How China Infiltrated US Classrooms


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Even as they face criticism, Chinese government-run educational institutes have continued their forward march on college campuses across the United States.


Last year, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte made an announcement to great fanfare: The university would soon open a branch of the Confucius Institute, the Chinese government-funded educational institutions that teach Chinese language, culture and history. The Confucius Institute would “help students be better equipped to succeed in an increasingly globalized world,” says Nancy Gutierrez, UNC Charlotte’s dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and “broaden the University’s outreach and support for language instruction and cultural opportunities in the Charlotte community,” according to a press release.

But the Confucius Institutes’ goals are a little less wholesome and edifying than they sound—and this is by the Chinese government’s own account. A 2011 speech by a standing member of the Politburo in Beijing laid out the case: “The Confucius Institute is an appealing brand for expanding our culture abroad,” Li Changchun said. “It has made an important contribution toward improving our soft power. The ‘Confucius’ brand has a natural attractiveness. Using the excuse of teaching Chinese language, everything looks reasonable and logical.”

Li, it now seems, was right to exult. More than a decade after they were created, Confucius Institutes have sprouted up at more than 500 college campuses worldwide, with more than 100 of them in the United States—including at The George Washington University, the University of Michigan and the University of Iowa. Overseen by a branch of the Chinese Ministry of Education known colloquially as Hanban, the institutes are part of a broader propaganda initiative that the Chinese government is pumping an estimated $10 billion into annually, and they have only been bolstered by growing interest in China among American college students.

Yet along with their growth have come consistent questions about whether the institutes belong on campuses that profess to promote free inquiry. Confucius Institutes teach a very particular, Beijing-approved version of Chinese culture and history: one that ignores concerns over human rights, for example, and teaches that Taiwan and Tibet indisputably belong to Mainland China. Take it from the aforementioned Li, who also said in 2009 that Confucius Institutes are an “important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up.” Critics also charge that the centers have led to a climate of self-censorship on campuses that play host to them.

Despite years of these critiques—including a recent outcry at the University of Massachusetts at Boston and the shuttering of Confucius Institutes at two of the nation’s top research universities—they’re still growing in number in the United States, albeit at a slower clip than a few years ago. Several opened on American campuses last year. And vanishingly few schools have rethought the institutes and closed them, suggesting that once they’re implanted, they’re entrenched. At several campuses, they’re actually expanding their footprints with bigger facilities and new courses. I contacted more than a half-dozen Confucius Institutes, and several officials said in interviews that they’re not looking back. (Others declined to comment or simply ignored me, further suggesting a commitment to keeping the Institutes going. The Chinese Embassy in Washington also did not respond to a request to comment by publication time.)

That so many universities have welcomed the Confucius Institute with open arms points to another disturbing trend in American higher education: an alarming willingness to accept money at the expense of principles that universities are ostensibly devoted to upholding. At a time when universities are as willing as ever to shield their charges from controversial viewpoints, some nonetheless welcome foreign, communist propaganda—if the price is right.

 “Coordinate the efforts of overseas and domestic propaganda, [and] further create a favorable international environment for us,” Chinese minister of propaganda Liu Yunshan exhorted his compatriots in a 2010 People’s Daily article. “With regard to key issues that influence our sovereignty and safety, we should actively carry out international propaganda battles against issuers such as Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan, human rights and Falun Gong. … We should do well in establishing and operating overseas cultural centers and Confucius Institutes.”

Liu’s orders have been heeded. The first Confucius Institute opened in South Korea in 2004. They quickly spread to Japan, Australia, Canada and Europe. The United States, China’s biggest geopolitical rival, has been a particular focus: Fully 40 percent of Confucius Institutes are stateside. In addition to the Institutes at universities, Hanban also operates hundreds of so-called Confucius Classrooms in primary and secondary schools. The public school system of Chicago, for example, has outsourced its Chinese program to Confucius Classrooms.

Beijing treats this project seriously, as evidenced by who runs the show. Hanban (shorthand for the ruling body of the Office of Chinese Language Council International, a branch of the Ministry of Education) is classified technically as a nonprofit agency, but it is dominated by Communist Chinese officialdom. Representatives from 12 top state agencies—including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State Press and Publishing Administration, a propaganda bureau—sit on its executive council. Hanban’s director general is on the Chinese state council, the 35-member board that basically runs the country.

Hanban has been shrewd in compelling universities to host Confucius Institutes. Marshall Sahlins, a retired University of Chicago anthropologist and author of the 2014 pamphlet Confucius Institutes: Academic Malware, reports that each Confucius Institute comes with “$100,000 … in start up costs provided by Hanban, with annual payments of the like over a five-year period, and instruction subsidized as well, including the air fares and salaries of the teachers provided from China. … Hanban also agrees to send textbooks, videos, and other classroom materials for these courses—materials that are often welcome in institutions without an important China studies program of their own.” And each Confucius Institute typically partners with a Chinese university.

They’re kind of like restaurant franchises: Open the kit, and you’re in business. American universities can continue to collect full tuition from their students while essentially outsourcing instruction in Chinese. In other words, it’s free money for the schools. At many (though not all) Confucius-hosting campuses, students can receive course credit for classes completed at the institute.

But the institutes go to some length to obscure their political purpose. There’s the name, for example: Most Americans associate Confucius with wisdom, or cutesy aphorisms. It’s likely the centers would be less successful were they called Mao Institutes. The Institutes also offer a plethora of “fun” classesnot for academic credit, and often open to members of the general public—in subjects like dumpling making and tai chi.

The Chinese teachers are thoroughly vetted by Hanban, according to Sahlins’ report. They “must have a strong sense of mission, glory, and responsibility and be conscientious and meticulous in [their] work,” Hanban says. They’re also explicitly instructed to toe Beijing’s line on controversial political questions. There can be no discussion whatsoever of human rights in China, or the Tiananmen Square massacre. Sahlins found that should a student raise an uncomfortable question about, say, the political status of Tibet, Hanban’s instructors are ordered to refocus the discussion on, say, Tibet’s natural beauty or indigenous cultural practices (which, ironically, Beijing has spent decades stamping out).

Matteo Mecacci of the advocacy group International Campaign for Tibet requested a sampling of the Institute’s course materials from a D.C. area university several years ago. “Instead of scholarly materials published by credible American authors, not to speak of Tibetan writers, what we received were books and DVDs giving the Chinese narrative on Tibet published by China Intercontinental Press,” he wrote in Foreign Policy, “which is described by a Chinese government-run website as operating ‘under the authority of the State Council Information Office … whose main function is to produce propaganda products.’”

One student I spoke to—a junior at the University of Kentucky, which is home to a Confucius Institute—recalls attending a Confucius event at which another student, who was considering studying abroad in China, asked about the air pollution there. The response from the Confucius faculty was that the reports of pollution were “misinformation promoted in the U.S. media.” The student says Confucius faculty also “glorified and glossed over” negative aspects of Chinese culture and politics. Another student, a Kentucky senior who has taken classes at the same Confucius Institute, agrees that the institute “promotes an overly rosy picture of Chinese culture,” though, the student adds, “I don’t think it’s a problem for students to take advantage of [Confucius Institute] resources as long as they view the institute with a critical eye and round out their perspective on China with other experiences and points of view.”

Meanwhile, if Hanban’s instructors are not adequately vetted back home, there can be trouble. Consider the case of Sonia Zhao. Zhao, a Chinese national, was dispatched by Hanban to McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, in 2011 to teach Chinese language. She’s also a practitioner of Falun Gong, the Buddhist-tinged spiritual movement that Beijing despises as a threat to its authority. Zhao quit a year into her tenure, arguing that McMaster University was “giving legitimization to discrimination.” That’s because, in order to secure her employment with Hanban, Zhao said she was forced to disguise her fealty to Falun Gong. Her employment contract with Hanban explicitly stated that she was “not allowed to join illegal organizations such as Falun Gong,” she said. This kind of open religious discrimination is illegal in Canada, as it would be in the United States. McMaster University, in light of this disclosure, subsequently shuttered its Confucius Institute in 2013, citing the institute’s “hiring practices.”

Self-censorship has become an issue as well. In 2008, a court in Israel found that Tel Aviv University, home to a Confucius Institute, had illegitimately closed an art exhibition on Falun Gong because of Chinese government pressure. A year later, North Carolina State University, host to a Confucius Institute, scuttled a planned appearance by the Dalai Lama for fear of Chinese backlash: The director of the Institute warned NC State officials that such a visit could hurt “strong relationships we were developing with China.” A few years later, similar events transpired at the University of Sydney in Australia, which drew heat from members of the Parliament of Australia.

