Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"The Power Of Words..."

"Of the powerful arms of destruction that man has been able to invent, the most terrible- and most cowardly- is the word. Fists and firearms at least leave some blood remaining. Bombs destroy houses and streets. Poisons can be detected. The master says: “The word can destroy without leaving a clue. Children are conditioned for years by their parents, men are impiously criticized, women are systematically massacred by the words of their husband. The faithful are kept away from religion by those who regard themselves as the interpreters of the voice of God. Verify whether you are making use of this weapon. See whether others are using this weapon on you. And prevent either of those from continuing.”
- Paulo Coelho, "Maktub"

"Two Roads..."

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – 
I took the one less traveled by, 
and that has made all the difference."

- Robert Frost

Paulo Coelho, “Convention For Those Wounded In Love”

“Convention For Those Wounded In Love”
by Paulo Coelho

“General Provisions:

A – Whereas the saying “all is fair in love and war” is absolutely correct;

B – Whereas for war we have the Geneva Convention, approved on 22 August 1864, which provides for those wounded in the battlefield, but until now no convention has been signed concerning those wounded in love, who are far greater in number;

It is hereby decreed that:

Article 1 – All lovers, of any sex, are alerted that love, besides being a blessing, is also something extremely dangerous, unpredictable and capable of causing serious damage. Consequently, anyone planning to love should be aware that they are exposing their body and soul to various types of wounds, and that they shall not be able to blame their partner at any moment, since the risk is the same for both.

Article 2 – Once struck by a stray arrow fired from Cupid’s bow, they should immediately ask the archer to shoot the same arrow in the opposite direction, so as not to be afflicted by the wound known as “unrequited love”. Should Cupid refuse to perform such a gesture, the Convention now being promulgated demands that the wounded partner remove the arrow from his/her heart and throw it in the garbage. In order to guarantee this, those concerned should avoid telephone calls, messages over the Internet, sending flowers that are always returned, or each and every means of seduction, since these may yield results in the short run but always end up wrong after a while. The Convention decrees that the wounded person should immediately seek the company of other people and try to control the obsessive thought: “this person is worth fighting for”.

Article 3 – If the wound is caused by third parties, in other words if the loved one has become interested in someone not in the script previously drafted, vengeance is expressly forbidden. In this case, it is allowed to use tears until the eyes dry up, to punch walls or pillows, to insult the ex-partner in conversations with friends, to allege his/her complete lack of taste, but without offending their honor. The Convention determines that the rule contained in Article 2 be applied: seek the company of other persons, preferably in places different from those frequented by the other party.

Article 4 – In the case of light wounds, herein classified as small treacheries, fulminating passions that are short-lived, passing sexual disinterest, the medicine called Pardon should be applied generously and quickly. Once this medicine has been applied, one should never reconsider one’s decision, not even once, and the theme must be completely forgotten and never used as an argument in a fight or in a moment of hatred.

Article 5 – In all definitive wounds, also known as “breaking up”, the only medicine capable of having an effect is called Time. It is no use seeking consolation from fortune-tellers (who always say that the lost lover will return), romantic books (which always have a happy ending), soap-operas on the television or other such things. One should suffer intensely, completely avoiding drugs, tranquilizers and praying to saints. Alcohol is only tolerated if kept to a maximum of two glasses of wine a day.

Final determination: Those wounded in love, unlike those wounded in armed conflict, are neither victims nor torturers. They chose something that is part of life, and so they have to accept both the agony and the ecstasy of their choice. And those who have never been wounded in love will never be able to say: “I have lived”. Because they haven’t.”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Why does Comet Garradd have two tails? Visible on the left, Comet Garradd's dust tail is composed of ice and dust bits that trail the comet in its orbit around the Sun. Visible on the right, Comet Garradd's ion tail, is composed of ionized gas blown directly out from the Sun by the solar wind. Most comets show two tails, although it is unusual for them to appear to point in nearly opposite directions.
 Click image for larger size.
 Comet Garradd is currently showing opposing tails because of the Earth's opportunistic intermediate viewing angle. Subtle hues in the above image captured last week show the dust tail as slightly yellow as its large grains reflecting sunlight achromatically, while the ion tail shines slightly blue as the carbon monoxide ions reflect blue sunlight more efficiently. In the center, surrounding the comet's nucleus, is the green-tinted coma, so colored as it is a mix of dust and gasses that include green-emitting cyanogen. Although now drifting out from the Sun, Comet Garradd will make its closest approach to the Earth next week.”

"The Poetry..."

“He lives the poetry that he cannot write.
The others write the poetry that they dare not realize.”

 - Oscar Wilde

"In The Arena..."

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
- Theodore Roosevelt

Chet Raymo, “A Few Words Inspired By The Tomato Plant”

“A Few Words Inspired By The Tomato Plant”
by Chet Raymo

"Mostly we think of life in terms of individuals - this person, this tomato plant, this frog, this oak tree, this gnat. And we talk about birth and death as the beginning and ending of life. But there is another sense in which life is just one thing, whose beginning is lost in the depths of time and whose end is not in sight. Life in this sense embodies itself in matter, temporarily, as a tomato or a frog, puts on matter and puts off matter as we might don or doff clothes. By this account, I am an ephemeral conglomeration of atoms that life is using to perpetuate itself.

But what is this thing called life? It cannot exist except as embodied form, but it maintains a continuity independent of any particular embodiment. It is a strange enduring wave that stirs the material world into purposeful and directed avenues. With Johannes Kepler we might call it the facultas formatrix of nature, the formative faculty, but giving something a name doesn't explain it. Whatever life is - in the unitary, enduring sense - it would be surprising if it only existed here on Earth. If I were a betting man I would bet that life is as pervasive as matter itself, or energy. Matter, energy and complexification. We have lots left to learn.

But let's be cautious. There are lots of folks out there with half-baked biocentric theories of the universe. Someone once chided the philosopher W. V. O. Quine with a quote from Shakespeare: “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” To which Quine is said to have responded: “Possibly, but my concern is that there not be more things in my philosophy than are in heaven and earth.”

The Poet: Mary Oliver, “The Leaf and the Cloud: A Poem”

 "Flare, Part 12"

"When loneliness comes stalking, go into the fields, consider
the orderliness of the world. Notice
something you have never noticed before,

like the tambourine sound of the snow-cricket
whose pale green body is no longer than your thumb.

Stare hard at the hummingbird, in the summer rain,
shaking the water-sparks from its wings.

Let grief be your sister, she will whether or no.
Rise up from the stump of sorrow, and be green also,
    like the diligent leaves.

A lifetime isn't long enough for the beauty of this world
and the responsibilities of your life.

Scatter your flowers over the graves, and walk away.
Be good-natured and untidy in your exuberance.

In the glare of your mind, be modest.
And beholden to what is tactile, and thrilling."

~ Mary Oliver,
 “The Leaf and the Cloud: A Poem”

The Daily "Near You?"

Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Thanks for stopping by.

"Chief Seattle's Response"

"Chief Seattle's Response"

"I Remember..."

"I remember my youth and the feeling that will never come back any more – the feeling that I could last for ever, outlast the sea, the earth, and all men; the deceitful feeling that lures us on to joys, to perils, to love, to vain effort – to death; the triumphant conviction of strength, the heat of life in the handful of dust, the glow in the heart that with every year grows dim, grows cold, grows small, and expires – and expires, too soon, too soon – before life itself."

- Joseph Conrad, 
1857-1924, English writer, "Youth"

"Sharing Grief: Opening to Receive Comfort"

"Sharing Grief: Opening to Receive Comfort"
by The DailyOM

"Grief is part of the human experience, and sharing our vulnerability helps create truly close bonds. When we experience something that causes us to feel shock and sadness, we may feel the urge to withdraw from life. It may seem like remaining withdrawn will keep us protected from the world, but during these times it is important to reach out to those trusted and precious people who care about us the most. Even with our best information and reasoning, we never know when someone else’s experience or perspective can give us additional information that we need. The universe speaks to us through many channels, and when we open ourselves up to receive its messages, we also receive nurturing care from a loving partner in life’s journey.

