Tag: Citigroup

Global Crisis: The Time of Testing Is Here

by Richard C. Cook

While skeptics mockingly point out that the “end of the world” has been prophesized over and over again for centuries with nothing happening—the latest being Y2K, they say, and another likely bust coming up when the calendar hits 2012—it’s obvious that mankind faces an increasingly unsustainable future.

The world’s economic, technological, agricultural, and political systems are breaking down. While the causes are debated, it’s certain that the human assault on the natural world has wiped out vast numbers of species and polluted the land, the air, and the oceans. After the past 100 years of history, with two world wars and low-grade but vicious warfare going on almost continuously somewhere in the world since World War II ended, it seems impossible for human beings to live together in a state of harmony either among ourselves or with the planet we call home.


Are we at “the end of the age?”

In social life, the overriding characteristic of our era is the increasing division in the world between haves and have-nots, masters and slaves, controllers and controlled, rich and poor. The power of the wealthiest class of people has never been so great. The weapons of mass destruction they–and the armed forces who work for them–monopolize have the force to destroy the earth many times over.

Teachings of peace, tolerance, charity, which have always received lip service, lack efficacy. Such teachings increasingly count for nothing. Organized religion, done in by its own transgressions and lack of transformative potency, rarely even attempts to make a stand for justice or persuade nations to forego war.

The people at the very top of the heap have been those Western financial magnates, especially from the Anglo-American-Zionist empire and the European Union, who control banking, industry, investment, and credit. The world is run by an international financial elite and their subordinates in government, corporations, academia, the military, and the media. This elite have plunged billions of people and the nations they inhabit into astronomical levels of debt. They are the controllers who live off the fat of the land, skimming the cream of science and industry through usury on money they create out of thin air through financial monopolies granted or at least tolerated by the politicians whose strings they pull. No longer leaders of the popular will, the political classes of all Western nations, most particularly the United States, are servants of private financial and corporate interests.

The controllers realize how tenuous stability has become. So they seem to have embarked on a worldwide consolidation of power, using every tool available from the fields of electronic surveillance and social engineering to enhance their dominance. Nations not entirely under their control, such as Russia and China, are tagged as adversaries and surrounded with military bases. The controllers are suspected of having vowed among themselves that the existing world population of almost seven billion human beings cannot be allowed to continue. A large portion of the human herd must be culled, an action that now appears to be underway with the world’s resources increasingly passing into the hands of centralized financial interests.

But this will not necessarily fend off the even larger disaster that threatens mankind. For the controllers themselves also inhabit the earth. No man is an island. What threatens the least of God’s creatures threatens them as well.

The perspective of the controllers is therefore incomplete. What it leaves out are human freedom, aspiration, and spirituality. It also leaves out nature and nature’s laws. Further, it leaves out God, whatever we mean by that word, still knowing that there is “something” or “someone” who is the ultimate creative force. Perhaps these most materialistic elements of humanity are not quite as sharp as they think they are in trying to erect a fortress against the universe in order to save themselves.

For instance, they have not yet found a way to negate the law of cause and effect: “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.” An example is the BP oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico caused by negligence in addressing pre-existent problems in a manner reminiscent of the space shuttle Challenger disaster of 1986. Both events exposed the pride of man as mere dust. Disasters may also be lying in wait due to genetically-modified seeds laced with pesticides where crop failures or the appearance of super-resistant insects could lead to mass starvation.

The controllers desire to rule from their glitzy world capitals of glass and steel while maintaining “safe” suburban, rural, or island palaces and retreats. Many, though not all, are the physical or spiritual descendents of those who rejected God by rejecting Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago, though according to some traditions their genealogy may be much older. Though the Christian churches offer many confusing and contradictory interpretations, it was Jesus Christ who prophesized the end of the age and sought to prepare mankind for it. Christianity is first and foremost an eschatological religion, especially as it hearkens back to such Old Testament prophets as Isaiah.

But in recognizing that the size of the human population is an overriding issue, shouldn’t we ask why are so many people alive on earth at this time? Where have they come from? Is it simply a result of improved sanitation, more productive farming methods, or the reduction in infant mortality? Or is there a hidden cause? The planet today resembles a train station at rush hour. Perhaps for the sake of discussion we should look at it from a somewhat mystical perspective. Should we consider, for instance, that the huge increase in the world’s population has taken place because all the human souls from the last several thousand years of history have been allowed to incarnate in order to give them one final chance to develop spiritually and move on to higher planes of being?

