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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Torture blame game: CIA maybe went too far - Author of interrogation memo

John Yoo


As former Vice President Dick Cheney argued on Sunday that the CIA's aggressive interrogation of terrorism suspects did not amount to torture, the man who provided the legal rationale for the program said that in some cases it had perhaps gone too far.

Former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo said the sleep deprivation, rectal feeding and other harsh treatment outlined in a U.S. Senate report last week could violate anti-torture laws.

"If these things happened as they're described in the report ... they were not supposed to be done. And the people who did those are at risk legally because they were acting outside their orders," Yoo said on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS".

As Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel in 2002, Yoo co-wrote a memo that was used as the legal sanction for what the CIA called its program of enhanced interrogation techniques after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The memo said only prolonged mental harm or serious physical injury, such as organ failure, violated the Geneva Convention's ban on torture. Aggressive interrogation methods like water boarding fell short of that mark.

Yoo's comments on Sunday contrasted with those of Cheney and former national security officials who invoke his memo to argue that the harsh treatment of detainees was legal.

"They specifically authorized and okayed what we did," Cheney said on NBC's "Meet the Press".

"No one tortured anyone else," former CIA counter terrorism head Jose Rodriguez said on "Fox News Sunday".

The Senate Intelligence Committee's review of 6.3 million pages of CIA documents, released on Tuesday, found that some captives were deprived of sleep for more than a week, at times with their hands shackled above their heads, while others were abused sexually.

"Looking at it now, I think of course you can do these things cumulatively or too much that it would cross the line of the anti-torture statute," Yoo said on the C-SPAN television network.

He questioned whether the report's findings were reliable, given it was produced only by Democrats who had a political incentive to cherry-pick the worst examples.

The report concluded the CIA misled the White House and the public about the program and failed to disrupt a single plot. Those findings have been disputed by former CIA officials.

Cheney said he was not concerned that the torture program ensnared victims of mistaken identity, and said he had no regrets.

"I'd do it again in a minute," he said.

Watch video of John Yoo's appearance on CNN below:

Want something else to read? How about 'Grievous Censorship' By The Guardian: Israel, Gaza And The Termination Of Nafeez Ahmed's Blog

'Stupid' US sanctions won't undo my government: Venezuelan president

Nicolas Maduro

© AFP Photo/Miguel Angulo

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks during the broadcast of a TV programme at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas on December 11, 2014 in this photo from the Presidencia

President Nicolas Maduro charged Saturday that tighter, "stupid" new US sanctions are just further straining to undermine military staff loyalty after Venezuela derailed a bid to oust him.

"These sanctions are a threat -- to see if they can break the morale of leaders of our armed forces ... in March, I announced that we put down an attempted coup d'etat, thanks to our brass' loyalty," Maduro said at a speech in Caracas.

The tighter US sanctions freeze assets and deny visas to Venezuelan authorities responsible for violence and political detentions triggered by the protests.

"Have you ever heard of such arrogance?" leftist firebrand Maduro asked angrily.

"As if we cared about visas to get in the United States. ... Idiots!" he roared.

On Saturday, Maduro -- the general elected to succeed late longtime President Hugo Chavez -- also suggested involvement by the US embassy in the June plot to topple him, which he said aimed to use a Venezuelan military aircraft to bomb Caracas targets.

"The coup plotters were trying to get a plane here or bring it in, with Venezuelan tags," Maduro said. "The number-one bombing target was (state and regional news channel) Telesur ... then the defense ministry and then the presidential palace."

"I can tell you, US embassy officials: one by one: I know who is plotting. And I can tell you this: if your stupid sanctions law serves any purpose, it will be to strengthen our fighters' resistence."

On Wednesday, the US Congress gave its final approval Wednesday to new sanctions against Venezuelan officials accused of violating the human rights of anti-government protestors this year.

Thousands of activists were arrested and more than 43 people were killed during mass demonstrations against Maduro's government, which raged from February to May.

The US hit Venezuela government officials with travel bans in July, but lawmakers said they did not receive White House support for a sanctions bill against Caracas.

But failed efforts from Latin American allies to reform the government in Venezuela led US President Barack Obama to switch his stance on increased sanctions, the White House said in November.

Maduro, whose popularity has sunk to record lows amid economic woes and rampant violent crime, has called a rally for Monday against the US sanctions.

Want something else to read? How about 'Grievous Censorship' By The Guardian: Israel, Gaza And The Termination Of Nafeez Ahmed's Blog

US Supreme Court Allows Traffic Stop Searches When No Law Violated

US Supreme Court holds that traffic stops and searches may be conducted even when police officers are wrong about the law.

Police officer may stop and search drivers who have done absolutely nothing wrong. In an 8 to 1 decision Monday, the US Supreme Court ruled that a police officer can be wrong about a traffic law being violated, but the stop will be upheld as valid as long as he the officer's mistake was "reasonable."

"An officer might, for example, stop a motorist for traveling alone in a high-occupancy vehicle lane, only to discover upon approaching the car that two children are slumped over asleep in the back seat," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote. "The driver has not violated the law, but neither has the officer violated the Fourth Amendment. But what if the police officer's reasonable mistake is not one of fact but of law?"

Surry County, North Carolina Sheriff's Sergeant Matt Darisse thought the Ford Escort he saw on Interstate 77 on April 29, 2009 was breaking the law because its right-side tail light did not illuminate. Sergeant Darisse was wrong.

North Carolina only requires that one brake light be functional. Once the Escort was on the side of the road, the ensuing search turned up drugs and Nicholas Brady Heien was arrested. The high court justices declined to throw out Heien's conviction simply because the driver had been mistakenly pulled over. The justices noted that the adage "ignorance of the law is no excuse" still applies to the situation at hand.

"If the law required two working brake lights, Heien could not escape a ticket by claiming he reasonably thought he needed only one; if the law required only one, Sergeant Darisse could not issue a valid ticket by claiming he reasonably thought drivers needed two," Justice Roberts wrote. "But just because mistakes of law cannot justify either the imposition or the avoidance of criminal liability, it does not follow that they cannot justify an investigatory stop."

Labeling GMO food is a no-brainer

© The Bodleian Library, Oxford, Public Domain

Bring up genetically engineered foods, and most people focus on the obvious but most vexing questions: are they safe to eat? Or how might they make me sick? Such questions and the inability of current science to provide clear answers, have triggered a polarizing debate about labeling of a scale unprecedented in the history of food labeling. The result has been a slew of proposed state laws, international trade disputes, all mostly centering around the potential risks to human health.

But lost in the din of this raucous debate are many other, much less controversial reasons for GMO labeling that have long been the basis for labeling many other foods FDA mandated over the years, that came without international consumer campaigns and did not trigger multi-million-dollar anti-labeling lobbying efforts. In fact, many such requirements have more to do with protecting consumers from being misled about the quality and nature of food products than with preventing foodborne illness.

Food ingredient labeling requirements have been traced as far back as the 13th century, when King Henry III of England took action to require bakers to disclose when they mixed ground peas and beans into bread dough to save money on wheat. Breads made from wheat were marked with a "W" while those containing other products were marked with an "H" for household bread, which was served mostly by innkeepers.

The growth of new food processing and production methods through the 20th century triggered more requirements to help consumers navigate the array of new choices as items like dilute juice-flavored drinks were easily confused with fresh "natural strength" juices, and previously frozen or otherwise processed meats and vegetables were mistaken for fresh ones.

At times Congress stepped in, as in 1990 to mediate the question of how to label juice products. But usually, the question wasn't whether to require such label distinctions, but how and to what degree.

Some GE labeling activists are at a loss to understand why labeling bread made with wheat that's engineered to contain genes from other plant or animal species should be any less important than the 13th century requirement to label bread made with peas and beans instead of only wheat, or more recently required distinctions between fresh and frozen foods.

Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist at Consumer Reports argues this amounts to an unjustifiable double-standard against GMO food labeling. He reasons that GMO foods are far more clearly distinct from conventional foods, compared to frozen vegetables, for example, which are often genetically identical, and sometimes even nutritionally superior to their fresh counterparts.

"In terms of a FDA decision about labeling, this debate about how 'significant' the difference is should be irrelevant. If there is a documentable difference between two foods, or two processes, and consumers care about the difference, then under the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act FDA has the authority to require labeling and should do so. It does not matter if it is a small difference or a large difference. Nor does it matter whether consumers are 'right' or 'wrong' to care about this difference," Hansen says.

