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Ben Bernanke Tries To Convince America That The Federal Reserve Is Good And…

Ben Bernanke has decided that he needs to teach all of us why the Federal Reserve is good for America and about why the gold standard is bad. It is pretty obvious that one of the primary goals of this first lecture was to attack those that have been critical of the Fed over the past few years. In doing so, Bernanke “stretched” the truth on more than one occasion.

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Ben Bernanke has decided that he needs to teach all of us why the Federal Reserve is good for America and about why the gold standard is bad.  On Tuesday, Bernanke delivered the first of four planned lectures to a group of students at George Washington University.  But that lecture was not just for the benefit of those students.  Officials at the Fed have long planned for this lecture series to be an opportunity for Bernanke to “educate” the American people about the Federal Reserve.  The classroom was absolutely packed with reporters and just about every major news organization is running a story about this first lecture.  So the Federal Reserve is definitely getting the publicity that it was hoping for.  You can see the slides from the presentation that Bernanke gave to the students right here.  It is pretty obvious that one of the primary goals of this first lecture was to attack those that have been critical of the Fed over the past few years.  In doing so, Bernanke “stretched” the truth on more than one occasion.

The entire event was staged to make Bernanke and the Federal Reserve look as good as possible.  Prior to his arrival, the students gathered for the lecture were actually instructed to applaud Bernanke….

The 30 undergraduates at George Washington University sent up a round of applause. It was, they’d been told beforehand, “appropriate, even encouraged, to politely applaud” Tuesday’s guest lecturer.

But as noted above, this lecture was not for the benefit of those students.  A USA Today article even admitted that “addressing the public directly” was one of the real goals of this lecture….

For Bernanke, the GW lectures serve a dual function:

They give him a chance to reprise the role of professor he played for more than two decades, first at Stanford and then at Princeton, where he eventually chaired the economics department.

And they give him a way to expand his mission of demystifying the Fed. As part of that campaign, Bernanke became the first Fed chief to hold regular news conferences and conduct town-hall meetings.

In addressing the public directly, Bernanke has also sought to neutralize attacks on the Fed, some of them from Republican presidential candidates.

So what did Bernanke actually say during the lecture?

Well, you can read all of the slides right here, but the following are some of the highlights….

On page 6 of the presentation, Bernanke makes the following claim….

“A central bank is not an ordinary commercial bank, but a government agency.”

Well, that is quite interesting considering the fact that the Federal Reserve has argued in court that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is not an agency of the federal government and that the various Federal Reserve banks around the country are private corporations with private funding.

So did the Federal Reserve lie to the court or is Ben Bernanke lying to us?

And what other “agency” of the federal government is owned by private banks?

It is even admitted that the individual member banks own shares of stock in the various Federal Reserve banks on the Federal Reserve website….

The twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks, which were established by Congress as the operating arms of the nation’s central banking system, are organized much like private corporations–possibly leading to some confusion about “ownership.” For example, the Reserve Banks issue shares of stock to member banks. However, owning Reserve Bank stock is quite different from owning stock in a private company. The Reserve Banks are not operated for profit, and ownership of a certain amount of stock is, by law, a condition of membership in the System. The stock may not be sold, traded, or pledged as security for a loan; dividends are, by law, 6 percent per year.

The Federal Reserve always talks about how it must be “independent” and “above politics”, but when they start getting criticized they always want to seek shelter under the wing of the federal government.

It really is disgusting.

On page 7 of the presentation, the following statement is made….

“All central banks strive for low and stable inflation; most also try to promote stable growth in output and employment.”

Well, on both counts the Federal Reserve has failed miserably.

Right now, if inflation was measured the same way that it was back in 1980, the annual rate of inflation would be more than 10 percent.

And when you take a longer view of things, the inflation that the Federal Reserve has manufactured has been absolutely horrific.

Even using the doctored inflation numbers that the Federal Reserve gives us, the U.S. dollar has still lost 83 percent of its value since 1970.

The truth is that inflation is a “hidden tax” that is constantly destroying the value of every single dollar that you and I hold.  Those that attempt to save money for the future or for retirement are deeply penalized under such a system.

As far as employment goes, the total number of workers that are “officially” unemployed in the United States is larger than the entire population of Portugal.

