Shrinking the Technosphere - Part 7

SUBHEAD: You will be near one of the major Eurasian or North American north-flowing rivers that empty into the Arctic Ocean.

By Dmitry Orlov on 24 November 2015 for Club Orlov -

Image above: Reshaping of the coastline of the Arctic Ocean due to global warming and rising oceans. From (

You have survived your first winter on the land. Congratulations! The worst part of the ordeal is quite possibly over. Gone are whatever addictions and expectations with which you arrived, be they internet access or coffee.

Your new world consists of the few people around you, and a huge number of plants and animals. But it is a world that is indisputably yours—to make the best of, and to pass along to your children and grandchildren.

In the beginning some elements of unnaturelike technology will persist. But as seasons wear on your newfound world will no longer include electricity or electronics, synthetic materials or fabrics, internal combustion engines (no more outboard engines, snowmobiles or chainsaws). Firearms, synthetic pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and much else will quietly fade from memory.

In place of gadgets there will be books: the riverboat that makes its rounds of shoreline settlements exactly once a year—in midsummer—carries a lending library, dropping off books one summer and picking them up the next.

It also distributes a set of textbooks made available by the government: language and literature, mathematics, botany, biology, chemistry, physics, geography and geology. Some of the textbooks haven't changed in many generations; after all, there has been very little new that would be useful to you.

Others have needed an update or two; the geography textbook no longer lists countries such as Bangladesh, Kiribati or US states such as Louisiana and Florida, which won't be around for much longer. Numerous failed states with morbid populations and undefended borders will be given scant mention.

In place of synthetic fabrics or cotton there will be cloth of flax and hemp (cotton goes away along with industrial chemistry, on which it depends for pesticides). Much use will be made of leather, wool and fur, the last of which already essential for your continued survival.

In place of internal combustion engines there is muscle—animal or human. Since pharmaceuticals are largely gone, everyone is busy picking and cultivating medicinal plants and practicing preventive therapies. A favorite for killing off viruses is a trip to the sauna followed by a roll in a snowbank or a dip in an ice hole.

Metals will be about the only relic of industrialism still in widespread use. There is no practical limit to the amount of mild steel scrap that will be available from industrial ruins—enough to keep all the blacksmiths (of a much smaller and widely dispersed population) busy for thousands of generations. Copper will remain a favorite, since it can be cold-worked into any shape. Where metals will be scarce, skilled artisans will work them with stone tools.

This may seem like a harsh life, but all of the alternatives are worse. As the average global temperature rises by over 17ºC—far in excess of the 2ºC still bandied about by the politicians and their court scientists—most of the inland areas further south will be made unlivable by summer heat waves with wet bulb temperatures in excess of 35ºC.

Without air conditioning such temperatures are lethal, and summer heatwaves, accompanied by blackouts, will kill off entire cities. Coastal cities will perish for a different reason: ocean level will rise by at least 30 meters, putting them permanently under the waves. With the disappearance of mountain glaciers entire countries that depend on glacial melt for irrigation—and there are many of them—will starve.

For populations used to living on the coasts and earning a living from the sea moving further inland will not help much—because of all the nuclear power plants that will go underwater with their spent fuel pools still stocked, producing hundreds of new Fukushimas that will make the oceans too radioactive to fish. And as climate change continues and accelerates all of these problems will get worse and worse.

But then here you will be, near one of the major Eurasian or North American north-flowing rivers that empty into the Arctic Ocean—Lena, Ob', Yenisey or McKenzie. You are high enough above the quickly rising ocean level, and away from everything else—including the still crowded major population centers that will be getting ready to go through an episode of mass extinction.

If the summers get too hot or too dry, you can relocate further downstream, closer to the Arctic Circle, where it will be cooler and wetter.

All the while, you can go on practicing your Naturelike Technology Suite, some of which has not changed much since the landscape you now occupy was first settled thousands of years ago. In the summer, the now ice-free, navigable Arctic Ocean will allow the surviving remnants of humanity to keep in touch.

But to make such a best-case scenario possible in a now guaranteed worst-case environment will take more than just relocation and successful adaptation.

What has driven the planet to the edge of an environmental abyss is a culture, and the economic system it enables, which worships the blind pursuit of profit and growth at any cost.

This culture, based on rapine and plunder, if allowed to persist, will drive the planet over the edge of the abyss even as it and the people trapped in it go extinct.

Can it be stopped? That is what we will look at next.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: The Shrinking Technosphere - Part 6 11/17/15


Don't Bomb Syria

SUBHEAD: There are protests across the United Kingdom against participation in bombing Syria as  vote looms.

By Staff on 28 November 2015 for Common Dreams -

Image above: Demonstrators protest against British bombing of Syria outside Downing Street in London, Britain, 28 November 2015. British Prime Minister David Cameron is calling on MP's to vote for Britain to join France with bombing raids against ISIS in Syria. From original article.

Thousands of people protested in London and around Britain Saturday against Britain joining in bombing attacks on ISIS in Syria.

The UK Parliament will vote next week on whether to join with the US and France in launching air strikes on Syria. Prime Minister David Cameron is leading the push for bombing.

The UK protests are organized by the Stop The War Coalition movement, which is also holding a string of other demonstrations around Britain.

The Stop The War Coalition said in a statement. "The proposed vote in Parliament on bombing Syria by British forces is likely to take place within the next week. The vote is more likely following the terrible events in Paris. Yet this bombing will not stop terror attacks. Stop the War is opposed to this military response."

Cameron's previous government suffered a humiliating defeat in 2013 over launching military action against the Assad government and did not push for the UK to join in bombing Syria to a vote last year.

Current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is a founder of the Stop The War Coalition, opposes air strikes.


Agent Orange Crops Halted

SOURCE: Shaka Movement (
SUBHEAD: The EPA is revoking the registration of “Enlist Duo,” a toxic pesticide to be used with GMO crops.

By Staff on 27 November 2015 for Center for Food Safety -

Image above: From original article.

Great news! In response to CFS litigation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced it is revoking the registration of “Enlist Duo,” a toxic pesticide designed to be used with genetically engineered “Agent Orange” crops!

Responding to a lawsuit brought by Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice, yesterday EPA announced it is revoking the registration of “Enlist Duo,” a toxic combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D – the main ingredient in Agent Orange.

Approved by the agency just over a year ago, Dow’s Enlist Duo was created for use on the next generation of genetically engineered (GE) crops, what we dubbed “Agent Orange crops”, designed to withstand being drenched with this potent herbicide cocktail.

In its court filing, EPA stated it is taking this action after realizing that the combination of these chemicals is likely significantly more harmful than it had initially believed.

EPA had approved use of Enlist Duo in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and North Dakota, and had intended to approve it in additional areas in the near future.

Dow created Enlist crops as a quick fix for the problem created by “Roundup Ready” crops, the previous generation of genetically engineered crops designed to resist the effects of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.

