Monday, October 28, 2013

The Six Primary Reasons for Why They Hate Us

In response to 9/11, on September 20, 2001, then President George W. Bush delivered a speech in which he deflected and trivialized the reasons for the grievances that many around the globe have regarding U.S. foreign policy. In his address to a joint session of Congress and the nation, in his attempt to answer America’s questions as to “Why do they hate us?”, he stated:
“They hate what they see right here in this chamber: a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.”

Now that most of us are well aware that the situation is a lot more complicated than they hate us because of “our freedoms”, let’s hear what some of those reasons are.

In the following House Homeland Security Committee meeting held on October 9, 2013, former CIA intelligence officer, Michael F. Scheuer, gives his top six reasons as to why they hate us (the answer begins at approximately the 7 minute mark):
  1. “Our support for tyranny for over 50 years in the Muslim world”…
  2. “As a trigger, our presence on the Arab peninsula”…
  3. “Third, I would put the Israelis, rising”…
  4. “Our ability for a long time to get oil at prices that were very much below the market level”…
  5. “Our military presence in other countries in the Muslim world”…
  6. “Our abiding willingness to identify as terrorist any Muslim population that one of our allies dislikes”…

Friday, October 25, 2013

Four Articles, a Lecture, and Three Interviews: The ‘Economy’, Snowden and the Future, Columbus and the Indians, Syria, Barrett Brown, US Foreign Policy, Poverty and Health, and the Coming Depression

Further information at: Not-so-Random Information: Introduction and Table of Contents

1) Twenty (Important) Concepts I Wasn’t Taught in Business School – Part I - “Twenty-one years ago I received an MBA with Honors from the University of Chicago. The world became my oyster. Or so it seemed. For many years I achieved status in the metrics popular in our day ~ large paychecks, nice cars, travel to exotic places, girlfriend(s), novelty, and perhaps most importantly, respect for being a ‘successful’ member of society. But it turns out my financial career, shortlived as it was, occurred at the tail end of an era ~ where financial markers would increasingly decouple from the reality they were created to represent. My skill of being able to create more digits out of some digits, (or at least being able to sell that likelihood), allowed me to succeed in a “turbo” financial system that would moonshot over the next 20 years. For a short time I was in the 1% (and still am relative to ‘all humans who have ever lived’). Being in the 1% afforded me an opportunity to dig a little deeper in what was really going on (because I quit, and had time to read and think about things for 10 years). It turns out the financial system, and therefore my career, was based on some flawed assumptions that ‘worked’ in the short run but have long since become archaic, putting societies at significant risks.

“Around 30% of matriculating undergraduate college students today choose a business major, yet ‘doing business’ without knowledge of biology, ecology, and physics entirely misses first principles ~ my too long but also too short summary of the important things I wasn’t taught in business school is below.”…

2) ‘Snowden and the Future’, a talk given by Eben Moglen at Columbia Law School on October 9th, 2013

3) Columbus and the Indians: By Howard Zinn - “Arawak men and women, naked, tawny, and full of wonder, emerged from their villages onto the island's beaches and swam out to get a closer look at the strange big boat. When Columbus and his sailors came ashore, carrying swords, speaking oddly, the Arawaks ran to greet them, brought them food, water, gifts. He later wrote of this in his log:
"They... brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything they owned.... They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features.... They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane.... They would make fine servants.... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want."…

4) What Are We Doing in Syria? - “Guest host Phil Donahue examines the deadly civil war in Syria and the consequences of another American intervention in the Middle East. Our guests include NPR correspondent Deborah Amos and historian and analyst Andrew Bacevich.”

5) Barrett Brown Faces 105 Years in Jail - “The mid-June sun is setting on the Mansfield jail near Dallas when Barrett Brown, the former public face of Anonymous, shuffles into the visitors hall wearing a jumpsuit of blazing orange. Once the nattiest anarchist around, Brown now looks like every other inmate in the overcrowded North Texas facility, down to his state-issued faux-Crocs, the color of candy corn.

