CIA Deletes Only Copy Of Torture Report

CIA “Accidentally” Deletes Only Copy Of Confidential 6,700-Page Torture Report

First it was the IRS, which several years ago launched countless headlines, and much laughter, when it announced the emails of Lois Lerner targeting conservatives had magically disappeared. Then, as weobserved last week (again with great amusement), the State Department couldn’t seem to find any of the email correspondence to or from Hillary Clinton’s IT aide Bryan Pagliano during the time Hillary was there. Now it is none other than the CIA’s Office of Inspector General that is having an issue with its handling of documents.

According to The Hillthe CIA’s inspector general has accidentally deleted its only copy of a 6,700 page classified Senate report detailing the agency’s history of brutal interrogation techniques.

Although the full torture report has never been released to the public, the Senate did release a 500-page executive summary in 2014. The report detailed the CIA’s use of so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and more, sparking an outcry from a number of human rights groups.

Acting inspector general Christopher Sharpley uploaded the report to the office’s internal computer network and then destroyed the hard disk, apparently following standard protocol, the news outlet reported. Then, someone else in the watchdog’s office reportedly misinterpreted instructions from the Justice Department not to open the file and deleted it from the server.

The CIA, in which the inspector general’s office sits, retains a copy of the full report, and is waiting for the conclusion of a legal battle over the document.

Still, the episode is a humiliating one for the CIA inspector general and has inflamed human rights advocates hoping to make the report public.

Cori Crider, a director with the international rights group Reprieve, called it “stunning,” and suggested that it is part of a broader effort to erase the practices from history.

“One worries that no one is minding the store,” Crider said in a statement.

The Senate report on so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding and sleep deprivation, has been at the center of a years-long battle on the Intelligence Committee.

What makes the event even more suspicious is that in early 2015, the Justice Department ordered federal agencies not to open the file because doing so would make it subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Consequently, last week, a federal appeals court declined to release the report under FOIA because it is considered a congressional document.

Nevertheless, an employee at the CIA inspector general’s office reportedly believed that the Justice Department’s order not to open the file meant that it should be removed, and then deleted it. This left the office without the disk or the network copy.

Oops.

“It’s breathtaking that this could have happened, especially in the inspector general’s office — they’re the ones that are supposed to be providing accountability within the agency itself,” said Douglas Cox, a City University of New York School of Law professor, to Yahoo News, which first reported the deletion. “It makes you wonder what was going on over there?”

Not really: it’s pretty clear “what was going on over there.”

The report is the subject of an intense effort by civil liberties advocates who are working to have the documents released under the Freedom of Information Act. As the legal battle continues, the Justice Department had told agencies not to open the file, as doing so would open it up to the scope of the Freedom of Information Act. As long as the report is kept under the control of Congress, it is not subject to FOIA according to The Hill.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is the driving force behind the 2014 report, sent letters to the CIA and Justice Department on Friday confirming that the CIA’s inspector general “has misplaced and/or accidentally destroyed” its copy of the report. “Your prompt response will allay my concern that this was more than an accident. The CIA IG should have a copy of the full study because the report includes extensive information directly relating to the IG’s ongoing oversight of the CIA” Feinstein wrote in the letter.

Well, naturally it was more than an accident. Just as the state department’s “loss” of Hillary’s emails, just as Lois Lerner’s “missing” emails. And it happens virtually every day now, and not from anyone else but from the “most transparent administration ever”, one with the “toughest ethics laws and toughest transparency rules of any administration in history.” 

Of course, if anyone dares to actually connect the dots on such activities that have traditionally been the domain of banana republics, communist dictatorships, and other failed states, one would be immediately accused of peddling fiction or at least branded a KGB spy. Then again, if the sheepified population of such a country allows events like these to take place without demanding change – or at least an answer – from the very top, thin this kind of treatment by its elected rulers is precisely what it deserves.

15 News Stories You Probably Missed

15 News Stories From 2015 You Should Have Heard About But Probably Didn’t

Submitted by Carey Wedler via TheAntiMedia.org,
In 2015, the iron fist of power clamped down on humanity, from warfare to terrorism (I repeat myself) to surveillance, police brutality, and corporate hegemony. The environment was repeatedly decimated, the health of citizens was constantly put at risk, and the justice system and media alike were perverted to serve the interests of the powers that be.

However, while 2015 was discouraging for more reasons than most of us can count, many of the year’s most underreported stories evidence not only a widespread pattern that explicitly reveals the nature of power, but pushback from human beings worldwide on a path toward a better world.

1. CISA Pushed Through the Senate, Effectively Clamping Down on Internet Freedom: For years, Congress has attempted to legalize corporate and state control of the internet. In 2011, they attempted to pass PIPA and SOPA, companion bills slammed by internet and tech companies and ultimately defeated after overwhelming public outcry. Then they passed CISPA — which the president threatened to veto, having caught wind of the public’s opposition to heavy regulation of the internet (earlier this year, Obama reversed his position). However, corporate interests, like Hollywood’s studio monopoly, kept lawmakers’ tenacity afloat.

In October, Congress passed CISA, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, but as the Electronic Freedom Foundation explained: “CISA is fundamentally flawed. The bill’s broad immunity clauses, vague definitions, and aggressive spying powers combine to make the bill a surveillance bill in disguise. Further, the bill does not address problems from the recent highly publicized computer data breaches that were caused by unencrypted files, poor computer architecture, un-updated servers, and employees (or contractors) clicking malware links.” Just before Christmas, Congress went even further, adding an amendment to the annual omnibus budget bill that strips CISA’s minimal privacy provisions even more. That budget bill was approved, though Representative Justin Amash of Michigan has vowed to introduce legislation to repeal the CISA provisions when Congress reconvenes.

But CISA wasn’t the only attack on citizens’ privacy this year. Though lawmakers touted the USA Freedom Act as a repeal of the mass surveillance state, in reality, it simply added a bureaucratic step to the process by which government agencies obtain private information. Further, a hack on Italian security firm, aptly called Hacker Tools, revealed that various agencies — including the DEA, NSA, Army, and FBI — possess software that enables them to, as Anti-Media reported, “view suspects’ photos, emails, listen to and record their conversations, and activate the cameras on their computers…” At the same time, the United Kingdom and France moved to tighten their already comprehensive surveillance apparatuses in the wake of multiple terrorist attacks. Though governments claim systematic surveillance is necessary to protect citizens — and Snowden’s leaks endangered that safety — the United States government has been unable to produce sufficient evidence the programs work. Instead, the documents the Department of Defense released this year as proof of the alleged endangerment were entirely redacted.

2. CIA Whistleblower Sent to Prison for Revealing Damning Information to a Journalist: While the government has no problem invading the privacy of its citizens, it offers swift backlash for those who attempt to violate its own clandestine operations. Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent, had his first altercation with the CIA when he sued for racial discrimination in 2001. He was subsequently fired. Years later, the CIA filed espionage charges against him for speaking with New York Times journalist, James Risen. Sterling had revealed a botched CIA scheme, Operation Merlin, to infiltrate Iranian intelligence that ultimately worsened the situation, gave Iran a nuclear blueprint, and was deemed by some to be espionage, itself. Rather than acknowledge the woeful misstep, the CIA arrested him, charged him, and ultimately sentenced him to 42 months in prison. The trial was reportedly biased, but nevertheless, was severely underreported by the media. Sterling’s conviction reflects the ongoing war on whistleblowers, which Obama has successfully expanded during his presidency. Sterling joins the ranks of Edward Snowden, Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, and others, including a whistleblower who worked for OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program and was fired for exposing dysfunction and incompetence within the ranks.

3. Press Freedom Continued to Deteriorate: An annual report from the World Press Freedom Index saw the United States slip 29 spots from last year, landing 49th out of 180 total. In January, journalist Barrett Brown was sentenced to five years in prison for exposing the findings of hacker Jeremy Hammond. Brown was charged with obstructing justice, aiding and abetting, and separate charges of allegedly threatening the FBI in a rant. Hammond, who exposed severe violations of privacy on the part of Stratfor, a CIA contractor, was sentenced to ten years in prison. Brown’s experience was not an isolated incident. Journalists around the world, like several journalists who were killed while investigating ISIS in Turkey, faced increased danger. One small-town journalist in India was burned alive after exposing a corrupt politician.

4. Multiple Activists Arrested, Charged with Felonies for Educating Jurors About Their Rights: In an ongoing trend, otherwise peaceful, non-violent individuals were harassed by police and courts — not for exposing secret information, but for providing information to potential jurors about their rights in the courtroom. One Denver jury nullification activist, followed by another, was charged with multiple felonies for handing out pamphlets that explain a juror’s right to vote “not guilty” in a verdict, even if the defendant is clearly guilty. This right was established to allow jurors to vote with their conscience and question the morality of laws, from the 19th century’s Fugitive Slave Act to Prohibition, both of alcohol in the 1920s and of marijuana today. The Denver activists are awaiting trial, while more recently, a former pastor was charged with a felony for the same reason.

In other unjust convictions and failings of the “justice” system, an African-American man was sentenced to seven years in prison for barking at a police dog, a Kansas mother faces decades in prison for using marijuana to treat her debilitating Crohn’s disease, and a mentally ill man died in jail after being held for stealing five dollars worth of snacks from a convenience store. He had inexplicably been waiting months to be transferred to a medical facility. Ross Ulbricht, founder of the dark web marketplace, the Silk Road, was sentenced to life in prison in spite of the fact that he committed no violent crimes — though the FBI attempted to paint a false picture that he did, albeit without filing formal charges. The prosecution was rife with corruption and scandal; two FBI agents involved in the case were charged with stealing Bitcoin during the investigation. In July, one admitted to stealing $700,000 worth of the digital currency.

5. Six-Year-Old Autistic Boy Killed by Police: 2015 established not only that the justice system remains broken, but the the enforcement class — police officers — continues to terrorize citizens. In one underreported case, a six-year-old boy was fatally caught in the crossfire of a police shootout against his father, who was unarmed. In another case, an African-American motorist was shot and killed by University of Cincinnati police over a missing front license plate. While high-profile cases of misconduct, including Freddie Gray and Sandra Bland, rightly dominated the news cycle, many more cases of police brutality received little attention. In fact, in 2015, it was revealed not only that the media-propagated “War on Cops” in America was a myth, but that American police kill exponentially more people in weeks than other countries’ police kill in years. On the bright side, many police officers did face charges — and even prosecution — in 2015, including one repeat rapist who recently cried upon being convicted of his crimes. The officers involved in the shooting of the six-year-old boy were also charged with murder.

6. Earth Enters Sixth Mass Extinction: 2015, like many years before, was disastrous for the environment. Researchers from Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, and Princeton determined Earth is entering its sixth mass extinction, reporting that species are disappearing at a rate 100 times faster than the normal rate between mass extinctions. Further, thanks, in part, to the widespread use of Monsanto’s glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide, populations of bees and Monarch butterflies dwindled — though, happily, the Monarchs appear to have bounced back. Polar bears also met continued endangerment.

The much-anticipated Paris Climate Conference yielded what many environmental activists deemed weak, if not fraudulent, solutions. Meanwhile, man-made environmental catastrophes endangered humans. In Flint, Michigan, lead levels in the water led to increased rates of contamination in children’s blood, prompting the mayor to declare a state of emergency. A massive methane gas leak in the San Fernando Valley, located just north of Los Angeles, has sickened residents and forced countless families to relocate. Authorities have been unable to stop the leak.

Thankfully, some measures to help the environment were taken in 2015, including creative solutions to stop animal poaching, the first flight of a solar-powered plane, the launch of a solar-powered airport in India, and Costa Rica’s successful effort to draw 99% of its energy from renewable sources.

7. Civilian Casualties in Western Wars Continue: Though ISIS and other terrorist groups were rightly condemned for killing civilians in 2015, the West pointed fingers while committing the same crimes. In fact, one U.N. report released in September found U.S. drone strikes have killed more civilians in Yemen than al-Qaeda. Another analysis released this year concluded Obama’s ongoing drone wars have killed more people than were murdered during the Spanish Inquisition. Though the U.S. military’s bombing of a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital received global attention and outrage, many other incidents went underreported. In May, one U.S. airstrike on Syria killed 52 civilians in one fell swoop. Additionally, U.S.-backed coalitions have bombed civilian populations, like in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia killed at least 500 children, not to mention two thousand more adult civilians. In other egregious misdeeds, it was revealed that the U.S. military sanctions pedophilia in Afghanistan.

