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US Knew Flight Path of Plane Downed by Turkey

Russian president says Moscow had given prior information to the United States of the flight path of the plane downed by Turkey

by Our Foreign Staff

The Telegraph (November 27 2015)

President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday evening that Russia had given prior information to the United States of the flight path of the plane downed by Turkey on the Syrian border.

“The American side, which leads the coalition that Turkey belongs to, knew about the location and time of our planes’ flights, and we were hit exactly there and at that time”, Putin said at a joint press conference with French counterpart Francois Hollande in the Kremlin.

Putin on Thursday dismissed as “rubbish” Turkey’s claim that it would not have shot down the jet if it had known it was Russian.

“They [our planes] have identification signs and these are well visible”, Putin said. “Instead of […] ensuring this never happens again, we are hearing unintelligible explanations and statements that there is nothing to apologise about”.

Putin has also accused Turkey of buying oil from the Islamic State jihadist group, whose financing heavily relies on the sale of energy resources.

Putin said there was “no doubt” that oil from “terrorist-controlled” territory in Syria was making its way across the border into Turkey.

“We see from the sky where these vehicles [carrying oil] are going”, Putin said. “They are going to Turkey day and night”.

“These barrels are not only carrying oil but also the blood of our citizens because with this money terrorists buy weapons and ammunition and then organise bloody attacks”, he added.

Ahead of the Hollande talks, Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan traded barbs, with the Russian leader saying he was waiting for an apology and Erdogan ruling out any such move.

The public recriminations came as Russia prepared to impose a swathe of punishing economic sanctions against Turkey, including abandoning a flagship pipeline project and a $20 billion nuclear power deal.

A Turkish fighter jet shot down a Russian SU-24 bomber as it carried out a mission against rebel fighters near the Syrian-Turkish border on Tuesday morning.

Turkey claims the Russian aircraft violated its airspace, while Russian officials say the shooting down happened over Syrian territory.

The encounter resulted in the deaths of a Russian pilot and a marine rescuer, prompting the Russian president to accuse Ankara of “acting as accomplices of terrorists”, trading with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

He also accused the Turkish president of presiding over the “Islamisation” of the country.

Mr Erdogan fired back on Thursday, calling on Mr Putin to “prove” his claims and again refusing to publicly apologise for the shoot down.

“Shame on you. Those who claim we buy oil from Daesh are obliged to prove it. If not, you are a slanderer”, Mr Erdogan said, using the Arabic acronym for Isil.

In a speech to local officials at his controversial and expensive presidential palace (1), Mr Erdogan insisted Turkey has always fought against Islamist extremists.

 

“Our country’s stance against Daesh has been clear since the very beginning. There is no question mark here. Nobody has the right to dispute our country’s fight against Daesh or to incriminate us.”

Ankara has insisted it will not apologise for Tuesday’s incident because it was acting correctly.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s recently appointed foreign minister, said the country would not apologise “on an occasion that we are right”, but revealed he had said “sorry” to Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister who cancelled a visit to Istanbul on Tuesday, a day before he was due to arrive.

In an editorial for The Times on Thursday (2), Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish prime minister, insisted that Turkey was protecting its sovereign territory.

“The downing of an unidentified jet in Turkish airspace was not — and is not — an act against a specific country. Turkey took action, based on standing rules of engagement, to protect the integrity of its sovereign territory.”

Mr Davutoglu stressed the need for countries to work together tackle the international threat Isil poses and urged Europe not to let such terror attacks by Isil foment an anti-immigrant feeling.

“Letting anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and antisemitic voices hijack the political discourse undermines Europe’s ability to promote tolerance of all faiths and cultures. Turkey joins with those defending a humane vision for Europe.”

Links:

(1) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/turkey/11380281/Turkeys-president-is-not-acting-like-the-Queen-he-is-acting-like-a-sultan.html

(2) http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/thunderer/article4624985.ece

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/turkey/12020111/Vladimir-Putin-US-knew-flight-path-of-plane-downed-by-Turkey.html

Categories: Uncategorized

Shrinking the Technosphere, Part Six

by Dmitry Orlov

Club Orlov (November 17 2015)

Suppose your situation is such that you need to effect a swift change of venue. The circumstances that prompt this relocation can be quite varied, but the common and foreseeable ones are:

1. There is no fresh water where you are. The reservoirs are dry and dusty, the artesian wells are either no longer producing or are producing water laced with arsenic and heavy metals, and the few desalination plants bottle their water and sell it at prices you cannot afford. What was once fields and pasture is reverting to sand dunes. Forests have dried out, burned down, and are now a lunar landscape criscrossed by deep ravines eroded by sporadic torrential downpours – too sporadic and too torrential to be of benefit.

2. The place where you live is under a few feet of ocean water mixed with raw sewage – not all the time, but often enough that staying there has become a very bad idea. An onshore wind combined with a high tide and a bit of rain are enough to make contaminated, brackish water spew out of every storm drain. With each passing year and more and more basements are flooded, more and more foundations undermined, more and more buildings condemned. Places further inland flood more rarely but are already too crowded, and will be subject to the same conditions after a slight delay.

3. Your country has been overrun by “refugees” who have looted the shops, occupied many of the public buildings and are busy beating up the men and raping the women (like they are doing in Sweden, which is now the second-rapiest country in the world, Lesotho in South Africa is the rapiest). There are large sections of your city where even the military, never mind the police, fear to venture. But the rest of the city is not the least bit safe. Beardless men and women without proper headdress are attacked without warning. Property crimes and home invasions by “refugees” are not persecuted for fear of giving them an excuse to start a riot.

4. Your country has gone full-retard fascist. Your best option is to work a soul-destroying corporate job while slowly sinking deeper and deeper into debt, hoping against hope that you will make it all the way to retirement, even as you watch your colleagues being replaced by machines, illegal immigrants and underpaid foreign contractors. Your second-best choice is to subsist on meager social benefits, most of which go to pay for drugs, which you need in order to hold on to what remains of your sanity while the pressure of perverse government incentives destroys your family and your children turn feral. Whichever option you choose, you are electronically monitored 24/7 and are absorbed into the prison system for the tiniest transgression, where your best chance to survive is by working as a slave.

5. You are doing fine economically, but you find your environment, both physical and human, increasingly unsatisfactory. Everything you see around you is cheaply slapped together out of industrially produced components, dressed up with a gaudy plastic veneer to make it “look nice”. It all looks computer-generated because, in fact, it is. All the people around you walk around ignoring the real world, which they might as well, since their physical environment is just an older, no longer fashionable version of what they see on the screens of the mobile computing devices to which they are hopelessly addicted. They are obese, emotionally stunted, physically helpless and, as far as you are concerned, might as well not be there. In fact, you’d enjoy seeing them replaced with cages of parakeets, potted plants or nice round rocks in a Zen garden. Their parents and grandparents once got things done by pushing buttons on machines, but now it is the machines that push their buttons and program them to say and feel various things on command. You can’t help obsessing over the fact that this is not real life – that real life is somewhere else, and that you must go and find it before you run out of time.

6. Any combination of the above, including all of the above.

Let us further assume that the logistics and the political situation around your relocation have been sorted out: your papers are in order and you have a berth on a ship that will take you to a river port near your destination. From there, a river boat will take you upstream to a spot near your assigned 100 hectares (250 acres) of land, where you, perhaps with a group of like-minded others, will be left with enough supplies to make a fresh start. You slip away in the night with just a change of clothing and a pocketful of mementos, quiet as a cat, never to be heard from again.

