zaterdag 1 februari 2014

U.S. Military Industrial Complex 10

Bully Nation

Saturday, 01 February 2014 09:09By Yale Magrass and Charles DerberTruthout | Op-Ed
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has appropriately been called a bully. This has implications well beyond Christie. His calling out has the potential to shift the growing public conversation about bullying from a pyschological narrative about abusive individuals to a new discourse on institutionalized bullying, carried out by ruling institutions and elites.
The current focus on bullying - like much of the discussion about guns and gun violence - has tended to focus on individuals and mental health. It is a therapeutic narrative. Bullying is seen primarily as a psychological problem of individuals. The victim needs therapy, better communication or adaptation skills. Bullies are characterologically flawed and need therapy or perhaps legal punishment.
But there is little or no discussion of larger social or cultural forces in the United States and the American institutions or leaders who bully other countries or workers and citizens at home. Institutionalized bullying is endemic to a capitalist hegemonic nation like the United States and creates death and suffering on a far greater scale than personal, everyday bullying, as important and toxic as the latter might be.
Moreover, much of the everyday bullying that is the current media focus must be understood as the inevitable consequence of a militarized corporate system that requires a popular mind-set of bullying to produce profit and power. The individual bully is the creation of the bully nation.
The United States openly views itself as the world police force, a benign hegemon morally ordained to impose its interests and values on the rest of the world and justified in the name of freedom, human rights and antiterrorism to do to weaker countries what it wants. It spends more on weapons than its next 20 largest competitors combined. President Obama proclaimed "[S]o long as I'm Commander-in-Chief, we will sustain the strongest military the world has ever known." To peasants living in small countries in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia - where the United States has sent armed forces, used drones to bomb, and often overthrown the government - polls show that a majority of people see the United States as the greatest threat to their security, and fear it. Hegemony here seamlessly unfolds as morally sanctioned, institutionalized bullying.
America makes heroes of bomber pilots like John McCain and offers them as role models for children and adolescents to emulate. They see the media applaud the bullying behavior of their own government that dispatches police, soldiers, FBI and CIA agents into foreign nations to kill and wreak havoc - from Afghanistan to Somalia to Columbia. If you kill enough, whether in a just war or not, you may win the Congressional Medal of Honor.
If bullying brings esteem to a nation, then surely that is a behavior to strive for. Potential recruits for an aggressive military need to be immunized against scruples over violence and bullying. This becomes an implicit part of their education, whether or not it is ever publicly admitted. Accordingly, schools and adult authorities often turn a blind eye toward bullying. After two world wars, the Army lamented that a majority of combat soldiers never fired a weapon. They called for a change in the training of soldiers and the education and upbringing of children to correct that. By that measure, they have been successful. In Vietnam, Iraq and Afganistan, the majority of combat soldiers killed.
Sports has played a vital part in preparing children for institutionalized aggression, bullying and combat. In football, the goal is to attack the opponent and knock them down, a hard hit that keeps the opponent dazed on the ground is sometimes encouraged by coaches and cheered by the crowd. In schools and campuses, the athletes are often the popular heroes and also the bullies, involved too often in sexual violence or drinking binges in bars that lead to fights or crimes.
Only recently would they expect sanctions against bullying. Indeed, the more they bullied, the more popular they would be. Even before World War I, President Theodore Roosevelt insisted that elite universities like Harvard would have to enhance their football teams if America were to dominate the world. He declared: "We cannot afford to turn out college men who shrink from physical effort or a little physical pain." For the nation needed men with "the courage that will fight valiantly against the foes of the soul and the foes of the body."
The aggression and competiveness of bullying pervades civilian life as well as military. As the beacon for the rest of the world to emulate, the culture the United States wishes to export is capitalism. Capitalism's staunchest defenders proclaim competition to be its fundamental operating principle. The monopolistic corporations and the wealthiest 1% have been the most aggressive, bullying anyone who stood in their way by outsourcing their jobs, lowering wages, stripping away benefits and firing those seeking to organize unions.
The bully demonizes their victim. In American capitalism, elites have long defined the losers in the competitive struggle with the words used by Mitt Romney to defame the 47%: undeserving "moochers." They are weak and lazy and don't have the stuff to prevail. As victims, they deserve their fate and must submit to the triumphant. Those, like the wolves on Wall Street who bully their way to the top, should be there; those who couldn't or don't, belong where they are.
Bullying is the means through which the corporate empires were built. Carnegie and Rockefeller intimidated and threatened their rival capitalists to cede them an ever-larger share of the market. They brought in Pinkerton goons to beat striking workers into submission. Workers were forced to either sign "yellow dog" contracts and pledge not to join unions, or be thrown into the street. Similar bullying practices continue today. Corporations warn entire communites they will shut down factories and undermine the local economy if they do not accept low wages and minimal regulations. Banks entice consumers to borrow through predatory loans and then raise interest rates and threaten foreclosure. The corporations are clear they have the power and will not tolerate challenges from weaklings who fail to know their place.
Bullying enhances the ideology that the strong are strong and the weak are weak, and each deserves to be where they are. This attitude pervades America's culture, government, military, corporations, media, schools, entertainment, athletics and everyday life. The first step to a solution is shifting the conversation to institutional bullying, moving beyond simply a therapeutic narrative to a political one aiming toward transformative social change. As long as the United States embraces militarism and aggressive capitalism, systemic bullying and all its impacts - abroad and at home - will persist as a major crisis.
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.


