Our Vanishing World: Rainforests

By Robert J. Burrowes

Rainforests are a crucial feature of Earth’s biosphere. Apart from being critical to Earth’s climate and vital carbon sinks, the major player in Earth’s hydrological (water) cycle, a massive producer of oxygen and home to most of the world’s species, rainforests are the home of a large indigenous human population. They are also the source of many vital resources, including medicines, used by humans around the world.

However, the vast range of ecological services that rainforests have provided ongoingly for the 400 million years of their existence, and which have been critical to the survival of homo sapiens since we first walked the Earth 200,000 years ago, are not measured and valued by accountants and economists: Have you ever seen a balance sheet or set of national accounts that includes an entry for ‘Value of ecological services taken from nature and on which life and our entire production of goods and services depend’?

Because these services have been available without the need for human management or intervention, and given the primitive conception of accounting and economics that humans use, the ecological services of rainforests are given no monetary value. Hence, essential ecological services are treated as worthless by virtually everyone in the industrialized world. As a result, modern industrialized humans have decided to systematically destroy the rainforests in order to extract a vast amount of short-term profit for the benefit of a few and the temporary satisfaction of many. So if we do not value ecological services such as oxygen and water generation as well as climate and weather-moderating capacities, what is it that we do value by destroying rainforests?

A small proportion of rainforest is logged to provide attractive rainforest timbers – such as teak, mahogany, ebony and rosewood – for a variety of decorative purposes, including making furniture, which can last hundreds of years.

However, a much wider range and vastly greater quantity of rainforest trees are cut or burnt down for purposes such as the following: acquiring timbers used in construction, clearing land to establish cattle farms so that many people can eat cheap hamburgers, clearing land to establish palm oil plantations so that many people can eat processed (including junk) foods based on this oil, clearing land to establish palm oil and soy bean plantations so that some people can delude themselves that they are using a ‘green biofuel’ in their car (when, in fact, these fuels generate a far greater carbon footprint than fossil fuels), mining (much of it illegal) for a variety of minerals (such as gold, silver, copper, coltan, cassiterite and diamonds), and logging to produce woodchips so that some people can buy cheap paper, including cheap toilet paper.

In essence then: We trade the essential life-giving and sustainably-available ecological services of Earth’s rainforests, also home to indigenous peoples and countless wildlife, for hamburgers and other processed junk foods, carbon-intensive ‘biofuels’, paper and some building and furniture materials, as well as some minerals. Obviously, some humans are far from clever at ‘making deals’.

But if you think that is bad, consider this: ‘by one estimate, a hectare of livestock or soy is worth between $25 and $250, while the same hectare of sustainably managed forest can yield as much as $850’ harvesting, depending on the location, such products as medicinal plants, rubber, nuts and fruits while benefitting from a range of ecotourism services and research opportunities. See ‘Rainforest on Fire: On the Front Lines of Bolsonaro’s War on the Amazon, Brazil’s Forest Communities Fight Against Climate Catastrophe’. Of course, you have to know how to manage the forest sustainably to yield this much income but that sort of intelligence is rare and invariably escapes those focused on destruction for short-term profit.

So how bad is this rainforest destruction? Well, worldwide we are currently destroying rainforests for these unsustainable and mainly short-term products at the rate of 80,000 acres each day. See ‘Measuring the Daily Destruction of the World’s Rainforests’.

Moreover, beyond the devastating impact this has on indigenous peoples, forcing increasing numbers of them to leave their destroyed homes in the rainforest to try to survive elsewhere, this rainforest destruction is also the key driver of species extinctions globally with one million species of life on Earth threatened with extinction. As reported in the recent Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services researched and published by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) – the scientific body which assesses the state of biodiversity and the ecosystem services this provides to society – ‘Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history. The IPBES Global Assessment ranks, for the first time at this scale, the 5 direct drivers of change in nature with the largest global impact. So what are the culprits behind nature’s destruction?’ Number 1. on the IPBES list is ‘Changes in land and sea use, like turning intact tropical forests into agricultural land’.

Let me briefly illustrate the nature and extent of this destruction by discussing rainforests in just three locations (the Brazilian Amazon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Indonesia/West Papua) where the destruction of rainforest was greatest in 2018 – see ‘The World Lost a Belgium-sized Area of Primary Rainforests Last Year’ – and which are representative of elsewhere around the planet where even World Heritage listed areas are ongoingly under threat.

The Brazilian Amazon

While the Amazon in South America occurs in several countries, two-thirds of it lie within the borders of Brazil. Unfortunately, since his fraudulent election in 2018, the neofascist, corrupt and insane president Jair Bolsonaro – see the definition of sanity, which Bolsonaro does not come close to meeting, in ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’ – has promptly eliminated years of painstaking effort by committed indigenous and environmental activists to convince previous governments to protect the Brazilian Amazon from the worst corporate and other depredations.

For just a taste of the documentation on Bolsonaro’s actions in accord with elite interests and to the detriment of indigenous and environmental well-being, see ‘Bolsonaro Caps Natives’ Lands, Pleasing Farmers in One of First Acts’, ‘Rainforest on Fire: On the Front Lines of Bolsonaro’s War on the Amazon, Brazil’s Forest Communities Fight Against Climate Catastrophe’, ‘Bolsonaro’s Clearcut Populism. “The Barbarism has Begun”’, this report from Amazon Watch: ‘Complicity in Destruction II: How northern consumers and financiers enable Bolsonaro’s assault on the Brazilian Amazon’ and ‘Amazon Deforestation Accelerating Towards Unrecoverable “Tipping Point”’.

The key drivers of rainforest destruction in the Amazon are soy production and cattle ranching. Brazilian soy accounted for 14.3% of the country’s total exports, generating $31.0 billion in 2017, while cattle exports accounted for about $5.4 billion. Because Brazil leads the world in exports of both of these commodities, it is the world market for these products that is driving these industries to aggressively expand activities to the detriment of the rainforest and indigenous peoples.

