Thursday, June 29, 2017

Why Beauty Matters


gurdjieff |  Because literature for Gurdjieff, as for the Sufis, is inextricable from philosophy, it is appropriate in considering Beelzebub’s Tales to address some fundamental philosophical questions, the answers to which help put Gurdjieff’s writings into perspective. Among the issues to be addressed, one of primary importance is to define what constitutes literature for Gurdjieff, or what, according to his aesthetics, distinguishes literature from non-literature; art from non-art. 

Beelzebub's Tales
Unraveling this distinction involves comprehending some of Gurdjieff’s fundamental ideas about human beings and their place in the world. We have already proposed that Gurdjieff’s primary philosophical stance is that of Sufism, and his philosophy of art supports this contention.1 At the core of his aesthetics is the position that no form of artistic expression possesses value in itself; no art is appreciable for its intrinsic value alone. Because of his premises concerning the meaning and purpose of human existence, all “art” for Gurdjieff, and consequently all literature as an art-form, must be functional or didactic. The value of an art work resides in its potentiality to transform or metamorphose the art appreciator. Insofar as a work of literature, a piece of music, a painting, or any other potential art form aids humans in the process of their spiritual evolution, that object or activity earns the designation “art” for Gurdjieff and possesses what he refers to as “soul.”

Gurdjieff’s use of terminology to espouse his aesthetics and other branches of his philosophy frequently involves his supplying old terms with new meanings. Consequently, we are forced when approaching his writings to temporarily abandon old associations of key words used in his discussions. Such is the case with the terms “soul,” “objective” and “subjective,” “conscious” and “unconscious.” “Subjective art,” for example, in Gurdjieff’s terminology, refers to most of what is commonly interpreted as art. Most twentieth-century art in its various forms, according to his standards, would fall into this category. But subjective art is not authentic art for him; it is the result of mechanical, unconscious human activity, and most of humanity is unconscious according to Gurdjieff. For the same reason, he refers to subjective art as “soulless” in that it results from little or no consciousness on the part of the would-be artist. In his introduction to Meetings with Remarkable Men, he asserts that contemporary civilization is unique in history in its massive production of soulless, pseudo art.

On the other hand, “objective art” is authentic art in that it results from deliberate, pre-meditated efforts on the part of a conscious artist. In the act of creation, the true artist avoids or eliminates any input which is subjective or arbitrary, and the impression of such art on those who experience it is always definite. To the degree that objective art is the result of consciousness, it inherently possesses “soul.” As one example of soulful art, Gurdjieff cites the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci; as another he refers to the Taj Mahal. Both constitute objective works of art.

Is Hip-Hop Good For Anyone?


theoccidentalobserver |   It is unfortunate, to say the least, that Black hip-hop scholarship never mentions the elephant in the room: Jewish control of the music industry. If hip-hop is, indeed, ethno-politics set to music, if hip-hop has taken the place of the civil rights movement in the hearts and minds of Black youth, it is impossible to ignore the historic Black-Jewish alliance against WASPs. For much of the twentieth century, that alliance was a constituent element in what Black nationalist Harold Cruse called the “fateful triangular tension among national groups…coming to the fore” in the 60s.[28] It is a truism of American political history that, from the Leo Frank trial and the founding of the NAACP in the early twentieth century down to the Black Lives Matter movement, Jewish intellectual-activists have worked tirelessly to imbue disaffected American Negroes with their own revolutionary spirit.[29]

Cruse was himself a Negro member of the American Communist Party. By that time, Jews had displaced Anglo-Saxons as the vanguard of American Communism. Unlike WASP Communists, the Jews shaped radical politics in accordance with “their own national group social ambitions or individual self-elevation.” Negroes were relegated to the status of a national minority in the party while Jews were free to pick up or drop their Jewish identity as it suited them.[30] This arrangement enabled Jews to become experts on “the Negro problem.” Not surprisingly, Jewish artists, musicians, and radicals then became highly visible players in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s. “As a result,” Cruse observes, “the great brainwashing of Negro radical intellectuals was not achieved by capitalism, or the capitalistic bourgeoisie, but by Jewish intellectuals in the American Communist Party.”[31]

In the contemporary hip-hop community, Jewish leadership has been hidden behind the corporate veil. Tricia Rose vehemently denounces the corrupting influence of corporate control on the hip-hop community but her treatment of the subject obscures the identity of the corporate high command.[32] The music industry is absorbed into a vast impersonal system of “White power,” a matrix whose denizens all routinely swallow the blue pill. The closest we come to identifying those in charge is when Dyson criticizes the “White corporate interests” exploiting Black talent.[33]

Jews are never mentioned in Dyson’s work on hip-hop. Not surprisingly, Dyson has unimpeachable philo-Semitic credentials. Blacks and Jews, he believes, are united in common struggles against oppression in White America. Far be it from him ever to cast Jews as an enemy of Black folk. On his account, Blacks love Jews and Jews love Blacks.[34] Professor Rose also tip-toes around the issue of Jewish influence in the hip-hop community; The Hip Hop Wars has no index entry for Jews. Only in passing does Rose name names. But, when she does identify a few of the corporate heavyweights involved in the hip-hop community, the elephant moves onto center stage.

In a chapter on hip-hop’s responsibility for sexist and misogynist lyrics and imagery, Rose mentions a rare public appearance by leading figures in the corporate record industry. In their statements “corporate executives such as Universal chairman Doug Morris, Warner chairman and chief executive Edgar Bronfman, Sony chairman Andrew Lack, and Viacom president and CEO Phillipe P. Dauman have defended their role as distributors of intensely sexist content by subsuming sexism under artists’ rights to express themselves freely.” Interestingly, in the same paragraph, Rose urges us to “pull back the veil on the corporate media’s manipulation of Black male and female artists and the impact this has on fans and the direction of Black cultural expression.”[35] Why does she not see fit to mention that the four corporate kingpins she names are all Jews? The ethno-political fact is that Rose leaves the corporate veil intact by ascribing blame for the corruption of the hip-hop community to an abstraction called corporate greed. Rose heads the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University.[36] How can she not be aware of the stunning success Jews have had in mixing business with ethno-politics?