"The difference between frozen peas and fresh peas, one could easily argue, is much less than the difference between genetically engineered peas and conventional peas," continues Hansen.

"The frozen and fresh peas can be genetically identical. The frozen peas may even be nutritionally superior, even as consumers choose fresh peas thinking fresh is better. Yet FDA appropriately requires labeling about the difference, and allow consumers to make their own choices about what to buy, even if those choices are a 'mistake,' leaving it to the marketplace to educate consumers about pluses and minuses of each type of product."

Religious Claims

Kosher and Halal certifications, like GMO-free labels, are optional but long-protected distinctions that, unlike GMO labeling, amount to outright prohibitions on a whole category of ingredients. For example, in its ruling to require disclosure of the source of protein hydrolysates in foods, FDA stated, "the food source of a protein hydrolysate is information of material importance for a person who desires to avoid certain foods for religious or cultural reasons."

Pork producers aren't lobbying the U.S. government to stop Jewish and Muslim communities from labeling requirements which essentially ban pork products. Neither is the US government accusing these countries of creating unfair barriers to trade.

By contrast, on GM labeling, the US government, with heavy lobbying by Monsanto and other biotech giants, has done just that, for years actively attempting to prevent other countries from requiring GMO food labeling. So far, it's been largely unsuccessful, but its efforts have effectively blocked consensus needed to harmonize labeling requirements and other policies that would ease greater transparency and traceability needed to establish a minimum set of global safety standards for genetic engineering. And there is continued pressure to find other ways to stop mandatory GMO labeling, the latest being via negotiations in play for a proposed Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TFTA).

How the GMO debate plays out in coming years remains to be seen as more is learned about GMO foods and their safety and long-term environmental, economic and social impacts, and as more and more biotech products reach the market.

To date, more than 60 initiatives have been introduced in 20 states to either label or prohibit certain GE foods. Some, like those in Washington state last year and Colorado and Oregon earlier this month have already failed. Large amounts of food industry money were spent on ad buys in those races to confuse consumers.

But this past spring, Vermont passed a law that will require most genetically modified food products to be properly labeled by July 1, 2016 (dairy, meat, alcohol and food served in restaurants are exceptions). This law has already received backlash from companies and organizations that support the sale of GM products, including Monsanto.

Whether the growing number of state initiatives supporting GM labeling will ultimately succeed depends on how policy makers will view consumers' right to eat foods untouched by gene guns and recombinant DNA. Importantly, both our politicians and consumers must be reminded that there's a rich history of food labeling transparency to draw from, starting with the King of England's 700-year-old bread labeling edict.

Want something else to read? How about 'Grievous Censorship' By The Guardian: Israel, Gaza And The Termination Of Nafeez Ahmed's Blog

Cop Was Not Fired Despite 75 Counts of Stalking and Harassment — Now He Just Shot a Mother and Her Daughter


PHILADELPHIA — A mother and her daughter have been gunned down in a deadly shooting incident that happened Monday night in Glenolden.

Valerie Morrow, the mother, has been pronounced dead. Her daughter suffered bullet wounds but is now recovering.

The shooter has been identified as Officer Stephen Rozniakowski, according to a report by NBC 10.

Officer Rozniakowski was an employee of the Colwyn Borough Police Department.

According to reports, Officer Rozniakowski had dated the victim, Valerie, several years ago, but was still stalking her.

Earlier in 2014, Officer Rozniakowski was reported and charged with 25 counts of stalking and 50 counts of harassment relating to another fiance of his, who filed reports to keep him away from her.

Despite the charges, the police department evidently did not fire him, and he was not convicted.

He was instead placed on administrative leave.

After basically getting away with 75 counts of stalking and harassment, Officer Rozniakowski was in a position where he was able to kill a mother and shoot her daughter.

One would think that after 75 counts, the department would ensure that he wasn’t able to harm anybody. But unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case.

Watch the video below

SOTT FOCUS: SOTT Exclusive: Monotheistic religions - Playground for psychopaths

the accused

© www.dawn.com

Blasphemy: the accused

Religious statutes permit Muslims to take the law in their own hands, kill alleged blasphemers and attack minority communities. In Pakistan, a mere accusation of blasphemy is often enough to put an individual and their community in extreme danger.

Is this only true to Islam or are there similarities at work in other religious systems as well? Let's look at recent events to illustrate the concern:

Blasphemy : Utter-ly a Death's Sentence

a horror story...

Christians beaten to death for allegedly desecrating Qur'an in Pakistan

An angry crowd attacked and killed a Christian couple and then burned their bodies at the brick kiln where they worked. Rumors circulated that the couple had desecrated a Qur'an the day before, although the circumstances of this accusation are not clear [...] the latest example of violence against minorities accused of blasphemy...

and this one is unthinkable...

Girl in Pakistan saw her mother burnt alive for blasphemy in Pakistan...and then the mob tried to set HER alight as well

A four-year-old girl and her 18-month-old sister were forced to watch their pregnant Christian mother 'twitch' in the flames when a Muslim mob burnt her and her husband alive after accusing them of blasphemy and were savagely beaten...

and then this crazed old guy...

A 70-year-old Briton suffering from paranoid schizophrenia is facing a death sentence in Pakistan

When Mohammad Asghar claimed to be a prophet sent by God, his psychosis talking, a police officer at the maximum security prison shot him in the back because he had to "kill the blasphemer..."

international blasphemy

© http://ift.tt/1e1RMk8

Freedom of speech or blasphemy...depends on where you are from and what you believe.

The prophet Muhammad left a legacy of terror and slaughter without recourse or pathway to social/spiritual evolution. Wherever Islam has a stronghold, religious minorities may be subjected to brutal persecution. What makes the Qur'an's verses of violence, in particular, so dangerous?

Historically, literal interpretation of the Qur'an has often lead to mass conflict, massacre or genocide over the centuries, as it encountered other ideologies, such as Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism and Buddhism. It is said that violence is so ingrained in the religion that Islam has never really stopped being at war, either with other religions or itself. It shuns self-examination and brutally eliminates criticism. Predictably, we find similar profiles in all the major religions.

We're good, they're bad...some perspective!

Critics of religion opine that all monotheistic religions are inherently violent and claim Judaism, Christianity and Islam will destroy the world unless they confront the violence in sacred texts and temper the message. This is unlikely. Jews and Christians are myopically self-convinced Islam is the only violent religion, ignoring the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible's 1000 passages that refer to YHWH as acting violently or supporting the violence of humans, and over 100 passages that involve divine commands to kill humans.

So with that in mind, let's take a quick peek at a bit of the ongoing shadow histories of three "peaceful, god-fearing/loving" mega-religions that have influenced most of humanity in one way or another, and perhaps see the repetitive pattern of the hidden hand.

Jewish Terrorism: There are strains of radical Zionism (a pathological and secular construct) and Zealotry (known as the "4th Sect") that promote aggressive wars and falsely justify them with biblical texts. Examples, of violence described in the Book of Esther, are carried over to modern times as in the Cave of the Patriarch massacre (1994) , the ongoing violent and heinous treatment of the Palestinians by Zionists , and the Jewish militias that used verses to justify massacres, such as Deir Yassin . The Kingdom of Israel group (Tzrifin Underground) carried out attacks on the diplomatic facilities of the USSR and Czechoslovakia, shot at Jordanian troops and tried to bomb the Israeli Ministry of Education. Brit HaKanaim (Covenant of the Zealots) was a radical religious Jewish underground organization which fought against the widespread trend of secularization . The ultimate goal of the movement was to impose Jewish religious law in the State of Israel and establish a Halakhic state.

Radical Zionist ideology encourages the killing of non-Jews and claims it is legal to kill Gentiles and the babies of enemy forces (as is happening today in Gaza). The Jewish Defense League (JDL) began with the purpose to protect Jews from harassment and antisemitism, but over time, the league perpetrated at least 15 terrorist acts in the U.S. verified by the FBI.