“Brown sits down across from his co-counsel, a young civil-liberties lawyer named Ahmed Ghappour, and raises a triumphant fist holding several sheets of notebook paper. "Penned it out," he says. "After 10 months, I'm finally getting the hang of these archaic tools." He hands the article, titled "The Cyber-Intelligence Complex and Its Useful Idiots," to his lawyer with instructions to send it to his editor at The Guardian. Brown used to write for the British daily, but since he's been in prison, it's written about him and his strange legal ordeal that has had him locked up for nearly a year while he awaits trial next month. Should he be found guilty of all the charges the federal government is bringing against him – 17 counts, ranging from obstruction of justice to threatening a federal officer to identity fraud – he'll face more than 100 years in prison.”…

6) US Foreign Policy: Moral Hazards and Absolute Evil - “In Pt 2 of 4 of Reality Asserts Itself, Paul Jay and Max Blumenthal discuss US foreign policy from Bush to Obama and the concept that in "defense of civilization", every crime is acceptable.”

7) Poor concentration: Poverty reduces brainpower needed for navigating other areas of life - “Poverty and all its related concerns require so much mental energy that the poor have less remaining brainpower to devote to other areas of life, according to research based at Princeton University. As a result, people of limited means are more likely to make mistakes and bad decisions that may be amplified by — and perpetuate — their financial woes.

“Published in the journal Science, the study presents a unique perspective regarding the causes of persistent poverty. The researchers suggest that being poor may keep a person from concentrating on the very avenues that would lead them out of poverty. A person's cognitive function is diminished by the constant and all-consuming effort of coping with the immediate effects of having little money, such as scrounging to pay bills and cut costs. Thusly, a person is left with fewer ‘mental resources’ to focus on complicated, indirectly related matters such as education, job training and even managing their time.

“In a series of experiments, the researchers found that pressing financial concerns had an immediate impact on the ability of low-income individuals to perform on common cognitive and logic tests. On average, a person preoccupied with money problems exhibited a drop in cognitive function similar to a 13-point dip in IQ, or the loss of an entire night's sleep.”…

8) Paul Craig Roberts: By Winter Unemployment Explodes, More Foreclosures-Worse than Great Depression - “Former Assistant Treasury Secretary Paul Craig Roberts says, ‘The country is not being run by the President. It is being run by spy agencies and private interest groups, Wall Street and military security complex . . . They run the country. The President is a puppet, a figurehead.’ Dr. Roberts contends, ‘If you are a lawless state, which the United States is, it obeys no international law. It does not obey the Geneva Convention . . . It tortures people. It doesn’t obey the Constitution. It doesn’t obey anything. It does what it wants. . . . If you are a lawless state, you disguise yourself as a democracy.’ Former President Jimmy Carter agrees. Just last week, Carter said, ‘The U.S. has no functioning democracy at this moment.’ Why hasn’t the mainstream media picked up this astounding comment from a former Democratic President? Dr. Roberts says, ‘Five firms now own what used to be a large dispersed independent media. Nobody can open their mouth, they’d get fired. They have become a propaganda ministry for government and corporations.’ Dr. Roberts goes on to say, ‘My prediction or expectation is by winter, the second downturn of the Great Recession will be in place. Unemployment will explode, more foreclosures are coming. It’s going to be worse than the Great Depression.’ Join Greg Hunter as he goes One-on-One with economist Dr. Paul Craig Roberts.”

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Few Choice Words from Immortal Technique to Mainstream Media’s War Profiteering Pundits: “Shut the Fuck Up You Mindless Drone!”

In light of the latest revelations from The Public Accountability Initiative that “the media continues to present former military and government officials as venerated experts without informing the public of their industry ties – the personal financial interests that may be shaping their opinions of what is in the national interest”, I thought it would be worthwhile sharing a few choice words from one of the greatest rappers to ever grace the mic, Immortal Technique.

