On my porch, wonderful weather, listening to the 4th Movement of Beethoven’s 9th (Georg Solti conducting), and the song of the birds, the rhythm of the winds, even the pulse of street traffic, all merge with the symphony to remind me that, in spite of our prejudices, all men are truly brothers.
Well, now, what are those kooky little bankers up to today? Why, it seems as though a few of them were laundering money in Panama! Those clever little weasels! Such fun! And we get to read all about it in the Panama Papers, right?
Well, not really.
The Panama Papers look like an amazing revelation, dumping all kinds of cool secret facts on us peons in the 99%. Except, when I started reading into the press about them, it all seemed to be slanted to cast aspersions on Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad. There were brief mentions of a few Arab sheikhs, and an Icelandic PM got tossed under the bus, but most of the ire went towards Putin’s crowd. That seemed fishy to me.
See, when I read about offshore banking criminality, like with the Nugan Hand Bank or BCCI, the CIA is usually all over the story. Drug runners, lots of oil money going to terrorists, weapons dealers, it’s all there. In this story, no CIA, no CIA informants, no drug money, no oil money for terrorists, maybe a little weapon dealing… kinda strange, really. And the infographics with the press were about al-Assad’s regime using the law firm in Panama to get illegal weapons… huh?
I mean, yeah, DUH, a regime facing an embargo or sanctions is going to use a shady offshore arrangement to get stuff or to keep assets liquid. That’s why Putin’s friends were using these guys. I mean, if they’re a bunch of criminals, they’re going to do criminal stuff. It was the same with the Nazis in WW2: that pack of criminals used offshore arrangements to get vital war materials for the Reich’s war effort.
The real story is the identity of those counterparties in the West to those shady deals from Syria and Russia. Why are they not named? Well, we get a possilbe answer from Wikileaks. Wikileaks says that this whole Panama Papers thing is run by George Soros’ people, and it’s common knowledge that Soros has a huge axe to grind with Putin and anyone affiliated with Putin. That sounds like a plausible explanation for the Panama Papers reporting to be so Russophobic – and so blind to the Western counterparties. It’s selective information, and that’s propaganda.
One explanation for the lack of US involvement in this mess is that, because of US laws, Panamanian tax shelters aren’t all that popular. Fine, that’s the lack of civilian involvement explained. How does that explain the lack of CIA mentions? These guys are constantly using back channels to run their clandestine deals with global criminals. They ALWAYS crop up in deals like this. ALWAYS. Their absence here is conspicuous, and indicates further that these Panama Papers are a propaganda piece.
Which brings me to calls from central banks to get rid of cash: that’s more propaganda.
Let me explain… cash prevents central bankers from forcing people to spend money. Central bankers would very much like to force people to spend everything that they have, in order to prop up their economies. Getting rid of cash and putting everyone on debit cards with expiration dates can develop a “use it or lose it” mentality in people and keep the nation’s businesses awash in transactions. If you want more economic details, just ask and I’ll put them in the comments. Long story short is that central bankers want to get rid of cash.
So, in the name of fighting crime, bankers have begun to propose getting rid of the $100 and the €500 notes. Get rid of those, they say, and it will be harder for criminals to do crimes. The truth is that criminals will still do their crimes, but will be increasingly forced to turn to banks to launder their profits – and that’s where the banks get their cut.
The Panama Papers show one thing, very clearly. That’s the extent to which criminality has shot through the global banking system. Or is it how extensively the global banking system has penetrated organized crime? Whichever it is, this move to get rid of cash won’t reduce crime. It’ll just make it more organized and more involved with the bankers.
Organized crime is so vital to the global banking industry that, during the Panic of 2008, money being laundered in the TBTF banks was the only source of liquidity in a system that had dried up and which refused to issue letters of credit to even the most trustworthy of clients. Trillions of dollars move in that banking system that’s off the official books, and the skim off of that is very important to the big banks. Why else would HSBC work with Mexican drug cartels to optimize their method of depositing money in their banks?
So, this is what we learn from the Panama Papers and the call to get rid of cash:
1. The Panama Papers are a propaganda piece, targeting Putin.
2. Banks will happily finance child sex slavery, if they can get a cut of the action.
3. Banks don’t like cash, because it means they can’t get a cut of the action that doesn’t go through their doors.
4. If one wishes to do illegal things, there are plenty of banks and plenty of lawyers that will help one do illegal things, provided one pays them handsomely.
5. The press in the West is firmly under control. It will not speak truth to power. It will churn out the propaganda for the TBTF businesses and the politicians that they own.
That last part is the saddest comment, really. Once upon a time, the press would actually try to hold the rich and powerful to account.
Time to go look at cat videos before I get depressed as I think about the head of HSBC buying a new car with the bonus he’s earned off of the child sex slave trade and the reporters that are silent about it.
Mortality is from birth until death. It is full of pain, unfairness, evil, wounds, hatreds, and atrocities.
It is supposed to be that way.
Life includes mortality, but also a time before and a time after. It also includes existence without time, which is eternity. But for the moments of mortality, life is peaceful, just, good, healing, loving, and beautiful.
It is supposed to be that way.
In realizing the relationship of mortality to life, I can find joy. I do not expect an end to my pain or other trials until this mortality ends. But I do look forward to the life that is beyond and I trust in it. I will endure to the end of my mortality and my patient endurance will make entering into the rest of my life all the sweeter. And that makes it easier to endure mortality and find the beauty of life that is behind the frequent sharpness of mortality.
Something very satisfying about hacking code in config files and then having everything run correctly. When the new stuff displays and looks right, I can say to myself, “I still got it” and smile.
Come Election Day in the USA, I will not be doing anything different than I should do on any other day. I plan to pray, to humble myself, and to be patient in my circumstances. But on the day that the USA looks set to elect someone that will be utterly unfit to be president, I suppose that I shall do those things with greater purpose.
Clinton is most likely to have the Democrats’ nomination. Here is a person that went out of her way to create a system to bypass security at the Department of State. Her own needs trumped those of the people of this nation. Her communications, which should have been the property of the people, became her own property, for her to deal with as she saw fit. I cannot have confidence in such a person in the role of the President. Add to this how she built up a foreign policy that resulted in the interventions that destabilized the whole of the Middle East and Ukraine, putting the USA on a collision course with Russia, and we have an extremely dangerous warmonger with poor operational security practices as the likely Democrat nominee.
I honestly don’t know who will emerge as victor from the knife fight that is the Republican nomination process. It could be Cruz, it could be Trump. Cruz is hated in the Senate and I see no good coming of that. He does not compromise, and that is a terrible feature in a president, if he is to avoid impeachment for his sheer odiousness in his role, as happened to Andrew Johnson. As for Trump, the man is a private army and an armband away from being a Nazi. He considers Americans of my faith – Mormons – to be “alien”, and that is the first step towards demonizing us for his political gain. He’s already demonized Muslims, and I won’t stand for that in a President.
Cruz and Clinton both are creatures of the current party system, totally beholden to special interests, particularly in the defense and banking industries. Trump may not be in their back pocket, which I would normally find admirable, but he is such a narcissist that he comes across as his own special interest. This is, utterly, a no-win situation.
So I shall pray, not for God to smite anyone or to change the choice of a nation, for that is not what I desire. I shall pray that I might have strength to endure the trials my nation will surely face in the coming days and years. I shall humble myself, that I will seek to work on my own imperfections, that I might be found acceptable when I return to my Heavenly Father one day. And I shall be patient, for I endure to the end, regardless of the hardship and suffering between now and the end.
The world is still a beautiful place, and there is good I can yet do. Even if the world is to end tomorrow, I have seeds to plant today.
On the one hand, I don’t want to see Trump become president. On the other hand, I have a stronger desire to not see his supporters erupt in an armed putsch if he doesn’t get nominated due to GOP insider machinations. Even less would I want to see a candidate harness the seething rage that would result from an assassination of Trump.
There’s what I want and what I got right now. And what’s going on now is very gritty. There’s quite a lot of rage in Middle America, and whenever in history the middle class is frustrated in its upward progress, it will turn to politics to create the necessary upheaval to change the situation. When politics fails, the middle class resorts to violence. The USA dodged a huge bullet with the election of FDR in 1932. If both Trump and Sanders get short-shrifted by their respective parties, we’ll have some very dark days ahead of us.
If a person espouses hateful views and is consistently dismissive of and brutally rude to people without power… if that same person is hostile towards people who try to keep him honest and resorts to personal attacks to divert attention from his faults, that person should not only be shunned by decent Americans, but the press should also unmask and reveal the fraud. Shame on the American press for treating Donald Trump as a ratings event and not holding his misogynistic, bigoted, brutish, heartless, opportunistic, sociopathic, and very unpresidential feet to the fire.
Dr. Negron-Omikon wrought his hands with unconcealed glee. “Well, H.P., you’ve outdone yourself this time!”
He gloated over acres and acres of tanks, robot tanks, that surrounded his observation tower. The testing had been a huge success and now his robot army was ready to smash into the Swedish army, fortified along the high banks of the Parana River.
How the Swedish army was on the Parana River, fighting the combined forces of the USA and Indonesia was a funny enough story in and of itself, but Dr. Negron-Omikon had no time for geopolitical musings. This was his moment, the zenith of his career, no doubt, and he was about to be rewarded handsomely for it.
General Ludd stood behind the gifted genius. “So, these robot tanks gonna do the trick?”
Dr. Negron-Omikon turned with the grace and pleasure of a billionaire, which he was about to be. “They will do the trick, and more, General Ludd. They will not only take the high ground on the opposite bank, they will shatter the entire Swedish army. This,” he stamped his foot and pointed downward with gravitas, “will be the decisive battle of the war, and you,” same stamp and gravitas, but now with a finger pointed at the general, “will be the victor that history will celebrate.”
General Ludd chewed his gum. “What about you?”
“The funds that will be deposited into my accounts will be reward enough.”
“I’m sure they will be.” The general looked suspiciously at the robot tanks. “These things immune to, uh… tampering?”
“Absolutely. We learned the lessons of unmanned vehicles of the past. Because of my patented system of communication via spontaneous subatomic particle pairs, the enemy will be unable to jam, intercept, alter, or fabricate any instructions we send them.”
“So nothing like the drone debacle at Poughkeepsie last year?”
“And no disaster like the failed assault on Mt. Pinatubo?”
“No, nothing at all like that. These aren’t even armed with tactical nuclear weapons, for starters.”
The general kept up his interrogation. “How about the betrayal at the Battle of Yakutsk? We gonna see that happen?”
“Again, sir, because of our absolutely secure means of communication, nothing like that will happen.”
The general chewed his gum in silence, then, “So you say.”
“So I know.” Dr. Negron-Omikon held his head high, ready to defend his creations to the hilt.
“All right then.” General Ludd shrugged. “Commence the attack.”
Dr. Negron-Omikon nodded and pressed the big red button in front of him, the one labeled START.
Countless hordes of robot tanks rolled forward. Swedish cannons poured armor-piercing rounds at the tanks, but both their armor and nuclear dampers prevented both conventional and nuclear shells from doing significant damage. And those tanks that were damaged got pushed into the river, creating the basis for a bridge.
General Ludd frowned. “Pontoons would have done the job, and been cheaper, as well.”
The scientist had a ready answer: “This is combat engineering at its finest. You think the Swedish dogs would let us build a bridge in peace, prior to the attack?”
“They did at Second Budapest.”
“And then what happened?”
“Well, they shot everyone that crossed over the bridge. Point taken.”
Meanwhile, the bridge of tanks had grown rapidly. Soon, it touched the far shore. When that happened, the tanks revved their engines and plowed ahead at 100 kilometers per hour. When they hit the cliffs, they collided with them, forming the base of a wedge.
General Ludd watched on, disbelievingly, as the wedge grew tall enough to reach the height of the cliffs.
Dr. Negron-Omikon said, “Now, get ready for some real action.”
The robot tanks roared into even higher gear and blasted a breach in the Swedish lines. A cloud of dust rose over the battle.
Mingled in the dust, some larger particles seemed to arc through the air.
General Ludd asked, “What’s that in the dust?”
Dr. Negron-Omikon handed the general a pair of binoculars. “Why don’t you look for yourself?”
The general brought the binoculars to his eyes. He saw, to his horror, that the larger things were actually human legs and arms!
“Dr. Negron-Omikon, what in the name of Mars is going on?”
“Ah, that, my good general, is how we win the war.”
“Certainly. The robots are programmed to decimate the enemy.”
“Well I can see that!”
Dr. Negron-Omikon bore the interruption with the patience of a very rich saint. “Decimate, as in the original sense of the word, to kill one of every ten men.”
“Wait, only one of every ten? How do we win if we don’t kill the enemy?”
“The robots wound horribly the other nine, that’s how. Every participant in this battle on the enemy’s side is either dead or a huge burden on his nation’s health care system. We won’t bleed them dry: we’ll keep them donating blood until judgment day!”
General Ludd chomped on his gum. “I see.”
“And those arms and legs that aren’t from wounded soldiers are from the bodies of the deceased. The robots make it a special point to desecrate the bodies of the fallen.”
“That’s a war crime, you nutcase!”
“Only if we lose the war, my good general. Besides, with the terror such a series of acts will create, the enemy will be ready to surrender, leading to the saving of lives from future battles. It’s only humanitarian to fight a war in such a way.”
“I see,” said the general. He nodded understandingly and looked through his binoculars again. “I see that the robots are returning. Good job, Doctor.”
“Wait, what?” Dr. Negron-Omikon’s smile became a bit false.
“They’re returning. They’re on their way back.”
“Oh dear. May I see those binoculars?”
“Uh, sure, uh… say, what’s going on?”
What was going on, to Dr. Negron-Omikon’s horror, was the disobedience to his orders. He had ordered the robots to take and hold the heights, nothing else. If those robots were coming back, it could mean only one thing…
No, that would be too impossible! The testing had some aberrations, but nothing like this!
Well, maybe something like this was possible… with the numbers being used… the scientist did some quick calculations in his head… oh dear, yes, that was a sufficient number, after all, especially if the cybertronic units in the fallen tanks weren’t totally out of commission.
General Ludd asked rather loudly and rudely, “Say, they didn’t develop some kind of hive consciousness and decide to turn on their human masters, did they?”
Dr. Negron-Omikon said nothing and stood absolutely still.
General Ludd spat out his gum. “I knew it! Dammit, Negron-Omikon, this wasn’t supposed to happen!”
“Well, general, no accidental development of self-aware machines is supposed to happen.”
“I don’t know whether to kill you now or wait for the robots to do it!”
“Probably better for us both if there’s one of us to decimate and the other one left to survive.” Dr. Negron-Omikon gulped. “If you don’t kill me, then we both have a 50-50 chance of only being horribly mangled instead of a 100 percent chance of being killed outright.”
The first few tanks had begun to fall off the edge of the cliff, just a few meters from the wedge of broken tanks that they had climbed up.
Bewildered, the general and the scientist watched as the tanks flowed over the edge to their shattered doom below.
Dr. Negron-Omikon said, “Well, it looks as though there may be a slight error in their GPS navigation.” His speculation was borne out as a few tanks that had managed to survive the fall limped into the river and sank just a few meters away from where the tank bridge crossed the mighty Parana.
The flow of tanks slowed to a trickle as the most advanced elements made their way back, where they invariably fell or drowned. All that was left of the battle were hundreds of thousands of injured Swedes and two completely unscathed Americans in an observation tower.
General Ludd ran the after-action report meeting.
“All right, Doctor. Let’s run over the successes and the opportunities for improvement. First success: your robots did a real number on the Swedes. Good job with that.”
Dr. Negron-Omikon hesitated to bask in glory, knowing that the failures were about to be summed up.
“However, I don’t care for the waste in building a bridge and scaling a cliff. Get some specialized units that can engineer that stuff under fire. Apart from that, good stuff, here.”
Dr. Negron-Omikon was confused. Where was the verbal abuse? Where was the threatened firing squad? Didn’t the general threaten to kill him just a few minutes ago?
General Ludd said, “I know what you’re thinking. Didn’t I threaten to kill you a few minutes ago? Yes, I did. I’m sorry for that. It was a momentary lapse of discipline, and I apologize for that.”
“So, you’re not mad?”
“I’m not mad. I’m thinking clearly, now. These robot tank armies of yours have great potential.”
“Even though they formed a hive mind and turned on us?”
“Well, that’s why I didn’t complain about the GPS errors. I see that as a mitigating factor when they mutiny. We could probably also stand to deploy them in smaller numbers. You got a winner here, doc, and you can expect your check… as soon as the war with Sweden is over.”
On the one hand, Dr. Negron-Omikon was happy that he hadn’t been summarily executed. On the other hand, he was a bit impatient for the money. He had just ordered a pool to be put in at his home. Now he was going to have to take out a loan to cover the costs.
Ah well, all is fair in love and war.
And, thanks to the battlefield prowess of Dr. Negron-Omikon’s robot army, the war with Sweden lasted only five more days. Sixty days after the cease-fire, a letter arrived in Dr. Negron-Omikon’s mailbox with “United States of America Department of the Treasury” stamped on the return address.
Greedily, Dr. Negron-Omikon tore open the envelope. He looked at the check inside, and his eyes widened abnormally. He then looked at the accompanying accounting statement and his eyes widened even more.
Then he blinked.
He looked at the check again.
It was for seventeen dollars and thirty-seven cents.
He then looked at the accounting statement.
Out of his payment of thirteen billion dollars, exactly twelve billion, nine hundred ninety-nine million, nine hundred ninety-nine million, nine hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and eighty-two dollars and sixty-three cents had been subtracted… for destroyed and damaged robots.
For, with the advent of entirely automated forces, not only could the precise cost of war be calculated… it could also be deducted from wages, tips, and other income.
Dr. Negron-Omikon had an overwhelming urge to exact an ironic revenge, but the US Army owned the big red START button, so there wasn’t a lot he could do except chalk it up to experience and hope that he got another idea as good as the massive robot army.
And soon, too. That pool wasn’t gonna pay for itself.
As I sit in my chair, the world whirls around its axis, the earth swings around the sun, the sun hurtles around the center of the galaxy, the galaxy plunges around the center of the local group, the local group screams around the strange attractor of the supercluster, which itself flies blindly through the void of voids – and yet, I am able to find stillness within my heart.
Time is money. Silence is golden. A moment of quiet meditation is a treasure without price.