Saturday, October 20, 2007

sometimes even libertarians can display uncommonly good sense

How the State Leads People to Their Own Destruction
Robert Higgs's Schlarbaum Award Acceptance Speech, delivered on October 12, 2007, at the Mises Institute's 25th Anniversary Celebration
 
" ...  Whatever promotes the growth of the state also weakens the capacity of individuals in civil society to fend off the state's depredations and therefore augments the public's multifaceted victimization at the hands of state functionaries. Nothing promotes the growth of the state as much as national emergency — war and other crises comparable to war in the seriousness of the threats they pose.

States, by their very nature, are perpetually at war — not always against foreign foes, of course, but always against their own subjects. The state's most fundamental purpose, the activity without which it cannot even exist, is robbery. The state gains its very sustenance from robbery, which it pretties up ideologically by giving it a different name (taxation) and by striving to sanctify its intrinsic crime as permissible and socially necessary. State propaganda, statist ideologies, and long-established routine combine to convince many people that they have a legitimate obligation, even a moral duty to pay taxes to the state that rules their society.

They fall into such erroneous moral reasoning because they are told incessantly that the tribute they fork over is actually a kind of price paid for essential services received, and that in the case of certain services, such as protection from foreign and domestic aggressors against their rights to life, liberty, and property, only the government can provide the service effectively. They are not permitted to test this claim by resorting to competing suppliers of law, order, and security, however, because the government enforces a monopoly over the production and distribution of its alleged "services" and brings violence to bear against would-be competitors. In so doing, it reveals the fraud at the heart of its impudent claims and gives sufficient proof that it is not a genuine protector, but a mere protection racket.

All governments are, as they must be, oligarchies: only a relatively small number of people have substantial effective discretion to make critical decisions about how the state's power will be brought to bear. Beyond the oligarchy itself and the police and military forces that compose its Praetorian Guard, somewhat larger groups constitute a supporting coalition. These groups provide important financial and other support to the oligarchs and look to them for compensating rewards — legal privileges, subsidies, jobs, exclusive franchises and licenses, transfers of financial income and wealth, goods and services in kind, and other booty — channeled to them at the expense of the mass of the people. Thus, the political class in general — that is, the oligarchs, the Praetorian Guards, and the supporting coalition — uses government power (which means ultimately the police and the armed forces) to exploit everyone outside this class by wielding or threatening to wield violence against all who fail to pay the tribute the oligarchs demand or to obey the rules they dictate.

Democratic political forms and rituals, such as elections and formal administrative proceedings, disguise this class exploitation and trick the masses into the false belief that the government's operation yields them net benefits. In the most extreme form of misapprehension, the people at large become convinced that, owing to democracy, they themselves "are the government."

Individual passages back and forth across the boundary between the political class and the exploited class testify, however, to nothing more than the system's cunningly contrived flexibility and openness. Although the system is inherently exploitative and cannot exist in any other form, it allows some leeway at the margins in the determination of which specific individuals will be the shafters and which the shaftees. At the top, a modest degree of "circulation of elites" within the oligarchy also serves to mask the political system's essential character.

It is a sound interpretive rule, however, that anything that cannot be accomplished except with the aid of threats or the actual exercise of violence against unoffending persons cannot be beneficial to one and all. The mass belief in the general beneficence of democracy represents a kind of Stockholm syndrome writ large. Yet, no matter how widely this syndrome may extend, it cannot alter the basic fact that owing to the operation of government as we know it — that is, government without genuine, express, individual consent — a minority lives on balance at the expense of the rest, and the rest therefore lose on balance in the process, while the oligarchs (elected or not, it scarcely matters) preside over the enormous web of criminal organizations we know as the state.

Notwithstanding the ideological enchantment with which official high priests and statist intellectuals have beguiled the plundered class, many members of this class retain a capacity to recognize at least some of their losses, and hence they sometimes resist further incursions on their rights by publicly expressing their grievances, by supporting political challengers who promise to lighten their burdens, by fleeing the country, and, most important, by evading or avoiding taxes and by violating legal prohibitions and regulatory restraints on their actions, as in the so-called underground economy, or "black market." ... "
 

US weapons industry latest frontrunner: Hillary

Clinton bucks the trend and rakes in cash from the US weapons industry

By Leonard Doyle in Washington

Published: 19 October 2007

The US arms industry is backing Hillary Clinton for President and has all but abandoned its traditional allies in the Republican party. Mrs Clinton has also emerged as Wall Street's favourite. Investment bankers have opened their wallets in unprecedented numbers for the New York senator over the past three months and, in the process, dumped their earlier favourite, Barack Obama.