Yale Magrass, chancellor professor of sociology at UMass Dartmouth and Charles Derber, professor of sociology at Boston College, have written several books together, the most recent being Capitalism: Should You Buy It? An Invitation to Politcal Economy.


Chris Christie's Big Problem
By Eugene Robinson, The Washington Post Writers Group | Op-Ed
Bully Politics
By Michael I Niman, Art Voice | Op-Ed
Bullying and the Power of Pity
By Max Eternity, The Eternity Group | Opinion

    De Mainstream Pers 132

    In 2012 zijn 'Franse en Spaanse wetenschappers erin geslaagd om met een microscoop plaatjes te maken van moleculen waarbij de verbinding tussen atomen zichtbaar is.' De atomen, keurig gerangschikt naast en rond elkaar vormen, zoals u ziet, een harmonisch geheel. Waar komen de atomen vandaan? En, waar gaan ze heen? De eeuwige vragen. Wat is de bedoeling van die ordening? Wat eens chaos leek, blijkt een compositie te zijn. Wiens compositie? Voor wie is ze bedoeld? Waarom is er überhaupt iets? En vanwaar die samenhang? Welke zin en betekenis heeft die ordening waarbij verschillende delen tot één geheel zijn geworden? Dit is niet het einde van de zoektocht, maar een tussenstation:

