The Center Cannot Hold

SUBHEAD: The one-room schoolhouse is much more likely to be an option than the centralized system we have today.

By John Michael Greer on 6 February 2013 for Archdruid Report -
(http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-center-cannot-hold.html)


Image above: Mill Road Amish one-room-schoolhouse in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. From (http://www.flickr.com/photos/dwmoran/4546839625/in/photostream/lightbox/).

When William Butler Yeats put the phrase I’ve used as the title for this week’s post into the powerful and prescient verses of “The Second Coming,” he had deeper issues in mind than the crisis of power in a declining American empire. Still, the image is anything but irrelevant here; the political evolution of the United States over the last century has concentrated so many of the responsibilities of government in Washington DC that the entire American system is beginning to crack under the strain.

This is admittedly not the way you’ll hear the centralization of power in America discussed by those few voices in our national conversation who discuss it at all. On the one hand are the proponents of centralized power, who insist that leaving any decision at all in the hands of state or local authorities is tantamount to handing it over to their bogeyman du jour—whether that amounts to the bedsheet-bedecked Southern crackers who populate the hate speech of the left, say, or the more diverse gallery of stereotypes that plays a similar role on the right. On the other hand are those who insist that the centralization of power in America is the harbinger of a totalitarian future that will show up George Orwell as an incurable optimist.

I’ve already talked in a number of previous posts about the problems with this sort of thinking, with its flattening out of the complexities of contemporary politics into an opposition between warm fuzzy feelings and cold prickly ones. I’d like, to pursue the point a little further, to offer two unpopular predictions about the future of American government. The first is that the centralization of power in Washington DC has almost certainly reached its peak, and will be reversing in the decades ahead of us. The second is that, although there will inevitably be downsides to that reversal, it will turn out by and large to be an improvement over the system we have today. These predictions unfold from a common logic; both are consequences of the inevitable failure of overcentralized power.

It’s easy to get caught up in abstractions here, and even easier to fall into circular arguments around the functions of political power that attract most of the attention these days—for example, the power to make war. I’ll be getting to this latter a bit further on in this post, but I want to start with a function of government slightly less vexed by misunderstandings. The one I have in mind is education.

In the United States, for a couple of centuries now, the provision of free public education for children has been one of the central functions of government. Until fairly recently, in most of the country, it operated in a distinctive way. Under legal frameworks established by each state, local school districts were organized by the local residents, who also voted to tax themselves to pay the costs of building and running schools. Each district was managed by a school board, elected by the local residents, and had extensive authority over the school district’s operations.

In most parts of the country, school districts weren’t subsets of city, township, or county governments, or answerable to them; they were single-purpose independent governments on a very small scale, loosely supervised by the state and much more closely watched by the local voters. On the state level, a superintendent of schools or a state board of education, elected by the state’s voters, had a modest staff to carry out the very limited duties of oversight and enforcement assigned by the state legislature. On the federal level, a bureaucracy not much larger supervised the state boards of education, and conducted the even more limited duties assigned it by Congress.

Two results of that system deserve notice. First of all, since individual school districts were allowed to set standards, chose textbooks, and manage their own affairs, there was a great deal of diversity in American education. While reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic formed the hard backbone of the school day, and such other standards as history and geography inevitably got a look in as well, what else a given school taught was as varied as local decisions could make them. What the local schools put in the curriculum was up to the school board and, ultimately, to the voters, who could always elect a reform slate to the school board if they didn’t like what was being taught.

Second, the system as a whole gave America a level of public literacy and general education that was second to none in the industrial world, and far surpassed the poor performance of the far more lavishly funded education system the United States has today. In a previous post, I encouraged readers to compare the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 to the debates in our latest presidential contest, and to remember that most of the people who listened attentively to Lincoln and Douglas had what then counted as an eighth-grade education. The comparison has plenty to say about the degeneration of political thinking in modern America, but it has even more to say about the extent to which the decline in public education has left voters unprepared to get past the soundbite level of thinking.

Those of my readers who want an even more cogent example are encouraged to leaf through a high school textbook from before the Second World War. You’ll find that the reading comprehension, reasoning ability, and mathematical skill expected as a matter of course from ninth-graders in 1930 is hard to find among American college graduates today. If you have kids of high school age, spend half an hour comparing the old textbook with the one your children are using today. You might even consider taking the time to work through a few of the assignments in the old textbook yourself.

Plenty of factors have had a role in the dumbing-down process that gave us our current failed system of education, to be sure, but I’d like to suggest that the centralization of power over the nation’s educational system in a few federal bureaucracies played a crucial role. To see how this works, again, a specific example is useful. Let’s imagine a child in an elementary school in Lincoln, Nebraska, who is learning how to read. Ask yourself this: of all the people concerned with her education, which ones are able to help that individual child tackle the daunting task of figuring out how to transform squiggles of ink into words in her mind?

The list is fairly small, and her teacher and her parents belong at the top of it. Below them are a few others: a teacher’s aide if her classroom has one, an older sibling, a friend who has already managed to learn the trick. Everyone else involved is limited to helping these people do their job. Their support can make that job somewhat easier—for example, by making sure that the child has books, by seeing to it that the classroom is safe and clean, and so on—but they can’t teach reading. Each supporting role has supporting roles of its own; thus the district’s purchasing staff, who keep the school stocked with textbooks, depend on textbook publishers and distributors, and so on. Still, the further you go from the child trying to figure out that C-A-T means “cat,” the less effect any action has on her learning process.

Now let’s zoom back 1200 miles or so to Washington DC and the federal Department of Education. It’s a smallish federal bureaucracy, which means that in the last year for which I was able to find statistics, 2011, it spent around $71 billion. Like many other federal bureaucracies, its existence is illegal. I mean that quite literally; the US constitution assigns the federal government a fairly limited range of functions, and “those powers necessary and convenient” to exercise them; by no stretch of the imagination can managing the nation’s public schools be squeezed into those limits. Only the Supreme Court’s embarrassingly supine response to federal power grabs during most of the twentieth century allows the department to exist at all.

So we have a technically illegal bureaucracy running through $71 billion of the taxpayers’ money in a year, which is arguably not a good start. The question I want to raise, though, is this: what can the staff of the Department of Education do that will have any positive impact on that child in the classroom in Lincoln, Nebraska? They can’t teach the child themselves; they can’t fill any of the supporting roles that make it possible for the child to be taught. They’re 1200 miles away, enacting policies that apply to every child in every classroom, irrespective of local conditions, individual needs, or any of the other factors that make teaching a child to read different from stamping out identical zinc bushings.

There are a few—a very few—things that can usefully be done for education at the national level. One of them is to make sure that the child in Lincoln is not denied equal access to education because of her gender, her skin color, or the like. Another is to provide the sort of overall supervision to state boards of education that state boards of education traditionally provided to local school boards. There are a few other things that belong on the same list. All of them can be described, to go back to a set of ideas I sketched out a couple of weeks ago, as measures to maintain the commons.

Public education is a commons. The costs are borne by the community as a whole, while the benefits go to individuals: the children who get educated, the parents who don’t have to carry all the costs of their children’s education, the employers who don’t have to carry all the costs of training employees, and so on. Like any other commons, this one is vulnerable to exploitation when it’s not managed intelligently, and like most commons in today’s America, this one has taken quite a bit of abuse lately, with the usual consequences. What makes this situation interesting, in something like the sense of the apocryphal Chinese proverb, is that the way the commons of public education is being managed has become the principal force wrecking the commons.

The problem here is precisely that of centralization. The research for which economist Elinor Ostrom won her Nobel Prize a few years back showed that, by and large, effective management of a commons is a grassroots affair; those who will be most directly affected by the way the commons is managed are also its best managers. The more distance between the managers and the commons they manage, the more likely failure becomes, because two factors essential to successful management simply aren’t there. The first of them is immediate access to information about how management policies are working, or not working, so that those policies can be adjusted immediately if they go wrong; the second is a personal stake in the outcome, so that the managers have the motivation to recognize when a mistake has been made, rather than allowing the psychology of previous investment to seduce them into pursuing a failed policy right into the ground.

