Omnibus Collisions: Coronavirus Policing and Overreach in Victoria

By Binoy Kampmark

Source: Dissident Voice

In her September 17 speech to parliament, the Attorney General of the Australian state of Victoria, Jill Hennessy, explained various provisions of the COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) and Other Acts Amendment Bill.  Of most interest was the proposal that would dramatically inflate the scope of public health power in ostensibly preventing a spread of COVID-19.  “The broader class of persons who may be appointed as authorised officers may include public sector employees from Victoria and other jurisdictions.  For example, health services staff, WorkSafe officers such as Inspectors, Victoria Police members and Protective Service Officers.”

The formulation seemed an odd one: health services staff as designated officers to halt transmission perhaps, but unqualified members of the Victoria Police, along with Protective Service Officers?  The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services was the proposed appointer; the appointees (“authorised officers”) would be anybody deemed to possess appropriate skills, attributes or experience.  Such elevated, muscularly vested officers would have the power to detain anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or anyone who had been in close contact with a positive case, for a period “reasonably necessary to eliminate a serious risk to public health,” provided it was “reasonably believed”  they would fail to comply with a direction of self-quarantine.

Hennessy evaded the severe implications of such a broadly worded provision, arguing for convenience and efficiency, the two traditional hallmarks of the authoritarian mentality. The appointment power would focus upon “individuals with particular attributes, such as connection to particular communities”.  “Contact tracing” would be able to take place in “a culturally safe manner.”  As for any oversight limitations, these appointments would be subject to a “specific instrument” outlining specific authority and limitations authorised by the Secretary and Chief Health Officer.

This was something that did not escape the notice of some members of the Victorian Parliament.  Greens MP Tim Read noted how the Omnibus Bill, in that draft form, gave police, protective services officers and private security guards powers to unilaterally determine who constituted a high risk with little regard to medical expertise.  “Currently only public servants with the relevant skills and experience can make that decision”.  Enforcing directions was a separate function of law enforcement.  “So the bill would allow police to both make health directions on individuals and then to enforce them.”

The Omnibus Bill also saw various legal advocates spring into action. Michael Borsky QC went for understatement in claiming that detaining someone for hypothetical future conduct was a “very unusual legal construct”.  The provision was “open to abuse”.  Nor did impress the legal heads at the Victorian Bar, where there was much head shaking.  The proposed criteria for appointing such officers was deemed too “broad and generic”.  Their lack of precision “potentially opened the door for those who are not trained as health professionals to be appointed ‘authorised officers’.”

Granting such individuals unilateral powers of detention against individuals not abiding by a public health direction was another point of concern. An officer’s “reasonable belief” was a “standard of validation” vast and subjective.  The Victorian Bar also suggested some measure of accountability: that decisions made by such authorised officers be “reviewed by the Chief Health Officer (or senior delegate) within a short, stipulated period (preferably not longer than 24 hours).”

The talents of Victorian policing have already been found wanting during one of the most extreme lockdown measures in the developed world.  Reem Mussa, humanitarian advisor on forced migration to Médicins Sans Frontièresremembered the terror caused by the appearance of five hundred police “on housing estates [in Melbourne], trapping residents inside with no coherent health strategy or plans to keep them safe, fed or with access to medication and essentials.”  23 confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been found on the estates in July.  Panic coursed through the various administrative arms of government.

In September, a very public display of policing mismanagement took place with the arrest of Ballarat resident Zoe Buhler, a pregnant mother apprehended in front of her children and husband in their home for a Facebook post inciting protest against the lockdown rules.  No police officer thought it necessary to explain the offence of incitement, nor accept her offer to remove the offending post.  It was such conduct that prompted Greg Barns of the Australian Lawyers Alliance to argue for limits on police powers when linked to pandemic controls.

The Police Accountability Project, based at the Flemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre in Melbourne, has also been alarmed by the aggressive, untutored policing formula pursued in the state.  “The policing we have seen in Victoria to date and the scale of the policing we have seen [on July 4] and today in Flemington & North Melbourne, has caused and continues to do harm.”

Over the course of the lockdown, the PAP project has noted ten concerns about how harsh Stage 4 restrictions have been enforced.  A few are worth noting.  Police, for instance, were ill trained to make complex assessments about exemptions requiring health expertise.  “Police ignored genuine health based exemptions and continually resorted to lock-down responses because it more closely aligned with their training.”  They had failed to comprehend the public health impacts of their work, and that most pressing of points that policing “undermines public health responses.”  The policing of curfews had been “applied in a discriminatory, abusive and harmful manner.”  With such a stunning resume of faults and blunders, it is a wonder how the drafters in the Attorney-General’s department took leave of their senses.

On October 8, the Victorian government quietly trimmed parts of the proposed bill dealing with detention.  Finding themselves in retreat, a flutter of qualifications were made.  “We have always said we would negotiate in good faith,” claimed a less than chastened Hennessy.  Giving little away, the Attorney-General claims to have made such amendments that will continue “to deliver the temporary, necessary changes we need to respond to the challenges the pandemic presents”.

According to Guardian Australia, the proposed table of changes will still preserve the power to appoint police and protective services officers as authorised officers, but with fewer powers.  They will still be able to exercise considerable discretion in, for instance, searching property without a warrant if “necessary for the purpose of investigation, eliminating or reducing the risk to public health”.  The daft dangers of making police and security personnel pseudo-health officers remain.

Posted in Authoritarianism, civil liberties, culture, Dystopia, freedom of speech, Health, news, police state, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MORE PEOPLE WERE ARRESTED FOR CANNABIS POSSESSION THAN ALL VIOLENT CRIMES PUT TOGETHER IN THE US LAST YEAR

By John Vibes

Source: Waking Times

With legal recreational and medical cannabis now available in so many different US states, it is easy to get the impression that the war on cannabis users is over.

However, cannabis users still represent a significant portion of the people who are filling jails and courthouses throughout the country.

According to the FBI’s recent Uniform Crime Report, more people were arrested for cannabis possession last year than for all violent crimes put together.

