Private Prisons and Corruption and more...


Private Prisons and Corruption

The perpetrations of Judges Mark Ciavarella Jr. and Michael Conahan have opened the door to exposing the miasma of corruption and brutality that the private prison industry represents. In an era when dark shadow-state projects and predatory-capitalist frauds litter the landscape, the attempt to have private industry administer the prison system has been shown to have failed.

Had the Illuminati’s attempt to take over society succeeded, many of us might have become familiar with the insides of the corporately-run prison.  All this will also go away in a short while as the dark is defeated on the planet. This is a longish article. Perhaps read only what you need to to get the larger picture.

The Corrupt Corporate Incarceration Complex

by: William Fisher, Truthout | Report, Friday 1 July 2011

http://www.truth-out.org/public-private-incarceration-complex/1309275395

(Image: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: kitsu / Flickr)

Seventeen-year-old Hillary Transue did what lots of 17-year-olds do: Got into mischief. Hillary’s mischief was composing a MySpace page poking fun at the assistant principal of the high school she attended in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Hillary was an honor student who’d never had any trouble with the law before. And her MySpace page stated clearly that the page was a joke. But despite all that, Hilary found herself charged with harassment. She stood before a judge and heard him sentence her to three months in a juvenile detention facility.

What she expected was perhaps a stern lecture. What she got was a perp walk – being led away in handcuffs as her stunned parents stood by helplessly. Hillary told The New York Times, “I felt like I had been thrown into some surreal sort of nightmare. All I wanted to know was how this could be fair and why the judge would do such a thing.”

It wasn’t until two years later that she found out why. In Scranton, Pennsylvania, two judges pleaded guilty to operating a kickback scheme involving juvenile offenders. The judges, Mark Ciavarella Jr. and Michael Conahan, took more than $2.6 million in kickbacks from a private prison company to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers. Since 2003, Ciaverella had sentenced an estimated 5,000 juveniles. Conahan was accused of setting up the contracts. Many of the youngsters shipped off to the detention centers were first-time offenders.

PA Child Care is a juvenile detention center in Pittston Township, Pennsylvania. It was opened in February 2003. It has a sister company, Western PA Child Care, in Butler County, Pennsylvania. Treatment at both facilities is provided by Mid Atlantic Youth Services. Gregory Zappala took sole ownership of the company when he purchased co-owner Robert Powell’s share in June 2008.

In July 2009, Powell pled guilty to failing to report a felony and being an accessory to tax evasion conspiracy in connection with $770,000 in kickbacks he paid to Ciavarella and Conahan in exchange for facilitating the development of his facilities.

The childcare facilities have also been criticized for their costs, which ranged as high as $315 per child per day. Butler County paid Western PA Child Care about $800,000 in payments between 2005 and 2008. Butler County did not renew Western PA Child Care’s contract after an extension of the contract ran out at the end of 2008.

The juvenile detention center Hillary was sent to was a private, for-profit facility run by one of the more than 50 companies operating in the five billion dollar private prison industry.

These companies have names you’ve probably never heard of – like Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO.

Ironically, it’s the federal and state criminal justice systems that produce the private prisons phenomenon and create the opportunity for private operators to capitalize. What they are capitalizing on is America’s obsession with handing out long prison sentences out of all proportion to the crimes committed.

Today, the United States has locked up more prisoners than any other country in the world – 2.3 million-plus people locked up in state and federal prisons and county jails. This has predictably resulted in a shortage of publicly owned prison beds – a shortage increasingly being filled by companies that charge so many dollars for each convict sent their way.

Detainees include immigrants who have applied for asylum in the US and others awaiting hearings before being deported. The number of people detained has soared to more than 400,000 a year. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), part of the sprawling Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the average detention is about one month, although some detainees are kept for years. The cost of detention is estimated to be $1.7 billion annually.

In the past five years, the nation’s largest private prison company has partnered with the federal government to detain close to a million undocumented people waiting to be deported or to appear before an immigration judge. In the process, CCA has made record profits. Critics suggest that CCA cuts corners on its detention contracts in order to increase its revenue at the expense of humane conditions. Thanks to political connections and lobbying, it dominates the immigrant detention industry. CCA now has close to 10,000 new beds under development in anticipation of continued demand.

Judith Greene, a policy analyst with Justice Strategies, a nonprofit sentencing-reform advocacy group in New York, says, “Profits by no means created the machinery of mass incarceration, no more than defense contracts invented war, but the huge profits to be made by incarcerating an ever-growing segment of our population serves the system very well.”

“Profits oil the machinery, keep it humming and speed its growth,” she adds.

For-profit prison companies claim to be able to provide prison and detention services to cities, counties, states and the federal government for less money – an idea that cash-strapped communities apparently find irresistible.

Yet, studies throughout the country show that private prisons are only marginally less expensive than public prisons and are often substantially more expensive. The second issue is a medical care regimen that, until recently, allowed the government such wide discretion that it could deny urgent care, including biopsies for suspected cancers and treatment of heart conditions.

Moreover, a panoply of hidden subsidies is rarely calculated into the private prison industry’s cost claims. According to a study by Paul Wright, the founder and editor of “Prison Legal News,” a prisoners’ rights advocacy newsletter, at least 44, or 73 percent, of the 60 facilities (studied) had received a development subsidy from local, state and/or federal government sources. Subsidies were found in 17 of the 19 states in which the 60 facilities are located.

Facilities operated by the two largest private prison companies, CCA and GEO, were frequently subsidized. Among the facilities in this study, 78 percent of CCA’s and 69 percent of GEO’s prisons were subsidized, suggesting that these companies had been aggressive in seeking development subsidies.

According to the not-for-profit Private Corrections Institute, “the private prison industry relies on a number of allies and research studies to justify its claims of cost savings and proficiency; however, most of these sources have industry connections or vested financial interests.”

For example, it claims, the Reason Foundation, a strong proponent of prison privatization, has received funding from private prison firms. The American Correctional Association (ACA) receives sponsorship money from CCA, GEO, and other private prison companies for its biannual conferences.

Former University of Florida Prof. Charles Thomas conducted supposedly impartial research on the private prison industry until it was learned that he owned private prison stock, had been paid $3 million for consulting for a private prison firm and served on the board of Prison Realty Trust (a CCA spin-off). Thomas was fined $20,000 by the Florida Commission on Ethics and stepped down from his university position.

Private prisons are paid according to filled beds. So, they are constantly pushing for more inmates – while officials of publicly owned prisons are trying to shed prisoners to relieve overcrowding and reduce expenses.

Private prisons seek to save money by hiring less experienced staff. The result of that policy can be seen in the disproportionate numbers of poorly controlled prison riots, by unsanitary health conditions, by substandard record-keeping, by high employee turnover and by the number of deaths in detention.

A June 2004 study by academics Curtis R. Blakely and Vic W. Bumphus found that private prison turnover among correctional officers was 43 percent, while turnover in public sector prisons were only 15 percent. Turnover in for-profit prisons was linked to lower staff pay and less training. Moreover, the study found, “Pay, training, and turnover may all contribute to the higher levels of violence seen in the private sector.”

One big area where for-profit prison firms skimp is on labor costs, according to Wright. “While employees at state-run prisons get union-scale salaries, private-prison guards typically earn $7 to $10 per hour,” he says, adding, “They have low wages and high turnover and very little in the way of benefits or training.”

Wright, 43, was once a prisoner himself, serving 17 years of a 25-year term for killing a cocaine dealer he was trying to rob. Today, he is an advocate for prisoner rights and, over the years, has filed numerous legal challenges against the industry and won.

“The private-prison industry is marked by corruption,” he says. “Their premise is they can run prisons cheaper than the government, but taxpayers don’t realize any of those savings. Any savings the private-prison industry obtains is basically profits for their shareholders.”

For-profit prisons are private corporations and, thus, not subject to external oversight. They are not obligated to produce their internal records for public scrutiny and are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act at the federal level because that law applies only to documents in the government’s possession.

Political pressure from interests in US border states has forced President Obama to exceed the record of former President George W. Bush in deporting illegal aliens. That surge has resulted in a windfall for the private prison industry. Today, a substantial slice of its current growth can be attributed to its activities in the immigration detention field.

Private prisons have become a major influence in shaping critical legislation related to illegal immigration. The industry’s lobbyists have played a leading role in drafting a number of recent anti-immigrant laws, for example, Arizona’s SB-1070, and similar laws in Georgia, Alabama, and other states.

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Under the Alabama measure, police must detain someone they suspect of being in the country illegally if the person cannot produce proper documentation when stopped for any reason. It also will be a crime to knowingly transport or harbor someone who is in the country illegally. The law imposes penalties on businesses that knowingly employ someone without legal resident status. A company’s business license could be suspended or revoked. And the law requires Alabama businesses to use a database called E-Verify to confirm the immigration status of new employees.