Those two factors don’t function in an overcentralized system. Politicians and bureaucrats don’t get to see the consequences of their failed decisions up close, and they don’t have any motivation to admit that they were wrong and pursue new policies—quite the contrary, in fact. Consider, for example, the impact of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, pushed through Congress by bipartisan majorities and signed with much hoopla by George W. Bush in 2002. In the name of accountability—a term that in practice means “finding someone to punish”—the NCLB Act requires mandatory standardized testing at specific grade levels, and requires every year’s scores to be higher than the previous year’s, in every school in the nation. Teachers and schools that fail to accomplish this face draconian penalties.

My readers may be interested to know that next year, by law, every child in America must perform at or above grade level. It’s reminiscent of the imaginary town of Lake Wobegon—“where all the children are above average”—except that this is no joke; what’s left of America’s public education system is being shredded by the efforts of teachers and administrators to save their jobs in a collapsing economy, by teaching to the tests and gaming the system, under the pressure of increasingly unreal mandates from Washington DC. Standardized test scores have risen slightly; meaningful measures of literacy, numeracy, and other real-world skills have continued to move raggedly downward, and you can bet that the only response anybody in Washington is going to be willing to discuss is yet another round of federal mandates, most likely even more punitive and less effective than the current set.

Though I’ve used education as an example, nearly every part of American life is pervaded by the same failed logic of overcentralization. Another example? Consider the Obama administration’s giddy pursuit of national security via drone attacks. As currently operated, Predator drones are the ne plus ultra in centralized warfare; each drone attack has to be authorized by Obama himself, the drone is piloted via satellite link from a base in Nevada, and you can apparently sit in the situation room in the White House and watch the whole thing live. Hundreds of people have been blown to kingdom come by these attacks so far, in the name of a war on terror that Obama’s party used to denounce.

Now of course that habit only makes sense if you’re willing to define young children and wedding party attendees as terrorists, which seems a little extreme to me. Leaving that aside, though, there’s a question that needs to be asked: is it working? Since none of the areas under attack are any less full of anti-American insurgents than they have been, and the jihadi movement has been able to expand its war dramatically in recent weeks into Libya and Mali, the answer is pretty clearly no. However technically superlative the drones themselves are, the information that guides them comes via the notoriously static-filled channels of intelligence collection and analysis, and the decision to use them takes place in the even less certain realms of tactics and strategy; nor is it exactly bright, if you want to dissuade people from seeking out Americans and killing them, to go around vaporizing people nearly at random in parts of the world where avenging the murder of a family member is a sacred duty.

In both cases, and plenty of others like them, we have other alternatives, but all of them require the recognition that the best response to a failed policy isn’t a double helping of the same. That recognition is nowhere in our collective conversation at the moment. It would be useful if more of us were to make an effort to put it there, but there’s another factor in play. The center really cannot hold, and as it gives way, a great many of today’s political deadlocks will give way with it.

Eliot Wigginton, the teacher in rural Georgia who founded the Foxfire project and thus offered the rest of us an elegant example of what can happen when a purely local educational venture is given the freedom to flower and bear fruit, used to say that the word “learn” is properly spelled F-A-I-L. That’s a reading lesson worth taking to heart, if only because we’re going to have some world-class chances to make use of it in the years ahead. One of the few good things about really bad policies is that they’re self-limiting; sooner or later, a system that insists on embracing them is going to crash and burn, and once the rubble has stopped bouncing and the smoke clears away, it’s not too hard for the people standing around the crater to recognize that something has gone very wrong. In that period of clarity, it’s possible for a great many changes to be made, especially if there are clear alternatives available and people advocating for them.

In the great crises that ended each of America’s three previous rounds of anacyclosis—in 1776, in 1861, and in 1933—a great many possibilities that had been unattainable due to the gridlocked politics of the previous generation suddenly came within reach. In those past crises, the United States was an expanding nation, geographically, economically, and in terms of its ability to project power in the world; the crisis immediately ahead bids fair to arrive in the early stages of the ensuing contraction. That difference has important effects on the nature of the changes before us.

Centralized power is costly—in money, in energy, in every other kind of resource. Decentralized systems are much cheaper. In the days when the United States was mostly an agrarian society, and the extravagant abundance made possible by a global empire and reckless depletion of natural resources had not yet arrived, the profoundly localized educational system I sketched out earlier was popular because it was affordable. Even a poor community could count on being able to scrape together the political will and the money to establish a school district, even if that meant a one-room schoolhouse with one teacher taking twenty-odd children a day through grades one through eight. That the level of education that routinely came out of such one-room schoolhouses was measurably better than that provided by today’s multimillion-dollar school budgets is just one more irony in the fire.
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Thoughts on "Resilience"

SUBHEAD: "Resilience" looks like a suburban organic gardening club for those with enough credit score for a new Prius.

By Paula on 4 February 2013 for Mythodrome -
(http://mythodrome.net/thoughts-on-resilience)


Image above: A Prius loaded with garden plants in Westport CT, hometown of Martha Stewart. From (http://goodmorninggloucester.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/have-prius-can-do).

For the past couple of years a new buzzword has been bubbling through the doomosphere: “resilience.” It’s now become a permanently embedded meme thanks to energybulletin.net changing its domain, and its focus, to resilience.org.

Near as I can tell, “resilience” means exactly the same thing as “transition” within a doomy context: an organic gardening club for rich white people with property, investments, and a comfortable lifestyle to protect. It’s an insular clique that requires everyone be on the same page politically in order to participate. It is based on the European idea of “community,” which is very attractive in theory, but which does’t port well (if at all) to the deeply ingrained American values of individualism and self-reliance.

There are perhaps a dozen or two cities in the US where “resilience” efforts might find an audience, an actual geographic community of like-minded people. For many (most?) people, however, “resilience” looks like hardly more than a suburban organic gardening club for people with a high enough credit score to finance a new Prius.

My biggest beef with “transition,” and now with “resilience,” is that it offers very little to those who do not already have resources to spare. Both concepts assume a pre-existing level of property ownership which needs to be transitioned into low-energy operation, and/or made resilient in the face of deep economic contraction. There isn’t any room here for people who have no property to transition or to make resilient.

Some years ago on my long-defunct e-zine Adaptation, I wrote that individuals would experience the long emergency primarily as financial difficulty; failing to adequately address issues related to money, and income specifically — or to ignore these altogether, as was the case back then — is a setup for community failure. At least a year or two before the housing bubble collapse I wrote that a thriving backyard garden is awesome until you lose your job and get kicked out of your house. I look back now and wonder how many “transition” gardens have been lost to foreclosure.

What needs to be transitioned, made resilient, is not property but income. Economic contraction means purchasing power dries up, whether through deflation (lack of money), inflation or hyperinflation (worthless money). If you have property, dried-up purchasing power means relying on your property for things you’d otherwise buy elsewhere.

If you live hand-to-mouth, you are basically a conduit through which purchasing power flows from your employer to your creditors and suppliers; when the purchasing power flowing through your conduit life becomes insufficient, your creditors take away whatever it is of theirs you’ve been renting and your suppliers stop supplying you with anything. Without property to fall back on, you’re basically fucked.

“Transition” and “resilience” address this problem only marginally, and so will become increasingly irrelevant as the ranks of people with reduced or eliminated incomes grow. Ultimately the only people who will be able to continue with “transition” and “resilience” efforts will be the fabulously wealthy.

Back in the early 00′s, before the “transition” concept took root, collapse/decline was understood primarily as an effect of peak oil. Peak oil meant two things: first, that prices of everything related to and derived from petroleum would become super expensive, thereby driving up prices across the board; and two, that planetary-wide supply chains would collapse, further increasing prices across the board. The obvious response to these twin sledgehammers was relocalization.

