Thursday, June 22, 2017

Astrophysicists Finally Wonder if the Universe is Alive — Only Trail Shamans By the Entirety of Human History on that Front - disinformation

Jun 22, 2017

Another week, another news story from a major publication with a mainstream scientist talking like he was your high school weed dealer. I don't know what to tell you on this one, is the universe alive? Duh. I love how Carl Sagan loved to say "we're all made of star stuff" (referenced in the first paragraph of the article) while failing to explain why a  non-sentient fire ball supposedly devoid of narrative would for some reason create an entire microverse planet filled with conscious apes completely obsessed with art and narrative structure. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Solar worship goes so far back throughout the highly repressed Occult and shamanic traditions it's nuts, but this guy is calling the interconnected nature of mind/matter a "proto-consciousness field" so like, far out scientist brah. No, I'm just fucking with you, I'm honestly more than excited that mainstream astrophysicists would even entertain this hippie shit. From NBC. Last week Newsweek, this week NBC.

"For centuries, modern science has been shrinking the gap between humans and the rest of the universe, from Isaac Newton showing that one set of laws applies equally to falling apples and orbiting moons to Carl Sagan intoning that "we are made of star stuff" — that the atoms of our bodies were literally forged in the nuclear furnaces of other stars.

Even in that context, Gregory Matloff's ideas are shocking. The veteran physicist at New York City College of Technology recently published a paper arguing that humans may be like the rest of the universe in substance and in spirit. A "proto-consciousness field" could extend through all of space, he argues. Stars may be thinking entities that deliberately control their paths. Put more bluntly, the entire cosmos may be self-aware.

The notion of a conscious universe sounds more like the stuff of late night TV than academic journals. Called by its formal academic name, though, "panpsychism" turns out to have prominent supporters in a variety of fields. New York University philosopher and cognitive scientist David Chalmers is a proponent. So too, in different ways, are neuroscientist Christof Koch of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, and British physicist Sir Roger Penrose, renowned for his work on gravity and black holes. The bottom line, Matloff argues, is that panpsychism is too important to ignore.
"It's all very speculative, but it's something we can check and either validate or falsify," he says.
Three decades ago, Penrose introduced a key element of panpsychism with his theory that consciousness is rooted in the statistical rules of quantum physics as they apply in the microscopic spaces between neurons in the brain.

In 2006, German physicist Bernard Haisch, known both for his studies of active stars and his openness to unorthodox science, took Penrose's idea a big step further. Haisch proposed that the quantum fields that permeate all of empty space (the so-called "quantum vacuum") produce and transmit consciousness, which then emerges in any sufficiently complex system with energy flowing through it. And not just a brain, but potentially any physical structure. Intrigued, Matloff wondered if there was a way to take these squishy arguments and put them to an observational test."
Read the rest over at MACH, which I'm guessing is like the NBC science site or something. If you dig their shit, ummm, no, I'm not sure why you'd give any money to NBC.

So since mystics and shamans are apparently like a gajillion years ahead of y'all in certain ways, let me offer up another clue. That universe you're obsessing about so intensely? Outer space? The whole thing's a metaphor for the astral plane. No really, it's all a goddamn metaphor. You'll catch up eventually.

Thad McKraken

Thad McKraken is a psychedelic writer, musician, visual artist, filmmaker, Occultist, and pug enthusiast based out of Seattle. He is the author of the books The Galactic Dialogue: Occult Initiations and Transmissions From Outside of Time, both of which can be picked up on Amazon super cheap.

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Inside the Strange, Psychic World of Indigo Children

Reminds m of Arthur C. Clarke's "Childhoods End" ( 1953
A person, usually a teenager or young adult who does not and can not comply with modern society, who is highly evolved spiritually and is believed to have come here in this time to aid in the transition of the energies of earth in the near future. They tend to be androgynous and have psychic powers, such as clairvoyancy. The youngest are Crystal Children which are about seven and under, but can be older.
She has an Indigo aura, so she must be an Indigo Child.

Apr 12 2016, 2:00pm

VICE investigates the secret world of Indigo Children, a select group of people who are said to possess extraordinary sensory talents, but who critics say suffer from ADD and ADHD.

In the 1990s, a number of American psychologists started to classify children that they felt had special psychic powers as "Indigo Children." Though many of these children were subsequently diagnosed with ADD or ADHD by healthcare professionals, some parents maintain that their children do not have these conditions, but instead possess supernatural traits and abilities. Critics argue that not treating children with ADD and ADHD can lead to long-term social and behavioral health problems.

VICE's Gavin Haynes heads to New York to meet with grown Indigo Children born in the 1990s to understand more about the movement and to find out how they feel about their unorthodox upbringing and perceived psychic gifts.

On his journey for answers, Haynes has his aura read, undergoes a holistic dentistry examination by a mother and daughter Indigo pair, and meets the rap duo The Underachievers, who preach Indigoism as a way of life through their music.

Children with "Indigo" auras, that usually differ from modern society. They are prone to ADD and ADHD diagnoses, however, blind mothers might claim their ADHD child as an Indigo to avoid the fact that their child is less than perfect and try to excuse him from making trouble.
Oh, my child isn't a bully, he's just an Indigo Child!
Known for their indigo auras.
They're critical of everything, but that also includes themselves. So don't mistake them for being stuck up or snobby all the time... They are antisocial but very empathetic, and sensitive, and can see people's true intentions better than most.

Just because somebody is a better listener than a speaker, it doesn't mean they don't approve of you.
Boy: That kid's stuck up and weird...
Girl: Nope, he's just an indigo child.
A powerful, intelligent, independent child, named for his/her supposedly indigo aura, who will help improve the spiritual quality of the world. Their frequency has recently increased drastically to possibly over 95%, with the first being born in the 1970s or '80s.
Indigo children are often diagnosed with ADD or ADHD because of their unwillingness to focus on certain things.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Where factory jobs are plentiful, Trump's supporters want better

HUMMING ALONG: Record sales of recreational vehicles mean plenty of jobs at factories in and around Elkhart, Indiana, including this LCI Industries glass components plant. LCI says it is working to improve conditions that many industry employees say make their jobs unattractive.
REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Pummeled in the Great Recession, Elkhart, Indiana, bounced back quickly, thanks to a boom in the RV business. But the work is grueling for the pay, and many locals hope the president's pledge to bring jobs back means bringing good jobs back.

Filed June 20, 2017, 2 p.m. GMT

ELKHART, Indiana—While many politicians, including President Donald Trump, say the United States desperately needs more manufacturing jobs, this small industrial city has more than enough.
The problem, for many workers here, is one of quality, not quantity.

That's the case with Brandon Seitz. The rail-thin 32-year-old worked for 12 years on an assembly line at one of the local recreational-vehicle factories that have made Elkhart the RV Capital of the World. The job, Seitz says, nearly wrecked his health.

His pay, as for assembly workers at most RV factories, was a combination of a low hourly wage and a large production bonus, referred to as the "piece rate." The frantic rush to meet output targets — and thus earn bonuses — made it easier for accidents to happen, he says. During his first year, he tore tendons in his knee when a steel frame hit him.

And then there was the heat. Most RV factories lack air conditioning. "I was constantly sweating," he says. "There were days in summer when I drank two-and-a-half gallons of water and was still dehydrated." In 2014, surgeons cut into his back and used a laser to break up and remove a large kidney stone that they said was caused by dehydration.

That's when Seitz vowed never to work on an RV production line again. "The money is good," he says, but "it's just so hard on your body."

A manufacturing revival was well under way in Elkhart by the time Trump began promising one during last year's presidential campaign. During the Great Recession of 2008-2009, the local unemployment rate hit 20 percent, among the highest in the country. It has since recovered to a seasonally unadjusted 1.9 percent, its lowest in nearly two decades and far better than the national rate, an adjusted 4.3 percent.

The RV industry accounts for a big chunk of that improvement. Local officials estimate that half of jobs here are related to manufacturing and that half of those are linked to RVs. Today, Elkhart County and the surrounding region produce 85 percent of U.S.-made RVs. Unit sales last year were the highest since the 1970s.

HOT JOBS: Most of the RV plants in Elkhart, like this Thor Industries assembly shop,  lack air conditioning. Tough working conditions are why many RV workers say they hold out hope that U.S. President Donald Trump can fulfill his campaign promise to bring better manufacturing jobs back to the country. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Judging by such numbers, times are good in Elkhart — not the sort of place to find those white, working-class voters who, feeling forgotten by the political class, helped propel Trump to the presidency.

Yet, people here voted two-to-one for Trump, more so than even in deeply Republican Indiana as a whole. And a few months into the new administration, despite the investigations into alleged Russian involvement in the election, and despite the president's failure so far to get much of the agenda he ran on enacted, support for Trump is strong among local workers, including many Reuters interviewed who stayed away from the polls last November.

Seitz is one of the more recent converts. He didn't vote in the November election. He says he wasn't sure whom to believe. Now, he says, he would probably vote for Trump in the future. "He's already living up this promise to bring work back from Mexico," Seitz says.

He and many other workers interviewed for this article don't want more jobs like the ones readily available in Elkhart. They want jobs with steady, predictable pay for the long haul – the kinds of jobs that decades ago helped build and sustain a solid middle class in Elkhart and across the industrial Midwest. And they blame immigration and the forces of globalization for reshaping the work that is available.

OFF THE LINE: Brandon Seitz stands outside the Goshen, Indiana, factory where he worked on an RV assembly line for 12 years, until the job, he says, nearly wrecked his health. He would probably vote for Donald Trump in the future, he says, because the president is already bringing jobs back from Mexico. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

"I really think (Trump) can make America great again," says Mary Swihart, 28, who voted for Trump. She works in an RV factory here owned by Thor Industries Inc, the nation's largest RV maker, where she earns about $15 an hour stringing wires into harnesses that go into the vehicles.

She especially likes Trump's pledges to halt illegal immigration and speed up deportations. Like many workers here, she believes that immigrants are willing to work for less than native-born workers and don't complain as readily about bad conditions.

"If we sent them back, it would mean more jobs for legal Americans," she says.
Elkhart County's population is about 75 percent non-Hispanic white. About 30,000 Hispanics live in the county, according to Census data, forming a small but fast-growing community.

Robert Warren, a former Census Bureau demographer who is now a senior visiting fellow at the Center for Migration Studies in New York, has estimated the number of illegal immigrants in states and counties across the U.S. By his calculation, about 9,400 illegal immigrants, mostly from Mexico, live in Elkhart County, and of those illegal immigrants who work, 67 percent have some type of factory or production job.

Officials at Thor and other local RV makers say they don't pay immigrants less and don't hire undocumented workers. "There's no difference in pay," says Jeffery Tryka, a Thor spokesman. "Every one of our workers is required to provide documentation that they're here legally — so they're all paid the same."

As for the work, Thor and other producers say their plants are safe, despite the hectic pace. "There's no question it's a physically demanding job," Tryka says.

Ken Julian, Thor's vice president of administration and human resources, says the industry is constantly improving the ergonomics of assembly line jobs to make tasks easier and safer for employees of any age. To deal with the heat, he says, they also keep water or other drinks on hand, and "if we see a 100-degree heat index, we'll shut the plant."
Industry executives say the bonus system is popular with workers, since it allows them to earn more money in less time.

Attractive or not, jobs in the RV industry are emblematic of the kind of work that is increasingly the best option for blue-collar workers. The industry is prone to booms and busts, as wells as shorter-term fluctuations throughout the year, which can mean frequent layoffs, though that hasn't been a problem amid the current production boom.

The frenetic pace of piece work means many people stay at the best-paying assembly line jobs only for as long as they can stand it or until their health or stamina falters. When they no longer can, these workers often move into lower-paying jobs.

That's what Seitz did after his kidney-stone surgery. He now works in the service department at Jayco, an RV maker recently acquired by Thor. He figures he puts in about 48 hours a week, compared to the 35 hours he averaged on the assembly lines — and his weekly take-home pay is $500 less. But he much prefers working at his own pace and interacting with customers.
His former employer, Forest River Inc, part of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc, didn't respond to requests for comment.

Workers jump from job to job in search of better conditions or to maximize their earnings before the next downturn. At many RV factories, the annual turnover rate is 100% or higher – meaning a number equal to the total workforce or more is replaced each year. Much of the churn occurs as the companies struggle to fill the same lower-end, entry positions over and over again.

OLD SCHOOL: Assembly of RVs, as at this Thor Industries plant, is more akin to home construction than the automated systems that dominate auto manufacturing. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

RV workers are among the "anxiously employed," says Andrew Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics in Fort Wayne.  Trump appealed to these workers by saying that "You're working hard, but you're still not doing as well as you'd like" and that there was a time in the past when their lives — and the jobs available to them — were better.

That message resonated in Elkhart, once home to a more diverse industrial base that provided steady middle-class paychecks. Before it was the RV capital, Elkhart was known as the Band Instrument Capital of the World for the dozens of musical-instrument factories that operated here. Most of that work has moved to China.

Elkhart also had a huge pharmaceuticals company. Miles Laboratories Inc invented the diabetic test strip here and once had Elkhart factories churning out everything from Flintstones vitamins to Alka-Seltzer tablets. Germany's Bayer AG bought Miles in 1978 and eventually moved everything away. All that's left is a roadside marker honoring the test strip.

What's happened in Elkhart has occurred across industrial America. The average wage on U.S. factory floors dropped below the average for all private-sector workers in 2006, and the gap has widened since. Manufacturing workers now earn an average of $20.79 an hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, below the $22 an hour for all workers. Service workers, meanwhile,

pushed ahead of their factory-floor counterparts in 2008 and now earn an average of $21.79 an hour.
A 2016 study by the Labor Center at the University of California, Berkeley, concluded that a third of production workers in the U.S. earn so little that they qualify for some form of government assistance, such as food stamps. Many of these workers weren't putting in enough hours to earn more, the study found, but about a third worked at least 35 hours a week.

FOREIGN INFLUENCE: Stacy Curtis, who worked in Elkhart's musical-instrument industry before Chinese companies grabbed a big part of the U.S. market, blames Mexican immigrants for her inability to find stable employment in recent years. She says she was cheered by Donald Trump's tough talk on immigration. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

"You go look in these factories today and you hardly see any whites or Americans—they're all Mexicans."
Stacy Curtis, unemployed Elkhart worker
Stacy Curtis says she voted for Trump because she liked what he said about bringing back "good" jobs and for taking a hard line on immigration. Curtis dropped out of school at age 16 to work in a van-customization shop. She later landed a sought-after job at one of the town's musical-instrument factories. It was a union job, with good pay, and it was prestigious for the skills needed to fashion thin metal into trumpets and trombones.

In 2006, workers at Curtis's factory went out on strike after the company, the Vincent Bach division of Conn-Selmer Inc, demanded changes in work rules that would allow it to pay lower wages to compete with Chinese rivals. The strike ended after three years, when workers severed their links to the United Auto Workers and accepted the company's offer. Curtis didn't go back to making trombones.

As she sought factory jobs in recent years, always at far lower pay, she says she felt at a disadvantage because of her background. "You go look in these factories today and you hardly see any whites or Americans—they're all Mexicans," says Curtis, 54.
Now unemployed, Curtis has applied for Social Security disability benefits, citing fibromyalgia and lupus.

Sour attitudes about immigrants are part of a broader hostility to the forces of globalization that Trump's campaign tapped into. And in the eyes of some people, comments like Curtis's reflect a distinctly racial component to the Trump phenomenon in the Elkhart area.

Tracy DeGraffreed, 48, is an African-American. He voted for Clinton in November. He has spent most his career in the RV business — many years for suppliers and, since 2015, running his own business as a trucker, towing RVs to dealerships.