The data showed that 545,602 people were arrested in the US for cannabis-related crimes last year. Meanwhile, just 495,871 people were arrested for violent crimes.

Furthermore, the vast majority of the people who got arrested for cannabis were not accused of selling or trafficking the substance, but just for simple possession. 500,395 of the total cannabis arrests last year, or about 92%, were for possession, which is still more than the number of people who were arrested for violent crimes.

Erik Altieri, the Executive Director for cannabis advocacy group NORML, says that police across America are still making a cannabis-related arrest every 58 seconds.

“At a time when the overwhelming majority of Americans want cannabis to be legal and regulated, it is an outrage that many police departments across the country continue to waste tax dollars and limited law enforcement resources on arresting otherwise law-abiding citizens for simple m***juana possession,” Altieri told Forbes.

Overall, cannabis arrests have been going down nationwide due to the spread of legalization. Last year, cannabis arrests were down by 18% when compared with 2018.

As suspected, the FBI’s data showed that people were less likely to get arrested for cannabis in states where it was legal or available for medical use, with eastern states seeing far more arrests.

According to the report, roughly 53% of all cannabis arrests last year took place in the northeastern part of the country, where cannabis laws are still catching up with the west.

People of color are also at a greater risk of being targeted for cannabis arrests. According to a report from the ACLU, 2018 data showed that people of color were 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than white people, despite using the substance at the same rates.

In some states that are known to be especially dangerous for people of color, such as Montana or Kentucky, they are close to ten times more likely to be arrested for cannabis. In a few particular US counties, people of color were 50 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession.

In some states where cannabis has been legalized, lawmakers are making efforts to introduce pardons for those who previously broke the law.

Earlier this year, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak introduced a measure that will pardon more than 15,000 people who were convicted for low-level cannabis possession in the state.

The resolution was unanimously approved by the state’s Board of Pardons Commissioners shortly after it was introduced.

In Colorado, lawmakers passed a bill that will allow the state’s governor to unilaterally pardon people with past convictions for possession of up to two ounces.

Posted in culture, Drug War, Law, Mass Incarceration, news, police state, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saturday Matinee: How to Operate Your Brain

Source: Open Culture

Speaking at the Human Be-In in January 1967, Timothy Leary uttered the famous phrase borrowed from Marshall McLuhan, “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” It was shorthand for saying experiment with psychedelics and achieve new levels of consciousness.

Almost 30 years later, Leary hadn’t lost his missionary zeal. In 1993 (and only a few years before his death), the former Harvard psychology professor recorded “a public service video” called How to Operate Your Brain. Here, Leary narrates an almost epileptic seizure-inducing video, providing what some consider “a guided meditation” of sorts. I’d prefer to call it an unorthodox “user manual” that tries to impart Leary’s unique sense of enlightenment:

The aim of human life is to know thyself. Think for yourself. Question authority. Think with your friends. Create, create new realities. Philosophy is a team sport. Philosophy is the ultimate, the ultimate aphrodisiac pleasure. Learning how to operate your brain, learning how to operate your mind, learning how to redesign chaos.

As you get deeper into the meditation, you’ll realize one thing. Three decades may have passed since Leary popularized the catchphrase of the counterculture. But he’s still getting his ideas from McLuhan. If you follow the video (or transcript) to the end, you’ll discover that ones and zeros have basically taken the place of LSD. Leary says:

Now we have digital communication. We can create our fantasies. We can create our rhythms, design on screen…. Anyone in any culture watching this screen will get the general picture. It’s one global village. It’s one global human spirit, one global human race. As we link up through screens, linked by electrons and photons, we will create for the first time a global humanity, not separated by words or minds or nationalities or religious biases.

You can find McLuhan meditating on the concept of an Electronic Global Village in another vintage clip.

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Working to End Human Violence in the Time of Covid-19

By Robert J. Burrowes

At what is arguably the most important time in human history, with Homo Sapiens confronted by an enormous range of violent challenges that threaten our very survival, the only question of any genuine importance is this:

Can we craft and implement a strategy to end the violence, particularly in each and all of its extinction-threatening dimensions, to ensure that humanity has a chance to thrive on planet Earth indefinitely into the future?

But few are asking that question.

And, unfortunately, if one candidly considers the evidence in several critical domains – notably the threat of nuclear war, the deployment of 5G technology, the collapse of biodiversity and the climate catastrophe – there is little genuine room for optimism. This, of course, is not a reflection on the efforts of those committed to the attempt but it is a measure of the enormity of the task given the almost endless violence perpetrated by so many human inhabitants of Earth.

Moreover, of course, for most of 2020, the ongoing efforts by those committed to working to end violence in one context or another have not only been substantially impeded by the official response – including lockdowns, curfews, social distancing and mask-wearing – to the supposed Covid-19 pandemic, they have also witnessed an explosion of additional violence of many types and in many contexts – see ‘The Elite’s COVID-19 Coup against a Terrified Humanity: Resisting Powerfully’ – that have exacerbated the violence dramatically.

In addition, the combined impacts of the official response have (presumably inadvertently) accelerated the four primary paths to human extinction. See ‘The Elite’s COVID-19 Coup to Destroy Humanity that is also Fast-Tracking Four Paths to Human Extinction’.

Despite the unusual level of impediments, many people have remained steadfast in their efforts to raise awareness of what is at stake, to mobilize an effective response and/or to take action themselves to end the violence in one context or another. This includes individuals and organizations that have committed themselves to this effort by signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ which has signatories in 105 countries around the world and organizational endorsements in 39 countries.

These committed individuals and organizations include those few briefly discussed below, with some of them particularly focused on averting one of the paths to imminent human extinction.

