Beheadings – they’re just so yesterday

Whilst beheadings are undoubtedly savage and brutal the fundamental problem is that they are terribly old-fashioned. Today, civilized nations blow people up, obliterate them with drones, riddle them with bullets, and execute them with chemicals cocktails. Many of those killed with hi-tech weapons die slowly in excruciating pain, their bodies ripped to pieces. But this is somehow okay since it is the modern way and done from a distance – however savage, brutal and indiscriminate the results. Most of the weaponry involved comes from the guardians of peace and democracy in America and Britain, with average cost-per-kill running into tens of thousands of dollars per “insurgent,” millions by some estimates.

The drums of full-spectrum war are beating once again, stimulated by outrage and hysteria over this single video. Bearing in mind the fallacy of WMD it would behove us to see this war-worthy video but no, we are banned from doing so, with the mere viewing of it in the UK declared a potential terrorist act. Let me tell you right now that no execution takes place in the video, which is 4 minutes 32 seconds of propaganda. The other eight seconds of the video show a small knife being pressed against James Foley’s throat without drawing blood or cries of pain, then shifts to a prone headless corpse (or mannequin) with a severed head sitting on its chest looking almost as realistic as those in movies and TV series. James Foley may well have been killed, but it certainly did not happen on camera. Many who have viewed the video comment on the absence of copious blood, the green screen look, the omission of a neck on decapitated “body” or head, and even differences between the face of  this James Foley and the one we see in previous television interviews.

If journalist Foley is reading from an Islamic State script, then he does so without notes and appears to have spent considerable time rehearsing IS’s message to the world. He doesn’t falter or show any sign of fear and included messages to his family and his brother, a serving air force pilot. It is a crude but effective piece of propaganda and with the “execution” edited out is far less gruesome than the killing of innocents we see in other Islamic State actions, the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, the Syrian civil war, and even the cold-blooded shootings by US police in Ferguson and elsewhere. It may sway the minds of young Muslim men looking for purpose and excitement, with its twisted message being no more distorted than some of the blatant mendacity fed to us by our media – mendacity that led to phony wars killing over a hundred thousand innocents. Though difficult for a Westerner to find online (check LiveLeak), it must be easy for those searching in the Arab-language web.

The banned video is, of course, the propaganda of an evil and despicable group who have beheaded thousands of men and children, putting their heads on sticks, and abducting their wives and mothers. I despair at the appearance of this gruesome new player on the world stage; a player armed with the latest US hardware and rich with billions of US dollars seized in Iraq. For those who make the arms, of course, this is all good for business, as they effectively supply both sides in the conflicts of the Middle East. They will be rubbing their hands all the way to their bankster backers.

Responding to the beheading, Obama tells us emphatically that “no faith teaches people to massacre innocents.” Correction Mr President, your faith does. Let us briefly dip into the Bible, believed by fundamentalists of Judaism and Christianity to contain the indisputable word of God. Muslims credit this too, except for those bits that differ from the Quran. Perhaps this selection from Deuteronomy will help us better understand both the mentality of the Islamic State and that of fundamentalist Christians in the US who see themselves as players in  catastrophic events visited upon the Holy Land and predicted by the Bible.

Deuteronomy 13:12-16 New International Version (NIV)
If you hear it said about one of the towns the Lord your God is giving you to live in that troublemakers have arisen among you and have led the people of their town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods you have not known), then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly. And if it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done among you, you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. You must destroy it completely, both its people and its livestock. You are to gather all the plunder of the town into the middle of the public square and completely burn the town and all its plunder as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. That town is to remain a ruin forever, never to be rebuilt.

If we seriously want to neutralize the threat posed by Islamic State then let us join with the well-organized forces of President Assad of Syria, a secular leader. It was Western efforts to bring down his government through aiding its Islamist enemies that gave new wings to Islamic State, originally born out of the turmoil in Iraq. Their brutal slaughter of innocents appalls me, whatever means they employ, as does the slaughter of innocents in Gaza, Ukraine, Syria, and wherever factions fight for ownership of the right to take money from a nation’s people and tell them how to think and what to do. It’s the same old stuff that has been playing out on the world’s stage since Sargon of Akkad started the ball rolling around 2250 BCE.

