Archive | May 11, 2017

Forced Vaccinations Violate Constitutional Rights, Sweden’s Parliament Declares*

Forced Vaccinations Violate Constitutional Rights, Sweden’s Parliament Declares*

By Catherine Frompovic

The Parliament of progressive Sweden adopted a decision, which contained several motions, one being “it would violate our [Swedish Constitution] if it introduced compulsory vaccination, or mandatory vaccination.”

Here is the original text in Swedish of what transpired.

I accessed an Internet translation of that text, which follows:

NHF Sweden sent a letter to the Committee and explained that it would violate our Constitution if it introduced compulsory vaccination, or mandatory vaccination as it was submitted in Arkelstens motion. Many others have also submitted correspondence and many have called up Parliament and politician. Parliamentary politicians has surely noticed that there’s a massive resistance to all forms of coercion with regard to vaccination.

Per Internet translation at Microsoft Translator

Furthermore, this must be noted by all countries forcing mandatory vaccinations of children and adults, especially the USA, where a police-state exists regarding fraudulent vaccine pseudoscience:

NHF Sweden also shows how frequent serious adverse reactions according to the rate at which FASS specifies in the package leaflet of the MMR vaccine, when you vaccinate an entire year group. In addition, one must take into account that each age group will receive the MMR vaccine twice, so the side effects are doubled. We must not forget that, in addition, apply similar adverse reaction lists for other vaccines. In the letter, we have even included an extensive list of the additives found in vaccines – substances which are not health food and certainly not belong in babies or children. We finished the opinion of politicians with a daunting list of studies that show that vaccination is a really bad idea.

Per Internet translation at Microsoft Translator

Finally, one government on the face of the Earth has common sense!

Personally, I cannot offer enough kudos, standing ovations, and applause to the Swedish Parliament for members’ level-headedness in assessing vaccines as the bargain basement technology of the 20th century, and not mandating them.  However, that seems to be the emerging meme, especially in foreign countries where Big Pharma and vaccine manufacturers are being sued left and right for vaccine damages!

When will the CDC/FDA and the U.S. Congress wake up to the fact they have  been drinking Big Pharma’s ‘cool aid’ [campaign donations and agency subsidies], which, in effect, mandates fetuses, infants, toddler, teens, adults and senior citizens pay a horrible adverse health ‘price’ for their callousness in accepting fraudulent and “consensus science”?

Readers, please send this information to your local school districts, state legislators, and members of Congress asking for them to do the same as the Swedish Parliament did regarding vaccines.

Source*

Stockholm clinic probed for discouraging vaccination, says measles is good for child’s development

© Aleksandr Kondratuk / Sputnik

A children’s clinic in Stockholm is being investigated after giving parents dubious information about vaccines and advising homeopathy, leaving their young patients at risk of developing potentially life-threatening diseases, local media report.

The Allvis clinic in the Sodermalm district, which practices alternative medicine, allegedly advised parents to wait before vaccinating their child against measles, mumps and rubella, claiming that having the diseases can help along their child’s development.

At a briefing attended by a reporter from the newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) in May, one staff member told a father asking about measles:

“In the Western world you don’t die from childhood diseases.”

The staffer added that these diseases can “have a positive impact on their [the children’s] personal development.”

Measles is one of the leading causes of childhood deaths according to the World Health Organization. In 2015, it killed 134,200 people, with most victims under five years old.

“Now we hear of how a children’s health centre spreads fake news on vaccinations, which makes us very concerned. Child health services have a mission and it is important that they follow the existing guidelines,” Stockholm health official Anna Starbrink told TT on Tuesday.

In Sweden, children over 18 months are routinely given shots against measles, mumps and rubella. Although Swedish parents have the right to refuse vaccinations, in Stockholm, 95.6% of children are vaccinated. But among those attending the Allvis clinic, only 44.2% of two year olds have had shots administered.

Doctors at the clinic allegedly recommended homeopathic medicines over vaccines.

“We have several child care centres that are bad and we recently had a measles outbreak in Jarvafaltet. If the vaccination rate is low, it can just as easily happen in Sodermalm,” Starbrink told BN.

Depending on the outcome of the investigation, the clinic may have its license revoked.

“I’ve taken the initiative to start an investigation. If you’re going to run a children’s clinic for Stockholm County Council you have to follow our guidelines. If you don’t do that, it’s possible to end the agreement,” Starbrink added, according to The Local.

Source*

Related Topics:

Biologist Proves Measles Isn’t a Virus, Wins Supreme Court Case against a Doctor*

Measles Outbreak Traced to Fully Vaccinated Patients*

British Medical Journal Tells Us – Measles Is Not The Scary Disease The Press Want You To Think It Is

U.K. Released Documents Prove Governmental Concern About Measles Vaccine

Toddler Permanently Brain Damaged by a Mystery Combination Vaccination That Her Parent’s Did Not Consent To*

Whopping Vaccine Injury Payouts for US Fiscal Year 2017 Released*

Why You Should NEVER Sign ‘Refusal to Vaccinate’ Document*

Triplets Regress into Autism Following Flu Vaccine*

Polio Vaccine Refusal Cases among Well-educated People Baffle Officials in Pakistan*

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Human Rights Lawyer Wins Presidency of South Korea*

Human Rights Lawyer Wins Presidency of South Korea*

By Morgan Baskin

South Korean President-elect Moon Jae-in greets supporters. (Photo: Jung Yeon-Je/Getty Images)

 

A season of political drama in South Korea ended Tuesday after human rights lawyer Moon Jae-in claimed victory in the South Korea presidential election, the New York Times reports.

President-elect Moon will replace ousted leader Park Geun-Hye, who was removed from office by the country’s constitutional court on charges of corruption and abuse of power. Moon reportedly favours holding talks with North Korea.

“This is the great victory for the great people who have been with me to build a just country, united country and a country where principle and common sense works,” Moon said in his victory speech, according to a partial transcript by CNN.

Source*

Related Topics:

North Korean Paranoia is Well-Founded*

U.S. Dropped Insects Carrying Anthrax, Cholera, Encephalitis, and Bubonic Plague on North Korea*

S. Korean Women Sue US Military for Forced Prostitution*

South Korea Protests against Election Fraud*

South Korea and the U.S. on the Brink?

South Korea & Japan Shuts Down U.S. Monsanto Toxic Wheat Imports!

‘Snipers’ Take to the Streets of Venezuela*

‘Snipers’ Take to the Streets of Venezuela*

Two more Venezuelans died Wednesday amid ongoing unrest, with officials in Caracas calling for an official investigation into the role of right-wing snipers in the violence.

Late Wednesday the public prosecutor’s office confirmed the death of Miguel Castillo, 27, during an opposition protest in Miranda state. The prosecutor is investigating the case, while a separate commission has also been established by the ombudsperson’s office to look into the death.

According to interior minister Nestor Reverol, Castillo was killed by a gunshot at close range, though it’s unclear whether the shot was fired by security forces or protesters. He emphasised that the autopsy is yet to be completed, but said there were signs Castillo was shot at close range.

“All the necessary investigations are being done to clarify the case,” Reverol said.

Opposition politicians quickly blamed government forces for the killing. One legislator from the main opposition coalition, the MUD’s Jose Manuel Olivares, said Reverol will “be remembered as a killer”.

“Today the minister again ordered that Venezuelans be killed,” he said during a press conference.

The legislator continued by claiming there was evidence Castillo was killed with a marble used as a bullet, before arguing this proved security forces were responsible.

“The young Castillo had entry and exit wounds in the left arm, [with the projectile] lodging in his chest,” he said, according to El Nacional.

Marbles and ball bearings are often used by anti-government protesters as improvised ammunition, while state security forces usually use standard crowd control ammunition, such as rubber buckshot. Nonetheless, the opposition has accused security forces of secretly using marbles instead of crowd control ammunition.

Another Death in Merida

At least five protester deaths have been attributed to the actions of security forces over the past two months, according to data compiled by Venezuelanalysis. However, some deaths initially blamed on police and the National Guard have later been attributed to protesters, who often carry firearms and improvised weapons.

The day before Castillo’s death, three people were injured in the Andean city of Merida by a suspected sniper. The injured included a police officer, student and a motorbike taxi worker, Anderson Dugarte. On Wednesday, Dugarte died of his wounds, while the two other injured remain in critical conditions.

Referred to locally as mototaxistas, motorbike taxi workers are often stereotyped as government supporters, though Dugarte’s political affiliation is unknown.

Nonetheless, Merida’s socialist state governor Alexis Ramirez blamed the opposition for Dugarte’s death, labelling the sniper a “terrorist”.

“This is part of the fascist plan of the right-wing terrorists, directed by [National Assembly head and MUD legislator] Julio Borges – you are responsible!” Ramirez said.

The sniper incident prompted Ombudsman Tarek William Saab to call for an official investigation into allegations opposition protests have been infiltrated by snipers. On April 24th, two local government workers were also murdered by sharp-shooters in Merida. 

Taking to social media, Saab accused far right groups of the “systematic use of gunmen and snipers” to create chaos on the streets.

Saab urged the public prosecutor’s office and the criminal investigation agency CICPC to head the investigation.

Overall, 15 deaths related to political unrest since early April have been attributed to the actions of anti-government groups. The latest two casualties bring the total death toll to 44, making the current wave of unrest deadlier than the violence of 2014.

Forty three people died during the protests of 2014, when the opposition sought to force President Nicolas Maduro from office with a campaign of street violence and attacks on infrastructure. Until now, the 2014 unrest was Venezuela’s worst wave of violence in more than two decades. With the latest deaths, the current violence is now the deadliest chapter of political unrest in Venezuela since the 1989 Caracazo, when potentially thousands of Venezuelans died at the hands of state security personnel during a week of protests and riots against a neoliberal structural adjustment plan.

Source*

Related Topics:

Tensions on the Rise As U.S. Announces Military Drills Near Venezuela*

Venezuela Oil Union Workers Back Maduro’s Constituent Assembly*

Maduro Condemns Opposition-Led Violence as Venezuela Death Toll Nears 40

U.S. Cries ‘Power Grab’ Following Venezuela Supreme Court Ruling*

Venezuela Maintains High Human Development Despite U.S. Engineered Economic Crisis*

The Caribbean Supports Venezuela against U.S. Interventionism*

Venezuela’s Supreme Court Blocks U.S. Regime Change*

Proof That Britain’s E.U. Brexit Referendum Was Rigged*

Proof That Britain’s E.U. Brexit Referendum Was Rigged*

“This is Britain in 2017. A Britain that increasingly looks like a “managed” democracy. Paid for by a U.S. billionaire. Using military-style technology. Delivered by Facebook. And enabled by us. If we let the E.U. referendum result stand, we are giving it our implicit consent. This isn’t about Remain or Leave. It goes far beyond party politics. It’s about the first step into a brave, new, increasingly undemocratic world.”

By Graham Vanbergen

This was the last paragraph of a near on 6,000 word piece written by Carole Cadwalladre entitled “The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked” – and it was by far the most important article The Guardian has printed for some time. I’ve spoken to several friends who I shared the link with and not one got to read this paragraph. The article was too long and too technical. They struggled to comprehend the implications of what was written and this is understandable given the complexity of the detail. It was really three articles mixed into one. They gave up about half way through and were little the wiser. But its importance cannot be understated.

Cadwalladre starts her disturbing piece describing how “a shadowy global operation involving big data, billionaire friends of Trump and the disparate forces of the Leave campaign influenced the result of the EU referendum.” I did a piece that laid out a similar scenario a month earlier entitled “The Link Between Brexit And The US Election, MI6, Fake News And Dark Money” but it didn’t delve as deeply into this shadowy operation in quite the same way – but my instinct for all this skullduggery was spot on. This might already seem difficult to absorb, but bear with me, it’s only a five minute read from here.

Cambridge Analytica (CA) are at the heart of this operation. Its parent company was SCL (Strategic Communication Laboratories) Group, a private British behavioral research and strategic communication company. They use psychological warfare strategies to win elections in the kind of developing countries that don’t have many rules. A secretive hedge-fund billionaire owns CA. Another character involved in this sordid tale is the billionaire co-founder of eBay and PayPal.

The article demonstrates that an authoritarian surveillance state is being constructed in the US and how democracy in Britain was overturned and corrupted by U.S. billionaire’s. There are references to a right-wing ‘propaganda machine’ and the link with Donald Trump and his chief strategist Steve Bannon – a former media executive and film producer and Goldman Sachs banker with very right-wing attitudes.

Then we have accusations of improper use of funds, illegal use of data and that the activities of CA went far beyond the jurisdiction of U.K. laws. Illegal coordinated campaigns between rival political parties to secure Brexit are mentioned as are huge sums of money poured into database collections and even military strategies that may have been used in British and U.S. elections. Financial caps and regulations enshrined into British law to protect democracy were disregarded.

SCL/Cambridge Analytica is part of the British defence establishment. And now it appears, the American defence establishment.

Cadwalladre makes the point that a military contractor is using military strategies on a civilian population to sway a national result, in this case, Britain’s E.U. referendum. Cadwalladre is supported by a U.K. based professor of sociology who says it is “an extraordinary scandal that this should be anywhere near a democracy” where psychology, propaganda and technology are fused together.

And who facilitated this huge data bundle that usurped Britain’s democracy – another American transnational corporation called – ‘Facebook.’ As the article points out

Facebook was the source of the psychological insights that enabled Cambridge Analytica to target individuals. It was also the mechanism that enabled them to be delivered on a large scale.

In last week’s Panorama documentary, Facebook were accused of not being just a social media platform but an important political player who was decisive in the U.S. presidential campaign from which it earned $250million. Similar accusations are made with regard to British elections and especially the EU referendum.

Other campaigns used negative systems such as voter disengagement and suppression tactics – used to persuade some voters to say at home.

“This is military-funded technology that has been harnessed by a global plutocracy and is being used to sway elections in ways that people can’t even see” – says another expert. The general consensus is that we (the people) are in an information war with the billionaires who end up controlling government and that we are in very ‘worrying times’ and that all this is ‘profoundly unsettling’.

But what it’s all about is that so much data is in the hands of a bunch of international plutocrats to do with it what they will, is absolutely chilling.

And this strategy is quite clearly working. The company that helped Trump achieve power in the first place has now been awarded contracts in the Pentagon and the U.S. state department. Its former vice-president now sits in the White House.

The article continues with the big media players, who have used disinformation campaigns. More than a billion adverts reached ‘persuadable’ voters in the last days before the referendum. There is the hint that Britain and America’s spy agencies, GCHQ and the NSA have some involvement that senior members of political parties like UKIP and activist organisations such as VoteLeave and Leave.EU were intimately involved in CA and others that intentionally swayed the result using subversive strategies intent on getting around laws.

In the end, as the article points out,

“Brexit came down to “about 600,000 people – just over 1% of registered voters”. It’s not a stretch to believe that a member of the global 1% found a way to influence this crucial 1% of British voters.”

You would think the electorate and its representatives in parliament would be ‘up in arms’ to think that a small clique of American billionaires had changed the course of history in Britain. That a new referendum might be considered, inquiries demanded, that individuals warrants would be issued to those deliberately usurping British democracy and its future prospects. But nothing will happen. We now have a government that has just called a snap election specifically to shore up its power base. It has only just been conveniently let off the hook by 29 police forces for financial irregularities with regards to the 2015 election. And as Cadwalladre says it’s about an election “designed to set us into permanent alignment with Trump’s America.”

In short, Cadwalladre has echoed what I said a month earlier – America has just highjacked Britain. Even if you voted for Britain to leave the E.U., you should feel outraged that in the end, this was not a clean fight. You should feel outraged that Britain, already a lapdog to the awful ideology that now America represents, is now under the jackboot of Donald Trump’s fascism?

For all of the mainstream media’s constant whining of Russian influence on both sides of the pond, it turns out our so-called closest ally – just shot us in the back.

You now know it the E.U. referendum was rigged in a very special and technical way. I would rather stay in the E.U. and influence it than be faced with what is coming down the line next. America, not satisfied with destroying its own country is coming for what is left of ours and this current government is going to facilitate it along with a few billionaire media barons.

Source*

Related Topics:

U.K. Brexit Election 08 June 2017*

Brexit Officially Begins*

U.K. Parliament Rejects Lords Amendments to Brexit Bill*

U.K. PM Bows to Pressure to Spell out ‘Brexit Plan’ Details*

Criminal Investigation Into U.K. Conservative Government*

The Lies of Brexit*

Global Power and the History of Trusts

Legal Documents in High Court Case Reveal anti-Brexit Strategy*

The U.K. Supreme Court has Found a Way to block Brexit*

E.U. Blocks Brexit with a €25bn Debt*

Leaked E.U. Document Reveals Plans for Superstate after Brexit*

The Dakota Access Pipeline Is Already Leaking*

The Dakota Access Pipeline Is Already Leaking*

By Cole Kazdin

A Standing Rock protester by Helen H. Richardson

 

And the Standing Rock Sioux are worried.

Oil isn’t even flowing through the Dakota Access pipeline yet, but already there’s been a leak. The 1,100-mile pipeline, the subject of controversy and mass protests, will be fully operational June 1, according to Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company that built it. But in April, a mechanical failure caused an 84-gallon oil spill northeast of Tulare, a tiny town in South Dakota.

The spill was entirely contained and is considered small. But for environmental groups and members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, who have been fighting the pipeline since before construction began—and are still in court trying to shut it down—this spill is a harbinger of more to come and an ongoing threat to their drinking water supply.

“This is what we have said all along: Oil pipelines leak and spill,” said Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman Dave Archambault II.

“The Dakota Access pipeline has not yet started shipping the proposed half million barrels of oil per day, and we are already seeing confirmed reports of oil spills from the pipeline.”

The spill happened April 4 during the testing of a surge pump, according to Brian Walsh, an environmental scientist with the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources. At this particular pump station, oil is pumped into what’s called a surge tank, which measures flow rates, among other things, and then pumped back into the main line.

The surge pump had a mechanical failure, but the entire spill happened within a lined containment area. Gravel on top of the liner that covered with oil was collected and disposed of, and oil never touched the unlined ground.

“There were no off-site impacts, no impact to the soil or groundwater, and the oil did not get into any surface water,” said Walsh, adding that this leak isn’t indicative of the overall state of the pipeline and “wasn’t necessarily surprising,” given that similar spills have occurred at other South Dakota pipelines when lines are being started up.

Walsh told me that South Dakota typically gets 200 to 300 spills a year from fuel leaks, pipelines, oil wells, and various other sources.

“We do not generally public notice a spill unless there is an imminent threat to public health, a drinking-water system, or surface-water body,” said Walsh.

“We treated this 84-gallon spill just as we would treat any other 84-gallon spill that occurs in our state.”

But Jan Hasselman, an attorney with Earthjustice representing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in court, says that’s beside the point.

“Pipelines leak and spill,” he said, echoing Archambault.

“Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. It’s all but inevitable. Maybe next time it’s next to an elementary school or a drinking-water reservoir. Assurances that that this is a state-of-the-art modern pipeline that nobody needs to worry about are hard to credit when it’s spilling before it’s even been turned on.”

ETP did not respond to requests for comment, but spokeswoman Vicki Granado said in a statement to the Associated Press that the spilled oil “stayed in the containment area as designed,” and that the pipeline was safe.

State regulations require companies to report spills right away, and Walsh said ETP did (it reported the spill two days after the fact, on April 6). Cleaning up is happening, and it won’t be fined or penalized in any way. “If we have good, responsible parties, we generally do not do that,” he said.

But the tribe and many environmentalists are troubled by how the news of the spill is only emerging now—more than a month after it happened.

“It doesn’t say much for the accountability of the company and the transparency of the regulatory process when these things happen and there’s no notification to the public,” Hasselman told me.

The South Dakota government tracks spills of all kinds on a map on a website, searchable by date, type of spill, and responsible party. But there are no announcements of any particular spill; a reporter for the Aberdeen American News, a local outlet, broke the story of the DAPL after finding it on the site. The state’s full report on the spill isn’t complete yet. Walsh said it will take a couple of weeks, once ETP submits documentation to show that it disposed of contaminated materials properly.

Meanwhile, the tribe’s legal battle against ETP continues. They has asked a judge to declare that the Trump administration’s reversal of the environmental study and issuing the permits was illegal. “We’ve asked him to vacate the permits which would mean the pipeline has to stop,” said Hasselman. “At this point we are waiting for a decision from the court.” That decision could take weeks or months.

In the meantime, new reports have emerged revealing that the company doesn’t yet have emergency equipment in place to handle a major spill in the future. The government doesn’t require it to have one for one year from the day the pipeline starts running, according to court documents that were recently made public, though it does mandate “open water spill response” equipment to be permanently stored.

“What if something happens before that?” asks Hasselman.

“There’s no plan. It’s just another example of the way in which the tribe’s interests have been stepped over in the haste to get this thing in the ground.”

“It’s more important than ever for the court to step in and halt additional accidents before they happen,” said Archambault.

“Not just for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and our resources, but for the 17 million people whose drinking water is at risk.”

As for the April spill, Hasselman pointed out that it would have received more attention if it were a major spill that affected drinking water.

“But what we’ve been trying to say all along is that those risks are real,” he told me.

“They need to be analyzed before decisions are made, and we were dismissed at every turn. It doesn’t give anybody any pleasure to say, ‘I told you so,’ but—here we are.”

Source*

Related Topics:

The Company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline Just Had 2 Major Spills*

DAPL’s Energy Transfer Partners Restructures to Avoid Junk Rating*

DAPL Approved a Week After Co-Owner’s Pipeline Spilled 600,000 Gallons of Oil in Texas*

Pipeline Shut Down In North Dakota after Leaking into Little Mississippi River*

BNP Paribas Latest Bank to Dump Dakota Access Pipeline*

Buffet, Gates Foundation, Bono’s RED and the Dakota Access Pipeline

Standing Rock Protestors Use Mirrors to Inspire Humility among Police Officers*

The Quiet Miracle*

The Quiet Miracle*

By Jennah Adam

It was one of those days, uneventful, moody, and inert enough to let the tempest of flames rage freely in my chest. Those days where, without knowing why, everything is wrong, and I’m often on the brink of tears with nothing tangible to account for it.

I felt small. Smaller than small. Disposable. Insignificant. Even my miseries were contemptible. The world was suffering on a colossal scale, and here I was thinking about my broken wings; those appendages of spirit that have been tethered and crippled. But I felt the world’s suffering, too. I also felt tortured, when I heard news of an abused child. I also felt bereft, when I saw another grieve. I felt sick to my stomach and despaired too when images of bloody innocents assaulted my eyes. I felt their suffering, as well. I was a girl with broken wings and the burden of Atlas on my back.

This day, I remember clearly. It was a snowy winter’s morning, colder than neglect, but not bitter. I had climbed into the backseat of my mother’s car and thought, with a sickening twist in my stomach, how the rapid shivers I was suppressing in my arms and legs would eventually abate, but not with those who have to stand outside in the snow, dependent on man’s imagined generosity. This day, I was wondering where God’s grace was, to help us wretched humans, who hour after hour grow more unfeeling. This day, I saw no beauty in this world of miseries.

After the shivers slowed to a slight tremble, I leant my forehead on the hazy windowpane and gazed, unseeing, outside. It had been snowing all morning, but the sun was out and the snow was light and downy – almost cheerful. I should have been buoyed by the jocund surroundings, but it was one of those days. As my unfocused eyes followed wayward lines in the mist, I blinked suddenly when a snowflake blew across the windowpane and settled in a corner.

It was perfect. Miraculously unbroken, and just large enough for me to make out its details if I squinted a bit. I marveled at its precise symmetry and geometric designs reminiscent of the patterns on the walls of the Martyr’s shrine. I watched it with ardour, admiring its delicate architecture, but it didn’t remain long. First it broke then melted under the sun’s jealous gaze, leaving, momentarily, a shadow of itself in water form.

I sat back in my seat and mused, “Who is this for?”

I looked out the car window, now clearer after the mist had dried off, to the snow outside and thought again, “Who is this for?”

This one little snowflake, miraculous in its perfection, was one of countless others, all beauteous and unrepeated. I saw them everywhere; over lawns, branches, rooftops; packed into ice underfoot and turned into sludge on the streets. How many were there? Could anyone count them? Does anyone care? He counts them, certainly. He counts them even before they fall.

I thought, “Why?” and this word flurried in my mind like a drifting snowflake. Why? What for? No one could see them. I could barely see the one that landed on my window, and that was by chance. What of the bazillion others that are created just to break or melt or be stepped on mere seconds after their existence?

Who is this for? Who is all this beauty – this perfection – for? Who can see it and enjoy its beauty? Humans? We only begrudge the snow. Why does He fashion such breathtaking little things and grace the blind world with it, then let them pass from existence before one of the blind could begin to see what they truly are? Why create things so small, so insignificant, and make them so utterly beautiful?

I began to fight back tears. He was so Good, so Kind. Even that snowflake was Loved by Him who gave it symmetry and grace. He Loved it enough to make it, and let it fade from this world but not from His Love. He loved it, and created it and gave it from His Beauty, and that is no insignificant thing at all. Merely to exist is to be Loved. And to be Loved is to be Beautiful.

How much like snowflakes we are, I thought then. How much we are Loved.

Source*

Related Topics:

The Charity of Love

Einstein’s Letter to His Daughter about the Universal Force of Love*

The Shift -The Age of Heart*

A Small Act of kindness Disarms anti-Muslim Protester.*

Mother’s Love brings Life back to her Son Two-Hours after Pronounced Dead!*

Al-Biruni’s “Economy of Nature” in Modern Biotechnology

Puerto Rico’s $123 Billion Bankruptcy Is the Cost of U.S. Colonialism*

Puerto Rico’s $123 Billion Bankruptcy Is the Cost of U.S. Colonialism*

Pedestrians walk past an old hotel in the Condado area of San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 2015.

 

By Juan González

Last week Puerto Rico officially became the largest bankruptcy case in the history of the American public bond market. On May 3, a fiscal control board imposed on the island’s government by Washington less than year ago suddenly announced that the Puerto Rico’s economic crisis “has reached a breaking point.” The board asked for the immediate appointment of a federal judge to decide how to deal with a staggering $123 billion debt the commonwealth government and its public corporations owe to both bondholders and public employee pension systems.

The announcement sparked renewed press attention to a Caribbean territory that many have dubbed America’s Greece. The island’s total debt, according to the control board, is unprecedented for any government insolvency in the U.S., and it is certain to mushroom quickly if no action is taken. Detroit’s bankruptcy, by comparison, involved just $18 billion — one-ninth the size of Puerto Rico’s.

Within days, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, acting under a provision of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (known as PROMESA), which was enacted last June, appointed federal judge Laura Taylor Swain from the southern district of New York to take over the Puerto Rico case. A former bankruptcy court judge who was appointed to the federal court by President Clinton, Swain famously presided over the long criminal trial of employees of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme.

Few press reports on Puerto Rico’s troubles, however, have bothered to examine the deeper issues behind this crisis.

Puerto Ricans protest on Wall Street, blaming U.S. imperialism for the debt crisis. Photo:EFE

 

First, the colonial relationship that has prevailed between the U.S. and Puerto Rico since 1898 is no longer viable. Puerto Rico is the largest overseas territory still under the sovereign control of the United States, and it is the most important colonial possession in this nation’s history. That relationship produced uncommon profits for American subsidiaries on the island for more than a century, even as the federal government kept claiming that the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, created in 1952, was a self-governing territory.  But now, with a Washington-appointed board directly overseeing the island’s economy, and with a pivotal Supreme Court decision last year affirming that Congress continues to exercise sovereign power over Puerto Rico, the mask of self-governance has been removed.

The old commonwealth is effectively dead. Absent a huge infusion of U.S. public dollars to prop up its collapsing economy, a scenario that is nearly impossible with a Trump White House and a Republican-controlled Congress, that relationship cannot be revived. Political leaders in both Washington and San Juan, whether they like it or not, are being propelled to fashion a new political and economic status for the territory. They will have to finally decide whether to completely annex Puerto Rico as the 51st state or acknowledge that it still remains a distinct nation, with the right to its own sovereignty and independence.

Second, the impact of Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy will continue to reverberate throughout the U.S. bond market, far more than most Wall Street analysts have so far acknowledged. The PROMESA control board has warned that even with massive cuts to government services and new projected revenues from higher taxes and fees, Puerto Rico will still generate slightly less than $8 billion in budget surpluses over the next ten years, when some $35 billion in debt service comes due. In other words, three-quarters of the debt cannot be repaid. That is not just a haircut for bondholders; it is a head-shaving, one that will send shock waves throughout the municipal bond market. After all, bonds backed by the full faith-and-credit of local government entities have long been considered among the safest of investments.

Years of court battles between Puerto Rico and contending groups of creditors are now certain. “The economy of Puerto Rico will be put on hold for years,” Andrew Rosenberg, adviser to the Ad Hoc Group of Puerto Rico General Obligation Bondholders, told the Associated Press. “Make no mistake: The board has chosen to turn Puerto Rico into the next Argentina.”

The Debt Is Not Payable

Civil society groups contend that the plunder of the Puerto Rican people through predatory and even illegal bond deals that island politicians concocted together with top Wall Street firms will now be exposed.

Amazingly, the 23-page petition that the federal government’s own financial control board filed in U.S. District Court in San Juan reached the exact same conclusion that Puerto Rico’s former governor Alejandro García Padilla reached back in June 2015 — that the island’s debt is “not payable.”

In the nearly two years since García Padilla sounded the alarm, however, Washington has done almost nothing to alleviate the economic catastrophe afflicting 3.4 million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, except to establish the control board by enacting PROMESA.

On an island that has lost 10% of its population in the last ten years, where 46% of the population lives below the U.S. poverty level, where the unemployment rate is more than 11%, and where the labour force participation hovers around 40%, lawmakers in Congress have kept insisting on greater austerity from Puerto Rico’s population. The reality is such dire conditions would never be tolerated among U.S. citizens in any other jurisdiction, yet they are allowed to persist in Puerto Rico.

During the past two years, the commonwealth government has sharply raised electricity and water rates. It has increased the sales tax (now a value added tax) to 11.5%. It has proposed ending all pensions for new workers and cutting existing benefits by an average of 10%. And last week, it announced the closing of 179 public schools for the coming school year. In addition, the control board has called for a $450 million cut over the next four years to the island’s 70,000-student public university.

Puerto Ricans protest against creditors, holding signs that say “Puerto Rico is not for sale”. Photo:EFE

 

Under the control board’s pressure, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, who took office in January, is eyeing the privatization of the government-owned electric company, of the water and sewer authority, even of the public transit system. But even massive cuts and selling off public assets can’t solve the problem that there aren’t enough jobs on the island, that young people keep fleeing to the United States, and that Puerto Rico’s government is powerless to fashion its own economic and trade policy independently from the U.S.

For decades, Puerto Rico was important to the American economy as a center of sugar cane growing, then as a tax haven for manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies, and as a military stronghold and bulwark against the spread of communism in Latin America. But now it is no longer needed for any of these things. Most of the U.S. military bases have closed, and Congress began in 1996 to phase out the island’s tax haven status. As soon as the last of the federal tax breaks — known as Section 936 — ended in 2006, corporations started leaving and the island plunged into a recession from which it has yet to recover. For the past 20 years, a succession of island governments has been closing structural operating deficits with borrowed funds supplied by Wall Street firms eager to market its triple tax-exempt bonds to wealthy and middle-class Americans and Puerto Ricans.

Investors were especially drawn to a provision of the Puerto Rico constitution that required the government to pay general obligation debt service ahead of any other expenses, and by the fact that Puerto Rico and its public corporations were legally prevented from resorting to Chapter 9 bankruptcy, the portion of the bankruptcy code that applies to most local governments and municipalities.

Until 1978, Congress had included all the territories and possessions of the United States under Chapter 9, so Puerto Rico had bankruptcy protection until then. But between ’78 and the early ’80s, there were several changes to U.S. bankruptcy law. In 1984, an amendment was inserted into the law by South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond that specifically excluded Puerto Rico from Chapter 9. No reason was given. No federal policy or interest in the change was spelled out in the amendment process. By a few simple phrases in an amendment that few people noticed, Congress laid the basis for the unique situation Puerto Rico confronted last year. It was not only broke, there was no established legal recourse for it to get a court to decide how its many creditors would get paid or how much.

The PROMESA bill Congress enacted at least created a new type of Chapter 9-like process for the island. The bill stipulates that if the Puerto Rican government and the control board cannot reach voluntary settlements with bondholders, a judge can be appointed and creditors forced to accept a settlement, known as a “cram-down.”

But the law’s constitutionality has yet to be tested, and with so much money at stake the various groups of bondholders are determined to wage a titanic legal battle against it.

On May 5, for instance, Ambac Assurance Corp, one of the major insurers of Puerto Rico bonds, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico against the Commonwealth and the Oversight Board, and did so with uncommonly strident language:

Sovereignty confers great power, but it does not authorize lawlessness. This action seeks to halt the latest in a series of unconstitutional and unlawful acts that have been the unfortunate modus operandi of the Commonwealth government in seeking to manage its financial and economic distress. Instead of rectifying these abuses, the Oversight Board created by Congress to restore fiscal responsibility to the Commonwealth has affirmatively exacerbated them, giving its imprimatur to an ongoing scheme of constitutional and statutory violations that can only be called theft.

Ambac has insured billions of dollars in sales tax revenue bonds, known as COFINA bonds, that Puerto Rico has issued since 2006, and the company, along with other bond insures, faces enormous losses from any cram-down.

Meanwhile another group of bondholders who were involved in $1.4 billion of Puerto Rico’s last major general obligation bonds, issued in 2014, filed suit in New York State Supreme Court. Those bondholders, led by hedge funds Aurelius Capital Management and Monarch Alternative Capital, insist that Puerto Rico’s Constitution requires them to be paid first from all available revenues. The general obligation bondholder group, along with many civil society groups, insist that all the COFINA bonds — and they represent nearly $18 billion of the total $74 billion bond debt — were illegally issued and should not be repaid.

That’s because the Puerto Rico constitution specifically forbids debt service and principal that surpasses more than 15% of annual government revenues. The Puerto Rico legislature specifically created COFINA to maneuver around that 15 percent limit, and it then guaranteed the payment of that debt from sales tax revenues. But the legality of that maneuver has never been tested in court.

While the contending bondholder groups battle in the courts, the PROMESA board has now sided with the Puerto Rico government that bondholders will have to accept major reductions in payments.

“From current revenues, the Commonwealth and its instrumentalities cannot satisfy their collective $74 billion debt burden and $49 billion pension burden and pay their operating expenses,” the fiscal control board concluded last week after months of poring over Puerto Rico financial records.

And the island’s budgetary crisis “is about to worsen exponentially,” the control board warned,

“due to the elimination of approximately $850 million in Affordable Care Act Funds in fiscal year 2018.”

The total loss of federal health care funds, according to the board, is expected to reach $16 billion over the next ten years. On top of that, the government pension systems are almost out of cash and will need $1.5 billion a year just to keep up payments to current retirees. Unlike municipal workers in the U.S., most public employees in Puerto Rico are not part of the social security system, so those pensions are their only retirement income.

A woman carries bags while walking in a commercial area with stores either closed or offered for sale in San Juan, Puerto Rico, July 31, 2015. Photo:Reuters

 

Meanwhile, Donald Trump and Republican leaders in Congress insist there will be no bailout of Puerto Rico, no extra federal assistance to the island’s population.

They want to ignore the fact that back in the 1990s under Bill Clinton and the Newt Gingrich Congress, Washington’s leaders realized they had to take drastic measures to save the District of Columbia from economic collapse. Congress established a fiscal control board just as it has with Puerto Rico.

But that board soon concluded that DC had structural problems that required federal help. In 1997, a reform package accomplished the following: the federal government assumed the city’s debts, it took responsibility for the local courts and prisons, it increased the rate for Medicaid reimbursements to the district, and it took over the city’s underfunded employee pensions.

As a result, the district emerged from economic calamity. Today it is a vibrant and prosperous city.

Federal lawmakers will either have to provide massive assistance to Puerto Rico, or they will have to move rapidly to change the island’s political and economic status. After a century of colonial rule by Washington and decades of predatory debt from Wall Street, the bill has come due.

Source*

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