We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Saturday, November 12, 2016
The title of this article may be a bit confusing while so many young people have taken to the streets to protest Trump's election to the presidency. Cartalucci is focused on international affairs (probably because he lives in Thailand) and many Americans believe that Trump will be more accommodating with Russia and China than his predecessors, that the US's foreign policies will be less aggressive in interfering in other countries affairs, and that that he will bring back all the US corporations in foreign lands to offer jobs to Americans to rebuild America--like he said in some of his campaign appearances. That is the "you" in the title. Even astute observers such as Bernhard of Moon of Alabama have been duped--read his piece entitled "Nusra On The Run - Trump Induces First Major Policy Change On Syria".
Once again, class, repeat after me: "If elections could change anything, they would be illegal". And don't believe everything that your TeeeVeee, school teachers, text books, movies, and the other brainwashed authority figures and sources tell you about political reality. In fact, be skeptical about everything you've been told. The show election that you have just experienced is another prop our masters in the capitalist ruling class use to create the illusion that "we the people" decide who our representatives will be in the government, and that they will promote our interests. Haven't you ever noticed that you are always given only two choices? But the secret is that the two are always approved by our masters. Please, let go of these childish illusions much like you stopped believing in the tooth fairy or Santa Claus long ago.
We know that Hillary Clinton would have continued to represent the ruling class's imperialist and neoliberal policies, because we know that she has already done so. But many of us believe that Trump will pursue more peaceful, collaborative, less aggressive foreign policies, more nationalist policies...merely because he said so during the political circus campaign. Trump was permitted to win because he very likely made a deal with our ruling class masters, or he will be forced to make one very soon. My god, students, grow up!
People that are allowed into the government serve masters in the deep state who own all the major resources of our country, own the places where we work, issue our money, own the banks that lend this money to us, own all the media corporations which furnish us news and views about the world, and even own those corporations that entertain us. Likely your favorite sports team is owned by one of them.
The major owners in this system, in order to perpetuate their power and tremendous advantages, have had to erect massive structures to insure that you don't see who really runs the show. They want you to believe that you run the show. Thus they have organized elaborate elections and massive campaigns in which their carefully selected candidates make all kinds of extravagant promises to you. But haven't you noticed that once these people get into office that nothing really changes much? Yes, I acknowledge that some things change such as greater tolerance and opportunities have been extended to minorities and women, that they will now permit you to smoke pot in some states, that you can sexually play with and marry people of your own gender, and that some cross-gender people can use any bathroom they want. But such concessions don't really cost our masters anything, and I very much doubt that Trump's administration will significantly interfere with any of these changes.
Trump, even with all of his riches, must also obey these capitalist masters because they are very powerful. If he doesn't, he knows very well that he would be removed from office one way or another. The Kennedys failed to follow orders and they were both assassinated. So, at the present time we don't precisely know what our masters have in store for us, but what is certain is that very little will actually change. Cartalucci thinks that they are preparing us for even more aggressive foreign policies. But this is the direction we've already been heading in--or haven't you noticed?
Only you can bring about change, but you must be aware of political realities and organized with others to bring about a change of system--not merely reforms to the existing one! Your ancestors in this country brought about some of the latter changes by being organized. Otherwise we would still have literal slave labor (but could prison labor be the same thing?), women would not be allowed to vote, you would be working 12 hour days (maybe you are if you are one of those who hold more than one job to survive), children except those with rich parents would be forced to work (but isn't this already happening in higher education which is likely essential to survive in reasonable security?), those without property and minorities would not be allowed to vote, etc. But notice that with all these gains, we still have poverty, extreme inequality, wars, a massive prison population, a growing "security state", etc.
The moral of this reality story is that we, the people, can't really substantially change anything until we destroy the system that permits a tiny group of people to own and control the economy, the essential sector of any society. And, we can't begin to do that until we free ourselves of all the illusions and deceptions that are masters in this capitalist class feed us.
Friday, November 11, 2016
It occurred to me this morning that the dramatic outrage by young people who are filling the streets across America in protests about the election of Trump requires some examination. After all, would the election of Hillary who is a warmonger provoke such outrage? I think not. What follows is my attempt to offer some explanation for this.