Mrs Clinton's wooing of the defence industry is all the more remarkable given the frosty relations between Bill Clinton and the military during his presidency. An analysis of campaign contributions shows senior defence industry employees are pouring money into her war chest in the belief that their generosity will be repaid many times over with future defence contracts.

Employees of the top five US arms manufacturers – Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop-Grumman, General Dynamics and Raytheon – gave Democratic presidential candidates $103,900, with only $86,800 going to the Republicans. "The contributions clearly suggest the arms industry has reached the conclusion that Democratic prospects for 2008 are very good indeed," said Thomas Edsall, an academic at Columbia University in New York...

Read on>> 

more secret jails from the 'coalition of the billing'

crimes against humanity this time in UK territory. from the Guardian:
 
Claims of secret CIA jail for terror suspects on British island to be investigated

· Legal charity urges action on Diego Garcia claims
· Prisoners may have been held in ships off coast

Ian Cobain and Richard Norton-Taylor
Friday October 19, 2007

Guardian

Allegations that the CIA held al-Qaida suspects for interrogation at a secret prison on sovereign British territory are to be investigated by MPs, the Guardian has learned. The all-party foreign affairs committee is to examine long-standing suspicions that the agency has operated one of its so-called "black site" prisons on Diego Garcia, the British overseas territory in the Indian Ocean that is home to a large US military base.

Lawyers from Reprieve, a legal charity that represents a number of detainees at Guantánamo Bay, including several former British residents, are calling on the committee to question US and British officials about the allegations. According to the organisation's submission to the committee, the UK government is "potentially systematically complicit in the most serious crimes against humanity of disappearance, torture and prolonged incommunicado detention".

Clive Stafford Smith, the charity's legal director, said he was "absolutely and categorically certain" that prisoners have been held on the island. "If the foreign affairs committee approaches this thoroughly, they will get to the bottom of it," he said.

Andrew Tyrie, Tory MP for Chichester and a campaigner against the CIA's use of detention without trial, has also urged the committee to investigate. He said: "Time and time again the UK government has relied on US assurances on this issue, refusing to examine the truth of these allegations for themselves. It is high time our government took its head out of the sand and looked into these allegations."

the seminal text of raja yoga

now online at sacred texts
 
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
by Charles Johnston [1912]
 

will the NSA please pick up the tab?

Vodafone's Greek unit fined again over wire-tapping case

The fine is the second handed to Vodafone Hellas over the case after a 76-million-euro penalty levelled by Greece's communication privacy watchdog last December.

Source - AFP

Some background on this scandal:

Two Strange Deaths in European Wiretapping Scandal

By Paolo Pontoniere and Jeffrey Klein, New America Media
Posted on August 19, 2006

"...Investigations into the alleged suicides of both Adamo Bove and Costas Tsalikidis raise questions about more than the suspicious circumstances of their deaths. They point to politicized, illegal intelligence structures that rely upon cooperative business executives. European prosecutors and journalists probing these spying networks have revealed that:

  • The Vodaphone eavesdropping was transmitted in real time via four antennae located near the U.S. embassy in Athens, according to an 11-month Greek government investigation. Some of these transmissions were sent to a phone in Laurel, Md., near America's National Security Agency.
  • According to Ta Nea, a Greek newspaper, Vodaphone's CEO privately told the Greek government that the bugging culprits were "U.S. agents." Because Greece's prime minister feared domestic protests and a diplomatic war with the United States, he ordered the Vodafone CEO to withhold this conclusion from his own authorities investigating the case.
  • In both the Italian and Greek cases, the spyware was much more deeply embedded and clever than anything either phone company had seen before. Its creation required highly experienced engineers and expensive laboratories where the software could be subjected to the stresses of a national telephone system. Greek investigators concluded that the Vodaphone spyware was created outside of Greece.
  • Once placed, the spyware could have vast reach since most host companies are merging their Internet, mobile telephone and fixed-line operations onto a single platform.
  • Germany's Federal Intelligence Service, BND, recently snooped on investigative journalists. According to parliamentary investigations, the spying may have been carried out using the United States's secretive Bad Aibling base in the Bavarian Alps, which houses the American global eavesdropping program dubbed Echelon.