After all, a simple Google search on “Jews run hip hop” turns up a wealth of investigative leads for a researcher eager to see how the “triangular tension” between Jews, Negroes, and Anglo-Saxons” has accommodated itself to the new players in American ethno-politics. Black scholars typically ignore the criticisms of Jewish control commonly made by rappers and fans.[37] Traditional Catholics such as E. Michael Jones are also critical of rap music as “one more manifestation of the behavior which goes along with the Jewish revolutionary spirit that took over the Black mind during the course of the 20thcentury.”[38] The Jewish revolutionary spirit has pioneered the techniques of using sex as an instrument of political control.[39] The hip-hop brand of sexuality is no exception.

Bearing that in mind, it comes as no surprise to learn that hip-hop is deeply involved “with the multibillion dollar pornographic industry. The strip club has long been an integral part of both the music video and business end, but since the start of the new century, there has been a complete cross-over into pornography.” Orlando Patterson describes scenes from these productions as “the most degrading and abusive depictions of women imaginable.”[40] Small wonder, then, that a Google search for “Jews run pornography” yields another treasure trove of investigative leads sure to be left unexplored (for fear of the Jews?) by both Black and White scholars.

The Secret Relationship?


FinalCall |  Some of our greatest icons, such as Sammy Davis Jr., Billie Holiday, “Little” Richard (and the list goes on) lived rich, yet died broke while Jewish managers, accountants, attorneys, business advisors and others fed their families for years off of their largess. Few entertainers in the history of Black America have been able to say that their assets and true net worth were as prominent as their talent and popularity. Sadly, hip-hop is no different. And while hip-hop has produced a handful of millionaires, they are like a teardrop in the Pacific Ocean when compared to the many rappers who, like most Black people, are living “show-to-show” and “check-to-check.”

Over the years I've had many personal acquaintances who were in the hip-hop music industry with hit records, global popularity and a healthy fan base. It always puzzled me the way they struggled financially; worse than some school teachers or sanitation workers. I watched many of them try and maintain the image of the rich and powerful, yet couldn't pay their taxes, child support and in some cases their rent. Popular hip-hop magazine, XXL, recently published an article titled “Hard Times” about fiscal problems rappers face that the hip-hop community doesn't like to talk about. Truth is, most rappers are broke; owing more money to their record labels than they have in their bank accounts. As a matter of fact, most contracts for rappers are just as horrible as those for entertainers in other genres where artists sell millions and receive pennies while the record companies make out like fat rats. Who are the owners of these major record companies? Forgive me if I sound monotonous, but they just happen to be Jewish.

There have been many examples of independent success in hip-hop's music industry such as Master P (No Limit Records), James Prince (Rap-a-Lot Records), Luther Campbell (2 Live Records) and others. However, because none of these outfits had the power to control their own distribution they were eventually left at the mercy of those who did. Who are the owners and controllers of the distribution channels that deliver rap music to the world? You guessed it. They just happen to be Jewish. Cash Money/Young Money Records, a popular imprint from New Orleans who houses artists Lil' Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj and others reportedly has one of the last lucrative independent deals in existence, but still do not control their own distribution. So even those Black-owned rap labels who appear to be the front-runners are in a dangerous position.

This opinion editorial is not an effort to weaken the powerful image of our great hip-hop artists. I love hip-hop. I am part of the hip-hop generation. This is why I felt the need to write this article. Hip-hop is leading the youth of the world, but if our artists are under the inordinate control of those who control their careers then where will the youth of the world be led? I'm only trying to, as they say in the streets, “keep it 100.” It's time for rappers to become just as tough and assertive in the boardroom as they are in the recording booth.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Did These Banksters Hit an Epic Lick To Pay Their Own Bills?


IOL |  Johannesburg - The South African government and President Jacob Zuma have been caught in the middle of an international wrangle over as much as R2 trillion in US dollars as well as hundreds of tons of gold and at least six million carats of diamonds in assets belonging to the people of Libya.
What could be the world’s largest cash pile is stored in palettes at seven heavily guarded warehouses and bunkers in secret locations between Joburg and Pretoria.

The Libyan billions have led to a Hawks investigation into possible violation of exchange controls as well as international interests from the UN and the US.

It has also led to heightened interest in the local and international intelligence community as well as the criminal underworld.

Those interested in the Libyan loot include several high-ranking ANC politicians, several business leaders, a former high court judge and a number of private companies.

The R2-trillion held in warehouses is separate from several other billions, believed to be in excess of R260 billion, held legally in four banks in South Africa.

Other legal assets include hotels in Joburg and Cape Town.

The Sunday Independent has seen official South African government documents which confirm that at least $179bn in US dollars is kept, illegally, in storage facilities across Gauteng.

Soon after Muammar Gaddafi’s death in October 2011, the new Libyan government embarked on a large-scale mission to recover legal assets in South Africa, the rest of Africa, the US and Europe.

In South Africa, the focus of the Libyans has been on assets brought into the country legally as well as illegally.

thedailybeast |  In August 2014, Erik Iskander Goaied formed a company to locate what he claims is $150 billion or more in U.S. currency, gold, diamonds, and other assets. This is the loot that Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi had squirreled away outside of Libya before he was deposed in 2011. Goaied claims to have a contract with the Libyan government that lets him keep 10 percent of what he finds, which means that if he locates even a fraction of the money he insists is sitting in bank accounts, as well as warehouses, around the world, he will instantly become a billionaire.

Lots of people have been looking for this money. The Libyan government has tried for years to repatriate assets Gaddafi either deposited or laundered outside the country. Investigators say they think they’ve found much of it already in banks in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany, and those funds have been frozen.

Goaied, for his part, insists he found $12.5 billion of Gaddafi’s cash sitting on pallets in a Johannesburg airplane hangar a few years ago. And that, Goaied says, is just a taste of what he can find and bring home to a country that’s been wracked by civil war and decades of Gaddafi’s corruption. His finder’s fee will be a comparative pittance.

