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Sunday, 31 May 2015

Murder Inc.: DARPA's Airborne 'Death Ray'

Photo Illustration DARPA

An endless sea of money flowing into the field of military technology creates constant advancements in new and terrifying ways to die, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is on the front lines in that mission. DARPA's latest defense system, HELLADS, is one step closer to arming aircraft and drones with an exceptionally powerful and destructive, weaponized laser beam.

Set to begin testing at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico this summer, the High-Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System program has been developing an electrically and optically efficient laser for output from a lighter and more compact platform through DARPA contractor, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA ASI). The Gen 3 High Energy Laser System (HEL) measures just 4.26 x 1.31 x 1.64 feet, and uses a compact lithium-ion battery to produce a beam of between 150-300 kW for "deployable tactical platforms."

To understand how alarming this latest technology actually is, a comparison to current laser weaponry is in order. Already in use on board the USS Ponce, the Navy's Laser Weapon System produces a beam of light capable of destroying the electronics systems and overheating the engines of drones, small boats, and small aircraft — and can even explode warheads. And those lasers are just 30 kW. Lasers to be used with the HELLADS system are up to ten times more powerful, and even when tested at 50 kW, were able to deliver a consistently high-quality beam for up to 30 seconds at a time, and then only limited in scope by battery life.

But there's more. Remember the goal of putting this framework in the air? Well, the same contractor that streamlined the laser has also developed the jet-powered Avenger drone which generates enough energy in flight to continually recharge that battery — giving the weapon unlimited ammunition from an agile, unmanned aircraft, capable of speeds around 450 mph, that can stay aloft for up to 18 hours at a time. But not yet.

HELLADS will first be tested on the ground against "rockets, mortars, vehicles and surrogate surface-to-air missiles," according to a DARPA statement. "The technical hurdles were daunting, but it is extremely gratifying to have produced a new type of solid-state laser with unprecedented power and beam quality for its size," said program manager Rick Bagnell. "The HELLADS laser is now ready to be put to the test on the range against some of the toughest tactical threats our warfighters face."

Though marketed primarily as a defense system, the statement adds, "Laser weapon systems provide additional capability for offensive missions as well—adding precise targeting with low probability of collateral damage [...] Following the field-testing phase, the goal is to make the system available to the military services for further refinement, testing or transition to operational use."

So, the question must be posed: When so many fight simply to survive, how gratifying can perfecting an obscenely destructive weapon of war really be?

Poverty Porn: CBS debuts 'reality' show exploiting the financially strapped

© cbs

As if to prove there are new depths to be plumbed in the world of reality television (because who knew?), CBS just debuted The Briefcase, a show which takes poverty porn, class anxiety, emotional manipulation and exploitation and packages them all neatly into a pretty despicable hour of primetime television. Kicking off each episode with the question, "What would you do with $101,000?" the show then deep-dives into a competition that asks two unwitting, financially strapped families to choose between two no-win options: being financially solvent yet appearing heartless and greedy, or drowning in debt yet having audiences recognize them as selfless and giving.

It's hard to imagine a network executive didn't get the idea for this show from the "Button, Button" episode of the Twilight Zone. The Briefcase focuses on two "middle-class" families—a questionable but highly American take on the phrase, since both are debt saddled, with one primary breadwinner, and essentially living on the edge of financial ruin. Both are told they'll be participating in a documentary about money. Instead, a producer from the show unexpectedly comes to their house with a suitcase full of cold, hard cash: $101,000 to be exact. That could be a life-changing - and in the case of families so near the financial cliff, nearly life-saving - sum of money. But this being reality TV, instead of just giving them the cash, there's a major catch.

Both families are informed that somewhere out there, there's another family "who's also in need," and are given a choice: "You can keep all of the money, you can keep some of the money, or you can give it all away." Neither family knows that the other family also has a suitcase full of cash and is debating how much, if any, they'll share. And since both families were originally told they were merely going to be the subjects of a documentary, neither of them really signed up for this exercise in televised torture.

What follows, predictably, is a gut-wrenching look at the two families being guilted this way and that over whether to choose charity or financial survival. In the first episode, the Bergins of North Carolina, a family of five—mom, Kim; dad, Drew; and three teenage daughters—are trying to make do on Kim's salary of $15.50 an hour, since Drew's ice cream truck business is failing. And in New Hampshire, the Bronsons—featuring dad Dave, an Iraq war vet who lost his leg in combat—are scraping by on the earnings of mom Cara, who works the night shift as a nurse and is pregnant with their second child.

The families are told they have to take the first $1,000 and spend it on themselves, which is basically a way of giving people who've been in dire straits for eons a fleeting taste of the kind of the financially carefree existence they'll soon have to feel bad about wanting. From there on, the show does all it can to ensure the decision over the money is as guilt-ridden and uncomfortable as possible. Each clan is, bit by bit, given information about each others' lives—including financial details, outstanding debts and shortfall salaries—and even allowed to tour each others' houses. If you have any doubt about the cynicism that birthed CBS's latest show, watch as mom Kim spots Dave's prosthetic leg. It induces just the level of empathy—and guilt; always with the guilt—you might expect, and ensures exactly the sort of anguish CBS was hoping to capture on camera.

The whole thing is, in a word, gross. We're told via voiceover at the show's outset that, "All across America, hard-working, middle-class families are feeling the impact of rising debt and shrinking paychecks." That's absolutely true, and CBS's answer to that problem is apparently to exploit those families in ways that startle, even at this stage in the reality TV game. Make no mistake: The Briefcase is a good show to watch if you want to see a television network last valued at $30 billion ask families that are near to losing everything to battle over the very thing the network has in near endless supply: money. It is a stark acting out of how the wealthiest ask those with far less to battle over scraps, to be generous in ways they would never consider, to smile for the camera through tears for our own entertainment. And since there's no such thing in this awful reality TV landscape as bad press—and this show has gotten plenty of it—it may likely become a hit.

Granted, this is no real-life Hunger Games, but it's an unfair position to place these families in. CBS promises that the show, with its ostensible message of sharing and caring, "will make you question what matters most." But after the spouses are done fighting, the ads are done running (when I watched online, these included commercials for things the families might find out of reach — such as Cadillacs and fancy new tablets — as well as ads from companies that helped land them in debt — including credit card purveyors) and all the decisions are made on how the cash will be split, you're mostly left with the knowledge that a corporate behemoth has found yet another way to profit off of poverty. It's not a new trick, but it's a particularly bold display. One I hope most of us choose to turn away from.

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McDonald's Japan founder: Burgers will make us 'taller, white and blonde'

© Natural Society
Who knew!?

How do you sell fast food to a nation? Apparently by creating a massive lie. In 1971, the man behind Japan's McDonald's franchise proclaimed that by eating McDonald's, Japanese citizens could 'grow taller, turn their skin white, and their hair blonde' by eating McDonald's burgers and fries for the rest of their lives.

It sounds absolutely insane — because it is. And, unfortunately, this is not satire.

It all started back in 1967 with a man named Den Fujita, who at the time was a businessman who sold imported bags and shoes to the Japanese public. But Fujita was growing tired of the importing business, and saw an opportunity to make some serious cash after finding out about the success of the McDonald's franchise in the United States.

In 1971, Fujita launched his McDonald's franchise in Japan, with a very unique marketing statement.

As documented by the 1995 book , Fujita stated:

"The reason Japanese people are so short and have yellow skins is because they have eaten nothing but fish and rice for two thousand years... If we eat McDonald's hamburgers and potatoes for a thousand years we will become taller, our skin become white, and our hair blonde."

That's a Hell of a marketing claim right there. And it worked.

McDonald's Japan has now launched over 3,800 locations, rakes in about $4 billion a year, and Fujita went on to live off the investment until his retirement in 2003. In fact, he made off with a 25% stake in McDonald's Japan that was valued at $674 million. He even received a retirement bonus of $24 million. Perhaps by then his hair and skin became a bit lighter from all of the burgers and fries?

As more and more people realize that the foundation of McDonald's is built on cheap food additives and weird marketing myths like the ones I've shared with you today, it's no wonder that the fast food titan continues to shed profits on a monthly basis. As I told you last week, it's now gotten so bad that McDonald's won't even be reporting their monthly profit losses to the public.

Do you still eat McDonald's food? Does it make your hair blonde and increase your height, as the McDonald's Japan founder originally claimed?

