good narratives with links


12 Mind-Bending Perceptual Illusions

Everyone loves a good optical illusion. Most people first come across them as kids, and are instantly transfixed. And most of us never quite outgrow them. Even cats seem to enjoy the occasional optical illusion!

The good news, then, for humans and nonhumans alike, is that our illusions seem to be getting better over time. In the age of social media, lots of people are making and sharing them, and the best ones are quickly going viral and setting the new standard. In effect, our illusions are evolving culturally to be more and more powerful.

But although perceptual illusions are fun, they also have important philosophical implications. They show us in a clear and unambiguous way that we don’t directly perceive the world around us. Perceptual experience is a simulation—a mental model—that doesn’t always correspond to the reality it aims to depict.

The following illusions are some of my favorites. Enjoy!

1. The Power of Top-Down Processing

To get the ball rolling, here’s a good example of how expectations guide perception.


We’re so used to words being arranged in a certain order that, when the words are jumbled up, we often don’t notice: We mistake our expectations for the world. That’s why proofreading your own essays is so hard.

2. The Skye Blue Café Wall Illusion

This illusion, created by the artist Victoria Skye, was one of the top entries in the 2017 Best Illusion of the Year Contest. Believe it or not, the horizontal lines are all perfectly parallel. To prove this to yourself, just squint at the image or look at it from the side.


Notice that, even after you’re completely convinced that the lines are parallel, the illusion continues to work. Perception is largely involuntary—and in many ways is walled off from our abstract knowledge of the world.

3. Confetti

This one’s a variation on the Munker Illusion, created by David Novick. The circles in the image are all the same color. The only thing that differs is the color of the lines around them.


The illusion is a vivid demonstration of the fact that we don’t directly perceive the colors of objects in the world. Instead, the perceptual system takes an educated “guess,” based on the objects’ surroundings.

4. The Rice Wave Illusion

This might look an animated GIF, but it’s not. The movement is all in your head.


The shading and sequencing of the yellow blobs triggers the motion areas of the brain, creating a perception of movement in a stimulus that’s actually static. Interestingly, around 5 percent of people seem to be immune to this illusion.

5. The Tilted Road Illusion

This looks like two photos of the same road, taken from different angles. But it’s actually just the same photo twice.


Apparently, the visual system treats the image as if it were a single photo of two separate roads. The outlines of the two roads are parallel to one another in the two-dimensional image. For that to be the case in the image, the actual roads in the real world would have to be angling strongly away from each other. So, that’s what the visual system infers.

6. Lightness Illusion

This one comes from master illusion-maker Akiyoshi Kitaoka (@AkiyoshiKitaoka).

In trying to make sense of the video, the visual system acts as if the gray square is being moved out of shadow into bright light, and then into dark shadow. For the square to look that shade in bright light, it would have to be quite dark—so the perpetual system infers that it is. Conversely, for the square to look that shade in dark shadow, it would have to be very light—so the perceptual system infers that, instead.

Your brain is doing a lot of work behind the scenes—more than you might have imagined!

7. The Dynamic Ebbinghaus

Another award-winning illusion. The orange circle doesn’t actually change size.

As with color and lightness, we don’t directly perceive the size of objects. The perceptual system makes an inference about their size, based on clues in our sense data—including the relative size of other, nearby objects.

8. The Dynamic Müller-Lyer Illusion

This is one of the best illusions I’ve seen. The blue and red lines are all the same length; none is moving or changing size, and they’re all at the same level. Only the arrowheads are moving.

The illusion is a new variation on an old theme: the Müller-Lyer illusion. There are many theories about how this works, but no one’s 100 percent sure. There’s even debate about whether it works for all human beings everywhere, or instead is a culture-specific phenomenon.

9. The Train Illusion

You can make the train change direction with the power of your mind … and you can get better at it with practice.

Perception always involves going beyond the evidence of the senses. In this case, the evidence is relatively sparse, such that there are two plausible interpretations: The train is coming or the train is going. We can choose to see it either way.

10. Rotating Rings

This one freaks a lot of people out. Every time you switch from looking at the red dot to the yellow, or vice versa, both wheels start spinning in the opposite direction. The illusion exploits differences in the way we interpret motion in the center of the visual field vs. the periphery.

11. The Spinning Dancer

One of my all-time favorites. If you look at the dancer on the left and the one in the middle, the one in the middle spins clockwise. If you instead look at the dancer on the right and the one in the middle, the one in the middle starts spinning counter-clockwise.

As with the train illusion, the secret is that the center image is ambiguous: It can be interpreted as a dancer spinning in either direction. The dancers on the left and right, in contrast, include additional details which force one or other interpretation. This forced interpretation then guides our perception of the middle, ambiguous figure.

12. The Starry Night

Stare at the center of the top image for 30 seconds then check out Van Gogh’s Starry Night ...


[Note by John-Henry Hill: These mortgage loans were “bank credit” created out of NOTHING – “out of thin air”! By the applicant signing  the mortgage application, he created a promissory note equal to the value of the house loan. The bank then deposited this “promissory note” into its account and issued the applicant the mortgage “loan”, using that “promissory note” as collateral. Thus, the bank lent the applicant NOTHING!!!! It was merely an exchange of credit between the applicant and the bank. THAT is how banks work when they make “loans”. Banks are actually FORBIDDEN BY LAW from lending their own assets!!! Instead, they use their profits to pay employees, shareholders and to make investments on behalf of the bank and shareholders. Thus, through foreclosure the banks seized homes for which they lent out NO money, using breach of contract as the legal excuse;and seizure of the house is the penalty for that breach of contract – and NOT the failure to repay the mortgage loan, since the bank itself actually loaned the applicant NO money at all! That is how Commercial Law works!!!]

The U.S. intelligence community is implicated in nurturing the web platforms we know today, for the precise purpose of utilizing the technology as a mechanism to fight global ‘information war’ -  a war to legitimize the power of the few over the many. In reality, Google is a smokescreen behind which lurks the US military-industrial complex.

In 1989, Richard O’Neill, then a U.S. Navy cryptologist, wrote a paper for the U.S. Naval War College, ‘Toward a methodology for perception management.’  O’Neill’s paper for the first time outlined a strategy for “perception management” as part of information warfare (IW).
O’Neill’s proposed strategy identified three categories of targets for IW: adversaries – so they believe they are vulnerable; potential partners – so they perceive the cause as just; and civilian populations and political leadership – so they perceive the cost as worth the effort.

