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FTR #744 The Shape of Things to Come

[1]

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. [2] (The flash dri­ve includes the anti-fas­cist books avail­able on this site.)

Lis­ten:
MP3 Side 1 [3] | Side 2 [4]

Intro­duc­tion: View­ing the future through a glass, dark­ly, this pro­gram looks at extreme mea­sures being pro­posed (and actu­al­ized) to deal with dire eco­nom­ic and social dis­lo­ca­tion. Some of these mea­sures are gam­bits sought by the priv­i­leged, in order to gain dis­tance from the chaos that their poli­cies gen­er­ate. Some are pro­posed in order to impose anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic ways and means on those affect­ed by eco­nom­ic and social dete­ri­o­ra­tion.

Before div­ing into the seasted­ding move­ment [5] and the polit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy (and philoso­phers) under­ly­ing that phe­nom­e­non, the pro­gram high­lights an essen­tial state­ment by Patri Fried­man [6], grand­son of right-wing eco­nom­ic the­o­reti­cian Mil­ton Fried­man. In this defin­ing pre­sen­ta­tion, Fried­man dis­tills the fun­da­men­tals of the seasted­ding movement–a “cor­po­rate state”–precisely how Mus­soli­ni defined his fas­cist sys­tem.

An Alter­net post [7] sets forth details and sub­stance about the move­ment and, in par­tic­u­lar, the for­mi­da­ble, far-right wing entre­pre­neur Peter Thiel, a dri­ving force behind Sil­i­con Val­ley com­merce and cul­ture. (Thiel, one of the seasted­ding move­men­t’s back­ers is dis­cussed at length in FTR #718 [8].) Epit­o­mized ide­o­log­i­cal­ly by his view that the Unit­ed States began going down­hill when we allowed women to vote, Thiel has used the pow­er­ful Koch  broth­ers’ [9] polit­i­cal and media appa­ra­tus to pub­li­cize their view that “democ­ra­cy and free­dom are incom­pat­i­ble.”

In addi­tion, the post high­lights the strong area of inter­sec­tion between the Fron­tier Group (a major  backer of the seasted­ding move­ment)  and the Car­lyle Group [10].

Thiel’s ven­tures are far more than the­o­ret­i­cal. Thiel was instru­men­tal in devel­op­ing the elec­tron­ic intel­li­gence firm Palan­tir [11], whose pri­ma­ry appli­ca­tion is counter-ter­ror­ism. Aside from pos­i­tive appli­ca­tion of its tech­nol­o­gy, how­ev­er, the firm has appar­ent­ly been engaged in polit­i­cal espi­onage [12] and covert action against polit­i­cal oppo­nents of the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce.

A ter­ri­fy­ing glimpse of “things to come” has been pro­vid­ed by TV com­men­ta­tor Rachel Mad­dow, who has exposed a plan [13] by the Michi­gan GOP estab­lish­ment to, for all intents and pur­pos­es, elim­i­nate demo­c­ra­t­ic process in the Wolver­ine State. Osten­si­bly designed to deal with “finan­cial crises,” the GOP pro­pos­es gov­ern­ment by exec­u­tive fiat, with delin­quent areas to be turned over to cor­po­ra­tions to be admin­is­tered as–you guessed it–corporate states!

Of par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance for our pur­pos­es is the appar­ent con­tem­pla­tion of these mea­sures as nec­es­sary to imple­ment “Shock Doc­trine,” [14] as con­ceived by seasted­ding maven Patri Fried­man’s grand­fa­ther Mil­ton.

Antic­i­pat­ing a glob­al apoc­a­lypse, hedge fund man­agers [15] have pur­chas­ing all the arable land they can, in order to cash in on glob­al famine.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: Pro­pos­al to estab­lish “Char­ter Cities,” [16] which would enable for­eign gov­ern­ments (and per­haps cor­po­ra­tions) to assume gov­er­nance of cities in oth­er coun­tries; Deutsche Telekom’s use of T‑Mobile to spy on users of that net­work [17] (Deutsche Telekom–controlled by the Ger­man government–assumed a 5.5 per­cent stake in A, T & T in exchange for that com­pa­ny’s acqui­si­tion of T‑Mogile. Will Deutsche Telekom have access to the A, T & T data­base?)