Christian Terrorism: Christian terrorists have relied on scriptural interpretations of the Old and New Testaments to justify violence and killing or to bring about "end times." Christian views on abortion have been responsible for threatening, assaulting and murdering doctors, and bombing abortion clinics. The idea that North European whites are direct descendants of the lost tribes of Israel has spawned The Aryan Nations, Aryan Republican Army, Army of God, Phineas Priesthood and The Covenant, The Sword, the Arm of the Lord and the Hutaree Christian Militia movement. The Soweto bombings of 2002 were an outcome a violent racial-religious belief system which asserted a "God-given right to rule the nation" and suggested that the bombings were "the beginning of the end" of the African National Congress. And, not to leave out two of the all-time worst: we have the Holocaust and the Spanish Inquisition.

Of infamous religious militant terrorist organizations, the Ku Klux Klan is still in action. Arson, beatings, cross burnings, destruction of property, lynching, murder, rape, tar-and-feathering, and whipping are on its menu. Its targets are African Americans, Jews, Catholics along with other social or ethnic minorities. The KKK terrorist ideology is based on a religious foundation in Christianity to reestablish Protestant values by any means possible. They are renown for vigilante justice.

National Liberation Front of Tripura is a Christian militant organization in India, whose violence is motivated by religious beliefs. It aims the forced conversion of all Hindu tribespeople; those who resist are killed or raped. A Baptist church supplies arms and gives financial support to the group.

Lebanon: Maronite Christian militias perpetrated massacres of Palestinians and Lebanese Muslims during Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war. The 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre was considered genocide by the U.N. General Assembly.

Uganda: The Lord's Resistance Army, a religious cult and guerrilla army, is responsible for committing crimes such as: massacres, abductions, mutilation, torture, rape, using forced child laborers as soldiers, porters and sex slaves.

Buddhist Terrorism: Buddhist barbarity and torture in Asia lasted 1600 years. Justification for violence comes from the Mahayana Chinese version of the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, Upayakaushalya Sutra, and the Kalachakra Tantra . In Thailand, killing of Communists did not violate any of the Buddhist precepts. In Myanmar and Burma, Buddhist religious aggression centers on persecution and extermination of Muslims in an anti-Islamic national movement. Buddhist violence reached contemporary prominence in June 2012 when over 200 Muslims were killed and 100,000 displaced. The 969 Movement refers to numbers associated with the Buddha, his teachings and monkhood. As of 2012, the 969 helped create anti-islamic nationalist movements in the region resulting in the persecution and extermination of Muslims.

Buddhists gained a reputation in Japan via a long history of feuds and the rise of the "warrior monks." In Osaka, they defended their temple with the slogan "The mercy of Buddha should be recompensed even by pounding flesh to pieces. One's obligation to the Teacher should be recompensed even by smashing bones to bits." Japanese Buddhist-inspired terrorism was responsible for the Aum Shinrikyo , the organization that unleashed Sarin gas into the Tokyo subway, killed 13 and injured 50 based on Buddhist ideas and scriptures. The religious justification for Aum Shinrikyo's use of violence was connected to the Buddhist rationalizations of taking the lives of "less spiritually advanced" beings, and that killing a person "in danger of accumulating bad karma in this life was to save them in the next life," thereby advancing them toward salvation.

So, you see, while we consider a religious bias underlying Pakistani injustice for relatively innocent victims, the religious foundation for violence is widespread and deeply ingrained, suggesting a common pattern, common vector and common origin. Let's explore.

Religion is a "psychopath machine"

Ideology is a pathology of the mind, a memetic virus that shields the mind from rational debate. Once the emotional reward centers are gratified it then discards true information that did not fit the emotional bias.

There is a definite connection between psychopathy and religion. What psychopaths apparently discovered in the past is that they can make much of the world "psychopath friendly" and one way in which they did this was by inventing and promoting various religions . We can define [psychopaths] as "anti-human" beings [belonging to a different gene pool]. They do whatever they can to thwart the progress of humanity and that is a large part of their motivation for creating religion.

Religion is not representative of the true natural human thought process - it is a distortion of that. We can say that in essence what religion actually is, is a "psychopath machine." It destroys the human mind and was indeed designed to do just that. Religion contains elements of psychopathic thought in it which cause normal people to become [border-line] psychopaths if they are not already so. This is not a phenomenon of one religion, but of all religion.

Believers are dumbed-down and kept ignorant. Ignorance and superstition go hand-in-hand. In order to preserve, protect or keep that belief in things which really do not make any real sense, the human mind must be kept down to a certain degree of ignorance . They have found religion to be one of the greatest means in which to do this. Many believers simply choose to ignore anything which contradicts what they believe - they just do not let that information enter their mind; it is like they have built a shell or wall around it. This is not natural and is very dangerous. - Roman Piso, Psychopathy and Religion

As a control-based system, a faith structure divides "what is in" from "what is out" and reinforces dependency on, and fidelity and obedience to, this framework. "Successful religionry" consists of a compelling narrative, implicit directives from the ethereal realm, along with divine and inherent truths. Religions, by their very nature, incorporate "notions of sacrifice and martyrdom" which are so integral that without them any religious concept would be almost unthinkable. This includes the example of a sacrificial hero archetype found in, or as the basis of, both major and minor religions.

Concepts and perceptions morph into beliefs that limit and separate mankind from its true existence and destiny. Beliefs foster interpretations that are identified experientially as guidelines for actions. Under the holy cloak, man is unwittingly subjugated by, and made dependent upon, his beliefs. This opens the door for all kinds of evil in the guises of benevolence, sacred duty, proselytization, etc., without suspect or introspection to its motives by the followers. To be "good" is to submit unquestioningly. (Isn't that convenient!)

"But man's resourcefulness goes beyond simply protecting a belief. Suppose an individual believes something with his whole heart; suppose further that he has a commitment to this belief, that he has taken irrevocable actions because of it; finally, suppose that he is presented with evidence, unequivocal and undeniable evidence, that his belief is wrong: what will happen? The individual will frequently emerge, not only unshaken, but even more convinced of the truth of his beliefs than ever before . Indeed, he may even show a new fervor about convincing and converting other people to his view." - Leon Festinger, When Prophecy Fails

Beliefs are not knowledge, nor based therein. They might be considered as unifying ideas of the collective. Mainstream religion is not created to enhance consciousness nor further the soul journey of the supplicant. By offering predefined perceptions , it mandatorily short-circuits an individual's quest for enlightenment (knowledge). In a broader and more insidious sense, we discover a form of "sleeping sickness" and pathological mind control.

Religious legitimacy, on the big stage, can only be guaranteed by achieving a critical mass: the unified and exclusive acceptance by followers, unequivocal defendability of its principles and the attraction of converts. Here are two well-traveled and opposite trajectories to the same end:

The West has adopted "an ascending theory of legitimacy," in which "power" appears to come from the choice of the people thus giving them a "right" or "resistance" which is very manipulable by hidden agendas (a perception control). The people choose their religious master.

In contrast, religious legitimacy in the East can be used to justify actions that might otherwise be unthinkable, (such as mass suicide, mass murder, attacks on unarmed civilians) and comes from "a descending theory of legitimacy" in which power is handed down from God to the rulers (divine right) and, accordingly, people have "no right or resistance and no power." In other words, they must accept with blind faith (a perception control). Their religious master has chosen them.

We don't have to imagine the pitting of these two vectors against each other, just read the headlines. Keep in mind the question, "Who benefits?"

When does a religion become an ideology?

"A religion becomes an ideology when the followers of the religion cannot tolerate the existence of those who have different views or beliefs, and when they understand their religious text literally and refuse to accept any way of understanding the religion other than their own way of understanding."

-Tawfik Hamid, author and Senior Fellow and Chair of Islamic Radicalism, Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, former Islamic terrorist with Jemaah Islamiya

"A religion becomes an ideology when man-made dogma is treated as infallible truth."

-David Satter, author and Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute and scholar at Johns Hopkins University Nitze School of Advanced International Studies

So to put this into context, transcendent moral truths are never the content of an ideology, as they are over and above society. However, ritual, dogmatic and historical aspects of a religion are acceptable, in that it fosters sacred obligations. In Islam, the obligation to wage jihad can be the highest obligation of a Muslim and measures all actions in terms of the extent to which this obligation is carried out. The doctrine of the Jews as the "chosen people" is also an ideology. Because the ideology is processed at the subconscious and emotional levels of the brain, it is almost impossible to change.

Ideologies are very useful tools. A religion becomes an ideology when its man-made elements become a fixed idea and permeate into other realms of power and control such as: politics, justice, finance, business and societal constructs.