In recent weeks, I contracted administrators at several universities with Confucius Institutes, primarily ones that had opened recently, and none expressed regret or indeed much concern. The George Washington University, the private university nestled in the heart of the nation’s capital, has hosted a Confucius Institute for several years. The institute’s founding director, Peg Barratt, says her university’s “eyes were open” when GW opened its center in in 2013. “We were aware there was some controversy” surrounding Confucius Institutes when other universities opened theirs, she told me. “Some [other universities] had internal censorship,” she readily acknowledges. Nonetheless, she says the Institutes are innocuous, modeled, she argues, on European cultural institutes like the British Council, Goethe Institute and Alliance Française. Of course, not only are Great Britain, Germany and France not communist regimes, but those institutes are standalone enterprises, not on college campuses.

Western Kentucky University, where the Confucius Institute is expanding—it just moved into a new building—also defends its partnership. Terrill Martin, director of the Institute, told me, “I don’t believe the Confucius Institute program is controversial at all. I just believe that people don’t understand, don’t ask the right questions and make a lot of unfounded assumptions about the program, based on the failures of a few.”

Nancy Gutierrez, at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, says the institute there will fill an unmet need. “We made the decision to host a [Confucius Institute] because we believe that this partnership will allow us to expand understanding of Chinese culture very broadly—for community members and for our students,” she says. In other words, Hanban can provide resources that UNC presently can’t. Gutierrez also says, “A faculty advisory committee will provide the intellectual guidance … ensuring that we are guided by principles of academic freedom.” And she notes that Confucius Institute courses will not offer academic credit at UNC Charlotte—at least not yet. The same is true at Western Kentucky University.

Eric Einspruch, who chairs Portland State University’s Confucius Institute, also defends it: The Confucius Institute simply offers “noncredit Chinese courses, cultural programs of interest to the community, and faculty-initiated scholarly activity,” he says. But even the Institute’s innocuous-seeming language courses have come in for criticism. They only teach simplified characters, which are used on Mainland China but not in Taiwan, Hong Kong or Singapore, estranging language learners from Chinese texts produced anywhere but the Mainland.

One institution that bucked the trend was the University of Chicago. The school opened a Confucius Institute in 2010, which quickly proved controversial. To Bruce Lincoln, a now-retired religion professor at Chicago who then served on the faculty senate, the Confucius Institute represented the “subcontracting [of the] educational mission” in the United States—a “hostile takeover of U.S. higher education by a foreign power,” as he told me. (Prior to his battle against the Confucius Institute, Lincoln was involved in another fight at the University of Chicago, against the establishment of a Milton Friedman Institute, which would have been largely funded by conservative donors. That too represented a subcontracting of the education mission, he believes—in this case, the “corporatization of universities.”)

When Hanban’s contract came up for renewal in 2014, Lincoln, along with Marshall Sahlins, led a petition drive, which garnered the support of more than 100 other faculty members, demanding that the contract be canceled. (There was very little student involvement, Lincoln says.) That year, the University of Chicago booted the Institute because of academic freedom concerns. Chicago’s move won praise from outlets as ideologically diverse as Forbes and the New York Review of Books. Shockingly few universities have followed Chicago’s lead, though, Penn State being one notable exception; it also closed its institute in 2014, as well.

Many of those universities who maintain Confucius Institutes appear to go to great lengths to shield them from criticism. Last year, Rachelle Peterson released a thorough report about Confucius Institutes for the National Association of Scholars, a right-leaning academic organization where Peterson is a scholar. At the heart of her report were 12 case studies of Confucius Institutes at New York and New Jersey universities. Over the course of her reporting, Peterson says, “There were a lot of unanswered emails, a lot of unanswered phone calls” (an experience shared by this journalist). When she did manage to set up interviews with Confucius Institute staff, they were often canceled at the last minute, like those at the University of Albany and the University of Binghamton. Another time, when she managed to secure an interview with a Confucius Institute staff member, he insisted that the meeting “happen in a basement … not in his office.” He seemed afraid of being caught, she says.

The most disturbing event transpired at Alfred University in upstate New York. There, Peterson, says, she had “called the Confucius Institute, spoken to a teacher … and received permission to sit in on [a class].” As she observed the Chinese-language class, she recalls, the provost of the university charged into the classroom, interrupting the lesson. He ordered her removal from the classroom and told her she had to leave the campus immediately. The provost and a Confucius staffer swiftly escorted her off campus. (Alfred University did not respond to a request for comment asking to confirm or deny Peterson’s account.)

Today, there are signs of a nascent, if isolated, backlash. Just last month, a group of students and alumni from UMass Boston, home of the Bay State’s only Confucius Institute, wrote a letter to the school’s chancellor expressing deep concern that the university is “unwittingly assisting the Chinese government to promote censorship abroad, while undermining human rights and academic freedom.” The UMass group requested a meeting with the chancellor to discuss their concerns, but according to Lhadon Tethong, a pro-Tibet activist who helped spearhead the letter, that request has yet to be answered. (A spokesperson for the university told the Boston Globe that the institute has succeeded in promoting “the mutual understanding of language and culture.”)

The National Association of Scholars suggests universities shutter their Confucius Institutes. But such counsel is hardly limited the ideological right. The American Association of University Professors, America’s leading professorial guild, also recommended in 2014 that “that universities cease their involvement in Confucius Institutes unless the agreement between the university and Hanban is renegotiated,” so that the universities have unilateral control over the curriculum and faculty, Confucius faculty have the same rights of free inquiry as their fellow teachers, and contracts between Hanban and the partner universities are made public. Nonetheless, none of the schools I contacted said that they had any plans to shutter or reform their institutes.

Instead, Confucius Institutes continue their forward march. In 2015, they opened at Tufts University, New Jersey City University, Southern Utah University and Northern State University in South Dakota. In 2016, Savannah State University added one. And last year, in addition to UNC-Charlotte, Transylvania University in Kentucky is launching a new branch. Gutierrez of UNC concedes that, when her school announced it would open one earlier last year, many faculty members were concerned and “raised serious questions.” But the structure the school developed—so as not allowing courses to be taken for credit—allayed such fears, she says.

Confucius Classrooms, for younger students, are also ascendant these days: In October, local media reported that three new ones would be planted in Texas public schools, and UMass Boston is helping develop them at schools in Massachusetts, including the prestigious Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, where a Confucius Classroom just launched. At scores of universities, meanwhile, the institutes are expanding both physically and programmatically. New courses and scholarships at existing ones are announced all the time. And they’re growing rapidly overseas, particularly these days in Africa, where China has been aggressively expanding its footprint in recent years.

Lincoln, of the University of Chicago, says the institutes have proved successful, in a sense, because Hanban offers a “cheap way to teach classes that [otherwise] wouldn’t have been taught.” Public universities have suffered punishing funding cuts over the past decade: “A decade since the Great Recession hit, state spending on public colleges and universities remains well below historic levels, despite recent increases,” reads a recent report from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. According to the Center, adjusting for inflation, public spending on community colleges and universities was about $9 billion below 2008 levels in 2017. It’s unsurprising, then, that many institutes have sprung up at public universities, or that a huge amount of growth occurred from 2010 to 2012, when budgets were particularly hard hit. But those conditions could return: President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget would also severely slash funding for universities, likely pushing more schools to outsource programs.

The Economist, meanwhile, estimates that China is spending $10 billion a year to promote its image abroad through efforts like cultural festivals, foreign media (think of those China Daily inserts that are slipped into the Washington Post) and educational exchanges. Confucius Institutes are a vital part of this mission. It’s not hard to envision how they might work, for example, by one day weakening Americans’ loyalty to Taiwan.

It seems that Beijing probed, and found a weakness: money. It may be intellectually indefensible for universities to host Confucius Institutes, but at a time of reduced funding, it makes eminent sense. How ironic that the ostensibly communist Chinese seem to understand financial imperatives better than we Yankees do.

Olddogs Comments!

