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Tag Archives: government
Posted: August 23, 2016 at 9:31 am
Offshoring is the relocation of a business process from one country to anothertypically an operational process, such as manufacturing, or supporting processes, such as accounting. Typically this refers to a company business, although state governments may also employ offshoring. More recently, offshoring has been associated primarily with the outsourcing of technical and administrative services supporting domestic and global operations from outside the home country (“offshore outsourcing”), by means of internal (captive) or external (outsourcing) delivery models.
India has emerged as a key offshoring destination over the past 15 years. The term is in use in several distinct but closely related ways. It is sometimes used broadly to include substitution of a service from any foreign source for a service formerly produced internally to the firm. In other cases, only imported services from subsidiaries or other closely related suppliers are included. A further complication is that intermediate goods, such as partially completed computers, are not consistently included in the scope of the term.
Offshoring can be seen in the context of either production offshoring or services offshoring. After its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, the People’s Republic of China emerged as a prominent destination for production offshoring. Another focus area has been the software industry as part of global software development and developing global information systems. After technical progress in telecommunications improved the possibilities of trade in services, India became a country leading in this domain, though many parts of the world are now emerging as offshore destinations.
The economic logic is to reduce costs, sometimes called labor arbitrage, to improve corporate profitability. Jobs are added in the destination country providing the goods or services (generally a lower-cost labor country), but are subtracted in the higher-cost labor country. The increased safety net costs of the unemployed may be absorbed by the government (taxpayers) in the high-cost country or by the company doing the offshoring. Europe experienced less offshoring than the United States due to policies that applied more costs to corporations and cultural barriers.
Offshoring is defined as the movement of a business process done at a company in one country to the same or another company in another, different country. Almost always work is moved because of a lower cost of operations in the new location. More recently, offshoring drivers also include access to qualified personnel abroad, in particular in technical professions, and increasing speed to market. Offshoring is sometimes contrasted with outsourcing or offshore outsourcing. Outsourcing is the movement of internal business processes to an external organizational unit. Outsourcing refers to the process by which an organization gives part of its work to another firm / organization and makes it responsible for most of the applications as well as the design of the enterprise business process. This process is done under restrictions and strategies in order to establish consistency with the offshore outsourcing organizations. Many companies nowadays outsource various professional areas in the company such as e-mail services, payroll and call center. These jobs are being handled by other organizations that specialize in each sector allowing the offshoring company to focus more on other business concerns . However, subcontracting in the same country would be outsourcing, but not offshoring. A company moving an internal business unit from one country to another would be offshoring or physical restructuring, but not outsourcing. A company subcontracting a business unit to a different company in another country would be both outsourcing and offshoring.
Related terms include nearshoring, which implies relocation of business processes to (typically) lower cost foreign locations, but in close geographical proximity (e.g., shifting United States-based business processes to Canada/Latin America); inshoring, which means picking services within a country; and bestshoring or rightshoring, picking the “best shore” based on various criteria. Business process outsourcing (BPO) refers to outsourcing arrangements when entire business functions (such as Finance & Accounting, Customer Service, etc.) are outsourced. More specific terms can be found in the field of software development – for example Global Information System as a class of systems being developed for / by globally distributed teams.
A further term sometimes associated with offshoring is bodyshopping which is the practice of using offshored resources and personnel to do small disaggregated tasks within a business environment, without any broader intention to offshore an entire business function.
Production offshoring, also known as physical restructuring, of established products involves relocation of physical manufacturing processes to a lower-cost destination. Examples of production offshoring include the manufacture of electronic components in Costa Rica, production of apparel, toys, and consumer goods in China, Vietnam etc.
Product design, research and the development process that leads to new products, are relatively difficult to offshore. This is because research and development, in order to improve products and create new reference designs, require a skill set that is harder to obtain in regions with cheap labor. For this reason, in many cases only the manufacturing will be offshored by a company wishing to reduce costs.
However, there is a relationship between offshoring and patent-system strength. This is because companies under a strong patent system are not afraid to move work offshore because their work will remain their property. Conversely, companies in countries with weak patent systems have an increased fear of intellectual property theft from foreign vendors or workers, and, therefore, have less offshoring.
A major incentive for physical restructuring arrived when the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) made it easier for manufacturers to shift production facilities from the US to Mexico. This trend later shifted to China, which offered cheap prices through very low wage rates, few workers’ rights laws, a fixed currency pegged to the US dollar, (currently fixed to a basket of economies) cheap loans, cheap land, and factories for new companies, few environmental regulations, and huge economies of scale based on cities with populations over a million workers dedicated to producing a single kind of product. However, many companies are reluctant to move high value-added production of leading-edge products to China because of lax enforcement of intellectual property laws. CAFTA has increased the velocity at which physical restructuring is occurring.
The growth of IT-enabled services offshoring is linked to the availability of large amounts of reliable and affordable communication infrastructure following the telecommunication and Internet expansion of the late 1990s. This was seen all the way up to the year 2000. Coupled with the digitization of many services, it was possible to shift the actual production location of services to low-cost countries in a manner theoretically transparent to end-users. Services include administrative services, such as finance and accounting, HR, and legal; call centers; marketing and sales services; IT infrastructure; application development; and knowledge services, including engineering support, product design, research and development, and analytics. General criteria for choosing IT outsourcing development partner commonly include: communication and language proficiency (both oral and written), previous work experience in client’s industry, expertise in defined technologies needed, cost-effectiveness of offshore web development services, clients that are similar in size to the client’s company, company longevity, company time zone.
India first benefited from the offshoring trend, as it has a large pool of English speaking people and technically proficient manpower. India’s offshoring industry took root in low-end IT functions in the early 1990s and has since moved to back-office processes such as call centers and transaction processing. This spawned the neologism Bangalored, used to indicate a layoff, often systemic, and usually resulting from corporate outsourcing to lower wage economies derived from Bangalore in India, where some of the first outsource centers were located.
Currently, India’s low-cost labor has made it an offshoring destination for global firms like HP, IBM, Accenture, Intel, AMD, Microsoft, Oracle Corporation, Cisco, SAP, and BEA[disambiguation needed].
Because of inflation, high domestic interest rates, robust economic growth and increased IT offshoring, the Indian IT sector has witnessed 10 – 15% wage growth in the 21st century. Consequently, Indian’s operations and firms are concerned that they are becoming too expensive in comparison with competition from the other offshoring destinations. To maintain high growth rates, attempts have been made to grow up the value chain and diversify to other high-end work in addition to software and hardware engineering. These jobs include research and development, equity analysis, tax-return processing, radiological analysis, medical transcription, and more.
The choice of offshoring destination is often made according to cultural concerns. Japanese companies are starting to outsource to China, where large numbers of Japanese speakers can be found particularly in the city of Dalian, which was Japanese-occupied Chinese territory for decades (this is discussed in the book The World is Flat). German companies tend to outsource to Eastern European countries, such as Ukraine, where the most number of IT professionals in CEE work (90000 IT specialists in 2016),Poland and Romania, where proficiency in German is common. French companies outsource to North Africa for similar reasons. For Australian IT companies, Indonesia is one of the major choice of offshoring destination. Near-shore location, common time zone and adequate IT work force are the reasons for offshoring IT services to Indonesia.
Other offshoring destinations include Mexico, Central and South America, the Philippines, South Africa and Eastern European countries.
The Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) made nearshoring more attractive between the Central American countries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic and the US.
Once companies are comfortable with services offerings and started realizing the cost savings, many high-tech product companies, including some in Silicon Valley, started offshoring innovation work to countries like Belarus, South Africa, India, China, Mexico, Russia and Ukraine. Accessing the talent pools in these countries has the potential to cut costs or even shorten product lifecycles. Developing countries like India are also involved in this practice.
When offshoring knowledge work, firms heavily rely on the availability of technical personnel at offshore locations. In order to secure access to talent, Western firms often establish collaborative relationships with technical universities abroad and thereby customize university programs to serve their particular needs. Examples include universities in Shanghai, such as Tong-Ji University, where German firms and scholars co-sponsor labs, courses, and provide internships. Similar examples of collaborative arrangements can be found in Eastern Europe, e.g. Romania. Additionally, EU companies looking for IT innovation often setup collaboration with universities in countries such as Belarus and Ukraine, which have a high percentage of ICT graduates and overall a very skilled IT labor.
“Re-shoring”, also known as “backshoring” or “inshoring” is offshoring that has been brought back onshore.
John Urry (distinguished professor of sociology at Lancaster University) argues that the concealment of income, the avoidance of taxation and eluding legislation relating to work, finance, pleasure, waste, energy and security may be becoming a serious concern for democratic governments and ordinary citizens who may be adversely affected by unregulated, offshore activities. Further, the rising costs of transportation could lead to production nearer the point of consumption becoming more economically viable, particularly as new technologies such as additive manufacturing mature 
Offshoring is often enabled by the transfer of valuable information to the offshore site. Such information and training enables the remote workers to produce results of comparable value previously produced by internal employees. When such transfer includes protected materials, as confidential documents and trade secrets, protected by non-disclosure agreements, then intellectual property has been transferred or exported. The documentation and valuation of such exports is quite difficult, but should be considered since it comprises items that may be regulated or taxable.
Offshoring has been a controversial issue spurring heated debates among economists, some of which overlap those related to the topic of free trade. It is seen as benefiting both the origin and destination country through free trade, providing jobs to the destination country and lower cost of goods and services to the origin country. This makes both sides see increased gross domestic product (GDP). And the total number of jobs increases in both countries since those workers in the origin country that lost their job can move to higher-value jobs in which their country has a comparative advantage.
On the other hand, job losses and wage erosion in developed countries have sparked opposition to offshoring. Experts argue that the quality of any new jobs in developed countries are less than the jobs lost and offer lower pay. Economists against offshoring charge that currency manipulation by governments and their central banks causes the difference in labor cost creating an illusion of comparative advantage. Further, they point out that even more educated highly trained workers with higher-value jobs such as software engineers, accountants, radiologists, and journalists in the developed world have been displaced by highly educated and cheaper workers from India and China. On May 1, 2002, Economist and former Ambassador Ernest H. Preeg testified before the Senate committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs that China, for instance, pegs its currency to the dollar at a sub-par value in violation of Article IV of the International Monetary Fund Articles of Agreement which state that no nation shall manipulate its currency to gain a market advantage. Traditionally “safe” developed world jobs in R&D and the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields are now perceived to be endangered in these countries as higher proportions of workers are trained for these fields in developing nations. Economists such as Paul Craig Roberts claim that those economists who promote offshoring misunderstand the difference between comparative advantage and absolute advantage.
The Economist reported in January 2013 that: “High levels of unemployment in Western countries after the 2007-2008 financial crisis have made the public in many countries so hostile towards offshoring that many companies are now reluctant to engage in it.” Economist Paul Krugman wrote in 2007 that while free trade among high-wage countries is viewed as win-win, free trade with low-wage countries is win-lose for many employees who find their jobs offshored or with stagnating wages. Two estimates of the impact of offshoring on U.S. jobs were between 150,000 and 300,000 per year from 2004-2015. This represents 10-15% of U.S. job creation. U.S. opinion polls indicate that between 76-95% of Americans surveyed agreed that “outsourcing of production and manufacturing work to foreign countries is a reason the U.S. economy is struggling and more people aren’t being hired.”
The increased safety net costs of the unemployed may be absorbed by the government (taxpayers) in the high-cost country or by the company doing the offshoring. Europe experienced less offshoring than the U.S. due to policies that applied more costs to corporations and cultural barriers.
Japanese companies often exploits the foreign labors, particularly Chinese and Vietnamese, by violating the Employment Security Act, and Labor Standard Act set by ministry of health and labors in Japan using the name of offshoring.
Article 44 of Employment Security Act in Japan implicitly bans the domestic/foreign workers being supplied by unauthorized companies regardless of their operating locations. Law will apply if at least one party of suppliers, clients, labors reside in Japan, and if the labors are the integral part of the chain of command by the client company, or the supplier.
No person shall carry out a labor supply business or have workers supplied by a person who carries out a labor supply business work under his/her own directions or orders, except in cases provided for in the following Article.
Employment Security Act
Those deemed to violate will be punished with
A person who falls under any of the following items shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not more than one year or a fine of not more than one million yen
Employment Security Act states, Article 64
as well as the punishment defined by the article 6 of Labor Standards Act in Japan,
Unless permitted by act, no person shall obtain profit by intervening, as a business, in the employment of other
Victims can lodge a criminal complaint against the CEO of the suppliers and clients in the Labor Standards Inspection Office (only applicable to Labor Standards Act) or Public Prosecutor’s Office of the respective company location. Due to the risk of the CEO’s arrest, Japanese company accustoms to the private settlement with financial package in the range between 20 and 100 million JPY (200,000 – million USD).
With the offshoring of call-center type applications, debate has also surfaced that this practice does serious damage to the quality of customer service and technical support that customers receive from companies who do it. Many companies have caught much public ire for their decisions to use foreign labor for customer service and technical support, mostly because of the apparent language barrier that it creates. While some nations have a high level of younger, skilled workers who are capable of speaking English as one of their native languages, their English skills have caused debate in North America and Europe.
Criticisms of outsourcing from much of the American public have been a response to what they view as very poor customer service and technical support being provided by overseas workers attempting to communicate with Americans.
Some claim that companies lose control and visibility across their extended supply chain under outsourcing, creating increased risks. A 2005 quantitative survey of 121 electronics industry participants by Industry Directions Inc and the Electronics Supply Chain Association (ESCA) found that 69% of respondents said they had less control over at least 5 of their key supply chain processes since the outsourced model took hold, while 66% of providers felt their aggregate risk with customers was high or very high. 36% of providers responded that they felt an increased risk of uncertainty compared to their uncertainty risk before the rise to prominence of the outsourced model. 62% of respondents described as “problematic” at least two core trading partner management practices, which included performance management and simple agreement on results. 40% of all respondents encountered resistance to sharing risk in outsourced partnership agreements, according to the research.