    We kennen al sinds de oude Grieken het woord: Atoom
    Wat zoveel betekende als ondeelbaar.
    Dus de Grieken gingen er al van uit dat als je een stof ging opsplitsen, je uiteindelijk bij zo’n klein deeltje uitkwam, dat het niet langer deelbaar was.
    Het atoom was in die tijd nog niet waarneembaar, het was nog puur theorie.
    Nu weten we dat atomen bestaan uit kleinere deeltjes, namelijk elektronen die rond de kern bestaande uit protonen en neutronen zweven.
    Deze elektronen, protonen en neutronen bestaan op hun beurt weer uit quarks.
    Nu zegt de snaartheorie dat de quark niet het kleinste deeltje is, maar dat het universum is opgebouwd uit nog kleinere deeltjes, namelijk snaren.
    Kleine trillende snaren van energie.
    Wat weten we nog meer:
    The famous Danish physicist and Nobel Prize winner, Laureate Niels Bohr (1885-1962) (pictured above), was a follower of the Vedas. He said, 'I go into the Upanishads to ask questions.' Both Bohr and Schrödinger, the founders of quantum physics, were avid readers of the Vedic texts and observed that their experiments in quantum physics were consistent with what they had read in the Vedas.
    Niels Bohr got the ball rolling around 1900 by explaining why atoms emit and absorb electromagnetic radiation only at certain frequencies.
    Then, in the 1920′s Erwin Schrödinger (1887-1961), an Austrian-Irish physicist (pictured below), who won the Nobel prize, came up with his famous wave equation that predicts how the Quantum Mechanical wave function changes with time. Wave functions are used in Quantum Mechanics to determine how particles move and interact with time.
    In the 1920′s Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976) (pictured Left) formulated his famous uncertainty principal, which states when a physicist attempts to observe a subatomic particle, the experimental apparatus inevitably alters the subatomic particle’s trajectory. This is because they are trying to observe something that is of the same scale as the photons they are using to observe it.
    To be more specific, to observe something that is subatomic in size one must use a device (apparatus) that projects photons at the particle being observed. This is because the reception of photons by our retina is what we call vision. Basically, to observe something, we must bounce photons off it. The problem is that the photons disturb the subatomic particles because they are of the same size. Thus, there is no way to observe subatomic particles without altering their trajectories.
    Bohr, Heisenberg and Schrödinger regularly read Vedic texts. Heisenberg stated, 'Quantum theory will not look ridiculous to people who have read Vedanta.' Vedanta is the conclusion of Vedic thought.
    Furthermore, Fritjof Capra, when interviewed by Renee Weber in the book The Holographic Paradigm (page 217–218), stated that Schrödinger, in speaking about Heisenberg, has said:
    'I had several discussions with Heisenberg. I lived in England then [circa 1972], and I visited him several times in Munich and showed him the whole manuscript chapter by chapter. He was very interested and very open, and he told me something that I think is not known publicly because he never published it. He said that he was well aware of these parallels. While he was working on quantum theory he went to India to lecture and was a guest of Tagore. He talked a lot with Tagore about Indian philosophy. Heisenberg told me that these talks had helped him a lot with his work in physics, because they showed him that all these new ideas in quantum physics were in fact not all that crazy. He realized there was, in fact, a whole culture that subscribed to very similar ideas. Heisenberg said that this was a great help for him. Niels Bohr had a similar experience when he went to China.'
    Consequently, Bohr adopted the Yin-Yang symbol as part of his family coat-of-arms when he was knighted in 1947.
    Schrodinger wrote in his book Meine Weltansicht:
    'This life of yours which you are living is not merely a piece of this entire existence, but in a certain sense the whole; only this whole is not so constituted that it can be surveyed in one single glance. This, as we know, is what the Brahmins [wise men or priests in the Vedic tradition] express in that sacred, mystic formula which is yet really so simple and so clear; tat tvam asi, this is you. Or, again, in such words as “I am in the east and the west, I am above and below, I am this entire world.'
    ब्रह्मैवेदममृतं पुरस्तात् ब्रह्म पश्चात् ब्रह्म उत्तरतो दक्षिणतश्चोत्तरेण ।
    अधश्चोर्ध्वं च प्रसृतं ब्रह्मैवेदं विश्वमिदं वरिष्ठम् ॥ 2.2.11
    This is a reference to the Mundaka Upanishad mantra (above) in which the Vedic understanding of the connectivity of living entities is put forward to help the Bhakta (practitioner of yoga) to understand the difference between the body and the living entity. How the real nature of the living entity is realized only in union with the source, the supreme being (Brahman/Krishna) through a platform of transcendental divine loving service.
    Schrödinger, in speaking of a universe in which particles are represented by wave functions, said, 'The unity and continuity of Vedanta are reflected in the unity and continuity of wave mechanics.  This is entirely consistent with the Vedanta concept of All in One.'
    'The multiplicity is only apparent. This is the doctrine of the Upanishads. And not of the Upanishads only. The mystical experience of the union with God regularly leads to this view, unless strong prejudices stand in the West.' (Erwin Schrödinger, What is Life?, p. 129, Cambridge University Press)
    'There is no kind of framework within which we can find consciousness in the plural; this is simply something we construct because of the temporal plurality of individuals, but it is a false construction… The only solution to this conflict insofar as any is available to us at all lies in the ancient wisdom of the Upanishad.' (Mein Leben, Meine Weltansicht [My Life, My World View] (1961), Chapter 4)

    De Amerikaanse fysicus Fritjof Capra schreef hierover enkele boeken voor een groter publiek:

    The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism (1975), Capra's first book, challenges conventional wisdom by demonstrating striking parallels between Oriental and Greek mystical traditions and the discoveries of 20th century physics. Originally published by a small publisher with no budget for promotion, the book became a bestseller by word of mouth until it was picked up by a major American publishing house. It has now been published in 43 editions in 23 languages.
    The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture (1982) explains perceived scientific and economic crises. It begins by outlining and tracing the history of science and economics, highlighting the flaws in the Cartesian, Newtonian, and reductionist paradigms. It explains how such viewpoints have grown inadequate for modern technology and ecology needs, then argues that science needs to develop the concepts and insights of holism and systems theory to solve society's complex problems.