Back then, relocalization meant running globalization in reverse. It meant relearning how to make things close to home and re-establishing long decimated supply chains between the city and the hinterlands. It meant lots of cottage industry, neighborhood- and city-level retail markets, even a renaissance of skilled artisanship, repair, and restoration. It meant extricating local economic activity from oil dependence so that it would be adaptive to decline conditions, thereby providing at least some level of income opportunity for everyone in any given locale.

I suppose there is an argument to be made that “adaptive” and “resilient” are the same thing. They aren’t. A thing is resilient only to the degree that it is adaptive. Resilience maintains as long as conditions do not exceed certain parameters. Adaptation is required when conditions exceed resilience’s required parameters. Cockroaches are resilient because they can adapt to almost any conditions. Their adaptative properties are not the result of their resilience; resilient is something their adaptations evolved them to be.

Relocalization never assumed property ownership as a prerequisite to participation. It was open to everyone of any income level, wealth level, or political persuasion. It did not require joining any group or trying to coordinate with people who have differing goals and concerns. All it required was imagination: what can I sell that others in my locale will want to buy, and where can I sell it locally? If I need raw materials, can I get these locally or regionally? If I have absolutely no money to personally build goods to sell, what kind of service can I provide?

My gut instinct is that relocalization got kicked to the curb in favor of first “transition,” and now “resilience,” because it is overtly entrepreneurial and business oriented. I don’t dispute for a minute that business is the Great Evil that got us into our collapse mess in the first place. It would be simply amazing to live in a society where money serves people and not vice-versa, or even in a society where it isn’t necessary at all. Money’s a fucking drag. However, it is a grave mistake to ignore the fact that money is oxygen within our current economic organism. No money causes death just as surely as no oxygen causes death.

“Resilience” is brittle because because it ignores this fundamental reality and thereby creates a faulty process: first, it tries to first divine the future; second, it projects its political desires into that future; third, it tries to determine the parameters within which it will operate based on its divination and projections; fourth, it creates a path from now to then. Quite obviously this process can create nothing resilient. “Transition” proved itself a failure when it tried to apply this process. More of the same isn’t going to prove any more successful.

I submit that the original idea of relocalization in the service of adaptability was far superior. Its process is tried-and-true: first, determine current and foreseeable-future conditions; second, innovate some way to support yourself within these conditions; third, iterate as conditions change. That’s it. Everything else is wide open.

The process is infinitely scalable both up and down and excludes no one on any grounds. This is how adaptation works in nature and, if we are to align ourselves with nature for the long-term survival of the species, it is an excellent breakpoint to extricate ourselves from the idea that we are separate from nature and can plan it, control it, dominate it.

I realize that my protestations about these things fall on deaf ears among those who are into the “transition” and now “resilience” scenes. Nevertheless I find it frustrating that these issues are so thoroughly excluded from the conversations. I do wish those with the bullhorns would pay more attention to the plight and feedback of those outside their propertied, academic circles.
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Hawaii Fishery Management

SUBHEAD: National Marine Sanctuary Regulations under review do not adequately describe subsistance fishing as practiced in Hawaii.

By Lynn McNutt on 6 February 2013 for Island Breath -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2013/02/hawaii-fishery-management.html)


Image above: Image above: Detail of conference poster celebrating the gathering of the net created by Oliver Kinney. From (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2010/11/aha-moku-gathering.html).

The current definitions of traditional and subsistence fisheries contained in the National Marine Sanctuary Regulations (under review), do not adequately describe fisheries as practiced in Hawaii, and actually exclude many of the most important cultural and local economic benefits.

 While giving lip serve to the traditional and subsistence categories, the definitions put forward for fisheries only include commercial and recreational categories, unless specifically noted elsewhere. In reading the proposed revisions for this document, I could only find traditional and/or subsistence fishing being acknowledged in the Thunder Bay, MN, Olympic Coast, WA and American Samoan Sanctuaries.

All marine sanctuaries and/or monuments in Hawaii Must include the categories of traditional and subsistence fishing, and not as a subcategory under the definition for either commercial or recreational fisheries, since the activities in Hawaii are neither commercial nor recreational. As part of another regulatory document, WESPAC included a definition of "customary exchange" to cover non-market (commercial) fisheries with local cultural and economic benefits. While I don't like the term "customary exchange" as a replacement for traditional or subsistence fishing, the description of the activities and the local benefits are well described:
"Define customary exchange as the non-market exchange of marine resources between fishermen and community residents, and the residents’ families and friends, for goods, services, and/or social support, for cultural, social, or religious reasons, and may include cost recovery through monetary reimbursements and other means for actual trip expenses (e.g., ice, bait, food, or fuel) that may be necessary to participate in fisheries in the western Pacific."
In writing this new draft of the Sanctuary Management Plan I strongly urge DLNR and NOAA to include true and honest working definitions for traditional and subsistence fishing, recognize these as activities that were in place before the Sanctuary was formed, protect these activities for the people of Hawaii nei in all Sanctuary documents (including the National Marine Sanctuary Regulations), and include these human, cultural and economic aspects in any discussion of 'ecosystem management', as defined below.

The following are definitions of taken from Burroughs (2011, Island Press) in a book entitled "Coastal Governance". I include definitions of "ecosystem governance', "ecosystem-based management" and "ecosystem-based fisheries management". This publication is a textbook used to teach about ecosystem management and coastal governance at the University of Hawaii. In the past, the National Marine Humpback Whale Sanctuary representatives have expressed that they would like to do ecosystem management for Hawaiian Sanctuary waters. However, when describing the approach, it seems to fall more closely within the definition of ecosystem-based fisheries management, not true ecosystem-based management, which includes people, societal mores, and economics.

I urge DLNR to decide if the approach discussed for Hawaii is truly one of ecosystem-based management, or just ecosystem-based fisheries management, In other words, is the approach being proposed truly ecosystem-based management? I do not recommend that DLNR or NOAA follow the ecosystem-based fisheries model. If DLNR and NOAA intend to engage in fisheries management, then, please stop calling the approach ecosystem-based management. They are not the same thing.
Ecosystem Governance: Recognizes the interrelationships among natural (biological, chemical, geological, physical) systems and related social systems and seeks to shape human behavior so that both are sustained using both governmental (law, regulations) and nongovernmental (markets, voluntary organizations, social mores, information) means.

Ecosystem-based Management: Structuring societal behavior in ocean and coastal systems so that humans promote ecosystem health and resilience while allowing sustainable uses of goods and services.

Ecosystem-based fisheries management: Promotion of ecosystem health and resilience rather than single-species management when considering harvest, habitat, predators, and prey of the target species in addition to other interactions.
See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Net Fishing Restrictions 1/24/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Navy Licenseto Kill 10/9/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Feds Threaten Hawaii Sovereignty 1/31/12

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Arrests at Wailua Beach Path

SUBHEAD: James Alalem and Ray Catania were arrested defending Hawaiian culture at site of Wailua Bike Path.

Reported by Sharon Goodwin on 6 February 2013 in Island Braeth -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2013/02/arrests-at-wailua-beach-path.html)


Image above: James Alalem dislplaying typical stone that was used to mark the outline of a body at a burial site. From (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2012/07/wailua-burial-site-conviction.html).

This morning at about 8:20am on February 6th, 2013, James Alalem and Ray Catania were arrested by Kauai County Police at the site of the bike path that is under construction on the dune of Wailua Beach north of the Wailua River, on Kauai.

They were arrested after the management of the construction contractor called police and indicated that the site was being blocked by demonstrators. After their arrest they were taken to Kauai Police headquarters.

Ray and James have put their bodies on the line for some time in trying to protect burial sites in an area that has many sacred places in Hawaiian culture.


Image above: Ray Catania stands next to siting of Wailua Bike Path demonstrating how close the surfbreak is to highway. It used to be about 190'. From ().

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Leading by Bad Example 1/28/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Wailua Beach Under Water 8/26/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Wailua Burial Site Conviction 7/19/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Wailua Beach Erosion 6/13/12

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Death of Ownership

SUBHEAD: Six dynamics in the destruction of widespread ownership and the creation of a neofeudal society.