Here's an example of how the corruption of justice, coupled with the radicalization of religion and ideology, facilitated a covert CIA agenda that produced the Pakistan we recognize today:

General Zia ul-Haq took control of Pakistan in 1977, ousting Prime Minister Zulfickar Ali Bhutto in a "bloodless coup." In the early '80s, he "Islamicized" the existing blasphemy laws and the Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan made the death penalty obligatory . Zia changed Pakistan into a self-authored version of the Islamic State, which gave rise to the Taliban (thanks to Uncle Sam). Despite his radical view of Islam, Zia forged close ties with the U.S., became a CIA asset and was listed by Interpol as an international drug trafficker. (Drug trafficking and radical Islam? Where have we heard that before?)

Perhaps not so coincidentally, the CIA's Operation Cyclone, which saw the CIA arming, funding and radicalizing the mujahideen in Afghanistan, occurred during the period of 1979-1989. Were there similar ties to Zia's Pakistan? Yes. In the '80s, Pakistan facilitated covert CIA weapons shipments to Afghanistan that would return loaded with freshly processed heroin, protected by Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI. Zia moved his drug money through BCCI, a bank with numerous shady connections, including the Israeli Mossad.

If it is worship, it is a religion. If it is used as a society control, for political gain or dominance, it is an ideology. Islam is perhaps the most equally integrated with both.

So, what is fundamentalism?

Fundamentalism is a mindset, a paradigm embodied in certain "near-divine" individuals and movements, which provides an exo-skeletal strategy by which "beleaguered believers may preserve their distinctive identity as a people or group. Feeling this identity to be continually at risk, they fortify it by a selective retrieval of doctrines, beliefs and practices from a 'sacred' past. These retrieved 'fundamentals' are refined, modified and sanctioned in a spirit of shrewd pragmatism: they are to serve as a bulwark against the encroachment of outsiders who threaten to draw the believers into a syncretistic, areligious, or irreligious cultural milieu."

- [Hardacre, 1993; Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby (The Fundamentalism Project), 1993:5-7] excerpt from Ethnoreligious Conflict in the Late Twentieth Century, Jonathan Fox, p. 22-23.

Based on this, it is not a surprise that the rhetoric of war and intolerance becomes an integral part of most religious traditions. Fundamentalism proves to be a successful, fear-based, mind-locking and useful end product of a hidden psychopathic process, which is why the CIA has been able to successfully use it as a recruiting tool for its proxy warfare "strategy of tension" (to divide, manipulate, and control public opinion using fear, propaganda, disinformation, psychological warfare, agents provocateurs, and false flag terrorist actions in order to achiever their strategic aims).

Religion as an apparatus of social control

In order to protect and reenforce the religious community, the differences between insiders and outsiders must be observable and maintained. Rules and standards emphasize the "proper modes" of behavior that must be adopted in private life to successfully build distinctions between "us and them." In Pakistan, they include the misuse of the political system to force these standards on others and they work brilliantly on the most basic level to achieve the highest result, as in accusations of blasphemy, followed by the elimination of the "other." In this sense, the religious construct becomes organism-like with predatory survival instincts, even if it must turn on some of its own members...a deviant's way to divide and conquer (and pathologic in nature).

"Religion and ethnicity are often overlapped and intertwined." Gurr argues that "in essence, communal (ethnic) groups are 'psychological communities.' These are groups whose core members share a distinctive and enduring collective identity based on [similar] cultural traits and life-ways, [...] reinforcing traits that set a group apart in its own eyes or in the eyes of others" (control perceptions, gain perception control).

- [Ted Gurr, (Minorities at Risk project)1993a:152-1553] excerpt from Ethnoreligious Conflict in the Late Twentieth Century, Jonathan Fox, p. 25.

Because of this, Christian minorities in the Middle East are generally indistinguishable from the region's Muslim population other than by religious affiliation. To suppress or stamp out minorities from Islam (in order to protect and perpetuate the Islamic machine), there must be a telltale religious commandment breach by the infidel, punishable by death.

The global picture

As per the PewResearch Religion & Public Life Project, the world's two largest faiths, Christianity and Islam, make up almost half of the world's population and were the most widely targeted in 2012, facing official and social hostility in 110 and 109 countries respectively. Jews were targeted in 71 countries. Over a six-year period: Christians - 151 countries, Muslims - 135 countries, Jews - 95 countries. (Does this tell us something about the ongoing grand distraction of mankind and its unwavering subservience to irrational religious ideals? Where's the love? Better yet...what's the reason?)

"In ponerogenic processes, moral deficiencies, intellectual failings, and pathological factors intersect in a time-space causative network giving rise to individual and national suffering." - Andrew M. Lobaczewski, Political Ponerology

With global populations on the increase, it is easy to miss the rise to power of psychopaths and their quest for physical and political domination, accomplished outright, in part, through the structures and veils of religion, ideologies, perceptions and gullible congregations. In addition, mainstream societies currently do not offer the checks-and-balances, utilized by tribal societies,* that would limit their bid for control. Instead, psychopathy is on the upswing by consolidating power and manipulating the unsuspecting masses for personal gain, devoid of moral context or constraint.

*- Christopher Boehm, Moral Origins: The Evolution of Virtue, Altruism, and Shame

Inflicting pain, violating rights and acts of terror do not register in the brainwork of a psychopath. They do not have an emotional center that monitors right and wrong when they observe or inflict harm on others. Religious conformity and its sacred demands become "turf advantage" for psychopathy, given such manipulative affects and constraints on the non-psychopathic populace as in "turn the other cheek" or "kill the infidel."

"While approximately 6% of the world population are born psychopaths , there is a significant percentage of border-line humans that experience an emotional deficiency that keeps them from feeling bad about hurting others, or who have been traumatized early in life that causes them to become this way. With more than 7 billion people on the planet means there are as many as 70,000,000 psychopaths alive today, whose self interests, greed and risk-taking tendencies dominate or subjugate those around them through manipulative means." -Joe Brewer, Common Dreams

The upshot

In many nations, fundamentalist religion and ideology supersedes the state to an extent that it is incompatible with a modern, liberal society. By pathological design, ignorance leaves an "opening for interpretation" to the advantage and utilization of psychopaths. Therefore, when a religion that allows radical interpretation is given undue credence, psychopaths and authoritarian followers, who would not otherwise have a political or social context to behave badly, are conveniently and subversively provided one.

A personal insult is, well, insulting. Add a religious reference and it becomes a "divine insult" - a unifying and obligatory mandate for retribution that cannot be ignored. Following the prescribed psychopathic pattern for a Muslim: To ignore is to disrespect. To disrespect, or abstain from participating, is akin to a death wish (a perception control). In Pakistan, if the mountain won't come to Muhammad, simply claim "they blasphemed."

See also:

The Psychopath: A New Subspecies of Homo Sapiens

Psychopathic Kyriarchy - Our Rulers Really Are Unempathic Predators

Psychopathy and Religion

The Lunacy of International Blasphemy Laws

Child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church

Political Ponerology: The Scientific Study of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes, Andrew M. Lobaczewski

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Freedom of speech in Illinois? Not if you are an attorney

© Nationalreview.com

The Illinois Registration and Disciplinary Commission has just issued a recommendation for a three year suspension of the license to practice law of yet another activist attorney.

The prosecution of attorney JoAnne Denison by the IARDC goes to the heart of the amalgamation of the legal system in the US into one streamlined cruise missile. The weaponization of the legal system has been part and parcel of the general attack on the Bill of Rights and Constitutional protections which have resulted in such actions as President Obama placing kill orders on American citizens and the removal of citizenship from independent journalists.

Joanne Denison's case is one which deserves enormous media attention (which it has not yet received) as well as howls of indignation (a bit muted, those). For the recommendation to suspend Denison's license did not occur due to any act she committed as an attorney. She was not tried for misrepresenting a client, misappropriating funds or even courtroom misbehavior.

Rather, Denison was on trial for running a blog about corruption in probate court. The blog, marygsykes.com, focuses on a particular adult guardianship case in Cook County Court in Illinois and is critical of a number of highly placed individuals in the Cook County legal system. According to the opening statements by IARDC attorney Melissa Smart, attorneys have the same First Amendment rights that the rest of us do. Stated attorney Smart:

"This case is not about the Constitution or the First Amendment. You will see, precedent is abundantly clear, as an officer of the court, Ms. Denison cannot just say whatever she wants about judges and judicial officers because attorneys are held to a higher standard. We are held to a different standard."