The capitalist ruling class and its directorate hidden away in the deep state have used one of their political parties, the Democratic Party, to support more liberal social identity and lifestyle issues. This support has attracted so many in the much stunted left that exists in the US in order to distract them from all the imperialist adventures and war crimes that our masters are madly pursuing all over the world. I don't recall foreign policy issues being much discussed in the Democratic Party's primary elections and none at all in the final campaigns for president or Congress. That our masters in the ruling capitalist class would insure this lack of discussion makes perfect sense to me.
A careful reading of history reveals that the early capitalist class in their early struggles against feudalistic authorities of monarchs and aristocrats had to enlist the support of common people by making all kinds of promises about democracy (rule of the people) and freedom from all kinds of feudal restrictions. They undermined the legitimacy of feudal authorities by smashing the ideology of the divine right of kings and replaced it with promises of the rule of law.
They set up congresses and parliaments that were elected by the people, except that only propertied people of their class could vote in their elections. To be sure, some restrictions were removed, but the new ruling class soon imposed their own restrictions on ordinary people and didn't hesitate to use slaves to build their fortunes. Then, of course, they made the laws which ordinary people would be ruled by. Whenever these deceptions and illusions didn't work, they never hesitated to use their control of police, military, and private armies to violently advance and secure their interests of profit and power.
To be brief, these deceptions and illusions changed over the succeeding decades and centuries to where we are now. The ruling capitalist class have consolidated their ownership/control over every institution, but most especially ideological institutions (education, media, and entertainment) which insures that everyone is indoctrinated with thoughts and values that supports the system of capitalism, the goose that lays their golden eggs of wealth and power, and the many exploitative policies and actions of capitalist rule.
Deception is the prime ingredient of capitalist rule, and the latter have refined this through scientific research into very effective propaganda (our masters refer to this as "public relations") which can be recognized as the management of deceptions and illusions. They now can sell ideas, values, and policies to Americans like soap or toothpaste and do it very effectively.
Okay, you may say, but what has all this to do with young people's outrage?
One of the capitalist parties, the Democratic Party, has for the last eight years promoted social identity politics, especially among younger educated people. I think that this served to offer some rewards to a substantial section of US population after the shock of 9/11, to distract them from the increasing challenges to the establishment myths about how this happened, to distract them from the ruling class's aggressive foreign policies of subversion, invasions, and never-ending wars, and to distract them from the ruling class's neoliberal policies that are so adversely impacting the domestic economy. Hillary Clinton tried to ride on this social identity legacy that was so prevalent in the Obama presidency, but was so contaminated by scandal (FBI investigations) and her aggressive war actions that she failed to arouse much support as became evident with the turnout of crowds where she spoke. This was in dramatic contrast to Trump's crowds.
Okay, I feel rather confident about my analysis so far, but from hereon I must rely on educated speculation simply because, as always, the real "deciders" are totally hidden behind a huge curtain of deception.
I don't believe for a second that our capitalist masters today depend on their election system to select who heads crucial offices like the president. Given their history of deceit, of conspiracies that caused the assassinations of the John and Robert Kennedy (and many other figures that opposed ruling class policies), and the huge conspiracy of 9/11, I don't believe they could simply let Americans choose even between two such despicable characters like Clinton and Trump. They engineered it--evidence is already coming out to support this assertion.
They, too, observed the crowds that the two candidates were attracting, made a deal with Trump, and saw to it, by hook and by crook, that he won the election. Identity politics had worn out its usefulness. This is why so many young people are outraged. Trump represents the negation of everything that identity politics stand for. With Trump the ruling class can create more austerity at home so that they can better afford their policies of military and subversive interventions throughout the world.
But what about the ruling class's neoliberal policies? What about all of Trump's political campaign statements about restoring the American economy and re-building its deteriorating infrastructure? Could our masters be giving up on their neoliberal agenda in the face of so much opposition worldwide? If they don't, such policies will further erode the American economy and outrage Trump's supporters. Could we see manifest what now is a more latent fascist state into full-blown fascist rule? So, it will be interesting to see how our masters handle that. Stay tuned, or better yet, stay informed and active.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
Although I don't often agree with Proyect's views on various issues, I think that this brief article hits the nail on the head.
