posted By Luther Blissett By Robert J. Burrowes 3/13/19

Tax havens are locations around the world where wealthy individuals, criminals and terrorists, as well as governments and government agencies (such as the CIA), banks, corporations, hedge funds, international organizations (such as the Vatican) and crime syndicates (such as the Mafia), can stash their money so that they can avoid regulation and oversight and, very often, evade tax.

According to Nicholas Shaxson: ‘Tax havens are now at the heart of the global economy.’

Which is why, as he explains it: ‘The term “tax haven” is a bit of a misnomer, because such places aren’t just about tax.

What they sell is escape: from the laws, rules and taxes of jurisdictions elsewhere, usually with secrecy as their prime offering.’

See ‘The tax haven in the heart of Britain’. []

A tax haven (or ‘secrecy jurisdiction’) then is a ‘place that seeks to attract business by offering politically stable facilities to help people or entities get around the rules, laws and regulations of jurisdictions elsewhere’.

See Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World. []

Tax havens are a vitally important part of the global infrastructure of corruption and criminality – see ‘Giant Leak of Offshore Financial Records Exposes Global Array of Crime and Corruption’ []– that enables privileged individuals and their organizations to legally and illegally steal money from the rest of us, particularly those in developing countries, and to have the services of a vast network of accountants, bankers, lawyers and politicians (often from captured legislatures) to help them do it, and to ensure that they get away with it.

How many tax havens are there?
Where are they?
How much money do they have?
Who uses them?
How do they work?
Why does all this matter to us?
And what can we do about them?

Tax Havens: how many and where are they?

In his book Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World, author and financial journalist Nicholas Shaxson identified about sixty ‘secrecy jurisdictions’ or ‘offshore groups’ around the world which he divided into four categories, as follows.

The most important category, by far, is those tax havens that form the spider’s network of havens centered on the City of London.

It has three main layers: there are two inner rings – Britain’s Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey (which includes the sub-havens of Sark, Alderney and Brecqhou) and the Isle of Man, and its overseas territories such as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands and Gibraltar – which are substantially controlled by Britain.

The third layer is an outer ring with a more diverse array of havens, like Hong Kong, Singapore, the Bahamas, Dubai and Ireland, which are outside Britain’s direct control but have strong historical and current links to that country and the City of London (which I will discuss below).

This network controls almost one half of all international bank assets.

The second category of tax havens is those in Europe notably including Switzerland, Luxembourg – see ‘Explore the Documents: Luxembourg Leaks Database’ []– the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria, as well as microstates such as Liechtenstein and Monaco.

While ‘Geneva bankers had sheltered the secret money of European elites since at least the eighteenth century’, the European havens ‘got going’ during World War I as governments raised taxes sharply to pay for the war.

The third category of tax havens is that focused on the United States.

It has three tiers as well.

At the federal level, the US government offers a range of tax exemptions, secrecy provisions and laws designed to attract foreign money. This means, for example, that US banks can legally accept proceeds from a range of crimes as long as the crimes are committed overseas.

The second tier involves individual US states such as Florida (where Central/South American elites do their banking and the countries adversely impacted are prevented by US secrecy provisions from accessing relevant data, and where much Mob and drugs money is hidden too), Delaware, Nevada and Wyoming, where even terrorist money is protected by secrecy provisions.

The third tier of the US network is the overseas satellites such as the American Virgin Islands, the Marshall Islands, Liberia and Panama, with the latter, according to Jeffrey Robinson, being ‘one of the filthiest money laundering sinks in the world’.

See The Sink: Terror, Crime and Dirty Money in the Offshore World. []

As Shaxson notes: ‘offshore finance has quietly been at the heart of Neoconservative schemes to project US power around the globe for years. Few people have noticed.’

The fourth category of tax havens identified by Shaxson includes those that do not fit in the categories above, such as Somalia and Uganda.

The (incomplete) list of tax havens on the website ‘Tax Havens of the World’ will give you some idea of where these secrecy jurisdictions are located but there are important omissions in this list, notably including the City of London Corporation. []

For a brief look at 15 tax havens (again, notably excluding some of the most important) and some of the corporations that use them, see ‘What Are the World’s Best Tax Havens?’

And for a highly instructive and utterly sobering video documentary on British Tax Havens, see ‘The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire’. This documentary will inform you, among many more important things, that the building housing Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, the UK tax office, is owned by an offshore company in Bermuda!

To summarize the central aspect of the development of tax havens following World War II: ‘The British Establishment – an old boys network of privileged elites – had carved out a lucrative vehicle for themselves in the offshore world after the demise of Empire. They transformed themselves from administrators of Empire to financial handlers for the global elite and multinational corporations.’

See ‘The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire’. []

Before concluding this section, it is worth emphasizing that, as Shaxson explains it, ‘the offshore world is not a bunch of independent states exercising their sovereign rights to set their laws and tax systems as they see fit. It is a set of networks of influence controlled by the world’s major powers, notably Britain and the United States. Each network is deeply interconnected with the others.’

He goes on: ‘The world’s most important tax havens are not exotic palm-fringed islands, as many people suppose, but some of the world’s most powerful countries.’

Shaxson quotes Marshall Langer, a prominent supporter of secrecy jurisdictions: ‘It does not surprise anyone when I tell them that the most important tax haven in the world is an island. They are surprised, however, when I tell them that … the island is Manhattan. Moreover, the second most-important tax haven … is located on an island. It is called the City of London.’

The City of London Corporation

What is the City of London Corporation, also known as the ‘Square Mile’? []

It is ‘a 1.22-square-mile slab of prime central London real estate that stretches from the Thames at Victoria Embankment, clockwise up through Fleet Street, the Barbican Centre, then to Liverpool Street in the north-east, then back down to the Thames just west of the Tower of London.’ See Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World.

According to Shaxson, the City of London Corporation, the ‘modern period’ of which dates from 1067 (yes, that is not a typing error), is ‘the local-government authority for the 1.2-square-mile slab of prime real estate in central London that is the City of London. The corporation is an ancient, semi-alien entity lodged inside the British nation state; a “prehistoric monster which had mysteriously survived into the modern world”, as a 19th-century would-be City reformer put it.’

Importantly, Shaxson explains, ‘the role of the City of London Corporation as a municipal authority is its least important attribute. This is a hugely resourced international offshore lobbying group pushing for international financial deregulation, tax-cutting and tax havenry around the world.’

Moreover, it is ‘the hub of a global network of tax havens sucking up offshore trillions from around the world and sending it, or the business of handling it, to London’.

Notably, so powerful is the City of London that no sovereign or government of Britain in a thousand years has had the courage to seriously take it on and attempt to subject it to British government control.

See ‘The tax haven in the heart of Britain’. []

How much money is in Tax Havens?

So how much of the world’s wealth is stashed in tax havens around the globe?

According to the Tax Justice Network in its 2012 report written by James S. Henry ‘The Price of Offshore Revisited: New Estimates for “Missing” Global Private Wealth, Income, Inequality, and Lost Taxes’ []:

‘A significant fraction of global private financial wealth – by our estimates, at least $21 to $32 trillion as of 2010 – has been invested virtually tax-free through the world’s still-expanding black hole of more than 80 “offshore” secrecy jurisdictions. We believe this range to be conservative…’

He goes on to emphasize that ‘this is just financial wealth. A big share of the real estate, yachts, racehorses, gold bricks – and many other things that count as non-financial wealth – are also owned via offshore structures where it is impossible to identify the owners’.

Henry also notes that given that Credit Suisse estimated global wealth in 2011 at $231 trillion, the amount of money in secrecy jurisdictions is conservatively estimated at 10% of global wealth.

But other figures do indeed suggest this estimate is low. Shaxson cites compelling evidence that ‘More than half of world trade passes, at least on paper, through tax havens.

Over half of all banking assets and a third of foreign direct investment by multinational corporations, are routed offshore.’

Moreover, as long ago as 2008, the US Government Accountability Office reported that 83 of the 100 biggest corporations in the USA had subsidiaries in tax havens and the following year, using a broader definition, the Tax Justice Network discovered that ninety-nine of Europe’s hundred largest companies used offshore subsidiaries. And in each country, ‘the largest user by far was a bank’. See Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World.

In any case, the most recent estimate by the Tax Justice Network indicates ‘tax losses to profit shifting by multinational companies applying a methodology developed by researchers at the International Monetary Fund to an improved dataset… of around $500 billion a year’.

See ‘New estimates reveal the extent of tax avoidance by multinationals’. []

To reiterate then, on the understanding that these estimates are probably quite low, by 2010, between $US21 and $US32 TRILLION had been taken out of circulation so that it was beyond the laws, financial regulations and taxes that the rest of us cannot escape.

But that figure has been added to by half a trillion dollars each year since, by moving more money into tax havens.

And don’t forget: this figure does not include non-financial wealth.

How many gold bricks, yachts, artworks and racehorses do you own and have stashed away somewhere free of scrutiny?

Who uses Tax Havens? And why?

As I mentioned above, tax havens are used by wealthy individuals (including business-people, sports and pop stars), criminals and terrorists, as well as governments (and their agencies), banks, corporations (such as Amazon and Google), international organizations and crime syndicates (such as the Medellin Cartel).

While motives vary, in essence the lack of regulation and oversight, as well as tax evasion, are the reasons that individuals and organizations use them.

An individual might want to hide stolen wealth, to evade tax or cheat a divorced spouse out of their share of the family fortune.

A bank, corporation, crime syndicate, international or terrorist organization might want to evade scrutiny of the source of their money and/or evade tax on windfall or even ongoing profits (legal and/or otherwise).

A government might want to hide the ‘dirty money’ it uses to finance ‘black ops’ (that is, illegal and secret military violence such as that carried out by the CIA). But there are myriad explanations.

In John Christensen’s analysis of over 100 offshore clients of accounting firm Deloitte Touche he studied in Jersey, he found that the clients were engaging in insider trading, market rigging, failure to disclose conflicts of interest, weapons trading, illicit political donations, contract kickbacks, bribery, fraudulent invoicing, trade mispricing and tax evasion.

See ‘The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire’. []

Most people have heard of the money stashed away by corrupt dictators like Suharto in Indonesia, Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines and Mobuto Sese Seko of Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) each of whom stole from the people of their country.

However, they could only do this with the help of western enablers and ongoing elite resistance to developing country attempts to create a more transparent and fairer process for collecting tax on cross-border financial flows.

As a result, Alex Cobham of the Tax Justice Network observes, worldwide, developing nations lose in excess of $1trillion per year in ‘capital flight’ and tax evasion to wealthy countries.

See ‘The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire’. []

But these more public examples, while terrible, tend to obscure two important facts.

The amount stolen from sub-Saharan Africans, for example, between 1970 and 2008 was at least five times the total amount of their foreign debt during that period – see ‘The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire’ – and, by highlighting these examples, attention is drawn away from even worse and ongoing examples of such criminality by those corrupt/criminal individuals and organizations (including banks, accountancy and legal firms, corporations, international organizations, crime syndicates and governments) committed to using outright theft, fraud, money laundering and other devices to steal wealth from ordinary people all over the world.