Last time I checked, the First Amendment to the US constitution stated that free speech in the United States was a God-given right. I didn't see anything about attorneys, doctors, journalists or any other profession having restrictions on those rights to free speech.

The attempt by attorney Smart to imply that these restrictions exist reveals a rather disturbing mindset, somewhat military in essence, wherein calling out a commanding officer can get you thrown in the brig.

In her opening statement, attorney Melissa Smart likened Denison's blog to "yelling fire in a crowded theatre." This was an inaccurate reference to a qualification placed on free speech by Schenck vs. The United States, in which falselyshouting fire in a crowded theatre was barred.

But to yell fire when there is indeed a conflagration has never been an issue. This is, in fact, how lives may be saved and people alerted to a danger. And if there is corruption in the courts, who better than an attorney to blow the whistle? The question then arises, is Denison telling the truth or is she "falsely" shouting fire?

The panel sitting in judgment on JoAnne Denison did not allow her to answer this question. As the statements made in Denison's blog pertained to the guardianship of Mary G. Sykes, Denison attempted repeatedly during the course of her hearing to bring up instances where the actions of the attorneys and the judges assigned to the Sykes case were taken in absence of due process and without jurisdiction. The IARDC panel Chairman Sang-Yul Lee consistently refused to allow Denison to present this evidence, instead telling her that she was attempting to "re-litigate" the Sykes case.

Denison's star witness, Gloria Jean Sykes, the daughter of Mary Sykes, was also kept from testifying. After a brief appearance on the witness stand, the panel decided that Gloria could only testify if she turned over thousands of emails between her and Denison, emails which were considered to be privileged in terms of attorney client confidentiality, and which did not, in fact, add anything to the panel's determination, as the case against Denison pertained to what was up on the blog, in plain view.

Of interest is that the very IARDC attorneys pursuing Denison appear to have violated one of their pivotal obligations as members of a state commission. The Illinois Governmental Ethics Act mandates that those working for government in Illinois must file yearly financial disclosure forms. This is done to ensure that members of government are not receiving inappropriate monies that may influence their actions.

Neither the head of the IARDC, Jerome Larkin, nor any of the attorneys prosecuting Denison, have filed financial disclosures. The IARDC press officer and deputy administrator, attorney Jim Grogan, has refused to comment on this. As it turns out, Grogan has not filed financial disclosures, either.

The problems going on in adult guardianship proceedings in the probate courts are rarely discussed in the mainstream press. A number of grassroots groups have sprung up attempting to address stated abuses to the elderly and disabled, who are those most impacted by adult guardianships. The list of abuses range from theft of assets to failure to adhere to jurisdiction to outright murder.

The National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse lists the rights one loses when one goes under an adult guardianship. These include:

  • the right to contract, including the right to choose a lawyer;

  • the right to control their assets and make financial decisions;

  • the right to remain in their own home and protect it from sale;

  • the right to protect and enjoy their personal property;

  • the right to choose where to live;

  • the right to accept or refuse medical treatment, including psychotropic drugs;

  • the right to decide their social environments and contacts;

  • the right to assure prompt payment of taxes and liabilities;

  • the right to vote;

  • the right to drive;

  • the right to marry; and

  • the right to complain.

Denison has partnered up with activist attorney Ken Ditkowsky, whose recent suspension from the Illinois State Bar for asking for a DOJ investigation into the abuses going on in adult guardianships have made him something of a folk hero in the guardianship reform community. Ditkowsky is a regular contributor to Denison's blog.

The recommendation for Denison's suspension must be affirmed by the Illinois Supreme Court. Denison has stated that she will not stop blogging. She says she intends "...To do the same thing, monitor probate court, blog about it, help victims and direct them to free/low cost probate attorneys, write articles and books for pro se'ers in probate.

"The reality is, says Denison, "they can't stop my blog or writing articles. They can only say that I am suspended from practicing state law so I can't go to court and I cannot give personal legal opinions for probate victims."

Another Illinois attorney, 'Lanre Amu, was suspended by the ARDC for filing complaints about several judges. In Amu's Certiorari, requesting judicial review by the Supreme Court and filed just this past week, he writes: "The Hearing Board also found as aggravation Respondent's claim that the IARDC was biased. How is that aggravation? When telling the truth becomes "aggravation" to be punished, are we not really punishing the "free speech" right to speak the truth?"

The ARDC could not be reached for comment.

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French aerospace org. to aid Chile's official UFO investigation

cefaa 3af

© 3AF

Dinner on October 30, 2014 From left to right: General (ret) Ricardo Bermudez (Director of CEFAA), Michel Scheller (President of 3AF).

The Aeronautical and Astronautical Association of France (3AF) has signed an agreement with Chile's Committee for the Studies of Anomalous Aerial Phenomena (CEFAA) to cooperate on the study of UFOs. 3AF posted an article on their website late last month explaining their newly founded relationship with CEFAA.

3AF is an important organization in France, and in Europe's aeronautical industry in general. Similar to the United State's American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, it is a society for those participating in, or interested in, the aerospace industry.

Surprisingly, 3AF also has a strong interest in the investigation of UFOs. Although, it might not be too surprising to those who know that the French government is one of very few that have an official organization that investigates UFOs. It is called the Study and Information Group on Aerospace Unidentified Phenomena (GEIPAN), and is part of France's National Center for Space Studies (CNES), their version of NASA.

[embedded content]

CEFAA, which is also an official government sanctioned UFO research organization, differs from GEIPAN in that it is part of Chile's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC), the equivalent to the FAA here in the U.S.

3AF also has a UFO study commission called 3AF/SIGMA2. This commission aides GEIPAN in the scientific analysis of UFO reports, and they will now help CEFAA in a similar fashion. 3AF's article explains that CEFAA has determined that the UFO phenomena is real, and that it may pose a risk to aviation. Now they wish to further examine "their causes and their effects."

Earlier this year, CEFAA held a meeting with military officials and other experts to determine whether UFOs pose a threat. Although they decided that they do not seem to pose a direct threat, nor do they seem to intend to do harm, they determined there could be some risk posed by UFOs distracting pilots.

In the past, 3AF also has come to the conclusion that the UFO phenomena is real. In May, 2010, the 3AF/SIGMA commission released a progress report. In it, they agreed with the conclusions of the Committee for In-Depth Studies (COMETA) Report of 1999. COMETA was a group of high-ranking retired French military and intelligence officers who conducted an independent study determining that UFOs were real and possibly of extraterrestrial origins.

In their report in May, 2010, 3AF/SIGMA wrote: "Many documents and materials examined by the authors of this report confirm it. We have therefore retained, among some others but only as a working hypothesis, the possibility that most of the craft observed can have a non-terrestrial origin."

In February, 2013, then president of the 3AF/SIGMA commission, Alain Boudier, shared their findings in the United States at the International UFO Congress.

Another aspect of the agreement between the 3AF and CEFAA was the international exchange of information. 3AF wrote: "CEFAA also urged France and 3AF/SIGMA2 especially to play a role in facilitating the international exchange of data and expertise on [UFOs]."

General Ricardo Bermudez, Director of CEFAA, has often stressed that UFO investigations should be an international effort. In February of 2012, he told the crowd at the International UFO Congress that he felt there should be an agency located at the United Nations that directs UFO investigations and shares information worldwide.

CEFAA has worked hard to build relationships with other official governmental UFO research organizations, such as those in Argentina, Peru, and Uruguay. They have also established relationships with prominent non-governmental UFO research organizations. In the U.S., they work closely with the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP), which collects and analyzes reports from pilots.

According to Leslie Kean, author of the best-seller, , who also works closely with CEFAA, international cooperation, such as the recent agreement between CEFAA and 3AF, catches the attention of the U.S. government as well.

Kean told Billy Cox of the , "I know from personal experience that the relationship of other governments to this issue is important to members of the U.S. government in terms of considering a new official involvement with this issue."

Kean continued:

The fact that the two leading agencies in the world - one from Europe and the other from South America - are joining forces is extremely significant, and hopefully this step forward will help encourage our government to take the subject seriously and to join in the growing international effort.