Grief is part of the human experience, and sharing our vulnerability is what creates truly close bonds in our relationships. Opening ourselves up in this way gets to the core of our being, past all of our defenses and prejudices. When life seems to crack the outer shell of our world, we are both raw and fresh at the same time. It is then that we discover who is truly willing to walk with us through life. We also see that some of those sent to us may not be the ones we expected to see. Regardless, we learn to trust in the universe, in others, in our own strength and resilience, and in the wisdom of life itself.

Sharing grief allows us to ease our burden by letting someone else help carry it. This helps us process our own inner thoughts and feelings through the filter of a trusted and beloved someone. We may feel guilty or selfish, as if we are unloading on someone who has their own challenges. Although, if we think about it, we know we would do the same for them, and their protests would seem pointless. Remember that not sharing feelings with others denies them the opportunity to feel. We may be the messenger sent by the universe for their benefit, and it is on this mission that we have been sent. By sharing our hopes and fears, joys and pains with another person, we accept the universe’s gifts of wisdom and loving care."
- http://www.dailyom.

"How It Really Is"

Satire: "Santorum Proposes Replacing Church, State with New Entity Called ‘Sturch’"

"Santorum Proposes Replacing Church, 
State with New Entity Called ‘Sturch’"
Would Offer Salvation, Motor Vehicle Renewals on Sunday
by Andy Borowitz

LANSING (The Borowitz Report) – "Telling a crowd of supporters that the separation of church and state “makes me want to throw up,” GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum today proposed replacing church and state with a new entity he called “sturch.” “Merging church and state into sturch will benefit all Americans,” he said.  “Except maybe Jews.” Mr. Santorum said that the combined entity would offer greater convenience to the American people than the separation of church and state currently does, since Americans would be able to get salvation and motor vehicle renewals at the same place every Sunday. Turning to another campaign theme, Mr. Santorum told the crowd, “I support the rights of the unborn child until it is born and wants an education." He contrasted himself with President Obama on the education issue, stating, “Barack Obama speaks in complete sentences. What a snob.”

In other campaign news, singer Kid Rock endorsed Mitt Romney, which means that his music is no longer the worst thing about Kid Rock. An upbeat Mr. Romney visited the Daytona 500, where he told a reporter, “I love this stuff. I’ve always been a big NASDAQ fan.”

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Sociology: "Shame On The Rich"

"Shame On The Rich"
by Elizabeth Norton

“For fans of the British upstairs-downstairs TV series “Downton Abbey,” skullduggery may seem evenly distributed among the social ranks. But in real life, it's the upper classes that are more likely to behave dishonorably, according to new research. Observers of human nature have long puzzled over the possibility of an ethical class divide. On the one hand, people with fewer resources and dimmer prospects might be expected to do whatever's necessary to get ahead. On the other, wealthy types may be more focused on themselves, because money, independence, and freedom can insulate people from the plight of others. They may also be less generous: Studies involving money games show that upper-class subjects keep more for themselves, and U.S. surveys find that the rich give a smaller percentage of their income to charity than do the poor.

To see whether dishonesty varies with social class, psychologist Paul Piff of the University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues devised a series of tests, working with groups of 100 to 200 Berkeley undergraduates or adults recruited online. Subjects completed a standard gauge of their social status, placing an X on one of 10 rungs of a ladder representing their income, education, and how much respect their jobs might command compared with other Americans. The team's findings suggest that privilege promotes dishonesty. For example, upper-class subjects were more likely to cheat. After five apparently random rolls of a computerized die for a chance to win an online gift certificate, three times as many upper-class players reported totals higher than 12—even though, unbeknownst to them, the game was rigged so that 12 was the highest possible score.

When participants were manipulated into thinking of themselves as belonging to a higher class than they did, the poorer ones, too, began to behave unethically. In one test, subjects were asked to compare themselves with people at the top or the bottom of the social scale (Donald Trump or a homeless person, for example.) They were then permitted to take candies from a jar ostensibly meant for a group of children in a nearby lab. Subjects whose role-playing raised their status in their own eyes took twice as many candies as those who compared themselves to "The Donald," the team reports online today in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences." In another test, participants were asked to list several benefits of greed; they were given the example that greed can help further one's professional goals, then asked to come up with three additional benefits. Again, lower-class subjects whose attitudes toward greed had been nudged in this way became just as likely as their wealthier counterparts to sympathize with dishonest behavior (taking home office supplies, laying off employees while increasing their own bonuses, overcharging customers to drive up profits).

In a final experiment, the researchers took their hypothesis to the streets. At a busy intersection in the San Francisco Bay area, the team stationed "pedestrians" at crosswalks, with instructions to approach the crossing at a point when oncoming drivers would have a chance to stop. Observers coded the status of the cars' drivers based on the vehicles' age, make, and appearance. Drivers of shiny, expensive cars were three times more likely than those of old clunkers to plow through a crosswalk, failing to yield to pedestrians as required by California state law. High-status motorists were also four times more likely than those with cheaper, older cars to cut off other drivers at a four-way stop.

In an interesting twist, about one-third of Prius drivers broke crosswalk laws, putting the hybrid among the highest "unethical driving" car brands. "This is a good demonstration of the 'moral licensing' phenomenon, in which hybrid-car drivers who believe they're saving the Earth may feel entitled to behave unethically in other ways," Piff says. (The Prius results were observed but not analyzed for statistical significance in the study.)

Piff says the study may shed light on the hotly debated topic of income inequality. "Our findings suggest that if the pursuit of self-interest goes unchecked, it may result in a vicious cycle: self-interest leads people to behave unethically, which raises their status, which leads to more unethical behavior and inequality."

"It's a great study," says sociologist Adam Galinsky of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, who has shown that those with power are more apt to condemn behavior that they themselves engage in. He says that the findings of Piff and colleagues may tap into something more fundamental than class—namely, power. "Unequal power can exist between social classes but also between an employee and boss, a wife and a husband, or two people in a negotiation."

The Economy: "The Grand Game of Perception Management"

"The Grand Game of Perception Management"
by Charles Hugh Smith

"The economy will expand if you believe it is expanding- because you'll be "animal spirited" into buying a lot of stuff on credit that you can't afford. It all boils down to perception- that's the insight at the heart of the Grand Game of Perception Management. Economists speak of magical "animal spirits" that fuel economic expansion, but this is simply a colorful term for perception management: when people perceive others reaping outsized gains in profits or pleasure from taking risky bets and freely spending borrowed money, then they will feel an overpowering urge to follow the herd and leverage their capital (if any) and disposable income (if any) into risky bets and zealous over-consumption, i.e. "animal spirits." Conversely, when said risky bets blow up and participants have lost their ever-loving derrieres by following the herd, then "animal spirits" quickly dissipate as the herd thunders off a cliff to its financial demise.

The task of the financial/political/media Status Quo is to convince Americans to overlook the abundant evidence of economic deterioration and focus on heavily juiced "evidence" of robust "growth." The game plan is this: if the Status Quo can convince you that the economy has righted itself and from here on in everything will get better and better, every day and in every way, then we will abandon financial rationality and start buying homes we can't afford on credit, cars we can't afford on credit and boatloads of stuff from China that we don't need on credit (of course looking cool is a "need," i.e. having an iPad to carry around).

In other words, believing it is so will make it so. That is the essence of the campaign to stimulate "animal spirits" confidence: though the economy is actually tanking, if they can only convince us the Dow is moving to 15,000 and then on to 20,000, jobs are being created left and right and things are looking up everywhere, then the resulting piranha-like shopping-feeding-frenzy will create the expansion that is currently chimerical.

