TPP: A Totalitarian Trojan Horse

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The trip is fraught with paradox, and life is too ironic to be fully understood.

Lord Acton asserted nearly two centuries ago that “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority.”

While I find this observation to be apt, it is decidedly incomplete. It’s not only that absolute power corrupts absolutely, but also that positions of high authority have an overwhelming propensity to attract the corruptible. Sociopaths driven to dominate are motivated by a seething ambition that the rest of us simply cannot identify with.

In the 1960’s, Alan Watts discerned that:

“…nobody is more frightened of anybody else than a tyrant. He sits with his back to the wall, and his guards on either side of him, and he has you face downwards on the ground because you can’t use weapons that way. When you come into his presence, you don’t stand up and face him, because you might attack, and he has reason to fear that you might because he’s ruling you all. And the man who rules you all is the biggest crook in the bunch. Because he’s the one who succeeded in crime. The other people are pushed aside because they — the criminals, the people we lock up in jail — are simply the people who didn’t make it. So naturally, the real boss sits with his back to the wall and his henchmen on either side of him.”

Thus we can begin to conjure the philosophical reasons for the problems of the world that Socrates and Aristotle debated over two-thousand years ago: Why is it that our governing institutions are plagued with corruption to the point that fraud, depravity and exploitation seem not to be bugs of the system, but programs inherent within the system itself? Why is the emergence of ethical and benevolent leaders so incredibly rare?

Part of the problem stems from the fact that the greedy typically stop at nothing in their ruthless pursuit of power, while the wise avoid it altogether. The truly wise recognize this world for the illusion that it is, and cultivate that which is truly important for the nourishment of their soul, and material wealth and physical power simply don’t fit into that perspective. So the wise retain an extreme aversion to the pursuit of power because wisdom is inherently without greed; meanwhile, the greedy gravitate upward into positions of power and bring into being a plethora of problems because greed is inherently without wisdom.

With the internet age catapulting the evolution of human culture and ideas into today’s intimidating exponential acceleration, the possibility finally exists for the last vestiges of the old paradigm to finally fall away, including their manifestations which include parasitism, dominance, morality, war and predation. As professor Robert Solomon observes, the emergent paradigm has the possibility of a human society predicated upon the edicts of truth, loyalty, justice and freedom.

I would respectfully suggest that for this new paradigm to materialize as more than mere philosophical musings on the blogosphere, and become a concrete reality that can be seen and touched in the physical world, that the wise must change their paradigm as well, and pursue the throne for the benefit of all beings. Until that happens, the greedy, for whom wealth and power are endless pursuits, will take ever more power, resources, and wealth, and impoverish the rest of the world until they are forced by an extinction event or a mass revolution to cease their looting of the planet. The addictions of wealth, possessions and power are like salt water – the more one partakes of them, the thirstier they become – trying to fill the inner void with these unskillful means inexorably expands the void. And right now, the biggest imperial expansion in written human history is underway.

It’s called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and if you’re unfamiliar with it you might want to start asking yourself why you’ve never heard of it. Because behind those seven syllables of banality, those three innocent words, is a cleverly disguised iron fist of biblical proportions.

For many who have heard of it, the Trans-Pacific-Partnership has been sold by the Associated Press and Reuters as nothing more than a casual business deal as boring as it is innocuous. A cleverly orchestrated smokescreen of financial jargon and obfuscating legalese is drawn to calm the masses and appease the public who are wooed to complacency on the promise that the TPP has nothing to do with us.

 

Meanwhile, a steady campaign of apocalyptic headlines is pumped into our consciousness to distract us from the biggest corporate power grab ever, as the emergency headlines of confederate flags, ISIS attacks in Paris, and the unadulterated puerility of Donald Trump are beamed into the consciousness of the nation. Thus few have heard of the TPP or are familiar with how its passage promises to usher in a state of fascist dictatorship the scope and magnitude of which have never been witnessed on planet Earth before.