The following are the final words on Immortal Technique’s “The 4th Branch” from his 2003 album Revolutionary Vol. 2.
The fourth branch of the government AKA the media
Seems to now have a retirement plan for ex-military officials
As if their opinion was at all unbiased
A machine shouldn't speak for men
So shut the fuck up you mindless drone!
And you know it's serious
When these same media outfits are spending millions of dollars on a PR campaign
To try to convince you they're fair and balanced
When they're some of the most ignorant, and racist people
Giving that type of mentality a safe haven
We act like we share in the spoils of war that they do
We die in wars, we don't get the contracts to make money off 'em afterwards!
We don't get weapons contracts, nigga!
We don't get cheap labor for our companies, nigga!
We are cheap labor, nigga!
Turn off the news and read, nigga!
Read... read... read...

Immortal Technique - The 4th Branch (Lyrics)

As for the extent of corruption that is prevalent in this industry? In the following interview on Democracy Now!, a co-author of the report cited above, Kevin Connor of the Public Accountability Initiative explains the depths to which we have been duped.
“New research shows many so-called experts who appeared on television making the case for U.S. strikes on Syria had undisclosed ties to military contractors. A new report by the Public Accountability Initiative identifies 22 commentators with industry ties. While they appeared on television or were quoted as experts 111 times, their links to military firms were disclosed only 13 of those times. The report focuses largely on Stephen Hadley, who served as national security adviser to President George W. Bush. During the debate on Syria, he appeared on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and Bloomberg TV. None of these stations informed viewers that Hadley currently serves as a director of the weapons manufacturer Raytheon that makes Tomahawk cruise missiles widely touted as the weapon of choice for bombing Syria. He also owns over 11,000 shares of Raytheon stock, which traded at all-time highs during the Syria debate.”

The Military-Industrial Pundits: Conflicts of Interest Exposed for TV Guests Who Urged Syrian War

This is the state of affairs right now (2, 3, 4), the place where Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us about in his exit speech on January 17, 1961, warning us of the military industrial complex’s takeover of the nation.

Eisenhower warns us of the military industrial complex.

So, as was previously discussed, in recognition of endless wars (2) and imperial presidencies, executive salary bonuses, maximizing shareholder value, and banking profits, and in recognition of profits made from selling weapons of mass destruction, waging war, and propagating fear, and in recognition of big oil (2, 3) and profiting from scarcity, let’s remind ourselves who actually benefits from war by taking a look at a couple of pages from one of the greatest comic book series ever created, “The Savage Sword Of Conan”.

Below you will find panels from page 29 and 30 of the August 1983 issue of The Savage Sword Of Conan #91 (click images to show full pages and enlarge):


The story so far …
    Conan and his mercenary army have won another victory and have dispatched their fastest rider to carry the news to King Ronal of Lapis L’harr, a Corinthian city-state engaged in protracted warfare with the adjacent city-state of Razalah B’qen:

In comic books, more often than not, the good guys win. I sure hope this is also the case this time around (2, 3), and that some of the pundits mentioned in The Public Accountability Initiative report will suffer a comparable fate as those bestowed upon the war profiteers from this story arc (click image to enlarge).

Friday, October 18, 2013

How to Protect Ourselves on Social Networks and from Data Collection Systems of Governments and Corporations

I. What’s Going On

Online, we are both a product for corporations and a person of interest to governments (2, 3).

Corporations are taking advantage of these times by changing their privacy policies so that they can track us, use us, and sell us whatever their algorithms decide that we need or want based on data they have acquired about our movements, contacts, desires, fantasies, or kinks. Governments on the other hand are using our data to make sure that we will never acquire enough power to change any policies that we deem to be a threat to our happiness, livelihood, or survival. In essence, we are at war with these organizations and we should act as such:
“…this is truly unprecedented in history. And what we’re seeing is secrecy and surveillance are completely subverting security and liberty, not just in the United States, but for many, many citizens around the world.”
This corporate misconduct and government surveillance is threatening the internet (2, 3), the original purpose of which was to create an “open architecture networking” system where “a globally interconnected set of computers” would allow “everyone” to “quickly access data and programs from any site”. So we have to be careful out there, at least until we have neutralized this threat.