Your land is being granted to you by the government in the form of a perpetual, heritable lease, with no commercial rights over it whatsoever, for you and your children to use sustainably in perpetuity, for as long as you physically reside on the land. The terms are not particularly onerous: you are taxed only on home-produced goods that you sell, and one of your sons may be conscripted in case of a national emergency, provided he is not your only or your eldest son, and not a younger son either if he is the family’s main provider.

But there is a problem: your land is quite far north. Nine months out of the year, the temperature there is near or below freezing, and during the coldest four to five months it can get as cold as minus forty degrees Celsius. In the dead of winter there are only three hours of sunlight. But during the other three months the temperatures soar to +35 degrees Celsius and there is 21 hours of sunlight. Another problem is that the land is not easily accessible. There are no roads; nor are there plans to build any. During the summer it is accessible on foot and over water; during the winter it is accessible by ski and sled, over snow-covered land and frozen water. During spring, when trails turn to mud and broken ice rushes down streams and rivers, it is not accessible at all. Nor is it accessible during autumn, when snow falls on ground that isn’t frozen yet and forms a heavy, wet slush, and when the ice on waterways is already too thick to navigate but not yet thick and solid enough to travel over. But there is also good news: each year, the climate is getting warmer, with the frosts arriving later, the thaws setting in earlier, the growing season getting longer, and more and more deciduous trees taking root in sunny, sheltered spots.

A river boat will drop you off a the water’s edge within less than a day’s hike of your land. It will be in early summer, after the rivers are clear of ice and the riverbanks are no longer flooded. You will have just enough time to prepare for next winter, so that you can survive it.

What you can take with you is what you and members of your party can carry on their shoulders, ferrying supplies from the river’s edge to your plot of land. This basic kit includes:

1. An axe, and spare axe heads

2. A knife, and several knife blades without handles

3. Shovel heads

4. Saw blades

5. A file for keeping all of these sharp

6. A shotgun and a dozen shells

7. Heavy boots, a parka and other cold weather gear

8. Several changes of clothing per person

9. Emergency medical kit

10. A few pots, cups, spoons, forks

12. A samovar

12. Several sacks of grain (rye)

13. Several sacks of potatoes

14. Assorted seed packets

15. Canvas tents

16. A small assortment of tools (such as sewing kit) and supplies (such as tea)

You will also be bringing with you a few animals:

1. Dogs (one of them male) to serve as your security system and to help you hunt and pull sleds

2. Cats (one of them male) to keep the rodent population under control

3. Chickens (one of them male) to provide eggs, meat and to keep the bugs under control

This, plus your body, is all of your initial “hardware” which you will use to bootstrap the entire operation; everything else is “software” – and it has to be downloaded directly to your brain before you begin, with a full back-up in somebody else’s brain in case something goes wrong with yours. This is your Naturelike Technology Suite (NTS), and if you use it correctly, your chances of surviving, living a long and happy life, and leaving behind happy, healthy, self-reliant children are much better than in any and all of the typical scenarios outlined above.

The land is neither farmland nor pasture but boreal forest, thick with coniferous trees, mostly pines and firs. There are plenty of animals you will be sharing it with, especially in the summer when the migratory birds make their appearance and lots of other animals come out of hibernation. But your first concern is with bears, who have come out of hibernation some time ago, but are still hungry and very ornery. The local wolves may also take a keen interest in your camp. You will need to impress it upon all of them that this is now your territory as well as theirs, by keeping fires lit at night, never going anywhere without a shotgun, or at least a forked stick, screaming at them and physically threatening them whenever you see them and other such measures. Shooting one alpha male of both the wolf tribe and the bear tribe, using up a few shotgun shells from your precious collection, then tanning the skins and sewing them into hats sends an unmistakable message: there is a new apex predator in these woods; act accordingly. As for the rest, you should try to make peace with them or let your animals handle them. If you leave them alone and sometimes (but only sometimes, on specific occasions) offer them food, they will become semi-tame over time, and will be much easier to catch by setting traps. Of these, back-breaking deadfalls are the most humane.

But your first and primary task is to fell trees – as quickly as possible, propping up the logs in sunny places so that they have a chance to dry out. The time to harvest timber is before thaws set in and the sap starts running, because after that the logs become much heavier and more difficult to work with and move, will not burn as well, and will rot much faster if you build with them. But you have arrived too late to do that, and have to make do with wet, heavy logs. (By the way, this is the exact opposite of what you would do in the tropics. There, you would harvest wood when it is full of sap, to protect it against insects and rot.) Regardless of the time of year, the best time to fell trees is on a full moon.

Your second task is to get food, to avoid depleting your supplies, which are for planting, not for eating. A spring thaw is an excellent time to get moose and reindeer, which can’t run away because of the heavy, wet snow. Until the ice breaks, ice fishing also remains a possibility, and you can preserve your supply over the warm months by hot-smoking and drying the meat and the fish. But, again, you arrived too late, and your best chance to catch enough food is by setting traps and building weirs.

Your third task begins once the ground is thawed out enough and dry enough to dig. You need to move out of tents and into a slightly more permanent dwelling before winter. Constructing a log cabin during the first season is out of the question, because there is simply too much else to do, and because you arrived too late to get logs that are free of sap. But you can certainly harvest enough logs to build a dugout bunker that will last a few seasons. This is done by choosing a patch of land with good drainage and digging a trench. At the back of it is a hearth, along the sides are bunk beds. The roof is created using a layer of logs, the cracks between them packed with moss, and insulated by covering it with a thick a layer of dirt and sod. The hearth should have a flue, and a chimney high enough to stick out above the snow, or your fire will keep getting extinguished by meltwater. Two doors with a vestibule between them are an excellent idea. The vestibule will be used to store your supplies of frozen meat. The doors must open in rather than out, or you will be trapped inside by snowdrifts.

Your bunker should be surrounded by a wicker fence, constructed by driving stakes into the ground at intervals and filling the spaces between them with tightly packed twigs or saplings. Make the fence round rather than square, for a 25% increase in the amount of area encompassed for the same length of fence. A round fence also makes it easier for your animals to catch interlopers because there are no corners where they can hide and burrow. Curved fences are also better at resisting wind and snow drifts.

Your fourth task will be to grow food. The land you’ve cleared by chopping down trees is covered with a thin layer of poor forest soil, acidic because of all the pine and fir needles, and is not immediately useful for planting. But if you dig various things into it, you will be able to use it to grow all of your staples: potatoes, rye, cabbages and turnips. Ashes from the hearth, thoroughly rotted tree trunks and mud dredged out of nearby streams all make useful soil amendments. Potatoes can be planted as chunks containing eyes, or buds, with one or two eyes per chunk, and the rest of the potato can be eaten. Rye can be grown in quite poor soils and is amazingly stubborn and keeps going until it goes to seed. Because of the nearly 24-hour sunlight and warm temperatures everything will grow very fast. Your animals will be kept busy, and well fed, by all the moles, voles and mice that will be trying to eat your produce.

By the time you are done growing and harvesting the food, days will start getting shorter and by sunrise frost will appear on trees and the walls of your tent. It will be time to move inside your bunker and start heating. Before the migratory fowl fly away, be sure to get some geese, or, failing that, ducks, and save their fat for the winter. Goose fat is smeared on any exposed skin when you venture outside in the dead of winter, to avoid frostbite.