By Charles Hugh Smith on 6 February 2013 for Of Two Minds -
(http://www.oftwominds.com/blogfeb13/death-of-ownership2-13.html)


Image above: A man and his castle. World record highest sand (37') castle by Ed Jarrett. From (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2002328/Man-beats-record-building-worlds-tallest-sandcastle.html).

The foundation of the neofeudal economy is this: the right of ownership still exists in name, but the actual ownership of political and financial power is concentrated in the hands of a few.

The core of American liberty is widespread private ownership of property. The Founding Fathers were quite clear on the necessity of protecting private ownership from encroachment by a covertly created monarchical Empire or a financial Aristocracy.

Private ownership protected liberty and the distribution of wealth by enabling widespread ownership of "the means of production" (land, tools, intellectual property, enterprises) and home ownership.

Thus the correlation between prosperity, widespread ownership of small businesses and homes and a relatively modest disparity of private wealth. When ownership of property becomes concentrated into a rentier class (i.e. a financial Aristocracy) that is protected by a Monocrat Central State, income disparity shoots up and prosperity is concentrated in the hands of the political and financial Elites.

In other words, the Founding Fathers understood that financial servitude precluded political liberty. Liberty in a neofeudal economy was ultimately liberty in name only.

Why Inequality Matters: The Housing Crisis, The Justice System & Capitalism.

While outright slavery was outlawed, the chains of serfdom were (and are) entirely legal. If you doubt this, please try erasing your student loans in bankruptcy court.

There are a number of complex dynamics in play in the Death of the Ownership Society. I will try to cover them as simply and directly as possible.

Dynamic #1
If a homeowner's real-world equity is effectively zero, then what do they actually own? They own a mortgage, i.e. a promise to pay a debt. As long as they are current on payments, this acts more as a claim on future ownership, i.e. full ownership when the mortgage is paid off, or a long-term lease.

If their equity is 10% of the mortgage, there is no way to extract this equity short of selling the home, and the transactions fees will consume most of the 10%.

What the lender owns is A) a claim on the underlying property and B) the homeowner's income stream, much of which flows to the lender via mortgage payments.

Is this arrangement "widespread ownership" or is it cloaked neofeudalism? In credit bubbles, homeowners appear to benefit as their ownership claim is leveraged by the lender's capital into astounding profits. But alas, credit bubbles never last, and when they pop then the extra debt taken on to play the speculative leverage game remains to be paid.

Dynamic #2
If the mortgage is sliced and diced into tranches and securitized, i.e. bundled into pools of mortgages sold to investors, what happens to the notion of ownership?

Longtime correspondent Jim S. provides the answer: securitization creates a new class of "non-property" that is fraudulent and thus criminal. Jim explains:
The original crime at the front of the securitization process is creating "non-property." The loss of the legal paper trail of title transfers, note transfers, country property transfer registrations in the rapid performance of mortgage securitizations is further sidestepped by focusing attention on the foreclosure procedural irregularities at the end of the process. The creation of "non-property" at the front of the process necessarily creates the additional requirement of additional fraud at the end of the process: foreclosures.

By extending the forgiveness of what should be prosecuted as fraud (what has been deemed mere malfeasance deserving of a picayune civil fine), the Status Quo hid the original crimes of rapid securitization that destroyed the legal status of property. The biggest crime in American History is about to end the process of "sweeping" the original crime under the rug. The crime is the destruction of the legal standing of property, fully at public expense, and its ultimate accumulation in the Executive Branch for "redistributive" disposition, again at the full expense of the public. Dodd/Frank only has extended the efficiency of the complicated process of theft, and further solidified the nature of its very permanence.

The focus on the disappearance of mortgage titles is at the foreclosure end, and not at the front end of the securitization process where the titles disappeared on a system wide basis. Robo-signing is a fraudulent result of the original crime, not recognized or treated as a crime, but as a civil offense worthy of a paltry fine.

The robo-signing settlement will further solidify mortgage securities formation in the future, with civil penalties for malfeasance reduced to a minimized cost of continuing the process.

Though the the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been sold as a consumer protection agency, it is fundamentally a rogue agency operated within the Federal Reserve.

The CFPB is mentioned as having undefined scope and extensiveness of powers, immune from real Presidential or Congressional oversight, having essentially full, autonomous power within the Federal Reserve to do what it wants, when it wants, in the full comfort and safety of the Federal Reserve itself. The CFPB can buy, borrow on and take security positions in failing and failed banks. What a deal.

This harks back to a pre-crisis specialty: get rid of supposedly outdated regulation, but create no new limits or powers to keep things from blowing up.

Thank you, Jim, for the clear explanation.

It is clear that Securitization Is Illegal.

Dynamic #3
Economist John Maynard Keynes' concept of a "comprehensive socialisation of investment" has been reduced by the Neo-Keynesian cargo cult to a cartoonish campaign of the Central State to borrow trillions of dollars to prop up its most corrupt and inefficient crony-capitalist cartels and the rentier-class--the financial Aristocracy. Here is Keynes:
I conceive, therefore, that a somewhat comprehensive socialisation of investment will prove the means of securing an approximation to full employment. But beyond this no obvious case is made out for a system of State-Socialism which would embrace most of the economic life of the community.
In this context, we can understand the original purpose of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the other housing-mortgage agencies of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as a "somewhat comprehensive socialisation of investment" in housing: a Federal agency underwrote and guaranteed mortgages to individual households to enable widespread ownership of homes. It was not conceived as a "system of State-Socialism," that is, a means for the State to acquire ownership of the nation's housing stock.

Not coincidentally, the rental housing market was dominated by individual investors (Mom and Pop proprietors) in the era before mortgage securitization and the concentration of power in "too big to fail" investment and commercial banks.

Institutional ownership of rental housing was concentrated in the 50+ unit housing sector, less than 1% of the nation's 15 million rental properties. In the 5- to 49-unit sector, individual owners still owned three-fourths of all properties.

The ownership of rental properties was widely dispersed among individual investors.

Dynamic #4
Now we find the Federal mortgage agencies are colluding with private capital to transfer ownership of the Federally guaranteed/owned portion of the nation's housing stock to concentrations of private capital, i.e. the financial Aristocracy.

The details of this wholesale transfer of what amounts to public property to the financial Aristocracy are chilling: in effect, private capital puts a few bucks down and Fannie Mae loans them the rest at zero interest. It also gives them roughly 30% of the rental income for managing the properties, and after the dust of robo-signing has settled, the properties will be transferred to the financial Aristocracy.

What happened to the agency's mission to broaden home ownership? It has been subverted to serve the interests of concentrated private capital.

Michael Olenick: How Fannie Enriches Private Equity Investors at Taxpayer and Homeowner Expense (Naked Capitalism, highly recommended)

Fannie Mae Begins Marketing Foreclosed Homes as Rentals

Structured Sales Transactions (i.e. the bundling and transfer of Fannie Mae owned properties to private capital)

Thanks to the collusion of the Federal Reserve and the Federal mortgage agencies, private capital is gorging on vast blocks of homes:

Blackstone to buy $1 billion worth of Tampa Bay homes for rentals

It’s About Time - JP Morgan To Enter The Housing Slumlord Trade

Dynamic #5
There are effectively two sets of laws in the U.S.: one for the Central State/financial Aristocracy and one for the serfs. From Why Inequality Matters: The Housing Crisis, The Justice System & Capitalism:
One of the central characteristics of highly unequal societies is that two sets of laws develop: One set for the rich and powerful and one set for everyone else. The more unequal societies become, the more easily they accept the unacceptable, and with each unrebuked violation, the powerful actors at the top of the society gain an ever greater sense of entitlement and an ever greater sense that the laws that govern everyone else don’t apply to them. As a result, their behavior becomes increasingly egregious.