But the Amazon is huge, you might say: Does it matter if we destroy some of it for soy and cattle farming? Well, one recent study suggested that deforestation of 20–25% of the Amazon would be the tipping point beyond which it would cease to be a functioning rainforest ecosystem and this, as you might expect, would be catastrophic. Moreover, recent severe droughts appear to be ‘the first flickers of this ecological tipping point’ suggesting that it is already imminent. See ‘Amazon Tipping Point’.

So, to reiterate, the key driver of rainforest destruction in the Brazilian Amazon is consumer-generated demand for certain products in other parts of the world. And while the US and European countries play critical roles in destruction of the Amazon, China is the largest importer of agricultural products from Brazil so its government and consumers are complicit too. For example, as China’s demand for Brazilian soy surges due to the trade war between the United States and China, ‘it could drive further ecological catastrophe: 13 million hectares (50,000 square miles) in the Amazon and Cerrado could ultimately be cleared to meet this additional demand.’ See ‘Complicity in Destruction II: How northern consumers and financiers enable Bolsonaro’s assault on the Brazilian Amazon’.

The point then, is this: governments and ordinary people (in their role as consumers) in other parts of the world can play a vital role in defending the Amazon and its indigenous peoples – see, for example, Brazil’s Indigenous People Articulation – by choosing what they buy from Brazil. Boycotting rainforest timber, beef and soy bean products are powerful options to consider. But don’t forget, there is no point simply identifying and boycotting Brazilian timbers, beef and soy beans. If you want impact on the total market (to prevent one country’s timber, beef and soy beans being substituted for another’s), then you must boycott them all (unless you can clearly identify the source of the product as local and sustainable). Obviously, this takes commitment. The future of the Amazon depends largely on enough of us making that commitment.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa

The rainforests of the Congo Basin in central Africa are the second largest on Earth. Much of this rainforest lies within the borders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, crippled by corrupt government for decades and a new president elected earlier this year who has inherited a corrupt and inefficient state apparatus. See ‘Democratic Republic of the Congo: Overview of corruption and anti-corruption’.

Unfortunately, therefore, rainforests in the Congo have long been under siege on several fronts. With rebel soldiers (such as the Rwanda-backed M23), miners and poachers endlessly plundering inadequately protected national parks and other wild places for their resources, illegal mining is rampant, over-fishing a chronic problem, illegal logging (and other destruction such as charcoal burning for cooking) of rainforests is completely out of control in some places, poaching of hippopotami, elephants, chimpanzees and okapi for ivory and bushmeat is unrelenting (often despite laws against hunting with guns), and wildlife trafficking of iconic species (including the increasingly rare mountain gorilla) simply beyond the concern of most people.

The Congolese natural environment – including the UNESCO World Heritage sites at Virunga National Park and the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, together with their park rangers – and the indigenous peoples such as the Mbuti (‘pygmies’) who live in them, are under siege. In addition to the ongoing mining, smaller corporations that can’t compete with the majors, such as Soco, want to explore and drill for oil. For a taste of the reading on all this, see ‘Virunga National Park Ranger Killed in DRC Ambush’, ‘The struggle to save the “Congolese unicorn”’, ‘Meet the First Female Rangers to Guard One of World’s Deadliest Parks’ and ‘The Battle for Africa’s Oldest National Park’.

Unfortunately too, as with rainforests elsewhere, ‘What Happens in the Congo Basin Doesn’t Stay in the Congo Basin’: it impacts on regions across Africa playing a part, for example, in recent droughts in Ethiopia and Somalia causing millions of people to depend on emergency food and water rations. See ‘Congo Basin Deforestation Threatens Food and Water Supplies Throughout Africa’.

As with the Amazon, you have some powerful options to consider if you want to save the Congolese rainforests and their indigenous peoples. Again, refusing to buy rainforest timbers, conflict minerals and wildlife products is a good start but remember that key minerals in your computer and mobile phone are illegally sourced from the Congo so your thoughtful consideration of minimizing how many of these devices you own can play a part too. For a fuller account of this exploitation and its destructive impact on the rainforests and its indigenous peoples, with references to many other sources, see ‘500 years is long enough! Human Depravity in the Congo’.

Indonesia and West Papua

Indonesia has the most extensive rainforest cover in Asia – and is home to hundreds of distinct indigenous languages and over 3,000 animal species including Sumatran tigers, pygmy elephants, rhinoceros and orangutans – but the forests are being systematically degraded and destroyed. Rainforest cover has steadily declined since the 1960s when 82 percent of the country was covered with forest; it is less than 50 percent today. The rainforest is being destroyed by logging, mining, large-scale agricultural plantations (especially for palm oil), colonization, and subsistence activities like shifting agriculture and cutting for fuelwood. Much of the remaining cover consists of logged-over and degraded forest although large areas, including of the island of Kalimantan/Borneo (shared with Malaysia and Brunei), have been stripped bare.

Logging for tropical timbers and pulpwood (to make paper) is the biggest cause of rainforest destruction in the country where as much as 75 percent of the logging is illegal. Indonesia is the world’s largest exporter of tropical timber, which generates more than $US5 billion annually. And more than 48 million hectares (55 percent of the country’s remaining rainforests) are concessioned for logging. Destruction of the rainforest in Indonesia has opened up some of the most remote places on Earth to development: as rainforests in less remote locations have been decimated, timber corporations have stepped up practices on the island of Kalimantan/Borneo and the occupied West Papau, where great swaths of forests have been cleared in recent years. In fact, 20 percent of Indonesia’s logging concessions are in West Papua, despite ongoing resistance by West Papuans.

Unfortunately, the fastest and cheapest way to clear rainforests for plantations is by burning. Hence, every year ‘hundreds of thousands of hectares go up in smoke as developers and agriculturalists feverishly light fires before monsoon rains begin to fall. In dry years – especially during strong el Niño years – these fires can burn out of control for months on end, creating deadly pollution that affects neighboring countries and causes political tempers to flare’. See Indonesian Rainforests’.