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While we’re meant to think that this so-called “trade deal” is solely concerned with the mutual lowering of tariffs, it’s really a corporate ownership agreement that will change every facet of our lives. The TPP will change our laws in favor of a global legal system that caters to corporations and which is presided over by corporate lobbyists. The allowance of corporations to sue governments for impeding on their projected profits by means of secret trade tribunals is perhaps one of the most diabolical effects of the TPP. If a country has any kind of regulations on industry intended to protect environmental or social health, the corporation can sue the country for a loss of projected profits, as Philip Morris did against Uruguay last year for the country’s tobacco regulations. But under the TPP, we can expect this kind of lawsuit to become commonplace. As former Secretary of Labor under Clinton Robert Reich wrote earlier this year:

“The TPP also gives global corporations an international tribunal of private attorneys, outside any nation’s legal system, who can order compensation for any ‘unjust expropriation’ of foreign assets.”

As Joyce Nelson of Live Leak expains:

“Now the TransPacific Partnership – which is being called “NAFTA on steroids” – would award Big Pharma and other multinationals even more corporate “rights” in more countries, including the controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism by which they can sue signatory governments for regulatory changes that affect their profits.

“As the Canadian website rabble.ca notes: ‘The Canadian government is currently being sued through NAFTA by Eli Lilly, an American pharmaceutical company, for invalidating the firm’s patent extensions on two mental health drugs. A Canadian Federal Court decided in 2010 that the patent extensions had not delivered the promised benefits and the drugs should therefore be opened up to generic competition. Generic drugs significantly reduce the cost for end users, but Eli Lilly cried foul and launched an ISDS claim against the government, demanding US$500 million in compensation for lost profits. The case is still in progress, but regardless of the outcome we can expect the TPP to lead to similar ISDS disputes. Powerful multinational pharmaceutical companies will use any available means to cling to over-priced drug monopolies. Greater intellectual property protections in the TPP will give these companies an even stronger quasi-legal basis to sue governments and crowd out generic [drug] competition.’”

Following the recent publication of the TPP’s 30 chapters, Ralph Nader, referring to the TPP as “the most brazen corporate power grab in American history,” explained the trade tribunals in more detail to journalist Chris Hedges:

“It allows corporations to bypass our three branches of government to impose enforceable sanctions by secret tribunals. These tribunals can declare our labor, consumer and environmental protections [to be] unlawful, non-tariff barriers subject to fines for noncompliance. The TPP establishes a transnational, autocratic system of enforceable governance in defiance of our domestic laws…The TPP removes legislative authority from Congress and the White House on a range of issues. Judicial power is often surrendered to three-person trade tribunals in which only corporations are permitted to sue. Workers, environmental and advocacy groups and labor unions are blocked from seeking redress in the proposed tribunals. The rights of corporations become sacrosanct. The rights of citizens are abolished.”

And attorney Kevin Zeese of Popular Resistance told Hedges:

“The TPP creates a web of corporate laws that will dominate the global economy. It is a global corporate coup d’état. Corporations will become more powerful than countries. Corporations will force democratic systems to serve their interests. Civil courts around the world will be replaced with corporate courts or so-called trade tribunals. This is a massive expansion that builds on the worst of NAFTA rather than what Barack Obama promised, which was to get rid of the worst aspects of NAFTA.”

This trade deal could make any form of dissent or protest illegal, since any open act of defiance can be construed as an impediment to a corporation’s “projected earnings” and is therefore eligible for lawsuit under the ISDS provisions. But that isn’t the only way in which protesting the New World Order may become impossible with this new system of law.

Recognizing how the free flow of information threatens corporate hegemony, the TPP also promises to censor and control the internet, something the corporations failed to accomplish with all of their previous internet control bill attempts, illustrating how determined these people are to never accept “no” for an answer regardless of how much resistance they encounter from the people. When they pushed SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) the internet community rallied together and shouted “No!” Then they pushed PIPA (Protect IP Act) which failed due to popular resistance. Then they created CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act) and the internet community shut them down again. Then they pushed ACTA down our throats (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) and again, the reaction was no different. Legislative attempts to shackle the free flow of information have failed because the internet community has consistently stood up and denounced internet control. But as long as the same corrupt bureaucrats who cooked up these schemes remain in power they will they will never stop their attempts to censor the internet, and the TPP provides them the legal loophole they need to bypass our parliamentary process altogether, effectively nullifying whatever popular resistance emerges as a result.  As the Guardian’s Evan Greer reported earlier this month:

“TPP even prescribes a mechanism for that censorship to occur. A section that can best be described as “Zombie-Sopa”, due to its similarity to the failed Stop Online Piracy Act, would require internet service providers (ISPs) to play “copyright cops” and create systems for hastily taking down internet content upon a copyright holder’s request, even without a court order.”

