Anatomy of an AI system: The Amazon Echo As An Anatomical Map Of Human Labor, Data and Planetary Resources

This unusually sophisticated critical analysis assesses a portion of the immensity required to produce and run our Electric Civilization era. The following exposition contains inline segments of the map—linked to full-size map segments—and endnote references within [square braces] in the paragraphs where the endnote numbers appear in the original text. A majority of references link to complete online sources. Additional hyperlink references have been added to facilitate further study of sources cited.

The Amazon Echo as an anatomical map of human labor, data, and planetary resources

Kate Crawford is a leading researcher and professor who has spent the last decade studying the social implications of data systems, machine learning and artificial intelligence. She is the co-director and co-founder of the AI Now Institute at New York University, the world’s first university institute dedicated to researching the social implications of artificial intelligence and related technologies.

Vladan Joler is SHARE Foundation co-founder and professor at the New Media department of the University of Novi Sad, Serbia. He is leading SHARE Lab, a research and data investigation lab for exploring different technical and social aspects of algorithmic transparency, digital labour exploitation, invisible infrastructures, black boxes, and many other contemporary phenomena on the intersection between technology and society.

With each interaction, Alexa is training to hear better, to interpret more precisely, to trigger actions that map to the user’s commands more accurately, and to build a more complete model of their preferences, habits and desires. What is required to make this possible? Put simply: each small moment of convenience – be it answering a question, turning on a light, or playing a song – requires a vast planetary network, fueled by the extraction of non-renewable materials, labor, and data. The scale of resources required is many magnitudes greater than the energy and labor it would take a human to operate a household appliance or flick a switch. A full accounting for these costs is almost impossible, but it is increasingly important that we grasp the scale and scope if we are to understand and govern the technical infrastructures that thread through our lives.

Our exploded view diagram combines and visualizes three central, extractive processes that are required to run a large-scale artificial intelligence system: material resources, human labor, and data. We consider these three elements across time – represented as a visual description of the birth, life and death of a single Amazon Echo unit. It’s necessary to move beyond a simple analysis of the relationship between an individual human, their data, and any single technology company in order to contend with the truly planetary scale of extraction.

If you read our map from left to right, the story begins and ends with the Earth, and the geological processes of deep time. But read from top to bottom, we see the story as it begins and ends with a human.

Continue Reading

International Organization for Self-Determination and Equality Resources

International Organization for Self-Determination and Equality


The International Organization for Self-Determination and Equality (IOSDE) assists in matters of self-determination and equality. IOSDE offers both confidential and public assistance to peoples, communities or persons experiencing violations of their rights to self-determination and/or equality and advocates for genuine processes of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) therein. IOSDE specializes in legal consultation and strategic advocacy utilizing international law, participatory decision-making, and networking for rights-based social change. We specialize in rights to culture, traditional territories, Indigenous Rights and the rights of Tribal Peoples, traditional healing, and gender, political and legal equality. IOSDE assists in decolonizing at all levels (from support for UN Decolonization, to self-determined strategizing and decision-making, to community and individual healing and equality) and offers supportive research, networking and writing. IOSDE supports both traditional governance mechanisms and new governing mechanisms as well as traditional tribal and Indigenous laws with respect to international Indigenous, peoples' and human rights. IOSDE also assists in the creating of hybrid models of law and governance through both participatory methods and culturally-sensitive consultation. IOSDE respects diversity as well as the needs resulting from cross-cultural communication. We're here to help. We believe an equal future starts with an equal now.

Dylan Recognizes Another “Hit” When He Sees One:
Murder Most Foul, Then And Now

Dylan Recognizes Another “Hit” When He Sees One:
Murder Most Foul, Then And Now
by John Kirby


Bob Dylan has chosen this moment, of all moments, to release his masterful epic on the assassination of President Kennedy, “Murder Most Foul.” Why now?

Could it be that his artist’s heart feels a world under assault, once again, by the powers that be? For whatever the actual lethality of the virus, (a question whose answer now appears to be far less terrifying than originally advertised), there is no doubt that we are all suffering from the same sort of “shock and awe” we did when our collective hopes for a New Frontier were blown away in 1963.
Listen and Download - lyrics at this file's end

Now much of the world is locked down, physically and socially isolated, bankrupted and thrown out of work, with a whole “new normal” of medical and governmental authoritarianism on the way.[“Bill Gates will use microchip implants to fight coronavirus,” Biohackinfo News, 19 Mar 2020; “Did Bill Gates Just Reveal the Reason Behind the Lock-Downs?” Rosemary Frei, Off Guardian, 4 Apr 2020]

And Wall Street is about to receive the lion’s share of two trillion dollars.

You don’t have to have a religious streak for it all to feel something like the fulfillment of the prophesy spoken to Dylan’s narrator:

The day that they killed him, someone said to me, “Son,
The Age of the Antichrist has just only begun”

When Kennedy died, so died the efforts he had been making to end the Cold War, to withdraw from Vietnam, to create a rising economic tide that would “lift all boats.”

President Kennedy learns of Patrice Lumumba's assassination, 13 February 1961

And while much has been made of Lyndon Johnson’s carrying-on of Kennedy-era social and civil rights initiatives, the reality was as Martin Luther King described it: “The promises of the Great Society have been shot down on the battlefields of Vietnam, making the poor, white and Negro, bear the heaviest burden, both at the front and at home.”

As Mark Twain once allegedly said: “History doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.”

Dylan describes the Kennedy assassination as

the greatest magic trick ever under the sun
Perfectly executed, skillfully done.

What trick is playing out all around us as you read this? And would we see it now, as so few really saw it then?

It happened so quickly, so quick by surprise
Right there in front of everyone’s eyes

It would seem Dylan, courageously, has sent us a message when we needed it most, with little in the way of encryption. It is up to us to break the simple code, take in its meaning, and act.

Act as we didn’t then.

This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that you might find interesting.
Stay safe, stay observant and may God be with you.”

And also with you, Bob.



John Kirby is the director of FOUR DIED TRYING, the in production feature documentary about the extraordinary lives and calamitous deaths of John Kennedy, Malcom X, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy. A writer, director, editor and lyricist, his work has been published, performed, and, projected in venues ranging from the Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles to the Brooklyn Academy of Music; The New York Times Building to the BBC and HBO.

