Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pity the Children

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For the United States, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be over soon. We will leave behind, after our defeats, wreckage and death, the contagion of violence and hatred, unending grief, and millions of children who were brutalized and robbed of their childhood. Americans who did not suffer will forget. People maimed physically or psychologically by the violence, especially the Iraqi and Afghan children, will never escape. Time and memory will play their usual tricks. Those who endured war will begin to wonder, years from now, what was real and what was not. And those who did not taste of war’s noxious poison will stop wondering at all.

I sat last Thursday afternoon in a small conference room at the University of Massachusetts Boston with three U.S. combat veterans—two from the war in Iraq, one from the war in Vietnam—along with a Somali who grew up amid the vicious fighting in Mogadishu. All are poets or novelists. They were there to attend a two-week writers workshop sponsored by the William Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences. It is their voices and those of their comrades that have to be heeded now, and heeded in the future, if we are to curb our appetite for empire and lust for industrial violence. The truth about war comes out, but always too late. And by the time the drums begin beating, the flags waving and the politicians and press hyperventilating as they shout out their nationalist cant, once again we have forgotten what we learned, as if the debacles of the past had no bearing on the debacles of the future.

Joshua Morgan Folmar, 29, a bearded Marine Corps veteran from Alabama who participated in 200 combat patrols in Iraq, sat next to me. He handed me his poem “Contemplating the Cotard Delusion on the Downeaster to Boston.” It begins:

Maybe I’m a walking corpse, or maybe I’m in a coma in

Germany, or Walter Reed, sucking MREs

through plastic tubes, while a few children in Haditha pick up bone

shards from the explosion and trade them like card games for chocolate.

My head droops against the window: face reflecting broken

limbs and stagnant water, blurring against the train’s scratched safety

glass. And somewhere out there is my last combat patrol. And somewhere out there, my dead friends are waiting.
Brian Turner, 47, who was a sergeant and infantry team leader in the 3rd Stryker Brigade in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, wrote poems in a small notebook he carried while he was there. They were published in a collection called “Here, Bullet” (Alice James Books). One lament, called “Ashbah” (a transliteration of the Arabic word for “ghosts”), reads:

The ghosts of American soldiers

Wander the streets of Balad by night,

Unsure of their way home, exhausted,

The desert wind blowing trash

Down the narrow alleys as a voice

Sounds from the minaret, a soulful call

Reminding them how alone they are,

how lost. And the Iraqi dead,

they watch in silence from rooftops

as date palms line the shore in silhouette,

leaning toward Mecca when the dawn wind blows.
None of these veterans are at ease in America. They never will be.

“I live in a country that is so wealthy we can wage wars and not have to think about them,” Turner said. “It is a pathology handed down from generation to generation. We talk about our military. We use words like ‘heroism.’ But when will we start to care about people whose names are difficult to pronounce? The list of people lost is so vast. How do I write about this and share it in a country that does not want to hear it? We want narratives that are easy and complete, ones we can process. We want wars to be recorded the way historians or people who make tombstones in cemeteries do. They give us the start, the duration and end of the war. But for those of us who were in war it does not end. If you talk to my grandfather in Fresno, Calif., at some point during the day you will be in the presence of World War II.”

Combat brings with it trauma for those who inflict the violence as well as those who suffer it. See a lot of combat and the trauma is severe. But the worst trauma is often caused not by what combat veterans witnessed but by what they did. The most disturbing memories usually involve children. War creates bands of ragged, poor, dirty street urchins. The bands wander about the edges of a conflict looking for something to eat. They pick through the garbage dumps. They line the sides of roads begging convoys for food or chocolate. They attempt to sell a few pathetic items to make money. In Iraq they offered American troops “freaky”—the slang for European porn videos—whiskey or heroin (Turner said he doubted there was heroin in the packets). The children lived in fear. They saw their parents, brothers, sisters and grandparents publicly humiliated by occupation troops. They cowered in terror during night raids as troops kicked down the doors of their houses and herded them and their families into rooms where they were made to sit, sometimes for hours, with their arms bound behind their backs with plastic ties. They warily eyed the drones circling overhead day and night, never sure when death would rain down from the sky. They saw brothers and fathers killed. They dreamed of growing up to revenge their deaths.

Children threw rocks at convoys or patrols. They worked as spotters for insurgents and at times they carried automatic weapons. And in the long nightmare of a war of occupation, where every Afghan or Iraqi outside the perimeter of a base was viewed as the enemy, it was not long until children were targets. Soldiers and Marines often threw the bottles they used for urination inside their vehicles at children begging for water along the road.

Folmar said that on occasion children fired air guns at his patrols. The Americans were unable to tell if these were toy guns or real guns and carried out confiscations to avoid killings.