Mining operations, including for coal, also have a devastating impact on the rainforests and their peoples. See ‘New report exposes World Bank links to destructive coal mining in Indonesia’. By far the worst of these projects, however, is the gigantic gold, silver, and copper mine in occupied West Papua, run by Freeport-McMoRan. As widely documented, the mining company has dumped appalling amounts of waste into local streams, rendering downstream waterways and wetlands ‘unsuitable for aquatic life’. Relying on large payments to Indonesian police and military officers, the mining operation is ‘protected’; this has resulted in many West Papuans being killed.

The waste from the mine, estimated by Freeport at 700,000 tons each day, covers several square miles and Government surveys have found that tailings from the mines have produced levels of copper and sediment so high that almost all fish have disappeared from vast areas of wetlands downstream from the mine.

Like other powerful corporations in Indonesia (and elsewhere), Freeport-McMoRan is well aware that there is little official interest in its abuses of local people and the environment as long as corrupt officials are given sufficient incentive to ignore them. As elsewhere in many parts of the world, therefore, corporate access to resources includes serious human rights abuses and persistent conflicts between companies and local communities which is ignored by corrupt politicians. See Indonesian Rainforests’.

Apart from the rainforest itself and the millions of people who live in them, destruction of the rainforest threatens the habitat of iconic species like Sumatran tigers and orangutans, as well as many others, and plays a part in destroying the climate too.

But the damage does not stop with the issues noted above. Forests across the world are being destroyed to make fabrics for clothing we wear every day. Fabrics like rayon, viscose and modal are all made from trees and, every year, more than 120 million trees are cut down to make clothing. This is done by companies such as Forever 21, Under Armour, Foot Locker, Prada Group and Michael Kors. You can join the Rainforest Action Network in campaigning to get these laggard companies to adopt responsible sourcing policies for their forest-based fabrics. See ‘Does your clothing contain rainforest destruction?’

Bizarrely, while its incredible rainforests, along with its coral reefs and beaches, play a part in attracting tourists from across the world to see Indonesia’s charismatic native species – such as orangutans, Sumatran tigers, Komodo dragons, whale sharks, sea turtles and manta rays – and to experience its adventure and dive destinations, this tourism also contributes significantly to the destruction as rainforests make way for tourist facilities.

So, as with Brazil and the Congo, you can boycott rainforest products from Indonesia and other countries where rainforests are being destroyed. Along with suggestions made earlier, responsible choices about the clothing you wear and the tourist destinations you choose (or boycott) will all make a difference.

The ‘Big Picture’ Fight for the Rainforests: What can we do?

A great deal. Halting rainforest destruction might be a complex undertaking but it is imperative if we are to have any prospect of preserving life on Earth. So I hope that you will consider the many options I have offered above and those I mention now and do as many as you can, even if you are already working on other critical issues such as the climate and the struggle to end war and the threat of nuclear war.

If you want easy options, you can support the campaign efforts of organizations that defend rainforests, indigenous peoples and wildlife such as the Rainforest Action Network, the Rainforest Information Centre, the Rainforest 4 Foundation and Rainforest Rescue which work closely with indigenous and local communities while campaigning against the governments and corporations destroying rainforests, as well as the banks and insurance companies that support this destruction.

If you recognize the pervasiveness of the fear-driven violence in our world, which also drives the massive over-consumption of resources by people in industrialized countries – see ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’ – then consider addressing this directly starting with yourself – see ‘Putting Feelings First’ – and by reviewing your relationship with children. See ‘My Promise to Children’ and ‘Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’.

If you want to understand and address the fundamental cause of violence in our world, see Why Violence? and Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice.

If you wish to campaign strategically in support of indigenous peoples and local communities in their struggles to halt the destruction of Earth’s rainforests. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy.

The governments and corporations that profit from the destruction of the rainforests are deeply entrenched and not about to give way without strategically focused campaigns to make it untenable and unprofitable for them to do so. This will include convincing key personnel, whether company directors of corporations involved in rainforest destruction, cargo ship owners, trade unionists (in many industries) and the many other agents involved in the rainforest destruction-to-customer supply chain, as well as ordinary consumers of rainforest products, to make conscious choices about the products they supply, use and/or buy. So strategy is imperative if we are to get corrupt and/or conscienceless governments and corporations, as well as people further removed from the source of the destruction, to end their role in rainforest destruction before it is too late.

The big deforestation drivers are timber, palm oil, cattle and soy while mining, oil drilling, clothing and dam construction all play significant roles too, depending on the country. And, as reported by the CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project): ‘The ABCD (The Archer Daniels Midland Company [ADM], Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus Company) trader companies have a large impact on countless commodity supply chains. For example, they represent up to 90% of the global grain trade. With a wide array of clients that go from Nestlé to McDonald’s, their role in managing deforestation risk is crucial’ and, so far, grossly inadequate. See ‘Revenue at risk: Why addressing deforestation is critical to business success’ which contains a long list of hundreds of companies (on pages 39-46) which are making zero effective effort to end their rainforest-destroying business practices.

Given the strategic sophistication necessary to tackle this complex problem effectively, if you want to view a 15 minute video of (or read a couple of short articles about) the inspirational Melbourne Rainforest Action Group (MRAG) that successfully led a national campaign from 1988 to 1991 to halt imports of rainforest timber into Australia, you can view it here: ‘Time to Act’.

In those cases where corrupt elites control or occupy countries, such as those controlling Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and West Papua, it might be necessary to remove these corrupt governments as part of the effort – see Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy – thus helping to restore the political space for local populations to defend rainforests and their rights.

You might also consider joining the global network of people resisting violence in all contexts by signing the online pledge of The Peoples Charter to Create a Nonviolent World.

But if you do nothing else while understanding the simple point that Earth’s biosphere, including its rainforests, cannot sustain a human population of this magnitude of whom more than half endlessly over-consume, then consider accelerated participation in the strategy outlined in The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth.