Kentucky police chief ships mentally ill inmate to Florida against judge's orders, then charges him with escape


© Carrollton Police Department
Adam Horine

Defying a court order to take a mentally ill inmate to a state hospital for observation, a Kentucky police chief bought a one-way ticket to Florida for the man, sending him on a 28-hour bus ride, only to have the state extradite him back by saying he escaped.

According to investigation by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, Carrollton Police Chief Michael Willhoite spent $18 of his own money to rid himself of 31-year-old Adam Horine, instead of following a judge's order to send him to Eastern State Hospital in Lexington for a thorough psychiatric assessment.

Defending himself while appearing before Judge Elizabeth Chandler for threatening a cab driver and "cussing in public," the itinerant Horine begged the court for help, claiming he was mentally ill and saying "things I shouldn't say."

Chandler ordered sheriff's deputies to take Horine to the hospital, but he was first transported back to county jail where a social worker evaluated him, reporting that Horine was hearing voices, felt suicidal, couldn't sleep, and wanted to hurt "certain people."

Despite the judge's order and the evaluation, Chief Wilhoite instructed officer Ron Dickow to drive Horine 50 miles in a police cruiser to Louisville where Dickow bought Horine a one-way bus ticket to Florida with money given to him by the chief.

"This just doesn't happen. It's not supposed to happen in our system," said David Harris, professor of criminal law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. "And to have a police officer come in and simply say, 'No, we're not having him get a mental-health evaluation, you're just getting out of here. You're too much trouble. We don't want you here. You're leaving.' I'm sorry, that's not allowed. They don't have the power to do that."

Horine, who has previously been confined to mental hospitals twice, found himself in Florida, where he was later arrested in Gulfport after the Kentucky attorney general's office issued a warrant for his arrest. The charge: , a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. According to the warrant, Horine left the jail and the state "by bus, with the full knowledge that he was under court order to be transported to Eastern State Hospital."

However in an April 30 letter obtained by KyCIR, Carroll County Attorney Nick Marsh told the state attorney general's office that Dickow said he had been "advised" by Willhoite to remove Horine from the jail and ship him off to Florida.

Marsh has requested the attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation into "allegations of misconduct and other criminal violations of Chief Mike Willhoite and officer Ron Dickow."

UFO photographed sucking water out of California lake (as if the draught wasn't bad enough!)

Date of sighting: May 2015
Location of sighting: Nevada County, CA
Nevada News Source: http://bit.ly/1PXyYpB
Updated: May 26, 2015:
This sighting is of incredible value on many levels. 1st Its a pilot that took the photo. 2nd the pilot tried to radio communicate with the UFO. 3rd The UFO is not cloaked or even partly cloaked, its a freaking clear as day photo of the UFO! 4th this UFO is levitating water in a upward steam to the UFO. This is a sighting that will go down in history. As you can see its a very low populated area and they had little to fear. Is it really our water they are stealing or where they here first? Either way, our space brothers are welcome to help themselves. They are likely on the Earths moon or nearby planet in our solar system and Earth is the closest fresh water. SCW
Nevada County Scooper States:

Nevada County, CA — A local pilot and amateur photographer has shared an exclusive photo with the Nevada County Scooper depicting an unidentified flying object hovering over Scotts Flat Lake located in the important California watershed of Nevada County, CA. According to the pilot, the object appears to be sucking water out of the reservoir.

The pilot, who chose to remain anonymous, said he was out on a routine flight late Friday afternoon when he spotted what he initially thought was another plane. However when he radioed the other craft for confirmation, it did not return his request.

"As you can see from the picture I was on my final approach to the Nevada County Airport when I spotted this red object," said the pilot. "Then I noticed this 'water beam' underneath it. It kinda looked like a long, clear straw. So I radioed it to let them know I was around and they did not return my request, which is highly unusual."

UFOlogists around the globe has suspected that visitors from around the known universe have been visiting Earth because the prominence of water on our planet. Some have speculated that spacecraft visit to "refuel" their vessels while others like local amateur cryptozoologist, paranormal investigator, SciFi Channel fan and amateur astronomer Keith Bradenshauer had this to say about the possible sighting.

"Holy cow. Finally proof that they're using the Black Knight [satellite] to coordinate their mass 'visit'," said Mr. Bradenshauer using his fingers to form two quotes in the air. "I'm not going to say they're here to steal our water, but they certainly aren't asking permission to take it."
The Scooper reached out to the Nevada Irrigation District who runs Scotts Flat Lake for comment, but no one returned our request for information. We can only assume that NID is aware of this invasion, and is ignoring it or powerless to stop these alien actions. This is consistent with other government agencies who refuse to discuss these events.

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How to tell if a medical study is complete bull

© Crypto Junod Info

Every single day, our news feeds are inundated with studies. We're told that certain foods are bad for our health, only to find a new study that indicates these foods are good for us, and vice versa. There's always some new report that claims the things we do everyday are giving us cancer, and there are just as many reports that claim to have a possible cure.

We read about them, we quote them, and we criticize them. Just about everything we believe in, is confirmed or denied by the studies that are cranked out by the scientific community on a daily basis.

But how many of them are true?

It's difficult to quantify, but there may be more faulty studies out there than you think. I guarantee you that everyone has at least one opinion that was derived from a misleading study, myself included. None of us are above it. There are just so many, and we don't always have the time to research the finer details of a study. And if you don't have some kind of academic background, you might not even be able to understand those details anyway.

That's where Dr. Malcolm Kendrick comes in. He's recently published a new book on the subject of misleading medical studies titled Doctoring Data: How to sort out medical advice from medical nonsense. In it, he describes in detail, how the medical establishment creates these sometimes outrageous studies, and how you can spot them for yourself. He'll show you how to properly examine the data, and identify the flaws in the research. And more importantly, he shows you how to do it quickly and easily, and in layman's terms.

To get a better idea of what his book is about, check out his fascinating interview with Dr. Mercola. In world swamped with misleading studies, it might just save your health.

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And if you'd like to know more, be sure and see the full interview at mercola.com.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras: Europe at crossroads

This is a letter from Greek PM Alexis Tsipras in today's Le Monde:

On 25th of last January, the Greek people made a courageous decision. They dared to challenge the one-way street of the Memorandum's tough austerity, and to seek a new agreement. A new agreement that will keep the country in the Euro, with a viable economic program, without the mistakes of the past.

The Greek people paid a high price for these mistakes; over the past five years the unemployment rate climbed to 28% (60% for young people), average income decreased by 40%, while according to Eurostat's data, Greece became the EU country with the highest index of social inequality.

And the worst result: Despite badly damaging the social fabric, this Program failed to invigorate the competitiveness of the Greek economy. Public debt soared from 124% to 180% of GDP, and despite the heavy sacrifices of the people, the Greek economy remains trapped in continuous uncertainty caused by unattainable fiscal balance targets that further the vicious cycle of austerity and recession.

The new Greek government's main goal during these last four months has been to put an end to this vicious cycle, an end to this uncertainty.

Doing so requires a mutually beneficial agreement that will set realistic goals regarding surpluses, while also reinstating an agenda of growth and investment. A final solution to the Greek problem is now more mature and more necessary than ever.

Such an agreement will also spell the end of the European economic crisis that began 7 years ago, by putting an end to the cycle of uncertainty in the Eurozone.

Today, Europe has the opportunity to make decisions that will trigger a rapid recovery of the Greek and European economy by ending Grexit scenarios, scenarios that prevent the long-term stabilization of the European economy and may, at any given time, weaken the confidence of both citizens and investors in our common currency.

Many, however, claim that the Greek side is not cooperating to reach an agreement because it comes to the negotiations intransigent and without proposals.

Is this really the case?

Because these times are critical, perhaps historic - not only for the future of Greece but also for the future of Europe - I would like to take this opportunity to present the truth, and to responsibly inform the world's public opinion about the real intentions and positions of Greece.

The Greek government, on the basis of the Eurogroup's decision on February 20th, has submitted a broad package of reform proposals, with the intent to reach an agreement that will combine respect for the mandate of the Greek people with respect for the rules and decisions governing the Eurozone.

One of the key aspects of our proposals is the commitment to lower - and hence make feasible - primary surpluses for 2015 and 2016, and to allow for higher primary surpluses for the following years, as we expect a proportional increase in the growth rates of the Greek economy.