“We would go to shop owners to say, ‘Please don’t sell these,’ ” he said. “One day this kid comes out and shoots at us. We yell “Hey!” This scares him. We take the gun out of his hand. The father comes up. He is trying to figure out what is going on. We don’t have an interpreter. I was a radio operator and was usually next to my squad leader so I was to be the Arabic translator, which is hilarious because I only had two or three weeks of training. Through hand gestures and a little Arabic I tried to explain to the father why we had to take this gun away. We did not want his kid to die. If it were dark we would not know if that was [an air] gun or not. The father did not understand. I don’t blame him. I had crappy Arabic. My squad leader was exhausted and pissed. He pulled out his M9 service pistol and put it in the father’s face. He said, ‘Do you understand this?’ ”

Children threw rocks into the windshields of passing trucks. This was a persistent problem that caused some U.S. troops to answer with live fire.

“Kids would run out and throw rocks at us,” Turner said. “We were going 35 or 40 miles an hour. A rock hits you like that and you can be damaged for life. One of those kids smashed the windshield of one of the freight trucks. It jackknifed, flipped and the driver died in about 90 seconds. I remember hearing over the radio some higher-up saying, ‘You are authorized to shoot children.’ ”

The schizophrenic nature of the war meant that on some days children were to be courted and on other days threatened. The children could never tell how troops would respond.

“The rules of engagement constantly changed,” Folmar said. On some days it was shoot anything in sight. Then it would be about hearts and minds. Giving out chocolate. Giving stuff to schools that were blown to bits. We would carry candy. Then the next week the kids would scream ‘Chocolate! Chocolate!” and we would have been told to keep the kids away.”

“We were on patrol and I was pegged by a rock on the head,” Folmar said. “The father comes out of nowhere and starts whacking the shit out of this kid. We were all laughing. But later on I thought what kind of world must you live in where the father is beating the crap out of his son? It was partly out of respect. But it was also about recognizing that your kid can be killed for throwing a rock.”

“There was this point where we really started, I don’t want to say hating the children, but we were exasperated,” said Folmar, who emphasizes that he never saw Americans shoot a child during his deployment. “We became cynical. There became a moment where we realized we were stuck in it. That what we were doing was just creating a new generation that would hate each other. It never got to the point where anyone in my unit said let’s just kill them, but there became a moment when we all felt ‘What is the point?’ We were making them mad. They are going to hate us. It’s just going to continue.”

Folmar said that when U.S. troops inspected trucks at checkpoints many of the vehicles were carrying corpses to be buried and it was not uncommon to see corpses of children. “It was a regular thing,” he said.

The war in Vietnam had many of the same dynamics, with the added abuse of thousands of girls who populated brothels that sprang up outside the vast military bases and in cities like Saigon. George Kovach, 66, the third combat veteran in our group last Thursday, was wounded in Vietnam with a friend from his unit. When they were being evacuated by helicopter his friend died next to him. Forty years later he says he still fights off depression and thoughts of suicide.

“I remember soldiers chucking C-ration cans at the heads of children—I know I did, and sometimes it was worse,” he said. “There were lots of kids that were camp followers. In Vietnam these kids would point you out [to the Viet Cong]. When we left on patrol we were always worried the kids would report our movements.”

People who carry weapons and travel with armed units have a terrifying God-like power to humiliate, to demand instant and unquestioned obedience and to kill. Those who do not carry weapons live in states of unrelenting terror and powerlessness. The powerless often seek to become invisible, avoiding contact with the hydra-headed groups of killers that roam the landscape and speak in the language of violence.

Boyah J. Farah, 36, endured the war in Somalia as a teenager with his mother. He was the oldest of five siblings. During our Boston meeting he listened in silence to the stories of the military veterans, remembering, he said, what it was like to be on the other side of the divide. He quoted an African proverb: “When the elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.”

“Militia would come into the city and take everything,” Farah said. “Then that militia would be defeated. A new militia would come in. Each militia that came in was hungry, hungry to steal, hungry to rape. They would take everything, including our small amount of rice. If there were food on the stove they would take it. As soon as you thought you had adapted, new militias appeared.”

Turner turned to Farah. “I used to kick in people’s doors,” he said to him. “My job was to do raids night after night after night. I wonder about this now. And this is difficult for me to write about. I can write about what it is like to kick in a door. But ... I wonder about the kids that were in some of those houses. When the war is over do you feel comfortable in your own house? Do you feel safe?”

Farah shook his head. “Once you go through that experience it never goes away,” he answered. “It is like the experience you had [in combat]. I came here [to the United States] in 1993. I never feel completely safe. I never get used to the Fourth of July. As soon as I hear the boom sound [of the fireworks] the war comes. Even the bang of a door brings it back.”

“I escaped,” Farah said. “I got educated. I came to a country at peace. But most of my friends did not make it to a peaceful country. They remained behind. And those left behind lived only for revenge. When I was in the refugee camp in Kenya I heard my friend, whose father was killed, pray out loud and say: ‘God, I don’t know what you have planned for me. But I am going back and kill 100 men.’ He was 16 or 17. I am sure he went back. I am sure he killed. I doubt he is alive.”

None of this is what these veterans or children wanted. They wanted, and continue to want, what we were created for—love. And the battle with the demons of war is the battle back to what is sacred and whole in life. Some will make it. Many will not.