This was also the year {2001} that the Bush administration drew up its Information Operations Roadmap. Describing the internet as a “vulnerable weapons system,” Rumsfeld’s IO roadmap had advocated that Pentagon strategy “should be based on the premise that the Department [of Defense] will ‘fight the net’ as it would an enemy weapons system.” The U.S. should seek “maximum control” of the “full spectrum of globally emerging communications systems, sensors, and weapons systems,” advocated the document.

We also now know (thanks to Snowden) that the NSA’s XKeyscore ‘Digital Network Intelligence’ exploitation system was designed to allow analysts to search not just internet databases like emails, online chats and browsing history, but also telephone services, mobile phone audio, financial transactions and global air transport communications — essentially the entire global telecommunications grid.

the ‘Neurobiology of Narrative Framing’ project at the University of Southern California. Evoking Zalman’s emphasis on the need for Pentagon psychological operations to deploy “empathetic influence,” the new DARPA-backed project aims to investigate how narratives often appeal “to strong, sacred values in order to evoke an emotional response,” but in different ways across different cultures. The most disturbing element of the research is its focus on trying to understand how to increase the Pentagon’s capacity to deploy narratives that influence listeners in a way that overrides conventional reasoning in the context of morally-questionable actions.


“The lie can be maintained only for such time as the state can shield the people from political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the state to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth becomes the greatest enemy of the state.” Dr.  Joseph M. Goebbels Ministry of Enlightenment, Third Reich


Let us consider the actual, worldly Jew – not the Sabbath Jew, as Bauer does, but the everyday Jew.
Let us not look for the secret of the Jew in his religion, but let us look for the secret of his religion in the real Jew.
What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money.

-Karl Marx, On The Jewish Question, 1844


“The artist's life cannot be otherwise than full of conflicts, for two forces are at war within him; on the one hand, the common human longing for happiness, satisfaction and security in life and on the other, a ruthless passion for creation which may go so far as to override every personal desire... there are hardly any exceptions to the rule that a person must pay dearly for the divine gift of creative fire.”― Carl Jung THE SPIRIT OF MAN IN ART AND LITERATURE-----------------------

Emotional intelligence–How Moses turned to song, music, poetry, literature, and metaphor to entrench Torah in the hearts of the Israelites

it is important to understand the power that exists in stories, music, poetry, literature, drama, etc, in other words–MEDIA–that collectively acts as a debilitating, mind-altering drug of sorts, no different than LSD, Crystal Meth, cannabis, etc, that succeeds in bending reality in such a way that human behavior can be controlled, maneuvered, manipulated, etc. Borrowing an old phrase one learns when taking any kind of course in hand to hand combat or self-defense, ‘where the head goes, the body follows’.

We’ve said it before and it bears repeating–Hollywood did not begin in the deserts of California but rather in the deserts of the Middle East, where tyrants bent upon the insidious and almost imperceptible manipulation of all human activity and behavior learned how to ply the principles of black magic by utilizing untruths and titillating tall tales as intoxicants in sedating an individual’s ability to reason, and all of this as the necessary precursor in creating a horde of ‘drugged cockroaches scurrying around’ and reducing those so-affected to mere fictional characters written into a script who act out roles created for them and whose climax results in Judaic empowerment.

our ability to understand and respond to not only our own emotions but also those of others is an essential element of success in many fields, indeed of human interaction in general. There are fundamental elements of our humanity that have to do with the way we feel, not just the way we think. Even more importantly, we need to understand how other people feel – the gift of empathy – if we are to form a meaningful bond with them.

Emotions matter. They guide our choices. They move us to action. Intellect alone cannot do this. It has been a failing of intellectuals throughout history to believe that all we need to do is to think straight and we will act well.

If you want to change lives, speak to people’s feelings, not just to their minds. Enter their fears and calm them. Understand their anxieties and allay them. Kindle their hopes and instruct them. Raise their sights and enlarge them. Humans are more than algorithms. We are emotion-driven beings. Speak from the heart to the heart, and mind and deed will follow.

The Neoliberal Order Is Dying. Time To Wake Up 

By Jonathan Cook

individuals are groomed before they ever gain access to power. Business leaders, senior politicians and agenda-setting journalists reach their positions after proving themselves over and over again – not consciously but through their unthinking compliance to the power-structure of our societies. They are selected through their performances in exams at school and university, through training programmes and indentures. They rise to the top because they are the most talented examples of those who are blind or submissive to power, those who can think most cleverly without thinking critically. Those who reliably deploy their skills where they are directed to do so.


Many people the “military-industrial-complex (MIC)” brings to mind the top twenty weapons manufacturers. President Dwight Eisenhower, who warned about it in 1961, wanted to call it the military-industrial-congressional-complex, but decided it was not prudent to do so. Today it might well be called the military-industrial-congressional-almost-everything-complex. Most departments and levels of government, businesses, and also many charities, social service, environmental, and cultural organizations, are deeply embedded with the military.

The weapons industry may be spearheading the military budget and military operations; it is aided immensely by the cheering or silence of citizens and their representatives. Here we will provide some likely reasons for that assent. We will use the common typology of three national sectors: government, business, and nonprofit, with varying amounts of interaction among them. This does not preclude, though it masks somewhat, the proposition that government is the executive of the ruling class.

Every kind of business figures in the Department of Defense (DoD) budget. Lockheed is currently the largest contractor in the weapons business. It connects with the worldwide MIC by sourcing parts, for example, for the F-35 fighter plane, from many countries. This helps a lot to market the weapon, despite its low opinion among military experts as well as anti-military critics. Lockheed also does civilian work, which enhances its aura while it spreads its values.

Other types of businesses have enormous multi-year contracts—in the billions. This despite the constitutional proviso that Congress not appropriate military funds for more than a two year term. Notable are the construction companies, such as Fluor, KBR, Bechtel, and Hensel Phelps. These build huge bases, often with high tech surveillance or operational capacity, in the US and abroad, where they hire locals or commonly, third country nationals to carry out the work. There are also billion-funded contractors in communications technology, intelligence analysis, transportation, logistics, food, and clothing. “Contracting out” is our modern military way; this also spreads its influence far and wide.

Medium, small, and tiny businesses dangle from the “Christmas tree” of the Pentagon, promoting popular cheering or silence on the military budget. These include special set-asides for minority-owned and small businesses. A Black-owned small business, KEPA-TCI (construction), received contracts for $356 million.  [Data comes from several sources, available free on the internet: websites, tax forms, and annual reports of organizations; (USA) and (GCW).] Major corporations of all types serving our services have been excellently described in Nick Turse’s The Complex. Really small and tiny businesses are drawn into the system: landscapers, dry cleaners, child care centers, and Come-Bye Goose Control of Maryland.

Among the businesses with large DoD contracts are book publishers: McGraw-Hill, Greenwood, Scholastic, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin, Harcourt, Elsevier, and others. Rarely have the biases in this industry, in fiction, nonfiction, and textbook offerings, been examined. Yet the influences on this small but significant population, the reading public, and the larger schooled contingent, may help explain the silence of the literate crowd and college graduates.

Much of what is left of organized industrial labor is in weapons manufacture. Its PACs fund the few “progressive” candidates in our political system, who tend to be silent about war and the threat of nuclear annihilation. Unlike other factories, the armaments makers do not suddenly move overseas, although they do use subcontractors worldwide.

Military spending may be only about 6% of the GDP, yet it has great impact because: 1. it is a growing sector; 2. it is recession-proof; 3. it does not rely on consumer whims; 4. it is the only thing prospering in many areas; and 5. the “multiplier” effect: subcontracting, corporate purchasing, and employee spending perk up the regional economy. It is ideally suited to Keynesian remedies, because of its ready destruction and obsolescence: what isn’t consumed in warfare, rusted out, or donated to our friends still needs to be replaced by the slightly more lethal thing. Many of our science graduates work for the military directly or its contractee labs concocting these.

The military’s unbeatable weapon is jobs, and all members of Congress, and state and local officials, are aware of this. It is where well-paying jobs are found for mechanics, scientists, and engineers; even janitorial workers do well in these taxpayer-rich firms. Weaponry is also important in our manufactured goods exports as our allies are required to have equipment that meets our specifications. Governments, rebels, terrorists, pirates, and gangsters all fancy our high tech and low tech lethal devices.

Our military economy also yields a high return on investments. These benefit not only corporate executives and other rich, but many middle and working class folk, as well as churches, benevolent, and cultural organizations. The lucrative mutual funds offered by Vanguard, Fidelity, and others are heavily invested in the weapons manufacturers.

Individual investors may not know what is in their fund’s portfolios; the institutions usually know. A current project of World Beyond War advocates divestment of military stocks in the pension funds of state and local government workers: police, firepersons, teachers, and other civil servants. Researchers are making a state-by-state analysis of these funds. Among the findings are the extensive military stock holdings of CALpers, the California Public Employees Retirement System (the sixth largest pension fund on earth), the California State Teachers Retirement System, the New York State Teachers Retirement System, the New York City Employees Retirement System, and the New York State Common Retirement Fund (state and local employees). Amazing! the New York City teachers were once the proud parents of red diaper babies.

The governmental side of the MIC complex goes far beyond the DoD. In the executive branch, Departments of State, Homeland Security, Energy, Veterans Affairs, Interior; and CIA, AID, FBI, NASA, and other agencies; are permeated with military projects and goals. Even the Department of Agriculture has a joint program with the DoD to “restore” Afghanistan by creating a dairy cattle industry. No matter that the cattle and their feed must be imported,  cattle cannot graze in the terrain as the native sheep and goats can, there is no adequate transportation or refrigeration, and the Afghans don’t normally drink milk. The native animals provide yogurt, butter, and wool, and graze on the rugged slopes, but that is all so un-American.

Congress is a firm ally of the military. Campaign contributions from contractor PACs are generous, and lobbying is extensive. So also are the outlays of financial institutions, which are heavily invested in the MIC. Congresspeople have significant shares of weapons industry stocks. To clinch the deal, members of Congress (and also state and local lawmakers) are well aware of the economic importance of military contracts in their states and districts.

Military bases, inside the US as well as worldwide, are an economic hub for communities. The DoD lists more than 4,000 domestic properties. Some are bombing ranges or recruiting stations; perhaps 400 are bases with a major impact on their localities. The largest of these, Fort Bragg, NC, is a city unto itself, and a cultural influence as well as economic asset to its region, as so well described by Catherine Lutz in Homefront. California has about 40 bases, and is home to major weapons makers as well. Officers generally live off-base, so the real estate, restaurant, retail, auto repair, hotel and other businesses are prospering. Local civilians find employment on bases. Closed, unconvertible installations are sometimes tourist attractions, such as the unlikeliest of all vacation spots, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

DoD has direct contracts and grants with state and local governments. These are for various projects and services, including large amounts to fund the National Guard. The Army Engineers maintain swimming holes and parks, and police forces get a deal on Bearcats. JROTC programs nationwide provide funding for public schools, and even more for those that are public school military academies; six are in Chicago.

National, state and local governments are well covered by the “insecurity blanket;” the nonprofit sector is not neglected. Nevertheless, it does harbor the very small group of anti-war organizations, such as Iraq Veterans Against War, Veterans for Peace, World Beyond War, Peace Action, Union of Concerned Scientists, Center for International Policy, Catholic Worker, Answer Coalition, and others. Yet unlike the Vietnam War period there is no vocal group of religious leaders protesting war, and the few students who are politically active are more concerned with other issues.

Nonprofit organizations and institutions are involved several ways. Some are obviously partners of the MIC: Boy and Girl Scouts, Red Cross, veterans’ charities, military think-tanks such as RAND and Institute for Defense Analysis, establishment think-tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, Atlantic Council, and the flagship of US world projection, the Council on Foreign Relations. There are also many international nongovernmental organizations that assist the US government in delivering “humanitarian” assistance, sing the praises of the market economy, or attempt to repair the “collateral” damage inflicted on lands and people, for example, Mercy Corps, Open Society Institutes, and CARE.

Educational institutions in all sectors are embedded with the military. The military schools include the service academies, National Defense University, Army War College, Naval War College, Air Force Institute of Technology, Air University, Defense Acquisition University, Defense Language Institute, Naval Postgraduate School, Defense Information School, the medical school, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and the notorious School of the Americas in Fort Benning, GA, now renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. “In addition, Senior Military Colleges offer a combination of higher education with military instruction. SMCs include Texas A&M University, Norwich University, The Virginia Military Institute, The Citadel, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), University of North Georgia and the Mary Baldwin Women’s Institute for Leadership.”

A university doesn’t have to be special to be part of the MIC. Most are awash with contracts, ROTC programs, and/or military officers and contractors on their boards of trustees. A study of the 100 most militarized universities includes prestigious institutions, as well as diploma mills that produce employees for military intelligence agencies and contractors.

Major liberal foundations have long been the “Sinews of Empire,” engaging in covert and overt operations to support imperial projection. They have been close associates of the Central Intelligence Agency, and were important in its instigation. The foundation created and supported Council on Foreign Relations has long been a link among Wall Street, large corporations, academia, the media, and our foreign and military policymakers.

Less obvious are the military connections of philanthropic, cultural, social service, environmental, and professional organizations. They are linked through donations; joint programs; sponsorship of events, exhibits, and concerts; awards (both ways); investments; boards of directors; top executives; and contracts. The data here covers approximately the last twenty years, and rounds out the reasons for the astounding support (according to the polls) that US citizens have conferred on our military, its budget, and its operations.

Military contractor philanthropy was the subject of previous reports, in 2006 and 2016. Every type of nonprofit (as well as public schools and universities) received support from the major weapons manufacturers; some findings were outstanding. Minority organizations were extremely well endowed. For many years there was crucial support for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from Lockheed; Boeing also funded the Congressional Black Caucus. The former president and CEO of the NAACP, Bruce Gordon, is now on the Board of Trustees of Northrop Grumman.

General Electric is the most generous military contractor philanthropist, with direct grants to organizations and educational institutions, partnerships with both, and matching contributions made by its thousands of employees. The latter reaches many of the nongovernmental and educational entities throughout the country.

Major donors to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (listed in its 2016 Annual Report) include the Defense Intelligence Agency, Cisco Systems, Open Society Foundations, US Department of Defense, General Electric, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and Lockheed Martin. This is an echo of the CEIP’s military connections reported in Horace Coon’s book of the 1930s, Money to Burn.

The DoD itself donates surplus property to organizations; among those eligible are Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Little League Baseball, and United Service Organizations. The Denton Program allows non-governmental organizations to use extra space on U.S. military cargo aircraft to transport humanitarian assistance materials.

There is a multitude of joint programs and sponsorships. Here is a small sample.

The American Association of University Women’s National Tech Savvy Program encourages girls to enter STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers, with sponsorship from Lockheed, BAE Systems, and Boeing. Junior Achievement, sponsored by Bechtel, United Technologies, and others, aims to train children in market-based economics and entrepreneurship. Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts is partnered with Northrop Grumman for an “early childhood STEM ‘Learning through the Arts’ initiative for pre-K and kindergarten students.” The Bechtel Foundation has two programs for a “sustainable California”— an education program to help “young people develop the knowledge, skills, and character to explore and understand the world,” and an environmental program to promote the “management, stewardship and conservation for the state’s natural resources.”

The NAACP ACT-SO is a “yearlong enrichment program designed to recruit, stimulate, and encourage high academic and cultural achievement among African-American high school students,” with sponsorship from Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman et al. The national winners receive financial awards from major corporations, college scholarships, internships, and apprenticeships—in the military industries.

In recent years the weapons makers have become enthusiastic environmentalists. Lockheed was a sponsor of the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation Sustainability Forum in 2013. Northrop Grumman supports Keep America Beautiful, National Public Lands Day, and a partnership with Conservation International and the Arbor Day Foundation (for forest restoration). United Technologies is the founding sponsor of the U.S. Green Building Council Center for Green Schools, and co-creator of the Sustainable Cities Design Academy. Tree Musketeers is a national youth environmental organization partnered by Northrop Grumman and Boeing.

Awards go both ways: industries give awards to nonprofits, and nonprofits awards to military industries and people. United Technologies, for its efforts in response to climate change, was on Climate A list of the Climate Disclosure Project. The Corporate Responsibility Association gave Lockheed position 8 in 2016 in its 100 Best Corporate Citizens List. Points of Light included General Electric and Raytheon in its 2014 list of the 50 Most Community-Minded Companies in America. Harold Koh, the lawyer who as Obama’s advisor defended drone strikes and intervention in Libya, was recently given distinguished visiting professor status by Phi Beta Kappa. In 2017, the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility recognized 34 Young Hispanic Corporate Achievers; 3 were executives in the weapons industry. Elizabeth Amato, an executive at United Technologies, received the YWCA Women Achievers Award.

Despite laborious searching through tax form 990s, it is difficult to discover the specifics of organizations’ investments. Many have substantial ones; in 2006, the American Friends Service Committee had $3.5 million in revenue from investments. Human Rights Watch reported $3.5 million investment income on its 2015 tax form 990, and more than $107 million in endowment funds.

One of the few surveys of nonprofit policies (by Commonfund in 2012) found that only 17% of foundations used environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria in their investments. ESG seems to have replaced “socially responsible investing (SRI)” in investment terminology, and it has a somewhat different slant. The most common restriction is the avoidance of companies doing business in regions with conflict risk; the next relates to climate change and carbon emissions; employee diversity is also an important consideration. Commonfund’s study of charities, social service and cultural organizations reported that 70% of their sample did not consider ESG in their investment policies. Although 61% of religious organizations did employ ESG criteria, only 16% of social service organizations and 3% of cultural organizations did.

Weapon industries are hardly ever mentioned in these reports. Religious organizations sometimes still used the SRI investment screens, but the most common were alcohol, gambling, pornography, and tobacco. The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a resource for churches, lists almost 30 issues for investment consideration, including executive compensation, climate change, and opioid crisis, but none concerning weapons or war. The United Church (UCC) advisory, a pioneer in SRI investment policies, does include a screen: only companies should be chosen which have less than 10% revenue from alcohol or gambling, 1% from tobacco, 10% from conventional weapons and 5% from nuclear weapons.

The Art Institute of Chicago states on their website that “[W]ith the fiduciary responsibility to maximize returns on investment consistent with appropriate levels of risk, the Art Institute maintains a strong presumption against divesting for social, moral, or political reasons.” Listed as an associate is Honeywell International, and a major benefactor is the Crown Family (General Dynamics), which recently donated a $2 million endowment for a Professorship in Painting and Drawing.

Nonprofit institutions (as well as individuals and pension funds of all sectors) have heavy investments in the funds of financial companies such as State Street, Vanguard, BlackRock, Fidelity, CREF, and others, which have portfolios rich in military industries. These include information technology firms, which, although often regarded as “socially responsible,” are among the major DoD contractors.

In recent years foundations and other large nonprofits, such as universities, have favored investments in hedge funds, real estate, derivatives, and private equity. The Carnegie Endowment, more “transparent” than most, lists such funds on its 2015 tax form 990 (Schedule D Part VII). It is unlikely that Lockheed, Boeing, et al, are among the distressed debt bonanzas, so these institutions may be low on weapons stock. Nevertheless, most of them have firm connections to the MIC through donations, leadership, and/or contracts.

Close association with the military among nonprofit board members and executives works to keep the lid on anti-war activities and expression. The Aspen Institute is a think-tank that has resident experts, and also a policy of convening with activists, such as anti-poverty community leaders. Its Board of Trustees is chaired by James Crown, who is also a director of General Dynamics. Among other board members are Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, Javier Solana (former Secretary-General of NATO), and former Congresswoman Jane Harman. Harman “received the Defense Department Medal for Distinguished Service in 1998, the CIA Seal Medal in 2007, and the CIA Director’s Award and the National Intelligence Distinguished Public Service Medal in 2011. She is currently a member of the Director of National Intelligence’s Senior Advisory Group, the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations.” Lifetime Aspen Trustees include Lester Crown and Henry Kissinger.

In recent years, the Carnegie Corporation board of trustees included Condoleezza Rice and General Lloyd Austin III (Ret.), Commander of CENTCOM, a leader in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and also a board member of United Technologies. A former president of Physicians for Peace (not the similarly named well-known group) is Rear Admiral Harold Bernsen, formerly Commander of the US Middle East Force and not a physician.

TIAA, the college teachers’ retirement fund, had a CEO from 1993-2002, John H. Biggs, who was at the same time a director of Boeing. TIAA’s current board of directors includes an associate of a major military research firm, MITRE Corporations, and several members of the Council on Foreign Relations. Its senior executive Vice President, Rahul Merchant, is currently also a director at two information technology firms that have large military contracts: Juniper Networks and AASKI.

The American Association of Retired Persons’ chief lobbyist from 2002-2007, Chris Hansen, had previously served in that capacity at Boeing. The current VP of communications at Northrop Grumman, Lisa Davis, held that position at AARP from 1996-2005.

Board members and CEOs of the major weapons corporations serve on the boards of many nonprofits. Just to indicate the scope, these include the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Newman’s Own Foundation, New York Public Library, Carnegie Hall Society, Conservation International, Wolf Trap Foundation, WGBH, Boy Scouts, Newport Festival Foundation, Toys for Tots, STEM organizations, Catalyst, the National Science Center, the US Institute of Peace, and many foundations and universities.

The DoD promotes the employment of retired military officers as board members or CEOs of nonprofits, and several organizations and degree programs further this transition. U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Eden Murrie (Ret.) is now Director of Government Transformation and Agency Partnerships at the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service. She maintains that “[F]ormer military leaders have direct leadership experience and bring talent and integrity that could be applied in a nonprofit organization. . .”  Given the early retirement age, former military personnel (and reservists) are a natural fit for positions of influence in federal, state, and local governments, school boards, nonprofits, and volunteer work; many are in those places.

Perhaps the coziest relationships under the insecurity blanket are the multitudes of contracts and grants the Department of Defense tenders to the nonprofit world. DoD fiscal reporting is notoriously inaccurate, and there were conflicting accounts between and within the online databases. Nevertheless, even a fuzzy picture gives a good idea of the depth and scope of the coverage.

From their 2016 Annual Report: “The Nature Conservancy is an organization that takes care of people and land, and they look for opportunities to partner. They’re nonpolitical. We need nongovernment organizations like TNC to help mobilize our citizens. They are on the ground. They understand the people, the politics, the partnerships. We need groups like TNC to subsidize what government organizations can’t do.” Mamie Parker, Former Assistant Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Arkansas Trustee, The Nature Conservancy.

Among the subsidies going the other way are 44 DoD contracts with TNC totaling several million for the years 2008-2018 (USA). These are for such services as Prairie Habitat Reforestation, $100,000, and Runway and Biosecurity upkeep at Palmyra Atoll, HI, $82,000 (USA). For the years 2000-2016, GCW lists a total of $5,500,000 in TNC’s DoD contracts.

Grants to TNC for specific projects, not clearly different from contracts, were much larger. Each is listed separately (USA); a rough count of the total was more than $150 million. One $55 million grant was for “Army compatible use buffer (acubs) in vicinity of Fort Benning military installation.” Similar grants, the largest, $14 million, were for this service at other bases. Another was for the implementation of Fort Benning army installation’s ecological monitoring plan. Included in the description of these grants was the notice: “Assist State and local governments to mitigate or prevent incompatible civilian land use/activity that is likely to impair the continued operational utility of a Department of Defense (DoD) military installation. Grantees and participating governments are expected to adopt and implement the study recommendations.”

TNC’s Form 990 for 2017 states its investment income as $21 million. It reported government grants of $108.5 million, and government contracts of $9 million. These may include funds from state and local as well as all departments of the federal government. The Department of the Interior, which manages the vast lands used for bombing ranges and live ammunition war games, is another TNC grantor.

Other environmental organizations sustained by DoD contracts are the National Audubon Society ($945,000 for 6 years, GCW), and Point Reyes Bird Observatory ($145,000, 6 years, GCW). USA reports contracts with Stichting Deltares, a Dutch coastal research institute, for $550,000 in 2016, grants to the San Diego Zoo of $367,000, and to the Institute for Wildlife Studies, $1.3 million for shrike monitoring.

Goodwill Industries (training and employing the disabled, ex-offenders, veterans, and homeless people) is an enormous military contractor. Each entity is a separate corporation, based on state or region, and the total receipt is in the billions. For example, for 2000-2016 (GCW), Goodwill of South Florida had $434 million and Southeastern Wisconsin $906 million in contracts. Goods and services provided include food and logistics support, records processing, army combat pants, custodial, security, mowing, and recycling. Similar organizations working for the DoD include the Jewish Vocational Service and Community Workshop, janitorial services, $12 million over 5 years; Lighthouse for the Blind, $4.5 million, water purification equipment; Ability One; National Institute for the Blind; Pride Industries; and Melwood Horticultural Training Center.

The DoD does not shun the work of Federal Prison Industries, which sells furniture and other products. A government corporation (and thus not a nonprofit), it had half a billion in sales to all federal departments in 2016. Prison labor, Goodwill Industries and other sheltered-workshop enterprises, along with for-profits employing immigrant workers, teenagers, retirees, and migrant workers (who grow food for the military and the rest of us), reveal the evolving nature of the US working class, and some explanation for its lack of revolutionary fervor, or even mild dissent from the capitalist system.

The well-paid, and truly diverse employees (including executives) of major weapons makers are also not about to construct wooden barricades. Boards of directors in these industries are welcoming to minorities and women. The CEOs of Lockheed and General Dynamics are women, as is the Chief Operating Officer of Northrop Grumman. These success stories reinforce personal aspirations among the have-nots, rather than questioning the system.

Contracts with universities, hospitals, and medical facilities are too numerous to detail here; one that illustrates how far the blanket stretches is with Oxford University, $800,000 for medical research. Professional associations with significant contracts include the Institute of International Education, American Council on Education, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, National Academy of Sciences, Society of Women Engineers, American Indian Science and Engineering Society, American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, Society of Mexican-American Engineers, and U.S. Green Building Council. The Council of State Governments (a nonprofit policy association of officials) received a $193,000 contract for “preparedness” work. Let us hope we are well prepared.

The leaders, staff, members, donors, and volunteers of nonprofit organizations are the kind of people who might have been peace activists, yet so many are smothered into silence under the vast insecurity blanket.

In addition to all the direct and indirect beneficiaries of the military establishment, many people with no connection still cheer it on. They have been subject to relentless propaganda for the military and its wars from the government, the print and digital press, TV, movies, sports shows, parades, and computer games—the latter teach children that killing is fun.

The indoctrination goes down easily. It has had a head start in the educational system that glorifies the violent history of the nation. Our schools are full of in-house tutoring, STEM programs, and fun robotics teams personally conducted by employees of the weapons makers. Young children may not understand all the connections, but they tend to remember the logos. The JROTC programs, imparting militaristic values, enroll far more children than the ones who will become future officers. The extremely well-funded recruitment efforts in schools include “fun” simulations of warfare.

There is a worldwide supporting cast for the complex that includes NATO, other alliances, defense ministries, foreign military industries, and bases, but that is a story for another day.

The millions sheltered under our thick and broad blanket, including the enlistees under the prickly part of it, are not to blame. Some people may be thrilled by the idea of death and destruction. However, most are just trying to earn a living, keep their organization or rust belt afloat, or be accepted into polite company. They would prefer constructive work or income from healthy sources. Yet many have been indoctrinated to believe that militarism is normal and necessary. For those who consider change to be essential if life on this planet has a chance at survival, it is important to see all the ways that the military-industrial-congressional-almost everything-complex is being sustained.

            “Free market economy” is a myth. In addition to the huge nonprofit (non-market) sector, government intervention is substantial, not only in the gigantic military, but in agriculture, education, health care, infrastructure, economic development (!), et al. For the same trillions we could have a national economy that repairs the environment, provides a fine standard of living and cultural opportunities for all, and works for peace on earth.


Joan Roelofs is Professor Emerita of Political Science, Keene State College, New Hampshire. She is the author of Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism (SUNY Press, 2003) and Greening Cities (Rowman and Littlefield, 1996). She is the translator of Victor Considerant’s Principles of Socialism (Maisonneuve Press, 2006), and with Shawn P. Wilbur, of Charles Fourier’s anti-war fantasy, The World War of Small Pastries (Autonomedia, 2015). A community education short course on the military industrial complex is on her website, and may be used for similar purposes


Manufacturing Truth
Authored by CJ Hopkins via The Unz Review,

If you’re one of the millions of human beings who, despite a preponderance of evidence to the contrary, still believe there is such a thing as “the truth,” you might not want to read this essay...

Seriously, it can be extremely upsetting when you discover that there is no “truth” ... or rather, that what we’re all conditioned to regard as “truth” from the time we are children is just the product of a technology of power, and not an empirical state of being.

Humans, upon first encountering this fact, have been known to freak completely out and start jabbering about the “Word of God,” or “the immutable laws of quantum physics,” and run around burning other people at the stake or locking them up and injecting them with Thorazine. I don’t want to be responsible for anything like that, so consider this your trigger warning.

OK, now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at how “truth” is manufactured. It’s actually not that complicated. See, the “truth” is … well, it’s a story, essentially. It’s whatever story we are telling ourselves at any given point in history (“we” being the majority of people, those conforming to the rules of whatever system wields enough power to dictate the story it wants everyone to be telling themselves).

Everyone understands this intuitively, but the majority of people pretend they don’t in order to be able to get by in the system, which punishes anyone who does not conform to its rules, or who contradicts its story. So, basically, to manufacture the truth, all you really need is (a) a story, and (b) enough power to coerce a majority of people in your society to pretend to believe it.

I’ll return to this point a little later.

First, let’s look at a concrete example of our system manufacturing “truth.” I’m going to use The Guardian‘s most recent blatantly fabricated article (“Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy“) as an example, but I could just as well have chosen any of a host of other fabricated stories disseminated by “respectable” outlets over the course of the last two years.

The “Russian Propaganda Peddlers” story. The “Russia Might Have Poisoned Hillary Clinton” story. The “Russians Hacked the Vermont Power Grid” story. The “Golden Showers Russian Pee-Tape” story. The “Novichok Assassins” story. The “Bana Alabed Speaks Out” story. The “Trump’s Secret Russian Server” story.

The “Labour Anti-Semitism Crisis” story. The “Russians Orchestrated Brexit” story. The “Russia is Going to Hack the Midterms” story. The “Twitter Bots” story. And the list goes on.

I’m not going to debunk the Guardian article here. It has been debunked by better debunkers than I (e.g., Jonathan Cook, Craig Murray, Glenn Greenwald, Moon of Alabama, and many others).

The short version is, The Guardian‘s Luke Harding, a shameless hack who will affix his name to any propaganda an intelligence agency feeds him, alleged that Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, secretly met with Julian Assange (and unnamed “Russians”) on numerous occasions from 2013 to 2016, presumably to conspire to collude to brainwash Americans into not voting for Clinton.

Harding’s earth-shaking allegations, which The Guardianprominently featured and flogged, were based on … well, absolutely nothing, except the usual anonymous “intelligence sources.”

After actual journalists pointed this out, The Guardian quietly revised the piece (employing the subjunctive mood rather liberally), buried it in the back pages of its website, and otherwise pretended like they had never published it.

By that time, of course, its purpose had been served. The story had been picked up and disseminated by other “respectable,” “authoritative” outlets, and it was making the rounds on social media.

Nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, in an attempt to counter the above-mentioned debunkers (and dispel the doubts of anyone else still capable of any kind of critical thinking), Politico posted this ass-covering piecespeculating that, if it somehow turned out The Guardian‘s story was just propaganda designed to tarnish Assange and Trump … well, probably, it had been planted by the Russians to make Luke Harding look like a moron.

This ass-covering piece of speculative fiction, which was written by a former CIA agent, was immediately disseminated by liberals and “leftists” who are eagerly looking forward to the arrest, rendition, and public crucifixion of Assange.

At this point, I imagine you’re probably wondering what this has to do with manufacturing “truth.” Because, clearly, this Guardian story was a lie … a lie The Guardian got caught telling. I wish the “truth” thing was as simple as that (i.e., exposing and debunking the ruling classes’ lies). Unfortunately, it isn’t. Here is why.

Much as most people would like there to be one (and behave and speak as if there were one), there is no Transcendental Arbiter of Truth. The truth is what whoever has the power to say it is says it is. If we do not agree that that “truth” is the truth, there is no higher court to appeal to. We can argue until we are blue in the face.

It will not make the slightest difference. No evidence we produce will make the slightest difference. The truth will remain whatever those with the power to say it is say it is.

Nor are there many truths (i.e., your truth and my truth). There is only one truth … the official truth. The truth according to those in power. This is the whole purpose of the concept of truth.

It is the reason the concept of “truth” was invented (i.e., to render any other “truths” lies). It is how those in power control reality and impose their ideology on the masses (or their employees, or their students, or their children).

Yes, I know, we very badly want there to be some “objective truth” (i.e., what actually happened, when whatever happened, JFK, 9-11, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Schrödinger’s dead cat, the Big Bang, or whatever). There isn’t. The truth is just a story … a story that is never our story.

The truth is a story that power gets to tell, and that the powerless do not get to tell, unless they tell the story of those in power, which is always someone else’s story. The powerless are either servants of power or they are heretics.

There is no third alternative. They either parrot the truth of the ruling classes or they utter heresies of one type or another. Naturally, the powerless do not regard themselves as heretics. They do not regard their “truth” as heresy. They regard their “truth” as the truth, which is heresy. The truth of the powerless is always heresy.

For example, while it may be personally comforting for some of us to tell ourselves that we know the truth about certain subjects (e.g., Russiagate, 9-11, et cetera), and to share our knowledge with others who agree with us, and even to expose the lies of the corporate media on Twitter, Facebook, and our blogs, or in some leftist webzine (or “fearless adversarial” outlet bankrolled by a beneficent oligarch), the ruling classes do not give a shit, because ours is merely the raving of heretics, and does not warrant a serious response.

Or … all right, they give a bit of a shit, enough to try to cover their asses when a journalist of the stature of Glenn Greenwald (who won a Pulitzer and is frequently on television) very carefully and very respectfully almost directly accuses them of lying.

But they give enough of a shit to do this because Greenwald has the power to hurt them, not because of any regard for the truth. This is also why Greenwald has to be so careful and respectful when directly confronting The Guardian, or any other corporate media outlet, and state that their blatantly fabricated stories could, theoretically, turn out to be true.

He can’t afford to cross the line and end up getting branded a heretic and consigned to Outer Mainstream Darkness, like Robert Fisk, Sy Hersh, Jonathan Cook, John Pilger, Assange, and other such heretics.

Look, I’m not trying to argue that it isn’t important to expose the fabrications of the corporate media and the ruling classes. It is terribly important. It is mostly what I do (albeit usually in a more satirical fashion).

At the same time, it is important to realize that “the truth” is not going to “rouse the masses from their slumber” and inspire them to throw off their chains. People are not going to suddenly “wake up,” “see the truth” and start “the revolution.” People already know the truth … the official truth, which is the only truth there is. Those who are conforming to it are doing so, not because they are deceived, but because it is safer and more rewarding to do so.

And this is why The Guardian will not be punished for publishing a blatantly fabricated story. Nor will Luke Harding be penalized for writing it. Luke Harding will be rewarded for writing it, as he has been handsomely rewarded throughout his career for loyally serving the ruling classes. Greenwald, on the other hand, is on thin ice. It will be instructive to see how far he pushes his confrontation with The Guardianregarding this story.

As for Julian Assange, I’m afraid he is done for. The ruling classes really have no choice but to go ahead and do him at this point. He hasn’t left them any other option. Much as they are loathe to create another martyr, they can’t have heretics of Assange’s notoriety running around punching holes in their “truth” and brazenly defying their authority. That kind of stuff unsettles the normals, and it sets a bad example for the rest of us heretics


PGS 208=210

In every case, to disguise the key role of the United States government in a region where it was distrusted and even despised following the disastrous Iraq and Afghan wars, US-financed NonGovernment Organizations— such as the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, or the neoconservative Committee on the Present Danger— were used to identify opposing groups and factions, especially religious, and exacerbate tensions in the target country.13

The self-proclaimed leader of IS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, claimed to have traced his own lineage back to Prophet Muhammad. In June 2014 the group proclaimed a new Caliphate with al-Baghdadi as its Caliph. According to strict Saudi Wahhabite tradition the legitimate Caliph can demand allegiance of all Muslims worldwide. It mattered little that IS could produce no proof of al-Baghdadi’s claim to be Caliph. IS soon issued a proclamation that stated: “The legality of all emirates, groups, states and organisations becomes null by the expansion of the Caliphate’s authority and arrival of its troops to their areas.”