Yale’s Robert Dahl, one of the preeminent political scientists of our era, wrote in 2006 in On Political Equality (Yale University Press) of the risks of rising economic inequality, which is inevitably accompanied by political power which also concentrates at the top of the society:

“The unequal accumulation of political resources points to an ominous possibility: political inequalities may be ratcheted up, so to speak, to a level from which they cannot be ratcheted down. The cumulative advantages in power, influence, and authority of the more privileged strata may become so great that .. a majority of ordinary citizens…are simply unable…to overcome the forces of inequality arrayed against them.”
In other words, neofeudal serfdom.

The new road to serfdom runs not through Marxist ownership by the State but the transfer of the nation's assets and wealth by the State to concentrated private capital.

Dynamic #6
The next iteration of this transfer is now clear: blocks of rental homes will be bundled and securitized by Wall Street and sold to investors worldwide. Haven't we seen this before? Only now it's all OK because the creation of "non-property" rentier income streams is now legal, and the Federal government and the Federal Reserve have begun to transfer publicly owned or guaranteed properties to their pals in private capital on a wholesale basis.

From It’s About Time - JP Morgan To Enter The Housing Slumlord Trade:
“It’s hard to find a private-equity firm on the planet that doesn’t have a strategy in this space,” Gary Beasley, chief executive officer at Waypoint Homes, said last week at the American Securitization Forum’s annual conference in Las Vegas. The Oakland, California-based company has bought homes in California, Arizona, Illinois and Georgia.
The foundation of the neofeudal economy is this: the right of ownership still exists in name, but the actual ownership of political and financial power is concentrated in the hands of a few. "Ownership" of a heavily mortgaged home is a simulacrum of ownership when the "owner's" income is diverted to a rentier financial Aristocracy.


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War, Then & Now

SUBHEAD: Hawaii legislation to allow aerial application of fertilizers, conditioners, insecticides, pesticides, and herbicides.

By Michael Shooltz on 5 February 2013 in Island Breath -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2013/02/war-then-now.html)


Image above: Aerial spraying of pesticides on corn crop. From (http://heartlandbeat.com/2011/07/it%E2%80%99s-a-bird-no-it%E2%80%99s-a-plane/).

During the Viet Nam war the United States sprayed massive amounts of Agent Orange on the Vietnamese jungles in an effort to kill all living vegetation and eliminate the hiding places and trails used by the Viet Cong. It was very successful in achieving those goals, but also resulted in generations of children being born with horrible deformities. This spraying of Agent Orange, with it's 2-4D chemical component, was considered an Act of War.

Today, here in Hawaii, our legislators, urged on by the chemical companies  (Pioneer, Syngenta, DOW, DuPont, Monsanto) who have invaded our islands, are now promoting the spraying of this same chemical, as well as seventy other pesticides and herbicides upon us and our island. However, our legislators want to call it something else. According to Hawaii SB 590, rather than acknowledging this spraying as an Act of  War, they now would like to call it, "Generally Accepted Farming Practices".

According to SB 590 these acceptable practices include the following:
(4) Ground and aerial seeding and spraying;
(5) The application of fertilizers, conditioners, insecticides, pesticides, & herbicides.
SB 590 goes on to say that anyone who objects to these practices will be considered a "Nuisance", and such "Nuisance Lawsuits" will not be allowed. There are already many here on Kauai who are experiencing the serious health effects of the GMO spraying who have a very different perspective on who and what the real "Nuisances" are here in our islands.

Please be a "Nuisance" now and express your opinions to your elected officials before our legislators, through SB 590, make your right to express and act upon your opinions illegal.

• Michael Shooltz is a Kauai progressive activist writing on behalf of Kauai Rising. Contact at KauaiRising@gmail.com
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Solar Up - Atomic Energy Down

SUBHEAD: Duke Energy's nuclear reactor shutdown plan shows shale gas sway over power generation.

By Julie Johnsson on 6 February 2013 for Bloomberg News -
(http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-06/duke-reactor-shutdown-plan-shows-shale-s-sway-over-power-energy.html)


Image above: Duke Energy's Crystal River nuclear plant control room. From original article.

Duke Energy’s decision to dismantle a Florida nuclear power plant rather than undertake the costliest- ever U.S. atomic repair shows how rapidly cheap natural gas is remaking the U.S. power industry, hastening a shift from traditional fuels such as coal and uranium.

Duke’s Crystal River Unit 3 plant in Florida joins Dominion Resources Inc.’s Kewaunee reactor in Wisconsin as the first to be shuttered in the U.S. because of growing shale gas supplies, serving as signposts for utilities from Japan to Belgium also considering decommissioning reactors. At least four other U.S. reactors are also at risk of early retirement due to new power market economics, said Julien Dumoulin-Smith, a New York City- based analyst with UBS Securities LLC, in a telephone interview.

“The fuel du jour is natural gas,” Florida Public Counsel J.R. Kelly, the state’s official advocate for utility customers, said yesterday in a telephone interview. “I personally believe in fuel diversity. I’m just afraid the costs of new nuclear are going to be prohibitive.”

The question for Duke, the largest U.S. utility-owner by market-value, is whether Florida regulators will allow it to charge the state’s consumers $1.65 billion for its failed investments in the reactor, while boosting the state’s already hefty reliance on gas to fuel its electricity plants.

Consumer Benefits
Florida’s Public Service Commission expects to hold hearings to determine whether Duke’s decision to retire the plant is prudent for customers, Cynthia Muir, a commission spokeswoman, said yesterday in a telephone interview.

Kelly said he will take “a very close look” at Duke’s funding request.

“We’re not going to leave our ratepayer in the lurch,” he said.

Duke’s Chief Executive Officer Jim Rogers is among utility executives who have warned that too much reliance on natural gas puts customers at risk of power price spikes should fuel costs rise, as they often did in years before producers learned to extract it from abundant shale beds in the U.S. and Canada.

“We view gas as the most viable short-term option,” Mike Hughes, a Duke spokesman, said yesterday in an interview. “The costs are low and we anticipate the cost of fuel for the foreseeable future will remain relatively low. Long term, we don’t think you should put all of your eggs in the gas basket.”

Gas Distortion
A shale-fed plunge in gas prices is tilting the power industry toward that fuel, lowering electricity prices and pressuring profits at coal and nuclear generators. At the same time, rising fuel prices and escalating safety repairs are making older, single-unit reactors like Crystal River increasingly difficult to operate profitably.

“Natural gas is really distorting the markets,” Margaret Harding, a nuclear industry consultant based in Wilmington, North Carolina, said in a telephone interview. “These old, small plants, if they get slapped with a lot of capital upgrades, they’re going to be tough to justify.”

Gas has become the cheapest source of power for much of the U.S. with prices that have tumbled 75 percent below the July 2, 2008 peak of $13.695 per million British thermal units.

The all-in cost to produce electricity during the fourth quarter, including operating and capital expenses, was $90.42 per megawatt-hour at a combined-cycle gas plant, $140.13 at a coal-fired plant and $143.29 at a nuclear plant, according to data compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. A megawatt-hour can power about 800 average U.S. homes for an hour, according to the Energy Department in Washington.

No Competition
The trend has prompted utilities to build gas plants rather than a wave of new nuclear behemoths once predicted to follow Southern Co.’s $14 billion construction of reactors in Georgia.

“The market is telling us that right now, nothing can really compete with natural gas unless it’s renewables that are loaded with subsidies,” Samuel Brothwell, senior analyst with Bloomberg Industries, said in a telephone interview. “The challenge here is that natural gas can be a great power plant fuel, but it can’t be the only power plant fuel.”

Florida already uses gas for about two-thirds of its electricity generation and risks becoming overly reliant on a fuel whose price has swung from $2 to almost $15 per million Btus and back to $2 since the early 2000s, according to Brothwell. Florida’s dependence would rise to more than 70 percent later this decade if Duke builds new gas generation to replace the crippled Crystal River reactor and two coal units in central Florida, he said.