    Wat zijn de Veda's waarover de grootste twintigste eeuwse natuurkundigen spraken? 

    Veda (meervoud: Veda's) (Sanskriet: वेद) is de verzamelnaam voor de geschriften die de basis vormen voor de upanishaden, de Indiase filosofie en veel van de religies die tot het hindoeïsme gerekend worden. Ze bestaan uit religieuze hymnen over God(en), spirituele filosofie, het universum, de natuur en de juiste levenswijze. Het woord 'Veda' is etymologisch verwant aan het werkwoord weten en betekent kennis. De vroegste Veda's dateren volgens de mythologie van 1500 voor Christus.

    Ik meld dit alles om allereerst duidelijk te maken dat de westerse natuurkunde  een omweg van naar schatting 3,500 jaar heeft gemaakt om tot hetzelfde inzicht te komen als de Indiase denkers van de oudheid. Het wetenschappelijke mens- en wereldbeeld kan dus niet het monopolie claimen op de 'waarheid.' Er is kennelijk ook een intuïtieve weg om diep door te dringen in het raadsel van de materie. Een weg die niet leidt tot onderwerping, uitbuiting en vernietiging van de natuur, die solidair is in plaats van parasitair, zoals het westerse wetenschappelijk mens- en wereldbeeld is. En misschien wel het allerbelangrijkste is dat de Veda's het raadsel van het leven intact laten en niet de uitroeiing van ontelbare soorten, inclusief de mensheid, veroorzaakt.  Eén van de grootste twintigste eeuwse geleerden was Albert Einstein. Over hem is ondermeer het volgende bekend:

    Ook na de Tweede Wereldoorlog bleef Einstein tegenstander van de wapenwedloop en voorstander van een wereldregering met zeggenschap over alle kernwapens. Toen de verhouding tussen de eerdere bondgenoten de VS en de USSR verkilde, schreef Einstein “Ik weet niet hoe de Derde Wereldoorlog zal worden uitgevochten, maar ik weet nu al wat voor wapens ze in de Vierde zullen gebruiken: stenen!”. In het artikel “Why Socialism?” (Waarom Socialisme?) uit 1949 in de Monthly Review schreef Einstein dat de chaotische kapitalistische samenleving een bron van kwaad was die overwonnen moest worden: een roofzuchtige fase in de ontwikkeling van de mens. Met Albert Schweitzer en Bertrand Russell riep Einstein op kernproeven te staken en af te zien van kernwapens. Vlak voor zijn dood ondertekende hij nog het Russell–Einstein Manifest, dat leidde tot de Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs over ontwapening en vreedzame internationale conflictoplossing.

    Tijdens de heksenjacht op communisten in de VS (1950-1955) riep Einstein op tot matiging en verzet tegen deze hetze tegen vooral linkse intellectuelen. Einstein was lid van verscheidene organisaties voor burgerrechten, onder meer de afdeling Princeton van de NAACP. Toen de bejaarde W. E. B. Du Bois beschuldigd werd van spionage voor de Russen, stond Einstein voor hem in zodat men de aantijging liet vallen. Einstein was twintig jaar lang bevriend met de activist Paul Robeson, onder wie hij als vicevoorzitter van de American Crusade Against Lynching optrad.

