How Much Worse Can It Get? When Will Mainstream America Wake Up? :.

Excellent article:

The ignorance and unawareness so prevalent among the mainstream 9-5 sheeple constantly amazes me. People that are supposed to be our best-educated and most responsible workers and thinkers seem to never even think for themselves anymore. When they come across an idea that challenges their safety and comfort they attack it violently as lies and left wing propaganda. Any idea that deviates from their narrowly defined version of reality is met with scorn and sarcasm. You would think that these people would be the ones trying to figure out where America is going wrong.

When you bring up the cold hard facts of how bad it had become under George Bush there is usually a bunch of blank stares or outright hatred and anger. Sometimes they will actually engage an informed person in conversation, but it is rarely an intelligent or rational discourse. On the rare occasion that they admit that one of the facts sounds reasonable, they have twenty more arguments against the other facts presented.

These people seem to be totally oblivious to the fact that homelessness has risen by 40-50% on a nationwide level and that poverty has reached an all time high. They don't know that the US is last in education levels among first world countries, that the deficit is greater than ever in recorded history, that the unemployment rate keeps climbing despite Bush claiming otherwise, or all the other grim facts of life in America.

It is like they live in an alternate universe and just can�t quite see the world around them clearly. This is a great form of defense when you try to protect your assumed worldviews, but foolhardy in the end. By their unwavering refusal to accept how bad it really is, these people are helping the government perpetuate the crisis, if only by their complacency and nothing else.

Hard Time on the Killing Floor :.

Cows skinned and dismembered alive. I started going to my happy place as I tried to read this article. Warning: Graphic.

According to workers, meat at the plant is routinely contaminated with cattle feces because workers on the processing line are not give enough time to wash their hands. Under pressure from aggressive plant managers, meat that falls on the floor, which is often littered with meat byproducts and entrails, is often immediately placed back on the line without being cleansed. Cutting tools and conveyor belts, workers tell CounterPunch, are also regularly coated with pus from abscesses and tumors that haven't been properly cut out of the meat. Meat cutters at the plant also told me that often cows are not rendered unconscious before being sent down the line. Instead, workers say they often hear cows frantically mooing as they are skinned and dismembered alive.

Dr. Strangelove Style Manifesto from Neocons :.

US President George W Bush was sent a public manifesto Tuesday by Washington's hawks, demanding regime change in Syria and Iran and a Cuba-style military blockade of North Korea backed by planning for a pre-emptive strike on its nuclear sites.

The manifesto, presented as a Manual for Victory in the war on terror, also calls for Saudi Arabia and France to be treated not as allies but as rivals and possibly enemies.

The manifesto is contained in a new book by Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser and "intellectual guru" of the hardline neo-conservative movement, and David Frum, a former Bush speechwriter. They give warning of a faltering of the "will to win" in the US.

New Farm Seen As Model for Wind Energy :.

This new wind system, along with similar ones being built around the country, promises to produce electricity at competitive prices all without disturbing surrounding farms and wildlife, two of the obstacles for wind power today.

The 90 turbines at High Winds can generate 162 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 75,000 homes, according to Florida-based FPL Energy, which owns and operates High Winds along with 30 other wind facilities in 10 states.

"This is the future of wind power," said Ralph Cavanagh, energy program director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "The wind farm is becoming a productive part of the local community. It's not an interloper that threatens them."


Pope Calls for a New World Order :.


Pope John Paul II rang in the New Year on Thursday with a renewed call for peace in the Middle East and Africa and the creation of a new world order based on respect for the dignity of man and equality among nations.

John Paul presided over a morning Mass inside St. Peter's Basilica to mark the World Day of Peace, which the Roman Catholic Church celebrates every January 1. He appeared in good form, delivering his entire homily in a strong and clear voice despite a relatively tiring holiday schedule.

This year, John Paul directed his thoughts to continuing conflicts around the globe. But he stressed that to bring about peace, there needs to be a new respect for international law and the creation of a "new international order" based on the goals of the United Nations.

2004 � Year of the Slave :.