Humpty Dumpty
Florida regulators may still prefer relying on historically volatile gas to spending billions of dollars repairing a reactor nicknamed “Humpty Dumpty” for its cracked containment shell, with no guarantee the plant will ever run again. Crystal River’s federal license expires in 2016, and gaining a 20-year extension from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission isn’t assured even after repairs.

“I understand their decision,” said Kelly, Florida’s consumer advocate of Duke. “If they’d decided to repair it and it couldn’t be relicensed, ratepayers could have been on the hook for a lot more money.”

Duke acquired the 36-year-old reactor when it bought Progress Energy Inc. last year. Duke’s board ousted then-Chief Executive Officer Bill Johnson hours after acquiring his former company partly out of concern he was determined to repair Crystal River.

Cracking Up
The silo-shaped concrete building that houses the plant’s 860-megawatt reactor cracked in 2009 as crews replaced steam generators, huge pipe assemblies that transfer heat from the nuclear reactor to power-generating turbines. Once the damaged panel was patched, two other sections cracked after engineers tightened steel tendons intended to strengthen the structure.

A company report last year concluded fixing the reactor may cost $1.49 billion, which would be the largest-ever insurance claim for a U.S. reactor, and as much as $3.43 billion in a worst-case scenario that contemplated cracking spreading to its dome. Duke said it’s considering a new natural-gas fueled plant to replace the reactor’s output.

“Gas is the fuel and technology of choice right now,” Hughes, the Duke spokesman, said. “It was one of the very important factors considered in the financial implications of repair or retirement.”

Most investors had expected Duke to close Crystal River, so the announcement clearing away uncertainty “can be read positively for the company and the stock,” Daniel Ford, a New York-based analyst with Barclays Capital Inc., said in a research report yesterday. Duke declined 0.4% to $68.64 at 11:15 a.m. in New York.

Economic Reviews
Like Dominion’s Kewaunee plant, generators in greatest financial distress have a single reactor and sell electricity into deregulated markets where demand is unchanged, cheaper power sources are abundant and payments from end-users are too low to cover rising fuel and maintenance costs, said Dumoulin- Smith of UBS.

While Duke’s crippled reactor is owned by a regulated utility, enabling it to recapture costs through state-approved rate increases, the other plants are operated by Exelon Corp. and Entergy Corp. in competitive markets where capital spending is funded by power sales. Dumoulin-Smith says Exelon’s Clinton plant in Illinois and Ginna in upstate New York, and Entergy’s Fitzpatrick and Vermont Yankee plants are at greatest risk of being closed, and would almost certainly be replaced by gas.

“We are doing everything we can to continue to operate Clinton and we have made no decision to shut down the plant,” Joe Dominguez, a senior vice-president at Chicago-based Exelon, the largest U.S. nuclear operator, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “With that said, we do an analysis of every one of our plants on an annual basis to understand their continued economic viability.”

California Reactors
Edison International, which owns California’s second- largest regulated utility, is working with regulators to determine whether it can safely and cost-effectively restart two reactors at its San Onofre atomic station near Los Angeles, shut down for a year because of a leak stemming from unusual wear to its steam generators.

Entergy, based in New Orleans, believes that over time power markets will recover sufficiently to support nuclear plants outside regulated frameworks, Mike Burns, an Entergy spokesman, said in an e-mail.

“We think that nuclear plants will remain an important part of America’s generation portfolio,” he said.

Shuttering more reactors would leave generators and consumers even more dependent on shale drillers and the gas they produce, said David Herr, a managing director with investment bank Duff & Phelps.

“The risk is we’re putting all of our eggs into that one basket: the shale phenomenon and our ability to generate a tremendous amount of lower-cost fuel,” Herr, who heads the firm’s energy and mining practice, said in a telephone interview.


SUBHEAD: U.S. Solar voltaic energy production will eclipse wind in 2013.

By Ehren Goosens on 5 February 2013 for Bloomberg News -
(http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-05/u-s-solar-will-eclipse-wind-in-2013-says-duke-energy.html)

The U.S. will add more solar power in 2013 than wind energy for the first time as wind projects slump and cheap panels spur demand for photovoltaic systems, according to the head of Duke Energy Corp. (DUK)’s renewable-energy development unit.

The U.S. may install 3 gigawatts to 4 gigawatts of wind turbines this year, and solar projects will probably exceed that, said Gregory Wolf, president of Duke Energy Renewables. The U.S. added 13.1 gigawatts of wind power last year, beating natural gas for the first time.

U.S. wind projects have come to a near-standstill this year on uncertainty over the fate of a federal tax credit that was set to expire Dec. 31. Wolf anticipates more solar projects going into operation in 2013 than wind farms after panel prices fell more than 60 percent in the last two years.

“I would expect a lot of momentum still on solar,” Wolf said in an interview yesterday.

“We really ramped up our solar in 2010,” said Wolf. “Today most of the projects are half or less of the cost now than then.” Duke Renewables’ portfolio of renewable-energy projects exceeds 1.7 gigawatts.

The production tax credit, which provides 2.2 cents a kilowatt-hour for electricity from wind farms, was extended for a year on Jan. 1. With little information about whether it would be renewed, developers raced to complete wind farms by the end of last year and didn’t plan new ones.

The U.S. installed about 3.2 gigawatts of solar power last year and may reach 3.9 gigawatts this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Cheap panels and lower construction costs have been aided by policy support that “has been a little more consistent and long-term,” Wolf said.
Green Halo
Duke invested more than its $500 million target in renewable energy last year, and more than $2.5 billion to date, Wolf said.

“We’re not in this business just because we want a green halo for Duke,” he said.

The largest U.S. utility owner by market value enters into long-term power purchase agreements for wind and solar plants that have “an attractive profile in terms of risk and returns,” Wolf said. “If we find really good projects, we’ll see if we can find a way to make them work.”
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3D Printing Possibilities

SUBHEAD: 3D Printing - Make anything you want; including airplane and body parts.

[IB Editor's note: A techno-optimist's wet dream.]

By Bruce Jackson on 5 February 2013 for Google+ -
(https://plus.google.com/communities/117814474100552114108)


Image above: A 3D printed face and its host. From (http://imgur.com/gallery/yZOYq).

3D Printing: Make anything you want. Excellent video overview of the industry (medical, gun parts, etc). Imagine a world where you can make anything you want, just by pressing "print". 3D printers have arrived and they promise a fascinating future, depending on what we make. For more info, please go to http://www.globalnews.ca/3d+printing/6442792806/story.html


Video above: An overview of recent 3D printing yechnology efforts. From (http://youtu.be/G0EJmBoLq-g).


Video above: Anthony Atala on grpwing new organs. Filmed in 2009. From (http://www.ted.com/talks/anthony_atala_growing_organs_engineering_tissue.html)

.

Domestic Peace Force

SUBHEAD: Is that why Homeland Security purchased so many assault weapons and people killing ammo?

By Mac Slavo on 4 February 2013 for SHTF Plan -
(http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/are-all-those-guns-and-ammunition-for-obamas-civilian-national-security-force_02042013)


Image above: Detail of poster for Obama Domestic Peace Force. From original article and (http://daletoons.blogspot.com/).

Speculation abounds surrounding the 2 billion rounds of ammunition purchased by the Department of Homeland Security and other national alphabet agencies in recent years. Moreover, as the White House and their cohorts in Congress contemplate the disarming of American citizens, the very assault weapons purported to be so dangerous in the hands of law abiding gun owners are being purchased in mass quantities by local and federal law enforcement agencies.

So what is the purpose and motivation behind the government’s continued efforts to stockpile so much firepower? One frightening theory could explain what the President and his national security apparatus are up to.

The following excerpted From article by Joseph Farah 'Why is US stockpiling Guns & Ammo? 
Many of you will remember a story I broke a long time ago – about presidential candidate Barack Obama’s little-noticed announcement that, if elected in 2008, he wanted to create a “civilian national security force” [or domestic peace force] as big, as strong and as well-funded as the Defense Department.

Here’s what he actually said at a campaign stop in Colorado July 2, 2008:

“We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.”