Jennifer Wood is an architect and writer who developed near fatal toxic shock from the antibiotic Ciprofloxin and over-exposure to 2G wireless radiation when cell tower services were switched from analog to digital technology in 1996-1997. At this time, cell phone sales skyrocketed globally as did radiation and many public health problems according to epidemiologists. Although Jennifer had never used cell phones, she had spent long hours on a computer (surrounded by unnoticed cell towers) writing for the film director, Oliver Stone who had taken an interest in her novel. She has nearly died at a weight of 77 pounds from microwave radiation poisoning three times since that time. Each torturous period has coincided with exposure to upgrades in wireless technologies. During her third bout with death in 2010-2011, she moved to a radio quiet zone near a radio astronomy observatory that bans cell phone towers. Here Jennifer built by hand, without help, a tiny non-electric cabin without running water in the woods where she lived alone, with minimal suffering, for four years, gaining weight and becoming semi-functional.

Since 2011, she has been reviewing thousands of science studies on the health effects of human-generated electromagnetic radiation (EMR) while doing advocacy work. Prior to her illness, Jennifer lived and worked as an architect in Nepal for many years in the 1980s where she married and had two children. Her condition has forced her to live far away from most of her family much of the time since 1996. You can watch Jennifer in this film ‘Wi-Fi Refugees: Nowhere to run: Electrosensitive people try to escape wireless technology’, read about her struggle and see a photo of her cabin in ‘Search for a Golden Cage’, read about a success in having Wifi technology banned in schools in Israel in ‘Israel Wi-Fi Breakthroughs: TV Documentary, School Ban’ and watch videos of a protest rally at the US Supreme Court she co-organized: ‘The Public Has a Right To Know About the Health Risks of 5G Wireless, Cell Phones and the Internet of Things (IoT)’.

Prominent environmental journalist Robert Hunziker, noted for his capacity to track and report truthfully on the ecological health of planet Earth, recently wrote a sobering article highlighting key elements of the recent Living Planet Report 2020 which records ‘an average 68% decrease in population sizes of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish between 1970 and 2016 [with a] 94% decline… for the tropical subregions of the Americas.’ With its ‘eye-popping description of the forces of humanity versus life in nature’, Robert noted ‘the report should really be entitled the Dying Planet Report 2020 because that’s what’s happening in the real world. Not much remains alive.’ For some of the detail of this disastrous state of affairs, read ‘The Dying Planet Report 2020’. For another of Robert’s reports on planetary ill-health, see ‘Boundless Dying Trees’. But if you are not horrified already, you should read Robert’s article ‘10C Above Baseline’ to get a clearer sense of where Earth’s climate is headed with extinction for humans at 4C above baseline.

Starting in February 2020, Joana Aboagyewaa of the Splendors of Dawn Poetry Foundation in Ghana reports making valuable contributions to schools in the eastern region through their work as poets and educators under the Foundation’s ‘SUN Project’. This educational project was undertaken in Abirem, Achiase, St Roses Senior High (Akwatia) and Akim Swedru Secondary Schools where teachers taught poetry and art, ‘that is deeply human to secondary school students’, for positive change. ‘In April, The Splendors Performance Team held their National Poetry Month activities to celebrate the importance of poets and poetry in our society and culture.’ Splendors’ ‘Poetry Exchange Day’, with poems wrapped as gifts and mailed to classmates and friends, was held in basic schools in the Greater Accra Region. In addition, Splendors’ ‘Poets in Schools’ project ‘was a huge success because we enrolled a high number of poets in secondary schools, through the poetry awareness campaign, to encourage students to write and read.’ The Covid-19 pandemic ‘has necessitated our coming up with the Splendors of Dawn online “Poets Read out” series. Splendors of Dawn Poetry Foundation, Ghana believes that we can change the world and contribute our quota for its development through poetry.’

The indefatigable Steve Varatharajan, the Vice President but, more importantly, for many years the heart and driving force behind the International Association of Educators for World Peace (IAEWP), headquartered in Malaysia, has recently announced that, at year’s end, he will ‘be stepping down from all my positions in IAEWP as I am having [serious health] problems… [related to] the aggressive 5G telecommunications network building.’ For those who don’t know Steve, it is unlikely that many people have served any global network with the talent, commitment and productivity that Steve has demonstrated within the IAEWP.

Steve has also recently announced the appointment of Dr. Alfredo Sfeir Younis – the Chilean economist, spiritual leader and healer who had a 29-year career at the World Bank including as its first environmental economist – as Executive Vice President of the IAEWP.  In that capacity, Alfredo has already proposed a visionary program to advance IAEWP aims. Separately from this, Dr. Priyaranjan Trivedi, the IAEWP Senior Vice President for Continental Asia and IAEWP Director General of Education, advises that their continental association has just launched a free online buffet of 31 courses. For details, see ‘Online Peace Education, Reconstruction, Accord, Non-Violence and Disarmament Initiative’. These courses are available online for India and the rest of the world.

Liz McAlister and Martha Hennessy are two of seven Catholic nuclear disarmament activists known as the Kings Bay Plowshares 7. The plowshares activists entered Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia, USA on 4 April 2018, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Carrying hammers and baby bottles of their own blood, the seven attempted to convert weapons of mass destruction to make real the prophet Isaiah’s command to ‘beat swords into plowshares’. Apart from impeding the ever-heightening threat of nuclear armageddon as the world’s international legal infrastructure against nuclear war rapidly unravels, they also hoped to call attention to the ways in which nuclear weapons kill every day by their mere existence and maintenance.

The nonviolent activists were subsequently ‘found guilty of trespass, conspiracy and destruction of federal property’ in October 2019. After spending time in prison, on 8 June 2020 Liz – the widow of Phil Berrigan – was sentenced to ‘time served, three years supervised release and for a portion of the restitution for the seven of just over $30,000’. Martha – a granddaugher of Dorothy Day – is due to be sentenced in November. You can read a detailed account of their action, an inspiring biography of each activist and follow the court outcome for Martha and the others at the website above. You can also see an evocative interview of Martha at ‘Martha Hennessy Interview’.

Professor Bishnu Pathak in Nepal continues his substantial research output on a variety of subjects, most notably in the past month on subjects related to the fundamental question of whether international law can be used as an instrument to achieve peace. For insightful commentary on two issues in this field, see ‘Can Former Child Soldiers File a Complaint at the International Court against Nepal’s Maoist Leaders?’ and ‘Nuremberg Tribunal: A Precedent for Victor’s Justice’.