The transfer of knowledge outside a country may create competitors to the original companies themselves. Chinese manufacturers are already selling their goods directly to their overseas customers, without going through their previous domestic intermediaries that originally contracted their services. In the 1990s and 2000s, American automakers increasingly turned to China to create parts for their vehicles. By 2006, China leveraged this know-how and announced that they will begin competition with American automakers in their home market by selling fully Chinese automobiles directly to Americans. When a company moves the production of goods and services to another country, the investment that companies would otherwise make in the domestic market is transferred to the foreign market. Corporate money spent on factories, training, and taxes, which would otherwise be spent in the market of the company is then spent in the foreign market. As production increases in the foreign market, qualified and experienced domestic workers leave or are forced out of their jobs, often permanently leaving the industry. At some point, dramatically fewer domestic workers are left who are qualified to perform the work. This makes the domestic market dependent on the foreign market for those goods and services, thereby strategically weakening the “hollowed-out” domestic country. In effect, offshoring creates and strengthens the competitive industries of the foreign country while strategically weakening the domestic country.[dubious discuss]
However, employment data has cast doubt on this claim. For example, IT employment in the United States has recently reached pre-2001 levels and has been rising since. The number of jobs lost to offshoring is less than 1 percent of the total US labor market. According to a study by the Heritage foundation, outsourcing represents a very small proportion of jobs lost in the US. The total number of jobs lost to offshoring, both manufacturing and technical represent only 4 percent of the total jobs lost in the US. Major reasons for cutting jobs are from contract completion and downsizing. Some economists and commentators claim that the offshoring phenomenon is way overblown.
One solution often offered for domestic workers displaced by offshoring is retraining to new jobs. Some displaced workers are highly educated and possess graduate qualifications. Retraining to their current level in another field may not be an option because of the years of study and cost of education involved. Anecdotal evidence also suggests they would be rejected for being overqualified.
According to classical economics, the three factors of production are land, labor, and capital. Offshoring relies heavily on the mobility of two of these factors. That is, how offshoring affects economies depends on how easily capital and labor can be repurposed. Land, as a factor of production, is generally seen to have little or no mobility potential.
The effects of capital mobility on offshoring have been widely discussed. In microeconomics, a corporation must be able to spend working capital to afford the initial costs of offshoring. If the state heavily regulates how a corporation can spend its working capital, it will not be able to offshore its operations. For the same reason the macroeconomy must be free for offshoring to succeed. Generally, those who favor offshoring support capital mobility, and those who oppose offshoring call for greater regulation.
Labor mobility also plays a major role, and it is hotly debated. When computers and the Internet made work electronically portable, the forces of free market resulted in a global mobility of work in the services industry. Most theories that argue offshoring eventually benefits domestic workers assume that those workers will be able to obtain new jobs, even if they have to obtain employment by downpricing themselves back into the labor market (by accepting lower salaries) or by retraining themselves in a new field. Foreign workers benefit from new jobs and higher wages when the work moves to them.
In the developed world, moving manufacturing jobs out of the country dates to at least the 1960s while moving knowledge service jobs offshore dates to the 1970s  and has continued since then. It was characterized primarily by the transferring of factories from the developed to the developing world. This offshoring and closing of factories has caused a structural change in the developed world from an industrial to a post-industrial service society.
During the 20th century, the decreasing costs of transportation and communication crossed with great disparities on pay rates made increased offshoring from wealthier countries to less wealthy countries financially feasible for many companies. Further, the growth of the Internet, particularly fiber-optic intercontinental long haul capacity, and the World Wide Web reduced “transportation” costs for many kinds of information work to near zero.
With the development of the Internet, many new categories of work such as call centres, computer programming, reading medical data such as X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging, medical transcription, income tax preparation, and title searching are being offshored.
Before the 1990s, Ireland was one of the poorest countries in the EU. Because of Ireland’s relatively low corporate tax rates, US companies began offshoring of software, electronic, and pharmaceutical intellectual property to Ireland for export. This helped create a high-tech “boom” and which led to Ireland becoming one of the richest EU countries.
In 1994 the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect. As concerns are widespread about uneven bargaining powers, and risks and benefits, negotiations are often difficult, such that the plan to create free trade areas (such as Free Trade Area of the Americas) has not yet been successful. In 2005, offshoring of skilled work, also referred to as knowledge work, dramatically increased from the US, which fed the growing worries about threats of job loss.
Posted: August 19, 2016 at 4:08 am
Edward Snowden is seen on a screen as he delivers a speech during the Roskilde Festival in Roskilde, Denmark, June 28 2016. Mathias Loevgreen Bojesen / Scanpix Denmark via Reuters
In clumsily worded English, the Shadow Brokers also boasted online that they were saving their best stolen material for a public auction, to be sold to the highest bidder.
Since then, many cybersecurity experts — including some former NSA officials — have come to believe the material posted by the Shadow Brokers is indeed “exploits” and other specially constructed pieces of malware created by the NSA to break into the computers and communications devices of governments like Iran and China, as well as companies and individuals, and to either steal or manipulate the data they contain.
Snowden, the self-described superhacker spy, took to Twitter on Tuesday to say he thinks the public posting of what he described as NSA cybertools may be part of a broader influence operation by Russia.
The U.S. intelligence community believes Russia is behind numerous hacks of entities and people associated with the Democratic Party over the past year, and federal authorities are investigating them and the subsequent release of information via WikiLeaks and other outlets. Many U.S. officials believe those hacks are part of an effort by Russian President Vladimir Putin to help his favored candidate, Republican Donald Trump, and hinder his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
But so far, the Obama administration hasn’t formally accused Russia or taken steps to publicly confront it or issue sanctions. And Snowden speculated that Russia may be using the weekend disclosures to warn the White House against taking such actions.
In one tweet, Snowden noted that the “undetected hacker squatting on this NSA server lost access in June 2013,” suggesting the hackers have been sitting on the material for three years.
“Why did they do it? No one knows, but I suspect this is more diplomacy than intelligence, related to the escalation around the DNC hack,” Snowden tweeted. He also said the weekend postings “may be an effort to influence the calculus of decision-makers wondering how sharply to respond to the DNC hacks. This leak looks like a somebody [sic] sending a message that an escalation in the attribution game could get messy fast.”
The NSA leaker also said any U..S. action against Russia could result in the public disclosure of embarrassing information about cyber-operations of its own: “Here’s why that is significant,” Snowden said. “This leak is likely a warning that someone can prove US responsibility for any attacks that originated from this malware server.”
Such a disclosure could have huge foreign policy consequences, Snowden said, especially if it shows that NSA hackers were targeting U.S. allies. “Particularly if any of those operations targeted elections,” he said.
The NSA did not respond to requests for comment, but when asked if the agency had been hacked, one NSA official told NBC News that, “I don’t have anything for you on that.”
NSA expert James Bamford said the hack appeared to be significant, but he cautioned against pointing the finger at Russia, especially the government, given how many different groups of hackers routinely target NSA servers.
“There are so many unknowns here, and a lot of people in the hacking community don’t think this is the Russian government,” said Bamford, the author of three books about the NSA who has also visited Snowden in Russia and interviewed him there.
“I don’t know how Snowden would have any idea who did this, sitting there in an apartment in Moscow,” Bamford said. “Even the NSA probably doesn’t know who did this.”
In recent days, other security experts also have come to believe that the computer code comes from the NSA and that Russia is behind its theft and release.
Former NSA general counsel Stewart Baker told NBC News that “there is a lot of consensus among technical experts” that the cybertools were indeed stolen from the NSA, most likely from an external command and control server created to launch hacking operations that couldn’t be traced back to the U.S.
“The more disastrous and less likely scenario is that someone has hacked U.S. infrastructure and extracted large files,” said Baker, a prominent international cybersecurity lawyer.