Lee Fang reports in ThinkProgress that, in December 2009, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – a powerful front group that helps corporate representatives craft template legislation for state lawmakers, funded partially by the private prison industry – hosted Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce (R) and began debate on legislation that would provide broad powers to local police to arrest anyone who might look like an immigrant. The ALEC then distributed the template legislation to its members. The January/February 2010 edition of ALEC’s magazine highlights the draft version of SB1070 – the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” – as model legislation.

It was Pearce who introduced ALEC’s “template” as the infamous SB1070 law. Notably, the ALEC task force, which helped Pearce devise his racial profiling law, included Laurie Shanblum, a CCA lobbyist. CCA previously played an important role in privatizing many of Texas’ prisons.

An investigation by Arizona’s KPHO-TV found more ties between SB1070 and the private prison industry: Paul Senseman, Arizona’s Gov. Janet Brewer’s deputy chief of staff, was a former lobbyist for CCA (his wife is still a lobbyist for CCA), and Chuck Coughlin, Brewer’s campaign chairman, runs the lobbying firm in Arizona that represents CCA.

CCA was set to receive well over $74 million in tax dollars in fiscal year 2010 for running immigration detention centers. In a recent presentation, Pershing Square Capital, a hedge fund with a large financial stake in CCA, suggested that CCA’s profitability depends on increasing numbers of immigrants sent to prison. Many of the legislators helping to earn CCA more profits with radical anti-immigrant bills mirroring SB1070 have been recipients of private prison industry cash or have worked closely with the CCA-funded ALEC organization.

“When detentions increased following the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York City and the Pentagon,” author Mark Dow writes in “American Gulag: Inside US Immigration Prisons,” “private prison profiteers saw another opportunity. The [then] Chairman of the Houston-based Cornell Companies spoke candidly in a conference call with other investors: ‘It can only be good … with the focus on people that are illegal and also from Middle Eastern descent … In the US there are over 900,000 undocumented individuals from Middle Eastern descent … That’s half of our entire [US] prison population … The Federal business is the best business for us … and the events of September 11 [are] increasing that level of business …’”

Efforts to reach the CEOs of the two leading private prison companies, CCA and GEO, to invite comment on this article were unsuccessful. However, their web sites present a comprehensive picture of the companies’ vision of their operations. Both are doing extremely well. GEO’s revenues for 2010 rose 11 percent to $1.27.billion. CCA’s revenues in 2009 rose to $1.670 billion. The companies’ annual reports and 10-K filings present a robust picture of these operations and strike an optimistic note for the future.

Beau Hodai, considered an authority on the private prison industry, noted in Prison Legal News last year that private prison leaders had substantially increased their spending on lobbying.

For example, he writes, “From January 2008 to April 2010, CCA spent $4.4 million lobbying the Department of Homeland Security and ICE, the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee, the Office of Budget Management, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and both houses of Congress. Of the 43 lobbying disclosure reports filed by CCA during this period, only five do not expressly state intent to monitor or influence immigration reform policy or gain Homeland Security or ICE appropriations.”

The private prison industry’s operation of immigration detention centers has been less than stellar – a lot less.

For example:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas and El Paso co-counsel Mike Torres and Leon Schydlower filed a lawsuit on behalf of the survivors of Jesus Manuel Galindo. Named as defendants were the federal government and the GEO Group, the administrator of the West Texas for-profit prison where Galindo, 32, died on December 12, 2008, after suffering a seizure in solitary confinement where he had been placed for complaining about the facility’s failure to provide him medication to control his epileptic seizures.

At least nine immigrant prisoners have died in the Reeves County Detention Center in the last five years. The GEO Group has had at least six facilities in Texas shuttered or contracts canceled. The state of Idaho pulled its inmates from the Dickens County Correctional Center in the spring of 2007 in the wake of the suicide of inmate Scot Noble Payne and a subsequent investigation into “squalid” conditions at the lockup. Idaho also cut its contract with the Bill Clayton Detention Center in Littlefield, Texas, after the 2008 suicide of Randy McCullough. In October 2007, the Coke County Juvenile Justice Center was shuttered by the Texas Youth Commission after a damning investigation into conditions at the youth detention center.

Despite that record – ironically, on the very day the lawsuit was filed – the company was awarded a contract by ICE to operate a new 600-bed “civil” detention center in Karnes County, Texas. Texas has more for-profit prisons than any other state.

In another case, a former immigration detention guard was convicted of sexually abusing female detainees in the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, near Austin, Texas, which is managed by CCA. The resident supervisor, Donald Dunn, 30, was charged with three counts of official oppression and two counts of unlawful restraint, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

The ACLU said CCA officials were violating policy by allowing female immigration detainees to be isolated with male staff members. After an ACLU investigation into sexual abuse at the Hutto facility, Vanita Gupta, deputy legal director of the ACLU, said the charges show additional need for reform.

Then there is the issue of death in detention. Nina Bernstein, writing in The New York Times, alleged that ICE officials, fearful of media scrutiny, conspired to conceal the details surrounding the deaths of a number of detained immigrants who died in privately run detention centers. Bernstein wrote, ” … it is now clear, the deaths had already generated thousands of pages of government documents, including scathing investigative reports that were kept under wraps, and a trail of confidential memos and BlackBerry messages that show officials working to stymie outside inquiry.”

The documents were obtained by The Times and the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act. They relate to most of the 107 deaths in detention counted by ICE October 2003, when the agency was created within the DHS. The documents also revealed ten deaths in detention that had never been disclosed by the government. The ACLU says the number of deaths has increased since then.

The article details a litany of abuses. For example:

“As one man lay dying of head injuries suffered in a New Jersey immigration jail in 2007, for example, a spokesman for the federal agency told The Times that he could learn nothing about the case from government authorities. In fact, the records show, the spokesman had alerted those officials to the reporter’s inquiry, and they conferred at length about sending the man back to Africa to avoid embarrassing publicity.”

“In another case that year, investigators from the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility concluded that unbearable, untreated pain had been a significant factor in the suicide of a 22-year-old detainee at the Bergen County Jail in New Jersey, and that the medical unit was so poorly run that other detainees were at risk.”

“The investigation found that jail medical personnel had falsified a medication log to show that the detainee, a Salvadoran named Nery Romero, had been given Motrin. The fake entry was easy to detect: When the drug was supposedly administered, Mr. Romero was already dead.”

“Yet those findings were never disclosed to the public or to Mr. Romero’s relatives on Long Island, who had accused the jail of abruptly depriving him of his prescription painkiller for a broken leg. And an agency supervisor wrote that because other jails were ‘finicky’ about accepting detainees with known medical problems like Mr. Romero’s, such people would continue to be placed at the Bergen jail as ‘a last resort.’”

Another case concerns Yusif Osman, who was a US legal resident from Ghana and had been living in Los Angeles for five years. After a companion carrying false ID landed him in an immigration detention center run by CCA, Osman was facing deportation on smuggling charges, an allegation he denied. While at the immigration detention center outside San Diego, he died suddenly. His story highlights the poor care some immigrants have received in the scores of immigration facilities across the United States.

Near midnight on a California spring night, armed guards escorted Yusif Osman into an immigration prison ringed by concertina wire at the end of a winding, isolated road. During the intake screening, a part-time nurse began a computerized medical file on Osman, a routine procedure for any person entering the vast prison network the government has built for foreign detainees across the country. But the nurse pushed a button and mistakenly closed file #077-987-986 and marked it “completed” – even though it had no medical information in it.

Three months later, at 2:00 in the morning on June 27, 2006, the native of Ghana collapsed in Cell 206 at the Otay Mesa immigrant detention center outside San Diego. His cellmate hit the intercom button, yelling to guards that Osman was on the floor suffering from chest pains. A guard peered through the window into the dim cell and saw the detainee on the ground, but did not go in. Instead, he called a clinic nurse to find out whether Osman had any medical problems.

When the nurse opened the file and found it blank, she decided there was no emergency and said Osman needed to fill out a sick call request. The guard went on a lunch break.

The cellmate yelled again. Another guard came by, looked in and called the nurse. This time she wanted Osman brought to the clinic. Forty minutes passed before guards brought a wheelchair to his cell. By then, it was too late: Osman was barely alive when paramedics reached him. He soon died.

His body, clothed only in dark pants and socks, was left on a breezeway for two hours, an airway tube sticking out of his mouth. Osman was 34.

The next day, an autopsy determined that he had died because his heart had suddenly stopped, confidential medical records show. Two physicians who reviewed his case for The Washington Post said he might have lived had he received timely treatment, perhaps as basic as an aspirin.

Privately, Otay Mesa’s medical staff also knew his care was deficient. On page 3 of an internal review of his death is this question:

Did patient receive appropriate and adequate health care consistent with community standards during his/her detention …?

Otay Mesa’s medical director, Esther Hui, checked “No.”

The ACLU records: “One man was brought in with such high blood pressure that if he was not in custody, he would have been sent to an emergency room immediately. He was denied treatment and shortly thereafter he suffered a massive heart attack and died.”

The ACLU said he was denied treatment because the treatment he needed – a coronary artery bypass – was not considered an ‘emergency’ procedure, the only condition under which care could be provided.

Another detainee had for over a year been denied a biopsy to detect a possible cancer. He died soon afterward.