It was not until I went into the burglar alarm business in 1975 that I had some sort of intellectual awakening due to becoming friends with a higher educated class of people, I immediately recognized my short comings would prevent my business from growing and began changing  my leisure time activities. It has been said that a person’s intellect is the results of his/her interest and that had changed considerably. Needles to say the feeling of your mind growing week by week is akin to muscle building, and although I may never reach the level I would like I have proven to myself and to those who knew me earlier that I had accomplished a lot. Now the thing that scares me the most about America’s direction in student education is their aim is to totally destroy individualism. Personally I believe individualism is the most important characteristic of all human beings because anything else is offensive on the level of intellectual theft. To raise children to be just a copy of all other children is destructive to civilization and an offense to God. So, look around folks and understand what is happening to your children from pre-school to the highest level of public education. Our schools are non flexible cookie cutters! Stop and think!!! There is more going on in America than you can imagine, and graduates from this system are not capable of replacing the existing system of government, which must be returned to NON CORPORATE bodies of highly intelligent human beings who are aware of the situation.

Twilight of the American Courts


 Photo by Mihai Bojin | CC BY 2.0

by John W. Whitehead

“As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.”

—Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

We have entered a new regime and it’s called the American police state.

As the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in County of Los Angeles vs. Mendez makes clear, Americans can no longer rely on the courts to mete out justice.

Continuing its disturbing trend of siding with police in cases of excessive use of force, a unanimous Court declared that police should not be held liable for recklessly firing 15 times into a shack where a homeless couple—Angel and Jennifer Mendez—was sleeping.

Understandably, the Mendezes were startled by the intruders, so much so that Angel was holding his BB gun, which he used to shoot rats, in defense. Despite the fact that police barged into the Mendez’s backyard shack without a search warrant and without announcing their presence and fired 15 shots at the couple, who suffered significant injuries (Angel Mendez suffered numerous gunshot wounds, one of which required the amputation of his right leg below the knee, and his wife Jennifer was shot in the back), the Court once again gave the police a “get out of jail free” card.

Unfortunately, we’ve been traveling this dangerous road for a long time now.

In the police state being erected around us, the police and other government agents can probe, poke, pinch, taser, search, seize, strip and generally manhandle anyone they see fit in almost any circumstance, all with the general blessing of the courts.

Whether it’s police officers breaking through people’s front doors and shooting them dead in their homes or strip searching motorists on the side of the road, these instances of abuse are continually validated by a judicial system that kowtows to virtually every police demand, no matter how unjust, no matter how in opposition to the Constitution.

These are the hallmarks of the emerging American police state: where police officers, no longer mere servants of the people entrusted with keeping the peace, are part of an elite ruling class dependent on keeping the masses corralled, under control, and treated like suspects and enemies rather than citizens.

While the First Amendment—which gives us a voice—is being muzzled, the Fourth Amendment—which protects us from being bullied, badgered, beaten, broken and spied on by government agents—is being disemboweled.

A review of critical court rulings over the past decade or so, including some ominous ones by the U.S. Supreme Court, reveals a startling and steady trend towards pro-police state rulings by an institution concerned more with establishing order and protecting the ruling class and government agents than with upholding the rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Police can stop, arrest and search citizens without reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

In a 5-3 ruling in Utah v. Strieff, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively gave police a green light to embark on a fishing expedition of one’s person and property, rendering Americans completely vulnerable to the whims of any cop on the beat.

In a blistering dissent in Utah v. Strieff, Justice Sonia Sotomayor blasted the court for holding “that the discovery of a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket will forgive a police officer’s violation of your Fourth Amendment rights.” Sotomayor continued:

This Court has allowed an officer to stop you for whatever reason he wants—so long as he can point to a pretextual justification after the fact. That justification must provide specific reasons why the officer suspected you were breaking the law, but it may factor in your ethnicity, where you live, what you were wearing, and how you behaved. The officer does not even need to know which law you might have brokenso long as he can later point to any possible infraction—even one that is minor, unrelated, or ambiguous.

The indignity of the stop is not limited to an officer telling you that you look like a criminal. The officer may next ask for your “consent” to inspect your bag or purse without telling you that you can decline. Regardless of your answer, he may order you to stand “helpless, perhaps facing a wall with [your] hands raised.” If the officer thinks you might be dangerous, he may then “frisk” you for weapons. This involves more than just a pat down. As onlookers pass by, the officer may “‘feel with sensitive fingers every portion of [your] body. A thorough search [may] be made of [your] arms and armpits, waistline and back, the groin and area about the testicles, and entire surface of the legs down to the feet.’”

If you still can’t read the writing on the wall, Sotomayor breaks it down further: “This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants—even if you are doing nothing wrong… So long as the target is one of the many millions of people in this country with an outstanding arrest warrant, anything the officer finds in a search is fair game for use in a criminal prosecution. The officer’s incentive to violate the Constitution thus increases…”

Police officers can stop cars based on “anonymous” tips or for “suspicious” behavior such as having a reclined car seat or driving too carefully. 

In a 5-4 ruling in Navarette v. California, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that police officers can, under the guise of “reasonable suspicion,” stop cars and question drivers based solely on anonymous tips, no matter how dubious, and whether or not they themselves witnessed any troubling behavior. More recently, in State v. Howard, the Kansas Supreme Court declared that motorists who recline their car seats are guilty of suspicious behaviorand can be subject to warrantless searches by police. That ruling, coupled with other court rulings upholding warrantless searches and seizures by police—for such “suspicious” behavior as having acne scars, driving with a stiff upright posture, having car windows that are too heavily tinted, driving too fast, driving too slow, failing to maintain speed, following too closely, improper lane changes, distracted driving, screeching a car’s tires, leaving a parked car door open for too long, avoiding a traffic light by driving through a parking lot, driving near a bar or on a road that has large amounts of drunk driving, driving a certain make of car (Mercedes, Grand Prix and Hummers are among the most ticketed vehicles), having anything dangling from the rearview mirror (air fresheners, handicap parking permits, toll transponders or rosaries), or displaying pro-police bumper stickers—renders one’s car a Constitution-free zone.

Police officers can use lethal force in car chases without fear of lawsuits. 

In Plumhoff v. Rickard, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that police officers who used deadly force to terminate a car chase were immune from a lawsuit. The officers were accused of needlessly resorting to deadly force by shooting multiple times at a man and his passenger in a stopped car, killing both individuals.

Police can “steal” from Americans who are innocent of any wrongdoing.

In refusing to hear a challenge to Texas’ asset forfeiture law, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Texas police to keep $201,000 in ill-gotten cash primarily on the basis that the seized cash—the proceeds of a home sale—was being transported on a highway associated with illegal drug trade, despite any proof of illegal activity by the owner. Asset forfeiture laws, which have come under intense scrutiny and criticism in recent years, allow the police to seize property “suspected” of being connected to criminal activity without having to prove the owner of the property is guilty of a criminal offense.

Americans have no protection against mandatory breathalyzer tests at a police checkpoint, although mandatory blood draws violate the Fourth Amendment (Birchfield v. North Dakota). Police can also conduct sobriety and “information-seeking” checkpoints (Illinois v. Lidster and Mich. Dep’t of State Police v. Sitz).

Police can forcibly take your DNA, whether or not you’ve been convicted of a crime. 

In Maryland v. King, a divided U.S. Supreme Court determined that a person arrested for a crime who is supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty must submit to forcible extraction of their DNA. Once again the Court sided with the guardians of the police state over the defenders of individual liberty in determining that DNA samples may be extracted from people arrested for “serious” offenses. While the Court claims to have made its decision based upon concerns of properly identifying criminal suspects upon arrest, what they actually did is open the door for a nationwide dragnet of suspects targeted via DNA sampling.

Police can use the “fear for my life” rationale as an excuse for shooting unarmed individuals. 

Upon arriving on the scene of a nighttime traffic accident, an Alabama police officer shot a driver exiting his car, mistakenly believing the wallet in his hand to be a gun. From the time the driver stumbled out of his car, waving his wallet in the air, to the time he was shot in the abdomen, only six seconds had elapsed. Although the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals concluded “that a reasonable officer in Hancock’s position would have feared for his life,” the video footage makes clear that the courts continue to march in lockstep with the police, because no reasonable person would shoot first and ask questions later. A report by the Justice Department found that half of the unarmed people shot by one police department over a seven-year span were “shot because the officer saw something (like a cellphone) or some action (like a person pulling at the waist of their pants) and misidentified it as a threat.”

Police have free reign to use drug-sniffing dogs as “search warrants on leashes.” 

In Florida v. Harris, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court determined that police officers may use highly unreliable drug-sniffing dogs to conduct warrantless searches of cars during routine traffic stops. In doing so, the justices sided with police by claiming that all that the police need to do to prove probable cause for a search is simply assert that a drug detection dog has received “proper” training. The ruling turns man’s best friend into an extension of the police state, provided the use of a K-9 unit takes place within a reasonable amount of time (Rodriguez v. United States).

Not only are police largely protected by qualified immunity, but police dogs are also off the hook for wrongdoing.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a police officer who allowed a police dog to maul a homeless man innocent of any wrongdoing. The case arose in 2010 after a police dog attacked a homeless man near an abandoned house where police were tracking a robbery suspect. The cop refused to call off the dog immediately, despite the man’s pleading and the fact that he did not match the description of the robbery suspect. The homeless man suffered deep bites on his hand, arm and thigh—which required a nearly 16-inch skin graft—as well as causing severe bleeding, bruising, swelling and an arterial blood clot. Incredibly, not only did the court declare that the police officer was protected by qualified immunity, which incentivizes government officials to violate constitutional rights without fear of repercussion, but it had the nerve to suggest that being mauled by a police dog is the equivalent of a lawful Terry stop in which police may stop and hold a person for questioning on the basis of “reasonable suspicion.”

Police can subject Americans to strip searches, no matter the “offense.” 

A divided U.S. Supreme Court actually prioritized making life easier for overworked jail officials over the basic right of Americans to be free from debasing strip searches. In its 5-4 ruling in Florence v. Burlington, the Court declared that any person who is arrested and processed at a jail house, regardless of the severity of his or her offense (i.e., they can be guilty of nothing more than a minor traffic offense), can be subjected to a strip search by police or jail officials, which involves exposing the genitals and the buttocks. This “license to probe” is now being extended to roadside stops, as police officers throughout the country have begun performing roadside strip searches—some involving anal and vaginal probes—without any evidence of wrongdoing and without a warrant.

Police can break into homes without a warrant, even if it’s the wrong home.

In an 8-1 ruling in Kentucky v. King, the U.S. Supreme Court placed their trust in the discretion of police officers, rather than in the dictates of the Constitution, when they gave police greater leeway to break into homes or apartments without a warrant. Despite the fact that the police in question ended up pursuing the wrong suspect, invaded the wrong apartment and violated just about every tenet that stands between us and a police state, the Court sanctioned the warrantless raid, leaving Americans with little real protection in the face of all manner of abuses by police.

Police can use knock-and-talk tactics as a means of sidestepping the Fourth Amendment.

Aggressive “knock and talk” practices have become thinly veiled, warrantless exercises by which citizens are coerced and intimidated into “talking” with heavily armed police who “knock” on their doors in the middle of the night. Poor Andrew Scott didn’t even get a chance to say no to such a heavy-handed request before he was gunned down by police who pounded aggressively on the wrong door at 1:30 a.m., failed to identify themselves as police, and then repeatedly shot and killed the man when he answered the door while holding a gun in self-defense.

Police can interrogate minors without parents present.

In a devastating ruling that could very well do away with what little Fourth Amendment protections remain to public school students and their families—the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a lower court ruling in Camreta v. Greene, which required government authorities to secure a warrant, a court order or parental consent before interrogating students at school. The ramifications are far-reaching, rendering public school students as wards of the state. Once again, the courts sided with law enforcement against the rights of the people.

It’s a crime to not identify yourself when a policeman asks your name.

In Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of the State of Nevada, a majority of the high court agreed that refusing to answer when a policeman asks “What’s your name?” can rightfully be considered a crime under Nevada’s “stop and identify” statute. No longer will Americans, even those not suspected of or charged with any crime, have the right to remain silent when stopped and questioned by a police officer.

Police can carry out no-knock raids if they believe announcing themselves would be dangerous.

Police can perform a “no-knock” raid as long as they have a reasonable suspicion that knocking and announcing their presence, under the particular circumstances, would be dangerous or futile or give occupants a chance to destroy evidence of a crime (Richards v. Wisconsin). Legal ownership of a firearm is also enough to justify a no-knock raid by police (Quinn v. Texas). For instance, a Texas man had his home subject to a no-knock, SWAT-team style forceful entry and raid based solely on the suspicion that there were legally-owned firearms in his household. The homeowner was actually shot by police through his closed bedroom door.

The military can arrest and detain American citizens. 

In refusing to hear Hedges v. Obama (2014), a legal challenge to the indefinite detention provision of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA), the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the President and the U.S. military can arrest and indefinitely detain individuals, including American citizens. In so doing, the high court also passed up an opportunity to overturn its 1944 Korematsu v. United States ruling allowing for the internment of Japanese-Americans in concentration camps.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we are dealing with a nationwide epidemic of court-sanctioned police violence carried out against individuals posing little or no real threat, who are nevertheless subjected to such excessive police force as to end up maimed or killed.

When all is said and done, what these assorted court rulings add up to is a disconcerting government mindset that interprets the Constitution one way for the elite—government entities, the police, corporations and the wealthy—and uses a second measure altogether for the underclasses—that is, you and me.

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More articles by:John W. Whitehead

John W. Whitehead is the president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People.

Olddogs Comments!

Do not forget that John is a bar member and is doing nothing to promote Common Law in spite of his attempts to help the down trodden.   

Just How Bad Is The BLM?


 Read More Articles by Ron Ewart

By now many of our readers have heard that a U. S. District Court Judge in Nevada has dismissed the federal government’s case against Cliven Bundy and his two sons for an April 2014 armed standoff at the Bundy Nevada ranch between a heavy contingent of armed Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents and hundreds of private citizens (some of them armed).  But most Americans are not aware of the details behind the case and why the BLM lost and why it was so important that the BLM lose this case.  The case reeks of federal government overreach and abuse by the BLM, and egregious prosecutorial misconduct.  The government was out to bury Cliven Bundy and his sons for daring to challenge the all-powerful federal government.  They almost succeeded.

The issue resolved around rancher Cliven Bundy grazing his cattle on federal government land that surrounded the Bundy ranch.  The federal government owns most of Nevada.  In fact, the federal government owns 84.9% of Nevada Land.  You can’t spit in Nevada without it landing on federal land.

The Bundy family for several generations have been grazing their cattle on federal land since before the turn of the 20th Century.  Bundy did not recognize federal land ownership in Nevada and paid his grazing fees to the state instead of the federal government.  Of course, the FEDS didn’t like that and took Bundy to court.  Bundy lost in federal court, twice.  Now the BLM was Hell bent on rounding up Bundy’s cattle on federal land, which led to the armed standoff in April of 2014.

On that fateful day in April 2014, the BLM assembled a large team of armed agents to oversee the rounding up of Bundy’s cattle by a private contractor and then positioned snipers (snipers mind you) and surveillance cameras on the high ground surrounding the ranch.  What was the BLM afraid of?

Having gotten wind of the pending BLM occupation of the Bundy ranch, citizens from all over the West (some of them armed) descended on the ranch to confront the BLM “army.”  Had a shot been fired, a blood bath would have taken place on the Nevada desert that day, a blood bath that would have been unprecedented in Western history.  Fortunately, because of heavy media coverage of the event, the BLM backed down.

The 2014 event eventually ended up in the occupation by Bundy’s two sons, Ammon and Ryan, and other militants, of the Malheur National Wildlife Preserve in South Central Oregon in January of 2016 because of the BLM abuse of Oregon ranchers Dwight and Steve Hammond.  To read the full story of what the BLM did to the Hammonds, click HERE.

The Oregon Preserve occupation ended up in the assassination of Lavoy Finicum on a remote Oregon Highway by State and Federal Officers and the capture of the occupiers.  Nevertheless, a federal trial against the Preserve occupiers amazingly ended in an acquittal.

But the FEDS weren’t threw with Cliven Bundy, his two sons Ammon and Ryan, and others.  Right after the Oregon Preserve occupation trial, federal officers arrested the Bundy’s and through them in a Nevada jail to await charges for the April 2014 armed standoff.  The four defendants were charged with threatening a federal officer, carrying and using a firearm, and engaging in conspiracy.  The case looked like a slam-dunk to the government.

As in most federal cases against landowners, the “deck” against the Bundy’s was heavily stacked, in favor of federal prosecutors, relying on damning evidence provided by the BLM.  Had it not been for an expose’ of the BLM by BLM special agent Larry Wooten, the Bundy’s could have gone to jail for many years.  The Title of Mr. Wooten’s report is very revealing:

“A Disclosure and Complaint Narrative In Regard to the Bureau of Land Management Law Enforcement Supervisory Misconduct, and Associated Cover-ups, As Well As Potential Unethical Actions, Malfeasance and Misfeasance by the U. S. Attorney’s Office Prosecutors from the District of Nevada (Las Vegas) In Reference to the Cliven Bundy Investigation.”

For those interested in reading the report, we have uploaded it to our website HERE.  It is fascinating reading and exposure of blatant BLM corruption.

Wooten, a BLM special investigator, spared no words when describing BLM behavior in the Bundy case.  He accused the BLM of “a wide spread pattern of bad judgment, lack of discipline, incredible bias, un-professionalism and misconduct, as well as likely policy, ethical and legal violations among senior and supervisory staff at the BLM’s office of Law Enforcement and Security.”  He further went on to accuse “BLM law enforcement supervisors of making a mockery of the BLM’s position of special trust and confidence, portraying extreme unprofessional bias that adversely affected our agency’s mission and ignoring the intent and letter of the law regarding the trial of Cliven Bundy and his alleged co-conspirators.”

The unrelenting attack on BLM corrupt behavior by special investigator Wooten could not be ignored by U. S. District Court Judge Gloria Navarro who dismissed the case against Bundy and others with prejudice, meaning they could not be tried again for the April 2014 event.

Navarro rebuked federal prosecutors — using the words “flagrant” and “reckless” to describe how they withheld evidence from the defense — before saying ‘that the universal sense of justice has been violated’ and dismissing the chargesNavarro didn’t buy the prosecution’s assertion that it had provided all evidence to the defense and shredded the government for a ‘reckless disregard for Constitutional obligations.’  She said she was troubled by the prosecution’s tardiness in delivering information about the government’s placing of surveillance cameras and snipers outside the ranch.”  (a quote from a Los Angeles Times article)

It didn’t used to be this way with the BLM.  Before the rise of radical environmentalism and the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act in 1969, other federal environmental acts in the early 1970’s and UN’s Agenda 21 in 1992, the BLM had a symbiotic relationship with ranchers and farmers.  The use of federal lands by ranchers for grazing and watering cattle and other livestock were handled by allotments, some of which were actually attached to a landowner’s deed and ran with the land.  The BLM worked well with ranchers on those allotments, that was until most BLM agents became rabid environmentalists, after graduating from our liberal colleges.  They were bound and determined to drive ranchers and farmers off of those allotments and went so far as to illegally round up cattle and sell them at auction (a Nevada case – Wayne Hage), or fence off water sources (a New Mexico case – Sacramento Grazing Association).  The BLM became decidedly environmentally militant, which led to the five-year incarceration of Oregon ranchers Dwight and Steve Hammond on a trumped-up charge of arson ….. and other abuses throughout the West.

A little BLM history from their website:

With historical roots dating back to the earliest days of the nation, the BLM administers the lands that remain from America’s original “public domain.”  Created in 1946 through a government reorganization during the Truman Administration, the BLM is the successor to the General Land Office (established in 1812) and the U.S. Grazing Service (originally called the Division of Grazing and renamed in 1939).

This year (2016), the BLM is commemorating two milestone events: its 70th anniversary as an Interior Department agency, and the 40th anniversary of the principal law defining its mission: the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976, commonly referred to by its acronym of FLPMA.

As the manager of more land (245 million surface acres or one-tenth of America’s land base) and more subsurface mineral estate (700 million acres) than any other government agency, the BLM carries out a dual mandate under FLPMA: that of managing public land for multiple uses (such as energy development, livestock grazing, mining, timber harvesting, and outdoor recreation) while conserving natural, historical, and cultural resources (such as wilderness areas, wild horse and wildlife habitat, artifacts, and dinosaur fossils).  In the language of FLPMA, the BLM’s responsibility is to administer public lands “on the basis of multiple use and sustained yield” of resources.

What this means, on a practical level, is that the BLM – except in areas specifically set aside for conservation purposes – must multitask to fulfill its duties.  Nevertheless, consistent with the BLM’s goal of good stewardship of public land resources, “multiple use” does not mean every use on every acre.

 This all sounds benign and friendly, except that their actions on the ground don’t comport with their mission and gloss over their hidden radical environmental agenda and evil intent.  If the BLM doesn’t comply with strict environmental law or the FLPMA, wealthy, powerful environmental groups sue them.  Who pays when environmentalists win?  The taxpayer.  And environmentalists win all the time.

Today, ranchers and farmers are in a constant battle almost to the death with the BLM, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Agency and the Department of the Interior.  Many landowners are driven out of business.  Many have committed suicide.  (That’s right, suicide)

The Wayne Hage family of Southeastern Nevada has been fighting the BLM and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Agency in court for 24 years.  They were awarded $14,000,000 by the U. S. Court of Claims but the government keeps appealing the case and the Hage’s have received not a penny after spending over $2,000,000 in legal fees, expert witnesses and court costs.  The elder Hage’s died during the long trials and now the son has taken up the family banner to pursue the case, that is if the family doesn’t run out of money first.  The government is great at stretching and delaying cases until the Plaintiff goes broke.

The federal government and all of its alphabet-soup agencies aren’t the only ones going after farmers and ranchers in America.  State and local governments, blinded by the religious cult of environmental protection at any cost, are piling layers upon layers of regulations and taxes on landowners and hiring armies of code enforcement officers to enforce those regulations.  A landowner can’t turn sidewise without bumping into a regulation or the officer enforcing the regulation.  Fines and penalties mount and many landowners go broke or end up in jail on minor offenses, you know, like collecting rain water on your land ….. without a permit.  In Washington State the State Supreme Court ruled that you can’t drill a well on your land.

Code enforcement officers show up and trespass on your land and after trespassing, hand you a laundry list of violations and steep penalties if you don’t comply.  Many jurisdictions have turned what would be civil cases into criminal cases, allowing criminal warrants and searches and seizures.  Los Angeles County created a fully armed nuisance abatement team to go after and arrest landowners at gunpoint that don’t move swift enough to correct a code violation.

You may not be a rural landowner but what happens to them, eventually trickles down and happens to you.  After all, they grow or raise the food you eat.

Ladies and gentlemen, all this is why we formed the National Association of Rural Landowners in 2005 to act as advocates for the beleaguered rural landowner.  We provide products and services to the landowner to defend against government abuse and illegal trespassing.   Over 7,000 of our powerful, legally intimidating 18″ x 24″ No Trespassing signs have been installed on rural lands all across America, blunting trespassing by government agents and law enforcement.  Our unique, one-of-a-kind Rural Landowner Handbook is only available on our website.  It could take you a couple of weeks to digest all of the vital information on the website and in the handbook, specifically designed for the rural landowner.  It’s not just the BLM that will come after you and make your life miserable, it’s all the other state and local government agencies that relentlessly pursue landowners for compliance.   Defend yourself and be on your guard, or become a victim.

If you are a rural landowner and have questions or concerns, contact us HERE.

© 2018 Ron Ewart – All Rights Reserved

E-Mail Ron Ewart:

Ron Ewart, a nationally known author and speaker on freedom and property rights issues and author of this weekly column, “In Defense of Rural America”. Ron is the president of the National Association of Rural Landowners (NARLO) (, a non-profit corporation headquartered in Washington State, acting as an advocate and consultant for urban and rural landowners. Affiliated NARLO websites are “SAVE THE USA” and “Getting Even With Government”. Email: Website:

Legislator calls on feds to give up land ownership


Loss of new post alerts

By now most of you should have noticed you no longer are receiving New Article Alerts every day. This is no fault of mine, but due to a new format on my Mail Chimp account which has a fault they will not fix and I believe it is to force a higher cost to their customers. For a service company to deny help to their clients is inexcusable and I am trying to find a solution through other bulk emailers.

Possibly my web site hosting company will either allow me to mail new post notices through them or arrange for me to send them through Constant Contact at no charge. But only I am interested in getting it done in a hurry!

In the mean time I have managed to compile a list of most of your addresses but some appear to be unrecoverable, so please bare with me until I get this fixed. In the mean time if you will just click on these two links you will see a new post on each site every day as that function is still working but the send button is absent on the Mail Chimp Site. How ever they continue to send me a test notice and the articles continue to show up every day. The only difference is you are not receiving a NEW POST NOTICE.

For A Nation go to

For A Nation go to

No constitutional right to ‘grazing, mineral development, agriculture,

forests, or even national parks’

Grand Staircase territory



Bob Unruh
Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.

If President Trump wants to be known as a president seeking the restoration of the U.S. Constitution, one of his goals should be to turn federal lands – the millions of acres run by the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service and National Park Service – over to the states.

It’s because the Constitution doesn’t allow for federal ownership of land unless it’s for certain limited purposes, argues a former California lawmaker.

Steve Baldwin served in the California Assembly from 1994 to 2000 and was minority whip during that time. He’s argued in a new report in the American Spectator that two recent cases highlight the problem with the federal government owning vast acreages.

And he says the solution is in the Constitution.

“Most Americans have no clue what our founders said about federal land management. The Constitution’s Property Clause (Article IV, Section 3, Clause 2) gave Congress the power to dispose of property, but does not mention a power to acquire property. However, under the Necessary and Proper Clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 18), the federal government was given the power to acquire land but only for the purpose of carrying out its enumerated powers. This would include parcels for military uses, post offices, etc.

“Nowhere does the Constitution give the federal government the power to retain acreage for unenumerated purposes such as grazing, mineral development, agriculture, forests, or even national parks. This was wisely left up to the prerogative of the states and the people.”

He noted the issue has arisen before.

Sen. Tom Coburn has come up with the answer to a Washington bureaucracy that doesn’t seem to care about the Constitution, or American people: An Article V convention, which he describes in “Smashing the DC Monopoly: Using Article V to Restore Freedom and Stop Runaway Government.”

“Most Americans have forgotten this, but the shady tactics of federal land management agencies were a big issue in Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign. At the time, the movement of those fighting such abuses was called the ‘Sagebrush Rebellion,’ and this issue propelled tens of thousands of voters to support Reagan’s candidacy. To be honest, though, Reagan was unable to carry out any substantial reforms regarding federal land ownership.

“If Trump wants to go down in history as a president who restored the federal government to its proper limited role, then he should revitalize this forgotten section of the U.S. Constitution and transfer all non-enumerated federal land back to the states. Such action will allow states to control their own destinies, create better managed parks and preserves, and create tens of thousands of new jobs by energizing natural resource industries such as oil, natural gas, mining, and timber.

“This is a perfect issue for him. Be bold, Mr. President, and just do it.”

The two issues that came up recently, he explained, were Trump’s decision to reduce the size of federal land grabs under Bill Clinton and the fight over the Bundy Ranch grazing rights.

“Both events illustrate how the federal government has used its massive land holdings to control the lives of Americans,” he said.

At this point, the federal bureaucracy has acquired some 640 million acres of the nation, about one-third.

“The majority of land in Nevada, Alaska, Utah, Oregon and Idaho is owned by the feds. In Arizona, California, Wyoming, New Mexico and Colorado, federal ownership exceeds a third. Indeed, if all 11 Western states were combined into one territory, the feds would own nearly 50 percent of it,” he wrote.

The Utah land fight saw Trump knock down the size of the lands demanded under Clinton and Barack Obama from 3.2 million acres to about 1.2 million.

“Not surprisingly, the left went ballistic, but the truth is Trump is the one acting in accord with the Constitution and in the best interest of the people of Utah, and even the environment,” he pointed out.

“Both of these land grabs were initiated with little or no input from Utah’s civic, political, and business leaders. And, of course, as with most Democrat ‘environmental’ initiatives, cronyism and corruption are evident. For example, Bill Clinton’s Utah land grab — the ‘Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument’ — placed off-limits all energy development, including the world’s largest known deposit of clean burning coal. Not coincidentally, this proviso also quietly benefited the owners of the world’s second-largest deposit of clean burning coal: the Lippo group, owned by the Indonesia-based Riady family and, of course, large donors to the Clinton Foundation (and huge Clinton donors going back decades).”

In the Bundy case, in which a federal judge recently dismissed counts and ordered the government not to file more charges because of massive prosecutorial misconduct in the first case, the Bureau of Land Management launched a police-state action against the ranching family over payment of grazing rights fees.

The family argued the land belonged to the state and the feds had no right to charge fees.

Baldwin’s report explained how former BLM Special Agent and whistleblower Larry Wooten pulled back the curtain on the government’s nefarious activities.

Wooten wrote, “the investigation revealed a widespread pattern of bad judgment, lack of discipline, incredible bias, unprofessionalism and misconduct, as well as likely policy, ethical, and legal violations among senior and supervisory staff at the BLM’s office of Law Enforcement and Security.”

For example, Wooten explained, the BLM posted photos of the Bundy family with x’s on their faces “as if they were to be eliminated.”

His report includes statements attributed to officials such as “Go out there and kick Cliven Bundy in the mouth (or teeth) and take his cattle.”

Other comments by the government included, “rednecks,” “retards” and “douche bags,” the report said.

Baldwin explained that there certainly were nefarious components to the Bundy ranch fight.

“Reports … indicated that former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had teamed up with Chinese billionaire Wang Yusuo in an effort to create a massive 9,000-acre solar energy farm on the same federal land apparently used by Bundy to graze cattle. And Yusuo’s company, the ENN Group, contributed over $40,000 to Reid over the course of three election cycles. One BLM document makes clear that Bundy’s cattle grazing negatively impacted potential solar farm development on this land,” he explained.

When that plan fell apart, Reid began working on another project “which, again, targets the area Bundy’s cattle grazes on.”

According to Courtwatcherblog, “Harry Reid’s interests are clear. He doesn’t care about public lands, but what he stands to profit off of their sale, no matter if it’s sold to China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, or even South Africa… the facts show Harry Reid’s interests in the Bundy men being in jail, make it a lot easier to grab their land…”

Baldwin said returning land to the states would restore the constitutional standard, and would energize the economies of many states.

Baldwin explains that it was during federal convention debates in 1787 that Elbridge Gerry, later vice president, issued a warning. He said federal ownership of land “might be made use of to enslave any particular state by buying up its territory, and that the strongholds proposed would be a means of awing the state into an undue obedience.”



The Digital Revolution along with nuclear weapons and artificial intelligence are examples of technology that can result in human extermination. The reports below from the London Telegraph illustrate how technology has become the Black Plague of today.

 Note: The solar storm of  of 1859 named the “Carrington Event”  only affected   the telegraph  system. Imagine what would happen if such a solar blast occurred today. — RH   

The truth about Hard Sun’s solar apocalypse: just how scared should we be? 

By Tristram Fane Saunders 

You might not have noticed it, but two years ago an event took place which might just have brought about the collapse of modern civilization.
In July 2012, an enormous flare burst from the far side of the sun. Had it happened just one week earlier, it would have been pointing directly towards the Earth, causing the worst geomagnetic storm in over 400 years.
As Reuters reported at the time, the resulting magnetic disruption could have “fried the world’s electricity grids and left hundreds of millions of customers without power for months or even years”.
Next time, we might not be so lucky. A new BBC series, Hard Sun, imagines a similar solar phenomenon. Two London coppers (played by Jim Sturgess and Agyness Deyn) stumble across a USB drive containing a secret digital dossier, counting down towards an “extinction level event” in five years time.
In early episodes, there is some doubt about the cause – “Did it refer to a meteor, or a comet?” one character asks – but it doesn’t take Scotland Yard’s finest to figure out the truth: the drama begins with the sight of giant flares leaping from the surface of the sun.

“This isn’t science fiction. This is the real world,” the show’s writer Neil Cross has said. But how plausible is it? Should we be concerned? And for those of us who dozed off in science at school, what exactly is a geomagnetic storm anyway?
“The surface of the Sun is an incredibly dynamic place,” says astrophysicist Dr Katie Mack. In an active phase, it can release bursts of plasma and radiation into space. If directed towards the earth, these eruptions (known as Coronal Mass Ejections, or CMEs), can disrupt the Earth’s magnetic fields in what we call a geomagnetic storm. It’s a CME that we see in the opening moments of Hard Sun’s first episode.
“It can be hugely disruptive if it’s very strong,” Dr Mack explains. “Sudden variations in the electromagnetic field can cause sparks to pass between electronic components, shorting out circuits. The biggest dangers would be to satellites (including the GPS system) and to the power grid on Earth.”
The closest we have come to this kind of storm was the Carrington Event of 1859, named after the British astronomer Richard Carrington, who discovered a link between the “two patches of intensely bright and white light” he noticed erupting from sunspots just before the event, and the strange phenomena that followed. During this major geomagnetic storm, the Northern Lights were visible as far south as Honolulu, while eerie illuminations made the night almost as bright as the day.

One contemporary newspaper quoted a woman from Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, who was dazzled by what she saw. “The whole island was illuminated,” she said. “The sea reflected the phenomenon, and no one could look at it without thinking of the passage in the Bible which says, ‘the sea was turned to blood.’ The shells on the beach, reflecting light, resembled coals of fire.”
For anyone working on the fledgling electrical telegraph system, the effects were far stranger. Sparks leapt from the machines, shocking the operators and setting fire to highly flammable telegraph paper. The surge of energy running through the wires was strong enough to melt the instruments’ platinum contacts.
While many telegraph communications stopped dead, a few operators in Boston found that their transmitters still worked even with the batteries unplugged, and that they were able to send telegraph messages using only the current from the aurora.
Today, with electricity and satellite communications playing an essential part in our daily lives, the effects would be far more serious.
A CME of that kind would not only knock out power generators, but also telecommunication towers. With no radio or TV news, and mobile phone networks dead, the sudden and unexplained black-out could easily lead to a mass panic and rioting. Worse still would be the potential failure of the all-important electric cooling systems at nuclear power plants; the result could be a disaster on the scale of the 2012 Fukushima incident.

A report published in 2013, following the previous year’s major CME, warned that “our society would still be picking up the pieces.” One of the report’s authors, Dr Daniel Baker of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, has suggested that it could take up to 10 years to fully recover from such an incident.
To make matters worse, in real life – unlike in Hard Sun – we wouldn’t have five years to prepare for it. At best, our advance notice would be closer to a single day. “We get 19 hours or more for a coronal mass ejection, but we don’t know whether or not it will hit Earth, or what the conditions may be,” Plasma physicist Dr Melanie Windridge told the Mail in November. “Fifteen minutes warning is all we have to tell us about the specific conditions of what will hit us and how problematic it could be.”

The chance of another enormous solar flare erupting in the next decade has been estimated at just one in eight. Of course, the chance of it being directed at Earth is much smaller, and there are steps we can take to prepare for such an event. In the US, the Department of Energy is working on a “strategic transformer reserve” – a system for providing power stations with back-up transformers to quickly replace any that might be knocked out by a geomagnetic storm.
Other possible safety measures include using capacitor banks to absorb excess energy, or constructing Faraday cages around irreplaceable pieces of equipment to block out electro-magnetic radiation. Even so, safeguarding the entire grid in this way could cost up to $30 billion.
But without these safeguards, would we really be looking at the kind of catastrophe imagined in Hard Sun? In the BBC One series, when detectives Renko and Hicks access the secret USB drive, a number of frightening and unintentionally ridiculous phrases flash up on screen: “magnetic disruption”; “homicide rates”; “body bag demand” (is the bag shortage itself really that much of a concern?); and more seriously, “crop failure”.

This nightmarish scenario, Dr Mack tells me, is a bit far-fetched. “I really doubt it could harm surface agriculture,” she says. “For something like that, you’d need something strong enough to seriously damage the magnetic field or atmosphere, and I don’t see how a CME from the Sun could be that powerful. It would be a short-term disruption and would mess with electromagnetic fields for a bit but it wouldn’t strip the Earth’s protection completely. Screwing with the power grid could harm a heck of a lot of things, but the CME itself isn’t going to kill all our plants.”
So, it’s not the end of the world after all? “We’re not doomed,” Dr Mack tells me, patiently. “There are procedures in place to try to shore up the power grid. Losing GPS and other satellite communications (and possibly cell phone communication) would be a huge mess but we’d recover.”
But what about all those BBC One viewers who have been left cowering behind the sofa? “We’re still learning a lot about the Sun. For example, the upcoming Parker Solar Probe will get up close and personal with the solar corona, hopefully solving some of the abiding mysteries and helping us make better predictions,” says Dr Mack. “If you’re worried, encourage more investment in space science!”

Note: If any other machine in history had been as unreliable as digital technology no one would have given it houseroom. It is only because we have allowed ourselves to become  dangerously dependent on the technology that it is tolerated. — RH 

Meltdown bug: Microsoft halts security updates after PC owners report ‘blue screen of death’

 Margi Murphy
9 JANUARY 2018 • 2:40PM

Microsoft was forced to abruptly suspend security fixes for Meltdown and Spectre flaws over fears they might render millions of devices nothing more than expensive bricks.
Customers who have received the latest security update claimed they were met with “blue screen errors”, the so-called “blue screen of death”, or frozen screens on Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7, Microsoft said in a blog post.
The technology company is working to send updates to billions of devices running Windows operating systems and are currently vulnerable to hacking thanks to a hardware flaw.
Last week it emerged that the security hole, which has existed in Intel, AMD and ARM chips for up to twenty years, could be leaking confidential information including passwords, files and photos from a range of devices including iPhones, iPads, Android smartphones and PCs. Apple and Google are also sending out security updates to affected products.
But in the latest twist for the Meltdown debacle, Microsoft’s hopes that remote software updates would solve the problem has been thwarted, as devices running AMD chips are not reacting as expected. Customers have also reported issues loading the start menu or task bar after installing the updates. 

“To prevent AMD customers from getting into an unbootable state, Microsoft will temporarily pause sending the following Windows operating system updates to devices with impacted AMD processors at this time,” a Microsoft spokesman said in a statement.

The microchip bugs, which affect almost every computer processor in the world, were disclosed in an article by the Register.  However, Intel had been made aware of the flaws – named Meltdown and Spectre – in June 2017 by Google researchers.
Since the announcement, it was feared that opportunistic criminals would seize the chance to exploit this flaw to steal passwords for online services, or personal and confidential files. Companies are working around the clock to create a software “workaround” to patch the holes. The alternative – something which was quickly rejected by technology companies – would be to recall millions of pieces of hardware.
Intel’s chief executive broke his silence on the matter on Monday evening during his keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, claiming that 90 per cent of devices should be secured “within a week”.
Computing giant IBM also appeared to fall victim to the bug this week, with workers reportedly being told to stop updating their systems as new security fixes were playing havoc with antivirus protection already put in place.
Millions of computers using Intel chips prone to hacking – and fix ‘slows machines by 30 per cent.’

Software giants Microsoft and Amazon scramble to issue fix for Intel flaw, sacrificing computer performance in the meantime 

 Margi Murphy
3 JANUARY 2018 • 11:45AM

Millions of computers using Intel chips are prone to hacking because of a flaw that went unnoticed for a decade, it has emerged.
Software giants are currently working on a fix for the flaw but industry experts have warned it could potentially slow down all devices running the chips by up to 30 per cent.
The flaw could allow hackers a “persistent and undetectable backdoor into someone’s computer”, Mike Godfrey, cyber expert at Insinia Security told the Telegraph.
The flaw grants access to a computer’s kernel, which runs and stores every function on the device, and means an outsider could potentially bypass antivirus or firewall security software without the owner knowing. It could allow malicious software to steal passwords and sensitive files or crystallographic keys, necessary for keeping us safe online.
The National Cyber Security Centre, an arm of GCHQ issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon advising individuals to install updates when they became available.  

“We are aware of reports about a potential flaw affecting some computer processors,” a spokesman said.
“At this stage there is no evidence of any malicious exploitation and patches are being produced for the major platforms.”
Intel chips appear in almost all personal computers and other technology. Financial institutions and businesses with large IT infrastructure may have been compromised for several years, Godfrey added. Train systems and autonomous cars also use the chips.   

Intel has reportedly warned software vendors including Microsoft, Amazon and Apple, who are believed to be creating a workaround to fix the flaw. But this fix could make computers 30 per cent slower, according to technology website The Register.
Matthew Hickey, security expert and co-founder at My Hacker House said: “The real problem is for companies trying to support customers on their servers. Hypothetically, if a company once had capacity to support 100,000 users, that number may drop to 70,000.
“It could have real cost implications for businesses that have been using or intend to use cloud technology and Intel servers.”  

The bug has been known by security workers for some time, but is not due to be publicly disclosed until software giants like Amazon and Microsoft have issued a patch, so that the details cannot be exploited by criminals. Fixes are expected to be released in the next week.
Intel itself is unable to fix the flaw, so guarding against it requires a software update that will slow computers by between 5 per cent and 30 per cent, or to fix the processors completely.
Hundreds of millions of devices could be affected, including those still on the production lines.
Mr Hickey added: “The real problems are for companies who are trying to get the best performance out of servers to support so many users. They may find that they had the capacity to support 100,000 users on their software, but that number could drop to 70,000. It could have real cost implications for business.”

It is unclear whether anyone has been hacked thanks to this flaw, but penetration tester at Insinia Security, Matthew Carr, told the Telegraph that it was not inconceivable that a vulnerability that has existed for ten years had already been exploited by nation states, criminal gangs or expert level hackers.
Chip rival AMD shares soared 7.2 per cent after the disclosure on Wednesday, while Intel dropped to a low of 3.8 per cent.
Intel have yet to comment on the matter. Microsoft had nothing to share and Google, Amazon and Apple are yet to comment.




Consider the exploding star of Social Security, one of the largest and most important pension programs in the world.

Literally tens of millions of people depend on it.

The Social Security Administration itself reports that 62% of recipients rely on the program for at least HALF of their income.

And further research by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) shows that, without Social Security, 22.1 million Americans would fall below the poverty line.

Needless to say, major cuts to the program would have nuclear effects.

And yet, year after year, the Social Security Board of Trustees publishes an annual report that describes the program’s terminal financial challenges in excruciating detail.

They mince no words in plainly stating that Social Security pays out far too much money, and takes in far too little.

According to the 2017 Trustees report, “Trust Fund reserves become depleted in 2035.”

They’re practically giving us a date that we can circle on a calendar and mark “End of Social Security.”

The Trustees go on to lightly propose solutions, including an “immediate and permanent reduction” in benefits to all current and future Social Security recipients.”

And in case you’re wondering who these whack-job Trustees are, they include the Treasury Secretary of the United States, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Secretary of Labor.

These aren’t just random people.

We’re talking about politicians at the highest levels of government who are telling us that Social Security is running out of money… and calling for an immediate and permanent cut in benefits.

Given the tens of millions of people who depend on the program, the consequences of either scenario would be catastrophic.

Sadly, this is not a new problem. The Trustees have been screaming for years that Social Security’s finances are unsustainable.

Yet year after year, the problem was ignored… which brings the end-game one year closer, and the ultimate solution that much more painful.

That’s what makes Social Security a gigantic supernova.

The star exploded years ago. But it will take until 2035 for everyone to realize it… though frankly it could be sooner than that.

People are living longer than ever before– the average life expectancy in the US is a full EIGHTEEN YEARS longer than it was when Social Security was conceived back in the 1930s.

This means that Social Security will have to pay out more money to more recipients for much longer than they’ve ever had to pay before.

This will be an enormous cost to the program.

Simultaneously, despite all the celebration of the low unemployment rate in the US, the Labor Force Participation Rate is still near a multi-decade low.

This means that there are fewer people in the work force who are actually paying in to the Social Security System.

According to its own projections, Social Security requires 3 employed workers to support one retiree.

And they watch this worker-to-beneficiary ratio very closely.

In 2010 it dipped below 3 for the first time, and in 2013 hit 2.8. The Trustees’ projections show it will continue to fall, to as low as 2.2.

So if you look at the big picture, a growing number of beneficiaries is being supported by a declining number of workers.

This isn’t rocket science– it’s pretty obvious what’s going to happen.

Yet the collective response is to simply ignore the problem… or outright refuse to believe it, as if this is some crazy conspiracy theory.

This isn’t a theory.

It’s simple arithmetic based on government data, backed by the same conclusions reached by the Treasury Secretary of the United States.


Now, the bad news is that none of us can actually fix Social Security.

And we sure as heck can’t convince someone to prepare for a problem that they refuse to acknowledge.

But we can easily do something about it ourselves.

After all, this is one of those MAJOR problems we’ve been talking about– and one that can easily be avoided.

The good news is that many of the solutions haven’t changed with the new tax law.

You can still establish, for example, certain self-directed IRA structures or a solo 401(k).

These structures not only dramatically increase your contribution limits (to more than $50,000 annually), but also vastly expand the universe of investment options– real estate, cryptocurrency, private equity, etc.

So ultimately you could save more, and earn more, for your retirement.

The Social Security star has already exploded. But it will take the light another 15+ years to reach us.

That’s plenty of time to prepare for anyone with the right education and the will to act.

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act


Olddogs Comments!

The corporate United States Government has stolen Billions of dollars by selling our trade name and also false life insurance claims, so how about you high flying researchers finding a way for us peons to claim a refund on their illegal profiteering, and we can then process our documents to reclaim our trade names. As it stands now people who want to be free civilians instead of corporate citizens will lose our social security.

What Do They Want In The End?



Read More Articles by Lee Duigon

What would America be like, if the Far Left got everything they say they want?

Thanks to America’s bloated, over-funded “higher education” system, we are able to get a few glimpses into that chamber of horrors. As a class, America’s college professors are all on board the wacko express. They try hard to “teach” their students to be as out-to-lunch as they are.

As part of a recent “Social Justice Lecture Series”—students got extra credit for sitting through these sessions—a Diablo Valley College political science professor exhorted students to “violate the laws” and “abolish white democracy”. Your tuition dollars at work!

According to the prof, “We exist in a white supremacist, patriarchal, hetero-normative, capitalist system,” and it’s just got to be fundamentally transformed into… well, what?

There must be several dozen genuine white supremacists in America, who never had it so good. Not so long ago, they were a handful of ineffectual nobodies. Now they’re the boogie man. Our colleges have painted them out to be several hundred times more important than they are.

Okay, Far Left America won’t have any role for white people anymore. Except maybe to keep on paying taxes and cheerfully taking the blame for anything that’s wrong in anybody elses life.

Gotta get rid of that patriarchy, too—whatever it is. The only thing worse than a man is a white man.

But that hetero-normativity stuff, that’s infinitely worse! The only thing worse than a white man is a non-gay white man. I’m not sure what the leftids want to do about hetero-normativity. Make homosexuality compulsory? Bob Hope was only joking, when he mentioned it some fifty years ago. But the Left is not known for its sense of humor.

And of course capitalism has got to go. It causes Income Inequality. It causes Global Warming. It causes people to have jobs they don’t like—something that never happens under communism. That it also provides thousands of brainless university professors with a damned nice living doesn’t seem to inspire any gratitude.

“Democracy” will be out, too. White people ruined it. Maybe they could set up a really inclusive form of democracy that excludes white people. That might work.

To bring about these utopian conditions, says the prof, college students have to get into the habit of violating the law. A few killjoys have pointed out that the professor never said which laws ought to be violated. Did he leave that out simply because his whole schtick is half-baked, muddle-headed, and incoherent? Or did he mean to suggest that all laws should be violated? Because he refuses to be interviewed, it’s hard to guess what he really meant. Possibly he doesn’t know.

Still, a society with no written laws ought to appeal to leftids. If you don’t have a criminal code on the books where anyone can read it, then any act, or any failure to act, is potentially a crime and may be punished as such. This is great for keeping the deplorables in line. If you never know when they’re going to drag you off to jail for something you never knew was against the law, or for not doing something that they say you should have done—hey, it worked for the Soviet Union, didn’t it? They just love to hear someone crying “What did I do? What did I do?” as he’s being propped up for the firing squad or sentenced to a stint of Sensitivity Training. It’s what made Mao Tse-tung’s Red Guards tick.

So violate all the laws until there is no law except for whatever the Party says happens to be the law on any given day. Keep everybody guessing.

It would be interesting to ask the parents of these students what they think they’re getting for their money. We could also ask whether this kind of “education” does our country any good; but I think we already know the answer.

I have discussed these and other topics throughout the week on my blog, . Stop in and visit. A single click will take you there.

© 2018 Lee Duigon – All Rights Reserved

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Lee Duigon, a contributing editor with the Chalcedon Foundation, is a former newspaper reporter and editor, small businessman, teacher, and horror novelist. He has been married to his wife, Patricia, for 34 years. See his new fantasy/adventure novels, Bell Mountain and The Cellar Beneath the Cellar, available on Website: E-Mail:

Olddogs Comments!

Sarcasm Extraordinaire!

Good Job Lee!