Once the temperatures stay reliably below freezing, but before the winter blizzards set in, try to stockpile as many animal carcasses as you can, to gradually hack away at and defrost as the winter wears on. This is the time of year when animals are at their fattest and most complacent, and those that are the oldest and the least likely to survive the winter are ripe for the picking; if you don’t get them the wolves will. The fat is particulary important: in a cold climate, it is almost impossible to get enough calories to stay warm while working outside in any other way, and how much winter work you will get done will be directly determined by how much animal fat you can get your hands on.

At the beginning of winter, most of your work outside will involve cutting, splitting and stacking firewood out of the logs you harvested in the springtime, since you do not want to be out swinging an axe when it’s minus forty degrees Celsius outside and blowing a blizzard. But once your supply of firewood is laid in, there are other tasks to attend to.

First, you need to get serious about trapping for fur. The parka you brought with you will wear out and will need to be replaced with a fur parka you will need to sew yourself. The animals you trap will be frozen solid by the time you get to them, and can stay that way until springtime. You can gut them and skin them when they thaw out, saving the brain and the liver for tanning the pelt. The pelts will also serve as valuable trade goods – about the only ones you will be able to come up with during the first few seasons – and you will need trade goods in order to barter for the supplies you will need.

Second, if you are close enough to a river or a lake to make it there and back during daylight, you might also attempt some ice fishing, although without skis and a sled (unless you found time to make them already) your range will be quite limited.

Other than that, most of what you will do during the winter is cook, feed yourself, feed the animals, drink tea, tend the all-important fire and sleep a lot. The tea is important because working outside in cold temperatures is extremely dehydrating: the cold air sucks the moisture right out of you. This is why a samovar (which is stoked using pine cones or wood chips) is included in your initial survival kit. Trying to boil enough water in a pot over a hearth is far too slow and rather inefficient. But a bucket hung over the hearth is quite useful for melting snow, to get water for drinking and washing without going anywhere.

Before spring thaw arrives, you will need to get busy harvesting logs – for next winter’s firewood as well as for building the log cabin. Once that’s done, you will have won, surviving the most difficult first season without starving or dying of exposure, and ready to build your homestead. Once that’s done, you will be well on your way to making a perfectly reasonable life for yourself and your family, using the rest of your NTS, which we will describe next.

http://cluborlov.blogspot.jp/2015/11/shrinking-technosphere-part-vi.html

Categories: Uncategorized

Turkey “Ambushed” Russian Su-24 …

… to Protect Its “Proxies” in Syria

Sputnik (November 26 2015)

The shooting down of the Russian Su-24 bomber was a planned attack and a trap set by the Turkish Air Force, Dr Mark Galeotti, the Professor of Global Affairs at the New York University, told Radio Sputnik.

“What it in fact seems to be, as many are saying, it was more of an ambush than anything else”, Galeotti told Sputnik.

By downing the Russian plane, Turkey had two things in mind. First of all, Ankara wants to assert itself as a powerful regional actor, especially considering Russia’s active participation in Syria. The Turkish government thought that by shooting down its plane Turkey would make Russia take Ankara more seriously in the future.

Secondly, the Turkish government wanted to protect its allies, whom Russia is currently bombing in Syria, Galeotti, an expert in Russo-Turkish relations, explained.

Turkey intends to protect ISIL, as it has direct financial interests involved in the delivery of oil extracted from ISIL-controlled territories. Various estimates place oil revenues generated by ISIL somewhere between $40 and $50 million a month. A day prior to the downing of the Su-24, Russian airstrikes destroyed over 1,000 semi-truck tankers carrying crude oil to ISIL refineries, a large oil storage facility and an oil refinery in Syria.

Interestingly, back in 2012, when the Syrian Air Force shot down a Turkish plane for repeatedly violating Syrian airspace, Erdogan was furious and said that a brief violation of a country’s airspace shouldn’t be a pretext to shoot down a plane.

And now, we can see double-standards at their best. Even if the Russian plane hypothetically violated Turkish airspace for a short period of time it wasn’t a reason to shoot it down. There definitely were other options to solve the problem, the US expert told Radio Sputnik.

Russian Jet Downing Shows Turkish Anti-Terror Stance ‘Two-Sided’

The Russian Su-24 Fencer bomber was shot down by two Turkish F-16s Tuesday morning while conducting operations over Syria.

One of the pilots from the downed Su-24 was rescued by the Syrian Army Tuesday morning. The other pilot was killed by fire from the ground after ejecting from the plane. A Russian naval infantry soldier also lost his life after an Mi-8 chopper was downed during a rescue operation.

The Turkish president said that Ankara acted in line with its sovereign right to respond to threats, claiming that the Russian jet had violated Turkish airspace.

However, flight data released by the Russian Ministry of Defense shows that the Su-24s never entered Turkey, and were attacked while performing legitimate maneuvers over Syria.

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/middleeast/20151126/1030827854/turkey-russia-su-24-erdogan-ambush-galeotti.html#ixzz3sn8fcBr3

http://sputniknews.com/middleeast/20151126/1030827854/turkey-russia-su-24-erdogan-ambush-galeotti.html

Categories: Uncategorized

The Heresy of Technological Choice

by John Michael Greer

The Archdruid Report (November 18 2015)

Among the interesting benefits of writing a blog like this, focusing as it does on the end of industrial civilization, are the opportunities it routinely affords for a glimpse at the stranger side of the collective thinking of our time. The last few weeks have been an unusually good source of that experience, as a result of one detail of the Retrotopia narrative I’ve been developing in the posts here.

The detail in question is the system by which residents of my fictional Lakeland Republic choose how much infrastructure they want to have and, not incidentally, to pay for via their local tax revenues. It’s done on a county-by-county basis by majority vote. The more infrastructure you want, the higher your taxes are; the more infrastructure you can do without, the less of your income goes to the county to pay for it. There are five levels, called tiers, and each one has a notional date connected to it: thus tier five has the notional date of 1950, and corresponds to the infrastructure you’d expect to find in a county in the Midwestern states of the US in that year: countywide electrical, telephone, water, and sewer service; roads and related infrastructure throughout the county capable of handling heavy automobile use; and mass transit – specifically, streetcars – in the towns.

The other tiers have less infrastructure, and correspondingly lower taxes. Tier four has a notional date of 1920, tier three of 1890, tier two of 1860, and tier one of 1830. In each case, the infrastructure you’d find in such a county is roughly what you’d find in a midwestern American county in that year. With tier one, your county infrastructure consists of dirt roads and that’s about it. All the other functions of county government exist in tier one, tier five, and everything in between; there are courts, police, social welfare provisions for those who are unable to take care of themselves, and so forth – all the things you would expect to find in any midwestern county in the US at any point between 1830 and 1950. That’s the tier system: one small detail of the imaginary future I’ve been sketching here.

Before we go on, I’d like my readers to stop and notice that the only things that are subject to the tier system are the elements of local infrastructure that are paid for by local tax revenues. If you live in a county that voted to adopt a certain tier level, that tells you what kind of infrastructure will be funded by local tax revenues, and therefore what the tax bills are going to be like. That’s all it tells you. In particular, the tier system doesn’t apply to privately owned infrastructure – for example, railroads in the Lakeland Republic are privately owned, and so every county, whatever its tier, has train stations in any town where paying passengers and freight may be found in sufficient quantity to make it worth a railroad’s while to stop there.