It could also be that a side-effect of the large earth population has been the emergence of the critical mass of information that has led in turn to exponential growth in science, technology, and economic productivity, the latest phase being the cybernetic revolution. Has man, in his vanity, attributed this apparent progress to his own stellar qualities, while failing to guard against the temptations deriving therefrom and their potential for binding him to the material plane? Perhaps man has surrendered his soul through a Faustian bargain based ultimately on the illusion which science promotes of someday attaining physical, as opposed to spiritual, immortality. In his delusion, man has viewed the earth as his true home rather than a place to reside temporarily for learning, experience, and eventual transcendence. The great parable of modern man may have been Goethe’s Faust, published in 1808 and prefiguring the spiritual crisis of the modern age.

We should note well the fact that due to social and political upheaval, combined with modern methods of communication, every person alive has been exposed to teachings of spiritual evolution, not just from Christianity, but from other religions such as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism, as well as spiritual teachings such as yoga that cross religious lines. All have taught that our true home is in the spiritual realms, not in the rounds of earthly life and death. (Judaism is excluded from this list, as there are so many different Jewish sects, including so-called “secular Judaism,” that it is difficult to isolate a specific teaching on spiritual development.)

Why else have we seen in the past century so many enlightened teachings coming from all parts of the world, existing side-by-side with organized political, financial, and military horror? Doesn’t it seem that each and every soul on the planet is being tested? As indicated above, perhaps each of us is being given one last opportunity to attain enlightenment before the curtain comes down and the theater is closed for the season. This may be one way to look at the concept of the “end times.”

So what are we waiting for? Shouldn’t we be coming together to work in every way possible for the furtherance of truth and the enhancement of being? Shouldn’t we be creating centers of light to prepare ourselves and each other whatever lies ahead? Indeed, some are. But are we doing enough?

Time appears to be running out, with dire changes having already begun. Who knows, maybe there is only a year or two remaining of relative freedom of movement before the controllers reveal their deep affinity with the dark side by setting up what seems to be their planned world dictatorship, world government, and world currency. They have learned how to manufacture crises and disasters, such as 9/11, as a means of seizing more power. The signs that they are springing the trap will be the increased bureaucratization of all aspects of life, wartime measures like rationing and transportation checkpoints, centralization of financial institutions, control of populations through un- and under-employment, elimination of freedom of speech on the internet, and continued growth of computerized systems containing personal identifying information. As has happened before, the majority of people will likely be so sick of the rising tide of chaos the controllers have helped engineer they will willingly trade their autonomy for the shackles of totalitarian order.

To accomplish their ends, won’t the controllers also try to stamp out the last vestiges of spirituality on earth? They have already attacked many spiritual teachers and movements since the epochal change of consciousness that emerged in the 1960s. The rebellious flower children were seduced by dangerous drugs developed and distributed by covert operatives. Other examples were the engineered reaction within the Catholic Church against Vatican II and the liberation theology movement, as well as the takeover of Protestant Christianity by Zionists among the Evangelicals. A friend points out that militant Zionists also took over and subverted the Reform movement within Judaism. And it has been the Western intelligence agencies, going back over a century, who helped create radical Islam in order to declare the Middle East a base of “terrorism” so that war against the Islamic world could be rationalized and their oil resources seized.

The controllers engineered these and other reactions because the only way they can rule is to eliminate the naturally-occurring hope of free individuals for a higher level of consciousness and a more humane world. Other methods include mind control through TV programming and the continued dumbing-down of the population through an educational system now based entirely on learning by rote and government-mandated standardized tests. As 1984 and Brave New World showed to previous generations and the cynical manipulation of political reporting by Murdoch-owned Fox News indicates today, the masses are easy to control. Fox News is doing it by co-opting the Tea Party movement and goading it into a phony rebellion that ignores the real issues of elite control. All these elements hide the fact that it is the controllers who are the real terrorists in the world today.

Now embedded microchips, along with automated administration of pharmaceuticals to individuals by nanotechnology, appear to be on the way. The first step toward the microchip in the U.S. could be the national ID card as proposed by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) in connection with immigration reform. According to published reports, the card Schumer proposes would contain a person’s social security number, along with biometric data such as retinal scans and fingerprints. Such a card could easily be expanded to include credit and criminal history, DNA sequences, and medical history, all linked to a central database.