“The hardest thing to write about is love,” Turner said. “It comes across as sappy. This inability to write about love is part of the pathology of war. Writing about war is easy. War is addictive. I am drawn to that sort of frenetic experience. But what I want is love. I want to write poems for my wife. But when I try they are not good.”

Folmar voiced a similar thought. “I understand violence,” he said. “I can put it on a page. I can do it well. But it is the love that I can’t do. How am I supposed to write about love? Especially when I have these other things to write about. My wife asked me, ‘You write about all these sad things. When are you going to write about me?’ I have to get the other stuff out first. I am hoping I will get it out. I am hoping it will go away.”

America’s paramilitary police

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Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) published a report, War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing, which provides a chilling account of the role of the US military in arming “paramilitary police” squads throughout the country.

SWAT teams are now routinely deployed for regular police work—including the serving of warrants for nonviolent offenses. Raids by SWAT teams, typically carried out in the dead of night, often involve the use of military stun grenades, the wanton destruction of property, the killing of household pets, and, with increasing regularity, the deaths of “suspects” and their family members, including children. More than one hundred and twenty such raids take place in America every day.

Constitutional protections, including the prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, are ignored with the now ubiquitous use of “no-knock” warrants.

A series of federal government programs have been set up to encourage the militarization of local police forces. The motto of one Defense Department program, which has transferred more than $4.3 billion in military hardware to police departments, sums up the intent: “From war fighter to crime fighter.” In other words, the tactics of military aggression abroad are being employed for domestic repression.

A shocking amount of military equipment has been recommissioned for use in the United States, without any political discussion or oversight. SWAT teams have been equipped with 500 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, which can withstand roadside bombs and are capable of mounting heavy machine guns and automatic grenade launchers. They have been provisioned with combat uniforms, night-vision goggles, sniper and assault rifles, belt-fed machine guns and military helicopters, including the infamous Black Hawk and Huey.

The militarization of domestic policing is one symptom of a deeply dysfunctional society. While the political establishment never loses the opportunity to declare there is no money for social needs—education, pensions, health care, nutrition—billions of dollars are made available to equip the police with the latest instruments of violence.

In the United States, every social problem is treated as a police matter. The United States imprisons more people than all other developed countries combined. This monstrous system, which sweeps up hundreds of thousands of people every year, is crowned by the continuing practice of capital punishment, which is banned throughout the rest of the developed world.

Police increasingly believe, with good reason, that they can act with impunity. Recent months have seen a spate of police killings. Those that happen to have been caught on video—like the March shooting of a homeless man in Albuquerque, New Mexico—have provoked widespread popular outrage. But such acts are regular occurrences in the United States.

The United States bears more and more the character of a garrison state. The border regions of the country have been turned into de facto military zones, where constitutional rights are a dead letter. Military drones have already made their appearance in American skies, and plans are in place for their much more widespread utilization. There is a concerted effort to accustom the American people to the presence of police and soldiers armed to the teeth—at airports, train stations, schools, sports stadiums, etc.

Militarized police are part of a massive state apparatus that operates largely outside of any legal or democratic supervision and tramples on the population’s constitutional and democratic rights every day. Domestic policing is increasingly integrated with the array of NSA spying programs that monitor the movements, communications and intimate personal details of the population.

The militarization of American society was most graphically revealed in the lockdown of Boston last year in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings—in which the city’s residents were told to “shelter in place” as squads of police in combat fatigues, armed with assault rifles, conducted house-to-house searches. This event—and the subsequent state murder of Ibragim Todashev—have passed without a note of protest from within the political establishment or media.

The buildup of an apparatus of mass repression is bound up with unrestrained military violence and extreme social inequality. Abroad, the American ruling class is in a state of permanent war. The invasion of country after country in the pursuit of the interests of the financial aristocracy cannot but reverberate at home.

The wars are carried out by a gigantic military apparatus—funded to the tune of $1 trillion a year—that has no more respect for the democratic rights of the population of the United States than it does for the populations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or Syria. And presiding over the entire edifice is a president who is a self-acknowledged killer, having systematically planned and overseen the drone missile murder of at least four American citizens, in addition to thousands of others.

Plunder abroad has been accompanied by plunder at home. While the median household income plunged by 8 percent between 2007 and 2012, the wealth of the super-rich has more than doubled since 2009. The financial oligarchy that dominates American society derives its wealth largely through criminal and semi-criminal activities, including the types of speculation, fraud, and parasitism that led to the 2008 financial meltdown.

The creation of the framework of a police state in the United States reflects a ruling class that lives in perpetual fear over the preservation of its wealth and privilege. It is well aware that its policies— foreign and domestic—are creating mass hostility to its rule.