Do we have the guts to build a radical movement or will we be continuously tailing after The Nation, Salon, MSNBC and the Democratic Party? [my link to explain the usage of this verb]And we see the same reaction from Workers World in an article entitled "Don’t just mourn, organize".
...this is no time just to mourn. It’s a time to reaffirm support and militant solidarity with all those who have been the main targets of Trump’s demagogy and hatred: women, people of color, immigrants. That’s the only path toward uniting the working class against its real enemies: the billionaire rulers of this country, including Trump.What I fail to understand after 60 years of activism is why younger American activists still take elections sponsored and organized by the capitalist ruling class seriously. They still don't seem to grasp the simple and obvious truth contained in a quote attributed to the early 20th century anarchist Emma Goldman: "If [capitalist] elections could change anything, they would be illegal". Only grass-roots reform movements have made even a mild impact on the way capitalists rule the US: the abolitionist movement, Populists, women's suffrage, and Civil Rights movement. Only a revolutionary movement can make substantial improvements in the lives of ordinary Americans, and by extension, to the lives of most people of the world ruled by the US Empire. There is no other option.
The day after the election must become Day One of the resistance.
Forget about having families, forget about having kids, forget about having a career, and forget about the American Dream--it is truly a dream. Wake up! Organize a revolutionary movement as if your life and the lives of many people in the world depended on it--because they do!
I don't agree with everything in this amusing parody, but I got a good laugh out of it and I hope you will too. We need a little humor in our lives right now.
It is January 20th, 2017. President Donald J. Trump is presiding over his very first meeting with his national security team.Besides being good satire, it does contain in the last scene a serious insight about the role Trump will play in the government.
Trump (sweating profusely by now): What the hell should I do as President???Trump may be regarded as the contemporary updated version of Babbit of nearly a hundred years ago. Babbit 2.0 has realized the American dream by growing fabulously rich, having a glamorous 3rd wife (whom he will likely trade in for a younger "model" when she grows older), and now he demonstrates that anyone can be president in our glorious democracy (sarcasm).
CIA: Enjoy the White House, sir! We'll take care of the rest!
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Trump elected as President – risks and opportunities by "The Saker".
The author is a Russian born blogger who resides in Florida. He is clearly loyal to Russia in his daily commentaries, and is a Russian booster. I only mention this because he views Trump as more likely to reach a peaceful accommodation with Russia and China instead of the more war mongering Hillary Clinton.
The worst case? Trump could turn out to be a total fraud. I personally very much doubt it, but I admit that this is possible. More likely is that he just won’t have the foresight and courage to crush the Neocons and that he will try to placate them. If he does so, they will instead crush him. It is a fact that while administrations have changed every 4 or 8 years, the regime in power has not, and that US internal and foreign policies have been amazingly consistent since the end of WWII. Will Trump finally bring not just a new administration but real “regime change”? I don’t know. [my emphasis]Later he writes the following hopeful statement which I believe contradicts the above emphasized statement:
...whether the US elites can accept this or not, the US Empire is coming to an end. Trump, however, might use the remaining power of the USA to negotiate the US global draw-down thereby getting the best possible conditions for his country. Frankly, I am pretty sure that all the key world leaders realize that it is in their interest to make as many (reasonable) concessions to Trump as possible and work with him, rather than to deal with the people whom he just removed from power.Why Trump Won; Why Clinton Lost by Robert Parry from Consortium News.
...American voters chose him in part because they felt they needed a blunt instrument to smash the Establishment that has ruled and mis-ruled America for at least the past several decades. It is an Establishment that not only has grabbed for itself almost all the new wealth that the country has produced but has casually sent the U.S. military into wars of choice, as if the lives of working-class soldiers are of little value.What Does Trump Victory Mean for Asia? Nothing New from The New Atlas.
On foreign policy, the Establishment had turned decision-making over to the neoconservatives and their liberal-interventionist sidekicks, a collection of haughty elitists who often subordinated American interests to those of Israel and Saudi Arabia, for political or financial advantage.
The war choices of the neocon/liberal-hawk coalition have been disastrous....