So, for example, if one follows the money trails of various lucrative financial operations, some technically legal but immoral and others simply illegal, apart from the world’s major corporations, one quickly comes across the names of the major (and well known) banks and financial institutions (such as the Bank of England, Barclays, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase…), the ‘big four’ accountancy firms (Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY), KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers), and elite lawyers (such as those in London’s ‘Magic Circle’, like Clifford Chance, Mourant du Feu & Jeune, and Slaughter and May). See, for example, Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World, ‘New estimates reveal the extent of tax avoidance by multinationals’ and ‘Looting with Putin’.

Apparently, like major corporations and crime syndicates, few banks, accountancy firms and lawyers have ethics policies that require them to follow the law and to exercise ‘due diligence’ (check out a client before signing a contract) so that they can steer clear of handling illegal and immoral profits, especially if they are monstrous.

In fact, according to a US Senate report, ‘virtually every major bank in the world – especially the biggest in North America and Europe – holds accounts for offshore banks and/or banks in suspect jurisdictions’. See The Sink: Terror, Crime and Dirty Money in the Offshore World.

As Eva Joly MEP, vice-chair of the Panama Papers Committee of the European Parliament, succinctly puts it: ‘Ordinary people are paying taxes. Rich people are not.’ See ‘The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire’.

The Vatican

But perhaps the example which best illustrates the moral depravity of those who use tax havens is the Vatican.

In his carefully researched book Operation Gladio: The Unholy Alliance between the Vatican, the CIA and the Mafia author Paul L. Williams recounts the efforts of the CIA, former Nazis, the Sicilian/American Mafia, the Vatican and even Freemasonry to resist an anticipated postwar invasion of western Europe by those ‘Godless communists’ in the Soviet Union by establishing ‘stay-behind units’ (clandestine military and paramilitary units) throughout the countries of Europe (Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal…) led by former Nazis and composed of ‘die-hard fascist fanatics’. []

This alliance to fight the Cold War against the former Soviet Union and the rising tide of progressive governments in Europe and the rest of the world, particularly as the US war on Vietnam gathered pace, led, as Williams chillingly puts it, to ‘the toppling of governments, wholesale slaughter and financial devastation’ around the world.

It was also, of course, the forerunner to its equivalent – Operation Condor – to resist, and destroy if possible, the spread of progressive movements, ranging from communism to liberation theology, throughout Central/South America.

While the Vatican played a number of unsavory roles in this alliance, including its facilitation of massive numbers of heroin addictions, its use of counterfeit securities, participation in false flag attacks that killed thousands and strings of gangland slayings, support of military juntas (that massacred tens of thousands) and the ‘purging’ of progressive priests (including Archbishop Óscar Romero of San Salvador and two Jesuit priests denounced by Fr. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, in Argentina: see ‘Who is Pope Francis? []

Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Argentina’s “Dirty War”’) while causing the financial destitution of thousands of families, one of its key ongoing functions, designed to maximize the Vatican’s power while highlighting its moral and spiritual bankruptcy, was to act as ‘God’s banker’ for many of these operations.

See Operation Gladio: The Unholy Alliance between the Vatican, the CIA and the Mafia. []

It did this, for example, by accepting Mafia/Medellin Cartel-collected drugs money (for a 15-20% cut) into the Vatican Bank (technically: Istituto per le Opere di Religione or Institute for the Works of Religion) and then laundering it through its shell companies – such as Cisalpine Overseas Bank, Astolfine SA, United Trading Corporation, Erin SA, Bellatrix SA, Belrose SA, Starfield SA and Nordeurop Establishment – in tax havens in the Bahamas, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Panama and Switzerland.

With the CIA providing services, such as the transport of Mafia/Medellin cocaine to drug dealers in the US, its share of the drug profits (cycled through its own CIA-controlled banks including Continental Illinois, Castle Bank & Trust, and Bank of Credit and Commerce International but eventually involving many of the most prestigious banks in the US, as the money was passed to the Vatican Bank) were used to finance key aspects of Operations Gladio and Condor with weapons also supplied by the CIA from NATO arsenals.

But there was plenty of Vatican money in these Operations too.

As an aside, so devastating was the fallout from the ongoing exposure of the many aspects of Vatican corruption that, by the beginning of the twenty-first century, Roman Catholic membership was falling by 400,000 per year in the USA alone but the trend was even stronger in Europe with ‘magnificent churches and cathedrals’ becoming museums visited solely by tourists, parishes being boarded up, seminaries and convents closed, and parochial schools consolidated.

And this was before the ‘plague of pedophilia’ had fully hit further decimating the Church’s tattered reputation.

To this day, the Vatican Bank remains ‘one of the world’s leading laundries for dirty money’. See Operation Gladio: The Unholy Alliance between the Vatican, the CIA and the Mafia.

How do Tax Havens work?

Each tax haven offers its own unique combination of services.

After all, it is a tough market competing for the world’s wealth and so each jurisdiction has developed its own set of services designed to maximize its attractiveness to potential clients. In essence, this means that there is some ongoing ‘competition’ to reduce regulatory and oversight requirements so that each tax haven can attract clientele.

This has become so extreme that basic requirements of banking for those who do it legally, such as proof of identity, are not required in the offshore world. In fact, even your true name can be withheld if you wish.

It is easier to avoid any risk of embarrassment from exposure this way.

As a result, virtually any jurisdiction will open an account (or as many accounts as you want) in whatever names you specify.

Then, usually employing a variety of devices, ranging from secret bank accounts, nominee directors (usually locals who play no part in the organization bar give it their name) and structures such as shell companies (that exist on paper and perhaps a wall plaque somewhere, but nothing else) and trusts (which, unlike the legitimate version, appear to separate responsibility and control from the benefits of ownership but actually do not), to processes such as transfer pricing (a technique by which companies ‘shift paper profits into low-tax countries and costs into high-tax countries’ to minimize – or eliminate – tax payments) and often employing a convoluted process that rapidly shifts monies through several jurisdictions so that it becomes ‘untraceable’ (because authorities must get permission to access each jurisdiction in turn in any effort to trace the money), profits are effectively hidden and any accountability to authorities of any kind utterly eliminated. See Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World.

For one simple example of such a strategy, employing a technique known as the ‘double Irish, Dutch sandwich’ (which is legal), see ‘Google shifted $23bn to tax haven Bermuda in 2017, filing shows’. []

But you can read other examples here: ‘The tech giants will never pay their fair share of taxes – unless we make them’ [] and ‘7 Corporate Giants Accused of Evading Billions in Taxes’. []

Why does the existence of Tax Havens matter to us?

Well, the simple answer to this question is that just a fraction of the money hidden in tax havens would feed, clothe, house and provide clean water, medical care and educational opportunities to everyone on Earth.

It would eliminate the 100,000 deaths by starvation-related diseases each day. It would eliminate poverty and homelessness.

And, as one byproduct of having these material needs met, it would facilitate the emergence of an informed, engaged and empowered human population to tackle the vast range of environmental, climate and military threats that currently threaten biosphere collapse and imminent human extinction.

See ‘Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival’. []

As Professor Prem Sikka puts it more simply: Because of the penetration by financial services executives of the British state, including the Treasury ‘It deprives people of opportunities to have healthcare, education, security, justice and, ultimately, a fulfilling life.’ See ‘The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire’.

Fundamentally, then, tax havens and their secrecy are at the heart of those elite institutions and processes that functionally undermine democracy and give extraordinary power to certain anonymous individuals and their entities without accountability. See ‘The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire’.

Of course, the elites that control the tax haven networks are not about to let this change.

Tax havens are simply too important as part of the global infrastructure for maintaining elite profit, power and privilege and for resisting grassroots efforts to bring peace, justice and ecological sanity to our world.

And that is why they are protected by government legislation and legal systems, with an ‘army’ of accountants, auditors, bankers, business-people, lawyers and politicians ensuring that they remain protected.

So don’t forget: laws are designed to control and punish you, no matter how trivial your infringement: a parking fine, a littering offence, a petty theft. But if you have enough money, the law simply does not exist.

And you can evade taxes legally and in the full knowledge that your vast profits (even from immorally-acquired wealth such as sex trafficking, gun-running, endangered species trafficking, conflict diamonds and drug trafficking) are ‘lawful’ and will escape regulation and oversight of any kind.

See ‘The Rule of Law: Unjust and Violent’. []

Let me give a personal example.

I have been a war tax resister since 1983: I have a conscientious objection to paying taxes to the Australian government to deploy military forces in other countries to kill people in my name.

So, instead of paying taxes to kill, for many years I donated the equivalent amount to organizations engaged in peace, development, environment and human rights work, and to ‘pay the rent’ for my use of indigenous land.

As some of many outcomes to this conscientious and highly public resistance (garnering national media attention at times), in 1991 I was bankrupted, in 1992 I was convicted of contempt of court (for my conscientious refusal to cooperate with the bankruptcy trustee) and in 1993 my passport was seized.

In 1999, I was advised that I will be ‘bankrupt forever’ because of my ongoing conscientious refusal to finance the killing.

In the same period, since 1983, trillions and trillions of dollars of tax have been illegally and secretly evaded as wealthy individuals and corporations, criminals and crime syndicates, international organizations and governments channel their incomes and profits through tax havens.

Laws and legal systems throughout the world make this possible and, provided it is done correctly, it is quite straightforward to avoid any penalties for secretly evading payment of taxes or hiding money acquired through criminal activity.

But the point, as you can see, is that tax evasion by wealthy individuals and corporations meant that many of these individuals and corporations didn’t pay taxes to kill people either.

They just didn’t pay taxes at all.

Of course, their motive was personal gain, their way was legal, they incurred no penalty and, of course, they didn’t pay an equivalent amount to support peace and justice causes.

More fundamentally, however, the trillions of dollars they took from the global economy were made by killing and exploiting people and the planet in a significant variety of other ways, ranging from sex trafficking, gun-running, conflict diamonds and trafficking in drugs and endangered species, to simply starving people to death at the rate of 100,000 people each day by managing the global economy, using tax havens as a primary tool, to extract maximum profit.

Richard Brooks documents how this legal exploitation occurs in another way in his book The Great Tax Robbery: How Britain Became a Tax Haven for Fat Cats and Big Business. []

The vast tax evasion by elites in Britain, including by diverting funds through tax havens, attracts just five prosecutions each year per £1 billion of evasion of direct taxes.

In contrast, benefits fraud by those on unemployment and disability pensions attract 9,000 prosecutions each year per £1 billion of fraud.

‘So theft by the poor warrants the full force of the law’.

But not theft by elites who write the law and largely control the political and legal processes in relation to it.

Hence, under the guise of ‘relationship taxing’ (that is, building a relationship between tax authorities and corporate executives and ‘tailoring’ tax payments to corporate wishes to the extent the law allows), corporations have long known that ‘If you don’t like the law… we’ll see what we can do’.