The tier system also, and crucially, doesn’t determine what kind of technology the residents can use. If you live in a tier one county, you can use all the electrical appliances you can afford to buy, as long as you generate the electricity yourself. Some technologies that are completely dependent on public infrastructure aren’t going to work in a low tier county – for example, without paved roads, gas stations, huge government subsidies for petroleum production, military bases all over the Middle East, and a great deal more, cars aren’t much more than oversized paperweights – but that’s built into the technology in question, not any fault of the tier system. Furthermore, the tier system doesn’t determine social customs and mores. If you live in a tier four county, for example, no law requires you to dress in a zoot suit or a flapper dress, drink bootleg liquor, and say things like “Hubba hubba” and “Twenty-three skidoo!” This may seem obvious, but trust me, it’s apparently far from obvious to a certain portion of my readers.

I can say this because, ever since the tier system first got mentioned in the narrative, I’ve fielded a steady stream of comments from people who wanted to object to the tier system because it forcibly deprives people of access to technology. I had one reader insist that the tier system would keep farmers in tier one counties from using plastic sheeting for hoop houses, for example, and another who compared the system to the arrangements in former Eastern Bloc nations, where the Communist Party imposed rigid restrictions on what technologies people could have. The mere facts that plastic sheeting for hoop houses isn’t infrastructure paid for by tax revenues, and that the tier system doesn’t impose rigid restrictions on anybody – on the contrary, it allows the voters in each county to choose for themselves how much infrastructure they’re going to pay for – somehow never found their way into the resulting diatribes.

What made all this even more fascinating to me is that no matter how often I addressed the points in question, and pointed out that the tier system just allows local voters to choose what infrastructure gets paid for their by tax money, a certain fraction of readers just kept rabbiting on endlessly along the same lines. It wasn’t that they were disagreeing with what I was saying. It’s that they were acting as though I had never said anything to address the subject at all, even when I addressed it to their faces, and nothing I or anyone else could say was able to break through their conviction that in imagining the tier system, I must be talking about some way to deprive people of technology by main force.

It was after the third or fourth round of comments along these lines, I think it was, that a sudden sense of deja vu reminded me that I’d seen this same sort of curiously detached paralogic before.

Longtime readers of this blog will remember how, some years ago, I pointed out in passing that the survival of the internet in the deindustrial age didn’t depend on whether there was some technically feasible way to run an internet in times of energy and resource limits, much less on how neat we think the internet is today. Rather, I suggested, its survival in the future would depend on whether it could make enough money to cover its operating and maintenance costs, and on whether it could successfully keep on outcompeting less complex and expensive ways of providing the same services to its users. That post got a flurry of responses from the geekoisie, all of whom wanted to talk exclusively about whether there was some technically feasible way to run the internet in a deindustrial world, and oh, yes, how incredibly neat the internet supposedly is.

What’s more, when I pointed out that they weren’t discussing the issues I had raised, they didn’t argue with me or try to make an opposing case. They just kept on talking more and more loudly about the technical feasibility of various gimmicks for a deindustrial internet, and by the way, did we mention yet how unbelievably neat the internet is? It was frankly rather weird, and I don’t mean that in a good way. It felt at times as though I’d somehow managed to hit the off switch on a dozen or so intellects, leaving their empty husks to lurch mindlessly through a series of animatronic talking points with all the persistence and irrelevance of broken records.

It took a while for me to realize that the people who were engaged in this bizarre sort of nonresponse understood perfectly well what I was talking about. They knew at least as well as I did that the internet is the most gargantuan technostructure in the history of our species, a vast, sprawling, unimaginably costly, and hopelessly unsustainable energy- and resource-devouring behemoth that survives only because a significant fraction of the world’s total economic activity goes directly and indirectly toward its upkeep. They knew about the slave-worked open pit mines, the vast grim factories run by sweatshop labor, and the countless belching smokestacks that feed its ravenous appetite for hardware and power; they also know about the constellations of data centers scattered across the world that keep it running, each of which uses as much energy as a small city, and each of which has to have one semi-truck after another pull up to the loading dock every single day to offload pallets of brand new hard drives and other hardware, in order to replace those that will burn out the next day.

They knew all this, and they knew, or at least suspected, just how little of it will be viable in a future of harsh energy and resource constraints. They simply didn’t want to think about that, much less talk about it, and so they babbled endlessly about other things in a frantic attempt to drown out a subject they couldn’t bear to hear discussed openly.

I’m pretty sure that this is what’s going on in the present case, too, and an interesting set of news stories from earlier this year points up the unspoken logic behind it.

Port Townsend is a pleasant little town in Washington State, perched on a bluff above the western shores of Puget Sound. Due to the vagaries of the regional economy, it basically got bypassed by the twentieth century, and much of the housing stock dates from the Victorian era. It so happens that one couple who live there find Victorian technology, clothing, and personal habits more to their taste than the current fashions in these things, and they live, as thoroughly as they can, a Victorian lifestyle. The wife of the couple, Sarah Chrisman, recently wrote a book about her experiences, and got her canonical fifteen minutes of fame on the internet and the media as a result {1}.

You might think, dear reader, that the people of Port Townsend would treat this as merely a harmless eccentricity, or even find it pleasantly amusing to have a couple in Victorian cycling clothes riding their penny-farthing bicycles on the city streets. To some extent, you’d be right, but it’s the exceptions that I want to discuss here. Ever since they adopted their Victorian lifestyle, the Chrismans have been on the receiving end of constant harassment by people who find their presence in the community intolerable. The shouted insults, the in-your-face confrontations, the death threats – they’ve seen it all. What’s more, the appearance of Sarah Chrisman’s book and various online articles related to it fielded, in response, an impressive flurry of spluttering online denunciations, which insisted among other things that the fact that she prefers to wear long skirts and corsets somehow makes her personally responsible for all the sins that have ever been imputed to the Victorian era.

Why? Why the fury, the brutality, and the frankly irrational denunciations directed at a couple whose lifestyle choices have got to count well up there among the world’s most harmless hobbies?

The reason’s actually very simple. Sarah Chrisman and her husband have transgressed one of the modern world’s most rigidly enforced taboos. They’ve shown in the most irrefutable way, by personal example, that the technologies each of us use in our own lives are a matter of individual choice.

You’re not supposed to say that in today’s world. You’re not even supposed to think it. You’re allowed, at most, to talk nostalgically about how much more pleasant it must have been not to be constantly harassed and annoyed by the current round of officially prescribed technologies, and squashed into the Procrustean bed of the narrow range of acceptable lifestyles that go with them. Even that’s risky in many circles these days, and risks fielding a diatribe from somebody who just has to tell you, at great length and with obvious irritation, all about the horrible things you’d supposedly suffer if you didn’t have the current round of officially prescribed technologies constantly harassing and annoying you.

The nostalgia in question doesn’t have to be oriented toward the past. I long ago lost track of the number of people I’ve heard talk nostalgically about what I tend to call the Ecotopian future, the default vision of a green tomorrow that infests most minds on the leftward end of things. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last forty years, you already know every detail of the Ecotopian future. It’s the place where wind turbines and solar panels power everything, everyone commutes by bicycle from their earth-sheltered suburban homes to their LEED-certified urban workplaces, everything is recycled, and social problems have all been solved because everybody, without exception, has come to embrace the ideas and attitudes currently found among upper-middle-class San Francisco liberals.