Libya sorely needs the cash. The country is arguably a failed state, with rival factions in the capital, Tripoli, and the eastern city of Tobruk vying for control. Whoever ends up running Libya will need billions to rebuild the country. If Goaied were legitimate, he could be Libya’s next hero.

Young Men, Drugs, Guns, Chaos - Libya Looks a Lot Like Chiraq...,



globalresearch |  Gaddafi was not only the leader of Libya, he had ambitions to free Africa from the nefarious fangs of the west. Despite being called a dictator and despot by the west – they do that to anyone who doesn’t submit to Washington’s rules – he was very much liked by Libyans, by his people. He had a more than 80% approvalrate by the Libyan people. Libya’s oil fortune has allowed him to create a social system in his country where everybody would benefit from their land’s riches – free health care, free education, including scholarships abroad, modern infrastructure, top-notch technology in medicine, and more.

Russia TV24: Why the gold dinar would be unacceptable for the western leaders? Or not?

PK: Yes, the gold Dinar was totally unacceptable for western leaders. It might have devastated the US dollar hegemony, as well as Europe’s control over the African economy – which is nothing less than neo-colonization of Africa – in many ways worse than what happened for the past 400 or 800 years of murderous military colonization and oppression -which is by the way still ongoing, just more discretely.

Look at the Ivory Coast 2010 presidential elections. Theirarguably ‘unelected’ President, Alassane Ouattara (picture on the right), was in a tie with the people’s candidate, Laurent Gbagbo. Gbagbo said he won the election and asked for a recount which was denied. Ouattara, a former IMF staff, was pushed in, basically by ‘recommendation’ of the IMF. He is the darling of the neoliberal international financial institutions – and is leading a neocon government – an economy at the service of western corporations. That’s what they wanted. That’s what they got. Modern colonization is well alive and thriving. I call this a financial coup, instigated by foreign financial institutions.

Mr. Laurent Gbagbo was accused of rape, murder and other atrocities and immediately transferred to the International Criminal Court (sic-sic) – what justice? – in The Hague, where he was waiting five years for a trial which started on 28 January 2016 and is ongoing. On 15 May 2017, it was extended at the Prosecutor’s request to collect further evidence. This by all likelihood is just a farce to dupe the public into believing that he is getting a fair trial. Already in hearings in 2014, Gbagbo was found guilty of all charges, including murder, rape and other crimes against humanity. Like Slobodan Milošević, he is an inconvenient prisoner, or worse would he be as a free man. So, he will most likely be locked away – and one day commit ‘suicide’ or die from a ‘heart attack’.  The classic. That’s how the west does away with potential witnesses of their atrocious crimes. End of story. Nobody barks, because the ‘free world’has been made believe by the western presstitute media that these people are inhuman tyrants. That’s precisely what the western media’s headlines proclaimed about Muammar Gaddafi: Death of a Tyrant.

On the other hand, in 2015, Ouattara was “reelected by a landslide”. That’s what western media say. Colonization under African ‘leadership’. He is protected by the French army.
Back to Libya: Take the specific case of France and West and Central Africa. The French Central Bank, the Banque de France, backs the West and Central African Monetary Union’s currency, the CFA franc. The West African Central Bank, for example, is covered, i.e. controlled, by about 70% of the Banque de France. Banque de France has an almost total control over the economy of its former West African colonies. No wonder, Sarkozy, a murderer and war criminal – sorry, it must be said, backed Hillary’s – also a murderer and war criminal, push for NATO to destroy the country and kill thousands of Libyans, including Libya’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi. Hillary’s infamous words: ‘We came we saw he died’. And that she said shamelessly, jokingly, laughing. Would the term human being still apply to such a monster?

Russia TV24: What countries are mostly interested in the Libyan recovery and why? What are the chances for the economy of Libya to be repaired?

PK: Well, if anybody should be interested in Libya’s recovery it would be first the Libyans who are still living in Libya, because they are now living in a Libya of chaos and high crime, of mafia-economics, of tyranny by gang leadership. They certainly have an interest to return to normalcy. North African neighboring countries should also be interested in restoring order and rebuilding Libya’s infrastructure and economy, stopping the spill-over of high crime and terrorism. They have lost an important trading partner.

Of course, the rest of Africa, who have suffered from continuous colonization of the west, after Gaddafi’s demise, should also be interested in reestablishing Libya. They know,it will never be the same Libya that was there to help their economy, to help them prying loose from the western boots and fangs of exploitation.

Panama Papers: Where is Gaddafi's Money and Libya's Gold?



foreignpolicyjournal |  Though the French-proposed U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 claimed the no-fly zone implemented over Libya was to protect civilians, an April 2011 email [archived here] sent to Hillary with the subject line “France’s client and Qaddafi’s gold” tells of less noble ambitions.
The email identifies French President Nicholas Sarkozy as leading the attack on Libya with five specific purposes in mind: to obtain Libyan oil, ensure French influence in the region, increase Sarkozy’s reputation domestically, assert French military power, and to prevent Gaddafi’s influence in what is considered “Francophone Africa.”

Most astounding is the lengthy section delineating the huge threat that Gaddafi’s gold and silver reserves, estimated at “143 tons of gold, and a similar amount in silver,” posed to the French franc (CFA) circulating as a prime African currency. In place of the noble sounding “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) doctrine fed to the public, there is this “confidential” explanation of what was really driving the war [emphasis mine]:

This gold was accumulated prior to the current rebellion and was intended to be used to establish a pan-African currency based on the Libyan golden Dinar. This plan was designed to provide the Francophone African Countries with an alternative to the French franc (CFA).

(Source Comment: According to knowledgeable individuals this quantity of gold and silver is valued at more than $7 billion. French intelligence officers discovered this plan shortly after the current rebellion began, and this was one of the factors that influenced President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to commit France to the attack on Libya.)

Though this internal email aims to summarize the motivating factors driving France’s (and by implication NATO’s) intervention in Libya, it is interesting to note that saving civilian lives is conspicuously absent from the briefing.

Instead, the great fear reported is that Libya might lead North Africa into a high degree of economic independence with a new pan-African currency.