Today’s Oligarch Curtain of Lies, Theft, Death and Destruction Are Exposed As Never Before

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In psychology our belief system shapes our perceptions of the world around us, in fact becoming our very sense of reality. Our primary caregivers, most often our parents, project their view of us and their world onto us and we in turn internalize their views as our own sense of developing self and world view. In this last century the influence of mass media has also come to increasingly shape our world and self-concept. As adolescents and young adults we often change and modify our perceptions of the world based on our own interpersonal experience particularly with peers and movement to finding resonance with a more authentic, individuated self in relation to our surrounding world. But with time and more adult experience often comes an existential dilemma and/or crisis if and when we encounter growing dissonance between what we thought we knew and changing reality input increasingly at odds with our old world view.

Currently in America and many places throughout the world many of us are undergoing a fundamental change in our belief system as we come to realize what we have been taught as reality turns out anything but. Many of us on the planet are currently undergoing a mind-altering, transformative shift in how we view life and our world, in effect causing a simultaneous global shift of belief amongst a sizeable portion of the earth’s population. An unprecedented shift is moving away from what we humans have traditionally and historically been told is the truth to a state of mounting disbelief, skepticism and doubt in what our political leaders, mainstream media and educational systems have been feeding us since we were young. Today more and more people around the globe are waking up to the new emerging reality and insight that what we have historically been taught, socialized and raised to believe politically as the truth is but a crock of outright bullshit.

Trends and polls in recent years have documented this shift in world view consciousness, consistently showing a growing distrust toward the federal government in both the US and Europe. The Edelman poll from January this year found that nearly two out of three Americans distrust their government and the Reason-Rupe poll from April 2014 indicates three out of four Americans believe their politicians are corrupt. Last October Pew Research Center discovered that more than four out of five Americans do not trust their own government either at all or most of the time, a near all time high level for measuring government distrust.

Declaring results from last month’s parliamentary election a complete and utter failure for the European Union to become “the next United States of Europe,” (as European Commission Vice

President Viviane Reding refers to her EU government), a surging backlash of vehement anti-EU voters from all over Europe sent fringe elements from both the left and right to Brussels with the specific agenda to get rid of the European Union once and for all. The voters’ ire was heard from the stagnant economy of France and austerity-wary Greece, through Denmark all the way to Britain. A strong push for Ireland to opt out of the EU is in process. Many residents in especially southern Europe hit hardest with severe austerity measures imposed by powerful Germany are blaming the continental government. Oil-rich Scotland is even leading a separatist movement seeking independence from Britain. Many Europeans expressed contempt for big government that they blame for high unemployment and failed policies deemed unresponsive to meeting their localized needs. Beyond the US and Europe, more citizens around the globe are growing angrier with their elected officials, realizing politicians’ priority is to serve the needs of their oligarch puppet master over the needs of their own people.

Similar negative sentiments toward mainstream media also represent an across the boards distrust toward corporatized media coverage of world events. Recently more people are seeking alternative online news sources for their information in response to growing public awareness that corporate media has become a mere extension of the government as its chief propagandist disinformation outlet. Even such traditionally prestigious and reputable newspapers like the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal are now regarded as in-bed, embedded journalism fused with the government. As such, last year’s June Gallup poll indicated that a whopping 80% of Americans aged 21 to 64 find mainstream media lacks credibility. All these results reflect a growing trend that an increasing segment of both the US and global population has come to believe and accept that they are systematically and regularly lied to and misinformed by their corrupt leaders in both government as well as corporate media.

As products of their social and cultural environments, humans raised in the West have been victims of a massive global brainwash forced into a world of duplicitous dualism to “choose” sides, of course choosing the political side of their own nation, culture, ethnicity and/or religion, conned into automatically accepting that their nation/culture/religion is far more righteous and superior in comparison to others on the opposing side.

Since World War II those of us in North America have been dished the demonized view of Communist nations Russia and China, and now with cold war part two in full swing, they have come full circle again at our so called enemies. Then after the fall of the Soviet empire, and the 9/11 neocon false flag attack, came the new US manufactured villain Osama bin Laden and his band of evil bad guys, the al Qaeda terrorist network. Always those who appear most foreign and different from us are deemed the bad guys of the world.

Fortunately over time this oversimplified, black and white rerun version of the world has been challenged and exposed as jingoistic bias and distortion of how our complicated world actually is. Many of us have intuitively known all along that as members of the same human species, the striking similarities of our common human nature that bind us together far outweigh whatever differences in culture, skin color, nationality, political ideology, global region or religion. What many of us are increasingly realizing both here in America as well as in other nations around the globe is that we have been purposely and methodically lied to and manipulated for a very long time. The education system in America is more about socializing, programming and brainwashing young people into becoming obedient, mindless, robotic adults than learning any real truth or learning to cultivate and use their critical faculties to seek the truth amidst the world of illusion.

This “us versus them,” “you’re either with us or against us” dichotomy has been forever used as an artificial manmade device to separate humans into an in-group versus out-group duality. Unfortunately it has been operating nonstop ever since cavemen first emerged from their caves and encountered other human tribes. Through human migration and modern technology of air travel and most recently internet travel, more than any time prior in man’s relative short history on earth, Canadian communications philosopher Marshall McLuhan’s concept of the world seen as a “global village” has shrunk the earth into a here and now everyday accepted reality.

