The Celts: Advanced Seafarers or Uncivilized Barbarians?

The Celts: Search for a Civilization

By Alice Roberts

Heron Books (2015)

Book Review

Were the Celts of northern Europe the uncivilized barbarians the Greeks and Romans made them out to be? Alice Roberts thinks not. Her book examines the origin of the Celts, the prehistoric tribe responsible for populating Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Cornwall and early Britain. The conventional view is that the Celts originated in central Europe and gradually migrated west to occupy ancient Gaul (France), Britain, Scotland, Wales an Ireland; south to Egypt and northern Italy; and west as far as Kiev and Turkey. Roberts sides with the more recent view that Celtic civilization developed along the Atlantic coast of Europe – a well-connected group of Bronze Age societies extending from Portugal – and migrated westward to occupy Gaul, parts of Germany, the Balkans, Turkey and northern Italy..

The Celts gives a full inventory of all available archeological, linguistic and genetic evidence, as well as accounts from historical texts and oral myths. The picture Roberts paints is totally at odds with Roman and Greek efforts to portray Celts as uncivilized barbarians. Thanks to their great sophistication in mining, smelting metals into weapons and jewelry, and advanced seafaring, the Celts established major trading centers throughout continental Europe. The Tartessos referred to in the Old Testament at the time of Solomon were early Celts who sailed great ships laden with silver, gold, ivory, apes and peacocks to trade with Mediterranean settlements.

The Phoenicians, the first Eastern Europeans they made contact with, traded wine and manufactured goods for their silver, gold, copper and tin. The earliest written evidence of the Celtic language comes from the beginning of the Iron Age in Southwest Portugal.

In addition to well-developed religious practices, the Celts had a written language and appointed druids to serve as judges, guardians of knowledge, and  priests.

During the Iron Age, they developed a reputation as great warriors and often hired themselves as mercenaries to various kings and emperors. In 387, they sacked Rome for the first time, and in 280 BC they conquered Macedonia and moved south into Greece. Julius Caesar’s primary reason for invading and occupying Gaul was to end the constant Celtic raids on Roman territory.

Treating Depression with LSD Microdosing

LSD: Microdosing LSD in the Name of Self-Improvement

DW (2019)

Film Review

As it’s title suggests, this documentary concerns LSD “microdosing,” a fad originating with Silicon Valley tech executives. They discovered that tiny doses (10-15 micgrograms) of LSD greatly improved their mood, energy, focus and creativity. Microdosing has since taken off in Germany and other parts of Europe.

The film begins with testimonials from anonymous German microdosers who believe that LSD has totally turned their life around. One man whose depression failed to respond to any other treatment (including antidepressants, psychotherapy and alternative medicine) finally obtained relief after a brief period of microdosing.

Filmmakers also interview Paul Austin, a Silicon Valley microdosing coach, and James Fadiman, leading expert on LSD and psilocybin microdosing and author of the 2011 Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide.

Researchers in Germany and Switzerland are conducting double blind studies of LSD microdosing. At doses between 10-15 mg, their subjects experience a clear improvement in concentration, mood and anxiety in contrast to placebo control groups. Moreover, unlike antidepressant trials, there are no apparent adverse effects.

The film also looks at promising double blind research of the psychedelic psilocybin (“magic mushrooms”) in treating depression. Unlike LSD, “shrooms” are legal in the Netherlands and have been decriminalized in a number of US cities. Portugal legalized all mind-altering drugs in 2001 (see British Medical Journal Calls for Legalization of All Drugs)

Other research has shown psilocybin and other psychedelics to be helpful in treating PTSD and alcoholism. See Why Are We Sending Vets to Canada, Costa Rica and Mexico

 

The Secret EU Drive to Privatize Water

Up to the Last Drop: Secret Water War in Europe

Al Jazeera (2018)

Film Review

Up to the Last Drop is about the role of the EU Commission in pressuring member countries to privatize their municipal water supplies. Although the UN declared access to water a human right in 2001, the EU continues to exert pressure on indebted nations (ie Greece, Portugal, Italy and Ireland) to sell their water utilities to repay the debt they incurred by bailing out their banks in 2008.

Water privatization almost always leads to massive price hikes for consumers, who are fighting back. Between 2000-2017, popular unrest against privatization and price increases led municipalities in 37 countries to oust private water companies* and resume municipal control.

In 2005, mass protests over skyrocketing water prices led Bolivians to overthrow their government.

In 2011, 98% of Berlin residents voted “yes” on a referendum for local authorities to resume control of the city’s water supply. Italy also blocked water privatization (with 95% voting no) via referendum.

Ireland blocked a wholesale water privatization scheme via mass protest, and Portugal ended it by electing a new left-leaning government.


*Two French companies Suez and Veolia monopolize nearly all private water schemes worldwide.

The film can’t be embedded for copyright reasons but can be viewed free at the Al Jazeera website: Secret Water Wars

How the US Uses War to Protect the Dollar

The Gods of Money

William Engdahl (2015)

The first video is a 2015 presentation by William Engdahl about his 2010 book The Gods of Money. It focuses on the use of US economic and military warfare to maintain the supremacy of the US dollar as the global reserve currency.

As his point of departure, he begins with the 1944 Bretton Woods agreement, in which the Allied powers agreed to use the gold-backed US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. In 1971 when Nixon was forced to end the gold standard,* the gold-backed US dollar was replaced by the “petrodollar.” According to Engdahl, it was so named because of a secret agreement the US made with Saudi Arabia – in return for a guarantee that OPEC would only trade oil in US dollars, the US guaranteed the Saudis unlimited military hardware.

In this way, oil importing nations (most of the world) were forced to retain substantial US dollar reserves. This was the only way they could provide their economies with a continuous supply of oil.

The petrodollar remained supreme until the mid-1980s, when the collapse of the US Savings and Loan industry (a pre-cursor of the 2007 banking collapse) raised concerns in Europe that the US was failing as a super power. Fearing the US economy was collapsing, they created the euro and the Eurozone, to prevent the Soviet Union or China from filling the power vacuum.

The financial warfare unit of the US treasury responded by feeding hedge fund manager and currency speculator George Soros secret information that enabled him to lead an attack on the British pound. This, in turn, destabilized the British economy to the point the UK no longer qualified to join the euro.

In 1997 the US Treasury and Soros made a a similar attack on economies of Southeast Asia (Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines) that attempted to use currencies other than the dollar as their reserve currencies.

In 2010, after the US government had run three years of $1 trillion deficits, China, Russia and Japan announced their intention of selling US Treasury bonds (which the US government sells to finance its debt) to increase their euro reserves. Concerned this placed the US dollar on the brink of catastrophic collapse, the US Treasury and Soros attacked the Euro directly by collapsing the Greek economy. The mechanism Soros used was to direct his hedge funds to dump the sovereign treasury bonds that financed Greek debt.** When the European Central Bank announced its commitment to a Greek bail-out, the US Treasury and Soros followed up with an attack on Irish, Spanish and Portuguese sovereign bonds.


*A US economic crisis led to massive foreign demand for US dollar redemption that threatened to deplete US gold reserves.

** The immediate effect of bondholders dumping Greek bonds raised interest rates on Greek debt to a level that threatened to bankrupt their government.

 

 

The second clip is a Guns and Butter radio interview with Engdahl. It focuses on a second area the Gods of Money covers, namely the long US battle to abolish their private central bank (aka the Federal Reserve) and end the ability of private banks to create money out of thin air (see How Banks Create Money Out of Thin Air).

After a brief explanation of fractional reserve banking, whereby 97% of our money is created by private banks, Engdahl traces the history of the First Bank of the United States, created by Alexander Hamilton in 1791. The latter was the first US central bank, 80% owned by private (mostly Rothschild-controlled) banks in the City of London and 20% owned by the US government. President James Madison’s refusal to renew the bank’s charter in 1811 would result in Britain and the US going to war in 1812.

When the war ended in 1815, the American war debt was so substantial, the US had no choice but to charter the Second Bank of the United States, which once again was 80% controlled by London banks.

In 1832, Andrew Jackson refused to renew the bank’s charter, and the US had no central bank between 1832 and 1913. In 1913 when President Woodrow Wilson secretly colluded with the global banking establishment to create the Federal Reserve.

Both Lincoln and Kennedy challenged the exclusive role private banks play in creating the US money supply – Lincoln by issuing greenbacks (rather than borrowing money from private banks) to pay for the civil war and Kennedy by issuing silver certificates directly redeemable by the US Treasury. In both cases, Engdahl feels their defiance of the international banking establishment played a role in the decision to assassinate them.

An Insider’s View of Drug Smuggling

smuggler

Smuggler: Roger Reaves a Memoir

by Roger Reaves

Marrie J Reaves Publishing (2016)

Book Review

Smuggler is an extremely unusual memoir by a 73 year old American who is currently serving a life sentence in Australia for drug smuggling. Written over fifteen years, it’s a highly detailed, journal-like memoir painting the author’s journey from excruciating rural poverty to high rolling international drug smuggler.

The reader comes away with the clear sense that despite government efforts to portray Reaves as a dangerous blood thirsty king pin, he was actually a lowly middleman who was regularly cheated and manipulated by the real king pins who engaged his services. While Reeves was highly successful (bringing in millions a month) during the first decade and a half of his career, a pattern emerged in which his clients routinely weasled out of paying him, shortchanged him on the quanity and/or quality of drugs they asked him to traffic, and/or provided him with mechanically faulty and dangerous aircraft and boats. Towards the end of his career, some were actively colluding with the DEA and FBI to entrap him.

Owing to the illegal nature of marijuana and cocaine trafficking a person has no comeback – except murder or serious physical injury – if a colleague cheats them. As the highly personal memoir makes clear, it wasn’t in Reaves’s nature to engage in lethal retaliation. This, perhaps, explains his failure to rise to the ranks of vicious psychopaths like Pablo Escobar.

For me the most interesting part of the book is the section where Reaves talks about his relationship with Barry Seal and the guaranteed “no-interception” cocaine delivery operation he had going at the Mena Airport – with the active approval and support of Arkansas governor Bill Clinton and Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush.

According to Reaves, there were only two delivery points in the US where traffickers could unload a shipment with absolute guarantee that neither Customs nor the DEA would bust them. Mena was one of them.

Reaves believes strongly that the War on Drugs is a racket perpetuated mainly for the benefit of Wall Street and illegal CIA military interventions. He advocates for the US and its allies to follow the example of Portugal, which has decriminalized all drugs. In Portugal, where possession of three grams of any drug is treated as a spot fine, crime rates have plummeted since the policy was implement in 2001 (see The Cato Institute and the Drug War).