Were the two alleged suicides more than an eerie coincidence? A few media in Italy -- La Stampa, Dagospia and Feltrinelli, among others -- have noted the unsettling parallels. But so far no journalists have been able to overcome the investigative hurdles posed by two entirely different criminal inquiry systems united only by two prime ministers not eager to provoke the White House's wrath. In the United States, where massive eavesdropping programs have operated since 9/11, investigators, reporters and members of Congress have not explored whether those responsible for these spying operations may be using them for partisan purposes or economic gain..."

no comment

NSA SIGINT Seminars for the Press

In an attempt to convey to reporters the sensitivity of classified signals intelligence information and to discourage unnecessary disclosure of intelligence sources and methods, the National Security Agency held a series of by-invitation-only seminars for reporters and editors dubbed "SIGINT 101."

The seminars, which were apparently held on several occasions between 2002 and 2004, were first reported by Josh Gerstein in the New York Sun. See "Spies Prep Reporters on Protecting Secrets," September 27.

The course outline and supporting documents (pdf) that were first obtained by Mr. Gerstein under the Freedom of Information Act provide some additional insight into NSA concerns about the loss of SIGINT sources and the possibility of voluntary steps by the press to help protect them.

"We want to emphasize that we deplore 'leaks' or other unauthorized disclosures of properly classified material," the NSA course module states.

However, given the fact of leaks, "we also want you to understand that in many instances, we believe that reporters can deal with the content of leaks in a way that does not expose intelligence sources and methods."

"We ask that when intelligence information is reported, fragile intelligence source and method information, which is unnecessary to informed debate, not be disclosed along with it."

See SIGINT 101 Seminar Course Module, National Security Agency (2002?).

New Zealand 'terrorist' clampdown: not to be outdone in scare tactics

You need to frighten people in order to pass authoritarian legislation: a technique tried and tested in all forms of systems, including our western 'democracies'.
 
First, this from the Guardian:
Seventeen people were arrested in New Zealand yesterday amid allegations that they had taken part in guerrilla-style training camps. The prominent Maori activist Tame Iti was among those taken into custody. More than 300 police were involved in the raids which also targeted political and environmental activists.
The activists mentioned above include peace activists who had no firearms (a machete was found in one case) and organic vegetable growers.
 

Showing a unified front the protest was attended by a wide range of activist groups, and also included family and friends of the accused.

But for many there is also the larger fear of what the arrests represent, and of what could happen if the legislation amending the Terrorism Suppression Act of 2002 currently before Parliament is passed.

Speaking to the crowd, Auckland Global Peace And Justice organiser John Minto condemned the police’s threats to charge the accused of offences under the terrorism statute.

“They have had 15 months of intensive watching,” he said. "They would know by now whether they have the evidence. They are just using it as a tool to smear these activists with the terrorist brush. These arrests are not about terrorism it is about civil liberties," he said.

The proper context for understanding these police maneuvers and their timing came from

Green Party MP’s, Sue Bradford and Keith Locke ... both at the protest.

Locke spoke saying New Zealand was looking hard for a way to join the war on terror.

“They were happy when [Algerian refugee] Ahmed Zaoui came along, we had our very own terrorist. When that fell through they went after activists.”

Locke also said there are enough provisions under New Zealand’s criminal laws to deal with all these issues, "we don’t need terror laws".

The timing of the raids has also raised suspicion with some of the activists, one told the crowd, “how can they justify it, the police raid these homes the same week this legislation is going before parliament.”

"Its obviously a political maneuver", she said.

The Terrorism Suppression Amendment Bill is presently high up the Parliamentary order paper and may receive a second reading in Parliament this week. The proposed legislation will change New Zealand’s rules about defining terrorist groups.

Among other changes under the proposed new legislation the New Zealand Prime Minister will have the power to designate terrorist groups without any court review.

The new legislation also removes the provision allowing people to support groups designated as terrorists if their goals are human rights and democracy

Google
 

image from http://www.spitting-image.net

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