Nightmare Fuel, A Conspiracy Crisis

Part One: Mind-Control, Thought Implantation, and Telepathy Tech

By Equanimous Rex

Source: Modern Mythology

When technology can be produced that mimics diseases such as schizophrenia, or phenomena such as telepathy, how do we discern fact from fiction? When our memories are fallible, and when people can, over time with great repetition, replace true memories with false — where does this leave us?

“Is there anybody out there?

One day when I was a child, I enthusiastically told my father that I could “talk, but in my head, where no one can hear me.” When my father replied that what I had described was called “thinking”, and that everyone does it, my heart dropped a bit. It seemed so interesting to me, and so banal to him. The world and my place in it were still mysteries to me, as for all children, and even the most mundane experiences seemed wondrous. I couldn’t blame him for what I saw as his lack of imagination.

I was a book worm and movie enthusiast, science-fiction and fantasy. A few years later, while watching Star Trek: TNG, I realized that mind control and telepathy were a re-occuring theme. There were so many examples of mind altering technology within the series that it reawakened this childhood curiosity, and a fear.

“What if people really could read my thoughts?” I wondered. What if people could control them?

I wasn’t exactly concerned. It was just a childish fancy, something that gets under our skin, but we have already developed the reality testing to maintain it as a hypothetical. A popular trope meant to freak us out. Right? Even before science fiction tried to make mind control tech seem plausible, we spun tales about thoughts and desires altered at a distance, or clandestinely acquired information garnered from supernatural sources. Our inner voice has been a source of anxiety for virtual eons, after all, if someone can control it, how can we trust it?

Just fiction, right? Well, yes and no.

This series will explore some of these connections…


“Everybody’s Out To Get You Motherfucker”

I was mildly religious back in the day, a non-denominational flavor of generic Christian. I should have noticed the similarity between how I felt about fictional mind-control and telepathy, and how I felt about the idea of God watching every thought or move I made. That feeling of having no privacy, of having inner thoughts and opinions weighed out and measured, and judged. Or maybe even manipulated directly. Somehow, I never made a link between the idea of an omniscient deity reading all my thoughts and judging my eternal soul, and telepathy as found in science-fiction and fantasy.

At least, not as a child.

Now I understand the can of worms we are opening. As we will see through the rest of this series, through the fusion of global disinformation, technology that can beam voices into your mind by vibrating the tiny bones in your ear, and the ever-present hum of all ideologies vying for you to attribute those voices to their cause, we’re quickly approaching a semantic apocalypse. This sounds crazy, I know. That’s kind of the point. Imagine you’re hearing a voice in your head that is telling you to kill all the Jews, or that Obama is the Antichrist, and then you open Twitter to find the President is amplifying that paranoia. That’s a hell of force multiplier for mass insanity. Anyone who has watched the news recently should understand how deadly serious this epistemic crisis is.

Let’s begin with “the crazy.” Who hasn’t heard of people wearing “tin-foil hats”? Usually a pejorative allusion to someone who has bought into conspiracy theory, the first recorded idea of a telepathy-blocking device can actually be found in the strange non-fiction book Atomic Consciousness: An Explanation of Ghosts, Spiritualism, Witchcraft, Occult Phenomena and all Supernormal Manifestations written by self-proclaimed seer John Palfrey in 1909, under the name “James Bathurst”. He posited a hypothetical “insulative electrical contrivance encircling the head during thought” for use against “telepathic impactive impingement”.

The first allusion to a “foil-hat” specifically used to block telepathy comes from Julian Huxley, brother of Aldous Huxley, who wrote a short science-fiction story titled “The Tissue-Culture King” (1926), in which a hat made of foil is used to block others from reading the protagonist’s mind.

Philip K. Dick, a popular science fiction writer, was himself beset by strange visions that he assumed were some kind of transmission. Much of his fiction revolves around the dissociation, cognitive dissonance, and paranoia of psychosis, drug-induced or otherwise: forms of invasion, disruption of thought-privacy, and personal autonomy. And the day-to-day experience of living in the techno-authoritarian world we are coming to inhabit.

The tale of Dick’s experience is too long to go into here, and not the focus of the article, but if you’re interested you can find information about it online. There’s even a comic that details the reported experience. I’d like to focus in on a particular quote from Dick’s retelling of the experience. The quote is from a 1979 interview with author and journalist Charles Platt. Dick discusses his confusion about whether he thought the “transmissions” were a supernatural (“God”) or technological (“the Russians”) phenomena.

“On Thursdays and Saturdays I’d think it was God,” he told Platt. “On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I’d think it was extraterrestrials. Some times I’d think it was the Soviet Union Academy of Sciences trying out their psychotronic microwave telepathic transmissions.”

You can find the interview audio (here).

Let’s consider both.


“ Very Superstitious, Wash Your Face and Hands

The trope of mind-control or telepathy is not one of modern invention. We can find examples of telepathy, and the various kinds of abuses it would entail, in folklore and mythology spanning centuries.

Readers familiar with Buddhism, particularly Japanese Buddhism, might know the term “satori”, which translates roughly to “comprehension; understanding”. However, there is another “satori”, a folkloric yōkai, a class of spirits or demon. The satori “monster” was said to be able to read people’s minds, and would then speak their thoughts aloud faster than the thinker could think them.

Another example of mind-control can be found in European folklore about witches. The Malleus Malificarum, a 15th century book on witch-hunting written by German inquisitor Heinrich Kramer, lists several ways in which a devil or witch may “enter the Human Body and the Head without doing any Hurt” and “the Method by which Devils through the Operations of Witches sometimes actually possess men.”

From the Malleus Malificarum:

“From this it is concluded that, since devils operates there where they are, therefore when they confuse the fancy and the inner perceptions they are existing in them. Again, although to enter the soul is possible only to God Who created it, yet devils can, with God’s permission, enter our bodies; and they an then make impressions on the inner faculties corresponding to the bodily organs. And by those impressions the organs are affected in proportion as the inner perceptions are affected in the way which has been shown: that the devil can draw out some image retained in a faculty corresponding to one of the senses; as he draws from the memory, which is in the back part of the head, an image of a horse, and locally moves that phantasm to the middle part of the head, where are the cells of imaginative power; and finally to the sense of reason, which is in the front of the head. And he causes such a sudden change and confusion, that such objects are necessarily thought to be actual things seen with the eyes.”

And of course, among countless other examples, there’s also the Abrahamic God with his alleged omniscience:

“12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:12–13 New International Version


“What I am is a control freak
I’ll infiltrate your life”

So whether in science-fiction, religion, or folklore, we can see that humanity has had anxieties about autonomy and privacy of thought for some time. But whether or not you believe in supposed psychic powers and the like, there remains the matter of self-fulfilling prophecies. We find inspiration from fiction, and in the case of weapons and warfare, developing technology specifically to frighten and confuse the targets, in addition to dealing physical harm. This is one of the many ways that fiction is written into reality. Given the role of reality television in politics at this time, we can probably imagine many more.

Where did this begin? There were probably many points of modern origin. But the most well known was MKULTRA was the code name for a now well-known series of declassified CIA experiments involving the use of psychotropic drugs and various techniques to coerce confessions from suspects, and yes, attempted mind-control. More books and articles than I can count have been written on this topic, so I mention it only as a reference point. While the project was ultimately deemed a failure by heavily-involved Sidney Gottlieb (chemist and employee of the CIA at the time of MKULTRA), it provides an example of real-world attempts at harnessing the mythological power of mind-control, a failed experiment that resulted in real casualties.

On November 28, 1953, Frank Olson, a scientist and CIA employee, jumped from a building and killed himself. Years later, the government admitted to his family that he had been covertly given LSD by his supervisor within the CIA just before the suicide. Later, it was uncovered that the CIA was at the time dosing people without their consent to further their MKULTRA experiments. This has been well dramatized on the recent Netflix series Wormwoodbut it is only one small piece of the CIA programs that grew out of the cold war conflict, such as Operation Midnight Climax, which by name alone is begging to be turned into another series.

Then there’s DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Defense responsible for developing emerging technologies to be used by the U.S. Armed Forces. According to WIRED journalist Sharon Weinerberger’s 2007 article, DARPA is trying to develop what they call “hypersound”.

“The goal of the Sonic Projector program is to provide Special Forces with a method of surreptitious audio communication at distances over 1 km. Sonic Projector technology is based on the non-linear interaction of sound in air translating an ultrasonic signal into audible sound. The Sonic Projector will be designed to be a man-deployable system, using high power acoustic transducer technology and signal processing algorithms which result in no, or unintelligible, sound everywhere but at the intended target. The Sonic Projector system could be used to conceal communications for special operations forces and hostage rescue missions, and to disrupt enemy activities.” (Emphasis mine)

The Modern Mythology-adjacent publication Narrative Machines includes some of the details of how and why DARPA is interested in analyzing language and memes in particular.