Could what we see happening now in the Department of Homeland Security be the beginning of Obama’s dream and our constitutional nightmare?

We never heard another mention of Obama’s “civilian national security force” again. Not in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 or 2012.

But that brings us up to 2013 and the highly unusual stockpiling of firearms and ammo by Homeland Security – firearms and ammo that Obama would like to deny to ordinary citizens who are not members of his domestic army.

Well, I hate to say it, but I may have predicted this, too.

In a Halloween column last fall, I stated that, if re-elected, Obama would “declare a full-scale war on his domestic opposition.”

I wasn’t joking. I was deadly serious – so serious, in fact, that I did something I pledged I would never do: Vote for Mitt Romney. It was a matter of self-defense and self-preservation. I said then that a second term of Obama might mean we would never see another free and fair election in America. (I’m not even sure we saw one in 2012.)
 
I suggested due process would go the way of the horse and buggy. I said I expected Obama would move to shut down or destroy all independent media. I even speculated that his biggest critics would eventually be rounded up in the name of national security.

Think about it.

Why does the civilian Department of Homeland Security need billions of rounds of ammunition?

This is the agency that is responsible for policing the border. But it doesn’t.

This is the agency that is responsible for catching terrorists. But it doesn’t.

So why does Homeland Security need so many weapons and enough hollow-point rounds to plug every American six times?

The official explanation? Target practice.  See this Fox News Story on ammo purchases:
As for concern about the type of bullets — hollow points, which expand upon impact — the statement said the type is “standard issue” and is used during “mandatory quarterly firearms qualifications and other training sessions.”
While the majority of Americans will take this explanation at face value, there are some key facts that suggest the Department of Homeland Security is mobilizing for a significant future action against the American people.
  • The US military has been actively war-gaming worst-case scenarios that include economic collapse and civil unrest, going so far as to simulate wide-scale food riots.

  • Just last month the military deployed gunships over Miami and executed a training exercise with local police departments. A few days later, similar exercises were held in Houston, TX. Last year these “exercises” also included ground forces, armored personnel carriers and tanks on the streets of St. Louis.

  • Despite overwhelming opposition, there is an overt and focused movement to disarm Americans of their right to bear semi-automatic personal defense rifles and any other firearms deemed dangerous to the public. Those calling for this disarmament qualify their positions by claiming these weapons are not necessary for sporting, hunting, or personal defense. As if this provision of the US Constitution doesn’t even exist, there is a total blackout on the fundamental intent of the Second Amendment, which allows for citizens to bear arms to protect themselves against tyrannical government.

  • Heavily armored vehicles have been spotted all over the country, and many local law enforcement agencies have taken possession of these vehicles, normally reserved for military engagements, and have put them to use in neighborhoods and communities around America.
  • Congress has authorized the deployment of some 30,000 surveillance drones in the skies of America, to be available for use by intelligence agencies by 2015.

  • The National Security Agency is building a massive spy center capable of recording, aggregating and analyzing every digital interaction on the planet – phones, internet, purchasing patterns, travel, and even what we say in the privacy of our own homes. A 30 year veteran of the NSA says the data mining program is so vast it will “create an Orwellian state.”

  • The US government, in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, has created legislation that directly targets American citizens. The Patriot Act makes it possible for anyone who is identified as attempting to subvert government legitimacy as a terrorist, and also allows for the warrantless wiretapping of everyone for any reason. Under the Patriot Act and expanded government definitions, just about anyone now qualifies as a domestic terrorist.

  • The National Defense Authorization Act takes the Patriot Act even further, allowing the government to detain anyone suspected of being a terrorist indefinitely and without trial – this includes American citizens living in the United States.

  • And, as Joseph Farah points out, the President specifically claimed he would create a civilian national security police force as large as the US military. If he meant it, then we’re talking about 2 million or so civilians that will be armed, deputized and backed by the government. To do what? We’re not quite sure, but apparently we need these civilians for something important, or else the President wouldn’t have brought it up.
These are but a few examples of what our government has been up to. There are hundreds of others.

Now put all those together and the complete puzzle begins to emerge.

This surveillance infrastructure and control grid are being designed not for foreign terrorists or rogue nations that may do harm to America. They have been designed for you.

You, my fellow American, are the enemy.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: DHS to the Rescue 9/12/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Traing of supression of Americans 4/10/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Feds hunkering down for upheaval 3/19/12

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Obama Drone Paper

SUBHEAD: Officials, other than Obama, can order killing of American citizens even without evidence of plot against the U.S.

By Ryan J. Reilly on 4 February 2013 for Huffngton Post -
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/04/doj-drones-paper_n_2619582.html)


Image above: Obama as 1930's Chicago gangster. From (http://www.washingtontimes.com/multimedia/image/b1-obama-gangster-ggjpg/).

A report Monday night on the nature of the administration's drone program has the potential to dramatically revamp the debate over President Barack Obama's foreign policy and the confirmation process for his incoming cabinet.

The report, by Michael Isikoff of NBC News, reveals that the Obama administration believes that high-level administration officials -- not just the president -- may order the killing of “senior operational leaders” of al Qaeda or an associated force even without evidence they are actively plotting against the U.S.

“A lawful killing in self-defense is not an assassination,” states the Justice Department white paper quoted by Isikoff.

The 16-page memo, given to Congress in June, is not the final Office of Legal Counsel memo that news organizations have sued to obtain. But it offers plenty of insight into the government’s justification for killing American citizens in overseas drone strikes.

The paper states that the U.S. would be able to kill a U.S. citizen overseas when "an informed, high-level official of the U.S. government" determines the target is an imminent threat, when capture would be infeasible and when the operation is "conducted consistent with applicable law of war principles."

The white paper suggests that such decisions would not be subject to judicial review and outlines a broad definition of what constitutes “imminent” threat.

Constitutional experts said the memo's definition doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Administration critics immediately said the white paper is fresh evidence the president has abandoned his 2008 campaign pledge to recognize and respect the limits of executive power.


Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union called the document "pretty remarkable" and said some of its arguments "don't stand up to even cursory review." He said the paper “only underscores the irresponsible extravagance of the government's central claim.”

Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, called the document “profoundly disturbing” and said it was “hard to believe that it was produced in a democracy built on a system of checks and balances.”

“It summarizes in cold legal terms a stunning overreach of executive authority –- the claimed power to declare Americans a threat and kill them far from a recognized battlefield and without any judicial involvement before or after the fact,” Shamsi said in a statement.

Watchdog groups and members of Congress have made repeated pleas for the administration to release internal documents outlining the rationale for the targeted killing program, especially when the target is an American citizen. NBC's report increases pressure on the administration to release additional documents.

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.

Earlier on Monday, 11 senators signed a letter formally requesting that the administration provide its legal justification for drone strikes to Congress. Marcy Wheeler, a blogger who has closely tracked the requests, said it was at least the 12th time Congress had asked for such documents.

The Justice Department white paper's publication comes at an unfortunate time for the White House, shepherding several top cabinet nominees through confirmation in the Senate. The leak may pose hurdles for the confirmation of John Brennan, the nominee for CIA director.

Brennan, now a top White House adviser, is the architect of Obama’s drone policy. He has been a strong proponent of the expanded practice of targeted assassinations to kill suspected terrorists wherever they may be. It was under his watch that the Anwar al-Awlaki assassination was approved.

In the final months of Obama’s first term, Brennan joined other members of the national security team to codify procedures for determining the appropriate use of targeted killings into a so-called “playbook,” but much of the process remains opaque.

Nevertheless, it is likely that the legal backbone for the drone and killing program will emerge as a major controversy in Obama's second term as the death toll rises. In addition to Brennan, Obama’s pick for secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, is a proponent of selective strikes, including drone kills, to maintain America’s edge in the war on terrorism without risking major troop deployments.
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Hanamaulu Landfill Siting

SUBHEAD: Meeting on on Maalo Road landfill siting this Tuesday 6:00pm at King K Elementary.