As a result, in recent years the world view of nations and continents has become somewhat more homogenized, made more accessible by mass media technology that transcends both geography and culture. Learning and communicating with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds have brought the world closer. That said, conversely the earth today is geopolitically moving rapidly toward more fragmented polarization, driven by a single globalization economy owned, controlled and operated by a global oligarchy. Its perverse vision of a New World Order currently has much of the global population brainwashed to fear, mistrust, hate and kill each other with unparalleled potential. But not all of us are being fooled by such divisively spun projections from a shadowy elite madly pulling their deceptive spin levers cloaked behind their gold curtain. An honest look at what is actually happening now around the world exposes the oligarch agenda to purposely increase worldwide tension, division and conflict.

Last February’s notorious power grabbing political coup pulled off by the US in Ukraine installing a weak, corrupt and vicious fascist government certainly was no accident. Neither was the IMF loan immediately slapped on the Ukrainian people. Neither is the current civil war raging in eastern Ukraine where government forces are committing war atrocities and ethnic cleansing against a majority population of ethnic Russians. Nor for that matter is the ongoing political crisis occurring this entire year long in Venezuela a mere random accident.

By carefully orchestrated design, the US-EU-NATO alliance is obediently carrying out the oligarch high command to destabilize, polarize and militarize every continent on earth, pitting regional adversaries against each other in a global offensive with the West jabbing and baiting the East into military conflict from the Arctic to every corner of the globe. Right now in Asia tensions are mounting between China and North Korea on the one side and on the other US allied neighbors Japan, South Korea, Philippines and Vietnam where a new US naval base is planned.

Then there is the perennial hotbed of a mess exploding right now in the Middle East. The same war pattern has been raging in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. And with covert predator drone operations likewise going on for years in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, the US is extending its imperialistic military foothold and hegemony further south with Special Operations stretching deep into Sub-Saharan Africa.

For well over three years Washington has been using US taxpayer dollars to arm, bankroll and train al Qaeda extremist militants throughout the Middle East and Africa to fight as its proxy mercenaries against Syrian leader Assad’s government forces as an obvious precursor to launching war against Syria’s foremost ally Iran. Obama just pledged another half billion dollars in arms to those same al Qaeda rebels in Syria.

But recently with the Syrian army gaining the upper hand, Washington made the decision to seek yet another regime change in Iraq, sending the so called Islamic Soldiers of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) sweeping downward from Syria into Iraq, taking over every major city in that country except the Shiite stronghold in the capital Baghdad. A major bloodbath awaits as the sectarian civil war America created years ago shifts into bloody regime-change overdrive. The US is guilty of backing both opposing sides in Iraq, ISIS and its weak Maliki puppet government, not unlike how oligarchs back both Republicans and Democrats using the old, highly effective, deceptive divide and conquer strategy.

Of course a similar situation in Afghanistan has the Taliban enemy controlling most of the nation’s territory, waiting six more months for US troops to withdraw by the end of the year. The 9800 US designated soldiers left behind will supposedly be in an advisory role for the Afghan National Army. The US war on drugs has bolstered the pockets of both the US drug smuggling operation as well as raising millions of dollars for the Taliban cause that controls the poppy field heroin production. The current undoing of ten years of costly American war and occupation of Iraq will more than likely be replicated in Afghanistan in 2015 as the surging Taliban will then be closing in on the capital Kabul.

In the meantime, virtually every other so called Arab spring CIA-Special Ops-induced regime change has been disastrous for the native populations. For example, in Egypt a third US supported government is run by an over-the-top, oppressive military dictatorship. Meanwhile, the US has created a highly chaotic, lawless, and violent failed state now in Libya. The oligarch planetary vision of destabilizing every Third World nation on earth is currently working according to plan now at an accelerated pace.

In recent decades America has moved from a corporatized pseudo-democracy to a full fledge oligarchy where oligarchs owning the most powerful transnational corporations have merged with virtually all national governments, regardless of ideology and culture. More than ever these days, money buys power. No longer does the US President, the US Congress, nor the US Supreme Court represent the interests of the American people but as hand-picked players operating within a corrupt oligarchy, they are all beholding to the powerbrokers that have made them their political puppets in charge of doing their evil bidding. As such, virtually all of the key political players today are treasonous traitors guilty of betraying the US Constitution that under oath they all swore to protect and uphold, and also betraying US citizens for failing to represent the very people who voted them into power.

Through the process of globalization and privatization, a parallel process to America has been unfolding with nearly every nation and national government on every continent on earth. Deploying US-EU-NATO power, the oligarchs have had their way with all governments. Thus the people on this planet have little to no say or power over their lives since a morally bankrupt global economic system of indentured servitude and slavery keep people drowning in insurmountable debt. These days people find themselves working longer and harder for less money just to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table for their families. However, in this growing era of severe global austerity and impoverishment, increasing pressures of providing for their families have too many people barely able to survive, and regretfully many around the globe are not.