Or, if none of the above options appeal or they seem too complicated, 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 explanation above)
  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 buy rainforest timber
  8. I will not buy or use single-use plastic, such as bags, bottles, containers, cups and straws
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. I will not get news from the corporate media (mainstream newspapers, television, radio, Google, Facebook, Twitter…)
  12. I will make the effort to learn a skill, such as food gardening or sewing, that makes me more self-reliant
  13. I will gently encourage my family and friends to consider signing this pledge.

Feeling overwhelmed? Still prefer something simpler?

I wish I could, in all sincerity, offer you that option. If it were still 1990, I would. But the time for simple actions to make a difference is long past and time is now incredibly short. See ‘Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival’.

In essence, you have a choice: understand and act on the crucial importance of rainforests before we destroy their integrity and lose them completely. Or help to accelerate the human rush to extinction as a consequence of failing to do so.

 

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.

 

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Two for Tuesday

Linton Kwesi Johnson

Screechy Dan

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Our Ruling Elites Have No Idea How Much We Want to See Them All in Prison Jumpsuits

By Charles Hugh Smith

Source: Of Two Minds

Even the most distracted, fragmented tribe of the peasantry eventually notices that they’re not in the top 1%, or the top 0.1%.

Let’s posit that America will confront a Great Crisis in the next decade. This is the presumption of The Fourth Turning, a 4-generational cycle of 80 years that correlates rather neatly with the Great Crises of the past: 1781 (Revolutionary War, constitutional crisis); 1861 (Civil War) and 1941 (World War II, global war).

What will be the next Great Crisis? Some anticipate another great-power war, others foresee another civil war, still others reckon a military coup is likely, and some view a collapse of the economy and U.S. dollar as inevitable.

While anything’s possible, I propose a novel crisis unlike any in the past, a Moral Crisis in which the people challenge the power of the nation’s corrupt Ruling Elites: not just elected officials, but the technocrats of the Deep State, the vested interests pillaging the nation, the New Overlords of Big Tech, the financier New Nobility, the Corporate Media and the self-serving state/corporate technocrat Nomenklatura who do the dirty work of the Ruling Elites.

Divide-and-Conquer has been the absurdly easy strategy of the Ruling Elites to fragment and disempower the citizenry. It’s child’s play for the Ruling Elites to ceaselessly promote a baker’s dozen of divisive issues via the corporate media, and then watch the resulting conflicts split the citizenry into fragmented camps which subdivide further with every new toxic injection.

The one issue that could unite the fragmented citizenry is moral revulsion: As the Epstein case promises to reveal, there is literally no limit on the excesses and exploitations of the privileged few in America, no limit on what our Ruling Elites can do with absolute impunity.

The Nobility of the feudal era had some reciprocal obligation to its serfs; our New Nobility has no obligation to anyone but themselves. It is painfully obvious that there are two sets of laws in America: bankers can rip off billions and never serve time, and members of the Protected Class who sexually exploit children get a wrist-slap, if that.

Here’s the sad reality: everybody in the Ruling Elites looked the other way: all the self-described “patriots” in the Intelligence services, all the technocrats in the Departments of Justice, State, etc., the Pentagon, and on and on. Everybody with any power knows the whole class of Ruling Elites is completely corrupt, by definition: to secure power in the U.S., you have to sell your soul to the Devil, one way or the other.

Like all Ruling Elites, America’s Elites are absolutely confident in their power: this is hubris taken to new heights.

That the citizenry could finally have enough of their corrupt, self-serving Overlords does not seem in the realm of possibility to the Protected Few. There’s always a way to lawyer-up and plea-bargain for a wrist-slap, a way to bend another “patriot” (barf), a way to offer a bribe cloaked as a plum position in a philanthro-capitalist NGO (non-governmental organization), and so on.

The possibility that moral outrage could spark a revolt seems improbable in such a distracted culture, but consider the chart below: even the most distracted, fragmented tribe of the peasantry eventually notices that they’re not in the top 1%, or the top 0.1%, and that the Ruling Elites have overseen an unprecedented concentration of wealth and power into the hands of the few at the expense of the many:

Our Ruling Elites have no idea how many of us already want to see them all in prison jumpsuits, and they also have no idea how fast the moral revulsion with their corrupt “leadership” might spread. Scanning the distracted, consumerist rabble from the great heights of their wealth and power, they reckon the capacity for moral outrage is limited, leaving them safe from any domestic crusade.

They also trust that the citizenry can be further fragmented, further distracted, and so they will continue to be invulnerable. Or worst case scenario, a few especially venal villains will need to be sacrificed, and then all will return to the bliss of Neofeudal exploitation.

But they may have misread the American citizenry, just as they’ve misread history.

Posted in Activism, civil disobedience, Corporate Crime, corporate news, Corruption, culture, Deep State, Dirty Politics, divide and conquer, Dystopia, Economics, elites, Empire, Financial Crisis, History, Inequality, Neoliberalism, Oligarchy, Recession, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime, Technocracy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Politics Jeffrey Epstein Found Dead In Apparent Suicide Hours After Documents Released — FBI Investigation Launched (Updated)

By Tyler Durden

Source: Activist Post

Update: The FBI is opening an investigation into Epstein’s death according to media reports.

And according to NBC News correspondent Tom Winter, Epstein was not on suicide watch when he was found in his cell.

“He was, however, housed in his own cell without other inmates.”

Jeffrey Epstein has died after having reportedly committed suicide in his jail cell, according to multiple news reports, after a gurney carrying what is believed to be Epstein was seen wheeled out of the Manhattan Correctional Center around 7:30 a.m., according to the New York Post.

The 66-year-old Epstein was was previously placed on suicide watch after he was found “nearly unconscious” inside his cell with ‘marks on his neck,’ according to a Post report from late July. Investigators questioned former Orange County police officer Nicholas Tartaglione, suspected of killing four men in a cocaine distribution conspiracy, in connection with the incident. The former cop claimed to have not seen anything nor touched Epstein.

Needless to say, today’s news is highly suspicious.