Jacob Appelbaum: NSA's FoxAcid/Quantum Programs "Like the Military Occupation of Entire Internet"

Additional info at: “How the NSA Attacks Tor/Firefox Users With QUANTUM and FOXACID”

Further information regarding this subject available through the following two videos featuring Jacob Appelbaum in a Q&A workshop discussing computer security, mobile phone security, cellphone forensics, and state repression and surveillance.

Jacob Appelbaum (Part 1/2) Digital Anti-Repression Workshop - April 26 2012

Jacob Appelbaum (Part 2/2) Digital Anti-Repression Workshop - April 26 2012

II. How to Protect Our Privacy

As for how we can protect ourselves from these intrusions into our privacy? Aside from everything mentioned above in Jacob Appelbaum’s Q&A workshop, which included some brief remarks about open-source software and an in-depth discussion on maintaining anonymity by using the Tor Network and how to secure your cell phone and computer, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has provided a 12 step program - originally publish in 2002 and still very relevant today - with some suggestion on how we can protect our online privacy:
  1. Do not reveal personal information inadvertently.
  2. Turn on cookie notices in your Web browser, and/or use cookie management software or infomediaries.
  3. Keep a "clean" e-mail address.
  4. Don't reveal personal details to strangers or just-met "friends".
  5. Realize you may be monitored at work, avoid sending highly personal e-mail to mailing lists, and keep sensitive files on your home computer.
  6. Beware sites that offer some sort of reward or prize in exchange for your contact information or other personal details.
  7. Do not reply to spammers, for any reason.
  8. Be conscious of Web security.
  9. Be conscious of home computer security.
  10. Examine privacy policies and seals.
  11. Remember that YOU decide what information about yourself to reveal, when, why, and to whom.
  12. Use encryption!
The dangers of providing too much personal information cannot be over emphasized. It is up to us to make sure that we are protected not only from identity theft but also from private data mining organizations and governments that have developed massive data collection systems.

Privacy is an Illusion: Alessandro Acquisti at TEDxMidAtlantic

An open Internet is crucial for our development and growth as a collective, but this social networking can also occur without us providing sensitive information about our identity - Have you ever had a nickname that you loved? Have you ever wanted to create a nickname that represented who you have become? Did you ever want to be younger or older then you are? Did you ever want to have a different birth sign? - The Internet provides a great opportunity for us to create our second persona that will live in parallel with us, expanding our social network beyond our wildest dreams.

Through the Net, we can visit and live anywhere we want, and be anyone we want. The Internet is where we reside, it is our home, so until Social Networking Websites give us the option to choose the Internet as our hometown, we should travel the world. Keep in mind that even an alternative spelling of our name, a different birth day, or a fake address can help protect our anonymity.

III. How to Improve Our Society

By protecting our privacy we can diminish the power that these organizations have over us and ensure that we will not be mistreated:
“We need a comprehensive data privacy law. This law should protect all information about us, and not be limited merely to financial or health information. It should limit others' ability to buy and sell our information without our knowledge and consent. It should allow us to see information about us held by others, and correct any inaccuracies we find. It should prevent the government from going after our information without judicial oversight. It should enforce data deletion, and limit data collection, where necessary. And we need more than token penalties for deliberate violations.”
The best way to stop these entities is to make fundamental changes to the system itself. This requires us to be educated in the methods in which we are controlled, allowing us to understand the problems that exist in the current system so we can avoid its pitfalls. Placement at the highest levels in government of ethical civil servants that are accountable to the people and regard the privacy of individuals as the most important aspect of their duties is an essential starting point. Decentralizing power is a crucial aspect of this process.

Due diligence is required from all of us to make sure that the Internet remains a free form of communication without bounds. We must help protect the largest library ever created so that it will remain accessible to all, making sure that it does not turn into a spiders web.

Journey From the Psychology of Evil to the Psychology of Heroism

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

United States Eases Regulations on Exporting Weapons: “Quit Arming the Fucking World, Man”, Bill Hicks

So, it looks like “in a boon for military contractors, the United States is relaxing controls on military exports, allowing some U.S.-made military parts to flow to nearly any country in the world with little oversight.”

Considering these latest revelations, I thought it would be worthwhile sharing a few wise words from one of the greatest teachers that I have ever come across, Bill Hicks:
“Quit arming the fucking world, man…. We keep arming these little countries and then going blowing the shit out of ‘em. We’re like the bullies of the globe. We’re like Jack Palance in the movie Shane, throwing a pistol at the sheep herder’s feet.”

Bill Hicks on Arming The world

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

An Excellent Lecture by Michelle Alexander on the Causes and Consequences of America’s War on Drugs

Below you will find an excellent lecture by Michelle Alexander on the racist aspect of America’s War on Drugs and the insane policies that keep this system of mass incarceration churning.

Michelle Alexander, author of "The New Jim Crow" - 2013 George E. Kent Lecture

"Michelle Alexander, highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate, Associate Professor of Law at Ohio State University, and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, delivers the 30th Annual George E. Kent Lecture, in honor of the late George E. Kent, who was one of the earliest tenured African American professors at the University of Chicago.

"The Annual George E. Kent Lecture is organized and sponsored by the Organization of Black Students, the Black Student Law Association, and the Students for a Free Society."
Further information by Michelle Alexander regarding this topic at: "How the War on Drugs Gave Birth to a Permanent American Undercaste"

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Some Not-So-Random Sound Bites

Breaking News

“A historical account of the American Revolution told in contemporary form.”

Matt Taibbi, Sam Seder on Alex Pareene Popping CNBC's Bubble

“Matt Taibbi gives his play by play commentary of CNBC's demented interview with Alex Pareene and why anybody could do Jamie Dimon's job...”

Lavabit Founder Ladar Levison, The Rosa Parks of Internet Freedom

“In this video Luke Rudkowski interviews Lavabit founder Ladar Levison, about the private email client that Edward Snowden used, the U.S government's attack on Lavabit and the ethical decision Ladar had to make ending his company. Ladar goes into details about how the U.S government tried to intimidate him and forced him to shut down when they requested to spy on Edward Snowden's emails.” Part 2: The man who stood up to the NSA, Ladar Levison Lavabit founder

Bill Moyers interviews Sheldon Wolin

Part2: Sheldon Wolin cont.

HSBC Whistleblower Speaks, Uncovered Terrorist Financing

“Luke Rudkowski interviews Everett Stern, a former employee of HSBC that uncovered and blew the whistle on the company knowingly financing criminals, terrorists and drug cartels.”

A Brief History of False Flag Terror

“James Corbett of The Corbett Report takes the viewer on a whirlwind tour of false flag history, from the Gleiwitz incident and the Lavon affair to Operation Northwoods and 9/11.”

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Government Shutdown and Appointment of Janet Yellen Guarantees Flow of Funds to Wall Street: They are reducing “two-thirds of this country to subsistence level”, Chris Hedges

It’s no secret that the only reason the markets have been roaring – since bottoming out in March 2009, the DOW is up approximately 125% and The S&P 500 approximately 120% - is because of unlimited quantitative easing, which peaked at $85 billion a month by December 2012, a last resort, desperate measure that the FOMC began to maintain its ‘growth’ targets. The end result of this program has essentially been the transfer of wealth from Main Street to Wall Street.
In terms of types of financial wealth, the top one percent of households have 35% of all privately held stock, 64.4% of financial securities, and 62.4% of business equity. The top ten percent have 81% to 94% of stocks, bonds, trust funds, and business equity, and almost 80% of non-home real estate. Since financial wealth is what counts as far as the control of income-producing assets, we can say that just 10% of the people own the United States of America.”
click to enlarge - source