Many ISPs such as Charter Communications are already playing the role of “copyright cops,” spying on their users activities and enabling armies of lawyers and lobbyists to threaten to sue their customers whenever the potential to monetize copyright infringement presents itself. Now the TPP codifies this borderline criminal activity into law at the expense of every internet user, and in-turn threatens to abolish free speech through a clever alteration of conceived copyright rules, as Greer also explains:

“One provision demands that TPP member countries enforce copyright terms 70 years after the death of the creator. This will keep an immeasurable amount of information, art and creativity locked away from the public domain for decades longer than necessary, and allow for governments and corporations to abuse copyright laws and censor content at will, since so much of what’s online will be subject to copyright for decades.”

In short, the TPP is a complete power grab nightmare that is so much worse than anyone could have predicted; a veritable wish-list for corporations tired of playing by the rules, sick of adhering to environmental standards, and no longer willing to tolerate the ridicule for their slave-labor practices around the world. Of all the corporate threats to humanity, the TPP constitutes the most egregious menace yet conceived, and it will transform our world into a totalitarian travesty devoid of any constitutional protections or basic human rights.

Chris Hedges summarizes how the TPP will change our world inside out:

“Wages will decline. Working conditions will deteriorate. Unemployment will rise. Our few remaining rights will be revoked. The assault on the ecosystem will be accelerated. Banks and global speculation will be beyond oversight or control. Food safety standards and regulations will be jettisoned. Public services ranging from Medicare and Medicaid to the post office and public education will be abolished or dramatically slashed and taken over by for-profit corporations. Prices for basic commodities, including pharmaceuticals, will skyrocket. Social assistance programs will be drastically scaled back or terminated. And countries that have public health care systems, such as Canada and Australia, that are in the agreement will probably see their public health systems collapse under corporate assault. Corporations will be empowered to hold a wide variety of patents, including over plants and animals, turning basic necessities and the natural world into marketable products. And, just to make sure corporations extract every pound of flesh, any public law interpreted by corporations as impeding projected profit, even a law designed to protect the environment or consumers, will be subject to challenge in an entity called the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) section. The ISDS, bolstered and expanded under the TPP, will see corporations paid massive sums in compensation from offending governments for impeding their “right” to further swell their bank accounts. Corporate profit effectively will replace the common good.

“The TPP is part of a triad of trade agreements that includes the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA). TiSA, by calling for the privatization of all public services, is a mortal threat to the viability of the U.S. Postal Service, public education and other government-run enterprises and utilities; together these operations make up 80 percent of the U.S. economy. The TTIP and TiSA are still in the negotiation phase. They will follow on the heels of the TPP and are likely to go before Congress in 2017.

“These three agreements solidify the creeping corporate coup d’état along with the final evisceration of national sovereignty. Citizens will be forced to give up control of their destiny and will be stripped of the ability to protect themselves from corporate predators, safeguard the ecosystem and find redress and justice in our now anemic and often dysfunctional democratic institutions. The agreements—filled with jargon, convoluted technical, trade and financial terms, legalese, fine print and obtuse phrasing—can be summed up in two words: corporate enslavement.”

I implore whoever is reading this to not give in to the phenomenon of learned helplessness that the system has beaten into all of us, perpetuating the myth that there is nothing we can do about this.  we need to shatter this presumption, because like the elephant who learns over time through classical conditioning that being tied to a tiny twig in the ground constitutes unconditional immobility, these limitations exist solely in our imagination. It’s obvious to us that a seven-ton elephant is more than capable of freeing itself from a flimsy twig, but the elephant, having been tied to a tree at an early age, was conditioned from infancy not to question its human authorities. Nevertheless, the limitation is a figment of the imagination, and so it goes with societal obedience to the established oligarchical regime. If the people ever wake up to the power of the swarm, it could spark a global big-bang movement capable of changing the course of history away from tyranny’s predictability.

And don’t fall into the mental trap that the buck stops with the parliamentary circus of our congressional representatives; even if most of them weren’t payed off by the corporations that fund their campaigns, they couldn’t do anything about this even if they wanted to, because of fast-track authority enables President Obama to sign the agreement before Congress even has a chance to debate it.  Hedges continues:

“The TPP, because of fast track, bypasses the normal legislative process of public discussion and consideration by congressional committees. The House and the Senate, which have to vote on the TPP bill within 90 days of when it is sent to Congress, are prohibited by the fast-track provision from adding floor amendments or holding more than 20 hours of floor debate. Congress cannot raise concerns about the effects of the TPP on the environment. It can only vote yes or no. It is powerless to modify or change one word.”

However we conceive the world creates the reality we see around us, but the first step is getting informed. So whatever you do, don’t give into the learned helplessness that suggests there’s nothing you can do about any of this, because that’s the television talking. When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty. There is still time to stop the TPP/NWO, but if it passes, resistance to it will define daily life for those of us who simply cannot accept the annihilation of the indomitable human spirit.  If you don’t do something, you are complicit in whatever happens.

Openly opposing and preventing the TPP are just the beginning, however. If our previous experiences with internet control bills tell us anything, it’s that our owners will never take “no” for an answer. Even if we can somehow prevent the TPP’s passage, the oligarchs will draft another document that will be negotiated in secret and they will not stop until they have successfully dominated every square inch of every continent, every penny of every dollar, every action of every body, and every thought in every mind. The time has come for an explicit rejection of every system, product and personality contributing to the paradigm that is destroying the planet and every life upon it.

Gabrielle Lafayette is a journalist, writer, and executive producer for the Outer Limits Radio Show.
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You Don’t Make History By Asking Permission

EARTHWe Are Not Your Slaves!

While many school-aged children today think that May Day is about Springtime, this important day in history is concerned with more than leaving flowers on neighbouring porches, as much fun as that is.

While we might celebrate Labour Day in early September, May Day is meant to observe a far more important benchmark for worker’s rights. If we live in a free country, then equality, safe working environments, shorter work days, living wages, pensions and benefits should be part of what it means to live in a free and open society. After all, how can we call this a free country if we have the freedom to speak out about political injustices but cannot speak out at work for fear of being fired? They don’t take away our right to vote for protesting, so why can we lose our right to earn an income for simply asking the wrong questions of our employers?

Why have we always limited our ideas about a democratic society to the political sphere, while excluding it from the economic sphere? In the words of Economics Professor Richard Wolff, “After all, the place we spend most of our creative lives, 9-5 Monday through Friday, is the place where we work. And if we’re not going to have democracy there, how much of it could we have anywhere else?”

Eighty years ago Franklin D. Roosevelt granted American workers higher wages, a 40-hour work week, collective bargaining rights, unemployment, and many other hard-won benefits in the New Deal of the 1930’s. And while that momentous victory is often credited to FDR, we forget that the New Deal was not the brainchild of the establishment, but the result of thousands of coordinated strikes by labour unions and workers standing up to Corporate exploitation. Every one of the rights and freedoms we take for granted today were not simply handed over by the ownership class – our grandparents fought tooth and nail, and many died, to secure those rights.

But half a century prior to the New Deal, the true roots of the movement for which May Day is now celebrated were established. While little concern for safety existed in most factories in the early 20th Century, it was even worse in the late 19th century, when relative pay was pitifully low, benefits were non-existent and the work day was often 10 to 12 hours, six days a week.

In early America, labour unions were actually outlawed, and considered illegal conspiracies creating restraints to “free trade.” Sound familiar? That changed in 1842, the Hunt case ruling legitimized collective bargaining as legal, granting workers the ability to unionize. At first, these unions were concentrated in small, weak, isolated companies. Starvation wages remained the norm for the majority of America’s work force, who worked as many as 12 hours a day, seven days a week. But as the 1873 financial panic created further economic chaos on top of worsening economic conditions for labour following the Civil War, American workers became increasingly militant.