“Murder Most Foul”

[Verse 1]
It was a dark day in Dallas, November ’63
A day that will live on in infamy
President Kennedy was a-ridin’ high
Good day to be livin’ and a good day to die
Being led to the slaughter like a sacrificial lamb
He said, “Wait a minute, boys, you know who I am?”
“Of course we do, we know who you are!”
Then they blew off his head while he was still in the car
Shot down like a dog in broad daylight
Was a matter of timing and the timing was right
You got unpaid debts, we’ve come to collect
We’re gonna kill you with hatred, without any respect
We’ll mock you and shock you and we’ll put it in your face
We’ve already got someone here to take your place
The day they blew out the brains of the king
Thousands were watching, no one saw a thing
It happened so quickly, so quick, by surprise
Right there in front of everyone’s eyes
Greatest magic trick ever under the sun
Perfectly executed, skillfully done
Wolfman, oh wolfman, oh wolfman howl
Rub-a-dub-dub, it’s a murder most foul

[Verse 2]
Hush, little children, you’ll understand
The Beatles are comin’, they’re gonna hold your hand
Slide down the banister, go get your coat
Ferry ‘cross the Mersey and go for the throat
There’s three bums comin’ all dressed in rags
Pick up the pieces and lower the flags
I’m goin’ to Woodstock, it’s the Aquarian Age
Then I’ll go to Altamont and sit near the stage
Put your head out the window, let the good times roll
There’s a party going on behind the Grassy Knoll
Stack up the bricks, pour the cement
Don’t say Dallas don’t love you, Mr. President
Put your foot in the tank and then step on the gas
Try to make it to the triple underpass
Blackface singer, whiteface clown
Better not show your faces after the sun goes down
Up in the red light district, they’ve got cop on the beat
Living in a nightmare on Elm Street
When you’re down on Deep Ellum, put your money in your shoe
Don’t ask what your country can do for you
Cash on the ballot, money to burn
Dealey Plaza, make a left-hand turn
I’m going down to the crossroads, gonna flag a ride
The place where faith, hope, and charity lie
Shoot him while he runs, boy, shoot him while you can
See if you can shoot the invisible man
Goodbye, Charlie! Goodbye, Uncle Sam!
Frankly, Miss Scarlett, I don’t give a damn
What is the truth, and where did it go?
Ask Oswald and Ruby, they oughta know
“Shut your mouth,” said a wise old owl
Business is business, and it’s a murder most foul

[Verse 3]
Tommy, can you hear me? I’m the Acid Queen
I’m riding in a long, black Lincoln limousine
Ridin’ in the backseat next to my wife
Headed straight on in to the afterlife
I’m leaning to the left, I got my head in her lap
Hold on, I’ve been led into some kind of a trap
Where we ask no quarter, and no quarter do we give
We’re right down the street, from the street where you live
They mutilated his body and they took out his brain
What more could they do? They piled on the pain
But his soul was not there where it was supposed to be at
For the last fifty years they’ve been searchin’ for that
Freedom, oh freedom, freedom over me
I hate to tell you, mister, but only dead men are free
Send me some lovin’, then tell me no lie
Throw the gun in the gutter and walk on by
Wake up, little Susie, let’s go for a drive
Cross the Trinity River, let’s keep hope alive
Turn the radio on, don’t touch the dials
Parkland hospital, only six more miles
You got me dizzy, Miss Lizzy, you filled me with lead
That magic bullet of yours has gone to my head
I’m just a patsy like Patsy Cline
Never shot anyone from in front or behind
I’ve blood in my eye, got blood in my ear
I’m never gonna make it to the new frontier
Zapruder’s film I seen night before
Seen it thirty-three times, maybe more
It’s vile and deceitful, it’s cruel and it’s mean
Ugliest thing that you ever have seen
They killed him once and they killed him twice
Killed him like a human sacrifice
The day that they killed him, someone said to me, “Son
The age of the Antichrist has just only begun”
Air Force One comin’ in through the gate
Johnson sworn in at 2:38
Let me know when you decide to thrown in the towel
It is what it is, and it’s murder most foul

[Verse 4]
What’s new, pussycat? What’d I say?
I said the soul of a nation been torn away
And it’s beginning to go into a slow decay
And that it’s thirty-six hours past Judgment Day
Wolfman Jack, he’s speaking in tongues
He’s going on and on at the top of his lungs
Play me a song, Mr. Wolfman Jack
Play it for me in my long Cadillac
Play me that “Only the Good Die Young”
Take me to the place Tom Dooley was hung
Play St. James Infirmary and the Court of King James
If you want to remember, you better write down the names
Play Etta James, too, play “I’d Rather Go Blind”
Play it for the man with the telepathic mind
Play John Lee Hooker, play “Scratch My Back.”
Play it for that strip club owner named Jack
Guitar Slim going down slow
Play it for me and for Marilyn Monroe

[Verse 5]
Play “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”
Play it for the First Lady, she ain’t feeling any good
Play Don Henley, play Glenn Frey
Take it to the limit and let it go by
Play it for Carl Wilson, too
Looking far, far away down Gower Avenue
Play tragedy, play “Twilight Time”
Take me back to Tulsa to the scene of the crime
Play another one and “Another One Bites the Dust”
Play “The Old Rugged Cross” and “In God We Trust”
Ride the pink horse down that long, lonesome road
Stand there and wait for his head to explode
Play “Mystery Train” for Mr. Mystery
The man who fell down dead like a rootless tree
Play it for the Reverend, play it for the Pastor
Play it for the dog that got no master
Play Oscar Peterson, play Stan Getz
Play “Blue Sky,” play Dickey Betts
Play Art Pepper, Thelonious Monk
Charlie Parker and all that junk
All that junk and “All That Jazz”
Play something for the Birdman of Alcatraz
Play Buster Keaton, play Harold Lloyd
Play Bugsy Siegel, play Pretty Boy Floyd
Play the numbers, play the odds
Play “Cry Me A River” for the Lord of the gods
Play Number nine, play Number six
Play it for Lindsey and Stevie Nicks
Play Nat King Cole, play “Nature Boy”
Play “Down In The Boondocks” for Terry Malloy
Play “It Happened One Night” and “One Night of Sin”
There’s twelve million souls that are listening in
Play “Merchant of Venice”, play “Merchants of Death”
Play “Stella by Starlight” for Lady Macbeth
Don’t worry, Mr. President, help’s on the way
Your brothers are comin’, there’ll be hell to pay
Brothers? What brothers? What’s this about hell?
Tell them, “We’re waiting, keep coming,” we’ll get them as well
Love Field is where his plane touched down
But it never did get back up off the ground
Was a hard act to follow, second to none
They killed him on the altar of the rising sun
Play “Misty” for me and “That Old Devil Moon”
Play “Anything Goes” and “Memphis in June”
Play “Lonely At the Top” and “Lonely Are the Brave”
Play it for Houdini spinning around his grave
Play Jelly Roll Morton, play “Lucille”
Play “Deep In a Dream”, and play “Driving Wheel”
Play “Moonlight Sonata” in F-sharp
And “A Key to the Highway” for the king on the harp
Play “Marching Through Georgia” and “Dumbarton’s Drums”
Play darkness and death will come when it comes
Play “Love Me Or Leave Me” by the great Bud Powell
Play “The Blood-stained Banner”, play “Murder Most Foul”

Mapping and quantifying political information warfare—Pt 1 : Propaganda, domination & attacks on online media

Mapping and quantifying political information warfare
Part 1 : Propaganda, domination & attacks on online media
26 October 2016 in Information Warfare
Produced by Share Lab, a research team based in Yugoslavia, and part of Share Foundation - a research and data investigation lab exploring different technical aspects of the intersections between technology and society. The Lab explores electronic frontier’s highways, hidden. invisible roads and deep waters of information flow in order to better understand the new, emerging forms of privacy-related risks, network neutrality and security threats.

“Throughout the history communication and information have been fundamental sources of power and counter-power, of domination and social change.This is because the fundamental battle being fought in society is the battle over the minds of the people. The way people think determines the fate of norms and values on which societies are constructed.”


As framed by the media theorist Manuel Castells, we should not overlook the oldest and most direct form of media politics: propaganda and control. This is: (a) the fabrication and diffusion of messages that distort facts and induce misinformation for the purpose of advancing government interests; and (b) the censorship of any message deemed to undermine these interests, if necessary by criminalizing unhindered communication and prosecuting the messenger.