As the Wall Street Journal‘s Ted Mann notes, “Even the time of day in this story is shocking. The first check-in on a prisoner who had already attempted suicide once was not until 7:30 a.m.?”

The apparent suicide comes just hours after a massive trove of documents was unsealed in a case linked to Epstein, in which one of his victims said she was forced to perform sex acts with high-profile individuals, including former Maine Sen. George Mitchell (D), former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D), money manager Glenn Dubin and MIT professor Marvin Minsky.

Virginia Giuffre, now an adult, says she was also sent to modeling executive Jean Luc Brunel and the late MIT scientist Marvin Minsky, according to parts of a 2016 deposition she gave. The testimony by Giuffre, who claims she was a “sex slave” for Epstein from 2000 to 2002, expands on her previous allegations, in court filings and tabloids, that she was forced to have sex with the U.K.’s Prince Andrew and Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz. Both men have strenuously denied those allegations. –Bloomberg

He was arrested on July 6 at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey on charges of sex-trafficking minors and subsequently denied bail.

Meanwhile, Epstein’s personal pilots had been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors in Manhattan last month, which could be used to corroborate accounts from Epstein’s accusers, as well as his travels and associates.

A conveniently timed sale

While prosecutors claimed that Epstein owns two private jets, the registered sex offender’s attorneys said in a court filing earlier this month that he owns one private jet, and “sold the other jet in June 2019.” Considering that he was arrested after returning from Paris in his Gulfstream G550, per Bloomberg, it suggests that Epstein sold his infamous and evidence-rich Boeing 272-200 known as the “Lolita Express” weeks before his arrest.

According to flight logs, former President Bill Clinton flew on the “Lolita Express” a total of 27 times. “Many of those times Clinton had his Secret Service with him and many times he did not,” according to investigative journalist Conchita Sarnoff – who first revealed the former president’s extensive flights on Epstein’s “lolita express” in a 2010 Daily Beast exposé.

Clinton claimed in a July statement that he only took “a total of four trips on Jeffrey Epstein’s airplane” in 2002 and 2003, and that Secret Service accompanied him at all times – which Sarnoff told Fox News was a total lie.

“I know from the pilot logs and these are pilot logs that you know were written by different pilots and at different times that Clinton went, he was a guest of Epstein’s 27 times,” said Sarnoff.

“It would not be surprising to find that some of these flight logs…were likely designed to hide evidence of criminal activity—or perhaps later cleansed of such evidence,” wrote the lawyers for some of Epstein’s accusers in a 2015 court filing.

Investigators may be interested in asking Mr. Epstein’s pilots whether they witnessed any efforts by Mr. Epstein to interfere with law enforcement, according to legal experts. In recent court filings, prosecutors have accused Mr. Epstein of tampering with witnesses, an allegation that Mr. Epstein’s lawyers denied in court.

Federal prosecutors in Miami and Mr. Epstein’s lawyers in 2007 negotiated over the possibility of Mr. Epstein pleading guilty to obstruction of justice, including for an incident involving one of his pilots, according to emails that became public in civil lawsuits. –Wall Street Journal

Meanwhile, prosecutors confirmed in filings that there are “uncharged individuals” in Epstein’s case – which has just gone away.

And look what’s trending:

Just be careful with those assumptions, citizen.

Posted in black ops, Conspiracy, corporate news, Corruption, culture, Deep State, DOJ, elites, Geopolitics, Law, media, Media Literacy, news, Oligarchy, society, State Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jeffrey Epstein Dies Of “Suicide”

By Caitlin Johnstone

Source: CaitlinJohnstone.com

Disappointing everyone yet surprising no one, accused sex trafficker and alleged billionaire Jeffrey Epstein has “committed” “suicide”. Details are muddled and conflicting, with CNN reporting that Epstein “was taken from New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center at 3:30 a.m. Saturday in cardiac arrest and died at an area hospital” and the New York Times reporting that “Mr. Epstein hung himself and his body was found this morning at roughly 7:30.”

Some reports claim that Epstein has been on suicide watch due to a prior alleged suicide attempt three weeks ago when he was found unconscious with bruising on his neck, others deny it. If he wasn’t it’s weird because he obviously should have been, and if he was it’s weird because it failed. Prisons vary greatly in how they implement suicide watch protocol, but at bare minimum it should mean that unsafe objects have been removed from the prisoner’s cell and monitoring has been greatly increased. Stockton University criminal justice professor Christine Tartaro told CNN in an interview on the subject in 2017 that on suicide watch “there should be constant, one-on-one eyes on (suicidal) inmates.”

Following Epstein’s arrest last month on federal sex trafficking charges, many people predicted that exactly this would happen, some half-jokingly and some not. This is because, as Whitney Webb of Mint Press News documented in a recent article titled “Mega Group, Maxwells and Mossad: The Spy Story at the Heart of the Jeffrey Epstein Scandal”, Epstein appears to have been involved in a complex Mossad-tied sexual blackmail operation and had close ties with many powerful people, including Donald Trump and the Clintons. The narrative that the Clintons have a penchant for “suiciding” their enemies was already a viral idea in right-wing conspiracy circles, and many of the early prognostications of Epstein’s fate came from that side of the political aisle.

But those voicing skepticism about Epstein’s death today come from all across the political spectrum, from left to right and from fringe to mainstream.

“People close to Epstein fear he was murdered… as Epstein told authorities someone tried to kill him in a previous incident weeks earlier. He was described as being in good spirits in recent days,” claims The Washington Post‘s Carol Leonnig.

“Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, various billionaire wall st. goons, hollywood elites and royal family creeps breathe a sigh of relief. He happens to have dirt on every powerful scumbag alive, how mighty convenient!” tweeted Secular Talk‘s Kyle Kulinski.

“If Epstein’s death is still under investigation, and no one can explain yet how he killed himself, why is mainstream media reporting it definitively as a suicide? Even the FBI is calling it an ‘apparent suicide’,” tweeted journalist Max Blumenthal.

“How was Epstein not on the most intensive suicide watch protocol available???” tweeted journalist Michael Tracey.

