Hillary Clinton Is Running for President in 2016 (God Help Us All)

The Daily Sheeple


Well, let’s be honest America. Our only real “choices” in the upcoming bread and circuses election 2016 are really going to be Jeb Bush (Establishment) or Hillary Clinton (a Bush offshoot, more Establishment).

These are Americas unofficial dynasties, and no matter which puppet is put in place, the oligarchy always wins. Everyone else they are parading out is simply around to split up the vote some more and make it seem like we have actual choices in the leadership of this country that we probably haven’t had since JFK was shot.

Truth is, whoever is set to take the helm of one of the largest, most evil and deadly corporations in the world was likely already chosen several Bilderberg meetings ago.

Still. Can you imagine following up Obama’s eight years with a Hillary presidency???

Here are just a few reasons to waste your time voting for her:

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Ayahuasca Psychedelic Tested for Depression

Scientific American

A pilot study with the shamanic brew hints at its therapeutic potential
By Arran Frood and Nature magazine

Ayahuasca, a sacramental drink traditionally brewed from the bark of a jungle vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and the leaves of a shrub (Psychotria viridis), contains ingredients that are illegal in most countries.
Credit: Jairo Galvis Henao/Creative Commons

 

A psychedelic drink used for centuries in healing ceremonies is now attracting the attention of biomedical scientists as a possible treatment for depression. Researchers from Brazil last month published results from the first clinical test of a potential therapeutic benefit for ayahuasca, a South American plant-based brew. Although the study included just six volunteers and no placebo group, the scientists say that the drink began to reduce depression in patients within hours, and the effect was still present after three weeks. They are now conducting larger studies that they hope will shore up their findings.

The work forms part of a renaissance in studying the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelic or recreational drugs—research that was largely banned or restricted worldwide half a century ago. Ketamine, which is used medically as an anaesthetic, has shown promise as a fast-acting antidepressant; psilocybin, a hallucinogen found in ‘magic mushrooms’, can help to alleviate anxiety in patients with advanced-stage cancer; MDMA (ecstasy) can alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder; and patients who experience debilitating cluster headaches have reported that LSD eases their symptoms.

Ayahuasca, a sacramental drink traditionally brewed from the bark of a jungle vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and the leaves of a shrub (Psychotria viridis), contains ingredients that are illegal in most countries. But a booming ayahuasca industry has developed in South America, where its religious use is allowed, and where thousands of people each year head to rainforest retreats to sample its intense psychedelic insights.

Depression drink?
The brew has been studied by anthropologists, social scientists and theologians, but clinical research on ayahuasca has been limited to observation of its effects in mice and rats, and in healthy human volunteers, including brain-imaging studies and retrospective surveys of past use.

For the latest study, researchers led by Jaime Hallak, a neuroscientist at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, gave one mild dose of ayahuasca to six volunteers who had been diagnosed with mild to severe depression that was unresponsive to at least one conventional antidepressant drug. None had drunk ayahuasca before.

After their drink, the participants sat in a quiet, dimly lit room. Physicians used standard clinical questionnaires to track their depression symptoms. Improvements were seen in two or three hours (though the psychedelic effects of an oral dose take around five hours to wear off)—a rapid effect, as conventional antidepressants can take weeks to work. The benefits, which were statistically significant, continued to hold up in assessments over the next three weeks. Three of the participants vomited, a common side effect of ayahuasca, but otherwise the procedure was well tolerated, Hallak says.

“It is a proof of concept of what so many ritual ayahuasca users already know: ayahuasca can help one feel extra well, not just during the experience, but for up to days or weeks after,” says Brian Anderson, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved in the study but has published papers on the drink’s potential. “The relationship between ayahuasca’s psychedelic effects and its therapeutic effects needs to be empirically studied,” he says.

James Stone, a psychiatrist at King’s College London who has studied the effects of psychoactive drugs on the brain, says that the study is interesting but should be viewed with caution because it had no placebo group. “Placebo response is a well-documented effect in clinical trials of antidepressants,” he says. “The only things that can really be concluded from this study are that it is tolerated by patients with depression, and in these people did not seem to have any serious side effects following a single dose.”

It is biochemically plausible that ayahuasca could treat depression—its plants contain compounds that alter the concentrations of the mood-regulating neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain—as do commercial antidepressants. These compounds include the hallucinogen N,N-dimethyltryptamine, which binds to serotonin receptors, and also the chemicals harmine, tetrahydroharmine and harmaline, which are thought to inhibit an enzyme called monoamine oxidase A and so prevent the breakdown of serotonin and other neurotransmitters.

“It is possible that ayahuasca and other serotonergic psychedelic drugs, such as psilocybin, may be useful as antidepressants for particular subsets of patients in the future,” says Stone. “We await the results of well-designed, random controlled trials to determine clinical effectiveness.”

Further trials are under way. Draulio de Araujo, a neuroscientist at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte in Natal, Brazil, and a co-author of the study, says that his team has already treated 46 (out of a planned 80) patients in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of ayahuasca and depression that began in January 2014. “We hope to finish it by the end of this year,” he says.

Political Smears in U.S. Never Change: the NYT’s 1967 Attack on MLK’s Anti-War Speech

The Intercept

BY GLENN GREENWALD

Featured photo - Political Smears in U.S. Never Change: the NYT’s 1967 Attack on MLK’s Anti-War Speech

John Oliver’s Monday night interview of Edward Snowden — which in 24 hours has been viewed by 3 million people on YouTube alone — renewed all the standard attacks in Democratic circles accusing Snowden of being a traitor in cahoots with the Kremlin. What’s most striking about this — aside from the utter lack of evidence for any of it — is how identical it is to what Nixon officials said to smear the last generation’s greatest whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg (who is widely regarded by Democrats as a hero because his leak occurred with a Republican in the White House). As The New York Times reported in August 1973:
. . .

