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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Moral Decay

Accidentally Truthful,

Last week Mike Pompeo spoke at Texas A&M University, itself long known for being a favored recruiting ground of the CIA, considering too that one of the university's last presidents, Robert Gates, was CIA chief and later served as Bush and Obama's Secretary of Defense.
During the Q&A session, Pompeo boasted that in the CIA both the training and culture are geared toward the following:
"We lied, we cheated, we stole."

Interestingly, a Christian religious news broadcaster was the only media that seemed to pick up on Pompeo's words last week, and described it as follows: "that's not the resume of the Secretary of State... that's the resume of Satan."


The Triumph of Evil, Paul Craig Roberts
Today (April 17) I heard a NPR “news” report that described the democratically elected president of Venezuela as “the Venezuelan dictator Maduro.” By repeating over and over that a democratically elected president is a dictator, the presstitutes create that image of Maduro in the minds of vast numbers of peoples who know nothing about Venezuela and had never heard of Maduro until he is dropped on them as “dictator.” ...Secretary of state Mike Pompeo and vice president Pence have added their big mouths to the propaganda against the few independent governments in Latin America. Where is the shame when the highest American government officials stand up in front of the world and openly proclaim that it is official US government policy to overthrow democratically elected governments simply because those governments don’t let Americans plunder their countries?
How is it possible that Pompeo can announce that the “days are numbered” of the elected president of Nicaragua, who has been elected president 3 or 4 times, and the world not see the US as a rogue state that must be isolated and shunned? How can Pompeo describe Washington’s overthrow of an elected government as “setting the Nicaraguan people free?”

​James Petras on why Venezuela has not folded to the empire quite yet.
Despite the two decades of pressure by the world’s biggest imperial power ,which bears responsibility for the world’s highest rate of inflation, and despite the illegal seizure of billions of dollars of Venezuelan assets, the people remain loyal , in defense of their government. The reasons are clear and forthright.
The Venezuelan majority has a history of poverty, marginalization and repression, including the bloody massacre of thousands of protestors in 1989. Millions lived in shanty towns, excluded from higher education and health facilities. The US provided arms and advisers to buttress the politicians who now form the greater part of the US opposition to President Maduro. The US- oligarch alliance extracted billions of dollars from contracts from the oil industry.
Remembrance of this reactionary legacy is one powerful reason why the vast majority of Venezuelans oppose US intervention in support of the puppet opposition.


​Charles Hugh Smith:​
Consider America's favorite pastime, corrosive partisan politics. This distemper is often traced back to (surprise!) extreme partisans, but as the chart below shows, political partisanship has risen in near-perfect correlation with wealth-income inequality, which it itself the hallmark of deeply systemic corruption, as the system is rigged to benefit the few at the expense of the many. (Chart courtesy of Slope of Hope.)
There's a phrase that describes a socio-economic system becoming the means for personal aggrandizement at the expense of civil society itself: moral decay.​ ​How else can we describe a system whose inputs and processes are rigged so the output is the vast majority of all income gains flow to the top 0.1%? (See chart below.)
When a socio-economic system institutionalizes the extralegal privileges of wealth and power, that is moral decay. When government only responds in ways that first serve the interests of entrenched insiders, that is moral decay. When the financial system is rigged to sluice income and wealth to the top of the wealth-power pyramid while strip​-​mining the productive class below via inflation and taxes, that's moral decay. (See chart below of workers' share of the national income.)

For decades it was all but taboo to suggest that pro-Israel lobbies in the United States like AIPAC used their money and influence to keep lawmakers firmly in check on Israel-related issues - even if one had to be blind not to notice that that was exactly what they were up to.
When back in February Ilhan Omar pointed out the obvious - that U.S. Representatives like her were routinely expected to submit to the lobby's dictates on Israel, a foreign country - her colleagues clamored to distance themselves from her, just as one might have expected were the pro-Israel lobby to wield the very power Omar claimed. ...
Other insiders are more explicit still. Ben Rhodes, a former confidant of Barack Obama, says the lobby effectively tied Obama's hand's domestically on efforts to promote peace. "The Washington view of Israel-Palestine is still shaped by the donor class," he told Thrall, adding: "The donor class is profoundly to the right of where the activists are, and frankly, where the majority of the Jewish community is."
Joel Rubin, a former political director at lobby group J Street and a founding board member of the centrist Jewish Democratic Council of America, concurred: "The fight over Israel used to be about voters. It's more about donors now."  ...
It's important to point out, however, that advocates for Israel are not only Jews. While the pro-Israel lobby represents the views of a proportion of Jewish Americans, it is also significantly comprised of Christians, evangelicals in particular.
Millions of these Christians - including Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo - can be accused of dual loyalty too. They regard Israel's role in Biblical prophecy as far more important than the future of the U.S., or mankind for that matter. 