“Scandalous. I supervised jail suicide investigations at DOJ. Experts will tell you that it’s essentially always true that jail inmate suicides are preventable, so when one happens it represents a major failure on the part of the jail,” tweeted human rights lawyer Sam Bagenstos.

“Something about this whole situation stinks,” legal analyst Rikki Klieman told CBS today. “What you have is someone who attempted suicide and now is on a suicide watch, and in the midst of the suicide watch manages to commit suicide? There are gonna be heads that will roll from the Bureau of Prisons looking at the [Metropolitan Correctional Center], because this is the type of situation where you do not know if it’s a suicide or you do not know if it is something else.”

Others, of course, have been bleating about Russia for no reason.

“A guy who had information that would have destroyed rich and powerful men’s lives ends up dead in his jail cell. How predictably…Russian,” tweeted MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough to thousands of retweets and tens of thousands of likes.

This story is nuts. I personally am on record disagreeing with those on both sides of the aisle who’ve been claiming that the Epstein scandal was going to lead to mass arrests of extremely powerful people in Washington, because the swamp protects itself. We see that today clearer than ever. Whatever happened in that prison cell today, it made some nasty swamp monsters very happy.

“Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide ends the criminal case against him because no one else was charged in the indictment,” tweeted former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti, adding, “Epstein’s death means that there won’t be a public trial or other proceedings that could reveal evidence of his wrongdoing. Evidence collected via grand jury subpoena won’t be released to the public.”

Posted in black ops, Conspiracy, corporate news, culture, Deep State, elites, media, Media Literacy, news, Oligarchy, Social Control, Social Engineering, State Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Saturday Matinee: Fight Club

Fight Club: A philosophical analysis

Alter ego, consumerism, identity, anarchy, masculinity, order and chaos.

By DM

Source: blastingnews

Based on Chuck Palahniuk’s novel of the same name, a film that was initially a commercial failure is now widely considered a cult classic and a philosophical marvel. Fight Club is one of the most important films of its generation and one of Fincher’s best. This thought-provoking masterpiece scratches the surface of various philosophical concepts and makes its audience think.

It is still as relevant as ever, perhaps even more so than before. Emasculation, Consumerism, beauty standards, identity, chaos vs order — these philosophical concepts are perhaps even more topical today than they’ve ever been.

Philosophically radical, this is a film that condemns the society of consumerism. As Edward Norton’s character says: “It’s just, when you buy furniture, you tell yourself, that’s it.

That’s the last sofa I’m gonna need. Whatever else happens, I’ve got that sofa problem handled.”

Fight Club also takes a critical look at beauty standards for men and women both and at advertisements that are served to us through mass media. Identity and alter-ego are philosophical concepts on which Fight Club is based on. Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt’s character) is what the narrator (Edward Norton’s character) wants to be.

The ideal alpha male. A leader of men. Tyler Durden gradually appears throughout the movie, emerging from the narrator’s subconscious and almost destroying him in the process.

Order vs chaos

Order, anarchy and chaos are perhaps the most prominent theme of Fight Club. At one point, Tyler Durden says: “It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.” Although primarily a critique of consumerism, this is a rejection of order and an acceptance of chaos.

When the underground fight club evolves into Project Mayhem and starts pouring into the outside world, members of it begin to dismantle every societal concept, causing controlled, deliberate and channeled chaos. Installing anarchy and rejecting every societal norm that had turned them into slaves. This is how they attempt to set themselves free, but the main protagonist loses himself in the chaos, initially merging with his alter-ego and then rejecting it.

In today’s America, where controlled chaos is caused by the media and fed to the panicked public, Fight Club resembles a warped house of mirrors in which the reflection of today’s America is seen.

 

Posted in Art, culture, Film, Philosophy, Saturday Matinee, Video | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mass Media Delusions

By Dmitry, Orlov

Source: Club Orlov

For anyone who lives in the West (the US, the EU and its various adjuncts such as Australia, New Zealand) and wants to know what really goes on in the world, a major hindrance is the powerful filter imposed on reality by Western mass media. It uses two methods to prevent reality from leaking through to the public, one active, one passive.

The passive method uses omission and obfuscation: certain events and facts are simply not reported. Some are willfully suppressed, others carefully underemphasized, yet others are presented in a context designed to disguise their significance. For example, anybody attentive enough could have easily ascertained that Robert Mueller is senile and in no way shape or form was ever capable of running any sort of investigation or writing a report. And yet this salient fact was not reported at all; that’s willful suppression.

But now that Mueller has provided six hours of congressional testimony to prove this fact before anyone who cared to watch, outright suppression has become impossible and context substitution has come into play: those who draw attention to Mueller’s obvious senility are accused of being right-wing extremists. But how can a readily observable medical fact be dismissed as political bias? How could he have failed to recall important details from a report he supposedly wrote (or at least read)? Mind you, I am just using the Mueller disaster as a handy example. As I have explained many times, it doesn’t matter who is president and the entire ridiculous witch-hunt is an instance of fiddling while Rome burns.

The active method is to label all those who try to circumvent their filter as “conspiracy theorists”—a derogatory term that is easy to apply, although making it stick is rather tricky. It is easy to fall into the trap by insisting on a certain version of events without being in possession of specific physical proof. But it is equally easy to act as an independent collector and connoisseur of conspiracy theories (which are popular because they are interesting) in which case your accusers must be on par with you in their depth of knowledge of conspiracies or else be ready to forfeit their position as preeminent authorities on all things conspiratorial.

If none of the major Western news outlets reported a certain salient fact that can be readily exposed and attested by multiple sources by some people who, each one separately, do a bit of research, then how are these people conspiring, and how is that a theory? It can perhaps be argued that there is indeed a conspiracy—on the part of the major Western news outlets—to suppress this salient fact. That would indeed be a theory, but a difficult one to prove, and so why would anyone care to argue this point? Why not just let the salient fact speak for itself?