This "feel-good" promotion of "growth" is also designed to persuade the millions of holdouts earning nothing on their IRA funds to drop all that cash back into the stock market, which is "breaking out to new highs." (Isn't that what they said in January 2000?) And just in case this propaganda campaign fails to do the trick, the Federal Reserve has destroyed the return on savings and cash, all in the hope that the decimated, income-starved herd will turn from rationally avoiding risk to irrationally embracing it out of sheer desperation.

"Perception management" can be usefully shortened to a one-syllable word: "con." The confidence-man's most basic tool is to create the surface sheen of success with minimal investment of time and capital. Thus the con-man buys a couple of designer suits, rents a cubbyhole office with a prestigious address, leases a 500-series Mercedes vehicle, counterfeits some diplomas or other signifiers of Elite status and achievement, and then goes to work conning his credulous marks. This exactly describes the strategy being pursued by Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner, the financial media, and America's scabrous political class. Consider one of the Status Quo's most valuable cons, the unemployment rate as calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

If we look at this chart from the St. Louis Federal Reserve, we see that employment- the actual number of people with jobs, as opposed to those who are without jobs- we see that the number of people with jobs has declined recently and is now at the same level of 3rd quarter 2009, a few months after it was officially declared that the recession had ended.

Click image for larger size.

The official unemployment rate was 10% in October 2009, when about 140 million people were found to have some sort of job, and now that the same number of people have been found to have some sort of job (140 million), the unemployment rate is now only 8.3%, even though the nation has added roughly 6 million residents to the workforce. Huh? How can 140 million jobs generate an unemployment rate of 10% in 2009 and 8.3% in 2012 while the workforce and population have grown by 6 million? If anything, the unemployment rate should be higher, since the number of people with jobs has held steady while the number of people without jobs has expanded.

Mish Shedlock has done many an autopsy on the unemployment rate, including this one from Feb. 3: Nonfarm Payroll +243,000; Unemployment Rate 8.3%; Those Not in Labor Force Rose an Amazing 1,177,000. The labor force and the unemployed have magically declined by millions since the recession was declared over in mid-2009. The Status Quo con-men are careful not to mention that $6 trillion in Federal borrowing has been squandered since 2009 just to return employment to 2004 levels. And that sum rises by $1.3-1.5 trillion every year as unprecedented quantities of money are borrowed to prop up the Status Quo.

A few years ago, deficits of $300 billion were considered unsustainable; now deficits of $1.3 trillion are accepted with little more than routine political jockeying. The con-men also never mention that this "official" deficit leaves out all supplemental appropriations which run into the hundreds of billions of dollars a year for expenditures such as war and bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac- and now, FHA will be added to the taxpayer bailouts: Housing Agency's Reserves at Risk FHA losses require taxpayer bailout.

Then there's the con-men's masterwork of perception management, the U.S. stock market. As noted earlier this week, much of the stock rally since March 2009 has been attributed to rising corporate profits. Yet a significant share of those profits were smoke-and-mirror illusions created by the Federal Reserve actively depreciating the nation's currency. Now that the dollar is strengthening, that charade is wearing thin.

Another chunk of those fabulous profits resulted from household incomes declining- that is, people earning less from their labor and savings as corporations kept any net increases for management and shareholders. Since 2007, the year before the most recent recession, real median household income has declined 6.4%. The median household income in 2010 was $49,445, down from $49,777 in 2009 and $52,673 in 2007. In other words, all this "growth" in GDP and profits since mid-2009 has not resulted in any visible improvement in household income, healthcare coverage, or any other metric that has a basis in real life. (Please review the Census Bureau link above for more.)

So believe the smooth talk about Dow 15,000, strong job growth and rising GDP at your own peril. Ignore declining income, empty storefronts, lower energy consumption and all the other real-world evidence of a contracting, enfeebled, precarious economy if it boosts your all-important "consumer confidence," but make sure you don't confuse the con with confidence: the Mercedes is leased, the office a front, the resume a fraud, and the smooth sales pitch a clever fabrication.”

"Tips For Dealing With Sadness and Depression"

"Tips For Dealing With Sadness and Depression"
by Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

“Depression with its characteristic sad face, stooped posture, and slow movements is universal; it is found not only in humans in all cultures, but even in animals, notably, monkeys, chimpanzees, and dogs. In the English language, we have even invented a metaphor to describe a sad face, the "hang dog" appearance. Everyone now and then feels sad, unhappy or disappointed because of a thought, memory, behavior or spoken words. But then such feelings are cleared up in just a few hours and we get back to our normal mood. We refer to it "occasional sadness or blues. " In many cases, the sadness or depressed mood may last for not just hours but days and weeks, and may accompany problems, such as, loss of appetite, overeating, sleeplessness, excessive sleeping, lack of energy and drive, loss of interest and joy, etc.

Unlike the occasional sadness, it is referred to as, "depression." Forty percent of the population reported occasional sadness or blues last year, out of which about nine percent (21 million) people experienced mild, moderate, or severe depression. Far more people, especially, of the younger generation, report being depressed today, than they did twenty, ten, or even five years ago. Our lives are inevitably touched by depression; a friend, relative, family member, or we personally will experience depression sometime in life.

Here are a few "self help" tips to cope with occasional sadness and mild depression. Be aware these are not a substitute for treatment:

1. Take up a physical, repetitive action such as, skipping rope, bouncing a ball, jogging, housecleaning, yard work, gardening, etc. Take up anything in which you can gradually build up your ability to move your body for 20 to 30 minutes. In the beginning, your body may not want to move at all. You may have to start with a light physical action for just a few minutes. Don't compare what you can do now with that "vigorous work out" you could do in the pre-depressed state. That will only depress you further. Just whatever you can do deserves your praise. If you want to compare what you are able to accomplish now with what you could do in the pre-depressed period, factor in the " 100 lb. formula. "Imagine that you have an invisible weight of 100 lb. tied to your back, legs, and arms. If you factor that in, you will have a correct appreciation of your performance in the depressed state.

2. Learn to divert yourself from the depressed mood by a) describing in minute detail the physical environment of a chosen area, such as the furniture, lights, fixtures, etc. b) expanding your awareness of the environment by seeing, hearing, feeling everything, relevant or irrelevant. c) engaging in an activity, such as, walking, reading, phone conversation, etc.

3. Resume activities that you have enjoyed in the past. A depressed person is likely to give up the activities that provided pleasure and enjoyment.

4. Imagine pleasant and relaxing experiences: Imagine scenes and situations that are pleasant and enjoyable to you, such as, playing golf, winning a lottery, basking in the sun on a sandy beach, etc. You can imagine a scene of the past , such as a vacation you had, or a happy event that is occurring in the future. The more details you can imagine, the less depressed you are likely to feel. Note, if you start picturing a negative, unpleasant experience in your mind, stop, get up, and do some activity or divert yourself.

5. Look for the humor or irony in a situation that makes you sad.

6. Pretend being back in time when you were not depressed. Start with 15 or 30 minutes and gradually increase the duration. Look at the pictures, slides, or movies of yourself of happy times so you can exactly copy the facial expressions, body posture, talk, voice, etc.

7. Assign a "depression time" for yourself, for example, "5.00 to 6.00 p.m.," when you allow yourself to feel as depressed as you really are. At other times, try to involve yourself more fully in performing various tasks and achieving set goals. Whenever you feel the depressed mood coming on, remind yourself as to when you will let the depression have its time.

8. View depression as a "nuisance" and not as a "catastrophe." Instead of telling yourself, "I can't stand this!" say, "I am strong enough to take this on" or "I will time it how long I can stand this. " This way you can avoid being anxious about depressed mood.

9. Eschew self criticism. Compliment yourself for coping with depression.

Get a professional evaluation to check your progress and need for treatment. These ideas can be used along with treatment.”

Monday, February 27, 2012

"Sons Of The Cosmos..."