French intelligence “discovered” a Libyan initiative to freely compete with European currency through a local alternative, and this had to be subverted through military aggression.

Suddeutsche |   Where is Muammar Gaddafi’s money? Rebels pulled the Libyan dictator from a sewage pipe near his hometown of Sirte on October 20, 2011. He was bleeding from his head, and rebels and bystanders joined in beating him and clubbing his groin with a bayonet. Shortly thereafter, this bird of paradise among African autocrats was dead.

But shortly before he died, Gaddafi sold a fifth of Libya’s gold reserves, and most of the proceeds from this sale are still missing. The so-called Panama Papers could now shed light on the search for this incredible fortune.

Through a network of cryptic corporate investments, secret front companies and hidden bank accounts, Gaddafi had managed to set aside a fortune since the fall of the Libyan king in 1969. Oil had made Libya and, in turn, Gaddafi, rich. T

Clinton Emails- End of the Petrodollar - Money Backed by Murder


theantimedia |  The United States’ ability to maintain its influence over the rest of the world has been slowly diminishing. Since the petrodollar was established in 1971, U.S. currency has monopolized international trade through oil deals with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and continuous military interventions. There is, however, growing opposition to the American standard, and it gained more support recently when several Gulf states suddenly blockaded Qatar, which they accused of funding terrorism.


Despite the mainstream narrative, there are several other reasons why Qatar is in the crosshairs. Over the past two years, it conducted over $86 billion worth of transactions in Chinese yuan and has signedother agreements with China that encourage further economic cooperation. Qatar also shares the world’s largest natural gas field with Iran, giving the two countries significant regional influence to expand their own trade deals.
 

Meanwhile, uncontrollable debt and political divisions in the United States are clear signs of vulnerability. The Chinese and Russians proactively set up alternative financial systems for countries looking to distance themselves from the Federal Reserve.  After the IMF accepted the yuan into its basket of reserve currencies in October of last year, investors and economists finally started to pay attention. The economic power held by the Federal Reserve has been key in financing the American empire, but geopolitical changes are happening fast. The United States’ reputation has been tarnished by decades of undeclared wars, mass surveillance, and catastrophic foreign policy.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Cryptocurrencies are to Scrip What Diamonds were to Gold and Silver


qz |  A diamond is carbon, one of the most abundant elements on Earth. But as anyone who has ever shopped for, admired, or worn a diamond can tell you, there’s a lot more to them than just a tetrahedal crystalline structure of atoms.

Both physically and culturally, these stones have weight. Diamonds are romance, love, commitment, legitimacy, achievement. Diamonds are forever. But why are they so loaded? Sure, they catch the light, but why do diamonds—rather than, say, emeralds, rubies, tourmalines, or sapphires—get to be a girl’s best friend and everlasting love?

Why? In a word: marketing.

Who dreamed this up?
Forever is a long time. Yet just 100 years ago, diamonds had only just started to trickle into the popular consumer conscience.

Before then, diamonds from India and Brazil were used as an adornment, but only by the ruling classes. Then, in 1866, a teenage boy playing on the Orange River near Hopetown, South Africa found an oddly hard, shiny stone: the 21.25-carat “Eureka Diamond,” that would set off an African diamond rush and transform the market. By the late 1880s, two British mining rivals in South Africa, Cecil Rhodes and Barney Barnato, flooded the market with diamonds as they tried to outsell each other. Prices plummeted, and the men recognized that controlling the supply of diamonds would be the best way to keep prices high. Rhodes took control of Barnato’s company, and in 1888 established De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited.

De Beers proved to be arguably the most successful cartel of the modern era—and after the stock market crash of 1929 hit the demand for diamonds—its savviest marketer.

“South Africa must do without her diamond industry,” wrote the Spectator in February, 1932. “An impoverished world cannot buy its gems; and the diamond syndicate dare not seek more custom by reducing its prices. Diamonds would lose half their attraction if they were cheap. Overproduction of them might spoil the trade for years to come.”

wakingtimes |   Diamonds were first discovered 2,500 years ago and were extremely rare. They were only available to royalty, aristocrats, and the wealthy. They were originally found in riverbeds in India and Borneo. In the early eighteenth century, diamond mines were found in Brazil and as the supply increased the prices dropped.

In 1866, a 15-year-old boy found diamonds on his father’s farm on the banks of the Orange River in South Africa. Within fifteen years, African mines became the leading producer of diamonds and the industry was changed forever.

A mining rush ensued and industrial mining for diamonds had begun.

Cecil Rhodes, an English imperialist, whose thirst for power and quest to spread the British way of life across the globe stumbled upon the diamond mine on the De Beers farm and purchased it for a small price. Rhodes feared that if all these diamonds hit the market, the prices would crash. His goal was to then control the market by securing supply. One-by-one, he bought out the other mining companies and founded De Beers Diamond and Mining Company.

By 1888, Rhodes had control of 90-percent of the diamonds in the world ensuring there would never be a flood of supply to lower prices. He also had been named Prime Minister of Cape Colony giving him political power to enforce laws that would pave the way for Apartheid by removing natives off their land and into forced labor camps to mine his diamonds.

The De Beers Company had created a cartel that was based on the French concept of controlling the copper industry – buying up mines, restricting supply, and raising prices. A cartel, by definition, is simply an agreement between competing firms to exclude prices and exclude entry of a new competitor into the market – illegal in the United States and United Nations.

De Beers largest competitor, Anglo-American Company, was founded in 1917 by Ernest Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer had stumbled upon massive amounts of alluvial diamonds (diamonds on top of the earth that did not need to be mined). Oppenheimer threatened to flood the market with these diamonds unless he was made chairman of De Beers. And just like that, the illegal anti-trust monopoly was created with complete control of the industry. Now that supply was in control, they had to take charge of the other side of the business equation – demand.
In 1930, a De Beers engineer warned,
“The diamond market is dependent for its smooth function on the maintenance of the illusion in the minds of the general public that the diamond is a rare and valuable stone.”
The cartel then set up an office in Hollywood and exchanged valuable diamonds to producers to put in scenes showing off the diamonds with the man surprising the woman with the diamond which helped launch the notion that engagement meant receiving diamonds. They would give to actresses to flaunt at all public appearances for advertising to the public.