Either way, the weekend postings are cause for dismay, Baker said, noting that “the assumption that it is Russian intelligence is a good first estimate, as it’s one of a half dozen leaks of information directly hostile to the U.S. government and U.S. institutions.”
“It shows how very sophisticated the spy-vs-spy game in cyberspace has become,” he said. “What we are now seeing is an example of one spy agency trying to compromise the infrastructure of another spy agency and how that it is happening at an almost unfathomably sophisticated level.”
Read the rest here:
Were Russians Involved in NSA Hack? – NBC News
Posted: at 4:08 am
Donald Trump keeps saying that Hillary Clinton wants to essentially abolish the Second Amendment. But the media fact checkers are having none of it. Last week, CNN called his accusation persistent and false. At the same time, a Washington Post editorial also called the claim absurd.
In his analysis for CNN, Eric Bradner acknowledges Clintons support for many different types of gun control — a 25 percent tax on handguns, an assault weapons ban, repeal of laws allowing permitted concealed handguns, and background checks on the private transfer of guns. Clinton also has supported increased fees and a variety of regulations that her husband imposed. Thanks to Bill Clintons regulations, the number of licensed firearms dealers from 248,155 in 1992 to 67,479 in 2000 — a 73 percent reduction.
The media picks and chooses when to take Clinton at her word. CNN pointed to a recent Fox News Sunday appearance where Hillary Clinton claimed: “I’m not looking to repeal the Second Amendment. I’m not looking to take people’s guns away.” The Washington Post noted a statement from her campaign website about how gun ownership is part of the fabric of many law-abiding communities.
But in June, ABCs George Stephanopoulos pushed Clinton twice on whether people have a right to own guns. But that’s not what I asked. I said do you believe that their conclusion that an individual’s right to bear arms is a constitutional right? Clinton could only say: If it is a constitutional right . . . .
Similarly, in New York Cityin the fall, she told donors: The Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment, and I am going to make that case every chance that I get. In Maryland in April, Chelsea Clinton promised that her mom would appoint to the Supreme Court justices who would overturn past decisions that struck down gun-control measures. But the only lawsthat the Supreme Court evaluated were complete gun bans and a law that made it a crime to use a gun.
Washington, D.C., had a complete handgun ban in place until 2008. It was also a felony, punishable by five years in prison, to put a bullet in the chamber of a gun. This amounted to a complete gun ban on using guns for self-defense. The U.S. Supreme Courts ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller struck down that ban.
Clinton told Stephanopoulos her opinion of this ruling: I think that for most of our history, there was a nuanced reading of the Second Amendment until the decision by the late Justice Scalia. She continued, There was no argument until then that localities and states and the federal government had a right, as we do with every amendment, to impose reasonable regulation.
Clinton went on to talk about her push for expanded background checks, an issue that was irrelevant to Scalias decision in Heller. Instead, the question is why was D.C.s local gun ban a reasonable regulation. Why should people be imprisoned for five years for defending their families?
In McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010), Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his dissent: “I can find nothing in the Second Amendments text, history, or underlying rationale that could warrant characterizing it as fundamental insofar as it seeks to protect the keeping and bearing of arms for private self-defense purposes. Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor signed on to Breyers opinion.
Breyer and Ginsburg were both appointed by President Bill Clinton. Sotomayor was Obamas first nominee to the Supreme Court. Obamas second nominee, Elana Kagan, would clearly have voted the same way had she been on the court at the time of McDonald. Indeed, Kagan served in Bill Clintons administration and helped lead the Presidents gun control initiatives.
The Washington Post dismisses all this talk about the Supreme Court by saying that appointing Justices to the court would not be anything like abolishing an amendment, which no court can do. And it is true that the court cant simply remove the amendment from the Constitution. But the media is appearing to be deliberately obtuse. If the court reverses Heller and McDonald and changes its interpretation of the Second Amendment as Hillary promises, what will really be left of the Second Amendment?
The media might not like to admit it, but The War on Guns is real. If Hillary wins in November, she will appoint Scalias successor and the Supreme Court will overturn the Heller and McDonald decisions. Make no mistake about it, the government will again be able to ban guns. Her claim that she isn’t looking to take people’s guns away is not consistent with her promise to overturn existing Supreme Court decisions.
John R. Lott, Jr. is a columnist forFoxNews.com. He is an economist and was formerly chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission. Lott is also a leading expert on guns and op-eds on that issue are done in conjunction with the Crime Prevention Research Center. He is the author of nine books including “More Guns, Less Crime.” His latest book is “The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies (August 1, 2016). Follow him on Twitter@johnrlottjr.
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Trump foes miss the mark on Clinton’s Second Amendment …
Posted: August 16, 2016 at 4:33 pm
William P. Ruger
William P. Ruger is Vice President of Policy and Research at the Charles Koch Institute and Charles Koch Foundation. Ruger is the author of the biography Milton Friedman and a coauthor of The State of Texas: Government, Politics, and Policy. His work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, Armed Forces and Society, and other outlets. Ruger earned an AB from the College of William and Mary and a PhD in politics from Brandeis University. He is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.
Jason Sorens is Lecturer in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College. His primary research interests include fiscal federalism, public policy in federal systems, secessionism, and ethnic politics. His work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Peace Research, State Politics and Policy Quarterly, and other academic journals, and his book Secessionism: Identity, Interest, and Strategy was published by McGill-Queens University Press in 2012. Sorens received his BA in economics and philosophy, with honors, from Washington and Lee University and his PhD in political science from Yale University.
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Posted: August 10, 2016 at 9:10 pm
by Gregg Prescott, M.S. Editor, In5D.com
While there are many movies that expose the globalist agenda, four movies particularly caught my attention.
There seems to be several agendas going on simultaneously, such as the alien agenda and the New World Order agenda, but one other agenda is being shoved down our collective throats for at least 30 years: The transhumanism agenda.
The premise of transhumanism dates as far back as mans first search for the elixir to immortality and in recent years has segued into glorifying the idea of combining man with machine.
IMDb describes Chappie as:
In the near future, crime is patrolled by an oppressive mechanized police force. But now, the people are fighting back. When one police droid, Chappie, is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself. As powerful, destructive forces start to see Chappie as a danger to mankind and order, they will stop at nothing to maintain the status quo and ensure that Chappie is the last of his kind.
Chappie is glorifying the transhumanism agenda in conjunction with artificial intelligence where people will soon be offered to live as immortal gods in exchange for being hooked up to the matrix, which inevitably, will make these same people perpetual, subservient slaves.
We are starting to see the beginning of this through digital tattoos, smart tattoos, ingestible RFID chips, and nanoparticle RFIDs. Globalist shill Regina Dugan, former DARPA head who now leads advanced research for Motorola stated, It may be true that 10-20 year olds dont want to wear a watch on their wrists, but you can be sure that theyll be far more interested in wearing an electronic tattoo if only to piss off their parents.
For many people, The Matrix was just another science fiction movie but for even more people, this is the initial movie that truly woke the masses out of their collective stupor.
IMDb: A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.
Thomas A. Anderson is a man living two lives. By day he is an average computer programmer and by night a hacker known as Neo. Neo has always questioned his reality, but the truth is far beyond his imagination. Neo finds himself targeted by the police when he is contacted by Morpheus, a legendary computer hacker branded a terrorist by the government. Morpheus awakens Neo to the real world, a ravaged wasteland where most of humanity have been captured by a race of machines that live off of the humans body heat and electrochemical energy and who imprison their minds within an artificial reality known as the Matrix. As a rebel against the machines, Neo must return to the Matrix and confront the agents: super-powerful computer programs devoted to snuffing out Neo and the entire human rebellion.