Politics makes strange damned bedfellows; really weird, these days...​
80% of white evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016, and his popularity amongst them remains high – in the 70s percent. Whilst other white voters may have become disheartened by Trump’s foreign policy (the Saudi embrace), white evangelicals have become his last, solid bastion. They are not insignificant either: they form some 25% of all Americans.
Professor of Religious Studies, Andrew Chesnut tells us that Christian Zionism has become the “majority theology” among white US Evangelicals. In a 2015 poll, 73% of evangelical Christians said events in Israel are prophesied in the Book of Revelation. For Christian Zionists, achieving a ‘Greater Israel’ is one of the key preconditions for ‘Rapture’. It is a belief, known as pre-millennial dispensationalism or Christian Zionism, Chesnut says...

Pompeo’s reference to Rapture is important: The Rapture, Tara Burton notes, “is a distinctively American theology that says Christians will be taken up, or “raptured,” into heaven, at the onset of the End Times … and a number of GOP politicians allow their belief in Rapture theology to influence their political worldview. Because the Rapture is ultimately desirable — it marks the return of Jesus Christ — anything that hastens it, is desirable too. For many evangelicals, apocalyptic “good versus evil” battles, particularly centred over the “Holy Land” of the Middle East, are signs that the longed-for end may be at hand”.​..
  Adelson’s role then – using his own money – has been to resurface neoconservative policies: Policies that had been discredited after the US invasion of Iraq, and to reconnect these policies to the Israeli Right (as they were, before the war on Iraq). This whole is underpinned through the extensive Evangelical base that forms Trump’s key constituency. Both Pompeo and Bolton are reportedly Adelson’s protégés, whom Adelson pushed into their key positions in the White House, as a part of his political architecture.

“The president has said that he does not want to see this country involved in endless wars… I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders told the Fox News audience at Monday’s town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Then turning and staring straight into the camera, Bernie added:
“Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: Sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country.”
Sanders was talking about a War Powers Act resolution that would have ended U.S. involvement in the five-year civil war in Yemen that has created one of the great humanitarian crises of our time, with thousands of dead children amidst an epidemic of cholera and a famine.​..
Trump may have just ceded the peace issue in 2020 to the Democrats. If Sanders emerges as the nominee, we will have an election with a Democrat running on the “no-more-wars” theme Trump touted in 2016. And Trump will be left defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Official figures on the deaths in the Yemen War have been virtually unavailable, or at least years out of date. The database tracker from the Armed Conflict and Location Event Data Project, however, issued their own data on Yemen Thursday, showing more than 70,000 have been killed in Yemen just since January 2016.
This is a huge amount of deaths, and if there is some decrease in fighting in Hodeidah because of UN talks, it’s not like the war is slowing much. At least 10,000 people were killed just in the past five months.  

​Dmitry Orlov interview, Thanks Bill, good reading:
“I think that the American empire is very much over already, but it hasn’t been put to any sort of serious stress test yet, and so nobody realizes that this is the case”​ ...​
Here is the key point: the USSR was not a normal empire at all. Instead of functioning as a wealth pump that pumped wealth from the periphery to the imperial center, it functioned as a revolutionary incubator, exploiting the resources of the core (Russia) and exporting them to the periphery to build socialism, with the further goal of fomenting global communist revolution​...​  The inevitable result was that most of the other Soviet republics were able to suck resources out of Russia, making them far more prosperous than Russia itself.Thus, the image of the USSR as a typical empire is simply wrong. The right mental image of the USSR is that of a prostrate, emaciated sow (Russia) being suckled by 14 fat, greedy piglets (the other Soviet Socialist Republics).​..​
By the time the USSR collapsed, the Ukraine was its most highly developed and possibly its richest part, and some people expected that, having thrown off the Soviet yoke, its future would be too bright to look at without goggles. It had abundant natural resources (fertile land, coal) and an educated labor force. It manufactured numerous high-tech products such as jet aircraft, marine diesels, helicopter engines, rocket engines and much else that was the best in the world. Instead, what has occurred is several decades of thievery, stagnation and decay. By now the Ukraine has lost most of its industry and the Soviet-era infrastructure has decayed to the point where much of it is worn out and on the verge of collapse. Industry has shut down and the specialists it once employed have either retired or have gone off to work in Russia, in the EU or in the US. (Some Ukrainian rocket scientists have apparently gone off to work in North Korea, and this explains the DPRK’s recent stunning successes in rocketry as well as its unlikely, exotic choice of rocket fuel: unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine.)  ​...
Meanwhile, the two eastern regions​ (Donetsk, Lugansk)​, which are highly developed economically and have a lot of industry, have been integrating ever more closely into the Russian economy. Their universities and institutes are now fully accredited within the Russian system of higher education, their currency is the ruble, and although in terms of international recognition they remain part of the Ukraine, it is very important to note that the Ukraine does not treat them as such.​..​  
Also the dream of a depopulated Ukraine to be turned into a playground for Western agribusiness may be hindered somewhat by the fact that the Russians take a very dim view of Western GMOs and wouldn’t like to see GMO-contaminated pollen blowing across their border from the West. They would no doubt find some least-effort way to make the attempt at Western agribusiness in the Ukraine unprofitable. Orchestrating a smallish but highly publicized radiation leak from one of the ancient Ukrainian nuke plants would probably work. ​...
  The EU has a number of major problems. It isn’t fiscally or monetarily healthy. As a whole, or as its constituent nations, it is no longer capable of the exercise of its full sovereignty, having surrendered it to the US. But the US is no longer able to maintain control, because it is internally conflicted to the point of becoming incoherent in its pronouncements. ​...
Since none of this military/political superstructure is actually structural without the key ingredient of US hegemony, we shouldn’t expect it to perform particularly well. It will continue as a talking shop while various national governments attempt to reclaim their sovereignty. British referendum voters have certainly tried to prod their government in that direction, and in response their government has been experimenting with various methods of rolling over and playing dead, but a different government might actually try to execute the will of the people. ​..
The nations of Europe will gradually realize that its relationship with Russia is mostly beneficial while its relationship with the US is mostly harmful, and will make certain adjustments. ​...
​[After the demise of empire]  The US, as some set of institutions that serves the interests of some dwindling number of people, is likely to continue functioning for quite some time. The question is: who is going to be included and who isn’t? There is little doubt that retirees, as a category, have nothing to look forward to from the​​ US: their retirements, whether public or private, have already been spent. There is little doubt that young people, who have already been bled dry by poor job prospects and ridiculous student loans, have nothing to look forward to either.
But, as I’ve said before, the US isn’t so much a country as a country club. Membership has its privileges, and members don’t care at all what life is like for those who are in the country but aren’t members of the club.​..
But then the entire system of militarized police is designed to crush any sort of rebellion, and most people know that. Given the choice between certain death and just sitting on the sidewalk doing drugs, most people will choose the latter.  