As cited in Politico, Sen. Schumer has stated his belief that “Hashem”–Hebrew for “the Name”–has appointed him the guardian of the state of Israel within the U.S. Senate. He has also spoken of himself as a potential presidential candidate. As events move forward, particularly with politicians like Schumer on the rise, many seemingly innocent people will be faced with difficult decisions of whether, and how far, to “get along by going along.”

But whoever accepts the chip, it is said, will wear the “mark of the beast”—by choice, because the conscience within will have cried out against it. The post-World War II Nuremburg trials established that no one is innocent because they were simply following orders, a ruling that should apply to victims as well as perpetrators. Of course “the chip” can take many forms, making self-deception and rationalization easy.

Yet God is not mocked. Every human being on the planet has a God-given conscience which allows us to distinguish between right and wrong–if we listen to our conscience. Some say we have an individual guardian angel who is the guide to our conscience. How many of us seek the counsel of this guide?

And is the time also at hand that the “earth changes” which have been prophesied will manifest on an increasingly vast scale? How will the planet cleanse itself? It has been prophesied, for instance, by Edgar Cayce and others that as part of this cleansing, New York and Connecticut will one day be under water. Such predictions seem less preposterous today than 60 years ago, now that scientists are discussing the increased potential for extreme climatic events through alterations in the earth’s magnetic field or in connection with earth temperature changes.

Without a doubt, the time must also come when the United States will no longer exist in anything resembling its present form. How can a nation as heedless, violent, prurient, complacent, and materialistic as this one possibly continue on its present course when the earth is purged of falsehood? How can objective justice tolerate a nation that sadistically tortures prisoners of war and routinely kills civilians with unmanned drone strikes halfway around the world?

G.I. Gurdjieff was a spiritual master from the Caucasus who studied in the most remote parts of Asia and spent his mature years teaching pupils in France. In the 1920s he visited the U.S., spending most of his time in New York. He reportedly said, “America will rot before it ripens.” The causes, he intimated, would be America’s obsession with “dollar business,” its diet of processed foods, and its dissipated lifestyle. 

Gurdjieff was right. Regarding “dollar business,” today’s “Big Six”–J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley–are the most rotten and corrupt institutions on the globe. They have sold America down the river by creating and destroying gigantic investment bubbles, feasting on massive bailouts paid for by taxpayers, and spending the last two generations shipping workers’ jobs to low-paying foreign labor markets. Then they turn around and use America and its passive population as the world’s policeman to protect their investments.

Just as bad are international institutions like the International Monetary Fund, the Bank of International Settlements, and the European Central Bank, as well as national central banks like the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the Deutsche Bundesbank, etc. While Hitler allegedly killed millions, the world’s bankers make life or death decisions that affect billions. They do it through control of the money spigot, which gives them power over every business and industry in the world that utilizes any form of credit. And credit is as essential to most businesses as breathing is to a human being.

When the dust settles, will there still be communities of human survivors in America? That may depend on the Americans themselves and how successful they are at reclaiming their freedom. Whatever survivors there are may be spiritually-minded and will of necessity live close to nature. But the scale and appearance of any future civilization is an unknown. Europe’s future could be as tenuous. Maybe Russia, China, and selected locations in Latin America, Asia, or Africa will do better. We don’t yet know.

What we should know is that the time is up for humanity. We have had our chance to decide what we value, whether service to a false conception of a separate self or service to God and neighbor. Now we are likely to find out for certain what measure of truth we have imbibed and incorporated into our being during many lifetimes.

The testing has come, but it has been foreseen for a long time. The Master came two millennia ago and showed the way. Why do we think someone else is coming now to save us? We were given the tools and the time to learn how to use them. Now we have no more excuses.

Rather than promote war, conflict, and conquest, anyone with a genuine spiritual sense will do everything possible to encourage peace, justice, and harmony among peoples and nations. Nevertheless, the “end of the age” seems imminent. As the Shivapuri Baba said, as recorded in the book Long Pilgrimage by John Bennett (Dawn Horse Press, 1983), “We are at the end of a 6,000 year cycle.”

We should strive not to be confused or complacent. It is time now for individuals to make a decision on where they want to be for the challenges ahead, with whom they want to spend their time, and exactly how they intend to devote their energy and commitment. The best advice is to choose wisely and choose well but not to wait any longer.