Just as overuse of antibiotics has left resistant strains of bacteria to thrive, repeated use of Roundup on those crops allowed glyphosate-resistant “superweeds” to proliferate, and those weeds now infest tens of millions of acres of U.S. farmland.

Enlist crops allow farmers to spray both glyphosate and 2,4-D without killing their crops, which they hope will kill weeds resistant to glyphosate alone.

But some weeds have already developed 2,4-D resistance, and the escalating cycle of more toxic pesticides in the environment will continue unless EPA stops approving these chemicals, and USDA stops rubber-stamping new genetically engineered crops.

The decision by EPA to withdraw the illegally approved Enlist Duo crops is a huge victory for the environment and the future of our food!

Thanks for your support. We are so grateful to be able to share this tremendous victory with you!

- the Center for Food Safety team

Read more about this victory:< .

Turkish President's son funds ISIS

SUBHEAD: Turkish president Recep Erdogan son Bilal's  maritime company is doing the oil trades for ISIS and funds their efforts.

By Tyler Durden on 26 November 2015 for Zero Hedge -

Image above: Bilal Erdogan and his father (inset) Turkish President Recep Erdogan.  From (

Russia's Sergey Lavrov is not one foreign minister known to mince his words. Just earlier today, 24 hours after a Russian plane was brought down by the country whose president three years ago said "a short-term border violation can never be a pretext for an attack", had this to say: "We have serious doubts this was an unintended incident and believe this is a planned provocation" by Turkey.

But even that was tame compared to what Lavrov said to his Turkish counterparty Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier today during a phone call between the two (Lavrov who was supposed to travel to Turkey has since canceled such plans).

As Sputnik transcribes, according to a press release from Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lavrov pointed out that, "by shooting down a Russian plane on a counter-terrorist mission of the Russian Aerospace Force in Syria, and one that did not violate Turkey’s airspace, the Turkish government has in effect sided with ISIS."

It was in this context when Lavrov added that "Turkey’s actions appear premeditated, planned, and undertaken with a specific objective."

More importantly, Lavrov pointed to Turkey’s role in the propping up the terror network through the oil trade. Per the Russian statement:
"The Russian Minister reminded his counterpart about Turkey’s involvement in the ISIS’ illegal trade in oil, which is transported via the area where the Russian plane was shot down, and about the terrorist infrastructure, arms and munitions depots and control centers that are also located there."
Others reaffirmed Lavrov's stance, such as retired French General Dominique Trinquand, who said that "Turkey is either not fighting ISIL at all or very little, and does not interfere with different types of smuggling that takes place on its border, be it oil, phosphate, cotton or people," he said.

The reason we find this line of questioning fascinating is that just last week in the aftermath of the French terror attack but long before the Turkish downing of the Russian jet, we wrote about "The Most Important Question About ISIS That Nobody Is Asking" in which we asked who is the one "breaching every known law of funding terrorism when buying ISIS crude, almost certainly with the tacit approval by various "western alliance" governments, and why is it that these governments have allowed said middleman to continue funding ISIS for as long as it has?"

Precisely one week later, in even more tragic circumstances, suddenly everyone is asking this question.

And while we patiently dig to find who the on and offshore "commodity trading" middleman are, who cart away ISIS oil to European and other international markets in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars, one name keeps popping up as the primary culprit of regional demand for the Islamic State's "terrorist oil" - that of Turkish president Recep Erdogan's son: Bilal Erdogan.

His very brief bio:
Necmettin Bilal Erdogan, commonly known as Bilal Erdogan (born 23 April 1980) is the third child of Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, the current President of Turkey.

After graduating from Kartal Imam Hatip High School in 1999, Bilal Erdogan moved to the US for undergraduate education. He also earned a Masters Degree in John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2004. After graduation, he served in the World Bank as intern for a while. He returned Turkey in 2006 and started to his business life. Bilal Erdogan is one of the three equal shareholders of "BMZ Group Denizcilik ", a marine transportation corporation.
Here is a recent picture of Bilal, shown in a photo from a Turkish 2014 article, which "asked why his ships are now in Syria":

In the next few days, we will present a full breakdown of Bilal's various business ventures, starting with his BMZ Group which is the name implicated most often in the smuggling of illegal Iraqi and Islamic State through to the western supply chain, but for now here is a brief, if very disturbing snapshot, of both father and son Erdogan by F. William Engdahl, one which should make everyone ask whether the son of Turkey's president (and thus, the father) is the silent mastermind who has been responsible for converting millions of barrels of Syrian Oil into hundreds of millions of dollars of Islamic State revenue.

By F. William Engdahl, posted originally in New Eastern Outlook:

Erdogan's Dirth Dangerous ISIS Games 
More and more details are coming to light revealing that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, variously known as ISIS, IS or Daesh, is being fed and kept alive by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish President and by his Turkish intelligence service, including MIT, the Turkish CIA. 

Turkey, as a result of Erdogan’s pursuit of what some call a Neo-Ottoman Empire fantasies that stretch all the way to China, Syria and Iraq, threatens not only to destroy Turkey but much of the Middle East if he continues on his present path.

In October 2014 US Vice President Joe Biden told a Harvard gathering that Erdogan’s regime was backing ISIS with “hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons…”
Biden later apologized clearly for tactical reasons to get Erdo?an’s permission to use Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base for airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, but the dimensions of Erdogan’s backing for ISIS since revealed is far, far more than Biden hinted.

ISIS militants were trained by US, Israeli and now it emerges, by Turkish special forces at secret bases in Konya Province inside the Turkish border to Syria, over the past three years. Erdogan’s involvement in ISIS goes much deeper.

At a time when Washington, Saudi Arabia and even Qatar appear to have cut off their support for ISIS, they remainamazingly durable. The reason appears to be the scale of the backing from Erdo?an and his fellow neo-Ottoman Sunni Islam Prime Minister,
Ahmet Davuto?lu.

Nice Family Business

The prime source of money feeding ISIS these days is sale of Iraqi oil from the Mosul region oilfields where they maintain a stronghold. The son of Erdogan it seems is the man who makes the export sales of ISIS-controlled oil possible.

Bilal Erdogan owns several maritime companies. He has allegedly signed contracts with European operating companies to carry Iraqi stolen oil to different Asian countries.

The Turkish government buys Iraqi plundered oil which is being produced from the Iraqi seized oil wells. Bilal Erdogan’s maritime companies own special wharfs in Beirut and Ceyhan ports that are transporting ISIS’ smuggled crude oil in Japan-bound oil tankers.

Gürsel Tekin vice-president of the Turkish Republican Peoples’ Party, CHP, declared in a recent Turkish media interview, “President Erdogan claims that according to international transportation conventions there is no legal infraction concerning Bilal’s illicit activities and his son is doing an ordinary business with the registered Japanese companies, but in fact Bilal Erdogan is up to his neck in complicity with terrorism, but as long as his father holds office he will be immune from any judicial prosecution.”