    Einstein steunde het idee van een joods tehuis in Palestina, maar vond een joodse staat aanvankelijk niet nodig. Hij benadrukte de noodzaak van samenwerking met de Arabieren van Palestina en zag het zionisme als een humanistisch ideaal. Einstein werd nooit lid van een zionistische organisatie. Wel was hij lid van de raad van bestuur van de Hebreeuwse Universiteit van Jeruzalem, tot hij aftrad uit protest tegen het beleid. Na de dood van de eerste president van Israël Chaim Weizmann werd Einstein gevraagd hem op te volgen, waar hij voor bedankte.
    Godsdienstige opvattingen
    De kwestie van determinisme in de wetenschap leidde tot vragen over Einsteins opvatting over theologisch determinisme en of hij geloofde in (een) God. In 1929 zei Einstein tegen Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein: 'Ik geloof in Spinoza’s God, die zich openbaart in de harmonieuze ordening van de wereld, niet in een God die zich bezighoudt met het lot en de activiteiten van de mensen.' In een brief uit 1954 schreef hij 'Ik geloof niet in een persoonlijke God. Dat heb ik nooit ontkend maar altijd duidelijk aangegeven.' In een brief aan de filosoof Erik Gutkind merkte Einstein op: 'Het woord God is voor mij een uiting en voortvloeisel van menselijke zwakheid. De Bijbel is een verzameling van eerbiedwaardige maar toch primitieve legenden die nogal kinderachtig zijn.'
    Einstein noemde zich een agnost. In een interview met Time Magazine legde hij uit dat de mens het wezen van God niet kan kennen:
    'Ik ben geen atheïst en ik kan me, geloof ik, geen pantheïst noemen. We zijn als een klein kind dat een enorme bibliotheek binnenstapt met boeken in vele verschillende talen. Het kind beseft dat iemand die boeken moet hebben geschreven, maar weet niet hoe. Het vermoedt vagelijk een geheimzinnige orde in de rangschikking van de boeken maar weet niet welke. Dit lijkt me de houding van zelfs de intelligentste mens ten opzichte van God.'

    Het wezenlijke probleem van het westerse wetenschappelijke mens- en wereldbeeld is dat het agressief is, het biedt geen plaats aan andere waarheden. In plaats van dat de geleidelijke ontsluiering van de natuur tot meer inzicht heeft geleid, creëerde het een hybris die blind maakt. En dat komt omdat de wetenschappelijke methode niet tot solidariteit met en respect voor het bestaande voert. Dat kan ook niet omdat de wetenschappelijke mens zich heeft losgemaakt van al het andere, een scheiding heeft aangebracht tussen zichzelf en de rest. 'Cogito ergo sum,' schreef de Franse filosoof en wiskundige René Descartes, 'Ik denk, dus ik besta.' Daarmee legde hij 'de basis voor de 17de-eeuwse stroming van het rationalisme. Descartes was sterk beïnvloed door de vooruitgang in de natuur- en sterrenkunde en een van de centrale figuren van de wetenschappelijke revolutie.'

    'Ik besta,' met de nadruk op 'Ik,' het ego, de manifestatie-drift, en beheerszucht ten koste van al het andere. Het is ook niet merkwaardig dat Descartes in 

    1618 vertrok naar Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Nederlanden, waar hij zich als vrijwilliger aansloot bij het Staatse leger van Prins Maurits bij Breda,' en na 'het uitbreken van de Dertigjarige Oorlog werd benoemd tot officier in het leger van de katholieke Maximiliaan I van Beieren, dat vocht in Bohemen… Na het uitbreken van de Dertigjarige Oorlog werd Descartes benoemd tot officier in het leger van de katholieke Maximiliaan I van Beieren, dat vocht in Bohemen.

    Maar ziedaar:

    In de nacht van 10 november 1619, beter bekend als Sint-Maarten, kreeg hij te Neuburg an der Donau een drietal visioenen. Naar zijn eigen zeggen had hij drie maanden niets gedronken, maar heeft hij toen de grondslagen van een 'wonderbaarlijke' wetenschap ontdekt. In zijn derde droom zag hij een woordenboek en een gedicht. De eerste regel luidde 'Quod vitae sectabor iter?' (Wat voor levensweg zal ik gaan leiden?) en hij zocht een verklaring. Hij meende dat het visioen stond voor een combinatie van filosofie en wijsheid. In zijn ogen was het niet verbazingwekkend dat het werk van dichters, zelfs als ze niets dan onnozele versjes schrijven, rijk was aan uitspraken die belangrijker, zinniger en beter geformuleerd waren dan wat in de geschriften van filosofen kon worden aangetroffen. Niet lang daarna nam hij ontslag uit het leger en maakte een pelgrimsreis naar de Basiliek van het Heilig Huis in Loreto, om de heilige maagd te danken voor het verkregen inzicht.