Jesus said: “Ye know not the day or the hour.” So why do we wake up every morning still thinking we know what the day will bring? In fact we do not know. The processes we are looking at herein could take a day, a year, or a century. So what is to be done? Following are some suggestions:

  • Find a teacher or group that can guide you to spiritual enlightenment and where you can help others do the same.
  • Teach yourself to act considerately to all those around you, including people you consider “evil.”
  • Start viewing the natural world as alive and conscious, not an inert mass of dead matter.
  • Get out of debt, get off the grid, and learn to live with only what you really need of a material nature.
  • Learn to love work and do that work with reverence and gratitude.
  • Stop watching TV; instead watch your health and diet.
  • Develop your mental, emotional, and manual skills.
  • Be honest with yourself and others.
  • Refuse the “chip,” no matter what.
  • Never stop learning.
  • Grow food.
  • Laugh a lot.
  • Be at peace.
  • Be happy.

Richard C. Cook is a writer on public policy issues. His website is www.richardccook.com. Sources for this article include the teachings of Edgar Cayce, G.I. Gurdjieff, P.D. Ouspensky, Abdullah Dougan, Jon Peniel, Omna Last, and many others.


Richard C. Cook is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Richard C. Cook

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Inside the world of Obama’s secret-service bodyguards

Somebody sent me this article, or even subscribed me to the http://headlinenewsbureau.com site itself. Np problem, it seems to be interesting to hear just who is out gunning for Barack Obama....

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Protecting the US president has presented the secret service with the greatest challenge in its history. But who wants to kill him? And how likely are they to succeed?

The Southern Poverty Law Center began life in 1971 as a tiny law firm specialising in civil rights cases. It took on the might of the Ku Klux Klan, and was duly rewarded by having its offices razed and its senior lawyers targeted for assassination. But it kept on going and grew to be one of the most respected monitoring groups of rightwing extremism in America today.

Recently it brought out a report called Terror From the Right , which identifies, in chronological order, the serious home-grown plots, conspiracies and racist rampages that have been cooked up in America since the Oklahoma City bomb in 1995. The list runs to 10 pages of closely printed type and itemises 75 domestic terrorism events, from plans to bomb government buildings to attempts to kill judges and politicians.

Each of the incidents aimed to change the political face of America through violence, courtesy of groups with such titles as Aryan People's Republic, The New Order and The Hated. But in the summer of 2008 the chronology takes on a sharp change of tack. Entries, which had been running at one or two per year, start coming faster. And instead of a variety of different targets, one name crops up time and time again: Barack Obama.

The first such entry is for 8 June 2008. Six people, linked to a militia group in rural Pennsylvania, are arrested with stockpiles of assault rifles and homemade bombs. One of the six allegedly tells the authorities that he intended to shoot black people from a rooftop and predicts civil war should Obama, who five days previously had cleared the Democratic nomination for president, be elected to the White House.

Next entry: 24 August 2008. The day before the opening of the Democratic convention in Denver at which Obama was nominated, three white supremacists are arrested in possession of high-powered rifles and camouflage clothing. They are talking about assassinating Obama.

24 October 2008: Less than two weeks before the election, two white supremacists are arrested in Tennessee over a bizarre plan to kill more than 100 black people, including Obama.

21 January 2009: The day after Obama's inauguration, a white man is arrested in� Massachusetts, having allegedly killed two black immigrants and injured a third. He says he was "fighting for a dying race".

10 June 2009: James von Brunn, aged 88, walks into the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and shoots dead a security guard. Von Brunn, who died last month in jail awaiting trial, left a note that read: "Obama was created by Jews."

In the 13 months that Barack Obama has been the occupant of the Oval Office he has been the subject of an extraordinary outpouring of emotion from the American electorate. At the start it was largely adulatory, though more recently the adoration has been drowned out by a cacophony of criticism from tea party activists, birthers, global-warming deniers and viewers of Fox News. At the same time, largely hidden from view, there has been a layer of antagonism towards Obama that lies well beyond the boundaries of reasonable political debate.

That has been a fact of life for Obama and his family since long before they took the keys to the White House. On 2 May 2007, fully 18 months before election day, he was assigned a secret service detail – much earlier than any other presidential candidate in American history. The precise reasons for the move have never been disclosed, but there was certainly a mood in the air sufficiently palpable to disconcert Michelle Obama. A senior US official in the State Department has told the Guardian that before he decided to run for the presidency, Obama had actively to win Michelle over to the idea by assuaging her fears about the potential of an attack on him, her and/or their two daughters.