The interests of organizations seeking to manipulate obviously spans scales and contexts, from global sentiment analysis and manipulation, persona management, and enhancing battlefield awareness. All of these technologies point toward the kind of world we will soon inhabit.


Everything Is Under Control

It isn’t only that people are looking for ways to implant thoughts, mind-control, or utilize what amounts to telepathy; we are also starting to realize just how unreliable our memories and perceptions are to begin with — how much of a narrative it is, and a fiction at that. What we consider a closed-off, private space — our minds — actually turns out to be more like a sponge. Porous, an open system with influx and efflux. Liable to fallibility, and exploitation.

There’s a term for when people assume everything they perceive and remember is accurate and accurately depicts the world: naive realism. Its counterpoint is indirect realism, also known as cognitive representationalism.

Indirect realism posits that we cannot have a direct perception of the world, instead we interpret our mental representations of the world. If you doubt cognitive representationalism, simply look at any of the number of “illusion” art pieces on the Internet. (Here are a few examples.)

If naive realism were entirely correct, then there would be no illusions. It’s pretty much that simple. Since there are illusions, we can assume naive realism is somewhat incorrect, even though it is both natural and intuitive for humans to be naive realists. This “intuition” has played a major part in events ranging from the Satanic Panic of the 90’s to reports of individuals under hypnosis “remembering” alien abductions.

Surprisingly, hypnosis has a history of working, though not as intended. A far cry from how it is depicted in fiction — spin the wheel, use the pendulum, get mind-controlled slaves, etc — hypnosis seems to be more applicable as a false-memory implantation technique, or a means of otherwise putting ourselves into a suggestible state.

Dr. Joseph Green, professor of psychology at Ohio State co-authored a study in which people were warned that going under hypnosis could create false memories, or as he calls them “pseudomemories”, found that more than quarter of the participants acquired the false memories anyway.

According to Green, “There’s a cultural expectation that hypnosis will lead to more accurate and earlier memories, but that’s not true.’’

And: “The results suggest that warnings are helpful to some extent in discouraging pseudomemories” […] “Warnings did not prevent pseudomemories and did not reduce the confidence subjects had in those memories.’’ […] “Most research supports the claim that our memories typically begin around age 3 or 4, so it seems quite unlikely that these very early memories actually happened at the stated time. Many people believe that hypnosis can lead to earlier memories, although that has never been shown to be true. People’s expectations about what hypnosis can do will influence what they remember.’’

Elizabeth F. Loftus, a cognitive psychologist and expert on human memory, is known for her work on the “misinformation effect”. She gained notoriety because she suggested that people were capable of accidentally fabricating memories, and for advocating for people convicted of crimes based on eye-witness testimony when such testimony seemed to fall under false-memory syndrome. Her work has been considered both controversial and ground-breaking.

One troubling example is the wrongful conviction of Steve Titus. On October 12, 1980, a teenage girl was raped while hitchhiking. She provided various details on her assailant when she later called the police. The victim later picked Titus out a line-up (both her assailant and he had beards) and his car was the same color as the one the victim described. Titus did not have a three-piece suit (which was one of the details given to police) and his car had several differences to that of the car described by the victim.

Originally only saying that Titus “most resembled” the man who had raped her, the victim eventually declared she was certain it was Titus. This was what led Elizabeth Flotus to get involved in the case upon request, suspicious that this followed the “modus operandi” of false-memory syndrome.

Titus was then convicted of the rape and sent to prison. Eventually, police caught the actual perpetrator, a serial rapist named Edward Lee King, who later confessed to the rape of the hitchhiking teenager while in police custody.

The case of Steve Titus is considered, looking back, an abortion of justice, and wrongful imprisonment. Titus would go on to sue the police department involved in the investigation, but died of a heart attack before the case went to court. The police officer Titus accused of planting evidence — a similar brown folder to that which the victim described in her assailants car was found in Titus’s vehicle, but he denied ever seeing it — died six years later himself of a heart attack.

“Unhappily, Steve Titus is not the only person to be convicted based on somebody’s false memory. In one project in the United States, information has been gathered on 300 innocent people, 300 defendants who were convicted of crimes they didn’t do. They spent 10, 20, 30 years in prison for these crimes, and now DNA testing has proven that they are actually innocent. And when those cases have been analyzed, three quarters of them are due to faulty memory, faulty eyewitness memory.” Loftus said in a TED talk discussion on false-memory.

Worse Than Yesterday

These various uncertainties about the privacy and ultimate agency of our thoughts are only one part of the epistemic crisis I’ve outlined. A broader view can be found in the unmooring effect of a consumer-tech society itself. Author and philosopher RS Bakker wrote a blog post in 2011 that is showing itself quite prescient, “What Is The Semantic Apocalypse?”, in which he wrote,

The result of this heterogeniety is a society lacking any universal meaning-based imperatives: all the ‘shoulds’ of a meaningful life are either individual or subcultural. As a result, the only universal imperatives that remain are those arising out of our shared biology: our fears and hungers. Thus, consumer society, the efficient organization of humans around the facts of their shared animality.

In biological terms, my fear is that the Semantic Apocalypse is about to happen. Despite the florid diversity of answers to the Question of Meaning, they tend to display a remarkable degree of structural convergence. This is what you would expect, given that we are neurologically wired for meaning, to look at the world in terms of intent, purpose, and propriety. Research in this last, the biology of morality, has found striking convergences in moral thought across what otherwise seem vast cultural chasms.

He continues,

The million dollar question is really one of what happens once that shared neurophysiology begins to fragment, and sharing imperatives becomes a matter of coincidence. It has to be madness, one that will creep upon us by technological degrees.

Why does it have to be madness? Because we define madness according what our brains normally do. Once we begin personalizing our brains, ‘normally do’ will become less and less meaningful. ‘Insanity’ will simply be what one tribe calls another, and from our antiquated perspective, it will all look like insanity.

James Curcio and I are currently exploring this premise (among other things) in the Fallen Cycle web-comic BLACKOUT. Beginning with the false memories and blank spaces of drug blackouts and half-remembered dreams, where we all agree on the extent of our uncertainty, this can so quickly be expanded to all our seemingly waking and sober states.

Sometimes, people acquire false memories on their own, to be sure. But they are just as likely to be goaded one way or the other, depending on their suggestibility, to remember things inquired about by a well-meaning therapist unconsciously guiding them towards a particular recollection. In fact, there is no reason to suspect that people don’t intentionally try to implant false memories and associations via suggestion into other people. That is, after all, the bread and butter of advertising and politics.

Gas-lighting is a popular topic (and activity) on the Internet. While it’s usage has changed somewhat with popular adoption, gas-lighting refers to a concentrated effort to use psychological manipulation to convince someone their sanity, memories, and perception are inaccurate even though in reality, they are accurate. This is only one of an incredibly large toolkit available for global psychic warfare. When amplified through the reach and precision of targeted social media and media echo chambers alone, the most basic school-yard psychological tactics can be devastatingly effective.

Humanity has concerned about the privacy of their minds for centuries, if not longer. We’re concerned that our minds, or our hearts, as mentioned in the Bible, will be laid bare in front of others (supernatural or mortal) to judge. Or even worse, that we may be invaded, made to do things against our wills, controlled. The scrutiny of the Palantir is only the most recent form of this anxiety.

This anxiety comes from a real place. Despite ideological, religious, or philosophical models that state the contrary, I believe we’ve always known on some level our minds are open-systems. This is indicated by anxieties about mind-control and telepathy spanning centuries, across cultures, found in many instances of folk-lore, religion, and mythology. That, no matter how much we might declare ourselves possessing metaphysical free-will, there is an intuitive understanding that we can be manipulated, that our wills can be forced or coerced without our even knowing. That freedom is fleeting when we can’t actually know ourselves. Being forced to confront our “open” minds leaves some of us aghast in cognitive dissonance, only to double down on faith in metaphysical free-will and total autonomy of thought.

Governments, corporations, in truth any group with suitable funding and desire, have taken these human anxieties, as old as humanity itself, and used them as a blueprint with which to forge a new generation of psycho-weaponry, to use on whomever they like.

Once you’ve weaponized insanity, you kick out the legs of people’s grasp on reality. Nobody is sure anymore whether they are ill or being attacked. Genuine insanity is getting reaffirmed, actualized, even actively funded, while the most sane and sober are paralyzed by self-doubtThe implications of a world with these sorts of technologies being used are far-reaching, and the damage it will do to people’s sense of security in the world, of their perceptions, is likely to cause unintended side-effects.

Much of our response to the development of these technologies will be long-overdue. Will they force us to face ourselves, our fallible minds, and those around us who utilize these cognitive exploits as weapons or means of control?

… Or will we just go off the deep end?