It’s far from rare, at sustainability-oriented events, to hear well-to-do attendees waxing rhapsodically about how great life will be when the Ecotopian future arrives. If you encounter someone engaging in that sort of nostalgic exercise, and are minded to be cruel, ask the person who’s doing it whether he (it’s usually a man) bicycles to work, and if not, why not. Odds are you’ll get to hear any number of frantic excuses to explain why the lifestyle that everyone’s going to love in the Ecotopian future is one that he can’t possibly embrace today. If you want a look behind the excuses and evasions, ask him how he got to the sustainability-oriented event you’re attending. Odds are that he drove his SUV, in which there were no other passengers, and if you press him about that you can expect to see the dark heart of privilege and rage that underlies his enthusiastic praise of an imaginary lifestyle that he would never, not even for a moment, dream of adopting himself.

I wish I were joking about the rage. It so happens that I don’t have a car, a television, or a cell phone, and I have zero interest in ever having any of these things. My defection from the officially prescribed technologies and the lifestyles that go with them isn’t as immediately obvious as Sarah Chrisman’s, so I don’t take as much day to day harassment as she does. Still, it happens from time to time that somebody wants to know if I’ve seen this or that television program, and in the conversations that unfold from such questions it sometimes comes out that I don’t have a television at all.

Where I now live, in an old red brick mill town in the north central Appalachians, that revelation rarely gets a hostile response, and it’s fairly common for someone else to say, “Good for you”, or something like that. A lot of people here are very poor, and thus have a certain detachment from technologies and lifestyles they know perfectly well they will never be able to afford. Back when I lived in prosperous Left Coast towns, on the other hand, mentioning that I didn’t own a television routinely meant that I’d get to hear a long and patronizing disquisition about how I really ought to run out and buy a TV so I could watch this or that or the other really really wonderful program, in the absence of which my life must be intolerably barren and incomplete.

Any lack of enthusiasm for that sort of disquisition very reliably brought out a variety of furiously angry responses that had precisely nothing to do with the issue at hand, which is that I simply don’t enjoy the activity of watching television. Oh, and it’s not the programming I find unenjoyable – it’s the technology itself; I get bored very quickly with the process of watching little colored images jerking about on a glass screen, no matter what the images happen to be. That’s another taboo, by the way. It’s acceptable in today’s America to grumble about what’s on television, but the technology itself is sacrosanct; you’re not allowed to criticize it, much less to talk about the biases, agendas, and simple annoyances hardwired into television as a technological system. If you try to bring any of that up, people will insist that you’re criticizing the programming; if you correct them, they’ll ignore the correction and keep on talking as though the programs on TV are the only thing under discussion.

A similar issue drives the bizarre paralogic surrounding the nonresponses to the tier system discussed above. The core premises behind the tier system in my narrative are, first, that people can choose the technological infrastructure they have, and have to pay for – and second, that some of them, when they consider the costs and benefits involved, might reasonably decide that an infrastructure of dirt roads and a landscape of self-sufficient farms and small towns is the best option. To a great many people today, that’s heresy of the most unthinkable sort. The easiest way to deal with the heresy in question, for those who aren’t interested in thinking about it, is to pretend that nothing so shocking has been suggested at all, and force the discussion into some less threatening form as quickly as possible. Redefining it in ways that erase the unbearable idea that technologies can be chosen freely, and just as freely rejected, is quite probably the easiest way to do that.

I’d encourage those of my readers who aren’t blinded by the terror of intellectual heresy to think, and think hard, about the taboo against technological choice – the insistence that you cannot, may not, and must not make your own choices when it comes to whatever the latest technological fad happens to be, but must do as you’re told and accept whatever technology the consumer society hands you, no matter how dysfunctional, harmful, or boring it turns out to be. That taboo is very deeply ingrained, far more potent than the handful of relatively weak taboos our society still applies to such things as sexuality, and most of the people you know obey it so unthinkingly that they never even notice how it shapes their behavior. You may not notice how it shapes your behavior, for that matter; the best way to find out is to pick a technology that annoys, harms, or bores you, but that you use anyway, and get rid of it.

Those who take that unthinkable step, and embrace the heresy of technological choice, are part of the wave of the future. In a world of declining resource availability, unraveling economic systems, and destabilizing environments, Sarah Chrisman and the many other people who make similar choices – there are quite a few of them these days, and more of them with each year that passes – are making a wise choice. By taking up technologies and lifeways from less extravagant eras, they’re decreasing their environmental footprints and their vulnerability to faltering global technostructures, and they’re also contributing to one of the crucial tasks of our age: the rediscovery of ways of being human that don’t depend on hopelessly unsustainable levels of resource and energy consumption.

The heresy of technological choice is a door. Beyond it lies an unexplored landscape of possibilities for the future – possibilities that very few people have even begun to imagine yet. My Retrotopia narrative is meant to glance over a very small part of that landscape. If some of the terrain it’s examined so far has been threatening enough to send some of its readers fleeing into a familiar sort of paralogic, then I’m confident that it’s doing the job I hoped it would do.

_____

John Michael Greer is the Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America {2} and the author of more than thirty books on a wide range of subjects, including peak oil and the future of industrial society. He lives in Cumberland, Maryland, an old red brick mill town in the north central Appalachians, with his wife Sara.

Links:

{1} http://www.vox.com/2015/9/9/9275611/victorian-era-life

{2} http://www.aoda.org

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.jp/2015/11/the-heresy-of-technological-choice.html

Categories: Uncategorized

Turkey Downs Russian Fighter …

… to Draw Nato and US Deeper into Syrian Quagmire

by Mike Whitney

CounterPunch (November 24 2015)

On Tuesday, Turkey shot down a Russian warplane that was carrying out military operations against jihadi groups in Northern Syria. The downing of the Su-24 fighter jet is part of a broader plan by the administration of Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan to topple the secular government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad and to establish “safe zones” on the Syrian side of the Turkish-Syrian border. Erdogan needs the safe zones to provide a sanctuary for the militant extremists who are the footsoldiers in his war against Syria. The downing of the Russian fighter is a desperate attempt by Erdogan to incite a reaction from Russia that will draw either Nato or the United States deeper into a conflict which has dragged on for four and a half years and killed 250,000 people.

Unlike the Obama administration, that has been willing to arm and train jihadi groups to conduct its proxy-war against Assad in Syria, Erdogan is a true believer, a committed Islamist who has done everything in his power to roll back democracy in Turkey, to establish one-man rule, to destroy the independent judiciary, to silence the free press, and to establish a conservative and intolerant Islamic state. Erdogan is what many would call a “Koolaid drinker”, a man who believes that his support for disparate and vicious terrorist groups that have decimated Syria, laid its civilian infrastructure to waste, and displaced more than half the population is “God’s work”. Make no mistake, the Turkish government is the modern-day Caliphate. The fact that its government officials dress in nicely-tailored suits rather than black pajamas, is merely a way to divert attention from their extreme fanaticism and their covert support for liver-eating fundamentalist savages.