In short, the trick for avoiding the label of “conspiracy theorist” when reporting an unreported or underreported fact is to always couch it in the form of a question—“Here’s some evidence of something quite important, but Western mass media has failed to cover it; why?”—and leave Western mass media with the burden of proof that they didn’t conspire to suppress the coverage. Of course, no mass media outlet would ever accept such a challenge. Alternative responses include stony silence and, when that tactic starts looking ridiculous, resorting to ad hominem attacks and name-calling. But that leads to an inevitable loss of face because it automatically reduces to the childish game of “I know you are, but what am I?” As, for instance, in “Is refusing to report on Mueller’s obvious senility a sign of political extremism?”

Western mass media malfeasance doesn’t stop at suppression of facts; there is also its massive failing to provide any sort of meaningful analysis, or even to form rather obvious conjectures that we can then consider on their merits. For example, I might wildly conjecture that Robert Mueller was chosen as a senile stooge behind whose back Hillary Clinton’s political operatives conspired to unseat Donald Trump by a combination of falsified and coerced evidence, entrapment and various other forms of prosecutorial misconduct.

Again, I don’t have a dog in this race because I believe the US is in the process of flushing itself down the same golden toilet no matter who is its president. I have no particular love of “Donny, Putin’s man in Washington” (that’s a joke; Russians find it hilarious), but I do enjoy the comedic elements of watching this “Art of the Deal” president fail to close a single deal with anyone. In any case, I am perfectly happy to wait until the truth of the matter comes out. Sure, maybe it was Putin’s clever plan to make Americans spend four years beating each other up over an orange-haired buffoon who, as ordered by Putin, has been working tirelessly to wreck the relationship between the US and China and to ease China into an alliance with Russia, and also to wreck the relationship between the US and Europe, leaving a weakened and faltering US stranded all alone on the wrong side of the planet, but that’s just a conspiracy theory, isn’t it?

 

Posted in censorship, Conspiracy, culture, Deep State, Empire, Geopolitics, media, Media Literacy, news, propaganda, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, State Crime | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

WaPo Publishes Gabbard Smear Piece Filled With Blatant Lies

By Caitlin Johnstone

Source: CaitlinJohnstone.com

The Washington Post, which is wholly owned by a CIA contractor who is reportedly working to control the underlying infrastructure of the global economy, has published a shockingly deceitful smear piece about Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard in the wake of her criticisms of her opponent Kamala Harris’ prosecutorial record during the last Democratic debate.

The article’s author, Josh Rogin, has been a cheerleader for US regime change interventionism in Syria since the very beginning of the conflict in that nation. It is unsurprising, then, that he reacted with orgasmic exuberance when Harris retaliated against Gabbard’s devastating attack by smearing the Hawaii congresswoman as an “Assad apologist”, since Gabbard has been arguably the most consistent and high-profile critic of Rogin’s pet war agenda. His article, titled “Tulsi Gabbard’s Syria record shows why she can’t be president”, is one of the most dishonest articles that I have ever read in a mainstream publication, and the fact that it made it through The Washington Post‘s editors is enough to fully discredit that outlet.

You can read Rogin’s smear piece without giving Jeff Bezos more money by clicking here for an archive. There’s so much dishonesty packed into this one that all I can do is go through it lie-by-lie until I either finish or get tired, so let’s begin:

“Gabbard asserts that the United States (not Assad) is responsible for the death and destruction in Syria, that the Russian airstrikes on civilians are to be praised

This is just a complete, brazen, whole-cloth lie from Rogin. If you click the hyperlink he alleges supports his claim that Gabbard asserts “Russian airstrikes on civilians are to be praised,” you come to a 2015 tweet by the congresswoman which reads, “Bad enough US has not been bombing al-Qaeda/al-Nusra in Syria. But it’s mind-boggling that we protest Russia’s bombing of these terrorists.”

Now, you can agree or disagree with Gabbard’s position that the US should be participating in airstrikes against al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria, but there’s no way you can possibly interpret her acceptance of Russia doing so to be anywhere remotely like “praise” for “airstrikes on civilians”. There is simply no way to represent the content of her tweet that way without knowingly lying about what you think it says. The only way Rogin’s claim could be anything resembling truthful would be if “al-Qaeda” and “civilians” meant the same thing. Obviously this is not the case, so Rogin can only be knowingly lying.

“That bias, combined with her long record of defending the Assad regime and parroting its propaganda, form the basis for the assertion Gabbard has ‘embraced and been an apologist for’ Assad, as Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) said Wednesday post-debate on CNN.”

Gabbard has no record whatsoever of “defending the Assad regime”. This is a lie. There exist copious amounts of quotes by Gabbard opposing US regime change interventionism in Syria and voicing skepticism of the narratives used to promote said interventionism, but there are no quotes anywhere in which she claims Assad is a nice person or that he hasn’t done bad things. If such quotes existed, Rogin would have included them in his smear piece. He did not. All he can do is lie about their existence.

“To repeat: There is no quote in which Tulsi praises, supports, or otherwise ‘apologies for’ Assad,” journalist Michael Tracey recently tweeted with a link to his January articleon the subject. “I checked the record a long time ago, and it doesn’t exist. This is just a smear intended to delegitimize diplomatic engagement”

“Claiming that politicians are ‘defending’ objectionable rulers they meet with, in pursuit of achieving some alternative to war, is a tired trope that has been frequently used throughout history to discredit diplomatic engagement,” Tracey wrote. “As Gabbard told me in an interview shortly after returning from Syria: ‘The reason why I decided to take this meeting on this trip was because if we profess to care about the Syrian people — if we really truly care about ending their suffering and ending this war — then we should be ready to meet with anyone if there is a chance that that meeting and that conversation could help to bring about an end to this war.’”

Gabbard has been remarkably consistent in explaining her position that she opposes US regime change interventionism in Syria because US regime change interventionism is reliably disastrous. This isn’t “defending” anyone, nor is it “parroting propaganda”. It’s an indisputable, thoroughly established fact.

