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Editor, The Konformist
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New Pope 2013
Now That There's A New Pope, How Many Days Till Doomsday?
The 1.2 billion-strong Roman Catholic church now has a new spiritual leader, Pope Francis. His election proved to have many firsts for the secular faith. But along with the many firsts, could he also be the last pope highly associated with the doomsday prophecy by St Malachy?
Esther Tanquintic-Misa | March 14, 2013
The 2013 papal conclave may have escaped the precise election of a black-skinned pope, but conspiracy theorists among netizens remain adamant the selection of Pope Francis has indeed heralded the end of days for the people on planet Earth.
Forum members at godlikeproductions.com sorted and debated the affiliations of Pope Francis.
"We all mistook first black pope to mean skin color. Not true. In the Jesuit order, there is a Black Pope," member Sak posted.
The former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio is the leader of the Jesuits, who traditionally wear black cassocks. When he got elected to become spiritual leader of the Catholic church, he became the first Jesuit Pope.
"Therefore, the head of the Catholic church Pope Francis, who is now 'Peter,' is also the head of the Jesuit Order," the member said.
Simply put, Pope Francis is, at least according to conspiracy theorists at that forum, the black pope.
Some also picked on the new pope's chosen papal name, Francis, to represent St Francis of Assisi.
Francis of Assisi was one of 7 kids born to a man named Peter, whose real name is Pietro Di Bernardone.
"What more evidence do we need? This new pope is Italian which is part of Rome, he lives and works in the Vatican City of Rome, he is the first Jesuit Black pope, and he wears a Black Cross, and is now Peter of Rome."
But while doomsday pugs now bombard the world wide web with their deductions, there are others, as expected, who fight inference with an all-together different interpretation.
Over at gotquestions.org, "biblically speaking, there is absolutely no connection between a black Pope and the end times. The Bible does not even mention the papacy."
While there may be an end of times phophecy, everything has been wrongly interpreted.
"The Bible, particularly Revelation 17:9, does not say anything about Popes in general or an end-times Pope in particular."
But with all the hullaballoo over St Malachy's predictions and the apocalyptic list of prophecy of the 112 Popes, one question remains - just how many days are now left before doomsday?
Fukushima: They Knew
An excerpt from Vultures' Picnic by Greg Palast
Monday, March 11, 2013
"Completely and Utterly Fail in an Earthquake"
Two years later, the Fukushima story you didn't hear on CNN
I've seen a lot of sick stuff in my career, but this was sick on a new level.
Here was the handwritten log kept by a senior engineer at the nuclear power plant:
Wiesel was very upset. He seemed very nervous. Very agitated. . . . In fact, the plant was riddled with problems that, no way on earth, could stand an earth- quake. The team of engineers sent in to inspect found that most of these components could "completely and utterly fail" during an earthquake.
"Utterly fail during an earthquake." And here in Japan was the quake and here is the utter failure.
The warning was in what the investigations team called The Notebook, which I'm not supposed to have. Good thing I've kept a copy anyway, because the file cabinets went down with my office building ....
WORLD TRADE CENTER TOWER 1, FIFTY-SECOND FLOOR
NEW YORK, 1986
Two senior nuclear plant engineers were spilling out their souls and files on our huge conference table, blowing away my government investigations team with the inside stuff about the construction of the Shoreham, New York, power station.
The meeting was secret. Very secret. Their courage could destroy their careers: No engineering firm wants to hire a snitch, even one who has saved thousands of lives. They could lose their jobs; they could lose everything. They did. That's what happens. Have a nice day.
On March 12 (2011), as I watched Fukushima melt, I knew: the "SQ" had been faked. Anderson Cooper said it would all be OK. He'd flown to Japan, to suck up the radiation and official company bullshit. The horror show was not the fault of Tokyo Electric, he said, because the plant was built to withstand only an 8.0 earthquake on the Richter scale, and this was 9.0. Anderson must have been in the gym when they handed out the facts. The 9.0 shake was in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 90 miles away. It was barely a tenth of that power at Fukushima.
I was ready to vomit. Because I knew who had designed the plant, who had built it and whom Tokyo Electric Power was having rebuild it: Shaw Construction. The latest alias of Stone & Webster, the designated builder for every one of the four new nuclear plants that the Obama Administration has approved for billions in federal studies.
But I had The Notebook, the diaries of the earthquake inspector for the company. I'd squirreled it out sometime before the Trade Center went down. I shouldn't have done that. Too bad.
All field engineers keep a diary. Gordon Dick, a supervisor, wasn't sup- posed to show his to us. I asked him to show it to us and, reluctantly, he directed me to these notes about the "SQ" tests.
SQ is nuclear-speak for "Seismic Qualification." A seismically qualified nuclear plant won't melt down if you shake it. A "seismic event" can be an earthquake or a Christmas present from Al Qaeda. You can't run a nuclear reactor in the USA or Europe or Japan without certified SQ.
This much is clear from his notebook: This nuclear plant will melt down in an earthquake. The plant dismally failed to meet the Seismic I (shaking) standards required by U.S. and international rules.
Here's what we learned: Dick's subordinate at the nuclear plant, Robert Wiesel, conducted the standard seismic review. Wiesel flunked his company. No good. Dick then ordered Wiesel to change his report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, change it from failed to passed. Dick didn't want to make Wiesel do it, but Dick was under the gun himself, acting on direct command from corporate chiefs. From The Notebook:
Wiesel was very upset. He seemed very nervous. Very agitated. [He said,] "I believe these are bad results and I believe it's reportable," and then he took the volume of federal regulations from the shelf and went to section 50.55(e), which describes reportable deficiencies at a nuclear plant and [they] read the section together, with Wiesel pointing to the appropriate paragraphs that federal law clearly required [them and the company] to report the Category II, Seismic I deficiencies.
Wiesel then expressed his concern that he was afraid that if he [Wiesel] reported the deficiencies, he would be fired, but that if he didn't report the deficiencies, he would be breaking a federal law....
The law is clear. It is a crime not to report a safety failure. I could imagine Wiesel standing there with that big, thick rule book in his hands, The Law. It must have been heavy. So was his paycheck. He weighed the choices: Break the law, possibly a jail-time crime, or keep his job.
What did Wiesel do? What would you do?
Why the hell would his company make this man walk the line? Why did they put the gun to his head, to make him conceal mortal danger? It was the money. It's always the money. Fixing the seismic problem would have cost the plant's owner half a billion dollars easy. A guy from corporate told Dick, "Bob is a good man. He'll do what's right. Don't worry about Bob."
That is, they thought Bob would save his job and career rather than rat out the company to the feds.
But I think we should all worry about Bob. The company he worked for, Stone & Webster Engineering, built or designed about a third of the nuclear plants in the United States.
From the fifty-second floor we could look at the Statue of Liberty. She didn't look back.
Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.
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Uncle Fats at the UFO Museum
Uncle Fats, the man who inspired "Stoner Cooking", took these photos at the UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico. If you pay attention, you'll spot him in one of the pictures...
America is shamed that only Rand Paul is talking about drone executions
Where are the civil libertarians in the president's party that we must rely on a Tea Party Republican to champion this issue?
Thursday 7 March 2013
You could say that a filibuster occurs when a senator drones on and on. The problem with the US Senate was that there were too few senators speaking about drones this week.
President Barack Obama's controversial nomination of John Brennan as director of the Central Intelligence Agency was held up Wednesday afternoon by a Senate filibuster. The reason: Brennan's role in targeted killings by drones, and President Obama's presumed authority to kill US citizens, without any due process, if they pose an "imminent threat". The effort was led by Tea Party Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky, joined by several of his Republican colleagues. Among the Democrats, at the time of this writing, only Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon had joined in the genuine, old-fashioned "talking filibuster", wherein the activities of the Senate floor are held up by a senator's speech.
Members of Congress, tasked with oversight of intelligence and military matters, have repeatedly demanded the memoranda from the White House detailing the legal basis for the drone program, only to be repeatedly denied. The nomination of Brennan has opened up the debate, forcing the Obama administration to make nominal gestures of compliance. The answers so far have not satisfied Senator Paul. Nearing hour six of his filibuster, Senator Paul admitted:
"I can't ultimately stop the nomination, but what I can do is try to draw attention to this and try to get an answer that would be something if we could get an answer from the president if he would say explicitly that noncombatants in America won't be killed by drones. The reason it has to be answered is because our foreign drone strike program does kill noncombatants. They may argue that they are conspiring or they may someday be combatants, but if that is the same standard that we are going to use in the United States, it is a far different country than I know about."
The issue of extrajudicial execution of US citizens, whether on US soil or elsewhere, is clearly vital. But also important is the US government's now-seemingly routine killing of civilians around the world, whether by drone strikes, night raids conducted by special operations forces or other lethal means.
Rand Paul's filibuster followed a curious route, including references to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, and quotes from noted progressive, constitutional attorney and Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald and blogger Kevin Gosztala of Firedoglake.
US Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to Senator Paul, 4 March, writing:
"It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the president to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States."
Holder noted that Paul's question was "entirely hypothetical". So, on the Senate floor, Paul brought up the case of two actual US citizens killed by drone strikes, Anwar al-Awlaki and his son, Abdulrahman. Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by a US drone strike in Yemen on 30 September 2011. Two weeks later, also in Yemen, his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman, a Denver native, was also killed by a drone strike. Paul asked during his filibuster:
"If you happen to be the son of a bad person, is that enough to kill you?"
As Senator Paul filibustered, Will Fitzgibbon wrote from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London:
"Last month, we launched a new drones project: Naming the Dead. The aim of this project is to identify as many of the more than 2,500 victims of US drone strikes in Pakistan as possible. Given we currently do not know the identities of 80% of those killed, we believe this is a crucial and missing step to having a more transparent drones debate
"With all the attention being recently paid to American citizens killed by drones and with the drone debate growing, we thought it would be a good time to remind ourselves of the individual human stories of drone victims. Those we know about and those we don't."
Barack Obama and John Brennan direct the drone strikes that are killing thousands of civilians. It doesn't make us safer. It makes whole populations, from Yemen to Pakistan, hate us. Senator Paul's outrage with the president's claimed right to kill US citizens is entirely appropriate. That there is not more outrage at the thousands killed around the globe is shameful and dangerous.
Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column
Holder admits megabanks are `too big to jail'
March 7, 2013
Attorney General Eric Holder, the top U.S. law-enforcement official, finally admitted this week that bank executives truly are above the law and may commit crimes with virtual impunity.
Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Holder acknowledged under questioning by Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the ranking member, that the megabanks are too big to jail. "I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them," Holder said.
He continued: "When we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute if you do bring a criminal charge it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large."
Holder went on to suggest that, until Congress does something about it, the size of these banks will preclude bringing them to justice.
"I think it has an inhibiting influence, impact, on our ability to bring resolutions that I think would be more appropriate," Holder said. "I think that's something that we you all need to consider."
When Truth Is Suppressed Countries Die
Paul Craig Roberts
March 15, 2013
Over a decade during which the US economy was decimated by jobs offshoring, economists and other PR shills for offshoring corporations said that the US did not need the millions of lost manufacturing jobs and should be glad that the "dirty fingernail" jobs were gone.
America, we were told, was moving upscale. Our new role in the world economy was to innovate and develop the new products that the dirty fingernail economies would produce. The money was in the innovation, they said, not in the simple task of production.
As I consistently warned, the "high-wage service economy based on imagination and ingenuity" that Harvard professor and offshoring advocate Michael Porter promised us as our reward for giving up dirty fingernail jobs was a figment of Porter's imagination.
Over the decade I repeated myself many times: "Innovation takes place where things are made. Innovation will move abroad with the manufacturing."
This is not what corporations or their shills such as Porter wanted to hear. Corporations were boosting their profits by getting rid of their American employees and replacing them with lowly paid foreigners. Porter's job was to reassure the sheeple so that no outcry would materialize against the greed that was hollowing out the US economy.
Now comes a study conducted by 20 MIT professors and their graduate students that concludes on the basis of the facts that "the loss of companies that can make things will end up in the loss of research than can invent them."
I am pleased to be vindicated by MIT. Of course, the professors are too late. The loss has already occurred. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if the MIT professors can be heard through the orchestrated disinformation.
Two years ago in 2011 a Nobel prize-winning economist, Michael Spence, confirmed my decade-old conclusion that the US economy no longer had the capability to create any jobs except low-wage domestic service jobs that do not produce tradable goods and services that can be exported to reduce the massive US trade deficit. Spence validated my argument that the "new economy" was the offshored economy. Spence concluded that the outlook for the US economy and US employment is dire. The US faces "a long-term structural challenge with respect to the quantity and quality of employment opportunities in the United States. A related set of challenges concerns the income distribution; almost all incremental employment has occurred in the non-tradable sector, which has experienced much slower growth in value added per employee. Because that number is highly correlated with income, it goes a long way to explain the stagnation of wages across large segments of the workforce."
There has been no more public policy response to Spence's conclusion than to my identical conclusion.
We have heard all our lives that ideas are the most powerful force and prevail over material interests. Perhaps this was once true, but that would have been in previous times when material interests did not control the media, the universities, and the publishing companies along with the government. Voices such as mine, that of a high US Treasury official, and that of Spence, a Nobel prize winner, cannot compete with the voices paid by Big Money. Today the bulk of the population knows nothing except the propaganda fed to them by the oligarchic interests. They sit in front of Fox News or CNN and ingest it all. Those who fancy themselves more sophisticated get the same dose of lies from the New York Times.
If those who speak truth cannot be bought off or shut up, they are ignored or demonized. Almost everything Americans need to know is off limits in public discussion. Anyone who broaches the truth becomes an "anti-American," a "terrorist sympathizer," a "commie-socialist," a "conspiracy theorist," an "anti-semite," a "kook," or some other name designed to scare Americans away from the message of truth.
The corrupt corporations, the corrupt media, and the corrupt US government have insulated the country from truth. The result will be a massive crash. A country built on lies is like a house built on sand:
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock [truth]. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand [lies].The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV)
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts is the father of Reaganomics and the former head of policy at the Department of Treasury. He is a columnist and was previously the editor of the Wall Street Journal. His latest book, "How the Economy Was Lost: The War of the Worlds," details why America is disintegrating.