In the seven weeks since Russia began military operations in Syria, nearly all of the gains of the US-Turkey-Saudi-Qatar jihadi coalition have been wiped out. The decisive battle took place more than a week ago at Kuweris airbase east of Aleppo. This was the tipping point for the war although the imminent fall of Aleppo is bound to attract more notoriety. It’s clear now that the Russian-led coalition is winning the war, has foiled US attempt to remove Assad, and that the bulk of the foreign mercenaries will either be killed or captured. The Obama administration realizes that the current phase of the war is hopeless and has started to implement a fallback plan to control territory in East Syria that is critical for future pipeline corridors. In contrast, the Turkish government is completely unwilling to accept the fact that its plan has failed which is why it has embarked on this risky strategy to draw either Nato or Washington deeper into the fray. Check this out from a Tuesday battlefield report from South Front:

The Syrian forces backed up by the Russian warplanes, pushed back the militant groups from nearly 200 kilometers of land in the coastal province of Lattakia, military sources said Monday. On Sunday, the Syrian army and popular forces purged the terrorists and advanced to areas near the Turkish borders. The ground reports argue that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) took control of Zahia heights, two kilometers from the joint borders with Turkey. {1}

Can you see what’s going on? The Russian-led coalition is closing in on the Syria-Turkish border which will put an end to Erdogan’s dream of toppling Assad or continuing to fuel the war with terrorists that are provided a safe haven on Syrian soil. This is why the Su-24 fighter was shot down on Tuesday. It is a desperate attempt to salvage the failed strategy of toppling a secular government and replacing it with friendly Islamic extremists who hew to Erdogan’s twisted worldview.

By the way, readers should take a minute and review the video of the “moderate” headchoppers that the US supports in Syria paying special attention to their moderate treatment of prisoners. The Russian pilot was captured by these “freedom fighters”, shot twice in the chest and then his clothes were ripped off so he could be moderately photographed. These are the fine fellows that Uncle Sam would like to see in Damascus heading the government because, as we all know, “Assad has lost legitimacy”. See {2}.

For the last three days, I have been following a fast-evolving plan by the Turkish Terrorist Government (TTG) to create a false flag operation that would draw either the US or Nato deeper into the war in Syria reversing Obama’s recent commitment NOT to deploy ground troops to the warzone. On Saturday, Turkish newspapers reported that 1,500 Syrian Turkmen had fled to the Turkish border for safety. The reasons that were given were that the Russian warplanes were bombing areas where ISIS was not located. True, ISIS is not located in these Turkmen villages by the border; rather the barbarians that you see in the video are located there. These men belong to the jihadi groups that that have been funded, armed and trained by Turkey and the US and who are fighting to topple Assad. Reasonable people who would like to see an end to terrorism, should feel supportive of Putin’s efforts to annihilate these monsters. Instead, the Turkish government has been trying to make the case that Russia is bombing innocent civilians. Now check out this story (from Monday) in Turkey’s leading newspaper Hurriyet:

Turkey has called for a UN Security Council meeting to discuss attacks on Turkmens in neighboring Syria, according to Prime Ministry sources, with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu saying his government will “not hesitate” to take the required measures on Syrian soil to protect the Turkmen people…

Turkey is in discussions with the United States and Russia over the bombing of the villages and has sent a letter to Britain, the current holder of the UN Security Council’s presidency, asking for the subject to be taken up, sources from Davutoglu’s office told Reuters on November 23 …

Speaking to reporters late on November 22, Davutoglu recalled that he was engaged in constant contact with both Chief of General Staff General Hulusi Akar and National Intelligence Organization (MIT) Chief Hakan Fidan over the weekend concerning alleged Russian air raids on Turkmen villages near the Syrian-Turkish border. Sources, meanwhile, told Reuters that Davutoglu had consulted on the intelligence dimension of the issue with Akar and Fidan.

“Our security forces have been instructed to retaliate against any development that would threaten Turkey’s border security”, the prime minister said. “If there is an attack that would lead to an intense influx of refugees to Turkey, required measures would be taken both inside Syria and Turkey”, he added.

“Looking at background of these attacks, in a region where very clearly there is no element of Deash (ISIS), where there is no terrorist element, first Russian airplanes come and then with support from foreign fighters.

“We will also take the required measures diplomatically for the protection of our brothers and sisters in the place where they are located and for the protection of their human rights in the face of any threat”, he also stated. {3}

So is the Turkish Prime Minister correct in saying the Russians are bombing the Turkmen civilians forcing them to flee from their homes? Not according to Turkmen leader Ali Türkmani. Here’s what he said:

There is a perception operation that is being waged over the Turkmens. The regime will of course attempt to maintain its territorial integrity. As such, threats from al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army are being targeted [by Russian air strikes]. It’s not correct to say the Turkmens are being targeted.

So civilians are not being targeted, but the Turkish government is supplying weapons and ammo to the terrorists as this article in the Turkish daily Zaman proves:

Several trucks bound for Syria were stopped at the beginning of last year by Turkish gendarmerie forces upon instructions by a prosecutor. It turned out they contained weapons.

The AK Party government claimed for months that the trucks only included humanitarian aid, but a report published by the Cumhuriyet daily in May last year revealed that the trucks contained weapons.

According to the daily’s report, a truck, which is thought to be one of many, contained 1,000 artillery shells, 50,000 machine gun rounds, 30,000 heavy machine gun rounds and 1,000 mortar shells.

The government was accused of sending the weapons to radical Islamist groups in Syria, but Davutoglu swore in June that the trucks were bound for Turkmens. In contrast, Turkmens had earlier denied receiving any weapons from Turkey. {4}

So what is the game-plan here? What is Turkey really up to?

Well, first of all, they are trying to set up a safe zone on sovereign Syrian territory so they can continue to spread terror across Syria. Check out this clip from the Daily Sabah and you’ll see how these Turkmen radicals who are allies of Ankara are seizing villages to create the safe zone:

Syrian opposition groups supported by Turkish and US warplanes took control of two Turkmen towns in Northern Syria early Saturday, Anadolu Agency reported … The operation was supported by six Turkish F-16s, four US F-15s and an AC-130 joined the offensive along with three drones.

Security sources added that this success in the fight against DAESH that can be defined as the first step for the creation of a DAESH-free zone in Northern Syria …

Speaking about Turkey’s stance on the recent developments in Northern Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a live broadcast on Wednesday that declaring no-fly and safe zones is crucial to resolve the Syrian Crisis … Erdogan further stated that Turkey will continue to carry out anti-terror operations until concrete results are achieved and peace is restored. {5}

Whether you call it an ISIS-free zone or not is irrelevant. The fact is, the Turkish government (with US air support) is trying to annex Syrian territory for its own nefarious purposes. That much is clear.

The downing of the Russian Su-24 fighter fits perfectly with the way in which the Turkish government has been ratcheting up tensions on the border, using its jihadi allies to seize Syrian territory, and trying to incite a violent reaction that will force greater Nato or US involvement. I seriously doubt that Putin is gullible enough to take the bait and overreact to this obvious and pathetic provocation in Ankara. He will exact his pound of flesh at some other time, a time of his own choosing.