Governments are now experimenting with more sophisticated ways of exerting [Internet] control that are harder to detect and document[“Whither Internet Control?” Evgeny Morozov]. It is the goal of this text to examine some of those methods based on our local experience, and we believe that they are used or can be used worldwide in similar forms.

From our ‘Superman case’ three years ago until now, we have witnessed a variety of violations in the online environment in Serbia. Specific cases of breaches of online rights and freedoms that our small team has been monitoring are made of arbitrary blocking or filtering of content, cyber attacks on independent online and citizen media, arrests and judicial proceedings against social media users and bloggers, manipulation with the public opinion through the use of different tech tools, surveillance of electronic communications, violation of rights of privacy and protection of personal data; pressure, threats and decreasing the security of online and citizen media journalists and individuals. We filed more than 300 different cases in almost three years, and created a monitoring database that is a foundation for this analysis.

Our main interest in this analysis is to try to explore some of the forms and methods of interventions that different political actors or power structures can use to control and conquer online sphere. Here we will mostly speak about hidden, indirect actions, interventions done by the unknown actors, individuals with hidden or fake identities, companies without visible ties to government officials, political troll armies and troll lords, or even “artificial” entities.

As usual in our investigations we will try to quantify and visualise some of those forms and try to detect and understand some patterns.


Read complete analysis

Why Does Chris Hedges Hedge His Bets?

The following excerpt explores the question of how a contributing member of the New York Times staff that received the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting and a vaunted journalist, writer, activist, and clergyman, has failed throughout his long run “to say one word about the CIA’s assassination of domestic leaders, including President John Kennedy in 1963, the foundational event in the invisible government’s takeover of the United States?”

There are so many ways human beings invent to humiliate their basic sense of dignity—the sense of dignity which comes from the courage to acknowledge the truth. Instead we choose to live in falsehood to make ourselves instrumental in remaking conditions which bring us indignity, loss of self esteem and again bind us to the task of reconditioning the evil cycles of denial of truth and justice to ourselves.

Why Does Chris Hedges Hedge His Bets?
by Edward Curtin
Off Guardian, 22 Sep 2019

Truth may never have been popular, but if one studies the history of propaganda techniques as they have developed in tandem with technological changes, it becomes apparent that today’s incredibly sophisticated digital technology and the growth of screen culture that has resulted in what Guy Debord has called “the society of the spectacle” has made the manipulation of truth increasingly easier and far trickier.

News in today’s world appears as a pointillistic canvas of thousands of disconnected dots impossible to connect unless one has the desire, time, determination, and ability to connect the points through research, which most people do not have. “As a result,” writes Jacques Ellul in his classic study, Propaganda, “he finds himself in a kind of kaleidoscope in which thousands of unconnected images follow each other rapidly” and “his attention is continually diverted to new matters, new centers of interest, and is dissipated on a thousand things, which disappear from one day to the next.”

This technology is a boon to government propagandists that make sure to be on the cutting edge of new technology and the means to control the flow of its content, often finding that the medium is the message, one that is especially confounding since seemingly liberating – e.g. cell phones and their easy and instantaneous ability to access information and “breaking news.”

Then there are writers, artists, and communicators of all types, whether consciously or not, who contribute to the obfuscating of essential truths even while informing the public of important matters. These people come from across the political spectrum. To know their intentions is impossible, unless they spell them out in public to let their audiences evaluate them, which rarely happens, otherwise one is left to guess, which is a fool’s game. One can, however, point out what they say and what they don’t and wonder why.

A recent article, Our Invisible Government, by the well-known journalist, Chris Hedges, is a typical case in point. As is his habit, he sheds light on much that is avoided by the mainstream press. Very important matters. In this piece, he writes in his passionate style that

The most powerful and important organs in the invisible government are the nation’s bloated and unaccountable intelligence agencies. They are the vanguard of the invisible government. They oversee a vast “black world,” tasked with maintaining the invisible government’s lock on power.

This, of course, is true.

He then goes on to catalogue ways these intelligence agencies, led by the CIA, have overthrown foreign governments and assassinated their leaders, persecuted and besmirched the names of those – Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, et al. – who have opposed government policies, and used propaganda to conceal the real reasons for their evil deeds, such as the wars against Vietnam, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.

He condemns such actions.

He spends much of his article referencing Stephen Kinzer’s new book, Poisoner in Chief: Sydney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control and Gottlieb’s heinous exploits during his long CIA career.

Sidney Gottlieb

Known as “Dr. Death,” this Bronx born son of Jewish immigrants, ran the CIA’s mind control programs and its depraved medical experiments on unknowing victims, known as MK-ULTRA and Artichoke. He oversaw the development of various poisons and bizarre methods to kill foreign leaders such as Fidel Castro and Patrice Lumumba.

He worked closely with Nazi scientists who had been brought to the United States by Allen Dulles in an operation called Operation Paperclip. Gottlieb was responsible for so many deaths and so much human anguish and suffering that it is hard to believe, but believe it we must because it is true. His work on torture and mind control led to Abu Ghraib, CIA black sites, and assorted U.S. atrocities of recent history.

Hedges tells us all this and rightly condemns it as “the moral squalor” and “criminality” that it is. Only a sick or evil person could disagree with his account of Gottlieb via Kinzer’s book. I suspect many good people who have or will read his piece will agree with his denunciations of this evil CIA history. Additionally, he correctly adds:

It would be naive to relegate the behavior of Gottlieb and the CIA to the past, especially since the invisible government has once again shrouded the activities of intelligence agencies from congressional oversight or public scrutiny and installed a proponent of torture, Gina Haspel, as the head of the agency.

This also is very true. All these truths can make you forget what’s not true and what’s missing in his article.

But something is missing, and some wording is quite odd and factually false. It is easy to miss this as one’s indignation rises as one reads Hedges’ cataloguing of Gottlieb’s and the CIA’s obscenities.

He omits mentioning the Clinton administration’s dismantling wars against Yugoslavia, including 78 days of non-stop bombing of Serbia in 1999 that killed thousands of innocent people in the name of “humanitarian intervention,” wars he covered for the New York Times, the paper he has come to castigate and the paper that has a long history of doing the CIA’s bidding.

He claims that Gottlieb and the CIA’s scientists failed in their “vain quest” for mind control drugs or electronic implants that might, among other things, get victims to act against their wills, such as acting as a Manchurian candidate, and as a result, “abandoned” their efforts.

That they failed is not true, and that they abandoned their efforts is unknowable, unless you wish to take the CIA at its word, which is a hilarious thought.

How could Hedges possibly know they abandoned such work? A logical person would assume they would say that and continue their work more secretly.

On one hand, Hedges says, “It would be naive to relegate the behavior of Gottlieb and the CIA to the past,” but then he does just that. Which is it, Chris? By definition, the “invisible” government, the CIA, never reveals their operations, and lying is their modus operandi, especially with their brazen in-your-face biblical motto: “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”


[W]hy, when he writes about the past evil deeds of the intelligence operatives – Gottlieb and the CIA’s overseas coups and assassination of foreign leaders, etc. – does he fail to say one word about the CIA’s assassination of domestic leaders, including President John Kennedy in 1963, the foundational event in the invisible government’s takeover of the United States?

Can an act be more evil and in need of moral condemnation?

And how about the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy in 1968, or Malcolm X in 1965?