Then, the National Railroad Strike of 1877 that paralyzed the entire country proved that organizational structure was not necessarily paramount to the establishment of collective bargaining forums; it had not been led or organized by any labour union. Instead, the strike grew spontaneously and organically from the Railroad workers themselves. President Rutherford B. Hayes ordered State and Federal troops to crush the strike, resulting in the deaths of more than 100 strikers in skirmishes across the country. This prompted workers of all industries to organize, first with the Knights of Labour, who had assembled more than 700,000 strikers by the 1880’s, then with the Federation of Organized Trades and Labour Unions, which would later change its name to the American Federation of Labour (AFL).

In 1882, the American Federation of Labour called for an all-out campaign of nationwide protest actions to push into law the enforcement of an eight-hour working day, and that national campaign was set to start on 1 May 1884, whereupon huge rallies and protest marches were held in every major city in the United States. The largest May Day demonstration took place in the leading industrial city of the US – Chicago, Illinois, which would become the primary arena for labour strikes and center stage for worker’s rights in the decades to come. Over 80,000 of the city’s workers marched up Michigan Avenue with signs that read, “8 Hours for work, 8 hours for rest, 8 hours for what we will!”

Two years later Chicago was again the stage for the May Day strikes of 1886, when the workers at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company began a strike in the hope of gaining a shorter work day. On 3 May, police were used to protect strikebreakers and a scuffle broke out, resulting in one person’s death and the injury of several others. But this skirmish was just a warm-up. Nobody could foresee what would take place on the following day.

On 4 May, a large rally was planned by anarchist leaders to protest police brutality. Sound familiar? A crowd of 20,000 demonstrators was anticipated at Haymarket Square, where area farmers traditionally sold their produce. Rain and unseasonable cold kept the numbers down to between 1,500 to 2,000 and the gathering was peaceful until one police official, in contravention of the mayor’s instructions, sent units into the crowd to force it to disperse. At that juncture, a pipe bomb was thrown into the police ranks. The explosion took the lives of seven policemen and injured more than 60 others causing the police to fire into the crowds of workers, killing four.

A period of panic and overreaction followed in Chicago as hundreds of workers were detained. Many protesters were beaten during interrogations to obtain contrived confessions. In the end, eight anarchists were put on trial and seven were convicted of conspiracy to commit murder. Four were hanged in November 1887, one committed suicide and three were later pardoned by Illinois governor, John Peter Altgeld.

Thus transpired the violent confrontation between police and labour protesters in Chicago we know of today as the Haymarket Riot, which became a symbol of the international struggle for workers’ rights. It has been associated with May Day since its designation as International Workers’ Day by the Second International Labour Federation in 1889.

Five years later, the origins for our September-based Labour Day were cast when another awful confrontation, again in Chicago, saw federal Marshals and the Army kill 30 striking Pullman Railroad strikers in 1894, putting an end to the Pullman walkout strikes, whereupon Congress as well as President Grover Cleveland quickly passed and signed legislation for the holiday we know of today as Labour Day. That history is likewise rarely taught in schools.

Not long afterword, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) were established in Chicago, in 1905, by members of the socialist-led Western Federation of Miners and other groups opposed to what they saw as “class collaboration” by a co-opted American Federation of Labour (AFL). The driving force behind the IWW was William D. Haywood, the leader of the Western Federation of Miners, which had established a reputation for work stoppages in Colorado mines. Joining Haywood at the launch of the IWW, which he described as the “first continental congress of the working class,” were Eugene V. Debs of the Socialist Party, and Daniel De Leon of the Socialist Labour Party. Also present was “angel of the miners” Mother Jones, as well as Lucy Parsons, whose husband had been executed in the Haymarket riot.

Then in early 1914, Henry Ford’s Detroit-based automobile company broke ground in labour policies and made history. Against a backdrop of widespread unemployment and increasing labour unrest (sound familiar?), Ford announced that the company would pay its male factory workers a minimum wage of $5 per eight-hour day, upped from a previous rate of $2.34 for nine hours. This same policy would be adopted for female workers two years later in 1916. The news shocked many in the industry–at the time, $5 per day was nearly double what the average auto worker made–but turned out to be a stroke of brilliance, immediately boosting productivity along the assembly line and building a sense of company loyalty and pride among Ford’s workers.