Consider a control situation: ten people in a lifeboat. two armed self-appointed leaders force the other eight to do the rowing while they dispose of the food and water, keeping most of it for themselves an doling out only enough to keep the other eight rowing. The two leaders now need to exercise control to maintain an advantageous position which they could not hold without it. Here the method of control is force — the possession of guns. Decontrol would be accomplished by overpowering the leaders and taking their guns. This effected, it would be advantageous to kill them at once. So once embarked on a policy of control, the leaders must continue the policy as a matter of self-preservation. Who, then, needs to control others but those who protect by such control a position of relative advantage? Why do they need to exercise control? Because they would soon lose this position and advantage and in many cases their lives as well, if they relinquished control. […]

Extending the lifeboat analogy to the Ship of State, few existing governments could withstand a sudden, all-out attack by all their underprivileged citizens, and such an attack might well occur if the intentions of certain existing governments were unequivocally apparent. Suppose the lifeboat leaders had built a barricade and could withstand a concerted attack and kill all eight of the rowers if necessary. They would then have to do the rowing themselves and neither would be safe from the other. Similarly, a modern government armed with heavy weapons and prepared for attack could wipe out ninety-five percent of its citizens. But who would do the work, and who would protect them from the soldiers and technicians needed to make and man the weapons? Successful control means achieving a balance and avoiding a showdown where all-out force would be necessary. This is achieved through various techniques of psychological control, also balanced. The techniques of both force and psychological control are constantly improved and refined, and yet worldwide dissent has never been so widespread or so dangerous to the present controllers. — “The Limits of Control,” William S. Burroughs.

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Posted in black ops, CIA, consciousness, Conspiracy, culture, Dystopia, Law, Philosophy, Psy-ops, Psychology, Science, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Spirituality, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Forgotten Legacy of George H.W. Bush That the Media Won’t Tell You About

By John Liberty

Source: The Mind Unleashed

On Friday November 30th, former President George H.W. Bush passed away at the age of ninety four, according to a statement released by his friends and family.

While the establishment celebrates the life of the former president and Americans line up to mourn their fallen leader, the facts that are being reported in the mainstream media are far different than the legacy he is leaving behind.

The Early Years

George Herbert Walker Bush was born on June 12, 1924 in Massachusetts to Prescott Sheldon Bush and Dorothy (Walker) Bush. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Connecticut where he began his formal education at Greenwich Country Day School. At the age of eighteen, Bush joined the U.S. Navy.

During his tenure in the Navy, Bush was stationed with Torpedo Squadron 51 aboard the USS San Jacinto. On August 1, 1944 his unit launched an operation against the Japanese in the Bonin Islands. On September 2, 1944, Bush’s aircraft was downed leading to the death of eight Navy airmen, leaving Bush as the lone survivor. The episode later became known as the Chichijima incident and led to the future president being hailed as a war hero.

Political Career

Upon graduating from Yale, Bush began his career in politics and was elected chairman of the Harris County, Texas Republican Party in 1963. Three years later, Bush was elected to the US House of Representatives, marking the beginning of a meteoric rise which resulted in him being named director of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1976.

While Bush served less than a year as the head of the CIA, he was caught destroying evidence of US war crimes. As reported by MuckRock,

“Declassified records recently unearthed in CREST show the CIA waffled on a promise to obey the law in destroying records of Agency’s illegal activities and wrongdoing.”

Four years after serving as the director of the CIA, George H.W. Bush was elected as the 43rd Vice President of the United States. Serving under former President Ronald Reagan, Bush kept a low profile and avoided making any key policy decisions or criticisms of the Reagan administration, but attended a large number of ceremonies and public events.

In 1988, Bush was elected president defeating Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts. Within his first year in office, Bush’s approval ratings began to slip due to his inability to deal with Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega. Bush responded by deciding to invade Panama, and on December 20,1989 he deployed 25,000 troops to the tiny nation. Bush justified the invasion— code named operation just cause— on the grounds of national security. The president mislead the country by claiming Noriega had threatened the US, a claim which turned out to be untrue. After two weeks the conflict ended, resulting in the deaths of twenty American soldiers and as many as 2,000 Panamanians.

Less than a year after the invasion of Panama, Bush once again found himself responding to another foreign policy debacle. On August 2, 1990 Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein began an invasion of nearby Kuwait. In response, President Bush and the American media used the testimony of a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, known only by her first name of Nayirah to justify US intervention in Kuwait. However, Nayirah was later discovered to be the daughter of a U.S. ambassador, who was being coaxed by military psychological operations specialists.

In 1991, Bush gave his infamous ‘New World Order’ speech, which many people believe signaled the beginning of the PNAC plan also known as the Project For a New American Century.

Life After Politics

After leaving office in 1993, George H.W. Bush retired with his wife Barbara and built a home in a community near Houston, Texas.  Though retired, the former president would still face controversy. Last year, during the height of the #MeToo movement, at least five women women claimed they were abused by the former president. In an interview with Time Magazine, a woman named Roslyn Corrigan claimed Bush sexually assaulted her in 2003 when she was only 16-years-old. At least five more women have accused Bush of sexual assault, including an unnamed Michigan woman who came forward claiming the former president groped her in 1992 at a campaign event. Actress Heather Lind also stated, in a now deleted Instagram post, that Bush groped her during a photo-op in 2014.

Perhaps, instead of blindly praising a documented criminal, Americans should consider asking themselves what other crimes the US government and the media are covering up for the former president.

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Saturday Matinee: Bimbo’s Initiation

“Bimbo’s Initiation” (1931) is an unnerving and surreal Fleischer Studio short animation. It’s an early example of mass media featuring blatant occult symbolism and has influenced a number of artists such as Jim Woodring (the Frank cartoons), Richard Elfman (Forbidden Zone), Joe Dante (Twilight Zone: The Movie) and Jared Moldenhauer (the Cuphead video game).

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

Human Delusion and Our Destruction of the Biosphere: We Aren’t Even Trying!

By Robert J. Burrowes

Have you heard the expression ‘climate change’? That lovely expression that suggests a holiday in a place with a more pleasant climate.

Unfortunately, only the rarest individual has the capacity to see through the elite-promulgated delusion that generated this benign expression and its twin notions that 1.5 degrees celsius (above the preindustrial level) is an acceptable upper limit for an increase in global temperature and that the timeframe for extinction-threatening outcomes of this ‘climate change’ is the ‘end of the century’.

If you believe that this 1.5 degree increase is achievable or even viable for sustaining life on Earth and that the ‘end of the century’ is our timeframe then you are the victim of your own fear, which is suppressing your capacity to seek out, analyze and comprehend the evidence that is readily available and to then behave powerfully in response to it. For an explanation, see Why Violence?’ and Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice.

Therefore, your fear, rather than the climate catastrophe and other critical assaults on Earth’s biosphere, is the real problem.

The most casual perusal of the evidence in relation to what is happening to Earth’s biosphere – as distinct from the propaganda that is endlessly promulgated in the global elite’s corporate media – clearly indicates that the cataclysmic assault on our biosphere in a wide range of synergistic ways is now driving the sixth mass extinction event in Earth’s history and that, as a direct result of our relentless and rampaging destruction of habitat, it will take down humanity with it. Well within 10 years. See ‘Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival’.

Now if your fear hasn’t already been triggered so that you ceased reading this article, let me offer the barest outline of the nature and extent of the assault on Earth’s biosphere and why the climate catastrophe is only one part of it which nonetheless needs to be seriously, rather than tokenistically, addressed, as is usually suggested whether by most climate lobby groups or, of course, elite-controlled governments and the IPCC.

But before ranging beyond the climate to highlight other threats to the biosphere, did you know that governments and corporations around the world are currently planning or have under construction 1,380 new coal plants? That’s right. 1,380 new coal plants. In 59 countries. See ‘NGOs Release List of World’s Top Coal Plant Developers’ and ‘2018 Coal Plant Developers List’.

For just a taste of the detail on this rapid coal expansion, try the report ‘Tsunami Warning: Can China’s Central Authorities Stop a Massive Surge in New Coal Plants Caused by Provincial Overpermitting?’ and ‘The World Needs to Quit Coal. Why Is It So Hard?’

So if we are deluding ourselves about coal, what about oil? Can we expect a dramatic reduction in oil use to compensate for the substantial increase in coal use? Well, according to the just-released report of the International Energy Agency (IEA), while there is some projected improvement in fuel economy for cars and a projected increase in the number of electric vehicles, cars only account for about one-quarter of the world’s oil consumption and there is no projected reduction in the oil used to fuel freight trucks, ships and airplanes; for heating; and to make plastics and other petrochemicals. As a result, the agency expects global oil demand to keep rising through 2040.

To summarize: the IEA report notes that global carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.6% in 2017 and are on track to climb again in 2018 and, on the current trajectory, emissions will keep rising until 2040. See ‘World Energy Outlook 2018’ and ‘Clean Energy Is Surging, but Not Fast Enough to Solve Global Warming’.