This is an excellent article. I agree with much of it completely. I don't think the chances of an armed insurrection in the U.S. are very high, though. Americans, generally, are too stupid and cowardly to pull it off; besides, the feds have compromised all potential insurgency movements with any C3I* capability. There would have to be a sudden groundswell of thought that would change the American Zeitgeist from a love of the dumb to the real issues. I don't know how that would happen. Maybe elements of the U.S. military will walk into CNNABCNBCFOXetc., guns drawn, and a general will announce it, Banana Republic style. Take food out of the picture. That could do it, but that will just lead to a scene right out of Road Warrior. It could come down in any number of ways. Who knows?! It won't be good, no matter how it happens.

I just hope that Russia and China don't have any doubts about who's in control of American strategic nuclear assets during any possible shake-up. An extraconstitutional transfer of power in the U.S. would frighten Russia and China and bring the world to the brink of annihilation. If it does come down to a gunbattle/coup, someone, hopefully a few four star generals, will be in on it and will be able to ring the red phones in Moscow and Beijing to let them know that nobody is planning on lobbing any eggs, and that they shouldn't consider it either.

Oh well. This sure turned into a lovely post. Happy New Year! (No wonder the woman I was seeing never read this site.):

Free people can say �no�. Free people can refuse demands for their money, time, and children. Slaves cannot. There is no freedom without the freedom to say �no�. If someone demands that you do something and you can say �no� and refuse to do it, then you are a free human being. If you can be forced to do something or surrender something that you do not wish to, then you are a slave. No other test need be applied.

When you are forced to surrender half your life�s work to the government in ever-increasing taxes, then you are a slave. Throughout history, slaves were expected to perform the work needed for their own upkeep, then perform additional work for the rulers. For Roman slaves, the ratio of work-for-self versus work-for-rulers was about 50-50. The same ratio applied to Medieval Serfs, and even to the slaves of the American south. And, when you add up all the overt taxes, covert fees, tariffs, excises, plus the increased price you pay for products to pay the taxes of the companies that make those products, you will find that Americans are at that same �half-for-self� versus �half-for-rulers� ratio! Can you say �no� to the confiscation of half of your life? Can you even get the masters to maybe reduce the burden by a significant amount? No? Congratulations. You are a slave.

* C3I- Command, Communications, Control, Intelligence


Three Million Burnt-Out Britons Abandon High-Flying Careers in Search of Good Life :.

People are figuring it out:

Nearly a quarter of British men work more hours than the European legal limit. Half of all British workers think that their job damages their health and one-fifth say they are too exhausted to have sex.

Such is the drudgery of life in the British workplace that next year 200,000 people will follow in the footsteps of one City trader, who surrendered a six-figure salary this year to become a magician, and "downshift". This will bring to three million - or 10 per cent of the working population - the total number of people who have swapped the urban rat race for a rural idyll or abandoned high-flying careers by demanding to work fewer hours, a study by the market research organisation Datamonitor has found.

Experts say downshifting has become a Europe-wide trend driven by the recognition of "time" as a commodity just as valuable as the latest Mercedes or digital gadgetry.

Dominik Nosalik, a consumer markets analyst for Datamonitor, said: "It is something which is growing steadily and will continue to do so next year. Three million people is a significant part of the population.

"It is driven by time and people wanting the energy for things that they can't do working the hours that they do. There is an increased lack of willingness to put up with the long-hours culture across Europe in general and the UK in particular.

"After spending years striving for material wealth in the shape of a house and car, people are saying they need to change their lifestyle and are happy to 'pay' for it by means of accepting a lower income."

According to the research, there are now some 12 million downshifters across Europe, an increase of nearly a third in the past six years. By 2007, the figure is likely to reach more than 16 million as the population of the European Union, its affluence increased by economic growth, seeks to escape the sense of burn-out.

Of those who have already sought a less onerous existence, around two million are what demographers call "holistic simplifiers" - people who have gone the whole hog by selling their homes or cashing in their nest eggs to set up a new life elsewhere, preferably in locations as far away as possible from the stresses and clutter of urban life such as the Outer Hebrides or Sicilian orange groves.