8. Insurrection at the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency Over Misleading Reports on ISIS: Over the summer, dissent grew within the ranks of the DIA, the Pentagon’s internal intelligence agency. In September, news broke that 50 intelligence analysts filed a report with the Department of Defense’s Inspector General to expose their superiors’ alleged manipulation of intelligence. The intention of the coverup was reportedly to downplay the threat of ISIS and the U.S.’s losing effort to fight it, all to maintain the Obama administration’s narrative the bombing campaigns have been successful.

Similar mishandlings of foreign affairs plagued 2015. It was revealed that the Pentagon had no idea what it did with $8.5 trillion, lost track of $500 million worth of weapons and equipment, and spent $43 million on a single gas station in Afghanistan. A DIA report released in June intimated the military was aware of the rising threat of ISIS, and not only allowed it, but welcomed it. The program to train moderate rebels in the fight cost half a billion dollars but yielded only four or five fighters. Further, multiple generals spoke out this year about the U.S. military’s role in creating ISIS. Additionally, news broke in 2015 that one ISIS recruiter had previously been trained by infamous Iraq War profiteer, Blackwater.

9. Activists Inch a Small Step Closer to Exposing the Actors Behind 9/11: Though few Americans heard about it, in August, a New York judge allowed a trial to move forward that could expose a potential government cover-up in the notorious terrorist attack. The ruling was tepid, allowing a 60 to 90 day window for the case to be dismissed or proceed. A later ruling hindered the effort, citing a lack of evidence; but activists have not stopped fighting for the release of 28 redacted pages from the 9/11 commission report that allegedly implicate Saudi Arabia (a majority of the hijackers on 9/11 were of Saudi origin).

Whatever the truth may be, 2015 witnessed growing doubts about the Saudi government, which beheaded more people than ISIS this year. It also sentenced a poet to beheading for writing poetry about his experience as a refugee from Palestine, sentenced a young man, Ali al-Nimr, to crucifixion for participating in anti-government protests, attempted to issue 350 lashings to a British man in possession of wine (though the U.K. intervened on his behalf, and that of al-Nimr; neither will be punished), and initiated a punishment of 1,000 lashings for a pro-democracy blogger, Raif Badawi.

10. The FDA Approved OxyContin for Use in Children: Though the approval of the powerful, addictive painkiller for use in 11-year-olds and younger children was unsurprising to those who follow the agency’s track record, the FDA’s justification was shocking. After lawmakers wrote a letter expressing concern to the FDA, the agency’s spokesperson, Eric Pahon, said the news was, in fact, not that serious because it was already standard practice. “It’s important to stress that this approval was not intended to expand or otherwise change the pattern of use of extended-release opioids in pediatric patients,” Pahon said. “Doctors were already prescribing it to children, without the safety and efficacy data in hand with regard to the pediatric population.”

However disturbing, the FDA’s decision comported with other related events this year: President Obama appointed a pharmaceutical lobbyist Deputy Commissioner of medical and tobacco products, a study found swaths of heroin users graduate from prescription painkillers, and similarly, 75% of high school students who used heroin had previously abused pharmaceuticals.

In other stories regarding the misconduct of agencies tasked with keeping people safe, the FDA continued to allow meat companies to use a pharmaceutical additive banned in 150 countries, while whistleblowers at the USDA revealed several plants were producing pork products filled with fingernails, hair, bile, and feces.

11. The Federal Government Admitted Cannabis May Help Fight Brain Cancer: Though the government has long known about the medical benefits of cannabis — it holds patents on several medicinal qualities — the National Institute on Drug Abuse made waves this year when it published a document acknowledging the healing properties of cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive endocannabinoid. In particular, it noted “[e]vidence from one animal study suggests that extracts from whole-plant marijuana can shrink one of the most serious types of brain tumors.” Though more research is needed, the government’s admission was unexpected, albeit welcomed by many cannabis enthusiasts. Other studies this year suggested cannabis may help heal broken bones and is associated with lower rates of obesity.

Though many Americans still faced criminal prosecution for treating themselves and their children with cannabis, 2015 demonstrated the long-term trend of decriminalization and legalization will not be reversed. Nations around the world, from Ireland to Costa Rica to Canada laid groundwork to legalize marijuana to various degrees, while a majority of Americans now support legalization.

12. Nestle Paid $524 to Plunder the Public’s Water Resources: This year, Anti-Media reported on the insidious relationship between Nestle and the Forest Service in California. The investigation found not only that Nestle was using an expired permit to turn exponential profit on 27 million gallons of water, but that a former Forest Service official went on to consult for the company.

While corporate exploitation ran rampant in 2015, many countries around the world fought back. India sued Nestle after finding one of its products contained lead, while nations around the world banned Monsanto and GE products. Scotland, Denmark, and Bulgaria, among others, all moved to ban GE crops, while multiple lawsuits, highlighted the serious potential health consequences of the widespread use of pesticides (though the EPA disputed that glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, was an endocrine disrupter in June, in November, news broke that the majority of studies the EPA used to make its decision were funded by industry). Though corporate power remains all but monolithic, 2015 saw humans across the world rise up to resist it. Most recently (and comically), a proposed initiative in California is about to enter the next phase — signature gathering — to place it on the 2016 ballot. If placed on the ballot and passed, it will force California legislators to wear the logos of their top ten donors while they participate in legislative activities. The effort has drawn widespread praise and enthusiasm.

13. Establishment Caught Manipulating News to Fit Narratives: Following the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, contentious protests broke out, eventually resulting in limited rioting and looting. However, while the media attempted to paint protesters as aggressive, it failed to report officers’ prolonged prohibition of their physical movement, to say nothing of the riot gear police showed up wearing. After being unable to move, a brick was thrown, but the media failed to report the instigation and discrimination law enforcement imposed that ultimately led the students and protesters to grow unruly.

In other manipulations, it was revealed that one Fox News contributor lied about his experience as a CIA agent; he had never been employed at the agency, and only obtained later national security jobs by lying about his CIA experience. Further, CBS edited out comments from Muslims, who discussed U.S. foreign policy as a driver of Islamic extremism during a televised focus group.

A study by fact checker, Politifact, revealed that all the major outlets surveyed — Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC— consistently report half-truths and lies. It is little wonder, then, that another survey found only 7% of Americans still harbor “a great deal of trust” in the mainstream media.

Still, it wasn’t just the media that lied. On multiple occasions, government employees were caught attempting to distort facts. In March, news emerged that an IP address linked to the NYPD had attempted to edit the Wikipedia page on Eric Garner. Computers inside Britain’s parliament were linked to attempted edits on pages detailing sex scandals, among other transgressions. In a related story, the FBI reported it had foiled yet another terrorist plot, and once again, it was revealed the culprits were provided support from an informant working for the bureau. Further, in August, Wikileaks released cables that showed an American lobbyist for Saudi Arabia organized a $6 million ad campaign against the president’s nuclear deal with Iran, all through a well-funded group called the “American Security Initiative.” The lobbyist, Norm Coleman, is a former Republican senator.

14. TPP: In one of the most widely-contested pieces of legislation in recent memory, the Trans-Pacific Partnership moved forward, often in secret. The TPP has been condemned as a corporate power grab that ensures profit for pharmaceutical companies, among many other loathed industries. From clamping down on internet freedom to effectively sanctioning sex trafficking, TPP signals an ominous fate for the future of freedom.

15. Sharp Uptick in Islamophobia: Amid the carnage of the Paris terror attacks, the recent shooting in San Bernardino, and the surge in Syrian refugees seeking asylum in Western nations, attacks against Muslims skyrocketed in 2015. In the United States, Muslims have been attacked for praying in public, wearing traditional head scarves, and for simply being out in public. Sikhs have been caught in the crossfire for the crime of being brown and wearing cloth on their heads — and thus being confused with Muslims — while at least one Christian has been terrorized as a result of the unmitigated hate currently permeating modern society. Many European nations and U.S. states have rejected the influx of refugees from war-torn Syria.

Amid the increased hate against Muslims, however, has come an outpouring of love and tolerance. Muslim groups across the world have condemned terror attacks, raised money to help the families of victims, and promoted programs to discourage extremism. At the same time, citizens across Europe, Canada, and even parts of the United States have welcomed Syrian refugees with open arms.

2015 was a year of chaos, violence, hate, and an ongoing struggle of freedom versus oppression. In many ways, it was like the years, decades, and even centuries and millenia that came before. But amid the conflict and often discouraging headlines, humanity has continued to persevere, offering resistance to seemingly all-powerful forces and paving the way for, if nothing else, potential peace, freedom, and respect for human life.

The Odds Are Never In Your Favour

The irony of the phrase “may the odds be ever in your favor” is not lost on the readers of the Hunger Games trilogy of novels or the film adaption. Despite the grimness of the story, over 65 million copies of the books have been sold. The total box office take so far has exceeded $1.4 billion for the four movies. The dystopian series tackles real issues like severe poverty, starvation, torture, oppression, betrayal and the brutality of war. It doesn’t fit into the standard film making success recipe of feel good fluff, politically correct storylines and happy endings. Each film in the series gets progressively darker, with the final episode permeating doom and gloom. The books and the movies capture the deepening crisis mood engulfing the world today. And they realistically portray the world as a place where there are no good guys in positions of power. The ruling class, in all cases, is driven by a voracious appetite for supremacy, wealth, and control.

An Ambiguous, Confusing, Dangerous World

The world is a morally ambiguous place where those in power and those seeking power utilize the influence of media propaganda and PR campaigns built around “heroes” and “icons” to psychologically control the masses, while enriching themselves and their crony capitalist sponsors. Endless war against the latest “bad guys” further enriches the arms dealers and their political lackeys who joyfully use faux patriotism and nationalistic fervor to insist upon more boots on the ground, drones in the air, bombs dropped, and missiles launched.

War is good for business and keeps the masses distracted, while the Wall Street financiers harvest the wealth of the citizens. The division of the country into 12 districts, sending their bounty to the capital of Panem at the point of a gun, while they are allocated a pittance to survive, is no different than our corporate fascist government as they extract hundreds of billions in taxes, fees, levies, tolls, and fines from the productive class, while regulating, enforcing, mandating, and authorizing the plebs to death.

We live in a confusing world of anxiety, hate, greed, deceit and immorality, where governments throughout the world are nothing but rotting cesspools of psychotic despots desperately clinging to power while using any means necessary to keep the masses sedated and docile. Good people, with noble intentions, still exist in this decadent world, but they do not seek power or have any say in the governance of this world. The oppressed are hopelessly enslaved in debt, kept submissive by welfare transfers from the corrupt state, dumbed down by the state education system, amused by technological gadgets and vacuous entertainment, and kept in perpetual fear of seen and unseen enemies. We are told who to hate, who to fear, who to love, and who to believe by a nameless faceless state run by people we didn’t elect, constituting the invisible government.

The world is a dangerous place, made more dangerous by a willfully ignorant populace who mindlessly go about their day to day existence without thinking, questioning, or considering the possibility their leaders are corrupt lying thieves. We are told Putin, Assad, China, Iran and ISIS are the bad guys. Previously we had been told Hussein, Gadaffi, Bin Laden, Mubarak, Al Qaeda and the Taliban were the bad guys. It is true that none of these men or organizations are good.

It is also true that no one in leadership positions in Washington DC, on Wall Street, in corporate America, or in the mainstream media are good. The entire world is under the control of deceitful, cunning, egomaniacal, corruptible, psychopaths who will stop at nothing to fulfill their personal agendas. They are human beings who have allowed their dark sides to dominate their actions. There are no good guys, just varying degrees of evil imposed upon the masses by erratic unpredictable people with wildly differing levels of intelligence, patriotism and judgement.

The Power of Propaganda

It’s a tribute to the propagandists who have taken Edward Bernays teachings to another level as they have molded the minds of millions, consciously manipulating the opinions and beliefs of the masses to further their agenda of world domination. Once the Cold War ended, the ruling class sought enemies to keep their military industrial complex and Wall Street financiers enriched and happy. 9/11 was used to further that agenda as war on a tactic (terror) will never end. Perpetual conflict is a chief goal of the establishment. Orwell would be impressed with how our keepers have perfected the We‘ve always been at war with Eastasia” propaganda tool to perpetuate their goals. Both parties continue to promote war and increase the profits of the military industrial complex.