Is there anything we really cannot manage without a top-down coercive state running it, other than protecting us from other varieties of themselves? Many are rightly concerned about corporations running the state, though one could argue that it might be preferable to being ruled by fundamentalist Muslims of the Islamic State, or a military junta, or the sort of Christians who burn heretics. But as long as we accept the state as some kind of a “necessary evil” then somebody will always be calling the shots and we will always be arguing over whether we prefer cat shit to dog shit to chicken shit.

There is another way and we already self-govern the majority of our social structures. Civilization preceded, by a few thousand years, the top-down state that Sargon initiated, and has often survived its collapse. Humans are good at self-governing when they are well-connected, doing it with feedback loops instead of threats and sticks.

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Sunlight – blessing or curse?

Sunlight – a dangerous drug for humans or a life-prolonging blessing? Different scientists claim both.

TWO SUNS

Sun’s rays make us feel so good that they are addictive, which is a serious health problem, according to doctors in Massachusetts. Meanwhile, scientists in Sweden have found that women who avoid sunbathing during the summer are twice as likely to die as those who sunbathe every day.

Which is right?
The scientists in Massachusetts base their conclusions on indoors trials with shaved mice and UV light, followed by injections of opiate-blocking drugs to block the endorphins.  Mice are nocturnal. Full story click here…

The epidemiological study in Sweden followed 30,000 women for over 20 years and “showed that mortality was about double in women who avoided sun exposure compared to the highest exposure group.” Full story click here…

Shedding light on our life-giving star: Sun of gOd, by Gregory SamSoG Cover Blog small

We Can Do It Better – a timely example

The subtitle of my book The State Is Out Of Date is “We Can Do It Better” and here is a great example. Many would like to think the government is keeping an eye on our safety, intervening to be sure our drugs and food are safe enough to consume (often banning chemicals that for decades they assured us were safe).  The truth is very different, especially when there is nothing  to tax and nobody to fine – especially when activities they support, such as nuclear power, are posing the risk. In this case, the state is telling us that the risk from Fukushima’s catastrophic meltdowns is so negligible it is not worth spending the money to prove the waters of the Pacific are safe.   After all, for the same cost, they could buy at least one, maybe even two $2 Million F35 fighter pilot helmets.

People along the British Columbia coast are being asked to step in where governments in Canada and the U.S. have not — to measure radiation from Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in B.C.’s ocean waters.

Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Mass., are calling on the public to collect data from B.C.’s oceans for a crowd-funded research project.

The website ourradioactiveocean.org is recruiting “citizen scientists,” ordinary people who can raise $600 for a home testing kit and then take water samples to return to Woods Hole for analysis.

‘When you don’t know, people can speculate all kinds of things’– Ken Buesseler, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

“I think it’s important to geocean-currents-300x157t measurements, and since the governments aren’t doing it, we thought the public has a large concern we’d ask them help collect and fund the sampling,” said Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute researcher Ken Buesseler.

Although it has been urged, Buesseler says there is incomplete monitoring, and little data, for radiation in Pacific coastal waters from either Canadian or American authorities.

Full story click here

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How pharmaceuticals infect NHS policy

The Independent sheds light on the means by which pharmaceutical companies shape government health policy to their own bottom line. It seems like most patient’s lobby groups are funded, managed, and represented by agents of the pharmaceutical industry. The industry says it is all above board because if you look into the small print you can discover this. But it’s rarely mentioned in the newspaper headlines when hand-picked desperate sufferers are crying out for the NHS to spend more money on wonder drugs. Nor is it mentioned when new laws are proposed to restrict herbal and alternative treatments. Full story from the Independent here.