He says he understands why many of his white neighbors support Trump. "As an African-American, we've always been struggling," he says. "But the Caucasians have always had what they wanted. Now they're feeling the pain the others have always felt."

RACIAL ANGLE: Tracy DeGraffreed, a self-employed RV delivery driver, says many white voters in the Elkhart area supported Donald Trump because he spoke to the "pain" of their struggle to find solid, secure jobs that used to be plentiful. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

"The Caucasians have always had what they wanted. Now they're feeling the pain the others have always felt."
Tracy DeGraffreed, RV hauler
That "pain," he says, is the struggle for well-paid, secure jobs that were once relatively plentiful in Elkhart. "That's why Trump won here."

Voters' frustration was fueled in the middle of the campaign last year when two manufacturers with deep roots in Elkhart announced they were moving work abroad.

CTS Corp, a maker of auto electronics that began here in 1896 as the Chicago Telephone Supply Co, said it was moving all of its Elkhart production abroad to "simplify" operations, cutting 230 jobs here and elsewhere in the U.S. Crown Audio, a subsidiary of Harman International Industries Inc that makes amplifiers, said it was moving 125 production jobs to Mexico and California in order to stay competitive.

Over time, moves like that have left the local economy increasingly reliant on RV manufacturing.
Each factory is typically dedicated to a handful of models. The result is a proliferation of workplaces. Thor, which had sales last year of $4.6 billion, operates 190 plants, most of them in or around Elkhart. The company's complex on the outskirts of Goshen, down the road from Elkhart, has 30 separate plants sprawling out in a grid of metal buildings and parking lots.

The factory buildings are more like workshops than the high-tech assembly lines used in the auto and other modern industries. The process is similar to home construction; workers hoist walls and install sinks as the RVs inch along while others crawl over, under and inside the vehicles.

None of the plants are unionized and never have been. Nearly all of them pay by piece rate — something most other industries have abandoned. Workers receive a low base, about $10 an hour, and earn bonuses for hitting production targets.  At assembly plants that make the most expensive or in-demand models, workers can earn more than $60,000 a year when operations are humming.

TRADEOFF: Kirsten Southern was paid by "piece rate" in a series of RV assembly jobs until the constant fatigue that the work caused prompted her to take a job for lower pay as a receiving supervisor for LCI Industries. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Kirsten Southern, a 34-year-old mother of three, was paid by piece rate in successive jobs on RV production lines at two different companies. The work "tears your body down after a while," she says. "A lot of bad things happen when piece rate comes into play, because you're trying to rush to get things done," she says. She was never injured on the job, she says, but she was constantly exhausted.

She now works for lower pay as a receiving supervisor at an LCI Industries plant in Goshen, making sure deliveries are accounted for and moved to the production line when needed. She has a fixed schedule, and she says she's generally treated better.

Had she voted last fall, she says, she would have voted for Trump. "I know Trump is for bringing the jobs back," she says, "and I agree with that."

Piece rate pay fuels the hectic pace in the factories. That, workers say, has given rise to increased numbers of "speeders," people who take methamphetamines and other stimulants on the job. Manufacturers say they enforce strict drug-free policies.

Thor requires drug tests of job applicants and tests workers after accidents if drug use is suspected, says Julian, the Thor executive.

Southern's employer, LCI, is one of the industry players taking steps to try to make the work more appealing. Nick Fletcher, chief human resources officer, says when he arrived four years ago, turnover at the company was over 100 percent. It's now less than 40 percent, and he expects it to continue falling.

Fletcher has been on a campaign to end the piece rate system, which "doesn't incentivize workers to be safe or produce high quality," he says. More than 75 percent of the company's workers are now on fixed hourly pay, averaging about $17.50, he says.

Safety has improved, too. Fletcher points to a chart on his computer screen showing that the number of "recordable incidents" has fallen to 3.84 now from 6.22 in 2013. (Recordable incidents, a measure used by federal safety regulators, is the number of workplace injuries or illnesses that require more than basic first aid multiplied by 200,000 and then divided by number of hours worked.) The improvement is especially notable, Fletcher says, because it happened as LCI added 3,000 workers, for a total of 8,000.

reuters investigates

For the majority of RV factory workers, though, conditions remain much as they have been for years.
Cassidy Davies jumped from one RV job to another earlier in his career, he says, because the atmosphere in many plants was unbearable.

"I've seen people get into fist fights because somebody else used their power-drill battery," says the 29-year-old. "And the money is constantly going up and down" as production rises and falls.
He now works in a large Thor factory, which he says he likes better than any of the other places he worked. That doesn't mean he thinks it's the sort of job on which he can build a career.
"I really don't know how long I can do it," he says, "because you're beating the crap out of yourself every day."

Davies says he has never voted. "I don't like the way Trump talks to people, the way he treats people," he says. "But I do agree with some of the things he's doing," including Trump's talk of bringing back good manufacturing jobs.

STACKING UP: The lot of a Thor Industries plant in Elkhart is chock full of new RVs as the industry enjoys sales volumes not seen since the 1970s. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Hard Labor
By Timothy Aeppel
Graphics: Maryanne Murray
Photo editors: Steve McKinley and Chris Helgren
Design: Jeff Magness
Edited by John Blanton
  • Follow Reuters Investigates

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

At least 62 killed in forest fire still raging in Portugal

By Andrei Khalip | LISBON

A huge forest fire raging since Saturday in central Portugal has killed at least 62 people, the government said on Sunday, in what is possibly the deadliest-ever forest blaze in the Atlantic coastal country, used to the woods burning almost every summer.

"The dimension of this fire was such that we don't have memory of such a human tragedy," Prime Minister Antonio Costa said as he arrived in Pedrogao Grande, a mountainous area some 200 km northeast of Lisbon.

He said it was vital to focus on the prevention of new fires, amid a continuing heat wave, strong winds and lack of rain. He also warned that the death toll could still increase.

The government declared three days of mourning and sent two army battalions to help the emergency services. The European Union said it would provide firefighting aircraft. France has offered three planes and Spain has sent two, authorities said.

Speaking in the Vatican, Pope Francis, who visited Portugal last month, mentioned the victims in his weekly address: "I am close to the dear people of Portugal, hit by a devastating fire which is raging in the forests around Pedrogao Grande, causing many victims and injuries. Let us pray in silence."
French President Emmanuel Macron said in a Twitter message: "Solidarity with Portugal, hit by terrible fires. Our thoughts are with victims. France makes its aid available to Portugal".

The European Commission's aid chief, Christos Stylianides, said in a statement that "all will be done to assist the authorities and people of Portugal at this time of need."

The death toll released by Jorge Gomes, the secretary of state for internal affairs, has gradually climbed from the 19 initially announced late on Saturday. Gomes said most of the victims were caught in their vehicles on the road.

In one village of Nodeirinho, where 11 residents have died, state television RTP showed burned out cars and blackened houses. Shocked residents spoke of a whole family that was trying to flee their home in a car but got caught in "a tornado of flames".

"It does not seem real, it is out of this world... It is an authentic inferno, we have never seen anything like that," the mayor of Pedrogao Grande Valdemar Alves told reporters. Over 20 villages have been affected.

Another 54 people have been injured and taken to hospitals, including four in serious condition.
The blaze on Saturday hit the mountainous area amid an intense heat wave and rainless thunderstorms. Police said a lightning striking a tree probably caused the fire.

Hundreds of firefighters were still battling the flames on Sunday. Various local motorways were shut for safety reasons.

"The smoke cloud is very low, which does not allow helicopters and fire planes to work efficiently ... but we're doing everything possible and impossible to put out this fire," Gomes said, adding that no villages were currently at risk.

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa visited the site of the tragedy during the night and expressed his condolences.
The "situation is unfortunately atypical ... " he said. "It was not possible to do more than what has been done" in prevention and the immediate response.

But various local residents said they had been left to their own devices and had seen no firefighters for hours while their homes burned. Others complained about poor forestry reserve planning and depopulation of remote villages, which leaves many wooded areas unattended.

(Additional reporting By Maya Nikolayeva in Paris, Crispian Balmer in Rome and Robin Emmott in Brussels, editing by Larry King)

Next In Environment

CALGARY, Alberta Canada's oil sands need more emissions-cutting measures and monitoring, an official panel said on Friday in recommendations that could potentially raise costs in a high-cost region that international players have increasingly abandoned.

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Truth is in Words Written from The Past...

For whatever reason, how the words are written and by whom, whether in truth, folly or conspiracy, a conviction to gather the words written on any subject builds a consensus of understanding of that subject, or the truth floats to the top...

One must be open to all available material to build a consensus, each item unique in its presentation and discussion of the subject...
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Sunday, June 4, 2017

I Never Knew That Abraham Lincoln Ordered The Largest MASS HANGING IN US HISTORY, Or Why He Did It

May 29, 2017

People think that Abe Lincoln was such a benevolent President. He was actually a bit of a tyrant. He attacked the Confederate States of America, who succeeded from the Union due to tax and tariffs. (If you think it was over slavery, you need to find a real American history book written before 1960.)This picture is of 38 Santee Sioux Indian men that were ordered to be executed by Abraham Lincoln for treaty violations (IE: hunting off of their assigned reservation). Yes, the "Great Emancipator" as the history books so fondly referred to him as.
Authorities in Minnesota asked President Lincoln to order the immediate execution of all 303 Indian males found guilty. Lincoln was concerned with how this would play with the Europeans, whom he was afraid were about to enter the war on the side of the South. He offered the following compromise to the politicians of Minnesota: They would pare the list of those to be hung down to 38. In return, Lincoln promised to kill or remove every Indian from the state and provide Minnesota with 2 million dollars in federal funds.
So, on December 26, 1862, the "Great Emancipator" ordered the largest mass execution in American History, where the guilt of those to be executed was entirely in doubt. Regardless of how Lincoln defenders seek to play this, it was nothing more than murder to obtain the land of the Santee Sioux and to appease his political cronies in Minnesota.
You have no idea the things that are hidden from you with the textbooks assigned to you as a child by your government. Stay mindful people, be aware….in the age of information being ignorant is indeed a choice. You are currently seeing the wholesale attempt to REWRITE yet another chapter in American History were the Confederate Battle Flag is concerned. Now there is talk of digging up graves and moving bodies that 'offend' people. This is nothing more than desecration of the dead.
Have a disagreement with history, and not wanting to remember the War Between the States, is one thing. But to erase a significant event in national history is another. And sets a dangerous precedent. What will fall victim next to Political Correctness?
Click to WATCH: I Never Knew That Abraham Lincoln Ordered The Largest MASS HANGING IN US HISTORY, Or Why He Did It

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Monday, May 29, 2017

Frank Deford, NPR's Longtime Philosopher Of Sports, Dies At 78

2:01 PM ET
Frank Deford in 1984. He would go on to spend another 33 years as a commentator on Morning Edition. Bob Child/AP hide caption

Bob Child/AP

Through nearly four decades, five presidential administrations and seemingly countless Super Bowls and World Series, NPR listeners could depend on at least one thing in the ever-unpredictable world of athletics: Frank Deford. A mainstay on Morning Edition, the Hall of Fame sportswriter was public radio's scholar of sports for some 37 years before hanging up his cleats earlier this year.
Deford died Sunday at the age of 78 at his home in Key West, Fla., his wife confirmed to NPR. He leaves behind an astonishing 1,656 commentaries for NPR.

"The wonderful thing about delivering sports commentary on NPR was that because it has such a broad audience, I was able to reach people who otherwise had little or no interest in sport — especially as an important part of our human culture," Deford said upon his retirement earlier this year.

"Nothing made me happier than to hear from literally hundreds of listeners who would tell me how much the commentaries revealed about a subject they otherwise had never cared much for. I'll forever be grateful to NPR that they gave me such extraordinary freedom. ... It was 37 years of a fond relationship."

This post will be updated.

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How Our Military Discards Its Wounded Troops

At its core, the military is a violent organization with violent objectives—to fight and win wars. Those damaged in its course are all too often left to fend for themselves.

05.29.17 12:00 AM ET

When I joined the Army, I took a creed to "never leave a fallen comrade." Now it appears that the military community to which I belong is failing to honor that creed.

I was disheartened but unsurprised to read the newly released Government Accountability Office report finding that 62% of service members who received less than honorable discharges suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injuries, or other mental-health illnesses. Misconduct based discharges, or "bad papers," bar more than 57,000 veterans from receiving many benefits, including treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Among its findings, the report stated that individual service branches only inconsistently adhered to Department of Defense policy on misconduct separations, or did not adhere to their own policies they set to ensure that service members with mental health issues didn't fall through the cracks.
Though the report is extensive, it is ultimately incomplete because it doesn't address the cultural norms in the military from which this injustice stems. Until we do that, we will continue to leave behind those who swore to protect and defend us.

At its core, the military is a violent organization with violent objectives—to fight and win wars. No matter what an individual Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine's occupational specialty may be, everything he or she does is in service to that objective. It's only natural then that the warrior ethos of the combat arms dominate military culture. After all, how often do top admirals and generals come from support branches? In such a culture, leaders are conditioned to weed out anyone who might be unfit to fight.

The result is a culture in which aggression and physical prowess are prized, while compassion and infirmities are derided. For example, until recently combat branches were restricted to men, so many combat soldiers consider women categorically weak and out of place in a man's military. The nude photo scandal is evidence of how this hyper-masculine ethos mutated and went awry. The hazing death of Raheel Siddiqui is another.

It follows that this culture would also shun mental illness as weakness, which is why seeking help for mental health remains stigmatized, despite the best efforts of top brass and the VA to stem the epidemic of suicides. Suffering in silence and self-medicating with alcohol is still seen by many who serve as nobler than admitting weakness by seeking care.

I was a cavalry scout platoon leader in Afghanistan, a lieutenant. We served in Wardak province from 2010 to 2011. That year, we had helped recover a Chinook helicopter downed by the Taliban, claiming 30 American lives. We saw what the enemy was capable of, and if we were to get home alive I needed my men to be aggressive.

The men under my leadership picked on one soldier because he was one of the last of us to earn his Combat Action Badge. No CAB, they called him. Nonetheless, he performed his duty. He eventually received his CAB, but not without the trauma that comes with the award. During a firefight, the enemy fired a 107mm rocket which detonated meters away from his vehicle. Immediately after the shooting stopped, he began exhibiting symptoms of TBI—slowed reactions, bleeding from the ears, a headache.

The right answer would have been to return to base to seek medical attention for him, but we had a mission to complete. We would fight the enemy again that night when insurgents attempted to assault his vehicle with grenades. I remember listening to his confusion and frustration on the radio, his TBI symptoms worsening as the day wore into night.

After that day, his career spiraled out of control. During our return trip, he got violently drunk and vomited on a sergeant Major's boots. He cheated on his wife. He turned to drink, and then to drugs. At that point my trust in him eroded as he became a liability to the team. His comrades and I, who endured a year of hardship beside him, turned our backs on him.

The GAO report notes how ill-prepared officers such as myself were to help soldiers address their mental illnesses, and I wonder if he might be in a better place today if I had been more compassionate then. He received non-judicial-punishment for illegal substance abuse, and because of the Army's zero tolerance policy towards drugs, we kicked him out of the Army, stripped of rank, on a misconduct-based discharge. He left the military ostracized and angry. Last I heard he had pursued a congressional inquiry into his discharge, but that was years ago and nothing came of it.
I'm not proud of it now, but I was glad to be rid of him. Never mind that the nature of his discharge carried a similar weight to a felony conviction, all but ensuring that he can't receive help for the conditions that plague him.