Michelle would have been aware of the backstory here: that Colin Powell had declined to run for the 1996 Republican nomination partly because his wife Alma feared his assassination at the hands of white supremacists. Over the course of the long presidential race, Michelle spoke openly about her anxieties and how she had determined to overcome them, telling 60 Minutes that she had decided to fling herself into the race because "I am tired of being afraid".

According to John Heilemann and Mark Halperin's new account of the 2008 election, Game Change, she eventually felt relaxed enough to crack sardonic jokes about the subject. "I've already gone out and increased our life insurance on [Barack]," she quipped. "You just can't be too careful!" But as the Southern Poverty Law Center survey shows, the issue of safety and the 44th president remains anything but a laughing matter. "Virtually every domestic terrorist event we have identified since June 2008 – when it became obvious that Obama was going to win – has been directly related to him," says the author of the report, Mark Potok.

Apart from the Obamas themselves, the burden of such a threat falls primarily on the shoulders of the US secret service, and as Joseph Petro, head of global security for Citigroup, puts it, the challenges facing the service today are unlike any period that has gone before. On top of all the usual risks associated with guarding the world's most powerful politician, there is now the added, explosive ingredient of his race. "As the first black president he creates a whole other set of issues for the secret service to deal with," he says.

Petro can claim to be something of an expert in this area: he spent 23 years as a special agent in the service, four of them, from 1982 to 1986, as the man who stood beside Ronald Reagan. He knows what it's like to be the last line of protection, how it feels to be in a milling crowd in which you are surrounded by thousands of potential assailants, what it is to live with the constant knowledge that any mistake – a split second taking your eye off the ball – could be fatal.

Petro has a formula for measuring the potential dangers for any particular incumbent of the White House. You take the general atmosphere of the times in which they are in office and combine it with the specific personality that the president brings to the job. In both regards, he says, Obama presents a huge task.

"In Obama, we have a president with a very unique personality who likes to be out with the people. Put that together with the political atmosphere of these times that is highly partisan and vitriolic, then include race, and we've got a big challenge. There's no margin for error."

Petro's point about the role the president's personality plays in his own safety is ably illustrated by the single most disastrous failure in the secret service's history – the event that every incoming trainee agent spends hours and hours studying until it is drilled into his or her bone marrow. Judged by modern security standards, the shooting of John F Kennedy in Dallas on 22 November 1963 should for several reasons never have happened. The parade route Kennedy took was publicised in advance – a cardinal sin by the rule book of today. Lee Harvey Oswald had a relatively easy line of fire from the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository, which would these days have been thoroughly swept and sealed off. But it was the orders given by Kennedy himself that did for him – the president asked for the bullet-proof glass bubble to be taken off his limousine and for agents not to ride on the back of the car, thus leaving himself utterly exposed.

In the last analysis, as Kennedy proved at his own cost, a president can only be as safe as he allows himself to be. Agents can advise the commander-in-chief what is best for his security, but they cannot give him orders. "The secret service would want to take the president to Camp David straight after the inauguration and keep him there out of any contact with the public for the next four years. But they know that's not possible," Petro says.

During his presidential campaign, Obama would regularly mingle among crowds of astonishing size. But since his inauguration he has clearly responded to the guidance of his protecting agents, detaching himself considerably from direct public engagement. To some extent, that is only normal – he is no longer running in an election. But for a president who promised to break down barriers between politicians and people, it is noticeable how sparingly he is seen in public these days, and how the events he does appear at are almost invariably staged indoors.

Over the years, the secret service has developed a range of technological devices for improving security. Petro recalls asking Reagan on several occasions to wear a bulletproof vest. (Reagan would grumble and groan but usually comply.) Over the last decade, such innovations have come thick and fast. A whole new array of gadgetry has been added to the service's armoury, from face-recognition technology to a new generation of armoured vehicles. Obama rides in a Cadillac with military grade eight-inch thick doors; on election night in November 2008 he gave his victory speech to a crowd of almost a quarter of a million people from behind bullet-proof glass walls designed to foil sniper attacks.

But gadgetry is only as effective as the people who use it. In the last analysis, the human factor remains supreme, as was illustrated last November when two reality show hopefuls gatecrashed a� White House function, penetrating the inner core of the building and shaking Obama's hand. As it happened, they had no malice towards the president. But in the mindset of the mortified secret service that didn't matter; they could have done.

Which on some level is the nature of the beast: being president of the United States is a high-risk enterprise, as Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley and John Kennedy all found out the hard way. Danger can come at a president from any number of directions. It can come from the lone deranged gunman. It can come too, theoretically, from international terrorism of the Islamist variety. But al-Qaida experts point out that the closest the group has come to a direct attack on the president was 9/11 itself. "From al-Qaida's view, to assassinate the president would be very desirable," says Yehudit Barsky, a terrorism specialist at the American Jewish Committee. "But it would be difficult for them to go after him not because they don't want to but because their capacity is so impaired."

Which is why in the overall assessment of risk to Obama, so much attention is settling on rightwing extremist groups who are already operating inside America, are armed and ideologically motivated, and in some cases potentially capable of desperate acts. This brings us back to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has been tracking the activity of potentially violent militia groups since the last great wave in the 1990s when the so-called Patriot movement ballooned in proportion to rising rightwing anger towards Bill Clinton and fears of impending gun control. That wave of opprobrium culminated in the Oklahoma bombing in which 168 died and 680 more were injured.

The centre's latest report , released last week, records an astonishing mushrooming in extremist anti-government Patriot groups who see the Obama administration as a plot to impose "one-world government" on liberty-loving Americans. The numbers leapt from 149 groups in 2008 to 512 groups in 2009, of which 127 were classed as paramilitary groups.

"We know there has been a spike in activity across a broad range of things, particularly with regard to the notion that this� government is illegitimate," says Brian Levin, a criminologist who heads the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University. Levin says the phenomenon is evident in rural areas around the Appalachian mountains and Great Lakes and into the west and Pacific north-west, where new armed militia groups are spontaneously emerging; and he has no doubt about why this is happening right now: "We've always had people who hate the president, we've always had conspiracies, but the fact that we have a black president at a time of economic tumult makes these conspiracies much more volatile among a far wider group of people."

Chip Berlet, an analyst of rightwing extremism at the Massachusetts-based group Political Research Associates, estimates that there have been nine murders by individuals who have white supremacist, xenophobic or antisemitic leanings since the inauguration of Obama. Berlet sees similarities in the current foment to the militia agitation of the 1990s. "Anger is spilling over from people who believe Obama is coming to remove their liberties, seize their guns, enslave the white American nation. What's new is that they can now recruit and communicate online, and that makes it very much more dangerous for the president."

Montana is one of the rural states where resurgent extreme rightwing activity can be detected. Travis McAdam has been tracking such activity for the last two decades on behalf of the Montana Human Rights Network, so has a unique vantage point for what is going on today. "The hatred that's there is very real. It's more than a gut-level hatred of having an African-American as president, it's also ideological – these people see black people as sub-human. Groups are popping up that have a new message and are using Obama to recruit new members."

White supremacist forums that provide closed talking shops for members only have been abuzz with anti-Obama rhetoric since the presidential election. In one such talkboard, monitored by a watchdog group, a correspondent writes: "if we want to see the overthrow or the cleansing of society then we should support Obama being where he is! I believe in the coming war. With this Nig as President he will just speed up the process. He's a catylist! Is'nt this what we want?" Another says: "Our backs are really against the wall now. We need progressive activism and we need to be solution orientated. For a Whiter future for our children." A third says: "I never thought I'd ever see the day when a monkey ran my country & I'm 34. I weep for our children."

For McAdam, the crucial question is how to sort this body of vitriol into its constituent parts – to separate out those individuals and groups who may be offensive and repulsive in their choice of words but are essentially harmless, from those that have the potential to be truly violent. He likes to think of it as a funnel, at the top of which are many people drawn to radical right groups for all sorts of reasons – gun rights, taxation, Obama-as-alien, or whatever. Most never go further than that level, but some do. "As they dig into the subject, going down into the funnel, they start to lose connection with the social networks around them that keep them tied to normality. Down, down they go, and eventually out the other end of the funnel emerges the Oklahoma bomber, Timothy McVeigh, who says, 'Our country is under attack, I must do something about it.'"

It's the thought that some may be emerging from the end of the funnel at this politically charged moment, McAdam says, that bothers him so, and makes him think that "violence against President Obama is a real concern".

McVeigh, executed in June 2001, is a name that crops up frequently among the extremism monitors. It comes up again when Mark Potok gives his last word on the threat to Barack Obama. The white supremacists and anti-government militia who are out to get the president should not be underestimated, he says. "These groups aren't al-Qaida. Most of them look vastly more bumbling than effective." But then he adds: "It only takes one to get through. Timothy McVeigh taught us that."

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