So, given that we are led to believe that there is supposed to be some sort of international consensus to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 (which is far too high in any case) above the preindustrial level, why is this happening? Well, in relation to coal: ‘Powerful companies, backed by powerful governments, often in the form of subsidies, are in a rush to grow their markets before it is too late. Banks still profit from it. Big national electricity grids were designed for it.’ See ‘The World Needs to Quit Coal. Why Is It So Hard?’

And just to illustrate what those of us who are genuinely concerned are up against, if you want to read the latest breathtakingly delusional account of the state of the world’s climate which prodigiously underestimates the nature of the climate catastrophe and utterly fails to consider the synergistic impact of other critical environmental destruction, you can do so in the US government’s just-released report ‘Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States’ which is summarized here: ‘Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States; Report-in-Brief’.

This report is presented in one of the global elite’s primary propaganda outlets as follows: ‘A major scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies on [23 November 2018] presents the starkest warnings to date of the consequences of climate change for the United States, predicting that if significant steps are not taken to rein in global warming, the damage will knock as much as 10 percent off the size of the American economy by century’s end.’ See ‘U.S. Climate Report Warns of Damaged Environment and Shrinking Economy’.

At this point I must confess that despite my substantial knowledge of human psychology and widespread human insanity (and the fear that drives it), certainly afflicting the global elite, sometimes even I am impressed with the level of delusion that elites can propagate and have so many believe. See ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’.

Still, as Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment under Adolf Hitler once noted: ‘If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.’ What Goebbels didn’t know is that someone must be terrified – as we terrorize our children – so that they can be so victimized by propaganda as adults.

Anyway, apart from our destruction of Earth’s climate by burning coal and oil, not to mention gas, elites use geoengineering to wage war on Earth’s climate, environment and ultimately us. For the latest update on the geoengineering assault on Earth’s biosphere, listen to Dane Wigington’s latest superb ‘Geoengineering Watch Global Alert News, #172’ and read, watch and listen to the vast documentary record available on the Geoengineering Watch website which remind us how climate engineering is annihilating plants, toxifying soils and water, and destroying the ozone layer among many other outcomes. For a video explaining the role of geoengineering in the latest wildfires in California, see ‘Climate Engineering Total Desperation, Engineering Catastrophic Wildfires To Temporarily Cool Earth’.

All of the above is happening despite the existing temperature increase (about one degree) triggering the now-endless succession of deadly wildfires, droughts, cold snaps, floods, heat waves and catastrophic hurricanes (often in parts of the world where the corporate media can ignore them), as well as the out-of-control methane releases into the atmosphere that are occurring. See ‘7,000 underground gas bubbles poised to “explode” in Arctic’ and ‘Release of Arctic Methane “May Be Apocalyptic,” Study Warns’.

Moreover, these methane releases coupled with other ongoing climate impacts such as sea ice melt and permafrost thawing in the Arctic – summarized in ‘Will humans be extinct by 2026?’ – which has led to the ‘Arctic’s strongest sea ice break[ing] up for first time on record’ and the dramatic weakening of the Gulf Stream – see ‘Anomalously weak Labrador Sea convection and Atlantic overturning during the past 150 years’, ‘Observed fingerprint of a weakening Atlantic Ocean overturning circulation’ and Gulf Stream current at its weakest in 1,600 years, studies show’ – threaten imminent human extinction.

So do you think we are even trying? Or are we tinkering around the edges of this accelerating catastrophe and deluding ourselves that we are doing enough?

But this is far from the end of it. There are other critical threats to Earth’s biosphere that horribly complicate the nature and extent of this catastrophe. What are these threats?

Well, to leave aside a series of threats only marginally less drastic, here are some of the key ones, all of which seriously degrade (or destroy outright) vital components of the interrelated ecosystems (‘the web of life’) that make life on Earth possible.

Rainforests

We are currently destroying the world’s rainforests, mainly by logging them for timber and burning them down to make way for cattle ranches or palm oil plantations. In an extensive academic study, more than 150 joint authors of a report advised that ‘most of the world’s >40,000 tropical tree species now qualify as globally threatened’. See ‘Estimating the global conservation status of more than 15,000 Amazonian tree species’.

Why are more than 40,000 tropical tree species threatened with extinction? Because ‘Upwards of 80,000 acres of rainforest are destroyed across the world each day, taking with them over 130 species of plants, animals and insects.’ See ‘Half of Amazon Tree Species Face Extinction’ and ‘Measuring the Daily Destruction of the World’s Rainforests’. If you missed that, it was 80,000 acres of rainforest destroyed each day.

Oceans

We are destroying the Earth’s oceans by dumping into them everything ranging from excess carbon dioxide and vast amounts of synthetic poisons to plastic and the radioactive contamination from Fukushima. The oceans absorb carbon dioxide as one manifestation of the climate catastrophe and, among other outcomes, this accelerates ocean acidification, adversely impacting coral reefs and the species that depend on these reefs.

In addition, a vast runoff of agricultural poisons, fossil fuels and other wastes is discharged into the ocean, adversely impacting life at all ocean depths – see Staggering level of toxic chemicals found in creatures at the bottom of the sea, scientists say’ – and generating ocean ‘dead zones’: regions that have too little oxygen to support marine organisms. See Our Planet Is Exploding With Marine “Dead Zones”’.

Since the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster in 2011, and despite the ongoing official coverup, vast quantities of radioactive materials are being ongoingly discharged into the Pacific Ocean, irradiating everything in its path. See ‘Fukushima: A Nuclear War without a War: The Unspoken Crisis of Worldwide Nuclear Radiation’.

Finally, you may not be aware that there are up to 70 ‘still functional’ nuclear weapons as well as nine nuclear reactors lying on the ocean floor as a result of accidents involving nuclear warships and submarines. See ‘Naval Nuclear Accidents: The Secret Story’ and ‘A Nuclear Needle in a Haystack: The Cold War’s Missing Atom Bombs’.

Soil

But not all of our destruction is as visible as our vanishing rainforests and contaminated oceans. Have you considered the Earth’s soil recently? Apart from depleting it, for example, by washing it away (sometimes in dramatic mudslides but usually unobtrusively) because we have logged the rainforest that held it in place, we also dump vast quantities of both inorganic and organic pollutants into it as well. Some of the main toxic substances in waste are inorganic constituents such as heavy metals, including cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, nickel and zinc. Mining and smelting activities and the spreading of metal-laden sewage sludge are the two main culprits responsible for the pollution of soils with heavy metals. See ‘Soil-net’.

Far more common, however, is our destruction of the soil with organic based pollutants associated with industrial chemicals. Thousands of synthetic chemicals reach the soil by direct or indirect means, often in the form of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other poisons that destroy the soil, by reducing the nutrients and killing the microbes, in which we grow our food (which many people actually eat, at great cost to their health). See, for example, ‘Glyphosate effects on soil rhizosphere-associated bacterial communities’.

Using genetically modified organisms, and the chemical poisons on which they rely, exacerbate this problem terribly. But two other outcomes of the use of such poisons are that the depleted soil can no longer sequester carbon and the poisons also kill many of the beneficial insects, such as bees, that play a part in plant pollination and growth.

And, of course, military contamination and destruction of soil is prodigious ranging from the radioactive contamination of vast areas to the extensive and multifaceted chemical contamination that occurs at military bases.

Partly related to military violence but also a product of using nuclear power, humans generate vast amounts of waste from exploitation of the nuclear fuel cycle. This ranges from the pollution generated by mining uranium to the radioactive waste generated by producing nuclear power or firing a nuclear weapon. But it also includes the nuclear waste generated by accidents such as that at Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Again, for just a taste of the monumental nature of this problem, see Emergency Declared at Nuclear Waste Site in Washington State, ‘Disposing of Nuclear Waste is a Challenge for Humanity’ and ‘Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’.

Like destroying the rainforests and oceans, destroying the soil is an ongoing investment in future extinctions. And so is our overconsumption and contamination of the Earth’s finite fresh water supply.

Fresh Water

Whether wetland, river, creek, lake or acquifer, Earth’s fresh water is under siege. Given corporate negligence, this includes all of the chemical poisons and heavy metals used in corporate farming and mining operations, as well as, in many cases around the world where rubbish removal is poorly organized, the sewage and all other forms of ‘domestic’ waste discharged from households. Contamination of the world’s creeks, rivers, lakes and wetlands is now so advanced that many are no longer able to fully support marine life. For one summary of the problem, see ‘Pollution in Our Waterways is Harming People and Animals – How Can You Stop This!’

Beyond this, however, Earth’s groundwater supplies (located in many underground acquifers such as the Ogallala Aquifer in the United States) are also being progressively contaminated by gasoline, oil and chemicals from leaking storage tanks; bacteria, viruses and household chemicals from faulty septic systems; hazardous wastes from abandoned and uncontrolled hazardous waste sites (of which there are over 20,000 in the USA alone); leaks from landfill items such as car battery acid, paint and household cleaners; and the pesticides, herbicides and other poisons used on farms and home gardens. See ‘Groundwater contamination’.

