10 December 2013

Santa and Coca-Cola

For God, Country, and Coca-Cola by Mark Pendergrast, 1999, Excerpts

Coca-Cola bottlers had always known that they had to snare the next generation of drinkers early, regardless of the taboo on direct advertising to those below twelve. One approach directed at children wound up reshaping American culture through the art of Haddon Sundblom. A hard-drinking Swede whose work was brilliant but usually late, “Sunny” made himself indispensable, regardless of his habits, by creating the classic Coca-Cola Santa Claus in 1931. Sundblom’s Santa was the perfect Coca-Cola man – bigger than life, bright red, eternally jolly, and caught in whimsical situations involving a well-known soft drink as his reward for a hard night’s work of toy delivery. Every Christmas, Sundblom delivered another eagerly awaited Coca-Cola Santa ad. When his first model, a retired Coca-Cola salesman, died, Sundblom used himself. While Coca-Cola has had a subtle, pervasive influence on our culture, it has directly shaped the way we think of Santa. Prior to the Sundblom illustrations, the Christmas saint had been variously illustrated wearing blue, yellow, green, and red. In European art, he was usually tall and gaunt, whereas Clement Moore had depicted him as an elf in “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” After the soft drink ads, Santa would forever more be a huge, fat, relentlessly happy man with broad belt and black hip boots – and he would wear Coca-Cola red.


18 November 2013

President John Kennedy - 22 Nov 1963

Whether the Federal Reserve creates debt money, or the Treasury creates fiat money, its about control of who gets to create money. However, who gets to control the creation of money is a definite source of contention with potentially deadly results.

Crossfire, The Plot That Killed Kennedy by Jim Marrs, 1989, Excerpts
Another overlooked aspect of Kennedy's attempt to reform American society involves money. Kennedy apparently reasoned that by returning to the Constitution, which states that only Congress shall coin and regulate money, the soaring national debt could be reduced by not paying interest to the bankers of the Federal Reserve system, who print paper money then loan it to the government at interest.

He moved in this area on June 4, 1963, by signing Executive Order 11,110 which called for the issuance of $4,292,893,815 in United States notes through the U.S. Treasury rather than the traditional Federal Reserve System. A number of "Kennedy bills" were indeed issued but were quickly withdrawn after Kennedy's death.

Considering that the battle over U.S. monetary control by a monolithic central bank is an issue that dates back to the founding of the Republic, some assassination researchers believe Kennedy's little-noted efforts to reform the money supply and curtail the Federal Reserve System may have cost him much more than just the enmity of the all-powerful international bankers.

JFK, The Movie

I won't name names or tell you who or what I represent.
Except to say you're close.
Closer than you think.
Everything I'll say is classified top secret.
I was a soldier, Mr. Garrison. Two wars.
A secret Pentagon guy, supplying the hardware:
Planes, bullets, rifles...