Tekin adds that Bilal’s maritime company doing the oil trades for ISIS, BMZ Ltd, is “a family business and president Erdogan’s close relatives hold shares in BMZ and they misused public funds and took illicit loans from Turkish banks.”

In addition to son Bilal’s illegal and lucrative oil trading for ISIS, Sümeyye Erdogan, the daughter of the Turkish President apparently runs a secret hospital camp inside Turkey just over the Syrian border where Turkish army trucks daily being in scores of wounded ISIS Jihadists to be patched up and sent back to wage the bloody Jihad in Syria, according to the testimony of a nurse who was recruited to work there until it was discovered she was a member of the Alawite branch of Islam, the same as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who Erdogan seems hell-bent on toppling.

Turkish citizen Ramazan Bagol, captured this month by Kurdish People’s Defence Units,YPG, as he attempted to join ISIS from Konya province, told his captors that said he was sent to ISIS by the ‘Ismailia Sect,’ a strict Turkish Islam sect reported to be tied to Recep Erdogan.

Baol said the sect recruits members and provides logistic support to the radical Islamist organization. He added that the Sect gives jihad training in neighborhoods of Konya and sends those trained here to join ISIS gangs in Syria.

According to French geopolitical analyst, Thierry Meyssan, Recep Erdogan “organised the pillage of Syria, dismantled all the factories in Aleppo, the economic capital, and stole the machine-tools.

Similarly, he organised the theft of archeological treasures and set up an international market in Antioch…with the help of General Benoît Puga, Chief of Staff for the Elysée, he organised a false-flag operation intended to provoke the launching of a war by the Atlantic Alliance – the chemical bombing of la Ghoutta in Damascus, in August 2013. “

Meyssan claims that the Syria strategy of Erdo?an was initially secretly developed in coordination with former French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé and Erdogan’s then Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, in 2011, after Juppe won a hesitant Erdogan to the idea of supporting the attack on traditional Turkish ally Syria in return for a promise of French support for Turkish membership in the EU. France later backed out, leaving Erdogan to continue the Syrian bloodbath largely on his own using ISIS.

Gen. John R. Allen, an opponent of Obama’s Iran peace strategy, now US diplomatic envoy coordinating the coalition against the Islamic State, exceeded his authorized role after meeting with Erdogan and “promised to create a "no-fly zone" ninety miles wide, over Syrian territory, along the whole border with Turkey, supposedly intended to help Syrian refugees fleeing from their government, but in reality to apply the "Juppé-Wright plan".

The Turkish Prime Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, revealed US support for the project on the TV channel
A Haber by launching a bombing raid against the PKK.” Meyssan adds.

There are never winners in war and Erdogan’s war against Syria’s Assad demonstrates that in bold. Turkey and the world deserve better.

Ahmet Davutoglu’s famous “Zero Problems With Neighbors” foreign policy has been turned into massive problems with all neighbors due to the foolish ambitions of Erdogan and his gang.


Thirty things for Thanksgiving

SUBHEAD: The bright side of the environment, sustainability, renewable energy, and healthy food.

By Reynard Loki on 26 November 2015 for Alternet -

Image above: Illustration of visiting the grandparents for Thanksgiving.  From (

t is hard to argue that 2015 has been a good year for the environment. Due to a steady increase in temperature—the year is on track to be the hottest year on record—we have witnessed an increase in the frequency and severity of storms, widespread ocean acidification that is creating marine dead zones around the globe and numerous species that are struggling to survive amid what has been termed the "Sixth Extinction."

Droughtsfloods and wildfires are negatively impacting natural ecosystems, crops and local communities. The effects of climate change, in particular a growing lack of resources like water, food and fuel, have also acted as catalysts for conflict, sparking regional violence, terrorism and the civil war in Syria.

Climate change is also exacerbating the refugee crisis, driving people from their homes by destroying their livelihoods.

Rising seas threaten to drown coastal cities and engulf island nations. Scientists have identified dozens of "global warming tipping points" that could trigger natural disasters.

The pernicious climate denialism in the U.S. is not helping: In just three years, secretive donors have given climate denial groups over $125 million to help undermine rules to reduce carbon pollution.

Across the world, consumerism, overpopulation and globalism are also taking a heavy toll on our planet's limited resources. Plastic trash is polluting the seas and killing wildlifeInternational trade deals are expanding corporate rights and challenging regulations meant to protect the environment and public health. In the U.S., environmentalists and conservationists are fighting battles on many fronts. Environmental racism is rampant. Oregon's wolves lost their endangered species protection. The well-intentioned but ultimately destructive biomass industry in Europe is decimating America's southern forests, home to the endangered Louisiana black bear and more than 600 imperiled, threatened or endangered species.
On the food front, there is also much concern. As of 2014, more than 48 million Americans live in food-insecure households. Almost 15 percent of Americans live in poverty. Over 600,000 Americans are homeless. Against this worrisome background of widespread hunger, big food companies are pushing legislation to prevent consumers from knowing whether or not foods contain GMOs. Pesticides that are killing critical food crop pollinators like bees and butterflies and endangering human health continue to be used worldwide. Coca-Cola has been exposed for funding research that misleads the public about the health effects of its sugary drinks.
Still, amid all the bad news are some striking victories, stories of hope and visions for a better future. The good news is the result of action by people who care, from environmental activists who dangled from a bridge to stop Shell's icebreaker ship from going to the Arctic, to farmers suing agrochemical giants, and even to readers like you who have signed petitions, some of which have helped make things better, one issue at a time. Deeds such as these serve as an important reminder that, while it may be easier to complain than to commit, only action will enact positive change.
If you care about the environment, sustainability, renewable energy, food safety, food security, organic food systems and animal welfare, there is still much work to be done. But if you're looking for things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, you also have many reasons. Here are 30, in no particular order.
  1. Shell abandoned Arctic drilling.
  2. Pope Francis released a powerful encyclical on the environment.
  3. An Illinois farmer sued the world's largest agrochemical company over GMO corn.
  4. Taco Bell decided to source only cage-free chickens.
  5. Colorado established a new GMO-free zone to protect traditional farming.
  6. Kikkoman, a popular soy sauce brand, decided to end animal testing.
  7. The Women's Collective of Tamil Nadu in India is restoring traditional foods and farming methods.
  8. The United States is finally ending invasive experiments on chimpanzees.
  9. Palau created the world's sixth largest marine sanctuary.
  10. The $2.6 trillion fossil fuel divestment movement is growing.
  11. Pop Weaver, the second largest popcorn supplier in U.S., became the first American company to phase out bee-killing seed coatings.
  12. India is home to the world's first solar-powered airport.
  13. A group of humpback whales tried to save a baby gray whale from a killer whale attack in a remarkable display of interspecies empathy.
  14. The World Health Organization classified Monsanto's herbicide as a "probable carcinogen."
  15. Following the tragic murder of Cecil the lion, several major airlines banned the transportation of animal parts from the trophy hunting industry.
  16. 1President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline.
  17. SeaWorld decided to put an end to its orca shows in California.
  18. Morocco is poised to become a solar energy superpower.
  19. Washington became the first state to crack down on illegal wildlife trafficking by a people's vote.
  20. Scientists discovered that plastic-eating mealworms can safely digest Styrofoam.
  21. Across the world, urban agriculture projects are changing the way food is grown.
  22. Fracktivists crashed Monday Night Football.
  23. Texas finally put a stop to greyhound racing.
  24. Poland became the 14th European nation to ban GMOs.
  25. Jon and Tracey Stewart converted a 12-acre farm into a farm animal sanctuary
  26. U.S. and Russia have teamed up to save polar bears.
  27. The Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon in Wales will use ocean tides to power more than 150,000 homes.
  28. Activists promised the largest climate civil disobedience ever at the Paris summit.
  29. Prop 2 took effect, banning extreme confinement of hens, pigs and calves in California.
  30. After years of resistance, Ringling Bros. Circus announced it would retire elephants from its traveling circus acts.
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? Now is the time to consider.


Thanksgiving with Trump & ISIS

SUBHEAD: All our traditions are in anaphylactic shock. We chew together in the eye of the storm.

By Reverend Billy Talen on 26 November 2015 for RevBilly -

Image above: In America, from coast to coast, Thanksgiving travelers face heavy security this weekend. From (

Norman Rockwell is dead at the easel, his paintbrush still hanging in the air. All our traditions are in anaphylactic shock. We chew together in the eye of the storm.

This turkey-day we gather around the steaming food to defend ourselves against what is outside. We are seated facing inward, admiring the steaming aroma of the overkill. We pretend for an hour that we don't notice what is behind us, the climate rattling the windows and the families knocking on our door.

We express our gratitude for what? That we have just a little more time; time for this meal. The ritual meal gives us a feeling of false momentum; that we are logically coming from 10,000 meals going back through time. This also suggests that there will be many more such celebrations to follow. This is a lie and we know it.

We all live in a gated community now. We all live within a militarized zone, in the center of which is an extreme form of retail culture which storms our minds with smiling graphics, actors, anti-depressants, fossil-sourced packaging and carbon shipping. This bizarre deathtrap is called our mainstream economy.

Here in 2015, after Beirut and Paris; after extinction sweeping through the natural world; after cops shooting unarmed black men sixteen times and cities hiding the evidence; after the language of candidates out-Hitlering the worst of the past - we take another bite. We use the words of mild-mannered love. We think of our family as a little culture with borders. Well, should we be grateful that we can still harbor this fantasy?

We hear the wind blowing against the side of our dining room. We call it a super storm, hoping to make it as manageable as the super bowl or a super mall. We are watching the geo-political super-storm of ISIS, Putin and Goldman Sachs, but we are belching the gas from the top of our packed stomachs and the problems of the world are on a screen on the wall.

We are not witnesses to the world, we are consumers of it. It comes as information on a screen. It is our most violent border. We have ourselves to thank for corporate media.

Our mature response is to remain in a state of non-protest and keep shopping. Cornel West is right when he says, “Everything is commodified. All things are for sale.” This is a state-sanctioned religion. Extreme shopping is the psychic heart of modern racism.

The shopping drug makes us the kind of idiots that accept violence. The Ferguson young people last year were right to march into Walmart and shout "Hands Up! Don't Shop!"

This year is a hard Thanksgiving. Our thanks must leap from our immediate love all the way over Trump and ISIS and toxin-coated seeds of 200 mile-an-hour wind. Our thanks flies out to Chelsea Manning, the truth-teller alone in her cell. Our thanks go to the families who miss their murdered loved ones, the survivors of state violence from bullets, drone bombs or Monsanto.

Our thanks go to the piano player at the Paris theater; to the all-night campers in the Minnesota cold at Precinct #4, and to the police who are beginning to have, in the midst of their thanks, doubts about their leaders.

The sun is rising in our windows on Thanksgiving Day in the USA. It's getting warmer for the homeless here in New York. My thanks go out to them, and the 60 million homeless who walk hundreds of miles toward militarized horizons. We must escape to all of you, cross the borders from the shopping side, and give thanks to you for our freedom.


Trump is a Fascist

SUBHEAD: The bizarre spectacle of Trump's candidacy has one word on everyone's mind: 'Fascism.'

By Heather Digby Parton on 25 November 2015 for AlterNet -

Image above: Donald Trump, Fascist, egomaniac and ignoramus. From (

Over the past week or so, something unusual has happened in American politics: political figures, mainstream scholars and commentators are describing a leading contender for president of the United States as a fascist. Sure, people on barstools around the country have done this forever but it’s unprecedented to see such a thing on national television and in the pages of major newspapers.

For instance, take a look at this piece by MJ Lee at CNN:

[I]t it was after Trump started calling for stronger surveillance of Muslim-Americans in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks that a handful of conservatives ventured to call Trump’s rhetoric something much more dangerous: fascism.
“Trump is a fascist. And that’s not a term I use loosely or often. But he’s earned it,” tweeted Max Boot, a conservative fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who is advising Marco Rubio.
“Forced federal registration of US citizens, based on religious identity, is fascism. Period. Nothing else to call it,” Jeb Bush national security adviser John Noonan wrote on Twitter.
Conservative Iowa radio host Steve Deace, who has endorsed Ted Cruz, also used the “F” word last week: “If Obama proposed the same religion registry as Trump every conservative in the country would call it what it is — creeping fascism.”
 Yes, this is a hard fought primary campaign with insults flying in every direction. But ask yourself when was the last time you heard Republicans using the “F” word against someone running in their own party? I can’t remember it happening in decades.

It’s possible that some members of the GOP establishment called Barry Goldwater a fascist in 1964 (Democrats did, for sure) but that was half a century ago. In recent years this just has not been considered politically correct on left or right.

The CNN story goes on to interview various scholars who all say that to one degree or another Trump is, indeed, fascistic if not what we used to call “a total fascist.” Historian Rick Perlstein was the first to venture there when he wrote this piece some months back,

It’s hard to understand why this has been so difficult to see. On the day he announced his campaign, Trump openly said he believed that undocumented workers are not just criminals (that’s a common refrain among the anti-immigrant right which fatuously chants “they broke the law by coming here”) but violent rapists, killers and gang members.

He said he wants to deport millions of people, including American citizens. In fact, he wants to restrict American citizenship to people whose parents are citizens, and thus are guaranteed citizenship by the 14th amendment.

For months Trump has been saying that we cannot allow Syrian refugees into the country and promising to send the ones who are already here back. He has indicated a willingness to require American Muslims to register with the government and thinks they should be put under surveillance.

He condemns every other country on earth as an enemy, whether economic, military or both, and promises to beat them to “make America great again.” Despite the fact that the U.S. is the world’s only superpower, he says he will make it so strong that “nobody will ever mess with us again” so that it was “highly, highly, highly, unlikely” that he would have to use nuclear weapons.
And he said quite clearly that he believes,

For months Trump has been saying that we cannot allow Syrian refugees into the country and promising to send the ones who are already here back. He has indicated a willingness to require American Muslims to register with the government and thinks they should be put under surveillance.

He condemns every other country on earth as an enemy, whether economic, military or both, and promises to beat them to “make America great again.” Despite the fact that the U.S. is the world’s only superpower, he says he will make it so strong that “nobody will ever mess with us again” so that it was “highly, highly, highly, unlikely” that he would have to use nuclear weapons.

And he said quite clearly that he believes:
“we’re going to have to do things that we never did before. And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule… And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago…”
Does that add up to fascism? Yeah, pretty much. In his book, “Rush, Newspeak and Fascism” David Neiwert explained that the dictionary definition of the word often leaves out the most important characteristics of the philosophy, which are “its claims to represent the “true character” of the respective national identities among which it arises; and its mythic core of national rebirth — not to mention its corporatist component, its anti-liberalism, its glorification of violence and its contempt for weakness.” If that’s not Donald Trump I don’t know what is.

But if that doesn’t convince you, surely this quote from Monday in Ohio will:

“This morning they asked me a question. ‘Would you approve waterboarding” Would I approve waterboarding? Yeah. And let me ask you a question? I said, on the other side, they chop off our young people’s heads and they put ’em on a stick. On the other side they build these iron cages and they’ll put 20 people in them and they drop ’em in the ocean for 15 minutes and pull ’em up 15 minutes later. Would I approve waterboarding? You bet your ass I’d approve it, you bet your ass — in a heartbeat.

And I would approve more than that. Don’t kid yourself, folks. It works, okay? It works. Only a stupid person would say it doesn’t work.They’ll say, ‘oh it has no value’, well I know people, very, very important people and they want to be politically correct and I see some people taking on television, ‘well I don’t know if it works’ and they tell me later on, ‘it works, it works, believe me, it works’.

And you know what? If it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway for what they’re doing to us.”
Now it’s true that Trump isn’t the first important political figure to publicly endorse waterboarding. Former Vice President Dick Cheney recently said he’d do it again “in a heartbeat” and falsely claimed that “it works.” But even he kept up the fiction that it was rarely employed and only then for interrogation purposes. I don’t know that any top political figure has openly endorsed torture to exact revenge.

But then Trump doesn’t take his cues from political figures. He channels the ethos of talk radio and emulates the king, Rush Limbaugh, who famously described the torture at Abu Ghraib this way:
“This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation, and we’re going to ruin people’s lives over it, and we’re going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I’m talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You [ever] heard of need to blow some steam off?”

[…] “There’s only one thing to do here, folks, and that’s achieve victory over people who have targeted us for loooong, long time, well over 15, 20 years. It’s the only way to deal with this, and that’s why obsessing about a single incident or two of so-called abuse in a prison is nothing more than a giant distraction and could up being something that will really tie our hands and handcuffs us in what the real objective is here, which is the preservation of our way of life and our country.”
Donald Trump endorses torture as a method of exacting revenge on people simply because of their nationality or religion. And he gets huge cheers when he talks about that as well as deportations and military invasions and torture and revenge.

He may be the first openly fascistic frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination but the ground was prepared and the seeds of his success sowed over the course of many years. We’ve had fascism flowing through the American political bloodstream for quite some time.

• Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.


Too late to save climate...

SUBHEAD: It may be too late to save the climate we grew up in but we still could save ourselves.

By Aaron Lehmer-Chang on 23 November 2015 for World Shift Vision -

Image above: The Eiffel Tower in an orange Paris sunset. From (

Yet another United Nations climate confab is about to commence, this time in Paris, France, where the tragic backdrop of terrorism, war, and a growing immigration crisis now grips the country.

It’s fitting that global warming talks should happen here, considering the role that climate-induced drought in Syria has played in worsening the wave of the violence and desperate migration that’s spread throughout the region. Perhaps the gravity of the moment will weigh more heavily on UN delegates as they ponder a world where extreme weather, rising seas, and punishing droughts become the norm, leading to ever more conflict and misery.

Still, we’re unlikely to see a plan emerge from the Paris talks that truly stems the tide of rising carbon pollution, much less any binding agreement to ensure that meaningful climate protection goals are met.

Those who’ve pinned their hopes on a global accord that ramps down carbon levels are singing from the same songbook as they always have, year after year, from Rio in 1992 to Kyoto in 1997 to Copenhagen in 2009.

Time and time again the refrain is always: “It will be different this time.”
Environmental commentator Brian Tokar has outlined each of these progressive failures in his painfully incisive piece, Is the Paris Climate Conference Designed to Fail?

With excruciating detail, Tokar provides a behind-the-scenes look into why these global processes have perpetually missed the mark, concluding that “progress toward a meaningful climate agreement has continued to be stifled by big-power politics and diplomatic gridlock.”

That appears unlikely to change anytime soon, certainly not in the 20-30 year timeframe that climate activists proclaim is critical to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels to stave off massive climate disruption.

Recent news from climate scientists isn’t encouraging.

Earlier this month, the World Meteorological Association (WMO) released a bulletin noting that the Earth’s climate will soon enter a new “permanent reality” when concentrations of atmospheric CO2 are almost certain to pass 400 parts per million (PPM) — already 50 units higher than the 350 PPM ‘safe’  threshold advocated by climate scientists and activists alike. “It means hotter global temperatures, more extreme weather events like heatwaves and floods, melting ice, rising sea levels and increased acidity of the oceans.

This is happening now and we are moving into uncharted territory at a frightening speed,” said WMO Secretary General Michel Jarraud.

What’s more, researchers at Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research just concluded that a major section of West Antarctica’s ice sheet has destabilized, the melting water from which is likely to raise global sea levels by three meters. It’s worth noting that more than 150 million people globally live within just one meter of the sea; at 3 meters, the number climbs to at least 300 million.

In the United States alone, a 3-meter sea level rise would inundate many of the East Coast’s largest cities, including huge metroplexes like Boston, Miami, and New York.

And that’s just a sampling of the climate impacts that are already in the cards. Even if we look optimistically at what we can expect a global agreement to achieve, there’s simply no way it will stave off massive climate disruption.

Independent researchers at Climate Action Tracker project a global temperature rise between 2.2°C and 3.4°C by 2100 if all current country-by-country pledges are fully implemented (emphasis mine).

Those who are still committed to making the most of the UN talks in Paris, to push global leaders to ratify the boldest, most equitable climate agreement possible, deserve enormous praise and respect. May their efforts bear fruit, in spite of the odds.

But given all the well-established impacts of the pollution that has already happened — let alone all the gigatons of carbon and methane releases to come — it’s simply irresponsible not to refocus our efforts on preparing for the worst.

To date, only about $57 billion in annual funds have been mobilized globally to mitigate and adapt to climate impacts, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That pales in comparison to the $6 trillion needed for infrastructure transformation over the next 15 years alone, according to the Global Commission of the Economy and Climate Change.

And even that figure sounds woefully inadequate when the costs of shifting from a fossil fuel-based economy to one based entirely on renewables are factored in — roughly $60 trillion to maintain current world per-capita energy use, or $150 trillion to achieve European per-capita energy use, according to Searching for a Miracle, a joint study by the International Forum on Globalization and the Post Carbon Institute.

The UN climate negotiations thus far have settled on a goal of just $100 billion annually in adaptation financing — a mere fraction of what’s needed to truly prepare communities for what’s coming.

Of course, were we to downscale our overall energy demand, opt for radical conservation measures, phase out private automobile use, relocalize our economies, and shift our food system away from animal agriculture — then modern society’s energy requirements would be far less than they are now, our lives would be far more fulfilling, healthy, and connected, and our impact on the climate would be drastically reduced.

And rather than scramble in vain to maintain unsustainable levels of consumption — albeit through supposed “green” technologies, nearly all of which require extensive fossil fuels and toxic chemicals to produce — we could instead focus on bracing our communities for climate change’s inevitable impacts, simplifying our infrastructure, and moving population centers away from rising waters.

Unfortunately, in terms of overall investments and socioeconomic trends, we’re doing precisely the opposite: building more and more energy-intensive infrastructure, sprawling networks of roads and highways, vaster trade routes and shipping fleets, and ever-larger cattle, pig, poultry, and fish production facilities.

Still, while global climate talks and dominant trends are falling far short, a rising tide of local actions around the world to push governments, institutions, and communities toward climate sanity are providing a glimmer of hope for the future. To name but a few noteworthy developments:
On the weekend of November 28-29, the Global Climate March will take place in hundreds of cities around the world to coincide with the start of the Paris talks. The breadth and tenacity of the global climate movement has already made impressive strides, having forced governments to take bolder stances than they clearly would have otherwise, and shifting popular consciousness largely away from the deniers and diminishers of our day.

But the vital task of shifting trillions away from fossil fueled infrastructure, oil wars, and wasteful consumption toward a just, regenerative, balanced way of life for us all remains the most critical unfinished challenge of our time. It’s too late to “save” the climate as we know it, but it’s not too late to save ourselves.

If we can face the gathering storms, the rising seas, and the social turmoil that’s coming with honesty, humility, and boldness, we may just make it to the other side.

How that “other side” shapes up is still largely up to us, depending on whether we continue to squander this planet’s abundant natural wealth or harness its remaining bounty toward a life-affirming future. The costs of fossil fuels on our world have been staggering, to be sure, to our health, to our communities, and to the biosphere at-large.

But whether by design or some fantastical quirk of geological fortune, the endgame is nigh for fossil fueled industrialism. The mad dash for more, more, more into the furthest, most remote corners of the globe will eventually fade into distant memory, replaced with cultures and economies that flow with the rhythms of sunlight, water, and wind.

Why not get started with the exciting work of recalibrating ourselves to the natural cadence of life on Earth?


Drone Whistleblower's Claim

SUBHEAD: Former drone operation pilots say they were "horrified by cruelty of assassination program.

By Murtaza Hussain on 19 November 2015 for the Intercept -

Image above: Drone pilots during operations.  From original article.

U.S. drone operators are inflicting heavy civilian casualties and have developed an institutional culture callous to the death of children and other innocents, four former operators said at a press briefing today in New York.
The killings, part of the Obama administration’s targeted assassination program, are aiding terrorist recruitment and thus undermining the program’s goal of eliminating such fighters, the veterans added. 

Drone operators refer to children as “fun-size terrorists” and liken killing them to “cutting the grass before it grows too long,” said one of the operators, Michael Haas, a former senior airman in the Air Force. Haas also described widespread drug and alcohol abuse, further stating that some operators had flown missions while impaired.

In addition to Haas, the operators are former Air Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Bryant along with former senior airmen Cian Westmoreland and Stephen Lewis. The men have conducted kill missions in many of the major theaters of the post-9/11 war on terror, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“We have seen the abuse firsthand,” said Bryant, “and we are horrified.”

An Air Force spokesperson did not address the specific allegations but wrote in an email that “the demands placed on the [drone] force are tremendous. A great deal of effort is being taken to bring about relief, stabilize the force, and sustain a vital warfighter capability. … Airmen are expected to adhere to established standards of behavior. Behavior found to be inconsistent with Air Force core values is appropriately looked into and if warranted, disciplinary action is taken.”

Beyond the press conference, the group also denounced the program yesterday in an interview with The Guardian and in an open letter addressed to President Obama.

Read the full letter the drone whistleblowers sent to Obama below or here, or (

President Barack Obama
The White House Washington, D.C.
Secretary Ashton B. Carter
Department of Defense

Director John O. Brennan
Central Intelligence Agency

Dear President Obama, Secretary Carter and Director Brennan:

We are former Air Force service members. We joined the Air Force to protect American lives and to protect our Constitution.

We came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS, while also serving as a fundamental recruitment tool similar to Guantanamo Bay. This administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world.

When the guilt of our roles in facilitating this systematic loss of innocent life became too much, all of us succumbed to PTSD. We were cut loose by the same government we gave so much to ­­ sent out in the world without adequate medical care, reliable public health services, or necessary benefits. Some of us are now homeless. Others of us barely make it.

We witnessed gross waste, mismanagement, abuses of power, and our country’s leaders lying publicly about the effectiveness of the drone program. We cannot sit silently by and witness tragedies like the attacks in Paris, knowing the devastating effects the drone program has overseas and at home. Such silence would violate the very oaths we took to support and defend the Constitution.

We request that you consider our perspective, though perhaps that request is in vain given the unprecedented prosecution of truth­tellers who came before us like Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden. For the sake of this country, we hope it is otherwise.


Brandon Bryant
Staff Sergeant
MQ­1B Predator Sensor Operator
SERE Instructor Trainee
USAF Joint Special Operations Command 3rd Special Operations Squadron Disabled Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran Founder of Project RED HAND
Cian Westmoreland
Senior Airman
RF Transmissions Systems
73rd Expeditionary Air Control Squadron
Disabled Afghanistan Veteran
Project RED HAND's Sustainable Technology Director

Stephen Lewis
Senior Airman
MQ­1B Predator Sensor Operator
USAF Joint Special Operations Command 3rd Special Operations Squadron
Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran
Michael Haas
Senior Airman
MQ­1B Predator Sensor Operator Instructor USAF Air Combat Command
15th Reconnaissance Squadron
Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran

At the press conference, Bryant said the killing of civilians by drone is exacerbating the problem of terrorism. “We kill four and create 10 [militants],” Bryant said. “If you kill someone’s father, uncle or brother who had nothing to do with anything, their families are going to want revenge.”

The Obama administration has gone to great lengths to keep details of the drone program secret, but in their statements today the former operators opened up about the culture that has developed among those responsible for carrying it out.

Haas said operators become acculturated to denying the humanity of the people on their targeting screens. “There was a much more detached outlook about who these people were we were monitoring,” he said. “Shooting was something to be lauded and something we should strive for.”

The deaths of children and other non-combatants in strikes was rationalized by many drone operators, Haas said. As a flight instructor, Haas claimed to have been non-judicially reprimanded by his superiors for failing a student who had expressed “bloodlust,” an overwhelming eagerness to kill.

Haas also described widespread alcohol and drug abuse among drone pilots. Drone operators, he said, would frequently get intoxicated using bath salts and synthetic marijuana to avoid possible drug testing and in an effort to “bend that reality and try to picture yourself not being there.”

Haas said that he knew at least a half-dozen people in his unit who were using bath salts and that drug use had “impaired” them during missions.

The Obama administration’s assassination program has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months. This October, The Intercept published a cache of classified documents leaked by a government whistleblower that showed how the program killed people based on unreliable intelligence, that the vast majority of people killed in a multi-year Afghanistan campaign were not the intended targets, and that the military by default labeled non-targets killed in the campaign as enemies rather than civilians.

The operators said that they felt increasing urgency to speak out in the wake of the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris last week; they believe drone assassinations have fed the rise of the extremist group the Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Westmoreland said of drones: “In the short term they’re good at killing people, but in the long term they’re not effective. There are 15-year-olds growing up who have not lived a day without drones overhead, but you also have expats who are watching what’s going on in their home countries and seeing regularly the violations that are happening there, and that is something that could radicalize them.”

In their open letter to Obama, the former drone pilots made a similar point, writing that during their service they “came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS,” going on to describe the program as “one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world.”

 At the press conference today, the pilots echoed these sentiments. “It seems like our actions of late have only made the problems worse. …

The drones are good at killing people, just not the right ones,” Bryant said. “Have we forgotten our humanity in the pursuit of vengeance and security?”


Modest Disruption will unravel us

SUBHEAD: Any modest reduction in consumption or borrowing will bring the Status Quo crashing down.

By Charles Hugh Smith on 24 November 2015 for Of Two Minds -

Image above: The game of Jenga is to remove blocks from tower without toppling it. From (

Any modest reduction in debt, tax revenues, consumption or new borrowing will bring the entire Status Quo crashing down.

Consider this clipping from the August 1932 San Francisco Chronicle newspaper:
"Reduction of salaries of municipal employees and limitation of city positions to only one member of a household will be sought by (Supervisor) Adolph Uhl in two amendments to the San Francisco charter. The salary reductions would run from 2.5% for the lowest bracket to 25% on salaries of $500 a month or more."
Thanks to the handy BLS Inflation Calculator we know that $500 a month in 1932 is the equivalent of $8,680 per month (about $104,000) a year.

Imagine the tempest of fury and outrage that would arise should this be proposed the next time local governments run short of funding. Nowadays, the calls would not be for sacrifices from the highly paid public servants but for tax increases of 25% to maintain public-servant wages and benefits while the private sector economy implodes.

This unwillingness to sacrifice for the greater good is now endemic. This is the result of two powerful social forces:
  1. The loss of any shared sense of purpose or social good worthy of sacrifice.
  2. The ascendancy of maximizing private gain by whatever means are available as the primary purpose and goal of the Status Quo.
The dominance of maximizing private gain by whatever means are availableleaves the Status Quo brittle and fragile. Since everyone reckons any sacrifice should fall on someone else, the only possible result is disunity and bitter conflict over modest sacrifices that are too inconsequential to save the system from collapse.

Wishful thinking, mindless optimism and blind adherence to failed ideas also make the Status Quo brittle and fragile.

As Michael Grant noted in his book The Fall of the Roman Empire

There was no room at all, in these ways of thinking, for the novel, apocalyptic situation which had now arisen, a situation which needed solutions as radical as itself. (The Status Quo) attitude is a complacent acceptance of things as they are, without a single new idea.

This acceptance was accompanied by greatly excessive optimism about the present and future. Even when the end was only sixty years away, and the Empire was already crumbling fast, Rutilius continued to address the spirit of Rome with the same supreme assurance.

This blind adherence to the ideas of the past ranks high among the principal causes of the downfall of Rome. If you were sufficiently lulled by these traditional fictions, there was no call to take any practical first-aid measures at all.

A dependence on debt, low interest rates and financial legerdemain also render the Status Quo extremely fragile when the debt become unpayable and low interest rates no longer boost additional borrowing.

The wishful thinking is that we can borrow limitless sums ad leave the debt burden on our children and grandchildren with no consequences. But once the system is dependent on massive borrowing, it becomes acutely sensitive to default, as consumption collapses once consumers can no longer borrow to consume, and asset bubbles engorged by debt-assets (bonds, student loans, mortgages, subprime auto loans, etc.) burst.

Lest you think this implosion from a modest decline in debt and new borrowing is preposterous, please examine this chart of total credit: that tiny wobble in 2008 very nearly collapsed the entire global financial system.

Any modest reduction in debt, tax revenues, consumption or new borrowing will bring the entire Status Quo crashing down. This is the bitter fruit of rampant financialization and the ascendancy of maximizing private gain by whatever means are available.

Hang Onto Your Wallets

SUBHEAD:  Negative Interest, the War on Cash, and the $10 Trillion Bail-in are coming to a town near you.

By Ellen Brown on 20 November 2015 for Web of Debt -

Image above: Customers during a run on a branch of Northern Rock Bank a former "savings and loan" operation that was deregulated in 1997 was been affected in part by problems in the US "subprime" lending market in 2007. From (

[IB Publisher's note: The banks don't like cash for several reasons. One is that unlike paying by credit car, they get no direct cut (a small percentage) of a purchase with done with cash. Also,  there is no trace of purchase history that is so valuable for advertising, marketing, and retail operations. As cash is legal tender it cannot be "declined". Although convenient, electronic transactions are vulnerable to all kinds of failures in deteriorating energy dependent technical future. Banks charging negative interest will encourage many to abandon the credit economy and move towards cash and barter transactions. It's the more resilient path into the future.]  

In uncertain times, “cash is king,” but central bankers are systematically moving to eliminate that option. Is it really about stimulating the economy? Or is there some deeper, darker threat afoot?

Remember those old ads showing a senior couple lounging on a warm beach, captioned “Let your money work for you”?

Or the scene in Mary Poppins where young Michael is being advised to put his tuppence in the bank, so that it can compound into “all manner of private enterprise,” including “bonds, chattels, dividends, shares, shipyards, amalgamations . . . .”?

That may still work if you’re a Wall Street banker, but if you’re an ordinary saver with your money in the bank, you may soon be paying the bank to hold your funds rather than the reverse.
Four European central banks – the European Central Bank, the Swiss National Bank, Sweden’s Riksbank, and Denmark’s Nationalbank – have now imposed negative interest rates on the reserves they hold for commercial banks; and discussion has turned to whether it’s time to pass those costs on to consumers. The Bank of Japan and the Federal Reserve are still at ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Policy), but several Fed officials have also begun calling for NIRP (negative rates).

The stated justification for this move is to stimulate “demand” by forcing consumers to withdraw their money and go shopping with it. When an economy is struggling, it is standard practice for a central bank to cut interest rates, making saving less attractive. This is supposed to boost spending and kick-start an economic recovery.

That is the theory, but central banks have already pushed the prime rate to zero, and still their economies are languishing. To the uninitiated observer, that means the theory is wrong and needs to be scrapped. But not to our intrepid central bankers, who are now experimenting with pushing rates below zero.

Locking the Door to Bank Runs: The Cashless Society
The problem with imposing negative interest on savers, as explained in the UK Telegraph, is that “there’s a limit, what economists called the ‘zero lower bound’. Cut rates too deeply, and savers would end up facing negative returns. In that case, this could encourage people to take their savings out of the bank and hoard them in cash. This could slow, rather than boost, the economy.”

Again, to the ordinary observer, this would seem to signal that negative interest rates won’t work and the approach needs to be abandoned. But not to our undaunted central bankers, who have chosen instead to plug this hole in their leaky theory by moving to eliminate cash as an option.

If your only choice is to keep your money in a digital account in a bank and spend it with a bank card or credit card or checks, negative interest can be imposed with impunity. This is already happening in Sweden, and other countries are close behind. As reported on

The War on Cash is advancing on all fronts. One region that has hogged the headlines with its war against physical currency is Scandinavia. Sweden became the first country to enlist its own citizens as largely willing guinea pigs in a dystopian economic experiment: negative interest rates in a cashless society. As Credit Suisse reports, no matter where you go or what you want to purchase, you will find a small ubiquitous sign saying “Vi hanterar ej kontanter” (“We don’t accept cash”) . . . .

The Lesson of Gesell’s Decaying Currency
Whether negative interests will actually stimulate an economic recovery, however, remains in doubt. Proponents of the theory cite Silvio Gesell and the Wörgl experiment of the 1930s. As explained by Charles Eisenstein in Sacred Economics:
The pioneering theoretician of negative-interest money was the German-Argentinean businessman Silvio Gesell, who called it “free-money” (Freigeld) . . . . The system he proposed in his 1906 masterwork, The Natural Economic Order, was to use paper currency to which a stamp costing a small fraction of the note’s value had to be affixed periodically. This effectively attached a maintenance cost to monetary wealth.

. . . [In 1932], the depressed town of Wörgl, Austria, issued its own stamp scrip inspired by Gesell . . . . The Wörgl currency was by all accounts a huge success. Roads were paved, bridges built, and back taxes were paid. The unemployment rate plummeted and the economy thrived, attracting the attention of nearby towns. Mayors and officials from all over the world began to visit Wörgl until, as in Germany, the central government abolished the Wörgl currency and the town slipped back into depression.

. . . [T]he Wörgl currency bore a demurrage rate [a maintenance charge for carrying money] of 1 percent per month. Contemporary accounts attributed to this the very rapid velocity of the currencies’ circulation. Instead of generating interest and growing, accumulation of wealth became a burden, much like possessions are a burden to the nomadic hunter-gatherer. As theorized by Gesell, money afflicted with loss-inducing properties ceased to be preferred over any other commodity as a store of value.
There is a critical difference, however, between the Wörgl currency and the modern-day central bankers’ negative interest scheme. The Wörgl government first issued its new “free money,” getting it into the local economy and increasing purchasing power, before taxing a portion of it back. And the proceeds of the stamp tax went to the city, to be used for the benefit of the taxpayers. As Eisenstein observes:
It is impossible to prove . . . that the rejuvenating effects of these currencies came from demurrage and not from the increase in the money supply . . . .

Today’s central bankers are proposing to tax existing money, diminishing spending power without first building it up. And the interest will go to private bankers, not to the local government.

Consumers today already have very little discretionary money. Imposing negative interest without first adding new money into the economy means they will have even less money to spend. This would be more likely to prompt them to save their scarce funds than to go on a shopping spree.

People are not keeping their money in the bank today for the interest (which is already nearly non-existent). It is for the convenience of writing checks, issuing bank cards, and storing their money in a “safe” place.

They would no doubt be willing to pay a modest negative interest for that convenience; but if the fee got too high, they might pull their money out and save it elsewhere. The fee itself, however, would not drive them to buy things they did not otherwise need.

Is There a Bigger Threat than a Sluggish Economy?
The scheme to impose negative interest and eliminate cash seems so unlikely to stimulate the economy that one wonders if that is the real motive. Stopping tax evaders and terrorists (real or presumed) are other proposed justifications for going cashless.

Economist Martin Armstrong goes further and suggests that the goal is to gain totalitarian control over our money. In a cashless society, our savings can be taxed away by the banks; the threat of bank runs by worried savers can be eliminated; and the too-big-to-fail banks can be assured that ample deposits will be there when they need to confiscate them through bail-ins to stay afloat.

And that may be the real threat on the horizon: a major derivatives default that hits the largest banks, those that do the vast majority of derivatives trading. On November 10, 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported the results of a study requested by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Elijah Cummings, involving the cost to taxpayers of the rollback of the Dodd-Frank Act in the “cromnibus” spending bill last December.

As Jessica Desvarieux put it on the Real News Network, “the rule reversal allows banks to keep $10 trillion in swaps trades on their books, which taxpayers could be on the hook for if the banks need another bailout.”

The promise of Dodd-Frank, however, was that there would be “no more taxpayer bailouts.” Instead, insolvent systemically-risky banks were supposed to “bail in” (confiscate) the money of their creditors, including their depositors (the largest class of creditor of any bank). That could explain the push to go cashless. By quietly eliminating the possibility of cash withdrawals, the central bank can make sure the deposits are there to be grabbed when disaster strikes.

If central bankers are seriously trying to stimulate the economy with negative interest rates, they need to repeat the Wörgl experiment in full. They need to first get some new money into the economy, money that goes directly to the consumers and local businessmen who will spend it.

This could be achieved in a number of ways: with a national dividend; or by using quantitative easing for infrastructure or low-interest loans to states; or by funding free tuition for higher education. Consumers will hit the malls when they have some new discretionary income to spend.

• Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt. Her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 300+ blog articles are at Listen to “It’s Our Money with Ellen Brown” on PRN.FM.