The Datamonitor research found that the majority of the "holistic simplifiers", who are concerned for the environment and are "spiritually orientated", come from highly paid and stressful jobs such as the law, IT or financial services. Many are in their 30s, want to focus more on their family life and are ready to contemplate any steps, including emigrating, to achieve their aims of self-sufficiency.

Bloggers Supposedly Making a Difference :.

Actually, I'm starting to see blogging as part of the mechanism of control. It allows me to stay sane by ranting about all of this nonsense. It gives you something else to do at work besides work. Meanwhile, nothing happens, except for everything continuing to get worse. Blogging is great! Start a blog! Express yourself! It's a bunch of BS. Most blogs (98%) are completely useless; lots of talk about cats, rap music and what happened last weekend, etc.

And what are the supposedly useful blogs accomplishing? The ascension of the information age is corresponding to the establishment of a more efficient police state. They're letting us have our silly blogs. They're letting us wave signs. IT BUYS THEM TIME TO SET UP THE ELECTRONIC PRISON, and it lets Them know who the troublemakers are. By the time the average idiot on the street sees what has happened, it will be way too late to do anything about it. (It's already too late.)

If you think, for one second, that this system is going to change because a few of us have figured it out and are writing about it, man, you better think again. The Them must have known that people, generally, would not utilize the Internet to make any substantive changes to the system. By the time the Internet became readily accessible (1995), most of the population was already sufficiently dumbed down. The handful of people who use the Internet as a tool to affect revolutionary political change are easily surveiled and targeted for oppression when necessary. Interestingly, relatively few dissidents receive door knocks in the middle of the night. This is because dissidents don't matter. They don't threaten the system. And the masses are too disinterested and stupid to make any sense of what is happening, even though they have access to the answers at their fingertips.

As long as dissidents don't say anything that can actually threaten the system, they will be left alone. Oh yeah. I hold my tongue A LOT. If I said what I actually thought, I'd be taken down, probably within 24 hours. You see, I can rant and bitch and say anything I want on this thing, as long as it doesn't matter, as long as it doesn't threaten the system. The Them understand that citing facts and figures and evidence of Their crimes will never hurt Them. They know that almost nobody cares. The people who do care are generally penniless, powerless, fringe dwelling, bums, freaks, cranks, etc. And those of you with sufficient resources to actually affect changes wouldn't say shit if you had a mouthful because you're afraid of losing the few cigarette buts and bottle caps you've managed to squeeze out of this thing.

The number of people addressing the core issues---dangerous distributions of wealth, surveillance, perception management, technocracracy, the Left-Right fallacy, central banking scams, corporate criminality, etc.---is very small. We have no access to the troglodyte masses. The only way anything is ever going to change is if the troglodytes grow to see the fallacy in front of their own eyes. Unfortunately, there is no evidence to suggest that such a bottom up approach is possible. It would require a program of education (de-schooling) that would instill a love of learning, skills of discernment and the ability to think in a non-linear manner. This is an impossible proposition because the regime (the interlocking governmental, corporate and academic spheres) would never allow it.

What about an armed revolution? Let's assume, for a moment, that it was possible. It isn't, but let's assume that it was. The question becomes: What will be the nature of the new system? Answer: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. To achieve any good outcome, the regime that seizes power would have to implement a value system that would undermine its own power and authority and eventually lead to its downfall. No regime seizes power with the end goal of relinquishing it. This is the maddening paradox of revolutionary politics.*

On the other hand, we know that begging tyrants for table scraps is a dumb waste of time. So, now that we understand that the pen and the sword are equally useless against this system, what options are we left with?

We have to opt out. Simply walk away from this system and it will collapse. (Well, it's not quite that simple.) I know. Nobody wants to hear that. Everyone wants to believe that change is possible. They want to keep the SUV and appear to be making a difference. Sorry, folks, this is a no bullshit zone. As long as we're in this thing, we're contributing to its life-force. As long as we pay Cheney when we drive to the grocery store, we're system maintainers. As long as we pay Cheney when we buy vegetables grown in Cheney's toxic slag, we're system maintainers. As long as we pay Cheney when we fling plastic into the trash, we're system maintainers. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

Remember the following quote from The Art of War, by Sun Tzu, "For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill."

You can't fight this thing, and you can't change it. But you can walk away from it. That's our only hope.

* A military coup in the U.S. is theoretically possible, but highly unlikely. The outcome of such a coup would be as bad, but probably not worse, than the system that is unfolding before our eyes. As long as U.S. military commanders are dumb enough to believe that America's true enemies are foreign, and not domestic, there won't be a coup.

From the USA Today article on bloggers:

In the 2004 election, the boys (and girls) on the bus have been joined by a new class of political arbiters: the geeks on their laptops. They call themselves bloggers. Their mission: to remake political journalism and, quite possibly, democracy itself. The plan: to run an end around big media by becoming publishers on the Internet.

Research Credit: NF


Neil Bush Makes 1-Day Stock Windfall :.

Do you get it yet?

Cashing in stock options before the market crashed, presidential brother Neil Bush made at least $171,370 in a single day by buying and selling shares in a small U.S. high-tech firm where he had previously been a consultant, according to tax returns that give a glimpse into his business dealings.

The July 19, 1999 purchase and quick sale of stock from Kopin Corp. of Taunton, Mass., came on a day that the company received good news about a new Asian client that sent its stock value soaring.

"My timing on this transaction was very fortunate," Bush told The Associated Press.


Happy New Years: Most Public Gaterings Military Operational Areas :.

Security will be extra tight at this year's New Year's celebrations around the country, with military helicopters patrolling over the Rose Parade, Times Square and the Las Vegas Strip.

"I think the level of security this time around within the United States is absolutely unprecedented," Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said on CBS's "The Early Show."

As revelers prepare for New Year's Eve, the nation's terrorism alert is at its second-highest level, though officials said there were no specific threats against the holiday gatherings and urged people to go ahead with their plans.

In Las Vegas, where 300,000 revelers are expected on the Strip, officials announced that armed military helicopters will fly overhead.

Jerry Bussell, Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn's adviser on homeland security, said military helicopters will also be used in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington and other cities with big outdoor gatherings.

"These aircraft are equipped to dismantle or disrupt any kind of ground attack, and also other aircraft that would attempt to fly into our airspace," said Bill Young, the sheriff in Las Vegas.

Sharpshooters will be posted on hotel-casino roofs, and streets will be blocked off with concrete barricades, Young said. Sightseeing helicopters will be prevented from flying over the Las Vegas Strip from 8 p.m. New Year's Eve to 3 a.m.

In Pasadena, where thousands gather along the 5 1/2-mile Rose Parade route and attend the Rose Bowl football game on New Year's Day, video surveillance cameras will watch the spectators lining the streets.

Remain Calm: Consumer Confidence Retreats Slightly :.

Don't call your broker. Don't click the "sell" button. Everything is just peachy:

Anxiety about the job market is causing consumer confidence levels to dip, while housing sales also are slowing. But economists aren't worried -- they say the outlook for improvement remains rosy, and the pullbacks are a normal kink in the economy's path to recovery.

Did we mention: Remain Calm?!

Bush Regime Targets Greenpeace :.

Can you hear the dull grunts coming up from Joe and Jane Sixpack? "I don't have anything to worry about. I'm not a member of Greenpeace."

Bay Area nonprofits and anti-war leaders are fuming about what they see as an attempt by the Justice Department to clamp down on peaceful dissent by filing criminal charges against a group for the nonviolent actions of its followers.

Local activists are closely watching a case winding through the federal courts in Miami. There, a federal prosecutor has dusted off a 19th century law designed to prevent bar owners from luring sailors ashore with booze and prostitutes to file charges against Greenpeace in connection with an April 2002 case in which two activists tried to hang an anti-President Bush banner on a container ship headed into port.

The sign-hangers and four other Greenpeace activists pleaded no contest last year to misdemeanor charges and were sentenced to time served. Now it's their 32-year-old parent organization's turn in court.