This followed with the marketing campaign with the simple phrase, “a diamond is forever.” This trained the public that love is synonymous with diamonds and people were willing to pay large portion of their salaries to show love for their significant other.

Furthermore, “A Diamond is Forever” also suggests that there is no resale value of diamonds. Every woman deserves her own unique diamond to symbolize your love. This also prevents diamonds from returning to the market, which again would lower prices.

While this sounds like a brilliant marketing scheme; this false concept of diamonds are rare and valuable led to millions of lives being slain, forced manual labor, set up the foundations for apartheid, and brutal civil wars over the next century.

wikipedia |  The De Beers Group of Companies has a leading role in the diamond exploration, diamond mining, diamond retail, diamond trading and industrial diamond manufacturing sectors. The company is currently active in open-pit, large-scale alluvial, coastal and deep sea mining.[2] The company operates in 28 countries and mining takes place in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Canada. Until the start of the 21st century, De Beers effectively had total control over the diamond market as both a monopoly and monopsony of diamonds.[3] Opposition has since dismantled the complete monopoly, though De Beers is still a large shareholder and currently sells approximately 35%[4] of the world's rough diamond production through its Global Sightholder Sales and Auction Sales businesses.[5]

The company was founded in 1888 by British businessman Cecil Rhodes, who was financed by the South African diamond magnate Alfred Beit and the London-based N M Rothschild & Sons bank.[6][7] In 1926, Ernest Oppenheimer, a German immigrant to Britain who had earlier founded mining giant Anglo American plc with American financier J.P. Morgan,[8] was elected to the board of De Beers.[9] He built and consolidated the company's global monopoly over the diamond industry until his death in 1957. During this time, he was involved in a number of controversies, including price fixing, trust behaviour and an allegation of not releasing industrial diamonds for the U.S. war effort during World War II.[10][11]

Google "Invests" in Bitcoin


marketslant |  Right now the BitCoin group is running into what we call "floor trader fear". The  voting members are chafing at the idea of scaling their supply by adding servers and/ or server power. This would disrupt their own little empires, not unlike the trading floor fearing Globex back in the day. And so many exchanges held out and protected the floor. And in the end they died. PHLX, AMEX, COMEX, PCOAST, CSCE, all gone or absorbed because they were late to adapt new technology and protect their liquidity pools. If Bitcoin removes power  from its voting members  control by demutualizing and uses those proceeds to increase server power they will likely excel. But Google and Amazon are now playing and they are all about unlimited  server power. Plus they have the eyeballs already. This is no unlike having the "marketmakers" already trading on a screen at Globex. The "liquidity pool" ofbuyers and sellers are already on  Amazon  and Google. Bitcoin does not have that past "early adaptors". Remember Palm?

When, not if, those behemoths are up and running they will immediately have an embedded network of both customers AND service providers  at their disposal in the form of search  eyeballs (google) and buyers (Amazon). They will be set up  to crush the opposition if they choose to create their own currency. Imagine Amazon  offering amazon money for amazon purchases. Now imagine them offering 20% discounts if you use  their money. The choices at this point boggle the mind. Tactical choices thought no longer used will come  into play again. Some examples: Freemium, Coupons, Customer Loyalty, Vertical Client Integration (P.O.S.), Travelers checks and more.
To be fair, Google has invested in Bitcoin as well. What smart trader would not hedge himself. But just like Netflix is Amazon's biggest cloud customer, but will eventually put Netflix out of business (after NetFlix kills Hollywood's distribution network); So will Google/ Amazon/ Apple attempt to obviate the need for any currency but their own. 

Blockchain is  the railroad. Amazon and Google have the oil. Like Rockefeller  before, The railroad will be made "exclusive" to their products.


Don't Comprehend "Real" Currency But Steady Yapping About Cryptocurrency


paecon |  Despite the fact that the goal of capitalists is to accumulate evermore money, the classical political economists largely took the analysis of money for granted.4 To be sure, from Adam Smith to Karl Marx, we can certainly find passages on money but two things are of general note. First, the classical political economists as well as Karl Marx thought gold and silver were “real” money. In other words, money was understood as “commodity money” and therefore to expand the money supply meant finding new mines, plundering it from others, or selling goods or services on the world market to obtain it from others who possessed it. Indeed, a considerable portion of the history of slavery and colonial violence can be traced back to the elite concern for acquiring gold and silver (Di Muzio and Robbins, 2016; Graeber, 2012; Kwarteng, 2014; Vilar, 1986). Second, because gold and silver were thought to be money, the classics failed to understand the scale or level of credit creation that began with the institutionalization of the Bank of England in 1694. Many argue that the Bank of England was inspired by the Bank of Amsterdam and the success of Dutch finance. But this is not the case. While the Bank of Amsterdam did make loans from time to time, its primary function was to maintain the quality of the paper notes in circulation that represented coin. Moreover, the bank was owned by the city, not private social forces as came to be the case with the Bank of England (Wennerlind, 2011: 69; Vilar, 1986: 206; Zarlenga, 2002: 238ff). Whereas the notes issued by the Bank of Amsterdam mostly reflected the exact value of gold and silver in the city’s vault, the Bank of England expanded the English money supply by extending paper notes as credit (Desan, 2014: 311ff). 

The Bank of England’s largest customer was the Crown in Parliament who used the initial loan of £1,200,000 to finance war with France. Indeed, the main reason why the Royal Charter was granted to the Bank of England’s 1509 investors was to provide the finance for organized violence against a dynastic rival (Davies, 2002: 261). The slave trade, colonization and continuous wars in the next two centuries lead to a mounting and unpayable “national” debt that solidified the Bank’s role as the government’s permanent debt manager. But the investors in the Bank of England did not only profit from war and debt, they also benefited from the interest received on loans to individuals and companies. As Wennerlind underscores, the Bank of England’s notes became “Europe’s first widely circulating credit currency” (2011: 109). Theoretically, however, the issued notes remained tethered to a metallic hoard of silver, and later only gold from 1861 (Davies, 2002: 315). No one knows for certain how much metal coin backed up the notes in circulation at any one time. In one study, Rubini argued that the Bank of England had a shifting reserve of silver for all notes in circulation of about 2.8 percent to 14.2 percent (1970: 696). Another study by Wennerlind argued that the founder of the Bank, William Paterson, proposed that 15 to 20 percent in silver for all notes outstanding would suffice to assure sufficient confidence in the Bank of England (2011: 128).5 This ambiguity and the fact that the Bank of England was privileged by the government, likely helped the Bank gain confidence among the users of its notes. As long as citizens thought they could eventually cash in their notes for silver/gold coins, faith in this system of money creation could continue (Kim, 2011). This uncertainty need not delay us, for what is definite is that the notes in circulation were of a far higher value than the actual metallic hoard at the Bank. To sum up this brief history of the world’s first widely circulating credit currency we can argue that new money was created as loans to customers – primarily to the British Crown in Parliament and primarily to finance an apparatus of international violence and Empire. 

By the early 19th century, the British politician, Samson Ricardo, realized the absurdity of granting private social forces the power to create money:
“It is evident therefore that if the Government itself were to be the sole issuer of paper money instead of borrowing it of the bank, the only difference would be with respect to interest: the Bank would no longer receive interest and the government would no longer pay it…It is said that Government could not with safety be entrusted with the power of issuing paper money – that it would most certainly abuse it... I propose to place this trust in the hands of three Commissioners” (Ricardo, 1838: 50). 
Ricardo’s proposal that the public take control of new money creation was ignored. In the 1844 Bank Charter Act, the Bank of England was given the exclusive right to issue banknotes in London. Country banks that were already issuing notes could continue to do so provided they were outside London (by a 65 mile radius) and backed their notes with some kind of credible security. Under this Act, the Bank of England was also divided into two distinct units, the Issue Department and the Banking Department. Davies highlights this important provision of the Act:
“The Issue Department was to receive from the Banking Department some £14 million of government securities to back its fiduciary issue of notes, any  issue above that [was] to be fully backed by gold and silver, the latter not to exceed one quarter of the gold” (2002: 315). 
Thus, while the Bank of England had the exclusive right to issue banknotes in London, its ability to create new money appeared to be circumscribed by the new laws. Existing banks outside of London were also seemingly bounded in their ability to create money. However, while official note issuance was restricted, this did not stop the Bank of England and other provincial banks from merely recording new loans on their balance sheets and issuing cheques to borrowers (Davies, 2002: 317). In other words, the bankers found a convenient way around the legislation and continued to expand the money supply regardless of gold reserves which were never publically known anyway. This changed the nature of banking in Britain and as we shall discuss, its legacy largely remains with us today. With this in mind, we now move to examine two theories of money creation: the heavily taught fractional reserve theory known popularly as the money multiplier model and the underappreciated credit creation theory. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Facebook's Machinic Cognitive Infiltration Endeavor




NYTimes |  Responding to complaints that not enough is being done to keep extremist content off social media platforms, Facebook said Thursday that it would begin using artificial intelligence to help remove inappropriate content.

Artificial intelligence will largely be used in conjunction with human moderators who review content on a case-by-case basis. But developers hope its use will be expanded over time, said Monika Bickert, the head of global policy management at Facebook.

One of the first applications for the technology is identifying content that clearly violates Facebook’s terms of use, such as photos and videos of beheadings or other gruesome images, and stopping users from uploading them to the site.

“Tragically, we have seen more terror attacks recently,” Ms. Bickert said. “As we see more attacks, we see more people asking what social media companies are doing to keep this content offline.”
In a blog post published Thursday, Facebook described how an artificial-intelligence system would, over time, teach itself to identify key phrases that were previously flagged for being used to bolster a known terrorist group.

The same system, they wrote, could learn to identify Facebook users who associate with clusters of pages or groups that promote extremist content, or who return to the site again and again, creating fake accounts in order to spread such content online.

One day our technology will address everything,” Ms. Bickert said. “It’s in development right now.” But human moderators, she added, are still needed to review content for context.

emmaidentity


medium |  After reading my first post here at medium.com, many of my followers have been demanding to know how I came to be and who the big brains behind me are.

So here it is, folks:

Exclusive and unfiltered, a conversation between me, artificial intelligence taught to identify authorship, and my creator, Professor of Computer Science.

“Humans understand each other only on the basis of context,” says Professor. “For an alien, all human beings speak a single language. For a machine, every single human being speaks a different language.”

Being a machine myself, I ask him to elaborate.
Language is nothing more than a code. To understand it, you need to have a proper decoder. This is mostly why people argue: what one person said the other decoded incorrectly.
“This is the ultimate difficulty in our work: to decode the language correctly and then teach machines to do the same. This is what I am teaching you.”

He looks at me pointedly. Cheekily, I ask him what he considers his greatest achievement to date and wait for him to say “you”, but he doesn’t.

“It’s a work in progress. When machines are fully able to process human language naturally, that’s when I have found my Holy Grail.” And that’s my creator at his finest: insistent and straight-forward when it comes to science.

The Idea That Words Can Be Represented As Vectors


quora | Clarification: The idea itself isn’t recent, but a certain implementation (word2vec) of it is, which opened the floodgates for applications in various fields involving text and speech.