Moreover, while notably absent from the list above, these contaminants also include radioactive waste from nuclear tests – see ‘Groundwater drunk by BILLIONS of people may be contaminated by radioactive material spread across the world by nuclear testing in the 1950s’ – and the chemical contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in search of shale gas, for which about 750 chemicals and components, some extremely toxic and carcinogenic like lead and benzene, have been used. See ‘Fracking chemicals’.

By the way, if you didn’t know it, our purchase and use of all of those hitech products – cars, computers, mobile phones, televisions… – coupled with our consumption of intensively-farmed animal products, all of which are produced using huge quantities of fresh, clean water, is rapidly depleting and degrading the remaining fresh water on Earth, as well as savagely exploiting the people from whose countries we take the strategic minerals and water necessary for such production. See, for example, ‘500 Years is Long Enough! Human Depravity in the Congo’.

War

In addition to the above (and many other biosphere-destroying activities not mentioned), relying on our ignorance and fearful complicity, elites have a budget of hundreds of billions of dollars annually – see the US budget for war in ‘Costs of Post-9/11 U.S. Wars to 2019: $5.9 Trillion’ – to kill huge numbers of our fellow human beings but also to destroy vast areas of Earth’s biosphere through war and other military violence. See, for example, the Toxic Remnants of War Project and the film ‘Scarred Lands & Wounded Lives’.

Unfortunately, too few activists have the awareness and courage to acknowledge the role that war plays in destroying the climate and environment, and include anti-war efforts in their campaigns. Campaigns that will fail dismally, and spectacularly, if the threatened nuclear war should eventuate. See ‘The War to End War 100 Years On: An Evaluation and Reorientation of our Resistance to War’.

Extinction beckons

In summary, our multifaceted, monumental and unrelenting assault on Earth’s biosphere is generating an extinction rate of 200 species (plants, birds, animals, fish, amphibians, insects and reptiles) each day with another 26,000 species already identified as ‘under threat’ – see ‘Red list research finds 26,000 global species under extinction threat’ – with some prominent scholars explaining how even these figures mask a vital component of the rapidly accelerating catastrophe of species extinctions: the demise of local populations of a species. See ‘Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines’.

For further evidence from the vast literature on this subject touching only on impacts in relation to insects and its subsequent impact on birds, see ‘Death and Extinction of the Bees’, ‘Insectageddon: farming is more catastrophic than climate breakdown’ and ‘“Decimated”: Germany’s birds disappear as insect abundance plummets 76%’.

So severe is this assault on the biosphere that recent research warns that the ‘alarming loss of insects will likely take down humanity before global warming hits maximum velocity…. The worldwide loss of insects is simply staggering with some reports of 75% up to 90%, happening much faster than the paleoclimate record rate of the past five major extinction events’. Without insects ‘burrowing, forming new soil, aerating soil, pollinating food crops…’ and providing food for many bird species, the biosphere simply collapses. See ‘Insect Decimation Upstages Global Warming’.

So what can we do?

If you are genuinely powerful, you can stop lobbying governments to tinker with their policies, for example, in the direction of renewable energy (which, alone, cannot solve the multiplicity of ecological crises).

Governments are not the problem. And they simply do as elites direct them in any case. (If you believe that voters decide governments and their policies, and that lobbying them is effective, then your fear is deluding you again.)

The real problem is you and me. We have swallowed one of the ‘big lies’ that Joseph Goebbels talked about: we have believed and acted on the capitalist imperative to endlessly overconsume so that economic growth can rise perpetually in our finite world: a planet that has ecological limits.

But, as I noted above, the big lie only works because our fear makes us believe delusion. Why? Because we were terrorized as children into accepting material goods as substitutes for our capacity to be our unique and powerful Self. See ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’.

The monstrous assault on Earth’s biosphere, that goes far beyond the climate catastrophe, is the outcome of each of us consuming more than we need and then fearfully deluding ourselves that it is necessary (or that the harm it caused was too little to matter or justified by some other consideration). Well, you can delude yourself as much as you like but it is still just that: a fearful delusion.

And the point is simply that you can choose differently and powerfully, if you have the courage. For a start, you can forego all air travel. You can travel without owning your own car. You can eat well without consuming meat or fish (and eating biodynamically/organically grown vegetarian/vegan food instead). In essence: If the demand for planet-destroying products is reduced, corporations will not produce them (and destroy the Earth in doing so). This is how the law of supply and demand works under capitalism.

Beyond these simple but vital measures, you can consider many other powerful options, particularly including (accelerated) participation in the fifteen-year strategy outlined in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’ which provides a simple plan for people to systematically reduce their consumption, by at least 80%, involving both energy and resources of every kind – water, household energy, transport fuels, metals, meat, paper and plastic – while dramatically expanding their individual and community self-reliance in 16 areas, so that all environmental concerns are effectively addressed.

The Flame Tree Project was inspired by Mohandas K. Gandhi who identified the environmental crisis decades before it became an issue in the West, and who lived his own life in extraordinary simplicity and self-reliance, symbolized by his daily spinning of khadi. ‘Earth provides enough for every person’s need but not for every person’s greed.’ He also invited us to powerfully follow our conscience, reminding us that ‘Hesitating to act because others do not yet see the way only hinders progress.’

But, critically important though he believed personal action to be, Gandhi was also an extraordinary political strategist and he knew that we needed to do more than transform our own personal lives. We need to provide opportunities that compel others to consider doing the same.

So if your passion is campaigning for change, consider doing it strategically as outlined in Nonviolent Campaign Strategy. For example, see the Nonviolent Strategy Wheel and the list of strategic goals necessary to halt the climate catastrophe and end war. Choose one or a few goals appropriate to your circumstances and conduct a strategically-oriented nonviolent campaign, as explained on the same website, to achieve those goals.

Sound strategy is vital given the insanity driving elite behaviour (such as planning/building 1,380 new coal plants). As mentioned above, see ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’.

If your fear makes it difficult to do things such as those suggested above, consider healing as explained in Putting Feelings First’.

If you want your children to be able to respond powerfully in the face of the biosphere’s progressive collapse, consider making ‘My Promise to Children’.

And if you want to join the worldwide movement to end all violence against humans and the biosphere, you can do so by signing the online pledge of The Peoples Charter to Create a Nonviolent World.

The bottom line is this. You can systematically and rapidly reduce your personal consumption and, one way or another, mobilize others or nonviolently compel them to do the same. Or you can let your fear delude you that the ongoing destruction of Earth’s biosphere is somehow unrelated to your personal choices about consumption and the choices of those around you.

Extinction beckons. The choice is yours.

 

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?’ http://tinyurl.com/whyviolence His email address is flametree@riseup.net and his website is here. http://robertjburrowes.wordpress.com

Robert J. Burrowes
P.O. Box 68
Daylesford, Victoria 3460
Australia

Email: flametree@riseup.net

Websites:
Nonviolence Charter
Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth
‘Why Violence?’
Feelings First
Nonviolent Campaign Strategy
Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy
Anita: Songs of Nonviolence
Robert Burrowes
Global Nonviolence Network

Posted in Activism, conditioning, consciousness, Consumerism, Corporate Crime, culture, Economics, elites, Energy, Environment, Geoengineering, Neoliberalism, Philosophy, propaganda, Science, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why Are so Few Americans Able to Get Ahead?

By Charles Hugh Smith

Source: Of Two Minds

Our entire economy is characterized by cartel rentier skims, central-bank goosed asset bubbles and stagnating earned income for the bottom 90%.

Despite the rah-rah about the “ownership society” and the best economy ever, the sobering reality is very few Americans are able to get ahead, i.e. build real financial security via meaningful, secure assets which can be passed on to their children.

As I’ve often discussed here, only the top 10% of American households are getting ahead in both income and wealth, and most of the gains of these 12 million households are concentrated in the top 1% (1.2 million households). (see wealth chart below).

Why are so few Americans able to get ahead? there are three core reasons:

1. Earnings (wages and salaries) have not kept up with the rising cost of living.

2. The gains have flowed to capital, which is mostly owned by the top 10%, rather than to labor ((wages and salaries).

3. Our financialized economy incentivizes cartels and other rentier skims, i.e. structures that raise costs but don’t provide any additional value for the additional costs.

It’s instructive to compare today’s household with households a few generations ago. As recently as the early 1970s, 45 years ago, it was still possible for a single fulltime-earner to support the household and buy a home, which in 1973 cost around $30,000 (median house price, as per the St. Louis FRED database).

As recently as 20 years ago, in 1998, the median house price in the U.S. was about $150,000— still within reach of many two-earner households, even those with average jobs.

As the chart below shows, real median household income has only recently exceeded the 1998 level— and only by a meager $1,000 annually. If we use real-world inflation rather than the under-estimated official inflation, real income has plummeted by 10% or more in the past 20 years.