I have a few words to say about Big Pharma in The State Is Out Of Date. Here’s an excerpt from chapter 28, The Drugs Problem
Society does have a problem with drug use. It is a serious problem that is getting worse. For some reason, though, the perception of this problem is focused entirely on the very small range of drugs that are being used illegally. We cannot ignore the very real problems faced by those who are using drugs prescribed by doctors. Their lives can be damaged and sometimes destroyed as a result of diagnostic error, their own abuse of the prescribed stocks (few recreational drug users have a month’s supply in a bottle), or just years of being dependent on pharmaceuticals with known side effects. These legal drugs must be obtained through controlled channels, but these channels translate into a multi-billion dollar industry throughout the world—the real drugs trade. While we condemn it when drug barons bribe and seduce judges, police, and politicians, we think nothing of the lobbyists employed by the pharmaceutical industry in Washington DC, who number more than three for every single Congressman or Senator. To rephrase that, there are 535 elected representatives shaping law and regulation in the capital of the United States, attended to by 1,724 paid persuaders from the pharmaceutical drug barons alone (as well as some 9,750 lobbyists from other interest groups in 2011).
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Corruption rife in European Union – according to EU study

The European Union is reporting at least €120 Billion per year lost to corruption. The real figure is potentially far higher, considering that the section on EU institutional corruption was redacted from the report. By way of comparison, the total EU budget fEU-Blomfield-y-150x150or 2013 was £151 billion. It’s a shocking and revealing report, coming from the EU itself. But it’s no great surprise, with corruption and fraud having long been endemic in the Common Agricultural Policy, the largest recipient of EU expenditure.  Full story click here. 

As covered in The State Is Out Of Date, this situation is not a great surprise.
from chapter 3, the title chapter:

The Common Agricultural Policy (consuming  40% of the EU budget) has been cited by regular studies as unworkable, corruption-prone, and grossly inefficient since the early 1980s. Literally billions of euros, taken from the pockets of the European populace, are scammed and lost every year as this out-of-control creation of Brussels gets on with its regular job—which itself has little merit.Yet somewhere in Brussels, nerve center of the faltering European Union, the wielders of deterministic power think that even more of our money and some clever manipulation of their ever more complex formulas will get it all working. The alternative of lost jobs (their own) and responsibilities is too awful to contemplate.

As I upgrade this book from 1998 to 2013 it looks like perhaps the end is nigh for the European Union, an unnecessary and costly extra layer of government that never served to reduce levels of local or national government beneath it, providing little more than more pigs feeding at the metaphorical trough.

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Seven current examples of the out-of-date state in action.

UK  – FRACKING away!

The UK government pushes forward with its plans to frack the hell out of our green and pleasant land, pumping toxic chemicals through miles of horizontal shafts beneath the ground. They are bribing local councils to give permission for criminal damage to planet Earth, while deploying their police to deal with pesky protesters trying to save the planet. Get detailed information here on the toxic components of Haliburton’s fracking fluids.

TURKEY – rampant corruption

The Turkish government has just sacked 350 police officers, including those chief officers in charge of monitoring financial crime, smuggling, and organized crime. This follows  a corruption investigation that had named and shamed several of Prime Minister Erdogan’s minsters and close associates.  Thousands have taken to the streets in protest. Fighting  and scuffles even broke out in the Turkish parliament.

UKRAINE – savage brutality

There have been huge anti-government protests in Ukraine over the past few weeks after the government rejected a closer alliance with the EU in favour of closer ties to Russia (dogshit versus catshit, I would say). But the organizer of those protests was savagely beaten by a gang of thugs last week as he left a police station. Another pro EU campaigner was stabbed outside his apartment and a journalist supporting the protest was beaten unconscious.

SPAIN – a right royal fraud

The daughter of the Spanish king has been named as a suspect in a fraud and money-laundering case involving millions of Euros, allegedly taken from a publically funded charitable fund run by her husband.

UK – wasting money on pharmaceuticals

The British state has purchased some £500 million worth of Tamilflu vaccinations without having any evidence of its effectiveness. Those lobbyists from the pharmaceutical industry are certainly earning their inflated salaries!  In the USA there are three of these lobbyists for every congressman and senator.

THAILAND – shut down the government

Protesters are out on the streets of Bangkok once again in an attempt to shut down the government being run by the sister of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatr who fled the country to evade corruption charges after being ousted by the military.