Another equally fundamental aspect of our proposals is the commitment to increase public revenues through a redistribution of the burden from lower and middle classes to the higher ones that have effectively avoided paying their fair share to help tackle the crisis, since they were for all accounts protected by both the political elite and the Troika who turned "a blind eye".

From the very start, our government has clearly demonstrated its intention and determination to address these matters by legislating a specific bill to deal with fraud caused by triangular transactions, and by intensifying customs and tax controls to reduce smuggling and tax evasion.

While, for the first time in years, we charged media owners for their outstanding debts owed to the Greek public sector.

These actions are changing things in Greece, as evidenced the speeding up of work in the courts to administer justice in cases of substantial tax evasion. In other words, the oligarchs who were used to being protected by the political system now have many reasons to lose sleep.

In addition to these overarching goals that define our proposals, we have also offered highly detailed and specific plans during the course of our discussions with the institutions that have bridged the distance between our respective positions that separated us a few months ago.

Specifically, the Greek side has accepted to implement a series of institutional reforms, such as strengthening the independence of the General Secretariat for Public Revenues and of the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), interventions to accelerate the administration of justice, as well as interventions in the product markets to eliminate distortions and privileges.

Also, despite our clear opposition to the privatization model promoted by the institutions that neither creates growth perspectives nor transfers funds to the real economy and the unsustainable debt, we accepted to move forward, with some minor modifications, on privatizations to prove our intention of taking steps towards approaching the other side.

We also agreed to implement a major VAT reform by simplifying the system and reinforcing the redistributive dimension of the tax in order to achieve an increase in both collection and revenues.

We have submitted specific proposals concerning measures that will result in a further increase in revenues. These include a special contribution tax on very high profits, a tax on e-betting, the intensification of checks of bank account holders with large sums - tax evaders, measures for the collection of public sector arrears, a special luxury tax, and a tendering process for broadcasting and other licenses, which the Troika coincidentally forgot about for the past five years.

These measures will increase revenues, and will do so without having recessionary effects since they do not further reduce active demand or place more burdens on the low and middle social strata.

Furthermore, we agreed to implement a major reform of the social security system that entails integrating pension funds and repealing provisions that wrongly allow for early retirement, which increases the real retirement age.

These reforms will be put into place despite the fact that the losses endured by the pension funds, which have created the medium-term problem of their sustainability, are mainly due to political choices of both the previous Greek governments and especially the Troika, who share the responsibility for these losses: the pension funds' reserves have been reduced by 25 billion through the PSI and from very high unemployment, which is almost exclusively due to the extreme austerity program that has been implemented in Greece since 2010.

Finally - and despite our commitment to the workforce to immediately restore European legitimacy to the labor market that has been fully dismantled during the last five years under the pretext of competitiveness - we have accepted to implement labor reforms after our consultation with the ILO, which has already expressed a positive opinion about the Greek government's proposals.

Given the above, it is only reasonable to wonder why there is such insistence by Institutional officials that Greece is not submitting proposals.

What end is served by this prolonged liquidity moratorium towards the Greek economy? Especially in light of the fact that Greece has shown that it wants to meet its external obligations, having paid more than 17 billion in interest and amortizations (about 10% of its GDP) since August 2014 without any external funding.

And finally, what is the purpose of the coordinated leaks that claim that we are not close to an agreement that will put an end to the European and global economic and political uncertainty fueled by the Greek issue?

The informal response that some are making is that we are not close to an agreement because the Greek side insists on its positions to restore collective bargaining and refuses to implement a further reduction of pensions.

Here, too, I must make some clarifications:

Regarding the issue of collective bargaining, the position of the Greek side is that it is impossible for the legislation protecting employees in Greece to not meet European standards or, even worse, to flagrantly violate European labor legislation. What we are asking for is nothing more than what is common practice in all Eurozone countries. This is the reason why I recently made a joint declaration on the issue with President Juncker.

Concerning the issue on pensions, the position of the Greek government is completely substantiated and reasonable. In Greece, pensions have cumulatively declined from 20% to 48% during the Memorandum years; currently 44.5% of pensioners receive a pension under the fixed threshold of relative poverty while approximately 23.1% of pensioners, according to data from Eurostat, live in danger of poverty and social exclusion.

It is therefore obvious that these numbers, which are the result of Memorandum policy, cannot be tolerated - not simply in Greece but in any civilized country.

So, let's be clear:

The lack of an agreement so far is not due to the supposed intransigent, uncompromising and incomprehensible Greek stance.

It is due to the insistence of certain institutional actors on submitting absurd proposals and displaying a total indifference to the recent democratic choice of the Greek people, despite the public admission of the three Institutions that necessary flexibility will be provided in order to respect the popular verdict.

What is driving this insistence?

An initial thought would be that this insistence is due to the desire of some to not admit their mistakes and instead, to reaffirm their choices by ignoring their failures.

Moreover, we must not forget the public admission made a few years ago by the IMF that they erred in calculating the depth of the recession that would be caused by the Memorandum.

I consider this, however, to be a shallow approach. I simply cannot believe that the future of Europe depends on the stubbornness or the insistence of some individuals.

My conclusion, therefore, is that the issue of Greece does not only concern Greece; rather, it is the very epicenter of conflict between two diametrically opposing strategies concerning the future of European unification.

The first strategy aims to deepen European unification in the context of equality and solidarity between its people and citizens.

The proponents of this strategy begin with the assumption that it is not possible to demand that the new Greek government follows the course of the previous one - which, we must not forget, failed miserably. This assumption is the starting point, because otherwise, elections would need to be abolished in those countries that are in a Program. Namely, we would have to accept that the institutions should appoint the Ministers and Prime Ministers, and that citizens should be deprived of the right to vote until the completion of the Program.

In other words, this means the complete abolition of democracy in Europe, the end of every pretext of democracy, and the beginning of disintegration and of an unacceptable division of United Europe.

This means the beginning of the creation of a technocratic monstrosity that will lead to a Europe entirely alien to its founding principles.

The second strategy seeks precisely this: The split and the division of the Eurozone, and consequently of the EU.

The first step to accomplishing this is to create a two-speed Eurozone where the "core" will set tough rules regarding austerity and adaptation and will appoint a "super" Finance Minister of the EZ with unlimited power, and with the ability to even reject budgets of sovereign states that are not aligned with the doctrines of extreme neoliberalism.

For those countries that refuse to bow to the new authority, the solution will be simple: Harsh punishment. Mandatory austerity. And even worse, more restrictions on the movement of capital, disciplinary sanctions, fines and even a parallel currency.

Judging from the present circumstances, it appears that this new European power is being constructed, with Greece being the first victim. To some, this represents a golden opportunity to make an example out of Greece for other countries that might be thinking of not following this new line of discipline.

What is not being taken into account is the high amount of risk and the enormous dangers involved in this second strategy. This strategy not only risks the beginning of the end for the European unification project by shifting the Eurozone from a monetary union to an exchange rate zone, but it also triggers economic and political uncertainty, which is likely to entirely transform the economic and political balances throughout the West.

Europe, therefore, is at a crossroads. Following the serious concessions made by the Greek government, the decision is now not in the hands of the institutions, which in any case - with the exception of the European Commission- are not elected and are not accountable to the people, but rather in the hands of Europe's leaders.

Which strategy will prevail? The one that calls for a Europe of solidarity, equality and democracy, or the one that calls for rupture and division?

If some, however, think or want to believe that this decision concerns only Greece, they are making a grave mistake. I would suggest that they re-read Hemingway's masterpiece, .

Chronic illness begins in the gut

Good overall health begins with a healthy gut. Chronic illness begins with breakdown in the gut. This is where I typically start with clients looking to address any health challenge.
If you're looking for lasting improvement in any area of your health, it's best not to think of your body parts as being independent compartments. Every cell communicates with every other cell, not always directly, but via the fluids, hormones, and neurotransmitters that travel through the vast network of blood vessels and nerves that course through every part of you. And it all starts with your gut.

Think of your digestive tract as your first physical line of defense against all chronic, degenerative illness.

From your mouth to your large colon, the lining of your digestive tract is continuous with the skin that covers your body. Both your digestive tract lining and your skin act as barriers that protect your blood and inner tissues against undesirable substances.