With the victory of Donald Trump during the 2016 US presidential elections, many commentators, analysts and academics have "predicted" a more isolationist America. For Asia specifically, particularly those in need of US intervention to prop up their unpopular, impotent political causes, they fear an ebbing of US support.Congratulations America: Have You Just Been Trumped? by Colin Todhunter (British) from his blog East by Northwest.
However, as history has shown, the whims of US voters rarely has an impact on US foreign policy, particularly amidst the more subtle use of US "soft power."
I watched Donald Trump’s presidential victory speech. He spoke a lot about unity, the potential of ordinary, marginalised people and about making the US great again. He spoke about rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, creating jobs and about finding common ground with other nations. He can be quite charismatic and, taken at face value, quite convincing. His victory was, to a large extent, achieved because many (white) working class folk could identify with much of his rhetoric.He continues on by describing a documentary film which depicted Trump's crass investment activities in Scotland.
After watching his speech, I was immediately reminded of something I wrote back in 2012 about Donald Trump and his actions in Scotland. The piece is presented below because it is a timely reminder of what the Trumps of this world are capable of and ultimately just who and what they represent.
I think the first one is total nonsense as will become clear after reading my comments following these posts. The rest have varying merits.
Trump set to win the election by Will Denayer from Flassbeck Economics (Germany).
The socially and democratically inclined electorate is sick and tired of the dysfunction, the corruption, the lying, the hypocrisy, the cheating, the impotent speeches, the wars, the militarism, the hunger, the homelessness, the incarceration, the police brutality, the tax evasion, the cost for health care, the cost of education, the unemployment, the wages that do not go up or barely so, the pathetic state of the infrastructure, the super rich which have never been richer than today and have never been getting richer any faster, the anti syndicalism, the disrespect for civil rights, the disrespect for human rights, the fracking, the lack of support for climate change and some more. About all of the above, and more, these voters did not believe that Clinton would make a difference for the better. Sadly, there is no reason to doubt their judgement.President-Elect Trump: Hillary Lost because Power Brokers decided She was Damaged Goods by Stephen Lendman from Global Research.
Trump will be president. His cabinet will consist of people from the coal lobby, Wall Street, the defence lobby and with deregulation and other fanatics. It really does look bad. But everything is relative. As Clinton said ‘My top priority will be to accomplish regime change in Syria.’ No one knows what Trump will do.
My assessment of the outcome is as follows. Hillary, the establishment candidate, was chosen to succeed Obama last year, likely before she announced her candidacy.
Trump, an anti-establishment sounding candidate, unexpectedly emerged last man standing in a field of 17 GOP aspirants.
Deep state power brokers decide who holds high-level elected and appointed positions. Elections are easily rigged with electronic ease, voter-role stripping and other dirty tricks.Comments from the blogger of Surviving Capitalism:
In my judgment, Hillary lost because power brokers decided she was damaged goods, too contentious to lead. They cut a deal with Trump, assuring he’ll continue dirty business as usual, perhaps cutting him a little slack – letting him win by fair or foul means, in his case likely fair because Hillary is so overwhelmingly reviled.
What most of these authors ignore is the capitalist deep state, which consists mostly of financial and some industrial elites, behind which all important actions are determined. "The Saker" briefly alluded to this by stating "It is a fact that while administrations have changed every 4 or 8 years, the regime in power has not, and that US internal and foreign policies have been amazingly consistent since the end of WWII." This statement implies the existence of the deep state whose interests and policies remain rather consistent over time in order to increase their wealth and power. This means in our current period that they intend to pursue policies of neoliberalism, subversion, and domination over the entire world regardless of who occupies the formal offices of government.
Trump impresses me as a very wealthy outsider (of the capitalist deep state) whose fortune was built on his father's relatively small success in business. On his way to super wealth he has had to deal with all kinds of powerful figures, including, I believe, organized crime. So he respects power and is perfectly willing to make deals with powerful people in order to enhance his wealth and power. His perspective is very nationalist as opposed to the global outlook of the existing deep state.
Therefore Lendman's suspicion that the directors of the ruling capitalist class "cut a deal with Trump" is, in my opinion, likely true. This would explain the late reopening of the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton's emails which I think was the decisive factor in her failure to be elected. In any case, should Trump refuse to reach a major agreeable arrangement with the deep state, he will be removed by the latter from office one way or another. The first indications that should be carefully watched to learn about Trump's real policies and this accommodation with the deep state will be the kind of people who are appointed to his cabinet.
What a difference an election can make. Since his swearing in as Philippine President this past June, succeeding Washington puppet Benigno Aquino III, the outspoken, plain-talking Rodrigo Duterte has moved his strategically pivotal Asian country away from the US geopolitical orbit. Now President Duterte is on an Asian tour that has taken him to China and then Japan. Soon he has indicated plans to meet Russia’s Putin too. He appears set to blow a huge hole in the Pentagon Asia Pivot aimed at encircling China militarily. And the Philippines shift is setting off tectonic shifts across the Asia space from Vietnam to Myanmar and beyond.
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
The author provides an excellent explanation of the role of USAID, in contrast to military invasions, as the most effective strategy of maintaining control of other nations.
By controlling these aspects in any given population, one then controls that population itself. It is the key to not only defeating an “insurgency,” it is also the key to running a successful insurgency oneself. USAID projecting its influence into any given nation is in fact a sort of insurgency – a literal attempt to take control of a government – however incremental and patient the nature of that insurgency might be.What few social critics understand is that this is precisely how any ruling class of people take control of a society whether that class of people are known as monarchist/aristocrats, autocrats, bureaucratic class, military dictatorship, or capitalists. They must take control of all these institutions (ideological institutions are most important in the long term and control over the rest in the short term) if they are going to rule very long--and they know that. It's fairly easy to see how USAID functions in a relatively short time span, but it is much more difficult to see the same process that evolves over hundreds of years as is the case with capitalism.
Areas included in US counterinsurgency manuals as essential to control include (but are not limited to):
- police and fire services,
- education and training,
- labor relations,
- manufacturing and,
This is because the capitalist system has required this length of time to evolve into its ultimate destiny: the concentration of wealth in a few hands. It's obvious that the concentration of wealth translates readily into power/control/domination. That is the end result of capitalist class rule which we see wrecking havoc on societies and the environment nearly everywhere in the world. More dreadfully, we are now faced with the imminent prospect of human extinction via a nuclear conflagration and/or environmental destruction.
If you’re in need of information to help make your decision for election day, or if you just need a detox from the corporate media circus, here is a list of all election coverage on The Empire Files.This post is more of an antidote to voters who may be suffering depression over the whole election experience than an election guide.
Help combat the US Empire’s election propaganda with a dose of reality with Abby Martin.
On this election day you might be thinking that it might make a difference in your life depending on who wins the formal Commander in Chief office of the US, but you would be very naive. In any case I think that the operatives of the deep state have already insured that Hillary will win (as I predicted in 2013) because Trump would pose too many problems for them.
You see, our capitalist masters are very clever. I think that they allowed Trump to enter the election circus to frighten Americans into voting for Hillary, just like they arranged for Bernie Sanders to run in the primary election circus in order to lure in the always existing hopey-changey crowd to the Democratic party who could be used to support Hillary. Let's face it: we have been duped for many decades to support the rule of this tiny class who literally own and/or control the US, all of its institutions, and much of the world.
The following graph portrays a very limited view of the effects of capitalism by showing three of the many deteriorating effects of capitalist rule on our society only since 1948.
Lauria in this piece attempts to unravel the latest strategy in Syria of the directors of the US-led Empire in their attempt to control the oil-rich Middle East as a key part of their long range goal of total world domination (George H. W. Bush's fantasy of a "New World Order"). Having nearly destroyed Iraq and Libya, Empire directors have set their sights on independent Syria which refuses to follow the diktats of the Empire.
He argues that Empire directors have encouraged the ambitious and Kurd-obsessed Erdogan of Turkey to invade northern Iraq and Syria. This is the Empire's latest strategy to dismember Syria after the Russians intervened against the terrorist army of ISIS, established by Saudi Arabia and Turkey, with the result that the Empire's previous strategy using terrorist armies to dismember Syria failed.
Are the hawks in Washington exploiting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman dreams of capturing former imperial Turkish territory in Iraq (and Syria) to covertly achieve U.S. objectives? Could this plan go horribly wrong if two of their major regional allies go to war?