As the Freedom of the Press Foundation recently noted: in December 1973,The NYT described the origins of Nixon’s “Plumbers Unit” and detailed how much of it was motivated by the innuendo spread by Henry Kissinger that Ellsberg was a covert Soviet operative:

I defy anyone to listen to any Democratic apparatchik insinuate that Snowden is a Russian agent and identify any differences with how Nixon apparatchiks smeared Ellsberg (or, for that matter, how today’s warnings from Obama officials about the grave harm coming from leaks differ from the warnings issued by Bush and Nixon officials). The script for smearing never changes — it stays constant over five decades and through the establishments of both parties — and it’s one of the reasons Ellsberg so closely identifies with Snowden and has become one of his most vocal defenders.

A reader this morning pointed me to one of the most illustrative examples of this dynamic: an April 1967 New York Times editorial harshly chastising Martin Luther King for his anti-war activism. That editorial was published three days after King’s speech on the Vietnam War at the Riverside Church in New York City, which, as I have written about many times, was one of the most powerful (and radical) indictments of American militarism delivered in the 20th century.

Among other things, King denounced the U.S. government as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” as well as the leading exponent of “the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long.” He said “the war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit.” And he argued that no significant American problem can be cured as long as the country remains an aggressive and violent actor in the world: “if America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over.”

The attack of the NYT editors on King for that speech is strikingly familiar, because it’s completely identical to how anti-war advocates in the U.S. are maligned today. It begins by lecturing King that his condemnation of U.S. militarism is far too simplistic: “the moral issues in Vietnam are less clear cut than he suggests.” It accuses him of “slandering” the U.S. by comparing it to evil regimes. And it warns him that anti-war activism could destroy the civil rights movement, because he is guilty of overstating American culpability and downplaying those of its enemies:

That has every element of the standard Washington attack on contemporary anti-war advocates: condemnation of U.S. militarism is “overly-simplistic,” ignores complexities and nuances, “slanders” our government leaders and military officials, and downplays or “whitewashes” the crimes of America’s enemies. It’s worth remembering that Washington smear merchants never change their script: they haul the same ones out regardless of the issue or who is doing the dissenting.

Photo of King’s anti-war speech at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga. on April 30, 1967. (AP)

Blackwater Guard Sentenced to Life in Prison for Role in Notorious 2007 Massacre

Three other former Iraq military contractors receive 30-year prison terms

This combination made from file photo shows convicted former Blackwater guards, from left, Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, Nicholas Slatten and Paul Slough. (Photo: AP)This combination made from file photo shows convicted former Blackwater guards, from left, Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, Nicholas Slatten and Paul Slough. (Photo: AP)

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth on Monday sentenced former Blackwater security guard Nicholas Slatten to life in prison for his role in a 2007 attack on Iraqi civilians, which left 14 dead and wounded 17 others.

The Associated Press reports that the three other Blackwater employees—Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard—were sentenced to 30 years and one day each on charges that included manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and using firearms while committing a felony.

Earlier:

Four former Blackwater guards face sentencing Monday for their role in the deaths of 14 Iraqi civilians during a 2007 massacre called “Baghdad’s bloody Sunday.”

The men, Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, Paul Slough, and Nicholas Slatten, were convicted in October 2014 after years of legal battles. “Slatten faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole for first-degree murder before U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth,” the Washington Post reports; the other three men face the possibility of dozens of years behind bars.

While defense lawyers have argued that the men were acting in self-defense, federal prosecutors wrote that the men’s “crimes here were so horrendous—the massacre and maiming of innocents so heinous—that they outweigh any factors that the defendants may argue form a basis for leniency.”

In an interview with Democracy Now! last year, Jeremy Scahill, author of the bestsellingBlackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, described the deadly traffic square shooting that left 17 people killed:

[Blackwater guards] were responding—they were a unit called Raven 23. They were the elite Praetorian Guard of the U.S. occupation. They were guarding Paul Bremer, who was the original sort of proconsul in Iraq, the “viceroy,” as he liked to call himself. They were responding to an incident that had occurred on the opposite end of Baghdad from where their base was located. They roll out. They end up hitting a crowded intersection at Nisour Square. What often would happen in Iraq is that mercenary contractors would start throwing frozen water bottles at cars, trying to force them off the street, and then eventually escalate up to shooting at vehicles. These guys basically tried to take over this traffic circle, the Blackwater guys, so that they could speed around and continue on to their destination.

A small white car with a young Iraqi medical student and his mother didn’t stop fast enough for the Blackwater convoy, and they decided to escalate it all the way up to assassinating those individuals. And I say “assassinating,” because they shot to kill these people, and then they blew their car up. And then, that started this massive shooting spree that went on for—it was sustained for minutes. And at the end of it, 17 Iraqis were killed, including a nine-year-old boy named Ali Kinani, whose story we’ve told on the show before, and some 20 others were wounded in the attacks. And it was—you know, it became known as Baghdad’s “Bloody Sunday.”

And Blackwater… in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, said that they had been fired upon. They had their allies in the media. A senior producer at CNN was quick to get on TV and say, “Oh, no, no, this wasn’t a massacre. You know, this was a firefight, and Blackwater was shot at.” Clearly, this jury saw what the Iraqi eyewitnesses have always contended, and that is that this was an unprovoked massacre of Iraqi civilians, none of whom were posing a threat, except not stopping fast enough for the mercenaries helping to occupy their country.

As Common Dreams previously reported, “the incident became a flashpoint of outrage over the atrocities that U.S. forces—particularly mercenaries—inflict on occupied civilian populations in Iraq.”

The Post reports Monday: “Defendants said that the case is the first in which the U.S. government prosecuted its own security contractors for the firearms violation, which involve weapons given them by the government to do their jobs in a war zone.”