When you were a baby, if you were breastfed by a relatively healthy mother, your gut had plenty of health-enhancing organisms (lactic acid gram-positive non-motile organisms). Often called "friendly" bacteria, these organisms line the walls of your small and large intestines and serve several functions, some of the most important ones being:

  • Enhancement of natural immunity via production of natural antibiotics
  • Production of organic acids that help regulate pH levels throughout your gut
  • Inhibition of growth of potentially harmful microorganisms like gram-negative bacteria, fungi, and even parasites
The reality is that potentially harmful microorganisms make their way into your intestines on an everyday basis - they just aren't able to flourish to a degree where they can colonize your intestinal walls you have enough friendly organisms there to compete for space and resources.

What if you don't have sufficient colonies of friendly, health-enhancing organisms in your gut? The bad guys will find spaces along your gut lining where they can take root and form colonies that aren't easily washed away. This is called dysbiosis, which leads to leaky gut syndrome.

As more unfriendly bacteria, invasive fungi, and even parasites dig into your gut lining, your gut can actually begin to "leak" incompletely digested protein and man-made toxins that make their way into your body. As these foreign substances enter your bloodstream through your damaged gut lining, your immune system will begin manufacturing antibodies to combat them, which can lead to chronic inflammation anywhere in your body via "antigen-antibody complexes" getting deposited in your tissues as they circulate through your blood - this is a root cause of a plethora of common health conditions, including but not limited to eczema, psoriasis, alopecia (hair loss), ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, endometriosis, cystitis, and even psychiatric conditions like schizophrenia.

Dysbiosis and leaky gut syndrome are not readily recognized by conventional medicine as health conditions, most likely because there are no patented prescription drugs or surgical procedures that can justifiably be prescribed for them.

In general, you can safely assume that you have some degree of dysbiosis and leaky gut syndrome if you regularly experience one or more of the following symptoms of digestive tract dysfunction:

  • Excessive, foul-smelling gas production
  • Ill-defined discomfort in your abdomen following meals or even during meals
  • Chronic constipation and/or diarrhea
The most common causes of deterioration of gut ecology that allows for dysbiosis and leaky gut to develop are:
  • Overuse of prescription antibiotics
  • Regular intake of foods that are rich in sugar and/or highly refined carbohydrates i.e. white flour products
  • Overconsumption of alcohol
  • Overeating
  • Eating while stressed
  • Not chewing well
So how do you go about preventing and reversing dysbiosis and leaky gut?

Adopt Eating Habits that Facilitate Optimal Digestion

Perhaps the single most important eating habit that you can adopt to facilitate healing of your digestive tract is to chew your foods thoroughly.

Ideally, you want to chew your foods until liquid. When you chew well, you allow your digestive tract to efficiently break down small particles of food into micronutrients that can pass through the wall of your small intestine into your blood.

Your teeth are designed to mechanically break down food, while the rest of your digestive tract and organs are designed to chemically break down your food. Whenever you don't chew well, your digestive tract and organs take on the burden of trying to accomplish what is much easier for your teeth to take care of.

If you have dental or jaw problems that make it difficult to chew well, consider blending your foods in a blender or a food processor.

Chewing your foods and liquids well allows your saliva and digestive enzymes to mix in with your foods and liquids, which begins the process of digestion right in your mouth.

Chewing well encourages physical and emotional rest while eating. And being emotionally balanced and at rest while you eat allows your body to send a rich supply of blood to your digestive organs during a meal, which helps optimize every step of digestion.

If possible, strive to combine the habit of chewing well with a steady focus on being grateful for your food and other blessings. Just as the connection between your mind and body can cause you to sweat when you are nervous, being grateful while you chew can help your digestive organs break down your food and assimilate nutrients into your blood.

The goal is to prevent incompletely digested foods from sitting in your digestive tract longer than they should, as this promotes breeding of potentially pathogenic microorganisms.

Minimize Intake of Substances that Harm Gut Ecology

The big ones are prescription antibiotics, sugary foods, white flour products, and alcohol.

Ensure Adequate Physical Rest

Simply put, the more you rest, the more energy your body can devote to repairing damaged areas, including your digestive tract.

It's during deep, restful sleep that your body produces large quantities of growth hormone, testosterone, and erythropoietin - all of these hormones are needed in optimal supply to keep your gut lining healthy.

Consider Taking a Quality Probiotic

You can nourish your gut with health-enhancing bacteria via traditionally fermented foods, but if you have a long history of symptoms of dysbiosis and leaky gut, you can likely benefit from taking a professional grade probiotic formula.

So there you have it, a primer on dysbiosis and leaky gut. If you have any questions on this topic, please use the comments section below. Thank you.

Dr. Ben Kim is a chiropractor and acupuncturist living and working in Barrie, Ontario, Canada. Visit his website at www.drbenkim.com

Austria's central bank to repatriate £3.5bn of gold reserves from UK


© Bloomberg/Getty Images

Austria's central bank plans to repatriate £3.5bn of its gold reserves currently stored in Britain - amounting to 80% of its entire stocks - after auditors warned against the risks of keeping a majority in a foreign country.

The Austrian National Bank will spend the next five years flying gold bars back to Vienna to raise its own stocks to half the total of 280 tonnes.

The move echoes Germany's plan in 2013 to repatriate all of its gold stocked in France as well as some of the reserves held in the United States, to ensure at least 50% was kept on German soil by 2020.

Until now the Austrian National Bank has relied on the Bank of England to watch over most of its £6.7bn gold reserves. The BoE looks after much of the world's gold as most central banks send some of the stocks to London for safekeeping.

Now the BoE's stock of the precious metal will be reduced to 30%, while Austria will hold 50% and Switzerland 20%.

The Austrian authorities appeared to be conscious of the perils of bulk-storing gold in the manner of Fort Knox in the US, made famous by Auric Goldfinger's attempted heist in the third James Bond film.

The fictional villain seeks to corner the gold market in his position as treasurer of Smersh, the arch enemy of MI6. However, the decision was taken earlier this year, before the Hatton Garden robbery which saw millions of pounds of precious metals and jewels stolen and resulted in mass arrests earlier this month.

The central bank shifted its position after a report by the Austrian court of audit in February, which warned of a "heightened concentration risk" linked to storing the majority of its reserves in Britain.

At the time, the bank had argued that the policy was warranted because London was a major international centre for the gold trade. London's bullion market is the largest in the world and attracts buyers from Europe, Asia, Africa and US.

Transport of the bullion is likely to be arranged with one of the four main security firms listed by the London Bullion Market - Brink's, G4S, Malca-Amit Commodities and VIA-MAT, most of which operate out of business units near Heathrow airport.

It is likely the bars will be flown out of the country in five-tonne batches, on specially commissioned and heavily guarded planes.

Vienna confirmed that it would begin to repatriate 92.4 tonnes this summer. A further 47.6 tonnes will be transferred from Britain to Switzerland.

Last year Swiss voters rejected a proposal to force the central bank to bring back gold reserves from Britain and Canada.

1812: The inconsequential war that changed America forever


Most adult Americans today are unaware of what caused the War of 1812, who started it, what the outcome was, or even who the belligerents were. If I recall correctly, my grade school / high school History Class covered The War Of 1812 - aka America's Second War Of Independence, or America's Forgotten War - for a total of maybe one week. And what a worthless week it was. Like most history teachers I've ever had, they turned an exciting story into a dry bundle of boring crap ... focusing on memorizing dates and random events without getting to the real story behind the story; i.e. why did it happen, how does the war affect us today, and what can we learn from it? This is a crying shame because the war had a tremendous impact on American political development, territorial expansion, and national identity.

A 19th century French historian said, "History studies not just facts and institutions, its real subject is the human spirit." The word 'history' comes from the Greek, and literally means "knowledge acquired by investigation". So, let us investigate the War Of 1812, and the spirit of humanity which caused it ... and changed America forever.


There were two major reasons given for the war.

First, Britain was at war with France since 1793. For twenty years the British claimed they had the right - as a legitimate and necessary wartime measure - to intercept American ships on the high seas, seize and keep their cargoes, and search the crews for British navy deserters. The British between 1807 and 1812 seized some 400 American ships and cargoes worth millions of dollars.