The average duration of unemployment is hovering near an all-time record high and almost every measure of government dependence is at an all-time record high.

So the Federal Reserve is failing at the exact things that Bernanke claims that it is supposed to be doing.

But instead of directly addressing many of the specific criticisms that have been leveled at the Fed, Bernanke instead chose to spend much of his lecture talking about the problems with adopting a gold standard.  The following are statements that were pulled directly off of the slides he used during his speech….

-”The gold standard sets the money supply and price level generally with limited central bank intervention.”

-”The strength of a gold standard is its greatest weakness too: Because the money supply is determined by the supply of gold, it cannot be adjusted in response to changing economic conditions.”

-”All countries on the gold standard are forced to maintain fixed exchange rates. As a result, the effects of bad policies in one country can be transmitted to other countries if both are on the gold standard.”

-”If not perfectly credible, a gold standard is subject to speculative attack and ultimate collapse as people try to exchange paper money for gold.”

-”The gold standard did not prevent frequent financial panics.”

-”Although the gold standard promoted price stability over the very long run, over the medium run it sometimes caused periods of inflation and deflation.”

-”In the second half of the 19th century, a global shortage of gold reduced the U.S. money supply and caused deflation (falling prices). Farmers were squeezed between declining prices for crops and the fixed dollar payments for their mortgages and other debts.”

Bernanke spent more time on the gold standard during his speech than on anything else.  At one point during the lecture, Bernanke made the following statement….

“To have a gold standard, you have to go to South Africa or someplace and dig up tons of gold and move  it to New York and put it in the basement of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and that’s a lot of effort and work”

Bernanke even blamed the gold standard for the Great Depression.  On a slide entitled “Monetary Policy in the Great Depression”, Bernanke made the following claims….

•The Fed’s tight monetary policy led to sharply falling prices and steep declines in output and employment.
•The effects of policy errors here and abroad were transmitted globally through the gold standard.
•The Fed kept money tight in part because it wanted to preserve the gold standard. When FDR abandoned the gold standard in 1933, monetary policy became less tight and deflation stopped.

Bernanke seems to want to frame the debate over monetary policy is such a way that the American people are given only two alternative systems to consider: the Federal Reserve and a gold standard.

But the truth is that there are a vast array of both “hard money” and “soft money” systems that would not include a central bank or a gold standard at all.

So the truth is that the American people would have many different systems to choose from if they wanted to shut down the Federal Reserve and set up something new.

In the past the U.S. government has issued debt-free money and it could certainly do so again.

But in his lecture, Bernanke did not even mention how the Federal Reserve creates money or how whenever new money is created more debt is created.

Under the Federal Reserve system, the money supply is designed to continually increase, and whenever more money is created more debt is also created.

In a previous article I discussed how more money is created on the federal level….

For example, whenever the U.S. government wants to spend more money than it takes in (which happens constantly), it has to go ask the Federal Reserve for it.  The federal government gives U.S. Treasury bonds to the Federal Reserve, and the Federal Reserve gives the U.S. government “Federal Reserve Notes” in return.  Usually this is just done electronically.

So where does the Federal Reserve get the Federal Reserve Notes?

It just creates them out of thin air.

Wouldn’t you like to be able to create money out of thin air?

Instead of issuing money directly, the U.S. government lets the Federal Reserve create it out of thin air and then the U.S. government borrows it.

Talk about stupid.

The designers of the Federal Reserve system intended to trap the U.S. government in a debt spiral that would expand perpetually.

So has their design worked?

Well, just look at the chart below….

Today, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.

So I guess you could say that the results have been spectacular.

The Federal Reserve system also greatly favors the big Wall Street banks that it is designed to serve.

When those big banks get into trouble, the Federal Reserve snaps into action.

According to a limited GAO audit of Fed transactions during the last financial crisis, $16.1 trillion in secret loans were made by the Federal Reserve to the big Wall Street banks between December 1, 2007 and July 21, 2010.

The following list is taken directly from page 131 of the GAO audit report and it shows which banks received money from the Fed….

Citigroup – $2.513 trillion
Morgan Stanley – $2.041 trillion
Merrill Lynch – $1.949 trillion
Bank of America – $1.344 trillion
Barclays PLC – $868 billion
Bear Sterns – $853 billion
Goldman Sachs – $814 billion
Royal Bank of Scotland – $541 billion
JP Morgan Chase – $391 billion
Deutsche Bank – $354 billion
UBS – $287 billion
Credit Suisse – $262 billion
Lehman Brothers – $183 billion
Bank of Scotland – $181 billion
BNP Paribas – $175 billion
Wells Fargo – $159 billion
Dexia – $159 billion
Wachovia – $142 billion
Dresdner Bank – $135 billion
Societe Generale – $124 billion
“All Other Borrowers” – $2.639 trillion

What about all the rest of us?

Did we get bailed out?

No, we were told that if Wall Street was rescued that the benefits would trickle down to the rest of us.

Unfortunately, that has not exactly worked out.  In article, after article, after article I have detailed the horrible economic suffering that the American people are still going through.

But what Bernanke and the Fed have done is create inflation in commodities such as oil which is affecting the household finances of nearly everyone in America.

The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States is now up to $3.87.  That is an all-time record high for the month of March.

So far in 2012, the price of gasoline in the United States has risen by 17 percent.

Thanks Bernanke.

Over the past several decades, every time there has been a major spike in gasoline prices in the United States, a recession has always followed.  If you doubt this, just check out this amazing chart.

So will we soon see another recession?

If we are lucky.  Hopefully the next downturn will not be a full-blown depression.

The truth is that the Federal Reserve does not help us avoid booms and busts.  Rather, it creates them.  The Fed was at the heart of the housing bubble which helped bring on the last financial crisis when it crashed, and the current ultra-low interest rate policies of the Fed are creating more bubbles which will have devastating long-term consequences.

So Bernanke does not have anything to be proud of, and his track record has been absolutely nightmarish.

Hopefully the American people will not believe the propaganda and will take an honest look at the Federal Reserve.

When you take an honest look at the Federal Reserve, there is only one rational conclusion: Congress should shut it down, lock the doors and throw away the key.

— The Economic Collapse Blog

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6 Things That Can Make or Break The Stock Market In 2018

Credit Suisse is out early with its forecasts for US stocks and the economy next year, and they are bullish. 

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Credit Suisse is out early with its forecasts for US stocks and the economy next year, and they are bullish.

The firm’s equity strategists see the S&P 500 rising to 2,987 by year-end, implying an annualized gain of about 11%. They forecast earnings-per-share growth of 6% to 7% over the next two years, from $130 this year to $147 in 2019.

“Our market views are predicated on a supportive economic backdrop, with benign recessionary risks and a pickup in near-term indicators,” said the US equity strategists led by Jonathan Golub, in a note on Tuesday. “While we expect more muted longer-term growth, this has focused corporations on cost containment and the return of capital to shareholders, extended the business cycle and lowered discount rates.”

Credit Suisse is also betting on the continued outperformance of favored sectors in 2017. The tech sector remains the team’s favorite even though it’s expensive relative to earnings. And, they expect financials to outperform due to deregulation.

“Our forecasts are built upon the most historically important drivers of corporate profits and stock prices,” Golub wrote. “That said, many things can alter the market’s path over the near term.”

Trump policy

Trump policy

Andy Kiersz/Business Insider

The group of stocks that would benefit the most from a corporate-tax cut surged after the election but slid only until recently. This suggests investors were doubtful about President Donald Trump’s plan.

“We expect that the proposed tax plan will be difficult to pass, or will have less of an impact than hoped for,” Golub said.

“While we believe that the market would initially applaud such actions, we anticipate that the investment conversation would quickly shift toward higher potential deficits and wage inflation, both negatives for stocks.”

New Fed leadership

Trump said two weeks ago Friday that he would make an announcement on who will lead the Fed after Chair Janet Yellen’s term ends in February. He is reportedly considering policy hawks including Kevin Warsh and John Taylor.

“We believe that there are two key issues surrounding Yellen’s replacement that could unsettle the market: (1) a change in the perceived independence of the Fed, and (2) an end to the period of uber-dovish policy.”

Volatility

Stocks have historically rallied when the CBOE Volatility Index is very low.

“Market volatility has been extremely low throughout the recovery, with the VIX currently reading 9.7,” Golub said. “This has led many pundits to characterize investors as complacent and the market vulnerable to a pullback. We disagree with these assertions.”

Currency

Currency

Credit Suisse

The trade-weighted dollar has slumped 9% this year.

“Our work indicates a 10:1 ratio between currency moves and corporate profits (in the opposite direction). Unfortunately, the dollar’s move is much more muted when measured on a year-over-year basis [-3.3%], and is therefore a much smaller consideration in our forecasts.”

North Korea

North Korea

Credit Suisse

The concern is not a North Korean attack — which investors aren’t expecting — but what happens if the US government punishes one of its major trading partners: China.

“While such actions would likely be targeted, with little economic impact, they have the potential to escalate, disrupting global growth.”

The chart shows that the recent improvement in China’s economy has benefitted US companies.

Hurricanes

The impact of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey, and the recovery efforts, will skew many economic indicators over the next few months.

“Separately, we would not be surprised to see some companies using these natural disasters as an opportunity to conveniently take write-downs,” Golub said.

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Is White-Collar Crime a Threat to Wall Street?

The stock market has had nightmares in the past and we cannot rule that out from happening again in the future, not even with the introduction of new financial regulation policies designed to prevent a financial crisis like the one witnessed in 2008-09.

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The stock market has had nightmares in the past and we cannot rule that out from happening again in the future, not even with the introduction of new financial regulation policies designed to prevent a financial crisis like the one witnessed in 2008-09.

While only one person, Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS) executive Kareem Serageldin, was convicted in relation to the global financial crisis of 2008, investigations over the years have revealed  there probably should have been more. According to findings, the financial crisis of 2008 had more to do with white-collar crime than a natural market meltdown.

The biggest issue when it comes to white-collar crime however, especially in securities fraud, is there are a lot of gray areas. Since markets are unpredictable, it has often proven difficult to pin these malpractices on individuals.

In most cases, the company, its shareholders and even employees are the ones who suffer the consequences.

For instance, in a Financial Times feature on Eric Ben-Artzi, the Deutsche Bank (NYSE:DB) whistleblower who exposed the bank’s improper accounting practices, the bank’s former risk management officer accused the SEC of performing a disappointing investigation. Ben-Artzi actually turned down the $8.25 million offered to him by the SEC for his role in exposing the company.

In the article, Ben-Artzi argues that by forcing the bank to pay $55 million rather than prosecuting the individuals involved in the crime, the SEC had allowed top executives at the bank to retire with “multimillion-dollar bonuses based on the misrepresentation of the bank’s balance sheet.” On the flipside, the bank’s shareholders and general employees ended up suffering the consequences as they were forced to bear the burden of their managers’ accounting treachery.

This is a clear example of what happens when things go wrong in these so-called “too big to fail” companies. Top executives who are often at fault for planning and executing such malpractices are also deemed “too big to jail,” thereby transferring the burden to the company, the shareholders and rank-and-file employees. This happens on Wall Street, in multinational institutions and even within the confines of government parastatals.

According to Vikas Bajaj, a criminal defense attorney who regularly defends people accused of white-collar crimes, corporate fraud is often pinned on the wrong victims and at times can “devastate personal and professional life for a very long time, making it difficult to secure employment, rent a home, secure a government student loan or obtain a professional license.” However, gathering the right evidence and speaking to the right people can help to strengthen the defense, while getting a white-collar crime defense attorney can ensure the true story emerges, thereby protecting the rights and the future of the accused, notes Bajaj.

But as we have seen, investigators do tend to go for the least protected individuals when it comes to white-collar crime. This does not rectify the long-term impact on the company in question and we have witnessed many companies go down the drain due to major financial malpractices.

While most people view corporate fraud as any practice that wrongly represents the financial position of a company or anything that results in money being lost without a trace, sometimes ignorance and negligence can amount to white-collar crime. For instance, banks are mandated to perform thorough credit checks before issuing loans to individuals and businesses. Yet, defaults from loans and mortgages are what fueled the magnitude of the 2008 global financial crisis.

In short, lenders did not do their homework before issuing loans. It was high-risk lending fueled by the then-booming housing market, which was shortly followed by several credit defaults and then the global financial crisis. While various financial regulations like the Dodd-Frank Act and Basel III Rules have since been introduced to avert the possibility of another financial crisis triggered by the banking sector, accounting misrepresentation like in the case of Deutsche Bank could end up taking the market back to those dark times.

Had it not for Ben-Artzi, who knows whether the malpractice at Deutsche Bank would ever have been uncovered? Who knows how many more companies are doing the same thing on Wall Street? According to World Finance‘s Emily Cashen, “the same reckless behavior behind the 2008 global crash continues to run rampant on Wall Street and unless this vicious cycle can somehow be broken, the global banking system may spiral into fresh disaster.”

Conclusion

White-collar crime on Wall Street is real and could be one of the biggest undetected threats the financial markets could be facing. The various regulatory bodies tasked with the responsibility of investigating and prosecuting the individuals responsible seem to be reluctant to do so on the belief of some being “too big to jail.” Often, the innocent and defenseless end up bearing the burden of their managers’ crimes, losing their jobs and even being put behind bars.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned in this article.

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Is It Wrong To Question The Official Story When Tragedy Strikes?

Of course, when there is news, it should be reported. Today it is reported sensationally, as entertainment. Is it meant to inform, or induce?

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via The Daily Bell

The media says, “Jump.” And the public responds in unison, “How high?”

“As high as you ever have jumped before, except maybe after 9/11, or the Kennedy assassination.”

Of course, when there is news, it should be reported. Today it is reported sensationally, as entertainment. Is it meant to inform, or induce?

Which came first, the media’s obsession with violence, or the public demand for violence? In the 1990’s as violent crime in America dropped, the media filled more and more time slots with stories about violence.

By the end of the 90’s the public was clamoring for the government to do somethingabout what they assumed was a rising trend in violent crime.

Was that orchestrated? The government certainly benefits from a hysterical public begging them to help. It certainly gives the government an important role in the daily life of an average citizen. But this alone doesn’t mean that it was a conspiracy. Acknowledging that the government benefitted from the media’s overreporting of crime is not the same as suggesting the government actively pushed the media to do so.

But why not wonder? Exercise those thought processes.

It is a known fact that thousands of journalists were at one time on the payroll of the CIA. It was called Operation Mockingbird, and agents would place false stories in publications like the New York Times, and Time.

So when it comes to the case of the fake 90’s crime wave, it makes sense to wonder if a similar program still exists. The courts have ruled that FBI agents can legally impersonate journalists in the course of an investigation.

Do we need to discover the actual program in order to speculate? Well, I certainly wouldn’t say that it is happening without knowing for sure. But we can acknowledge a historical fact and draw a parallel between that and a similar contemporary trend. In such circumstances, it makes sense to be skeptical.

Either way, we shouldn’t fall prey to the media’s manipulations about such things, regardless of the catalyst. So why not remind people that in the past, lies from the government shaped public opinion?

But there are some cases when questioning, wondering, and speculating is considered downright wrong.

When it is most important to speak freely, you can’t.

How do I walk the line between my inherent mistrust of the government media complex and sincere compassion and empathy for victims of tragedy?

Is it wrong to question official narratives after a tragic event? Is it disrespectful to wonder if there isn’t more to the story? Should I censor myself to avoid appearing insensitive, when I want to talk about inconsistencies in the media tale, or the motives that various groups could have to lie about such events?

I think it is especially important to be able to talk freely when it comes to tragedy. The more potential an event has for exploitation, the more possibilities should be explored.

If we are conditioned to hold our tongues, to suppress our curiosity and skepticism when it comes to tragedy, then the worst actors in any given situation win. Those in power need only create a tragedy, and it becomes impossible to question the official narrative. Otherwise, you are disrespectful and uncaring.

When someone is gravely wounded, you don’t slap a band-aid over it. You’ve got to clean out the wound. And that hurts in the moment. But in the long run, it is necessary to prevent infection.

We should wonder if 9/11 was a false flag attack. I don’t think it is disrespectful to the victims to do so. I think it would be more disrespectful to unquestioningly believe the official story. The official story comes from the people who have the most to gain.

Did the terrorists who carried out the attack on the twin towers have anything to gain? Well maybe if they believed the whole 72 virgins thing. But in real life, they died. Suiciding bombing is a thing that people do, however, so it certainly can’t be ruled out.

Did Osama Bin Laden have a lot to gain? Well again, it is tough to understand the motivation of terrorists. Apparently, they think killing innocent people accomplishes something. But now he is dead.

And what about the official storytellers, the ones who investigated, and revealed the true culprits behind 9/11?

Their gains remain. They gained the power to easily declare wars and conduct military operations. Money was poured into the defense budget. Agencies like Homeland Security and the TSA sprang into existence.

Attention was diverted from missing money at the Pentagon. The PATRIOT Act was passed. Due process was no longer a concern.

“Mission Accomplished” in Iraq; the glory of killing Bin Laden. The public became desensitized to war. America helped toppled regimes in Libya and Egypt, and support a civil war in Syria.

These things alone don’t prove anything. But it looks awfully suspicious. The ones who we rely on for information about what happened had the most to gain from the attack. They are the ones who will “solve” the problems.

It is a conflict of interest even if the official story is true. It just so happens that their recommendations on the best course of action were the very things that would grow their power, expand their budget, and swell their ranks.

Again we have a historical fact to turn to for comparison. The Joint Chiefs of Staff under Kennedy floated the idea of carrying out a false flag against American citizens to get them involved in a war with Cuba. It was called Operation Northwoods. Kennedy told them if they ever mentioned the idea of murdering innocent Americans again, he would have them tried for treason.

Well, we all know what happened to Kennedy, but that is a whole rabbit hole of its own. What we know for sure, is that as early as the 1960’s people in the U.S. government wanted to commit false flag attacks against Americans to provoke war. And the leader most vehemently opposed was assassinated.

Incidentally, the Kennedy Administration approved of Operation Mockingbird.

May I Speak Freely?

I want to wonder, and I want to speculate. I get as angry and sad as anyone else with a properly developed conscience when horrible things happen. I want those responsible held accountable. And it is against my skeptical nature to accept an official story without digging for more evidence. Horror does not paralyze my desire to question the official narrative and wonder about inconsistencies.

One thing that strikes me about all of the mass shootings of the past few years, is the great diversity in location and venue.

A college in Virginia. An elementary school in Connecticut. A mall in Washington. A nightclub in Florida. A church in North Carolina. A movie theater in Colorado. A political meet and greet in Arizona. The streets of California. A concert on the Vegas strip.

If someone wanted to strike fear into the hearts of Americans, they could not have chosen a better range of targets. The message would be whatever place you live, wherever you go in public, whatever your age, job, or social status, you are not safe.

Maybe that is the truth. And maybe it is random.

We are told these were all carried out by lone a lone gunman–or a married couple in one case.

But why are there so often witness reports of a second gunman? Could it be chalked up to confusion?

The victims tragically lost their lives. Their families lost loved ones, which will impact them for the rest of their lives. The American people lose their sense of security and their rights. Relationships deteriorate as bitter disagreements turn personal, blame abounds, fingers point, defenses go up.

And after so many tragedies, the culprit is left dead. Is that justice?

Who benefits? The dead guy on the 32nd floor?

The Democrats who want gun control? The Republicans who want militarized police? The media who get a bump in ratings? The Generals who want war? A government that “never let(s) a good crisis go to waste”?

I want this madness to stop. We know how the media wants it to play out. They will get their ratings with division and bitter disagreement. The government always gets more power, more relevance, more opportunity to insert itself into the everyday lives of Americans.

That is why it is so necessary to look deeper, to ask those tough questions that we don’t even want to consider as a possibility. We can’t sit by silently wondering if we are being told the truth or fed lies. It is not disrespectful to question the official story. It would be a miscarriage of justice to accept it without protest, as we are told is what should be done in times of crisis.

The only other option is to play into the hands of the media and government, whether they be orchestrators or opportunists. When we replay the same old arguments and put forth the same stale solutions, when we look to them for information and solutions, they win.

Question everything. Clean out the wounds. It may hurt to get in there deep. But if we don’t, the infection will grow and fester, as it always has before.

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