    Als sleutelfiguur in de 'wetenschappelijke revolutie,' is Descartes' houding en denken illustrerend voor de westerse zucht naar kennis door onderwerping en fragmentering. Het probleem daarbij is dit: stel u kijkt door een microscoop naar wat zich in het klein afspeelt, en u weet niets van het probleem hoe lenzen kunnen vertekenen, dan zult u nooit kunnen bepalen wat de werkelijkheid is. Dit is een zo vanzelfsprekend feit dat het niet ter discussie staat. Maar nu, wat kijkt naar wat? Onze ogen kijken en zenden de informatie door naar onze hersenen, waar die informatie verwerkt wordt. Als wij evenwel niet weten hoe de hersenen precies werken dan kunnen we niet beweren dat wij de 'waarheid' kennen, hoe wetenschappelijk die ook mag lijken. Welnu, in de september 2006 gaf de New Scientist een kort overzicht:

    Introduction: The Human Brain
    The brain is the most complex organ in the human body. It produces our every thought, action, memory, feeling and experience of the world. This jelly-like mass of tissue, weighing in at around 1.4 kilograms, contains a staggering one hundred billion nerve cells, or neurons.
    The complexity of the connectivity between these cells is mind-boggling. Each neuron can make contact with thousands or even tens of thousands of others, via tiny structures called synapses. Our brains form a million new connections for every second of our lives. The pattern and strength of the connections is constantly changing and no two brains are alike.

    In het januarinummer 2014 van de inmiddels Nederlandstalige uitgave berichtte de New Scientist onder de kop 'Het mysterie tussen onze oren' dat 

    Wanneer we weer eens een krantenkop zien over onderzoek waarbij liefde, angst, religie of politiek in verband wordt gebracht met bepaalde processen in de hersenen, kunnen we dat beter niet al te serieus nemen.

    Zo blijkt dat bijvoorbeeld  

    die fraai gekleurde hersenscans fata morgana's zijn die de werking van onze hersenen eerder versluieren dan verhelderen. De problemen gaan verder dan die scans. Ook ander onderzoek, zoals het verband tussen hersenstructuur en geestelijke gezondheid, of de werking van bepaalde genen en moleculen, blijkt boordevol fouten te zitten… Het lijkt erop dat ons begrip van het brein langzaam in een mist van onzekerheid aan het verdwijnen is.

    In het februarinummer 2014 van de National Geographic dat als thema de 'Raadsels van het Brein' wordt geconcludeerd dat wat betreft hersenonderzoek:

    Successen in het verleden veel te hoge verwachtingen [hebben] gewekt, die vaak niet zijn waargemaakt. 

    Als ik me nu beperk tot de fysica, betekent dit dat zolang men niet weet hoe de hersenen precies werken, deze wetenschap onmogelijk kan claimen de manier te zijn om 'de waarheid' te ontdekken. Wanneer de werking van het belangrijkste gereedschap, de hersenen, onduidelijk is, bestaan er geen wetenschappelijke waarheden, hooguit mogelijkheden. Afgezien daarvan is de vraag of het rationalisme de waarheid überhaupt kan ontdekken. Al in 1929 constateerde Paul Klee:

    We construct and construct, and yet intuition still has its uses. Without it we can do a lot, but not everything. One may work for a long time, do different things, many things, important things, but not everything. When intuition is joined to exact research it speeds the progress of exact research…
    Deze wat langere inleiding had ik nodig om erop te wijzen dat het de mainstream-opiniemakers juist aan die noodzakelijke 'intuïtie' ontbreekt om te zien wat er zich voor hun ogen afspeelt. De journalistiek beschikt zelfs niet eens over wetenschappelijke methodes om de waarheid te kunnen benaderen. Ze zien weliswaar de werkelijkheid met hun ogen, maar doorgaans niet met hun intuïtie, en daardoor worden hun hersenen niet optimaal geactiveerd. Het gevolg is dat de spreekbuizen van de politieke en economische elite het ene moment kunnen verklaren dat de macht van het 'grootkapitaal... 'ons totaal ontglipt' en dat dit buitengewoon beklemmend' is, en het volgende moment een vurig pleidooi kunnen houden om het neoliberale marktdenken van de Europese Unie koste wat kost te steunen, omdat 'We nu een open toegang tot die markt [hebben].' Zolang kennis geen doorleefde werkelijkheid vormt, en 'intuïtie' dus geen kans krijgt, kan er geen sprake zijn van 'the progress of exact research,' zoals Paul Klee inzag. Ook op het moment dat men met een nano-microscoop het tot nu toe kleinst bekende deeltje zal zien, raakt men verder van de waarheid af dan dichterbij als men niet beseft in welke grotere en kleinere samenhang dit deeltje bestaat. Alles is met elkaar verbonden. Meer later.