This reality is reflected in a new study of wages in Silicon Valley, which we might assume would keep up due to the higher value of the region’s output. The study found the wages of the bottom 90% declined when adjusted for inflation by as much as 14% over the past 20 years:

“The just-released report showed that wages for 90 percent of Silicon Valley workers (all levels of workers except for the top 10 percent)are lower now than they were 20 years ago, after adjusting for inflation. That’s in stark contrast to the 74 percent increase in overall per capita economic output in the Valley from 2001 to 2017.”

source: Why Silicon Valley Income Inequality Is Just a Preview of What’s to Come for the Rest of the U.S.

Meanwhile, the median house price has more than doubled to $325,000 while median household income has stagnated. Please note this price is not adjusted for inflation, like the median income chart. But if we take nominal household income in 1998 (around $40,000 annually) and compare it to nominal household income now in 2018 (around $60,000), that’s a 50% increase–far below the more than doubling of house prices.

To raise stagnant incomes, the Federal Reserve and other central banks have attempted to generate a wealth effect by boosting the valuations of risk-on assets such as stocks, bonds and commercial real estate. But the Fed et al. overlooked the fact that the vast majority of these assets are owned by the top 10%–and as noted above, the ownership of the top 10% is concentrated in the top 1% and .1%.

As a result, the vast majority of the wealth effect capital gains have flowed to the top 1%:

Lastly, the cartel structure of the U.S. economy has raised costs while providing no additional value. One example is higher education, a cartel that issues diplomas with diminishing economic value that now cost a fortune, a reality reflected in this chart of student loan debt, which simply didn’t exist a generation ago:

Our entire economy is characterized by cartel rentier skims, central-bank goosed asset bubbles and stagnating earned income for the bottom 90%. Given these realities, the bottom 90% are left with few pathways to get ahead in terms of financial security and building secure family wealth.

 

Posted in Corporate Crime, culture, Dystopia, Economics, education, elites, Empire, Financial Crisis, Housing Crisis, Inequality, Labor, Neoliberalism, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

America Is on the Brink of a Nervous Breakdown

By John W. Whitehead

Source: The Rutherford Institute

“As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.” ― Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

Yet another shooting.

Yet another smear of ugliness, hatred and violence.

Yet another ratcheting up of the calls for the government to clamp down on the citizenry by imposing more costly security measures without any real benefit, more militarized police, more surveillance, more widespread mental health screening of the general population, more threat assessments and behavioral sensing warnings, more gun control measures, more surveillance cameras with facial recognition capabilities, more “See Something, Say Something” programs aimed at turning Americans into snitches and spies, more metal detectors and whole-body imaging devices at so-called soft targets, more roaming squads of militarized police empowered to do more stop-and-frisk searches, more fusion centers to centralize and disseminate information to law enforcement agencies, and more government monitoring of what Americans say and do, where they go, what they buy and how they spend their time.

All of these measures play into the government’s hands.

All of these measures add up to more government power, less real security and far less freedom.

As we have learned the hard way, the phantom promise of safety in exchange for restricted or regulated liberty is a false, misguided doctrine that has no basis in the truth.

Things are falling apart.

When things start to fall apart or implode, ask yourself: who stands to benefit?

In most cases, it’s the government that stands to benefit by amassing greater powers at the citizenry’s expense.

Unfortunately, the government’s answer to civil unrest and societal violence, as always, will lead us further down the road we’ve travelled since 9/11 towards totalitarianism and away from freedom.

With alarming regularity, the nation is being subjected to a spate of violence that not only terrorizes the public but also destabilizes the country’s fragile ecosystem, and gives the government greater justifications to crack down, lock down, and institute even more authoritarian policies for the so-called sake of national security without many objections from the citizenry.

Clearly, America is being pushed to the brink of a national nervous breakdown.

This breakdown—triggered by polarizing circus politics, media-fed mass hysteria, racism, classism, xenophobia, militarization and militainment (the selling of war and violence as entertainment), a sense of hopelessness and powerlessness in the face of growing government corruption and brutality, and a growing economic divide that has much of the population struggling to get by—is manifesting itself in madness, mayhem and an utter disregard for the very principles and liberties that have kept us out of the clutches of totalitarianism for so long.

Yet there is a method to this madness.

Remember, authoritarian regimes begin with incremental steps. Overcriminalization, surveillance of innocent citizens, imprisonment for nonviolent—victimless—crimes, etc. Bit by bit, the citizenry finds its freedoms being curtailed and undermined for the sake of national security. And slowly the populace begins to submit.

No one speaks up for those being targeted.

No one resists these minor acts of oppression.

No one recognizes the indoctrination into tyranny for what it is.

Historically this failure to speak truth to power has resulted in whole populations being conditioned to tolerate unspoken cruelty toward their fellow human beings, a bystander syndrome in which people remain silent and disengaged—mere onlookers—in the face of abject horrors and injustice.

Time has insulated us from the violence perpetrated by past regimes in their pursuit of power: the crucifixion and slaughter of innocents by the Romans, the torture of the Inquisition, the atrocities of the Nazis, the butchery of the Fascists, the bloodshed by the Communists, and the cold-blooded war machines run by the military industrial complex.

We can disassociate from such violence.

We can convince ourselves that we are somehow different from the victims of government abuse.

We can continue to spout empty campaign rhetoric about how great America is, despite the evidence to the contrary.

We can avoid responsibility for holding the government accountable.

We can zip our lips and bind our hands and shut our eyes.

In other words, we can continue to exist in a state of denial.

Whatever we do or don’t do, it won’t change the facts: the nation is imploding, and our republic is being pushed ever closer to martial law.

As Vann R. Newkirk II writes for the Atlantic:

Trumpism demands that violence be solved by local militarization: increased security at schools, the arming of teachers, and now, the adoption of guns in places intended quite literally to be sanctuaries from the scourges of the world. Taken altogether, what Trumpism seems to intend is the creation—or perhaps the expansion—of the machinery of a police state

In facing what appears to be a rising tide of violence—a tide that Trump himself elevates and encourages—the prescription of arms merely capitulates to the demands of that bloodshed. The purpose of political violence and terrorism is not necessarily to eliminate or even always to create body counts, but to disempower people, to spread the contagion of fear, to splinter communities into self-preserving bunkers, and to invalidate the very idea that a common destiny is even possible. Mandates to arm people accelerate this process. They inherently promote the idea that society cannot reduce the global level of harm, and promote the authoritarian impulses of people seeking order.

Where Newkirk misses the point is by placing the blame squarely on the Trump Administration.

This shift towards totalitarianism and martial law started long before Trump, set in motion by powers-that-be that see the government as a means to an end: power and profit.

As Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, recognized years ago, “Adolf Hitler is alive and well in the United States, and he is fast rising to power.”

Roberts was not comparing Trump to Hitler, as so many today are wont to do.

Rather, he was comparing the American Police State to the Nazi Third Reich, which is a far more apt comparison.

After all, U.S. government agencies—the FBI, CIA and the military—have fully embraced many of the Nazi’s well-honed policing tactics and have used them repeatedly against American citizens for years now.

Indeed, with every passing day, the United States government borrows yet another leaf from Nazi Germany’s playbook: Secret police. Secret courts. Secret government agencies. Surveillance. Censorship. Intimidation. Harassment. Torture. Brutality. Widespread corruption. Entrapment. Indoctrination. Indefinite detention.

These are not tactics used by constitutional republics, where the rule of law and the rights of the citizenry reign supreme. Rather, they are the hallmarks of authoritarian regimes, where the only law that counts comes in the form of heavy-handed, unilateral dictates from a supreme ruler who uses a secret police to control the populace.

The empowerment of the Gestapo, Germany’s secret police, tracked with the rise of the Nazi regime in much the same way that the rise of the American police state corresponds to the decline of freedom in America.

How did the Gestapo become the terror of the Third Reich?

It did so by creating a sophisticated surveillance and law enforcement system that relied for its success on the cooperation of the military, the police, the intelligence community, neighborhood watchdogs, government workers for the post office and railroads, ordinary civil servants, and a nation of snitches inclined to report “rumors, deviant behavior, or even just loose talk.”

In other words, ordinary citizens working with government agents helped create the monster that became Nazi Germany. Writing for the New York Times, Barry Ewen paints a particularly chilling portrait of how an entire nation becomes complicit in its own downfall by looking the other way:

In what may be his most provocative statement, [author Eric A.] Johnson says that ‘‘most Germans may not even have realized until very late in the war, if ever, that they were living in a vile dictatorship.’’ This is not to say that they were unaware of the Holocaust; Johnson demonstrates that millions of Germans must have known at least some of the truth. But, he concludes, ‘‘a tacit Faustian bargain was struck between the regime and the citizenry.’’ The government looked the other way when petty crimes were being committed. Ordinary Germans looked the other way when Jews were being rounded up and murdered; they abetted one of the greatest crimes of the 20th century not through active collaboration but through passivity, denial and indifference.