...for what we call "Black Operations."
Black Ops. Assassinations. Coups d'état...
...rigging elections, propaganda, psych warfare.
In World WarIl, I was in Rumania, Greece, Yugoslavia.
I helped evacuate part of Nazi intelligence at the end of the war.
And we used those guys against the Communists.
In ltaly, '48, we stole the elections.
France '49, we broke the strikes.
Overthrew Quirino in the Philippines, Arbenz in Guatemala...
...Mossadegh in Iran. We were in Vietnam in '54...
...Indonesia, '58, Tibet, '59.
Got the Dalai Lama out. We were good.
Very good.
Then we got into the Cuban thing. Not so good.
Set up an invasion to take place in October, '62.
Khrushchev sent missiles to resist. Kennedy didn't invade.
We just had our dicks in the wind.
A lot of pissed-off people, Mr. Garrison.
I'll come to that later.
So, 1963....
I spent much of September of '63...
...working on the Kennedy plan to get all US personnel...
...out of Vietnam by the end of 1965.
One of the strongest plans issued by the Kennedy White House...
...National Security Memo 263...
...ordered home the first 1,000 troops.
But in November, a week after the murder of Vietnamese President Diem...
...and two weeks before Kennedy's assassination...
...a strange thing happened to me.
I was sent by my superior, we'll call him "Y"...
...I was sent by General Y to the South Pole...
...as military escort for a group of international VIPs.
I was on my way back, in New Zealand...
...when the President was killed.
Oswald was charged at 7:00 p.m., Dallas time...
...with Tippet's murder.
That's 2:00 p.m. the next day in New Zealand.
But already their papers had the entire history...
...of this unknown, 24-year-old Oswald.
Studio picture, detailed biography, Russian information...
...and were sure that he killed the President alone...
...although it took them four more hours to charge him with that crime in Dallas.
It felt to me as if...
...a cover story was being put out.
Like we would in a Black Op.
After I came back...
...I asked myself, why was l, the chief of Special Ops...
...sent to the South Pole to do a job...
...many others could have done?
I wondered if it could've been because...
...one of my routine duties, if I'd been in Washington...
...would've been to order additional security in Texas.
I checked it out and found that someone...
...told the 112th Military Intelligence Group at Fort Sam Houston...
...to stand down that day, over the protests of Colonel Reich.
I believe it's a mistake.
It's standard procedure, especially in a known hostile city like Dallas...
...to supplement the Secret Service.
Even if we hadn't let him ride with the bubble-top off...
...we would've put 100 to 200 agents on the sidewalk without question.
A month before, in Dallas, UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson was spit on and hit.
There had been attempts on De Gaulle's life in France.
We'd have arrived days ahead, studied the route...
...checked all the buildings.
Never would've allowed open windows overlooking Dealey. Never!
Our own snipers would've covered the area.
If a window went up, they'd have been on the radio!
We'd be watching the crowd: packages, rolled-up newspapers, coats.
Never would've let a man open an umbrella.
Never would've let the car slow down to ten miles an hour.
Or take that unusual curve at Houston and Elm.
You'd have felt an Army presence in the streets that day.
But none of this happened. It violated our most basic protection codes.
And it is the best indication of a massive plot in Dallas.
Who could have best done this?
Black Ops. People in my business.
My superior could've called Col. Reich and said:
"We have another unit coming for security. You'll stand down."
That day, some Army Intelligence people were in Dallas.
I don't know who or why.
But they weren't protecting clients.
And Oswald. Army Intell had a Lee Harvey Oswald on file.
Those files have been destroyed.
Many strange things were happening.
Oswald had nothing to do with them.
The entire Cabinet was in the Far East.
A third of a combat division was returning from Germany...
...in the air above the United States, at the time of the shooting.
At 12:34 p.m., the Washington telephone system went out for an hour.
On the plane back to Washington...
...word was radioed from the Situations Room...
...to Johnson that there was only one assassin.
Sound like coincidences to you?
Not for one moment.
The Cabinet was out of the way.
Troops for riot control were in the air.
Telephones were out to stop the wrong stories from spreading.
Nothing was left to chance.
He could not be allowed to escape alive.
Things were never the same after that.
Vietnam started for real. There was an air of...
...make-believe in the Pentagon and CIA.
Those of us in Secret Ops knew the Warren Commission was fiction.
But there was something...
I knew Allen Dulles well. I often briefed him in his house.
But why was he appointed to investigate Kennedy's death? The man who fired him.
Dulles, by the way, was General Y's benefactor.
I got out in '64.
Resigned my commission.
I never realized Kennedy was so dangerous to the establishment.
Is that why?
That's the real question, isn't it? Why?
The how and the who is just scenery for the public.
Oswald, Ruby, Cuba, the Mafia...
...keeps them guessing, like a game.
Prevents them from asking the most important question: why?
Why was Kennedy killed? Who benefited?
Who has the power to cover it up? Who?
In 1961...
...right after the Bay of Pigs, very few people know this...
...I participated in drawing up National Security Action Memos 55, 56, 57.
These are documents classified top secret.
In them, Kennedy told Gen. Lemnitzer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs...
