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Saturday, June 25, 2016

2008 All Over Again: Chris Hedges




  Financial markets in the United States and worldwide face uncertainty and potential crisis after Britain voted to leave the European Union. (Sparkx 11)

Great Britain's decision to leave the European Union has wiped out many bankers and global speculators. They will turn, as they did in 2008, to governments to rescue them from default. Most governments, including ours, will probably comply.

Will the American public passively permit another massive bailout of the banks? Will it accept more punishing programs of austerity to pay for this bailout? Will a viable socialism rise out of the economic chaos to halt further looting of the U.S. Treasury and the continued reconfiguration of the economy into neofeudalism? Or will a right-wing populism, with heavy undertones of fascism, ascend to power because of a failure on the part of the left to defend a population once again betrayed?

Whatever happens next will be chaotic. Global financial markets, which lost heavily on derivatives, are already in free fall. The value of the British pound has dropped by over 9 percent and British bank stock prices by over 25 percent. This decline has wiped out the net worth of many Wall Street brokerage houses and banks, leaving them with negative equity. The Brexit vote severely cripples and perhaps kills the eurozone and, happily, stymies trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It throws the viability of NATO and American imperial designs in Eastern Europe and the Middle East into question. The British public's repudiation of neoliberal economics also has the potential to upend the presidential elections. The Democratic Party will orchestrate a rescue of Wall Street if there is a call for a bailout. Donald Trump and the Republicans, by opposing a bailout, can ride popular revulsion to power.

"A lot of banks in America and Europe that held their money in Great Britain just lost 9 percent at current exchange rates," said economist Michael Hudson when I reached him in New York by phone. "They have probably not hedged it. There have probably been large Wall Street institutions that made bets believing that Britain would remain in the European Union. There are firms and banks, I suspect, which have lost hundreds of billions of dollars. There is talk of another Lehman Brothers. We don't yet know who it will be."

The Democratic Party, by rescuing Wall Street, will be unmasked as the handmaidens of the financial elite.

"I expect Obama to do whatever he is told to do by Wall Street," Hudson said. "He has turned over management of the economy to his campaign contributors from Goldman Sachs and Chase Manhattan. He does not have views of his own, other than self-promotion. He wants his presidential library. He wants to have a big foundation like the Clintons. Most of the population will oppose a bailout, of course, and he will cry all the way to the bank."

Economies built on scaffolds of debt eventually collapse. There comes a moment when the service of the debt, as we see in Greece, becomes unsustainable. More and more draconian austerity measures are imposed on a captive public to pay banks and bondholders until these measures reach an intolerable level. The people revolt. The system crashes. This is what happened in Britain.
The war against international finance, and the array of intergovernmental systems and institutions used to enforce the predatory beast of global speculation, has begun. The question is, who will win? Will it be the banks, which intend to continue to pillage economies? Or will it be popular movements that will rise up to cancel debt and reinstate economic and political sovereignty?

Hudson sees the crisis in Europe as, in part, spawned by the U.S. intervention in the Middle East and the Ukraine.

"If there is anyone who is responsible for the Brexit, it is Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama," he said. "They destroyed Libya. They turned over Libyan weapons to [Islamic State], al-Qaida and [Nusra Front]. It was their war in Syria, where many of these weapons ended up, which created the massive exodus of refugees into Europe. This exodus exacerbated nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiment. Clinton and Obama are also responsible for a huge exodus of Ukrainians. This is all a response to American war policy in the Middle East and the Ukraine. In central Europe, with the expansion of NATO, Washington is meanwhile demanding that governments spend billions on weapons rather than on recovering the economy."


The eurozone prohibits central banks from financing government budget deficits. Countries in the eurozone have, in effect, surrendered economic and political sovereignty. They cannot create money to cope with their budget deficits or pump money into the economy. This, Hudson said, has "turned the eurozone into a dead zone since 2008."

"The eurozone now shrinks economies through debt deflation," said Hudson, author of "Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy." "That is one of the factors that led the British and the euroskeptic parties to say, 'We don't want to be a part of a Europe run by banks that impose debt deflation. We want governments that can create their own money to re-inflate the economy and build economic recovery.' As long as a country remains part of the eurozone, bankers will continue to lower wages and wipe out pension funds to pay bondholders. The Brexit vote reverses this rotten program. There are now calls from the Netherlands, France and Austria for a similar referendum."

"The debt imposed on countries like Greece can never be paid off," Hudson went on. "And the intention is that it can never be paid off. The banks use this inability to pay to insist that governments sell off more and more of the public domain and privatize. Debt is the lever used to force privatization. It takes away the power to carry out public investment and build a public infrastructure.
"Some financial firms, banks and perhaps even governments will now default," Hudson predicted. "The French and other European banks will try and pick up the banking business that operated out of London. There is going to be a huge loss by British banks. The taxes paid by these firms and banks will disappear from the British economy. Who is the British central bank going to create money for in this crisis? Is it going to put money into the economy, or is it going to pay for a new wave of quantitative easing so the banks can make up the losses on their bad bets?"

Britain's withdrawal from the eurozone will damage not only the international banking system, but hamper Washington's aggressive policies toward Russia and the Ukraine. Britain has served within the EU as an American proxy. German Social Democratic Party leaders, who have accused NATO of warmongering, have already called for the lifting of the sanctions against Russia. And there is a growing reluctance to continue supporting endless war in the Middle East.

"By breaking with the European bankers, you also ultimately break with the American domination of Europe through NATO," Hudson said.

"At some point, governments are going to have to put their own populations and economies above those of predators," he said. "The only question is, how long it will take the political system to realize the debts imposed on them by the banks cannot be paid? How long will it take to turn this mathematical certainty into a political response?"

If the liberal class, embodied by the Democratic Party and bankrupt socialist parties in countries such as France, continue to serve the bankers, the right wing will have an easy route to power. This will be true in Europe and the United States.

Trump, in Scotland, heralded the vote to leave the EU as "a great thing."

"People want to take their country back, they want to have independence in a sense, and you see it with Europe, all over Europe, and you're going to have more than just, in my opinion, more than just what happened last night," Trump said. "You're going to have many other cases where people want to take their borders back, they want to take their monetary [policy] back, they want to take a lot of things back, they want to be able to have a country again."

Hudson said such a stance could propel Trump and other right-wing populists to power.
"I can see Trump winning the election if he opposes what I expect will be the coming bailout of Wall Street," Hudson said. "By the time Obama leaves office, the economy will probably be wrecked. I see us undergoing a slow crash. The economy will go down and down and down. If the Democrats give more money to Wall Street and creditors, if they say the debts have to be repaid, if they again use government to hand money to the 1 percent, they will be discredited. Economic chaos always leads to political chaos. The only way to stop this move to the right is for genuine socialist movements and parties, such as Podemos in Spain, to organize and challenge the international banking system and its enablers in the political establishment. And they need to do it now."

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When People Live-Stream Murder and Suicide, Who Watches? | Broadly

When People Live-Stream Murder and Suicide, Who Watches?
Illustrations by Shawna X

Diana Tourjee

Jun 23 2016
As the popularity of live-streaming services like Periscope and Facebook Live grows, users have taken to these platforms to broadcast self-harm and acts of violence. Hundreds witness these tragedies in real time, but very few intervene.
In 2008 a 19-year-old college student named Abraham Bigsg logged on to the now-defunct live-streaming platform Justin.tv and took a lethal overdose of opiates and benzodiazepines. Twelve hours later, someone watching the broadcast, which was still running as user comments filtered in, identified Biggs's location and called the police, who can be seen entering Biggs's room before the video ends.
The advent of live-streaming video services such as Facebook Live and Periscope has enabled people around the world to share and consume the daily lives of strangers even more easily than before. But just as life is streamed into your computer screen, so too have death and violence passed through that portal. Since the technology's inception, people have raped, murdered, and committed suicide on live streams. This May, a 19-year-old French girl turned on Periscope before throwing herself in front of a train outside of Paris. In an even grimmer twist, some of these broadcasts (particularly suicides) have elicited onlooker apathy; users access the streams but often do nothing to help—or worse, they encourage the violence.
Biggs's suicide is one of shockingly numerous examples of how live-streaming technology can be used to broadcast human suffering. His story captured national attention because it was live-streamed, a relative (but not unheard of) peculiarity at the time, but there was another aspect of his case that disturbed his surviving family and the press: Many of the people anonymously observing Biggs during the final hours of his life told him to keep going. Wendy Crane, an investigator from the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office (BCMEO), told ABC News at the time, "People were egging him on and saying things like 'go ahead and do it, faggot.'" A representative from the BCMEO told Broadly that Crane cannot comment on this case today.
Eight years later, incidents like this—as well as murders, assaults, and other violent acts—seem to be occurring more frequently, inciting a flurry of media coverage and prompting the providers of streaming services to amp up protections. In April, an 18-year-old woman named Marina Lonina was charged with kidnapping, rape, sexual battery, and pandering sexual matter involving a minor after streaming 29-year-old Raymond Boyd Gates sexually assault her 17-year-old friend live on the Periscope app. According to the New York Times, these charges were "almost as severe" as those facing Gates himself. The prosecutor described the footage: "For the most part she is just streaming it on the Periscope app and giggling and laughing," he said. (Periscope did not return Broadly's request for comment.)
But judging from the stories that have circulated in recent years, live-streamed suicides seem to attract onlooker apathy the most. In 2007, 42-year-old Kevin Whitrick hanged himself on camera to an audience of around 60 viewers, some of whom encouraged him, the BBC reported. A 24-year-old Japanese man hanged himself on a service called Ustream in 2010, and according to CNN he was also "egged on" by online viewers.
Known by the username "CandyJunkie," Biggs was a regular visitor to the "Miscellaneous" (Misc.) forum of the bodybuilding.com message boards, where he had posted about his suicidal impulses and "troubles and doubts" before he died. While the site's forum manager told Broadly that bodybuilding.com has no comment for this story, Misc. users have posted regularly about Biggs in the years since his death. "I told people i saw it and they asked why i didn't do anything," user SDFlip wrote in December 2008. "What was i gonna do?" SDFlip said he was located in England at the time. "Watching him on cam that night, when the cops came in my heart stopped," wrote another user three years later. "Was the MOST fuked [sic] up thing I've ever seen."
Dr. Becky Lois specializes in suicide prevention and is an attending psychologist on the behavioral consultation team at the Children's Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center. In an interview with Broadly, Lois explained that anyone who comes into virtual contact with suicidal behavior has a responsibility to help the person at risk. "You have to take these kinds of things seriously, even if you believe that the person is doing this for dramatic effect, or doesn't really mean it, or is just communicating distress but doesn't really want to end their life," she said.
A year before he died, the New York Times reported, Biggs posted that the bodybuilding.com users had "become like a family" to him, but Lois says it is a mistake to assume that the people you're connecting with online care about you or have an "'appropriate' connection to you."
"There tends to be an over-reliance on those relationships in a way that could be harmful," she told me. "You don't know these people."
Many users on bodybuilding.com said they didn't think Biggs, who suffered from depression and was being treated for bipolar disorder when he died, was serious because he had made similar suicidal posts before but had not followed through. According to a screengrab posted by the user socalsocal, a moderator of the forum was alerted to Biggs's live stream and his suicide threat by a Misc. forum user, who requested the moderator trace his IP address and alert the police. The moderator responded: "He's an attention whore. You should see all the threads he starts, then deletes." That lack of compassion is echoed by many users on Misc., who seem to believe that Biggs should not have been taken seriously because he had cried out for help before.

Psychologically speaking, those opinions are wrong. The American Association of Suicidology considers talk of suicide a sign of "acute risk"; the National Institute of Mental Health lists "threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself" as its first warning sign of suicide. Lois says that anyone who talks about killing themselves is at a "very high" level of risk. "We need to take those type of comments very seriously and make sure that person gets help," she said.
Other Misc. users have logged on and condemned the people who harassed Biggs. "They should feel guilty for egging on a mentally unstable individual who was obviously severely distressed at the time," user swoleplaya wrote after the incident in 2008. "I hope you have this in the back of your head for a very long time. Someone who was very sick killed themselves after reading your comments."
Illustrations by Shawna X
While we would like to believe that humans are generally compassionate social beings, group apathy toward individual suffering is a well-documented phenomenon. When a young woman named Kitty Genovese was stalked, brutally stabbed, and murdered outside of her apartment building in New York City in 1964, the New York Times reported that 37 or 38 "respectable, law-abiding citizens" witnessed the horrific incident. As she screamed for her life—"he stabbed me"—windows of a neighboring building opened, the Times reported. Faceless witnesses stood behind them, watching the attack. One man did call out from above, which temporarily stopped the murderer. But then those windows closed and the killer returned to stab Genovese again. She screamed, "I'm dying," over and over to a silent audience. Her killer came and went as she struggled, screamed, and tried to find safety. Eventually he raped and killed her.
Or at least that's the story that has so captivated and horrified the public. In the years since Genovese was killed, the popular narrative about her murder has been questioned. When the murderer, Winston Moseley, died in prison in March of this year, the Times reported on its own inaccuracies, which were mirrored throughout the press of the day: "The article [reporting on the murder of Kitty Genovese] grossly exaggerated the number of witnesses and what they had perceived. None saw the attack in its entirety." Few of those who "glimpsed" the attack realized the nature of Genovese's screams, the Times noted—many said they believed it had been lovers or drunks fighting.
Nevertheless, the story told about her death had a massive cultural impact. Five years after Genovese was killed, researchers defined "bystander apathy," a psychosocial phenomenon in which people are less likely to help someone in need if there are other people present. Dr. Vincent Hendricks is a professor of media, cognition, and communication at the University of Copenhagen who has studied the way that the bystander effect has taken shape in the 21st century. In an interview with Broadly, Hendricks explained that the internet makes it possible for people to assume anonymity and express opinions without effort or personal consequence—which sadly makes the world wide web an excellent setting for bystander apathy to develop.
It has to do with the way that social norms are established within different environments, he says. While "individual comments or likes are insignificant," as those accumulate they collectively produce the values and behaviors that the group then adheres to. These can include the passive click of a "like" on a live stream in which someone is saying they want to die, or silence, or "encouraging individuals to proceed with their destructive self-act," Hendricks said. It can become normal to doubt, mock, criticize, or encourage the unwell person on screen. In 2003, 21-year-old Brandon Vedas overdosed on several different types of drugs on his webcam. Although he had outlined his plan to ingest a large quantity of anti-depressants and alcohol, he had also instructed other members of his chat room to call his cell phone if he began to look like he was "dying." Instead, users told Vedas to "eat more" and said they wanted to see if he would "survive or just black out." Vedas's last message before his death early in the morning on January 12, 2003, read, "I told u I was hardcore." He has since become a disturbing meme.
The anonymity of the internet exacerbates these effects, Hendricks explained. It's similar to opening a window in the middle of the night to observe someone dying on the street below—but is even further removed, because your window into another's tragedy is not unlike the screen on which you watch violent fictional movies or television shows, and it's very far away from the reality of what is happening. "Watching [without acting] comes at almost no cost and quickly becomes the unfortunate norm," Hendricks said.
But it isn't as if a person's entire value system is wiped clean by group behavior. You may find yourself passively observing violence in a group of people even if, as an individual, you object to the passive observation of violence: If you believe something is wrong, but think most other people in your group believe it's right, you're more likely to go along with it. In actuality, most of the people in the group might believe it's wrong, but it doesn't necessarily matter. "This collective state of affairs—collectively subscribing to a norm that you privately reject—is known in the literature as pluralistic ignorance," Hendricks explained. It is just part of human nature.

"Part of going online to do this may be not only communicating distress but also trying to get feedback," Lois told me. "Perhaps there's a process there where they're trying to see if anyone cares enough to stop or try to intervene."
Indeed, the "cry for help" is a common refrain in both amateur and professional psychology. In 2010 a Misc. user named paulx022 wrote of Biggs, "This poor kid obviously was messed up in his head and felt like he had nobody in the world and nobody cared about him and was probably wanting somebody out of the thousands who watched him die to care enough to call the cops."
After more than a decade of live-streamed suicides, many believe it should be the provider's responsibility to police harmful or violent behavior broadcast through these services. After his son's death, Biggs's father spoke with ABC News and aimed a critical finger at the services that enabled his son's self-harm. "There's a lot of garbage out there that should not be," he said. "Unfortunately, this was allowed to happen."
Justin.tv is gone now. If you go there, you'll find a post that pushes visitors toward a new venture: a gaming platform called Twitch. In 2008, Justin.tv released a statement on Biggs's death, which read in part: "We regret that this has occurred and want to respect the privacy of the broadcaster and his family during this time."
Lois believes that live-streaming platforms such as Periscope and Facebook Live have a responsibility to monitor content. "Technology is always further ahead than morality," she said, pointing out that the tragedy often has to occur before safeguards are implemented. Facebook just released new suicide prevention tools last week, and the social media company is reportedly working with French authorities after a man slaughtered a policeman and his wife on a Facebook Live stream in Paris.
When asked for comment on the issue of live-streamed suicide, rape, and murder, Facebook responded with the same statement they've given to other publications after such incidents have occurred:
We believe the vast majority of people are using Facebook Live to come together and share experiences in the moment with their friends and family. But if someone does violate our Community Standards while using Live, we want to interrupt these streams as quickly as possible when they're reported to us. So we've given people a way to report violations during a live broadcast.

We do understand and recognize that there are unique challenges when it comes to content and safety for Live videos. It's a serious responsibility, we work hard to strike the right balance between enabling expression while providing a safe and respectful experience. We're deeply committed to improving the effectiveness of how we handle reports of live content that violates our Community Standards.
In 2010, Misc. user Illriginalized wrote that he'd recently heard about Biggs's suicide, and was embarrassed by the cold-heartedness of his fellow bodybuilding.com posters. Further, Illriginalized said that anyone who told Biggs he should kill himself ought to be criminally prosecuted. "Now when I see someone egging anyone in this forum to go kill themselves, I'll do whatever it takes to locate that member and call the proper authorities, preferably the FBI," he wrote.
Jeff Banglid is a detective in the cybercrime unit of the Toronto Police Service. In an interview with Broadly, Banglid said that it is a criminal offense in Canada "to persuade or abet somebody to commit the act [of suicide], as well as to counsel them to commit. So if anybody's encouraging these people to continue with what they're doing, they're criminally responsible for that action."
In the United States, the situation is a bit more complicated. According to the Patient Rights Council, 40 states have laws that prohibit, to varying degrees, assisting, encouraging, or providing the physical means for a person to commit suicide. In 2015, VICE reported on the suicide of Massachusetts 18-year-old Conrad Roy III, whose 17-year-old girlfriend Michelle Carter encouraged him to kill himself through hundreds of text messages. (Their relationship existed primarily through phone calls and texts.) According to a piece on the case in New York Magazine, Carter went over potential methods to induce carbon-monoxide poisoning and said things like, "When you get back from the beach you've gotta go do it. You're ready. You're determined. It's the best time to do it." Carter was subsequently indicted by a grand jury for involuntary manslaughter. In April 2016, MassLive reported that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is reviewing the charges against Carter.
Currently, Massachusetts is one of the few states with no specific law on the books prohibiting assisting or encouraging suicide virtually. According to court documents acquired by MassLive, prosecutors outlined Carter's alleged in-depth involvement in Roy's suicide: "Carter played an instrumental role: she talked him out of his doubts point-by-point, assured him that his family would understand why he did it, researched logistics and reassured him that he was likely to succeed, and pushed him to stop procrastinating and get on with it, mocking his hesitation and threatening to get him help if he did not carry through with his plans." Still, the defense suggested that there was no basis for the charge against Carter because telling someone to kill themselves isn't illegal in Massachusetts. "Charging her with manslaughter was a transparent effort calculated to circumvent the fact that the legislature has not criminalized words that encourage suicide," the defense brief reads.
Elsewhere, there is a precedent for criminalizing online or virtual encouragement of suicide. VICE pointed to a male nurse in Minnesota named William F. Melchert-Dinkel, who assumed several female aliases in order to encourage suicidal people to hang themselves and live-stream the act. In 2011 he was convicted of assisting a suicide. The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed that ruling in 2014, deeming Minnesota's law against encouraging suicide an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, but he was tried again later that year and the law prohibiting assisting suicide was upheld.

The difficulties in preventing and dealing with active live-streamed violence create other problems. While Banglid hasn't yet been alerted to an active suicide live-stream, he has worked on cases where violence is occurring live online. Such cases need to be approached with exigency, Banglid explained. "It's the same as witnessing an offense right in front of you," he said, adding that live-streamed suicide attempts or violent crime can be more challenging to stop because "you're separated by an internet connection." Investigators trace an IP address when possible, and look closely for identifying details onscreen that may tip them off to the location of the feed. Banglid explained that his cybercrime team works with social media platforms on an almost daily basis. "We've had situations just as recently as this weekend where we've actually prevented a suicide from occurring based on the cooperation of private companies," he said.
The cybercrimes unit where Banglid is employed has only existed since 2014, meaning that law enforcement is already far behind; the internet has been around much longer. Though sinister online activity is often associated with the "dark web," Banglid says that most of their work "is driven towards what the public would normally see." It's too early to say whether or not the live-streaming of suicide or violent crime is a trend, but the apparent rise in these cases is alarming to Banglid. "Such acts of violence and things of that nature just don't need to bear witness," he said.
Yet those who turn on their webcams during the darkest, most desperate moments of their lives must feel a need for someone to bear witness to them. "Suicide is always an interpersonal act," said Dr. Henry Seiden, a clinical psychologist who specializes in suicide and the devastating effect it has on surviving friends and family. "It's a narrative, it's a story," he told Broadly. Seiden explained that broadcasting death in a live-streamed video feed, while a new technological advancement, is simply human nature. "The man on the mountaintop is imagining God is his witness," he said. "Technology is just the latest tool."
Still, it is impossible to generalize the actions or motives of suicidal people. "Within the framework of interpersonal motives, there are as many motives as there are stories," Seiden said, explaining that when it comes to public acts of suicide, the only person who might know "why" is the victim themselves. "But whatever it means for the person doing it and whoever those he or she imagines are witnesses, being seen is certainly one of [those motives]."
"Maybe it's, 'Save me,'" he added. "Maybe it's, 'Try and save me, but you can't.'"
It isn't surprising to Seiden that online viewers tap into these streams. "There's no such thing as an accident without a crowd gathering and standing on tiptoes in order to see the person lying on the ground," he said. Violence and destruction are everywhere in American society, from the news to the entertainment industry. "There is a fascination with other's pain because it's only one gesture removed from our own pain," he said. "We could be the one lying on the pavement, and most of us know that we could be the one killing ourselves."
"The likelihood of someone being able to jump in and intervene in time before something awful happens is incredibly low," Lois said of suicides and other violent acts published through live-streaming platforms. Facebook, Periscope, and other streaming services are on the front lines of these tragedies; as time goes on, they will have to remain vigilant and develop better and faster modes of intervention. But that won't get to the root problem. "The reality is that if someone wants to commit suicide whether or not they live-stream may not matter," Lois said. "They may complete that suicide regardless of the streaming service."
This idea can further limit individuals' sense of responsibility. "In some ways, it sort of takes you off the hook for having to intervene because [it's like], I don't know this person, they don't know me, nobody knows that I'm looking at this," Lois said. But that way of thinking could mean the difference between someone's death or survival.
The police can try to stop it, but they are limited, too. "We can't possibly see every post that's being created," Banglid said. "We can't possibly look at every user's feed, nor do we wish to." The rest of us, then, become responsible for each other. It would be helpful if the public treated live-streaming acts of self-harm and criminal violence as if they were real emergencies that need to be responded to. "The sooner we become involved in an investigation, the sooner we can get to the bottom of it and perhaps even stop it in the midst of its mission," Banglid said.
Shortly after Biggs died, his father spoke with the Associated Press, and he suggested that anyone aware of his son's actions on Justin.tv—both the live-streaming provider and the commenters who egged him on—was at fault. "As a human being, you don't watch someone in trouble and sit back and just watch," he said.


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People Can Draw Energy From Other People The Same Way Plants Do - Clear Mind


A biological research team at Bielefeld University has made a groundbreaking discovery showing that plants can draw an alternative source of energy from other plants. This finding could also have a major impact on the future of bioenergy eventually providing the evidence to show that people draw energy from others in much the same way.

Members of Professor Dr. Olaf Kruse's biological research team have confirmed for the first time that a plant, the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, not only engages in photosynthesis, but also has an alternative source of energy: it can draw it from other plants. The research findings were released this week in the online journal Nature Communications published by the renowned journal Nature.

Flowers need water and light to grow and people are no different. Our physical bodies are like sponges, soaking up the environment. "This is exactly why there are certain people who feel uncomfortable in specific group settings where there is a mix of energy and emotions," said psychologist and energy healer Dr. Olivia Bader-Lee.

Plants engage in the photosynthesis of carbon dioxide, water, and light. In a series of experiments, Professor Dr. Olaf Kruse and his team cultivated the microscopically small green alga species Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and observed that when faced with a shortage of energy, these single-cell plants can draw energy from neighboring vegetable cellulose instead. The alga secretes enzymes (so-called cellulose enzymes) that 'digest' the cellulose, breaking it down into smaller sugar components. These are then transported into the cells and transformed into a source of energy: the alga can continue to grow. 'This is the first time that such a behavior has been confirmed in a vegetable organism', says Professor Kruse.'That algae can digest cellulose contradicts every previous textbook. To a certain extent, what we are seeing is plants eating plants'. Currently, the scientists are studying whether this mechanism can also be found in other types of alga. Preliminary findings indicate that this is the case.

Bader-Lee suggests that the field of bio-energy is now ever evolving and that studies on the plant and animal world will soon translate and demonstrate what energy metaphysicians have known all along — that humans can heal each other simply through energy transfer just as plants do. "Human can absorb and heal through other humans, animals, and any part of nature. That's why being around nature is often uplifting and energizing for so many people," she concluded.

Here are five energy tools to use to clear your space and prevent energy drains while releasing people's energy:
Stay centered and grounded. If you are centered within your spiritual self (instead of your analyzer or ego) you will sense right away when something has moved into your space. If you are fully grounded, you can easily release other people's energy and emotions down your grounding cord with your intention.
Be in a state of non-resistance. What we resists sticks. If you feel uncomfortable around a certain person or in a group, don't go into resistance as a way to protect yourself as this will only keep foreign energy stuck in your space. Move into a state of non-resistance by imagining that your body is clear and translucent like clear glass or water. This way, if someone throws some invalidation at you, it will pass right through you.
Own your personal aura space. We each have an energetic aura surrounding our body. If we don't own this personal space we are vulnerable to foreign energy entering it. Become aware of your aura boundaries (about an arms length away from your body all the way around, above and below) as a way to own your personal space.
Give yourself an energy cleanse. The color gold has a high vibration which is useful for clearing away foreign energy. Imagine a gold shower nozzle at the top of your aura (a few feet above your head) and turn it on, allowing clear gold energy to flow through your aura and body space and release down your grounding. You will immediately feel cleansed and refreshed.
Call back your energy. When we have our energy in our own space there is less room for other's energy to enter. But as we focus on other people and projects we sometimes spread our energy around. Create an image of a clear gold sun several feet above your head and let it be a magnet, attracting all of your energy back into it (and purifying it in the gold energy). Then bring it down through the top of your aura and into your body space, releasing your energy back into your personal space.

About the author: Michael Forrester is a spiritual counselor and is a practicing motivational speaker for corporations in Japan, Canada and the United States.[Credits: PreventDisease]

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Never Forget: The Devil's Punchbowl - 20,000 Freed Slaves Died After Being Forced Into Post Slavery Concentration Camp - Black Main Street

History has always made concentration camps to be synonymous with the atrocities of Nazi Germany. But, America has its own dirty secrets about the use of concentration camps. These camps were located in Natchez, Mississippi and were used to corral freed slaves during and after the American Civil War. As slaves were being emancipated from the plantations, their route to freedom usually took them in the vicinity of the Union army forces. Unhappy with the slaves being freed, the army began recapturing the slaves and forced the men back into hard labor camps. The most notorious of the several concentration camps that were established was located in Natchez, MS.
As the slaves made their way to freedom, the town of Natchez went from a population of 10,000 to 120,000 people almost overnight. In order to deal with the population influx of recently freed slaves, a concentration camp was established to essentially eradicate the slaves. The men were recaptured by the Union troops and forced back into hard labor. The women and children were locked behind the concrete walls of the camp and left to die from starvation. Many also died from the smallpox disease. In total, over 20,000 freed slaves were killed in one year, inside of this American concentration camp.
A researcher studying the existence of the concentration camps said, "The union army did not allow them to remove the bodies from the camp. They just gave 'em shovels and said bury 'em where they drop." The camp was called the Devil's Punchbowl because of the way the area is shaped. The camp was located at the bottom of a cavernous pit with trees located on the bluffs above.
Today the bluffs are known for the wild peach grooves but the locals will not eat any of the fruit because some are aware of what has fertilized the trees. One researcher has noted that skeletal remains still wash-up when the area becomes flooded by the Mississippi River. Even when America tries to bury its racist ways, we must force America to acknowledge what has occurred and not shy away from the truth. Let's never forget all the freed slaves that died in American concentration camps at the Devil's Punchbowl.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

I Want to Talk to God...


The church, much larger than any building Billie had seen or ever been in. Billie had spoken to his friends concerning his problems who suggested that if God isn't answering your prayers, then maybe you have to go to see him yourself.
Where does God live?
Church.
So Billie walked his skinny 6yr old frame around the neighborhood he lived, not finding a church or even knowing what it would or should look like he asked the boy named Troy, his brother's friend.
"A church? What you want a church for? I never seen your mother near a church can't imagine they'd let you seeing's you prolly not even been baptized."
"I need to find God."
"God?"
"Yeah. I pray to God every night cause I been told if I do, then he might help me out."
"Ain't no one going to help you kid. Lotsa people pray to God and you see how the world is for all over. Pray to your self cuz you is the only one's going to help you."
"Well I can always ask, in person."
"In person? Kid, maybe you'll find a priest, and if he cares can help you but you won't find God in no church."
"Maybe the priest can help me find God."
"Like I said, if the priest cares..."
"Do you know where the church is or don't you?"
"Right behind you kid. Been there all the time you standing in front of me, been there a long time in this neighborhood too, like any other building, just standing there doing nothing but takin' up space."
Billie turned...
"Let me know if you find God kid, I got a few questions for him like you."
Bigger than any building that he had ever been near, giant wooden doors having to struggle to push open, he did and slipped in before the doors shut back on him. Rows of benches stretched forward from him, more people could sit on them than he could imagine but there was no one in them. No one here. The benches stretched away from the doors toward an enormous ceiling and a really big man, a white man nailed to two giant pieces of wood that crossed each other. He was sad, the man on the cross, his eyes closed, sad maybe cuz those nails must hurt, but this must be God he thought, someone kept him nailed to the cross so he wouldn't go anywhere seeing's how so many people pray to him. Doesn't anybody ever come to see him in person? Guess not, he thought. It was cold and windy in the church, you could hear wind whistling from outside and it was still summer.
"Hello God? Hello God? Can you help me?"
Just ask, he thought.
"God? I really love my mother and she loves me back cause she says it all the time but she's not been very good to me. She hurts me a lot, with her words and sometimes with her hands..."
"You!"
The voice was a man's voice and deep, but it wasn't God as he thought for a moment. The man wore black clothing, all black with some white around his neck.
"Are you God?"
He laughed out loud, so hard he almost choked and coughed so much he had to sit to catch his breath.
"Am I God? Thats funny. Its sacrilegious for me to say but I sure wish I was cuz there's lots I think I would do to help the world."
"Can you help me?"
"Well I ain't God but maybe I can, now boy-"
"Billie, my names Billie"
"Okay, Billie... did I hear you say something about your mother hurting you."
"Yes, but she doesn't mean to, sometimes I think I deserve it, I'm just a kid, I don't know nothing."
"But you know it hurts."
"I thought he was God, be he didn't say anything - "
"Thats just a statue - "
"Of God?"
"No, of Jesus, he's the son God."
"God has a son?"
"Yes he does and thats a statue of Jesus."
"Who's Jesus, and why's he nailed to that wood?"
"That's a cross! Don't you ever come to Church boy - "
"Billie."
"Billie, yeah well don't you ever come to church, your mother never brings you here."
"No, she sometimes comes by herself, on the way home she tells me and she prays for us, she prays for good to come. But it doesn't, not ever cuz I know cuz how she hurts me and she cries a lot except when she takes a needle in her arm that makes her feel better, she leaves me alone and its quiet in our room for awhile. But she prays to God and he never answers and I figure why can't I talk to God in person cuz maybe he'll listen to me. My friends told me he'd be living here in the Church."
"Well if he actually lived in a Church don't know if it'd be this one, and there are so many which one would he choose! The Vatican I guess."
"The Vatican? Are there a lot of churches?"
"Millions Billie, millions all over the world and he doesn't really live in any of them - "
"But you said maybe the Vatican."
"Well maybe not there either, the pope lives there."
"The Pope? Who's he?"
"The Pope's the leader of the church."
"But i thought God is the leader of the church." 
"God is the leader of it all..."
"All what?"
"All you see and hear and feel and think and imagine." 
"Well where does he live?"
"Everywhere."
"Everywhere? Well why can't I see him?"
"Cause you have to believe."
"In what?"
"God."
"But I do believe in God."

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Eyes Wide Shut: ‘Some Call It Loving’ and ‘Sleeping Beauty’ By Adam Nayman


Two roads diverged in a (Holly)wood: after the scandalous release of Lolita in 1962, Stanley Kubrick and his producer, James B. Harris, each set out to make a Cold War thriller based on a best-selling novel.
Suffice it to say that history remembers Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)—a movie that Harris helped to set up before blanching at his partner's idea to turn it into a comedy—more vividly than the foursquare nuclear-sub drama The Bedford Incident (1965). Splitting from Kubrick on the eve of the director's greatest popular success rendered the New York-born Harris as the proverbial footnote in a world-beating auteur narrative, a marginalization seemingly borne out by the fact that he only produced five features over the next forty years, three of which he also directed.
The most striking of these is Some Call It Loving (1973), a stylized erotic drama privately financed via a tax break scheme for $400,000. In a superbly written and researched essay included with the recent two-disc set from Etiquette Pictures, Kevin John Bozelka explains that Harris brought Some Call it Loving to Cannes in 1973, where it was critically admired (including by Pierre Rissient, who bought it for French distribution) and then destroyed by American reviewers later in the year. The film's slow, stately style and baldly symbolic content were laughed off on contact: "a rambling, contemporary fable that is merely pretentious," was the assessment of The New York Times.
Pretentiousness is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but there's nothing "mere" about Harris' adaptation of John Collier's short story "The Sleeping Beauty," about a man who purchases a mysteriously slumbering woman from a traveling carnival and brings her home to be his companion. On the contrary, Some Call it Loving is fully, aggressively pretentious, wearing both its fable-like aspirations and caustic cultural critique on its impeccably tailored sleeves. Its characters live in the contemporary equivalent of an enchanted castle on the edge of the city, deliberately cut off from everyday society. The elaborate role-playing games of Robert Troy (Zalman King) and his female companions Angelica (Veronica Anderson) and Scarlett (Carol White)—which expand to include the expensively acquired and newly awakened Jennifer (Tsia Farrow)—are legible as a form of aristocratic folly: call it the discreet charm of the bourgeoise.
Luis Buñuel's shadow falls over Some Call it Loving, particularly the scene in Viridiana (1961) where the angelic novice played by Silvia Pinal is drugged by a servant and served up to the unscrupulous Don Jaime (Fernando Rey); Bunuel luxuriates in the necrophilic aspects of the scenario even as his villain holds back from ravishing the unconscious virgin (a decision that plays as a pious hypocrite's moment of grace). In Harris' opening, Robert gazes uncertainly at Jennifer's supine body and refuses to join the other carnival-goers in paying for a kiss; when he makes his offer of $20,000 to Jennifer's handler, he shakes off the implication that he's buying her for sex. Like Don Jaime, he's powerfully attracted to the younger woman's sleeping form, which also rhymes with the plight of Humbert Humbert (James Mason) and his botched motel-room rape of his sleeping charge in Lolita—the difference being in Kubrick's film, it's bad luck rather than a guilty conscience that keeps him from following through.
Viridiana, Lolita, and Jennifer all exist on the same basic continuum of characterization: they're innocents whose purity, as defined by the men in their lives, most powerfully underlined—again, for those men—in moments of utter helplessness. Robert's protectiveness of Jennifer, even after she's woken up, suggests that he very much sees himself as a Prince Charming figure, and the tragic irony of Harris' film—which significantly diverges from its source text—is that his dream girl is all too willing to play the passive princess. In Collier's story, Jennifer defies and declaims her owner, similar to what happens in Lolita where Dolores Haze revels in adolescent willfulness where Humbert expects simple compliance. Farrow's Jennifer, though, remains happily dazed, and Robert's anxiety comes not out of the eradication of his fantasies, but the very real possibility of their fulfillment.
"[Robert] sees [Jennifer's] potential for openness and authenticity and grows frustrated that she willingly submits to an abstract notion of freedom which effectively restricts those qualities," writes Nathaniel Drake Carlson, incisively honing in on just how devastatingly Some Call it Loving frames the feminist identity politics of the 1970s. Because Jennifer stubbornly refuses to raise her own consciousness—instead choosing to embrace her designer-object status—Robert pre-emptively anesthetizes it once and for all. The ending, where Robert drugs Jennifer back into a comatose state—while she's wearing a nun's habit, recalling Viridiana—is heartbreaking as it juxtaposes the figurative "death" of one character with the emotional paralysis of another. With this in mind, the coda, which sees Robert re-invented as the carnival barker hawking his prized possession to a midway crowd, is not merely cynical but deeply sad. Harris' achievement was to cloak his critique of vain male control-freakery in the vestments of sexploitation, a disguise hat succeeded all too well, as Some Call It Loving's judiciously staged and edited longeurs were mistaken for simple pervy indulgence.
Nevertheless, there are some recent films that bear signs of Some Call it Loving's influence. Carson has observed the correspondences between it and David Lynch's Lost Highway (1995), which borrowed Robert's occupation as a jazz musician for Bill Pullman's schizophrenic hero and echoed Harris' casting of Richard Pryor in a supporting role. (Pryor's anguished, unguarded performance as a junkie in Some Call it Loving is frankly astounding and deserves its own essay.) Peter Strickland's critically admired—and overtly Buñuelian—chamber piece The Duke of Burgundy (2014) has a lush '70s colour palette and role-playing narrative that are detailed enough to be an homage. And then there's Julia Leigh's chilly psychological thriller Sleeping Beauty (2012), a film that feels in many ways like an answer to Harris, Buñuel, Kubrick and the Grimm fairy tale tradition evoked in its title.
Set in a contemporary Australia photographed to seem as sleek and underpopulated as any sci-fi futurescape, Sleeping Beauty essays a quasi-prostitution scheme in which willing young women check into a country estate. Once there, they're knocked out and left splayed and naked in a king-size bed for well-monied men to fondle and fawn over: anything short of sexual penetration, which would damage the merchandise and violate the fetishistic spirit of the entire enterprise. Leigh's strategy in her feature debut is to take the basic scenario of Japanese writer Yasunari Kawabata's 1961 House of the Sleeping Beauties—a book beloved by Gabriel García Márquez, who paid tribute to it in Memories of My Melancholy Whores—and switch the perspective from an elderly client to one of the putative concubines: Lucy (Emily Browning), whose early willingness to monetize her body (the film opens with her participating in an invasive medical experiment on a university campus) is complicated by a dawning, gnawing desire to know exactly what's going on during her blackouts.
Critics were split on the efficacy of Leigh's visual style in Sleeping Beauty, which deliberately riffs on the stark, master-shot elegance of Kubrick (and Michael Haneke), as well as whether or not showing what happens to Lucy while she's unconscious—in repeated scenes that have Browning lifted and buffeted about by male actors—added or detracted from her attempt to reclaim the material from a male gaze. In a wonderfully written post at Mubi, Dan Sallitt writes that "organizing image of the film, unconscious Lucy awaiting her predators in a luxurious bed, is photographed from such a distance and with such symmetry that her body suggests nothing other than a corpse laid out for viewing," a Viridiana-ish arrangement which complicates the underlying sense of prurience. With this in mind, the final scene, in which Lucy tries gamely to fight against the sleeping drug in her system in order to set up a hidden camera to capture evidence of her "non-existence" (as Sallitt puts it), can be seen as much as being about Leigh, as a female director, wresting control of the image as her heroine's attempt at solving a sinister existential mystery.
That the visitors in Sleeping Beauty all follow the "house rules" doesn't mean that they exercise restraint, exactly: one recklessly throws Lucy around like a rag doll, while another cruelly burns a cigarette butt against the back of her neck. In this way, Leigh is perhaps less sentimental than Harris (or Buñuel) in implying that men desire a form of control or superiority over an oblivious partner, a context that transforms their weakness—and given the non-penetrative mandate of the establishment, their impotence—into a pathetic form of strength. Lucy's need to know what's happening to her while she's asleep echoes Jennifer's monologue in Some Call it Loving where she hazily struggles to recall being kissed by many men in succession, a subconscious acknowledgment of her past as a paid attraction. (Another coincidental but apposite parallel: Nicole Kidman recounting her nightmare to Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut.) But where Harris locates tragedy in Robert's inability to truly let Jennifer wake up, Leigh goes for a more overtly sociological form of horror. Lucy's realization that one of the clients has died during the night beside her is both a monstrous visual pun on "let petit mort" and a reprimand to her complicity in her own peril. (Her hysterical reaction upon watching the videotape turns her into Amy Irving at the end of Carrie, another young woman who can't seem to extricate herself from a nightmare.)
Sleeping Beauty's finicky clinicism contrasts with Some Call it Loving's lugubrious artiness, and yet both films are engaged with fantasy role-play in a way that concedes its appeal while hinting at the dangers of such an arrangement. They prove most instructive as a double bill—two very differently angled and yet fundamentally compatible explorations of the gap between female representation and subjectivity, in life and more obviously in Leigh's case, at the movies. Both filmmakers reflect and challenge Godard's famous statement that cinema is "the history of boys photographing girls." Leigh allows Lucy to turn the desirous lens on herself, while Harris sentences Robert to the purgatory of exploiting his lover's image, one paying customer at a time, an anti-grace note of eyes-wide-shut denial as haunting as anything in American moviemaking—Stanley Kubrick included.

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