“Other Democratic candidates have promised to end U.S. military adventurism without making excuses for a mass murderer. It’s neither progressive nor liberal to defend Assad, a fascist, totalitarian psychopath who can never peacefully preside over Syria after what he has done.”

Again, claiming that Gabbard has done anything at all to “defend Assad” is a lie. If anything Gabbard has been too uncritical of establishment war propaganda narratives, calling Assad “a brutal dictator” who has “used chemical weapons and other weapons against his people.” Gabbard’s sole arguments on the matter have been in opposition to US military interventionism and skepticism of narratives used to support such interventionism, which only an idiot would object to in a post-Iraq invasion world.

Rogin argues that it’s possible to end US military adventurism without defending and making excuses for Assad, yet this is exactly the thing that Tulsi Gabbard has been doing since day one. Which means Rogin doesn’t actually believe it’s ever okay for any presidential candidate to want to end US military adventurism under any circumstances. Which is of course the real driving motivation behind his deceitful smear piece against Gabbard.

“Gabbard never talks about her other trip — to the Turkish-Syrian border with a group of lawmakers in June 2015, when she met with authentic opposition leaders, victims of Assad’s barrel bombs and members of the volunteer rescue brigade known as the White Helmets. Their stories, which don’t support Assad’s narrative, never make it into Gabbard’s speeches on the campaign trail.”

This one is bizarre. Rogin says this as though Gabbard’s meeting with Assad is something that she brings up “on the campaign trail” rather than something war propagandists like himself bring up and force her to respond to. The fact that those propagandists never bring up Gabbard’s meetings with the Syrian opposition is an indictment of their bias, not hers. The mental gymnastics required to make Gabbard’s meetings with all sides of the Syrian conflict feel more pro-Assad rather than less deserve an Olympic gold medal.

Obviously Gabbard having met with all sides is indicative of an absence of favoritism, not the presence of it. The fact that she didn’t come away from her meetings with empire-allied opposition forces with the opinion that the US should help storm Damascus doesn’t mean she supports any particular side.

“Gabbard’s candidacy should be taken very seriously — not because she has a significant chance of being president, but because her narrative on Syria is deeply incorrect, immoral and un-American. If it were adopted by her party and the country, it would lead the United States down a perilous moral and strategic path.”

Saying a “narrative” can be “un-American” is a fairly straightforward admission that you are authoring propaganda. Unless you believe your nation has one authorized set of narratives, a narrative can’t be “un-American”. This is as close as you’ll ever get to an admission from Rogin that US power structures work to control the dominant narratives about world events, and that he helps them do it. To such a person, opposition to your narrative control agendas would be seen as the antithesis of the group you identify with.

The US empire has an extensive and well-documented history of using lies, propaganda and false flags to initiate military conflicts which advantage it. To continue to deny this after Iraq is either willful ignorance or propaganda.

The fact that Rogin adds “strategic path” to his argument nullifies his claim that his position has anything to do with morality. If your foreign policy concern is with strategic leverage, you will naturally try to interpret anything which advances that strategic path as the moral choice.

“Listening to Gabbard, one might think the United States initiated the Syrian conflict by arming terrorists for a regime-change war that has resulted in untold suffering.”

This is exactly what happened. The US armed extremist militants with the goal of effecting regime change, and before Russia intervened they almost succeeded. According to the former Prime Minister of Qatar, the US and its allies were involved in this behavior from the very beginning of the conflict in 2011. Here is a link to an articlefull of primary source documents showing that the US and its allies had been scheming since well before 2011 to provoke a civil war in Syria with the goal of regime change. They did exactly what they planned to do, which is exactly the thing Rogin claims they did not do.

But Gabbard never even takes her analysis this far. She simply says the US should not get involved in another US regime change war, because it shouldn’t.

“Responding to Harris, Gabbard called Assad’s atrocities ‘detractions,’ [sic] before eventually saying she doesn’t dispute that he’s guilty of torture and murder. That’s a slight improvement from her previous protestations that there was not enough evidence.”

Rogin falsely implies here that Gabbard only just began accusing Assad of war crimes, and that she only did so in response to new pressure resulting from Harris’ criticism. As noted earlier, this is false; Gabbard has been harshly critical of Assad.

“Gabbard then quickly accused President Trump of aiding al-Qaeda in Idlib. ‘That does sound like a talking point of the Assad regime,’ CNN’s Anderson Cooper said. He could have just said she is wrong.”

Even the US State Department has acknowledged that Idlib is an al-Qaeda stronghold, and the Trump administration has taken aggressive moves to prevent the Assad coalition from launching a full-scale campaign to reclaim the territory. Claiming that this did not happen is a lie per even the accepted narratives of the US political/media class.

“Gabbard’s 2017 trip was financed and run by members of a Lebanese socialist-nationalist party that works closely with the Assad regime.”

Former US Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who accompanied Gabbard on this trip, dismissed this accusation as “so much horseshit I can’t believe it.” All parties involved have denied this narrative, which Rogin has played a pivotal role in promoting from the very beginning and to which he has been forced to make multiple embarrassing corrections.

“Gabbard’s plan to overtly side with Assad and Russia while they commit crimes against humanity would be a strategic disaster, a gift to the extremists and a betrayal of decades of U.S. commitments to stand up to mass atrocities. Democratic voters who believe in liberalism and truth must reject not only her candidacy but also her attempt to disguise moral bankruptcy as a progressive value.”

Another lie; Gabbard has no such plan. Opposing US regime change interventionism isn’t “siding” with anybody, it’s just not supporting a thing that is literally always disastrous and literally never helpful.

Rogin’s closing admonishment to reject not just Gabbard but her skepticism of US war narratives is yet another admission that he’s concerned with narrative control here, not with truth and not even really with a US presidential candidate.

Whoever controls the narrative controls the world, and shameless war propagandists like Josh Rogin are the attack dogs of establishment narrative control.

Posted in anti-war, corporate news, culture, Deep State, Dirty Politics, Empire, Geopolitics, History, imperialism, media, Media Literacy, Neocons, news, propaganda, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, State Crime, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment