Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Does Christmas Spirit Have a Frequency?

By Heather Callaghan

Have you ever boycotted Christmas? Sick of the commercialism and other people's behavior? Did you find religion and pin pagan meanings to its origins?

A pastor who grew up in a large, traveling singing family had a sister who read The Two Babylons by Alexander Hyssop. He calls that "The Year of No Christmas." She had read about ancient pagan rituals associated with Christmas and decided the whole family would be committing sacrilege by practicing it. I can relate to this experience - watch out if you ever read that book!

There are many reasons people become disillusioned with holidays. Here are just two: looking at your bank balance of $-19.02 coupled with crushing pressure to buy gifts. But, are there any reasons to unabashedly and joyfully embrace its essence? Is Christmas Spirit its own entity entirely detached from both consumerism and religion?


Ebenezer's Awakening

When Charles Dickens first published A Christmas Carol in 1843, it was instantly beloved. More than a century and a half later, it remains a timeless tale - but most know the story from glitzy, highly marketed movie remakes. Each passing film depicts a more ghoulish, decrepit evil Scrooge, a more perfect Cratchit family, an almost sickening, syrupy Tiny Tim.

Although Dickens had a tendency to write extreme good/evil contrasts, the above traits are not the core of the original story that takes just an evening to read. The name Scrooge will forever remain vilified even though that's not how the tale culminates.

A Christmas Carol takes us through a miraculous account of redemption and transformation; personal, emotional, moral, and philosophical. Ebenezer Scrooge is actually a hero in the making. We enter the story in a frozen frame of Scrooge's current disposition. The goodwill and love was in his heart the entire time, but after reading we see why it became shrouded in darkness and what amazing feats it took to thaw it. He must, must face himself!


Monday, December 23, 2013

JPMorgan Chase and Penance and Fines

Christopher Brauchli
(Photo: Gary Cameron/Reuters)
The Human Race and Other Sports
And whatten penance wul ye drie for that, young Edward, oh young Edward?
— Edward, A Scottish Ballad
One has to feel sorry for JPMorgan Chase. Several months ago it thought it had not only paid a sufficient amount in fines to make up for its bad behavior but it had also engaged in a form of penance for some of the bad things it had done. Little did it know.

The penance was reformation of its practices with respect to payday loans. Before the reforms, JPMorgan Chase (and many other institutions dealing with payday lenders) permitted% payday lenders to automatically withdraw repayment amounts from the borrowers’ bank accounts and agreed to prevent borrowers from closing their accounts or issuing stop payment orders so long as the payday lender was not fully repaid. As a result a borrower who did not have enough money in the bank to repay the lender the amount due on a given date was charged an insufficient fund fee by the bank each time the lender submitted a request for payment in many cases generating hundreds of dollars in fees imposed on the borrowers. That practice came to an end in May 2013. The fines it paid, in addition to its act of penance were described by Kevin McCoy of USA Today.

Between June 2010 and November 2012 JPMorgan Chase paid more than $3 billion in fines and settlements that related to, among other things, overcharging active-duty service members on their mortgages, misleading investors about a collateralized debt obligation it marketed, rigging at least 93 municipal bond transactions in 31 states, and countless other misdeeds. In August 2012 alone it paid a fine of $1.2 billion to resolve a lawsuit that alleged it and other institutions conspired to set the price of credit and debit card interchange fees. In January 2013 and February 2012 it paid $1.8 billion to settle claims that it and other financial institutions improperly carried out home foreclosures after the housing crisis. Not only did it pay large fines. Jamie Dimon, its unfailingly cheerful, beautifully coiffed CEO, took a pay cut which, including deferred compensation, reduced his daily salary from $63,013 to $31,506. Sadly, those events were not to be the end of its troubles. Indeed, as it turns out they were merely the tip of the iceberg.

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Christmas 2013: Scrooge Lives as Reactionary Republicans and Libertarians Attack Food Stamps, Jobless Insurance, Minimum Wage with Interviews with Andrew Kreig and Darcy Richardson

Webster G. Tarpley, Ph.D.
TARPLEY.net – World Crisis Radio
December 21, 2013


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Take Back The Fed!

Multivitamin Hitpieces - A Natural Health False Flag?

Heather Callaghan
Activist Post

Like a script from a movie you already know the ending to; each year we can expect a hoax study or attack on anything that is not FDA approved. It is with great hope that the average person will have enough sense to see through the latest propaganda (unlike an elderly woman I talked to last year who stopped getting natural help because the reports last year made it sound like vitamins = poison).

Chances are, you've recently been barraged by not-so-subtle headlines attacking multivitamins. The mainstream articles were very loosely and poorly based on three simultaneous and ridiculously flawed studies. If anyone bothers to read the studies, they might find that they are simply a vehicle for an attack - an attack so gratuitous and heavy handed to make one wonder about their MO.

But the real attack on multivitamins stems from a mere editorial cited by a media regurgitating the words "case closed," "we don't need multivitamins," "evidence mounting [against multivitamins]," "enough is enough" and projections like the "vitamin industrial complex." Oh, so the gavel has been slammed...God forbid someone have their own preference about a consumer product.

But who is actually saying this and by whom are they funded?

Digital Age Privacy Rights

Stephen Lendman
Activist Post

Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states:
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation. 
Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights states:
Everyone has the right to respect for his privacy and family life, his home and his correspondence.
Articles 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence...Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
Various other international accords affirm privacy rights. So does the US Constitution. The Fourth Amendment protects against lawless searches and seizure.

That 'Thing' Everyone's Talking About

Heather Callaghan
Activist Post

There's a script behind a script behind a script...

That "thing" everyone's been talking about - it's only a "thing" because the forces that shouldn't be made it into a "thing." It's so predictable it might as well be a script. Irony at its finest - It is a script and we're expected to play extras, and lock-step right into the role. How eagerly some of us do this. We've been given the "thing" to talk about and think that we the awakened are immune, remaining outside the role, but often we do not.

There is no end to the madness in being directed this way. There's no validation, understanding, satisfaction or right or wrong answer. The "answer" is only a reaction so it matters not what's contained therein.

Study Reveals Concerns About Future Global Crop Yield Projections

Activist Post

About 30 percent of the major global cereal crops – rice, wheat and corn – may have reached their maximum possible yields in farmers' fields, according to University of Nebraska-Lincoln research published this week in Nature Communications. These findings raise concerns about efforts to increase food production to meet growing global populations.

Yields of these crops have recently decreased or plateaued. Future projections that would ensure global food security are typically based on a constant increase in yield, a trend that this research now suggests may not be possible.

Estimates of future global food production and its ability to meet the dietary needs of a population expected to grow from 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050 have been based largely on projections of historical trends. Past trends have, however, been dominated by the rapid adoption of new technologies – some of which were one-time innovations – which allowed for an increase in crop production.

Freed Gitmo Detainee: 'We Were Subjected to Meticulous, Daily Torture'

Speaking from Khartoum, Ibrahim Idris says punishments were 'doubled' for hunger strikers

Sarah Lazare  

(Photo: Abd Raouf / Associated Press)
Ibrahim Idris smiles after his release from Guantanamo Bay upon his arrival at the airport in Khartoum, Sudan, Thursday, December 19, 2013. Upon his return to Sudan after 11 years of incarceration at the hands of the U.S. military in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a frail 52-year-old Ibrahim Idris declared at a Thursday press conference in Khartoum that detainess at the prison "have been subjected to meticulous, daily torture with punishment," with 'double' the abuse for those who participated in the hunger strike.

“We were helpless…on an isolated island, surrounded by weapons,” he stated, his voice described as soft and weak in numerous media reports.

Idris returned to Sudan on Thursday with fellow detainee and 51-year-old Sudanese citizen Noor Othman Mohammed—who was reportedly unable to attend the press conference because he was receiving medical treatment in a hospital.

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Senate Passes NDAA 2014 via Fast Tracking, President To Sign

Updated with roll call...

Andrew V Pontbriand
Activist Post

Late Thursday night, the Senate passed the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2014, in a sweeping bill now being sent to the president which reports suggest he will sign.

The bill, is infamous for its language on indefinite detention, and "disappearing" of American citizens. Once again, the bill was past via Fast-Tracking while most of the country was sidelined on the Phil Robertson issue with Duck Dynasty.

The bill, now being sent to President Obama, also leaves out an amendment by Sen. Gillibrand on sexual assault prosecution, which in and of itself is curious. The bill passed the Senate in an 85-14 count, with the roll-call unavailable at this time.

Why Is Jon Stewart Helping Blackwater Whitewash War Crimes?

Vandyke KNEW Rebels Had Chemical Weapons - Matthew Vandyke Leaks

Government Agencies Add Pages for Kids to Their Websites

Chris Carrington
Activist Post

The government is not content with interfering in our children's education. It is not content with dictating to us with what they are and are not allowed to eat and drink.

They are not even content with allowing us to chose appropriate medical care for our kids.

A plethora of government agencies have decided to open up their websites to kids in a blatant attempt at brainwashing them.

Hardline Dems Line Up Behind 'Dangerous' Iran Sanctions Bill

Phyllis Bennis: 'This puts the world at risk of another war'

Sarah Lazare 
(Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Powerful Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) In what critics are slamming as a dangerous nudge towards war with Iran, two powerful Senate Democrats have joined a hardline effort to pass stiff sanctions against Iran in open defiance of the White House and the Geneva interim agreement.

"This is incredibly dangerous. It puts the world at risk of another war," said Phyllis Bennis, senior fellow at Institute for Policy Studies, in an interview with Common Dreams. "These are people who prefer war to diplomacy. We're beginning a diplomatic process that seems to
have some potential. The idea that people would intentionally scuttle it to ratchet up tensions rather than ratcheting them down is outrageous."

The so-called Iran Nuclear Weapon Free Act of 2013 is set for introduction as early as this week by Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). A copy of the legislation is circulating around Washington according to numerous media reports.

The bill stipulates a harsh escalation of sanctions if the talks fail to bring an agreement in six months or Iran is deemed to violate the interim deal. It also expands sanctions already in effect while giving Obama the power to waive them by showing Congress every 30 days that Iran is meeting certain conditions.

Critics charge that this provision is in direct violation of an interim agreement reached in late November in Geneva that the U.S. will "refrain from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions" during the six-month period the agreement is in effect.

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Senate Passes NDAA 2014 via Fast Tracking, President To Sign

Andrew V Pontbriand
Activist Post

Late Thursday night, the Senate passed the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2014, in a sweeping bill now being sent to the president which reports suggest he will sign.

The bill, is infamous for its language on indefinite detention, and "disappearing" of American citizens. Once again, the bill was past via Fast-Tracking while most of the country was sidelined on the Phil Robertson issue with Duck Dynasty.

The bill, now being sent to President Obama, also leaves out an amendment by Sen. Gillibrand on sexual assault prosecution, which in and of itself is curious. The bill passed the Senate in an 85-14 count, with the roll-call unavailable at this time.

54 Civil Liberties and Public Interest Organizations Oppose the FISA Improvements Act

Rainey Reitman
Deeplinks Blog

Fifty-four civil liberties and public interest groups sent a letter to Congressional leadership Wednesday opposing S. 1631, the FISA Improvements Act. The bill, promoted by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), seeks to legalize and extend NSA mass surveillance programs, including the classified phone records surveillance program confirmed by documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden this summer.

On Monday, a federal judge found the phone records program that Senator Feinstein’s bill supports was likely unconstitutional. In a sharply worded opinion, Judge Leon explained, “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying it and analyzing it without judicial approval.”

Senator Feinstein has been promoting the bill as a way to rein in NSA overreach, but legal experts have criticized the bill for attempting to sanction the worst of the surveillance abuses. The letter published today calls on members of Congress to reject the FISA Improvements Act and champion reform that would end mass surveillance by the NSA.

Signers included the American Civil Liberties Union, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Greenpeace USA, PEN American Center, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, TechFreedom, and others.

The coalition letter highlighted the free speech concerns with continued bulk data collection by the NSA, noting, “The NSA mass surveillance programs already sweep up data about millions of people daily. This shadow of surveillance chills freedom of speech, undermines confidence in US Internet companies, and runs afoul of the Constitution.”

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New Mexico Joins Wave of States Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage

New Mexico has become the 17th state to legalize same-sex marriage.

"The past few years have seen an amazing show of support for the freedom to marry for all loving and committed couples." —Elizabeth Gill, ACLU (Photo: sigmaration/cc/flickr) The state's supreme court ruling on Thursday stated that
barring individuals from marrying and depriving them of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of civil marriage solely because of their sexual orientation violates the Equal Protection Clause under Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico Constitution. We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law.
In August, a Doña Ana, New Mexico county clerk began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a practice soon followed by seven other New Mexico counties.

The Hill reports that the action by those 8 counties,

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Syria | The Scenes Which Are Not Being Broadcasted in mainstream

Big Dairy wants to medicate our milk

Rady Ananda
Activist Post

The Ontario Dairy Council shared in funding a study showing that the anti-cancer properties of green tea can remain bioavailable when extracted and placed in a milk medium. The Dairy Council is looking to enhance profits with a value-added substance.

Which leads one to ask, Why not just drink green tea? Even better, stop pasteurizing and homogenizing milk; stop adding hormones and antibiotics to the cow’s diet and reap the benefits of a truly probiotic superfood: organic raw milk.

Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the major extractable polyphenol in green tea and the most biologically active, inhibits tumor formation, reduces cancer cell proliferation, increases normal cell death, and suppresses the formation of new blood vessels feeding tumors, the study reported.

National Paid Family Leave May Finally Be on the Horizon

Michelle Chen
In These Times
(Flickr / personaldemocracy / Creative Commons)
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is one of the sponsors of the bill to support paid leave insurance for families.  Any working parent will tell you that raising a family might as well be another full-time job—one that comes with no vacation days or health benefits. But millions of Americans don't get days off from their regular job, either, even for the sake of their health or their family’s.

According to the National Partnership for Women and Families (NPWF), just 12 percent of American workers can take paid leave time to tend to an illness in their household, and only about 40 percent can get time off for themselves through employer-sponsored disability coverage. This gap affects about two-fifths of the private sector workforce, or 40 million people—a vast deficit compared to many other industrialized countries, where paid leave is routine.

Now, though, some lawmakers are recognizing that taking a few weeks off to deal with a health challenge shouldn’t hurt your paycheck. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) have sponsored legislation to establish a nationwide paid family leave insurance program that would partially protect the wages of workers who take time off for the medical needs of themselves or their families.

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Demilitarizing the Economy: A Movement is Underway

As we end the longest period of war in our history, we should be entering a period of postwar downsizing - but what about the communities dependent on the massive post-9/11 military budget?

Military vehicles (MRAPs) being produced in a Charleston, SC factory (Photo: New York Times)End wars.  Shrink the Pentagon budget.  Reinvest the savings in neglected domestic priorities.  It’s a logical progression.  Right?
Yes, though we’d be fools to expect too much logic out of our current federal legislature.  As we end the longest period of war in our history, we should be entering a period of postwar downsizing—the first since the end of the Cold War. And we are, though it’s been driven as much by budget squeezing generally as by a sense of postwar possibility.

And it’s a shallower defense downsizing than the last one.  And the December 2013 budget deal will make it even shallower.

But communities that have been living off post-9/11 military budget surges are beginning to feel the effects of this (so far) modest shrinkage.  This is the moment to deepen the defense downsizing, and make it endure.  An essential piece of this task is to focus on helping communities and workers build alternatives to dependency on building weapon systems we don’t need.

Here is IPS’ comprehensive strategy for building this alternative economic foundation, linking action at the federal, state and local levels.

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Thailand: Fighting the "Superpower"

Understanding the greater global chessboard Thailand's political crisis is unfolding upon.

Tony Cartalucci
Land Destroyer Report

The history of Thailand over the past several centuries could be defined by its fending off one European empire after the next. It is the only Southeast Asian nation that has never been colonized by a European power. This is in direct contrast to its neighbors on all sides - Myanmar and Malaysia were under the British; and Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam were under the French. Even China was carved up by Western powers.

The key to Thailand's success was committing to a careful balancing act between projecting strength, adept geopolitical maneuvering, unwavering unity, and when necessary, making temporary concessions to preserve its greater sovereignty.

Image: Thailand's geopolitical surroundings 1800-1900. Thailand was the only Southeast Asian country to avoid European colonization.

"Empires" Still Exist, Still Conquer, Still Exploit

Princeton University Experiments on 5,000 Students

Israel Defense Force Vet Offers Holographic Google Glass Competitor

Nicholas West
Activist Post

Tech behemoths Google and Microsoft have jumped into augmented reality full force. The principles behind first-person, human-computer interface systems have been around for many decades in combat zones throughout the world in the military Heads Up Display system (HUD). What began pre-WWII for fighter pilots, has found its way into the consumer market through video games, vehicles, and info-glasses. Contact lenses are also in development by the Department of Defense through a system called iOptik - which is projected to be available to consumers in 2014.

The military origins of nearly all high tech systems that trickle down to the consumer is a standard part of the military industrial complex. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that a new competitor to Google in the augmented reality field is Meta - a company being chaired by Meron Gribetz, an Israel Defense Forces veteran.  The company seeks to take the Google Glass concept one step further by incorporating the world's first holographic wearable interface.

Gitmo’s first commander: Close the prison down

Cheryl K. Chumley
Washington Times
December 19, 2013

The same man who led the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp through its founding years now says the prison should be closed.

U.S. Major Gen. Michael Lehert, retired, was the first Gitmo commander. But now he says that terrorists have been “successful” in changing America and that the prison has played a major role in striking at the Constitution, CNN reported.

“We need to move forward,” he said, in CNN. “We need to say that the Constitution doesn’t stop at our water’s edge and that we need to close Guantanamo.”

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New delay hits 9/11 case at Guantanamo

U-T San Diego
December 19, 2013

Prosecutors in the Sept. 11 war crimes case at Guantanamo are seeking a mental competency evaluation for one of the defendants, adding a new delay to the long-stalled case.

The prosecution wants government doctors to determine if defendant Ramzi Binalshibh is competent to stand trial.

The judge agreed to the evaluation at a hearing at the U.S. base in Cuba on Thursday. The judge, Army Col. James Pohl, says the proceedings will be put on hold until the examination is completed.

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