Why does Hedges elide these assassinations as if they are not worthy of attention, but Gottlieb’s sick work for the CIA is? Like the attacks of September 11, 2001, he has avoided these assassinations throughout the years.

I don’t know why. Only he can say. He is a very well-read man, who is constantly quoting from scholars about various important issues. His books are chock full of such quotations and references. But you will look in vain for references to the brilliant, scholarly work of such writers on these assassinations, the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the CIA’s criminal and morally repugnant activities as James Douglass, David Talbot, David Ray Griffin, William Pepper, Graeme MacQueen, Lisa Pease, and so many others.

Is it possible that he has never read their books when he has read so much else? If so, why?

As I said before, Chris Hedges, who has a passionate but mild-mannered style, is not alone in his disregard of these key matters.

Other celebrity names on the left have been especially guilty of the same approach: Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Alexander Cockburn, to name just a few (Zinn and Cockburn are dead). They have avoided these issues as if they were toxic. Nor would they logically explain why.

The few times they did respond to those who criticized them for this, it was usually through a dismissive wave of the hand or name calling, a tactic such as the CIA developed with the term conspiracy theory.”

Cockburn was particularly nasty in this regard, priding himself on dismissing others with words such as kooks, lunatics, and idiots, even when his logic was deplorable. He liked to use ineptitude’s synonym, “incompetence,” to explain away what he considered intelligence agency failures. “Why,” he wrote in one piece attacking September 11 critics while upholding the government’s version, “does the obvious have to be proved?”

“Brillig!” as Humpty Dumpty would say. Absolutely brillig!

The CIA’s mind control operations need to be exposed, as Hedges does to a degree in this latest article. But revealing while concealing is unworthy of one who condemns “creeps who revel in human degradation, dirty tricks, and murder.” It itself is a form of mind control.

Perhaps he will see fit to publicly explain why he has done this.

Oliver Stone on JFK and the Unspeakable, Russian Edition

There have been a number of translations of James Douglass’ nonpareil work, JFK and the Unspeakable - Why He Died and Why It Matters, first published by Orbis Books in 2008.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s endorsement is on the cover of the 2013 50th Anniversary Edition:

In JFK and the Unspeakable Jim Douglass has distilled all the best available research into a very well-documented and convincing portrait of President Kennedy’s transforming turn to peace, at the cost of his life. Personally, it has made a very big impact on me. After reading it in Dallas, I was moved for the first time to visit Dealey Plaza. I urge all American to read this book and come to their own conclusions about why he died and why—after fifty years—it still maters.

In addition to the Korean (2011), French (2013), and Japanense (2014) editions, a Russian edition was published in December 2018 by Alpina Publishers, Moscow. Oliver Stone wrote a new Foreword for this edition and the English original version is here.

The following two videos are presented by Alpina Publishers:

James Douglass speaking to the Russian people

Trump and the Asia-Pacific: The Persistence of American Unilateralism




Published February 20, 2020
Copyright 2020 by Focus on the Global South



There is a widespread perception, especially among East and Southeast Asian elites, that the US is in a process of disengagement from the Asia-Pacific under President Donald Trump.* This study contradicts that notion. It locates the main driver of the US presence in the region in the projection of power of the US state or its strategic extension. This force, the study contends, is far more powerful and lasting than the promotion or maintenance of diffuse economic or corporate interests.

Along with the perception of strategic disengagement is the idea that Washington is abandoning multilateral approaches to ensuring its interests and those of its allies. The study disputes the premise of this assertion and shows that unilateralism has been the dominant manner in which the US has asserted its military and political interests in the region, and that this unilateral approach continues today.

President Trump’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has created the impression that the US is ceasing to pursue its economic interests and those of its allies via multilateral means. Again, the study shows that the traditional pattern through which the US has managed economic relations with its allies has been, as on the strategic front, via unilateral action. Economic unilateralism has successively targeted Japan, then the “Asian Tigers,” then China. Washington’s aim in these campaigns has not only been to address the US trade deficit with these countries but to dismantle the “Asian developmental model” marked by strong state intervention, though this objective has been most pronounced and most comprehensively pursued in relation to China.

It is also pointed out that even as Trump targets China, he is also hitting the other Asia-Pacific economies since these have become suppliers of raw materials and industrial components to China that the latter puts together and exports to third-country markets. Moreover, he has imposed trade sanctions on Vietnam and Thailand, forced Korea to renegotiate its trade agreement with the United States, and entered into an unbalanced trade agreement with Japan. Even as Trump takes on China, he is busy micromanaging the trade policies of the US’s Asia-Pacific allies.

Even before Trump, the Pentagon already identified China as the main strategic competitor of the US. The “near peer” competitor designation of Beijing is not, however, supported by military strength indicators, on which China is far behind the United States. China’s basic military posture, as even the Pentagon admits, is one of “strategic defense.” It has focused on creating defensive installations (A2/AD) to protect its eastern and southeastern seaboard from attack and nullify the US’s power projection capabilities from the first, second, and third island chains of the Western Pacific. In response, the Pentagon has devised the strategy of AirSea Battle designed to penetrate and destroy China’s (A2/AD) defenses.

This already alarming competition for military edge in the Asia-Pacific has become even more so under Trump owing to three developments from the US side: the deployment to South Korea of an anti-missile defense system, THAAD, that the Chinese think is aimed not only at North Korea but at China as well; the withdrawal of the US from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty and its announcement that it will deploy intermediate nuclear missiles in the Asia-Pacific; and the adoption by the Pentagon of the doctrine of “Overmatch,” which requires the US to maintain massive military superiority over any rival or coalition of rivals. This combination of factors translates into a destabilizing balance of power competition in the Asia-Pacific, in which a mere ship collision can escalate to a conventional conflict and from there to a nuclear war.

It is this intensification of US power projection capabilities by the Trump administration, not an illusory US disengagement, that constitutes the greatest danger to the Asia-Pacific today.

* The geographical scope of this paper is East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Western Pacific. “Asia-Pacific” is often used as a term for this region; the paper adopts this usage. The paper does not cover the relationships of the United States with South Asia, Southwest Asia, and the Middle East. Occasionally, when the word “Asia” or “Asian” is used, it is used to refer to the region under study.

Why do we burn coal and trees to make solar panels?

by Thomas A. Troszak (14 Nov 2019 rev)

All modern technology including “renewable” energy depends on the non-renewable resources that make it possible. For example, every step in the production of solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems requires a perpetual input of fossil fuels—as carbon reductants for smelting metals from ore, for process heat and power, international transport, and deployment. Silicon smelters, polysilicon refineries, and crystal growers all require uninterrupted, 24/7 power that comes mostly from coal and uranium. Additional mineral resources and fossil energy are needed for constructing PV factories, process equipment, and manufacturing infrastructure. The only “renewable” materials consumed in PV production are obtained by deforestation—for wood chips, and by burning vast areas of tropical rainforest for charcoal used as a source of carbon for silicon smelters. Both media and journal claims that solar PV can somehow “replace fossil fuels” have not addressed the “non-renewable reality” of all the global manufacturing supply chains necessary for the mining, manufacturing, and distribution of PV power systems. Some often-cited accounts of solar PV production exclude raw materials and silicon smelters from the PV “supply chain” entirely, which obscures the profoundly non-sustainable basis of PV technology. A more complete overview of commercial PV production is presented, from the sources of raw materials to the deployed array. 38 references from published articles and industry sources are cited. (2019-11-18 revision)

Original document:

'Time is Running Out,' American Petroleum Institute Chief Said in 1965 Speech on Climate Change

Written by Sharon Kelly on November 20, 2018, the source for this is DeSmog - Clearing the PR Pollution that Clouds Climate Science.

