Author Archive: Brynn Jacobs
is a full-time wage slave and part-time philosopher, writing and living just outside Omaha with his lovely wife and two feline roommates.
Those who are uncomfortable with cognitive dissonance or so-called conspiracy theories might be better off skipping this post. Those who seek to understand the machinations of our government however, are encouraged to read on.
Firstly, let me clearly state that I disapprove of the manner of this killing. Extrajudicial assassinations are an anathema to a society that claims to live by the rule of law. Numerous voices are loudly praising this decision to kill bin Laden rather than capture him, supposedly to save the fragile American public from the rigors of a trial. They claim that a trial would have been “too controversial”, as if that had anything to do with the law or its application. Either we believe that laws matter or we don’t. Either we believe that there is justice available under our system of laws, or we do not. In this case, it’s clear that we do not trust our own system of justice to arrive at the “right” conclusion. Implicitly, this suggests that we are hoping for a kangaroo court, already convinced of the guilt of the accused based upon the mere say-so of our government. When the president can order someone to be killed, with no oversight or evidence presented, we no longer a democratic system of checks and balances. We have an emperor, a tyrant, relatively benign though he may appear to be. I argued much the same in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed last year.
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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has endorsed Arab news organization Al Jazeera as offering “real news”, superior to ersatz U.S. news which is full of commercials, talking-heads and soundbites that are “not particularly informative to us.” Perhaps that explains a part of the reason why U.S. audiences are largely unaware of the continuing ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of BP’s Deepwater Horizon blowout last year.
Al Jazeera, on the other hand, brings us this story of sickness and death on the Gulf Coast.
[caption id="attachment_16980" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Eco-terrorism in Gulf of Mexico. Image via Leoma Lovegrove (creative commons)"][/caption]
“I have critically high levels of chemicals in my body,” 33-year-old Steven Aguinaga of Hazlehurst, Mississippi told Al Jazeera. “Yesterday I went to see another doctor to get my blood test results and the nurse said she didn’t know how I even got there.”
Aguinaga and his close friend Merrick Vallian went swimming at Fort Walton Beach, Florida, in July 2010.
“I swam underwater, then found I had orange slick stuff all over me,” Aguinaga said. “At that time I had no knowledge of what dispersants were, but within a few hours, we were drained of energy and not feeling good. I’ve been extremely sick ever since.”
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Daily Show host John Stewart eviscerates those asking teachers and other unions to make sacrifices in the name of cutting the budget deficit, especially when those same people (literally!) did not ask the same from Wall Street bankers following the trillions of dollars of bailouts and easy money:
Incidentally, much of the rhetoric is centered around asking the unions to “contribute more” towards their benefits package, but how does one contribute more than 100%?
Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975, after which followed decades of brutal repression and violence directed at the Timorese people. Hundreds of thousands of Timorese have died as a result of the conflict, whether killed outright or as a result of disease and hunger. In one incident alone, known as the Dili Massacre, hundreds of people agitating for independence for East Timor were massacred as Indonesian soldiers opened fire. There was no intervention by the United States, and in fact, we continued to sell weapons and train the Indonesian military. There are no known oil reserves credited to East Timor, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Whatever resources do exist are mired in competing claims with Australia.
Charles Ponzi was born 129 years ago today, so I guess that makes it Ponzi Day today. The man for whom the pyramid scheme was named though, was a chump. Today’s schemers have been many times more successful. By the time Ponzi’s scheme peaked in 1920, Wikipedia notes that “he had made $420,000 ($4.59 million in 2008 terms).” See what I mean? $4 and half million isn’t even enough for today’s ponzi artists to get out of bed.
For example, let’s look at the currently best-known ponzi artist, Bernie Madoff. The amount missing from Madoff clients’ accounts was nearly $65 billion, although that includes fabricated money– actual losses total about $18 billion. Even at $18 billion though, that’s still almost 4,000 times the ponzi scheme than Ponzi himself. Madoff made headlines again this week, saying that “It’s unbelievable, Goldman … no one has any criminal convictions. The whole new regulatory reform is a joke. The whole government is a Ponzi scheme.” And who better to know Ponzi schemes than the man who bested Ponzi?
Keep President Eisenhower’s warning in mind as you read this post (see video below).
The U.S. Department of Defense defines “Psychological Operations” or “Psy-Ops” as “Planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign government, organizations, groups, and individuals.”
Such operations may be based upon truth or based upon deception, but the goal is the same: to alter perceptions and “ultimately the behavior” of others. As a matter of law, such actions are supposed to be directed against the “foreign hostile groups”, or at least not against Americans. Unfortunately, this law is routinely ignored:
- In 2009, the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) awarded a multi-million dollar contract to General Dynamics to wage a psy-ops campaign aimed at France and Britain. The goal of the campaign was to create “influence websites” to build support for the Global War on Terror.
Tim Geithner, appointed to Secretary of the Treasury despite being unable to calculate his own taxes, has just proven he does not understand the role of oil prices in modern economies. Speaking at a breakfast today in Washington, Geithner claimed that:
“The economy is in a much stronger position to handle” rising oil prices, Geithner said…. “Central banks have a lot of experience in managing these things.”
This is the opposite of truth. Central banks do not, in fact, have a lot of experience in dealing with rapidly rising oil prices in a worldwide recessionary environment where there is no clear deflation nor inflation. Hell, central banks do not even have a lot of experience in managing an out of control real-estate bubble, or dot-com bubble, or any of the economic crises that hit over the past decade or so. Nor is the American economy in a “much stronger” position than it was in 2008, which was the last time a major oil price spike played a role in devastating the world economy.
In fact, there is no shortage of people arguing the opposite of Geithner. Let’s start with Fatih Birol, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency (IEA). Just yesterday, he warned of the danger of high oil price’s impact on the economy:
Guantanamo has become a recruiting tool for our enemies. The legal framework behind Guantanamo has failed completely, resulting in only one conviction. President Bush’s own Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, wants to close it. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, wants to close it. The first step to reclaiming America’s standing in the world has to be closing this facility. As president, Barack Obama will close the detention facility at Guantanamo. He will reject the Military Commissions Act, which allowed the U.S. to circumvent Geneva Conventions in the handling of detainees. He will develop a fair and thorough process based on the Uniform Code of Military Justice to distinguish between those prisoners who should be prosecuted for their crimes, those who can’t be prosecuted but who can be held in a manner consistent with the laws of war, and those who should be released or transferred to their home countries. (source- PDF)
That’s the campaign trail rhetoric from Candidate Obama. I liked the stance of Candidate Obama on this issue, it’s a shame that President Obama sees things so differently.