How this plays out with the ‘government shutdown’ and the fears that we will enter a recession if the U.S. Treasury has to step in to prevent a default was summed up in the opening sentence of the following article: “Dollar Seen as Shutdown Loser as Growth Hit Spurs QE”:
“The first U.S. government shutdown in 17 years is stoking speculation that the longer it lasts, the more likely the Federal Reserve will delay reducing its monetary stimulus program.”
This, in conjunction with the nomination of Janet Yellen as chairman of the Federal Reserve can be considered a one-two punch that guarantees the continuation of flow of funds to Wall Street:
“‘She has extended Bernanke’s view that policy needs to be accommodative for a long period of time in a post-crisis environment.’… Yellen has backed Bernanke’s efforts to boost the economy through three rounds of asset purchases that have swelled the Fed’s balance sheet to $3.66 trillion.”
Members of congress have a vested interest in the markets (2), i.e., they own shares in publicly traded companies - a lot of shares (2) - and they risk reduction in wealth if the Federal Reserve turns off the taps and stops funneling hundreds of billions of dollars through Wall Street:
“Boehner is one of 34 members of Congress who took steps to recast their financial portfolios during the financial crisis after phone calls or meetings with Paulson; his successor, Timothy F. Geithner; or Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, according to a Washington Post examination of appointment calendars and congressional disclosure forms.

“The lawmakers, many of whom held leadership positions and committee chairmanships in the House and Senate, changed portions of their portfolios a total of 166 times within two business days of speaking or meeting with the administration officials. The party affiliation of the lawmakers was about evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, 19 to 15….

“‘They shouldn’t be making these trades when they know what they are going to do,’ said Richard W. Painter, who was chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush. ‘And what they are going to do is then going to influence the market. If this was going on in the private sector or it was going on in the executive branch, I think the SEC would be investigating.’”

Bernie Sanders "The Truth Is Wall Street Regulates Congress"

That’s why the markets have reacted positively with Yellen’s nomination. It’s that simple. The government shutdown is a game, not a game to help you or me, but a game for certain members of congress to acquire more wealth for themselves and their masters.

As for how we can stop this madness? That’s simple as well. We’re in the midst of a revolution, and as Chris Hedges has implied on multiple occasions, the revolution is well on its way so all we have to do is realize it and pick a side.
I have seen my share of revolts, insurgencies and revolutions, from the guerrilla conflicts in the 1980s in Central America to the civil wars in Algeria, the Sudan and Yemen, to the Palestinian uprising to the revolutions in East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Romania as well as the wars in the former Yugoslavia. George Orwell wrote that all tyrannies rule through fraud and force, but that once the fraud is exposed they must rely exclusively on force. We have now entered the era of naked force. The vast million-person bureaucracy of the internal security and surveillance state will not be used to stop terrorism but to try and stop us.”

All of that has been used to essentially, in this reconfiguration of American society… into an oligarchic state, a neofeudalistic state—you criminalize dissent, because they know very well what’s coming, as they reduce roughly two-thirds of this country to subsistence level.”

Chris Hedges: "America is a Tinderbox"

Full episode list of “Reality Asserts Itself - Chris Hedges”

Some Related Articles:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

An example of how the surveillance state is hurting the U.S. economy: Ladar Levison confirms that he will be forced to move his business overseas

In a sign of things to come for the U.S. tech industry, Ladar Levison, the owner of Lavabit, the secure private encrypted email provider that shut down after 10 years of operation (2, 3) because he decided not to abide by the demands made by the United States government to spy on their 400,000 plus users, explains that if he loses his case against the U.S. government he will most likely hand over his company to someone overseas and let them run it. It’s important to note that the U.S. government already new that this would be the end result, that revelations about NSA’s PRISM program would hurt American Technology companies, but they didn’t really care.

Levison clarifies his position in the following interview on Democracy Now!. The segment in which he makes these comments occurs at approximately the 11 minute mark, but the whole interview is well worth watching, especially the part just before these comments where he explains how the U.S. government is “remotely loading malware onto people’s computers without any kind of restriction, restraint or oversight.”
AMY GOODMAN: What are your plans now? Are you going to restart Lavabit? Do you feel you have to go overseas to do this?