...that from here on, the Joint Chiefs would be wholly responsible...
...for all covert paramilitary action in peacetime.
This ended the reign of the CIA.
Splintered it into 1,000 pieces, as JFK promised he would.
And now he was ordering the military...
...to help him do it. Unprecedented!
I can't tell you the shock waves this sent along the corridors of power.
This and the firing of Allen Dulles...
...Richard Bissell and Gen. Charles Cabell.
All were sacred cows in Intell since World War II.
They got some very upset people.
Kennedy's directives weren't implemented because of...
...bureaucratic resistance.
But one of the results was...
...the Cuban operation was turned over to my department...
...as Operation Mongoose.
Mongoose was pure Black Ops.
It was secretly based at Miami University...
...which has the largest domestic CIA station...
...budgeted annually for hundreds of millions of dollars.
Three hundred agents, 7,000 select Cubans.
Fifty fake business fronts to launder money.
They waged a non-stop war against Castro.
Industrial sabotage, crop burning, etc.
All under the control of General Y.
He took the rules of covert warfare he'd used abroad...
...and brought them to this country.
Now he had the people, the equipment, the bases...
...and the motivation.
Don't underestimate the budget cuts that Kennedy called for in March of 1963.
Nearly 52 military installations in 25 states.
Twenty-one overseas bases.
Big money.
You know how many helicopters have been lost in Vietnam?
Nearly 3,000 so far.
Who makes them? Bell Helicopter. Who owns Bell?
Bell was nearly bankrupt when First National Bank of Boston asked the CIA...
...to use the helicopter in Indochina. How about the F-111 fighter?
General Dynamics of Fort Worth, Texas. Who owns that?
Find out the defense budget since the war began. $75 going on $100 billion.
Nearly $200 billion will be spent before it's over.
In 1949, it was $10 billion.
No war...no money.
The organizing principle of any society, Mr. Garrison...
...is for war.
The authority of the state over its people resides in its war powers.
Kennedy wanted to end the Cold War in his second term.
He wanted to call off the moon race and cooperate with the Soviets.
He signed a treaty to ban nuclear testing.
He refused to invade Cuba in 1962.
He set out to withdraw from Vietnam.
But all that ended on the 22nd of November, 1963.
Since 1961, they knew Kennedy was not going to war in Southeast Asia.
Like Caesar, he is surrounded by enemies.
Something's underway, but it has no face. Yet, everybody in the loop knows.
Forget about combat troops.
He told McNamara he would pull out the goddamn advisors!
He fucked us in Laos and now he will fuck us in Vietnam!
He can't afford to implement it before the election.
I hear the NSC meeting was a real barn burner.
I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Heads will roll. Hear about Lemnitzer?
Kennedy rubbed Lem's nose in shit.
Said if we didn't go into Cuba, which was so close...
...why go into Vietnam which is so far away?
There he goes again.
Got his hand on the chicken switch.
Lem said that the Chiefs still think we should go into Cuba.
Money's at stake.
Big money. $100 billion.
Kennedy bred voting districts for defense dollars.
He gave TFX fighter contracts only to those counties that will matter in '64.
The people in the loop fight back. Their way.
We have to control the intelligence from Saigon.
We just don't let McNamara stick his nose in this thing!
Every time he goes over to Saigon for a fact-finding mission...
...he comes back and scares the shit out of Kennedy!
Now I want Max Taylor on him night and day...
...like a fly on shit.
You control McNamara, you control Kennedy.
I think it started like that.
In the wind.
Defense contractors, oil bankers. Just conversation.
A call is made. Maybe to someone like my superior officer General Y.
We're going. We need your help.
In the fall. Probably in the South.
-We want you to come up with a plan. -I can do that.
Everything is cellularized.
No one said, "He must die." No vote. Nothing's on paper.
There's no one to blame.
It's as old as the crucifixion.
Or the military firing squad.
Five bullets, one blank. No one's guilty.
Everybody in the power structure...
...has a plausible deniability.
No compromising connections except at the most secret point.
But it must succeed.
No matter how many die or how much it costs...
...the perpetrators must be on the winning side...
...and never subject to prosecution for anything by anyone.
That is a coup d'état.
Kennedy announces the Texas trip in September.
At that moment, second Oswalds pop up all over Dallas...
...where they have the mayor and the cops in their pocket.
General Y flies in the assassins.
Maybe from the special camp we keep near Athens, Greece.
They'd be locals, Cubans, Mafia hire. Separate teams.
Does it matter who shot...
...from what rooftop?
Part of the scenery.
I keep thinking about that Tuesday...
...the 26th of November.
The day after they buried Kennedy.
Gentlemen, I am not going to let Vietnam go like China did.
I'm committed...
...not to take our soldiers out of there till they know we mean business in Asia.
Lyndon Johnson signs National Security Memo 273...
...which reverses Kennedy's withdrawal policy...
...and approves covert action against North Vietnam...
...provoking the Gulf of Tonkin incident.
Just get me elected, I'll give you the damn war.
In that document...
...lay the Vietnam War.
I can't believe they killed him because he wanted to change things.
-ln our time, in our country! -They've done it throughout history.
Kings are killed. Politics is power, nothing more!
Don't take my word for it. Do your own thinking.
The size of this is...
...beyond me.