Much like the German people, “we the people” have become passive, polarized, gullible, easily manipulated, and lacking in critical thinking skills.  Distracted by entertainment spectacles, politics and screen devices, we too are complicit, silent partners in creating a police state similar to the terror practiced by former regimes.

Can the Fourth Reich happen here?

It’s already happening right under our noses. Much like the German people, “we the people” are all too inclined to “look the other way.”

In our state of passivity, denial and indifference, here are some of the looming problems we’re ignoring:

Our government is massively in debt. Currently, the national debt is somewhere in the vicinity of $21 trillion. Approximately half of our debt is owned by foreign countries, namely China, Japan and Saudi Arabia.

Our education system is abysmal. Despite the fact that we spend more than most of the world on education, we rank 36th in the world when it comes to math, reading and science, far below most of our Asian counterparts. Even so, we continue to insist on standardized programs such as Common Core, which teach students to be test-takers rather than thinkers.

Our homes provide little protection against government intrusions. Police agencies, already empowered to crash through your door if they suspect you’re up to no good, now have radar devices that allow them to “see” through the walls of our homes.

Our prisons, housing the largest number of inmates in the world and still growing, have become money-making enterprises for private corporations that rely on the inmates for cheap labor.

We are no longer a representative republic. The U.S. has become a corporate oligarchy. As a recent academic survey indicates, our elected officials, especially those in the nation’s capital, represent the interests of the rich and powerful rather than the average citizen.

We’ve got the most expensive, least effective health care system in the world compared to other western, industrialized nations.

The air pollution levels are dangerously high for almost half of the U.S. population, putting Americans at greater risk of premature death, aggravated asthma, difficulty breathing and future cardiovascular problems.

Despite outlandish amounts of money being spent on the nation’s “infrastructure,” there are more than 63,000 bridges—one out of every 10 bridges in the country—in urgent need of repair. Some of these bridges are used 250 million times a day by trucks, school buses, passenger cars and other vehicles.

Americans know little to nothing about their rights or how the government is supposed to operate. This includes educators and politicians. For example, 27 percent of elected officials cannot name even one right or freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment, while 54 percent do not know the Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war.

Nearly one out of every three American children live in poverty, ranking us among the worst in the developed world.

Patrolled by police, our schools have become little more than quasi-prisons in which kids as young as age 4 are being handcuffed for “acting up,” subjected to body searches and lockdowns, and suspended for childish behavior.

We’re no longer innocent until proven guilty.  In our present surveillance state, that burden of proof has now been shifted so that we are all suspects to be spied on, searched, scanned, frisked, monitored, tracked and treated as if we’re potentially guilty of some wrongdoing.

Parents, no longer viewed as having an inherent right to raise their children as they see fit, are increasingly being arrested for letting their kids walk to the playground alone, or play outside alone. Similarly, parents who challenge a doctor’s finding or request a second opinion regarding their children’s health care needs are being charged with medical child abuse and, in a growing number of cases, losing custody of their children to the government.

Private property means little at a time when SWAT teams and other government agents can invade your home, break down your doors, kill your dog, wound or kill you, damage your furnishings and terrorize your family. Likewise, if government officials can fine and arrest you for growing vegetables in your front yard, praying with friends in your living room, installing solar panels on your roof, and raising chickens in your backyard, you’re no longer the owner of your property.

Court rulings undermining the Fourth Amendment and justifying invasive strip searches have left us powerless against police empowered to forcefully draw our blood, forcibly take our DNA, strip search us, and probe us intimately. Accounts are on the rise of individuals—men and women alike—being subjected to what is essentially government-sanctioned rape by police in the course of “routine” traffic stops.

Americans can no longer rely on the courts to mete out justice. The courts were established to intervene and protect the people against the government and its agents when they overstep their bounds. Yet the courts increasingly march in lockstep with the police state, while concerning themselves primarily with advancing the government’s agenda, no matter how unjust or unconstitutional.

Americans have no protection against police abuse. It is no longer unusual to hear about incidents in which police shoot unarmed individuals first and ask questions later. What is increasingly common, however, is the news that the officers involved in these incidents get off with little more than a slap on the hands.

If there is any absolute maxim by which the federal government seems to operate, it is that the American taxpayer always gets ripped off. This is true, whether you’re talking about taxpayers being forced to fund high-priced weaponry that will be used against us, endless wars that do little for our safety or our freedoms, or bloated government agencies such as the National Security Agency with its secret budgets, covert agendas and clandestine activities. Rubbing salt in the wound, even monetary awards in lawsuits against government officials who are found guilty of wrongdoing are paid with taxpayer funds.

Americans are powerless in the face of militarized police. In early America, government agents were not permitted to enter one’s home without permission or in a deceitful manner. And citizens could resist arrest when a police officer tried to restrain them without proper justification or a warrant. Daring to dispute a warrant with a police official today who is armed with high-tech military weapons would be nothing short of suicidal. Moreover, as police forces across the country continue to be transformed into extensions of the military, Americans are finding their once-peaceful communities transformed into military outposts, complete with tanks, weaponry, and other equipment designed for the battlefield.

Now these are not problems that you can just throw money at, as most politicians are inclined to do.

These are problems that will continue to plague our nation—and be conveniently ignored by politicians—unless and until Americans wake up to the fact that we’re the only ones who can change things.

We’re caught in a vicious cycle right now between terror and fear and distraction and hate and partisan politics and an inescapable longing for a time when life was simpler and people were kinder and the government was less of a monster.

Our prolonged exposure to the American police state is not helping.

As always, the solution to most problems must start locally, in our homes, in our neighborhoods, and in our communities.

We’ve got to refrain from the toxic us vs. them rhetoric that is consuming the nation.

We’ve got to work harder to build bridges, instead of burning them to the ground.

We’ve got to learn to stop bottling up dissent and disagreeable ideas and learn how to work through our disagreements without violence.

We’ve got to de-militarize our police and lower the levels of violence here and abroad, whether it’s violence we export to other countries, violence we glorify in entertainment, or violence we revel in when it’s leveled at our so-called enemies, politically or otherwise.

For starters, we’ll need to actually pay attention to what’s going on around us, and I don’t mean by turning on the TV news. That will get you nowhere. It’s a mere distraction from what is really going on. In other words, if you’re watching, that means you’re not doing. It’s time to get active.

Pay attention to what your local city councils are enacting.

Pay attention to what your school officials are teaching and not teaching.

Pay attention to whom your elected officials are giving access and currying favor.

Most of all, stop acting like it really matters whether you vote for a Republican or Democrat, because in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t.

While you’re at it, start acting like citizens who expect the government to work for them, rather than the other way around. While that bloated beast called the federal government may not listen to you without a great deal of activism and effort brought to bear, you can have a great—and more immediate—impact on your local governing bodies.

This will mean gathering together with your friends and neighbors and, for example, forcing your local city council to start opposing state and federal programs that are ripping you off. And if need be, your local city council can refuse to abide by the dictates that continue to flow from Washington, DC. In other words, nullify everything the government does that is illegitimate, egregious or blatantly unconstitutional.

Finally, remember that when you strip away all of the things that serve to divide us, we’re no different underneath: we all bleed red, and we all suffer when violence becomes the government’s calling card.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the oppression and injustice—be it in the form of shootings, surveillance, fines, asset forfeiture, prison terms, roadside searches, and so on—will come to all of us eventually unless we do something to stop it now.

Unless we can learn to live together as brothers and sisters and fellow citizens, we will perish as tools and prisoners of the American police state.

Posted in Authoritarianism, civil liberties, corporate news, culture, Dirty Politics, divide and conquer, Dystopia, education, Empire, Environment, Law, Mass Incarceration, media, Militarization, news, police state, propaganda, Psy-ops, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, State Crime, surveillance state | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Two for Tuesday

Da Circle

Vinnie Paz

Posted in Art, culture, Music Video, Two for Tuesday, Video | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Dystopian Future of Facebook

By Mark Kernan

Source: CounterPunch

This year Facebook filed two very interesting patents in the US. One was a patent for emotion recognition technology; which recognises human emotions through facial expressions and so can therefore assess what mood we are in at any given time-happy or anxious for example. This can be done either by a webcam or through a phone cam. The technology is relatively straight forward. Artificially intelligent driven algorithms analyses and then deciphers facial expressions, it then matches the duration and intensity of the expression with a corresponding emotion. Take contempt for example. Measured by a range of values from 0 to 100, an expression of contempt could be measured by a smirking smile, a furrowed brow and a wrinkled nose. An emotion can then be extrapolated from the data linking it to your dominant personality traits: openness, introverted, neurotic, say.

The accuracy of the match may not be perfect, its always good to be sceptical about what is being claimed, but as AI (Artificial Intelligence) learns exponentially and the technology gets much better; it is already much, much quicker than human intelligence.