Second, was the British practice of 'impressment'. A chronic manpower shortage in the Royal Navy led the Brits to stop American merchant vessels on the high seas and remove seamen. Between 1803 and 1812 the Brits captured an estimated six to nine THOUSAND Americans in its dragnet. These men were subjected to all the horrors of British naval discipline - enforced with the cat-o'-nine-tails - and made to fight a war that was not their own.

America felt this violated its rights as a neutral and sovereign nation. So, we declared war against the Brits in 1812.


Isn't that often the case ... that the end of one war, and the demands of the victor, eventually leads to yet another war? The war for American Independence lasted until 1783 when the peace treaty with the British was signed. Imagine the giddy feeling you would have had at that time. Freedom! Independence! But the rational exuberance was met with irrational naivete.

The American populace, including its politicians, assumed that the British would continue to allow access to British ports .... as if nothing at all happened! America assumed that the Brits needed our wheat, the British Navy needed our timber, hemp, and tar, and British colonies in the West Indies needed our fish, wheat, and salt to feed their slaves. This was a big miscalculation.

Canada and Ireland delivered most of the same goods. In fact, America needed the Brits more than they needed us as we depended on British manufacturing goods. America had zero leverage, and it was Britain that dictated foreign policy. They admitted American raw materials on a case-by-case basis, excluded manufactured goods altogether from entering England, and closed West Indian ports to American goods. Bullocks to America! What could America do? Nothing. We had no navy to back up our demands.


George Washington negotiated the Jay Treaty in 1795. The Brits negotiated from a position of strength, and conversely, America from weakness. In a nutshell, the treaty granted the Brits virtually unlimited access to American markets in exchange for limited access to British markets in the West Indies. It also allowed British creditors to recover debts owed by Americans.

In 1801, Thomas Jefferson was elected president and James Madison was named his secretary of state. They quickly abrogated the treaty.

Madison took a hard-line approach towards the Brits. Even back in 1790, as a Congressman from Virginia, he championed the idea of countering British trade restrictions with a series of discriminatory tariffs via import taxes. George Washington and John Adams rejected the idea. Now, however, as Secretary of State, Madison hoped to implement what he believed was a long overdue aggressive trade policy against Britain. But, he shot himself in the foot big time .... by reversing the naval-building policies of John Adams

John Adams succeeded in his priority of strengthening the United States Navy. When he was elected in 1796, the navy had only three battleships. Five years later, in 1801, the navy had fifty ... more than enough to defend America's coastline and maintain a viable presence in the Caribbean.

Jefferson, and Madison, undid all this for several reasons. They felt maintaining a navy was too expensive. As Republicans they believed in frugal, tax-cutting government. And they believed that a large military posed a domestic threat in that the officer corps could harbor aristocratic ambitions and become a tool for would-be tyrants. Lastly, they felt navies led countries into unnecessary foreign entanglements. As such, Jefferson invested only in small gunboats for coastal patrols. The battleships atrophied. By 1812, the United States had only a dozen seaworthy battleships of any size.

Jefferson and Madison certainly were not stupid men. Yet, one must wonder "What were they thinking??" With no leverage (military power) to bring to the negotiating table, did they expect the Brits to just quietly and unquestioningly bend to American demands? Hardly! As should have been expected, Britain continued to apply both its commercial and naval power to dictate — by force as necessary — trade and maritime policy to the United States.


All governments do dumb-shit things, even that of our Founding Fathers.

So, in 1807 Jefferson tried to pressure the Brits and French by convincing Congress to secure a radical embargo against all foreign trade. (Embargo!!! Our government still loves them to this very day. When will we ever learn?) American ships were forbidden from trading overseas. The embargo only hurt America. It was quickly scrapped.

It was replaced with the Non-Intercourse Act. This act had nothing to do with the cessation of attacking the pink fortress. It allowed trade with all countries except Britain and France. It also allowed the President to restore trade with either country IF either belligerent ended its maritime harassment. That only intercoursed the American people, and didn't work out either.

So, in 1810 Madison signed the ridicules Macon's Bill No.2. Even he didn't like it, but he could not yet get Congress to pass a war resolution. The bill authorized Madison to impose trade restrictions against one offending country if the other lifted its trade restrictions against the United States. In other words, the United States would commercially punish country A if country B agreed to allow America to trade freely. Pitting two countries against each other didn't work either.

What was the result of all these half-assed measures to intimidate the British? They shopped elsewhere! For example, between 1808-1812 the Canadian timber industry exploded with its exports to England, increasing by 500%. Canadian agricultural production also increased greatly. The Brits were eating beef, Americans were eating crow.

Madison was getting desperate. He was conjuring up even more rigorous measures against the British fearing that the window of opportunity for gaining concessions through commercial pressure would soon close forever. His conjuring included plans for war.

He figured it would be a little war, and a quick one. (How many times have our Dear Leaders told us that? Especially since 1960?) Most of the British army and navy were bogged down in Europe, fighting a brutal war with Napoleon. The French controlled most of Europe, and the little Frenchie dictator assembled a 700,000-man army for an invasion of Russia. All Madison wanted was the right to trade freely and, gain the respect owed to the United States as an independent nation. He calculated that since he wasn't seeking territory or conquest, that Britain would surely be willing to negotiate rather than have to deploy valuable ships and troops thousands of miles away from the war in Europe. Madison miscalculated. Madison was wrong to believe that the British would rush to negotiate with him. The British even refused Tsar Alexander I's invitation to mediate in 1813.

Britain's commitment to battle only strengthened over the first two years of the war. Madison was even wrong about the impact of the European war on America. He felt that when the European war ended, that the British would send the bulk of their armies to battle the United States. When you need popular support for a quick and easy war, you still need a little fear-mongering. "The British will come!!" One reason the Brits didn't redeploy their troops was that American military incompetence at the beginning of the war made it unnecessary. More fortuitously, after more than two decades of continual war, the Brits had had enough, and by 1814 were more than happy to soften their demands. (The British Invasion finally took place about 150 years later. But with guitars and drums.)


The Brits had the world's strongest navy, and couldn't be coerced into lifting its restrictions. France, on the other hand, had everything to gain. Their Berlin (1806) and Milan (1807) decrees imposed severe trade restrictions against any country trading with Britain. But France's navy was not sufficiently powerful enough to enforce these decrees. So, in compliance with Macon's Bill, France could force the United States to restrict itself. In other words, France repealed its restrictions against the United States, thus forcing the United States to suspend its trade with Great Britain. Thus, on August 5, 1810 the French lifted the Berlin and Milan decrees. Madison, in turn, ended all trade with Britain on Feb. 2, 1811.

The New England Federalists — who were dependent upon trade with Britain for their economic sustenance — immediately attacked the announcement. The claimed Napoleon could not be trusted, and that it would lead America into war. They were correct. Napoleon refused to release American ships already held in French ports, and continued to harass American shipping. America would declare war on June 18, 1812.


It's not entirely fair to say, as some do, that this was strictly Madison's war. He had help. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Henry Clay of Kentucky, his principal assistant, John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, and other southern and western representatives were collectively known as "Warhawks" and pressured Madison into asking Congress to declare war against Great Britain.


When the war started, the American army consisted of 7,000 regulars. (Theoretically, there were also thousands of citizen soldiers in the militia. While the Constitution granted the president the authority to call them into service to suppress insurrections and repel invasions ... the legal consensus was that state militia could only be ordered to meet these duties in their own states). Anyway, the military was poorly trained. The army's officer corps was a ragtag outfit ...most had never seen combat ... and the ones that did were old, having last seen service in the Revolution, thirty years earlier. West Point, established ten years earlier, had fewer than one hundred graduates ready to assume command. The navy, as mentioned above, was a puny force. By 1812, the US Navy counted only twelve ships of any size, and only three fully dressed battleships.

The Brits had 250,000 battle-hardened men in uniform. True, the bulk of those were in Europe. Nevertheless, 6,000 were stationed in Canada ... augmented by 2,000 Canadians, and roughly 3,000 Indians. The British Navy consisted of 500 ships .... 80 of them permanently stationed in the West Atlantic between Canada and the Caribbean. It should have been a rout.


In the long run, the American navy could not possibly defeat their British counterparts. American politicians concluded the most realistic path to pressuring Britain was by targeting Canada .... which seemed like an easy target with a population of only 500,000 compared to 7.7 million in the United States in 1812. Virginia Congressman John Randolph even stated the conquest of Canada would be "a holiday campaign ... with no expense of blood or treasure on our part". (You know ... just like that quick war in Iraq and Afghanistan which we were promised.)