The medical neglect they endure is part of the hidden human cost of increasingly strict policies adopted following the 9/11 attacks. A Washington Post investigation found that detainees have less access to lawyers than convicted murderers in maximum-security prisons and some have fewer comforts than al-Qaeda terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Post investigation, carried out by Dana Priest and Amy Goldstein, found that the most vulnerable detainees, the physically sick and the mentally ill, are sometimes denied the proper treatment to which they are entitled by law and regulation. They are locked in a world of slow care, poor care and no care, with panic and cover-ups among employees watching it happen.

The investigation found a hidden world of flawed medical judgments, faulty administrative practices, neglectful guards, ill-trained technicians, sloppy record-keeping, lost medical files and dangerous staff shortages. It is also a world increasingly run by high-priced private contractors. There is evidence that infectious diseases, including tuberculosis and chicken pox, are spreading inside the centers.

Nurses who work on the front lines see the problems up close. “Dogs get better care in the dog pound,” said Catherine Rouse, a contract nurse at an Arizona detention center who quit after two months last year because she saw what she regarded as “scary medicine” in the prison: patients taken off medications they needed and nurses doing tasks they were not qualified to do. “You don’t treat people like that. There has to be some kind of moral fiber,” Rouse said.

Bob Libal, senior organizer for Grassroots Leadership in Austin, Texas – considered by many to be the “guru” of private prison opposition – summed up the situation as he sees it. He told Truthout, “A litany of human rights abuses, scandals, and lawsuits have plagued private prisons corporations, particularly in Texas, where there are more private prisons, detention centers, and jails than in any other state,” he said, adding:

“Unfortunately, the private prison industry has fought even the most limited oversight and transparency measures. Furthermore, the largest private prison corporations – CCA and GEO – spend millions of dollars each year on lobbying and campaign contributions that ensure that their interests – an ever increasing flow of prisoners and detainees into private beds – are met.”

ACLU attorney David Shapiro told Truthout that two issues play a major role in creating an environment in which death and deprivation in detention become inevitable. The first issue is the absence of any enforceable standards for the maze of 400 federal, municipal, county and private jails used by ICE to house immigrants.

The second issue is a medical care regimen that, until recently, allowed the government such wide discretion that it could deny urgent care, including biopsies for suspected cancers, and treatment of heart conditions. As a result of an ACLU lawsuit, there is now a new document that defines the medical care to which detainees are entitled. But lack of independent oversight casts doubt on the extent to which the new regimen is being followed.

The Obama administration has declined to produce system-wide enforceable standards for the prisons it uses to house immigrants. Shapiro declined to speculate on the administration’s rationale, but others have said that it is based on the wide differences among the various types of facilities used by the government. It has also failed to produce a medical care program that is binding on ICE personnel and its contractors. A number of the reported deaths in detention have been caused by ICE’s failure to provide timely medical interventions in emergency situations. Some observers believe that the rationale for deciding against providing “long term” medical care – for example, biopsies – is that ICE detention is largely short term.

Yet, ICE and its DHS parent department have acknowledged that many immigrants are held in custody for years. ICE has also admitted many of the deficiencies in its detention system and has vowed to initiate reforms. But Shapiro contends that the most recent documents obtained by the ACLU show that ICE’s culture of secrecy has not changed.

Bernstein’s New York Times article says that the documents show how officials – some still in key positions – used their role as overseers to “cover up evidence of mistreatment, deflect scrutiny by the news media or prepare exculpatory public statements after gathering facts that pointed to substandard care or abuse.”

As of today, there are no legally enforceable rules governing immigration detention, despite an order by a federal judge to create such rules. The Obama administration refused the judge’s order, which followed a petition filed in court by former detainees. Instead, ICE chose to follow an inspection system instituted during the administration of George W. Bush. That system relies in part on private contractors. Judge Denny Chin ruled that the agency’s failure to respond to the plaintiffs’ petition for two and a half years was unreasonable.

DHS contended that rule making would be “laborious, time-consuming and less flexible” than the review process now in place. It said its current inspection system would “provide adequately for both quality control and accountability.”

According to Paromita Shah of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, one of the plaintiffs, the government’s decision “disregards the plight of the hundreds of thousands of immigration detainees.” She claims that the absence of enforceable rules is the major cause of problems of mistreatment and medical neglect. “The department has demonstrated a disturbing commitment to policies that have cost dozens of lives,” she says.

In the view of numerous observers, ICE is itself a highly dysfunctional unit. Thus far, the promises of significant operational changes have not come to fruition. The agency remains opaque.

But it is precisely this condition that presents private prison contractors with growing opportunities to pitch their services. Increasing numbers of alleged illegals are being detained by ICE and its various programs, such as 287(g), which enlists local police forces to suss out people in this country who they say shouldn’t be.

As to the future of the private prison industry, its reach is vast – from the teenager in Pennsylvania to the undocumented worker in Arizona. The ACLU’s Shapiro told Truthout, “The main thing the government should do is stop using private prisons. They are a failed experiment and have contributed to mass incarceration, horrid conditions, and escalating costs. At minimum, greater oversight and transparency are critical.”

But President Obama continues to use detention and deportation as a political tool to curry favor with the hard right. In the process, myriad injustices are being committed. And with the 2012 election looming, it seems unlikely that Washington has the appetite to actually fix any of the headaches caused by ICE and its for-profit prisons.

In a chapter from a forthcoming book, Alex Friedmann, associate editor of Prison Legal News, writes, “The most harmful effect of private prison companies is that they have made imprisonment-for-profit politically and socially acceptable, thereby creating an insidious industry that benefits from incarceration while instilling the notion that justice literally is for sale and crime does in fact pay.”

He adds, “Hopefully, at some point in the future we will look back on the time when private prisons were considered sensible and wonder how such a destructive concept was allowed to exist. For now, though, we must deal with the harsh reality of the private prison industry, including its many flaws and harmful effects on prisoners, our justice system and society as a whole.”

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Why I Quit My Job by Kai Nagata, CTV Quebec City Bureau Chief

by Kai Nagata, July 8, 2011

http://kainagata.com/2011/07/08/why-i-quit-my-job/

Until Thursday, I was CTV’s Quebec City Bureau Chief, based at the National Assembly, mostly covering politics. It’s a fascinating beat - the most interesting provincial legislature in Canada, and the stories coming out of there lately have been huge. The near-implosion of the Parti Quebecois has kept the press gallery hopping well into summer. If you’re not from Quebec, it’s hard to explain the place the National Assembly holds in the popular imagination – but suffice to say that within francophone journalistic circles it carries more prestige than Parliament Hill. I had the privilege to be working next to several of the sharpest reporters in the country.

The city is beautiful, ancient, and a great place to learn French. As master and commander of my own little outpost, I had significant editorial control over what I covered and how I treated it – granted, within a recognizable TV news formula. My bosses trusted and encouraged me, my colleagues at the station in Montreal were supportive and fun to work with, and my closest collaborator, cameraman/editor Fred Bissonnette, quickly became a close friend.

I was a full-time employee making good money, with comprehensive benefits and retirement options (I was even lucky enough to be hired before Bell bought CTV and began clawing back some of those expensive perks.) It was what I would qualify as a “great job,” especially for a 24-year old. Many of you told me how proud you were of my quick climb. But there was a growing gap between the reporter I played on TV, and the person I really am and want to become. I reached my breaking point suddenly, although when I look back now, the signposts were clear. 

First day working with Fred in Quebec City – courtesy Thomas de Lorimier

 

 

Not why I quit my job:

Let me pause for a minute and tell you the reasons for which I did not quit my job. I didn’t quit my job because I had a falling out with anyone at CTV or the National Assembly or in my life outside work. And I didn’t quit my job because it was too hard. It’s true that the position demands responsibility. You have to know what’s happening, what’s important, and deploy your limited resources accordingly (namely, me and Fred). When I went to bed I turned email notifications off on my Blackberry, but I left the ringer on. After all, when you’re the network’s only reporter between Montreal and the Maritimes, they have to be able to reach you. But I would say, humbly, that I didn’t just meet expectations – I excelled. In everything I was asked to do, I performed consistently at a level above my experience. We made some good TV. So I didn’t quit my job because I felt frustrated or that my career was peaking. I quit my job because the idea burrowed into my mind that, on the long list of things I could be doing, television news is not the best use of my short life. The ends no longer justified the means.

Indulging a PETA protestor during the Royal Visit – courtesy Francis Vachon

 

 

Of television news:

I’m trying to think of the reporters I know who would do their job as volunteers. The people who feel so strongly about the importance and social value of the evening news that, were they were offered somewhere to sleep, three meals a day, and free dry-cleaning – they would do that for the rest of their days. I’m not saying those people don’t exist, but such zeal is scarce. People do the job for all kinds of reasons. A few are raging narcissists. Many have kids to feed and mortgages to pay. Most believe they are fighting the good fight, if indirectly. In my case, I discovered it was something I was good at, I could see the potential to get better, and in the meantime, people were willing to trade me a lot of money to put the other things on hold. But even though I had the disposable income, I never bought a television. I was raised without one, and once I moved out on my own I decided I didn’t want one in the house.

TV news is a curious medium. You don’t always know whose interests are being served – or ignored. Although bounded by certain federal regulations, most of what you see in a newscast is actually defined by an internal code – an editorial tradition handed down from one generation to the next – but the key is, it’s self-enforced. Various industry associations hear complaints and can issue recommendations, or reward exemplary work with prizes. There are also watchdogs with varying degrees of clout. But these entities have no enforcement capacity. Underneath this lies the fact that information is a commodity, and private TV networks are supposed to make money. All stations, publicly funded or not, want to maintain or expand their viewership. This is what I’ll call the elephant in the room.

Consider Fox News. What the Murdoch model demonstrated was that facts and truth could be replaced by ideology, with viewership and revenue going up. Simply put, you can tell less truth and make more money. When you have to balance the interests of your shareholders against the interests of the viewers you supposedly serve, the firewall between the boardroom and the newsroom becomes a very important bulwark indeed. CTV, in my experience, maintains high standards in factual accuracy. Its editorial staff is composed of fair-minded critical thinkers. But there is an underlying tension between “what the people want to see” and “the important stories we should be bringing to people”. I remember as the latest takeover was all but finalized, Bellmedia executives came to talk about “growing eyeballs” in the “specialty channels”. What they meant was, sports are profitable – so as long they keep raking in cash, we can keep funding underperforming assets like our news division. (The same dynamic exists at the CBC, by the way.)

Certainly it would be a poor move, optics-wise, to make cuts in local news. For some reason job losses and factory closures in the media sector tend to generate a lot of coverage. But at every network, the bean counters are looking at a shrinking, aging audience (fixed incomes are harder to sell to advertisers) and there is intense pressure to keep the numbers up.

Human beings don’t always like good nourishment. We seem to love white sugar, and unless we understand why we feel nauseated and disoriented after binging on sweets, we’ll just keep going. People like low-nutrition TV, too. And that shapes the internal, self-regulated editorial culture of news.

Take newsroom aesthetics as an example. I admit felt a profound discomfort working in an industry that so casually sexualizes its workforce. Every hiring decision is scrutinized using a skewed, unspoken ratio of talent to attractiveness, where attractiveness often compensates for a glaring lack of other qualifications. The insecurity, self doubt, and body-image issues endured by otherwise confident, intelligent journalists would break your heart. And clearly there’s a double standard, a split along gender lines. But in an environment where a lot of top executives are women, what I’m talking about applies to men as well. The idea has taken root that if the people reporting the news look like your family and neighbours, instead of Barbie and Ken, the station will lose viewers.

 

 

The problem with the CBC:

Aside from feeling sexually attracted to the people on screen, the target viewer, according to consultants, is also supposed to like easy stories that reinforce beliefs they already hold. This is where the public broadcaster is caught in a tough spot. CBC Television, post-Stursberg, is failing in two ways. Despite modest gains in certain markets, (and bigger gains for reality shows like Dragon’s Den and Battle of the Blades) it’s still largely failing to broadcast to the public. More damnably, the resulting strategy is now to compete with for-profit networks for the lowest hanging fruit. In this race to the bottom, the less time and money the CBC devotes to enterprise journalism, the less motivation there is for the private networks to maintain credibility by funding their own investigative teams. Even then, “consumer protection” content has largely replaced political accountability.

It’s a vicious cycle, and it creates things like the Kate and Will show. Wall-to-wall, breaking-news coverage of a stage-managed, spoon-fed celebrity visit, justified by the couple’s symbolic relationship to a former colony, codified in a document most Canadians have never read (and one province has never signed). On a weekend where there was real news happening in Bangkok, Misrata, Athens, Washington, and around the world, what we saw instead was a breathless gaggle of normally credible journalists, gushing in live hit after live hit about how the prince is young and his wife is pretty. And the public broadcaster led the charge.

Aside from being overrun by “Action News” prophets from Iowa, the CBC has another problem: the perception that it’s somehow a haven for left-wing subversives. True or not, the CBC was worried enough about its pinko problem to commission an independent audit of its coverage, in which more consultants tried to quantify “left-wing bias” and, presumably using stopwatches, demonstrate that the CBC gives the Conservative government airtime commensurate with the proportion of seats it holds in the House of Commons. Or something like that.

Jon Stewart talks about a “right-wing narrative of victimization,” and what it has accomplished in Canada is the near-paralysis of progressive voices in broadcasting. In the States, even Fox News anchor Chris Wallace admitted there is an adversarial struggle afoot – that, in his view, networks like NBC have a “liberal” bias and Fox is there to tell “the other side of the story.” Well, Canada now has its Fox News. Krista Erickson, Brian Lilley, and Ezra Levant each do a wonderful send-up of the TV anchor character. The stodgy, neutral, unbiased broadcaster trope is played for jokes before the Sun News team gleefully rips into its targets. But Canada has no Jon Stewart to unravel their ideology and act as a counterweight. Our satirists are toothless and boring, with the notable exception of Jean-René Dufort. And on the more serious side, we have no Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow. So I don’t see any true debate within the media world itself, in the sense of a national, public clash of ideas. The Canadian right wing, if you want to call it that, has had five years to get the gloves off. With a majority Conservative government in power, they’re putting on brass knuckles. Meanwhile the left is grasping about in a pair of potholders. The only explanation I can think of is they’re too polite, or too scared. If it’s the latter, I think it’s clear enough why.

First stop after leaving Montreal on Tuesday

 

 

Coming out of the closet:

I have serious problems with the direction taken by Canadian policy and politics in the last five years. But as a reporter, I feel like I’ve been holding my breath. Every question I asked, every tweet I posted, and even what I said to other journalists and friends had to go through a filter, where my own opinions and values were carefully strained out. Even then I’m not sure I was always successful, but I always knew at the CBC and subsequently at CTV that there were serious consequences for editorial. Within the terms of my employment at CTV, there was a clause in which the corporation (now Bellmedia) literally took ownership of my intellectual property output. If I invented a better mouse trap, they owned the patent. If I wrote a novel, they got a cut. Rhymes on the back of a napkin? Bellmedia is hip to the jive, yo. And if I ever said anything out of line with my position as an “objective” TV reporter, they had grounds to fire me. I had a sinking feeling when I first read that clause, but I signed because I was 23 and I wanted the job. Now I want my opinions back.

I’ll say off the bat that my views don’t completely mesh with any one political party. I’m not a partisan operative and I never was. Fiscally, I believe a government should be conservative. Caution seems like a good thing in stewarding the public purse. At the same time, I believe we should be taxed according to our capacity and that revenue invested, sometimes massively, in projects for the public good. Under those criteria, I see no sense in buying stealth fighters more than a decade after the Cold War, or building bigger prisons when crime rates are decreasing. If we have that kind of capital to spend, it should go on high-speed rail or renewable energy infrastructure.

On what we call the “social issues,” I think a government ought to err on the side of keeping its mouth shut. If a woman needs to get an abortion or a gay couple wants to get married, one minister’s opinion shouldn’t be relevant. If a theatre festival wants to explore home-grown terrorism or an arm’s-length agency criticizes a military ally, there better be a damn good justification for yanking their funding. And when science debunks ideology, reason should be allowed to prevail in determining public policy.

A caution: there are a number of small-c and big-C conservatives that I like a lot. My grandfather, for example. Or any number of federal staffers and MPs. But those blinded by tribal partisanship might not like what I have to say.

Right now, there’s a war going on against science in Canada. In order to satisfy a small but powerful political base, the PMO is engaged in a not-so-clandestine operation to dismantle and silence the many credible opponents to the Harper doctrine. Why kill the census? Literally in order to make decisions in the dark, without the relevant data. Hence the prisons. Why de-fund scientific research? Because whole branches of the natural sciences are premised on things like evolution, a theory the minister responsible made it clear he doesn’t understand – and likely doesn’t believe in. Why settle for weak platitudes on climate change? Because despite global scientific consensus, elements of the Conservative base don’t believe human activity could warm the planet. Centuries of rational thought and academic tradition, dating back to the Renaissance, is being thrown out the window in favour of an ideology that doesn’t reflect reality.

Meanwhile, we’re wrapping up a real war, one that invites us to take stock of where we stand in the world ten years after it began. When I joined the infantry reserve, I asked about the possibility of volunteering for a peacekeeping mission (a practice this country invented). I was told by the warrant officer I spoke to that with all available resources tied up in Afghanistan, indefinitely, I could forget about wearing a blue beret.  One Conservative campaign ad told us Canada is a “courageous warrior,” and yet we lost our seat at the UN Security Council. The Canada whose values I thought I was signing up to promote and defend is increasingly unrecognizable from an international vantage point.

We have withdrawn from humanitarian projects because aspects might offend Evangelists back home. We have clung so tightly to our US allies overseas that we figure on lists of terrorism targets where we didn’t before. We are deporting people to be tortured and closing our borders to the family members of foreign professionals. We have become, in Mr. Harper’s characterization, an island. A sea of troubles lapping at our shores. In other words, we are closing the harbours when we most need to be building bridges.