1. Before div­ing into the seasted­ding move­ment [18] and the polit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy (and philoso­phers) under­ly­ing that phe­nom­e­non, the pro­gram high­lights an essen­tial state­ment by Patri Fried­man, grand­son of right-wing eco­nom­ic the­o­reti­cian Mil­ton Fried­man. In this defin­ing pre­sen­ta­tion, Fried­man dis­tills the fun­da­men­tals of the seasted­ding movement–a “cor­po­rate state”–precisely how Mus­soli­ni defined his fas­cist sys­tem.

. . . Backed almost entire­ly by ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist Peter Thiel, who co-found­ed Pay­Pal, the team plans to seast­ead, col­o­nize the sea beyond the reach of exist­ing nations.

Fried­man’s mis­sion is to open a polit­i­cal vac­u­um into which peo­ple can exper­i­ment with start­up gov­ern­ments that are “con­sumer-ori­ent­ed, con­stant­ly com­pet­ing for cit­i­zens,” he says.

“I envi­sion tens of mil­lions of peo­ple in an Apple or a Google coun­try,” where the high-tech giants would gov­ern and res­i­dents would have no vote. “If peo­ple are allowed to opt in or out, you can have a suc­cess­ful dic­ta­tor­ship,” the goa­teed Fried­man says, wig­gling his toes in pink Vibram slip­pers. [Ital­ics are mine–D. E.] . .

“Patri Fried­man Makes Waves with ‘Seasted­ding Plan’ ” by Nel­lie Bowles; San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 6/1/2011. [6]

2. An Alter­net post sets forth details and sub­stance about the move­ment and, in par­tic­u­lar, the for­mi­da­ble, far-right wing entre­pre­neur Peter Thiel, dri­ving force behind Sil­i­con Val­ley com­merce and cul­ture. Epit­o­mized ide­o­log­i­cal­ly by his view that the Unit­ed States began going down­hill when we allowed women to vote, Thiel has used the pow­er­ful Koch  broth­ers’ polit­i­cal and media appa­ra­tus to pub­li­cize their view that “democ­ra­cy and free­dom are incom­pat­i­ble.”

(In his speech at the Indus­try Club of Dus­sel­dorf, Hitler won the hearts and minds of Ger­many’s indus­tri­al elite with a pre­sen­ta­tion that por­trayed democ­ra­cy as inher­ent­ly evil, because it allowed infe­ri­or peo­ple to struc­ture soci­ety to their ben­e­fit. In Hitler’s view democ­ra­cy led inevitably to com­mu­nism. This speech is dis­cussed in Mis­cel­la­neous Archive Show M11 [19].)

In addi­tion, the post high­lights the strong area of inter­sec­tion between the Fron­tier Group (a major  backer of the seasted­ding move­ment)  and the Car­lyle Group [20].

. . . . The float­ing cas­tle is a long­time dream of lib­er­tar­i­an oli­garchs — a place where they can live their lives in peace free from the teem­ing mass­es of starv­ing losers and indebt­ed par­a­sites and their tax demands. Since they’ve grown so rich off of Amer­i­ca, they have enough spare change to fund projects like the Seast­eading Insti­tute, run by Mil­ton Fried­man’s grand­son, Patri Fried­man, and financed by the bizarre right-wing Pay­Pal founder, Peter Thiel. . . .

. . . Both Thiel and Mil­ton Fried­man’s grand­son see democ­ra­cy as the enemy–last year, Thiel wrote “I no longer believe that free­dom and democ­ra­cy are com­pat­i­ble” at about the same time that Mil­ton Fried­man’s grand­son pro­claimed, “Democ­ra­cy is not the answer.” Both pub­lished their anti-democ­ra­cy procla­ma­tions in the same bil­lion­aire-Koch-fam­i­ly-fund­ed out­let, Cato Unbound, one of the old­est bil­lion­aire-fed lib­er­tar­i­an wel­fare dis­pen­saries. Fried­man’s answer for Thiel’s democ­ra­cy prob­lem is to build off­shore lib­er­tar­i­an pod-fortress­es where the lib­er­tar­i­an way rules. It’s prob­a­bly bet­ter for every­one if Mil­ton Fried­man’s grand­son and Peter Thiel leave us for­ev­er for their lib­er­tar­i­an ocean lair–Thiel believes that Amer­i­ca went down the tubes ever since it gave women the right to vote, and he was out­ed as the spon­sor of accused felon James O’Keefe’s smear videos that brought ACORN to ruin. . . .

. . . While Thiel and Fried­man are busy cook­ing up their lib­er­tar­i­an dystopia, the Fron­tier Group invest­ment firm — an off­shoot of the Car­lyle Group — has already entered the real­iza­tion phase with the Utopia float­ing cas­tle. Fron­tier Group, was found­ed by some of the same big names from the noto­ri­ous Car­lyle Group–the pri­vate equi­ty firm that brought togeth­er right-wing oli­garchs like George H. W. Bush and oth­er top Amer­i­can offi­cials with their bil­lion­aire pals in Sau­di Ara­bia like the Bin Laden fam­i­ly, who togeth­er raked in enor­mous prof­its thanks to the War on Ter­ror that their kids Dubya and Osama launched.

While nei­ther Bush nor the Bin Ladens are prin­ci­pals in the Fron­tier Group, its found­ing direc­tor, Frank Car­luc­ci, is a name they know well, and you should too. Car­luc­ci ran the Car­lyle Group as its chair­man from 1989 through 2005, right around the time that the wars start­ed going unde­ni­ably bad, and float­ing cas­tles start­ed to look like a viable plan. But Car­luc­ci’s past is much weird­er and scari­er than most of us care to know: whether it’s his strange­ly timed appear­ances in some of the ugli­est assas­si­na­tions and coups in mod­ern his­to­ry, or serv­ing as Carter’s num­ber two man in the CIA, and Ronald Rea­gan’s Sec­re­tary of Defense, if Frank Car­luc­ci (nick­named “Creepy Car­luc­ci” and “Spooky Frank”) is the found­ing direc­tor of a firm that’s build­ing float­ing cas­tles, it’s a bad sign for those of us left behind. . . .

. . . Car­luc­ci may be the scari­est of the Fron­tier Group bunch build­ing the float­ing cas­tles, but he’s among his kind. Oth­er Car­lyle Group direc­tors who joined Car­luc­ci at Fron­tier include David Robb, who head­ed up Car­lyle’s invest­ments in defense and aero­space; San­ford McDon­nell, the for­mer CEO of McDon­nell Dou­glass and one­time head of the Boy Scouts of Amer­i­ca; and Nor­man Augus­tine, anoth­er ex-pres­i­dent of the Boy Scouts, anoth­er Prince­ton alum, and for­mer board direc­tor at the scan­dal-plagued Rig­gs bank.

Rig­gs bank became one of those dark unsolved mys­ter­ies of the Bush-Cheney War on Ter­ror. After the attacks on 9/11, the FBI dis­cov­ered that Sau­di gov­ern­ment offi­cials used accounts at Rig­gs bank to wire funds to at least two known asso­ciates of the Sau­di hijack­ers who crashed Flight 77 into the Pen­ta­gon. Rig­gs was also impli­cat­ed in the Britain-Sau­di $3 bil­lion bribery scan­dal, in which British Aero­space bribes were wired through Rig­gs accounts to Sau­di offi­cials in return for lucra­tive con­tracts. One of Rig­gs bank’s top exec­u­tives was Jonathan Bush, the broth­er of George H. W. Bush, after Rig­gs bought out Jonathan Bush’s bank in 1997, and appoint­ed him as a direc­tor. In 2005, with Rig­gs embroiled in inves­ti­ga­tions and scandals–Riggs pled guilty to mon­ey laun­der­ing Augus­to Pinochet’s stolen funds, and the funds of var­i­ous Equa­to­r­i­al Guinea offi­cials– it was tak­en over by PNC bank, with the approval of Fed Chair Alan Greenspan. Even after the Wash­ing­ton Post revealed that Rig­gs’ bil­lion­aire chair­man flew Greenspan’s wife, MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell, on the com­pa­ny jet. . . .

But the weird­est of all the Fron­tier Group direc­tors has to be found­ing direc­tor Dan­ny Pang. Last year, the Wall Street Jour­nal report­ed that Pang embez­zled hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars from his pri­vate equi­ty firm PEM­Group. Pang claimed he was invest­ing mon­ey in “Dead Peas­ants Insur­ance” (life insur­ance poli­cies for peo­ple con­sid­ered like­ly to die), but in secret, Pang con­fid­ed to PEM­Group’s ex-pres­i­dent that he ran it as a Ponzi scheme. That sparked a fresh FBI inves­ti­ga­tion into Dan­ny Pang’s crimes–which led back to the unsolved mur­der of his wife, Janie Louise Pang, a 33-year-old ex-strip­per who was shot to death exe­cu­tion style in their Irvine, Cal­i­for­nia home in 1997, the same year Pang was accused of embez­zling three mil­lion dol­lars from anoth­er fund he worked at. There was plen­ty of rea­son to sus­pect Dan­ny Pang of mur­der­ing his wife: he beat her so often (break­ing her nose on one occa­sion) that police were called in on at least four occa­sions before her mur­der. She’d had him tailed by a pri­vate detec­tive who dis­cov­ered Dan­ny hold­ing hands with anoth­er woman short­ly before she was mur­dered. Dan­ny had known ties to the Tai­wanese Tri­ad mob, he took the fifth and refused to coop­er­ate in the mur­der tri­al, and report­ed­ly threat­ened Janie’s friends after her mur­der, demand­ing to know what Janie told them about his busi­ness activ­i­ties.

Here is a descrip­tion of the actu­al mur­der, from the L.A. Times:

“Accord­ing to the fam­i­ly maid and two of Pang’s chil­dren, a clean-cut man with a pen­cil-thin mus­tache arrived at the door ask­ing for her hus­band. The pair talked casu­al­ly for a cou­ple of min­utes, until the man drew a semi­au­to­mat­ic pis­tol. Pang began run­ning and the maid, ter­ri­fied, spir­it­ed Pang’s chil­dren out the back door. With­in min­utes, the killer caught up with Pang, who tried to hide in her bed­room clos­et. The killer fired sev­er­al .380-cal­iber rounds and left her to bleed to death as she lay in a fetal posi­tion.”

Some­how, the tri­al end­ed with a hung jury, and Dan­ny Pang went on to join Frank Car­luc­ci and the Boy Scouts pres­i­dents to start build­ing the world’s first bil­lion-dol­lar float­ing cas­tle to spir­it away all that stolen mon­ey in lux­u­ry. But Pang was appar­ent­ly too care­less for them. He was out­ted last spring in the Wall Street Jour­nal, and in Sep­tem­ber 2009, Dan­ny Pang was found dead of unknown caus­es in his New­port Beach home. . . .

“The Real­ly Creepy Peo­ple Behind the Lib­er­tar­i­an-Inspired Bil­lion­aire Sea Cas­tles’ by Mark Ames; Alter­net; 6/2/2010. [7]

3a. Thiel’s extrem­ist polit­i­cal views may find expres­sion through his financ­ing of the Palan­tir firm. Note that Palan­tir CEO Alex Karp appar­ent­ly has Frank­furt, Ger­many, roots, like Thiel. (For more on Thiel’s back­ground see FTR #718 [8].)

. . . Palan­tir CEO Mr. Karp says such crit­i­cism does­n’t trou­ble him. He says the com­pa­ny is already expand­ing rapid­ly.

Palan­tir’s roots date back to 2000, when Mr. Karp returned to the U.S. after liv­ing for years in Frank­furt, where he earned his doc­tor­ate in Ger­man social phi­los­o­phy and dis­cov­ered a tal­ent for invest­ing. He recon­nect­ed with a bud­dy from Stan­ford Law School, Peter Thiel, the bil­lion­aire founder of online pay­ment com­pa­ny Pay­Pal.

In 2003, Mr. Thiel pitched an idea to Mr. Karp: Could they build soft­ware that would uncov­er ter­ror net­works using the approach Pay­Pal had devised to fight Russ­ian cyber­crim­i­nals?

Pay­Pal’s soft­ware could make con­nec­tions between fraud­u­lent pay­ments that on the sur­face seemed unre­lat­ed. By fol­low­ing such leads, Pay­Pal was able to iden­ti­fy sus­pect cus­tomers and uncov­er cyber­crime net­works. The com­pa­ny saw a ten­fold decrease in fraud loss­es after it launched the soft­ware, while many com­peti­tors strug­gled to beat back cheaters.

Mr. Thiel want­ed to design soft­ware to tack­le ter­ror­ism because at the time, he says, the gov­ern­men­t’s response to issues like air­port secu­ri­ty was increas­ing­ly “night­mar­ish.” The two launched Palan­tir in 2004 with three oth­er investors, but they attract­ed lit­tle inter­est from ven­ture-cap­i­tal firms. The com­pa­ny’s $30 mil­lion start-up costs were large­ly bankrolled by Mr. Thiel and his own ven­ture-cap­i­tal fund.

They mod­eled Palan­tir’s cul­ture on Google’s, with catered meals of ahi tuna and a free-form 24-hour work­place wired so 16 peo­ple can play the Halo video game. The kitchen is stocked by request with such items as Pep­to Bis­mol and glass bot­tles of Mex­i­can Coca Cola sweet­ened with sug­ar not corn syrup. The com­pa­ny recent­ly host­ed its own bat­tle of the bands.

One of the ven­ture firms that reject­ed Palan­tir’s over­tures steered the com­pa­ny to In-Q-Tel, a non­prof­it ven­ture-cap­i­tal firm estab­lished by the CIA a decade ago to tap inno­va­tion that could be used for intel­li­gence work. As Sil­i­con Val­ley’s ven­ture fund­ing dries up, In-Q-Tel says it has seen a surge of requests from start-ups in the last year or so, many of which now see the gov­ern­ment as an alter­nate mon­ey stream.

In-Q-Tel invest­ed about $2 mil­lion in Palan­tir and pro­vid­ed a crit­i­cal entreé to the CIA and oth­er agen­cies. For his first spy meet­ing in 2005, Mr. Karp shed his track suit for a sports coat. He arrived at an agency — he won’t say which one — and was imme­di­ate­ly “freaked out” by secu­ri­ty offi­cers guard­ing the build­ing with guns. In a win­dow­less, code-locked room, he intro­duced him­self to the first offi­cial he met: “Hi, I’m Alex Karp,” Mr. Karp said, offer­ing his hand. No response. “I did­n’t know you real­ly don’t ask their names,” he says now.

Mr. Karp showed the group a pro­to­type. The soft­ware was sim­i­lar to Pay­Pal’s fraud-detec­tion sys­tem. But instead of iden­ti­fy­ing and con­nect­ing cyber crim­i­nals, it focused on two hypo­thet­i­cal ter­ror sus­pects and fol­lowed their activ­i­ties, includ­ing trav­el and mon­ey trans­fers.

After the demo, he was pep­pered with skep­ti­cal ques­tions: Is any­one at your com­pa­ny cleared to work with clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion? Have you ever worked with intel­li­gence agen­cies? Do you have senior advis­ers who have worked with intel­li­gence agen­cies? Do you have a sales force that is cleared to work with clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion? The answer every time: no.

But the group was suf­fi­cient­ly intrigued by the demo, and In-Q-Tel arranged for Palan­tir engi­neers to meet direct­ly with intel­li­gence ana­lysts, to help build a com­pre­hen­sive search tool from scratch. . . .

“How Team of Geeks Cracked Spy Trade” by Siob­han Ghor­ban; The Wall Street Jour­nal; 9/4/2009. [11]

3b. Palan­tir is one of sev­er­al defense con­trac­tors impli­cat­ed in a case of polit­i­cal spy­ing against oppo­nents of the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce.

In Feb­ru­ary, ThinkProgress broke a sto­ry reveal­ing that attor­neys for the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce had com­mu­ni­cat­ed with a set of mil­i­tary con­trac­tors — HBGary Fed­er­al, Palan­tir, and Beri­co Tech­nolo­gies — to devel­op tac­tics for sab­o­tag­ing and spy­ing on the Chamber’s pro­gres­sive crit­ics. The Cham­ber attor­neys and the secu­ri­ty firms dis­cussed tar­get­ing Cham­ber­Watch, the SEIU, MoveOn, ThinkProgress, and oth­er groups. The pro­pos­als details efforts to steal pri­vate com­put­er infor­ma­tion, spy on the fam­i­lies of the Chamber’s crit­ics, and plant false doc­u­ments with­in orga­ni­za­tions opposed to the Chamber’s agen­da.

ThinkProgress has uncov­ered yet anoth­er pre­sen­ta­tion from one of the pri­vate secu­ri­ty firms describ­ing plans for the Cham­ber. Because of a tech­ni­cal glitch, a few emails of the 75,000 emails leaked to the pub­lic from one of the defense firms did not process. One of the emails now processed cor­rect­ly reveals yet anoth­er pro­pos­al, cre­at­ed by HBGary Fed­er­al exec­u­tive Aaron Barr, and for­ward­ed to the oth­er secu­ri­ty firms. Although it appears not to have been com­plet­ed, the last slide in the pre­sen­ta­tion lists tac­tics — labeled “Dis­cred­it, Con­fuse, Shame, Com­bat, Infil­trate, Frac­ture” — to “mit­i­gate [sic] effect of adver­sar­i­al groups while seek­ing lit­i­ga­tion.” . . .

“New Cham­ber­Leaks Pre­sen­ta­tion Emerges, Details More Plans to Sab­o­tage Lib­er­als” by Lee fang; thinkprogress.org; 4/11/2011. [12]

4. Anoth­er indi­ca­tion of the shape of things to come may be found in the dra­con­ian mea­sures being imple­ment­ed [21] by the GOP in Michi­gan. TV com­men­ta­tor Rachel Mad­dow set forth some of the delight­ful fea­tures of this pro­gram.

Of par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance for our pur­pos­es is the appar­ent con­tem­pla­tion of these mea­sures as nec­es­sary to imple­ment “Shock Doc­trine,” as con­ceived by seasted­ding maven Patri Fried­man’s grand­fa­ther Mil­ton.

. . . She described the threat to democ­ra­cy in Michi­gan, “Gov. Rick Snyder’s bud­get in Michi­gan is expect­ed to cut aid to cities and towns so much that a lot of cities and towns in Michi­gan are expect­ed to be in dire finan­cial straits. Right now, Gov. Sny­der is push­ing a bill that would give him­self, Gov. Sny­der and his admin­is­tra­tion, the pow­er to declare any town or school dis­trict to be in a finan­cial emer­gency. If a town was declared by the gov­er­nor and his admin­is­tra­tion to be in a finan­cial emer­gency they would get to put some­body in charge of that town, and they want to give that emer­gency man­ag­er that they just put in charge of the town the pow­er to, “reject, mod­i­fy, or ter­mi­nate any con­tracts that the town may have entered in to, includ­ing any col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ments.”

The bill also has the pow­er to sus­pend or dis­miss elect­ed offi­cials, “This emer­gency per­son also gets the pow­er under the bill to sus­pend or dis­miss elect­ed offi­cials. Think about that for a sec­ond. Doesn’t mat­ter who you vot­ed for in Michi­gan. Doesn’t mat­ter who you elect­ed. Your elect­ed local gov­ern­ment can be dis­missed at will. The emer­gency per­son sent in by the Rick Sny­der admin­is­tra­tion could rec­om­mend that a school dis­trict be absorbed into anoth­er school dis­trict. That emer­gency per­son is also grant­ed pow­er specif­i­cal­ly to dis­in­cor­po­rate or dis­solve entire city gov­ern­ments.”

Mad­dow said Michi­gan Repub­li­cans want to abol­ish entire towns, “What year was your town found­ed? Does it say so like on the town bor­der as you dri­ve into your town? Does it say what year your town was found­ed? What did your town’s found­ing fathers and found­ing moth­ers have to go through to incor­po­rate your town? Repub­li­cans in Michi­gan want to be able to uni­lat­er­al­ly abol­ish your town and dis­in­cor­po­rate it. Regard­less of what you as res­i­dent of that town think about it. You don’t even have the right to express an opin­ion about it through your local­ly elect­ed offi­cials who rep­re­sent you, because the Repub­li­cans in Michi­gan say they reserve the right to dis­miss your measly elect­ed offi­cials and to do what they want instead because they know best.”

What’s worse is that this pow­er to be abol­ish gov­ern­ments could be hand­ed to cor­po­ra­tions, “The ver­sion of this bill that passed the Repub­li­can con­trolled Michi­gan House said it was fine for this emer­gency pow­er to declare a fis­cal emer­gency invok­ing all of these extreme pow­ers, it was fine for that pow­er to be held by a cor­po­ra­tion. So swaths of Michi­gan could at the governor’s dis­pos­al be hand­ed over to the dis­cre­tion of a com­pa­ny. You still want your town to exist? Take it up with this board of direc­tors of this cor­po­ra­tion that will be over­see­ing your future now, or rather don’t take it up with them. Frankly, they’re not inter­est­ed.”

Mad­dow talked about the pow­er grab behind the fab­ri­ca­tion of a fis­cal emer­gency, “The pow­er to over­rule and sus­pend elect­ed gov­ern­ment jus­ti­fied by a finan­cial emer­gency. Oh, and how do you know you’re in a finan­cial emer­gency, because the gov­er­nor tells you, you’re in a finan­cial emer­gency, or a com­pa­ny he hires to do so, does that instead. The Sen­ate ver­sion of the bill in Michi­gan says it has to be humans declar­ing your fis­cal emer­gency. The House bill says a firm can do that just as well.”

Rachel Mad­dow con­clud­ed, “This is about a lot of things. This is not about a bud­get. This is using or fab­ri­cat­ing cri­sis to push for an agen­da you’d nev­er be able to sell under nor­mal cir­cum­stances, and so you have to con­vince every­one that these are not nor­mal cir­cum­stances. These are des­per­ate cir­cum­stances and your des­per­ate mea­sures are there for some­how required. What this is has a name. It is called shock doc­trine.”

Nao­mi Klein, author of “The Shock Doc­trine” implies that man made crises are used to push the “free mar­ket prin­ci­ples” of Mil­ton Fried­man et al, which are pushed through while the cit­i­zens are react­ing to dis­as­ters or upheavals. The per­pe­tra­tors of the shock doc­trine require a vio­lent destruc­tion of the exist­ing eco­nom­ic order in order to achieve their means. In the case of the Michi­gan gov­er­nor, Sny­der posi­tioned him­self in a state already reel­ing from finan­cial cri­sis, vul­ner­a­ble and ripe for a takeover. . . .

“Rachel Mad­dow Expos­es Michi­gan Repub­li­cans’ Secret War on Democ­ra­cy” by Sarah Jones; politicususa.com; 3/9/2011. [13]

5. Some­thing that might be seen as an exten­sion of the GOP plan for Michi­gan con­cerns pro­pos­als for cor­po­rate “char­ter cities.” [22]

. . . About a decade ago, he walked away from acad­e­mia, start­ed an online teach­ing com­pa­ny, sold it and then turned to his next big idea: To cre­ate jobs to lift mil­lions out of pover­ty, take an unin­hab­it­ed 1,000 square-kilo­me­ter tract (386 square miles), about the size of Hong Kong, prefer­ably gov­ern­ment-owned. Write a char­ter: the all-impor­tant rules. Allow any­one to move in or out. Invite for­eign investors to build infra­struc­ture for prof­it. And sign a treaty with a well-gov­erned coun­try, say Nor­way or Cana­da, to serve as “guar­an­tor” to assure investors and res­i­dents that the char­ter will be respect­ed, much as the British once did for Hong Kong, and—with some over­sight from the Hon­duran Congress—govern the city.

. . . “It’s a mix­ture of great cre­ativ­i­ty and great naivety,” says William East­er­ly, an NYU devel­op­ment econ­o­mist. He doubts the city, espe­cial­ly if suc­cess­ful, could with­stand pres­sure if the Hon­duran gov­ern­ment turned hos­tile. Adds Har­vard’s Ricar­do Haus­mann: “It would be great if it hap­pened, so we can take a look at the exper­i­ment.” He, too, has doubts , and recalls Hen­ry Ford’s failed Ford­lan­dia, which was to be an oasis of U.S. cap­i­tal­ism in Brazil.

Back while Mr. Romer was court­ing Africans, a group of Hon­durans was pon­der­ing how to improve their coun­try’s prospects. One idea, a tur­bo-charged ver­sion of exist­ing free-trade zones, was to lure investors to a super-embassy, an area gov­erned by anoth­er coun­try’s laws. . . .

“The Quest for a ‘Char­ter City’ ” by David Wes­sel; The Wall Street Jour­nal; 2/3/2011. [16]

6. Deutsche Telekom’s spy­ing tac­tics [23] actu­al­ized through that com­pa­ny’s T‑Mobile sub­sidiary gives us a view as to the use the com­pa­ny might make of its poten­tial access to the A, T & T data­base. Note that the com­pa­ny (Deutsche Telekom) is con­trolled by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment.

The espi­onage poten­tial of that com­pa­ny gain­ing access to the A, T & T data­base would be con­sid­er­able.

FTR #152 [24] sets forth the pro­found links between “cor­po­rate Ger­many” and the Bor­mann cap­i­tal net­work [25].

A favorite pas­time of Inter­net users is to share their loca­tion: ser­vices like Google Lat­i­tude can inform friends when you are near­by; anoth­er, Foursquare, has turned report­ing these updates into a game.

But as a Ger­man Green par­ty politi­cian, Malte Spitz, recent­ly learned, we are already con­tin­u­ally being tracked whether we vol­un­teer to be or not. Cell­phone com­pa­nies do not typ­i­cally divulge how much infor­ma­tion they col­lect, so Mr. Spitz went to court to find out exact­ly what his cell­phone com­pany, Deutsche Telekom, knew about his where­abouts.

The results were astound­ing. In a six-month peri­od — from Aug 31, 2009, to Feb. 28, 2010, Deutsche Telekom had record­ed and saved his lon­gi­tude and lat­i­tude coor­di­nates more than 35,000 times. It traced him from a train on the way to Erlan­gen at the start through to that last night, when he was home in Berlin.

Mr. Spitz has pro­vided a rare glimpse — an unprece­dented one, pri­vacy experts say — of what is being col­lected as we walk around with our phones. Unlike many online ser­vices and Web sites that must send “cook­ies” to a user’s com­puter to try to link its traf­fic to a spe­cific per­son, cell­phone com­pa­nies sim­ply have to sit back and hit “record.”

“We are all walk­ing around with lit­tle tags, and our tag has a phone num­ber asso­ci­ated with it, who we called and what we do with the phone,” said Sarah E. Williams, an expert on graph­ic infor­ma­tion at Colum­bia University’s archi­tec­ture school. “We don’t even know we are giv­ing up that data.”

Track­ing a customer’s where­abouts is part and par­cel of what phone com­pa­nies do for a liv­ing. Every sev­en sec­onds or so, the phone com­pany of some­one with a work­ing cell­phone is deter­min­ing the near­est tow­er, so as to most effi­ciently route calls. And for billing rea­sons, they track where the call is com­ing from and how long it has last­ed.

“At any giv­en instant, a cell com­pany has to know where you are; it is con­stantly reg­is­ter­ing with the tow­er with the strongest sig­nal,” said Matthew Blaze, a pro­fes­sor of com­puter and infor­ma­tion sci­ence at the Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia who has tes­ti­fied before Con­gress on the issue.

Mr. Spitz’s infor­ma­tion, Mr. Blaze point­ed out, was not based on those fre­quent updates, but on how often Mr. Spitz checked his e‑mail. . . .

“It’s Track­ing Your Every Move and You May Not Even Know” by Noam Cohen; The New York Times; 3/26/2011. [17]

7. Mean­while, hedge fund man­agers have been invest­ing in arable land, seek­ing to cash in on antic­i­pat­ed glob­al famine.

. . . But on a recent after­noon, The Observ­er had a con­ver­sa­tion of a dif­fer­ent sort about agri­cul­tur­al pur­suits with a hedge fund man­ag­er he’d met at one of the many dark-pan­eled pri­vate clubs in mid­town a few weeks pri­or. “A friend of mine is actu­al­ly the largest own­er of agri­cul­tur­al land in Uruguay,” said the hedge fund man­ag­er. “He’s a year old­er than I am. We’re some­where [around] the 15th-largest farm­ers in Amer­i­ca right now.”

“We,” as in, his hedge fund.

It may seem a lit­tle odd that in 2011 anyone’s think­ing of putting mon­ey into assets that would have seemed attrac­tive in 1911, but there’s some­thing in the air-name­ly, fear. The hedge fund man­ag­er and oth­ers like him envi­sion a dooms­day sce­nario cat­alyzed by a weak dol­lar, high­er-than-you-think infla­tion and an uncer­tain polit­i­cal cli­mate here and abroad. . . .

“Hedge Farm! The Dooms­day Food Price Sce­nario Turn­ing Hed­gies  into Sur­vival­ists” by Fos­ter Kramer; New York Observ­er; 5/17/2011. [15]