“We are sons of the cosmos, but our conscience, our soul, make us strangers in that same cosmos, from which we were produced, and which still remains secretly intimate to us. Earth life is unique, or at least particularly rare in the cosmos, and our conscience is perhaps solitary in the living world. Man is a marginal creation in the animal world, the development of which has increased his marginality. We are alone on the Earth, among the known living beings. Our thought, our conscience, gives us knowledge of the physical world, but simultaneously drives it away from us.”
- E. Morin, French philosopher and sociologist, “Method V”

“The Horror! The Horror! Must-See War Films”

“The Horror! The Horror! Must-See War Films”
By John W. Whitehead
“You can’t show war as it really is on the screen, with all the blood and gore. Perhaps it would be better if you could fire real shots over the audience’s head every night, you know, and have actual casualties in the theater.”- Sam Fuller, film director and author.

"War is a grisly business, a horror of epic proportions. In terms of human carnage alone, war’s devastation is staggering. For example, it is estimated that approximately 231 million people died worldwide during the wars of the 20th century. However, this figure does not take into account the walking wounded—both physically and psychologically—who “survive” war.

Eventually, war will be our undoing. As Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent and author Chris Hedges observes: "War is like a poison. And just as a cancer patient must at times ingest a poison to fight off a disease, so there are times in a society when we must ingest the poison of war to survive. But what we must understand is that just as the disease can kill us, so can the poison. If we don't understand what war is, how it perverts us, how it corrupts us, how it dehumanizes us, how it ultimately invites us to our own self-annihilation, then we can become the victim of war itself. War is one of the most heady and intoxicating, addictive enterprises ever created by humankind. It has an allure, a fascination, a draw that sweeps across national lines, ethnicity, race, religion. It has perverted, corrupted, and ultimately destroyed societies and nations across the globe. The only way to guard against it is finally to understand what it does and how pernicious it is and the myths and lies that we use to cover up the fact that, at its core, war is death."

As Hedges implies, war is entertainment. Indeed, from books to television to the internet to film, war has been a centerpiece of American entertainment culture. Yet of all the artistic mediums, film may be the most suitable forum for a discussion of war, because of its visual impact. War movies deal in the extremes of human behavior. The best films address not only destruction on a vast scale but also plumb the depths of humanity’s response to the grotesque horror of war. They present human conflict in its most bizarre conditions—where men and women caught in the perilous straits of death perform feats of noble sacrifice or dig into the dark battalions of cowardice.

War films provide viewers with a way to vicariously experience combat, but the great ones are not merely vehicles for escapism. Instead, they provide a source of inspiration, while touching upon the fundamental issues at work in wartime scenarios. Here are 12 war films which touch on modern warfare (from the First World War onward) and run the gamut of conflicts and human emotions and center on the core issues often at work in the nasty business of war.

"The Third Man" (1949). Carol Reed’s The Third Man, which deals primarily with the after-effects of the ravages of war, is a great film by anyone’s standards. Set in postwar Europe, this bleak film (written by Graham Greene) sets forth the proposition that the corruption inherent in humanity means that the ranks of war are never closed. There are many fine performances in this film, including Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten and Alida Valli.

"Paths of Glory" (1957). This Stanley Kubrick film is an antiwar masterpiece. The setting is 1916, when two years of trench warfare have arrived at a stalemate. And while nothing of importance is occurring in the war, thousands of lives are being lost. But the masters of war pull the puppet strings, and the blood continues to flow. This film is packed with good performances, especially from Kirk Douglas and George Macready.

"The Manchurian Candidate" (1962). John Frankenheimer’s classic focuses on the psychological effects of war and its transmutation into mind control and political assassination. All the lines of intrigue converge to form a prophetic vision of what occurred the year after the film’s release with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This chilling film is well written (co-written by Frankenheimer and George Axelrod) and acted. Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Angela Lansbury head a fine cast.

"Dr. Strangelove, Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb" (1964). One of the great films of all time, Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove burst onto the cinematic landscape and cast a cynical eye on the entire business of war. Strange and surreal, this film is packed full of amazing images and great performances. Peter Sellers should have walked off with the Oscar for best actor (but he didn’t). Sterling Hayden and George C. Scott are excellent in support.

"MASH" (1970). This is one of Robert Altman’s best and most influential films—as can be seen in the popular spin-off television series. Everyone knows the story of this group of misfit American doctors during the Korean War. Fine performances by Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould.

"The Deer Hunter" (1978). Michael Cimino’s Academy Award-winning film is one of the most emotion-invoking films ever made. This story of a group of Pennsylvania steel mill workers who endure excruciating ordeals in the Vietnam War is one film that makes its point clear—war is the horror of all horrors. Robert DeNiro is fine, and Christopher Walken, who won a best supporting actor Oscar, is superb.

"Apocalypse Now" (1979). I consider this Francis Ford Coppola’s best film. Based on Joseph Conrad’s novella, The Heart of Darkness, Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) treks to the Cambodian jungle to assassinate renegade, manic Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando). This antiwar epic is a great visual experience with fine performances from its ensemble cast.

"Platoon" (1986). This is not Oliver Stone’s best film, but it is one helluva war movie. Set before and during the Tet Offensive of January 1968, this is a gritty view of the Vietnam War by one who served there. Indeed, when Stone is not filling the screen with explosions, he makes the jungle seem all too real—a wet place for bugs, leeches and snakes, but not for people. Fine performances by Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger.

"Full Metal Jacket" (1987). Stanley Kubrick’s take on Vietnam is one of the most powerful and psychological dramas ever made. Focusing on the schizophrenic nature of the human psyche—the duality of man—Kubrick takes us through a hell-like Parris Island boot camp and into the bowels of a surreal Vietnam through the eyes of Joker (Matthew Modine). Every facet of this film, as in all of Kubrick’s work, is top notch.

"Jacob’s Ladder" (1990). Adrian Lyne’s thriller hits the psyche like a thunderbolt. A man (Tim Robbins) struggles with what he saw while serving in Vietnam. Back home, he gradually becomes unable to separate "reality" from the surreal, psychotic world that intermittently intervenes in his existence. This bizarre film touches on the sordid nature of war and the corruption of those who manipulate and experiment on us while we fight on their behalf. Good cast (especially Elizabeth Peña), an excellent screenplay (Bruce Joel Rubin) and adept directing make this film one nice trip.

"Saving Private Ryan: The Invasion Sequence" (1998). The long opening sequence of this film is unlike anything in any other Hollywood depiction of war. It’s 25 minutes of barely comprehensible chaos and mutilation. Many veterans have stated that it is the most accurate re-creation of an amphibious assault. Credit for this sequence goes mainly to director of photography Janusz Kaminski—to be shared with editor Michael Kahn, sound designer Gary Rydstrom, writer Robert Rodat and director Steven Spielberg. Beyond this—i.e., the other 150 minutes of the film—Saving Private Ryan is a run-of-the-mill movie.

"Jarhead" (2005). Sam Mendes’ film follows a Marine recruit (Jake Gyllenhaal) through Marine boot camp to service in Operation Desert Storm, winding up at the Highway of Death. But what Mendes serves up is war as a phallic obsession in the oil-drenched sands of Kuwait and Iraq. Here soldiers fight not for causes but to survive in the nihilistic pursuit of destruction. Fine performance by Jamie Foxx as Sergeant Sykes.

As these films illustrate, war is indeed hell. With each and every passing moment, we move closer to the point of no return. Thus, it is time for what Martin Luther King Jr. called a “true revolution of values” that “will lay hands on the world order and say of war, ‘this way of settling differences is not just.’” Speaking from the pulpit of Riverside Church in New York on April 4, 1967, King declared that the only solution is “an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind.” He maintained that “We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. And history is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate.”
With no comment... James Blunt, "No Bravery"

"What Is Pashtunwali?"

"What Is Pashtunwali?"
by Josh Alley

“I took my revenge after a hundred years,
and I only regret that I acted in haste.”
- A Pashtun proverb.