What Can You Do?

If you would like to join those individuals and organizations in 105 countries who have made the commitment to work to end human violence, you can do so by signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.

If you understand the critical importance of reducing human consumption as the core element of any strategy to preserve a habitable biosphere – encapsulated in Gandhi’s observation that ‘Earth provides enough to satisfy every person’s need, but not every person’s greed’ – then you might consider participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’ which he inspired as well.

If you would like to nurture children to become Self-aware individuals who are capable of responding powerfully to the challenges in life while reducing violence in the process, consider making ‘My Promise to Children’. For a deeper understanding of the cause and pervasiveness of human violence, see ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.

And if you wish to use nonviolent strategy, as Gandhi developed and employed it, for your campaign or liberation struggle, you will be given clear guidance on how to do so on these websites that draw heavily on his work: Nonviolent Campaign Strategy and Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy.

More simply, if you like, you might consider committing to:

The Earth Pledge

Out of love for the Earth and all of its creatures, and my respect for their needs, from this day onwards I pledge that:

  1. I will listen deeply to children. See ‘Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’.
  2. I will not travel by plane
  3. I will not travel by car
  4. I will not eat meat and fish
  5. I will only eat organically/biodynamically grown food
  6. I will minimize the amount of fresh water I use, including by minimizing my ownership and use of electronic devices
  7. I will not own or use a mobile (cell) phone
  8. I will not buy rainforest timber
  9. I will not buy or use single-use plastic, such as bags, bottles, containers, cups and straws
  10. I will not use banks, superannuation (pension) funds or insurance companies that provide any service to corporations involved in fossil fuels, nuclear power and/or weapons
  11. I will not accept employment from, or invest in, any organization that supports or participates in the exploitation of fellow human beings or profits from killing and/or destruction of the biosphere
  12. I will not get news from the corporate media (mainstream newspapers, television, radio, Google, Facebook, Twitter…)
  13. I will make the effort to learn a skill, such as food gardening or sewing, that makes me more self-reliant
  14. I will gently encourage my family and friends to consider signing this pledge.

Conclusion

While most human inhabitants of Earth remain oblivious to the pervasive violence that is destroying us and our world, including the advanced nature of the four primary threats to human existence, there is nevertheless a worldwide network of people deeply aware of this situation who are acting to address these threats.

‘Doomed to fail’, you might believe. ‘Impossible’ even. And perhaps you are right. In fact, there is considerable evidence to support these beliefs.

But as Gandhi noted: ‘Hesitating to act because the whole vision might not be achieved, or because others do not yet share it, is an attitude that only hinders progress.’

Given that some of us, including the people above, are already working to end human violence, the main question remaining is ‘What about you?’

 

Biodata: Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of Why Violence? His email address is flametree@riseup.net and his website is here.

Posted in Activism, consciousness, Corporate Crime, Environment, Health, Philosophy, society, State Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reds Plot to Control America!

By Peter Van Buren

Source: We Meant Well

Like me, you got most of your news from PeaceData.net. It was what you looked to to form your opinions, including the all-important one about which way to vote. What you missed on PeaceData you caught up with via Facebook memes and Tweets from people you do not know.

Or maybe not. Maybe like nearly everyone on planet earth you have no idea what I’m talking about and have never looked at the PeaceData site. That reality should pretty much end the discussion but this is 2020. So you must know by now Facebook claims an unvisited and now defunct web site named PeaceData was actually a Russian influence operation posing as an independent news outlet targeting voters in the United States. Including in their sneaky tactics were hiring American freelance “journalists” to write about U.S. politics and racial tensions from their parents’ basements.

PeaceData operated 13 Facebook accounts, now suspended, supposedly using fake identities and “coordinated inauthentic behavior” by people with some kind of link “to individuals associated with past activity by the Internet Research Agency,” the Russkie company which U.S. intelligence officials say was part of Comrade Trump’s 2016 win.

Yep, that old story, Russians, social media, blah. To say Peacedata itself truly does not matter, especially in relation to the attention it has received in death, gives too much credit to not mattering. What does matter is how the intel community, quasi-private tech firms, the media, and the Democrats worked together to exaggerate the threat and create the narrative outcome of “foreign influence.” Pay attention; this is the magician revealing how the trick is done.

It seems the Russians have gotten so good at influencing cow-like Americans that only five percent of English-language articles on PeaceData actually directly concerned the U.S. election, out of over 700 articles published. You’d think no one would have even noticed they existed. However, some sneaky company called Graphika nonetheless told Facebook to conclude “this facet of the operation suggests an attempt to build a left-wing audience and steer it away from Biden’s campaign.” See, the conclusion from Graphika is by making almost no impact whatsoever, PeaceData was actually “trying harder and harder to hide.” Graphika found most of the English-language posts achieved only single-digit engagement.

Who funds net nanny Graphika? Their venture capital was raised privately, in two tranches of about three million dollars each, in 2014 and 2019. We do know who they work with. Their current “Innovation Officer” is Camille François, who once worked for Google’s analytics offshoot Jigsaw before quitting to run a secretive project for the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, alongside now Graphika CEO John Kelly (no relation to the Marine.) Their December 2018 reporting helped “prove” how the Russians used social media networks like Facebook and Twitter to influence the 2016 election. Graphika also has ties to the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Defense Department’s Minerva Initiative. If you pay look at their stuff you realize they write like spooks, talk like spooks, and snitch out news sites like spooks. So you can decide if they’re involved in all this again because they are just good at proving Russian stuff or because they are tied to a corporate-quasi government structure alongside the intel community.

What is missing from Graphika’s work is any evidence whatsoever of any actual influence on the only thing that matters: how people vote. Graphika offers nothing quantitative, claiming only that by using American freelancers PeaceData was part of the “fabric” of communities and this made them credible. A step up from 2016 efforts, which relied on what Graphika said were foreign “trolls who typically researched American life so they could more effectively pose as U.S. citizens online. One key trick was to watch American TV shows like House of Cards.”