BRAZIL  – stamping out protest

After wide-ranging protests last year against corruption and government waste in Brazil, a new 10,000 strong force of specially trained elite police officers has been created to make sure that no protests interrupt the smooth running of next year’s World Cup matches being played in Brazil. Is this how democratic states respond to citizens expressing their dissatisfaction?

– – – – – – –

 Ever wonder why we get so frustrated with the political process? This book will help you see why, while embracing real-world alternatives.

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Is the state worse than obsolete?

As we stride forward into a global community of the 21st century, the state increasingly attempts to drag us backwards through overbearing surveillance and repressive laws that increasingly favour large corporate interests. This article from the Guardian tells it like it is.

“Fundamental issues of government and its reach into our lives are now bubbling away as never before, and may well reach boiling point over the next 12 months…

If you doubt this, consider what the essential functions of the modern state look like to any politicised person under 30. The state comes to the rescue of banks while snatching away benefits. It strides into sovereign countries, and commits serial human rights abuses. It subjects doctors, nurses and teachers to ludicrous targets. It watches us constantly via CCTV, and hacks our email and phone data. It farms out some of its dirtiest business to private firms. This is not a vision of modern government invented by the current lot: in Britain, it decisively came to life thanks to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Whether knowingly or not, they demonstrated an essential modern truth: that contrary to the vanities of the “free market”, neoliberal capitalism needs the big centralised state to clear its way and enforce its insanities…

The truth is that the arrogant, centralised state is as much of a problem as the out-of-control market, and the dominion of one is symbiotically related to the tyranny of the other.”  Read full story here.

From The State of Business, chapter 13

“Can we really hope that the state, disconnected from the feedback loop of our society, is going to make big business safer and more ethical, when we regularly witness the state exceeding the corruption of corporations, while aiding and abetting their worst abuses? In the dangerous combination of big business and the state, it is the agency of the state that usually creates or officially condones the damage. Only we can protect ourselves from the dangers posed by the growth of big corporations, and the sooner we empower ourselves with this awareness the better.”

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US cops kill more innocents than the war in Iraq and terrorists combined

The increase in police brutality in this country is a frightening reality. In the last decade alone the number of people killed by US police has reached 5,000. The number of soldiers killed since the inception of the Iraq war, 4489.

What went wrong? In the 19070’s SWAT teams were estimated to be used just a few hundred times per year, now we are looking at over 40,000 military style “knock and announce” police raids a year. The police presence in this country is being turned into a military with a clearly defined enemy, anyone who questions the establishment.

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Occasionally one of these incidents gets caught on camera and we see the shocking outcome of increasing militarization of the police. An extract from Our Problems, Our Solutions, Chapter 11

“In recent years, we have seen burglary and some crimes of violence reducing in parts of the world. This has been offset by a massive increase of identity theft and cybercrime, unknown concepts in the past, which are often undetected and, like banking fraud, rarely included in the crime figures. Rates of death-by-police and suicide and are not included in crime figures, even though suicide is against the law in most parts of the world.”

Extract from  Who Owns You? – chapter 16

“Yet history continually shows us the degree to which the state regards as its own property the lives of those living within the borderline defining its territory. It would seem apparent that one of the unspoken rules of our world community of nations is that any individual state can do whatever it likes to its own citizens without interference from any other state.”
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Faking Crime Figures apparently not a crime

Yes, the police manage and massage the crime figures to meet targets and objectives and get away with it, as Simon Jenkins reported in the Guardian. I’ve written about the inherent problem of a system in which those who deal with crime profit from more of it, though they may lie to imply their budgets are being well spent in reducing it. The first chapter extract below, reveals an omission from the Recorded Crime figures that dwarfs its manipulation by the police. The second extract is on how to slash crime figures overnight – for real.

Clips from the Guardian article by Simon Jenkins

The cause of the mayhem was a couple of police officers telling an otherwise somnolent public administration committee that only fools believed crime figures. Everyone knew they were fixed to meet ministerial targets. In the argot of the beat, the figures were “cuffed, skewed, nodded and stitched”…The Association of Chief Police Officers agreed that crime figures “simply cannot be relied upon”, but did so as if discussing a random weather forecast… Women reporting rape to the local police were simply being told to go home and have a bath…. Drug busts could be relied on to improve “clear-up” rates because everyone was guilty.” Full story here.