"I have had the privilege of getting to know more about my hosts here in Khost, Afghanistan. The Pashtun tribes are one of the oldest people-groups on earth, having lived in these mountains, the Hindu Kush, for about 6,000 years. I have undertaken (call me crazy) to learn to speak Pashto (also called Pashtu or Pakhto). Pashto is a pretty simple language, full of words for things like home, relatives, livestock, work, land, and seasons. On the other hand, almost all words for things mechanical and modern are borrowed, from English, Farsi, or Arabic. Car: motar. Cellphone: mobil. Driver: driwar.

The “Pashtun Belt” is the homeland of many Pashtuns, straddling the Afghan-Pakistan border, a mostly mountainous area, reaching from Badakhshan in the north to the border with Balochistan in the south, and westward to Herat. The arbitrary line separating Afghanistan from Pakistan was drawn up by Sir Henry Mortimer Durand in 1893 as an agreement separating Afghanistan (in which Russia had some interest) from British colonial India. Afghans generally, and Pashtuns particularly, do not recognize the international border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

One of the more fascinating parts of Pashtun culture is the code of tribal laws and customs, called Pashtunwali. I do not claim to be an expert in this, but this is some of what I’ve learned in my Pashto language and culture class. What follows is a summary of the laws that have governed these tribes for millenia. They have never been conquered. The Pashtuns have intermittently (and reservedly) acquiesced to a centralized government, but Pashtunwali is the law written in their hearts, as it were. Pashtunwali isn’t a written code; it is passed as oral tradition, from father to son.

Melmastia (Hospitality): Pashtuns are, like most middle-eastern people, welcoming and generous to a fault. Guests in a home will usually be offered snacks like nuts, chai (green tea), dates, raisins, or bread. I can hardly visit the bazaar to buy a scarf or a bracelet without sitting down to share a cup of chai and a bit of candy. It seems to carry more meaning than just niceties, though. Being the “guest” of a tribe or family obligates them to protect and share. This may progress to an extreme, even to the point of providing protection to one’s enemies or to a fugitive. Many have interpreted the “settling” of al Qaeda and other extremist elements in the Pashtun belt in light of melmastia, suggesting that some Pashtun tribes reluctantly but resignedly continue to host these groups.

Badal (Revenge): Injury or insults to another’s honor are avenged by the males of the tribe. There is no “statute of limitations” on this. Vengeance will be sought, whether in one day or one year or 1,000 years. Problems arise when the “settling of the score” is not perceived by both parties to be just. Other provisions of Pashtunwali then must take effect for a blood feud to end.

Nanawati (Forgiveness/Asylum): This is a fairly complex idea I still have trouble getting my head around. The word carries the idea of “entrance”, as in, entering another’s home for protection. It can mean asking for protection from one’s enemies. This usually involves some payment, such as the slaughter of a goat, cow, or sheep in front of the protector’s house. The petitioner humbles himself in this way before the protector, who then is obligated to go to extreme lengths to render assistance, protection, or hospitality to the petitioner. This could be used in cases of accidental wrongful death of a child or relative, or with long-standing feuds in which one party accepts the humility of asking for forgiveness.

Jirga (Assembly): The assembly of tribal elders (masharan) is the ultimate tribal judicial authority in matters of law. The lashkar (tribal militia) is the force which carries out the decisions of the jirga. Not surprisingly, the traditional jirga is an all-male affair. (The parliamentary system of modern Afghanistan uses the traditional language to describe their legislative houses, the Meshrano Jirga and the Wolesi Jirga being the upper and lower houses, respectively. They do, and must by law, include women.) A Loya Jirga, or grand assembly, was called to form the new constitutional government of Afghanistan.

Nagha (Tribal fine): The jirga may impose a fine on a guilty party, both as punishment for the offender, and as satisfaction for the victim.

Badragha (Tribal escort): If a tribe guarantees safe passage through an area, they are obligated by oath to uphold that committment and ensure that no harm befalls the travelers.

Lokhay Warkawal (see below): Another fairly nuanced topic that I don’t completely understand, this literally means “giving or lending of the pots.” Depending on who I talk to, it could signify providing a sort of housewarming for a newly married couple, a taking of a collection, or going to extreme lengths to protect someone from enemies. How does this all fit together? My theory is this: the down-and-out, the utterly destitute, the one who has nothing and can offer nothing, is most in need of defense and restoration. For that individual, we should go to extraordinary lengths.

Hasaya (Neighbor): A foreigner or group of foreigners may request asylum or alliance with their Pashtun hosts, and any aggression against the hasaya is interpreted as aggression against the host.

So there are most of the prominent concepts of Pashtunwali. The Pashtun culture has governed itself for thousands of years (even before Islam) based on ideas of hospitality and protection, revenge and forgiveness, and the wisdom of elders."

"The Most Beautiful Sentence in the English Language?"

"The Most Beautiful Sentence in the English Language?"
by William Crawley

"Earlier this week, I tweated a link to the 100 Most Beautiful Words in the English Language (as chosen by Dr. Goodword). This prompted some twittering from my esteemed followers. Steve Goddard, over at Ship of Fools, has been in touch with news that he's been encouraging his readers to construct a sentence using those same beautiful words. Money quote:

"Demurely, I gambolled in my bucolic bungalow, brooding on a dalliance with an eloquent, evanescent palimpsest which would be the cynosure of all, evocative of halcyon glamour, redolent of the riparian petrichor of the Susquehanna; incipient it was, until an insouciant harbinger made an ebullient epiphany by my inglenook, to murmur, "'Ere! The ratatouille's conflating, and it's gone all effervescent!" and wafted out again, leaving me languid and woebegone for my ephemeral leisure."

Is that not now the most beautiful sentence in the English language?"

- http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/ni/2009/10/bon_mots.html
BBC Northern Ireland presenter William Crawley discusses the
often controversial political, religious and ethical issues of the day.

Musical Interlude: Liquid Mind, "Breathe in Me"

"Breathe in Me" from "Liquid Mind VIII: Sleep" by Liquid Mind
Official Website: http://www.liquidmindmusic.com

"A New H5N1 Flu Virus? This Research Should Stop Now"

"A New H5N1 Flu Virus? This Research Should Stop Now"
by Edward J. Sylvester and Dr. Lynn C. Klotz

"The risks to world health from research to make an extraordinarily lethal avian flu virus contagious in humans have finally caught everyone's attention after months of warnings from us (Lynn Klotz*) and many other experts. The Atlantic online (Feb. 16) features this question: Shouldn't regular citizens be able to weigh in on whether scientists are allowed to play with a virus that could kill a third of the population? Writer Pagan Kennedy's answer, summarized in the headline: Good luck.

Unfortunately, that feared virus may already exist. Two forms of the virus residing in two laboratories, one in the Netherlands and one in Wisconsin, may be highly contagious and highly deadly in humans, but we have evidence only from a good animal model for influenza viruses. We'll never know if it would be as deadly in humans simply because we cannot infect humans to get the proof.

Those who have been sounding the alarm are among the world leaders in molecular biology, microbiology, virology, public health and microbial genetics. Dr. Paul Keim was quoted in the journal Science in November: "I can't think of another pathogenic organism that is as scary as this one.... I don't think anthrax is scary at all compared to this." The anthrax connection: Keim is the molecular geneticist who traced the strain used in the 2001 anthrax-letter attack that killed five people, locating it at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Ft. Detrick, Md. More importantly, he is now chair of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity. The NSABB persuaded the researchers working on the H5N1 virus to remove key details before publishing their current results, and the researchers agreed to stop further work for at least 60 days.

Saturday's New York Times (Feb. 18) features a Page 1 story announcing that the World Health Organization is recommending that full details of the work be published, contrary to the NSABB recommendations. Publication is not the issue. The research itself should only resume if and when its benefit is clearly defined, and then only in BSL4 laboratories - the highest bio-security level - with the further requirement that workers with live virus undergo a quarantine period to assure they take nothing out with them. Meanwhile, during that breathing period, we will try to explain the hazards of such research, the possible benefits that are driving it to begin with, and better ways to conduct investigations. The overall goals of the researchers are noble ones. They are hoping to protect us against the very real danger that naturally occurring H5N1 influenza virus, which now kills entire bird flocks and is quite lethal in humans, could mutate in ways that would also make it contagious in humans. But this is not the way to go about it.