Recently at Columbia University a competition was set up between human lawyers and their AI counterparts. Both read a series of non-disclosure agreements with loopholes in them. AI found 95% compared to 88% by humans. The human lawyers took 90 minutes to read them; AI took 22 seconds. More incredibly still, last year Google’s AlphaZero beat Stockfish 8 in chess. Stockfish 8 is an open-sourced chess engine with access to centuries of human chess experience. Yet AlphaZero taught itself using machine learning principles, free of human instruction, beating Stockfish 8 28 times and drawing 72 out of 100. It took AlphaZero four hours to independently teach itself chess. Four hours from blank slate to genius.

A common misconception about algorithms is that they can be easily controlled, rather they can learn, change and run themselves-a process known as deep “neural” learning. In other words, they run on self-improving feed back loops. Much of this is positive of course, unthought of solutions by humans to collective problems like climate change are more possible in the future. The social payoffs could be huge too. But what of the use of AI for other means more nefarious. What if, as Yuval Noah Hariri says, AI becomes just another tool to be used by elites to consolidate their power even further in the 21stcentury. History teaches us that it isn’t luddite to ask this question, nor is it merely indulging in catastrophic thinking about the future. Rapidly evolving technology ending up in the hands of just a few mega companies, unregulated and uncontrolled, should seriously concern us all.

Algorithms, as Jamie Bartlett the author of The People Vs Tech puts it, are “the keys to the magic kingdom” of understanding deep seated human psychology: they filter, predict, correlate, target & learn. They also manipulate. We would be naive in the extreme to think they already don’t, and even more naive to think the manipulation is done only by commercial entities. After all, it’s not as if there aren’t lots of online tribes, some manufactured and some not, to be manipulated into and out of political viewpoints, our fleeced of their money.

In 2017 Facebook said they could detect teenagers’ moods and emotions such as feeling nervous and insecure by their entries, a claim they denied later, adding we do not, “offer tools to target people based on their emotional state”. The internal report was written by two Australian executives-Andy Sinn and David Fernandez. The report according to The Guardian was written for a large bank and said that, “the company has a database of its young users – 1.9 million high schoolers, 1.5 million tertiary students and 3 million young workers”.

Going one better still, Affectiva, a Boston company, claims to be able to detect and decode complex emotional and cognitive data from your face, voice and physiological state using emotion recognition technology (ECT)-amassing 12 billion “emotion data points” across gender, age & ethnicity.  Its founder has declared that Affectiva’s ECT can read your heart rate from a webcam without the you wearing any sensors, simply by using the reflection of your face which highlights blood flow-a reflection of your blood pressure. Next time you’re listening to Newstalk’s breakfast show, think of that.

Affectiva’s ultimate goal of course, when you get past all the feel-good optimistic guff about “social connectivity”, “awesome innovation”, and worst of all “empowering” is, to use their own words, to “enable media creators to optimize their content”. Profiting from decoding our emotional states in other words.

Maybe Facebook (and Google) would use this technology wisely for our benefit, then again maybe not. It isn’t such a stretch to imagine how it could be used unethically too. To microtarget customised ads and messages at us depending on our state of mind at given time, say, and allowing Cambridge Analytica to harvest the personal data of 87 million Facebook users to subvert democracy with Brexit & Trump. Facebook claims they weren’t aware of this though.  Well, maybe, maybe not, and in spite of their protests in recent years they are still not especially transparent or accountable given their enormous cultural and social power in our lives. Curiouser and Curiouser you might think, and you’d be right.

The second Facebook patent is even more interesting, if that’s the right word, or dystopian if you prefer. Patented this June, published under the code US20180167677 (with the abstract title of Broadcast Content View Analysis Based on Ambient Audio Recording, application no: 15/376,515) illustrates a process by which secret messages- ‘ambient audio fingerprints’ in the jargon-embedded in TV ads, would trigger your smart technology (phone or TV) to record you while the ad was playing. Presumably to gauge your reaction to the product being advertised at you through, perhaps, voice biometrics (i.e. the identification and recognition of the pitch and tone of your voice).

As the patent explains in near impenetrable but just about understandable jargon this is done by first, detecting one or more broadcasting signals (the advertisement) of a content item. Second, ambient audio of the content item is recorded, and then the audio feature is extracted “from the recorded ambient audio to generate an ambient fingerprint” and finally, wait for it, “ the ambient audio fingerprint, time information of the recorded ambient audio, and an identifier of an individual associated with a client device (you and your phone or smart TV) recording the ambient audio” is sent, “to an online system for determining whether there was an impression of the content by the individual.” It goes on to say that “the impression of the identified content item by the identified individual” is logged in a “data store of the online system”.

It goes on to state that “content providers have a vested interest in knowing who have listened and/or viewed their content” and that the feature described in the patent are not exhaustive, and that “many additional features and advantages will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art…”.

It is already obvious we don’t know how much Facebook and other big tech platforms monitor us, neither do we know how much data they hold on us individually and collectively and, critically, who has access to that data and how they could use it.

If you can sell consumer goods by such manipulation why not whole ideologies, chipping away at our human agency one dystopian tech innovation at a time, paving the way for the morphing of late stage capitalism into authoritarian capitalism; one efficiency gain at a time.

If put into place such “innovations” are designed to monitor our emotional states for monetary gain. In essence, it is a type of online mood tracking where we are the digital lab rats.  Facebook is already valued at half a trillion US dollars giving it huge economic and cultural power.

According to Private Eye magazine, Facebook’s legal team say the patent was filed “to prevent aggression from other companies”, and that “patents tend to focus on future-looking technology that is often speculative in nature and could be commercialised by other companies”. As Private Eye pointed out though, it’s not as if Facebook has been completely transparent about such secretive issues in the past or present. The fact that Facebook generates billions by manipulating our emotions is not a surprise us, their business model is based on it, but how they intend to do it in the future should surprise, and alert us. We are after all the product. Over 90% of their revenues comes from selling adverts. They have the market incentive.

How will all this play out in the future? It isn’t difficult to build a picture of a commercialised and rapacious big tech dystopia, the very opposite of the freedoms and civil liberties envisaged by the original pioneers of the internet, and the opposite of how they currently perceive themselves.

Verint, a leading multinational analytics & biometric corporation, with an office in Ireland, has been known to install and sell, “intrusive mass surveillance systems worldwide including to authoritarian governments”, according to Privacy International. Governments that routinely commit human rights abuses on their own citizens.

China, a world leader in surveillance capitalism, recently declared that by 2020 a national video surveillance network, Xueliang, will be fully operationable, Sharp Eyes in English-Kafka and Orwell must be smirking knowingly somewhere. The term sharp eyes harks back to the post war slogan in communist China of “The people have sharp eyes”, when neighbours were encouraged to spy and tell on other neighbours of counter revolutionary or defeatist gossip about the 1949 revolution.

Democracies too have built overarching systems of surveillance. Edward Snowden told us in 2013 that the NSA was given secret direct access to the servers of big tech companies (Facebook, YouTube, Google and others) to collect private communications. As Glenn Greenwald said, the NSA’s unofficial “motto of omniscience” is: Know it all, Collect it all, Process it all.

Jaron Lanier, pioneer of virtual reality technology and a tech renegade, and an apostate to some, recently called the likes of Facebook and Google “behaviour manipulation empires”. Their pervasive surveillance and subtle manipulation through “weaponised advertising” he argues debases democracy by polarising debate at a scale unthinkable even just five or ten years ago, and it’s not only advertising that can be weaponised. Facebook, Google, Twitter and Instagram all have “manipulation engines” (algorithms we know little about) running in the background Lanier says, designed specifically by thousands of psychological & “emotional engineers” (“choice architects” or “product philosophers” to use the inane corporate gobbledygook). Their job is to keep you addicted to what’s now known as the “attention economy”-and attention equals profit. A better description still might be the attention/anxiety economy. Twitter has for instance a 3 second time delay between the page loading and notification loading, Facebook something similar-and always red for urgent. They are known in psychology as intermittent variable rewards, negative reinforcement in this context which keep behaviour going by the hope of maybe being rewarded, with a like or a follower. This builds anticipation and releases feel good neurotransmitters, and taps into your need to belong, and to be heard-we’re intensely social creatures. The downside is the opposite of course,where we can be thrown into an emotional rollercoaster if the expected dopamine hit doesn’t come.

The goal is addiction into a consumption frenzy of socially approved validation. Big Tech’s social media universe is, as one reformed “choice architect” put it, “an attention seeking gravitational wormhole” that sucks you into their profit seeking universe. If you don’t think so, check how many times you look at your phone every day. The average person checks 150 times. Most of that is social media. We’re all in an attention arms race now.

There is a great German word: Zukunftsangst. It means translated, roughly, future-anxiety. Maybe it should be renamed Zuckerbergangst instead.

Posted in conditioning, consciousness, Consumerism, Corporate Crime, corporate news, culture, Dystopia, Economics, media, Media Literacy, Neoliberalism, Oligarchy, Psy-ops, Psychology, Social Control, Social Engineering, society, Sociology, surveillance state, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment