m
“Almost all people are hypnotics.
The proper authority saw to it that the proper belief should be induced and the people believed properly.”
— Charles Hoy Fort

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

NYC benefit for Doug Skinner

21st century renaissance man Doug Skinner – a regular contributor to Strange Attractor Journal & Fortean Times, historian, ventriloquist, ukelele maestro, translator of alchemical manuscripts and much more besides – recently lost much of his archive of books, artworks, musical instruments and fascinating junk to a flooded New York basement. As if this wasn’t bad enough he also lost his piano, which makes life in that city as a professional musician particularly difficult.

A group of Doug’s friends have put together a night of cabaret, performance, 3D images and home-made electronic instruments to raise money for a new piano. It promises to be a night to remember…

Carousel benefit for Doug Skinner curated by R. Sikoryak
Wed, may 23 - 8 pm
tickets: $12 - $20
Featuring a 3-D presentation by Gerald Marks, M. Sweeney Lawless, Sam Henderson, Todd Alcott, Brian Dewan and much more!
Benefit tickets $12-$15, $20 for show and post performance party.

Directions



Monday, May 14, 2007

Loose Change 2nd Edition recut

Editing/Addenda: 7/23+27/2007. I find myself now unable to support the makers of this film, or in fact that of In Plane Sight. The Loose Change people have engaged in censorship of alternative ideas at their forum. Others have as well. I cannot abide that. It raises suspicions as to who they really are, and the implications are not good. My research has brought me to discoveries and conclusions in relation to the towers not covered in these films. While I think these films are good at raising questions in viewer's minds regarding many of the aspects of the day's events; regarding the towers, they ignore certain things and go down the wrong path, focusing attention away from things that need to be answered, at least to my film/video trained mind. Consequently, I must remove my support of the films as whole entities. These two, in general, will not bring the complete truth to light.

It's even better... much better... miss it at your peril.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The BBC reported that WTC7 collapsed 23 minutes BEFORE it fell!


This is old news now, but it's still very, very important in my view. To me, it says that the Beeb may even have been in on it, lending a new standard to the "special relationship" that our countries share. I always thought of the BBC as a stalwart of accurate information. I guess not. It is fascinating watching this reporter go on and on with the still standing building right in back of her head. It just blew me away.

So, the administration had this all written out and faxed over to the English mouthpieces but forgot to tell them when to start broadcasting. Lucky for us they did. I'm also quite sure the paper trail's gone missing. Glad they mentioned that Guiliani put his two cents into the script... the ex-prosecutor helped the regime big time by getting rid of all the evidence as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. Interesting behavior for a cop, huh? Disgusting. It's all just so disgusting.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Is this REALLY proof that man can see into the future?

Is this REALLY proof that man can see into the future?
This Is London
05.05.07

Do some of us avoid tragedy by foreseeing it? Some scientists now believe that the brain really CAN predict events before they happen

Professor Dick Bierman sits hunched over his computer in a darkened room. The gentle whirring of machinery can be heard faintly in the background.

He smiles and presses a grubby-looking red button.

In the next room, a patient slips slowly inside a hospital brain scanner. If it wasn't for the strange smiles and grimaces that flicker across the woman's face, you could be forgiven for thinking this was just a normal health check.

But this scanner is engaged in one of the most profound paranormal experiments of all time, one that may well prove whether or not it is possible to predict the future.

For the results - released exclusively to the Daily Mail - suggest that ordinary people really do have a sixth sense that can help them 'see' the future.

Such amazing studies - if verified - might help explain the predictive powers of mediums and a range of other psychic phenomena such Extra Sensory Perception, deja vu and clairvoyance. On a more mundane level, it may account for 'gut feelings' and instinct.

The man behind the experiments is certainly convinced. "We're satisfied that people can sense the future before it happens," says Professor Bierman, a psychologist at the University of Amsterdam.

"We'd now like to move on and see what kind of person is particularly good at it."

And Bierman is not alone: his findings mirror the data gathered by other scientists and paranormal researchers both here and abroad.

Professor Brian Josephson, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist from Cambridge University, says: "So far, the evidence seems compelling. What seems to be happening is that information is coming from the future.

"In fact, it's not clear in physics why you can't see the future. In physics, you certainly cannot completely rule out this effect."

Virtually all the great scientific formulae which explain how the world works allow information to flow backwards and forwards through time - they can work either way, regardless.

Shortly after 9/11, strange stories began circulating about the lucky few who had escaped the outrage.

It transpired that many of the survivors had changed their plans at the last minute after vague feelings of unease.

It was a subtle, gnawing feeling that 'something' was not right. Nobody vocalised it but shortly before the attacks, people started altering their plans out of an unspoken instinct.

One woman suffered crippling stomach pain while queuing for one of the ill-fated planes which flew into the World Trade Center.

She made her way to the lavatory only to recover spontaneously. She missed her flight but survived the day. Amid the collective outpouring of grief and horror it was easy to overlook such stories or write them off as coincidences.

But in fact, these kind of stories point to an interesting and deeper truth for those willing to look.

If, for example, fewer people decided to fly on aircraft that subsequently crashed, then that would suggest a subconscious ability to divine the future. Well, strange as it seems, that's just what happens.

The aircraft which flew into the Twin Towers on 9/11 were unusually empty. All the hijacked planes were carrying only half the usual number of passengers. Perhaps one unusually empty plane could be explained away, but all four?

And it wasn't just on 9/11 that people subconsciously seemed to avoid disaster. The scientist Ed Cox found that trains 'destined' to crash carried far fewer people than they did normally.

Dr Jessica Utts, a statistician at the University of California, found exactly the same bizarre effect.

If it was possible to divine the future, you might expect those at the sharp end, such as pilots, to have the most finely tuned instincts of all. And again, that's just what you see.

When the Air France Concorde crashed in 2000, it wasn't long before the colleagues of those killed in the crash spoke about a sense of foreboding that had gripped the crew and flight engineers before the accident.

Speaking anonymously to the French newspaper Le Parisien, one spoke of a 'morbid expectation of an accident'.

"I had this sense that we were going to bump into the scenery," he said.

"The atmosphere on the Concorde team for the last few months, if one has the guts to admit it, had been one of morbid expectation of an accident. It was as if I was waiting for something to happen."

All of these stories suggest that we can pick up premonitions of events that are yet to be.

Although these premonitions are not in glorious Technicolor, they are often emotionally powerful enough for us to act upon them.

In technical parlance it is known as 'presentiment' because emotional feelings are being received from the future, not hard facts or information.

The military has long been fascinated by such phenomena. For many years the US military (and latterly the CIA) funded a secretive programme known as Stargate, which set out to investigate premonitions and the ability of mediums to predict the future.

Dr Dean Radin worked on the Stargate programme and became fascinated by the ability of 'lucky' soldiers to forecast the future.

These are the ones who survived battles against seemingly impossible odds. Radin became convinced that thoughts and feelings - and occasionally-actual glimpses of the future - could flow backwards in time to guide soldiers.

It helped them make life-saving decisions, often on the basis of a hunch.

He devised an experiment to test these ideas. He hooked up volunteers to a modified lie detector, which measured an electrical current across the surface of the skin.

This current changes when a person reacts to an event such as seeing an extremely violent picture or video. It's the electrical equivalent of a wince.

Radin showed sexually explicit, violent or soothing images to volunteers in a random sequence determined by computer.

And he soon discovered that people began reacting to the pictures before they saw them. It was unmistakable. They began to 'wince' a few seconds before they actually saw the image.

And it happened time and time again, way beyond what chance alone would allow.

So impressive were Radin's results that Dr Kary Mullis, a Nobel Prizewinning chemist, took an interest. He was hooked up to Radin's machine and shown the emotionally charged images.

"It's spooky," he says "I could see about three seconds into the future. You shouldn't be able to do that."

Other researchers from around the world, from Edinburgh University to Cornell in the US, rushed to duplicate Radin's experiment and improve on it. And they got similar results.

It was soon discovered that gamblers began reacting subconsciously shortly before they won or lost. The same effect was seen in those terrified of animals, moments before they were shown the creatures.

The odds against all of these trials being wrong are literally millions to one against.

Professor Dick Bierman decided to take this work even further. He is a psychologist who has become convinced that time as we understand it is an illusion. He could see no reason why people could not see into the future just as easily as we dip into memories of our past.

He's in good company. Einstein described the distinction between the past, present and future as 'a stubbornly persistent illusion'.

To prove Einstein's point, Bierman looked inside the brains of volunteers using a hospital MRI scanner while he repeated Dr Radin's experiments.

These scanners show which parts of the brain are active when we do certain tasks or experience specific emotions.

Although extremely complex, and with each analysis taking weeks of computing time, he has run the experiments twice involving more than 20 volunteers.

And the results suggest quite clearly that seemingly ordinary people are capable of sensing the future on a fairly consistent basis. Bierman emphasises that people are receiving feelings from the future rather than specific 'visions'.

It's clear, though, that if ordinary people can receive feelings from the future then perhaps the especially gifted may receive visions of things yet to be.

It's also clear that many paranormal phenomena such as ESP and clairvoyance could have their roots in presentiment.

After all, if you can see a few seconds into the future, why not a few days or even years? And surely if you could look through time, why not across great distances?It's a concept that ties the mind in knots, unless you're a physicist.

"I believe that we can 'sense' the future," says the Nobel Prizewinning physicist Brian Josephson.

"We just haven't yet established the mechanism allowing it to happen.

"People have had so called 'paranormal' or 'transcendental' experiences along these lines. Bierman's work is another piece of the jigsaw. The fact that we don't understand something does not mean that it doesn't happen.'

If we are all regularly sensing the future or occasionally receiving glimpses of it, as some mediums claim to do, then doesn't that mean we can change the future and render the 'prediction' obsolete?

Or perhaps we were meant to receive the premonition and act upon it? Such paradoxes could go on for ever, providing a rich seam of material for films such as Minority Report - based on a short story of the same name - in which a special police department is able to foresee and prevent crimes before they have even taken place.

Could such science fiction have a grain of truth in it after all? The emerging view, Bierman explains, is that 'the future has implications for the past'.

"This phenomena allows you to make a decision on the basis of what will happen in the future. Does that restrain our free will? That's up to the philosophers. I'm far too shallow a person to worry about that."

The problem with presentiment is that it appears so nebulous that you can't rely on it to make reliable decisions. That may be the case, but there are plenty of instances where people wished they had listened to their premonitions or feelings of presentiment.

One of the saddest involves the Aberfan disaster. This occurred in 1966 when a coal tip collapsed and swept through a Welsh school killing 144 people, including 116 children. It turned out that 24 people had received premonitions of the tragedy.

One involved a little girl who was killed. She told her mother shortly before she was taken to school: "I dreamed I went to school and there was no school there. Something black had come down all over it."

So should we listen to our instincts, hunches and dreams? Some experts believe we may already be using them in our everyday lives to a surprising degree.

Dr Jessica Utts at the University of California, who has worked for the US military and CIA as an independent auditor of its paranormal research, believes we are constantly sampling the future and using the knowledge to help us make better decisions.

"I think we're doing it all the time," she says. "We've looked at the data and it does seem to happen."

So perhaps the Queen in Through The Looking Glass was right: "It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards."

Looks like it certainly is proof to me... and I'm glad that the phenomenon has finally been "vindicated" by forward-thinking scientists. Quite refreshing, this is, quite refreshing, indeed. I think it speaks volumes for the connectedness of everything in the multiverse and hence supports the concept of energy from the vacuum.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Mind Games - The Washington Post

Mind Games

New on the Internet: a community of people who believe the government is beaming voices into their minds. They may be crazy, but the Pentagon has pursued a weapon that can do just that.

By Sharon Weinberger
Sunday, January 14, 2007; Page W22

IF HARLAN GIRARD IS CRAZY, HE DOESN'T ACT THE PART. He is standing just where he said he would be, below the Philadelphia train station's World War II memorial -- a soaring statue of a winged angel embracing a fallen combatant, as if lifting him to heaven. Girard is wearing pressed khaki pants, expensive-looking leather loafers and a crisp blue button-down. He looks like a local businessman dressed for a casual Friday -- a local businessman with a wickedly dark sense of humor, which had become apparent when he said to look for him beneath "the angel sodomizing a dead soldier." At 70, he appears robust and healthy -- not the slightest bit disheveled or unusual-looking. He is also carrying a bag.

Girard's description of himself is matter-of-fact, until he explains what's in the bag: documents he believes prove that the government is attempting to control his mind. He carries that black, weathered bag everywhere he goes. "Every time I go out, I'm prepared to come home and find everything is stolen," he says.

The bag aside, Girard appears intelligent and coherent. At a table in front of Dunkin' Donuts inside the train station, Girard opens the bag and pulls out a thick stack of documents, carefully labeled and sorted with yellow sticky notes bearing neat block print. The documents are an authentic-looking mix of news stories, articles culled from military journals and even some declassified national security documents that do seem to show that the U.S. government has attempted to develop weapons that send voices into people's heads.

"It's undeniable that the technology exists," Girard says, "but if you go to the police and say, 'I'm hearing voices,' they're going to lock you up for psychiatric evaluation."

The thing that's missing from his bag -- the lack of which makes it hard to prove he isn't crazy -- is even a single document that would buttress the implausible notion that the government is currently targeting a large group of American citizens with mind-control technology. The only direct evidence for that, Girard admits, lies with alleged victims such as himself. ...


Read the rest of the story...

Once you read this article, and I hope you do, you'll begin to realize the extent of the evil that has taken control of our fair land...

via Skylaire Alfvegren

Fascist America, in 10 easy steps - The Guardian

Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all

Tuesday April 24, 2007
The Guardian

Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody.

They were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy - but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps. As difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear, if you are willing to look, that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated today in the United States by the Bush administration.

Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree - domestically - as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government - the task of being aware of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens' ownership to being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors - we scarcely recognise the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled. Because we don't learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of "homeland" security - remember who else was keen on the word "homeland" - didn't raise the alarm bells it might have.

It is my argument that, beneath our very noses, George Bush and his administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable - as the author and political journalist Joe Conason, has put it, that it can happen here. And that we are further along than we realise.

Conason eloquently warned of the danger of American authoritarianism. I am arguing that we need also to look at the lessons of European and other kinds of fascism to understand the potential seriousness of the events we see unfolding in the US.

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy

After we were hit on September 11 2001, we were in a state of national shock. Less than six weeks later, on October 26 2001, the USA Patriot Act was passed by a Congress that had little chance to debate it; many said that they scarcely had time to read it. We were told we were now on a "war footing"; we were in a "global war" against a "global caliphate" intending to "wipe out civilisation". There have been other times of crisis in which the US accepted limits on civil liberties, such as during the civil war, when Lincoln declared martial law, and the second world war, when thousands of Japanese-American citizens were interned. But this situation, as Bruce Fein of the American Freedom Agenda notes, is unprecedented: all our other wars had an endpoint, so the pendulum was able to swing back toward freedom; this war is defined as open-ended in time and without national boundaries in space - the globe itself is the battlefield. "This time," Fein says, "there will be no defined end."

Creating a terrifying threat - hydra-like, secretive, evil - is an old trick. It can, like Hitler's invocation of a communist threat to the nation's security, be based on actual events (one Wisconsin academic has faced calls for his dismissal because he noted, among other things, that the alleged communist arson, the Reichstag fire of February 1933, was swiftly followed in Nazi Germany by passage of the Enabling Act, which replaced constitutional law with an open-ended state of emergency). Or the terrifying threat can be based, like the National Socialist evocation of the "global conspiracy of world Jewry", on myth.

It is not that global Islamist terrorism is not a severe danger; of course it is. I am arguing rather that the language used to convey the nature of the threat is different in a country such as Spain - which has also suffered violent terrorist attacks - than it is in America. Spanish citizens know that they face a grave security threat; what we as American citizens believe is that we are potentially threatened with the end of civilisation as we know it. Of course, this makes us more willing to accept restrictions on our freedoms.

2. Create a gulag

Once you have got everyone scared, the next step is to create a prison system outside the rule of law (as Bush put it, he wanted the American detention centre at Guantánamo Bay to be situated in legal "outer space") - where torture takes place.

At first, the people who are sent there are seen by citizens as outsiders: troublemakers, spies, "enemies of the people" or "criminals". Initially, citizens tend to support the secret prison system; it makes them feel safer and they do not identify with the prisoners. But soon enough, civil society leaders - opposition members, labour activists, clergy and journalists - are arrested and sent there as well.

This process took place in fascist shifts or anti-democracy crackdowns ranging from Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s to the Latin American coups of the 1970s and beyond. It is standard practice for closing down an open society or crushing a pro-democracy uprising.

With its jails in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, of course, Guantánamo in Cuba, where detainees are abused, and kept indefinitely without trial and without access to the due process of the law, America certainly has its gulag now. Bush and his allies in Congress recently announced they would issue no information about the secret CIA "black site" prisons throughout the world, which are used to incarcerate people who have been seized off the street.

Gulags in history tend to metastasise, becoming ever larger and more secretive, ever more deadly and formalised. We know from first-hand accounts, photographs, videos and government documents that people, innocent and guilty, have been tortured in the US-run prisons we are aware of and those we can't investigate adequately.

But Americans still assume this system and detainee abuses involve only scary brown people with whom they don't generally identify. It was brave of the conservative pundit William Safire to quote the anti-Nazi pastor Martin Niemöller, who had been seized as a political prisoner: "First they came for the Jews." Most Americans don't understand yet that the destruction of the rule of law at Guantánamo set a dangerous precedent for them, too.

By the way, the establishment of military tribunals that deny prisoners due process tends to come early on in a fascist shift. Mussolini and Stalin set up such tribunals. On April 24 1934, the Nazis, too, set up the People's Court, which also bypassed the judicial system: prisoners were held indefinitely, often in isolation, and tortured, without being charged with offences, and were subjected to show trials. Eventually, the Special Courts became a parallel system that put pressure on the regular courts to abandon the rule of law in favour of Nazi ideology when making decisions.

3. Develop a thug caste

When leaders who seek what I call a "fascist shift" want to close down an open society, they send paramilitary groups of scary young men out to terrorise citizens. The Blackshirts roamed the Italian countryside beating up communists; the Brownshirts staged violent rallies throughout Germany. This paramilitary force is especially important in a democracy: you need citizens to fear thug violence and so you need thugs who are free from prosecution.

The years following 9/11 have proved a bonanza for America's security contractors, with the Bush administration outsourcing areas of work that traditionally fell to the US military. In the process, contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars have been issued for security work by mercenaries at home and abroad. In Iraq, some of these contract operatives have been accused of involvement in torturing prisoners, harassing journalists and firing on Iraqi civilians. Under Order 17, issued to regulate contractors in Iraq by the one-time US administrator in Baghdad, Paul Bremer, these contractors are immune from prosecution

Yes, but that is in Iraq, you could argue; however, after Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Homeland Security hired and deployed hundreds of armed private security guards in New Orleans. The investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill interviewed one unnamed guard who reported having fired on unarmed civilians in the city. It was a natural disaster that underlay that episode - but the administration's endless war on terror means ongoing scope for what are in effect privately contracted armies to take on crisis and emergency management at home in US cities.

Thugs in America? Groups of angry young Republican men, dressed in identical shirts and trousers, menaced poll workers counting the votes in Florida in 2000. If you are reading history, you can imagine that there can be a need for "public order" on the next election day. Say there are protests, or a threat, on the day of an election; history would not rule out the presence of a private security firm at a polling station "to restore public order".

4. Set up an internal surveillance system

In Mussolini's Italy, in Nazi Germany, in communist East Germany, in communist China - in every closed society - secret police spy on ordinary people and encourage neighbours to spy on neighbours. The Stasi needed to keep only a minority of East Germans under surveillance to convince a majority that they themselves were being watched.

In 2005 and 2006, when James Risen and Eric Lichtblau wrote in the New York Times about a secret state programme to wiretap citizens' phones, read their emails and follow international financial transactions, it became clear to ordinary Americans that they, too, could be under state scrutiny.

In closed societies, this surveillance is cast as being about "national security"; the true function is to keep citizens docile and inhibit their activism and dissent.

5. Harass citizens' groups

The fifth thing you do is related to step four - you infiltrate and harass citizens' groups. It can be trivial: a church in Pasadena, whose minister preached that Jesus was in favour of peace, found itself being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, while churches that got Republicans out to vote, which is equally illegal under US tax law, have been left alone.

Other harassment is more serious: the American Civil Liberties Union reports that thousands of ordinary American anti-war, environmental and other groups have been infiltrated by agents: a secret Pentagon database includes more than four dozen peaceful anti-war meetings, rallies or marches by American citizens in its category of 1,500 "suspicious incidents". The equally secret Counterintelligence Field Activity (Cifa) agency of the Department of Defense has been gathering information about domestic organisations engaged in peaceful political activities: Cifa is supposed to track "potential terrorist threats" as it watches ordinary US citizen activists. A little-noticed new law has redefined activism such as animal rights protests as "terrorism". So the definition of "terrorist" slowly expands to include the opposition.

6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release

This scares people. It is a kind of cat-and-mouse game. Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the investigative reporters who wrote China Wakes: the Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power, describe pro-democracy activists in China, such as Wei Jingsheng, being arrested and released many times. In a closing or closed society there is a "list" of dissidents and opposition leaders: you are targeted in this way once you are on the list, and it is hard to get off the list.

In 2004, America's Transportation Security Administration confirmed that it had a list of passengers who were targeted for security searches or worse if they tried to fly. People who have found themselves on the list? Two middle-aged women peace activists in San Francisco; liberal Senator Edward Kennedy; a member of Venezuela's government - after Venezuela's president had criticised Bush; and thousands of ordinary US citizens.

Professor Walter F Murphy is emeritus of Princeton University; he is one of the foremost constitutional scholars in the nation and author of the classic Constitutional Democracy. Murphy is also a decorated former marine, and he is not even especially politically liberal. But on March 1 this year, he was denied a boarding pass at Newark, "because I was on the Terrorist Watch list".

"Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that," asked the airline employee.

"I explained," said Murphy, "that I had not so marched but had, in September 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the constitution."

"That'll do it," the man said.

Anti-war marcher? Potential terrorist. Support the constitution? Potential terrorist. History shows that the categories of "enemy of the people" tend to expand ever deeper into civil life.

James Yee, a US citizen, was the Muslim chaplain at Guantánamo who was accused of mishandling classified documents. He was harassed by the US military before the charges against him were dropped. Yee has been detained and released several times. He is still of interest.

Brandon Mayfield, a US citizen and lawyer in Oregon, was mistakenly identified as a possible terrorist. His house was secretly broken into and his computer seized. Though he is innocent of the accusation against him, he is still on the list.

It is a standard practice of fascist societies that once you are on the list, you can't get off.

7. Target key individuals

Threaten civil servants, artists and academics with job loss if they don't toe the line. Mussolini went after the rectors of state universities who did not conform to the fascist line; so did Joseph Goebbels, who purged academics who were not pro-Nazi; so did Chile's Augusto Pinochet; so does the Chinese communist Politburo in punishing pro-democracy students and professors.

Academe is a tinderbox of activism, so those seeking a fascist shift punish academics and students with professional loss if they do not "coordinate", in Goebbels' term, ideologically. Since civil servants are the sector of society most vulnerable to being fired by a given regime, they are also a group that fascists typically "coordinate" early on: the Reich Law for the Re-establishment of a Professional Civil Service was passed on April 7 1933.

Bush supporters in state legislatures in several states put pressure on regents at state universities to penalise or fire academics who have been critical of the administration. As for civil servants, the Bush administration has derailed the career of one military lawyer who spoke up for fair trials for detainees, while an administration official publicly intimidated the law firms that represent detainees pro bono by threatening to call for their major corporate clients to boycott them.

Elsewhere, a CIA contract worker who said in a closed blog that "waterboarding is torture" was stripped of the security clearance she needed in order to do her job.

Most recently, the administration purged eight US attorneys for what looks like insufficient political loyalty. When Goebbels purged the civil service in April 1933, attorneys were "coordinated" too, a step that eased the way of the increasingly brutal laws to follow.

8. Control the press

Italy in the 1920s, Germany in the 30s, East Germany in the 50s, Czechoslovakia in the 60s, the Latin American dictatorships in the 70s, China in the 80s and 90s - all dictatorships and would-be dictators target newspapers and journalists. They threaten and harass them in more open societies that they are seeking to close, and they arrest them and worse in societies that have been closed already.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says arrests of US journalists are at an all-time high: Josh Wolf (no relation), a blogger in San Francisco, has been put in jail for a year for refusing to turn over video of an anti-war demonstration; Homeland Security brought a criminal complaint against reporter Greg Palast, claiming he threatened "critical infrastructure" when he and a TV producer were filming victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. Palast had written a bestseller critical of the Bush administration.

Other reporters and writers have been punished in other ways. Joseph C Wilson accused Bush, in a New York Times op-ed, of leading the country to war on the basis of a false charge that Saddam Hussein had acquired yellowcake uranium in Niger. His wife, Valerie Plame, was outed as a CIA spy - a form of retaliation that ended her career.

Prosecution and job loss are nothing, though, compared with how the US is treating journalists seeking to cover the conflict in Iraq in an unbiased way. The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented multiple accounts of the US military in Iraq firing upon or threatening to fire upon unembedded (meaning independent) reporters and camera operators from organisations ranging from al-Jazeera to the BBC. While westerners may question the accounts by al-Jazeera, they should pay attention to the accounts of reporters such as the BBC's Kate Adie. In some cases reporters have been wounded or killed, including ITN's Terry Lloyd in 2003. Both CBS and the Associated Press in Iraq had staff members seized by the US military and taken to violent prisons; the news organisations were unable to see the evidence against their staffers.

Over time in closing societies, real news is supplanted by fake news and false documents. Pinochet showed Chilean citizens falsified documents to back up his claim that terrorists had been about to attack the nation. The yellowcake charge, too, was based on forged papers.

You won't have a shutdown of news in modern America - it is not possible. But you can have, as Frank Rich and Sidney Blumenthal have pointed out, a steady stream of lies polluting the news well. What you already have is a White House directing a stream of false information that is so relentless that it is increasingly hard to sort out truth from untruth. In a fascist system, it's not the lies that count but the muddying. When citizens can't tell real news from fake, they give up their demands for accountability bit by bit.

9. Dissent equals treason

Cast dissent as "treason" and criticism as "espionage'. Every closing society does this, just as it elaborates laws that increasingly criminalise certain kinds of speech and expand the definition of "spy" and "traitor". When Bill Keller, the publisher of the New York Times, ran the Lichtblau/Risen stories, Bush called the Times' leaking of classified information "disgraceful", while Republicans in Congress called for Keller to be charged with treason, and rightwing commentators and news outlets kept up the "treason" drumbeat. Some commentators, as Conason noted, reminded readers smugly that one penalty for violating the Espionage Act is execution.

Conason is right to note how serious a threat that attack represented. It is also important to recall that the 1938 Moscow show trial accused the editor of Izvestia, Nikolai Bukharin, of treason; Bukharin was, in fact, executed. And it is important to remind Americans that when the 1917 Espionage Act was last widely invoked, during the infamous 1919 Palmer Raids, leftist activists were arrested without warrants in sweeping roundups, kept in jail for up to five months, and "beaten, starved, suffocated, tortured and threatened with death", according to the historian Myra MacPherson. After that, dissent was muted in America for a decade.

In Stalin's Soviet Union, dissidents were "enemies of the people". National Socialists called those who supported Weimar democracy "November traitors".

And here is where the circle closes: most Americans do not realise that since September of last year - when Congress wrongly, foolishly, passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 - the president has the power to call any US citizen an "enemy combatant". He has the power to define what "enemy combatant" means. The president can also delegate to anyone he chooses in the executive branch the right to define "enemy combatant" any way he or she wants and then seize Americans accordingly.

Even if you or I are American citizens, even if we turn out to be completely innocent of what he has accused us of doing, he has the power to have us seized as we are changing planes at Newark tomorrow, or have us taken with a knock on the door; ship you or me to a navy brig; and keep you or me in isolation, possibly for months, while awaiting trial. (Prolonged isolation, as psychiatrists know, triggers psychosis in otherwise mentally healthy prisoners. That is why Stalin's gulag had an isolation cell, like Guantánamo's, in every satellite prison. Camp 6, the newest, most brutal facility at Guantánamo, is all isolation cells.)

We US citizens will get a trial eventually - for now. But legal rights activists at the Center for Constitutional Rights say that the Bush administration is trying increasingly aggressively to find ways to get around giving even US citizens fair trials. "Enemy combatant" is a status offence - it is not even something you have to have done. "We have absolutely moved over into a preventive detention model - you look like you could do something bad, you might do something bad, so we're going to hold you," says a spokeswoman of the CCR.

Most Americans surely do not get this yet. No wonder: it is hard to believe, even though it is true. In every closing society, at a certain point there are some high-profile arrests - usually of opposition leaders, clergy and journalists. Then everything goes quiet. After those arrests, there are still newspapers, courts, TV and radio, and the facades of a civil society. There just isn't real dissent. There just isn't freedom. If you look at history, just before those arrests is where we are now.

10. Suspend the rule of law

The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 gave the president new powers over the national guard. This means that in a national emergency - which the president now has enhanced powers to declare - he can send Michigan's militia to enforce a state of emergency that he has declared in Oregon, over the objections of the state's governor and its citizens.

Even as Americans were focused on Britney Spears's meltdown and the question of who fathered Anna Nicole's baby, the New York Times editorialised about this shift: "A disturbing recent phenomenon in Washington is that laws that strike to the heart of American democracy have been passed in the dead of night ... Beyond actual insurrection, the president may now use military troops as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, terrorist attack or any 'other condition'."

Critics see this as a clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act - which was meant to restrain the federal government from using the military for domestic law enforcement. The Democratic senator Patrick Leahy says the bill encourages a president to declare federal martial law. It also violates the very reason the founders set up our system of government as they did: having seen citizens bullied by a monarch's soldiers, the founders were terrified of exactly this kind of concentration of militias' power over American people in the hands of an oppressive executive or faction.

Of course, the United States is not vulnerable to the violent, total closing-down of the system that followed Mussolini's march on Rome or Hitler's roundup of political prisoners. Our democratic habits are too resilient, and our military and judiciary too independent, for any kind of scenario like that.

Rather, as other critics are noting, our experiment in democracy could be closed down by a process of erosion.

It is a mistake to think that early in a fascist shift you see the profile of barbed wire against the sky. In the early days, things look normal on the surface; peasants were celebrating harvest festivals in Calabria in 1922; people were shopping and going to the movies in Berlin in 1931. Early on, as WH Auden put it, the horror is always elsewhere - while someone is being tortured, children are skating, ships are sailing: "dogs go on with their doggy life ... How everything turns away/ Quite leisurely from the disaster."

As Americans turn away quite leisurely, keeping tuned to internet shopping and American Idol, the foundations of democracy are being fatally corroded. Something has changed profoundly that weakens us unprecedentedly: our democratic traditions, independent judiciary and free press do their work today in a context in which we are "at war" in a "long war" - a war without end, on a battlefield described as the globe, in a context that gives the president - without US citizens realising it yet - the power over US citizens of freedom or long solitary incarceration, on his say-so alone.

That means a hollowness has been expanding under the foundation of all these still- free-looking institutions - and this foundation can give way under certain kinds of pressure. To prevent such an outcome, we have to think about the "what ifs".

What if, in a year and a half, there is another attack - say, God forbid, a dirty bomb? The executive can declare a state of emergency. History shows that any leader, of any party, will be tempted to maintain emergency powers after the crisis has passed. With the gutting of traditional checks and balances, we are no less endangered by a President Hillary than by a President Giuliani - because any executive will be tempted to enforce his or her will through edict rather than the arduous, uncertain process of democratic negotiation and compromise.

What if the publisher of a major US newspaper were charged with treason or espionage, as a rightwing effort seemed to threaten Keller with last year? What if he or she got 10 years in jail? What would the newspapers look like the next day? Judging from history, they would not cease publishing; but they would suddenly be very polite.

Right now, only a handful of patriots are trying to hold back the tide of tyranny for the rest of us - staff at the Center for Constitutional Rights, who faced death threats for representing the detainees yet persisted all the way to the Supreme Court; activists at the American Civil Liberties Union; and prominent conservatives trying to roll back the corrosive new laws, under the banner of a new group called the American Freedom Agenda. This small, disparate collection of people needs everybody's help, including that of Europeans and others internationally who are willing to put pressure on the administration because they can see what a US unrestrained by real democracy at home can mean for the rest of the world.

We need to look at history and face the "what ifs". For if we keep going down this road, the "end of America" could come for each of us in a different way, at a different moment; each of us might have a different moment when we feel forced to look back and think: that is how it was before - and this is the way it is now.

"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands ... is the definition of tyranny," wrote James Madison. We still have the choice to stop going down this road; we can stand our ground and fight for our nation, and take up the banner the founders asked us to carry.

· Naomi Wolf's The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot will be published by Chelsea Green in September.


That was truly a fascinating read and so, so very true... take heed seriously, all of you and be aware of what is really going on around you, both in-your-face and behind the scenes!

via The Konformist