LADAR LEVISON: I feel if I did go overseas, I could run the service. But I’m not ready to give up on America yet. I think I have effectively come to the decision that I’m going to wait and see how the court case plays out. If Jesse and myself end up winning, I’ll be able to reopen Lavabit here in the U.S. If I lose, I will probably end up turning over the service to somebody abroad and let them run it, so that I can stay here in America, and I’ll move onto something else.

Lavabit: How One Company Refused to Give FBI "Unrestricted" Access to Emails of 400,000 Customers

Suffice it to say, the above information has been added as an update to “The Surveillance State Killed BlackBerry, and the Same Fate Awaits Other Tech Giants”.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

“Pretending that one can dissociate torture from war or abjection from massacre is the lie of the powerful”, ‘Ordinary Victories’ by Manu Larcenet

One of the most amazing aspects of the resource wars is that within their own countries, most western powers have been able to stifle opposition for their participation, not to mention being able to suppress any real criticism of how they conduct themselves based on the laws of war.
“Everyone must be entitled to benefit from fundamental judicial guarantees. No one must be sentenced without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court. No one must be held responsible for an act he has not committed. No one must be subjected to physical or mental torture, corporal punishment or cruel or degrading treatment.”
Let’s take France as an example since it appears to have the backing of its citizens in taking the lead role in the recent wars which are set to determine the future of Africa.

To have a full appreciation for the magnitude of the folly of France’s decision to attempt a “total reconquest of Mali” by getting involved in what David Cameron has predicted to be a multi-decade conflict, all we need to do is recap a little history and extrapolate to the present.

During the colonial period, France’s domain in Africa was spread across the continent, numbering 20 regions at its peak, and its most important colony was Algeria, which it ruled with an iron fist from 1830 to 1962.

click to enlarge - Source

Algerians were able to free themselves from France’s brutal rule through a prolonged insurrection which cost both peoples dearly:
“New techniques of psychological warfare and intimidation were introduced, and information was extracted from Algerian rebel prisoners and suspects by routine and prolonged torture. Only when events reached this juncture did the French-the intellectuals leading the way-begin to reexamine their policies, and their consciences.”
The Algerian War of Independence against France lasted from approximately 1954 to 1962. Politically, socially and militarily, this was a multi-layered conflict for the French, one that ultimately led to both Algeria’s independence after 132 years of French colonization, and eventually, the collapse of the French Fourth Republic in 1958.”

As for what the effects of this was on the French psyche, I believe the following 7-pages posted below from ‘Ordinary Victories’ by Manu Larcenet depict an accurate account.
“Pretending that one can dissociate torture from war or abjection from massacre is the lie of the powerful”: ‘Ordinary Victories’ by Manu Larcenet
The pages deal with the consequences of atrocities committed for lies. Ignore the period referenced if you wish, project to the date of your choice, and adjust the scale of the atrocities accordingly.

The story so far:
    Marco’s father has recently committed suicide. While going through his belongings, Marco has found a war photo. He has tracked down the person in the photo and now seeks answers. (click images to enlarge)

page 1

page 2

page 3

page 4

page 5

page 6

page 7

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Beauty and Brilliance of Grant Morrison’s 'Doom Patrol', Introducing Mr. Nobody: a Savior, a Monster, an Act of Sacrilege, Dada

One of the major players in the realm of comic books has been the United Kingdom, and one of its most important periods occurred in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s with the British Invasion of American comics. This period saw the influx of British creators, most of whom initially worked for DC Comics, creators such as Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, Simon Bisley, Dave McKean, Peter Milligan, and Scottish writer Grant Morrison.

It is Morrison and his work that we will be sampling in this post, specifically, the brilliant and explosive introduction of Mr. Nobody - “the spirit of the twenty-first century” – which occurred in Doom Patrol #26. The issue was published in 1989 during the beginning stages of Morrison’s epic run in the series (#19-63).

cover of Doom Patrol #26 – click image to enlarge

The significance of Mr. Nobody in the DC Universe is minimal. He is a secondary player, a supervillain created by Grant Morrison, the only writer to really make use of the chaos unleashed by his nihilist ideology, motivating him to create the ‘Brotherhood of Dada’, a supervillain group with the core principles of Dadaism.
Dada was born out of negative reaction to the horrors of World War I… Dada rejected reason and logic, prizing nonsense, irrationality and intuition…. Dada was an informal international movement, with participants in Europe and North America. The beginnings of Dada correspond to the outbreak of World War I. For many participants, the movement was a protest against the bourgeois nationalist and colonialist interests, which many Dadaists believed were the root cause of the war, and against the cultural and intellectual conformity—in art and more broadly in society—that corresponded to the war.