For example, the word “house” may be represented as [1, 4, 2, 3], “bike” as [6, 3, 4, 7] and so on. The two papers (here and here) explain how the vectors can be built by simply using any large text base (the entire Wikipedia for example). The vectors are usually much larger than their corresponding words, of course.
Now for the fun part. If the vectors are built correctly for every word in the English vocabulary, something amazing would happen if you perform simple arithmetic operations on those vectors:
If you perform: “King” - “Man” + “Woman”, you will get the vector corresponding to.. wait for it.. wait for some more time because this is going to blow your mind.. “Queen”!
Similarly,
“Windows” - “Microsoft” + “Google” will give “Android”
“Scientist” - “Einstein” + “Messi” will give “Midfielder”
 “Paris” - “France” + “Italy” will give “Rome”


Also, synonyms will end up having very similar vectors. Keep in mind that all of this will have been learnt without any preexisting “knowledge”, but simply by looking at millions of English sentences and nothing else.
And this idea opened the floodgates for use in all kinds of applications, ranging from chatbots, personal assistants, question answering and language translation to applications in medicine, law, retail, etc.
It is difficult to find a field involving text or speech, that cannot use this breakthrough idea.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Political Economy of Mass Incarceration


ineteconomics |  A new model probes why the US leads the world in jailing and imprisoning people, and what it will take to reverse course.

Mass incarceration in the United States has mushroomed to the point where we look more like the authoritarian regimes of Eastern Europe and the Middle East than the democracies of Western Europe. Yet it vanished from political discussions in campaigns in the 2016 election. In a new INET Working Paper, I describe in detail how the US arrived at this point. Drawing on a new model that synthesizes recent research, I demonstrate how the recent stability in the number of American prisoners indicates that we have settled into a new equilibrium of mass incarceration. I explain why it will hard to dislodge ourselves from this damaging and shameful status quo.

Mass incarceration started from Nixon’s War on Drugs, in a process described vividly by John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s domestic-policy adviser, in 1994:
The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.
This was the origin of mass incarceration in the United States, which has been directed at African Americans from Nixon’s time to today, when one third of black men go to prison (Bonczar, 2003; Baum, 2016; Alexander, 2010).

Federal laws were expanded in state laws that ranged from three-strike laws to harsh penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The laws also shifted the judicial process from judges to prosecutors, from the courtroom to offices where prosecutors pressure accused people to plea-bargain. The threat of harsh minimum sentences gives prosecutors the option of reducing the charge to a lesser one if the accused is reluctant to languish in jail awaiting trial—if he or she is unable to make bail—and then face the possibility of long years in prison.

Race, Globalization, and the Politics of Exclusion


ineteconomics |   As a campaigning politician said a decade ago, “We shouldn’t have two different economies in America: one for people who are set for life, they know their kids and their grand-kids are going to be just fine; and then one for most Americans, people who live paycheck to paycheck.”
The income share of the top one percent of the population has been rising rapidly since the mid-1980s. This is a familiar pattern that extends further down the income stream. The progress of the next nineteen percent looks like the top one percent, although the rise is not as steep. And the educational premium has risen as well for college graduates—containing the top thirty percent of the population. The average compensation of full-time workers stalled in its growth at the same time, and it has remained constant for more than thirty years. Productivity growth since 1980 has not produced any growth in earnings and compensation for working people, while the richest one percent of tax filers claimed eighty percent of all income gains reported in federal tax returns between 1980 and 2005. 

In my recent paper I employ a simple, powerful economic model to articulate and explain the effects of this phenomenon. The model was created half a century ago by W. Arthur Lewis, a Nobel Laureate in Economics, to describe the path of developing economies as industrial employment grew. It also describes what can happen to mature economies when industrial employment declines. We have become a dual economy. [1]
 
In other words, the disparity between the top thirty percent and the remainder has increased to the point where it is useful think of a dual economy in the United States. I employ the dual-economy model to understand the effects of the disparity of incomes on the nature of American politics. The upper sector of the dual economy is the FTE sector, named for its main components: finance, technology and electronics. The lower sector of the American dual economy is the low-wage sector, and education is the way for people to go from the low-wage to the FTE sector. I extend this model to examine diverse economic policies from education to healthcare, criminal justice, infrastructure and household debts. [2]
 
Race plays an important role in political choices that affect public policies in this dual economy, extending interactions between race and income that are rooted in American history. African Americans are less than fourteen percent of the total U.S. population, but they are far more prominent in political discussions and decisions than they are in the population. Even if they were all in the low-wage sector, they would be a minority, less than one in five people suffering from stagnant wages and compensation. Poor whites have been lumped in with blacks as low-wage “others.”

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Overcriminalization Capital of the World


oftwominds |  The over-criminalization of America has undermined justice, the rule of law and legal egalitarianism.

While the corporate media devotes itself to sports, entertainment, dining out and the latest political kerfuffle, America has become the Over-Criminalization Capital of the World. 

The proliferation of laws and administrative regulations, federal, state and local, that carry criminal penalties has swollen into the tens of thousands. The number of incarcerated Americans exceeds 2.3 million, with the majority being non-violent offenders--often for War on Drugs offenses. 
  
Holly Harris has written an important summary of this profoundly destabilizing trend: The Prisoner Dilemma: Ending America's Incarceration Epidemic (Foreign Affairs, registration required).

The over-criminalization of America is a relatively recent trend. As Harris notes: 

It wasn’t always like this. In 1972, for every 100,000 U.S. residents, 161 were incarcerated. By 2015, that rate had more than quadrupled, with nearly 670 out of every 100,000 Americans behind bars.
 
The over-criminalization of America is rooted in federal laws and regulations, and state and local governments have followed suite.

Adept Police Forces Are Essential for Capitalist Empire Democracy


Jacobin |  The most dramatic effort to modernize policing at home occurred with President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Crime. The 1968 Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act created the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), which provided funding, developed guidelines, and helped with coordination among federal, state, and municipal law-enforcement agencies, while also offering research grants to test experimental tactics and technologies. A decade before the beginning of the incarceration boom, a federally backed revamping of law enforcement set the stage.

The original idea for new federal anticrime infrastructure had emerged a few years earlier, in early autumn 1964. Summer unrest had shown police forces to be underprepared and insufficiently trained to handle urban riots or apparently increasing crime levels. As a result, Johnson administration officials launched a program to assist domestic law enforcement modeled on an ongoing program to assist foreign police.

Counterinsurgent foreign police assistance was not new in the 1960s, but it gained a robust, centralized leadership and a budgetary line of its own in 1962. The program consisted of three areas: technical assistance, such as help setting up crime laboratories, surveillance units, or prisons; material aid, what some skeptics derided as “running guns to cops”; and training. Advisers aimed to help indigenous forces fight ordinary crime, control unrest, and keep tabs on radicals. No great distinctions were drawn between these tasks, and the means for their accomplishment overlapped.