The warning is clear and dire—and the source unexpected. “This report unquestionably will fan emotions, raise fears, and bring demand for action,” the president of the American Petroleum Institute (API) told an oil industry conference, as he described research into climate change caused by fossil fuels.

“The substance of the report is that there is still time to save the world's peoples from the catastrophic consequence of pollution, but time is running out.”

The speaker wasn’t Mike Sommers, who was named to helm API this past May. Nor was it Jack Gerard, who served as API’s president for roughly a decade starting in 2008.

The API president speaking those words was named Frank Ikard—and the year was 1965, over a half-century ago.

It was the same year that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Muhammad Ali felled Sonny Liston in the first round, and Malcom X was fatally shot in New York. The first American ground combat troops arrived in Vietnam and President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the law establishing Medicaid and Medicare.

It would be another four years before American astronaut Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon—and another decade before the phrase “global warming” would appear for the first time in a peer-reviewed study.

And 1965, according to a letter by Stanford historian Benjamin Franta published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Nature, was the year that President Johnson’s Science Advisory Committee published a report titled “Restoring the Quality of Our Environment,” whose findings Ikard described at that year’s annual API meeting.

“One of the most important predictions of the report is that carbon dioxide is being added to the Earth's atmosphere by the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas at such a rate that by the year 2000 the heat balance will be so modified as possibly to cause marked changes in climate beyond local or even national efforts,” Ikard presciently added, according to excerpts from his speech published in Nature.

Text of a speech by American Petroleum Institute leadership on climate change
Exerpt of API President Frank Ikard's 1965 speech on climate change and fossil fuels.

API Funded Early Research Linking CO2 and Fossil Fuels

That prediction was based in part on information that was known to the oil industry trade group for over a decade—including research that was directly funded by the API, according to Nature.

In 1954, a California Institute of Technology geochemist sent the API a research proposal in which they reported that fossil fuels had already caused carbon dioxide (CO2) levels to rise roughly five percent since 1854—a finding that Nature notes has since proved to be accurate.

API accepted the proposal and funded that Caltech research, giving the program the name Project 53. Project 53 collected thousands of CO2 measurements—but the results were never published.

Meanwhile, other researchers were reaching similar conclusions. Nuclear physicist Edward Teller became known in 1951 as the “father of the hydrogen bomb” for designing a thermonuclear bomb that was even more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Teller warned the oil and gas industry in 1959 about global warming and sea level rise in a talk titled “Energy Patterns of the Future.”

“Carbon dioxide has a strange property,” Teller said in excerpts published earlier this year by The Guardian. “It transmits visible light but it absorbs the infrared radiation which is emitted from the earth. Its presence in the atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect.”

A researcher at Humble Oil Co. (now known as ExxonMobil) checked results from a study of carbon isotopes in tree rings against the unpublished Caltech results, and found that the two separate methods essentially agreed.

Keeling Curve of monthly average carbon dioxide concentration measurements from Mauna Loa Observatory
This figure shows the history of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations as directly measured at Mauna Loa, Hawaii since 1958. This curve is known as the Keeling curve, and is an essential piece of evidence of the man-made increases in greenhouse gases that are believed to be the cause of global warming. Credit: Delorme, data from Dr. Pieter Tans, NOOA, and Dr. Ralph Keeling, Scripps, CC BY-SA 4.0

And in 1960, Charles Keeling first published the measurements that became the famous “Keeling curve”—establishing one of the bedrock findings connecting climate change to fossil fuels. The CO2 measurements taken by Keeling back in the late 1950s showed levels of roughly 315 parts per million (ppm) at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii and rising.

Those CO2 levels have since climbed upwards to 410.13 (ppm) on the day that the Nature letter was published—CO2 levels that scientists knew both then and now would be dangerously high, as carbon levels in the Earth’s atmosphere have not been over 410 ppm in millions of years.

What the Oil Industry Knew, Then and Now

In his 1965 talk, the API’s Ikard described the role of oil and gasoline specifically in causing climate change. “The report further states, and I quote: ‘… the pollution from internal combustion engines is so serious, and is growing so fast,'” he told the API conference, “‘that an alternative nonpolluting means of powering automobiles, buses, and trucks is likely to become a national necessity.’”

Three decades later, the API urged a different approach to climate science. “It’s not known for sure whether (a) climate change actually is occurring, or (b) if it is, whether humans really have any influence on it,” the API wrote in a 1998 draft memo titled “Global Climate Science Communications Plan,” which was subsequently leaked.

As of publication time, an API spokesperson had not replied to questions sent by DeSmog.

It’s worth noting that since 1965, the science connecting climate change to fossil fuels has grown stronger and more robust. A scientific consensus around the hazards of climate change and the role that fossil fuels play in causing it has formed.

“Rigorous analysis of all data and lines of evidence shows that most of the observed global warming over the past 50 years or so cannot be explained by natural causes and instead requires a significant role for the influence of human activities,” the Royal Society explains.

Today, the API continues to call for further research on climate change—and expanding the use of fossil fuels in the meantime.

“It is clear that climate change is a serious issue that requires research for solutions and effective policies that allow us to meet our energy needs while protecting the environment: that's why oil and gas companies are working to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions,” the API’s webpage on climate change states.

“Yet archival documents show that even before Keeling published his measurements,” Franta's letter published by Nature says, “oil industry leaders were aware that their products were causing CO2 pollution to accumulate in the planet’s atmosphere, in a potentially dangerous fashion.”

Main image: San Diego,CA, October 26, 2007 – A Northern California fire crew works into the night clearing the fire line and monitoring the back burn that was set to stop the Poomacha fire from advancing westward. Credit: Andrea Booher, FEMA, public domain

Will NPR Now Officially Change Its Name to National Propaganda Radio?

The following highlights a current potent element of U.S. state propaganda in the closing months of the second decade of the new century. In addition to the sources cited in the opening below, a helpful summary of the history of CIA manipulation of US monetized media is the enhanced presentation of James Tracy’s exposition: “The CIA and the Media: 50 Facts the World Needs to Know”.

Will NPR Now Officially Change Its Name to National Propaganda Radio?
by Edward Curtin
Off Guardian
8 Sep 2019

Back in the 1960s, the CIA official Cord Meyer said the agency needed to “court the compatible left.” He knew that drawing liberals and leftists into the CIA’s orbit was the key to efficient propaganda.

Right-wing and left-wing collaborators were needed to create a powerful propaganda apparatus that would be capable of hypnotizing audiences into believing the myth of American exceptionalism and its divine right to rule the world.

The CIA therefore secretly worked to influence American and world opinion through the literary and intellectual elites.

Frances Stonor Saunders comprehensively covers this in her 1999 book, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA And The World Of Arts And Letters, and Joel Whitney followed this up in 2016 with Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World’s Best Writers, with particular emphasis on the complicity between the CIA and the famous literary journal, The Paris Review.

By the mid-1970s, as a result of the Church Committee hearings, it seemed as if the CIA, NSA, FBI, etc. had been caught in flagrante delicto and disgraced, confessed their sins, and resolved to go and sin no more.