Since American officials rarely explain fully what they are up to in the Middle East, beyond slogans like “Fighting ISIS” and “The War on Terror”, understanding U.S. policy in the region is reduced to educated guesses based on official and leaked statements and assessments of complex developments on the ground.
Monday, November 7, 2016
There are tons of bloggers warning about the evil prospects of a Hillary Clinton victory in the alternative media, and some about Donald Trump. This article from a website that boasts some of the leading prominent independent thinkers of the world offers the best analysis that I could find this morning. Whereas most bloggers take the US presidential election far too seriously, in my opinion, this writer occasionally goes below the surface to speculate about the always hidden agendas of our masters in the deep capitalist circles who rule our nation and much of the world (US Empire).
Bear in mind that we have been living internationally, especially since the supposed end of the Cold War, in a historic era of deception and virtual realities. And it could not be otherwise. The infinitesimal minorities of power, money and knowledge ruling our world cannot announce their program and the future they are preparing for us. If they did, they would provoke a revolution. They are also unable at this time to launch head-on confrontation with societies and nations. Conspiracies have existed throughout history, but now they are tending to become the norm. .... Classic political, social and geopolitical analysis is still the key to understanding social and international phenomena, but it must be supplemented by a deep and not always straightforward understanding of the real strategies in play.
The author uses the charts to illustrate how US application of neoliberalism has used "the threat of starvation [to] motivate people to seek employment", and I may add, to create a more docile workforce. Also I think these policies were a ruling class form of revenge or reaction to all the anti-war militants during the Vietnam War and the Black nationalist movement during the same period. For example, "war on drugs", which resulted in a disproportionate number of African-Americans and poor people being incarcerated, was facilitated by the CIA. This was revealed years later first by journalist Gary Webb who investigated and found that the CIA was importing drugs from South America which ended up in the Black ghettos of US cities.
Sunday, November 6, 2016
I regard both figures as expressing archetypal views of middle class people who are increasingly feeling rage against the capitalism as it functions today. They both see that the latter is crimping the lifestyles of their family and friends who have prospered in the system during earlier stages of capitalist development. However, it is clear from their comments that they are now feeling opposition to the system in its present functioning. This sense of disaffection among the middle class has been increasing in recent years as their prospects have diminished under the increasing trends of outsourcing of their jobs and the technological innovations which are reducing their opportunities in the economy.
Such people are much like "house niggers" (the middle class), who Malcolm X referred to, loyally serving the plantation owner while enjoying many privileges denied to the "field niggers" (the working class). They don't like their present plantation owners who are treating them badly, but that doesn't mean they want to change the present arrangement. They love their masters. They just want to be treated better, you know, like they were before the current neoliberal phase of capitalist development. [Google removed this video from YouTube, so now see this when Malcolm described them as a "house Negro".]
I urge you not to be misled by all their dramatic rhetoric because they are not experiencing anything like the rage of the working class most of whom are really suffering. They want a return to a kinder, gentler, regulated form of capitalism of earlier periods--for them--which, according to my reading of history, did not exist for the working class. Thus one should not be impressed by their dramatic expressions that they blithely toss out such as "rage" and "revolution".
Still, in spite of the limited criticism of their arguments, the fact of this increasing disaffection of the middle class might be posing very significant problems for the ruling capitalist class and their hold on power. What genuine revolutionaries must be on guard against is that any developing movement to fundamentally change the system not be co-opted by these very limited critics--or else we would not change anything fundamentally. We would still have precarity and alienation that working people have previously experienced, we would still have the media, education, and entertainment used by the rich to dumb us down and ideologically corrupt our minds in support of capitalist agendas. We would still have horrific wars, like in the 20th century, whose worst effects would be felt by working people. We would still have the mindless production for profit that is wrecking so much havoc on our planet to such an extent that scientists are now warning us about our impending extinction.
Universities became an element in what has been called the ideological or non-coercive apparatus of the state. They came more closely under state control and their teachings helped to tie students more closely to the existing political and social order. At the same time the growth in the size and functions of universities made them more and more resemble private corporations even though many were public institutions.