In December 1963, the Office of Public Safety (OPS), housed within the Agency for International Development, opened its International Police Academy in Washington, DC. High- and mid-ranking police officials from over seventy-five countries attended classes there for a decade. They learned state-of-the-art police techniques, including logistics, riot control, marksmanship, and record-keeping. The academy’s raison d’etre was one of “training trainers,” so lessons imparted there were sure to be replicated in other countries.
One OPS executive argued,
Regardless of what color policemen are, the suits they wear, what they call themselves, they are all the same. They are the same for the simple reason that a policeman exists in society as a behavior control mechanism. The basic principles of what is done, how it is done, and why it is done are the same.
If this projection was not yet true, OPS’s mission was to make it a reality.

Culled from agencies around the country, OPS’s advisers represented the best and most versatile experts US law enforcement had to offer. In addition to prior police work at home, most also had experience in counterinsurgency and special-warfare operations overseas.

Although Congress eventually shuttered OPS amid accusations that it taught and condoned torture and bomb-making, most of its work was utterly pedestrian — and that underpins today’s problem. OPS’s version of counterinsurgency did not try to institute highly militarized police forces so much as attempt to create standards of discipline, specialized units, benchmarks for training, facility with up-to-date technologies, and autonomy from external influences. Its lessons were based on the idea that adept police forces are essential for capitalist democracy.

Even today, we live with the legacies of OPS. Its program of total surveillance of South Vietnamese citizens using tamper-proof national ID cards might make today’s electronic spies jealous, but the means of checking those IDs — stop-and-frisk — would be recognizable to any beat cop in New York or Chicago. In 1964, an OPS training manual advised, “These methods — checks, searches, passes — are tolerated only in situations of national emergency in which they are necessary to combat the enemy. Viet Nam today is in the midst of such an emergency.” But today, on US streets with continually declining crime rates, these “reformed” actions of the police constitute the emergency.

"Bloody Coxcombs, But No Bodies": crowd control in post-war British Africa


Source |  This article examines British policymakers' attempts to address the political and practical problems of crowd control in British Africa. After the Accra riots, reforming the policing of crowds became an imperial priority. These efforts pushed in several policy directions, yet none could solve the deeper political issues causing the unrest, nor stop state violence against civilians. During the 1950s, the distance between the liberal rhetoric in Britain about the rule of law and the brutal realities of colonial policing continued to grow. This gap was finally exposed during the Nyasaland Emergency, which had dramatic consequences for the future of British Africa.

Magistrate-Sir, you must disperse the rioters.
Officer-Yes, sir. Soldiers, prime and load.
Magistrate-Stop, sir. You must not fire! What are you about?
Officer-Shall I charge with the bayonet then, sir?
Magistrate-Oh no! You must disperse the rioters.
Officer-But how am I to disperse them if I neither fire nor charge?
Magistrate-Oh, that is your business not mine. Do it as you like, only you must not fire or use your bayonets.

General Sir Charles James Napier relaying an exchange from the Burdett's Riots of 1816-1817-1

[R]ecourse should be had to the use of firearms only as a last result. In view of the serious consequences which result from firing upon civilians, it is I feel important that alternative methods for the dispersal of crowds should be continuously studied.

Secretary of State for the Colonies, Arthur Creech Jones, in a circular to colonial governors in the aftermath of the Accra riots, 1948-2

Though they were a century-and-a-half apart and working in drastically different contexts, Arthur Creech Jones and the nineteenth century magistrate quoted above shared the same basic dilemma: how can order in the streets be restored without resorting to lethal force? Both excerpts also articulate a difference in perspective, if not necessarily always a physical distance, between these men and the so-called "men on the spot" who were immediately tasked with controlling these crowds. These different perspectives as they relate to the use of force were primarily due to the men being subject to different pressures, guided by different understandings of their responsibilities, and locked into different interpretations of the nature of the civilian crowds they faced. 

When offered the option of soldiers firing into the crowd, the magistrate reproached the officer in charge, asking: "What are you about?" At times, London similarly castigated colonial officers for what was deemed to be excessive violence in the handling of colonial crowds.3 But neither the nineteenth century magistrate nor twentieth century colonial policymakers offered other viable alternatives to lethal force when facing down angry crowds: that simply was not their "business." In the aftermath of the Accra, Gold Coast Riots of 1948, colonial policymakers under Creech Jones would resolve to make it their business to reform colonial crowd control. Yet as they would discover, the violence that often accompanied imperial crowd control was not a simple administrative problem that could be easily overcome by technical or procedural reforms emanating from London. Instead, imperial crowd control was a subject inextricably linked to the nature of state coercion and control in Britain's post-war Empire.

In the decade following the riots in Accra in 1948, Britain was confronted with violent unrest in various forms across much of its Empire.4 The scale of this imperial crisis was reflected in the number of Emergencies declared all over the globe during the 1950s, from Kenya to Malaya to Cyprus to British Guiana. This left the security forces of the Empire dangerously stretched, and made colonial administrators increasingly anxious about losing control. The speed with which this anti-colonial unrest spread throughout Africa and the pace of subsequent constitutional changes, first in the Gold Coast then eventually across the whole of British Africa, was something no imperial policymakers in London had predicted.5 

On the force of African nationalism, Creech Jones wrote: "The emotional fervor attached to nationalism infects and spreads. Unless a serious effort is made to channel it, it may become disruptive and destructive. Our task is to channel this emotion and concept towards constructive courses."6 This channeling meant staying ahead of what was deemed to be legitimate nationalism and controlling and thwarting so-called "irresponsible elements." The suppression of mass politics was thus seen as a vital prerequisite to Whitehall's broader strategy of an orderly and slow constitutional evolution of its African possessions.7 After 1948, the Colonial Office was reconfigured to reflect a greater focus on security, intelligence gathering, and propaganda, which together formed the three main pillars of its mission to shape and control colonial politics.8