As is obvious from this example, attempts at government reform, including to defeat tax havens, in the direction of making elites financially and legally accountable, both nationally and internationally, for the responsibilities which the rest of us cannot escape, are invariably for show and, in any case, achieve zero of substance.

For example, the attempt to ‘approve’ a blacklist of tax havens at the G20 gathering in 2009 was resisted by the Chinese premier on behalf of Chinese elites who, like other national elites keen to have political control but ‘judicial separation’ from their offshore centres, opposed the listing of notorious havens Hong Kong and Macau: see Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World.

The global elite is clearly in control with national governments and international organizations powerlessly doing as instructed.

So complete is this control, in fact, that Brooks notes that, in Britain, ‘Anti-tax avoidance laws had to be relaxed to accommodate companies’ tax avoidance schemes.’

Brooks concludes that ‘British taxation policy really had been so comprehensively captured by the world’s biggest corporations that screw-the-poor policies… could be written into the statute books at their whim, without a pang of conscience being felt anywhere in Whitehall.’

Clearly, however, his comment can be applied to virtually any government in the world.

So does it matter to you that these tax havens exist and do what they do?

What can be done about Tax Havens?

Authors such as Nicholas Shaxson and Richard Brooks suggest a raft of measures to correct the large number of ‘faults’ that facilitate the secrecy, protection from regulation and tax evasion that individuals, corporations, organizations, criminals and terrorists utilize in tax havens.

For Shaxson, these include financial reforms such as ‘blacklisting’ of tax havens so that their rogue state status is public knowledge; greater transparency, for example, through government sharing of information about the local income and assets of each other’s citizens and by requiring multinational corporate activities in each country to be made visible (rather than hidden behind ‘international’ figures); promoting the needs of developing countries which need their tax bases protected far more than they need aid or debt relief; confronting the British ‘spider’s web’ of tax havens by abolishing the City of London Corporation and submerging it into a unified and fully democratic London; taxing an entire multinational ‘group’ as a single unit and then allocating the appropriate amounts of its income out to the different jurisdictions in which it was earned and allow it to be taxed as each jurisdiction decides; onshore tax reform such as a land value tax (because land cannot be moved offshore and so tax on it must be paid locally), and by a direct distribution of mineral wealth in any country to each of its inhabitants (who can then be taxed); tackling the ‘enablers’ – the accountants, lawyers, individual bankers, business-people – and not just the clients, so that they go to jail; rethinking the meaning of ‘corporate responsibility’ (because corporations are given a wealth of capital in public infrastructure, an educated and healthy workforce… with which to work) so that corporations are transparent about their affairs and pay tax as part of their corporate responsibility; re-evaluating the meaning of corruption – insiders abusing the common good in secrecy and getting away with it and so worsening inequality and entrenching vested interests and unaccountable power – so that we see, more clearly, all of the actors and their activities; and changing the culture that fawns over people who abuse the system for personal gain. See Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World.

And some progress appears to be occurring along lines he suggests. For example, a version of automatic information exchange (AIE), by which governments make sure that essential information is made available to other jurisdictions as a matter of routine, has been discussed by the OECD and, while full of loopholes – see ‘Loophole USA: the vortex-shaped hole in global financial transparency’ – some commitments have been made. []

For the list of commitments as at November 2018, see ‘AEOI commitments’. []

However, the USA has not made this commitment and while Switzerland, for example, finds this objectionable – see ‘The U.S. hasn’t signed the AEoI Agreement: Reciprocity demanded’ – the reality is that it makes little difference. []

For example, ICO Services, which specializes in the formation of offshore companies and offshore banking, will assist you to get around the AEoI requirement.

Their website advertises that ‘asset holders need to start looking for alternative jurisdictions for protecting their assets.

There are some reputable jurisdictions that are still outside the AEoI  – e.g. Cyprus  –  but U.S. states of Delaware and some others shouldn’t be dismissed.’

But if you want a more established name to help you take advantage of a tax haven in the USA, you really can’t go past Rothschild & Co. []

So, to check out what they are offering: ‘Here Is Rothschild’s Primer How To Launder Money In U.S. Real Estate And Avoid “Blacklists”’. []

Moreover, the AEoI agreement ‘outlaws’ bank secrecy but not trust secrecy (which dates from the Crusades) on which the British model is based – ‘The Trust lies at the core of the British secrecy model’ – so it does not address the cornerstone of British tax haven secrecy and explains why the British were happy to see the Cayman Islands commit to the AEoI.

In short: the British government would be happy to kill off bank secrecy so that they can capture a larger market share (based on Trust secrecy). See ‘The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire’.

Separately from this initiative, in 2018 the UK parliament enacted a new law requiring its overseas territories – including notorious tax havens like Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands – to start disclosing the owners of corporations they register by 2020.

In theory: ‘This could shut down a huge amount of offshore tax evasion and other financial crimes because individuals from anywhere in the world, including the United States, have long been able to set up secret corporations in these tax havens to stash their money.’

See ‘New UK Law May Shut Down the Biggest Tax Havens – Aside from the U.S.’ []

However, while the report pointed out that the new law obviously does not impact the USA (or, of course, Switzerland or …) and the easy rerouting options available if these havens are effectively (or even actually) shut down, it failed to mention that this initiative does not in any way address the City of London Corporation so the impact of this initiative must be very limited unless it is followed by some pretty drastic initiatives in Westminster, Washington, Bern and elsewhere.

In summary, while one cannot disagree with any of Shaxson’s fine suggestions or be displeased that public pressure has led to some effort being made by the OECD and the UK parliament to address elements of the tax haven scourge, the reality is that the extent of the changes necessary are not going to happen without enormous grassroots pressure, strategically applied, and they are very unlikely to happen as reforms of the existing capitalist system.

This is simply because the global elite is solidly in control of the institutions and processes of global capitalism, including its compliant governments and international organizations, and will readily stymie any attempt at serious reform of tax havenry particularly given the number of major reforms needed and the number of nations in which these reforms must be enacted.

To state two obvious examples:

The City of London Corporation has not existed for 1,000 years because it has no defense. And the changes noted above have only made the US more attractive as a secrecy jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, with the aim of promoting ‘financial innovation’, Switzerland has recently made things easier for smaller financial technology companies thus making tax havenry more attractive to those who might not have otherwise considered it.

See ‘Swiss watchdog to propose looser anti-money laundering rules for fintechs’. []

So, given that most tax havens are protected by host government legislation and there is no international mechanism to control them, the tax haven industry generally is not under threat of being held to account in any significant way.

And, despite the more elaborate explanation offered above, there is a simple reason for this.

Unofficially, of course, illegal money, laundered through tax havens, has become an essential and sometimes stabilizing element of the global financial system.

See ‘Drug money saved banks in global crisis, claims UN advisor’. []

So what can we do that will make a difference?

Given the deeply entrenched and long-standing nature of this problem, clearly it needs to be addressed at various levels.

Fundamentally, we can nurture our children so that we do not destroy their conscience.

See ‘My Promise to Children’. []

Remember all of those corrupt/criminal accountants, bankers, business-people, priests and popes, lawyers and politicians that kept creeping up in the discussion above?

The people who maintain the entire infrastructure that allows tax havens to exist and those who manage and profit from it too?

Do they care about you?
Do they care about the people in Africa, Asia and Central/South America who starve as a result of the types of policies that allow tax havens to exist and function?
Do they care about those driven into poverty and homelessness in modern industrial economies because vast sums are drained out of them and hidden in secrecy jurisdictions?
Do they care about the people killed by the military and other violence from which they profit and then hide the proceeds to evade tax?
Do they care about the Earth?

Fundamentally, do they care about themselves?

Of course not! But this is only because they are extraordinarily psychologically damaged individuals.

See ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’ [] with a more complete explanation in ‘Why Violence?’ [] and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’. []

If we inflict enormous violence on a child throughout their childhood to compel their obedience, how can we expect them to grow up to lead a life of integrity based on their conscience, courage, compassion, empathy and love?

Those who use tax havens are truly ‘poor little rich boys’ (and girls).

See ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’ [] and ‘Why Set Up a Shell Company in Panama? The Psychology Driving Illicit Financial Flows’. []

Beyond tackling the problem at its source however, we can also tackle manifestations of the problem but not by lobbying elites – and their political agents: there are no votes in it, in any case – to control this depravity for which they are well rewarded.

For a start we can boycott all of the major private banks in favor of those smaller or member-owned banks that have a serious commitment to peace, justice and ecological sustainability, or we can seek out equivalent institutions like credit unions.

We can also create public banks based on ethical principles.

See ‘What are Public Banks and How Do They Operate? An Introduction’. []

We can boycott large corporations – like Amazon, Apple, Gap, Google, Ikea, Microsoft and Starbucks – that use tax havens.

None of these corporations is a monopoly: there are alternatives which can be investigated and employed, assuming we can’t go without some version of the product or service they offer.

Whenever you can, find a locally-owned outlet that offers a local product or service.

We can boycott the Catholic Church. God does not ask that you morally or financially support a corrupt organization that doesn’t understand or represent morality and spirituality.

Remember, it was Jesus who threw the money-changers out of the temple.

If our conscience speaks loudly enough, we can decline employment by any organization that is unethical, such as those that use tax havens.

We can refuse to gamble, refuse to buy the services of a sex worker (who might even be illegally trafficked into the work), refuse to buy the products of endangered species – see, for example, ‘Killing Elephants “for Pet Food” Condemned’ – and refuse to use illicit drugs.

These products and services are virtually always offered by industries controlled by criminal organizations so by buying them you are only harming yourself and/or other people or species about whom you could choose to exercise a duty of care while also not contributing to the diversion of financial resources into tax havens.

We can encourage unions, with members who work for organizations using tax havens, to take a stand on the issue.

We can support existing organizations that work on the problem, preferably those that offer grassroots alternatives.

The Tax Justice Network [], an ‘activist think tank’, and its sister organization, the Global Alliance for Tax Justice [], campaign for systemic change.

If we are genuinely ambitious, we can develop comprehensive nonviolent strategies to compel particular individuals and organizations to desist from using tax havens or even compel countries to close down tax havens.

See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy. []

This can easily be part of a larger strategy to transform the global economy into one that satisfies human and ecological needs, particularly given the imminence of biosphere collapse, as noted above.

See ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’. []

If violence and exploitation in all of their guises concern you, consider signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’. []

So here is a final question for you to consider: What might the world look like if all those trillions of dollars were being shared and spent where they are most needed?

Oscar Platt – Tue, Feb 26, 2019

Russia’s new Avangard (Fr. “Avant-garde”) missile system is a technological wonder. Scientists and engineers managed to overcome a number of technological hurdles, like how to keep a vehicle from disintegrating while traveling at mach-20, with temperatures reaching 3000 degrees Celsius. 

In light of the US’ withdrawal from the INF treaty, this is a big development.