The U.S. invaded Afghanistan fourteen years ago to get bin Laden and rid the country of the Taliban. Bin Laden was supposedly killed in 2011, but no documentary evidence has been revealed to substantiate that claim. The Taliban is stronger than ever in Afghanistan after hundreds of billions in expenditures and thousands of lives lost. The occupation continues. The neo-cons convinced the dimwitted Bush to invade Iraq in 2003 because Hussein was a bad guy with weapons of mass destruction. Amusingly, he was our buddy when he was fighting our Iranian enemies and we provided him with the WMD (gas) he used on the Kurds.

After spending $1 trillion, we left Iraq as a festering quagmire of religious zealots with a bombed out infrastructure and a corrupt incompetent puppet running the show on our behalf. Then it was on to leaving Libya in a state of chaos because we overthrew another bad guy. We didn’t like the democratically elected leader of Egypt after we overthrew Mubarak, so we overthrew Morsi and installed another military dictatorship. The propaganda storyline is always about democracy and getting rid of bad guys, not the truth about securing oil resources, weakening the enemies of Israel, and keeping the profits flowing to our “vital” defense industry.

It seems the empire ran into a bit of a snag with their plan to remove the latest “bad guy” in Syria. Another “bad guy” – Vladimir Putin – saw through the American plan to eliminate Assad and have their co-conspirators in Saudi Arabia and Qatar build a gas pipeline to Europe. After overthrowing the democratically elected president (and friend of Russia) of the Ukraine and waging an unsuccessful war against Russian backed rebels in Eastern Ukraine, Europe was left at the mercy of an angry Putin as far as not freezing to death during the upcoming winter.

Putin is a strongman leader of a country with a nuclear arsenal capable of blowing up the earth several times over. He will do what is in the best interest of his country and will not blink when confronted with the likes of corrupt feckless toadies like Obama, Kerry, Hollande, Merkel, and Edrogen. His counter measures and revelations about the true nature of U.S. and Turkish actions in Syria and Iraq have blown the lid off of U.S. plans in the Middle East.

The latest fear mongering propaganda device for the vested interests has been the dreaded ISIS. The captured mainstream corporate media fails to mention the U.S. created, armed and continues to fund ISIS as part of their master plan to overthrow Assad. The U.S. left Iraq in such a state of chaos and lawlessness, fanatical Islamist radicals used the vacuum of power and the billions of dollars’ worth of top notch U.S. military hardware to create a safe space for themselves within Iraq and Syria. The U.S. has been funding and arming the supposed “moderate” Islamic radicals fighting Assad for the last few years, while attempting to use a false flag gas attack to wage all-out war. The U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Turkey created ISIS in order to further their economic and political interests. Lead neo con warmonger, Maniacal McCain, even had a photo op with his ISIS homies.

Once Putin decided to fully support Assad and actually concentrate on destroying ISIS, it became clear the U.S. was turning a blind eye to the billions in illicit oil profits being earned by ISIS refining, transporting and selling oil to Turkey. Putin began to destroy the oil infrastructure of ISIS and immediately saw a passenger plane blown out the sky and a bomber shot down by Turkey. So the organization we created is now the most feared terrorist organization on the planet, but we refuse to cooperate or coordinate its defeat with Assad or Putin because they are “bad guys”.

Turkey financially supports ISIS and is fighting hardest against our allies the Kurds, but we fully support their crazed dictator leader Erdogan. Iran is fighting ISIS, but more than half of Congress and all presidential candidates want to obliterate them on behalf of Israel. Virtually all domestic terrorism has a link to Saudi Arabia, they treat women like cattle, behead anyone not following Islamic law and are pumping oil at a prodigious pace in an effort to destroy the U.S. shale industry, but they are considered a close ally in the Middle East. It is quite clear there are no good guys running the show in this bizarro world of unholy alliances, backstabbing, revenge, and fear mongering.

A Lot of Hope is Dangerous

No one in positions of power can be trusted. Betrayal, violence, money, power and war are the weapons of the state. Loyalty, courage, sacrifice, love and hope are the domain of the people. The state walks a fine line between keeping the masses controlled through entertainment, debt, fear and hope. If the people lose all hope, despair leads to anger as those with nothing to lose take to the streets. President Snow of Panem explains the fine line between control and revolution:

“Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. Spark is fine, as long as it’s contained.”

In the Mockingjay portion of the Hunger Games trilogy you are left with the evil President Snow attempting to maintain the status quo, with Panem ruling over the formally subservient districts, while President Coin leads the rebels in attempting to overthrow the rotting immoral government of Snow. Both sides use the power of media propaganda, symbolism, false heroes, and despicable tactics to win. In the standard good guy/bad guy plot used to entertain the American masses, the rebels would be the good guys fighting for a noble cause.

Their symbolic mockingjay leader – Katniss Everdeen – is portrayed as the fearless revolutionary of the people. She is the hope which ignites a revolution and turns despair into a war against the oppressive state and the wealthy vested interests in Panem. The rebels have the moral high ground, but the underlying feeling of distrust is always evident. The good guys might not be so good.

The central question of the final episode was, real or not real? Who can be believed? Are heroes really heroes or are they just created by public relations propaganda specialists? When an icon used to inspire a revolution has served their purpose, will the “good guys” purposefully sacrifice them for the good of the establishment? Can any government be trusted? Can any politician be trusted? Can the media be trusted?

The truth is that no one in a position of power can be trusted. The only people who can be trusted are family and friends. And even they can turn on you with enough monetary incentive. It’s a confusing, brutal world driven by greed, endless military conflict, religious zealotry, and controlled by shadowy unelected men using their ill-gotten wealth to pull the strings on all aspects of society. We are living in a dystopian nightmare where the masses have been induced to love their enslavement.

Katniss undergoes a metamorphosis after seeing her sister blown up while rushing to the aid of victims and later confronting President Snow after the rebels succeeded in overthrowing his regime. President Coin, the leader of the “good guys”, reveals herself to be even more duplicitous and evil than the leader of the “bad guys”. She used the deep-seated characteristic of human compassion to kill Katniss’ sister along with hundreds of children and rescue workers as a tactic to turn the war in her favor. Those in positions of power will use any means necessary to gain or maintain power.

When Coin proposes a last Hunger Games sacrificing the children of the previous regime’s leadership, Katniss realizes Coin is going to just replace Snow as a dictator, perpetuating the despotic policies which created the rebellion in the first place. Katniss rightly decides that killing innocents, and especially children, is never justifiable. Therefore, she decides to kill Coin, while the rioting crowds kill Snow. She sacrifices her status as a national hero in order to give her country a chance to regain its former glory as a republic. The personal sacrifice on behalf of her country is almost unbearable, but ultimately sacrifice, courage, love, strength and hope for a better future are able to sustain her during the dark days.

Turnkey Tyranny

As the former Republic known as America has descended towards the tyranny of a corporate fascist surveillance state, there have been two true patriots who have dedicated their lives to inspiring a revolution in thought and action to help this country regain its former glory based on the U.S. Constitution. One patriot is young and the other patriot old, but their message is the same – we must resist and oppose the ever growing oppressive power of a tyrannical state systematically dismantling the Constitution and stripping the people of liberty and freedom. Their words speak for themselves.

 

“The great fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change. People won’t be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things… And in the months ahead, the years ahead, it’s only going to get worse. The NSA will say that… because of the crisis, the dangers that we face in the world, some new and unpredicted threat, we need more authority, we need more power, and there will be nothing the people can do at that point to oppose it. And it will be turnkey tyranny.”Edward Snowden

“The original American patriots were those individuals brave enough to resist with force the oppressive power of King George. I accept the definition of patriotism as that effort to resist oppressive state power. The true patriot is motivated by a sense of responsibility and out of self-interest for himself, his family, and the future of his country to resist government abuse of power. He rejects the notion that patriotism means obedience to the state.”Ron Paul

Edward Snowden is our modern day Paul Revere, but instead of riding across the countryside warning “the British are coming”, he used the power of modern technology to warn the world “the NSA is watching, listening, and monitoring”. He sacrificed his citizenship, high paying job, freedom, and possibly his life (if the U.S. government had its way) in order to blow the whistle on the blatant destruction and disregard for the Fourth Amendment being perpetrated by the NSA, with the full knowledge and approval of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the U.S. government.

He knew his revelations would result in his persecution, attempted apprehension and ultimate imprisonment, as the corrupt malevolent establishment and their mass media mouthpieces would brand him a traitor for revealing the truth about the illegal malfeasance being conducted at the highest levels of government. He realized true patriotism is sacrificing your life for something bigger.

“I had been looking for leaders, but I realized that leadership is about being the first to act. I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions, and that the return of this information to the public marks my end.” Edward Snowden

Snowden’s revelations exposed the U.S. government for what it really is, a corporate fascist organization designed to benefit a chosen few while oppressing the masses through debt, currency debasement, and perpetual war, while implementing Orwellian surveillance measures designed to capture dissenters and critical thinkers. The sustenance of the welfare/warfare state requires a dumbed down, passive, distracted populace who can be manipulated and controlled through propaganda and baubles.

Thus far, the vested interests have successfully convinced more than half the population that Snowden is a traitor. The power of propaganda in conjunction with a willfully ignorant public is a potent combination. Even though Snowden’s disclosures have not spurred a revolution yet, they have sparked an underlying dissent that has been growing, as trust in government, politicians, bankers, media and corporate leaders wanes.

“I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building. I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under. Everyone everywhere now understands how bad things have gotten — and they’re talking about it. They have the power to decide for themselves whether they are willing to sacrifice their privacy to the surveillance state.” – Edward Snowden

Snowden worked within the system until his conscience made it unbearable for him to support an immoral, rogue organization bent on trashing the U.S. Constitution at the behest of leaders’ intent on retaining their power, control and wealth through any means necessary. Ron Paul has taken a different, but equally noble path as one of the few patriots who worked within the system, but never became corrupted by the system. He has been a voice in the wilderness for decades, condemning the relentless march towards tyranny that he saw firsthand while in Congress.

The establishment, media and leadership of both political parties have scorned and ridiculed him as ineffective and inconsequential. There was never a piece of legislation with his name on it that passed during his time in Congress. His nickname was Dr. No, as he voted against anything that added to the national debt or took away freedoms or liberties.

This disparagement reveals the fallacy of what constitutes success in Washington D.C., as there are now over 5,000 Federal laws, 180,000 pages of Federal regulations, $18.8 trillion of Federal debt, $200 trillion of unfunded Federal liabilities, and every politician of both parties completely captured by corporate and special interests. There is one ruling party and the appearance of choice is nothing but a farce designed to make the masses think they have a say in the governance of their country.

“We’ve slipped away from a true republic. Now we’re slipping into a fascist system where it’s a combination of government, big business and authoritarian rule, and the suppression of the individual rights of each and every American citizen. When it comes to any significant differences on foreign policy, economic intervention, the Federal Reserve, a strong executive branch, a welfarism mixed with corporatism, both parties are very much alike.  The major arguments in hotly contested presidential races are mostly for public consumption to convince the people they actually have a choice.” – Ron Paul

The vitriol and bile hoisted upon Snowden and Paul expose the weakness of the ruling class, as truth, honesty, personal courage, and sacrifice for a higher purpose are attributes they cannot subvert or buy off. It’s the words and actions of men like Edward Snowden and Ron Paul that provide hope for critical thinking liberty minded citizens. The ruling class knows a lot of hope is dangerous, so they must undermine the messages of these patriots. Ideas matter. Words matter.

These two men have inspired me and an unknown number of other citizens who still believe in the Constitution and will do everything in our power to provoke a revolution of reason, truth and honesty. The odds will never be in our favor. Carroll Quigley understood the odds were stacked against the American people over 50 years ago. The domination of the world by central bankers representing private interests has never been more evident than it has since the Federal Reserve created 2008 financial crisis and the traitorous actions taken by politicians and central bankers in the last seven years.

“The powers of financial capitalism had a far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland; a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank… sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world.” Carroll Quigley

Even though the odds are never in our favor, there is still hope. Not everyone has to make the extreme sacrifice like Edward Snowden or dedicate their life to the message of liberty like Ron Paul in order to contribute to the revolution. There are thousands of small acts which will weaken the establishment. Arm yourself. Stop watching and listening to the mainstream media. Take your money out of Wall Street banks. Grow your own food. Barter with others and starve the beast. Reduce your tax footprint. Buy locally and boycott mega-corporations. Build relationships with neighbors and reduce your dependency on the government.