Mounting inequality and disparity between the rich and poor are also accelerating to unprecedented levels globally. The elite 1% of oligarchs and their power-broking stewards continue growing exceedingly richer at the expense of the rest of us have-nots on the planet. War, poverty and illness are becoming the new normal far beyond Third World nations. EU countries throughout southern Europe as well as the US are on an ominous fast track to economic collapse. Led by cold war enemies and strongest BRICS nations Russia and China, a growing international movement is afoot to dump the US dollar as the standard international currency, which amounts to an approaching fiscal cliff for America.

Over 40% and rising of America’s adult working age population have not been working when the real unemployment rate include the growing masses who stopped looking for jobs that no longer exist for them. During the last couple decades, mothers as single parents have been struggling to raise America’s children, for the first time replacing the two parent nuclear family as head of household majority. More than half of US adults up to age 25 still live with their parents. But due to increasing financial necessity, a growing trend of even older adults and their children are being forced to move back in with parents at never before seen rates. US college students and young graduates today are mired in college loan debt now exceeding a trillion dollars, as of 2010 even surpassing the nation’s credit card debt. Upwardly mobile progress is long gone in America as the younger adult generations now for the first time can no longer expect to enjoy the same higher standard of living as their parents. The fast changing sociological economic dynamics of the family structure and how younger generations of Americans are being raised in an increasing climate of uncertainty and despair is far different and far bleaker than all previous generations throughout American history.

Without a manufacturing sector left in the US and a decimated middle class from funding an overstretched American Empire waging too many wars around the world, America is a debtor nation dependent as a consumer society on cheap outsourced products mostly from China. US permanent war policy with its conveniently fabricated “war on terror” has drained the middle class during a severe recession still floundering without recovery, chiefly caused by greedy banksters and Wall Street criminals who further gouged already emaciated taxpayers with enormous “too big to fail” bailouts. The national priority in the US has clearly been to not take care of its own citizens but instead wage the longest running wars in US history to ensure that the military security complex as the sole profiteers of war get filthily richer while reeking havoc all over the world with destabilizing regime changes, massive death and global destruction.

Meanwhile, the overburdened middle class shrinks to an all time low as the poor in America reach an all time high while decaying inner city war zones and rotting domestic infrastructure remain long neglected disasters waiting to happen. As a result of all this blatant theft, gross mismanagement of dwindling resources and pervasive criminal malfeasance, America is hopelessly stalled and a long ways from recovering from the 2008 bubble burst. Since 2008 the world’s total government debt has increased by 40% while the largest bailed out banks have grown by a hefty 37% just in the last six years alone. Yet for all its criminal theft and human suffering caused, not one bankster or corporate executive has been indicted or gone to prison for nearly bankrupting the richest, most powerful nation on earth.

Meanwhile, predatory worldwide IMF and world bank loans have opportunistically straight-jacketed Third World nations into debts they have no chance of repaying, leaving them defenseless against their homelands being plundered by predatory privatizing transnationals bent on extracting and stealing every last ounce of underground natural resource available on the planet.

This calculated, sinister process of globalization, privatization and increasing militarization bringing more wars to the planet is all part of the preplanned oligarch agenda to literally squeeze the life out of the world’s population of seven billion people, eugenically thinning the human herd down to anywhere from just a meager half to one billion people. This means that up to 13 out of 14 of us currently living on planet earth right now are slated to be mass murdered within the next few years. This is how the oligarchic plan for a New World Order will be fulfilled, complete with implanted micro-chips in the less than a billion people left on earth as the calculated number of humans still needed to serve as the oligarch’s subservient lackey class. This is their diabolical agenda currently being methodically executed to make life on planet earth over the long haul more sustainable for them and them only.

With all this increasing theft, death and destruction on every continent reaching such an explosive, unprecedented scale where World War III is all but impending, by now every alert citizen of the world should recognize what a handful of wealthy oligarch families have been doing for centuries to this planet - manipulating and enslaving the global masses through centuries of imperialist empire hegemony and controlling international economies at will though war making.

How can so few number of humans control and willfully destroy so many humans? Very evilly as psychopaths. But then they have had centuries of practice, skillfully, secretively operating in back shadows, using their puppet front men as their government leaders to lie constantly to the people. And of course for quite awhile they have had mass media bombarding us with nonstop lies, propaganda, disinformation and deceit just to make certain populations are kept in the dark. Today with big sports, video games, celebrity worship and digital toys galore, their ploy is to keep the masses distracted and ignorant of what has been really going on for a very, very long time. Through whitewashed history books that purposely cover up this same dark truth through the ages, Americans have long been brainwashed and mesmerized into accepting their illusion of democracy, equality, freedom and justice, but for only a few, not all of us as we were always led to believe.