Links:

{1} http://southfront.org/international-military-review-syria-iraq-battlespace-nov-24-2015/

{2} https://twitter.com/green_lemonnn/status/669096228777521153

{3} http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-pm-says-ready-to-take-measures-inside-syria-to-protect-turkmen-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=91539&NewsCatID=352

{4} http://www.todayszaman.com/diplomacy_turkey-calls-on-un-security-council-to-convene-for-turkmens-in-syria_405010.html

{5} http://www.dailysabah.com/syrian-crisis/2015/11/21/first-step-for-the-safe-zone-in-n-syria-opposition-groups-take-two-turkmen-towns-from-daesh

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/11/24/turkey-downs-russian-jet-to-draw-Nato-and-us-deeper-into-syrian-quagmire/

Categories: Uncategorized

Why the Powers that Be …

… are Pushing a Cashless Society

We Can’t Rein in the Banks If We Can’t Pull Our Money Out of Them

by Washingtons Blog (May 04 2015)

Martin Armstrong summarizes the headway being made to ban cash, and argues {1} that the goal of those pushing a cashless society is to prevent bank runs … and increase their control:

The central banks are … planning drastic restrictions on cash itself. They see moving to electronic money will first eliminate the underground economy, but secondly, they believe it will even prevent a banking crisis. This idea of eliminating cash was first floated as the normal trial balloon to see how the people take it. It was first launched by Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University and Willem Buiter, the chief economist at Citigroup. Their claims have been widely hailed and their papers are now the foundation for the new age of Economic Totalitarianism that confronts us. Rogoff and Buiter have laid the ground work for the end of much of our freedom and will one day will be considered the new Marx with hindsight. They sit in their lofty offices but do not have real world practical experience beyond theory. Considerations of their arguments have shown how governments can seize all economic power and destroy cash in the process eliminating all rights. Physical paper money provides the check against negative interest rates for if they become too great, people will simply withdraw their funds and hoard cash. Furthermore, paper currency allows for bank runs. Eliminate paper currency and what you end up with is the elimination of the ability to demand to withdraw funds from a bank.

In many nations, specific measures have already been taken demonstrating that the Rogoff-Buiter world of Economic Totalitarianism is indeed upon us. This is the death of Capitalism. Of course the socialists hate Capitalism and see other people’s money should be theirs. What they cannot see is that Capitalism is freedom from government totalitarianism. The freedom to pursue the field you desire without filling the state needs that supersede your own.

There have been test runs of this Rogoff-Buiter Economic Totalitarianism to see if the idea works. I reported on June 21 2014 {2} that Britain was doing a test run. A shopping street in Manchester banned cash as part of an experiment to see if Brits would accept a cashless society. London buses ended accepting cash payments from July 2014. Meanwhile, Currency Exchange dealers began offering debt cards instead of cash that they market as being safer to travel with. The Chorlton, South Manchester experiment was touted to test customers and business reaction to the idea for physical currency will disappear inside twenty years.

France passed another Draconian new law that from the summer of 2015 it will now impose cash requirements dramatically trying to eliminate cash by force. French citizens and tourists will then only be allowed a limited amount of physical money. They have financial police searching people on trains just passing through France to see if they are transporting cash, which they will now seize. Meanwhile, the new French Elite are moving in this very same direction. Piketty wants to just take everyone’s money who has more than he does. Nobody stands on the side of freedom or on restraining the corruption within government. The problem always turns against the people for we are the cause of the fiscal mismanagement of government that never has enough for themselves.

In Greece a drastic reduction in cash is also being discussed in light of the economic crisis. Now any bill over seventy euros should be payable only by check or credit card – it will be illegal to pay in cash. The German Baader Bank {3} founded in Munich expects formally to abolish the cash to enforce negative interest rates on accounts that is really taxation on whatever money you still have left after taxes.

Complete abolition of cash threatens our very freedom and rights of citizens in so many areas.

Paper currency is indeed the check against negative interest rates. We need only look to Switzerland to prove that theory. Any attempt to impose say a five percent negative interest rates (tax) would lead to an unimaginably massive flight into cash. This was already demonstrated recently by the example of Swiss pension funds, which withdrew their money from the bank in a big way and now store it in vaults in cash in order to escape the financial repression. People will act in their own self-interest and negative interest rates are likely to reduce the sales of government bonds and set off a bank run as long as paper money exists.

Obviously, government and bankers are not stupid. The only way to prevent such a global bank run would be the total prohibition of paper money. This is unlikely, both in Switzerland and in the United States because the economies are dominated there by a certain “liberalism” to some extent but also because their currencies also circulate outside their domestic economies. The discussion of the cash ban in the context of a global conference with the participation of the major central banks of the US and the ECB, demonstrates by itself that the problem is not a regional problem.

Nevertheless, there is a growing assumption that the negative interest rate world (tax on cash) is likely to increase dramatically in Europe in particular since it is socialism that is collapsing. Government in Brussels is unlikely to yield power and their line of thinking cannot lead to any solution. The negative interest rate concept is making its way into the United States at JP Morgan where they will charge a fee on excess cash on deposit starting May 1st 2015. Asset holdings of cash with a tax or a fee in the amount of the negative interest rate seems to be underway even in Switzerland.

The movement toward electronic money is moving at high speed and this says a lot about the state of the financial system. The track record of the major financial institutions is nearly perfect – they are always caught on the wrong side when a crisis breaks, which requires their bailouts.
The fact that we have already seen test runs with theory-balloons flying, the major financial institutions are in no shape to withstand another economic decline.

For depositors, this means they really need to grasp what is going on here for unless they are vigilant, there is a serious risk of losing everything. We must understand that these measures will be implemented overnight in the middle of a banking crisis after the third quarter of 2015. The balloons have taken off and the discussions are underway. The trend in taxation and reduction of cash seems to be unstoppable. Government is not prepared to reform for that would require a new way of thinking and a loss of power. That is not a consideration. They only see one direction and that is to take us into the new promised-land of economic totalitarianism.

If cash is banned, people can’t pull cash out of their bank accounts, for political reasons {4}, because they’ve lost confidence in the bank, or because “bail-ins” are enacted {5}.

The Financial Times argued {6} last year that central banks would be the real winners from a cashless society:

Central bankers, after all, have had an explicit interest in introducing e-money from the moment the global financial crisis began …

The introduction of a cashless society empowers central banks greatly. A cashless society, after all, not only makes things like negative interest rates possible, it transfers absolute control of the money supply to the central bank, mostly by turning it into a universal banker that competes directly with private banks for public deposits. All digital deposits become base money.

The Government Can Manipulate Digital Accounts More Easily than Cash

Moreover, an official White House panel on spying has implied that the government is manipulating the amount in people’s financial accounts. {7}

If all money becomes digital, it would be much easier for the government to manipulate our accounts.

Indeed, numerous high-level NSA whistleblowers say that NSA spying is about crushing dissent {8} and blackmailing opponents {9} … not {10} stopping {11] terrorism{12}.

This may sound over-the-top … but remember, the government sometimes labels {13} its critics as “terrorists” {14}. If the government claims the power to indefinitely detain – or even assassinate {15} – American citizens at the whim of the executive, don’t you think that government people would be willing to shut down, or withdraw a stiff “penalty” from a dissenter’s bank account?

If society becomes cashless, dissenters can’t hide cash. All of their financial holdings would be vulnerable to an attack by the government.

This would be the ultimate form of control. Because – without access to money – people couldn’t resist, couldn’t hide and couldn’t escape.