I struggled with PTSD in my own way. The killing I was a party to will stay with me forever.
Those of us who sought help in-country were singled out when we returned home, lined up in front of everybody. I experienced overwhelming shame. The aid station prescribed me an SSRI and told me to report to behavioral health, where a social worker said she could see me once a month so that I had to seek counseling off-base. Even so, I had internalized the hyper-masculine stigma against seeking help, so I was reticent during sessions and my attendance lapsed. It would be nearly a year before I received a formal PTSD diagnosis.

It wasn't long afterward that a good friend who had mentored me as a junior officer sat me down and asked me why I had taken our Afghanistan deployment so hard. He was one of the few soldiers I spoke with openly about our deployment. As I tried to find the right words, he polished off a twelve-pack of beer. Subsequently, I kept as quiet as possible about my condition. I turned to drinking, and was prone to bouts of aggression—throwing chairs, stabbing walls. It wasn't until I tried to kill myself that my chain of command and the Army's behavioral health system took my condition seriously.

I came dangerously close to following my disgraced soldier's downward spiral. If it hadn't been for the love and care of my wife and my comrades in arms, I too may have left the military dishonored, and unable to access care for my PTSD. I have a long battle with PTSD ahead of me still, one that I would have lost long ago without access to care.

I am grateful that time softened my perspective and allowed me to be more forgiving of myself and the many soldiers who received bad discharges under my watch. Regardless, I was both a victim of a toxic culture, and complicit in perpetuating it. I continue to contend with my place in the military's aggressive warrior ethos because I remain proud of my service, and proud of the men beside whom I served. I grapple with it because that aggression kept me and my men alive in combat.

The problem is that for all the ways that we know how to fight and kill in modern warfare, we have yet to learn that nurturing and healing are integral to maintaining the good order and discipline of our military. Perhaps if I had not let the military's culture of violence seduce me, I would have realized that. While I am willing to accept my culpability, the military exists in a society that is disconnected from the wars it fights. Injustices in the military, from sexual trauma, to hazing, to the disservice exposed by the GAO report continue because civil society is too removed to be outraged.

It was civil society that sent the military to fight America's longest war, so the onus cannot be on the military alone to implement reforms — and there are ways to make a meaningful impact now. Civilians and veterans alike should petition their representatives to pass H.R.4683, the Fairness for Veterans Act, which seeks to help veterans in appealing bad-paper discharges if they suffer from military sexual trauma, PTSD, or TBI, so they can receive much needed care.

And even that would only be the first step in remedying the policy problem highlighted by the GAO. While the military has experienced radical reforms in the past ten years, including the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, and the integration of women into combat roles, we still have a long way to go.
Our own President bragged about assaulting women. He was quick to use military force. He belittled veterans who suffer from mental illness incurred during their service and even prisoners of war. In many ways he embodies the brutality in American culture, and the military by extension.

The military is a reflection of who we all are as a nation—our best qualities, and our worst. Until we change as a country, we cannot expect the same from the institutions that defend us.

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Republic Has Fallen: The Deep State’s Plot to Take Over America Has Succeeded

"You have such a fervent, passionate, evangelical faith in this country…why in the name of God don't you have any faith in the system of government you're so hell-bent to protect? You want to defend the United States of America, then defend it with the tools it supplies you with—its Constitution. You ask for a mandate, General, from a ballot box. You don't steal it after midnight, when the country has its back turned."—Seven Days in May (1964)
No doubt about it.

The coup d'etat has been successful.

The Deep State—a.k.a. the police state a.k.a. the military industrial complex—has taken over.

The American system of representative government has been overthrown by a profit-driven, militaristic corporate state bent on total control and global domination through the imposition of martial law here at home and by fomenting wars abroad.

When in doubt, follow the money trail.

It always points the way.

Every successive president starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt has been bought—lock, stock and barrel—and made to dance to the tune of the Deep State.

Even Dwight D. Eisenhower, the retired five-star Army general -turned-president who warned against the disastrous rise of misplaced power by the military industrial complex was complicit in contributing to the build-up of the military's role in dictating national and international policy.

Enter Donald Trump, the candidate who swore to drain the swamp in Washington DC.

Instead of putting an end to the corruption, however, Trump has paved the way for lobbyists, corporations, the military industrial complex, and the Deep State to feast on the carcass of the dying American republic.

Just recently, for instance, Trump—boasting about the "purchase of lots of beautiful military equipment because nobody makes it like the United States—agreed to sell Saudi Arabia more than $110 billion in military weapons and "tanks and helicopters for border security, ships for coastal security, intelligence-gathering aircraft, a missile-defense radar system, and cybersecurity tools."

Meanwhile, Trump—purportedly in an effort to balance the budget in 10 years—wants to slash government funding for programs for the poor, ranging from health care and food stamps to student loans and disability payments.

The military doesn't have to worry about tightening its belt, however. No, the military's budget—with its trillion dollar wars, its $125 billion in administrative waste, and its contractor-driven price gouging that hits the American taxpayer where it hurts the most—will continue to grow, thanks to Trump.

This is how you keep the Deep State in power.

The rich will get richer, the poor will get poorer, the military will get more militaristic, America's endless wars will get more endless, and the prospect of peace will grow ever dimmer.

As for the terrorists, they will keep on being played for pawns as long as Saudi Arabia remains their breeding ground and America remains the source of their weapons, training and know-how (15 of the 19 terrorists—including Osama bin Laden—who carried out the 9/11 attacks were from Saudi Arabia).

Follow the money.  It always points the way.

As Bertram Gross noted in Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America, "evil now wears a friendlier face than ever before in American history."

Writing in 1980, Gross predicted a future in which he saw:
…a new despotism creeping slowly across America. Faceless oligarchs sit at command posts of a corporate-government complex that has been slowly evolving over many decades. In efforts to enlarge their own powers and privileges, they are willing to have others suffer the intended or unintended consequences of their institutional or personal greed. For Americans, these consequences include chronic inflation, recurring recession, open and hidden unemployment, the poisoning of air, water, soil and bodies, and, more important, the subversion of our constitution. More broadly, consequences include widespread intervention in international politics through economic manipulation, covert action, or military invasion...
This stealthy, creeping, silent coup that Gross prophesied is the same danger that writer Rod Serling warned against in the 1964 political thriller Seven Days in May, which put the military in charge of a coup that would institute martial law packaged as a well-meaning and overriding concern for the nation's security.

On the big screen, the military coup is foiled and the republic is saved in a matter of hours. In the real world, however, the plot thickens and spreads out over the past half century.

We've been losing our freedoms so incrementally for so long—sold to us in the name of national security and global peace, maintained by way of martial law disguised as law and order, and enforced by a standing army of militarized police and a political elite determined to maintain their powers at all costs—that it's hard to pinpoint exactly when it all started going downhill, but we're certainly on that downward trajectory now, and things are moving fast.

The question is no longer whether the U.S. government will be preyed upon and taken over by the military industrial complex. That's a done deal.

The "government of the people, by the people, for the people" has perished.

It will not be revived or restored without a true revolution of values and a people's rebellion the likes of which we may not see for a very long time.

America is a profitable business interest for a very select few, and war—wars waged abroad against shadowy enemies and wars waged at home against the American people—has become the Deep State's primary means of income.

If America has been at war more than we've been at peace over the past half century, it's because the country is in the clutches of a greedy military empire with a gargantuan, profit-driven appetite for war. Indeed, the U.S. has been involved in an average of at least one significant military action per year, "ranging from significant fighting in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan to lesser incursions in such far-flung countries as Kuwait, Bosnia, Pakistan, Libya, Grenada, Haiti and Panama… That total does not count more limited U.S. actions, such as drone strikes."

War is big business.

In order to maintain a profit margin when there are no more wars to be fought abroad, one would either have to find new enemies abroad or focus on fighting a war at home, against the American people, and that's exactly what we're dealing with today.
  • Local police transformed into a standing army in the American homeland through millions of dollars' worth of grants to local police agencies for military weapons, vehicles, training and assistance.
  • The citizenry taught to fear and distrust each other and to welcome the metal detectors and pat downs in their schools, bag searches in their train stations, tanks and military weaponry used by their small town police forces, surveillance cameras in their traffic lights, police strip searches on their public roads, unwarranted blood draws at drunk driving checkpoints, whole body scanners in their airports, and government agents monitoring their communications.
Had the government tried to ram such a state of affairs down our throats suddenly, it might have had a rebellion on its hands.

Instead, the American people have been given the boiling frog treatment, immersed in water that slowly is heated up—degree by degree—so that they've fail to notice that they're being trapped and cooked and killed.

"We the people" are in hot water now.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the Constitution doesn't stand a chance against a federalized, globalized standing army protected by legislative, judicial and executive branches that are all on the same side, no matter what political views they subscribe to: suffice it to say, they are not on our side or the side of freedom.

From Clinton to Bush, then Obama and now Trump, it's as if we've been caught in a time loop, forced to re-live the same thing over and over again: the same assaults on our freedoms, the same disregard for the rule of law, the same subservience to the Deep State, and the same corrupt, self-serving government that exists only to amass power, enrich its shareholders and ensure its continued domination.

The republic has fallen to fascism with a smile.

As Bertram Gross wrote in what may have been his most prescient warning:
In 1935 Sinclair Lewis wrote a popular novel in which a racist, anti-Semitic, flag-waving, army-backed demagogue wins the 1936 presidential election and proceeds to establish an Americanized version of Nazi Germany. The title, It Can't Happen Here, was a tongue-in-cheek warning that it might. But the "it" Lewis referred to is unlikely to happen again any place... Anyone looking for black shirts, mass parties, or men on horseback will miss the telltale clues of creeping fascism. In any First World country of advanced capitalism, the new fascism will be colored by national and cultural heritage, ethnic and religious composition, formal political structure, and geopolitical environment... In America, it would be supermodern and multi-ethnic-as American as Madison Avenue, executive luncheons, credit cards, and apple pie. It would be fascism with a smile. As a warning against its cosmetic facade, subtle manipulation, and velvet gloves, I call it friendly fascism. What scares me most is its subtle appeal.

I am worried by those who fail to remember-or have never learned -that Big Business-Big Government partnerships, backed up by other elements, were the central facts behind the power structures of old fascism in the days of Mussolini, Hitler, and the Japanese empire builders. I am worried by those who quibble about labels… I am upset with those who prefer to remain spectators until it may be too late… I am appalled by those who stiffly maintain that nothing can be done until things get worse or the system has been changed. I am afraid of inaction. I am afraid of those who will heed no warnings and who wait for some revelation, research, or technology to offer a perfect solution. I am afraid of those who do not see that some of the best in America has been the product of promises and that the promises of the past are not enough for the future. I am dismayed by those who will not hope, who will not commit themselves to something larger than themselves, of those who are afraid of true democracy or even its pursuit.
Elections will not save us.

Learn the treacherous lessons of 2008 and 2016:  presidential elections have made a mockery of our constitutional system of government, suggesting that our votes can make a difference when, in fact, they merely serve to maintain the status quo.

Don't delay.

Start now—in your own communities, in your schools, at your city council meetings, in newspaper editorials, at protests—by pushing back against laws that are unjust, police departments that overreach, politicians that don't listen to their constituents, and a system of government that grows more tyrannical by the day.

If you wait until 2020 to rescue our republic from the clutches of the Deep State, it will be too late.

Reprinted with permission from the Rutherford Institute.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Exquisitely English (and Amazingly Lucrative) World of London Clerks

It's a Dickensian profession that can still pay upwards of $650,000 per year.

Alex Taylor of Fountain Court Chambers.
Photographer: Nick Ballon for Bloomberg Businessweek

Simon Akam
May 22, 2017, 9:01 PM PDT

At Fountain Court Chambers in central London, the senior clerk is called Alex Taylor. A trim, bald 54-year-old who favors Italian suiting, Taylor isn't actually named Alex. Traditionally in English law, should a newly hired clerk have the same Christian name as an existing member of the staff, he's given a new one, allegedly to avoid confusion on the telephone. During his career, Taylor has been through no fewer than three names. His birth certificate reads "Mark." When he first got to Fountain Court in 1979, the presence of another Mark saw him renamed John. Taylor remained a John through moves to two other chambers. Upon returning to Fountain Court, in 2008, he became Alex. At home his wife still calls him Mark.

Alex/John/Mark Taylor belongs to one of the last surviving professions of Dickensian London. Clerks have co-existed with chimney sweeps and gene splicers. It's a trade that one can enter as a teenager, with no formal qualifications, and that's astonishingly well-paid. A senior clerk can earn a half-million pounds per year, or more than $650,000, and some who are especially entrenched make far more.

Clerks—pronounced "clarks"—have no equivalent in the U.S. legal system, and have nothing in common with the Ivy League–trained Supreme Court aides of the same spelling. They exist because in England and Wales, to simplify a bit, the role of lawyer is divided in two: There are solicitors, who provide legal advice from their offices, and there are barristers, who argue in court. Barristers get the majority of their business via solicitors, and clerks act as the crucial middlemen between the tribes—they work for and sell the services of their barristers, steering inquiring solicitors to the right man or woman.

Clerks are by their own cheerful admission "wheeler-dealers," what Americans might call hustlers. They take a certain pride in managing the careers of their bosses, the barristers—a breed that often combines academic brilliance with emotional fragility. Many barristers regard clerks as their pimps. Some, particularly at the junior end of the profession, live in terror of clerks. The power dynamic is baroque and deeply English, with a naked class divide seen in few other places on the planet. Barristers employ clerks, but a bad relationship can strangle their supply of cases. In his 1861 novel Orley Farm, Anthony Trollope described a barrister's clerk as a man who "looked down from a considerable altitude on some men who from their professional rank might have been considered as his superiors."

Fountain Court is among the most prestigious groups in London practicing commercial law, the branch that deals with business disputes. One day last summer, Taylor gave a tour of the premises, just north of the River Thames. The waiting room had been recently remodeled, with upholstered sofas, low tables, and asymmetrically hung pictures that called to mind an upmarket hotel. Taylor explained that the barristers had tried to walk an aesthetic line between modernity and the heritage that clients expect of people who are sometimes still required to wear a horsehair wig to court. Barristers are self-employed; chambers are a traditional way for them to band together to share expenses, though not profits. The highest-ranking members, barristers who've achieved the rank of Queen's Counsel, are nicknamed silks, after the plush material used to make their robes. But even the silks cannot practice without the services of clerks, who operate from a designated room in each chambers, matching the ability and availability of barristers to solicitors in need.
One woman working at a chambers that threatened clerks' power was spat at. Another found rat poison in her desk

In the Fountain Court clerks room, Taylor sat at the head of a long table, flanked by subordinates wearing telephone headsets. Clerking has historically been a dynastic profession monopolized by white working-class families from the East End of London; Taylor's son is a clerk. Predominantly, clerks hail from Hertfordshire, Kent, and above all Essex, a county that's ubiquitously compared to New Jersey in the U.S. Many clerks rooms in London remain male-dominated, but several women work for Taylor, including two team leaders.

Each morning, a platoon of Taylor's junior clerks sets forth into London pushing special German-manufactured two-wheeled trolleys, equipped with chunky tires for navigating the city's streets and stairs. They're laden with hundreds of pounds of legal documents that must be delivered to Fountain Court barristers at various courtrooms, from the nearby Royal Courts of Justice to the Supreme Court, more than a mile away. Hard physical labor doesn't really correspond to the more senior work of clerking, which is phone- and email-based, and trolley-pushing is often pointed to as a reason for the relative dearth of female clerks higher up the career ladder. One junior Fountain Court clerk, Amber Field, 19, described how on one occasion, when she took hold of a trolley's handlebars and tried to muscle it into a rolling position, it didn't budge—she lifted herself up instead, like a gymnast on the parallel bars.

But the idea that time "on the trolleys" is necessary persists. British commercial courtrooms have been slow to adopt technology; barristers at Fountain Court and elsewhere remain adamant that they can only advocate properly with stacks of paper on hand, rather than off a screen. Some clerks argue that the trolleys help juniors absorb skills, learn the city's legal sites, and meet important people. But additionally, the trolley work serves as an unglamorous rite of passage, guarding the gilded summit of clerking from interlopers. Trolleys keep a closed shop closed, well into the 21st century. In the era of Brexit, as Britons turn inward, few professions better embody their abiding interest in keeping things as they are.

Clerks at work: Fountain Court's Maisie Taylor (no relation to Alex).
Photographer: Nick Ballon for Bloomberg Businessweek

London's barrister population is getting more diverse, but it's still disproportionately made up of men who attended the best private secondary schools, and then Oxford and Cambridge, before joining one of four legal associations, known as Inns of Court—a cosseted progression known as moving "quad to quad to quad." In short, barristers tend to be posh. Being a successful clerk, therefore, allows working-class men and, increasingly, women to exert power over their social superiors. It's an enduring example of a classic British phenomenon: professional interaction across a chasmic class divide.

One of the most peculiar aspects of the clerk-barrister relationship is that clerks handle money negotiations with clients. Barristers argue that avoiding fee discussions keeps their own interactions with clients clean and uncomplicated, but as a consequence, they're sometimes unaware of how much they actually charge. The practice also insulates and coddles them. Clerks become enablers of all sorts of curious, and in some cases self-destructive, behavior.

At Fountain Court, I spent an afternoon with Paul Gott, one of the chambers' star barristers. He stood surrounded by packing cases—he was in the process of moving his office from an annex across the street, where it had become a small tourist attraction. Visitors would stop outside to stare through a window at Gott's extraordinary collection of objects: antique barristers' wig tins, an original wax-cylinder Dictaphone, a deactivated Kalashnikov assault rifle and hand grenades, stamps, and an assortment of vintage medical instruments of alarming purpose.

Like many top barristers, Gott had effectively won the English educational system: He has a double-first-class degree (top marks in preliminary as well as final exams) from Cambridge. As he spoke about his work—Gott specializes in securing injunctions against striking workers—he cut open a packing case with a metal device that he identified as a fleam, an obsolete surgical implement used for bloodletting. Outside of work, Gott divides his time between two homes: one in a Martello tower—a kind of defensive fort built to fend off Napoleon—and another in a converted military landing craft moored on the Thames that he calls the "Houseboat Potemkin." The Chambers and Partners legal directory describes Gott as "phenomenally intelligent," but his eccentric professional demeanor is only possible because he has a hardheaded Alex Taylor to intercede between him and the world, wrangling with clients and handling payments. Taylor creates the space for Gott's personality even as he's employed by him.

A more unsavory side of this coddling relationship is apparent elsewhere. At a chambers called 4 Stone Buildings, a clerk called Chris O'Brien, 28, told me he was once asked to dress a boil on a barrister's back. Among clerks, tales of buying gifts for their barristers' mistresses are legion. But they maintain a level of sympathy for their employers, whose work is competitive and often profoundly isolating. Clerks speak of how their masters, no matter how successful, live in perpetual fear that their current case will be their last. Counsel, the English bar's monthly journal, recently ran a major spread on mental health. John Jones, a prominent silk at Doughty Street Chambers who'd represented Julian Assange, died last year when he jumped in front of a train.

Richard Evans at Fountain Court.
Photographer: Nick Ballon for Bloomberg Businessweek

John Flood, a legal sociologist who in 1983 published the only book-length study of barristers' clerks, subtitled The Law's Middlemen, uses an anthropological lens to explain the relationship. He suggests that barristers, as the de facto priests of English law—with special clothes and beautiful workplaces—require a separate tribe to keep the temple flames alight and press money from their congregation. Clerks keep barristers' hands clean; in so doing they accrue power, and they're paid accordingly.
I asked more than a dozen clerks and barristers, as well as a professional recruiter, what the field pays. Junior clerks, traditionally recruited straight after leaving school at 16 and potentially with no formal academic qualifications, start at £15,000 to £22,000 ($19,500 to $28,600); after 10 years they can make £85,000. Pay for senior clerks ranges from £120,000 to £500,000, and a distinct subset can earn £750,000. The Institute of Barristers' Clerks disputed these figures, saying the lows were too low and the highs too high. But there's no doubt that the best clerks are well-rewarded. David Grief, 63, a senior clerk at the esteemed Essex Court Chambers, spoke to me enthusiastically about his personal light airplane, a TB20 Trinidad.

Money is tightest in criminal law. One chambers, 3 Temple Gardens, lies 200 yards from Fountain Court but might as well inhabit a different dimension. Access is via a plunging staircase lined with green tiles similar to those in a Victorian prison. The clerks room, in the basement, is stacked with battered files detailing promising murders, rapes, and frauds. The senior clerk is Gary Brown, 53, who once played professional soccer. Even the barristers appear harried and ashen in comparison with their better-fed commercial-law counterparts.

The mean income of a criminal barrister working with legal-aid clients is £90,000, meaning even a successful criminal barrister likely makes less than a top commercial clerk. At Fountain Court, once described as a place so prestigious that "you could get silk just by sitting on the toilet," I watched Taylor casually negotiate a fee above £20,000; at 3 Temple Gardens, the clerks wrangled deals for a few hundred pounds. The best-paid criminal clerks make perhaps £250,000 per year—and yet there's an excitement and pressure to a criminal clerks room that's absent in the commercial field.

One day I sat next to Brown's deputy, Glenn Matthews, 41, as he worked out the running order for the courts the next day. For several sultry hours, Matthews juggled the availability of his barristers with the new cases coming in from solicitors and more that moved off a wait list. Some barristers only work as defense counsel, some only prosecute, and some alternate roles, depending on the case; Matthews balanced all this and also made elaborate plans to match barristers who'd already be in a certain provincial town with other cases nearby, to save on travel. It was complex, skilled work done with panache.

Many in the criminal field are motivated by a belief that they're a crucial part of the British judicial machinery, and their work closely corresponds with the public's imagination of what it is to work in the law. Silk, the preeminent British legal TV show of the past few years, focuses on a criminal chambers. It features a lupine senior clerk, Billy Lamb, who bullies, cajoles, bribes, and often appears to have the most fun.

Brown of 3 Temple Gardens; in criminal law, money is tight, but the work can be electric.
Photographer: Nick Ballon for Bloomberg Businessweek

As a chancery chambers, dealing with wills, trusts, banking, and other matters, 4 Stone Buildings is an establishment from the old school, with a facade still pockmarked by World War I bombs. Guests stride down a corridor with deep red wallpaper to a waiting room equipped with a fireplace and shelved with aged lawbooks. The best of the silks' rooms face out across a low dry moat to the gardens of Lincoln's Inn—one of the four Inns of Court, along with Gray's Inn, Inner Temple, and Middle Temple, all less than a mile apart.

There are 34 barristers at 4 Stone, including Jonathan Crow, whose office features a stuffed crow on the mantelpiece. The clerks room is downstairs and furnished significantly less smartly, with desks set behind a shoplike wooden counter. When I visited, the clerks were exclusively white and male, and five of the six were from Essex. At the helm was David Goddard, 64, in charge since 1983. One legal handbook notes that his nickname is "God," for his grip on the chambers.

I sat for two days in God's room, observing clerks' interactions with barristers across the wooden transom that were redolent of the upstairs-downstairs dynamic of Downton Abbey. The barristers spoke with "received pronunciation"—the polished accent traditionally spoken by the social elite and which, unlike lower-class accents, doesn't vary by region; the clerks, fluent Essex—a nasal accent, with elements of cockney. One vital function clerks play is finessing a "cab rank" rule, set by the Bar Standards Board, that states a barrister must take the first case that comes, regardless of their interest. Clerks can invent or manipulate commitments to allow their barristers to turn down work that doesn't appeal. (I didn't witness this at 4 Stone.)

Taylor performs a clerking rite of passage: trolley-hauling.
Photographer: Nick Ballon for Bloomberg Businessweek

Before the U.K. decimalized its currency in 1971, clerks received "shillings on the guinea" for each case fee. Under the new money system, the senior clerks' take was standardized at 10 percent of their chambers' gross revenue. Sometimes, but not always, they paid their junior staff and expenses out of this tithe. Chambers at the time were typically small, four to six barristers strong, but in the 1980s, they grew. As they added barristers and collected more money, each chambers maintained just one chief clerk, whose income soared. The system was opaque: The self-employed barristers didn't know what their peers within their own chambers were paid, and in a precomputer age, with all transactions recorded in a byzantine paper system, barristers sometimes didn't know what their clerks earned, either. Jason Housden, a longtime clerk who now works at Matrix Chambers, told me that, when he started out in the 1980s at another office, his senior clerk routinely earned as much as the top barristers and on occasion was the best-paid man in the building.

One anecdote from around the same time, possibly apocryphal, is widely shared. At a chambers that had expanded and was bringing in more money, three silks decided their chief clerk's compensation, at 10 percent, had gotten out of hand. They summoned him for a meeting and told him so. In a tactical response that highlights all the class baggage of the clerk-barrister relationship, as well as the acute British phobia of discussing money, the clerk surprised the barristers by agreeing with them. "I'm not going to take a penny more from you," he concluded. The barristers, gobsmacked and paralyzed by manners, never raised the pay issue again, and the clerk remained on at 10 percent until retirement.

Since the 1980s, fee structures have often been renegotiated when a senior clerk retires. Purely commission-based arrangements are now rare—combinations of salary and incentive are the rule, though some holdouts remain. Goddard told me last summer that he receives 3 percent of the entire take of the barristers at 4 Stone; later he said this was inaccurate, and that his pay was determined by a "complicated formula." (Pupil barristers, as trainees are known, start there at £65,000 per year, and the top silks each make several million pounds.)

The huge sums that clerks earn, at least relative to their formal qualifications, both sit at odds with the feudal nature of their employment and underpin it. In some chambers, clerks still refer to even junior barristers as "sir" or "miss." Housden remembers discussing this issue early in his career with a senior clerk. He asked the man whether he found calling people half his age "sir" demeaning. The reply was straightforward: "For three-quarters of a million pounds per year, I'll call anyone sir."

Most chambers have become less formal, even as the class distinctions between barrister and clerk are in many ways intact. At 4 Stone, Goddard refers to the heads of chambers, John Brisby and George Bompas, as "Brizz" and "Bumps." The traditional generic term used by clerks for a barrister is "guvnor," though this appears to be fading. The intimacy of the long-term clerk-barrister relationship is nuanced. Goddard once walked into the room of a senior member of chambers who was proving particularly truculent. Goddard asked, "Why are you being such a c---?"
The barrister's eyes lit up. "I love it when you talk to me like that," he replied.

Ryan Tunkel of 4 Stone Buildings.
Photographer: Nick Ballon for Bloomberg Businessweek

The origins of clerking, like much of English law, run to the medieval period. In the 14th century, a lawyer would employ an individual known as a "manciple" to look after his house, in return for "a bed and a reasonable dinner," the legal historian Samuel Thorne once wrote. Clerks as we might recognize them today existed by the 1666 Great Fire of London and were firmly established by the Victorian era. Efforts to modernize the clerking system have flickered in recent decades, with some success and a lot of rancor.

Around 1989 a former peace activist named Christine Kings attended a dinner party in East London where a group of barristers were complaining about their clerks, who they said terrorized them, ran their lives, and also earned much more than they did. The barristers had an idea: to set up a new sort of practice unfettered by ancient quirks of the bar, including the power of those uppity middlemen. They asked Kings, who had no legal background, to join them, taking on many of the duties typically performed by a senior clerk, but for much reduced pay.

Doughty Street Chambers, as they named their new association, controversially set up its operations outside the footprint of the four Inns of Court. As an interloper, Kings wasn't popular with clerks. When she was a few months into the job, standing at the top of Chancery Lane, one tried to spit in her face. As others began to take on similar roles at various chambers—ex-military men at first, who met with little success, and then women—Kings organized informal gatherings to promote solidarity. One attendee said she'd found rat poison in her desk drawer.

Kings became the first professional chief executive officer of a barristers' chambers in London. At a mass meeting of some 300 barristers and other personnel in the early 1990s, she spoke about her new role and the ways it broke from traditional clerking. When someone asked what she was paid, she replied that the Bar Council suggested £44,000. The barristers gaped—it was a fraction of what they paid their chief clerks to run their establishments. Since then, several chambers have experimented with professional heads from nonclerking backgrounds, under titles ranging from CEO to director, with varying responsibilities. At Fountain Court, an administrator deals with logistics, while the core part of clerking—the routing of incoming cases to barristers and fee negotiations—remains in traditional hands. (Kings, 59, now works at Outer Temple Chambers.)

Doughty Street Chambers has thrived. It's best known as the professional home of the accomplished human-rights lawyer Amal Clooney. Another outfit that eschews the more suffocating traditions of the English bar is Matrix Chambers, which sits in a former police station at the northern fringe of Gray's Inn. Matrix emerged in 2000 when a group of mostly human-rights barristers, including Cherie Blair, the wife of then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, splintered off from seven other chambers. Together, they aimed for a funky, fresh aesthetic, installing a DayGlo-illuminated reception desk inherited from an ad agency and refusing to pose for the traditional portraits of staff standing in front of lawbooks. Those who resented such modernizations referred to Matrix as Ratmix.

3 Temple Gardens' Sam Edwards.
Photographer: Nick Ballon for Bloomberg Businessweek

Seventeen years after its founding, Matrix is an established part of the London legal landscape, with a particularly strong reputation in public, media, and employment law. (Matrix has represented Bloomberg LP, the owner of Bloomberg Businessweek.) Matrix doesn't use the term "clerk." Instead, there are three teams, called "practice managers," that each deal with solicitors in different areas of the law. At the top is a chief executive, Lindsay Scott, a former solicitor who takes on many of the strategic duties of a senior clerk.

On a Friday morning, I watched as Hugh Southey, one of Matrix's silks and a descendant of the Romantic poet Robert Southey, gave a presentation to the practice management team on "terrorism prevention and investigation measures." The British government introduced these controversial legal maneuvers in 2011 to manage potential terrorists who can't be charged or deported. Most chambers pay limited attention to the legal education of their clerks, who as a consequence sell a product they don't understand. Matrix's crew, with more women and nonwhite faces than most clerking staffs, are routinely given opportunities to learn.

Some in London legal circles regard Matrix's reforms as semantic, noting the staff is thick with men from classic clerking backgrounds. Housden, Matrix's practice director, started work as a teenage clerk, and one of his colleagues has been a clerk for 25 years. As different as Matrix or other reformers might want to be, they're in the same marketplace as more orthodox chambers, and they play by a common set of rules and expectations that goes back centuries. One prevailing understanding of last year's Brexit vote is that it signaled a desire to be more British, less beholden to outsiders' notions of progress. Essex, the spiritual home of the clerk, had two of the five districts that voted the most overwhelmingly to leave the European Union.

As I spent time with London's clerks, I had the impression of a group of people who'd learned some of the language of modernity, but weren't themselves fully of the modern world—their boozy pub lunches attested to that. Some of the staff at Matrix have newfangled titles, it's true. But as Taylor might observe, all that's really changed is the name.

(Corrects the photo captions identifying Richard Evans and Sam Edwards.)

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