“Many Dadaists believed that the 'reason' and 'logic' of bourgeois capitalist society had led people into war. They expressed their rejection of that ideology in artistic expression that appeared to reject logic and embrace chaos and irrationality…. A reviewer from the American Art News stated at the time that ‘Dada philosophy is the sickest, most paralyzing and most destructive thing that has ever originated from the brain of man.’ Art historians have described Dada as being, in large part, a ‘reaction to what many of these artists saw as nothing more than an insane spectacle of collective homicide.’

“Years later, Dada artists described the movement as ‘a phenomenon bursting forth in the midst of the postwar economic and moral crisis, a savior, a monster, which would lay waste to everything in its path... [It was] a systematic work of destruction and demoralization... In the end it became nothing but an act of sacrilege.’”
Mr. Nobody is the embodiment of one of the main themes in comics: how heroes and villains lose their sanity and become overwhelmed with a distorted sense of reality. Morrison shows us how through trials and tribulations characters end up redefining themselves. We witness a sane human being turn into an insane criminal mastermind through sensory deprivation and isolation, hell bent on reshaping the world in his own distorted image.

In this story arc, Morrison foreshadows one of the greatest queries of our time: what the repercussions of the institutionalization and normalization of solitary confinement and torture will be to our society? Considering the practices that we have deemed to be acceptable behavior since this series was published, it is a question well worth pondering.

In comic books, some characters that undergo such extreme experiments emerge with super powers. In Mr. Nobody’s case, it was the power “to drain the sanity from his victims”. In real life, however, those who suffer and survive such treatment do not acquire special abilities. The consequences of torture are far reaching and can result in people becoming many things in response, none of which are related to superheroes or supervillains. Sometimes individuals are able to return to their previous lives after rehabilitation. Some become humanitarians, some tools, others seclusionists, dysfunctional and depressed, while at times turning into individuals who seek retribution, which would explain why our governments have been so hesitant to release those that they have abused:
“‘I have a hard time seeing how it is responsible to shut down our detention facilities and send these individuals home where they almost surely would be released and almost surely would return to threaten and kill more Americans’. [Republican Senator Ted Cruz]…

“Contrary to Cruz's we-can't-let-them-go-because-they'll-kill-us logic, Wilkerson offers a more compelling explanation for US reluctance to kick its habit of indefinite detention:
    "You've told the American people [that the Guantanamo detainees are] hardcore Al Qaeda operatives; you can't then suddenly say, 'Oh, made a mistake! These people are not really tough Al Qaeda operatives - oh my god, we've got to reverse this, we gotta close this camp'. You can't do that. It's politically impossible"….
“As journalist Adam Hudson remarked in an August interview following a trip to the prison, Guantanamo may be best described as a place of ‘institutionalised inhumanity’.”
The question we should be asking ourselves is: by isolating and torturing individuals, have we given birth to an army of insane ‘villains’, or will our victims go quietly into the night (poem - Villanelle - Villain)?

Like all great art, Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol is a reflection of our society. It is considered to be a masterpiece of storytelling by comic book aficionados and is well worth the read if you enjoy a little mindfuck.

As for the pages in question providing the origin of Mr. Nobody, below is the introduction of the character taken from Doom Patrol #26 - pages 18-21, 9, and 25 are presented (click images to enlarge):

The story so far is as follows:
    A man is searching for new beginnings, a new identity, a means for him to resume his life. An unscrupulous doctor gives him this opportunity. The opportunity to be transformed into a ‘new man’, and like a fool, he agrees.

…and a couple of splash pages for a full appreciation of what has been unleashed.