Sunday, June 26, 2016

Under the Sun

By Stuart McAllister and originally published at rzim.org
Doubt everything, find your own light.(1) So recommends the Buddha in his last words. It sounds like good advice, but then the human heart invariably presses on to doubt itself! After all, what kind of assurance can we have that this light is real light or true? The hunger for meaning, the quest for understanding, the search for answers and solutions are central features of the human condition.
For instance, what is the nature of reality? What is existence all about? What is the purpose of life, if any, and what should we try to give answers to? A much-neglected resource for reflection in this area is the book of Ecclesiastes, from the preacher, or Qoheleth in Hebrew. It is a book that speaks profoundly to our times by asking questions, by setting out contradictions, and by forcing the reader to feel what absurdity as an outlook is really like.
As the book opens, we are confronted with its most famous words, “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity and a striving after wind.” Or in another translation of Ecclesiastes 1:2: “‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher, ‘Utterly Meaningless! Everything is meaningless.'” Not a very inspiring start! He has devoted himself to explore life, to examine what is good for humanity to do under the sun, and his observations have yielded some depressing results: Everything in life seems to be bound by inevitability. Human freedom appears to be constrained by overwhelming necessities, leading to a sense of helplessness. And the endless cycle of repetition leads to a sense of boredom, pointlessness, and despair.
Many a sage, philosopher, and guru have come to similar conclusions. What is unique to Ecclesiastes is how the author tackles the issues and what he leads us to see. By laying out the vanities of life, the propensities of youth, the all-encompassing reach of death, and the vast urgency of wisdom as a potential life-philosophy, he engages a chaotic world with some serious reflections. The writer takes us on a journey through life, and he deals with the questions and exasperations that we all inevitably encounter. His own desire was to try and figure things out so he could live well and be content, and encourage others to do the same. He likely hoped to discover the key or missing ingredient, the clues to true and lasting success and happiness.
Instead, the world he begins to see is one that displays both good and bad at the same time. He sees the superiority of wisdom, yet even the wise are reduced by death. He sees injustice being done and oppressors prevailing, yet he also notes there is a higher justice. He cites the sayings and actions of wise people but then goes on to point out how quickly they are forgotten! It is the tone that wears on us. We see ambiguity and fuzziness, a mixture of pain and problems, food, friends, wisdom, and a spiritual hunger. These things all dwell in the same world at the same time, and this is a difficult reality for many of us to digest. Like Qoheleth, we want better answers, tidier analysis, more comforting visions—and we have them, but not here, in doubt and darkness.
Qoheleth shows us the futility of life without God. He makes us feel what life is like from an honest look at how things truly are. He gives us a severe picture of reality and suggests that God is still worth seeking somewhere in the midst of it. Even prior to the coming of the Messiah, Qoheleth paints our stark need for the God who is there.
While the world as we know it is indeed disordered and damaged, and to find answers in the world itself is absurd, God does not abandon us to absurdity. Into this world, into its pain and confusion, God, too, became flesh and dwelt among us. And it ended for Jesus as tragically as anything we observe under the sun. He went to the cross with the full force of every ugly, honest reality of Ecclesiastes on his shoulders. And he stood with us in that darkness, giving us an equally severe image of a God worth seeking in the midst of it.

Stuart McAllister is vice president of training and special projects at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) Terry Breverton, Immortal Words: History’s Most Memorable Quotations and the Stories Behind Them(London: Quercus Publishing Place, 2009), 13.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

MSM Trump Fact Checking Totally Unfair, No Recovery Economic Update, US, Russia, China, War

By Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com 1a













The mainstream media (MSM) calls their latest unfair coverage of Presidential GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump “fact checking.” In reality, it’s a way for the MSM to hide the fact it is unobective, totally unfair, and only out to destroy Trump in favor of the candidate and party they’re in the tank for, Democrat Hillary Clinton.  The only candidate the MSM is “fact checking” is Trump.  Meanwhile, every week, there is a new angle to the Clinton private server scandal, or her so-called charity, the Clinton Foundation, which some say is a huge charity fraud, or allegations of influence peddling while she was Secretary of State in the first Obama Administration.  There are no teams of reporters and producers on this ongoing story.  There is only “fact checking” by the clearly biased MSM on the candidate and party they hate.
I have been telling you “there is no real recovery for Main Street” for years now, and finally the MSM has stopped saying the “recovery” word when talking about the poor economy.  It’s so poor, the Federal Reserve, once again, could not raise interest rates.  Fed Chair Janet Yellen, this week, told Congress the economy is facing a number of “uncertainties.” She admitted to the Senate Banking Committee that the economy was “surprisingly weak.” Meaning, there is NO RECOVERY.  Debt is exploding central bank balance sheets, while interest rates are being pushed down.
There is disturbing news of increasing tensions with China and Russia that could lead to war. Near the South China Sea, the U.S. is conducting naval drills with two aircraft carrier groups, and China is upset.  In Eastern Europe, NATO is conducting war games, and Russia says Hitler did a similar thing before he invaded Russia from the east.  Neither situation signals an easing of tensions between these nuclear armed super powers.
(-Breaking News- Brexit has happed, but the crash shows how really weak it all was anyway.  Non of this panic would be happening if the EU and the global economy, as a whole, was doing well and honestly growing.  It’s not growing, and there is no recovery.  Just huge amounts of debt added to the global dung heap in order to put off the day of reckoning.    This is reality, and the crash was going to happen anyway because of all the negative interest paying bonds ($10.4 trillion in the EU.)  I predict this is going to really get started this weekend, and Monday and Tuesday  are going to be awful in the markets.  You should all be getting some cash out of your bank and stock up on some food and water now, just incase there is a disruption of credit.)
Join Greg Hunter as he talks about these stories and more in the Weekly News Wrap-Up.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit: The System Cannot Hold


Stephen Green 18×24 inches. 2016. Acrylic on canvas. MuseumofAwesomeArt.com 
By Raúl Ilargi Meijer and originally published at theautomaticearth.com
Well, they did it. A majority of Britons made clear they’re so fed up with David Cameron and everything he says or does, including promoting the EU, that they voted against that EU. They detest Cameron much more than they like Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson. It seems that everyone has underestimated that. 
Cameron just announced he’s stepping down. And that points to a very large hole in the ground somewhere in London town. Because going through a list of potential leaders, you get the strong impression there are none left. Not to run the country, and not to negotiate anything with Brussels. Which has a deep leadership -credibility- hole of itself, even though the incumbents are completely blind to that.
But first Britain. The Leave victory was as much a vote against Chancellor George Osborne as it was against Cameron. So Osborne is out as potential leader of the Conservatives. Boris Johnson? Not nearly enough people like him, and he fumbled his side of the Leave campaign so badly his credibility, though perhaps not being fully shot, is far too much of an uncertainty for the Tories to enter the upcoming inevitable general elections with.
Who else is there? Michael Gove? Absolute suicide. Likeability factor of zero Kelvin. That bus these guys drove around which proclaimed they could get £350 million extra a year for the NHS health care system in case of a Brexit will come back to haunt all of them. Just about the first thing Farage said earlier when the win became clear, was that the £350 million was a mistake. 
I guess you could mention Theresa May, who apparently wants the post, but she’s an integral part of the Cameron clique and can’t be presented as the fresh start the party so badly needs. 

Talking about Farage, who’s not Tory, but Ukip, he’s done what he set out to do, and that means the end of the line for him. He could, and will, call for a national unity government, but there is no such unity. He got voted out of a job today -he is/was a member of the European Parliament- and Ukip has only one seat in the British parliament, so he’s a bit tragic today. There is no place nor need for a UK Independence Party when the UK is already independent.
Then there’s Labour, who failed to reach their own constituency, which subsequently voted with Farage et al, and who stood right alongside Cameron for Remain, with ‘leader’ Jeremy Corbyn reduced to the role of a curiously mumbling movie extra. So Corbyn is out. 
Shadow finance minister John McDonnell has aspirations, but he’s a firm Remain guy as well, and that happens to have been voted down. Labour has failed in a terrible fashion, and they better acknowledge it or else. But they already had a very hard time just coming up with Corbyn last time around, and the next twist won’t be any easier. 
Cameron, Osborne, Corbyn, they have all failed to connect with their people. This is not some recent development. Nor is it a British phenomenon, support for traditional parties is crumbling away everywhere in the western world. 

The main reason for this is a fast fading economy, which all politicians just try to hide from their people, but which those same people get hit by every single day. 
A second reason is that politicians of traditional parties are not perceived as standing up for either their people nor their societies, but as a class in themselves. 
In Britain, there now seems to be a unique opportunity to organize a movement like (Unidos) Podemos in Spain, the European Union’s next big headache coming up in a few days. Podemos is proof that this can be done fast, and there’s a big gaping hole to fill.
Much of what’s next in politics may be pre-empted in the markets. Though it’s hard to say where it all leads, this morning there’s obviously a lot of panic, short covering etc going on, fact is that as I write this, Germany’s DAX index loses 6% (-16.3% YoY), France’s CAC is down 7.7% (-18.5%) and Spain’s IBEX no less than 10.3% (-30%). Ironically, the losses in Britain’s FTSE are ‘only’ 4.5% (-11%). 
These are numbers that can move entire societies, countries and political systems. But we’ll see. Currency moves are already abating, and on the 22nd floor of a well-protected building in Basel, all of the relevant central bankers in the world are conspiring to buy whatever they can get their hands on. Losses will be big but can perhaps be contained up to a point, and tomorrow is Saturday.
By the way, from a purely legal point of view, Cameron et al could try and push aside the referendum, which is not legally binding. I got only one thing on that: please let them try.
As an aside, wouldn’t it be a great irony if the England soccer (football) team now go on to win the Euro Cup? Or even Wales, which voted massively against the EU?

Finally, this was of course not a vote about the -perhaps not so- United Kingdom, it was a vote about the EU. But the only thing we can expect from Brussels and all the 27 remaining capitals is damage control and more high handedness. It’s all the Junckers and Tusks and Schäubles and Dijsselbloems are capable of anymore.
But it’s they, as much as David Cameron, who were voted down today. And they too should draw their conclusions, or this becomes not even so much about credibility as it becomes about sheer relevance.
Even well before there will be negotiations with whoever represents Britain by the time it happens, the Brussels court circle will be confronted with a whole slew of calls for referendums in other member states. The cat is out of Pandora’s bag, and the genie out of her bottle.
Many of the calls will come from the far-right, but it’s Brussels itself that created the space for these people to operate in. I’ve said it before, the EU does not prevent the next battle in Europe, it will create it. EC head Donald Tusk’s statement earlier today was about strengthening the union with the remaining 27 nations. As if Britain were the only place where people want out… 
Holland, France, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Hungary, they will all have calls for referendums. Greece already had one a year ago. The center cannot hold. Nor can the system. If referendums were held in all remaining 27 EU member states, the union would be a lot smaller the next morning. The Unholy Union depends on people not getting a say.
The overwhelming underlying principle that we see at work here is that centralization is dead, because the economy has perished. Or at least the growth of the economy has, which is the same in a system that relies on perpetual growth to ‘function’. 
But that is something we can be sure no politician or bureaucrat or economist is willing to acknowledge. They’re all going to continue to claim that their specific theories and plans are capable of regenerating the growth the system depends on. Only to see them fail. 
It’s high time for something completely different, because we’re in a dead end street. If the Brexit vote shows us one thing, it’s that. But that is not what people -wish to- see. 
Unfortunately, the kinds of wholesale changes needed now hardly ever take place in a peaceful manner. I guess that’s my main preoccupation right now.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
Yeats

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Brexit: Global Trigger Event, Fake Out Or Something Else?

By Brandon Smith and originally published at alt-market.com
Those people who do not avidly track global economic events may be a bit confused by the growing tensions surrounding the U.K. referendum to exit the European Union, otherwise known as the “Brexit.” Or, they are completely indifferent. Unfortunately, the potential fallout surrounding the event could very well affect the entire world, but perhaps not in the manner the mainstream media and international financiers would have us believe…
I would point out that under normal global economic conditions, the Brexit really shouldn’t matter much to anyone outside of the U.K. If the EU was fiscally stable, if its banks were solvent and its national debts well in hand, if the EU was actually a practical and successful supranational body, then the damage done by a British vote to leave the union would be minimal. Of course, this is not the case. As many other independent economic analysts and I have been outlining for years, the European Union is on the verge of economic breakdown. Look at it this way — if financial turmoil in a tiny member state like Greece can cause widespread doubts about the EU’s stability, then there is something fundamentally volatile about the entire structure.
The Brexit matters greatly to the future of the EU because, theoretically, if one of its most prominent members says adios, then other members may do the same. As it stands now, the EU cannot afford to have even one member, economically large or small, drop out of the system.
The Brexit matters to the rest of the world including the U.S. because of the brilliantly-destructive program of interdependency and globalism that has shaped our financial house for decades. Interdependency leads to extreme economic weakness because no piece of the global system has the tools to survive without the other pieces; and on top of this, when one part of the machine goes down, ALL the other parts are affected.
It is a truly horrible and seemingly idiotic system; but not so idiotic if you accept the reality that it is deliberately engineered to fail.
When you examine the fiscal foundations of every major economy in the world today, what you find is a financial shell game. The fundamentals tell us the truth; with global exports and imports in decline, global shipping of raw materials in decline, manufacturing in decline, retail in decline, employment in decline, real unemployment numbers including those people no longer counted by the Labor Department skyrocketing and the number of people on welfare and food stamps skyrocketing.
In reality, the global economy is one massive thin-skinned bubble searching for a sharp object to impale itself on. The Brexit may very well be that sharp object.
Before I go into the various details surrounding Thursday’s vote, I want to state that I am in full support of the British movement to leave the European Union. The reasoning behind a successful Brexit is solid. The European Union’s rabid socialist tendencies have created a doom scenario for all those shackled to the supranational body. Forced multiculturalism and cultural Marxism has opened a floodgate of Islamic refugees which hold ideological beliefs completely incompatible with western principles and heritage while at the same time introducing a massive vampiric drain on the prevailing social welfare systems.
The EU’s governing body is a mostly faceless and unaccountable bureaucracy that hands down legal dictates from on high while the general population of the member states have little or no input. The European Central Bank’s monetary policies support failed financial institutions and fraudulent markets while siphoning tax dollars from stronger and more successful nations in order to feed the debt addictions of weaker countries. The very philosophical engine behind the EU is one of collectivism; it is a system that requires a hive mentality in order to function. Only a fool would WANT to participate in such a political and financial farce.
That said, I think we need to take stock of certain underlying realities.
First, as mentioned earlier, the EU, like most other economies today, is an interdependent structure and is thus designed to fail. The EU is not the golden goose for globalists, it is just another appendage that can be sacrificed or rearranged in order to achieve greater goals. The EU is a means to an end, it is not the ultimate prize.
The ultimate prize for globalists would be a system like the EU with a single currency and a single monetary authority, but this new system would erase all sovereign borders and install a single governmental authority as well.
What does this mean? It means that the failure of the EU does not necessarily mean a failure for the internationalists. For groups of globalists that promote an ideology of Fabian Socialism, a breakdown of the EU, whether partial or total, can be used as leverage for a larger and more centralized global power structure in the long term.  Mark my words, when the system comes crashing down (whether after the Brexit or after another trigger event), internationalists will say that the EU failed not because it was centralized, but because it was not centralized ENOUGH.
Even though I support the Brexit movement based on the principle that supranational unions are a heinous affliction upon free individuals and nations, I have no illusions that a successful Brexit vote will actually harm the globalists. In fact, they may very well desire the U.K. to leave the EU.
Why? As noted, the global economy is on the verge of implosion. The ONLY elements of the system that are not yet crashing are stock markets. This is because stock markets do not in any way reflect the fundamentals of the economy, they only reflect investor perceptions of the economy. Perceptions can be manipulated for a time, and public psychology can be subdued by false optimism and lies. It can take years for a population to psychologically accept the idea that they are in the midst of a recession or depression. Therefore, it can take years for stock markets to finally reflect the legitimate dangers within the economy.
Central banks at the behest of globalist institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the Bank For International Settlements have spent incredible amounts of capital and energy managing public perception. Through subversive monetary policies, they have weakened national economies to the point of collapse, and this collapse is meant to create enough chaos to inspire the masses through fear to support greater centralization.
While certain banking institutions may fall, the bankers themselves have no intention of taking any blame for the inevitable collapse.
If you examine modern history (the past century), you will find in the aftermath of every crisis that globalist organizations have consistently blamed nationalism and sovereignty while promoting socialism and centralization as the most civilized solution. That is to say, globalists create widespread war and financial terror, blame conservative ideals such as sovereignty, then argue that such ideals must be eradicated for the greater good of the greater number.
We have to be honest in our exploration of the Brexit event and admit that in this case the globalists win either way.
If the Brexit succeeds, the globalists can allow the market systems they have been inflating for years to finally crash. They can then blame those dastardly "far-Right extremists" in the U.K. for triggering a domino effect within the global financial system, conveniently scapegoating British conservatives, moderates and sovereigns for a breakdown that was going to happen eventually anyway. Their solution will once again be to argue for the end of “barbaric” conservative principles and install complete centralization and socialism as the cure.
If the Brexit fails, or if it is a controlled fake out, they can artificially boost markets for perhaps another month while distracting the public away from the negative fundamentals yet again.
We should also not overlook the possibility that the referendum vote may be rigged one way or the other. Current polls indicate a tie between the “Leave” crowd and the “Remain” crowd. Any vote this close is the easiest kind of vote to rig a few percentage points to either side.
I believe the Brexit vote may be allowed to succeed, here’s why…
1) Elites including George Soros have suddenly decided to dive into the market to place bets on the negative side. Dumping large portions of their stock holdings, shorting equities and buying up gold and gold mining shares. Soros has been preparing his portfolio for a successful Brexit vote while at the same time publicly warning of the supposed dire consequences if the referendum passes.  The last time Soros put this much capital into the markets was in 2007, just before the crash of 2008.
2) The IMF and the BIS have been warning since late 2015 (for six to eight months) that a global economic downturn is on the way in 2016. We saw considerable volatility at the beginning of this year, and markets are due for another shock. The last time the BIS and IMF were so adamant about an impending crash was in late 2007, just before the 2008 market plunge.
3) While the Federal Reserve has not yet implemented a second rate hike (I still believe they could use a rate hike this year to stab markets in the back if necessary), Janet Yellen pulled a maneuver which was almost as upsetting to investors. After the Fed policy meeting last week, markets were moderately exuberant and stocks were rising, then, Yellen opened her mouth and blamed the Brexit for the rate hike delay
Here is what the Fed has done: By delaying the second hike for another month, and then blaming the Brexit vote as a primary reason, they have created a bit of a paradox. If the Brexit vote passes, the Fed is asserting that they may not hike rates for a while, giving market investors the impression that the global economic recovery is not all that it is cracked up to be. If the Brexit vote fails, then the Fed MUST hike rates in July, otherwise, they lose all credibility. I believe Yellen’s claim that the Brexit vote was the cause of the hike delay was highly deliberate. It has triggered what may become a growing firestorm in equities and commodities.
From the point of view of investors, if the Brexit passes, then all hell breaks loose. If the Brexit fails, then the Fed will hike rates and once again, all hell breaks loose. Or, the Fed refuses to hike rates even though its number one scapegoat is out of the picture, it loses all credibility, and all hell breaks loose.
It’s a lose/lose/lose scenario for the investment world, which is probably why global markets plunged after Yellen’s remarks. Investors have been relying on the predictability of central bank intervention for so long that now when ANY uncertainty arises, they run for the hedges.
The Fed decision to blame the Brexit for their rate hike delay could indicate foreknowledge of a successful Brexit vote.
4) The recent murder of British lawmaker Jo Cox is perhaps the weirdest piece in the puzzle of the Brexit. For one thing, it makes no sense for a pro-Brexit nationalist (Thomas Mair) to attack and kill a pro-EU lawmaker when the polls for the “Leave” group were clearly ahead. One could simply argue that the guy was nuts, but I’m rather suspicious of “lone gunman,” and his insanity has yet to be proven.  I see no reason for this man, insane or not, to be angry enough to kill while the Brexit side was winning in all the polls.
If someone was using him as a weapon only to discredit the Brexit vote or sway the public towards staying in the EU, you would think that they would have initiated the murder closer to the day of the referendum when it would have the most effect. The information flooded public has days to digest new data and forget Jo Cox.
My theory? Thomas Mair has handlers or he is just a mentally disturbed patsy, and his purpose is indeed to paint the Brexit movement as “angry” or crazy. But this does not necessarily mean the intent behind the assassination of Jo Cox was to break the back of the Brexit movement. Rather, the goal may only be to perpetuate a longer term narrative that conservatives in general are a destructive element of society. We kill, we’re racists, we have an archaic mindset that prevents “progress,” we divide supranational unions, we even destroy global economies. We’re storybook monsters.
Even the cultural Marxists at the Southern Poverty Law Center somehow produced documents allegedly linking Mair (a veritable unknown) to Neo-Nazi groups in 1999. Wherever the SPLC is involved, the official story is always skewed.
The murder of Jo Cox has had a minimal effect on Brexit polling numbers.  In the end, the elites may find Thomas Mair more useful as a mascot for the Brexit AFTER the vote, rather than before the vote.
So now the Brexit movement, which is conservative in spirit, is labeled a “divisive” and “hateful group”, and if the referendum is triumphant, they will also be called economic saboteurs.
There is also the possibility that the Brexit is yet another fake out. We have seen many of them over the past few years. So many in fact that a lot of analysts in the Liberty Movement have grown pretty cynical, as if the system could be propped up forever. The issue is always, of course, one of timing. All fundamentals indicate that the global economy is going down regardless of what central banks and international financiers do in the long run. The only question is whether or not they feel it is time to pull the plug on one of the last remaining bubbles (stocks). A successful Brexit could be a perfect scapegoat for the next leg down in the economy, or it could be a perfect placebo to boost markets for a short time if it fails. In either case, I have no doubt that the outcome has already been decided.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Before Omar Mateen Committed Mass Murder, the FBI Tried To Lure Him Into a Terror Plot

By By Max Blumenthal, Sarah Lazare and originally published at alternet.org  
Before Omar Mateen gunned down 49 patrons of the LGBTQ Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, the FBI attempted to induce him to participate in a terror plot. Sheriff Ken Mascara of Florida’s St. Lucie County told the Vero Beach Press Journal that after Mateen threatened a courthouse deputy in 2013 by claiming he could order Al Qaeda operatives to kill his family, the FBI dispatched an informant to "lure Omar into some kind of act and Omar did not bite."
While self-styled terror experts and former counter-terror officials have criticized the FBI for failing to stop Mateen before he committed a massacre, the new revelation raises the question of whether the FBI played a role in pushing Mateen towards an act of lethal violence. 
Since 9/11, the FBI has relied heavily on informants to entrap scores of young, often mentally troubled Muslim men and send them to prison for as long as 25 years. As Aviva Stahl reported for AlterNet’s Grayzone Project, the FBI recently encouraged an apparently mentally disturbed recent convert to Islam named James Medina to bomb a South Florida synagogue and pledge allegiance to ISIS, a militant group with which he had no prior affiliation. On trial for planning to commit an act of terror with a weapon of mass destruction, Medina has insisted through his lawyer that he is mentally ill.
Trevor Aaronson, a journalist and author of “Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terror,” revealed that nearly half of terror cases between 9/11/01 and 2010 involved informants, including some with criminal backgrounds raking in as much as $100,000 from the FBI. The FBI's assets have often preyed on mentally ill men with little capacity to resist their provocations. “Is it possible that the FBI is creating the very enemy we fear?” Aaronson wondered.
The revelations of FBI manipulation have cast Mateen’s case in a troubling light. Though he refused to bite when an FBI asset attempted to push him into a manufactured plot, he wound up carrying out an act of spectacular brutality years later and allegedly swore loyalty to ISIS in the midst of it. 
“It looks like it's pretty much standard operating procedure for preliminary inquiries to interview the subject or pitch the person to become an informant and/or plant an undercover or informant close by to see if the person bites on the suggestion,” Coleen Rowley, a former FBI agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures, told AlterNet. “In the case of Mateen, since he already worked for a security contractor [G4S], he was either too savvy to bite on the pitch or he may have even become indignant that he was targeted in that fashion. These pitches and use of people can backfire.”
To highlight the problematic nature of informants, Rowley pointed to the case of Humam Khalil al-Balawi, a Jordanian physician whom the CIA used to gather intelligence on Al Qaeda,. The CIA ignored obvious warning signs like Balawi’s extremist online manifestos and never subjected him to a vetting process. While Balawi claimed to have penetrated Al Qaeda’s inner circle, he was actually exploiting his CIA security clearance to plan a major attack. On December 30, 2009, Balawi strode into Camp Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan, and detonated an explosive vest that killed seven CIA agents and wounded six more -- the deadliest attack on CIA personnel in 25 years.
Mateen, for his part, displayed many of the psychological characteristics that typify both FBI informants and those they attempt to ensnare in bogus terror plots. Raised in a troubled home by an abusive mother and an apparently eccentric father, Mateen exhibited signs of erratic, violent behavior throughout his life. His ex-wife told reporters that he physically abused her and was “unstable and mentally ill.” He transformed from a chubby adolescent to a burly young man with the help of steroids, yearning for a career in law enforcement.
Seven months into a job as a prison guard in 2007, Mateen was fired for threatening to bring a gun to class. He settled on a career as a low level security guard for G4S Security Solutions, a global security firm that employed him for nine years. Though Mateen’s applications to two police departments were rejected, he was able to pass a G4S background check and receive several guard assignments. (The world’s third largest private employer, G4S has accumulated a staggering record of human rights abuses, including accusations of child torture.)
While the full extent of Mateen’s contact with the FBI is unknown, the fact that an informant encouraged Mateen to agree to carry out a terror attack should provoke serious questions and further investigation. Whether or not manipulation by a FBI informant had any impact on Mateen’s deadly decision, there is no denying that the attempt to entrap him did nothing to protect the public.
“The FBI should scrutinize the operating procedure where they use undercovers and informants and pitch people to become informants,” said Rowley. “They must recognize that, in this case [with Mateen], it had horrible consequences if it did, in fact, backfire.”

Monday, June 20, 2016

How Many Law Schools Need to Close? Plenty

The only solution for the surplus of workers with law degrees is a massive, permanent reduction in the issuance of new law graduates

By Charles Hugh Smith and originally published at charleshughsmith.blogspot.com
America is in the opening stages of a massive surplus of over-credentialed workers. The default setting for 50 years has been: if you want a secure upper-middle class salary, get a law degree, MBA, PhD or other graduate-level professional degree.
The massive surplus is now apparent in J.D.s (law degrees) and PhDs. The writing is already on the wall: there aren't enough jobs for law school graduates, and this scarcity of high-paying legal jobs will only increase going forward. These two articles provide the context:
The only solution for the surplus of workers with law degrees is a massive, permanent reduction in the issuance of new law graduates. The only way to achieve this result is for a significant percentage of law schools to close their doors.
What's the percentage that must close to restore some balance? An unfettered market would discover the price of attending law school and the number of schools needed to fulfill diminishing demand for workers with law diplomas.
But we don't have an unfettered market--we have a government-sanctioned system of debt-serfdom. Law students can borrow up to $200,000 for a three-year law program, and so surprise, surprise, the cost of that three-year program is--yup, $200,000.
This gargantuan state-supported debt-serf machine enabled prices to soar without regard to the value of the education, its utility in the marketplace or its market cost.
The glut in over-credentialed workers is not limited to law: The PhD Bubble Has Burst: Graduating 'Doctors' Are Having Trouble Finding Work (Zero Hedge).
As I have often noted, graduating 50,000 PhDs in chemistry annually does not automatically create 50,000 jobs for the graduates.
Our system of government-sanctioned debt-serfdom has created perverse incentives for colleges to raise prices and for students to become over-credentialed, a process that has enriched universities and their administrative legions while impoverishing students who are dumped into a job market saturated with over-credentialed but underskilled workers.
This reality is visible in the declining pay for all classes of workers, including the most highly educated:
It doesn't have to be this way. Radically improving our higher education system while reducing the cost of that education by 90% is the topic of my books Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy and The Nearly Free University and the Emerging Economy: The Revolution in Higher Education.
So how many law schools need to shut down to restore the balance of supply and demand? It depends on how fast technology reduces the demand for legal expertise. A 20% reduction in the number of law schools and law school graduates would be a good start, but if technology and outsourcing start eating jobs, the eventual number of law school closures might have to exceed 50%.
One quick way to discover price and demand would be to eliminate all student loans. Once students could not borrow money, the cost of higher education would collapse to a cash-value level. The number of colleges and universities would plummet, and supply and demand would soon find a new equilibrium, minus the debt-serfdom.