"The U.S. role is important, because once the U.S. is on board - even by simply appointing one staffer to evaluate the validity of U.S. involvement - many other countries will come on board. Even a crack in this now shut door would be enough to radically change the picture. If we can simply assign a government appointee to evaluate the question - are UFOs worthy of investigation? - then we have made a giant step forward.

CEFAA's work garnered a lot of media attention this summer, when Kean wrote a blog entry for the about a UFO investigation CEFAA could not explain. Later that summer, their conclusions regarding the threat UFOs pose also received media attention in the U.S.

Perhaps this attention, along with their efforts to form relationships with credible UFO research organizations around the world, will influence other governments to follow their example.

It has been over 50 years since the U.S. government has had an official UFO research organization, and the UK has recently closed theirs. This may be an area where the U.S. government will be happy to remain on the sidelines - or behind closed doors - for a few more decades.

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Police union boss flips out over cartoon showing kids telling Santa, "Keep us safe from the police"

Keep Us Safe From The Cops

Enter Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 President John McNesby.

In a scathing letter yesterday . . . McNesby demanded an apology from the Bucks County Courier Times for the cartoon.

“Surprisingly, you have at least one reader of that excuse for a newspaper you run,” McNesby wrote. “The one reader forwarded a copy of your disgraceful and highly offensive ‘cartoon.’ . . .

“There is a special place in hell for you miserable parasites in the media who seek to exploit violence and hatred in order to sell advertisements.”

The paper then issued an apology.

If we had recognized prior to publication that the cartoon would have caused unintended offense, our editors would have selected a different one for Sunday’s newspaper. Editing a newspaper is not easy and we don’t always get it right.

An apology might have been in order for the fact that the cartoon wasn’t particularly funny, original or poignant. But offending the sensibilities of law enforcement in the midst of a national uproar over the unnecessary killing of people by law enforcement isn’t something for which a newspaper should be apologizing. And it just gets worse from there.

Ignorance is no excuse for wrongdoing, unless you're a cop

"[I]f the individual is no longer to be sovereign, if the police can pick him up whenever they do not like the cut of his jib, if they can 'seize' and 'search' him in their discretion, we enter a new regime." - U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, dissenting in (1968)

US Cops

© AP Photo/Ben Margot

With Orwellian irony, the U.S. Supreme Court chose December 15, National Bill of Rights Day to deliver its crushing blow to the Fourth Amendment. Although the courts have historically held that ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking the law, in its 8-1 ruling in , the Supreme Court gave police in America one more ready excuse to routinely violate the laws of the land, this time under the guise of ignorance.

The case, which started with an improper traffic stop based on a police officer's ignorance of the law and ended with an unlawful search, seizure and arrest, was supposed to ensure that ignorance of the law did not become a ready excuse for government officials to routinely violate the law.

It failed to do so.

In failing to enforce the Constitution, the Court gave police the go-ahead to justify a laundry list of misconduct, from police shootings of unarmed citizens to SWAT team raids, roadside strip searches, and the tasering of vulnerable individuals with paltry excuses such as "they looked suspicious" and "she wouldn't obey our orders."

When police handcuffed, strip-searched and arrested a disabled man for no reason other than he sounded incoherent, it was chalked up as a mistake. Gordon Goines, a 37-year-old disabled man suffering from a Lou Gehrigs-type disease, was "diagnosed" by police and an unlicensed mental health screener as having "mental health issues," apparently because of his slurred speech and unsteady gait, and subsequently handcuffed, strip searched, and locked up for five days in a mental health facility against his will and with no access to family and friends. This was done despite the fact that police had no probable cause to believe that Goines had committed any crime, was a danger to himself or others, nor did they have any other legitimate lawful reason to seize, arrest or detain him. When Goines was finally released, police made no attempt to rectify their "mistake."

"I didn't know it was against the law" was the excuse police used to justify their repeated tasering of Malaika Brooks. Eight-months pregnant and on her way to drop her son off at school, Brooks was repeatedly tasered by Seattle police during a routine traffic stop simply because she refused to sign a speeding ticket. The cops who tasered the pregnant woman insisted they weren't aware that repeated electro-shocks qualified as constitutionally excessive and unreasonable force. The Supreme Court gave the cops a "get out of jail" card.

"I thought he was reaching for a gun." That was the excuse given when a police officer repeatedly shot 70-year-old Bobby Canipe during a traffic stop. The cop saw the man reaching for his cane and, believing the cane to be a rifle and fearing for his life, opened fire. Police excused the shooting as "unfortunate" but "appropriate."

"He was resisting arrest." That was the rationale behind Eric Garner's death. Garner, placed in a chokehold by police for allegedly resisting their attempts to arrest him for selling loose cigarettes, screamed "I can't breathe" repeatedly, until he breathed his last breath. A grand jury ruled there was no "reasonable cause" to charge the arresting officer with Garner's death.

And then you have the case, which, while far less traumatic than Eric Garner's chokehold death, was no less egregious in its defiance of the rule of law.

In April 2009, a police officer stopped Nicholas Heien's car, allegedly over a faulty brake light, and during the course of the stop and subsequent search, found a sandwich bag's worth of cocaine. In North Carolina, where the traffic stop took place, it's not actually illegal to have only one working brake light. However, Heien - the owner of the vehicle - didn't know that and allowed the search, which turned up drugs, and resulted in Heien's arrest. When the legitimacy of the traffic stop was challenged in court, the arresting officer claimed ignorance and the courts deemed it a "reasonable mistake."

I'm not sure which is worse: law enforcement officials who know nothing about the laws they have sworn to uphold, support and defend, or a constitutionally illiterate citizenry so clueless about their rights that they don't even know when those rights are being violated.

This much I do know, however: going forward, it will be that much easier for police officers to write off misconduct as a "reasonable" mistake.

Understanding this, Justice Sotomayor, the Court's lone dissenter, warned that the court's ruling "means further eroding the Fourth Amendment's protection of civil liberties in a context where that protection has already been worn down." Sotomayor continues:

Giving officers license to effect seizures so long as they can attach to their reasonable view of the facts some reasonable legal interpretation (or misinterpretation) that suggests a law has been violated significantly expands this authority. One wonders how a citizen seeking to be law-abiding and to structure his or her behavior to avoid these invasive, frightening, and humiliating encounters could do so.

There's no need to wonder, because there is no way to avoid these invasive, frightening, and humiliating encounters, not as long as the courts continue to excuse ignorance and sanction abuses on the part of the police.

Whether it's police officers breaking through people's front doors and shooting them dead in their homes or strip searching innocent motorists on the side of the road, these instances of abuse are continually validated by a judicial system that kowtows to virtually every police demand, no matter how unjust, no matter how in opposition to the Constitution.

Indeed, as I point out in my book , the police and other government agents have, with the general blessing of the courts, already been given the authority to probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance.

Just consider the Court's pro-police state rulings in recent years:

In , the Court declared that police officers can use lethal force in car chases without fear of lawsuits. In , the Court declared that police officers can stop cars based only on "anonymous" tips. This ruling came on the heels of a ruling by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in that driving too carefully, with a rigid posture, taking a scenic route, and having acne are sufficient reasons for a police officer to suspect you of doing something illegal, detain you, search your car, and arrest you - even if you've done nothing illegal to warrant the stop in the first place.

In , a divided Court determined police can forcibly take your DNA, whether or not you've been convicted of a crime. The Supreme Court's ruling in allows police to stop, search, question and profile citizens and non-citizens alike. And in an effort to make life easier for "overworked" jail officials, the Court ruled in that police can subject Americans to virtual strip searches, no matter the "offense."

In an 8-1 ruling in , the Supreme Court placed their trust in the discretion of police officers, rather than in the dictates of the Constitution, when they gave police greater leeway to break into homes without a warrant, even if it's the wrong home. In , a majority of the high court agreed that it's a crime to not identify yourself when a policeman asks your name.

And now we've got , which gives the police a green light to keep doing more of the same without fear of recrimination. Clearly, the present justices of the Supreme Court have forgotten that the Constitution, as Justice Douglas long ago recognized, "is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of people."

Given the turbulence of our age - with its police overreach, military training drills on American soil, domestic surveillance, profit-driven prisons, asset forfeiture schemes, wrongful convictions, and corporate corruption - it's not difficult to predict that this latest Supreme Court ruling will open the door to even greater police abuses.