If convicted of conspiring to illegally board a ship, Greenpeace could be sentenced to five years' probation and a $10,000 fine, and be required to allow federal probation officers to oversee certain parts of its organization.

Research Credit: BW

Beware of People Carrying Almanacs :.

I snapped this afternoon and went on a movie marathon. LOTR: Return of the King and Paycheck, back to back. (I hate Ben Affleck, but it's Philip K. Dick sci-fi, so give me a break.) Due to my brief lapse away from the news churn, I'm a little late in mentioning that we need to be on the lookout for people carrying almanacs!

If I get pulled over, the cops will surely report me to the Joint Terrorism Task Force. I'm actually stupid enough to carry books around in the backseat of my car! 1984, The Myth of the Machine, Rule by Secrecy and The Gnostic Bible. All with marginalia and underlining! *GASP!*

TR adds:

Just in case you thought this thing couldn't get more insane. Now cops are told to be on the lookout for people carrying almanacs!!!! Forget about the plane circling the Statue of Liberty, go after the guy carrying a book! I'm going to start carrying one with me everywhere I go and wave it in people's face like the deadly weapon it is. Oh, please, oh please, let me get arrested for it!!

From the CNN article:

The FBI is warning police nationwide to be alert for people carrying almanacs, cautioning that the popular reference books covering everything from abbreviations to weather trends could be used for terrorist planning.

In a bulletin sent Christmas Eve to about 18,000 police organizations, the FBI said terrorists may use almanacs "to assist with target selection and pre-operational planning."

It urged officers to watch during searches, traffic stops and other investigations for anyone carrying almanacs, especially if the books are annotated in suspicious ways.

The FBI urged police to report such discoveries to the local U.S. Joint Terrorism Task Force.

I've been writing passing thoughts in a notebook lately. Just random nonsense, mostly. I don't know why it came to mind, but I wrote this in my notebook last week:

Underlined passages in books will soon become evidence of criminal activity.

We are living in a dystopian nightmare. There's no need to read about a fictional one. Look outside your window.

Research Credit: TR, DG, BW


New Wi-Fi Tracker Pinpoints User, Device Location :.

National Scientific Corporation announced Tuesday that it's wrapped up work on its new WLAN hardware platform -- Wi-Fi Tracker -- which lets IT administrators pinpoint the position of wireless users and devices with accuracy within a few feet.

Hardware developer kits are now available to select early adopting customers, the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company said.


Awash in Dangerous Pollutants and Carcinogens :.

Humans are so dumb:

Davis Baltz shops for organic food and otherwise tries to live as healthy as he can. So he was shocked to learn that the pollutants collecting inside his body sounded much like a Superfund cleanup site: pesticides, flame retardants and other nasty, man-made chemicals turned up in a recent test.

"What that told me is that no matter what I tried to do, the plumes of chemicals that we are passing in and out of everyday give us exposure," said Baltz, who works for Commonweal, an environmental group in Bolinas, Calif. Commonweal and the Washington-based Environmental Working Group funded tests for Baltz and eight others at $5,000 apiece.

Parmalat: Fat Cat PHB Led Away in Handcuffs :.

I don't know if you guys understand the scale of this thing. This is the European equivalent of Enron:

An Italian judge today ordered the arrest of Calisto Tanzi, the founder and former chairman of the Italian dairy and food giant Parmalat, on suspicion of fraudulent auditing and market rigging, according to a person close to the investigation.

Italian investigators looking into Parmalat's insolvency detained Mr. Tanzi on Saturday in downtown Milan, the Italian financial capital, as he climbed into a chauffeured Mercedes-Benz automobile near his lawyer's offices. He spent the night in San Vittore Prison in Milan and was interrogated there for most of today by investigating magistrates in connection with the failure of the company he built from a family delicatessen business over four decades.

Mr. Tanzi and about 20 other Parmalat officials and others are under investigation, but he is the first official formally arrested in the case.

The IT Industry Is Shifting Away from Microsoft :.