Don’t be a slave to debt. Live beneath your means and accumulate some physical silver and gold. Don’t vote for candidates selected by the vested interests. Spread the message of liberty and freedom to anyone who will listen. Support the alternative media and send pertinent articles to family, friends and acquaintances. Think critically. Do not trust your government. Prepare for the inevitable collapse of this rotten, fetid, corrupt paradigm. Hope, love, courage, and persistence will ultimately win. The tide is turning. Panem will fall. What replaces the existing social order will be up to us.

6 Million Fingerprints Stolen In Hack

In Major Humiliation, Government Admits Nearly 6 Million Fingerprints Were Stolen In OPM Hack

Tyler Durden

What began with an alleged attempt by Kim Jong-un to sabotage Seth Rogen and James Franco for plotting to assassinate his likeness on film, and what reached peak absurdity when Penn State claimed that Chinese hacker spies had taken control of the university’s engineering department, culminated with what’s been variously described as “the largest theft of US government data ever” and an attack “so vast in scope and ambition that the usual practices for dealing with traditional espionage cases [do] not apply.”

Those rather dramatic sounding characterizations refer of course to the alleged breach of the Office of Personnel Management by Chinese hackers.

That attack compromised some 22 million government employees. For its part, Beijing initially called the accusations that the attack emanated from China “irresponsible” and “groundless.”

Amusingly, the counter-hacking system that is supposed to prevent things like this from happening is called “Einstein” and by the US government’s own admission, it’s already obsolete. Unfortunately, Congress’ now famous inability to do what they were elected to do (i.e. legislate) has left the USunable to pass a cyber security initiative that would help the US better protect itself against attacks like that which occurred on the OPM.

In any event, cyber security was back in the spotlight (actually it never really left) last week when the US decided that slapping Chinese entities with sanctions for their alleged role in hundreds of cyber attacks on the US over the course of the last half decade was probably a bad idea ahead of a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who some analysts predicted simply would not make the trip if Washington was unwilling to do Beijing the courtesy of waiting until Xi was back in China before handing down sanctions.

But while the Obama administration did indeed relent on the timing of the cyber sanctions, new revelations regarding the theft of “biometric ID authentication markers” (a.k.a fingerprints) look set to make Xi’s visit a bit more uncomfortable than it otherwise would have been, especially in light of comments he made in a speech in Seattle. Here’s Wired with more:

When hackers steal your password, you change it. When hackers steal your fingerprints, they’ve got an unchangeable credential that lets them spoof your identity for life. When they steal 5.6 million of those irrevocable biometric identifiers from U.S. federal employees—many with secret clearances—well, that’s very bad.

On Wednesday, the Office of Personnel Management admitted that the number of federal employees’ fingerprints compromised in the massive breach of its servers revealed over the summer has grown from 1.1 million to 5.6 million. OPM, which serves as a sort of human resources department for the federal government, didn’t respond to WIRED’s request for comment on who exactly those fingerprints belong to within the federal government. But OPM had previously confirmed that the data of 21.5 million federal employees was potentially compromised by the hack—which likely originated in China—and that those victims included intelligence and military employees with security clearances.

The revelation comes at a particularly ironic time: During the U.S. visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping, who said at a public appearance in Seattle that the Chinese government doesn’t condone hacking of U.S. targets, and pledged to partner with the U.S. to curb cybercrime.

“As part of the government’s ongoing work to notify individuals affected by the theft of background investigation records, the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Defense have been analyzing impacted data to verify its quality and completeness,” reads OPM’s statement posted to its website. “During that process, OPM and [the Department of Defense] identified archived records containing additional fingerprint data not previously analyzed. Of the 21.5 million individuals whose Social Security Numbers and other sensitive information were impacted by the breach, the subset of individuals whose fingerprints have been stolen has increased from a total of approximately 1.1 million to approximately 5.6 million.”

And while the government was of course in full damage control mode, swearing that “as of now, the ability to misuse fingerprint data is limited,” they better be right, because as Wired goes on to note,“the national security implications of having the fingerprints of high-level federal officials in the hands of hackers who are potentially employed by a foreign government” are far from clear. 

Now all of that assumes that a state actor is indeed behind the attack and frankly, assuming that to be true is to accept the narrative that China, Iran, and Russia have now formed a kind of cyber “Axis of Evil” and that narrative plays right into the hands of policymakers who are desperate to perpetuate the existing juxtaposition of world powers.

What comes next we can’t say but one thing seems abundantly clear: regardless of who’s doing the hacking, the US government is completing inept when it comes to stopping it and on that note, we close with the following from Senator Ben Sasse:

“The American people have no reason to believe that they’ve heard the full story and every reason to believe that Washington assumes they are too stupid or preoccupied to care about cyber security.”

A Refugee Crisis Made In America

A Refugee Crisis Made In America

Submitted by Philip Giraldi via TheAmericanConservative.com,

On April 29th, 2008 I had a Saul on the Road to Damascus moment. I had flipped open theWashington Post and there, on the front page, was a color photo of a two year old Iraqi boy named Ali Hussein being pulled from the rubble of a house that had been destroyed by American missiles. The little boy was wearing shorts and a t-shirt and had on his feet flip-flops. His head was hanging back at an angle that told the viewer immediately that he was dead.

Four days later on May 3rd a letter by a Dunn Loring Virginia woman named Valerie Murphy was printed by the Post. Murphy complained that the Iraqi child victim photo should not have been run in the paper because it would “stir up opposition to the war and feed anti-US sentiment.” I suppose the newspaper thought it was being impartial in printing the woman’s letter, though I couldn’t help but remember that the neocon-dominated Post had generally been unwilling to cover anything antiwar, even ignoring a gathering of 300,000 protesters in Washington in 2005. Rereading the woman’s complaint and also a comment on a website suggesting that the photo of the dead little boy had been staged, I thought to myself, “What kind of monsters have we become.” And in truth we had become monsters. Bipartisan monsters wrapped in the American flag. Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once said that killing 500,000 Iraqi children through sanctions was “worth it.” She is now a respected elder statesman close to the Hillary Clinton campaign.

I had another epiphany last week when I saw the photo of the little Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach like a bit of flotsam. He was wearing a red t-shirt and black sneakers. I thought to myself that many Americans will shake their heads when looking at the photo before moving on, more concerned about Stephen Colbert’s debut on the Late Show and the start of the NFL season.

The little boy is one of hundreds of thousands of refugees trying to get to Europe. The world media is following the crisis by focusing primarily on the inability of unprepared local governments to deal with the numbers of migrants, asking why someone somewhere can’t just “do something.” This means that somehow, as a result, the vast human tragedy has been reduced to a statistic and, inevitably, a political football.

Overwhelmed by thousands of would-be travelers, Hungary suspended train service heading towards Western Europe while countries like Serbia and Macedonia deployed their military and police along their borders in a failed attempt to completely block refugees. Italy and Greece have been overwhelmed by migrants arriving by sea. Germany, to its credit, is intending to process up to 800,000 refugee and asylum applications, mostly from Syria, while Austria and Sweden have also indicated their willingness to accept many more. Immediate neighbors of the zone of conflict, notably Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan are hosting more than three million of those who are displaced, but the wealthy Arab Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia have done little or nothing to help.

Demands for a European unified strategy to deal with the problem are growing, to include sealing borders and declaring the seas off of preferred departure points in North Africa and Asia to be military zones where undocumented ships and travelers will be intercepted and turned back. One also has to suspect that the refugee crisis might be exploited by some European politicians to justify NATO “humanitarian” intervention of some sort in Syria, a move that would have to be supported by Washington. But while the bickering and maneuvering goes on, the death toll mounts. The recent discovery of 71 dead would-be migrants who suffocated in the back of a locked truck found in Austria, to include five children and a toddler, horrified the world. And that was before the dead three year old on the Turkish beach.

Many of the would-be migrants are young men looking for work in Europe, a traditional enterprise, but most of the new arrivals are families escaping the horrors of war in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yemen. Their plight has been described in the media in graphic terms, families arriving with nothing and expecting nothing, fleeing even worse conditions back at home.

The United States has taken in only a small number of the refugees and a usually voluble White House has been uncharacteristically quiet about the problem, possibly realizing that allowing in a lot of displaced foreigners at a time when there is an increasingly heated debate over immigration policy in general just might not be a good move, politically speaking. But it should perhaps be paying some attention to what caused the problem in the first place, a bit of introspection that is largely lacking both from the mainstream media and from politicians.

Indeed, I would assign to Washington most of the blame for what is happening right now. Since folks inside the beltway are particularly given to making judgements based on numerical data they might be interested in the toll exacted through America’s global war on terror. By one not unreasonable estimate, as many as four million Muslims have died or been killed as a result of the ongoing conflicts that Washington has either initiated or been party to since 2001.

There are, in addition, millions of displaced persons who have lost their homes and livelihoods, many of whom are among the human wave currently engulfing Europe. There are currently an estimated 2,590,000 refugees who have fled their homes from Afghanistan, 370,000 from Iraq, 3,880,000 million from Syria, and 1,100,000 from Somalia. The United Nations Refugee Agency is expecting at least 130,000 refugees from Yemen as fighting in that country accelerates. Between 600,000 and one million Libyans are living precariously in neighboring Tunisia.

The number of internally displaced within each country is roughly double the number of those who have actually fled and are seeking to resettle outside their homelands. Many of the latter have wound up in temporary camps run by the United Nations while others are paying criminals to transport them into Europe.

Significantly, the countries that have generated most of the refugees are all places where the United States has invaded, overthrown governments, supported insurgencies, or intervened in a civil war. The invasion of Iraq created a power vacuum that has empowered terrorism in the Arab heartland. Supporting rebels in Syria has piled Pelion on Ossa. Afghanistan continues to bleed 14 years after the United States arrived and decided to create a democracy. Libya, which was relatively stable when the U.S. and its allies intervened, is now in chaos, with its disorder spilling over into sub-Saharan Africa.

Everywhere people are fleeing the violence, which, among other benefits, has virtually obliterated the ancient Christian presence in the Middle East. Though I recognize that the refugee problem cannot be completely blamed on only one party, many of those millions would be alive and the refugees would for the most part be in their homes if it had not been for the catastrophic interventionist policies pursued by both Democratic and Republican administrations in the United States.

It is perhaps past time for Washington to begin to become accountable for what it does.The millions of people living rough or in tents, if they are lucky, need help and it is not satisfactory for the White House to continue with its silence, a posture that suggests that the refugees are somehow somebody else’s problem. They are, in fact, our problem. A modicum of honesty from President Barack Obama would be appreciated, perhaps an admission that things have not exactly worked out as planned by his administration and that of his predecessor. And money is needed. Washington throws billions of dollars to fight wars it doesn’t have to fight and to prop up feckless allies worldwide. For a change it might be refreshing to see tax money doing some good, working with the most affected states in the Middle East and Europe to resettle the homeless and making an honest effort to come to negotiated settlements to end the fighting in Syria and Yemen, both of which can only have unspeakably bad outcomes if they continue on their current trajectories.

Ironically, American hawks are exploiting the photo of the dead Syrian boy to blame the Europeans for the humanitarian crisis while also demanding an all-out effort to depose Bashar al-Assad. Last Friday’s Washington Post had a lead editorial headlined “Europe’s Abdication,” and also featured a Michael Gerson op-ed urging immediate regime change in Syria, blaming the crisis solely on Damascus. The editorial railed against European “racists” regarding the refugee plight. And it is not clear how Gerson, an evangelical neoconservative former speech writer for George W. Bush, can possibly believe that permitting Syria to fall to ISIS would benefit anyone.

We Americans are in something approaching complete denial about how truly horrible our nation’s recent impact on the rest of the world has been. We are universally hated, even by those who have their hands out to receive their Danegeld, and the world is undoubtedly shaking its head as it listens to the bile coming out of the mouths of our presidential candidates. Shakespeare observed that the “evil that men do lives after them,” but he had no experience of the United States. We choose to dissimulate regarding the bad choices we make followed up with lies to justify and mitigate our crimes. And still later the evil we do disappears down the memory hole. Literally.

In writing this piece I looked up Ali Hussein, the little Iraqi boy who was killed by the American bomb. He has been “disappeared” from Google, as well has the photo, presumably because his death did not meet community standards. He has likewise been eliminated from the Washington Post archive. The experience of Winston Smith in George Orwell’s 1984 immediately came to mind.