This was a rejection of the political divisions in the Middle East established by the Western powers during World War I in the Sykes–Picot Agreement. 15 Middle East sources reported that IS had been trained in the months before their dramatic emergence in Iraq and Syria at secret military bases in Turkey, Jordan and Libya, by US intelligence special forces, CIA and by Israeli Mossad. A “trusted source” close to Saudi multi-billionaire and former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said, on condition of anonymity, that the final green light for the war on Iraq and Syria with ISIS was given behind closed doors at the Atlantic Council’s Energy Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, November 22–23, 2013.

The Atlantic Council was one of the most influential US think tanks with regard to US and NATO foreign policy and geopolitics. 16 The same source stated that the key coordinator of ISIS, or Da’ash, military actions was US Ambassador to Turkey Francis Riccardione. “As far as I know, nothing moves without Ambassador Riccardione,” the Hariri intimate declared.17 In May, 2015 Judicial Watch, a US legal watchdog group, obtained classified Pentagon documents in a court case that revealed that the US and other select Western governments deliberately allied with al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria, in their effort to topple Syria’s Bashir al-Assad.

In late 2013 al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria made a formal split with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of the Osama bin Laden affiliated al Qaeda in Iraq since 2004 after the US invasion. The new organization under al-Baghdadi was called ISIS or Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. 18 The formerly classified Pentagon document further revealed that in coordination with the Gulf states and Turkey, the West intentionally sponsored violent Islamist groups to destabilize Assad, despite anticipating that doing so could lead to the emergence of an ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

According to the US document, the Pentagon foresaw the rise of the ‘Islamic State’ as a direct consequence of the strategy, describing that outcome as a strategic opportunity to “isolate the Syrian regime.” 20 The USA trained and armed IS terrorists who then advanced the Washington agenda of deliberate chaos by carrying out ethnic cleansing on a mass scale, gang rapes of captured non-Sunni girls and women, beheadings of soldiers, civilians, journalists and aid workers, and the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage sites.

Excuse for US to bomb Iraq, Syria Conveniently for Pentagon war planners, on August 3, 2014, IS captured the cities of Zumar, Sinjar, and Wana in northern Iraq. The IS proceeded to cut off food and water for thousands of Kurdish Yazidis, members of an ancient monotheistic religion linked to Persian Zoroastrianism. The Yazidis fled up a mountain out of fear of approaching hostile IS militants. Threat of genocide to Yazidis as proclaimed by IS, in addition to protecting Americans in Iraq and supporting Iraq in its fight against IS, gave the Obama Administration the pretext for the US to launch a “humanitarian” mission on 7 August 2014, to aid the Yazidis stranded on Mount Sinjar. Washington used that to start an aerial bombing campaign in Iraq on 8 August and later Syria.

By May 2015 little military success against IS was evident amid reports that instead of hitting IS terrorists, US planes were dropping military supplies and food to the IS zones to reinforce their efforts to topple Assad.21 By 2015 IS was claiming allied organizations or terrorist “Jihad” groups in Egypt, Afghanistan, Libya, Boko Harem in Nigeria, rebels in Yemen and even in the European Union, where they disguised themselves as innocent war refugees seeking humanitarian asylum. Virtually all the assorted CIA terror groups masquerading as Islamic Jihadists were being put under the one IS umbrella. It was simply a crass attempt to reincarnate the CIA’s Al Qaeda.

The Lost Hegemon
By 2014, the only thing that was clear from the US effort to weaponize Islam through the Arab Spring and their later creation of the IS was the unintended consequences of that effort. The US-backed regime of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi in Egypt was ousted in a military coup backed and financed by Saudi Arabia and other conservative Gulf monarchies. Egypt, a traditional military partner of Washington, turned to Russia’s Putin instead—with Saudi mediation—to purchase needed arms.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates united to blacklist neighboring Qatar for the latter’s continuing support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria and elsewhere. Saudi Arabia itself was undergoing a royal succession as King Abdullah died and the new King apparently felt he needed to prove himself by bombing Yemen. Washington was becoming a laughing stock across the Islamic world—a symbol of imperial decline—as President Obama’s policies swerved from one hapless option to another with no clear direction. Obama himself had to be saved from a war he did not want over Syria in 2013 by Vladimir Putin.

In terms of its security, Israel found itself surrounded by unstable regimes and hostile Jihadists on every side. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formed an unlikely and unholy alliance with Saudi Arabia against Syria, Iran, and, most remarkably, against her traditional ally, the United States.

The neo-conservative war faction in the Washington government, think tanks, and the CIA—the architects of weaponizing Islam in new Holy Wars—then created a violent coup d’état in Ukraine beginning with yet another Color Revolution protest in Kiev’s Maidan Square in November, 2013. This time Muslims played no role. Ukraine was a part of the American Oligarchs’ larger war against any possible challenge to US sole hegemony.

China, Russia, Iran and other Eurasian states, along with Brazil in the BRICS group and other states in South America were moving clearly away from the destructive effects of the dollar and from US dictates. The American Century proclaimed by Henry Luce so grandiosely in 1941 was rotting at its very foundations, a mere 73 years into that century. The Washington coup in Ukraine threatened to restart a new Cold War and possibly a hot war as Russia acted to defend its strategic survival.

The foreign policy of the sole Superpower, the United States, was a disastrous shambles in the early months of 2014. European powers struggling with their own financial and economic crisis were unable to implement constructive, peaceful alternatives. The deadly, unintended consequences of not very intelligent people—in Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh, Damascus, Ankara, Brussels, and beyond— had brought the world to the brink of a global conflagration by the spring of 2015.

It was because of their inability to see the deeper significance of relationships that they had destroyed and the consequences of that destruction, by their schemes to use political Islam as a weapon. The West, especially the CIA and those in the USA military industrial and political complex believed they could weaponize currents within Islam as their killing machine without any unintended consequences. For their part, Jihadists of all currents believed that in the name of Allah their hate and killings of any and all “infidels” would give them innocence in an afterlife.

Truly, whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad. Sane voices around the world were beginning to ask whether there was another better way of creating true democracy—constructive diplomacy, development of common and beneficial economic initiatives to lift mankind out of poverty and hunger, respecting national borders, peacefully negotiating changes when necessary, respecting fellow human beings regardless their faith, building bridges of cooperation between nations and between peoples. They began to grasp that there might possibly be a more intelligent and a more human alternative to the current agenda of those oligarchs, one where people could feel again, “I’m good and I want to be good to me, to my family and friends, to others, to my country. After all, in the end, we are, every one, human beings.”