Then in 1977, Carl Bernstein wrote a long piece for Esquire – The CIA and the Media – naming names of journalists and media (The New York Times, CBS, etc.) that worked hand-in-glove with the CIA, propagandizing the American people and the rest of the world.

It seemed as if all would be hunky-dory now with the bad boys purged from the American “free” press. Seemed to the most naïve, that is, by which I mean the vast numbers of people who wanted to re-stick their heads in the sand and believe, as Ronald Reagan’s team of truthtellers would announce, that it was “Morning in America” again with the free press reigning and the neo-conservatives, many of whom had been “converted” from their leftist views, running things in Washington.

So again it is morning in America this September 6, 2019, and the headline from National Public Radio announces the glad tidings that NPR has named a new CEO. His name is John Lansing, and the headline says he is a “veteran media executive.” We are meant to be reassured.

It goes on to say that Mr. Lansing, 62, is currently the chief executive of the government agency, The US Agency for Global Media, that oversees Voice of America, Radio and Television Marti, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, among others.

We are furthermore reassured by NPR that Lansing “made his mark in his current job with stirring defenses of journalism, free from government interference.”

The announcement goes on to say:

Lansing has earned an advanced degree in political agility. At the U.S. Agency for Global Media, Lansing championed a free press even as leaders of many nations move against it.

‘Governments around the world are increasingly cracking down on the free flow of information; silencing dialogue and dissent; and distorting reality,’ Lansing said in a speech he delivered in May to the Media for Democracy Forum. ‘The result, I believe, is a war on truth.’

He continued: ‘Citizens in countries from Russia to China, from Iran to North Korea, have been victimized for decades. But now we’re seeing authoritarian regimes expanding around the globe, with media repression in places like Turkey and Venezuela, Cambodia and Vietnam.’

So we are reassured that the new head of NPR, the chief of all U.S. propaganda, is a champion of a free press. Perhaps NPR will soon enlighten the American public by interviewing its new head honcho and asking him if he thinks Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning, by exposing America’s war crimes, and Edward Snowden, by exposing the U.S. government’s vast electronic surveillance programs of its own citizens, deserve to be jailed and exiled for doing the job the American mainstream “free press” failed to do. What NPR failed to do.

Perhaps they will ask him if he objects to the way his own government “interfered” in the lives of these three courageous people who revealed truths that every citizen of a free country is entitled to. Perhaps they will ask him if the U.S. government’s persecution of these truthtellers is what he means by there being “a war on truth.”

Perhaps they will ask him if he thinks the Obama and Trump administrations have been “distorting reality” and waging a war on truth.

Perhaps not. Of course not.

Don’t laugh, for the joke will be on you if you listen to NPR and its sly appeal to “liberal” sensibilities. If you are wondering why we have had the Russia-gate hoax and who was responsible (see/hear Russia expert Prof. Stephen Cohen here) and are now involved in a new Cold War and a highly dangerous nuclear confrontation with Russia, read Lansing’s July 10, 2019 testimony before the House Appropriations Sub-Committee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs: “United States Efforts to Counter Russian Disinformation and Malign Influence.”

Here is an excerpt:

USAGM provides consistently accurate and compelling journalism that reflects the values of our society: freedom, openness, democracy, and hope. Our guiding principles—enshrined in law—are to provide a reliable, authoritative, and independent source of news that adheres to the strictest standards of journalism…

Russian Disinformation. And make no mistake, we are living through a global explosion of disinformation, state propaganda, and lies generated by multiple authoritarian regimes around the world. The weaponization of information we are seeing today is real. The Russian government and other authoritarian regimes engage in far-reaching malign influence campaigns across national boundaries and language barriers.

The Kremlin’s propaganda and disinformation machine is being unleashed via new platforms and continues to grow in Russia and internationally. Russia seeks to destroy the very idea of an objective, verifiable set of facts as it attempts to influence opinions about the United States and its allies. It is not an understatement to say that this new form of combat on the information battlefield may be the fight of the 21st century.

Then research the history of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Voice of America, Radio and Television Marti, etc. You will be reassured that Lansing’s July testimony was his job interview to head National Propaganda Radio.

Then sit back, relax, and tune into NPR’s Morning Edition. It will be comforting to know that it is “Morning in America” once again.

JFK: A President Betrayed

For those of you who have not seen the documentary film, “JFK: A President Betrayed” (very worthwhile, I believe), I suggest you read “JFK: Destiny Betrayed,” by Jim DiEugenio. Jim’s excellent review of this fine documentary film without specifically addressing the JFK assassination directly sets the stage and plainly explicates why JFK was killed by our warfare state.


JFK: A President Betrayed
Cory Taylor, Director, Agoro Productions, 2013


From Jim DiEugenio’s review:

Taylor does not really approach the Kennedy case from a forensic or investigative viewpoint. What he does in his two-hour documentary is take a look at Kennedy's foreign policy during his presidency, and try to show how some people within his own administration opposed it. To me, it is clear that the main inspiration for the film is the influential Jim Douglass tome, JFK and the Unspeakable.

One of the main attributes of the film is that it uses some credible, and new, sources as interview subjects. And it bypasses the accepted mainstream historians who have, in reality, done little real research on JFK. Or, even worse, ignored Kennedy's genuine interests. Therefore, to Taylor's credit, one will not see the likes of Robert Dallek, Richard Reeves or Larry Sabato pontificating boringly and deceptively in this film. Some of the main academics in the documentary are University of Texas professor Jamie Galbraith, son of Kennedy aide and later Ambassador to India John K. Galbraith; Gareth Porter, a lecturer, journalist, and author who has written four books on the Vietnam War; former Wall Street journalist and editor Frederick Kempe, author of Berlin 1961; University of New Orleans professor Gunter Bischof, a specialist in Eastern European history. In addition to that, we see journalist Michael Dobbs, author of one of the better studies of the Missile Crisis, One Minute to Midnight, Peter Kornbluh, author and editor of Bay of Pigs Declassified, and Robert Schlesinger, son of Kennedy aide Arthur Schlesinger. This collection of commentators all makes for a notable improvement over the usual Dallek/Reeves/Sabato banal tendentiousness.

But where Taylor has really done some interesting work is in the direct witnesses he has secured. For instance, Taylor interviews the interpreters at the Vienna Summit Conference, the late Viktor Sukhodrev (translator for Nikita Khrushchev) and Alex Akalovsky (interpreter for President Kennedy). In addition to Sukhodrev, there is also Sergei Khrushchev, son of the former Russian premier. Also on screen is the rather seldom seen Thomas L. Hughes. Hughes was an assistant to Chester Bowles in the Kennedy administration, and later succeeded Roger Hilsman as director of Intelligence and Research at the State Department. Lawyer Willam Vanden Heuvel was an advisor to Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and later wrote a book about RFK. Finally, in a real surprise, Taylor tracked down Andrea Cousins and Candis Cousins Kerns. These are the daughters of Saturday Review editor Norman Cousins. Cousins had been a tireless advocate for nuclear disarmament since, literally, the day after Hiroshima. As Douglass pointed out in his book, Cousins served as a kind of go-between between the Vatican, the Kremlin and the White House in their mutual efforts to construct a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. He then wrote about it in his (much ignored) 1972 book, The Improbable Triumvirate: John F. Kennedy, Pope John, Nikita Khrushchev - An Asterisk to the History of a Hopeful Year, 1962-1963. It's quite a promising roster. And it does not disappoint....