And see:http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/05/why-the-powers-that-be-are-pushing-a-cashless-society.html

Links:

{1} http://armstrongeconomics.com/archives/30145

{2} http://armstrongeconomics.com/archives/22116

{3} http://www.baaderbank.de/ueber-uns/firmenchronik.html

{4} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/11/big-banks-plead-with-customers-not-to-move-their-money.html

{5} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/12/new-rules-cyprus-style-bail-ins-take-deposits-pensions.html

{6} http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2014/01/22/1748152/the-time-for-official-e-money-is-now/

{7} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/12/u-s-government-changing-amount-peoples-financial-accounts-manipulating-financial-systems-offensive-cyber-capabilities.html

{8} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/05/spying-meant-crush-dissent-terrorism.html

{9} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/07/nsa-blackmailing-world.html

{10} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/07/the-fact-that-mass-surveillance-doesnt-keep-us-safe-goes-mainstream.html

{11} http://www.technologyreview.com/news/519336/bruce-schneier-nsa-spying-is-making-us-less-safe/

{12} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/08/top-security-expert-treating-everyone-like-a-potential-terrorist-weakens-our-ability-to-protect-america.html

{13} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/06/spying-dissent.html

{14} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/02/u-s-government-labels-dissent-terrorism.html

{15} http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/02/lost-constitutional-rights.html

Categories: Uncategorized

Who Exactly is Trying to Kill off Cash?

Your Children “Will Not Know What Cash Is”.

by Don Quijones, Spain & Mexico, editor at Wolf Street

Wolf Street (November 24 2015)

In the Irish city of Cork, business leaders recently launched a three-month pilot project to encourage consumers to abandon the archaic use of cash by offering the chance to enter into a prize draw if they use electronic means of payment {1}. It is a cheap, almost insulting inducement, but nonetheless probably an effective one. The ultimate aim of the scheme is to transform Cork into the first Irish city to go completely cashless.

The Race to Kill Off Cash

A few years ago such an aspiration –  to do away with physical cash, a form of payment that has served mankind, for better or worse, richer or poorer, for millennia –  might have seemed a little odd. Not anymore. Today cities all over the globe and even entire nations appear to be in a mad rush to kill off cash.

One obvious place that springs to mind is Scandinavia, where Denmark and Sweden are engaged in a neck and neck race to become Europe’s first cashless nation. But the trend extends far beyond Scandinavia. In London, where physical money has been practically abolished from the public transport system, the borough of Brent has proudly declared itself the first district council to go completely cashless {2} –  with a little bit of help from MasterCard.

In May this year the city of Bergamo launched an ambitious pilot scheme to become Italy’s first cashless city {3}. The initiative, which awards people who use electronic payments with discounts on retail products, is sponsored by (once again) MasterCard, together with CartaSi, Visa, UbiBanca, Banca Popolare di Bergamo and Banco Popolare.

Meanwhile, in the UK region of South Gloucestershire, the local Conservative Party is spitting venom about the lack of “a genuinely comprehensive, multi-model, London-style [that is, completely cashless] ‘Oyster’ payment system” for new planned Metrobus routes.

“If the Metrobus is really going to present the traveling public with something different, then the Authority must insist that electronic alternatives to the issuing of paper tickets by drivers is made a contractual condition of any procurement or tender”, thunders Cllr Lucas. “A ‘Brunel’ card would avoid all of the easily foreseeable problems such as unnecessary delays, engineered congestion, confusion, and fragmented service coverage which arise from sticking with traditional forms of payment”.

These are all small, anecdotal examples of a very large, potentially world-changing trend. As I reported in {4}, the world’s biggest cashless laboratory is sub-Saharan Africa, where Western NGOs and GOs (Government Organizations) are working hand-in-hand with banks, telecom companies, and local authorities to replace cash with mobile money alternatives.

The Usual Suspects

While it is true that recent technological advances and changes in generational priorities mean that cash’s days are probably numbered anyway, there is a whole world of difference between a natural death and euthanasia. It is increasingly clear that a loose, albeit extremely powerful alliance of governments, central banks, big banks, credit card companies, and large corporations wants to pull the plug on cash, for their own distinct motives.

Central banks want to make Negative Interest Rate Policy (“NIRP”) an eternal reality and the only way of doing that is to stop depositors from cashing out. For credit card companies, cash is the ultimate rival. As such, it’s no surprise that the likes of Visa and MasterCard are among those pushing the hardest for a cashless economy. As for banks, the obvious attraction is the virtual elimination of the threat of bank runs. As Ellen Brown warns, the ultimate premise of Dodd-Frank was that there would be “no more taxpayer bailouts”:

 

Instead, insolvent systemically-risky banks were supposed to “bail in” (confiscate) the money of their creditors, including their depositors (the largest class of creditor of any bank). That could explain the push to go cashless. By quietly eliminating the possibility of cash withdrawals, the central bank can make sure the deposits are there to be grabbed when disaster strikes {5}.

 

In most of the cashless schemes government is playing a key or even leading role. Besides being able to tax people and businesses with much greater efficiency, its two primary motives are power and control. What better way of controlling the people than by controlling their access to the money they need to survive? It would amount to what Martin Armstrong calls “totalitarian control over the economy” {6}.

Naturally, none of these projects are being sold to the general public in such a dystopian light. Instead they are being framed as people-friendly initiatives aimed at making life easier, more convenient, safer and more efficient, while of course stopping drug pushers, terrorists (real or presumed), and all other bogeymen (excluding of course those in government or the financial sector) in their tracks. It’s as if all the world needs to become a better, healthier, nicer, less crime-infested place is the complete abolition of paper and metal forms of money.

Here’s a perfect case in point courtesy of MasterCard:

 

Even though much of the world’s population has access to many different options for making payments without it, cash still persists. As a way of making payment, cash takes time to get at, is riskier to carry, and by some estimates, cash costs society as much as 1.5% of GDP. Electronic payments on the other hand have been proven to boost economic growth, while advancing financial inclusion. It is for these reasons that countries around the world are working to make their payment systems less dependent on cash.

 

What conveniently gets lost in all the hype are the potential downsides of a cashless economy, which are legion. They include the complete loss of personal anonymity and control over your own finances; the very serious risk of identity fraud, especially when biometric measurements are introduced; the ease with which government authorities will be able to confiscate (and probably never return) our hard-earned money; the likelihood of new or increased fees as financial intermediaries proliferate; and perhaps most grievous of all, the danger that your government or financial institutions can cut you off altogether from the money you own and need to survive, just as happened with Wikileaks when it published the biggest leaks in journalistic history, in October 2010.

Just over a week ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook predicted the death of cash, while out promoting Apple Pay, when he told students at Trinity College, Dublin, that their children “will not know what cash is” {7}.

He may well be right. Those who want to kill cash already have vital technological and generational trends firmly on their side. They also have the added bonus of public ignorance, apathy and disinterest. As I warned a couple of weeks ago {4}, the governments and banks’ strongest ally in their War on Cash is the general public itself. As long as people continue to abandon the use of cash, for the sake of a few minor gains in convenience, the War on Cash is already won.

Links:

{1} http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/cork-bids-to-become-the-first-cashless-city-in-ireland-362583.html

{2} http://www.wired-gov.net/wg/directory.nsf/campaign/London+Borough+of+Brent+becomes+UKs+1st+Genuine+Cashless+Council

{3} http://www.pangeatoday.com/bergamo-to-become-italys-first-cashless-city/

{4} http://wolfstreet.com/2015/11/07/first-they-came-for-the-pennies-in-the-war-on-cash/

{5} http://ellenbrown.com/2015/11/20/hang-onto-your-wallets-negative-interest-the-war-on-cash-and-the-10-trillion-bail-in/

{6} http://www.armstrongeconomics.com/archives/30145

{7} http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/shopping-and-consumer-news/11989595/Apple-boss-Next-generation-of-children-will-not-know-what-money-is.html

http://wolfstreet.com/2015/11/24/the-death-of-cash/

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