​I'm gonna make this easy. There is very little actual production happening in Western Capitalism. It has been replaced by massive corporations investing in each other and buying back their own stock and paying each other well on their investments in each other, and rewarding their directors generously for the rising stock valuations... That's what this story says. Total Ponzi scheme.

In London, where environmental protesters have been lying down in front of traffic, and only the Bobbies wear yellow vests:
Sajid Javid calls for 'full force of law' against Extinction Rebellion protesters
Home secretary asks police to be firm against demonstrators ‘disrupting the lives of others’
“Let me be clear: I totally condemn any protesters who are stepping outside the boundaries of the law. They have no right to cause misery for the millions of people who are trying to lead their daily lives. Unlawful behaviour will not be tolerated.”  
​(No rubber bullets yet, but they are picking them up by all four limbs and carting them away. Sorta' civilized, despite the harsh rhetoric.​)

"Earth's sixth mass extinction is more severe than perceived when looking exclusively at species extinctions," researchers wrote in 2017.
They said decimation needed to be addressed immediately.
"Earth's sixth mass extinction is more severe than perceived when looking exclusively at species extinctions.
"Population extinctions, however, are a prelude to species extinctions, so Earth's sixth mass extinction episode has proceeded further than most assume.

The Permian Extinction, "The Great Dying" looks to have been caused by super-volcano eruptions.
 The eruptions propelled as much as 3 million cubic kilometers of ash high into the air over this extended period. To put that in perspective, the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington sent just 1 cubic kilometer of ash into the atmosphere, even though ash fell on car windshields as far away as Oklahoma.
In fact, Algeo said, the Siberian Traps eruptions spewed so much material in the air, particularly greenhouse gases, that it warmed the planet by an average of about 10 degrees centigrade.

​Teslas are the most wasteful electric vehicles, our own global-warming-supervolcanos. (I exaggerate for satirical emphasis.)
Electric vehicles in Germany account for more CO2 emissions than diesel ones, according to a study by German scientists.
When CO2 emissions linked to the production of batteries and the German energy mix - in which coal still plays an important role - are taken into consideration, electric vehicles emit 11% to 28% more than their diesel counterparts, according to the study, presented on Wednesday at the Ifo Institute in Munich.
Mining and processing the lithium, cobalt and manganese used for batteries consume a great deal of energy. A Tesla Model 3 battery, for example, represents between 11 and 15 tonnes of CO2. Given a lifetime of 10 years and an annual travel distance of 15,000 kilometres, this translates into 73 to 98 grams of CO2 per kilometre, scientists Christoph Buchal, Hans-Dieter Karl and Hans-Werner Sinn noted in their study.
...These new limits pressure German and other European car manufacturers into switching massively to electric vehicles whereas, the researchers feel, it would have been preferable to opt for methane ​(natural gas) ​engines, “whose emissions are one-third less than those of diesel motors.”  

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