All in all, this is one of the better documentaries about Kennedy's presidency. My only regret about it is that, although it presents much of the information from the Douglass book on screen for the first time, the Douglass book is not state of the art any more. Books by Philip Muehlenbeck and Robert Rakove have, in some significant ways, superseded it. (See Betting on the Africans and Kennedy, Johnson and the Nonaligned World respectively). These two books show that Kennedy's foreign policy was even more revolutionary than depicted here.

But that is a cavil. This film is much worth seeing. And it deserved a much larger platform than it got last year. Right now, it's the best screen depiction of Kennedy's foreign policy that I know of.

“... not merely peace for Americans...” Banning Nuclear Weapons and Retrieving the Legacy of President Kennedy’s Last Year

56 years ago on 10 June 1963 President Kennedy gave the Commencement Address at American University. His focus was “the most important topic on earth: peace” and includes the inescapable reality of our species’ oneness: the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal.

Calling for an end to the Cold War, the intelligence, logic, and coherent thinking of this speech was then, and is still now, ahead of its time.

A new pamphlet with the above title has been published on 10 June 2019 and includes consideration of grasping and applying the iron logic of the nuclear age.

The logic of this situation is: “What we do to the other, (in this case Russia) will be done to us.” If this is the case, then we must do unto them as we want them to do unto us. The moral imperative “Do unto others as you would have them unto you” has become a practical necessity....

[I]s it possible that what is being revealed to us is the fallacy that security can be found in domination—dominating other people, dominating other nations, dominating nature? If what we do unto others will be done unto us, then in the end we and the other are not separate. What we are doing to others, we are doing to ourselves. An awareness of this reality can be the basis of an awakening in our thinking, feeling and imagination, an awakening of our actions informed by a new sense of human solidarity and collective responsibility....

If we want other countries to forgo trying to achieve security through acquiring nuclear weapons, are there other ways to help them be more secure? In the midst of the looming danger of climate change, imagine how nuclear disarmament and disarmament in general might affect our world. By relinquishing the quest for security through destructive power and developing an international framework for security based on peaceful cooperation, might we develop the social institutions, the spiritual perspective, and the material resources to get out of the nuclear war we are in and deal with the threat of climate change?...

In our quest for a different vision and path for the United States and the world, it is critical to educate ourselves about a twelve month period from the fall of 1962 until the fall of 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Very few are aware of this year in US history. It was during this twelve month period that the United States took a fundamentally different approach to the ‘Cold War,’ nuclear weapons, nuclear war, and the conflict with what was then the Soviet Union. This was the result of a radical change in US policy, because of the dramatic shift in President Kennedy’s thinking after he had endured the Cuban Missile Crisis. During this period President Kennedy publicly displayed an understanding of much that is being said in this pamphlet and began to implement this thinking by turning it into policy.

By understanding the concerns of the leaders of the Soviet Union and their people and expressing that understanding in words and actions, President Kennedy was able to recruit a similar reaction from the other side. In this brief period we can see clearly how instead of the United States and the Soviet Union viewing each other as evil empires and enemies, they began to see each other and work together as partners in survival.

The murder of President Kennedy terminated this process because we, ordinary citizens, were not sufficiently aware and not sufficiently organized to demand that the process of peace building and partnership continue. This is our responsibility—to understand President Kennedy’s legacy and to carry it forward.

In order to understand President Kennedy’s thinking, we must turn to a speech he gave at American University on June 10, 1963.

In this speech Kennedy discussed the challenges of peace in the nuclear age. Anyone concerned about pursuing this partnership for our survival should read, or listen to, or watch this speech, While Kennedy was speaking about US relations with the Soviet Union, his insights are just as relevant today in regard to US-Russia relations.

We urge you to think about what has been said here, and not turn away. Study President Kennedy’s speech and see to it that family and friends do so also. This is not something any of us can face alone. We must face it together. Today the struggle to ban nuclear weapons is perhaps the leading edge of the peace movement, but the struggle for peace is complex and the forces behind nuclear weapons and war in general are powerful. If we cherish our children’s future, we must take up the challenge.

The pamphlet encourages readers to meet in groups, become conversant with the materials presented and engage in multiple strategies to work for the abolition and dismantling of all nuclear weapons as well as fulfilling the final portion of the objective stated in Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, “complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

The complete pamphlet is available online at: It is also available in printed form by sending e-mail to:

Taxation With Representation

(Click on an image to go to its source.)

This is an excerpt from  Taxation With Representation, written by John Judge in 2001:

Taxes are indeed our money, and therefore we should be allowed to spend them as we see fit. Taxes, if paid by the people, should be directly allocated by the people. Bush appeals to the selfish position of those who do not wish to pay taxes for social services or welfare, but are fine with paying for the military and CIA that protect their wealth, privilege and investments here and abroad. He hands us back a rebate which is little more than chump change after he has taken out the massive ($238 billion) Pentagon budget, the increased CIA budget, and cut the social services once more. What is the average citizen to do with $300? Will it educate the children? Will it pay for health care? Or is it just meant to take the edge off the gouging profits of the rate hike at our gas pumps this year? ...

I propose that if we are to pay any tax on income exchanged for labor, it should be directly allocated by each taxpayer to whatever programs they feel are a priority. The net effect of a tax cut and a Pentagon increase has to mean a social services cut in education, health, infrastructure, or assistance. I would propose that the corporations pay a fair share but have no power in its allocation. Once the collective will was clearly expressed by compiling a taxpayers allocation pie, the corporate funds would be allocated proportionately as well, or used to create an emergency backup fund for direct allocation when conditions arose or funds allocated were insufficient to public needs and desires.

My first approach would be to plant the seed of this idea, for which I have found almost universal acceptance among diverse groups of people: implement it without binding the government at first. A simple three-layer carbon form could be mailed to all taxpayers in a given area, along with printed pie charts showing how current taxes are being spent at local, state and national levels. Taxpayers would be invited to fill out their own charts, showing their priorities on the form. One copy would be added to their payments of local, state and federal taxes, enclosed with the tax return. This would indicate their intent and educate them about whose money it is. The second copy would be returned to the public interest group doing the mailings, and they would be complied into several “People’s tax pies” for each municipality, county and state. At a public meeting and press conference, these pies could be compared to the current spending pies based on the allocation voting records of their elected “representatives”. I can guarantee you they would not be the same pies. The elected representatives could be invited to attend and explain who they really represent, or why they feel better qualified to spend the people’s money than the people themselves.

Once the principle was established it would be easy enough to make the last page of any tax form an allocation chart and let the taxpayers allocate the funds. A one-year lag time could be established, to give time for corrections by way of referendum or reallocation of the corporate based emergency funds if needed. This then would truly represent taxation with representation, and our money would be allocated democratically and directly by the people. The current unrepresentative allocation that bloats the coffers of the military-industrial complex and guts the social benefits of this productive economy could be put to use to end poverty, homelessness, miseducation, and many other social ills, as the people might so direct.