Madison grossly miscalculated support from the Canadian populace. He believed the Canadians wished to be liberated from Britain ... that they wanted their own 1776 moment. Why not? About two-thirds of the Canadian population had migrated there from the United States. So, the grand plan was to invade Canada when war broke out. The US Army would capture British territory, quickly, and force Britain to the negotiating table. After all, Britain certainly would not want to lose this colony, and they certainly would not divert troops from the European war, and therefore they would be delighted to negotiate favorable maritime rights America had been pursuing. In exchange, America would give Canada back (although there were some who wanted to make Canada part of America). Sounds logical. But, the devil is in the details, and this plan was SNAFU right from the get go.

The correct military strategy was to attack the British at Montreal. A concentrated force sailing up the Hudson River and over Lake Champlain probably could have captured the city. However, recall that the New England Federalists strongly opposed the war. Madison greatly feared that New England's militias, most necessary to a concentrated attack on Montreal, would simply refuse to turn out for battle! On to to crappy Plan B!

Madison decided to launch a three-pronged northern invasion; 1) attack Montreal, 2) attack Fort Detroit in the far west, and 3) a third army would leave from Fort Niagara and into Canada at the western end of Lake Ontario. America lost the battle of Detroit without firing a shot. The Fort Niagara campaign was divided amongst two generals, neither had military experience, both were appointed political dogs who argued with each other and refused support at critical times, and out of 1,300 men, 900 were captured. The battle for Canada ended about as soon as it started.

Yes, folks, one can make the case that Canada — with a little help from their friends — defeated the United States in the War Of 1812. The immediate impact of the war was to strengthen Canada's loyalty to England. The United States still had interest in conquering Canada - more half-assed ideas, really - but, by the 1890's the two nations formed a permanent bond. For all practical purposes, the War Of 1812 was Canada's war of independence, and they won.



Old Ironsides defeats HMS Guerriere.

Out-gunned and out-manned the US Navy did achieve some clear victories, even early in the war. In 1812, the USS Constitution - aka, "Old Ironsides" - defeated HMS Guerriere in a ferocious battle off the coast of Nova Scotia. In the same year, the USS United States captured HMS Macedonian, a fully dressed 38-gun battleship. In September 1813, the United States achieved further naval success on Lake Erie. Also in 1813, Commander Perry's fleet of ten ships outmaneuvered a squadron of six British ships despite being outgunned by the much larger enemy vessels. The same Perry who left Americans with a memorable line: "We have met the enemy and they are ours." A month later, William Henry Harrison - yes, the future president - crossed Lake Erie and defeated the British and their Indian allies in the Battle of the Thames. Tecumseh - leader of the pan-Indian confederation - was killed in that battle. Many of Britain's Indian allies subsequently abandoned the alliance, and America's northwest frontier was secured.


On the political front there was much bad news. Commander Perry - the navy's best field officer - was "promoted" to a desk job. William Harrison was accused by Secretary Of War, John Armstrong, of financial impropriety, and Harrison, another excellent field commander, was forced to resign.

The cost of the war broke the Treasury. By 1814, $34 million dollars (a hefty sum in its day) was borrowed to finance the war.

Madison sent a delegation (including John Quincy Adams) to meet with Czar Alexander in St. Petersburg, but the British left before the delegation arrived and the whole thing was an embarrassment.

Madison probably suffered a severe anxiety attack on May 30, 1814 - the day the French signed a peace treaty with Britain and its allies. Madison strongly believed that a good portion of Britain's 250,000 troops would make their way to Canada.


Madison didn't have to wait long for some of his fears to come to fruition. Two months after the French-British peace treaty Royal Navy ships carrying about 6,000 British regulars sailed into Chesapeake Bay. Secretary of War, John Armstrong, did not believe the Brits would attack the swampy and forest-shrouded city of Washington ... that the British had more interest in the coastal cities. Bad call, muchacho! American forces actually outnumbered the Brits. However, poor intelligence - such as Americans being badly deployed - and a multitude of errors, and many American deserters, led to the British marching virtually unchallenged into the city. Then the Brits burned all public buildings except the Patent Office .... and the White House.


BASTARDS !!!!!!!!!!!!

[Worthy Of Further Study: Dolley Madison, the greatest First Lady of them all. Thomas Jefferson spent few resources on the presidential mansion, believing it would detract from the emphasis of a simple and frugal government. He also avoided elaborate social gatherings at the White House, as he believed they "stank" of the aristocratic courts of Europe. As such, when the Madisons moved into the White House in 1809, the building itself was in disrepair. Dolly established a new philosophy ... that the White House should be decorated in a manner appropriate to the dignity of the office it represented. So, she completely refurnished the White House and transformed it into a compelling symbol for the new nation - not nearly as ostentatious as found in European palaces, but rather a quiet dignity within the framework of American political ideology. But, it was more than just a symbol. Dolly also turned it into an arena of governance. The many social events she planned were done with the intention of placing the White House at the center of Washington society ... with her husband at the center of policy decisions and deal making. And as her beloved White House burned to the ground, she risked her life gathering up critical White House documents ... as well as the great Gilbert Stuart portrait of President George Washington, and carried them away to safety.]


To his credit (I suppose) Madison never wavered that the United States would eventually achieve victory. Where did that confidence come from? Let's recap:

- the Treasury is depleted, the Canada campaign was a disaster, the Navy which actually won battles has its best commanders sitting behind a desk, military desertions are significant, military ineptness abounds, New England not only won't help the cause but it threatening to secede while at the same time trying to negotiate a separate peace deal with the Brits, even as 7,500 British soldiers were headed towards New Orleans, and now his capital is burned! Hooahhh!!

To understand the source of his confidence one must look thirty years earlier. During debates over the suitability of a republican form of government to a country as large as America, Madison argued that America's size would prevent any faction or narrow interest group from dominating the government. Now he believed that the United States could absorb battles lost at Detroit, Niagara, and even Washington, and that it could prevail despite the disloyalty of the Federalists in New England. The United States was simply too large, and consequently, too resilient, to be defeated. In other words, America was too big to fail!


It seems, at least in this instance, that Madison was right about America's size. British fortunes suddenly turned for the worse.

After burning (and looting) the capital, the Brits marched to Baltimore ... and met a different fate at the hands of a more skillfully deployed American force of both militia and army regulars. American sharpshooters picked off one-by-one the British division approaching the city from the south. Meanwhile, the big guns at Fort McHenry prevented the British fleet from entering the city's harbor. By September, the British were forced to withdraw and abandon their campaign in the Chesapeake. Simultaneously, American forces stationed on Lake Champlain turned back a British invading army and 11,000 British troops were forced to retreat back into Canada. Mid-1814 ended relatively well for the Americans.

More importantly, back in England, British leaders lost the hearts & minds of their subjects. After 20 years of fighting France, and before that, fighting in the American Revolution ... well, the people were simply fed up with war. The British became much more preoccupied in rebuilding Europe after the final defeat of Napoleon. A London newspaper even harshly criticized the burning of Washington. On top of all that, even military leaders were questioning whether victory was possible. The Duke of Wellington, the hero of Waterloo, was offered command of the British force in North America ... and, he declined, saying the American continent could never be subdued. The loud drums of war fell deadly quiet.

WE WON! WE WON!!! Ummmmmm .... WHAT DID WE WIN?

This combination, military defeats in America and the loss of will to fight back in England, led to a peace treaty being signed in Ghent, Belgium on Dec. 24, 1814. The war would officially end in February 1815 after ratification by both governments.

However, the Ghent talks actually started earlier in the year in August 1814. Madison sent five delegates - including John Quincy Adams and John Clay - and amongst American demands were the end of impressment .... and turning over Canada to the United States. Madison had balls! The Brits made even more ridicules demands; a new Canadian border located farther to the south, the creation of an independent Indian state in the northwest, British navigation rights on the Mississippi River, the exclusion of American fishing boats from the Grand Banks and the the exclusion of the American Navy from the Great Lakes. The Brits had no brains!

But, in Ghent by December 1814 all parties dropped their aggressive demands. A simple ceasefire was proposed, prisoners of war would be exchanged, and captured territories from both sides would be returned.