Nth Dakota Legalizes Weaponized Drones

North Dakota Becomes First State To Legalize Drones Weaponized With Tasers, Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets & Sound Cannons

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

 It is now legal for law enforcement in North Dakota to fly drones armed with everything from Tasers to tear gas thanks to a last-minute push by a pro-police lobbyist.

With all the concern over the militarization of police in the past year, no one noticed that the state became the first in the union to allow police to equip drones with “less than lethal” weapons. House Bill 1328 wasn’t drafted that way, but then a lobbyist representing law enforcement—tight with a booming drone industry—got his hands on it

– From the Daily Beast article: First State Legalizes Taser Drones for Cops, Thanks to a Lobbyist

You could see the writing on the walls years ago. In an increasingly authoritarian, lawless, surveillance state like America, it was always inevitable that drones would be weaponized. In North Dakota, this is now a reality.

Although I haven’t written much about domestic drones as of late, I published many articles on the topic several years ago. In the 2012 piece, Drones in America? They are Already Here…I warned:

 Like with any new technology, drones can be put to good use or to evil use.  Just like nuclear power can harness energy or destroy humanity altogether, drones could do a lot of good, but the problem is that the government is clearly moving more and more towards a surveillance state so we must be extra careful.  Stay vigilant.

Apparently, North Dakotans weren’t particularly vigilant, and now the state has become the first in the nation to legalize weaponized drones; not a distinction they should be proud of. What started out as a bill to require police using drones for surveillance obtain warrants, turned into a law that puts tasers and tear gas on them. Go ‘Merica.

The Daily Beast reports:

It is now legal for law enforcement in North Dakota to fly drones armed with everything from Tasers to tear gas thanks to a last-minute push by a pro-police lobbyist

With all the concern over the militarization of police in the past year, no one noticed that the state became the first in the union to allow police to equip drones with “less than lethal” weapons. House Bill 1328 wasn’t drafted that way, but then a lobbyist representing law enforcement—tight with a booming drone industry—got his hands on it.

The bill’s stated intent was to require police to obtain a search warrant from a judge in order to use a drone to search for criminal evidence. In fact, the original draft of Rep. Rick Becker’s bill would have banned all weapons on police drones.

Then Bruce Burkett of North Dakota Peace Officer’s Association was allowed by the state house committee to amend HB 1328 and limit the prohibition only to lethal weapons. “Less than lethal” weapons like rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons, and Tasers are therefore permitted on police drones

Even “less than lethal” weapons can kill though. At least 39 people have been killed by police Tasers in 2015 so far, according to The Guardian. 

And just in case you’re wondering why North Dakota rolled over so easily. The state is desperate for “economic growth,” even if that growth expands GDP via fascist panopticon surveillance.

Drones in North Dakota are a profitable enterprise in a state hit hard by the oil bust. Companies that market machines for agricultural and commercial use have been popping up in industrial parks on the outskirts of Grand Forks for the better part of the last three years. The university, one of the city’s largest employers, even offers a four-year degree in drones. The Air Force has partnered with the private sector to create a drone research and development park, too.

Drones are overwhelmingly seen as a good thing in North Dakota, which is perhaps why few noticed when HB 1328 passed with a clause allowing them to be armed with non-lethal weapons.

Because it’s imperative to national security that we make this, so much easier…

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 10.09.29 AM

Great work North Dakota. Let’s hope the rest of us aren’t so hopelessly stupid.

What’s Really Going On At Fukushima?

Submitted by Robert Hunziker via CounterPunch.org, Zerohedge.com

Fukushima’s still radiating, self-perpetuating, immeasurable, and limitless, like a horrible incorrigible Doctor Who monster encounter in deep space.

Fukushima will likely go down in history as the biggest cover-up of the 21st Century.Governments and corporations are not leveling with citizens about the risks and dangers; similarly, truth itself, as an ethical standard, is at risk of going to shambles as the glue that holds together the trust and belief in society’s institutions. Ultimately, this is an example of how societies fail.

Tens of thousands of Fukushima residents remain in temporary housing more than four years after the horrific disaster of March 2011. Some areas on the outskirts of Fukushima have officially reopened to former residents, but many of those former residents are reluctant to return home because of widespread distrust of government claims that it is okay and safe.

Part of this reluctance has to do with radiation’s symptoms. It is insidious because it cannot be detected by human senses. People are not biologically equipped to feel its power, or see, or hear, touch or smell it (Caldicott). Not only that, it slowly accumulates over time in a dastardly fashion that serves to hide its effects until it is too late.

Chernobyl’s Destruction Mirrors Fukushima’s Future

As an example of how media fails to deal with disaster blowback, here are some Chernobyl facts that have not received enough widespread news coverage: Over one million (1,000,000) people have already died from Chernobyl’s fallout.

Additionally, the Rechitsa Orphanage in Belarus has been caring for a very large population of deathly sick and deformed children. Children are 10 to 20 times more sensitive to radiation than adults.

Zhuravichi Children’s Home is another institution, among many, for the Chernobyl-stricken: “The home is hidden deep in the countryside and, even today, the majority of people in Belarus are not aware of the existence of such institutions” (Source: Chernobyl Children’s Project-UK).

One million (1,000,000) is a lot of dead people. But, how many more will die? Approximately seven million (7,000,000) people in the Chernobyl vicinity were hit with one of the most potent exposures to radiation in the history of the Atomic Age.

The exclusion zone around Chernobyl is known as “Death Valley.” It has been increased from 30 to 70 square kilometres. No humans will ever be able to live in the zone again. It is a permanent “dead zone.”

Additionally, over 25,000 died and 70,000 disabled because of exposure to extremely dangerous levels of radiation in order to help contain Chernobyl. Twenty percent of those deaths were suicides, as the slow agonizing “death march of radiation exposure” was too much to endure.

Fukushima- The Real Story

In late 2014, Helen Caldicott, M.D. gave a speech about Fukushima at Seattle Town Hall (9/28/14). Pirate Television recorded her speech; here’s the link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qX-YU4nq-g

Dr. Helen Caldicott is co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and she is author/editor of Crisis Without End: The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe, The New Press, September 2014. For over four decades Dr. Caldicott has been the embodiment of the anti-nuclear banner, and as such, many people around the world classify her as a “national treasure”. She’s truthful and honest and knowledgeable.

Fukushima is literally a time bomb in quiescence. Another powerful quake and all hell could break loose. Also, it is not even close to being under control. Rather, it is totally out of control. According to Dr. Caldicott, “It’s still possible that Tokyo may have to be evacuated, depending upon how things go.” Imagine that!

According to Japan Times as of March 11, 2015: “There have been quite a few accidents and problems at the Fukushima plant in the past year, and we need to face the reality that they are causing anxiety and anger among people in Fukushima, as explained by Shunichi Tanaka at the Nuclear Regulation Authority. Furthermore, Mr. Tanaka said, there are numerous risks that could cause various accidents and problems.”

Even more ominously, Seiichi Mizuno, a former member of Japan’s House of Councillors (Upper House of Parliament, 1995-2001) in March 2015 said: “The biggest problem is the melt-through of reactor cores… We have groundwater contamination… The idea that the contaminated water is somehow blocked in the harbor is especially absurd. It is leaking directly into the ocean. There’s evidence of more than 40 known hotspot areas where extremely contaminated water is flowing directly into the ocean… We face huge problems with no prospect of solution.” (Source: Nuclear Hotseat #194: Fukushima 4th Anniversary – Voices from Japan, March 10, 2015, http://www.nuclearhotseat.com/2468/)

At Fukushima, each reactor required one million gallons of water per minute for cooling, but when the tsunami hit, the backup diesel generators were drowned. Units 1, 2, and 3 had meltdowns within days. There were four hydrogen explosions. Thereafter, the melting cores burrowed into the container vessels, maybe into the earth.

According to Dr. Caldicott, “One hundred tons of terribly hot radioactive lava has already gone into the earth or somewhere within the container vessels, which are all cracked and broken.” Nobody really knows for sure where the hot radioactive lava resides. The scary unanswered question: Is it the China Syndrome?

Following the meltdown, the Japanese government did not inform people of the ambient levels of radiation that blew back onto the island. Unfortunately and mistakenly, people fled away from the reactors to the highest radiation levels on the island at the time.

As the disaster happened, enormous levels of radiation hit Tokyo. The highest radiation detected in the Tokyo Metro area was in Saitama with cesium radiation levels detected at 919,000 becquerel (Bq) per square meter, a level almost twice as high as Chernobyl’s “permanent dead zone evacuation limit of 500,000 Bq” (source: Radiation Defense Project). For that reason, Dr. Caldicott strongly advises against travel to Japan and recommends avoiding Japanese food.

Even so, post the Fukushima disaster, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed an agreement with Japan that the U.S. would continue importing Japanese foodstuff. Therefore, Dr. Caldicott suggests people not vote for Hillary Clinton. One reckless dangerous precedent is enough for her.

According to Arnie Gundersen, an energy advisor with 39 years of nuclear power engineering experience, as reported in The Canadian on August 15, 2011: “The US government has come up with a decision at the highest levels of the State Department, as well as other departments who made a decision to downplay Fukushima. In April, the month after the powerful tsunami and earthquake crippled Japan including its nuclear power plant, Hillary Clinton signed a pact with Japan that she agreed there is no problem with Japanese food supply and we will continue to buy them. So, we are not sampling food coming in from Japan.”

However, in stark contrast to the United States, in Europe Angela Merkel, PhD physics, University of Leipzig and current chancellor of Germany is shutting down all nuclear reactors because of Fukushima.

Maybe an advanced degree in physics makes the difference in how a leader approaches the nuclear power issue. It certainly looks that way when comparing/contrasting the two pantsuit-wearing leaders, Chancellor Merkel and former secretary of state Clinton.

After the Fukushima blow up, ambient levels of radiation in Washington State went up 40,000 times above normal, but according to Dr. Caldicott, the U.S. media does not cover the “ongoing Fukushima mess.” So, who would really know?

Dr. Caldicott ended her speech on Sept. 2014 by saying: “In Fukushima, it is not over. Everyday, four hundred tons of highly radioactive water pours into the Pacific and heads towards the U.S. Because the radiation accumulates in fish, we get that too. The U.S. government is not testing the water, not testing the fish, and not testing the ambient air. Also, people in Japan are eating radiation every day.”

Furthermore, according to Dr. Caldicott: “Rainwater washes over the nuclear cores into the Pacific. There is no way they can get to those cores, men die, robots get fried. Fukushima will never be solved. Meanwhile, people are still living in highly radioactive areas.”

Fukushima will never be solved because “men die” and “robots get fried.” By the sounds of it, Fukushima is a perpetual radiation meltdown scenario that literally sets on the edge of a bottomless doomsday pit, in waiting to be nudged over.

UN All-Clear Report

A UN (UNSCEAR) report on April 2, 2014 on health impacts of the Fukushima accident concluded that any radiation-induced effects would be too small to identify. People were well protected and received “low or very low” radiation doses. UNSCEAR gave an all-clear report.

Rebuttal of the UNSCEAR report by the German affiliate of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War d/d July 18, 2014 takes a defiant stance in opposition to the UN report, to wit: “The Fukushima nuclear disaster is far from over. Despite the declaration of ‘cold shutdown’ by the Japanese government in December 2011, the crippled reactors have not yet achieved a stable status and even UNSCEAR admits that emissions of radioisotopes are continuing unabated. 188 TEPCO is struggling with an enormous amount of contaminated water, which continues to leak into the surrounding soil and sea. Large quantities of contaminated cooling water are accumulating at the site. Failures in the makeshift cooling systems are occurring repeatedly. The discharge of radioactive waste will most likely continue for a long time.”

“Both the damaged nuclear reactors and the spent fuel ponds contain vast amounts of radioactivity and are highly vulnerable to further earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons and human error. Catastrophic releases of radioactivity could occur at any time and eliminating this risk will take many decades… It is impossible at this point in time to come up with an exact prognosis of the effects that the Fukushima nuclear disaster will have on the population in Japan… the UNSCEAR report represents a systematic underestimation and conjures up an illusion of scientific certainty that obscures the true impact of the nuclear catastrophe on health and the environment.”