From:  Our Problems, Our Solutions, Chapter 11  (notes accompanying a table of Recorded Crime figures in the UK)

“These gradual increases in notifiable crime (1999-2007) took place against a backdrop of proliferating CCTV cameras and improved technology and surveillance techniques, plus a steady increase in both the cost and number of police. Cybercrime is not a notifiable offense, even though it is the field of choice for a new generation of online criminals. Why break windows and wield weapons when you can sit at a keyboard? So if somebody steals your life’s savings by pretending to be an online bank, it’s not worth recording. But if the same person shows you a knife and empties your pockets, then the crime goes on record. No wonder cybercrime is booming.

Crime figures, clogged courts, and jail numbers could all be slashed overnight, but why would police, judges, or jailers want that to happen? An extract from “Victimess Crimes” – chapter 17

Nobody keeps track of how many billions are wasted worldwide every year trying to prevent members of the public from committing crimes without a victim, catching them when they do, processing them through courts, and securing them in overcrowded prisons thereafter. They have committed “crimes” that could harm no one but themselves, and often not even that. In some cases the prohibition is justified by a risk that is lower than many permitted activities, from skiing and horseback riding to drinking in bars or eating at fast food outlets. Millions of lives are actually damaged simply because people are indulging in activities the state has deemed possibly dangerous or decidedly deviant, whether that’s protesting in public without a permit; buying and selling unlicensed herbal medicines or unapproved mood-altering drugs; partaking in dangerous sports; enjoying illicit forms of sex; attending unlicensed parties; dancing or singing without a permit; exposing your body in public; changing religion in fundamentalist countries; exceeding the speed limit at 3 AM; and much more besides.

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Victimless crimes get life in prison

From The Guardian:

“At about 12.40pm on 2 January 1996, Timothy Jackson took a jacket from the Maison Blanche department store in New Orleans, draped it over his arm, and walked out of the store without paying for it. When he was accosted by a security guard, Jackson said: “I just needed another jacket, man.” A few months later Jackson was convicted of shoplifting and sent to Angola prison in Louisiana. That was 16 years ago. Today he is still incarcerated in Angola, and will stay there for the rest of his natural life having been condemned to die in jail. All for the theft of a jacket, worth $159……The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with 2.3 million people now in custody, with the war on drugs acting as the overriding push-factor. Of the prisoners serving life without parole for non-violent offences nationwide, the ACLU estimates that almost 80% were for drug-related crimes.Again, the offences involved can be startlingly petty. Drug cases itemised in the report include a man sentenced to die in prison for having been found in possession of a crack pipe; an offender with a bottle cap that contained a trace of heroin that was too small to measure; a prisoner arrested with a trace amount of cocaine in their pocket too tiny to see with the naked eye; a man who acted as a go-between in a sale to an undercover police officer of marijuana – street value $10.  Read the full story…

From “Strange Fruit,” chapter 25, dealing with the consequences of blending the coercive state with private enterprise.

“One of the most frightening strange fruits to come from the mating of coercion with free enterprise is the increased reliance on privatization of the prison industry. Here we have the state creating a private industry that relies upon the state’s coercive power to supply it with a stream of new customers (inmates). This industry has become a strong lobby in support of maintaining and increasing those laws carrying prison sentences. As the Correctional Corporation of America warned in its 2010 annual report: “Any changes [in the laws] with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.”Private prisons have enjoyed many years as a “hot” investment stock in America since their introduction in the 1980s. In the three decades that followed we saw the American prison population increase five-fold, from one-half million to two and one-half million, during a time in which crimes, with or without victims, have remained relatively constant.”

From “Victimless Crimes,” chapter 17 –

…Of course these resources should be spent to stop real crime and its causes, but as long as the state is running things, it will be in the long-term interest of the prison industry to have more prisons and of the police service to have more crime.”

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