One is inclined to imagine here the customer service rep with a south Indian accent who asks you to call him “Mike” and wonders “How it goes my man in that American town of Iowa?” Older readers, please substitute Boris and Natasha voices.

So who are these nefarious America writers unknowingly selling out their country? The New York Times tracked down one freelancer who ended up writing for no money somehow, though PeaceData rates of $75-$200 per article fluttered below average (lots of unknown sites recruit freelancers for small payouts; PeaceData used Guru.) This particular PeaceData journalist also once played Rusty in Starlight Express before selling insurance. One of his recent articles outlines his battle with dementia. Sorry to pick on the poor guy, but the NYT profiled him and it seems using such services to influence an election may not be the best use of those rubles.

He did write a nice piece claiming Susan Rice would have made a fine Vice President. One point in her favor was “I challenge anyone to find a video, or statement which shows Susan Rice raising her temper, shouting, acting hysterical or making comments.” Rice of course is known for her signature profanity and temper; here’s the Washington Post calling her out for describing Lindsey Graham as a “piece of sh*t.” Her f-bombs are legend. She famously flipped the bird at Richard Holbrooke, told France’s U.N. ambassador “you’re not going to drag us into your sh*tty war” and drew complaints of disrespect from allies on the U.N. Security Council.

But before just calling a Susan Rice-like bullsh*t on this whole sad attempt to frighten Americans into believing foreigners are here to steal our precious bodily Internet fluids, let’s go have a look at some of what else PeaceData had to say.

For example, here’s a quote from a PeaceData article about Q-Anon: “The effort to mainstream conspiracy is meant to distract from the true mechanisms of exploitation and alienation, while allowing for the continued consolidation of capital and upending norms with power grabs. As liberal institutions fail and capitalism continues to deliver uncertainty, the extension of a false mythos — that promises to yield revolutionary change and free the masses — gives allure to desperately confused people.”

Ok, that was too easy, somebody just held on to their Socialism 101 textbook. From a PeaceData article on the post office is lifted idea-for-idea from the NYT: “One way or another, the truth always comes out and with President Donald Trump, his motives were especially apparent after a news conference in the White House Briefing Room. He admitted on Thursday he opposed additional funding for the United States Postal Service (USPS) in order to make it more difficult to deliver mail-in ballots. Trump’s desire to not expand on voting by mail further sent society into a chaotic state amidst a pandemic.” Actually the NYT said “President Trump stirred new questions on Thursday about whether he would seek to hold up new money to the Postal Service to impede mail-in voting this fall in the middle of the pandemic.” Kinda the same thing but one is Russkie propaganda and the other is the New York Times.

It is very unclear any of this is illegal. Foreign organizations hire American writers all the time. And the line between “taking an editorial stance” and “influencing an election” lies closer to how paranoid you are than anything in the law. That did not stop the FBI from telling social media to act against PeaceData based on Graphika tattling. The action Facebook (and Twitter, who called Peace Data “Russian state actors” and blocked them) took against PeaceData was based entirely on so-called violations of Terms of Service. It allows the social media giants to show off how they are doing something to whatever, save democracy. If the Founders were alive today they would be editing Terms of Service instead of creating a Bill of Rights. Facebook was not asked to return the $480 in advertising money Peacedata spent on the site.

PeaceData doesn’t matter by itself.  The real value in this fluffy jihad against a no-name site is to allow the MSM and Democrats to announce again Trump is being helped by a foreign power, that our electoral process is corrupt if Trump wins, and to revive whatever distant wet memories the faithful had in Russiagate ending the Trump presidency. A fantasy, a little day dreaming maybe the old tricks will work this time where they have failed ever before.

No big deal, just a glimpse behind the scenes where under the cover of blaming foreign collusion, corporate America, the intel community, and the media hide their own collusion, here, in the Twilight Zone of democracy.

Posted in censorship, civil disobedience, conditioning, corporate news, culture, Deep State, Empire, freedom of speech, internet freedom, media, Media Literacy, news, propaganda, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, State Crime, surveillance state, Technocracy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Media Responds With Apathy, Disappointment as US-Backed Coup Gov’t Concedes Defeat in Bolivia

Former Bolivian President Evo Morales attends a press conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, after general elections in his home country, Monday, Oct. 19. 2020. (AP Photo/Marcos Brindicci)

Across the spectrum, corporate media has endorsed last year’s rightwing takeover of Bolivia, refusing to label it as a coup. Coverage of Sunday’s historical elections hasn’t been much better.

By Alan Macleod

Source: Mint Press News

Bolivia’s Movement to Socialism (MAS) party is celebrating what appears to be a crushing, landslide victory in Sunday’s elections. Although official vote counting is far from over, exit polls show an overwhelming triumph for the socialists, and a repudiation of the right-wing military government of Jeanine Añez, who has ruled since the coup last November. At the same time, the corporate press appears less than pleased about the return to democracy for the Andean country.

In order to win outright in the first round, the top candidate needs at least 40 percent of the popular vote and a lead of 10 points over their nearest rival, and multiple polls have indicated that the MAS ticket of Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca has won more than 50 percent, and have achieved a lead of over 20 points on their nearest challenger, Carlos Mesa (president between 2003 and 2005) — quite a feat in a five-way election. The MAS is also expected to have won a large majority in the senate.

Añez, who came to power in a coup overthrowing President Evo Morales last November, and whose government has constantly postponed the election throughout the year, knew the game was up and lauded the MAS on their remarkable achievement. “We do not yet have an official count, but from the data we have, Mr. Arce and Mr. Choquehuanca have won the election. I congratulate the winners and ask them to govern with Bolivia and democracy in mind,” she wrote. Añez decided to drop out of the election herself last month in an attempt to boost Mesa’s chances of stopping Arce. However, today Mesa accepted defeat as well. “The result is overwhelming and clear. The difference is wide,” he lamented.

 

Media disappointment at return of democracy

Across the spectrum, corporate media endorsed the events of November, refusing to label them a coup. The New York Times editorial board claimed that the “increasingly autocratic” tyrant Morales had actually “resigned,” after “protests” over a “highly fishy vote.” The Washington Post did the same. “There can be little doubt who was responsible for the chaos: newly resigned president Evo Morales,” their editorial board wrote, as they expressed their relief that Bolivia was finally in the hands of “more responsible leaders” like Añez, (who, at the time, was giving security forces orders to shoot her opponents in the streets). Despite this, The Wall Street Journal’s board decided the events of November constituted “a democratic outbreak in Bolivia.”

Today, therefore, the corporate press is in a very tough spot, as they have to explain to their readers why the Bolivian people have just handed an overwhelming, landslide victory to a party they have been presenting as an authoritarian dictatorship who were overthrown by popular protests last year.

A number of outlets solved this by simply fastidiously avoiding reporting on the events of November or using the word “coup” to describe them. NPR’s Philip Reeves, for example, claimed Morales “resigned” amid an annulled election after “allegations of fraud,” leading to an “interim government” (Añez’s own public relations-minded phrase for her administration). The word “coup” only appears in the mouth of Morales, someone whose credibility the outlet has spent months undermining. Other organizations like Deutsche Welt and Bloomberg failed to use the word at all in their reporting.

The Associated Press, meanwhile, referenced the coup, but did not use the word, instead describing it as when “police and military leaders suggested he [Morales] leave.” It takes great linguistic skill to refrain from using by far the most appropriate word to describe events in Bolivia for what they are: a coup. Indeed, the linguistic gymnastics necessary to avoid using the word would be genuinely impressive were not an exercise in deceit and manufacturing consent for regime change.

CNN at least included the phrase “claims of a coup,” but presents it beside apparently equally justified “allegations of fraud among contested national elections.” But these two things are nothing like the same. One is a statement of fact while another is a debunked, discredited talking point used to overthrow a legitimate government.

Meanwhile, the BBC’s article on the election had an entire section called “why is the country so divided” which did not mention the massacres, the firesale of the country’s economy, the repression of media or activists, the persecution of the MAS or the U.S. role in overthrowing the elected government. Instead, it presented Morales himself as the prime agent of polarization, a common tactic among media discussing enemy states.

The New York Times also published a long, in-depth article on the election, yet it appeared that the only MAS “supporters” it was willing to quote were ones who constantly badmouthed Morales, the article also suggesting that MAS’ figures might be inflated, despite the fact they have now been accepted by Añez and Mesa as essentially accurate.

As such the corporate press refused to cover the incredible story of nationwide nonviolent resistance to authoritarian rule, forcing a government into accepting its own defeat, reminiscent of Gandhi’s campaign against the British in India.

A year of political turbulence

Last October, Morales won an unprecedented and not uncontentious fourth term. Yet the U.S.-backed opposition refused to accept the results, claiming that they had been rigged. The Organization of American States immediately backed them up, producing a flawed report on election meddling, something that was almost immediately disproven. Nevertheless, the right-wing mobilized and began a widespread campaign of terror, targeting, attacking, and kidnapping MAS politicians. On November 10, police and military commanders joined the coup, demanding Morales resign or else they would take matters into their own hands. Morales decided to flee to Mexico but made clear he was only leaving to prevent a bloodbath.

The military picked Añez, a little known senator from a party who gained only four percent of the public vote, to become president. She immediately granted security forces total pre-immunity for all crimes committed during the “re-establishment of order.” Her new interior minister, Arturo Murillo, oversaw the creation of masked, black-clad paramilitary units specifically aimed at political subversives, foreigners, and human rights groups. Journalists were attacked and, in one case, beaten to death, while foreign and alternative media were shut down completely. Murillo promised to “hunt down” his opponents like dogs. Morales himself was charged with crimes against humanity and faces spending the rest of his life in prison if he returns to his home country. Other MAS leaders on yesterday’s ballot also face long prison terms on dubious charges.

Añez pushed through the privatization of natural resources and state-owned businesses while in office, accepting loans from predatory organizations like the International Monetary Fund. She also reorientated her country’s foreign policy away from an independent path towards one completely in line with U.S. foreign policy aims, pulling out of multiple regional alliances and entering new ones. Under Morales, for example, Bolivia had declared Israel a ‘terrorist state.” Yet less than a month after the coup, Añez and Murillo were inviting IDF troops to the country to train their police forces in dealing with “leftist terrorism.”

The government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has also taken on a decidedly right-wing tone. Cuts to health provisions and the expulsion of hundreds of Cuban doctors (whom the government labeled as “terrorists”) caused the public health system to crash just before the pandemic became worldwide news. As a result, Bolivia has the third-highest COVID-19 death per capita rate in the world, comfortably surpassing the United States in severity. Añez herself contracted the virus in July.

Añez used the intensity of the pandemic as justification to continually suspend the elections she claimed she would hold, calling herself merely an “interim president.” Yet many inside the country felt the coronavirus was being used as an excuse to keep herself in power indefinitely. Throughout the year, Bolivia was engulfed in near continual protests, shutting the country down. As a result, the summer was marked by the rise of the virus and by a weeks-long peaceful general strike calling for elections. Fearing a potential revolution, Añez conceded and agreed to hold them in October.

After months of organized popular struggle in the face of a coup government that had been massacring them, Sunday’s result has been widely interpreted as a repudiation of the coup and a vote for socialism. MintPress’ Ollie Vargas, who has never made a secret of his political persuasions, said in the wake of the results:

On a personal level, I can’t believe this is finally happening, but it’s what we’ve always known. Despite the massacres, despite the persecution, despite U.S. intervention, the MAS is back and even more powerful. They can’t put a lid on the majority of the people.”

Morales celebrated the ascension of his former minister of finance to Bolivia’s top job. “We’ve received our democracy” he declared. “Sisters and brothers: the will of the people has been imposed. There has been a resounding victory for the MAS. Our political movement will have a majority in both houses. We have returned millions, now we are going to restore dignity and freedom to the people,” he added on Twitter.

Arce himself was in an equally joyous mood, telling Vargas last night that, “It seems that a great part of the Bolivian people have recovered their soul.” “I think the Bolivian people want to retake the path we were on,” he added. MAS supporters took to the streets to celebrate their victory, made all the more unlikely given the repression they have been subject to under Añez’s military regime.

Fears of violence and vote rigging against the MAS were rife, especially as the government had blocked foreign election observers from overseeing events, threatening to jail them. On Saturday, Argentinian congressman Federico Fagioli, an official observer representing his government, was arrested by police at El Alto airport. Video of the incident shows Fagioli shouting “I am being kidnapped” as multiple officers pick him up and forcefully carry him away.

What’s Next?

If Añez’s government does indeed step down, it will represent only the second time in Latin American history that a U.S.-backed coup against a progressive administration has been overturned. However, in Venezuela in 2002, the countercoup took less than 48 hours. In Bolivia, people have organized for nearly a year to achieve the same ends, giving the government far more time to embed and establish itself. The Bolivian people have a long history of organized struggle bringing down governments. In the early 2000s, nationwide protests against gas and water privatizations rocked the country, toppling unrepresentative regimes (including that of Mesa’s in 2005), setting the stage for Morales to become the most influential figure in Bolivian politics of the last 15 years.

The first indigenous president in the majority indigenous country’s history, Morales ran on the idea of 21st-century socialism, using his country’s considerable mineral wealth to fund social programs that cut poverty by half and extreme poverty by three-quarters, halving unemployment and increasing the country’s GDP by 50 percent. Yet his nationalization program and his outspoken criticism of capitalism and American imperialism on the world stage made him a prime target for regime change in Washington, who strongly supported the events of November, immediately recognizing and supporting Añez’s legitimacy.

Despite the fact that the MAS’ electoral victory looks certain, it is far from clear what sort of resistance they will face from other sources of power. “The next few days will be key for consolidating democracy in Bolivia. The MAS will need to embrace the patriotic elements within the police and military, to ensure the U.S./Murillo don’t launch a second coup against the majority of Bolivians,” Vargas warned. And how will the MAS deal with the coup plotters themselves, clearly guilty of serious human rights abuses. Are they really in any position to exert authority over the situation?

Of late, wherever there are governments critical of U.S. power (Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Iran, etc.) they are met with crushing sanctions in an attempt to destroy their ability to oppose Washington. Bolivia under Morales had already been labeled by some in the U.S. as a “narco-dictatorship.” If Arce does indeed come to rule his country, will he receive the Nicolas Maduro treatment?

For MAS supporters, however, those are questions for a different day. Today, they are celebrating a stunning and historic victory cheered by progressives the world over but angering Washington and corporate journalists in equal measure.

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Two for Tuesday

Sole

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The Election Has Already Been Hijacked and the Winner Decided: ‘We the People’ Lose

By John W. Whitehead

Source: The Rutherford Institute

“Free election of masters does not abolish the masters or the slaves.” ― Herbert Marcuse

Republicans and Democrats alike fear that the other party will attempt to hijack this election.

President Trump is convinced that mail-in ballots are a scam except in Florida, where it’s safe to vote by mail because of its “great Republican governor.”

The FBI is worried about foreign hackers continuing to target and exploit vulnerabilities in the nation’s electoral system, sowing distrust about the parties, the process and the outcome.

I, on the other hand, am not overly worried: after all, the voting booths have already been hijacked by a political elite comprised of Republicans and Democrats who are determined to retain power at all costs.

The outcome is a foregone conclusion: the Deep State will win and “we the people” will lose.

The damage has already been done.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has been tasked with helping to “secure” the elections and protect the nation against cyberattacks, is not exactly an agency known for its adherence to freedom principles.

After all, this is the agency largely responsible for turning the American republic into a police state. Since its creation, the DHS has ushered in the domestic use of surveillance drones, expanded the reach of fusion centers, stockpiled an alarming amount of ammunition (including hollow point bullets), urged Americans to become snitches through a “see something, say something” campaign, overseen the fumbling antics of TSA agents everywhere, militarized the nation’s police, spied on activists and veterans, distributed license plate readers and cell phone trackers to law enforcement agencies, contracted to build detention camps, carried out military drills and lockdowns in American cities, conducted virtual strip searches of airline passengers, established Constitution-free border zones, funded city-wide surveillance cameras, and undermined the Fourth Amendment at every turn.

So, no, I’m not losing a night’s sleep over the thought that this election might by any more rigged than it already is.

And I’m not holding my breath in the hopes that the winner of this year’s popularity contest will save us from government surveillance, weaponized drones, militarized police, endless wars, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture schemes, overcriminalization, profit-driven private prisons, graft and corruption, or any of the other evils that masquerade as official government business these days.

You see, after years of trying to wake Americans up to the reality that there is no political savior who will save us from the police state, I’ve come to realize that Americans want to engage in the reassurance ritual of voting.

They want to believe the fantasy that politics matter.

They want to be persuaded that there’s a difference between the Republicans and Democrats (there’s not).

Some will swear that Donald Trump has been an improvement on Barack Obama (he is not).

Others are convinced that Joe Biden’s values are different from Donald Trump’s (with both of them, money talks).

Most of all, voters want to buy into the fantasy that when they elect a president, they’re getting someone who truly represents the citizenry rather than the Deep State (in fact, in the oligarchy that is the American police state, an elite group of wealthy donors is calling the shots in cooperation with a political elite).

The sad truth is that it doesn’t matter who wins the White House, because they all work for the same boss: Corporate America. Understanding this, many corporations hedge their bets on who will win the White House by splitting their donations between Democratic and Republican candidates.

Politics is a game, a joke, a hustle, a con, a distraction, a spectacle, a sport, and for many devout Americans, a religion. It is a political illusion aimed at persuading the citizenry that we are free, that our vote counts, and that we actually have some control over the government when in fact, we are prisoners of a Corporate Elite.

In other words, it’s a sophisticated ruse aimed at keeping us divided and fighting over two parties whose priorities, more often than not, are exactly the same so that we don’t join forces and do what the Declaration of Independence suggests, which is to throw the whole lot out and start over.

It’s no secret that both parties support endless war, engage in out-of-control spending, ignore the citizenry’s basic rights, have no respect for the rule of law, are bought and paid for by Big Business, care most about their own power, and have a long record of expanding government and shrinking liberty. Most of all, both parties enjoy an intimate, incestuous history with each other and with the moneyed elite that rule this country.

Despite the jabs the candidates volley at each other for the benefit of the cameras, they’re a relatively chummy bunch away from the spotlight. Moreover, despite Congress’ so-called political gridlock, our elected officials seem to have no trouble finding common ground when it’s time to collectively kowtow to the megacorporations, lobbyists, defense contractors and other special interest groups to whom they have pledged their true allegiance.

So don’t be fooled by the smear campaigns and name-calling or drawn into their divide-and-conquer politics of hate. They’re just useful tactics that have been proven to engage voters and increase voter turnout while keeping the citizenry at each other’s throats.

It’s all a grand illusion.

It used to be that the cogs, wheels and gear shifts in the government machinery worked to keep the republic running smoothly. However, without our fully realizing it, the mechanism has changed. Its purpose is no longer to keep our republic running smoothly. To the contrary, this particular contraption’s purpose is to keep the Deep State in power. Its various parts are already a corrupt part of the whole.

Just consider how insidious, incestuous and beholden to the corporate elite the various “parts” of the mechanism have become.

Congress. Perhaps the most notorious offenders and most obvious culprits in the creation of the corporate-state, Congress has proven itself to be both inept and avaricious, oblivious champions of an authoritarian system that is systematically dismantling their constituents’ fundamental rights. Long before they’re elected, Congressmen are trained to dance to the tune of their wealthy benefactors, so much so that they spend two-thirds of their time in office raising money. As Reuters reports, “For many lawmakers, the daily routine in Washington involves fundraising as much as legislating. The culture of nonstop political campaigning shapes the rhythms of daily life in Congress, as well as the landscape around the Capitol. It also means that lawmakers often spend more time listening to the concerns of the wealthy than anyone else.”

The President. What Americans want in a president and what they need are two very different things. The making of a popular president is an exercise in branding, marketing and creating alternate realities for the consumer—a.k.a., the citizenry—that allows them to buy into a fantasy about life in America that is utterly divorced from our increasingly grim reality. Take President Trump, for instance, who got elected by promising to drain the swamp in Washington DC. Instead of putting an end to the corruption, however, Trump has paved the way for lobbyists, corporations, the military industrial complex, and the rest of the Deep State (also referred to as “The 7th Floor Group”) to feast on the carcass of the dying American republic. The lesson: to be a successful president, it doesn’t matter whether you keep your campaign promises, sell the American people to the highest bidder, or march in lockstep with the Corporate State as long as you keep telling people what they most want to hear.

The Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court—once the last refuge of justice, the one governmental body really capable of rolling back the slowly emerging tyranny enveloping America—has instead become the champion of the American police state, absolving government and corporate officials of their crimes while relentlessly punishing the average American for exercising his or her rights. Like the rest of the government, the Court has routinely prioritized profit, security, and convenience over the basic rights of the citizenry. Indeed, law professor Erwin Chemerinsky makes a compelling case that the Supreme Court, whose “justices have overwhelmingly come from positions of privilege,” almost unerringly throughout its history sides with the wealthy, the privileged, and the powerful.

The Media. Of course, this triumvirate of total control would be completely ineffective without a propaganda machine provided by the world’s largest corporations. Besides shoveling drivel down our throats at every possible moment, the so-called news agencies which are supposed to act as bulwarks against government propaganda have instead become the mouthpieces of the state. The pundits which pollute our airwaves are at best court jesters and at worst propagandists for the false reality created by the American government. When you have internet and media giants such as Google, NBC Universal, News Corporation, Turner Broadcasting, Thomson Reuters, Comcast, Time Warner, Viacom, Public Radio International and The Washington Post Company donating to political candidates, you no longer have an independent media—what we used to refer to as the “fourth estate”—that can be trusted to hold the government accountable.

The American People. “We the people” now belong to a permanent underclass in America. It doesn’t matter what you call us—chattel, slaves, worker bees, it’s all the same—what matters is that we are expected to march in lockstep with and submit to the will of the state in all matters, public and private. Unfortunately, through our complicity in matters large and small, we have allowed an out-of-control corporate-state apparatus to take over every element of American society.

We’re playing against a stacked deck.

The game is rigged, and “we the people” keep getting dealt the same losing hand. The people dealing the cards—the politicians, the corporations, the judges, the prosecutors, the police, the bureaucrats, the military, the media, etc.—have only one prevailing concern, and that is to maintain their power and control over the citizenry, while milking us of our money and possessions.

It really doesn’t matter what you call them—Republicans, Democrats, the 1%, the elite, the controllers, the masterminds, the shadow government, the police state, the surveillance state, the military industrial complex—so long as you understand that while they are dealing the cards, the deck will always be stacked in their favor.

As I make clear in my book, Battlefield America: The War on the American People, our failure to remain informed about what is taking place in our government, to know and exercise our rights, to vocally protest, to demand accountability on the part of our government representatives, and at a minimum to care about the plight of our fellow Americans has been our downfall.

Now we find ourselves once again caught up in the spectacle of another presidential election, and once again the majority of Americans are acting as if this election will make a difference and bring about change. As if the new boss will be different from the old boss.

When in doubt, just remember what the astute commentator George Carlin had to say about the matter:

The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls. They got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying. Lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests. They want obedient workers. Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork…. It’s a big club and you ain’t in it. You and I are not in the big club. …The table is tilted, folks. The game is rigged and nobody seems to notice…. Nobody seems to care. That’s what the owners count on…. It’s called the American Dream, ’cause you have to be asleep to believe it.

Posted in Authoritarianism, corporate news, Corruption, culture, Deep State, Dirty Politics, divide and conquer, Dystopia, Election Fraud, elites, Empire, media, news, Oligarchy, police state, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, State Crime, surveillance state | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment