“Italy Is Collapsing…And 5 Star Is Our Last Hope”: How Young Italians Fueled A Populist Uprising

Unlike in the US, where President Trump relies on older Americans for his base of support, more than half (53%) of Italians under 35 voted for one of the two anti-establishment parties that triumphed in Italy’s March election. Their enthusiastic support explains the outpouring of anger directed at technocratic Italian President Sergio Mattarella, who called for new elections as he seemingly reached for every conceivable excuse to try and stop the two parties from forming a government, before finally acquiescing.

Young Italians have grown disillusioned with the center-left – which has clung to a status quo that deliberately favors older workers – even as their counterparts in Greece and Spain have moved even further to the left, with 40% of Spaniards under 35 saying in a recent poll that they favor the far-left Podemos and its allies, while in Greece, 41% of people aged 18 to 24 voted for Syriza in the 2015 election that brought the far-left party to power, according to the Wall Street Journal, which recently published a long-winded feature about the political plight of restive Italian youth.

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Giada Gramanzini, a 29-year-old Italian university graduate who has struggled to find permanent work

Young Italians, like young people in much of the Western developed nations that comprise the EU, are convinced that they will lead lives fraught with economic turbulence, and that few in their generation will manage to achieve the same standard of living that their parents enjoyed. The marriage rate in Italy has fallen by a fifth over the past decade, according to Istat. In 2016, the last year for which data are available, Italian men got married on average at age 35 and women at 32 – two years later than in 2008. Meanwhile, the birth rate in a country that’s viewed as the cradle of conserative Catholicism has fallen to an all-time low.

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Of the many statistics that point to an intractable economic malaise, the youth unemployment rate is particularly troubling: Nearly 30% of Italians aged 20 to 34 aren’t working, studying or enrolled in a training program, according to Eurostat. This comes after the employment rate for Italians under 40 fell every year between 2007 and 2014, before flatlining for three years. That’s higher than any other EU member state – including Greece, which is sporting youth unemployment of 29% – the second highest – as well as Spain’s 21%.

“Italy is collapsing and yet nothing has changed in this country for at least 30 years,” said Carlo Gaetani, a self-employed engineer in Puglia. Ten years ago, when he was in his early 20s, he voted for a center-left party that he hoped would push for economic development in southern Italy. When Italy descended into a crippling recession, he felt betrayed by the traditional Italian left-wing parties. He has seen friends struggle to find jobs, and said his own business opportunities are limited to the stagnant private sector, because commissions for the public sector are usually awarded to people with connections he doesn’t have.

Mr. Gaetani, now 33, voted for 5 Star in the 2013 election, a choice he repeated in March with more conviction. “5 Star is our last hope. If they also fail, I think I’ll stop voting,” he said.

Luckily, the older generation is well-equipped to step in and provide a modicum of financial support, thanks to generous pension benefits that have accrued to older workers. Yet this has done little to assuage the anger of young Italians, as the number of Italians under 34 living in dire poverty (aka those who can’t afford even basic goods and services) has more than doubled in the aftermath of the crisis.

The pain in southern Europe reflects a feeling across much of the Western world that the younger generation will struggle to surpass their parents in wealth and security. Half of Italians who responded last year to an online survey on jobs site Monster.com said they thought they will earn less over their careers than their parents.

Young Italians, who bore the brunt of the country’s protracted, triple-dip recession, still bear the scars that will affect their career prospects, homeownership and birthrates for decades to come.

While they share many similar characteristics, the problems in Italy are fundamentally different than in the US. Perhaps the biggest issue for young people is a labor system where people with open-ended employment contracts enjoy unassailable job security and access to benefits. Meanwhile, younger employees are getting stuck with short-term contracts generally lasting from one month to one year that carry few benefits and make it impossible to plan for the future.

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The Italian government introduced these short-term contracts in the 1990s to help young people enter the labor force. Italy recently adopted a revamp of its labor laws, using tax breaks to coax companies into using more open-ended contracts – which allow firms to avoid the great hassle and cost involved in firing employees. But these policies generally haven’t worked, and both the Five Star Movement and the League have capitalized on the anger at existing labor policies by promising to undo the government’s reforms, while Five Star has also advocated giving the poor and unemployed a UBI of 780 euros (roughly $900) a month.

The 5 Star Movement has lured millions of young voters with promises to roll back new labor rules, give the unemployed and poor a so-called universal basic income of €780 ($905) a month, and abolish unpaid apprenticeship contracts. Its leader, Luigi Di Maio, was a 26-year-old university dropout who lived with his parents when he was elected to parliament in 2013. Today, he is a deputy prime minister.

The League attracted a sizable portion of the youth vote by advocating for many of the same anti-establishment policies that Five Star embraced – such as canceling the country’s recent labor reforms – while also calling for deportations of African migrants who have overwhelmed Italy’s borders in recent years.

Italy’s economic problems played into young voters’ sentiments about immigration during the campaign as well, one of the animating drivers of support for the League. “We can’t host all of Africa,” said Gianluca Taburchi, a 23-year old supermarket employee from Perugia who voted for the League. “We already have our own problems. We have lots of unemployment and unsecure jobs.”

Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League who became a deputy prime minister and interior minister in the new government, promised to return hundreds of thousands of migrants to their countries of origin. 5 Star, which straddles the line on many issues, spoke of stemming illegal immigration, but stopped short of calling for mass deportations.

Now that they’ve found their way into power, the future of these euroskeptic parties will depend on whether they keep their promises. Instituting labor-market, welfare and immigration reforms is only one part of the problem. Many younger Italians are deeply distrustful of both the European Union and the euro currency – while many older Italians still view both projects as integral to maintaining a sense of European Unity and lasting peace on the continent.

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Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, flanked by Five Star Leader Luigi Di Maio and The League leader Matteo Salvini

Both The League and Five Star’s controversial flirtations with abolishing the euro (League leader Matteo Salvini was reportedly photographed wearing a T-shirt reading “Basta euro” – or “enough with the euro – to the chagrin of many older voters) have been popular with their base. But when directly confronted about their stance on leaving the euro, they’ve been noncommittal. The question now is: Will the Five Star and the League allow voters a chance to speak on the possibility of an “Italexit”, as the analysts on Wall Street have taken to calling an Italian departure from the European Union? Or will they stop short of threatening an orthodoxy that a growing number of Italian young people view as the root cause for their economic suffering?

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Separating Children From Their Families Is Nothing New, US Has Been Doing It For Decades

Authored by Darius Shahtahmasebi, op-ed via RT.com,

Outrage over the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy appears to have little to do with genuine concerns over human-rights abuses committed by the US government on a routine basis.

The Trump administration’s Stephen Miller-inspired immigration policy of coercively tearing children from their parents is rightly receiving a hefty load of criticism, even from some of the more traditional Republicans. Some 2,000 children have already been separated from their parents and placed in makeshift government shelters in less than a month and a half, with estimates that this number will continue to rise (and has probably already risen).

The outrage over this policy – while blame is still being deflected elsewhere by Donald Trump himself – is understandable and far-reaching indeed, right across the political spectrum.

“Because of the Administration’s policy of breaking up families at the border, these detention facilities are overflowing with children,” Sen. Kamala Harris (CA) wrote on Twitter. “Many don’t know where their parents are. Let’s be clear: this is a human rights abuse being committed by our government.”

Wow. Do you mean the United States government is actually committing human-rights abuses? Imagine my surprise, that the country which I believe to be a beacon of human rights, democracy and freedom has suddenly begun committing a human-rights abuse for what I am supposed to believe is the very first time.

This is the part that makes little sense when you consider the actions of the US ever since it was founded, right up until the present day, in terms of its ever-expanding list of human-rights abuses. Are these people genuinely upset and furious by the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents, or are they using this egregious policy as an excuse to advance their own agenda?

The United States has had a longstanding foreign policy of separating thousands of children from their parents on a daily basis. Arguably, this decades-long policy that has continued through both Democrat and Republican administrations is even worse than the current “zero-tolerance” immigration policy, given that the US has been separating thousands of children from their families using explosive devices, not detention centers.

On the campaign trail, then-candidate Trump vowed that he would “take out” the families of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) fighters and no one seemed to bat an eyelid at the time. While no one was looking, he began doing just that – and more. Soon after ascending to office, he relaxed the so-called Obama-era restrictions on airstrikes in multiple warzones, meaning that commanders on the field could call in airstrikes with almost all but zero oversight. The result was mass murder and chaos, as the commander-in-chief dropped 20,650 bombs in a mere six-month window.

One such airstrike in Mosul, Iraq killed between 200 and 300 civilians in a single strike. An investigation carried out by the Associated Press in relation to the total civilian death toll in the campaign to retake Mosul suggests that over 9,000 civilians lost their lives due to the barrage of strikes that the US-led coalition exacted in the area.

In Syria’s Raqqa, a territory which the US had no legal authority to bomb in the first place, its forces destroyed 80 percent of the entire city, rendering it uninhabitable. Through its violent policy, the US was wiping out entire families, one by one, with no regard at all for civilian life. One such airstrike in Raqqa killed a mother and her three children. Another such airstrike killed 30 members of a single family.

Barely two weeks ago, Amnesty International released an explosive report which called the US-led operation in Raqqa a “war of annihilation.” The report details four further cases of civilian families who lost 90 relatives and neighbors. One family lost 39 members in total, all of them by coalition airstrikes. Just to get an overall picture of this grotesque display of violence, at the time Reuters described the plight of one resident in Raqqa who came outside to find several of his neighbors lying dead on the street, with cats eating the corpses.

It later transpired that the US was doing all of this while allowingthousands of ISIS fighters to escape safely from Raqqa in order to head to Deir Ez-Zor, Syria’s most oil-rich region. In other words, the US was still somehow managing to drop a bomb every eight minutesin Raqqa, yet they allowed their prime enemy to escape safely under their cover, knowing full well they were wrecking civilian life in the process.

In Yemen, the US-backed Saudi-led coalition destroyed a family’s home, leaving a four-year-old Yemeni girl as the sole survivor. She wasn’t taken from her parents and put in a center – her parents were violently taken away from her for eternity. The United States, together with the United Kingdom, are 100-percent responsible for the bloodshed in Yemen. In addition to supplying billions of dollars’ worth of arms to the Saudi kingdom, US and UK personnel provide overwhelming assistance to the Saudi-led coalition to wreak this devastation on Yemen by sitting in the Saudi’s command and control center, refueling Saudi warplanes, providing intelligence and having access to lists of targets.

The media won’t tell you this, but if the US pulled its support for Saudi Arabia, Yemen’s suffering could stop as soon as tomorrow. Instead, what the US is doing is prolonging this war. Even as I type, the coalition is bombarding the Hodeidah port in Yemen, which actually provides the majority of humanitarian aid to an already devastated population.

This is not a violent policy that pertains only to the Trump administration. Altogether, the United States has killed some four million Muslims since it began its overt wars in the Middle East in the early 1990s. That’s over four million Muslims who will never see their loved ones again. I hate to break it to you, but unseating Donald Trump and replacing him with someone else is not going to save the United States government from committing human-rights abuses.

“Just wondering. Do you think Hillary Clinton would have kidnapped children and used them as leverage for political gain?” so-called ‘Twitter Personality’ Brian Krassenstein recently asked on the social network, receiving over 4,637 likes and 1,231 retweets. “You know, that woman who should have won the election, who got 3 million more votes…”

I don’t know Brian. But what I do know, is that this same Hillary Clinton was responsible for putting two million Libyan children out of school when she lobbied instrumentally for the overthrow of the Gaddafi leadership in Libya in 2011. If I remember correctly, she laughed hysterically after Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed in the streets of Sirte (some reports state he was raped by a bayonet).

This is also the same Hillary Clinton who refused to put Nigeria’s notorious jihadist group Boko Haram on the designated terrorist list. Remember Boko Haram, the group of terrorists that kidnapped 219 schoolgirls in 2014 to use as hostages? Remember how Hillary Clinton tweeted“#BringBackOurGirls” as if she had nothing to do with the policy which enabled this series of events? Furthermore, it was actually Hillary’s prized destruction of Libya in 2011 that allowed Boko Haram in Nigeria to grow from strength to strength, as the lawlessness that followed created a heavy arms market for jihadists to thrive all over the African continent.

Would Hillary “have kidnapped children and used them as leverage for political gain?” It seems like she, and every other prominent US politician before and after her, has done something brilliantly similar right across the world, on which vocal Twitter activists are all but completely silent.

Hillary’s husband, Bill, also oversaw the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children, to which his secretary of state intimated that it was “worth it”as the price Iraq needed to pay.  

In 2011, the Obama administration famously killed a 16-year-old American citizen, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, in Yemen during a drone strike of which he was the target. He had not been charged with any crime. Two weeks prior, a separate CIA drone strike killed his father, Anwar al-Awlaki, who also had not been charged or convicted of any crime. Not long after Donald Trump was elected last year, a January raid in Yemen saw the United States kill Abdulrahman’s eight-year-old sister. 30 people were killed in total during this botched raid, including 10 women and children.

To make matters worse, when asked about the death of Abdulrahman by independent media organization We Are Change in 2012, Obama campaign senior advisor Robert Gibbs said“I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the wellbeing of their children.”

Compare the latter statement to the people who say that parents who don’t want their children to be torn away from them should just “follow the law” and not come to the US illegally, and it should be clear that this type of policy of separating children from their parents is not “un-American” at all. It is almost as American as apple pie; you just never knew you had been embracing it for so long, as no one felt the need to talk about it.

Sure, the location of the child-parent separation may be a little bit closer to home, but that’s more or less the only difference – the distance. If you are outraged at one type of child-parent separation but completely and blissfully ignorant towards the other, perhaps you don’t actually care as much about human rights as you pretend to do.

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Russia Warns: “Militarization Of Space Is Way To Disaster”

President Trump’s order for the Pentagon  to create a “Space Force” as a separate branch of the armed services has already elicited sharp criticism, but one Russian senator went as far as to warn that “the militarization of space is a way to disaster.”

They also warned that Washington could risk violating key international agreements regulating the demilitarization of space, potentially destabilizing the international order.

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“There’s a major risk that the Americans would commit grave violations in this field…if one takes into account what they do in other spheres,” said Viktor Bondarev, the head of the Russian Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee.

While Trump wasn’t exactly clear about what he meant, he said he hoped to achieve “dominance” in space, ignoring the fact that the US is a signatory of the 1967 “Outer Space agreement,” which bans the deployment of nuclear weapons in space. However, the US has seemingly made a habit of withdrawing from major international agreements. For example, George W Bush backed out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and Russia has threatened to “strongly retaliate” if the US violates the outer space agreement by sending weapons of mass destruction into orbit. The treaty also prohibits states from building military bases on the moon, according to RT.

Still, violating the “Outer Space agreement” could potentially create problems because, during his speech, Trump mentioned something about establishing a “permanent presence” on the moon – though he didn’t explicitly say that it would be a “military” presence. Trump said during his speech that a “separate but equal” (from the other branches of the military) Space Force would be needed for America to maintain a tactical advantage over its geopolitical adversaries (adversaries like China and Russia).

Speaking with CNN after Trump’s speech, an analyst pointed out exactly why “dominance” of space will be so important for national defense in the future: “I hate the term ‘the final frontier’ but (space) is the ultimate high ground. Space doesn’t dominate one small geographic area – it dominates continents, oceans,” said US Lt. Col. Rick Francona

“Most military thinkers know this is the battle space of the future.”

One US Congressman warned that the US is already behind, and that “Russia and China” are dominating the space race.

“Russia and China are surpassing us in space capabilities and we need to dedicate a separate force solely with a space mission,” Mike Rogers said.

The Chinese have also spoken out against the US’s planned “dominance” of space.

Responding to a question from CNN regarding Trump’s announcement Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said that “Outer space is an asset shared by all mankind. China always advocates the peaceful use of outer space, and opposes the weaponization of outer space and space arms races.”

But of course, more than anything, Trump’s declaration reminds us all of that famous “Chapelle Show” sketch.

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Government Eyes Are Watching You: We Are All Prisoners Of The Surveillance State

Authored by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

“We’re run by the Pentagon, we’re run by Madison Avenue, we’re run by television, and as long as we accept those things and don’t revolt we’ll have to go along with the stream to the eventual avalanche…. As long as we go out and buy stuff, we’re at their mercy… We all live in a little Village. Your Village may be different from other people’s Villages, but we are all prisoners.

— Patrick McGoohan

First broadcast in America 50 years ago, The Prisoner – a dystopian television series described as “James Bond meets George Orwell filtered through Franz Kafka” – confronted societal themes that are still relevant today: the rise of a police state, the freedom of the individual, round-the-clock surveillance, the corruption of government, totalitarianism, weaponization, group think, mass marketing, and the tendency of humankind to meekly accept their lot in life as a prisoner in a prison of their own making.

Perhaps the best visual debate ever on individuality and freedom, The Prisoner (17 episodes in all) centers around a British secret agent who abruptly resigns only to find himself imprisoned and interrogated in a mysterious, self-contained, cosmopolitan, seemingly tranquil retirement community known only as the Village. The Village is an idyllic setting with parks and green fields, recreational activities and even a butler.

While luxurious and resort-like, the Village is a virtual prison disguised as a seaside paradise: its inhabitants have no true freedom, they cannot leave the Village, they are under constant surveillance, their movements are tracked by surveillance drones, and they are stripped of their individuality and identified only by numbers.

The series’ protagonist, played by Patrick McGoohan, is Number Six.

Number Two, the Village administrator, acts as an agent for the unseen and all-powerful Number One, whose identity is not revealed until the final episode.

“I am not a number. I am a free man,” was the mantra chanted on each episode of The Prisoner, which was largely written and directed by McGoohan.

In the opening episode (“The Arrival”), Number Six meets Number Two, who explains to him that he is in The Village because information stored “inside” his head has made him too valuable to be allowed to roam free “outside.”

Throughout the series, Number Six is subjected to interrogation tactics, torture, hallucinogenic drugs, identity theft, mind control, dream manipulation, and various forms of social indoctrination and physical coercion in order to “persuade” him to comply, give up, give in and subjugate himself to the will of the powers-that-be.

Number Six refuses to comply.

In every episode, Number Six resists the Village’s indoctrination methods, struggles to maintain his own identity, and attempts to escape his captors. “I will not make any deals with you,” he pointedly remarks to Number Two. “I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.”

Yet no matter how far Number Six manages to get in his efforts to escape, it’s never far enough.

Watched by surveillance cameras and other devices, Number Six’s getaways are continuously thwarted by ominous white balloon-like spheres known as “rovers.” Still, he refuses to give up. “Unlike me,” he says to his fellow prisoners, “many of you have accepted the situation of your imprisonment, and will die here like rotten cabbages.”

Number Six’s escapes become a surreal exercise in futility, each episode an unsettling, reoccurring nightmare that builds to the same frustrating denouement: there is no escape.

As journalist Scott Thill concludes for Wired, “Rebellion always comes at a price. During the acclaimed run of The Prisoner, Number Six is tortured, battered and even body-snatched: In the episode ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling,’ his mind is transplanted to another man’s body. Number Six repeatedly escapes The Village only to be returned to it in the end, trapped like an animal, overcome by a restless energy he cannot expend, and betrayed by nearly everyone around him.”

The series is a chilling lesson about how difficult it is to gain one’s freedom in a society in which prison walls are disguised within the trappings of technological and scientific progress, national security and so-called democracy.

As Thill noted when McGoohan died in 2009, “The Prisoner was an allegory of the individual, aiming to find peace and freedom in a dystopia masquerading as a utopia.”

The Prisoner’s Village is also an apt allegory for the American Police State: it gives the illusion of freedom while functioning all the while like a prison: controlled, watchful, inflexible, punitive, deadly and inescapable.

The American Police State, much like The Prisoner’s Village, is a metaphorical panopticon, a circular prison in which the inmates are monitored by a single watchman situated in a central tower. Because the inmates cannot see the watchman, they are unable to tell whether or not they are being watched at any given time and must proceed under the assumption that they are always being watched.

Eighteenth century social theorist Jeremy Bentham envisioned the panopticon prison to be a cheaper and more effective means of “obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example.”

Bentham’s panopticon, in which the prisoners are used as a source of cheap, menial labor, has become a model for the modern surveillance state in which the populace is constantly being watched, controlled and managed by the powers-that-be and funding its existence.

Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide: this is the new mantra of the architects of the police state and their corporate collaborators (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, YouTube, Instagram, etc.).

Government eyes are watching you.

They see your every move: what you read, how much you spend, where you go, with whom you interact, when you wake up in the morning, what you’re watching on television and reading on the internet.

Every move you make is being monitored, mined for data, crunched, and tabulated in order to form a picture of who you are, what makes you tick, and how best to control you when and if it becomes necessary to bring you in line.

When the government sees all and knows all and has an abundance of laws to render even the most seemingly upstanding citizen a criminal and lawbreaker, then the old adage that you’ve got nothing to worry about if you’ve got nothing to hide no longer applies.

Apart from the obvious dangers posed by a government that feels justified and empowered to spy on its people and use its ever-expanding arsenal of weapons and technology to monitor and control them, we’re approaching a time in which we will be forced to choose between obeying the dictates of the government – i.e., the law, or whatever a government official deems the law to be – and maintaining our individuality, integrity and independence.

When people talk about privacy, they mistakenly assume it protects only that which is hidden behind a wall or under one’s clothing. The courts have fostered this misunderstanding with their constantly shifting delineation of what constitutes an “expectation of privacy.” And technology has furthered muddied the waters.

However, privacy is so much more than what you do or say behind locked doors. It is a way of living one’s life firm in the belief that you are the master of your life, and barring any immediate danger to another person (which is far different from the carefully crafted threats to national security the government uses to justify its actions), it’s no one’s business what you read, what you say, where you go, whom you spend your time with, and how you spend your money.

Unfortunately, George Orwell’s 1984 – where “you had to live – did live, from habit that became instinct – in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized” – has now become our reality.

We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers.

Consider that on any given day, the average American going about his daily business will be monitored, surveilled, spied on and tracked in more than 20 different ways, by both government and corporate eyes and ears.

A byproduct of this new age in which we live, whether you’re walking through a store, driving your car, checking email, or talking to friends and family on the phone, you can be sure that some government agency, whether the NSA or some other entity, is listening in and tracking your behavior.

This doesn’t even begin to touch on the corporate trackers that monitor your purchases, web browsing, Facebook posts and other activities taking place in the cyber sphere.

Stingray devices mounted on police cars to warrantlessly track cell phones, Doppler radar devices that can detect human breathing and movement within in a home, license plate readers that can record up to 1800 license plates per minutesidewalk and “public space” cameras coupled with facial recognition and behavior-sensing technology that lay the groundwork for police “pre-crime” programspolice body cameras that turn police officers into roving surveillance cameras, the internet of things: all of these technologies add up to a society in which there’s little room for indiscretions, imperfections, or acts of independence—especially not when the government can listen in on your phone calls, monitor your driving habits, track your movements, scrutinize your purchases and peer through the walls of your home.

As French philosopher Michel Foucault concluded in his 1975 book Discipline and Punish, “Visibility is a trap.”

This is the electronic concentration camp – the panopticon prison – the Village – in which we are now caged.

It is a prison from which there will be no escape if the government gets it way.

As Glenn Greenwald notes:

“The way things are supposed to work is that we’re supposed to know virtually everything about what [government officials] do: that’s why they’re called public servants. They’re supposed to know virtually nothing about what we do: that’s why we’re called private individuals. This dynamic – the hallmark of a healthy and free society – has been radically reversed.

Now, they know everything about what we do, and are constantly building systems to know more. Meanwhile, we know less and less about what they do, as they build walls of secrecy behind which they function. That’s the imbalance that needs to come to an end. No democracy can be healthy and functional if the most consequential acts of those who wield political power are completely unknown to those to whom they are supposed to be accountable.”

Unfortunately, we seem to be trapped in the Village with no hope of escape.

That we are prisoners – and, in fact, never stopped being prisoners – should come as no surprise to those who haven’t been taking the escapist blue pill, who haven’t fallen for the Deep State’s phony rhetoric, and who haven’t been lured in by the promise of a political savior.

So how do we break out?

For starters, wake up. Resist the urge to comply.

The struggle to remain “oneself in a society increasingly obsessed with conformity to mass consumerism,” writes Steven Paul Davies, means that superficiality and image trump truth and the individual. The result is the group mind and the tyranny of mob-think—especially in a day and age when most people are addicted to screen devices controlled and administered by the government and its corporate allies.

Think for yourself. Be an individual. As McGoohan commented in 1968, “At this moment individuals are being drained of their personalities and being brainwashed into slaves… As long as people feel something, that’s the great thing. It’s when they are walking around not thinking and not feeling, that’s tough. When you get a mob like that, you can turn them into the sort of gang that Hitler had.”

In a media-dominated age in which the lines between entertainment, politics and news reporting are blurred, it is extremely difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. We are so bombarded with images, dictates, rules and punishments and stamped with numbers from the day we are born that it is a wonder we ever ponder a concept such as freedom. As McGoohan declared, “Freedom is a myth.”

In the end, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American Peoplewe are all prisoners of our own mind. 

In fact, it is in the mind that prisons are created for us. And in the lockdown of political correctness, it becomes extremely difficult to speak or act individually without being ostracized. Thus, so often we are forced to retreat inwardly into our minds, a prison without bars from which we cannot escape, and into the world of video games and television and the Internet.

We have come full circle from Bentham’s Panopticon to McGoohan’s Village to Huxley’s Brave New World.

As cultural theorist Neil Postman observed:

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.

Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.

Orwell feared we would become a captive audience. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.

Orwell feared that we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.

As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure.

In short, Orwell feared that what we hate would ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

You want to be free? Break out of the circle.

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BitTorrent Sells For $140 Million To Blockchain Startup Tron

Justin Sun, the founder of blockchain-focused startup Tron, has purchased BitTorrent, the owner of the file-sharing client MuTorrent, for $140 million, according to The Hacker News. Tron is a decentralized entertainment and content-sharing platform, and of course BitTorrent was a pioneer in the world of distributed file-sharing, and Sun said he hopes to use BitTorrent’s recognizable brand in the course of building out his own company’s content sharing system.

Tron is hoping to build a platform where users can publish content without ceding any control to a third-party like one would with YouTube or Facebook.

Bittorrent

As TechCrunch explains, Tron is a relatively new entry into the world of cryptocurrency.

The company was founded by Sun, who previously worked for rival crypto Ripple, and is one of a handful of ICO products that’s hoping to build a “truly decentralized Internet and its infrastructure.” To do this, the company launched its own cryptocurrency, the TRX.

The coin is supposed to allow payment of creators for hosting content on Tron’s platform (because so many Internet users are used to paying for the content they consume on the Internet).

Though BitTorrent has become irrevocably associated with the file sharing movement, the company has been earning revenue, and hasn’t needed to raise money in a decade. However, it’s plan to build a bigger business on top of its core technology never really took off (though its enterprise services segment was eventually spun off).

Tron is hoping the acquisition will “legitimize” its business after Tron has been accused of ripping off other ICOs, like FileCoin and Ethereum. BitTorrent recently said it has about 170 million users. Its protocols move around roughly 40% of the world’s Internet traffic on a typical day, making it the world’s largest decentralized application – many times larger than bitcoin.

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The Real Takeaway: The FBI Influenced The Election Of A US President

Authored by Peter Van Buren via The American Conservative,

The good news is the Deep State seems less competent than we originally feared…

It will be easy to miss the most important point amid the partisan bleating over what the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General report on the FBI’s Clinton email investigation really means.

While each side will find the evidence they want to find proving the FBI, with James Comey as director, helped/hurt Hillary Clinton and/or maybe Donald Trump, the real takeaway is this: the FBI influenced the election of a president.

In January 2017 the Inspector General for the Department of Justice, Michael Horowitz (who previously worked on the 2012 study of “Fast and Furious”), opened his probe into the FBI’s Clinton email investigation, including public statements Comey made at critical moments in the presidential campaign. Horowitz’s focus was always to be on how the FBI did its work, not to re-litigate the case against Clinton. Nor did the IG plan to look into anything regarding Russiagate.

In a damning passage, the 568 page report found it “extraordinary and insubordinate for Comey to conceal his intentions from his superiors… for the admitted purpose of preventing them from telling him not to make the statement, and to instruct his subordinates in the FBI to do the same. By departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice.” Comey’s drafting of a press release announcing no prosecution for Clinton, written before the full investigation was even completed, is given a light touch though in the report, along the lines of roughly preparing for the conclusion based on early indications.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch is criticized for not being more sensitive to public perceptions when she agreed to meet privately with Bill Clinton aboard an airplane as the FBI investigation into Hillary unfolded. “Lynch’s failure to recognize the appearance problem… and to take action to cut the visit short was an error in judgment.” Her statements later about her decision not to recuse further “created public confusion and didn’t adequately address the situation.”

The report also criticizes in depth FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who exchanged texts disparaging Trump before moving from the Clinton email to the Russiagate investigation. Those texts “brought discredit” to the FBI and sowed public doubt about the investigation, including one exchange that read, “Page: “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Strzok: “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.” Another Strzok document stated “we know foreign actors obtained access to some Clinton emails, including at least one secret message.”

Page and Strzok also discussed cutting back the number of investigators present for Clinton’s in-person interview in light of the fact she might soon be president, and thus their new boss. Someone identified only as Agent One went on to refer to Clinton as “the President” and in a message told a friend “I’m with her.” The FBI also allowed Clinton’s lawyers to attend her interview, even though they were also witnesses to a possible crimes committed by Clinton.

Page and Strzok were among five FBI officials the report found expressed hostility toward Trump and have been referred to the FBI’s internal disciple system. The report otherwise makes only wishy-washy recommendations about things every agent should already know, like “adopting a policy addressing the appropriateness of department employees discussing the conduct of uncharged individuals in public statements.”

But at the end of it all, the details really don’t matter, because the report broadly found no political bias, no purposeful efforts or strategy to sway the election. In aviation disaster terms, it was all pilot error. Like an accident of sorts, as opposed to the pilot boarding drunk, but the plane crashed and killed 300 people either way.

The report is already being welcomed by Democrats — who feel Comey shatteredClinton’s chances of winning the election by reopening the email probe just days before the election —and by Republicans, who feel Comey let Clinton off easy. Many are now celebrating it was only gross incompetence, unethical behavior, serial bad judgment, and insubordination that led the FBI to help determine the election. No Constitutional crisis.

A lot of details in those 568 pages to yet fully parse, but at first glance there is not much worthy of prosecution (though Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he will review the report for possible prosecutions and IG Horowitz will testify in front of Congress on Monday and may reveal more information.) Each side will point to the IG’s conclusion of “no bias” to shut down calls for this or that in a tsunami of blaming each other. In that sense, the IG just poured a can of jet fuel onto the fires of the 2016 election and walked away to watch it burn.

One concrete outcome, however, is to weaken a line of prosecution for Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The chief Russiagate investigator has just seen a key witness degraded — any defense lawyer will characterize Comey’s testimony as tainted now — and a possible example of obstruction weakened. As justification for firing Comey, the White House initially pointed to an earlier Justice Department memo criticizing Comey for many of the same actions now highlighted by the IG (Trump later added concerns about the handling of Russiagate.) The report thus underscores one of the stated reasons for Comey’s dismissal. Firing someone for incompetence isn’t obstructing justice; it’s the boss’ job.

It will be too easy, however, to miss the most important conclusion of the report: there is no longer a way to claim America’s internal intelligence agency, the FBI, did not play a role in the 2016 election. There is only to argue which side they favored and whether they meddled via clumsiness, as a coordinated action, or as a chaotic cluster of competing pro- and anti- Clinton/Trump factions inside the Bureau. And that’s the tally before anyone brings up the FBI’s use of a human informant inside the Trump campaign, the FBI’s use of both FISA warrants and pseudo-legal warrantless surveillance against key members of the Trump team, the FBI’s use of opposition research from the Steele Dossier, and so on.

The good news is the Deep State seems less competent than we originally feared. But even if one fully accepts the IG report’s conclusion that all this – and there’s a lot – was not intentional, at a minimum it makes clear to those watching ahead of 2020 what tools are available and the impact they can have. While we continue to look for the bad guy abroad, we have already met the enemy and he is us.

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US Army Seeks New Sub-Compact Weapons To Avoid “Increased Warfighter Casualties”

The US Army Contracting Command-New Jersey (ACC-NJ) on behalf of the Project Manager Soldier Weapons (PM SW), intends to purchase Sub Compact Weapons (SCW) from thirteen different gun manufactures for weapon trials to improve the effectiveness of Personal Security Details (PSD) on the evolving modern battlefield.

According to the Army Times, the Army announced it would spend $428,480 to award sole-source contracts to Beretta USA, Colt Manufacturing Company, CMMG Inc., CZ-USA, Sig Sauer and seven other gun manufactures for highly concealable subcompact guns.

These SCWs are “capable of engaging threat personnel with a high volume of lethal and accurate fires at close range with minimal collateral damage,” according to a June 15 special contract award notice.

“Currently, PSD military personnel utilize pistols and rifles; however, there is an operational need for additional concealability and lethality,” the notice states. “Failure to provide the selected SCW for assessment and evaluation will leave PSD military personnel with a capability gap which can result in increased warfighter casualties and jeopardize the success of the U.S. mission.”

Gun manufactures selected by the ACC-NJ had until June 16 to respond to the notice. The SCWs will be procured by the Army for further evaluation and testing in the coming weeks/months.

“The acquisition of the SCW is essential in meeting the agency’s requirement to support Product Manager, Individual Weapons mission to assess commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) SCWs in order to fill a capability gap in lethality and concealability.”

The following thirteen weapons were submitted by the corresponding companies: 

  • Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0034 Awardee: Colt’s Manufacturing Company LLC for CM9MM-9H-M5A, Colt Modular 9mm Sub Compact Weapon Amount: $22,000.00

  • Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0037 Awardee: Beretta USA Corporation for Beretta PMX Sub Compact Weapon Amount: $16,000.00

  • Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0038 Awardee: CMMG, Inc. for CMMG Ultra PDW Sub Compact Weapon Amount: $8,500.00

  • Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0039 Awardee: CZ-USA for CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1 Submachinegun Amount: $14,490.00

  • Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0040 Awardee: Lewis Machine & Tool Company for MARS-L9 Compact Suppressed Weapon Amount: $21,900.00

  • Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0041 Awardee: PTR Industries, Inc. for PTR 9CS Sub Compact Weapon Amount: $12,060.00

  • Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0042 Awardee: Quarter Circle 10 LLC 5.5 CLT and 5.5 QV5 Sub Compact Weapon Amount: $24,070.00

  • Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0043 Awardee: SIG SAUER, Inc. for SIG SAUER MPX Sub Compact Weapon Amount: $20,160.00

  • Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0044 Awardee: Trident Rifles, LLC for B&T MP9 Machine Guns Amount: $36,000.00

  • Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0045 Awardee: Zenith Firearms for Z-5RS, Z-5P and Z-5K Sub Compact Weapons Amount: $39,060.00

  • Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0048 Awardee: Heckler and Koch Defense Inc for HK UMP9 Sub Compact Weapon Amount: $10,850.00

  • Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0049 Awardee: Angstadt Arms Corporation for Angstadt UDP-9 Sub Compact Weapon Amount: $15,950.00

  • Award Number: W15QKN-18-P-0050 Awardee: Noveske Corporation for Noveske Sub Compact Weapon Amount: $17,200.00

Here some images of the SCWs that the Army will be evaluating and testing in the near term: 

CZ-USA for CZ Scorpion EVO 3 A1 Submachinegun

CMMG, Inc. for CMMG Ultra PDW Sub Compact Weapon

CM9MM-9H-M5A, Colt Modular 9mm Sub Compact Weapon

SIG SAUER MPX Sub Compact Weapon

Zenith Firearms for Z-5RS, Z-5P and Z-5K Sub Compact Weapons 

PTR Industries, Inc. for PTR 9CS Sub Compact Weapon

Heckler and Koch Defense Inc for HK UMP9

Angstadt Arms Corporation for Angstadt UDP-9 Sub Compact Weapon

Noveske Corporation for Noveske Sub Compact Weapon

So, this is the first time in decades that the U.S. Army is searching for SCWs for conventional forces, as it recognizes troops that wield pistols and rifles have an operational gap that can result in “increased warfighter casualties.” The Army will be testing a dozen or so SCWs and will shortly be making a decision which weapon system will fill that gap and ensure dominance on the modern battlefield for regular troops. This is yet another sign the Pentagon is preparing its grunts for war.

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De-Dollarization Escalates: Russia Sells Off Record Amount Of US Treasury Bonds

Authored by Arkady Savitsky via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The US Treasury Department report for April published on June 15 revealed that Russia sold $47.4 billion out of the $96.1 it had held in Treasury bonds (T-bonds). In March, Moscow cut its Treasury holdings by $1.6 billion. In February, Russia reduced its bond portfolio by $9.3 billion. Other holders did it too. Japan sold off about $12 billion, China liquidated roughly $7 billion. Ireland ditched over $17 billion.

The tariff wars unleashed by Washington stirred fears that financial markets may be in for a rough ride with American treasuries dumped by some partners, including such major holders as China and Japan, each holding over $1 trillion in bonds.

Russia has cut its holdings in American securities following numerous rounds of sanctions imposed by Washington against Moscow and amid the ongoing trade wars between the US and its allies and partners.

This is bad news and ominous warning for Washington. The foreign demand is critical to offset an expected surge in federal borrowing needs. The Treasury Department needs to finance the huge spending bill along with tax cuts that were passed by Congress in December 2017. It plans to auction off around $1.4 trillion in treasuries this year with a glut of sellers and a shortage of buyers in the bond market the government plans to add $600 billion to.

The companies buy back their own shares to boost capitalization. The stock prices are overvalued. The Fed’s monetary policy does not spur economic growth amid the growing national debt. The bond market does not look attractive anymore. Looks like there is a big change on the horizon that nations will dump US debt in case of trade war.

And the supremacy of the US dollar is not as solid as many people believe it is. A sell-by date as a global reserve currency is looming. The process of de-dollarization is gradually gaining momentum.

Moscow and Beijing are making agreements to move away from the American currency. On June 8, their leaders signed an agreement to raise the share of trade settlements in national currencies. Last year, nine percent of payments for supplies from Russia to China were made in the Russian rubles. In October 2017, China launched a payment system for transactions in the renminbi and the Russian currency. The launch of the petro-yuan allows Moscow and Beijing to use national currencies for settlements.

Russian companies paid for 15 percent of Chinese imports in the renminbi. For comparison, only three years ago the respective figures were two and nine percent. The gradual shift away from the USD is on the agenda of BRICS. China and Japan started direct trading of their currencies as far back as 2012 to hedge the risk of the dollar’s fall in the long run.

Stanley Druckenmiller, the billionaire investor, believes that this is the time when “all you need is gold and all other investments are rubbish”. Top money managers are also recommending gold. Other countries are repatriating their gold reserves from the US Federal Reserve.

Russia has increased its gold reserves in order to diversify away from the dollar. It has recently concluded a cooperation agreement with China on developing the Klyuchevskoye gold ore deposit in the Trans-Baikal region. It is expected to extract 12 million tons of ore to produce 6 tons of precious metal yearly. Gold is considered important by both countries. The Central Bank of Russia has been increasing its gold holdings for three years now. Today, it has the fifth largest gold reserves in the world to make Russia immune to fluctuations of global currency market. This is a good investment to fend off US sanctions, tariff impositions and dollar fluctuations.

The worse the US relations with other countries become, the more likely are other nations to reconsider their reliance on the dollar. The US bonds market is going through hard times, the dollar is facing uncertain future and gold is becoming the best investment one could think of. With sanctions constantly used as a tool of foreign policy, trade wars waged, and the huge debt growing, America’s economic prospects are clouded in doubt to make other countries gradually move away from its currency and T-bonds. It does not augur well for the US. Its policy of confrontation makes it weaker, not stronger. There are clear signs the American century is coming to an end.

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“Mr. President Fu*k You!”; The Hunt Is On For Congressional Intern Who Heckled Trump

President Trump as he arrived at the Capitol Tuesday to meet with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), when a woman thought to be a Congressional intern shouted “Mr. President, Fuck You!” as he walked down the hall. 


The incident occurred as tempers flared in D.C. over President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy of enforcing existing laws, which include separating children from their parents who choose to enter the United States illegally – something done under both Bush II and Obama

All 49 members of the Democratic caucus – including independents Bernie Sanders (VT) and Angus King (ME), signed on to Monday legislation designed to prevent the separation of immigrant families – something President Trump agrees with:


Trump also noted that 80% of migrant children are unaccompanied – meaning they were “separated” from their families when their parents chose to send them with human traffickers to America

Perhaps sensing an opportunity to hobble Trump on the separated children thing – former First Ladies Laura Bush and Michelle Obama joined together to criticize the “zero tolerance” policies – which many on Twitter immediately noted were passed into law and enacted by their husbands

We look forward to Trump’s heckler being fired, only to emerge as a #resistance hero in their proudest pink pussy hat. And for those trying to identify which Congressional intern it was – let’s not assume gender; we hear soy has an amazing affect on vocal chords. 

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Inside America’s Doomsday Bunkers: “Built To Withstand Apocalypse”

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

Evidence that officials in the government are planning for an apocalyptic scenario is hiding in plain sight. America’s doomsday bunkers are built to withstand the apocalypse but kept quiet from the public, as the elites’ plans for survival do not include us.

First developed during the Truman Administration, in the early days of nuclear weapons development, the government decided that in event of an apocalyptic scenario, the ruling class must be able to continue to control the masses.  COG (continuity of government) measures then expanded greatly during the Cold War. If the government is preparing for something, perhaps you should too. None of us really know what could go down, although a complete economic collapse seems possible at this point.

Across the ages, in every survival story, a disaster of some sort plays a prominent role. Sometimes the part is played by the government, sometimes it is played by Mother Nature, and other times, the role is taken on by a random mishap. If we have learned one thing studying the history of disasters, it is this: those who are prepared have a better chance at survival than those who are not. –The Prepper’s Bleprint

The government wants to ensure that the military will still be able to do whatever the elites command under any disastrous scenario.

[The elite ruling class] can afford to make careless decisions because they are insulated from the results. If there is a war with Russia, which could easily turn into a nuclear war, they’ll have plenty of spacious bunkers to hide out in while the rest of America burns. And that’s been our government’s plan in regards to nuclear war since the beginning of the Cold War.

That’s the main takeaway from a new book called Raven Rock: The Story of the US Government’s Plan to Save Itself. Our government has spent decades building sprawling bunkers, like Raven Rock, that high ranking officials can flee to in the event of a nuclear war. -SHTFPlan

Below is an image of the B entrance portal into Raven Rock Mountain Complex, a massive, 650-acre nuclear bunker and national security site built inside a hollowed-out mountain near Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania.

Constructed during the Cold War, the Raven Rock facility was conceived as a backup for the Pentagon and built to house military leadership, as well as the president, in the event of a nuclear disaster. Entry is through one of four portals, each protected by a 34-ton blast door.

According to The Daily Mail, the US government built secret doomsday bunkers for federal employees in Virginia and West Virginia as well.  Those bunkers aren’t for you or your family, however, only the masters and the ruling class get protection.  The rest of us are on our own.

The site of a former nuclear bunker known as Mount Pony, where the Federal Reserve secretly stockpiled billions of dollars in cash, which they planned to use to replenish currency supplies in the wake of Armageddon, in Culpeper, Virginia. In 2007, the facility was converted to the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation; it now provides underground storage for the Library’s vast collection of films and audio recordings

The government constructed nuclear-hardened communications towers throughout the Washington region, so the White House could reach other top-level survivors. They also developed weaponry with “second-strike capability” that would launch post-doomsday to prevent further attacks, a strategy known as mutually assured destruction, or MAD.

Below is an image of the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center, near Bluemont, Virginia.  The photo is a long exposure illuminated by the headlights and taillights of a passing truck.

This top-secret, 564-acre facility includes underground bunkers, which would serve as a relocation site for members of the executive branch, including those from Homeland Security, in the event of a nuclear war. Though no journalists have visited the site, many became aware of its existence in 1974, when a TWA airliner crashed into the mountain, killing all 92 people aboard.

The government is planning for something and they have been for quite some time. Obviously, it is reasonable to want to protect yourself in the event of an apocalyptic economic crash or nuclear war. There are many options for gas masks and protective body armor out there, such as these from Top Tier Gear USA and there are ways to ensure your family doesn’t struggle like others. No one knows when the end will come, but we do know it is up to us to ensure our own survival. The government only wants the ruling elites to make it out alive and they’ve made sure we won’t be offered the same.

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