Scahill wrote following the guilty convictions that they marked yet another instance in which high-ranking individuals failed to be the targets for accountability.

“Just as with the systematic torture at Abu Ghraib, it is only the low level foot-soldiers of Blackwater that are being held accountable. [Blackwater founder Erik] Prince and other top Blackwater executives continue to reap profits from the mercenary and private intelligence industries.

“None of the U.S. officials from the Bush and Obama administrations who unleashed Blackwater and other mercenary forces across the globe are being forced to answer for their role in creating the conditions for the Nisour Square shootings and other deadly incidents involving private contractors,” Scahill wrote.

Energy-hungry desalination plants will turn all California residents into global warming sinners and destroyers of life

by Mike Adams

The irony is inescapable: In reaction to the historic drought that has transformed the California dream into California dust, the state is now embarking on the construction of a wave of desalination plants that will turn ocean water into fresh water. Tragically, these power-hungry desalination plants will be running primarily on fossil fuel-generated electricity, meaning that California residents will have to commit global warming crimes (i.e. producing carbon dioxide) every time they flush their toilets or take a shower.

Fresh water, in other words, is about to have a “fossil fuel consumption equivalent” across the state. Every gallon of water consumed will have a calculable CO2 emission profile and mercury pollution factor, meaning that a person will not be able to live in California without being a global warming sinner.

California, of course, is the state that prides itself on being progressive and environmentally conscious. Yes its non-sustainable lifestyle consumed the region’s limited fossil water supplies to the point of near-collapse. Now, it must become America’s worst carbon dioxide producer just to provide basic water supplies to its people. And where will all the natural gas and coal come from that powers these desalination plants?The very same energy-producing states that Californians typically condemn for producing fossil fuels.

Flush a toilet and you destroy the planet

Most eco-conscious Californians are unaware that the energy they use comes predominantly from fossil fuels. (See source.) Natural gas — which produces carbon dioxide when burned — generates almost half the state’s electricity. Coal generates another eight percent or so, meaning that fossil fuels provide the majority of California’s electricity. (Renewables only provide about 18 percent, and nuclear provides another nine percent or so.)

What this means is that as more and more desalination plants come online, they’ll be using primarily fossil fuels to process water — an energy-intensive operation.

“A $1 billion desalination plant to supply booming San Diego County is under construction here and due to open as early as November, providing a major test of whether California cities will be able to resort to the ocean to solve their water woes,” reports the New York Times. “Plans are far along for a large plant in Huntington Beach that would supply water to populous Orange County. A mothballed plant in Santa Barbara may soon be reactivated. And more than a dozen communities along the California coast are studying the issue.”

As each of these plants comes online, they will add an extremely high energy cost to the water consumed by California residents. Every act that consumes water — washing your hands, watering a garden, flushing a toilet — will carry a heightened ecological cost. When water simply falls out of the sky, consuming that water is ecologically sound. But when water has to be procured using extremely energy-intensive desalination systems, it can no longer be considered a “green” resource.

“[Desalination plants] will use a huge amount of electricity, increasing the carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming, which further strains water supplies,” writes the New York Times, reiterating what the liberal media calls “concluded science” which claims modern-day global warming is almost entirely caused by human activity. If that’s the case, however, then Californians who consume water produced by desalination plants must categorize themselves as global warming sinners who are destroying the planet every time they drink a cup of water.

As Food and Water Watch writes:

Enormous amounts of energy are needed to force ocean water through tiny membrane filters at a high pressure. Ocean water desalination can be greater than ten times more energy intensive than other supply sources. Ocean desalination proponents, such as private corporations Poseidon Resources and American Water, plan to locate plants alongside existing coastal power plants, thus potentially spurring their emission of global warming pollution.

To be consistent with their beliefs, then, California’s environmentalists must now either reject all water consumption or leave the region. The mere act of living in California and consuming any water at all — such as flushing a toilet — will soon be a direct violation of fundamental ecological principles.

Simultaneously, California itself will become a symbol of ecological destruction as it burns fossil fuels to generate water for cities that probably never should have been built in the desert in the first place.

Ironically, California’s heavy dependence on fossil fuels to produce water will worsen the drought, according to those who follow the global warming narrative. Even according to the New York Times as stated above, fossil fuel-powered desalination will cause California to accelerate its own demise as it contributes to a worsening of global warming. This, ecologically speaking, is a “spiral of death” that can only lead to California ultimately becoming all but uninhabitable by humans.

Desalination also destroys ocean life

Desalinating ocean water, by the way, has destructive ecological consequences far beyond the fossil fuels needed to power it.

“Both the intake of seawater and the disposal of excess salt into the ocean can harm sea life,” explains the New York Times. “Sucking in huge amounts of seawater, for instance, can kill fish eggs and larvae by the billions.”

It also dumps concentrated salt (brine) back into the ocean, where it contaminates the water due to unusually high salt concentration, functioning as a kind of localized poison that kills off nearby marine species. “The brine, or super salty wastewater created from the desalination process, also has the potential to upset our delicate coastal ecosystems,” writes Food and Water Watch.

This means the daily consumption of water in California is not just equated with carbon dioxide emissions… it also directly contributes to the death of life in the Pacific Ocean.

In the near future dominated by desalination, then, merely living in California makes you a bad person because you are killing ocean life and destroying the environment with every drop of water you consume or waste.

“Desalination of the sea is not the answer to our water problems. It is survival technology, a life support system, an admission of the extent of our failure.” — John Archer (Food and Water Watch Desalination Report – PDF)

Californians about to put evil corporations in charge of their water lifeline

There’s another surprising angle on all this: Shifting to water desalination puts “evil corporations” in charge of your water lifeline. As Food and Water Watch writes:

Ocean desalination provides a new opportunity for private corporations to own and sell water. Currently, there is little regulation of these facilities, creating the possibility that private corporations would rate-gouge thirsty populations — similar to what happened in the Enron energy scheme.

Corporate control of water supplies is a top concern among environmentalists and those focused on “environmental justice.” When corporations like Nestle seize control of water systems in third world countries, the company is (rightly) condemned by activists who point out that water should never be controlled by for-profit corporations that can price gouge the local population. Yet that’s exactly what California is now pursuing!

As we all learned from the Enron fiasco, when there’s money to be made, corporations consistently place profits as a higher priority than human compassion or human rights. To hand over a significant portion of the state’s water supply to for-profit corporations is to invite an inevitable humanitarian catastrophe as those corporations realize people can be forced to pay almost anything for water.

Population reduction is the “ultimate solution” to the water problem, say death-promoting extremist scientists

To save the state from a hydrological collapse, water must now be portrayed as evil. People who consume water must be tattled on, reported to authorities or publicly humiliated. Social pressures will now turn California into a state where un-showered people living in overpriced homes manicured with dead lawns and abandoned swimming pools will triple stack their toilet bowls before flushing in order to live within their own self-imposed boundaries of ecological guilt. They will drink their own recycled urine, condemn corporate-owned water bottling plants and vandalize golf courses as a form of ecological protest.

And yet, despite their best efforts, every breath they exhale will be their own personal reminder of how they are destroying the planet. It’s not just the CO2 they’re exhaling, of course: it’s also the water that’s lost with each breath. Replacing that water now requires contributing to global warming by burning fossil fuels, meaning the very act of human respiration is a crime against the planet if you live in California.

The solution to all this, according to an alarming number of technology billionaires, death-loving scientists and radical activists, is to forcibly reduce human population. If the mere act of breathing makes you a threat to the planet, then the world can be saved by literally stopping a few billion people breathing, they believe.

Remember Bill Gates’ famous population reduction equation? As I wrote in this Natural News article in 2010:

In a recent TED conference presentation, Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, who has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to new vaccine efforts, speaks on the issue of CO2 emissions and its effects on climate change. He presents a formula for tracking CO2 emissions as follows: CO2 = P x S x E x C.

P = People
S = Services per person
E = Energy per service
C = CO2 per energy unit

Then he adds that in order to get CO2 to zero, “probably one of these numbers is going to have to get pretty close to zero.”

Following that, Bill Gates begins to describe how the first number — P (for People) — might be reduced. He says:

“The world today has 6.8 billion people… that’s headed up to about 9 billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent.”

It’s no surprise, then, that vaccines given to young women in Kenya were recently found to be spiked with sterilization chemicals for population control. “We sent six samples from around Kenya to laboratories in South Africa. They tested positive for the HCG antigen,” Dr. Muhame Ngare of the Mercy Medical Centre in Nairobi told LifeSiteNews. “They were all laced with HCG.”

It’s also no surprise that many academics in the United States, such as Dr. Eric Pianka, openly talk about solving the population problem with weaponized viral pandemics. “Dr. Eric R. Pianka, a Texas ecologist and herpetologist … suggested during a meeting at the Texas Academy of Sciences that, were Ebola to become airborne, it would likely kill 90 percent of the human population and instantly solve what he called the ‘overpopulation problem.'” (Natural News)

Similarly, Dr. Charles Arntzen, head of The Biodesign Institute for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, publicly joked about using a genetically engineered virus to kill off 25 percent of the population: (SOURCE)

Has anybody seen “Contagion?” (laughter) That’s the answer! Go out and use genetic engineering to create a better virus. (laughter) Twenty-five percent of the population is supposed to go in “Contagion.”

Read more about vaccine-induced population reduction at:
http://www.naturalnews.com/047571_vaccines_s…

Watch the Bill Gates population reduction video at:
http://www.naturalnews.tv/v.asp?v=A155D11345…

America’s Red Meat Horror Show: Why We Must Get Rid of Factory Farms

It’s time to stop fighting among ourselves about whether or not to eat meat.
 

For the first time since the advent of industrial agriculture, the federal government is considering advising Americans to eat “less red and processed meat.”

That advice is the outcome of studies conducted by an independent panel of “experts” which was asked by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for recommended changes to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

The February 19 “eat less red and processed meat” pronouncement by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) was reported widely in mainstream media. It set off a heated debate about whether or not consumers should eat meat, a debate that included the standard name-calling by factory farm front groups, including the Farm Bureau, denouncing consumers and environmentalists (and their alleged pawns on the DGAC) for being “anti-meat” and “anti-farmer.”

Unfortunately in its recommendations, the DGAC didn’t really come out and tell us the whole truth, which would go something like this: “Americans should eat less, or rather no red and processed meat from filthy, inhumane factory farms or feedlots, where the animals are cruelly crammed together and routinely fed a diet of herbicide-drenched, genetically engineered grains, supplemented by a witch’s brew of antibiotics, artificial hormones, steroids, blood, manure and slaughterhouse waste, contributing to a deadly public health epidemic of obesity, heart disease, cancer, antibiotic resistance, hormone disruption and food allergies.”

If the DGAC had really told us the truth about America’s red meat horror show (95 percent of our red meat comes from these Confined Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs), we’d be having a conversation about how we can get rid of factory farms, instead of a rather abstract debate on the ethics of eating meat.

With a real debate we could conceivably start to change the self-destructive purchasing and eating habits (the average American carnivore consumes nine ounces or more of toxic CAFO meat and animal products daily) of most Americans. Instead we are having a slightly more high-volume replay of the same old debate, whereby vegetarians and vegans, constituting approximately 5 percent of the population, tell the other 95 percent, who are omnivores, to stop eating meat. Nothing much ever comes of that particular debate, which leaves thousands of hard-working, conscientious ranchers, and millions of health-, environment- and humane-minded omnivores, out of the conversation.

I say thousands of “hard-working, conscientious,” ranchers are being left out of the conversation because I know lots of them.

North American cattle ranchers, for the most part, have no love for Cargill, Tyson, Monsanto, JBS, Smithfield, Elanco (animal drugs) or McDonald’s. Most of these ranchers practice traditional animal husbandry, conscientiously taking care of their animals from birth. They graze their cattle free-range on grass, as nature intended, before they’re forced to sell these heretofore-healthy animals at rock-bottom prices to the monopolistic meat cartel.

Before these hapless creatures are dragged away to hell, to be fattened up on GMO grains and drugged up in America’s CAFOs, their meat is high in beneficial Omega 3 and conjugated linoleic acids (LA), and low in “bad” fats.

Unfortunately by the time their abused and contaminated carcasses arrive, all neatly packaged, at your local supermarket, restaurant or school cafeteria, the meat is low in Omega 3 and good “fats,” and routinely tainted by harmful bacteria, not to mention pesticide, steroid and antibiotic residues. What was once a healthy food has now become a literal poison that clogs up your veins, makes you fat, and heightens your risk of heart attack or cancer.

I mention millions of “health-, environment-, and humane-minded” consumers being left out of the “meat versus no meat” conversation because, as director of the two million-strong, Organic Consumers Association, I talk and exchange emails with conscious consumers every day.

No organic consumer, vegetarian or omnivore I’ve ever encountered consciously supports the cruelty of intensive confinement for farm animals. Nor do they support feeding herbivores genetically engineered, herbicide-drenched grains, mixed with slaughterhouse waste. No one supports dosing factory farmed animals with antibiotics and hormones that then end up in your kid’s hamburger at school (unless it’s organic or 100-percent grass-fed.)

No one in their right mind, or at least no one who has ever experienced a factory farm first-hand or even read a book or watched a video about what’s going on, supports CAFOs. That’s why corporate agribusiness is working overtime to pass state “Ag Gag” laws making it a crime to take photos of CAFOs. That’s why the beef cartel and Big Food spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year to keep you in the dark about CAFOs, about whether or not your food contains genetically engineered ingredients, and about the country-of-origin of your food.

If CAFO meat and animal products had to be labeled (a proposition I support wholeheartedly), the entire factory farm industry would collapse. If CAFO meat had to be labeled, not only in grocery stores but also in restaurants,

McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and the rest would immediately be on the phone, contacting ranchers directly to buy their grass-fed, healthy, free- range beef.

Before we go any further, let’s identify the real culprits in this CAFO horror show.

Four multi-billion dollar transnational companies—Tyson JBS, Cargill and Smithfield—produce about 85 percent of the factory farm meat in the U.S., making it difficult for ranchers to sell their livestock to anyone but the Big Four. And of course these same Big Four companies, along with their front groups such as the North American Meat Institute, are lobbying the government to ditch the 2015 dietary guidelines to “eat less red and processed meat” recommendation because they understand what that recommendation will do to their bottom lines.

But what the Big Four fear even more is the thought of consumers waking up to the horrors of factory farms, and the filthy, contaminated meat that comes out of these animal prisons.

Fortunately, demand for healthier, sustainably raised grass-fed beef is growing rapidly. Here in Minneapolis-St. Paul where I spend a good part of the year, there are now over 100 restaurants that offer grass-fed beef on their menus. Local co-ops and natural food grocery stores are barely able to keep up with the increasing consumer demand.

But unfortunately 95 percent of beef today still comes from factory farms and feedlots. Meanwhile most of the 100-percent grass-fed meat sold at restaurants such as Chipotle or Carl’s Jr. (a popular chain on the West Coast) is imported from Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay and Argentina, rather than produced here in the US. Why? It’s not because consumers don’t want healthier, more humanely raised 100-percent grass fed beef. It’s because Cargill and Big Food have monopolized the market by brainwashing the public into believing that cheap CAFO meat is OK, while controlling nearly all of the meat processing plants in the country.

The time has come to shift the American diet away from unhealthy, inhumane, GMO factory farmed food. But as Kendra Kimbirauskas of the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project (SRAP) pointed out at her TEDx talk in New York City recently, we, conscious consumers and farmers, “need to get on common ground” and stop “in-fighting over whether to eat ethical meat, go meat-free, or advocate for bigger cages…” As Kimbirauskas emphasizes, we need to enlist environmentalists in our anti-CAFO campaigning as well.

“As long as animals are in factory farms, they are polluting our environment”… And, Kimbirauskas added, “Those most impacted by the problem (farmers and rural people adjacent to CAFOs) need to be most visible in the fight to change It.”

Meat (along with eggs and dairy products) from factory farms is literally killing people with diet-related diseases. Factory farms are a disaster, not only for the animals, but also for the communities where manure and chemical fertilizers and pesticides pollute the air, the soil, streams, lakes, rivers and drinking water.

Factory farms and the GMO farms that supply them with animal feed are a disaster for the climate as well, releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases, including CO2, methane and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. The grasslands that support grass-fed beef, on the other hand, if grazed properly, sequester CO2 from the air and put it in the soil, while drastically reducing or eliminating altogether methane and nitrous oxide emissions.

It’s time to stop fighting among ourselves about whether or not to eat meat. Americans need to boycott all factory farmed meat and animal products. Period.

Beyond boycotting CAFO products, if consumers care about their health and the health of the planet, we need to reduce our consumption of sustainable grass-fed animal products to approximately three or four ounces a day (not nine ounces a day, the current average).

We are what we eat. We must get rid of factory farms and put the Earth’s billions of confined farm animals back outside on the land, grazing and foraging, where they belong.

Twelve Years Later, We Know the Winner in Iraq: Iran

Iran should send America a fruit basket to thank it for setting the stage so perfectly for its ascent.
 

The U.S. is running around in circles in the Middle East, patching together coalitions here, acquiring strange bedfellows there, and in location after location trying to figure out who the enemy of its enemy actually is. The result is just what you’d expect: chaos further undermining whatever’s left of the nations whose frailty birthed the jihadism America is trying to squash.

And in a classic tale of unintended consequences, just about every time Washington has committed another blunder in the Middle East, Iran has stepped in to take advantage. Consider that country the rising power in the region and credit American clumsiness for the new Iranian ascendancy.

Today’s News — and Some History

The U.S. recently concluded air strikes in support of the Iraqi militias that Iran favors as they took back the city of Tikrit from the Islamic State (IS). At the same time, Washington began supplying intelligence and aerial refueling on demand for a Saudi bombing campaign against the militias Iran favors in Yemen. Iran continues to advise and assist Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom Washington would still like to depose and, as part of its Syrian strategy, continues to supply and direct Hezbollah in Lebanon, a group the U.S. considers a terror outfit.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has successfully negotiated the outlines of an agreement with Iran in which progress on severely constricting its nuclear program would be traded for an eventual lifting of sanctions and the granting of diplomatic recognition. This is sure to further bolster Tehran’s status as a regional power, while weakening long-time American allies Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States.

A clever pundit could undoubtedly paint all of the above as a realpolitik ballet on Washington’s part, but the truth seems so much simpler and more painful. Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, U.S. policy in the region has combined confusion on an immense scale with awkward bursts of ill-coordinated and exceedingly short-term acts of expediency. The country that has most benefited is Iran. No place illustrates this better than Iraq.

Iraq Redux (Yet Again)

On April 9, 2003, just over 12 years ago, U.S. troops pulled down a statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad’s Firdos Square, symbolically marking what George W. Bush hoped was the beginning of a campaign to remake the Middle East in America’s image by bringing not just Iraq but Syria and Iran to heel. And there can be no question that the invasion of Iraq did indeed set events in motion that are still remaking the region in ways once unimaginable.

In the wake of the Iraq invasion and occupation, the Arab Spring blossomed and failed. (The recent Obama administration decision to resume arms exports to the military government of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt could be considered its coup de grâce.) Today, fighting ripples through Libya, Syria, Yemen, the Maghreb, the Horn of Africa, and other parts of the Greater Middle East. Terrorists attack in once relatively peaceful places like Tunisia. There is now ade facto independent Kurdistan — last a reality in the sixteenth century — that includes the city of Kirkuk. Previously stable countries have become roiling failed states and home to terrorist groups that didn’t even exist when the U.S. military rolled across the Iraqi border in 2003.

And, of course, 12 years later in Iraq itself the fighting roars on. Who now remembers President Obama declaring victory in 2011 and praising American troops for coming home with their “heads held high”? He seemed then to be washing his hands forever of the pile of sticky brown sand that was Bush’s Iraq. Trillions had been spent, untold lives lost or ruined, but as with Vietnam decades earlier, the U.S. was to move on and not look back. So much for the dream of a successful Pax Americana in the Middle East, but at least it was all over.

You know what happened next. Unlike in Vietnam, Washington did go back, quickly turning a humanitarian gesture in August 2014 to save the Yazidipeople from destruction at the hands of the Islamic State into a full-scale bombing campaign in Syria and Iraq. A coalition of 62 nations was formed. (Where are they all now while the U.S. conducts 85% of all air strikes against IS?)  The tap on a massive arms flow was turned on. The architect of the 2007 “surge” in Iraq and a leaker of top secret documents, retired general and former CIA Director David Petraeus, was brought back in for advice. Twenty-four-seven bombing became the order of the day and several thousand U.S. military advisors returned to familiar bases to retrain some part of an American-created army that had only recently collapsed and abandoned four key northern citiesto Islamic State militants. Iraq War 3.0 was officially underway and many pundits — including me — predicted a steady escalation with the usual quagmire to follow.

Such a result can hardly be ruled out yet, but at the moment it’s as if Barack Obama had stepped to the edge of the Iraqi abyss, peered over, and then shrugged his shoulders. Both his administration and the U.S. military appear content for the moment neither to pull back nor press harder.

The American people seem to feel much the same way. Except in the Republican Congress (and even there in less shrill form than usual), there are few calls for… well, anything. The ongoing air strikes remain “surgical” in domestic politics, if not in Iraq and Syria. Hardly noticed and little reported on here, they have had next to no effect on Americans. Yet they remain sufficient to assure the right wing that the American military is still the best tool to solve problems abroad, while encouraging liberals who want to show that they can be as tough as anyone going into 2016.

At first glance, the American version of Iraq War 3.0 has the feel of the Libyan air intervention — the same lack of concern, that is, for the long game. But Iraq 2015 is no Libya 2011, because this time while America sits back, Iran rises.

Iran Ascendant

The Middle East was ripe for change. Prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the last major transformational event in the area was the fall of that classic American stooge, the Shah of Iran, in 1979. Otherwise, many of the thug regimes in power since the 1960s, the height of the Cold War, had stayed in place, and so had most of the borders set even earlier, in the aftermath of World War I.

Iran should send America a fruit basket to thank it for setting the stage so perfectly for its ascent. As a start, in 2003 the United States eliminated Iran’s major border threats: Iraq’s Saddam Hussein to the west and the Taliban in Afghanistan to the east. (The Taliban are back of course, but diligently focused on America’s puppet Afghan government.) The long slog of Washington’s wars in both those countries dulled even the reliably bloodthirsty American public’s taste for yet more of the same, and cooled off Bush-era plans in Tel Aviv and Washington for air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities. (After all, if even Vice President Dick Cheney couldn’t pull the trigger on Iran before leaving office in 2008, who in 2015 America is going to do so?)

Better yet for the Iranians, when Saddam was hanged in 2006, they not only lost an enemy who had invaded their country in 1980, launching a bitter waragainst them that didn’t end for eight years, but gained an ally in the new Iraq. As U.S. influence withered away with the failure of the March 2010 Iraqi elections to produce a broadly representative government, Iran stepped in to broker a thoroughly partisan settlement leading to a sectarian Shia government in Baghdad bent on ensuring that the country’s minority Sunni population would remain out of power forever. The Obama administration seemed nearly oblivious to Iran’s gains in Iraq in 2010 — and seems so again in 2015.

Iran in Iraq

In Tikrit, Iranian-led Shia forces recently drove the Islamic State from the city. In charge was Qassem Suleimani, the leader of the Qods Force (a unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards), who had previously led the brutally effective efforts of Iranian special forces against U.S. soldiers in Iraq War 2.0. He returned to that country and assembled his own coalition of Shia militias to take Tikrit. All of them have long benefited from Iranian support, as has the increasingly Shia-dominated Iraqi army.

In addition, the Iranians seem to have brought in their own tanks and possibly even ground troops for the assault on the city. They also moved advanced rocket systems into Iraq, the same weapons Hamas has used against Israel in recent conflicts.

Only one thing was lacking: air power. After much hemming and hawing, when it looked like the assault on Tikrit had been blunted by well-dug-in Islamic State fighters in a heavily booby-trapped city, the Obama administration agreed to provide it.

On the U.S. side, the air of desperation around the decision to launch air strikes on Tikrit was palpable. You could feel it, for instance, in this statement by a Pentagon spokesperson almost pleading for the Iraqi government to favor Washington over Tehran: “I think it’s important that the Iraqis understand that what would be most helpful to them is a reliable partner in this fight against IS. Reliable, professional, advanced military capabilities are something that very clearly and very squarely reside with the coalition.”

Imagine if you had told an American soldier — or general — leaving Iraq in 2011 that, just a few years later in the country where he or she had watched friends die, the U.S. would be serving as Iran’s close air support.  Imagine if you had told him that Washington would be helping some of the same Shia militias who planted IEDs to kill Americans go after Sunnis — and essentially begging for the chance to do so. Who would’ve thunk it?

The Limits of Air Power 101

The White House no doubt imagined that U.S. bombs would be seen as the decisive factor in Tikrit and that the sectarian government in Baghdad would naturally come to… What? Like us better than the Iranians?

Bizarre as such a “strategy” might seem on the face of it, it has proven even stranger in practice. The biggest problem with air power is that, while it’s good at breaking things, it isn’t decisive. It cannot determine who moves into the governor’s mansion after the dust settles. Only ground forces can do that, so a victory over the Islamic State in Tikrit, no matter what role air strikes played, can only further empower those Iranian-backed Shia militias. You don’t have to be a military expert to know that this is the nature of air power, which makes it all the more surprising that American strategists seem so blind to it.

As for liking Washington better for its helping hand, there are few signs of that. Baghdad officials have largely been silent on America’s contribution, praising only the “air coverage of the Iraqi air force and the international coalition.” Shia militia forces on the ground have been angered by and scornful of the United States for — as they see it — interfering in their efforts to take Tikrit on their own.

The victory in that city will only increase the government’s reliance on the militias, whom Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi now refers to as “popular volunteers,” rather than the still-limited number of soldiers the Americans have so far been capable of training. (The Pentagon might, by the way, want to see if Iran can pass along any training tips, as their militias, unlike the American-backed Iraqi army, seem to be doing just fine.) That also means that the government will have no choice but to tolerate the Shia militia atrocities and acts of ethnic cleansing that have already taken place in Sunni Tikrit and will surely follow in any other Sunni areas similarly “liberated.” Claims coming out of Washington that the U.S. will be carefully monitoring the acts of Iraqi forces ring increasingly hollow.

What Tikrit has, in fact, done is solidify Iran’s influence over Prime Minister al-Abadi, currently little more than the acting mayor of Baghdad, who claimed the victory in Tikrit as a way to increase his own prestige. The win also allows his Shia-run government to seize control of the ruins of that previously Sunni enclave. And no one should miss the obvious symbolism that lies in the fact that the first major city retaken from the Islamic State in a Sunni area is also the birthplace of Saddam Hussein.

The best the Obama administration can do is watch helplessly as Tehran and Baghdad take their bows. A template has been created for a future in which other Sunni areas, including the country’s second largest city, Mosul, and Sunni cities in Anbar Province will be similarly retaken, perhaps with the help of American air power but almost certainly with little credit to Washington.

Iran in Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen

Tehran is now playing a similarly important role in other places where U.S. policy stumbles have left voids, particularly in Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen.

In Syria, Iranian forces, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Qods Force, and their intelligence services, advise and assist Bashar al-Assad’s military. They also support Hezbollah elements from Lebanon fighting on Assad’s side. At best, Washington is again playing second fiddle, using its air power against the Islamic State and training “moderate” Syrian fighters, the first of whom refusedto even show up for their initial battle.

In Yemen, a U.S.-supported regime, backed by Special Forces advisers and a full-scale drone targeted assassination campaign, recently crumbled. The American Embassy was evacuated in February, the last of those advisers in March. The takeover of the capital, Sana’a, and later significant parts of the rest of the country by the Houthis, a rebel Shiite minority group, represents, in the words of one Foreign Policy writer, “a huge victory for Iran… the Houthis’ decision to tie their fate to Tehran’s regional machinations risks tearing Yemen apart and throwing the country into chaos.”

The panicked Saudis promptly intervened and were quickly backed by the Obama administration’s insertion of the United States in yet another conflict by executive order. Relentless Saudi air strikes (perhaps using some of the $640 million worth of cluster bombs the U.S. sold them last year) are supported by yet another coalition, this time of Sudan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and other Sunni powers in the region. The threat of an invasion, possibly usingEgyptian troops, looms.  The Iranians have moved ships into the area in response to a Saudi naval blockade of Yemen.

No matter what happens, Iran will be strengthened. Either it will find itself in a client relationship with a Houthi movement that has advanced to the Saudi border or, should they be driven back, a chaotic state in Yemen with an ever-strengthening al-Qaeda offshoot. Either outcome would undoubtedly discombobulate the Saudis (and the Americans) and so sit well with Iran.

To make things even livelier in a fragmenting region, Sunni rebels infiltrating from neighboring Pakistan recently killed eight Iranian border guards. This probably represented a retaliatory attack in response to an earlier skirmish in which Iranian Revolutionary Guards killed three suspected Pakistani Sunni militants. Once started, fires do tend to spread.

For those keeping score at home, the Iranians now hold significant positions in three Middle Eastern countries (or at least fragments of former countries) in addition to Iraq.

Iran Ascending and the Nuclear Question

Iran is well positioned to ascend. Geopolitically, alone in the region it is a nation that has existed more or less within its current borders for thousands of years. It is almost completely ethnically stable and religiously, culturally, and linguistically homogeneous, with its minorities comparatively under control. While still governed in large part by its clerics, Iran has seen evolving democratic electoral transitions at the secular level. Politically, history is on Iran’s side. If you set aside the 1953 CIA-backed coup that ousted the democratically elected prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh and put the U.S.-backed Shah in power for a quarter of a century, Iran has sorted out its governance on its own for some time.

Somehow, despite decades of sanctions, Iran, with the fourth-largest proven crude oil reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves on the planet, has managed to hold its economy together, selling what oil it can primarily toAsia. It is ready to sell more oil as soon as sanctions lift. It has a decent conventional military by local standards. Its young reportedly yearn for greater engagement with the West. Unlike nearly every other nation in the Middle East, Iran’s leaders do not rule in fear of an Islamic revolution. They already had one — 36 years ago.

Recently, the U.S., Iran, and the P5 (Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China) reached a preliminary agreement to significantly constrain that country’s nuclear program and lift sanctions. It appears that both the Obama administration and Tehran are eager to turn it into an official document by the end of June. A deal isn’t a deal until signed on the dotted line, and the congressional Republicans are sharpening their knives, but the intent is clearly there.

To keep the talks on track, by the end of June the Obama administration will have released to the Islamic Republic a total of $11.9 billion in previously frozen assets, dating back to the 1979 Iranian takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. In addition to the straight-up flood of cash, the U.S. agreed that Iran may sell $4.2 billion worth of oil, free from any sanctions. The U.S. will also allow Iran approximately $1.5 billion in gold sales, as well as easier access to “humanitarian transactions.” Put another way, someone in Washington wanted this badly enough to pay for it.

For President Obama and his advisers, this agreement is clearly a late grasp (or perhaps last gasp) at legacy building, and maybe even a guilty stab at justifying that 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. The urge to etch some kind of foreign policy success into future history books that, at the moment, threaten to be grim reading is easy enough to understand. So it should have surprised no one that John Kerry, Obama’s once globetrotting secretary of state, basically took up residence in Switzerland to negotiate with the Iranians. He sat at the table in Lausanne bargaining while Tikrit burned, Syria simmered, his country was chased out of Yemen, and the Saudis launched their own war in that beleaguered country. That he had hardly a word to say about any of those events, or much of anything else going on in the world at the time, is an indication of just how much value the Obama administration puts on those nuclear negotiations.

For the Iranians, trading progress on developing nuclear weapons for the full-scale lifting of sanctions was an attractive offer. After all, its leaders know that the country could never go fully nuclear without ensuring devastating Israeli strikes, and so lost little with the present agreement while gaining much. Being accepted as a peer by Washington in such negotiations only further establishes their country’s status as a regional power. Moreover, a nuclear agreement that widens any rift between the U.S., Israel, and the Saudis plays to Tehran’s new strength. Finally, the stronger economy likely to blossom once sanctions are lifted will offer the nation the possibility of new revenues and renewed foreign investment. (It’s easy to imagine Chinese businesspeople on Orbitz making air reservations as you read this.) The big winner in the nuclear deal is not difficult to suss out.

What Lies Ahead

In these last months, despite the angry, fearful cries and demands of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Saudi royals, and neo- and other conservatives in Congress, Iran has shown few signs of aspiring to the sort of self-destruction going nuclear would entail. (If Iran had created a bomb every time Netanyahu claimed they were on the verge of having one in the past two decades, Tehran would be littered with them.) In fact, trading mushroom clouds with Israel and possibly the U.S. never looked like an appealing goal to the Iranian leadership. Instead, they preferred to seek a more conventional kind of influence throughout the Middle East. They were hardly alone in that, but their success has been singular in the region in these years.

The U.S. provided free tutorials in Afghanistan and Iraq on why actually occupying territory in the neighborhood isn’t the road to such influence. Iran’s leaders have not ignored the advice. Instead, Iran’s rise has been stoked by a collection of client states, aligned governments, sympathetic and/or beholden militias, and — when all else fails — chaotic non-states that promise less trouble and harm to Tehran than to its various potential enemies.

Despite Iran’s gains, the U.S. will still be the biggest kid on the block for years, possibly decades, to come. One hopes that America will not use that military and economic strength to lash out at the new regional power it inadvertently helped midwife. And if any of this does presage some future U.S. conflict with an Iran that has gotten “too powerful,” then we shall have witnessed a great irony, a great tragedy, and a damn waste of American blood and resources