    vrijdag 31 januari 2014

    Ban the Banksters 22

    OpEdNews Op Eds 

    On Wall Street, Sounds of Silence From the President

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    Source: Smirking Chimp

    How did Tuesday night's State of the Union speech resonate on Wall Street? Sometimes the old saying is literally true: Silence is golden. 
    Here are some of the words and phrases that did not appear in President Obama's speech: "Wall Street," "bank," "regulation," "fraud," "settlement," "investigation," "too big to fail," and "Glass-Steagall." He didn't mention the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or the Dodd/Frank financial reform bill. He didn't discuss the cynical attempts to roll back financial reform in Congress -- attempts that are supported by members of both parties -- much less insist that those attempts be defeated.
    Although the president discussed the economic plight of the majority of Americans, he made no mention of the financial industry's central role in the devastating 2008 financial crisis, which made that plight so much worse. He talked of wage stagnation, but did not explore the financial industry's role in the increasingly unjust economic redistribution of recent decades. Inequality doesn't just happen. It's produced by many forces, most of which either originate on Wall Street or are heavily influenced by it.
    We can't create a newer, fairer economy without talking about Wall Street. Building that economy begins with preventive measures. The last bank-fueled crisis robbed the nation of millions of jobs and trillions in wealth. Preventing the next crisis means stronger financial regulation, a breakup of the big banks, and rock-solid walls between customers' money and bankers' gambling funds.
    It also means prosecuting the fraudsters who helped perpetrate this crisis, no matter how prominent they may be in the banking community. There's no sign that those prosecutions are imminent, even as the statute of limitations runs out.
    On that score, it's noteworthy that the president didn't mention the enormous fines and settlements banks have paid in the past year as the result of the fraudulent behavior. Leaving aside the issue of whether those payments were sufficient, one would think the president might have touted them -- if only as a modest first step. But they weren't mentioned. Even JPMorgan Chase's record payouts for fraud -- $20 billion in a single year -- went unremarked.

    Given the incestuous relationship between finance and politics, perhaps that's not surprising. But the nation deserved better.

    Reducing inequality means we must correct the "financialization" of our economy, which happens when corporate profits are increasingly captured by nonproductive financial transactions rather than job-creating, real-world goods and services. We need financial policies that prevent banks from over-leveraged gambling in the casinos of "financial innovation" and restore them to their original role as lenders to real-world businesses and consumers.
    Bankers bear an enormous responsibility for our current problems. They've committed grave misdeeds, amassed great riches as a result, and eluded punishment. Those riches were protected and made greater by massive taxpayer bailouts. It's only fair to propose they give something back in return. A financial transaction tax, which assesses a very small amount for each transaction, would have the dual benefit of reducing massive stock-market gambling while also funding programs that reduce inequality -- through job creation, increases to Social Security and Medicare, or both.
    There was no discussion of financial taxes in the State of the Union address.
    Nor did the president address the growing movement to expand Social Security. (On the other hand, he didn't mention cutting its benefits with the "chained CPI," either, so that's progress of a sort.) His proposal for a "MyRA" to increase retirement savings is small in scope and modest in ambition. That is a form of silence, too, from a bankers' perspective. It does little or nothing to alter our current system of retirement accounts, which with few exceptions have been plagued by high fees and weak performance from the financial institutions that administer them.
    Notably, the White House slide show that accompanied the State of the Union touted the fact that "the president ended $60 billion in subsidies for the big banks" in the 2010 reform of student loans (White House website, slide 73). That reform was laudable. It's also four years old. Why was it, too, omitted from the speech itself?
    And why the overall silence about Wall Street? Imagine what a populist like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., might have said. She would have spoken of past bank frauds and called for prosecution of the guilty, both in the name of justice and to protect the economy from future crises. She would have called for expanding Social Security to restore the lost assets of the middle class. She would have called for better regulations -- and better regulators.
    Most of all, our populist would have made it clear that inequality didn't just happen. She would have discussed the misguided policies that brought it into being and called on Congress to change them. She would have pointed to the people who made it happen, too, through their deeds and their political influence. And she would have made it clear that, when it comes to Wall Street, it will take more than the sounds of silence to make things right.

    The Greedy

    Matt Wuerker
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    Ban the Banksters 21

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    Why is the Fed tapering?