By Nina Monasevitch on 4 February 2013 in Island Breath.
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2013/02/hanamaulu-landfill-siting.html)


Image above: Aerial view of Wailua Falls at the end of Maalo Road. From (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ironrodart/3617887042/).

WHAT:
 Public county meeting on Hanamaulu landfill siting on Maalo Road in Hanamaulu

WHEN:
 Tuesday, February 5th at 6:00pm

WHERE:
King Kaumuali'i Elementary School
Hanamaulu, Kauai (off Kuhio Highway)

The county has chosen Ma'alo for the new landfill and Resource Recovery Park (RRP) http://www.kauai.gov/newlandfillsite/

We all need to show up at meeting this Tuesday, February 5th, 6:00pm at King Kaumuali'i Elementary School and say NO to this site!

Is the Ma’alo site for the next landfill a bad choice?

The Hawaiian word for water is wai. The Hawaiian word for wealth is waiwai. Unless we are mistaken, this roughly translates to mean that fresh water is the most precious resource. It is written that the people of old had Kapu, sacred with the implication of forbidden, on certain activities upstream. In this way, clean wai was available for farming, making medicines and drinking.

How could a rational person, with a Hawaiian heart and a scientific mind think of locating a landfill upstream in the vicinity of surface drinking water? Where is the wisdom in that?

What are the implications that the state is holding the land that was ceded by Queen Kamalu?

What will be the cost to future county engineers to bring fresh water to the people of Hanama’ulu, Kapaia, Lihu’e and lower Wailua?

How many years and how many big rains until the surface water is polluted? How many generations until the ground water is poisoned?

What will be the agricultural costs? It is said that the area proposed is arguably the best farmland in the ahupua’a, land division. How much food, for how many generations could be grown on that 160 acres? How many jobs and for how many generations could work that land? If there is a landfill, how soon will the land and the water be poisoned?

Strangely, in studying the location site map that the county prepared in the power point presentation, available online, the reservoirs are not shown.

Does this implicate the county engineers in condoning a site they know will pollute the surface water supply in the short term, and the ground water in the long term?

Does this put the county and the future taxpayer at risk of a major class action lawsuit for polluting the fresh water of future generations? Will the environmental assessment (EA) answer any of these questions? Will any journalists?

Primary concerns:
  • Contamination of fresh water supply.
  • Streamflow needs to be increased already for watershed restoration.
  • Ruin of the Hanamaulu Watershed. Total watershed Rating was 4 in 2008 Not good but potentially salvageable.
  • What will it be with land fill and horizontal well?
  • Loss of viable, rich agricultural land.
Secondary Concerns:
  • Traffic flow, sole artery Maalo Road.
  • Environmental Justice issue, mitigation due to minority and income make up of Hanamaulu area.
  • Kapaia Valley residents are not presently included in the mitigation conversation even though Hanamaulu River runs through front yard.
There are 8 other proposed sites. The County needs to pursue the others.

[IB Editor's note: Maalo Road is the only way to get to one of the premier visitor destinations on Lauai -Wailua Falls. These dramatic 80-foot waterfalls can be seen from the end Maalo Road and were used in the opening of the television series Fantasy Island. The cliff over the pool once served as a diving platform for the ali`i. After the landfill is sited on Maalo Road all tourists and Kauaians will have to vie with refuge trucks, broken open garbage bags and blowing paper debris to get to the falls.]
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Cattle Drive

SUBHEAD: It is ZIRP foolishness that is putting the USA on the path of an epochal systemic collapse.

By James Kunstler on 4 February 2013 for Kunstler.com -
(http://kunstler.com/blog/2013/02/cattle-drive.html)


Image above: Detail of movie poster from "Cattle Drive" starring Joel McCrea, Dean Stockwell and Chill Wills, 1951. From (http://originalvintagemovieposters.com/cattle-drive-original-vintage-western-poster/).


How hilarious is the Federal Reserve's cattle drive of cash money (i.e. "liquidity") into the stock markets? I'll tell you: if that cash is outflow from bonds that pay ZIRP interest rates, then this attempt to stampede investment into the stock market is only going to succeed in ravaging the bond market and by extension the credibility of the dollar, the US banking cartel, and then the world financial system as a whole.

If bond-dumpers rush into stocks, then who are the next bond buyers at ZIRP? The USA can't keep going without continuous bond selling. Somebody has to buy the darn things. The Federal Reserve is now buying around 70 percent of US issue -- a lot of it via secondary market pass-thru shenanigans involving "Primary dealers" (a.k.a. Too Big To Fail banks, who get to cream off a premium when they flip bonds to the Fed -- tidy little racket).

If the other 30 percent of issue can't find willing buyers at ZIRP then interest rates will have to go up. If interest rates go up, then interest paid out on bonds (that is "debt service") by the US government will go up catastrophically, because the aggregate debt is so colossal and most of the debt is short term, meaning that in a post-ZIRP world the interest rate ratchets up automatically every 13 weeks as bonds roll over.

The US will then only be able to pretend that it can service the debt at higher interest rates. Everybody in the world will recognize this -- surely only increasing the velocity of the stampede away from bonds. The question is: how long can pretending to service debt go on before it is just called by it's real name: default? Or, if countered with additional furious computer "money" creation: hyperinflation? Either way, of course, you end up broke.

This cattle drive into stocks is strictly a political gambit. The cattle are being driven to the slaughterhouse. It's discretionary strategic national financial suicide. They're driving up the stock markets for cosmetic purposes, to make it appear that an economic recovery is going on, and with the aim of setting in motion a self-reinforcing financial feeding frenzy in this rush to "equities." By the way, in case my manner seems didactic today I am attempting to define my terms as I go along because most other financial bloggers seem to assume that ordinary people understand all their jargon, which I am quite sure they do not.

Returning to my point... the Fed and their auditors on Wall Street and in government, are jacking up the stock markets in the hopes of stirring up "animal spirits," as the financial psychologists say, to put over the story that it equals a vibrant economy -- which is nonsense, of course, to anyone who shoots a casual glance at the economic wreckage all around them. Anyway, since the stock market action these days is dominated by high frequency trading robots running on algorithms, where exactly would animal spirits even factor in?

If anything the absence of real animal spirits in this action also implies the absence of its counterpart, animal survival instinct, of which human intelligence is an order. What can come of stirring up animal spirits among robots? A train wreck is exactly what.

Now, I ask you: at a moment in history when vast interlinked global financial markets have never been so unstable, so primed for unintended consequences courtesy of the diminishing returns of technology, so ripe for a massive, cascading "accident," is it a prudent thing to fuck around with such crude PsyOps?

One other factor outside pure financials assures that US economic performance will remain impaired (that is, the kind of economic activity we regard as "normal" (suburban sprawl building, credit card "consumer" spending): the price of oil, which is inching up to the $100-a-barrel hashmark.

Apparently that shale oil bonanza we hear so much about has not left the USA swimming in cheap oil. As a general principle, it's probably safe to say that an oil price above $80 crushes the US economy. It drives up the cost structure of just about everything we make, do, or sell here, but of course the primary things that go up in price are food and motor fuel.

Hence, it's tragically ironic that -- getting back to official financial PsyOps -- that one of the primary motives for the Fed keeping interest rates super-low in the first place (apart from enabling wild fiscal irresponsibility in government) has been to promote the housing sector -- because in the reality of our time "housing" translates into building more suburban sprawl. How smart is it to promote more suburban sprawl at a moment in history when there's no more cheap oil?

It is this kind of stupendous foolishness that is putting the USA on the path of an epochal systemic collapse.

Superbowl addendum:
Did anyone notice how violent and psychotic the Superbowl advertising was this year? An Oreo commercial that depicted a mob of nerds destroying a library -- huh? The Doritos spot where "Daddy" and his male buddies transform themselves into an insane clown posse of cross-dressers.

The Fast and Furious 6 trailer featuring the destruction of every vehicle known to man and a few office buildings, too. The third-quarter power failure was a neat harbinger of things-to-come in the Most Exceptional United States of America. Party on, peeps!
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