STUNNINGLY, impressment - one of the two major reasons for going to war in the first place - was not even mentioned. Maritime issues and trade policies - the other major reason for going to war - was mentioned, but only that it would be addressed at some future conference1.

Strangely, the American diplomats were ecstatic. Why??? After all that bloodshed and destruction, the Ghent Treaty insured that both sides gained absolutely nothing ... as if the war never happened. A Canadian historian wrote:

"It was as if no war had been fought, or to put it more bluntly, as if the war that was fought was fought for no good reason. For nothing has changed; everything is as it was in the beginning save for the graves of those who, it now appears, have fought for a trifle."

[1NOTE: By Dec 1814 the British practice of impressment had all but ended. And, since France was no longer an enemy of Britain, the Royal Navy no longer needed to stop American shipments to France. Nevertheless, the United States and Britain would argue about trade restrictions and access to markets for the next fifteen years after Ghent! By 1830, the West Indies were far less important to American exporters than new markets in Latin America. Also by 1830, Britain's commitment to mercantilism had been replaced internally by support for free trade. In other words, the issues that so bothered Madison would have been resolved of their own accord in due time ... WITHOUT A WAR. The War of 1812 wasn't concluded at Ghent .... it died of old age.]


Worthy of much further study than I have room for here, is the significant victory by Jackson over the Creek Nation. At one time or another the Brits, French, Spanish, and even other Indian Nations (Tecumseh and his Shawnee) aligned with various factions within the Creeks to make war against the United States. The war against the Creeks officially ended in the Treaty of Fort Jackson just five months before the war's final battle at New Orleans.

A couple staggering statistics; 1) about 15% of the Creek population was decimated and, 2) the treaty resulted in an enormous land grab as the Creeks lost 36,000 square miles of their territory (half of Alabama, and southern Georgia).

The Creeks, and to a lesser extent other Indian tribes, were to play a significant role in the British alliance to attack New Orleans. Had the Creeks won their war, the combined forces might very well have overcome Jackson's army, and New Orleans might have been lost.



Shawnee indian Tecumseh

Tecumseh was sick and tired of seeing the social and cultural deterioration, inter-tribal conflict, and white encroachment on Indian lands. So, he developed a plan. Indians needed to restore control over their lives. The only way to do this, he said, was to be unified, to overcome tribal differences, rebuild their integrity, and create a Pan-Indian alliance strong enough to defeat the military forces supporting white expansion. Starting in 1807, he and his brother (Tenskwatawa - "The Prophet") traveled throughout the interior of America building this alliance of Indian tribes. The obstacles were huge, especially overcoming the decades of inter-tribal prejudices, fears, and wars. But, Tecumseh was a powerful and compelling orator.

In village after village he preached unity to a dispirited people. He urged them to reject the pollutants of the white man; alcohol, European dress, Christianity. He also preached great patience. He said they must avoid all confrontations with the whites until the confederation was large and strong enough to effectively resist the power of white armies. Isolated skirmishes would only weaken them. They must wait until the time was right,

Legend has it that Tecumseh said he would send a message when the time was right. He would stamp his foot - and when he did, the earth would shake, the buffalo would stampede, the skies would become dark with birds taking flight, huge cracks would open in the earth's surface, and the great river would flow backwards.

But, his brother, the Prophet, couldn't wait. He launched into a fiery oratory and convinced his followers of his own bullshit - that the white man's bullets could not harm them. So, in Nov. 1811 the Prophet battled an American force led by William Henry Harrison at Tippecanoe Creek. The Prophet lost, and the dream of a Pan-Indian alliance died with it. Tecumseh would go on to align his small remnant of the Indian confederation with the British, fought in the battle of Detroit, and was killed at the Battle of the Thames in 1813, disbanding the alliance forever.

Most interestingly though, on Dec. 16, 1811, just over a month after the disaster at Tippecanoe, a great earthquake shook Arkansas and was felt throughout the Mississippi Valley, from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico - the New Madrid earthquake. According to eyewitnesses, buffalo stampeded, the skies became dark with birds taking flight, huge cracks opened in the earth's surface, and the great Mississippi River flowed backward.

Tecumseh's prophecy had come to pass .... just not the way he expected.


The popular opinion amongst historians is that there simply wasn't enough time to cross the oceans to stop the British attack on New Orleans. I don't buy it.

The Ghent Peace Treaty was signed on Dec.24, 1814. On Dec. 13th, a British fleet had landed about forty miles east of New Orleans. It must have taken at least a month to get there. The Brits commenced fire on January 8, 1815. The British Commanders and Generals surely must have known that peace talks were in process. So, a prudent thing to do would have been to at least wait to see the results.

And don't forget that the Ghent talks were initiated way back in August. Even during those negotiations the dastardly Brits had four invasions planned or underway; 1) the destruction of Washington, 2) the destruction of Baltimore, 3) the Battle of Plattsburgh - where 10,000 British troops tried to cut off New England, and 4) the Battle Of New Orleans. The treacherous British had an Olive Branch in one hand, and a Murderous Dagger in the other.

Two things made this battle so important. First, a victory in New Orleans would have been a major boon for the British giving them access to the interior of the U.S. via the Mississippi River. Secondly, it would have given the Brits greater ability for their desire to seal off the United States from the Gulf of Mexico, further isolating the nation. (Furthermore - and this is my pure conjecture - it could have led to a reversal of the Louisiana Purchase, cutting the size of the United States in half.) But, this much is absolutely certain; it would have given the Brits a major trump card in negotiating the Ghent Treaty.

A popular opinion is that the British would have honored the Ghent Treaty even if they won the battle. Of course, we'll never know but, I find that opinion enormously preposterous. The Brits, still butt-sore about the beating they took in the Revolutionary War - a war they still would not admit they lost in 1814 - hated America and wanted revenge and destruction. And what history is there of Britain - or any country - winning a huge major battle and then just walking away from it? None. A major victory such as New Orleans would absolutely have resulted in the United States being forced into major concessions. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it would have led to an outright abrogation of the treaty. The Brits were ruthless bastards when it suited them, and never forget, they really hated America.

What should be crystal clear is that far from being a senseless battle, a British victory at New Orleans would have drastically changed the future of America. But, they didn't win. They were annihilated. Let's look at some interesting details.


On the other hand, if you want to skip this section, just watch this 3 minute song by Johnny Horton - he does a fine job 'splaining it! Nice pics too!

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The British force consisted of roughly 8,000 troops - including Royal Fusiliers, Highlanders, Light Infantry, and Light Dragoons - disciplined troops with plenty of battle experience, having just defeated the French.

Why capture New Orleans? Lord Castlereagh, the British foreign secretary, said that once the large seaport towns of America were "laid in ashes" and New Orleans captured, that the British would have command of "all the rivers of the Mississippi valley and the Lakes ... the Americans would be little better than prisoners in their own country." The Brits also intended to prevent America from having any access to all of the Gulf Of Mexico.

General Andrew Jackson first had to prepare the city's defenses ... not an easy task. New Orleans had a very diverse population and resisted organization. So, Jackson threatened to blow up the provincial legislature if it did not comply with his demands, one of which was to suspend habeas corpus. So, he declared martial law, turned the city into a military camp, and took over complete control of the city's resources. This got their attention.

He organized all available manpower - frontiersmen, militiamen, regular soldiers, Indians, slaves, townspeople including the city's unusually large population of free blacks and even the famous river pirate, Jean Lafitte - about 4,000 in total. And then he built the "Jackson Line" - a defensive line between the city and the approaching British forces. Rodriguez Canal was a ten-foot-wide millrace located just off the Mississippi River. Using local slave labor, Madison widened the canal into a defensive trench. He then built an eight foot tall earthen rampart, twenty feet wide in parts, buttressed with timber, and protected by eight artillery batteries When completed, it stretched nearly a mile from the east bank of the Mississippi to a nearly impassable marsh. Jackson told his men "Here we shall plant our stakes and not abandon them until we drive these red-coat rascals into the river, or the swamp."

The British commander, Cochrane, felt the area could be taken with minimal forces with the help of the Spanish, Indians, and even the people of New Orleans who he felt would welcome the British as liberators. In retrospect, fairly idiotic assumptions.

The bottom line; it was a hopeless tactical situation for the British with a swamp to the east of the American lines, and the Mississippi River to west. This left the British with only one route of attack - straight into the guns of the American forces tucked inside a dry canal.