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    Source: Paul Craig Roberts

    By Paul Craig Roberts and *Dave Kranzler
    On January 17, 2014, we explained "The Hows and Whys of Gold Price Manipulation." In former times, the rise in the gold price was held down by central banks selling gold or leasing gold to bullion dealers who sold the gold. The supply added in this way to the market absorbed some of the demand, thus holding down the rise in the gold price.
    As the supply of physical gold on hand diminished, increasingly recourse was taken to selling gold short in the paper futures market. We illustrated a recent episode in our article. Below we illustrate the uncovered short-selling that took the gold price down today (January 30, 2014).
    When the Comex trading floor opened January 30 at 8:20AM NY time, the price of gold inexplicably plunged $17 over the next 30 minutes. The price plunge was triggered when sell orders flooded the Comex trading floor. Over the course of the previous 23 hours of trading, an average of 202 gold contracts per minute had traded. But starting at the 8:20AM Comex, there were four 1-minute windows of trading here's what happened:
    8:21AM: 1766 contracts sold
    8:22AM: 5172 contracts sold
    8:31AM: 3242 contracts sold
    8:47AM: 3515 contracts sold
    Over those four minutes of trading, an average of 3,424 contracts per minute traded, or 17 times the average per minute volume of the previous 23 hours, including yesterday's Comex trading session.

    The yellow arrow indicates when the Comex floor opened for gold futures trading. There was not any news events or related market events that would have triggered a sell-off like this in gold. If an entity holding many contracts wanted to sell down its position, it would accomplish this by slowly feeding its position to the market over the course of the entire trading day in order to avoid disturbing the price or "telegraphing" its intent to sell to the market.
    Instead, today's selling was designed to flood the Comex trading floor with a high volume of sell orders in rapid succession in order to drive the price of gold as low as possible before buyers stepped in.
    The reason for this is two-fold: Driving down the price of gold assists the Fed in its efforts to support the dollar, and the Comex is running out of physical gold available to be delivered to those who decide to take delivery of gold instead of cash settlement.
    The February gold contract is subject to delivery starting on January 31st. As of January 29th, two days before the delivery period starts, there were 2,223,000 ounces of gold futures open against 375,000 ounces of gold available to be delivered. The primary banks who trade Comex gold (JP Morgan, HSBC, Bank Nova Scotia) are the primary entities who are short those Comex contracts.
    Typically toward the end of a delivery month, these banks drive the price of gold lower for the purpose of coercing holders of the contracts to sell. This avoids the problem of having a shortage of gold available to deliver to the entities who decide to take delivery. With an enormous amount of physical gold moving from the western bank vaults to the large Asian buyers of gold, the Comex ultimately does not have enough gold to honor delivery obligations should the day arrive when a fifth or a fourth of the contracts are presented for delivery. Prior to a delivery period or due date on the contracts, manipulation is used to drive the Comex price of gold as low as possible in order to induce enough selling to avoid a possible default on gold delivery.
    Following the taper announcement on January 29, the gold price rose $14 to $1270, and the Dow Jones Index dropped 100 points, closing down 74 points from its trading level at the time the tapering was announced. These reactions might have surprised the Fed, leading to the stock market support and gold price suppression on January 30.
    Manipulation of the gold price is a foregone conclusion. The question is: why is the Fed tapering? The official reason is that the recovery is now strong enough not to need the stimulus. There are two problems with the official explanation. One is that the purpose of QE has always been to support the prices of the debt-related derivatives on the balance sheets of the banks too big to fail. The other is that the Fed has enough economists and statisticians to know that the recovery is a statistical artifact of deflating GDP with an understated measure of inflation. No other indicator -- employment, labor force participation, real median family income, real retail sales, or new construction -- indicates economic recovery. Moreover, if in fact the economy has been in recovery since June 2009, after 4.5 years of recovery it is time for a new recession.
    One possible explanation for the tapering is that the Fed has created enough new dollars with which to purchase the worst part of the banks' balance sheet problems and transfer them to the Fed's balance sheet, while in other ways enhancing the banks' profits. With the job done, the Fed can slowly back off.
    The problem with this explanation is that the liquidity that the Fed has created found its way into the stock and bond markets and into emerging economies. Curtailing the flow of liquidity crashes the markets, bringing on a new financial crisis.
    We offer two explanations for the tapering. One is technical, and one is strategic.
    Next Page  1  |  2
    Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente's Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available here:


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