To read the full text of the rejoinder to the UN report, go to:https://japansafety.wordpress.com/tag/saitama/

Fukushima’s Radiation and the Future

Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press (AP), June 12, 2015: “Four years after an earthquake and tsunami destroyed Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, the road ahead remains riddled with unknowns… Experts have yet to pinpoint the exact location of the melted fuel inside the three reactors and study it, and still need to develop robots capable of working safely in such highly radioactive conditions. And then there’s the question of what to do with the waste… serious doubts about whether the cleanup can be completed within 40 years.”

“Although the Chernobyl accident was a terrible accident, it only involved one reactor. With Fukushima, we have the minimum [of] 3 reactors that are emitting dangerous radiation. The work involved to deal with this accident will take tens of years, hundreds of years,” Prof. Hiroaki Koide (retired), Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, April 25, 2015. “It could be that some of the fuel could actually have gone through the floor of the containment vessel as well… What I’ve just described is very, very logical for anyone who understands nuclear engineering or nuclear energy,” which dreadfully spells-out: THE CHINA SYNDROME.

According to the Smithsonian, April 30, 2015: “Birds Are in a Tailspin Four Years After Fukushima: Bird species are in sharp decline, and it is getting worse over time… Where it’s much, much hotter, it’s dead silent. You’ll see one or two birds if you’re lucky.” Developmental abnormalities of birds include cataracts, tumors, and asymmetries. Birds are spotted with strange white patches on their feathers.

Maya Moore, a former NHK news anchor, authored a book about the disaster: The Rose Garden of Fukushima (Tankobon, 2014), about the roses of Mr. Katsuhide Okada. Today, the garden has perished: “It’s just poisoned wasteland. The last time Mr. Okada actually went back there, he found baby crows that could not fly, that were blind. Mutations have begun with animals, with birds.”

The Rose Garden of Fukushima features a collection of photos of an actual garden that existed in Fukushima, Japan. Boasting over 7500 bushes of roses and 50-thousand visitors a year, the Garden was rendered null and void in an instant due to the triple disaster — earthquake, tsunami, and meltdown.

The forward to Maya’s book was written by John Roos, former US Ambassador to Japan 2009-13: “The incredible tale of Katz Okada and his Fukushima rose garden was told here by Maya Moore… gives you a small window into what the people of Tohoku faced.”

Roos’ “small window” could very well serve as a metaphor for a huge black hole smack dab in the heart of civilization. Similarly, Fukushima is a veritable destruction machine that consumes everything in its path, and beyond, and its path is likely to grow. For certain, it is not going away.

Thus, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) is deeply involved in an asymmetric battle against enormously powerful unleashed out-of-control forces of E=mc2.

Clearly, TEPCO has its back to the wall. Furthermore, it’s doubtful TEPCO will “break the back of the beast.” In fact, it may be an impossible task.

Maybe, just maybe, Greater Tokyo’s 38 million residents will eventually be evacuated. Who knows for sure?

Only Godzilla knows!

 

First They Lie, Then They Arrest You

When It Becomes Serious, First They Lie – When That Fails, They Arrest You

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/16/2015 09:05 -0400

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-03-16/when-it-becomes-serious-first-they-lie-when-fails-they-arrest-you

When lying is no longer enough to gain compliance, then the organs of security are unleashed on dissent and resistance.

“When it becomes serious, you have to lie.” Jean-Claude Juncker simply gave voice to what the world’s leaders practice on a daily basis, because now it’s always serious.
And why is it now serious? Persuading tax donkeys and debt serfs that everything is going their way is now impossible without lies. Persuading the populace that the leadership is working on their behalf was jettisoned in the wake of the 2008 bailout of bankers and parasites.
Stripped of the artifice that they care about anything other than preserving the wealth of their cronies, global political leaders now rely on propaganda: narratives designed to manage expectations and perceptions, bolstered by carefully tailored official statistics.
Reliance on lies erodes legitimacy. As the rich get richer and the burdens on tax donkeys and debt serfs increase, the gulf between the official happy-story narrative and reality widens to the breaking point, and faith in the narrative and the leadership espousing it declines.
When 20% of the populace no longer believe the lies and begins questioning the state’s enforcement of the status quo, the government devotes its resources to punishing dissenters and resisters. Whistleblowers are charged with trumped-up crimes; those publicly refuting the status quo’s narrative of lies are harassed and discredited, and those who resist state enforcement of parasitic cronyism are set up, beaten, entrapped, investigated, interrogated and arrested once suitably Kafkaesque charges can be conjured up by the apparatchiks of enforcement.
Why 20%? It’s the Pareto Distribution (the 80/20 rule): the 20% of any populace that accepts a new trend, technology or narrative has an outsized influence over the other 80%.
Governments operate on the premise that propaganda and threats will always be enough to cow their populaces into compliance and bribes will induce complicity.When lies, bribes and threats no long work, the state unleashes its full pathological powers on dissent.
The last mass campaign of political suppression in the U.S. occurred in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when resistance to the war of choice in Vietnam reached mainstream proportions.
The U.S. government was accustomed to manipulating and managing the populace with very simple propaganda: Communism is our deadly enemy, we must fight it everywhere on the planet, etc. But when thousands of American service personnel started coming home in body bags from the latest “we must fight Communism everywhere because it’s dangerous to us” war in East Asia, this simplistic justification made no sense: what existential threat to the U.S. did a Communist Vietnam pose?
The U.S. has faced only two existential threats to its sovereignty since 1860: World War II (1941-45) and the potential for a nation-destroying nuclear war with the Soviet Union. The idea that the U.S. was existentially threatened by falling dominoes in East Asia was always ludicrous, and the U.S. status quo (the political leadership, the Deep State, private industry profiting from war, etc.) soon abandoned the absurd justification.
Vietnam was always more of a domestic-politics issue than a geopolitical one: the Democrats feared being perceived as being “weak on Communism” because that impacted the results of elections. Throwing treasure and American lives away in Vietnam was pure domestic politics from 1961-68 (once mired, Democrats feared being tagged as the party that “lost Vietnam”), and thereafter the treasure and lives were sacrificed on the equally contrived Nixon-Kissinger policy of avoiding losing geopolitical face with a withdrawal that amounted to surrender.
Though it is not well known, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was ordered to devote essentially all its resources to suppressing dissent in these years. Teams assigned to organized crime were reassigned to track down draft resisters and other political malcontents.
COINTELPRO was a vast program devoted to illegally entrapping, beating up and undermining any and all political resistance to the war and the government’s increasingly heavy-handed oppression of dissent.
Simply put: when lies no longer work, governments freak out and devote their resources not to eliminating wars of choice, cronyism and corruption but to suppressing dissent and resistance to those policies.
The U.S. government has always been free to pursue wars of choice with its professional military, with little risk of widespread political blowback. A variety of “splendid little wars” have been waged, generally for conquest or enforcement of hemispheric hegemony. The government’s success in rallying the nation during World War II instilled a false confidence that merely raising the flag of existential threat would be enough to eliminate dissent and elicit compliance in the masses.
Vietnam was the first time the American public went through the process of buying the usual “threat” justification for war, questioning the threat and eventually rejecting the state’s narrative. The government responded by lashing out at its own citizenry, engaging in a full spectrum of illegal and blatantly immoral actions designed not to right wrongs or fix broken policies, but to suppress dissent and resistance to destructive policies and broken systems.
The U.S. government is not unique in this; on the contrary, all governments, by their very nature as concentrations of coercive power, will pursue the same path. Rather than confess the government is operated by cronies, for cronies, the machinery of the state will increasingly be turned on its citizenry.
Rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s is no longer enough; abiding by the laws of the land are no longer enough. What the state demands is not just compliance with its countless laws and regulations, but absolute obedience to its narratives and policies.
Anyone who withholds obedience is quickly deemed a traitor–not to the nation or its Constitution, but to the state itself, which is ultimately a collection of cronies and self-serving vested interests protecting their fiefdoms at the expense of the citizenry.
When lying is no longer enough to gain compliance, then the organs of security are unleashed on dissent and resistance.This process is well under way in nation-states around the world.
If I had to pick the two key operative dynamics of the next 20 years, I would choose:
1. The over-expansion and implosion of credit/debt bubbles.
2. The over-reach of the central state as it seeks to win the hearts and minds of its people by ruthlessly suppressing dissent.
The two dynamics are of course causally connected. Central states depend entirely on credit bubbles for their financial survival, and on enforcing increasingly untenable official narratives for their legitimacy.
Both are unraveling, and will continue to unravel, no matter how many state resources are thrown at the symptoms of political illegitimacy, rather than at the root causes of that illegitimacy.

 

State Department’s Psaki Smirks About US Policy Supporting Coups

Caught On Tape: State Department’s Psaki Smirks About US Policy Supporting Coups 

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/16/2015

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

In case you weren’t aware, Venezuelan authorities recently accused the U.S. of attempts to overthrow its government. In a press conference, U.S. State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, vehemently denied such claims and then went ahead and spouted talking points so ridiculous, only a complete ignoramus could believe them. She said:

 As a matter of long-standing policy, the United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means.

Interesting, because it seems to me that the primary role of U.S. foreign policy throughout my lifetime has been specifically to initiate political transitions by non-constitutional means.

The line was simply too much to bear for some members of the press. One guy in particular, incredulously asked her to elaborate on her definition of “long-standing” in light of the historical reality that the U.S. government has been constantly involving itself in coups all over the world, particularly in Latin America.

What’s even more amazing than the fact that the “authorities” remain so willing to publicly spout such easily disprovable propaganda, is her reaction once see realizes she’s been caught. She backpedals and squirms, but the most disturbing thing is you can see a subtle smirk come across her face. She knows how ridiculous the statement is and can’t keep it together once she’s called out. I guess coups are funny to people in power. To those victimized by them, not so much.

Watch the clip below, and pay particularly close attention to Jen Psaki’s face from around the 57 second mark. She’s clever enough to quickly try to cover it up with a joke.

 Shameless!

Bank of England Under Investigation

Martin Armstrong Warns “The Tide Is Turning Against The Banks”

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Martin Armstrong via Armstrong Economics,

The tide is turning against the banks. We will see more and more corporations turn away from the banks as advisory entities. They just cannot be trusted when they are also the market-makers making commissions/spreads on the trading that are totally undisclosed. The day of the banks is coming to an end. It looks more like the next downturn will drive the spike right through their hearts. Just maybe, we may get back to the way its should be – relationship business, not transactional where they have the incentive to manipulate markets for the quick buck and front-run clients.

* * *

The biggest problem we have with central banks is that they are run by academics with ZERO real world experience. This applies not just at the Fed, but most central banks with the lone exception of Bank of China. The greatest danger this presents is that the money-center banks manipulate the central bankers during states of financial panic and they who are so frightened, they will do whatever the money-center banks tell them

In the USA, there is nobody who would investigate the dark corners of the Federal Reserve being manipulated by the NY bankers who walk on water without ice.

 Bank of England Under Investigation for being TOO Friendly with Banks

Bank of England

However, the system is more open in Britain where the bankers do not control the courts as they do in New York City.

Consequently, the Bank of England (BoE) is now being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) for being “too” friendly with the money-center banks during the crisis of 2008.

Last year, the BoE was cleared of “improper conduct” in the currency market manipulation allegations of the money-center banks. Nevertheless, major corporations are starting to wise-up to TRANSACTIONAL banking. A light is starting to go on that by no means can you go to these clowns for corporate hedging and advice for they will ALWAYS rig the game to make as much profit on the trading scalping clients until they bleed.

So while in the USA the banks can still bribe Congress to repeal Dodd-Frank and open the gates to money falling once again from heaven, that is not the case OUTSIDE the USA. Even the movie the FORECASTER is being shown around the world except the USA because of the elite control of the bankers who tell the Fed what to do and when, the Justice Department, and New York Federal Judges protect them every chance they get. We haveNOBODY outside of their control to investigate anything.

Britain’s Serious Fraud Office’s investigators are now probing the central bank for possible fraud related to liquidity auctions between 2007 and 2008. During the financial crisis, the BoE invited banks to borrow money from the central bank, in exchange for collateral. This was conducted through a series of “liquidity auctions” where the funds were intended to prevent the banks collapsing. The banks always warn that there will be a complete collapse of the financial system unless their losses are covered.

The SFO is looking into the bankers’ “conduct” that was connected to these liquidity auctions. This is the criminal investigative agency that is conducting the probe of the BoE.Being investigated for “conduct” issues can be a very wide range from price fixing and handing the government the worse collateral possible (FRAUD) to the leaking of confidential information for personal gain.

Hillary Clinton’s “Personal” Emails To Be Subpoenaed

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/04/2015 15:20 -0500

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-03-04/hillary-clintons-personal-emails-be-subpoenaed

In the aftermath of the revelations that Hillary Clinton had exclusively used a personal email account to conduct state correspondence with diplomatic leaders around the globe and pretty much everyone else, it was only a matter of time before the subpoenas started flying. That time is now and as WaPo reports, the “House investigative committee is preparing to send out subpoenas later Wednesday to gather a deeper look into former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton’s nearly exclusive use of personal e-mails to do her official business as the government’s top diplomat, according to people familiar with the probe.”

As a reminder, here is a sampling of some of the emails Clinton had sent to at least one recipient, Sidney Blumenthal, whose email account had been hacked by the infamous Romanian hacker “Guccifer”.

The Committee is asking for all e-mails related to the attack from all Clintonemail.com accounts and any other staff members’ personal accounts.

The subpoenas are expected to go out to the State Department later Wednesday. The move escalates the panel’s conflict with Clinton and could complicate her expected run for president.

Central Bankers’ Worst Nightmares Unfolding in Greece

BY I M POWER / THURSDAY, 19 FEBRUARY 2015 / PUBLISHED IN ABSOLUTE DATA
Central Bankers’ Worst Nightmares Are Unfolding in Greece

By Phoenix Capital Research, published on Zerohedge.com, on February 19, 2015

The situation in Greece boil down to the single most important issue for the finacial system, namely collateral.

Modern financial theory dictates that sovereign bonds are the most “risk free” assets in the financial system (equity, municipal bond, corporate bonds, and the like are all below sovereign bonds in terms of risk profile). The reason for this is because it is far more likely for a company to go belly up than a country.

Because of this, the entire Western financial system has sovereign bonds (US Treasuries, German Bunds, Japanese sovereign bonds, etc.) as the senior most asset pledged as collateral for hundreds of trillions of Dollars worth of trades.

Indeed, the global derivatives market is roughly $700 trillion in size. That’s over TEN TIMES the world’s GDP. And sovereign bonds… including even bonds from bankrupt countries such as Greece… are one of, if not the primary collateral underlying all of these trades.

Lost amidst the hub-bub about austerity measures and Debt to GDP ratios for Greece is the real issue that concerns the EU banks and the EU regulators: what happens to the trades that EU banks have made using Greek sovereign bonds as collateral?

This story has been completely ignored in the media. But if you read between the lines, you will begin to understand what really happened during the previous Greek bailouts.

Remember:

1) Before the second Greek bailout, the ECB swapped out all of its Greek sovereign bonds for new bonds that would not take a haircut.

2) Some 80% of the bailout money went to EU banks that were Greek bondholders, not the Greek economy.

Regarding #1, going into the second Greek bailout, the ECB had been allowing European nations and banks to dump sovereign bonds onto its balance sheet in exchange for cash. This occurred via two schemes called LTRO 1 and LTRO 2 which happened in December 2011 and February 2012 respectively. Collectively, these moves resulted in EU financial entities and nations dumping over €1 trillion in sovereign bonds onto the ECB’s balance sheet.

Quite a bit of this was Greek debt as everyone in Europe knew that Greece was totally bankrupt.    FULL STORY

This Is What Happens When You Call The Cops

Video Of The Day – This Is What Happens When You Call The Cops

 Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/05/2014 21:29 -0500

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-12-05/video-day-–-what-happens-when-you-call-cops 

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

 

In a healthy, moral and civilized society defined by the rule of law, police can play an important role. They should be people who come from the communities they promise to “protect and serve.” They should view themselves as a part of these communities, not as something separate and distinct. Police should see their jobs as having a great degree of risk, and must be willing to accept that risk. This means not pretending to be a solider at war, not choosing the most violent solution to every problem, and not viewing the citizenry as milk cows ready and willing to be drained of their assets via civil forfeiture.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the state of the police in America in 2014, and it’s quickly becoming obvious to everyone. Ferguson was a key moment in this awakening, when white pundits and others typically confined to less distraught communities, witnessed the militarized police in all its SWAT team horror for the first time. In the piece, “A Good Time Was Had By All” – The Obamas Dance the Night Away as Ferguson, Missouri Burns, I wrote:

 I believe Ferguson will be seen as a major turning point. The point in which many well-intentioned, but incredibly naive folks in white mainstream America woke up to what we have become. Many people, particularly those in the media, have been willfully ignorant about the destruction of freedom and civil liberties in America. The events in Ferguson have taken a gigantic mirror and successfully pointed it squarely at our civil society and the image it has reflected back is one of a horrific, militarized, authoritarian monster.

Many people have strongly condemned the failure of a grand jury to indict officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown, but a far more disturbing failure occurred yesterday. This relates to a case from my hometown of NYC, where a cop was caught strangling an unarmed man to death in broad daylight for the non-crime of selling untaxed cigarettes. The man’s name was Eric Garner and the entire incident was caught on tape. It’s absolutely horrifying that the cops were not indicted here, and proves that like bankers, the profession is completely above the law.

I know, I know, where’s the proof? Well here’s some from FiveThirtyEight:

 A St. Louis County grand jury decided Monday that police officer Darren Wilson will not face trial for shooting and killing unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Grand juries usually return indictments; the one exception is cases involving police shootings. But more than that, police shootings, and allegations of police misconduct in general, almost never make it in front of a grand jury. And officers rarely face legal consequences for allegations of misconduct. 

This chart from the site pretty much sums it up. Read it and weep.

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 10.43.43 AM

Rather than giving cops the “benefit of the doubt,” I would argue that, if anything, police should be held to a higher standard. This is because once the general population starts to lose trust in cops things can get very nasty, very quickly. This trust is important and it needs to be based on reality, not propaganda.

To understand how absurd the lack of an indictment is in the Garner case specifically, the Huffington Post notes:

 Grand juries are meant to determine only whether there is “probable cause” to indict a criminal suspect — a standard far lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard that comes into play when deciding guilt at trial. Federal prosecutors secured indictments in more than 99.9 percent of the 162,000 cases they brought before grand juries in 2010. But in Missouri and New York, two grand juries decided that even that low hurdle had not been surmounted. 

How you can watch that video and not see probable cause is simply beyond me.

With that in mind, watch the following powerful video: This Is What Happens When You Call the Cops

The video highlighted several cases that I’ve written about here at Liberty Blitzkrieg.

Here’s a refresher:

Baby Bou Bou: 19-Month-Old Toddler in Critical Condition After Cops Throw Flash Bang Grenade into Playpen

James Boyd: Rebellion in the USA – Protesters Take Over Albuquerque City Council and Attempt to Arrest Police Chief

David Eckert: How a Routine Traffic Stop in New Mexico Turned into a Nightmare of Torture for David Eckert

*Photo at the top from the New York Daily News.

 

 

The Stealing Of America By The Cops, The Courts, The Corporations And Congress

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

 “What the government is good at is collecting taxes, taking away your freedoms and killing people. It’s not good at much else.” —Author Tom Clancy

Call it what you will—taxes, penalties, fees, fines, regulations, tariffs, tickets, permits, surcharges, tolls, asset forfeitures, foreclosures, etc.—but the only word that truly describes the constant bilking of the American taxpayer by the government and its corporate partners is theft.

We’re operating in a topsy-turvy Sherwood Forest where instead of Robin Hood and his merry band of thieves stealing from the rich to feed the poor, you’ve got the government and its merry band of corporate thieves stealing from the poor to fatten the wallets of the rich. In this way, the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. All the while, the American Dream of peace, prosperity, and liberty has turned into a nightmare of endless wars, debilitating debt, and outright tyranny.

What Americans don’t seem to comprehend is that if the government can arbitrarily take away your property, without your having much say about it, you have no true rights. You’re nothing more than a serf or a slave.

In this way, the police state with all of its trappings—from surveillance cameras, militarized police, SWAT team raids, truancy and zero tolerance policies, asset forfeiture laws, privatized prisons and red light cameras to Sting Ray guns, fusion centers, drones, black boxes, hollow-point bullets, detention centers, speed traps and abundance of laws criminalizing otherwise legitimate conduct—is little more than a front for a high-dollar covert operation aimed at laundering as much money as possible through government agencies and into the bank accounts of corporations.

The rationalizations for the American police state are many. There’s the so-called threat of terrorism, the ongoing Drug War, the influx of illegal immigrants, the threat of civil unrest in the face of economic collapse, etc. However, these rationalizations are merely excuses for the growth of a government behemoth, one which works hand in hand with corporations to profit from a society kept under lockdown and in fear at all times.

Indeed, as I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, the real motivating factor behind erecting a police state is not to protect the people, but to further enrich the powerful. Consider the following costly line items, all part of the government’s so-called quest to keep us safe and fight terrorism while entrenching the police state, enriching the elite, and further shredding our constitutional rights:

 $4.2 billion for militarized police. Almost 13,000 agencies in all 50 states and four U.S. territories participate in a military “recycling” program which allows the Defense Department to transfer surplus military hardware to local and state police. In 2012 alone, $546 million worth of military equipment was distributed to law enforcement agencies throughout the country.

$34 billion for police departments to add to their arsenals of weapons and equipment.Since President Obama took office, police departments across the country “have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.” While police departments like to frame the acquisition of military surplus as a money-saving method, in a twisted sort of double jeopardy, the taxpayer ends up footing a bigger bill. First, taxpayers are forced to pay millions of dollars for equipment which the Defense Department purchases from megacorporations only to abandon after a few years. Then taxpayers find themselves footing the bill to maintain the costly equipment once it has been acquired by the local police.

$6 billion in assets seized by the federal government in one year alone. Relying on the topsy-turvy legal theory that one’s property can not only be guilty of a crime but is also guilty until proven innocent, government agencies have eagerly cashed in on the civil asset forfeiture revenue scheme, which allows police to seize private property they “suspect” may be connected to criminal activity. Then whether or not any crime is actually proven to have taken place, the cops keeps the citizen’s property. Eighty percent of these asset forfeiture cases result in no charge against the property owner. Some states are actually considering expanding the use of asset forfeiture laws to include petty misdemeanors. This would mean that property could be seized in cases of minor crimes such as harassment, possession of small amounts of marijuana, and trespassing in a public park after dark.

$11,000 per hour for a SWAT team raid on a government dissident. The raid was carried out against Terry Porter, a Maryland resident who runs a welding business, is married with three kids, is outspoken about his views of the government, and has been labeled a prepper because he has an underground bunker and food supplies in case things turn apocalyptic. The raiding team included “150 Maryland State Police, FBI, State Fire Marshal’s bomb squad and County SWAT teams, complete with two police helicopters, two Bearcat ‘special response’ vehicles, mobile command posts, snipers, police dogs, bomb disposal truck, bomb sniffing robots and a huge excavator. They even brought in food trucks.”

$3.8 billion requested by the Obama administration to send more immigration judges to the southern border, build additional detention camps and add border patrol agents. Border Patrol agents are already allowed to search people’s homes, intimately probe their bodies, and rifle through their belongings, all without a warrant. As one journalist put it, “The surveillance apparatus is in your face. The high-powered cameras are pointed at you; the drones are above you; you’re stopped regularly at checkpoints and interrogated.” For example, an American citizen entering the U.S. from Mexico was subjected to a full-body cavity search in which she was subjected to a variety of invasive procedures, including an observed bowel movement and a CT scan, all because a drug dog jumped on her when she was going through border security. Physicians found no drugs hidden in her body.

$61 billion for the Department of Homeland Security, one of the most notoriously bloated government agencies ever created. The third largest federal agency behind the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, the DHS—with its 240,000 full-time workers and sub-agencies—has been aptly dubbed a “runaway train.”

$80 billion spent on incarceration by the states and the federal government in 2010.While providing security, housing, food, medical care, etc., for six million Americans is a hardship for cash-strapped states, it’s a gold mine to profit-hungry corporations such as Corrections Corp of America and GEO Group, the leaders in the partnership corrections industry. Thus, with an eye toward increasing its bottom line, CCA has floated a proposal to prison officials in 48 states offering to buy and manage public prisons at a substantial cost savings to the states. In exchange, the prisons would have to contain at least 1,000 beds and states would have to maintain a 90% occupancy rate for at least 20 years. This has led to the phenomenon of overcriminalization of everyday activities, in which mundane activities such as growing vegetables in your yard or collecting rainwater on your property are criminalized, resulting in jail sentences for individuals who might otherwise have never seen the inside of a jail cell.

$6.4 billion a year for the Bureau of Prisons and $30,000 a year to house an inmate.There are over 3,000 people in America serving life sentences for non-violent crimes. These include theft of a jacket, siphoning gasoline from a truck, stealing tools, and attempting to cash a stolen check. Most of the non-violent offenses which triggered life sentences were drug crimes involving trace amounts of heroin and cocaine. One person imprisoned for life was merely a go-between for an undercover officer buying ten dollars’ worth of marijuana. California has more money devoted to its prison system than its system of education. State spending on incarceration is the fastest growing budget item besides Medicaid.

93 cents an hour for forced, prison labor in service to for-profit corporations such as Starbucks, Microsoft, Walmart, and Victoria’s Secret. What this forced labor scheme has created, indirectly or not, is a financial incentive for both the corporations and government agencies to keep the prisons full to capacity. A good portion of the 2 million prisoners in public facilities are forced to work for corporations, making products on the cheap, undermining free laborers, and increasing the bottom line for many of America’s most popular brands. “Prison labor reportedly produces 100 percent of military helmets, shirts, pants, tents, bags, canteens, and a variety of other equipment. Prison labor makes circuit boards for IBM, Texas Instruments, and Dell. Many McDonald’s uniforms are sewn by inmates. Other corporations—Microsoft, Victoria’s Secret, Boeing, Motorola, Compaq, Revlon, and Kmart—also benefit from prison labor.”

$2.6 million pocketed by Pennsylvania judges who were paid to jail youths and send them to private prison facilities. The judges, paid off by the Mid Atlantic Youth Service Corporation, which specializes in private prisons for juvenile offenders, had more than 5,000 kids come through their courtrooms and sent many of them to prison for petty crimes such as stealing DVDs from Wal-Mart and trespassing in vacant buildings.

$1.4 billion per year reportedly lost to truancy by California school districts, which receive government funding based on student attendance. The so-called “solution” to student absences from school has proven to be a financial windfall for cash-strapped schools, enabling them to rake in millions, fine parents up to $500 for each unexcused absence, with the potential for jail time, and has given rise to a whole new track in the criminal justice system devoted to creating new revenue streams for communities. For example, Eileen DiNino, a woman serving a two-day jail sentence for her children’s truancy violations, died while in custody. She is one of hundreds of people jailed in Pennsylvania over their inability to pay fines related to truancy, which include a variety of arbitrary fees meant to rack up money for the courts. For example, “[DiNino’s] bill included a laundry list of routine fees: $8 for a “judicial computer project”; $60 for Berks constables; $40 for “summary costs” for several court offices; and $10 for postage.” So even if one is charged with a $20 fine, they may end up finding themselves on the hook for $150 in court fees.

$84.9 million collected in one year by the District of Columbia as a result of tickets issued by speeding and traffic light cameras stationed around the city. Multiply that income hundreds of times over to account for the growing number of localities latching onto these revenue-generating, photo-enforced camera schemes, and you’ll understand why community governments and police agencies are lining up in droves to install them, despite reports of wide scale corruption by the companies operating the cameras. Although nine states have banned the cameras, they’re in 24 states already and rising.

$1.4 billion for fusion centers. These fusion centers, which represent the combined surveillance and intelligence efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement, have proven to be exercises in incompetence, often producing irrelevant, useless or inappropriate intelligence, while spending millions of dollars on “flat-screen televisions, sport utility vehicles, hidden cameras and other gadgets.”

In sum, the American police state is a multi-billion dollar boondoggle, meant to keep the property and the resources of the American people flowing into corrupt government agencies and their corporate partners. For those with any accounting ability, it’s clear that the total sum of the expenses being charged to the American taxpayer’s account by the government add up to only one thing: the loss of our freedoms. It’s time to seriously consider a plan to begin de-funding this beast and keeping our resources where they belong: in our communities, working for us.

 

Plausible Denial aka The Cancer Of Leadership

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/24/2014 

Submitted by Mark St.Cyr,

No matter the headline, no matter the scandal, no matter how few or how many might be involved, one thing will become crystal clear: nobody that should have known – will have known.

There was a time when this art form of creating circumstances as to protect people of influence had its place and was used sparingly and tactfully. However, as of today both the frequency along with how and where it is used has gone from “useful ruse” to a downright childish alibi. No one seems to be accountable today. And I mean nobody!

The phrase plausible denial used to be a generic term with meaning given almost exclusively to the president for matters of state where an offer or position in a cabinet (or other such actions) if turned down by the recipient wouldn’t (or couldn’t) be used by the press as some bludgeoning tool where headlines might read: “Mr. or Mrs. Hornblower tells president to take the offer and stuff it.” This same inspired headline could be (or would be) used when difficult negotiations were taking place between foreign leaders. No one begrudged such use.

The plausible denial ruse is and continues to be an important tool. There is a time and a place for such a thing and sometimes it is the most prudent depending on circumstances. Yet, what we are currently witnessing is a far cry from what we’ve known before. Now everyone is using it. So much so it might be time to ask if this once tried and true tactic has “jumped the shark?”

Currently there seems to be numerous scandals (whether one agrees or disagrees) involving the political class. No matter the press conference, hearing rooms, and more, one thing has become apparent: No one knows anything, and no one was aware such problems existed. Even if they were directly responsible for the organization.

Anything and everything that may have transpired dubious in nature happened without their knowledge even though many of these same people were hired exclusively to fix said problems. Absolutely amazing.

This phenom is not something exclusive to the political class. No, no, far from it. This also permeates through our corporate culture where CEO’s and more seemingly have no clue that potentially illegal or at the least improper actions are taking place within their own corporate structure.

We watch, hear, or read CEO’s of banks take to the media to express outrage when it’s pointed out that their highly profitable (for some most) department or subsidiary is found to have been “cooking the books” or engaging in highly immoral or in complete disregard of fiduciary responsibilities.

Suddenly they are shocked. Shocked! That such could be taking place under their tutelage. A commanding statement is formulated that heads will roll. Yet, the only thing that seems to roll is what we all know rolls down hill. It never seems to be their fault even though that profit entry on the balance sheet was probably heralded on every conference call as to show why they deserve the millions upon millions of dollars in compensation.

I find it ironic how so many so-called “brilliant” CEO’s had no knowledge how these once “profit centers” were raking in that profit. Because now those very same “profits” are costing share holders Billions upon Billions of dollars for legal fines and penalties. Nobody at the C level cared to ask “How in the world are we able to be making this amount of money?”

Nope, they didn’t want to know it seems. And in days gone by that would be seen as a dereliction of duty by any C level executive worth their salt and worthy of dismissal. Today? It seems to be a badge of honor. i.e., They showed if a scandal breaks their fingers will be nowhere near it. That deserves a raise in compensation for if there’s one thing we want in out bankers is to show not only financial brilliance, but brilliance in skullduggery to boot!

Again this isn’t an isolated indecent to just a few sectors. It’s happening across nearly everything and everyone we come in contact with.

Companies farm out their production to countries where it is obvious to any business person that something is awry with how they can make a product so much cheaper than someone else. Forced labor, child labor, environmental disregards, illegal use of unsafe chemicals (just to name a few) are many times the underlying reasons why something can be produced so much cheaper. Yet, as long as they don’t ask – they didn’t know.

We’ll only know if someone gets sick, hurt, or worse – dies. Then we can go back to: “They didn’t know, but now since we do, they’ll change it.”

When something is known to cost $1.00 to produce even within competitive labor environments such as Asia. When someone states they can do it for not just less, but let’s say: a nickel. It has to set off bells all the way up the chain.

Those bells should be seen for what any business person worth their salt  instinctively recognizes them as: Alarm bells! Not bells signalling an all clear to raid the compensation pool.

Leadership is not something left to what many deem as the “elites” of society. No, leadership is something that starts with us and ends with all of  us. For one must remember the person at the top is only a person. And how that person conducts themself and takes ownership of their decisions and/or actions is no different from you or me. The only difference is the size of the stage.

Just imagine where we would be if the people responsible for giving and carrying out the orders to storm the beaches at Normandy played by the so-called accepted rules or premises shown by a great many today.

 

 

 

 

Media Consolidation

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/04/2014 09:53 -0400

In theory, the media is supposed to keep any given administration, even that of hope and change, “honest”, and to report its flaws, failings, criminality and hypocrisy. In practice, this never happens, since the bulk of US, and global, media outlets are owned by a handful of corporations which in turn do everything in their power to preserve the lucrative arrangement in which the administration pretends to administer, and the media pretends to do its job.

With this kind of informational near-monopoly, corporations – and the media – are far more interested in perpetuating the crony-capitalist status quo, which in conjunction with Wall Street’s bribery funding of the three branches of US government, has come to symbolize just how broken US governance has become.

For 364 days of the year, the theater that the press and the administration are on the opposite sides of the table, continues without a glitch. However, one day a year, during the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, the facade falls and Obama, together with his fawning press corps, have a night of laughs in an Oscar-inspired night of self-congratularoty excess. Which, just like every other night in Washington, is at the taxpayers’ expense.

Among the over 2000 “guests” enjoying the jokes were Jessica Simpson, Patrick Stewart, Matthew Morrison, Anna Chlumsky, Lindsey Vonn, Katharine McPhee, Jeremy Irvine, Lupita Nyong’o, Julianna Margulies, Sofia Vergara, Brad Paisley, Kevin Hart, Cynthia Nixon, Tim Tebow, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, J.C. Chasez, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Olivia Munn, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Fred Armisen, Richard Sherman and Harvey Weinstein.

The good news: the humor – written by others, of course – was good. Here are the highlights from last night’s festivities.

First, Obama’s punchlines reported by Reuters:

“In 2008 my slogan was, ‘Yes we can.’ In 2013, it was control-alt-delete,” Obama joked to an audience also studded with film and television stars.

“At one point, things got so bad the 47 percent called Mitt Romney to apologize,” he said, referring to 2012 presidential campaign scandal in which the Republican candidate was secretly taped saying that 47 percent of Americans have become reliant on government handouts.

The president highlighted some of the low points of his administration’s last year, dwelling on the disastrous rollout of the website for his landmark health insurance reform legislation.

“Of course we rolled out HealthCare.gov. That could have gone better,” he deadpanned.

Later he turned on Republican opponents in Congress who are clamoring to repeal the legislation despite higher than expected enrollment figures in the government health care exchanges: “How well does Obamacare have to work before you stop trying to repeal it?”

At the end of his speech, Obama turned the audience’s attention to a video monitor, which failed to work. Kathleen Sebelius, the health secretary who announced her resignation this month after overseeing the botched rollout of Obamacare, stepped to the podium to try to fix the technical glitch.

Obama also took a swipe at Republicans for blocking his bid to raise the minimum wage. “If you want to get paid for not working you should run for Congress just like everyone else,” he said.

In a self-deprecating crack at his own low popularity ratings, the president referred to his fellow Democrats not wanting to campaign with him for November congressional elections in a wistful joke involving one of his daughters: “I did notice the other day that Sasha needed a speaker for career day and she invited Bill Clinton.”

“Let’s face the facts, you’ll miss me when I’m gone,” Obama directed to the Fox News table. “It will be harder for you to convince Americans that Hillary was born in Kenya.”

Some more from  USA Today:

When McHale took over duties, he aimed straight at Obamacare’s launch.

“It was so bad!” he said from the stage. “I don’t even have an analogy, because the website is now an analogy that people use to describe other bad things. ‘Boy that latest Johnny Depp movie really healthcare.gov’d at the box office.’ ”

A few of McHale’s other best lines:

  • On Chris Christie: “I promise that tonight will be amusing and over quickly. Just like Chris Christie’s presidential bid.”
  • On Rob Ford: “Between Rob Ford, Justin Bieber and Ted Cruz, you just want to tell Canada, ‘Hey, hey, relax. We already have a Florida.’ “
  • On Hillary running for office: Hillary Clinton has a lot going for her as a candidate. She has experience, she’s a natural leader. And as our first female president, we could pay her 30% less! That’s a saving this country could use. Who’s with me??”
  • On Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy: “In nine months we will officially have a sequel to Bad Grandpa.”