On climate change, the conclusion I am forced to draw is that the current federal government has completely abdicated its responsibility. The message to my generation is: figure it out yourselves. The dogmatic refusal to accept that people have created this crisis and people must do what they can to avert it reminds me of the flat-earth crew. Except this time, we really are going to sail off the edge. We need to be recruiting international scientists, funding research, stimulating the green economy, legislating disincentives to fossil fuel use, and most importantly, reaching out and building alliances with the countries who are already taking a proactive stance. As an Arctic nation – a country of inventors, diplomats, and negotiators, we should be taking the lead in brokering global accords that might save the world as we know it. Instead we are closing ourselves off, alienating our neighbours, and looking inward, to our past achievements. In the interests of short-term political gain, and medium-term profits for energy companies, Conservative politicians are abandoning my generation and any that hope to come after.

Meanwhile, the people who are supposed to be holding decision makers to account are instead broadcasting useless tripe, or worse, stories that actively distract from the massive projects we need to be tackling instead of watching TV.

Next steps:

What I need is to better myself spiritually, physically, and intellectually, so I can effect meaningful change in the world around me. I don’t know yet where this impulse will take me, but I know I can’t go back to working parallel to the real problems, hiding my opinions and yet somehow hoping that one viewer every night might piece together what I wanted to say. I thought if I paid my dues and worked my way up through the ranks, I could maybe reach a position of enough influence and credibility that I could say what I truly feel. I’ve realized there’s no time to wait.

If storytelling turns out to be my true passion and the best use of my skills, then I’ll continue down that path. If elder care, academia, agriculture, activism, art, education, Budo, or as-yet unforeseen pursuits turn out to make the flame burn brighter, I’ll make the switch, or do them all. I’m willing to work with anyone of any religion or political stripe, if they’re sincere about doing what it takes.

Right now I need to undertake a long-delayed journey of personal discovery. Having given away all the possessions that didn’t fit into my truck, I’ve set out on the road again, heading West. I know I need to go home for a while. I need to surround myself with family and friends. I need to consult, meditate, and plan the next steps.

I’m broke, and yet I know I’m rich in love. I’m unemployed and homeless, but I’ve never been more free.

Everything is possible.

http://kainagata.com/2011/07/08/why-i-quit-my-job/

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SaLuSa: Each Day the Revelations of Corruption Grow

SaLuSa points out that the revelations of corruption are growing and I certainly notice that as well.  He says that the pressure for Disclosure continues to grow and the waiting has to stop sooner or later with the dark acknowledging defeat. The rising light is causing the dark’s allies to leave them and this applies to agencies all the way up to the United Nations.

He refers to our quarantine so that we would not spread the use of our weapons elsewhere. He admits that the galactics also tire of the endless bickering of our political parties. He tells us that our political system would have imploded on its own at some point due to its lack of light. He makes the interesting comment that “once the Divine Plan commences” there will be much activity in many places of authority such as the Pentagon. I assume that, to the galactics, the “Divine Plan” is not seen to commence before Disclosure or First Contact.

He tells us that many paths lead to Ascension.  He says that many Earth changes are being held back until the galactics are here to monitor and control them. He assures us that it isn’t a galactic aim to see parts of the Earth destroyed.

SaLuSa  11- July-2011

As promised the cobwebs of deceit and falsehood are gradually being cleared away, and each day the revelations grow. They show how the authorities have been corrupted, and the necessity to remove all of those involved. If you are ever to establish an honest and trustworthy establishment, it is obviously necessary to replace each person with those that are known to be right for the times you are in.

Many of you have been groomed for such an occasion, and if you are not already working for the Light your time will soon come. We invite everyone to help in whatever way they can, even if only to send out Love and Light. Your contribution does not have to be special, as long as it comes from the heart and soul. As the Collective of Humanity you are in fact doing enormously well, and so the energy continues to grow exponentially.

We see that people are no longer afraid of talking their truth, and confidence grows as each day takes you nearer to the commencement of a series of major events. As you must realize the waiting has to stop sooner or later, as the pressure upon the dark Ones is creating opportunities for our allies to move on. There comes a time when people have to bow down to the conditions around them, and concede that they no longer hold the power.

Our desire is to signal the start of disclosure, so that the truth can be released as to the presence of our spacecraft, and then logically the personnel who operate them. You also need to be aware of the many contacts we have made, with both your political and military representatives for peaceful reasons. There will be many questions asked when it is revealed how many times we have attempted to bring world peace into being.

Making contact with you is a most natural development as part of your growth. You have long participated in conquering Space, and it is now time to meet your Space family. You cannot in fact venture any further than you do now, as there is no way that you will be allowed to take your weaponry outside of your Earth’s atmosphere. Enlightened Man will be able to do so, and indeed you shall join us in outer space. Our craft are not just for transporting us around, but are self contained for distant travels even to other Universes. Some of them have already been stationed near your Earth for about 50 years. We come and go at our leisure in smaller craft intended to travel in your atmosphere, and these are the ones you most frequently see.

You are about to make a quantum leap into the future, and we are here to ensure it is a success. By now you should have a pretty good idea what it entails, but nevertheless we know it will still surprise you. Your rapid rise from out of the darkness into the Light is by no means complete, but all of the time you work on your own enlightenment you are accelerating the changes. Peace and contentment can be experienced by some individuals, but the goal is to lift up everyone in preparation for Ascension. Many paths lead to it, and they allow for each individuals own vision of how it will manifest. It does not matter what you believe now, except that you are ready for the great day when all will be played out as told you.

The confidence of the dark Ones is fading fast as they can no longer command the obedience of their minions. Some are awakening to the Light within and making dramatic changes in their lives. That is not unexpected as many have been forced to work with them, and often there seems to be no way out. That is all changing and our allies are taking advantage of any weakness in the ability of the dark Ones to control their future.

The great societies that the dark Ones have infiltrated will identify them and they will be discharged of their responsibilities. In this respect your United Nations is no exception. Secrecy cannot be maintained under our watchful eye, and there are literally no hiding places that we are unaware of. In fact there are none that are impregnable, and we have the means to remove those individuals that continue to be a danger to the population. Once the Divine Plan commences there will be much activity in many places of authority such as the Pentagon.

We ourselves sometimes tire of the continual bickering that goes on between your political parties. There will be none of that in future as there will be a different system that makes for quick decisions in the best interests of everyone. There will be no hidden agendas, and all dealings will be made known so that people can have full knowledge of what is happening. We do not indulge in politics but have our Councils that are truly representative of all opinions. We have total trust in their enlightened decisions because there is no question of self-interest being involved. Your political systems are corrupt and even ignore your own Laws and Statutes. They had to fail, as they would in any event have imploded upon themselves. It could have been so different but you did not have sufficient people of the Light to maintain the levels you needed for a fair and just society.

However, you have learnt a lot from being in duality, and it has strengthened your ability to withstand the negative energies. If you had not, it is doubtful that you could have reversed the trends towards self-destruction. Now you have the promise of changes that will provide a new life, which by comparison to your present one will be nothing short of heavenly and blissful. Peace is settling upon Earth regardless of what you think, and the days of wars are almost over. Your fears are therefore being answered, and you can concentrate on the happy future that is rising up before you.

Mother Earth quietly continues with her own cleansing, which is far from complete. Some major changes are being held back, and best allowed to proceed when we are with you and can openly monitor and control them. There is not as some believe the intent to destroy parts of the Earth, with the consequent death of many people. It is quite the opposite, and our endeavors will ensure that only those who arranged to leave the Earth before Ascension will do so.

I am SaLuSa from Sirius, and pleased once more to have had the opportunity to enlighten you as to our present activities.

Thank you SaLuSa.
Mike Quinsey.

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Award-Winning Documentary on Crop Circles

Click here to view the embedded video.

Thank you to Brage for alerting us to this award-winning documentary about the greatest crop circle formations ever created.

Thank you as well to Janis for directing us to the crop circle formation itself. One day it’s  unfinished and another day it’s finished.  Did the galactics want to send us a message thereby? Was this an instance of their humor? Near Alton Barnes, Wiltshire UK. Beautiful!

http://www.cropcircleconnector.com/2011/honeystreet2/honeystreet2011b.html

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Lady Die

I haven’t watched this series and I actually may not have the time to right now. It certainly sounds controversial.  It appears to look into the allegations that Diana was killed by British military intelligence or the CIA.  Let me know if something is amiss with it. Double-click on the video to go to Youtube and watch other parts of this 20-part series. Thanks to Roth.

Click here to view the embedded video.

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Orb Party at Eceti

After about the 1-minute mark the orbs around James Gilliland’s Eceti Ranch in  2009 become like a river. In a description of a similar event in 2010, James wrote: “Witnesses watched ships power-up and orbs pulse and fly through the fields during our nightly skywatches.”  James has also called them on other occasions “plasma orb light entities.”

Click here to view the embedded video.

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The Arcturian Group, July 10, 2011

My sense of what the Arcturian Group means when they say that “much is about to occur on your Earth–much that will seem to be frightening if you are not prepared,” they are referring to Disclosure, rather than to Earth Changes.

This seems confirmed by the sentences: “It is those of you who are awakened that will then begin your work of assisting them if they are open to it.  You will become the teachers, helping  many to understand what is taking place with the arrival of those dear ones from other places who wish only to help you in your personal and planetary ascension.”

If my interpretation is correct, then they are telling us that most people’s formal missions will start when our space family reveals its presence. And our job will then be to see, by whatever means open to us, that those who are frightened by events understand that there is nothing to be frightened about. That will take prudence, humility, and good commonsense on our part given the amount of fright that the arrival of civilizations from outer space could conceivably cause.

JULY 10, 2011

We of the Arcturian Group wish to say that you are all doing a fine job in your awakening.  It is apparent to all who see the Earth energy, that light is rapidly taking over the denser areas of darkness.  It does not seem to be that way, we know.  You hear so much from your news media that speaks only of darkness  and discouragement, but believe us when we say your light is permeating the darkness like never before.  You are becoming a planet of light.

The discouraging events that so many have experienced and are still experiencing are a necessary part of shifting man into new ways of seeing and understanding life.  You see, it is through the “disasters” that those who would not otherwise awaken to the truth about living and oneness are now awakening.   Before these mutual experiences, there were “others,” those simply  thought of as strangers.  Strangers with perhaps strange customs, strange beliefs, strange clothing, strange foods–but now because they suffer just as you, they have become neighbors-you see?  This is the evolutionary movement into a consciousness of oneness from the old energy of separation.

We say to you that much is about to occur on your Earth–much that will seem to be frightening if you are not prepared.  Understand that those who insist upon staying in darkness, believing whatever they are told by those to whom they have given their power, will  experience the coming changes from a place of much fear.  It is those of you who are awakened that will then begin your work of assisting them if they are open to it.  You will become the teachers, helping  many to understand what is taking place with the arrival of those dear ones from other places who wish only to help you in your personal and planetary ascension. Many will not believe, choosing instead to hold on to the decaying remains of a consciousness that is leaving.  However, this is their choice.

No blame is ever assigned to those who choose to evolve at a slower pace.  No blame is ever given from on high, for all are moving toward a realization of oneness, some are simply choosing to delay a bit.  As free will beings, you are free to do whatever you choose, even if the choice you make is to delay your awakening as long as possible.  You see, dear ones, all is changing, like it or not.  What we are saying is that you will be the teachers and the healers for those who will experience the shifting energies through a state of great fear.  These are those dear ones who are ready to evolve, but have chosen to remain asleep in what they already know believing they already have all the answers.

The criteria for ascension is having evolved through time into a consciousness of oneness.  There are many who have no interest in what is taking place on the planet, or even in spiritual matters but who have attained a consciousness of oneness.  These are the ones who will be very confused by coming events that they have not prepared for.  These souls you will guide and protect with your awareness.

This is going to be a time of great rejoicing for the many who have not had much to rejoice about up to this time.  Just be patient, dear ones, all is proceeding forward according to plan.  You only hear about the negative events, because that is what the news media wishes you to hear. However, there are many events of great love and rejoicing taking place that you never hear about. We see mankind opening their hearts to love, and leaving behind that sense of separation that has divided the world for so long.

You are doing a fine job but it is important that you  stop watching and listening to everything that is put out there for your consumption.  Be aware of current events, but do not get so involved that you add your precious energy to them. Remember, you are creators and as planetary and personal energy becomes more and more refined, and as the veils thin, you create more and more quickly.  Be very conscious of what you are choosing to create.

Send light to all who struggle, seeing them as beings of light who are doing that which seems right for them do do, even if it is often misguided.   Those who are seriously hoping for the fall of mankind, will be dealt with.  They simply cannot survive in the higher frequencies of light now pouring onto the planet.

We say to you; Rejoice dear ones, for you are doing a fine job of it, and we are with you always.

In love, we are The Arcturian Group                                                             7/10/11

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GFOL, Jul. 10, 2011

I’m not familiar with Wes’ channeling but I enjoyed this message. Thanks to Karma’s Helper.

Galactic Federation of Light 7-10-11

Channeled by Wes, Jul 10, 2011  http://lightchannels.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/galactic-federation-of-light-7-10-11/

Hello all :) This is a channeled message from what I’ve come to know as a Pleiadian branch of the Galactic Federation of Light. Our friends from the stars have much to share with us! I give this message in Love :)

Collectively you are all entering a period where tolerance and acceptance of all are becoming the dominating energies. We have for so long watched you all immerse yourselves in every kind of darkness available: jealousy, hate, discomfort of any kind. Know that at this point you don’t have to feel those feelings anymore, at this point you are choosing to let yourself wane into darkness by accepting these emotions.

When we are with you it will be much easier to teach you these lessons in person, but for now you must all rely on yourselves, on your own spiritual strength. It can absolutely be seen as a good thing as you all need to personally develop your inner powers. We ask that you all be fully conscious of every emotion or reaction you see pouring out of yourselves, and question if feeling that way will lead you out of darkness or back down your own personal path of spiritual destruction. After many lifetimes of training you all have a firm grasp on handling these dark energies, and this is a quality that is making you some of the toughest souls to be found. As we have said before, this experience on Earth is quite unique, ascension is a naturally occurring event but never have we helped initiate a planetary ascension at such a fast pace.

Remember you Lightworkers are all leading the way and soon very many souls who are just becoming enlightened will look to you for guidance. Some of you have been wishing to get ‘out there’ more and help other souls,  soon your chance is going to come. In these times of tough transition you will find much negative karma coming up from inside yourselves for release. This will usualy come in the form of a negative event or stressful situation, and how you handle your reaction will show how strong your Light is at that current moment. Your levels of Light are always shifting as everything is always changing, and learning to master these events will see you through to ascension very easily.

Very soon a lot of your old memories from when you were fully conscious beings are going to resurface in your thoughts. This is quite a good thing as it means you are returning to your former roots and regaining access to the greatest part of yourself, your godspark. The tide has changed as a result of so many rediscovering the godspark in them, as this spark has fully erupted into the beautiful violet flame to be found in all.

Your collective Love and Light has grown so massive that nothing will stop the spiritual events leading to disclosure on your world. We are so proud of you all for what you have undertaken and came out of so successfully! You always knew you would never lose your Light, and before you undertook this tough challenge of duality it was agreed that you would have many angels looking after you always. You will begin to find real personal contact with your angelic guides, and this will be just as joyous a reunion for you personally as first contact will be for the planet and for us.

Do you all understand how by nature you attract your thoughts to yourselves? It seems  like whatever person or happening you just talked about, you seem to be met with. As you all grow and ascend so more does your ability to regain your mastery grow. You will soon find yourselves suddenly good at things you used to have no interest in, many of these things will be creative and enjoyable. The higher dimensions are such a dream compared to what you experience now, as the Joy and Love of creation is what rules at all times. There is no domination, no negativity of any sort, no hardships or troubling times followed by a short glimpse of good. The higher dimensions are pure ecstasy, and you are all just beginning to get a glimpse of what will become normal for you.

Many wish to know of updates of disclosure and first contact, and for good reason. At this point the most we can say is that all is commencing incredibly well, you will all be amazed at the swiftness of the changes once we get the ball roling into the public’s eye. We do wish to remind you however that disclosure, while important, pales in comparison to the ascension you are currently going through. Finding yourself and your inner universe are the matters of most importance, for it is you rediscovering your inner freedom and sovereignty that will give you the most pleasure.

We still advise you to look towards the future. Imagine what your life is going to be like after first contact. Will you be in a position of helping people? Will you have coped with all of the sudden new changes to the Earth and to your lifestyle? Go within and ask these questions dear ones as you have the best answers. Look not to us up here, but look to yourselves to create your heaven on Earth. The time is fast approaching that we will be working together for the betterment of you and the betterment of your planet. Unitl then, we strongly advise you to begin your own journey of sovereingty, as the key to your true hapiness lies not with us, but with you and your divinity.

We send all who reads this our Love, know that we are truly never apart and first contact is already underway on so many levels.

(Permission is given to post anywhere on the grounds that the content is not edited or censored in any way)

-Channeled by Wes-

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Jesus: To Present Divine Events as Occurring at Specific Moments in Time is Meaningless

Jesus offers us a test of awakening: “To awaken is to see only love or calls for love in others, and to respond to them only lovingly.” And he suggests that our focusing on a particular date as being that of our awakening impedes the awakening process and is distracts us by focuing on an illusory aspect of reality (time).

Implicit in his message is that people can awaken at any time and not simply on a certain date. The missing piece in his message however is the explicit statement that what he means by “awakening” is equal to ascension. I assume it is but cannot say for sure.

Through John Smallman | July 10, 2011  http://wp.me/p1B8dY-U

The awakening of humanity into its natural fully-conscious state will occur as planned, because God’s divine Will is always realized.  Your intent to awaken is an essential and irreplaceable element in the plan, because you are all one with Him eternally, and there is only one will – the unified Will of God and all of His creation. Your doubts and skepticism are part of the illusory state in which you have been having your unreal but painful experiences since the moment of the apparent separation.  The unreal does not exist, except as figments in the mind of those who chose to replace Truth with illusion, and as such it is as though you had closed your eyes, blocking out the world around you, and focused on the images in your mind, pretending that they were real.

But a state like that can only be momentary; the Light of Reality shining on your closed eyelids cannot be ignored, let alone removed.  It is constant and unrelenting and you are all feeling it – and more intensely in each passing moment. To express the grand moment of your awakening as a particular date that will occur on your calendar makes no sense, because time, as you know, is also illusory, and the illusory cannot be made real.  To present divine events as occurring at specific moments in time is meaningless, and distracts you from your awakening process by focusing your attention on unreality.

You need to focus on Reality by allowing the knowledge you each hold deep within yourselves to float up to the surface of your awareness, bringing you glimpses of the divine Kingdom where you exist in eternal and constant Union with God and with each other.  Focusing your attention there leads you towards your awakening and to the dissolution of the illusion.  It involves letting go of fear and judgment – illusory concepts – and opening yourselves to accept and embrace God’s Love for you.  His Love is Reality and sustains you totally, always. To deny that is to support and renew the illusion, strengthening your belief in fear, insecurity, suffering, decay, and death.  Attending intently to the illusion, as you have been doing for eons, erects a veil, a mist, a screen between you and Reality, which appears to be impenetrable and which you choose to believe in, making awakening more difficult for you.

To awaken is to see only love or calls for love in others, and to respond to them only lovingly.  To do that means that you cease judging and blaming others, and that you recognize that not to do so is an attempt to distance yourselves or hide from the judgment and blame you believe you should be directing at yourselves. The way to do this is through self-acceptance and self-forgiveness.  God accepts you and loves you completely – because you are perfect, just as He created you. If He loves you, then it obviously makes no sense to entertain thoughts of self-judgment and self-rejection, because He understands and knows you far better than you do yourselves.

Acceptance of one another is essential, not of your inappropriate or hurtful human behavior, but of the divine essence that is your true Self.  Acknowledging each others’ divine essence is to acknowledge the Reality hidden and disguised by your human bodies.  Focusing on Reality in this way intensifies the awakening process for everyone, not just for those with whom you physically interact.  As more of you become aware of the need to do this and practice it, the process effectively speeds up, shortening time and bringing the moment of your awakening closer.

The awakening is a done deal; nothing else is possible because the dream from which you are to awaken is illusory and can only disintegrate.  Focus on Reality, on the fact that you are all God’s divine and dearly loved children, protected eternally from harm or suffering.  What you are presently experiencing will pass and your joy will be supreme.  Nearly all of you are also experiencing moments when your doubts, anxieties, and skepticism completely cease.  Recognize those occasions as moments of Truth dissolving part of the illusion, and as the start of your move into Reality.

Your loving brother, Jesus.

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Gini Grey: Own Your Power to Create and Destroy in Your Life

Own Your Power to Create and Destroy in Your Life

Posted by Gini Grey on July 7, 2011, Spiritual Transformers
http://ginigrey.com/spiritualtransformers/own-your-power-to-create-and-destroy-in-your-life/

You have the power to create and destroy.

We feel empowered when we consciously create in our lives. But most of us aren’t aware that with each creation, we’ve invoked our power to destroy.

Many tend to think of destroy as a negative concept as though destruction can only be harmful. Yet we can’t take our next step in life until we’ve let go of the last one. Anytime we let go or end something, such a relationship, a job, an unhealthy habit, we are dissolving, disintegrating and destroying the energy agreement in order to create a new one.

When we don’t consciously own our power to destroy it can blow up in our face. If we don’t recognize it’s time to leave a job, we may end up having an accident, illness or argument that leads to our termination. If we don’t own that a relationship is over, we may secretly sabotage it in order to move on. If we don’t end an unhealthy pattern, it may destroy us physically, mentally or emotionally.

It’s the classic “you have to let go of the old in order to bring in the new” while recognizing that “as one door closes and another opens”. On an extreme level we see what happens when people in power are unwilling to let go of old paradigms that no longer support the current reality – rebellion, riots, and revolutions occur.

So as we move into higher states of consciousness, which is occurring rapidly these days, it’s important to own our power to create and destroy equally. Otherwise we will experience unnecessary suffering along the way.

Here are three suggestions for owning your power to destroy.

Rise above fear. We’ve been programmed with messages that it’s dangerous to destroy, that we’ll abuse our power, and we’ll unleash dark forces in the world. These are all fear based and only true for unconscious people who are not connected to their higher self or source energy. If you are on a conscious path of spiritual awakening, there’s no way you’ll abuse your power.

Touch into compassion. When we get lost in a lower vibration of sympathy, we tend to pity others, see them as powerless, and give up our own power. Yet when we rise above sympathy into empathy and compassion, we see the bigger picture in life and know that there are times we need to set boundaries, make clear separations, and destroy old dynamics.

Pay attention to the clues. When you notice something is different, sense that something is crumbling, or have lost your passion and purpose for what was, bring your conscious attention to this. Awareness and recognition alone may be all that is needed to support the dissolution. Or you may need to take action to bring closure. When endings, death and destruction are done from a place of love and appreciation, they transform into miraculous new births.

What are your insights and experiences on owning your power to create and destroy in your life?

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Saul: To Be on Earth at This Moment in Her History is great Honor

I think we may have missed this post from John/Saul.

John Smallman, July 5, 2o11, http://johnsmallman.wordpress.com

Humanity’s spiritual evolution is approaching the moment when an upward leap of enormous magnitude will occur.  For the last few hundred years you have been questioning your morals and your ethics, and slowly coming to the realization that to judge or condemn the behavior of others is a projection of your own fears and guilt.  You were all brought up in a culture that judged some behavior as good, some as acceptable, some as less than acceptable, and some as evil. However, over the last few decades, as more and more of you have become familiar with cultures other than the ones into which you were born, it has become quite obvious that the rigid moral and ethical standards to which your culture demanded adherence were not only frequently invalid, but also led to conflict and unnecessary suffering for many.

This increase in awareness of the inflexibility of many of your attitudes – which were in fact deeply ingrained beliefs that you cherished and thought protected you from behaving in the barbarous ways of other less civilized beings – is a huge step forward in your spiritual evolution.  Despite the ongoing wars, the suppression of populations, and the endemic misery and starvation in the impoverished parts of the world, much progress has been made.  When you look at the negative aspects of life on Earth, do not forget that until very recently they were considered to be quite normal, accompanied by the belief that those who were suffering were experiencing their just desserts.  Big changes in attitude have occurred, and much greater ones are on the way.

To be on Earth as a human at this point in her history is a great honor and a very demanding task – as you hold the Light, the Compassion, the Peace, and the Love of God in your hearts and allow It to flow through you to wherever your Father wills.  Make a point of being kind and generous of spirit in whatever situation you may find yourselves, because this is how you bring your Father’s Love to it.  It is the most effective way in which you can assist in bringing humanity to the point of awakening.  Just one of you carrying and sharing your Father’s Love has worldwide consequences of an extremely beneficial nature, even though you are totally unaware of it.  Even when it seems to you that your presence as a Light bearer is making no difference whatsoever, know that at a deep spiritual level your love is always felt, and brings healing.

You all chose to be here at this point in the planet’s evolution, and even if it seems to you that vast numbers of the Earth’s population are unaware of this, deep within each of them, alongside the divine Flame, their knowledge of this fact is being nurtured in preparation for the awakening.  No one will be left behind at that moment because you all chose to be here to take part in this wondrous event.

Remember that God’s Love for you, while being infinite and eternal, does not impose Itself on you … that would not be Love.  So you have to choose to accept It.  And that means accepting, without any judgment or discrimination, every single human – because each one of you is Love – created by God.  Love does not discriminate.  Neither does God, Who is Love … and nor can you. Nevertheless, a small percentage of humanity may refuse, at this time, to accept their Father’s heavenly gift.  But life is eternal and the illusion is not, so they will get as many opportunities as they need to learn the lessons of unconditional Love, and when their realization of the magnificence and beauty of what they are being offered finally dawns on them, they too will awaken.

With so very much love, Saul.

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How the Bailout Killed Local Lending

How the Bailout Killed Local Lending – and How Some States Hope to Bring It Back

Ellen Brown, YES! Magazine | Report. 1 July 2011

http://www.truth-out.org/how-bailout-killed-local-lending-and-how-some-states-hope-bring-it-back/1309527553

(Photo: r0b0r0b / Flickr)

“Wall Street banks have cut back on small business lending… [by] more than double the cutback in overall lending.… [Small business] options just keep disappearing.”

-Elizabeth Warren, Chair of the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel, quoted in Judd and McGhee, “Banking on America”

The Wall Street bailout of 2008 has radically altered the banking business. The bailout was supposed to keep credit flowing to Main Street, but it has wound up having the opposite effect.

Small and medium-sized businesses have traditionally been the main engines for increasing employment, and they need bank credit for their working capital; but today credit to local businesses has collapsed nearly everywhere.

That’s why so many states—the total is now fourteen—are considering turning to state-owned banks to get local credit flowing again.

The credit collapse of September 2008 was triggered by the speculative activities of giant Wall Street banks. These profligate banks, which would have gone bankrupt without federal support, have emerged from the crisis bigger and more powerful than before. The federal government has supported and subsidized bank consolidation, resulting in the elimination of more than a thousand community banks by takeover or failure.

The five largest banks now hold 40 percent of all deposits and 48 percent of all bank assets. These banks—Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and PNC—currently control more deposits than the next largest 45 banks combined.

State-owned banks can not only nurture and protect local lending but can provide cash-strapped states with new revenues—without raising taxes, slashing services, or selling off public assets.

They are big, they are powerful, and they have lost interest in local lending. In the past three years, the four largest banks have cut back on small business lending by a full 53 percent. The two banks that were the largest recipients of TARP funds, Bank of America and Citigroup, have cut back on local lending by 94 percent and 64 percent, respectively.

Why? In 2010, the six largest bank holding companies made a combined $75 billion; and of this, $56 billion was in trading revenues—income from speculating in derivatives, futures, commodities, and currencies. If the too-big-to-fail banks win on these bets, they win big and can pocket the proceeds. If they lose, the federal government can be relied on to bail them out. In those comfortable circumstances, why lend to risky local businesses that might go bankrupt, or to homeowners who might default?

Why Banks Aren’t Lending Locally

Another aspect of the bailout that has put a tourniquet on local lending involves interest rates. The Federal Reserve dropped the Fed funds rate (the rate at which banks lend to each other) to an extremely low 0 to 0.25 percent. It was a very good deal for the big banks—too good to be wasted on local lending. As Dirk van Dijk, writing for the investor website Zacks.com, explained in April 2010:

Keeping short-term rates low should be good for the stock market, and is particularly helpful to the big banks like Bank of America (BAC) and JPMorgan (JPM). Their raw material is short-term money, which is effectively free right now. They can borrow at 0.25% or less, and then turn around and invest those funds in, say, a 5-year T-note at 2.50%, locking in an almost risk-free profit of 2.25%.

On big enough sums of money, this can be very profitable, and will help to recapitalize the banking system (provided they don’t drain capital by paying it out in dividends or frittering it away in outrageous bonuses to their top executives).

It can be very profitable indeed for the big Wall Street banks, but the purpose of the near-zero interest rates was supposed to be to get banks to lend again. Instead, they are, indeed, paying “outrageous bonuses to their top executives;” using the money to engage in the same sort of unregulated speculation that nearly brought down the economy in 2008; buying up smaller banks; or investing this virtually interest-free money in risk-free government bonds, on which taxpayers are paying 2.5 percent interest (more for longer-term securities).

Independent journalism is rare. Click here to get Truthout stories sent to your email daily.

Investing in Treasury bills is an attractive alternative for banks, not just because it provides 2.25 percent of risk-free profit but because it requires no capital investment. The amount of capital a bank must hold against its assets (mainly loans) depends on how risky the assets are. Treasuries are considered “risk-free,” so there is NO capital requirement for holding them. Naturally, banks prefer investing in Treasuries under these circumstances over making risky loans, against which they must maintain capital reserves of 7 percent. The banks can borrow virtually for free and make a nice return at taxpayer expense without tying up their capital, which can be used instead to speculate in the market.

And speculation is particularly lucrative at these very low interest rates. As blogger Philip George explains:

The entities who really benefit from low interest rates are hedge funds and traders of financial instruments. Typically, they take advantage of mispricings of securities amounting to a few cents. And how do they parlay such tiny mispricings into incomes amounting to tens and hundreds of millions of dollars? By leveraging their equity ten, fifty, or a hundred times. And of course they can do that only if money is dirt-cheap.

Equally important, this hurts the producers of real goods and services who are looking for loans. At present the prime rate is around 3.25%. What self-respecting bank would lend at 5% or even 10% and wait a whole year when they can earn more in just a few weeks by trading in financial instruments?

Even when banks do deign to use their nearly-interest-free funds to support loans, they typically do not pass these very low rates on to borrowers. For example, the Fed funds rate was lowered by 5 percentage points between August 2007 and December 2008, but during the same period the 30 year fixed mortgage rate dropped by less than 1 percent, from 6.75 percent to only about 6 percent; today it is still at 4.5 percent.

State-owned Banks to the Rescue?

With lending to Main Street still anemic, some states are taking matters into their own hands and considering legislation that would put local credit back into the local economy. Fourteen states have now initiated legislation for state-owned banks based on the model of the Bank of North Dakota (BND), which provides liquidity for local banks and credit lines for local government. North Dakota has not lost a single bank to insolvency over the last decade.

Other ways in which the BND supports local lending are detailed in an in-depth report by Jason Judd and Heather McGhee titled “Banking on America: How Main Street Partnership Banks Can Improve Local Economies.” They write:

Alone among states, North Dakota had the wherewithal to keep credit moving to small businesses when they needed it most. BND’s business lending actually grew from 2007 to 2009 (the tightest months of the credit crisis) by 35 percent. BND accomplished this through participation loans, in which BND contributes to a community bank’s loan, in order to free up the bank’s capital for more lending. Other tools that boost bank lending power and lower interest rates include purchases of community bank stock and—together with the state’s targeted economic development programs—interest rate buy-downs. As a result, loan amounts per capita for small banks in North Dakota are fully 175% higher than the U.S. average in the last five years, and its banks have stronger loan-to-asset ratios than comparable states like Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana.

While we wait for the Fed to reform its monetary policy and for Congress to break up the banking monoliths, we can follow the lead of North Dakota and set up our own local credit engines. State-owned banks can not only nurture and protect local lending but can provide cash-strapped states with new revenues—without raising taxes, slashing services, or selling off public assets.

Ellen Brown wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions.

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Saul: Spiritual Progress Occurs When You Allow Yourself to Listen to Your Own Intuition

Just getting caught up on John Smallman’s posts, Chezanni being in a course at the moment.

John Smallman, July 9, 2011, http://johnsmallman.wordpress.com

The progress that humanity’s spiritual development has made over the last half-dozen decades is truly phenomenal, as you moved from inflexible self-righteousness to a willingness to question your beliefs and investigate their validity.  This has enabled you to understand how limited is your ability to differentiate between truth and untruth using only the power of reasoning.  To reason, you have to have a starting point and a set of assumptions from which to develop your argument; if the assumptions you choose are incorrect then the whole exercise becomes meaningless.  If further information becomes available, the assumptions can be changed and a new argument developed.  Obviously, your scientific knowledge has grown as a result of working in this fashion, as old assumptions found to be incorrect are replaced in ongoing scientific research, but progress is slow and tedious.

Spiritual progress occurs when you allow yourselves to listen to your intuition – the gentle nudging that suggests an alternative way to look at an issue.  It requires you to reassess previous assumptions, or conclusions made when you had difficulty accepting that the views of others with whom you disagreed might have some validity.  As you acknowledge the divine Flame within you, you become more loving, enabling you to be more accepting of others and their views instead of dismissing them out of hand; you recognize that they, like you, are working their way through suffering and disappointment, and need your love not your judgment.

Open discussion is the only satisfactory way to resolve issues.  When those attempting to resolve issues have firmly held views and refuse to consider the possibility of changing their position, discussion becomes fruitless.  In your illusory environment there is no perfect answer to a problem; perfection is only found in Reality.  In the illusion, open discussion and negotiation to resolve problems are essential, and everyone involved must honestly and lovingly search for solutions that benefit all who will be affected by them.  You have progressed to the point where you know this is true.  Nevertheless, some still do not honor the need to respect others and treat them honestly and fairly, which is why there are still so many conflicts in so many areas of human endeavor.

As Light-bearers your task is to bring this to the attention of all with whom you interact, gently but firmly.  This is best done by being very aware of your own feelings as situations develop, and by ensuring that your input or responses are not emotionally charged.  If they are, then you are operating from your ego, which is very likely to result in attacking or defensive reactions from those with whom you are interacting – loved ones, friends, work associates, corporations, governments, or nations – whatever level of human society is involved. Obviously it can be slow and painstaking work, but it really is the only effective way to achieve problem-solving results that satisfy everyone.

Be the Light-bearers that you truly are, and come to all situations bearing love and respect, so that trust can be established and meaningful discussions ensue. When you succeed with this method of interacting and issues are resolved to the satisfaction of all, everyone leaves feeling uplifted by the experience of being respected, honored, and trusted.  Honoring people in this way helps them to uncover the divine Flame within them, possibly for the first time, and nudges them towards awakening.  Everyone wants to awaken, but many are afraid to do so.  By honoring and trusting them you ease their fear and assist them enormously in their awakening process.

With so very much love, Saul.

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