We've got two choices: we can give up now and resign ourselves to a world in which police shootings, chokeholds, taserings, raids, thefts, and strip searches are written off as justifiable, reasonable or appropriate OR we can push back - nonviolently - against the police state and against all of the agencies, entities and individuals who march in lockstep with the police state.

As for those still deluded enough to believe they're living the American dream - where the government represents the people, where the people are equal in the eyes of the law, where the courts are arbiters of justice, where the police are keepers of the peace, and where the law is applied equally as a means of protecting the rights of the people - it's time to wake up.

We no longer have a representative government, a rule of law, or justice. Liberty has fallen to legalism. Freedom has fallen to fascism. Justice has become jaded, jaundiced and just plain unjust.

The dream has turned into a nightmare.

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Villagers in Kazakhstan are falling asleep en masse for no apparent reason

Sleepy people

© Flickr/Tinou Bao

Not residents of Kalachi, but very sleepy people nonetheless.

Residents of a small village in Kazakhstan are falling asleep at random, sometimes for days at a time, and no one knows why. Since the spring of 2013, the village of Kalachi in the Akmolinsk district (whose name derives from , a Kazakh term that ominously translates to white tomb), 150 miles south of the Russian border, has suffered from at least four outbreaks of the disorder. As of the latest wave, from late August to early September, over 60 people, or 10 percent of the town's population of 680 had been affected. Last week, released a documentary on the problem titled ​. Locals told the reporters that they fear one day they'll fall asleep and never wake up again.

Classified as an of unclear origin - the highfalutin term for a weird brain disorder we can't figure out - villagers who do not simply keel over while moving or working report feeling weakness, dizziness, and memory and motor control loss. At least two children have reported hallucinations as well : Misha Plyukhin saw flying horses and light bulbs, his mother with eight eyes and a trunk, and snakes and worms in his bed, trying to eat his arms; Rudolf Boyarinos cannot remember his visions, but four people had to calm and subdue him as he screamed "monsters!" The sleep is so deep that some locals fear an old man they assumed was dead could have been buried alive.

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Go West, Young Han

© Bloomberg via Getty Images

As Washington "Pivots" to Asia, China Does the Eurasian Pirouette.

November 18, 2014: It's a day that should live forever in history. On that day, in the city of Yiwu in China's Zhejiang province, 300 kilometers south of Shanghai, the first train carrying 82 containers of export goods weighing more than 1,000 tons left a massive warehouse complex heading for Madrid. It arrived on December 9th.

Welcome to the new trans-Eurasia choo-choo train. At over 13,000 kilometers, it will regularly traverse the longest freight train route in the world, 40% farther than the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway. Its cargo will cross China from East to West, then Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, France, and finally Spain.

You may not have the faintest idea where Yiwu is, but businessmen plying their trades across Eurasia, especially from the Arab world, are already hooked on the city "where amazing happens!" We're talking about the largest wholesale center for small-sized consumer goods -- from clothes to toys -- possibly anywhere on Earth.

The Yiwu-Madrid route across Eurasia represents the beginning of a set of game-changing developments. It will be an efficient logistics channel of incredible length. It will represent geopolitics with a human touch, knitting together small traders and huge markets across a vast landmass. It's already a graphic example of Eurasian integration on the go. And most of all, it's the first building block on China's "New Silk Road," conceivably the project of the new century and undoubtedly the greatest trade story in the world for the next decade.

Go west, young Han. One day, if everything happens according to plan (and according to the dreams of China's leaders), all this will be yours -- via high-speed rail, no less. The trip from China to Europe will be a two-day affair, not the 21 days of the present moment. In fact, as that freight train left Yiwu, the D8602 bullet train was leaving Urumqi in Xinjiang Province, heading for Hami in China's far west. That's the first high-speed railway built in Xinjiang, and more like it will be coming soon across China at what is likely to prove dizzying speed.

Today, 90% of the global container trade still travels by ocean, and that's what Beijing plans to change. Its embryonic, still relatively slow New Silk Road represents its first breakthrough in what is bound to be an overland trans-continental container trade revolution.

And with it will go a basket of future "win-win" deals, including lower transportation costs, the expansion of Chinese construction companies ever further into the Central Asian "stans," as well as into Europe, an easier and faster way to move uranium and rare metals from Central Asia elsewhere, and the opening of myriad new markets harboring hundreds of millions of people.

So if Washington is intent on "pivoting to Asia," China has its own plan in mind. Think of it as a pirouette to Europe across Eurasia.

Defecting to the East?

The speed with which all of this is happening is staggering. Chinese President Xi Jinping launched the New Silk Road Economic Belt in Astana, Kazakhstan, in September 2013. One month later, while in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, he announced a twenty-first-century Maritime Silk Road. Beijing defines the overall concept behind its planning as "one road and one belt," when what it's actually thinking about is a boggling maze of prospective roads, rail lines, sea lanes, and belts.

We're talking about a national strategy that aims to draw on the historical aura of the ancient Silk Road, which bridged and connected civilizations, east and west, while creating the basis for a vast set of interlocked pan-Eurasian economic cooperation zones. Already the Chinese leadership has green-lighted a $40 billion infrastructure fund, overseen by the China Development Bank, to build roads, high-speed rail lines, and energy pipelines in assorted Chinese provinces. The fund will sooner or later expand to cover projects in South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and parts of Europe. But Central Asia is the key immediate target.

Chinese companies will be investing in, and bidding for contracts in, dozens of countries along those planned silk roads. After three decades of development while sucking up foreign investment at breakneck speed, China's strategy is now to let its own capital flow to its neighbors. It's already clinched $30 billion in contracts with Kazakhstan and $15 billion with Uzbekistan. It has provided Turkmenistan with $8 billion in loans and a billion more has gone to Tajikistan.

In 2013, relations with Kyrgyzstan were upgraded to what the Chinese term "strategic level." China is already the largest trading partner for all of them except Uzbekistan and, though the former Central Asian socialist republics of the Soviet Union are still tied to Russia's network of energy pipelines, China is at work there, too, creating its own version of Pipelineistan, including a new gas pipeline to Turkmenistan, with more to come.

The competition among Chinese provinces for much of this business and the infrastructure that goes with it will be fierce. Xinjiang is already being reconfigured by Beijing as a key hub in its new Eurasian network. In early November 2014, Guangdong -- the "factory of the world" -- hosted the first international expo for the country's Maritime Silk Road and representatives of no less than 42 countries attended the party.

President Xi himself is now enthusiastically selling his home province, Shaanxi, which once harbored the start of the historic Silk Road in Xian, as a twenty-first-century transportation hub. He's made his New Silk Road pitch for it to, among others, Tajikistan, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, India, and Afghanistan.

Just like the historic Silk Road, the new one has to be thought of in the plural. Imagine it as a future branching maze of roads, rail lines, and pipelines. A key stretch is going to run through Central Asia, Iran, and Turkey, with Istanbul as a crossroads site. Iran and Central Asia are already actively promoting their own connections to it. Another key stretch will follow the Trans-Siberian Railway with Moscow as a key node. Once that trans-Siberian high-speed rail remix is completed, travel time between Beijing and Moscow will plunge from the current six and a half days to only 33 hours. In the end, Rotterdam, Duisburg, and Berlin could all be nodes on this future "highway" and German business execs are enthusiastic about the prospect.

The Maritime Silk Road will start in Guangdong province en route to the Malacca Strait, the Indian Ocean, the Horn of Africa, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, ending essentially in Venice, which would be poetic justice indeed. Think of it as Marco Polo in reverse.

All of this is slated to be completed by 2025, providing China with the kind of future "soft power" that it now sorely lacks. When President Xi hails the push to "break the connectivity bottleneck" across Asia, he's also promising Chinese credit to a wide range of countries.

Now, mix the Silk Road strategy with heightened cooperation among the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), with accelerated cooperation among the members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), with a more influential Chinese role over the 120-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) -- no wonder there's the perception across the Global South that, while the U.S. remains embroiled in its endless wars, the world is defecting to the East .

New Banks and New Dreams

The recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing was certainly a Chinese success story, but the bigger APEC story went virtually unreported in the United States. Twenty-two Asian countries approved the creation of an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) only one year after Xi initially proposed it. This is to be yet another bank, like the BRICS Development Bank, that will help finance projects in energy, telecommunications, and transportation. Its initial capital will be $50 billion and China and India will be its main shareholders.