Tennessee and Kentucky riflemen laid withering fire against the advancing British lines, killing or wounding more than 2,000 British soldiers, including three generals and seven colonels, in less than an hour. One British veteran of the Napoleonic Wars claimed it was "the most murderous fire I ever beheld before or since." American casualties were about 13 killed, and 39 wounded.

[NOTE: Considerably more Americans were killed in the skirmishes leading up to the final battle. For example, 6,000 British troops snuck into the British headquarters at Villeré's plantation. Jackson resolved to attack immediately before the British advance was reinforced and organized. He assembled 1,800 men in a battle called "Night Attack", and repelled the British, but not before suffering 215 casualties.)

New Orleans was a tremendous victory - one which made Andrew Jackson a national hero, and propelled him into the office of President. And, regardless of the reason for the battle, whether or not it was necessary, Madison certainly knew the fine art of Presidential spinning; - necessary war, reluctantly entered, rights, patriotism, and heroes - all in one brief sentence. (He might as well have been talking about Iraq.)

"the late war, although reluctantly declared by Congress, had become a necessary resort to assert the rights and independence of the nation. It has been waged with a success which is the natural result of the wisdom of the legislative councils, of the patriotism of the people, of the public spirit of the militia, and of the valor of the military and naval forces of the country Peace."

A good detailed account of the battle can be found here.


1) First and foremost, let's be brutally frank about the REAL reason for this war; PRIDE and PATRIOTISM! The Brits didn't respect our independence. The French didn't. Spain didn't. Most of the world thought it was just a fluke. Madison was convinced the country had to prove to the rest of the world, as well as to itself, that this new experiment in republican government was a permanent fixture in the family of nations. And the way to go about that was to confront Britain - the world's most powerful nation - that violating American rights would not go unchallenged or unpunished. Unbridled Patriotism ...so sweet in the Revolutionary War, souring in the War Of 1812, and look where it got us today.

2) The war reinforced the Executive branch's de facto monopoly over foreign policy. When all's said and done, this was Madison's war. Another example: John Quincy Adams would defend Gen. Andrew Jackson's invasion of Spanish Florida in the undeclared war on the Seminoles. Dissenting members of Congress could do nothing but gripe.

3) A NEW way of looking at the Constitution emerged. Henry Clay said (emphasis mine):

"A new world has come into being since the Constitution was adopted. Are the narrow, limited necessities of the old thirteen states ... as they existed at the formation of the present Constitution, forever to remain a rule of its interpretation? Are we to forget the wants of our country? I trust not, sir. I hope for better and nobler things." Evidently, the concept of a Living Constitution took root a long, long time ago.

4) The war changed how Americans viewed the military. The Army and Navy became professional. The State Militia took a back seat. Now the nation embraced military spending as a necessity ... even during times of peace.

"The most painful, perhaps the most profitable, lesson of the war was the primary duty of the nation to place itself in a state of permanent preparation for self-defense" - future President John Quincy Adams

Many learned that connection with the military is great for one's political career. Of the eleven presidents between Madison and Lincoln, seven of them got their start in public life or boosted their public careers during the War of 1812.

It only took 29 years after the end of the Revolutionary War for America to declare its first war. Strangely enough, this war was a complete and utter waste of human and capital resources. The precedent was set. It wouldn't be the last such time America fought such a war.

5) Politicians learned that with proper spin and propagandizing the people can be rallied to LOVE A GOOD WAR. Precious few citizens were in strong favor of the war when it first started. But, at war's end, the people were ecstatic. A common refrain throughout the country is depicted in this piece written in 1815 by a group known as "republican citizens of Baltimore" stating that the war:

" ... has revived, with added luster the renown which brightened the morning of our independence: it has called forth and organized the dormant resources of the empire: it has tried and vindicated our republican institutions: it has given us that moral strength, which consists in the well earned respect of the world, and in a just respect for ourselves. It has raised up and consolidated a national character, dear to the hearts of the people, as an object of honest pride and a pledge of future union, tranquility, and greatness."

War is good for slogans and jingoes. "Don't give up the ship" and "We have met the enemy and they are ours" and "Uncle Sam" and cute names for war equipment "Old Ironsides", and populist songs abounded. Symbols, slogans, songs and sayings; that's how you condition people's minds as to what it means to be an American. Mold 'em like clay into whatever form you want. At least there's no record of Madison proclaiming "America is the greatest country in the world!!".

6) The war permanently changed America's economic model. Previous presidents, especially Jefferson, championed an agrarian economy. He hoped that commerce would not dominate America or its politics since that preoccupation would inevitably draw the country into perpetual international turmoil. Shortages caused by the various embargos, as well as the war itself, led to the fast growth of the manufacturing sector in the United States. Manufactures wanted protection from foreign competition once peace was restored, even forming the 'American Society of the Encouragement of American Manufacturers', a pro-tariff group. Active promotion of commerce required further expansion of American military strength. In other words, America would promote "free trade" with the government's help in aggressively opening foreign markets ..... and threatening retaliation in the case of uncooperative regimes by displaying the military card. It wasn't all that long before "free trade" gave way to mercantilism - a special-interest economic protectionism.

7) The devious and greedy amongst us started to notice that war is damn good racket. Shortly after the war, in 1817, the New York Stock Exchange was founded ... born in a bubble created by the war. One year later the bubble burst in The Panic Of 1818. The war showed that hard money was for weenies. Paper money was the way to go, and reams of it was printed so the government could borrow it and finance the war. Note-issuing banks spread like wildfire. Once the war ended, imports swelled which led to falling commodity prices which led to big trouble for war-grown manufacturers. Businesses went bust while simultaneously some became filthy rich. See book.

8) Politicians learned that war makes government more powerful ... and a great way to increase taxes. Albert Gallatin, secretary of the Treasury from 1801 to 1814, said that because of the war, the "people are more American; they feel and act more as a nation ..... the war has laid the foundation of permanent taxes and military establishments, which the Republicans had deemed unfavorable to the happiness and free institutions of the country."

9) The war ended a political party. The Federalist Party, the party of Washington and Adams, the party that had dominated national affairs during the 1790s, was all but dead after the war. They were staunchly against the war. They were even ready to introduce legislation requiring a two-thirds vote of approval for all future declarations of war, and that legislation restricting trade, such as the embargo, should also require a two-thirds vote. That is, until the stunning news of Jackson's victory at New Orleans arrived in Washington. They picked the wrong cause. The country was in no mood for an anti-war party. And, within a few years of the war, they just faded into oblivion.

10) Expansionism. The victory over not only the Brits, but also over the Indians in the Northwest and Southwest, opened up the West as never before, and resulted in huge territorial gains. Westward expansion, in turn, indirectly led to the Civil War forty six years later because it was bitter disagreement about the expansion of slavery, rather than its existence in the Old South, which was a key reason for the War of Northern Aggression.


I originally titled this article "1812: The War That Changed America Forever For Worse". I'm not sure whether or not that conclusion is 100% accurate. The "inconsequential" war certainly and drastically changed America, of that there is no doubt. Whether for the good, or bad, you'll have to decide for yourself.

On the positive side, the war did cement American independence. It proved that to defeat America on its home ground, a very, very large army, and a great commitment to prolonged and bloody war, was going to be needed. At the start of the war even Americans wondered whether the republic could survive a real crises. Many felt with Governor Morris did, that - 'it was as vain to expect the permanency of democracy as to construct a palace on the surface of the sea.' Now they had their answer.

Americans would no longer be oriented towards Britain. We achieved freedom from Europe. We would turn to developing our own vast resources, and forget about Europe. Our National Government was here to stay.

The end of the war led to a burst of patriotism in the USA as evidenced, in part, by the immediate and widespread popularity of "The Star Spangled Banner" The Nile Register wrote - "Who would not be an American? Long live the republic! All hail! Last asylum of oppressed humanity!" Such a comment would have never been made before the war. A whole new national identity arose in "the dawn's early light".

On the negative side; the war left the country with constitutional revisionism, centralized power, protectionism, mercantilism, expansionism, blind patriotism, and militarism. That decentralist small-government thingy conceived by the Founding Fathers didn't last very long, did it? One must wonder "War, what is it good for? Was it all worth it?"

Most excellent resource - War Of 1812 Website

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