The IT industry is also shifting to India, China and Russia, but as long as B Gates gets pummeled, I guess this is good news. Don't get too happy, though. After the next event, DRM could be required by law for any computer connected to the Internet. Sure, you laugh now. But I have a feeling that B Gates will be the one laughing in The End:

People did the math. With expensive lock-ins on one hand, and cheaper, more interoperable software on the other, they started choosing the less expensive route. Imagine that. The high profile defections started happening with more and more regularity, and Redmond was almost out of tricks.

Some defections were headed off, like the Thai government, which pays $36 for Office and Windows XP comes with a 95% discount if you compare it to list. There are probably other similar deals elsewhere that we have not heard about. For every one of the Microsoft victories, there were two or three Linux wins. Then four or five. Now it is not even a contest. High profile defections like cities, governments, and, gasp, IBM, are just the tip of the iceberg, and almost everyone is looking at the pioneers to see if the trail they are blazing is worth following.

If it turns out that these first few companies can make it, expect the floodgates to open, and everyone to follow. The designed in security flaws, that make Microsoft software insecurable, are only adding to the misery. Every day that a company is down due to worms or viruses, it starts re-evaluating Microsoft software. When bidding on the next round of contracts, the memory of all night cleanups tends to weigh heavily on the minds of many CIOs and CTOs.


:. Reading

Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture by Andrew Kimbrell Readers will come to see that industrial food production is indeed a "fatal harvest" - fatal to consumers, as pesticide residues and new disease vectors such as E. coli and "mad cow disease" find their way into our food supply; fatal to our landscapes, as chemical runoff from factory farms poison our rivers and groundwater; fatal to genetic diversity, as farmers rely increasingly on high-yield monocultures and genetically engineered crops; and fatal to our farm communities, which are wiped out by huge corporate farms.

Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America by Bertram Myron Gross This is a relatively short but extremely cogent and well-argued treatise on the rise of a form of fascistic thought and social politics in late 20th century America. Author Bertram Gross' thesis is quite straightforward; the power elite that comprises the corporate, governmental and military superstructure of the country is increasingly inclined to employ every element in their formidable arsenal of 'friendly persuasion' to win the hearts and minds of ordinary Americans through what Gross refers to as friendly fascism.

The Good Life
by Scott and Helen Nearing
Helen and Scott Nearing are the great-grandparents of the back-to-the-land movement, having abandoned the city in 1932 for a rural life based on self-reliance, good health, and a minimum of cash...Fascinating, timely, and wholly useful, a mix of the Nearings' challenging philosophy and expert counsel on practical skills.

Silent Theft: The Private Plunder of Our Common Wealth by David Bollierd In Silent Theft, David Bollier argues that a great untold story of our time is the staggering privatization and abuse of our common wealth. Corporations are engaged in a relentless plunder of dozens of resources that we collectively own—publicly funded medical breakthroughs, software innovation, the airwaves, the public domain of creative works, and even the DNA of plants, animals and humans. Too often, however, our government turns a blind eye—or sometimes helps give away our assets. Amazingly, the silent theft of our shared wealth has gone largely unnoticed because we have lost our ability to see the commons.

The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It: The Complete Back-To-Basics Guide by John Seymour The Self Sufficient Life and How to Live It is the only book that teaches all the skills needed to live independently in harmony with the land harnessing natural forms of energy, raising crops and keeping livestock, preserving foodstuffs, making beer and wine, basketry, carpentry, weaving, and much more.

When Corporations Rule the World by David C. Korten When Corporations Rule the World explains how economic globalization has concentrated the power to govern in global corporations and financial markets and detached them from accountability to the human interest. It documents the devastating human and environmental consequences of the successful efforts of these corporations to reconstruct values and institutions everywhere on the planet to serve their own narrow ends.

The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener This expansion of a now-classic guide originally published in 1989 is intended for the serious gardener or small-scale market farmer. It describes practical and sustainable ways of growing superb organic vegetables, with detailed coverage of scale and capital, marketing, livestock, the winter garden, soil fertility, weeds, and many other topics.