Consider its establishment a Sino-Indian response to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), founded in 1966 under the aegis of the World Bank and considered by most of the world as a stalking horse for the Washington consensus. When China and India insist that the new bank's loans will be made on the basis of "justice, equity, and transparency," they mean that to be in stark contrast to the ADB (which remains a U.S.-Japan affair with those two countries contributing 31% of its capital and holding 25% of its voting power) -- and a sign of a coming new order in Asia. In addition, at a purely practical level, the ADB won't finance the real needs of the Asian infrastructure push that the Chinese leadership is dreaming about, which is why the AIIB is going to come in so handy.

Keep in mind that China is already the top trading partner for India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. It's in second place when it comes to Sri Lanka and Nepal. It's number one again when it comes to virtually all the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), despite China's recent well-publicized conflicts over who controls waters rich in energy deposits in the region. We're talking here about the compelling dream of a convergence of 600 million people in Southeast Asia, 1.3 billion in China, and 1.5 billion on the Indian subcontinent.

Only three APEC members -- apart from the U.S. -- did not vote to approve the new bank: Japan, South Korea, and Australia, all under immense pressure from the Obama administration. (Indonesia signed on a few days late.) And Australia is finding it increasingly difficult to resist the lure of what, these days, is being called "yuan diplomacy."

In fact, whatever the overwhelming majority of Asian nations may think about China's self-described "peaceful rise," most are already shying away from or turning their backs on a Washington-and-NATO-dominated trade and commercial world and the set of pacts -- from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) for Europe to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) for Asia -- that would go with it.

When Dragon Embraces Bear

Russian President Vladimir Putin had a fabulous APEC. After his country and China clinched a massive $400 billion natural gas deal in May -- around the Power of Siberia pipeline, whose construction began this year -- they added a second agreement worth $325 billion around the Altai pipeline originating in western Siberia.

These two mega-energy deals don't mean that Beijing will become Moscow-dependent when it comes to energy, though it's estimated that they will provide 17% of China's natural gas needs by 2020. (Gas, however, makes up only 10% per cent of China's energy mix at present.) But these deals signal where the wind is blowing in the heart of Eurasia. Though Chinese banks can't replace those affected by Washington and EU sanctions against Russia, they are offering a Moscow battered by recent plummeting oil prices some relief in the form of access to Chinese credit.

On the military front, Russia and China are now committed to large-scale joint military exercises, while Russia's advanced S-400 air defense missile system will soon enough be heading for Beijing. In addition, for the first time in the post-Cold War era, Putin recently raised the old Soviet-era doctrine of "collective security" in Asia as a possible pillar for a new Sino-Russian strategic partnership.

Chinese President Xi has taken to calling all this the "evergreen tree of Chinese-Russian friendship" -- or you could think of it as Putin's strategic "pivot" to China. In either case, Washington is not exactly thrilled to see Russia and China beginning to mesh their strengths: Russian excellence in aerospace, defense technology, and heavy equipment manufacturing matching Chinese excellence in agriculture, light industry, and information technology.

It's also been clear for years that, across Eurasia, Russian, not Western, pipelines are likely to prevail. The latest spectacular Pipelineistan opera -- Gazprom's cancellation of the prospective South Stream pipeline that was to bring yet more Russian natural gas to Europe -- will, in the end, only guarantee an even greater energy integration of both Turkey and Russia into the new Eurasia.

So Long to the Unipolar Moment

All these interlocked developments suggest a geopolitical tectonic shift in Eurasia that the American media simply hasn't begun to grasp. Which doesn't mean that no one notices anything. You can smell the incipient panic in the air in the Washington establishment. The Council on Foreign Relations is already publishing laments about the possibility that the former sole superpower's exceptionalist moment is "unraveling." The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission can only blame the Chinese leadership for being "disloyal," adverse to "reform," and an enemy of the "liberalization" of their own economy.

The usual suspects carp that upstart China is upsetting the "international order," will doom "peace and prosperity" in Asia for all eternity, and may be creating a "new kind of Cold War" in the region. From Washington's perspective, a rising China, of course, remains the major "threat" in Asia, if not the world, even as the Pentagon spends gigantic sums to keep its sprawling global empire of bases intact. Those Washington-based stories about the new China threat in the Pacific and Southeast Asia, however, never mention that China remains encircled by U.S. bases, while lacking a base of its own outside its territory.

Of course, China does face titanic problems, including the pressures being applied by the globe's "sole superpower." Among other things, Beijing fears threats to the security of its sea-borne energy supply from abroad, which helps explain its massive investment in helping create a welcoming Eurasian Pipelineistan from Central Asia to Siberia. Fears for its energy future also explain its urge to "escape from Malacca" by reaching for energy supplies in Africa and South America, and its much-discussed offensive to claim energy-rich areas of the East and South China seas, which Beijing is betting could become a "second Persian Gulf," ultimately yielding 130 billion barrels of oil.

On the internal front, President Xi has outlined in detail his vision of a "results-oriented" path for his country over the next decade. As road maps go, China's "must-do" list of reforms is nothing short of impressive. And worrying about keeping China's economy, already the world's number one by size, rolling along at a feverish pitch, Xi is also turbo-charging the fight against corruption, graft, and waste, especially within the Communist Party itself.

Economic efficiency is another crucial problem. Chinese state-owned enterprises are now investing a staggering $2.3 trillion a year -- 43% of the country's total investment -- in infrastructure. Yet studies at Tsinghua University's School of Management have shown that an array of investments in facilities ranging from steel mills to cement factories have only added to overcapacity and so actually undercut China's productivity.

Xiaolu Wang and Yixiao Zhou, authors of the academic paper "Deepening Reform for China's Long-term Growth and Development," contend that it will be difficult for China to jump from middle-income to high-income status -- a key requirement for a truly global power. For this, an avalanche of extra government funds would have to go into areas like social security/unemployment benefits and healthcare, which take up at present 9.8% and 15.1% of the 2014 budget -- high for some Western countries but not high enough for China's needs.

Still, anyone who has closely followed what China has accomplished over these past three decades knows that, whatever its problems, whatever the threats, it won't fall apart. As a measure of the country's ambitions for economically reconfiguring the commercial and power maps of the world, China's leaders are also thinking about how, in the near future, relations with Europe, too, could be reshaped in ways that would be historic.

What About That "Harmonious Community"?

At the same moment that China is proposing a new Eurasian integration, Washington has opted for an "empire of chaos," a dysfunctional global system now breeding mayhem and blowback across the Greater Middle East into Africa and even to the peripheries of Europe.

In this context, a "new Cold War" paranoia is on the rise in the U.S., Europe, and Russia. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who knows a thing or two about Cold Wars (having ended one), couldn't be more alarmed. Washington's agenda of "isolating" and arguably crippling Russia is ultimately dangerous, even if in the long run it may also be doomed to failure.

At the moment, whatever its weaknesses, Moscow remains the only power capable of negotiating a global strategic balance with Washington and putting some limits on its empire of chaos. NATO nations still follow meekly in Washington's wake and China as yet lacks the strategic clout.

Russia, like China, is betting on Eurasian integration. No one, of course, knows how all this will end. Only four years ago, Vladimir Putin was proposing "a harmonious economic community stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok," involving a trans-Eurasian free trade agreement. Yet today, with the U.S., NATO, and Russia locked in a Cold War-like battle in the shadows over Ukraine, and with the European Union incapable of disentangling itself from NATO, the most immediate new paradigm seems to be less total integration than war hysteria and fear of future chaos spreading to other parts of Eurasia.

Don't rule out a change in the dynamics of the situation, however. In the long run, it seems to be in the cards. One day, Germany may lead parts of Europe away from NATO's "logic," since German business leaders and industrialists have an eye on their potentially lucrative commercial future in a new Eurasia. Strange as it might seem amid today's war of words over Ukraine, the endgame could still prove to involve a Berlin-Moscow-Beijing alliance.

At present, the choice between the two available models on the planet seems stark indeed: Eurasian integration or a spreading empire of chaos. China and Russia know what they want, and so, it seems, does Washington. The question is: What will the other moving parts of Eurasia choose to do?

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