More and more people are beginning to realize the many truths in this movie which basically shows how we are living in a simulated reality while our bodies are living as an energy source for our overlords.
Similar to Chappie, transhumanism takes precedent as a means of going in and out of the matrix. While caught within the matrix, we all assume that this is real but relatively few people question why we need to work for money and cannot comprehend the premise behind the question, If there was no such thing as money, what would you be doing with your life? Weve been brainwashed for millennia about living in this false reality constructed to keep us living in subservience, control and conformity to a system designed to keep us living in fear as economic slaves.
When you look at it from this perspective, does it make sense to waste the majority of your life working some job that you hate for a boss whos an a*hole, only to get that 1 or 2 weeks off a year to enjoy as a vacation while your literally recharge your battery? Theres a reason we look forward to the weekend because by the weekend, we are weakened.
Mark Passio does an amazing job analyzing The Matrix trilogy:
IMDbs description of Network: A television network cynically exploits a deranged former anchors ravings and revelations about the news media for its own profit.
In the 1970s, terrorist violence is the stuff of networks nightly news programming and the corporate structure of the UBS Television Network is changing. Meanwhile, Howard Beale, the aging UBS news anchor, has lost his once strong ratings share and so the network fires him. Beale reacts in an unexpected way. We then see how this affects the fortunes of Beale, his coworkers (Max Schumacher and Diana Christensen), and the network.
The star of the film, Howard Beale, even hinted at transhumanism:
The whole world is becoming humanoid creatures that look human, but arent. The whole world, not just us.
The bottom line is how the nightly news influences and persuades public opinion, even through blatant lies. Youll never feel good after watching the nightly news. Why? Because when you live in the lower vibration of fear, you can be easily controlled and manipulated. The current terrorist agenda is the perfect ploy by the globalists because its a war that can never be won. Additionally, people will gladly give up their civil liberties and freedom in exchange for perceived protection by the government to fight these non-existent entities.
David Icke calls this Problem. Reaction. Solution in which the government creates a problem through false flags, we react by saying the government needs to address the problem and the government has a solution to the problem, which ALWAYS involves the loss of civil liberties and freedom.
We are just starting to see a group of disgruntled reporters leave the industry because they do not agree with how the news is scripted or the propaganda that is being pushed by the CIA in order to influence public opinion regarding everything from how well the economy is doing to why we should start yet another war. Unfortunately, there are plenty of buffoons in search of fame and notoriety (ego) who are willing to take the places of these reporters who have left the business, and they will conform to whatever their overlords desire, even if that means hurting their friends and family by reporting lies to the masses.
John Carpenters 1988 cult classic, They Live combines an alien agenda with how the mainstream media is brainwashing the masses.
IMDb describes the movie as A drifter discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to wake up to the fact that aliens have taken over the Earth.
Nada, a down-on-his-luck construction worker, discovers a pair of special sunglasses. Wearing them, he is able to see the world as it really is: people being bombarded by media and government with messages like Stay Asleep, No Imagination, Submit to Authority. Even scarier is that he is able to see that some usually normal-looking people are in fact ugly aliens in charge of the massive campaign to keep humans subdued.
An intriguing part of the movie is when the aliens throw a party for their human collaborators who agree to push the alien agenda. This is very reminiscent of lobbyists who push agendas for Monsanto, Big Pharma, etc.. The bottom line is that if you support the alien agenda, you will be generously compensated to keep your mouth shut. Does this sound familiar to you?
A cyborg is sent from the future on a deadly mission. He has to kill Sarah Connor, a young woman whose life will have a great significance in years to come. Sarah has only one protector Kyle Reese also sent from the future. The Terminator uses his exceptional intelligence and strength to find Sarah, but is there any way to stop the seemingly indestructible cyborg?
It was supposed to be a simple job. All Lucy had to do was deliver a mysterious briefcase to Mr. Jang. But immediately Lucy is caught up in a nightmarish deal where she is captured and turned into a drug mule for a new and powerful synthetic drug. When the bag she is carrying inside of her stomach leaks, Lucys body undergoes unimaginable changes that begins to unlock her minds full potential. With her new-found powers, Lucy turns into a merciless warrior intent on getting back at her captors. She receives invaluable help from Professor Norman, the leading authority on the human mind, and French police captain Pierre Del Rio.
While it may seem like a glamorous idea to have infinite knowledge, there will be a price to pay. For example:
Its not enough to expose these agendas. One needs to be cognizant of what is being forced upon us and be willing to make decisions that are proactive, such as refusing any RFID chip implantation or simply not buying into the false promises of how great your life will be as a cyborg. By choosing artificial intelligence, there is no spiritual progression for the soul, if any part of the soul remains.
The power of thought can also create the world you want to see. Try envisioning a world without transhumanism, money or globalist agendas. Replace the negative things in this world, such as nuclear energy, gas or coal, with free energy. We have the ability RIGHT NOW to create a world where everyone can live in abundance and prosperity without the need for economic subservience.
You were born as a PERFECT soul and upon returning to the Creator, you will remain in complete perfection without the need for artificial intelligence or transhumanism.
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About the Author: Gregg Prescott, M.S. is the founder and editor of In5D and BodyMindSoulSpirit. You can find his In5D Radio shows on the In5D Youtube channel. He is also a transformational speaker and promotes spiritual, metaphysical and esoteric conferences in the United States through In5dEvents. His love and faith for humanity motivates him to work in humanitys best interests 12-15+ hours a day, 365 days a year. Please like and follow In5D on Facebook as well as BodyMindSoulSpirit on Facebook!
Tags: agenda, artificial intelligence, chappie, gregg prescott, lucy, movie, movies, network, propaganda, RFID chip, the matrix, the terminator, they live, transhumanism, transhumanism agenda
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Posted: at 3:56 pm
Why settle for a house when you can have a nation of your own? These Micronations are not just tiny, they’re also weird! 1 The Kingdom of Talossa: created by a 14-Year-Old All hail the Boy King!
On December 26, 1979 from his bedroom in Milwaukee Wisconsin, 14-year-old Robert Ben Madison declared it a separate country called Talossa and appointed himself King. While this proclamation has never been recognized by any Government, Talossa is considered one of the first micronations, inspiring many copycats. Madison/Talossa was tech-savvy enough to have its own website since 1995. It now boasts 222 citizens (you can become one here.)
This peaceful Kingdom is not without internal strife in 2004 a group seceded, forming the Republic of Talossa. However, in 2012 the country was made whole again. (Source 1 | Source 2)
The Province of Bumbunga is yet another tiny breakaway region from a First World country in this case, Australia. It was founded March 29, 1976 by Alex Brackstone, a former monkey-trainer and British Crown loyalist who did not like how Australia was turning against the monarchy. He created Bumbunga on his 4 hectare property and named himself Governor, so at least a small part of the country would still be loyal to the British Throne. He tried to create a giant model of Great Britain out of strawberry patches, but they ended up dying in a drought.
Bumbunga also issued a series of stamps with British royalty; these cannot be used to actually mail anything but became a collector’s item amongst nerds. (Source)
On June 2, 1996, the tiny country of Ladonia was founded by artist Lars Vilks in a nature reserve in southern Sweden because of a legal dispute over his art. In 1980, he had built a 70-ton driftwood sculpture entitled Nimis in this remote region accessible only by water or a long hike. When the authorities finally discovered it, they ordered it destroyed and a years-long battle in the courts ensued. After losing his last appeal, Vilks created the country of Ladonia, which he says trades only in creative expression. There is a queen and crown princess as well as ambassadors and ministers and its official language only has two words: waaaall and p (although it’s unclear what they mean). Anyone can apply to be a citizen here as Ladonia claims all its people are nomads. (Source 1 | Source 2 | Photo)
The inventor of the Segway, Dean Kamen, owns this tiny island just off Long Island, New York (and north of South Dumpling Island). Like many micronations on this list, it was started because of a dispute with government authorities about building something without permission in this case it was a wind turbine. Kamen seceded and established his own one-man nation with flag, navy, currency, and even its own anthem written by Broadway director Paul Lazarus, who is also the nation’s Ministry of Brunch. He even got his friend President George H.W. Bush to sign a non-aggression pact. While this is the folly of a very rich, well connected person, he claims his busy life offers no time to relax and this lets him unwind. Why not just take a ride along a trail on a Segway instead? (Source 1 | Source 2 | Photo)
On October 20, 2008, at 11:30 am British Standard Time, another 14-year-old boy (see #1) declared a tiny nation within a bigger country’s borders; in this case it was Jonathan Austen declaring his father Terry Emperor and himself Crown prince of Austenasia, located within the confines of their London flat. The country is run as a constitutional monarchy and has expanded to 5 territories in the nearby area. They are very serious about their endeavor (they claim Articles 1 and 3 of the 1933 Montevideo Convention allow them to declare their sovereignty) and have created dozens of Acts of Parliament. You can become an “honorary subject” here. They say you can visit their country as long as they are contacted beforehand. The website asks just don’t turn up. (Source 1 | Source 2 | Photo)
How to start your own micronation in 9 easy steps!
1. Be very rich or very young 2. Be an artist and/or a little bit crazy 3. Give the country a funny name and yourself a ridiculous title 4. Write a declaration, cite Article 1 and 3 of Montevideo Convention 5. Try and get your president friend to sign a non-aggression pact 6. Set up a website and offer free citizenship 7. Mint your own coins or stamps 8. Prepare to be thrown in jail or taken to court for doing #7 9. If micronation is larger than 1 person, prepare for civil war or coup
Posted: July 21, 2016 at 2:24 am
On Monday June 27th, the Libertarian Party of Illinois turned in 53,000 signatures on 4,500 pages. More than twice the required amount for third parties and more than 10 times what is required of a Republican or Democrat in Illinois. As of Tuesday, July 5th, the window for issuing a challenge has officially closed meaning we are on the ballot this November!
Some interesting statistics:
These are more than interesting facts, they represent the lengths (no pun intended) that we as a party must go to in order to secure our place on the ballot. A place we must fight tooth and nail for every single time because the entrenched powers that be make the rules that keep them in power. This year, people are waking up to the options that are out there. The only reason we are on the ballot is the hard work and dedication of volunteers who sacrificed time, money, sleep, and nights better spent with family to make the future a better place for them. The volunteers who came from out of state on their own who collected. The donors who reached into their wallets to fund the work of petitioners. The crew who drove down on the last weekend to bind and validate the last push of petitions. The endless phone calls fielded by our long-suffering ballot access director and state chair. We couldn’t have gotten there without you!
The 2016 campaign season is now in full swing! Visit our campaign page to meet the Libertarians who are seeking election.
Libertarians are traversing the state, looking to meet you. As supporters of the smallest minority: The Individual, we have been looking to touch base with as many of Illinois citizens as possible, from the Shawnee to Chicago.
The message we are sharing says: Enough of the establishments robbing Peter to pay Paul. We need to get the government out of the business of playing one group of people against another. It is time for policies of peace that protect every individuals rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The Libertarian Party is the third-largest and fastestgrowing political party in America. There are libertarian chapters in all 50 states and currently over 140 elected Libertarian officials six of them right here in Illinois.
Americans want, and deserve, a political system which respects them as unique individuals, as people who can make their own plans, who take responsibility for themselves, who are compassionate, and who can generally solve their own problems.
Libertarians are practical we know we cant make the world perfect but it can be a lot better.
The Libertarian Party is the only political party that is working to dramatically reduce unrestrained government spending, taxes, debt, regulations, bureaucracies, and wars, both foreign and domestic.
Illinois has the largest pension liability, the worst credit rating, and the most units of government in all the 50 states.
The states foreclosure and unemployment rates are consistently among the worst in the nation.
Meanwhile, establishment politicians make time to control your life, banning incandescent light bulbs and worrying about e-cigarettes and big gulps.
Its time for a change in Illinois politics.
We believe Illinois is ready for a fresh approach. If you do:
Contact us and let us know what interests you about liberty
A fire cannot burn without fuel.
Likewise, nothing happens in the world of politics without money.
Click below to donate an amount of your choosing. Every donation is very much appreciated.
If you wish to make a monthly pledge, visit our donate page for more options.
The next election season is coming up in 2016. We are currently accepting and reviewing candidate applications.
The most recent round of elections were held for municipal offices in April 2015. To see current Illinois Libertarians, visit our candidate page.
If you think that people have the right to control their own lives as long as they do not initiate the use of force or fraud against others, you are a Libertarian.
Join the Party.
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Posted: July 14, 2016 at 4:35 pm
There is a smell of defeatism in the air, a widespread view that the people have spoken and that we must respect them and accept their verdict. What nonsense! There is nothing sacred about a referendum vote, any more than the result of a General Election. We Lib Dems cannot accept Brexit because it would be a calamity that would undo everything we have always fought for. Furthermore reversing Brexit is not a hopeless cause.
When the time is right, there is every justification for a new referendum. A referendum must offer a clear choice, which the last did not. When Theresa May says Brexit means Brexit, what does Brexit mean? Some Leavers want no more free movement of labour, which means no access to the single market. Others want access, which means the free movement of labour must stay. Indeed with only a very tiny margin in favour of Leave, far more votes were cast for Remain than for each of these two incompatible objectives of the Leave Camps.
A re-run is especially justified if there is a dramatic change in circumstances, such as a massive shift in public opinion. This is very likely. Most economists and every independent expert organization, the IMF, the IFS and the Bank of England, predict a serious recession. Leavers promised a future in the sunny uplands, and lots of new money for the NHS, not more austerity and severe cuts in spending. Now they may be ringing their bells, but soon they will be wringing their hands.
Finally the report from The Committee of Climate Change on fracking has been released and produced some interesting results, raising concerns of the effect of fracking on the UKs climate change targets.
Shale gas production of the UK is not going to be the answer to our energy needs when it comes to meeting our climate change targets. It is now obvious the UK has missed the boat on this payday unless development is done on a huge scale, industrializing vast areas of rural England. The recommended regulations in the report to facilitate the size of expansion needed will never be in place.
The regulations needed to mitigate fugitive emissions are also not financially viable, making the cost of fracking even more expensive. There will always be methane leaks, the industry cannot stop it. The industrys own figures of 2% to 5% expected leakage of methane from exploration, production and the supporting infrastructure needed, will put the UKs climate change targets in jeopardy.
The report states that UK shale gas production must displace imported gas rather than increasing domestic consumption. Allowing unabated consumption above these levels would not be consistent with the decarbonisation required under the Climate Change Act. Each alternative has an almost identical climate change footprint and the imports are likely to be cheaper. If the government commits to use domestic fracked gas this will drive up energy prices and eventually hit the poorest families in the pocket!
The report does not consider the ongoing technical issues such waste disposal, water pollution, set back distances, community disruption, seismic concerns, industrialisation, etc. etc. etc! It is time for the government to stop bending over for the gas and oil lobbyists and realise they are backing the wrong horse.
A familiar face heads back to Lib Dem HQ. Phil Reilly, the man who wrote Nick Cleggs brilliant resignation speech which inspired 20,000 people to join the party, has been appointed interim Head of Communications following the departure of James Holt to pastures new. Phil has been working for Nick since then including helping Nick with his new book which is coming out in September.
Since the election, hes shared some funny stories on his blog, Blimey OReilly.
The most recent involves his old colleague Mr Holt, who had a bit of a brainwave at the Eastleigh by-election to get Nick Clegg out of the campaign HQ without being harassed by a throng of journalists. I wonder if Boris might consider using the same technique when he leaves home every day although I doubt the same personnel would be as willing to help him.
The entrance to the building was an enormous roll-up, corrugated metal affair, like a huge garage door or the sort of thing you would use to protect a massive off license after hours. The press pack were all expecting the DPM to come out through the smaller front door, built into the roll-up wall, into an open car park, where they could pounce on him like jaguars on a gazelle. So, Holty arranged dozens of activists, some gripping placards and bright orange diamonds, inside the building facing the entrance, like infantry preparing to march into battle.
Behind the advanced guard was Nick Clegg flanked by dozens more activists and, rather conspicuously, a couple of the Metropolitan Polices finest close protection officers.
Mark Easton presented some interesting Brexit expectations polling by ComRes for the BBC last night on the Ten Oclock News. Here are a couple of highlights:
Most Britons think that maintaining access to the single market should be the priority for the Government when negotiating the UKs withdrawal from the EU (66%), while just a third say this of restricting freedom of movement (31%).
The new Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, has already helpfully set out his Brexit negotiating positions in a speech to the Institute of Chartered Engineers in March (carried in full on his website). He has also more recently written a detailed article on the subject on Conservative Home.
The Federal Policy Committee is traditionally very busy in the immediate run-up to the summer holiday. That is because of conference deadlines and the need to get everything concluded before August when a lot of people are away.
The most recent meeting of the committee, which came hot on the heels of the last one, was on 13th July 2016. It also happened to be the day that Labour plunged further into disarray following the revelation that Jeremy Corbyn will appear on the ballot paper in their leadership election and, of course, the country had a new Prime Minister foisted upon it.
As we were going through the meeting, government announcements were being about new Cabinet members. We paused several time for a collective intake of breath.
There was a lot to discuss. We did not finish until some time after 9pm.
Gareth Epps has resigned from the committee because he has taken a job that is politically restricted. Gareth has been a very active member of FPC for a long time and he will certainly be missed from the committee. We were, however, delighted to welcome Antony Hook as his replacement.
The committee agreed the chairs, membership, and remits of three new working groups. Each of those groups was recommended by the Agenda 2020 exercise.
The first of these was education. The remit requires the group to identify proposals for new policy in Education in England. The group is particularly to be directed to identify policies which could be strong campaigning issues within education, reinforcing our overall liberal vision of creating opportunity for everyone regardless of background. The group is also expected to consider and address Liberal Democrat principles on diversity and equalities in developing their proposals. It will deal with the overall principles of education, Early Years, funding, structures, academies, governors, standards and inspections, quality, teacher recruitment, closing the attainment gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students, school and the world of work, Further Education and adult education. It will not deal with Higher Education.
The chair is to be Lucy Nethsingha. The membership of the group was appointed. It is fair to say that there was very strong competition for places. In fact, we had over 830 applications for the working groups.
It does seem that the news over the past fortnight or so has been dominated by people saying goodbye to spend more time with their families or whatever. In some cases, they will be more missed than in others, and, on this occasion, it is time to mark the retirement from the House of Lords of our longtime spokesperson on Universities, Baroness (Margaret) Sharp of Guildford, who has decided to take up the option to retire at the still relatively spritely age of 77.
Margaret is another of those whose work over many years led to a triumph celebrated by others, in that it was her success in reducing the Conservative majority in Guildford from over 20,000 to a rather more slender 4,500 that helped Sue Doughty to her famous success in 2001.
An economist of some regard, Margaret taught at the London School of Economics, as well as working in the National Economic Development Office in the 1970s, before becoming politically active with the onset of the Social Democrats.
Originally posted here:
Posted: at 4:30 pm
For the last eight years, Nicky has struggled with advanced ovarian cancer, and despite repeated rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, it’s unclear how long she has to live.
“Ovarian cancer has a very bleak outlook — less than 30 percent make it to five years,” said the 67-year-old former New York City French teacher. “I was diagnosed in 2002, and I was going in to my fourth year and had a recurrence — which was like the proverbial shoe dropping — and it frightened me so much.”
“For the moment, there is no pain,” she said. “The most difficult part is leaving this world early. I wasn’t ready to get on that bus.”
But last May, Nicky volunteered to take a psychedelic “trip” on psilocybin — the hallucinogenic compound from “magic mushrooms” — which has been used for thousands of years by indigenous cultures to reach higher levels of spirituality and consciousness.
Today, even after losing seven friends from her cancer support group in 15 months, Nicky said she is less afraid of death and is living her life more “honestly and authentically.”
Nicky was one of the first terminally ill participants in an ongoing study at New York University on the use of hallucinogens to help those with terminal illnesses.
“I had a wonderful life, a fabulous child and beautiful grandchildren, and here my life was cut short,” she said. “I thought of my two granddaughters and not seeing them growing up and graduating from college — it made me profoundly sad. I wanted to do something for myself, to be able to live more in the moment, rather than worrying about the future and having all these existential thoughts about what life was all about.”
Her “trip” took place under full medical supervision in a warm, living room-like setting with art books, fresh fruit, flowers and soothing music. She was given a pill in an earthenware chalice and a single rose, then hunkered down on a cozy sofa with eyeshades and headphones.
“I was in a dome and it was all bejeweled with colors, mostly striped, like a kaleidoscope, but not turning,” she said. “Every once in awhile, the dome would open up at the top and send a luminescence,” she said. “I was in awe and could feel myself taking deep breaths. At the same, tears were running down my face, but I was not crying.”
“It was incredible,” she said. “I wanted to share it. I couldn’t believe the world could be so beautiful.”
Researchers at New York University say that in a controlled setting, hallucinogens, which alter perception and cognition, can help patients reduce the anxiety, personal isolation and fear of death.
“I am still not ready to die,” said Nicky, who just returned from trips to Mexico and Bali and boxes with a trainer several times a week. “It’s definitely improved my interactions with those closest to me and figuring out how I want to live my life.”
“Has my anxiety of dying gone away? I would say no, I don’t ever want to die. Will I be able to walk toward death with a little less fear? Perhaps,” she said. “I know it sounds trite, but I live more in the moment,” she said.
The three-year study, “Effects of Psilocybin on Anxiety and Psychosocial Distress in Advanced Cancer Patients,” is being privately funded by the Zurich-based Heffter Research Institute , which promotes the use of psychedelics for the alleviation of suffering. Fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it adheres to rigorous safety guidelines and protocols.
Researchers hope that it will one day lead to reclassification of Schedule 1 hallucinogens so that doctors may prescribe them to patients for palliative care, depression and even addiction.
“It’s daunting working with people in the midst of death,” said principal investigator Dr. Stephen Ross, assistant professor of psychiatry and director of the NYU Langone Center of Excellence on Addiction. “To help people to have a good death, and not more chemotherapy, to prepare for the final part of life and to die with dignity and do it in a way that they are not frightened, that is one of the most important endeavors as a physician.”
Ross and his colleagues are looking for 32 patients who are willing to participate in the random, double-blind study. To be eligible, patients must be 18 to 76 years old with the diagnosis of a “potentially life-threatening disease” or advanced or recurrent cancer who are displaying symptoms of acute stress, anxiety or adjustment disorder due to their disease.
Patients are screened carefully — those with psychotic spectrum disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe depression cannot participate.
“Mysticism is really the cornerstone of all major religions going back millennia,” said co-principal investigator Anthony Bossis , professor of psychiatry and anesthesiology at the NYU School of Medicine.
“It is characterized by a sense of unity, transcendence, connecting to the broader universe and a sense of life and the promotion of personal spirituality,” he said. “It recalibrates how we see our life and gives a sense of sacredness and reshapes how we view death.”
A mystical experience can help root patients like Nicky more in the present, according to Bossis. “People with cancer can spend their final days and months not anxious and improvement in quality of life is attainable,” he said. “These experiences have the potential to do that.”
Scientists across the country have shown a renewed interest in the medical uses of hallucinogens. So far, 80 to 90 patients have had similar experiences in studies on psilocybin at other universities including Johns Hopkins and UCLA.
In a study on 36 patients at Johns Hopkins, researchers looked at the effects of psilocybin on depression. At the 14-month follow-up, more than 60 percent of volunteers rated the experience as among the five most meaningful and spiritually significant of their lives; 58 percent reported a “complete” mystical experience.
“We have come a long way in pain management with the use of opiods , but the sheer anxiety is so hard to address in a medical setting,” said Bossis, a clinical psychologist whose specialty is end-of-life care.
“The heart of this study is to address these levels of suffering and get at the existential [fear] of not being here any longer that we all face,” he said. “We provide an empirical experience where the patient goes into a journey — his own journey — and can find resolution and peace and transformation and return back here to integrate it into their lives.”
Psilocybin, an alkaloid compound in the tryptamine family, is produced by hundreds of species of fungi and acts on the serotonin receptors in the part of the brain responsible for non-verbal imagery and emotion. Its mind-altering effects can last anywhere from three to eight hours.
It is in the same class of chemicals as mescaline, contained in the peyote cactus, which is used in religious ceremonies by Native Americans, and dimethyltryptamine, which is in ayahuasca, used by indigenous South American religions. The effects are sometimes described as similar to near-death experiences. Some research has shown that brain activity under psilocybin mimics closely that of Buddhist monks meditating.
“It appears we are hardwired with neuro-circuitry to meditate and have the spiritual experience,” said Ross.
Psychologist Timothy Leary popularized hallucinogens like LSD in his 1964 book with Ralph Metzner, “The Psychedelic Experience,” which he hailed as a way to “journey into new realms of consciousness.”
“It opens the mind, frees the nervous system of it ordinary patterns and structures,” Leary wrote.
Experiments with LSD took place as early as the late 1940s and 1950s, after it was discovered in an ergot fungus by Swiss chemist Dr. Albert Hoffman.
By 1965, more than 2,000 papers had described positive results in 40,000 patients with few side effects and a high level of safety in the treatment of psychiatric orders, depression, sexual dysfunction, bereavement and even addiction, according to the British Journal of Psychiatry.
But by 1966, the drug was made illegal after abuses by the hippie counterculture, scientists distanced themselves and the government cracked down on research licenses. By the 1970s, under pressure from the U.S. Justice Department, virtually all research ended.
“It got demonized as a most addictive drug, but the irony is that it is not addictive,” said Ross. “Used in the models we describe, it can actually lead to sustained sobriety.”
Volunteers in the NYU study agree to take part in two full-day sessions, seven weeks apart, where they are administered either a placebo or the psilocybin. They are monitored for anxiety and outcomes two to four weeks prior to drug administration, then one day prior, then again seven hours, one day and several weeks’ intervals until 26 weeks post administration.
Investigators also measure depression, pain and quality of life as well as attitude toward their disease progression at designated intervals.
Beforehand, they undergo preparation for the experience in psychotherapy. “We take their life narrative and their cancer narrative and review all the safety parameters — what happens if X,” said Ross.
When the drug is administered, the patient is paired with a male and female therapist to monitor responses and for comfort.
“Emotional stability optimizes the chance for a good experience,” said Bossis. “Trust with the monitors is crucial . If the patient doesn’t feel safe, we don’t go forward.”
Sometimes the experience is traumatizing, but facing fears is part of the process. Doctors have an antidote to abort the experience, if necessary, or use valium to calm a patient down.
“We encourage them to go inward, to minimize the communication with us and enter the experience, even if it’s something dark and difficult that comes before them,” said Bossis. “We tell patients that no matter where they find themselves, they will return to a normal state of consciousness within six hours.”
Two of the three patients in Nicky’s group have already died. Both reported extraordinary experiences — “a cleansing of the body and soul of grief and sadness and an increase in the acceptance of the disease and the dying process,” according to Bossis.
The patients said they wanted to give back more — financially or emotionally and were able to reconnect with estranged friends and family members. Both were “peaceful and thankful,” at the end, he said.
As for Nicky, the first hour of her psychedelic journey was awe-inspiring, but the second part was deeper and more emotional. At several points, she had to sit up and take off her eyeshades and seek the comfort of Ross and her other therapist.
“I became profoundly sad, and I actually had to sit up after 45 minutes and talk to them and I cried a lot,” she said. “There was another scenario, then I went through the rest by myself.”
In six hours, when it was all over, she stayed and analyzed her experience with the doctors.
“In therapy we had been working on my top five [issues with death or family],” she said. “During my experience, I reordered the hierarchy of issues to lead a more authentic life emotionally. I didn’t realize my number four was actually number one.”
“It was such an enormous gift,” said Nicky. “It’s really amazing that a king’s ransom arrived at my door step.”
Today, Nicky said she would take psilocybin again — “in a New York minute.” She continues her therapy at NYU and will go on a drug trial soon for late-stage ovarian cancer. She also hopes that her openness about the psychedelic experience will help others.
“I don’t think people should be so afraid of something that could be so helpful when you are nearing the end of life,” she said. “I had huge insight into my head. I can still conjure it up and I tried for very long to relive it — it was breathtaking.”
Nicky never expected to find God. “I didn’t have that spiritual experience, but my dome was very close,” she said. “When it opened up several times and let in the light, I would have thought it was my creator if I had been religious.”
For more information on how to participate in the study, contact patient coordinator Krystallia Kalliontzi at 212-998-9252 or email@example.com.