But as demonstrated most recently by the world focus on the latest annual Bilderberg gathering in Copenhagen, the oligarchs are unable to pull the strings from afar any longer without our noticing. Though they wield ultimate power over all the most prominent governments and corporations on earth, there are seven billion human beings who are beginning to wake up now and are onto their evil agenda. Oligarchs taking notice and fast becoming nervous as their Oz-like curtain is finally being lifted once and for all. And behind that curtain we find a handful of wrinkled, prune faced, feeble old white men who look like Mr. Burns on the Simpsons still calling all the shots, but ultimately exposed naked like never before. With more and more of us world citizens every single day becoming aware of their vicious and heinous crimes against humanity, against all of us on this earth, like never before we are in a unique position of burgeoning power to call them on their diabolical plan and evildoing.

We have at our collective disposal much more power than we even know at this relatively early stage of mindful resistance. As globally aware, ethically-motivated, humane and compassionate citizens of the world, we possess the opportunity to finally break free of the shackles that have stifled and enslaved humanity for far too long. Overwhelming similarities are currently binding us earthlings together as richly diverse members of the same humanoid family as well as like minded world citizen-activists committed to doing our collective active best in bringing about peace and justice to our ailing, only planet, before the handful of hugely outnumbered oligarchs destroy everything we hold most dear and sacred. It is up to us ordinary decent people to recognize the truth and bravely act on that truth in unified solidarity for the sake of preserving life on earth in the way that God intended. Again, our beliefs and our actions will determine our reality.

Red Cross: How We Spent Sandy Money Is a "Trade Secret"

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Just how badly does the American Red Cross want to keep secret how it raised and spent over $300 million after Hurricane Sandy?

The charity has hired a fancy law firm to fight a public request we filed with New York state, arguing that information about its Sandy activities is a "trade secret."

The Red Cross' "trade secret" argument has persuaded the state to redact some material, though it's not clear yet how much since the documents haven't yet been released.

As we've reported, the Red Cross releases few details about how it spends money after big disasters. That makes it difficult to figure out whether donor dollars are well spent.

The Red Cross did give some information about Sandy spending to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who had been investigating the charity. But the Red Cross declined our request to disclose the details.

So we filed a public records request for the information the Red Cross provided to the attorney general's office.

That's where the law firm Gibson Dunn comes in.

An attorney from the firm's New York office appealed to the attorney general to block disclosure of some of the Sandy information, citing the state Freedom of Information Law's trade secret exemption.

The documents include "internal and proprietary methodology and procedures for fundraising, confidential information about its internal operations, and confidential financial information," wrote Gabrielle Levin of Gibson Dunn in a letter to the attorney general's office.

If those details were disclosed, "the American Red Cross would suffer competitive harm because its competitors would be able to mimic the American Red Cross's business model for an increased competitive advantage," Levin wrote.

The letter doesn't specify who the Red Cross' "competitors" are.

The Red Cross is a public charity and occupies a unique place responding to disasters alongside the federal government.

Among the sections of the documents the Red Cross wanted redacted was "a two-line title" at the top of a page, one line of which was "American Red Cross."

The attorney general's office denied that redaction, writing that it "can not find disclosure of this two line title will cause the Red Cross any economic injury."

Asked about the effort to have Sandy materials kept secret, Red Cross spokeswoman Anne Marie Borrego told ProPublica: "We sought to keep confidential a small part of the letter [sent to the AG] that provided proprietary information important to maintaining our ability to raise funds and fulfill our mission."

Doug White, a nonprofit expert who directs the fundraising management program at Columbia University, said that it's possible for nonprofits to have trade interests — the logo of a university, for example — but it's not clear what a "trade secret" would be in the case of the Red Cross. He called the lawyer's letter an apparent "delaying tactic."

Ben Smilowitz of the Disaster Accountability Project, a watchdog group, said,

"Invoking a 'trade secret' exemption is not something you would expect from an organization that purports to be 'transparent and accountable.'"

In agreeing to withhold some details, the attorney general's office found that portions of the documents the charity wanted to redact "describe business strategies, internal operational procedures and decisions, and the internal deliberations and decision-making processes that affect fundraising and the allocation of donations."

The attorney general's office also found "that this information is proprietary and constitutes trade secrets, and that its disclosure would cause the Red Cross economic injury and put the Red Cross at an economic disadvantage."

Another section the Red Cross wanted redacted was a paragraph that noted the charity's "willingness to meet with the [Office of the Attorney General.]" The attorney general's office denied that part of the request

Borrego, the Red Cross spokeswoman, declined to say how much the charity is paying Gibson Dunn but said, "we do not use funds restricted to Superstorm Sandy to cover those expenses."

We'll let you know when we get the documents we asked for — at least the parts that aren't trade secrets.

WikiLeaks Reveals Secret Global Trade Deal for Corporations to Operate with Impunity

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Embattled WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange announced Wednesday from London the publication of a secret draft text of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), a controversial global trade agreement said to make it easier for corporations to make profits and operate with impunity across borders.