COMMON SENSE

This concept is simple enough to grasp, even in our consumer-capitalist-monetary system; if your workers don’t have money, they won’t be able to buy your products. But all economic systems seem to work best when units of exchange are in motion, and tend to stagnate, deteriorate and collapse when units of exchange are hoarded. Indeed as we repeatedly sow the seeds of corporate greed, business who seek to emulate Ford’s common-sense example are berated for acting like “socialists.” For example, Dan Price – the CEO of a Seattle-based company – announced last month he would pay all of his employees a minimum annual salary of $70,000, lowering his own pay to the same from his previous multi-million dollar annual earnings. This follows Seattle city-council woman Kshama Sawant‘s successful campaign to establish a Seattle minimum wage of $15.

Despite the elite’s efforts to quash this wave of Seattle-inspired equality, protests are mounting worldwide against economic austerity. As anti-austerity protests coalesce in Spain, Greece, Turkey, and Argentina, many Americans are beginning to remember the true meaning of May Day. Yesterday thousands rallied in the streets of downtown Los Angeles for May Day marching for worker and immigrant rights with an emphasis on pushing for that $15/hour minimum wage. 3,000 miles away on the opposite end of the continent thousands of New Yorkers marched for “black lives matter” and “no justice no peace,” merging the Freddie Gray movement with May Day’s 124-year crusade for workers’ rights, likewise calling for a minimum wage hike to $15, as well as an end to tax loopholes for America’s wealthiest tycoons.

And Pope Francis declared this past Wednesday that men and women who perform the same job should be paid equally, denouncing gender-based income disparities a “pure scandal.” The Pope asked:

“Why is it expected that women must earn less than men? They have the same rights. The disparity is a pure scandal… To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

Everything our grandparents fought to secure has been under continuous attack, and the more things change the more they seem to stay the same.

History doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme; the prohibition of collective bargaining in the 19th Century in the name of free trade mirrors our contemporary woes with NAFTA, the WTO, and the present trade deal to end all trade deals, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) coupled with the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). The merciless crackdown on the popular majority by police, Marshals and even the military is repeating again before our eyes in the streets of Maryland, where the National Guard have been deployed and a 10 pm to 5 am curfew remains in effect following citizen outrage stemming not only from the Freddie Gray murder by Baltimore authorities, but the observation of 110 other police murders in the area in the past four years. Finally, the call for a $15 per hour wage across the country as inspired by Seattle, Washington closely mirrors Henry Ford’s revitalization of economic prosperity one hundred years ago.

Since the 1970’s wages have remained the same forcing Americans to work more jobs with longer hours while simultaneously borrowing loans at ever-increasing rates of interest just to make ends meet. Automation has given birth to the phenomena of “Technological Unemployment,” jobs are now outsourced to 3rd world sweatshops as well as prisons, while immigration coupled with mothers entering America’s workforce have further exacerbated declining standards for employees seeking their slice of the American Dream. But none of that would be a problem if the ownership class weren’t so obsessed with their addictions to greed and power.

This is perhaps why George Carlin famously declared that we’d have to be asleep to believe in the American Dream, because it is a pyramid scheme. Despite our many decades of enjoying the benefits of what worldwide exploitation of other cultures and countries has to offer, surmounting global austerity ensures more and more that the last vestiges of the west’s Middle Class will now feel the full weight of our own system’s oppression. Now that it’s our turn to experience the horrors of inequality, the exploitation we’ve allowed to happen the world over, while conveniently ignoring the outright enslavement of people who toil over slave-made Wal-Mart products on our behalf, the situation doesn’t seem so trivial anymore.

dexterGabrielle Lafayette is a journalist, writer, and executive producer for the Outer Limits Radio Show.
Catch the cloudcast at mixcloud.com/outerlimitsradioshow
Check out the more frequently updated tumblr page at outerlimitsradioshow.tumblr.com
Contact the research team at outerlimitsradioshow@fastmail.fm