I came upon this idea during my college years, when I was forced to pay a $50 “matriculation fee” each trimester, and looked into where it was being spent. A full $28 went for sports and sporting events, which I had no interest in. A meagre $2 went for student government, another $2 for the student newspaper, and a similar amount for cheerleaders at sport events, an ROTC rifle spinning outfit, and a sorority that existed solely to serve the needs of ROTC cadets. My goal was to regain student control over the allocation of these funds, but I started small. I proposed that the $2 student government fee be reduced by the actual costs of the administrative functions, ombudsman and student lawyer, and that the rest be directly allocated by students who would assign 25 cents to each signature on public, numbered petitions for any proposed function or activity. At this point the student congress, which had been in charge of allocating the funds, set up a howl. “Students don’t know how to spend their own money!” they informed us. I then asked exactly who they represented. I am sure that the Congressional and local elected officials would put up a similar hue and cry, and thereby expose their elitist and neo-colonial attitudes towards their constituencies, who they never even consult in making tax allocation decisions.


Are You Scared Yet? The War Without an Enemy - Terrorism and the Strategy of Tension

A talk by John Judge in Santa Monica, California, 1996. Video and audio recordings are available at the John Judge 1991 to 2014 Video Archive Listing. The venue for this talk was Deep River Books. John examined the current terrorist acts and their broader implications. Given five years before September 11, this talk has prophetic undertones.

An excerpt of the talk:

“[The American people have this lesson to learn: That] where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to [oppress], rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”

Frederick Douglass, “Southern Barbarism,” 24th Anniversary of Emancipation, Washington, DC, 1886 in Philip Foner, ed. The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass, Vol. 4 (New York: International Pub., 1950), 434.

I thought that that was an interesting insight and introduction into the situation that we’re in.

I titled the talk tonight, Are You Scared Yet? I did that, despite the fact that Jane Hunter has said, in one interview at least, that my lectures are like drugs in the sixties in that they paralyze people with fear and make them inactive. That’s not anything I’ve ever heard from an audience but it’s what she said about me. I think, in fact, my message, when read properly is more that people should calm down and try to distinguish what they’re being asked, or told, to be afraid of and what they ought to be afraid in reality which is generally hidden from them and the extent to which they ought to be afraid or ought to act instead.

I also knew a guy years ago when I worked in the anti-psychiatry movement, John Parkin, who said that he wanted to start a national campaign to abolish paranoia by elevating it to realistic fear. There isn’t a term in the English language that’s the opposite of paranoia, unless it’s just complacency. But there isn’t healthy or realistic fear that maybe somebody is doing something to you. William S. Burroughs said, that paranoia is having all the facts. So I try to get as many as I can, ’cause I’m trying to get there.

But my purpose, of course, isn’t to make other people paranoid. My purpose is to hopefully enlighten people about what’s happening around them and what they ought to be putting their focus on. Charlie Manson said, paranoia is heightened awareness. Michael McClure said that even paranoids have enemies. I know I have some. But I don’t spend my life looking over my shoulder, I try to look in front of me and see what’s coming.

I found a quote this year. A friend of mine, Wendy Govier, works with Adobe up in Palo Alto and her boss has an extant copy of the Bill of Rights so he put it up and digitized it onto the web so people could download the Bill of Rights. She asked me to get some background. I found a quote from Thomas Jefferson about the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. After he read the Constitution that had been proposed; he was in France at the time because they got the real radical people out of the country as quickly as they could. He got a look at it and he said “I [will] now add what I do not like.” This was about the Constitution.

First, the omission of a bill of rights providing clearly and without the aid of sophisms for freedom of religion, freedom of the press, protection against standing armies, restriction against monopolies, the eternal and unremitting force of haebeus corpus laws, and trails by jury in all matters of fact, trail by the laws of the land not the law of nations. Let me add that a bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on Earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.

So they were actually unable to get state ratification of the Constitution as they wrote it without putting in at least the early Bill of Rights and since then of course different ammendments have expanded the idea of rights. I think that it should be seen as a dynamic thing, not a sacralized text that’s frozen in history because the only way it’s really preserved is hermetically sealed there at the National Archives. It’s only preserved in terms of a conceptualization by the action of people in the time in which it is. Our task is the same as Jefferson’s task was in his era. He was of course blind to things that we now see. Who knows, three hundred years from now how people will laugh at our conception of liberation and interaction, should we last so long.

It’s our duty, I think, to define our liberation in our own time. And to move in that direction on behalf of not only ourselves but any kind of future that we want to have for people that come after us.

Historian Howard Zinn pointed out in his book, Declarations of Independence, that to depend on the simple existence of a Bill of Rights as a guarantee of our freedom is to risk liberty and life itself. Only two decades ago, U.S. citizens refused to sign a copy of the Bill of Rights on public streets claiming that the ideas in it were Communistic. So it needs not so much to be preserved as reprinted and distributed. It’s not taken very seriously except by the people who want to use it for their own purposes.

And I included on the flyer tonight also one quote by Ben Franklin who said that those who would surrender liberty for security deserve neither. I think that’s really the themes of what I’m wanting to talk about.

It has been classic within governments, at least in the 19th and 20th centuries, and probably earlier but we don’t have as good a history, to use what are known now as provocateurs. The function of a provocateur for the government or the ruling class or the state is to infiltrate opposition groups and then encourage within those groups violence or reaction against the state which can then be used in turn by the state as it’s excuse for repressing the group. So you provoke a response.

On War and Its Human Costs to Veterans: C.H.O.I.C.E.S.

This is a transcript of John Judge speaking at a one-day conference, A Better Welcome Home: Transformative Models to Support Veterans and Their Families, on November 2, 2011 focusing on nonpathologizing ways to help veterans.



My father and his brothers were veterans of World War Two and my family worked as civilians for decades at the Pentagon. I was, and still am, a conscientious objector to war.

In 1968 at the height of the Vietnam War I was a draft counselor talking to young men about their rights under the Selective Service Law. About a year earlier I started to see AWOL soldiers so I had to learn military law and regulations and work with them. In ’68 I started seeing the returning veterans from Vietnam and I also that year started taking them into high schools so that they could talk to young people about the realities of military law and about combat. I counseled, probably during that period, about ten thousand active duty and veteran members and I still do work in those areas. So while I opposed the war I actually support the troops. I’ve learned some things from doing that and I had a few to say today.

Modern war is different. The noncombatant casualties of World War One were about four percent. People fought across trenches in no-man’s land. By World War Two, twenty-five percent. Korea, 56%. From the Vietnam War forward the noncombatant casualties, civilian casualties, are 94 to 96 percent. In other words the situation is completely reversed.

Modern war is also ethnocide. It disrupts and destroys cultures. And it is ecocide. It toxifies and and destroys the planet. And wars don’t end. Mercury, rising from German World War Two submarines, is threatening fisheries off of Norway today. The Vietnam soil, because of Agent Orange and the bombing that was done there, eighty percent of the arable land is destroyed. The toxins of Agent Orange and Depleted Uranium continue to poison people and cause high levels of birth defects in war zones whether the war is going on or not. And unexploded munitions also continue to kill people in all modern war zones.

... Suicides are still a major problem during and after wars. There were 150,000 suicides—three times as many as the combat deaths in Vietnam—in the first six years. Afterwards they cut off the statistics. Now suicides are rising among reservists, among women, climbing in the active duty to where they’re beyond the combat death rate, and increased in one recent year by 600%. And these are suicides that are being tracked. I was told when I worked in Congress, by a mental health assessment team from the Army, three months after discharge they stop tracking. Most people don’t hit stress point til six months.