The whistleblower and transparency website WikiLeaks published on Thursday the secret draft text of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) Financial Services Annex, a controversial global trade agreement promoted by the United States and European Union that covers 50 countries and is opposed by global trade unions and anti-globalization activists.

Activists expect the TISA deal to promote privatization of public services in countries across the globe, and WikiLeaks said the secrecy surrounding the trade negotiations exceeds that of even the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) that has made headlines in the past year.

Demonstrations erupted in Geneva in April as diplomats met in secret for the sixth round of negotiations over TISA, which would cover international trade in a wide range of service industries ranging from finance and telecommunications to transportation and even local utilities such as water. Protesters demanded that the draft text be released, but it has remained secret until now.

Public Services International (PSI), a global trade union federating public service workers in 150 countries, has reported that TISA threatens to allow multinational corporations to permanently privatize vital public services such as healthcare and transportation in countries across the world.

"This agreement is all about making it easier for corporations to make profits and operate with impunity across borders," said PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli in response to the leak. "The aim of public services should not be to make profits for large multinational corporations. Ensuring that failed privatizations can never be reversed is free-market ideology gone mad."

The leak comes two years to the day that WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange began hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London after the country offered him asylum to evade prosecution in the United States for publishing secret US government documents. Assange is also wanted in Sweden for questioning over sexual assault allegations lodged against him in 2010.

The secrecy of the TISA negotiations "exceeds even the controversial Trans-Pacific Partner Agreement (TPPA) and runs counter to moves in the WTO towards greater openness," wrote Jane Kelsey, a law professor at the University of Auckland in New Zealand who analyzed the leaked documents on behalf of Wikileaks, which leaked portions of the TPPA in the past.

The same governments that installed the failed global trade deregulation models in the World Trade Organization that lead to the global financial meltdown are now promoting TISA, according to Kelsey and WikiLeaks.

Kelsey's analysis also confirms the concerns of trade unions like PSI that the TISA agreement would lock governments into and extend their current levels of deregulation and trade liberalization, thus preventing governments from returning public services into public hands when privatizations fail and establishing greater regulations to protect the environment and workers safety.

The US Chamber of Commerce, which supports privatization and global trade deregulation, has said that the "payoff from TISA could be huge" for domestic service industry firms and presents "a once-in-a-generation opportunity to tear down barriers to international trade."

The Chamber has recommended that TISA "eliminate regulatory inconsistencies" and ensure that private companies are not put at a disadvantage when they compete with "state-owned enterprises."

While TISA negotiations are being held outside the WTO framework, the countries involved are WTO members, and the negotiations are being crafted to be compatible with existing global trade services agreements. The current negotiating countries include Australia, Canada, Chile, Taiwan, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, the United States and the European Union's 28 member states.

The TISA countries will meet again for a seventh round of negotiations in Geneva from June 23 to 27.

Leaks Put Spotlight on Assange

WikiLeaks officials announced the TISA leaks on Wednesday during a press call from London featuring embattled Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange.

Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy since the country accepted his request for asylum two years ago out of fear that he would be extradited to the United States to face criminal charges for publishing thousands of US military documents and diplomatic cables in 2010.

Assange and his supporters fear that, if he leaves the embassy, he will be arrested and brought to Sweden to face questioning from prosecutors over sexual assault allegations made by two women in 2010. From Sweden, his attorneys said, Assange would be given a "one-way ticket" to the United States. Assange's attorneys said they have invited Swedish prosecutors to question him at the embassy in London or over Skype, but the prosecutors have refused.

"But for that bear in the room in the United States, we would not be in that situation," said Michael Ratner, a WikiLeaks attorney from the United States.

New information on the Swedish case against Assange will be revealed next week, Assange's legal council said, but they declined to elaborate on the nature of the information.

For the past two years, London police have kept the embassy under surveillance and stood ready to arrest Assange should he leave the building, which has cost British taxpayers $10 million, according to reports.

Assange said he continues to be the target of "the largest ever criminal investigation into a publisher by the US Department of Justice," and demanded that Attorney General Eric Holder end its investigation of WikiLeaks or resign. He also warned President Obama about leaving office with a legacy that includes "extrajudicial killings, including those of Americans" and chilling free speech by targeting more journalists for investigation than "all other presidents combined."

"It is against the stated principles of the United States, and, I believe, the values supported by its people, to have a four-year criminal investigation against a publisher," Assange said. "The ongoing existence of that investigation produces a chilling effect, not just on internet-based publishers, but all publishers."

While hiding in the embassy, Assange said he has been busy working as a trustee for the Courage Foundation, a defense fund for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

When asked about the conditions of his exile in the embassy, Assange pointed out that Chelsea Manning, the US intelligence analyst who was sentenced to 35 years in prison last year for leaking secret US military documents to WikiLeaks, was in much more difficult circumstances. Assange said Manning's "ongoing situation" remains a "big concern."

The government leaks provided by Manning and Snowden gave journalists and the world an invaluable and unprecedented look into US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, US foreign policy and the US government's vast worldwide intelligence network, but the federal government contends the leaks compromised national security.