Doesn't this bird flu kill people now? Yes. And it may have a mortality rate of nearly 60%, higher than smallpox and any of the strains in the worst flu outbreaks known. But people cannot catch it from one another except under very unusual circumstances. The people to catch H5N1 flu so far tended chickens or worked with poultry closely enough that they were constantly exposed to the virus. By contrast, the so-called 1918 flu virus that killed millions in the United States and a total of 40 million around the world was incredibly contagious among humans. But it killed only about 2% of those infected. Imagine a new virus that combined the lethality of the H5N1 flu with the contagiousness of the 1918 pandemic strain. That is the scenario we may now be facing."
Lynn Klotz was the US country researcher for the BioWeapons Monitor 2011 report where earlier attempts to make H5N1 Asian bird flu more pathogenic were highlighted. See p129. The BioWeapons Monitor 2011 report may be freely downloaded here.

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Big, beautiful NGC 5584 is more that 50,000 light-years across and lies 72 million light-years away toward the constellation Virgo. The winding spiral arms of this gorgeous island universe are loaded with luminous young star clusters and dark dust lanes. Still, for earthbound astronomers NGC 5584 is not just another pretty face-on spiral galaxy. 
Click image for larger size.
Home to some 250 Cepheid variable stars and a recent Type Ia supernova explosion, key objects for astronomical distance determinations, NGC 5584 is one of 8 galaxies used in a new study that includes additional Hubble Space Telescope observations to improve the measurement of Hubble's Constant - the expansion rate of the Universe. The results of the study lend weight to the theory that dark energy really is responsible for accelerating the expansion of the Universe, restricting models that try to explain the observed acceleration without the mysterious dark energy. In this sharp Hubble image of NGC 5584, many of the small reddish smudges are distant background galaxies.”

"The Eternal Silence of Infinite Spaces..."

"The eternal silence of infinite spaces frightens me. Why now rather than then? Who has put me here? By whose order and direction have this place and time have been ascribed to me? We travel in a vast sphere, always drifting in the uncertain, pulled from one side to another. Whenever we find a fixed point to attach and to fasten ourselves, it shifts and leaves us; and if we follow it, it eludes our grasp, slips past us, and vanishes for ever. Nothing stays for us. This is our natural condition, most contrary to our inclination; we burn with desires to find solid ground and an ultimate and solid foundation for building a tower reaching to the Infinite. But always these bases crack, and the earth obstinately opens up into abysses. We are infinitely removed from comprehending the extremes, since the end of things and their beginning are hopelessly hidden from us in an encapsulated secret; we are equally incapable of seeing the Nothing from which we were made, and the Infinite in which we are swallowed up."

- Blaise Pascal

Chet Raymo, “The Burden Of Thinking”

“The Burden Of Thinking”
by Chet Raymo

“Let me speak for gray. Not black or white. Good or evil. Truth or falsity. Yes or no. Let me speak for maybe. Sort of. More or less. I think so. I am reluctant to speak for gray for fear of being considered wishy-washy. Indecisive. Unprincipled. But lately it seems as if we are surrounded on every side by zealots, and it's not a pretty sight. We are surrounded by people who are so certain of their Truth that they are willing to strap bombs to their chests and walk into crowded pizza parlors. Or fly airplanes into towers. Or bomb abortion clinics. Or subvert American principles of civil liberties to fight those who have no principles of civil liberty. There's an ugly stridency in the air, too many people who are certain God is on their side. Too much certainty with a capital C.

So why does the world look gray to me? After all, I was raised in a tradition of Absolute Truth. I was taught that infidels will burn in hell, at least those guilty of "culpable ignorance." "Armies of youth flying standards of Truth," we sang. But I was studying science, too, and the history and philosophy of science. I discovered truth with a lower-case t. Evolving truth. I encountered people who held their most cherished beliefs to the refining fire of experience, and who changed their minds when their tentative truths failed the test.

When a group of Englishmen established the first modern scientific society in the 17th century, they took as their motto, "Take no one's word." They believed the only reliable guide to truth was the evidence of the senses. And even the senses can be deceiving. Which is why they embraced the experimental method. Reproducibility. Observations that can be repeated by anyone, and that always give the same result. Many people think of science as a body of knowledge - the germ theory of disease, evolution by natural selection, Newton's laws of motion, that sort of thing. Well, yes, it is. But these things are tentatively held, with varying degrees of certainty. More fundamentally, science is a way of thinking. A way that rejects absolutes.

Of course, one can't blow hither and yon on a sea of uncertainty. To be useful, any system of knowledge must be confident of itself. To do scientific work at all, one must start with firm convictions. But every good scientist must be radically open to marginal change, and marginally open to radical change. Black and white is easy. It relieves us of the burden of thinking, of learning, of experiencing the other. Gray is more difficult - but it's the planet's best hope for a civilized future."

Kurt Vonnegut, "The Last Rites of the Bokononist Faith"

"The Last Rites of the Bokononist Faith"

"God made mud.
God got lonesome.
So God said to some of the mud, "Sit up!"
"See all I've made," said God, "the hills, the sea, the sky, the stars."

And I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
Lucky me, lucky mud.

I, mud, sat up and saw what a nice job God had done.
Nice going, God.
Nobody but you could have done it, God! I certainly couldn't have.
I feel very unimportant compared to You.
The only way I can feel the least bit important is to think of all the mud
that didn't even get to sit up and look around.
I got so much, and most mud got so little.
Thank you for the honor!

Now mud lies down again and goes to sleep.
What memories for mud to have!
What interesting other kinds of sitting-up mud I met!
I loved everything I saw!
Good night."

~ Kurt Vonnegut, “Cat's Cradle”

The Daily "Near You?"

Poole, Dorset, United Kingdom. Thanks for stopping by.

"Regret: The Weight of the Past"

"Regret: The Weight of the Past"
by The DailyOM

"Holding onto regret is like dragging the weight of the past with us everywhere we go. It drains our energy, leaving less available for life in the present because we are constantly feeding an old issue. This attachment can cause illness the same way watering a dead plant creates decay. We know that something new and beautiful can grow in its place if we only prepare the soil and plant the right seeds. We also know that we create our lives from our thoughts, so dwelling on the past may actually recreate a situation in our lives where we are forced to make the choice again and again. We can choose to move on right now by applying what we have learned to the present and perhaps even sharing with others, transforming the energy into something that is constructive and creative for ourselves and others.

Forgiveness is the soothing balm that can heal regret. In meditation, we can imagine discussing the issue with the self of our past and offering our forgiveness for the choice. In return, we can ask for our selves’ forgiveness for keeping them locked in that space of judgment for so long. We may also want to ask forgiveness from anyone else who may have been affected and perhaps offer our forgiveness. By replaying the event in our minds, we can choose a new ending using all that we now know. Imagine that you have actually gone back into the past and made this change, and then say goodbye to it. Release your former self with a hug and bring the forgiveness and love back with you to the present. Since we are usually our harshest critics, it is amazing how powerfully healing it can be to offer ourselves love.

Keeping our minds and our energy fully in the present allows us to fuel our physical and emotional healing and well-being today. This action frees our energy to create the dreams we dream for the future. By taking responsibility and action in the present, we can release our hold on the past."
- http://www.dailyom

"Have Patience..."

"Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. The point is: to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps, then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."

- Rainer Maria Rilke

"Chemtrails And Depopulation - An Insider Speaks Out"; A Comment

A comment: Folks, I don't engage in wild-eyed paranoid obsession with sensation causing subjects, which are usually used to generate more viewers and revenue for the sites that use those. I have no interest in these things, no ads, no financial incentive, so it's irrelevant how many people stop by since most will not find amusement like Facebook or Twitter here. Those who do I assume to be seriously interested in the truth, well, the best version of "truth" that I can find anyway. Nor do I normally post an article like this, from an anonymous source which cannot be independently validated. But after nearly 4 years of doing this, and learning things I would not have believed, and wouldn't want to, there's literally nothing I'd put past the powers that be, no atrocity so hideous that it could be ruled out. Keeping that in mind, make your own judgement as to the content of this article. Having seen these planes many, many times spraying these chemtrails, as the video below shows, the spraying is very real. Their objective, and what's in that spray, are for you to decide. - CP
"Chemtrails And Depopulation - An Insider Speaks Out"
Posted By Zen Gardner

"So you haven't yet figured out the airborne conditioning-agent release program that is being operated by the government. I'll give you some hints, but first I'll give you a little information about myself. I'm a retired government scientist with an advanced degree in one of the health-related disciplines. I do not use my real name for fear of retaliation, either against me, or against members of my family. I always try to route my e-mail communications so that they appear to come from another source, usually from one somewhere within the government. Sometimes I use the internet resources of the public library - whatever it takes to hide my true identity and confuse those who don't want the sort of information I possess to fall into the public's hands.

I have a small circle of friends who are, or were, in key positions within our military and several government agencies. These are not the very top level personnel, but mid to upper mid-level people, scientists and analysts, who are in positions where they can see the day-to-day activities of what's going on, who are charged with implementing the details, but who are never quite privy to the schemes behind the work they do. Each of my contacts has been able to supply me with a portion of the puzzle, but separately, none of them understands the whole story. I'll tell you what I've pieced together so far. But I have to admit that this information frightens me because there is no place I can go with it. What am I supposed to do - write my congressman? I believe that would be like signing my own death warrant.

This whole chemtrail issue is related to the plan for decreasing the world population to around 450-500 million - and starting with the US first. Why? The people of the US are the only ones with even the remotest chance of stopping this. That is, if they knew about it. That's why the US has to be the first to go. You have to understand that the world's elite covet the US for its geographic diversity - and they would love to return this country to its condition as it existed prior to Columbus setting foot here, but without the Native Americans this time of course.

You may have already heard how several national parks have been designated as world biospheres - that's the plan for all of North America, a giant nature park and playground that will be devoid of annoying human beings (that would be us). And the people actually involved in doing the spraying, as well as those who will take part in the rest of the plans, are being duped into believing they will be spared, that is, permitted to live and remain on this continent as administrators and caretakers of this vast nature preserve. I understand that about 150 to 200 thousand people are projected as necessary for maintenance purposes. But it's likely these people will not be Americans. Those in charge wouldn't want to risk the possibility of some sort of revolt, so the workers will probably be brought in from Europe and Asia.

There are rumors floating about the internet that the chemtrails are part of some sort of secret program the government is doing to protect the US from future biological attacks. Nothing could be further from the truth. The plan is to sensitize, or condition, the US population to being wiped out by influenza A. Over the past few years, people have been encouraged to get flu shots to protect them against the generally non-lethal strains that circulate through the population during flu season.

Each year the US government has guessed which strains were most likely to spread. They seem to always guess right - don't they? This flu season, the government protected people with a trivalent vaccine that included the A/Beijing/262/95-like (H1N1) and the A/Sydney/5/97-like (H3N2). It also contained the B/Beijing/184/93-like hemagglutinin antigens. For those not familiar with virology, the H and N refer to proteins on the outside of the virus, the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, which are responsible for the virus attaching to, and then invading, a host cell. The public has been quite pleased with the success of the vaccines offered so far. But that will change in the future.

Researchers at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (or USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick in Frederick MD have reconstructed and modified the H1N1 Spanish Flu virus, making it far more deadly than it ever was back when it was responsible for the 1918-1919 flu pandemic that killed over 20 million worldwide and over 500,000 here in the US. Consider that it could have killed many more, but back then, people couldn't hop on a jet and travel from New York to L.A. in five hours. Now, our ability to travel will increase the spread and will be our downfall.

The flu vaccines contain killed virus and protect the body well against challenge by that particular strain, but work poorly against other strains not included in the inoculation. At some point, the vaccine stockpile will include the more lethal modification of the 1918 H1N1 in its live form. Most people receiving this vaccine will simply be renewing their annual flu shot, and the vaccine will still include the inactivated version of the more benign form of H1N1 (as was included in this year's vaccine). The presence of the milder strain in the inoculum will slow down the progression of the more lethal H1N1 form, so people will become sick more slowly - but they will still eventually die. It will just take a few weeks longer.

In the meantime, they will be carriers for the lethal form of the virus, passing it on to everyone with whom they make contact. And as people hear that others are dropping dead from the flu, they will flock to get their own vaccination. And the entire population will be more receptive to infection because their lungs will have been pre-conditioned to guarantee it.

If you will remember back to 1968 and '69, the Hong Kong flu, which was influenza A type H3N2, killed over 30,000 people in the U.S. alone. That was a fortuitous learning event for some because it taught them that the flu could still conceivably be used to wipe out a population. But at the same time, it pointed out the need to precondition the populace so that those who might normally be resistant could be rendered susceptible. Hence the development of the vaccine program and the aerial spraying procedures to condition the population. The purpose of the chemicals in the chemtrails is to help the viral envelope fuse with lung cells, permitting easier penetration and infection.

But what about those few individuals who don't succumb to the flu? Probability alone demands that there will be some who survive - pockets of the population that are either not reached or somehow (and this is less likely) are resistant to the lethal H1N1 strain. At this point you must also remember that our military personnel have been immunized against a variety of pathogens, including the anthrax bacillus.

For those geographically isolated areas where the flu doesn't do its job, it's a fairly simple matter to lay down anthrax spores and then send in what's left of the military to take care of anyone still breathing. The anthrax spraying will probably come under the guise of a flu protection program to save those still alive after the epidemic. And the military, having been exposed to civilians with the flu, will eagerly await their own flu shots. I should emphasize that this is a last resort scenario. Those orchestrating the plan will not want to use anthrax until all other possibilities are exhausted - this because of the long-term viability of anthrax spores. To scatter them over the countryside would mean the area would be dangerous for use by humans, at least those not vaccinated against the bacteria.

And think about this for a moment. Why do you suppose agencies like Fish and Wildlife are so eager to reintroduce wolves and other species into areas of the country which haven't seen these animals for generations. It's all part of the plan to restore this land to what the elite envision as its early paradise-like state, with wild animals freely roaming the uninhabited plains and forests. Granted, it will take some time to clean up the place and to maybe destroy a lot of small towns that might otherwise be considered a blight on the landscape. But for the global elite it will be a small price for us to pay for their enjoyment."

Satire: "Poll: Given Choice Between Romney and Santorum, Most Voters Choose Suicide"

"Poll: Given Choice Between Romney and Santorum,
 Most Voters Choose Suicide"
Survey Spells Trouble for GOP, Pollster Says
by Andy Borowitz

DETROIT (The Borowitz Report) – "With just one day until the key Republican contests in Michigan and Arizona, a new survey of likely voters indicates that in a match-up between former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, a majority would choose suicide over either candidate. The poll, conducted by the University of Minnesota’s Opinion Research Institute, shows Mr. Romney drawing 21%, Mr. Santorum 18%, and various forms of suicide 61%. “Throwing yourself in front of a speeding city bus” was the most popular means of suicide at 22%, with “jumping off the roof of a really tall building or bridge” coming in second at 17%.

According to pollster Davis Logsdon, the surging popularity of suicide bodes ill for both Gov. Romney and Sen. Santorum as presidential candidates in 2012. “It’s still early, but even at this stage of the game the prospect of one of those two being nominated shouldn’t be making voters want to kill themselves in these numbers,” Mr. Logsdon said. Reached on the campaign trail in Lansing, Mr. Romney pointed out that while he did not do as well as suicide, he still polled higher than Sen. Santorum, adding, “That’s better than a sharp stick in the eye.” But Mr. Logsdon was quick to throw cold water on Mr. Romney’s upbeat assessment: “In a head-to-head match-up, a sharp stick in the eye beats Romney by a two-to-one margin.”

Elsewhere, Academy Award voters hailed “The Artist” as the ultimate fantasy film, since it depicts a world in which the French are silent."

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"How It Really Is"

"Monumental Change Is Coming For Most Americans – Here’s Why"

"Monumental Change Is Coming For 
Most Americans – Here’s Why"
by Lorimer Wilson

"A monumental change is coming, and for most Americans, it will be painful, especially for the unprepared. Let me explain just what is happening, why it cannot go on as is and what we can likely expect in the future. So says Greg Hunter (www.usawatchdog.com) in edited excerpts from his original article.* The article’s views and conclusions are unaltered and no personal comments have been included to maintain the integrity of the original article. Please note that this paragraph must be included in any article re-posting to avoid copyright infringement.

Hunter goes on to say, in part: "In the last week or so, I have noticed an unusual amount of really well written and researched articles warning of impending doom and financial horror. These articles are not written by a bunch of angry uneducated bloggers but by money managers, investors and financial writers. All are people who got it right leading up to the meltdown of 2008, and my bet is they are right again. The mainstream media (MSM) told you after the 2008 crash that “nobody saw that coming,” which is a bold faced lie that will not work again.

Jim Quinn of TheBurningPlatform.com wrote a tour de force of troubling realities (Click here to read this very long but very good Jim Quinn post) you will never hear on the MSM. Quinn lays out the case for coming ruin with stats, charts and razor sharp logic in a post called “Illusion of Recovery–Feelings vs. Facts”. [I edited and abridged Quinn's article for the sake of clarity and brevity to provide a fast and easy read and titled it (with opening paragraph) as follows:

"Are You A Sucker? If Not, Here’s The Reality About America’s 'Recovery'!" "What passes for journalism at CNBC and the rest of the mainstream print and TV media is beyond laughable. Their America is all about feelings. Are we confident? Are we bullish? Are we optimistic about the future? America has turned into a giant confidence game. The governing elite spend their time spinning stories about recovery and manipulating public opinion so people will feel good and spend money. Facts are inconvenient to their storyline. The truth is for suckers. They know what is best for us and will tell us what to do and when to do it." In his summation, Quinn says, “there is no avoiding the final collapse of a boom created solely by credit expansion. Those in power will never voluntarily relinquish their grand game of pillaging the wealth of the nation, so economic collapse will be the ultimate result. They will continue to use propaganda, printing presses, and half-truths to further their agenda but those who examine the facts will come to a logical conclusion that we are being sold a great lie.” Other headlines read:

1. "Get Ready for Financial Crisis 2.0 in 2012 – It’s Inevitable! Here’s Why" This analyst sees the perfect storm of converging criteria almost perfectly timed and aligned with the 2012 election cycle. When the moment arrives, the financial earthquake will rapidly demolish the existing highly precarious financial system. Government will stand by helpless, unable to shield itself, much less its vulnerable citizens or private financial institutions from the tsunami of debt and currency destruction. 2012 is shaping up to be the blockbuster main event of the ongoing financial crisis. Massive amounts of new debt, vast quantities of additional digital dollars and the spark of higher interest rates will set off version 2.0 of the credit-driven financial implosion.

2. "U.S. Fiscal Situation MUCH Worse Than Government Lets On!" I believe our fiscal situation is much worse than most people realize. True, the situation might be resolvable with a hard-nosed turnaround specialist in charge [Romney?] but, even here, the emphasis is on “might”! In a political context, where citizens have been conditioned to believe they are entitled to live at the expense of government (i.e other citizens because, after all, government has nothing that it first does not take from someone else), the situation is beyond hopeless. Let me address the true economic situation of the U.S. by way of an email I received from a regular reader recently.

3. "U.S. Can NOT Avoid Coming Economic Collapse – No Matter What! Here’s Why" The U.S. government is spending more than a trillion dollars more than it takes in every year…[which] all gets into the pockets of ordinary Americans [who,] in turn,…use that money to pay the mortgage, buy food, shop at the mall, etc. – creating a “false prosperity” bubble that is not real. It may feel real to you right now, but it is unsustainable…We are living in the greatest debt bubble the world has ever seen and, as such, a devastating economic collapse is on the horizon no matter what we do [so] don’t let this false prosperity and this “calm before the storm” fool you…There is going to be a massive amount of pain so you might want to get yourself and your family prepared for that.

4. "The Financial Crisis Of 2008 Was Just A Warm Up Act For The Economic Horror Show That Is Coming.” Each of the above articles – and there were several more I left out for the sake of brevity – all feature sound analysis…[but] only talk about the facts and fundamentals of the economy. War in the Middle East is not mentioned in any article and when you consider hostilities featuring Syria, Iran, Israel, China, Russia and the United States, the mind boggles. War would bring collapse, chaos, and financial calamity in very short order. Oh, and by all means, let’s throw the European debt crisis into the mix for good measure. Wall Street insider and financial expert James Rickards thinks the most likely scenario coming is “chaos” that will come from the collapse of the U.S. dollar. In an interview this week, Rickards said: “There is still time to pull back from the brink, but it requires a specific set of policies:

    * breaking up big banks,
    * banning derivatives,
    * raising interest rates to make the US a magnet for capital,
    * cutting government spending,
    * eliminating capital gains and corporate income taxes,
    * going to a personal flat tax, and reducing regulation on job-creating businesses.

However, the likelihood of these policies being put in place seems remote – so the dollar collapse scenario must be considered.” Rickards thinks things will get so bad that: ”The U.S. government will resort to emergency economic powers. Few Americans are aware of the International Economic Emergency Powers Act (IEEPA)… it gives any US president dictatorial powers to:

    * freeze accounts,
    * seize assets,
    * nationalize banks, and
    * take other radical steps to fight economic collapse in the name of national security.

Given these powers, one could see a set of actions including seizure of the 6,000 tons of foreign gold stored at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York which, when combined with Washington’s existing hoard of 8,000 tons, would leave the US as a gold superpower in a position to dictate the shape of the international monetary system going forward, as it did at Bretton Woods in 1944.” (Click here for the complete Rickards interview.) [Also read "Bock and Rickards Agree: Governments Want Gold to Go Higher!"] The financial collapse is already in progress no matter the MSM happy news spin.

    * Real estate prices continue to decline despite a 30-year mortgage rate at or below 4%.
    * Millions more homes will be foreclosed on in the next few years.
    * The true unemployment and underemployment rate is 22.5%, and there is little hope of turning things around quickly with American manufacturing gutted and shipped to China.
    * A record 46 million people are on food stamps.
    * At least 90% of all mortgages are supplied by the government.
    * The Fed is holding a key interest rate at 0% through 2014 and is starting a new round of money printing (QE)…
    * Vehicle sales have been propped up with a new round of subprime financing.
    * America’s debt to GDP is 100% or more, and another debt ceiling increase will probably be necessary before the November election.
    * The banks are allowed to use government accounting fraud to make them look solvent.
    * Most U.S. states are not only flat broke but underwater with massive debt loads.
    * Bankers who created this mess with trillions of dollars of fraud are not prosecuted for fear of speeding up the coming collapse.
    * Fuel and food prices are rising, and inflation is running at 11% (if it were calculated the way the government did it in 1980).
    * As the dollar is debased, inflation will spike.

The above are just a few signs of an unfolding tragedy. The biggest problem America has is crushing debt that it will never pay back. Dollars are loaned into existence, and many have been created to prop up the banks and the economy. You cannot fight a debt crisis with never-ending bailouts and currency creation. That’s like fighting fire with gasoline. A monumental change is coming, and for most Americans, it will be painful—especially for the unprepared." [And especially for the "Elite", a monumental change indeed. Those swine better check their frequent flyer miles, and use them...- CP]
* usawatchdog.com/dollar-and-america-on-the-road-to-ruin
Written in 2008, this very relevant article may be of interest:
“Protocols For Economic Collapse In America”