It is also alarming, because Sunday evening Dmitry Kiselyov, TV personality and Kremlin confidant, listed Russian targets inside the US, including the Pentagon and Camp David, Maryland.

Transcript 1:

But our American friends invented the anti-ballistic missile defence system to safeguard against these ballistic missiles.

Therefore, we had to provide an adequate, asymmetrical but serious response. What kind of a response is this?

The Avangard system is our response.

A winged glider vehicle moves at Mach 20-plus inside dense atmospheric layers; it was difficult to imagine this in the past.

In terms of our defense capability, this amounts to the same landmark achievement as the launch of the first space satellite.

This is because that launch implied ballistic missiles, and we are now talking about a new strategic weapons system that moves along a flat trajectory inside dense atmospheric layers.

This is another delivery vehicle?

Yes, of course, this amounts to another delivery vehicle. But this is an absolute breakthrough in terms of modern technologies and materials.

This winged glider vehicle’s nose section heats up to almost 3,000 degrees Celsius. Can you imagine this? What does 3,000 degrees feel like?

The Sun’s surface heats up to 6,000 degrees, and here we are talking about 3,000 degrees.

I have already mentioned the chocolate-coated ice cream effect, when the vehicle flies along and melts away as it goes.

It is coated with a plasma layer, and its sides heat up to 1,900–2,000 degrees. At the same time, the vehicle is controlled accordingly.

You know, when I attended the latest tests and when I watched them, the operator said “Acknowledge message” which means that the vehicle had hit the bull’s eye, the target.

The Russian science, engineering school and defense sector have scored an amazing success. Indeed, this is absolutely tremendous.

Therefore, a comparison with the first near-Earth satellite is quite adequate and appropriate.

Komsomolskaya Pravda Editor in Chief Vladimir Sungorkin: Mr President, you have compared the Avangard system with the first near-Earth satellite today.

Does this not seem to be an overstatement because the first satellite is a far cry from the Avangard system?

What happened? Why did you use such a powerful comparison?

President Vladimir Putin: I see, thank you for your question.

As you can see, I have made a reservation.

This system absolutely compares with the first near-Earth satellite in terms of maintaining our security.

I will explain.

The launch of the first space satellite implied, in terms of ensuring security, that the Soviet Union had received systems, or ballistic missiles, for delivering nuclear warheads to the territory of the potential enemy.

In effect, that launch ushered in an entire missile programme.

Of course, that programme had been developing before that event, but, in effect, it began with that launch.

This implies ballistic missiles.

Transcript 2:

Now, let’s discuss the military part of the address. Experts are commenting on the most advanced weapons which the president spoke about yesterday, such as Zircon the hypersonic missile.

Elizaveta Khramtsova has the details of its combat specifications.

It’s like a knife through butter. That’s how experts describe the capacities of the new Russian hypersonic system Zircon. It’ll outperform any anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense system of a potential adversary. The high-precision cruise missile Zircon will have a range of over 600 miles. Its hypersonic speed of Mach 9 is also impressive. The Zircon will pose a treat not only to the intermediate-range missiles deployed in Europe; it’ll help destroy the key elements of the control system of their decision-making units which are located outside of the European continent.

Vsevolod Khmyrov, Rear Admiral (Retired): “Given the fact that the missile systems belong to the Americans, it’s clear that they’ll be controlled from the decision-making units located in the territory of the American continent.”

This type of weapons plays a special role, given the situation with the INF Treaty, which Washington decided to ruin. If the treaty is terminated, the American partners will be able to deploy shock troops onto the European continent. In the framework of the American anti-missile defense system, Aegis Ashore systems with MK 41 systems have already been deployed in Romania. The same systems will be in Poland soon. Not only defense missiles but also strike Tomahawks with a range of 1,500 miles can be launched from them.

The experts stress that the Zircon can destroy the Pentagon’s illusion that in the case of an escalation, American servicemen will be safe. Anti-missile defense systems won’t help the opponent.

Vsevolod Khmyrov: “If a vehicle carrying Zircon missiles is 300 miles away from the coastline, it’ll take the missiles five minutes to reach the targets in the coastal zone at a distance under 300 miles. What can be done during this period of time? At best, one can detect the missiles flying to the target but not intercept them. A hypersonic system as such as the Zircon practically pierces any anti-missile and anti-aircraft defense system. There’s no defense against it.”

The number of Zircons which can be put in service leaves no doubt that decision-making units will be destroyed. According to experts, there can be 2-3 surface ships and submarines carrying Zircons which are on combat duty in the Western Atlantic Ocean or the Eastern Pacific Ocean on each direction. Each vessel can carry about 40 missiles.

Vladimir Putin mentioned the projects to create a promising novelty in his previous address to the Federal Assembly. The president stressed that today, the work on the hypersonic missile Zircon is successfully progressing according to schedule. The new missile is supposed to be launched from sea-based carriers, follow-on surface ships, and submarines. Some of them either have already been made or being made to carry the high-precision missile system Kalibr. This means that the development of the new type of weapons won’t affect the budget.

The sea-based system Poseidon also undermines all of the Pentagon’s efforts to create a naval anti-missile defense system. The president also mentioned this system in his address. The system is automated and compact. The unmanned underwater apparatuses of Poseidon are extremely hard to detect and harder to intercept. Vladimir Putin noted that the first nuclear submarine carrying the Poseidon unmanned vehicle will be launched this spring.

Blog Copy:
Ryan Gallagher 3/4/19 [Op-Ed By R Andrew Ohge:

GOOGLE EMPLOYEES HAVE carried out their own investigation into the company’s plan to launch a censored search engine for China and say they are concerned that development of the project remains ongoing, The Intercept can reveal.

Late last year, bosses moved engineers away from working on the controversial project, known as Dragonfly, and said that there were no current plans to launch it. However, a group of employees at the company was unsatisfied with the lack of information from leadership on the issue — and took matters into their own hands.

The group has identified ongoing work on a batch of code that is associated with the China search engine, according to three Google sources.

The development has stoked anger inside Google offices, where many of the company’s 88,000 workforce previously protested against plans to launch the search engine, which was designed to censor broad categories of information associated with human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest.

Google Dragonfly
Read Our Complete Coverage:

Google Dragonfly

In December, The Intercept reported that an internal dispute and political pressure on Google had stopped development of Dragonfly.

Google bosses had originally planned to launch it between January and April of this year.

But they changed course after the outcry over the plan and indicated to employees who were working on the project that it was being shelved.

Google’s Caesar Sengupta, an executive with a leadership role on Dragonfly, told engineers and others who were working on the censored search engine in mid-December that they would be allocated new projects funded by different “cost centers” of the company’s budget.

In a message marked “confidential – do not forward,” which has been newly obtained by The Intercept, Sengupta told the Dragonfly workers:

Over the past few quarters, we have tackled different aspects of what search would look like in China.

While we’ve made progress in our understanding of the market and user needs, many unknowns remain and currently we have no plans to launch.

Back in July we said at our all hands that we did not feel we could make much progress right now.

Since then, many people have effectively rolled off the project while others have been working on adjacent areas such as improving our Chinese language capabilities that also benefit users globally.

Thank you for all of your hard work here.

As we finalize business planning for 2019, our priority is for you to be productive and have clear objectives, so we have started to align cost centers to better reflect what people are actually working on.

Thanks again — and your leads will follow up with you on next steps.

Sources with knowledge of Dragonfly said staff who were working on the project were not told to immediately cease their efforts.

Rather, they were instructed to finish up the jobs they were doing and then they would be allocated new work on other teams.

Some of those who were working on Dragonfly were moved into different areas, focusing on projects related to Google’s search services in India, Indonesia, Russia, the Middle East, and Brazil.

“I just don’t know where the leadership is coming from anymore.”

But Google executives, including CEO Sundar Pichai, refused both publicly and privately to completely rule out launching the censored search engine in the future.

This led a group of concerned employees — who were themselves not directly involved with Dragonfly — to closely monitor the company’s internal systems for information about the project and circulate their findings on an internal messaging list.

The employees have been keeping tabs on repositories of code that are stored on Google’s computers, which they say is linked to Dragonfly.

The code was created for two smartphone search apps — named Maotai and Longfei — that Google planned to roll out in China for users of Android and iOS mobile devices.

The employees identified about 500 changes to the code in December, and more than 400 changes to the code between January and February of this year, which they believe indicates continued development of aspects of Dragonfly. (Since August 2017, the number of code changes has varied between about 150 to 500 each month, one source said.)

The employees say there are still some 100 workers allocated to the “cost center” associated with Dragonfly, meaning that the company is maintaining a budget for potential ongoing work on the plan.

Google sources with knowledge of Dragonfly said that the code changes could possibly be attributed to employees who have continued this year to wrap up aspects of the work they were doing to develop the Chinese search platform.

“I still believe the project is dead, but we’re still waiting for a declaration from Google that censorship is unacceptable and that they will not collaborate with governments in the oppression of their people,” said one source familiar with Dragonfly.

The lack of clarity from management has resulted in Google losing skilled engineers and developers.

In recent months, several Google employees have resigned in part due to Dragonfly and leadership’s handling of the project.

The Intercept knows of six staff at the company, including two in senior positions, who have quit since December, and three others who are planning to follow them out the door.

Colin McMillen, who worked as a software engineer at Google for nine years, quit the company in early February.

He told The Intercept that he had been concerned about Dragonfly and other “ethically dubious” decisions, such as Google’s multimillion-dollar severance packages for executives accused of sexual harassment.

“I think they are going to try it again in a year or two.”

Prior to leaving the company, McMillen said he and his colleagues had “strong indications that something is still happening” with Google search in China.

But they were left confused about the status of the China plan because upper management would not discuss it.

“I just don’t know where the leadership is coming from anymore,” he said. “They have really closed down communication and become significantly less transparent.”

In 2006, Google launched a censored search engine in China, but stopped operating the service in the country in 2010, taking a clear anti-censorship position.

At the time, Google co-founder Sergey Brin declared that he wanted to show that the company was “opposing censorship and speaking out for the freedom of political dissent.”

Pichai, Google’s CEO since 2015, has taken a different position.

He has a strong desire to launch search again in China — viewing the censorship as a worthwhile trade-off to gain access to the country’s more than 800 million internet users — and he may now be waiting for the controversy around Dragonfly to die down before quietly resurrecting the plan.

“Right now it feels unlaunchable, but I don’t think they are canceling outright,” McMillen said. “I think they are putting it on the back burner and are going to try it again in a year or two with a different code name or approach.”

Anna Bacciarelli, a technology researcher at Amnesty International, called on Google “to publicly confirm that it has dropped Dragonfly for good, not just ‘for now.’”

Bacciarelli told The Intercept that Amnesty’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo had visited Google’s Mountain View headquarters in California last week to reiterate concerns over Dragonfly and “the apparent disregard for transparency and accountability around the project.”

If Google is still developing the censored search engine, Bacciarelli said, “it’s not only failing on its human rights responsibilities but ignoring the hundreds of Google employees, more than 70 human rights organizations, and hundreds of thousands of campaign supporters around the world who have all called on the company to respect human rights and drop Dragonfly.”

Google did not respond to a request for comment.

Ric/Rex Suggests: A Chinese Google With Its Growing Business Base PLUS A Heady Wireless Market IS TOO Big For Google To Walk Away From.

With the censorship and tracking tech wanted by the Chinese, having Google Plus remain operating-ESPECIALLY with its former “Freedom of Speech”, Artistic expression, and broad global reach would be an anathema to the Chinese government, and a definite deal breaker…a deal worth ongoing BILLIONS.

Even with the “safeguards” built in required by the Chinese for “Dragonfly”, the remaining operation of G+ would be a customer service nightmare for the CHINESE, and those billions of Yuan are just TOO ATTRACTIVE.

SOOO…Google Plus users, if you’re wondering what made Google shut down the most effective global community ever imagined, NONE of the explanations offered comes through very clear, as it’s too hard to make out through the “googling mumbles” caused by the presence of a giant dragonfly appendage in the mouths of the Google boardroom sellouts and traitors to the cause of Free Speech.

Desultory Heroics

By Caitlin Johnstone


In response to criticisms made by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar that US political leaders have too much allegiance to Israel and its lobbying groups, House Democrats have put forward an entire House resolution in accordance with demands made by AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League.

“The backlash [over Omar’s comments] continued on Monday, as the Anti-Defamation League wrote a letter to Pelosi calling for a House resolution to specifically reject what the organization calls Omar’s ‘latest slur,’” Politico reports. “‘We urge you and your colleagues to send the unambiguous message that the United States Congress is no place for hate,’ the group’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, wrote in a letter.”

“The charge of dual loyalty not only raises the ominous specter of classic anti-Semitism, but it is also deeply insulting to the millions upon millions of patriotic Americans, Jewish and non-Jewish, who stand by our democratic ally…

View original post 1,040 more words  
By Richard Gale and Dr. Gary Null 
Global Research 2/4/19
Theme: Environment 

The recent release of the proposed Green New Deal is a template, an outline identifying some of the most crucial issues facing the nation regarding climate change and a wish list of measures to address those issues. 

It contains a variety of inspired agenda items, many of which have been voiced by the Green Party and environmental fringe groups in Washington for over a decade. According to the Deal’s Fact Sheet, 92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans support the Deal. 

Almost every Democrat throwing their hat into the 2020 presidential race backs it. 

And the Deal has gained wide approval in the climatology and atmospheric science communities; among hundreds of conservation, environmental, renewable energy, and social activist organizations; and within the younger generation. 

It has been a long time coming, and the question is whether it is too late. 

It is optimistic to think that we can reverse accelerating global warming trends and mitigate their impact by keeping the planet below the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 1.5 degree C warming mark for the next 12 years, and it is even more optimistic to think that Congress will be able to enact legislation like this without prioritizing the interests of the multinational corporations and lobbies that contribute to their re-election campaigns over the people who elected them. 

It took no time for the Deal’s co-authors, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Democrat Senator Ed Markey, to be broadsided with disparaging criticisms by corporate leaders and political opponents, including old rank-and-file Democrats. 

The critics include the President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, fossil fuel backer Terry O’Sullivan, who labeled the report a “fantasy manifesto” that will create “divisions and inequality.” 

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg called it “pie in the sky.” 

And Pelosi and her multi-million dollar corporate colleagues are simply clueless about the “Green Dream or whatever they call it,” as Pelosi dismissed it. 

It took no time for the Deal’s co-authors, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Democrat Senator Ed Markey, to be broadsided with disparaging criticisms by corporate leaders and political opponents, including old rank-and-file Democrats. 

But there are plenty of legitimate criticisms too, and progressives would be wise not to let their desire to see pro-environmental legislation enacted at last blind them to the very real problems with Ocasio-Cortez and a legislative blueprint that could very easily become as much of a giveaway to multinational corporations as the Affordable Care Act was to insurance companies. 

The Green New Deal largely relies for precedent upon the idealism behind great accomplishments in the US’ history when the nation succeeded in mobilizing to tackle difficult challenges that critics argued could never be accomplished. 

Examples include FDR’s transformation of the private auto and manufacturing industries to meet military needs during World War 2, Eisenhower’s interstate highway system, and the achievement of JFK’s promise to reach the moon before the end of the 1960s. 

Although Washington remains strait-jacked by the interests of the finance and energy lobbies, at the local level, constructive change is happening. 

Over one hundred cities across the country have issued statements pledging to transition to 100 percent renewable energy.1

Unfortunately, their dateline targets are far off track, and the best case, Hawaii, is looking at reaching 100 percent clean energy efficiency in another 26 years. 

Farmers are forgoing energy-intensive chemical agriculture and transitioning to organic.

And the public is becoming increasingly more aware and educated about their energy usage and slowly changing its consumption habits. 

Nevertheless, compared to other developed nations, the US lags far behind in reaching realistic targets to address the IPCC’s 1.5 degree prediction, which is overly conservative. 

Absent the IPCC’s statistical limitations, the actual time frame, according to most independent climate scientists, is more dire. We may have only 7 years to get off fossil fuels. 

However, reaching the Deal’s goal is potentially doable if the country’s industries and finance giants get behind it. 

Sweden already gets over half of its energy from renewables. In 2015, Denmark’s wind farm industry reached 140 percent of energy demands. 

In 2016 Portugal reached a milestone by operating for four days without any fossil fuels.2 

Due to its favorable clean energy geothermal resources, Iceland generates the most clean energy per capita in the world; almost 90 percent of its total energy needs are satisfied by non-fossil fuel sources. 

Costa Rica has managed to run for over two months on 100 percent renewables. 

In 10 years, Uruguay’s unique public and private sector partnerships now supply 95 percent of its national energy needs with renewables.3 

Many other nations are also making aggressive efforts to power themselves exclusively with clean energy. 

And where does the US stand? 

According to the US Energy Information Administration, for 2017, non-fossil fuel sources only accounted for a dismal 20 percent of energy consumption. 

And still 34 percent of fuel for our electric power sector relies on coal!4

While getting off fossil fuel dependency is absolutely critical, the US’s electricity production only accounts for 28 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions (GHEs). 

While switching to renewable energy for electrical power needs is very likely achievable, the obstacles to reach the IPCC target are enormous. 

In our estimation, several stumbling blocks may make it impossible for the US to eliminate fossil fuels during the next dozen years. 

Aside from opposition within with the Democratic Party by corporatists such as Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Steny Hoyer, the cost to overhaul all industry, manufacturing and current and new technological developments would be astronomical. 

A Republican-aligned think tank, the American Action Forum, recently published a report estimating the Green New Deal would cost between $51 trillion and $93 trillion over ten years, though the lion’s share of that sum relates to the Deal’s provision of jobs and healthcare for all, rather than its environmental measures. 

Eliminating carbon emissions from the power and transportation sector, the group said, would “only” cost between $8.3 and $12.3 trillion over a decade. The national debt is already almost $22 trillion and growing. 

Since Trump took office, the debt has increased $2 trillion, and there is no indication it will shrink. 

Increasingly extreme weather and its aftereffects will only further raise the debt. 

A closer examination of these numbers is required. 

The “official” price tag of the “War on Terror,” which has laid waste to the Middle East over the last 20 years, creating an endless supply of future enemies by slaughtering entire villages full of civilians via depersonalized drone warfare, recently climbed north of $6 trillion,5 and an investigation last year turned up an eye-popping $21 trillion in fraudulent budgeting by the Pentagon and the Department of Housing and Urban Development6.

Thousands of whistleblowers are swept under the rug by the Defense Department’s Inspector General every year in their efforts to call attention to waste and fraud within the wealthiest military in the world. 

The first-ever attempt to audit the Pentagon, performed last year, was an embarrassing failure, revealing $6.5 trillion had simply vanished.7 

The US spends nearly $1 trillion a year on “defense”8– and while no one would suggest dismantling the American military, there are thousands of bases sprinkled around the world in countries the US does not belong, with undeclared conflicts raging in 134 countries.9 Surely some of this largesse could be repurposed to save the planet. 

There is always money in the budget for war, which currently eats up more than half of every dollar spent by the US government, despite the fact that the US is not facing any credible military threats from state actors. 

Despite the evidence-free charges it meddled in the 2016 election, Russia does not pose a threat to the US – indeed, Russian President Vladimir Putin in a recent speech expressed frustration that Russia was “banging on a locked door” regarding friendship between the two nations, rendered all but impossible with every round of draconian sanctions imposed as a form of legislative virtue-signaling by congressmen eager to demonstrate their allegiance in Cold War Part 2.10

Even China prefers to flex its muscles economically, rather than militarily, spending trillions to build its Belt and Road throughout the developing world and amassing allies by funding large infrastructure projects – where the US has historically bullied poorer nations into submissions through military force. 

The Green New Deal would merely take roughly the yearly expenditure on the War on Terror and use it for constructive, rather than destructive, purposes. 

Troops returning from costly and destructive foreign wars could even be put to work planting trees or building infrastructure, much as environmental projects are undertaken in less wealthy nations. 

Because that scary $12.3 trillion figure is the cost if the Green New Deal were undertaken in the typical American fashion of rolling out grand legislation. 

If environmental reforms were enacted the way other countries work, the figure would shrink dramatically. 

Unfortunately, Ocasio-Cortez is open about her wish to work with “business interests” to get the job done, just as Barack Obama was willing to work with the insurance companies to pass the Affordable Care Act, resulting in a ruinously expensive and flawed plan that forced Americans to buy health insurance they could not afford while subsidizing a tiny sliver of the population. 

Healthcare costs did not go down – they skyrocketed – and healthcare quality certainly did not improve. 

Involving corporations with their profit-above-all value system guarantees the Green New Deal will enrich wealthy conglomerates like Bechtel and Halliburton. 

These will receive the big contracts for building renewable infrastructure, repurposing existing infrastructure, etc. but will contract the work out to other, smaller companies while keeping most of the money as profit. 

The smaller companies will then outsource the jobs (constructing solar panels in the desert, say, or planting a hardy forest on now-barren disused farmland) to poorly-paid local firms, while keeping most of the remaining money as profit. 

The poorly-paid local firms will then do the jobs with the cheapest materials and shoddiest standards in the hope of retaining whatever funds are left for their CEOs and investors. 

This is the American way, and it is why any grand infrastructure or rebuilding project costs so much. 

If enacted along the lines of past grand projects like the Affordable Care Act, the Green New Deal will essentially be a giveaway to the big corporations Ocasio-Cortez claims to oppose, with her champagne socialism, neoliberal economics degree, and unhealthy affection for the trappings of wealth and power. 

It is no secret that the very real climate catastrophe we all face has been weaponized by multinational interests interested in pushing global governance measures as the only “solution” to the climate change problem. 

Too often, this has made those rightly suspicious of the motives of government and the ruling class also doubt the existence of climate change, in a form of guilt by association. 

But taking action on a grand scale need not be ruinously expensive or involve an authoritarian clampdown on the rights of the individual. 

China assigned 60,000 soldiers to plant enough trees to cover an area the size of Ireland last year11 with an aim toward eventually upping their forest coverage from 21 percent to 26 percent by 2035. 

Even Bangladesh – one of the poorest countries in the world – began planting one million trees in 2017 after rural deforestation had so denuded the countryside that farmers were dying from lightning strikes at high rates, copying a similar program in Thailand.12

India set a world record – twice! – using millions of volunteers to plant trees in order to bring its forests in line with the commitments it made under the Paris Agreement. 

With modern technology like “seed bombing,” a single airplane or drone can plant 900,000 trees in a day, dropping seeds encased in ready-to-grow soil bundles. 

This technology is already used in Africa, and it has advanced significantly beyond simply dropping seeds indiscriminately – modern seed bombing drones are equipped with imaging capability to ensure the seeds go where they are most likely to thrive. 

None of this requires outsourcing, subcontracting, slicing and dicing profit margins, or any of the typically American approaches to the problem, and it will save billions. 

Relying on the government to do the right thing almost invariably leaves one disappointed. 

If it was not Ocasio-Cortez pushing cooperation with the business community as an integral part of the Deal, it would be another congressperson. 

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and the US Chamber of Commerce – the “business lobby” – is so massive it’s difficult for lawmakers to see outside its edges. 

Add in the size of the “energy lobby” and it’s easy to see how lawmakers find it difficult to conceive of taking large-scale action in a way that does not primarily benefit large corporations. 

The voice of the people has not been heard in Washington in decades, and it’s doubtful it would be recognized if it was heard. 

Sweden Aims To Become The World’s First Fossil Fuel-Free Nation

Moreover, although the US is the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases (15 percent of global total emissions), China far surpasses us at 30 percent. 

Together with the European Union (10 percent) and India (6 percent), these four regions account for over half of all GHEs. 

The bottom 100 countries combined only contribute to 3.5 percent. 

Launching a universal, global environmental Marshall Plan may well be beyond humanity’s means. If we consider that China is currently constructing a single sprawling megapolis that will cover over 83,000 square miles — larger than Great Britain or New England — it is impossible to imagine how such a humongous urban operation could not be unsustainable and fossil-fuel dependent. 

The booming city of Jing-Jin-Ji will be the heaviest concentration of human beings on the planet, housing upwards of 130 million people, or the equivalent of the combined populations of the world’s four largest cities: Tokyo, New Delhi, Shanghai and Sao Paulo. 

And all of these residents will want the conveniences of a modern, western lifestyle: more cars, more meat on their tables and more energy-consuming luxuries. 

Surprisingly, surveys seem to indicate that the Chinese are better-educated about climate change than the average American. 

After last year’s record-breaking heatwaves, droughts, deadly flash floods and a category 5 typhoon, 94 percent of Chinese polled said they believe climate change is happening now and 66 percent believe it is anthropocentric.  

Seventy-three percent are willing to pay extra for climate-friendly products. 

Yet similar to average Americans, the Chinese are not changing their consumption habits to adapt to the new climate reality. 

Likewise, similar to the US, the Chinese government is eager to press forward with unsustainable growth projects that will increase rather than decrease emissions.13 

Among the other stumbling blocks the Green New Deal faces is that Washington has unfortunately almost reached its goal of being totally energy independent. 

While we produce the most energy in the world, we also consume the most per capita. 

The US has also risen to the third largest fossil fuel exporter, after Saudi Arabia and Russia. 

Together, these three nations account for 38 percent of the world’s total oil.14 

At the same time the US still needs to import petroleum, predominantly for our auto and transportation demands. 

Although the US now produces about 11 million barrels per day, it consumes almost 20 million barrels daily.15 

For natural gas production, the US is king, and is expected to reach over 90 billion cubic feet per day of production, according to the EIA.16 Trump’s abhorrent policies have revitalized the coal industry and escalated production. 

Worse, the oil and coal industries are the recipients of monstrous corporate welfare to the tune of $20 billion in annual government subsidies.17 

Jeremy Brecher properly notes that “global warming has rightly been called history’s greatest market failure. 

Correcting it cannot be left to the market.”18

Unlike the faux urgency for building a silly wall on the border, climate change is THE national emergency. 

It is a planetary emergency.

Therefore, when thousands of large and small coal-gas-oil related companies reap enormous windfalls, employ almost 1.1 million workers — compared to under 374,000 working full- or part-time in solar and 102,000 at wind firms — there is zero incentive for any of these major greenhouse gas emitters to leap off the gravy train and shift to cleaner, renewable forms of energy.19 

A second major obstacle to the Green New Deal is that all of our leading institutions, politicians, legislative policymakers and opinion leaders, think tanks and foundations, and the mainstream media that is controlled by these institutions, are not going to truthfully challenge the paradigm of free-market capitalism and the myth that constant economic growth and expansion will better society. 

This means we only have more toxic pollution, urban sprawl, destruction of the environment and habitats, and depletion of natural resources to look forward to, and with it, warmer seasons and more extreme weather events such as superstorms, droughts, wildfires, and floods. 

This may be the 3,000-pound gorilla in the room. 

We are caught in the perpetual cycle of earning more in order to buy more and accumulate more debt. 

The transition of weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels to increase investment in renewables and the new technologies necessary to meet the IPCC benchmark means a trade-off for a much slower or no-growth economy in order to reach a more sustainable and livable future. 

It may require up to $10 trillion to re-engineer entire industries and infrastructures in order to reach anything close to zero emissions. 

Yet with America’s new wealthy class of 11 million millionaires governing private industries, investments and policy-making to keep the capitalist engine churning, enactment of the kind of green agenda proposed and demanded today is unlikely. 

Again, there is no incentive for the ruling elite to cut back on consumption. 

The legions of lobbyists in Washington will make every effort to scuttle the Green New Deal and ensure it is dead on arrival. 

The ruling class has no allegiance to nationality. 

It is the most unpatriotic class in the nation.

When the stresses of climate change get tough or their personal security and assets are threatened, the ruling class have the means to pick up and move elsewhere. 

Furthermore, the ruling class and the conservative populace — even those educated enough to agree on anthropocentric climate change – lean heavily upon Libertarian values, which means smaller government and more freedom for the free market. 

Looking at the Green New Deal from any angle, it is clear this plan will require handing over enormous power to Washington. 

Trust in all branches of government has already eroded to a level where even true progressives doubt anything good can come out of the duopoly in Washington. 

Therefore, a sizable percentage of the public will be deeply suspicious of the government’s will and competence in executing any legislation that emerges from the Deal’s current outline. 

The free-market economy is polluting everything, creating seas of plastic, landfills of toxic junk, and stores of computers and electronic equipment. Forests and ecosystems are being leveled to expand growth. 

There is little to no time to dramatically change our steel, auto, and high tech industries. 

And private industries and the population’s collective consumption behaviors will not change overnight. 

While we commend the Green New Deal’s authors and the progressive caucus that backs it, we encourage the public not to become passive with high expectations that Washington is willing or capable of solving the climate crisis. 

There are no saviors. 

Blind faith should not be directed towards the compliance of Washington, nor to new technologies developed to pull us through. 

We live in remarkably tense times; but drastic times require drastic measures. In fact, the Deal may not be radical enough. 

Gutting our military expenditure — the largest fossil fuel consumer as well as the top recipient of our tax dollars — and the Washington Consensus’ cowboy adventurism to instigate regime changes as the world burns is absent from its wish list. 

Are there any solutions that are doable without the body politic of government standing in the way? 

Reducing GHEs can no longer be regarded as solely a challenge for government and private industry. It is a responsibility of every individual. 

First, the public must become deeply and consciously aware of the climate problem and how our lives and culture contribute to global warming. 

We must also become deeply and consciously aware of how our lives will change as the world deteriorates. 

Our education system has been a complete failure in teaching people about the basic science of climate change and the immediate and long-term impacts of global warming. 

Nothing we can do will efficaciously change the melting of the Arctic ice, the warming oceans and environmental dead zones, multi-gigaton methane burps from the thawing permafrost, the decimation of insect populations that will contribute to national food crises, rising coastal waters and the next season of record-setting wildfires in the Western states.

The next category 5 super-hurricane could be the final straw for many Floridians and residents living along the Gulf. Industrial over-consumption is depleting our aquifers. 

There are in fact hundreds of canaries in the coal mine, not just one. 

Second, every person and family can begin to gradually transition to eating a plant-based diet. 

This does not need to be an abrupt change. 

We can start by going meatless for a single day every week and then increase the days. 

The agriculture industry generates anywhere between 10 and 40 percent of GHEs, primarily methane and nitrous oxide, depending upon which metrics are being used in the equations. 

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that livestock production accounts for about 14.5 percent of all human-caused emissions.20 In the US, 42 percent of agricultural emissions come from the raising of livestock, and globally it accounts for approximately 16 percent of all human-induced GHEs.21 

When storage, transportation and distribution of meat and produce are added, the CO2 footprint rises substantially. Imagine the footprint of a single bushel of tomatoes traveling from a California farm to a Maine supermarket. 

If a sufficient number of people also purchase more locally-grown food, this too would have an impact. 

These are two efforts — a meatless diet and buying locally — that every American can adopt in order to be part of the solution rather than the problem. 

Third, our consumption behaviors are traveling on a high speed rail off a cliff. We have the will to make conscientious choices about our buying habits. 

There is only one solution to this and that is to downsize, purchase only what is essential for our needs and find other ways to increase the quality of our lives. 

Before making a purchase, consider the item’s carbon footprint before it reaches your hands. 

As the world gets warmer and the economic and social stresses of life increase, inevitably a time will arrive when people will be forced to downsize. It will no longer be a matter of choice. 

Finally, if it is within your financial means, find ways to increase your reliance on renewable clean energy sources. 

If you can install solar panels to get off the grid and become energy self-sufficient, it will pay off in the long term. 

Although there remains considerable debate on whether or not our global civilization has reached a “peak oil” moment, oil prices will unquestionably increase steadily in the future. 

What the nation can do collectively is adequately if vaguely summarized in the Green New Deal.

During a press conference following the report’s release, Sen. Markey and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez were clear that the plan at this time does not include any “individual prescriptions” for the issues outlined. 

The details and following legislation will be developed following Congressional vote and approval and the creation of a Congressional committee to develop the solutions. 

However, the Deal is clearly defined as a “national, industrial, economic mobilization plan.” 

It will take years for the US to become “greenhouse gas emission neutral.” 

The report notes that it will require “massive investment” to reduce existing and future greenhouse gases. 

It acknowledges it is crucial to develop and install “a national, energy-efficient smart grid,” upgrade our entire infrastructure, residential and industrial base for “state-of-the-art energy efficiency,” and eliminate GHE from the agricultural industry. 

The report also includes the need for expanding education and training for such a nationwide mobilization effort. 

The report also finally acknowledges that America’s energy grid is a disaster. 

The majority of people and even most politicians are unaware our energy and power infrastructures are sorely inefficient. 

In an analysis conducted by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories to evaluate US energy consumption, 59.1 percent of electricity generation was “rejected energy” — energy lost due to inefficiencies in power plants, engines, buildings, etc.22 

Almost all of this “rejected energy” is generated from coal, natural gas and petroleum. 

In the Livermore report, renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal barely contributed to any infrastructural energy loss.23 

And yet Washington, and the Trump administration in particular, find it economically feasible to subsidize these fossil fuel industries for their ineptitude, negligence towards energy efficiency and exorbitant waste. 

Even Ocasio-Cortez seems to believe progress can be achieved by working with these monuments to inefficiency. 

This is naïve at best, and disingenuous at worst. 

In a true capitalist system – such as our president pays lip service to at every opportunity – the best performers come out on top. 

Why, then, does the government continually prop up failed systems, from energy to banking? This money would be better invested in funding sustainable alternatives. 

A simple fact that opponents of the Deal in private industry, Wall Street and climate change deniers fail to understand as a rule is that the enormous costs for implementing a New Deal are already here. 

And they have been increasing annually due to rising frequency and damages from extreme weather events due to humanity’s messing with the atmosphere and environment. 

NASA conservatively reported $91 billion lost in damages due to climate change episodes in 2018 alone.24 And the federal government’s most recent National Climate Assessment warns we will rapidly reach $500 billion per year in economic losses due to sea level rise and worsening weather, droughts, storms, floods and fires.25 

Next, it is sheer negligence that the federal and state governments have failed to upgrade our public transportation system. 

The US falls far behind even banana republics in its inefficient rail system compared to high speed 200-plus mph rails in China, France, Japan and elsewhere. 

Creating a new high-speed rail system across America may be too optimistic at this time; nevertheless, upgrading our trains between major urban hubs is perfectly doable immediately. 

This would mean high-speed rails between Boston, New York, Washington, Chicago, Dallas and Houston, and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas for starters. 

High speed trains between these city hubs would significantly reduce the carbon footprint of transportation and could even be faster than airlines after considering time spent at airports. 

It could also be accomplished at the state level through public-private partnerships. 

In addition, a tax incentive could be added for those who use public transportation. 

Finally, the nation needs to act immediately upon a national reforestation program and roll back the Trump’s regressive orders to further devastate public land and ecosystems to increase corporate profits. 

Forests and trees are recognized as perhaps the most important natural resource to offset carbon emissions. 

China and India are making huge advances in reforesting their nations. 

China has reserved an area four times the size of the United Kingdom for reforestation. 

There are few areas on the planet with large swathes of forest canopies. 

Most are located in northern Canada, the Latin American countries in the Amazon basin, Scandinavia and Russia. 

Therefore, we would recommend a national conservation corps to start an aggressive reforestation campaign. 

If India can hold the world record in planting 66 million trees within a 12 hour period in 2017, and a single 53-year-old New Delhi resident can plant 1,100,000 trees in a single year, the US could reforest ourselves easily in a short period of time. 

For all the Deal’s good points, it will go nowhere if the legislation that results is larded with giveaways to the same industries and corporations that led us to environmental and economic ruin in the first place. 

Ocasio-Cortez’s desire to liaise with these actors may be born out of a genuine desire for cooperation, but it is more likely her Democratic Socialism is being used as a more palatable face for the same rapacious neoliberalism that has created all the problems the Deal purports to solve. 

While we wait for government to get its act together and legislate its way out of this mess, we would be wise to begin solving as many problems as we can ourselves even as we hold our government representatives’ feet to the fire. 

Richard Gale is the Executive Producer of the Progressive Radio Network and a former Senior Research Analyst in the biotechnology and genomic industries. 

Dr. Gary Null is the host of the nation’s longest running public radio program on alternative and nutritional health and a multi-award-winning documentary film director, including Poverty Inc and Deadly Deception. 


1 Steinbrecher, Stephanie. “100 US Cities are Committed to 100 Percent Clean, Renewable Energy.” Sierra Club. 5 Dec 2018.

2 Osborne, Samuel. “Sweden phases out fossil fuels in attempt to run completely off renewable energy.” Independent. 24 May 2016. 

3 “12 Countries Leading the Way in Renewable Energy.” Click Energy. 10 Aug 2017.

4 US Energy Information Administration. “Where Greenhouse Gases Come From.” Energy and the Environment Explained. Retrieved 27 Feb 2019. 

5 Watson Institute of International & Public Affairs. “Costs of War.” Brown University. Retrieved 27 Feb 2019. 

6 Skidmore, Mark and Andy Henion. “MSU scholars find $21 trillion in unauthorized government spending; defense department to conduct first-ever audit.” MSUToday. 11 Dec 2017.

7 Syrmopoulos, Jay. Audit: Pentagon Cannot Account for $6.5 Trillion Dollars in Taxpayer Money.” MintPress. 8 Aug 2016.

8 Cordesman, Anthony. “US Military Spending: The Cost of Wars.” Center for Strategic & International Studies. 10 Jul 2017.

9 Turse, Nick. “America’s Secret War in 134 Countries.” The Nation. 16 Jan 2014.

10 “Putin: Russia is not an enemy of US, but it will not be banging on a locked door.” FARS News Agency. 21 Feb 2019.

11 Osborne, Samuel. “China reassigns 60,000 soldiers to plant trees in bid to fight pollution.”Independent. 13 Feb 2018.

12 “Bangladesh plants 1 million trees to cut lightning toll.” Straits Times. 24 Jan 2017.

13 Jing, Lin. “Does the Chinese public care about climate change?” China Dialogue. 21 Sep 2018.–

14 Wilson, Robert. “Which Countries Produce the Most Fossil Fuels?” The Energy Collective Group. 31 Jul 2014.

15 Gaffen, David and Ayenat Mersie. “US crude oil output hits 11 million barrels per day for first time ever.” Reuters. 18 Jul 2018. and US Energy Information Administration. “How much oil is consumed in the United States?” Frequently Asked Questions. 3 Oct 2018.

16 US Energy Information Administration. “Short Term Energy Outlook.” Analysis & Projections. 12 Feb 2019.

17 Roberts, David. “Friendly policies keep US oil and coal afloat far more than we thought.” Vox. 26 Jul 2018.

18 Brecher, Jeremy. “The Green New Deal can work – here’s how.” AlterNet. 25 Feb 2019.

19 2017 US Energy and Employment Report. January 2017.

20 Gustin, Georgina. “Factory Farms Put Climate at Risk, Experts Say in Urging Health Officials to Speak Out.” Inside Climate News. 23 May 2017.

21 Friedman, Lisa “The Meat Question, by the Numbers.” New York Times. 25 Jan 2018.

22 Fares, Robert. “Is the US Energy Independent?” Scientific American. 31 Oct 2016.

23 ibid. 

24 Zorn, Justin Talbot “A Green New Deal is fiscally responsible. Climate inaction is not.” Guardian. 25 Feb 2019.

25 Irfan, Umair. “3 big takeaways from the major new US climate report.” Vox. 24 Nov 2018.

BRICS bank issues 3 billion-worth of yuan-denominated bonds in China Reuters / Petar Kujundzic Via RT 3/3/19

The Shanghai-based BRICS’ New Development Bank (NDB) which provides funding for infrastructure and sustainable development projects in emerging economies has issued yuan-denominated bonds, according to China Knowledge Press.

The bonds were issued in two tranches with maturities of three years and five years and coupon rates of between 2.9 percent to 3.5 percent, and 3.2 percent to 3.8 percent respectively.

The bank said it aims to continue issuing financial products denominated in the local currencies of its member nations – China, Russia, Brazil, India, and South Africa.

In September, the NDB approved three infrastructure and sustainable development projects in India and Russia with loans aggregating US$825 million.

The NDB was established in 2014 and formally opened for business a year later.

The bank’s capital is up to $100 billion and it says all members of the United Nations can join it.

However, BRICS nations can never have less than 55 percent of the voting power.

Super-high Levels Of Aluminum Found In Brains Of Autistic Patients-Aluminum Present In Many Vaccines [Additional Sourced Data Follows The Lead Article-Researched By Ric/Rex] By Jon Rappoport 11/21/18

Here I am printing the abstract of a new study: “Aluminium in brain tissue in autism.”

The publication is Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology.

The authors of the study are associated with The Birchall Centre, Lennard-Jones Laboratories, Keele University, Staffordshire, UK; Life Sciences, Keele University; and the Department of Clinical Neuropathology, Kings College Hospital, London, UK.

The findings?

Shockingly high levels of aluminum were found in these brain samples.

It’s widely acknowledged that aluminum can enter the brain and disrupt its functions.

Of course, aluminum is present in many vaccines.

Here is the abstract of the study. I’ve put several statements in caps for emphasis:

“Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder of unknown aetiology.

It is suggested to involve both genetic susceptibility and environmental factors including in the latter environmental toxins.

Human exposure to the environmental toxin aluminium has been linked, if tentatively, to autism spectrum disorder.

Herein we have used transversely heated graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry to measure, for the first time, the aluminium content of brain tissue from donors with a diagnosis of autism.

We have also used an aluminium-selective fluor to identify aluminium in brain tissue using fluorescence microscopy.


The mean (standard deviation) aluminium content across all 5 individuals for each lobe were 3.82(5.42), 2.30(2.00), 2.79(4.05) and 3.82(5.17) μg/g dry wt. for the occipital, frontal, temporal and parietal lobes respectively.


Aluminium-selective fluorescence microscopy was used to identify aluminium in brain tissue in 10 donors [10 donors or 5, as mentioned above?].

While aluminium was imaged associated with neurones it appeared to be present intracellularly in microglia-like cells and other inflammatory non-neuronal cells in the meninges, vasculature, grey and white matter.

The pre-eminence of intracellular aluminium associated with non-neuronal cells was a standout observation in autism brain tissue and may offer clues as to both the origin of the brain aluminium as well as a putative role in autism spectrum disorder.”

The study authors mention “clues.” What about the many aluminum-containing childhood vaccines now on official schedules? writes:

“What does this mean for today’s generation of children who receive 5,000 mcg of aluminum in vaccines by the age of 18 months and up to 5,250 additional mcg if all recommended boosters, HPV and meningitis vaccines are administered.”

This might well constitute a “clue,” pointing to where at least some of that highly toxic aluminum in autistic brains comes from.

As “the experts” deny this vaccine-aluminum-autism connection, I would suggest they back up their “science” by stepping forward themselves and taking ALL the vaccines on the official schedule, including boosters, in order to catch up with their shots.

They should do this in the limited time recommended by public health agencies.

After all, if aluminum (and other toxic substances) in vaccines aren’t a problem, what do they have to lose?

They’re desperate to mandate the full load of vaccines for every man, woman, and child—so they should start with themselves.

Otherwise, they have no standing to make claims.

Neither do “science bloggers” who embrace every official mainstream study as if it were manna from heaven.

To them, I offer the following quotes from two famous medical-journal editors, who have pored over more studies than these bloggers have dreamed of.

Marcia Angell, former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine, in the NY Review of Books, January 15, 2009, “Drug Companies & Doctors: A Story of Corruption”:

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.”

Here is Richard Horton (another pro’s pro), editor-in-chief, The Lancet, in The Lancet, 11 April, 2015, Vol 385, “Offline: What is medicine’s 5 sigma?”:

“The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.

Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness…

“The apparent endemicity of bad research behaviour is alarming.

In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world.

Or they retrofit hypotheses to fit their data. Journal editors deserve their fair share of criticism too.

We aid and abet the worst behaviours.

Our acquiescence to the impact factor fuels an unhealthy competition to win a place in a select few journals.

Our love of ‘significance’ pollutes the literature with many a statistical fairy-tale…Journals are not the only miscreants.

Universities are in a perpetual struggle for money and talent…”

I want to see more on the new study showing shocking levels of aluminum in autistic people.

I want to see funding provided to other researchers—INDEPENDENT RESEARCHERS with no ties to drug companies or government agencies—so they can follow up on the new study and come to their own conclusions.

And I want to see common sense applied to aluminum toxicity.

As in: why would anyone want to inject children with a known neurotoxin?

Would you be willing to spin the roulette wheel on YOUR child’s life and future and brain?

Well, would you?

Here’s MORE Along With An Overview Of The Synergy Between Aluminum And GLYPHOSATE:

Study Shows How Glyphosate & Aluminum Can Operate Synergistically To Destroy The Human Brain: 1 year ago on September 23, 2017 By Arjun Walia CE Staff Writer

“What basically seems to have happened — aluminium was not bioavailable, traditionally, in the world’s biota until the Industrial Revolution, and so, it just had no place in any biochemical reaction that was normal.

And where it does occur, now, because we are increasingly surrounded by it, we live in what’s called the Age of Aluminium. . . . It shows up in so many products.

Again, it’s great stuff to make airplanes and computers out of, but it shows up in our food, it shows up in our water, it shows up in our air, it shows up in our medicines, including vaccines, it shows up in our antacids, and various things we take into our bodies.

So we increasingly have this compound that is not part of any normal biochemical process, on Earth, for anything, that now can only go in and do havoc, which is exactly what it does.

It causes all kinds of unusual biochemical reactions in the body, including in the brain.” (

Above is a great quote from Dr. Christopher Shaw, a neuroscientist and professor at the University of British Columbia, illustrating how aluminum has infiltrated every aspect of our lives.

It’s in our deodorant, it’s in our vaccines, it’s in our homes, and it’s in our food, and as he explains, while the body does a great job of eliminating it from the body, it does have a threshold.

He also explains how the aluminum in vaccines is different from that which occurs naturally.

Adjuvants like aluminum (one of the most common) are a component of vaccines that potentates the immune response to an antigen.

The adjuvant is basically used to invoke the desired immune response.

This is why the body does not rid itself of the aluminum in this form, because that’s the whole point of adjuvants — they are meant to stick around and allow that antigen to be presented over and over again.

It can’t be excreted because it must provide that prolonged exposure of the antigen to your immune system. [Possible Remedies Are Presented In This Video:

This is why they put it into vaccines in the first place.

But there is no debating the toxicity of aluminum.

This has been confirmed in scientific literature for a very long time.

Here is a great video by Dr. Christopher Exley, a professor of Bioinorganic Chemistry at Keele University and an honorary professor at UHI Millennium Institute who is known as one of the world’s leading experts on aluminum toxicity. []

Glyphosate, the main active ingredient found within Monsanto’s “Roundup” Herbicide, is (unfortunately) another ingredient that can be found almost everywhere.

For example, a study from the U.S. Geological Survey, titled “Pesticides in Mississippi Air and Rain: A Comparison Between 1995 and 2007,” reveals that Roundup herbicide (aka glyphosate) and its toxic degradation byproduct AMPA were found in over 75% of the air and rain samples tested from Mississippi in 2007.

Researchers weren’t surprised, given the fact that 2 million kilograms of glyphosate were applied statewide in 2007. ( and (

“So, what is the toxicological significance of the discovery of glyphosate in most air samples tested? In the month of August, 2007, if you were breathing in the sampled air you would be inhaling approximately 2.5 nanograms of glyphosate per cubic meter of air.

It has been estimated the average adult inhales approximately 388 cubic feet or 11 cubic meters of air per day, which would equal to 27.5 nanograms (billionths of a gram) of glyphosate a day.” (

It’s been discovered in California wines, even “organic” ones, in our food, and in animal feed, a topic that remains a big time debate between citizens and Monsanto.

Almost all levels of science that are used to approve the products that surround us, from food to cosmetics and more, have been taken over by corporations, and many prominent scientists have been fighting against this blatant corruption for years.

This why John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at Stanford University School of Medicine, published the most widely accessed article in the history of the Public Library of Science (PLoS), titled “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False.”

This was more than 10 years ago. but Dr Richard Horton, the current editor-in-chief of The Lancet, has discussed the same issue, revealing that half of all the published literature could be false. (

“It is commonly believed that Roundup is among the safest pesticides.

This idea is spread by manufacturers, mostly in the reviews they promote, which are often cited in toxicological evaluations of glyphosate-based herbicides.

However, Roundup was found in this experiment to be 125 times more toxic than glyphosate. Moreover, despite its reputation, Roundup was by far the most toxic among the herbicides and insecticides tested.

This inconsistency between scientific fact and industrial claim may be attributed to huge economic interests, which have been found to falsify health risk assessments and delay health policy decisions.”— R. Mesnage et al., Biomed Research International, Volume 2014 (2014) article ID 179691[]

A German study that concluded in June 2013 has discovered a significant amount of glyphosate in the urine of people and animals from all across Europe (, ( and (

Their analysis found that every urine sample contained concentrations of glyphosate at 5 to 20 times more than the limit for drinking water.

Apart from being used increasingly in food production, glyphosate-based weedkillers are often sprayed onto railway lines, urban pavements, and roadsides.

The study examined urine from city workers, journalists, and lawyers who had no direct contact with glyphosate, so it’s interesting to see that it turned up in their urine samples — particularly since they were urban residents, not rural.

Another study collected urine samples from 18 different countries from all over Europe and showed similar results.

And recently, amidst mounting evidence proving this to be true, the World Health Organization (WHO) finally admitted that this substance causes cancer.

Glyphosate, Aluminum, and the Pineal Gland

“What’s appalling is that we have known about these dangers for decades yet have done little about it. Nearly 20 years ago, scientists at the National Research Council called for swift action to protect young and growing bodies from pesticides.

Yet today, U.S. children continue to be exposed to pesticides that are known to be harmful in places they live, learn and play.”– Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) (

At the Third International Symposium on Vaccines in March 2014 and as part of the 9th International Congress on Autoimmunity, MIT scientist Dr. Stephanie Seneff gave a presentation titled “A Role for the Pineal Gland in Neurological Damage Following Aluminum-adjuvanted Vaccination.” []

In her heavily cited paper, she explains how many common neurological disorders, like Autism and Parkinson’s, for example, have a common origin.

These are: an insufficient supply of sulfate to the brain and enhanced toxic metal exposure (e.g., aluminum, mercury) due to our impaired ability to detoxify and eliminate them.

She also shows that such metals interfere with sulfate synthesis, causing cellular debris to accumulate.

It goes on to explain that Heparan sulfate in the lysosomes is critical for recycling cellular debris, garbage, and damage that could lead to disease. Multiple studies have shown that a deficiency in Heparan sulfate levels leads to autism.

In summary, the paper points to the idea that autism and Alzheimer’s disease, rates of which continue to rise, are caused by a severe deficiency in sulfate supplies to the brain, and that the Pineal Gland, which Rene Descartes called “the seat of the soul” can synthesize sulfate stimulated by sunlight, and deliver it via melatonin sulfate.

Aluminum, mercury, and glyphosate, working together, can derail this process.

They work synergistically.

Personally, I believe the spiritual significance of the Pineal Gland, as well as the biological aspects of it to not be well understood, so it is troublesome that we know things like this can have an effect on it us not only physically, but spiritually as well.

“One of the consequences of insufficient sulfate in the brain is that it impairs the brain’s ability to eliminate heavy metals and other toxins. To make matters worse, those same toxic metals also interfere with sulfate synthesis. The net result can be an accumulation of cellular debris.” – Claire I. Viadro, MPH, PhD (

Some interesting studies have been done when it comes to Heparin sulfate, which also plays a key role in fetal brain development, protecting against damaging free radicals.

When it comes to the link between autism and sulfate deficiency, human and animal studies have both presented intriguing evidence.

In conclusion, the researchers state:

“In this paper, we have developed the argument that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide, Roundup, and aluminum, a pervasive toxic metal in our environment, operate synergistically to induce dysfunction in the pineal gland leading to the sleep disorder that is characteristic of multiple neurological diseases, including autism, ADHD, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, anxiety disorder and Parkinson’s disease.

We further argue that impaired supply of melatonin and sulfate to the brain as a consequence of pineal damage can explain how the disrupted sleep can lead to more general neurological damage, and we propose that this is a significant component of the disease process.

The steady increase in glyphosate usage on corn and soy crops aligns remarkably well with the increase in sleep disorder and in autism, as well as other neurological diseases.

We have shown how disruption of CYP enzymes and promotion of anemia and hypoxia, due to both aluminum and glyphosate, and disruption of gut bacteria by glyphosate, can cause a pathology leading to deficiencies in both melatonin and sulfate in the cerebrospinal fluid that is characteristic of autism and Alzheimer’s disease. Insufficient sulfate leads to impaired lysosomal recycling of cellular debris, and insufficient melatonin leads to sleep disorder, vascular disease and impaired protection from ROS damage in the brain.” []

Desultory Heroics

From country farmland to big city skyscrapers, absentee billionaires may be hiding wealth in your town — and driving up your cost of living.

By Chuck Collins

Source: OtherWords

The rich are hiding trillions in wealth.

You’ve probably heard about their offshore bank accounts, shell corporations, and fancy trusts. But this wealth isn’t all sitting in the Cayman Islands or Panama. Much of it’s hiding in plain view: maybe even in your town.

America’s big cities are increasingly dotted with luxury skyscrapers and mansions. These multi-million dollar condos are wealth storage lockers, with the ownership often obscured by shell companies.

In Boston, where I live, there’s a luxury building boom. According to a study I just co-authored, out of 1,805 luxury units — with an average price of over $3 million — more than two-thirds are owned by people who don’t live here.

One-third are owned by shell companies…

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The broadcast will cover the grim details of what we may face next year.  We must stay informed to remain prepared.  Then we must pray to assure what they feel is inevitable; never happens.

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