Could the US get a $1tn platinum coin?
09 Jan 2012
A petition urging the creation of platinum coin worth $1tn (£624bn) has attracted nearly 7,000 signatures and the support of some heavyweight economists such as Nobel prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, and Philip Diehl, the former director of the United States Mint. Experts say the plan would be lawful and should allow the government to keep spending if President Barack Obama fails to convince lawmakers to raise the "debt ceiling" - a cap, set by Congress, on the US government's borrowing ability. This brinksmanship could threaten the US's credit rating if the country's debt reaches or breaks through this ceiling. Walden said he feared the practice would be "very inflationary".

13 October 2013

An Alternate Form of Money

One may speculate on alternate forms of money, such as electricity. Electricity is a primary societal need. Everybody is wired to electricity. To not have electricity would severely disrupt society. The intrinsic value of an electrical unit, measured in kilowatt-hours, is uniform and measurable. One root of all comparative valuation could be a kilowatt-hour, kWh. A 100 Watt bulb on for 10 hours is 1 kWh.

Since the storage capacity of electricity is still negligible, the extraction rate of electricity equals its consumption rate. For the most part, what’s produced is consumed immediately. Though the extraction rate and the consumption rate may increase, they increase proportionately. As long as the storage capacity of electricity is negligible, the result is a zero growth rate of money. A zero growth rate does not facilitate the application of interest. Society will restructure itself to accommodate a zero growth form of money.

The relationship of a kilowatt-hour with its energy source would become primary societal knowledge. Oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, and hydro are the predominate sources of energy used in the production of electricity. Solar, wind, and bio are still ancillary energy sources. Oil, natural gas, and coal are finite resources with extremely low replenishment rates. To ‘save money’ would be to save electricity, perhaps enough to eliminate the need for nuclear and foreign fossil fuels immediately.

The immediate source of money would be the utility serving the local power grid. In California, PG&E would be the utility for Northern California and Socal Edison would be the utility for Southern California. The production of electricity comes from many sources contracted with the utility; however, the distribution of electricity through the grid is centralized and controlled by the utility. The management of money would go from global to regional while still maintaining a global form of money. Eventually and perhaps quickly, more independent ways to produce electricity would be creatively found.

The logistical details of how an actual transaction occurs using electricity as a form of money becomes the project deliverable. It takes a lot of people to run the utility and they have needs like everyone else i.e., the basis of trade with others.

Money by Edwin Walter Kemmerer, Princeton, 1935
Money is a comparatively modern device. Our earliest record of coin dates back to the eleventh century before Christ in China, although at that time man had been on the earth probably a million or more years. Goods were exchanged long before money existed, and the origin of exchange was in gifts. One would make a present to another in the hope of obtaining a present in return. Our modern customs in regard to Christmas and birthday presents are reminiscent of these primitive forms of exchange.

Mammon by Robert Graves, Annual Oration, London School of Economics & Political Science, 1963
Let us go back farther in ancient history, to the idea of barter; and beyond that to the idea of obligatory gift-exchanges; and beyond that, to the still purer idea of unconditional gift. What we now call ‘finance’ is, I hold, an intellectual perversion of what began as warm human love.

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Everyone could share the routine but necessary jobs for a few hours a day, and leave most of the time free for enjoyment, creativity, labors of love, and yet produce enough for an equal and ample distribution of goods.

28 August 2013

Money Defined

Money - World Book Encyclopedia
Money is anything that is generally accepted by people in exchange for the things they sell or the work they do. Any object or substance that serves as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and a store of wealth is money. To be convenient, however, money should have several qualities. It should come in pieces of standard value so that it does not have to be weighed or measured every time it is used. It should be easy to carry so that people can carry enough money to buy what they need. Finally, it should divide into units so that people can make small purchases and receive change.

A unit of money is the lowest common denominator for comparative valuation among many persons. Money allows the exchange of goods and services to be conducted in interregnum transactions. Something of value is exchanged for an amount of money, and that money is later exchanged for something else of equivalent value with someone else completely unrelated to the first exchange. That is the simplicity and beauty of money.

A History of Interest Rates by Sidney Homer, Rutgers, 1963
A study of primitive money catalogues some 173 objects and materials which in ancient and modern times have had monetary attributes in one or more places and at one or more times. Those most frequently mentioned include beads, cattle, cloth, copper, gold, grain, iron, rice, salt, shells, silver, skins, slaves and tobacco.

Commodities, some more than others, have an intrinsic value that is uniform, storable, divisible, and transportable. Cattle sufficed as money for large transactions, but obviously not smaller transactions since cattle are not divisible. However, cattle sufficed so well for larger transactions that the term pecuniary, which means 'related to money,' is derived from the Latin pecuniarius, meaning 'wealth in cattle.' What does and does not qualify to be called ‘money’ is not cut and dry.

For discussion purposes, all persons who use the same form(s) of money comprise a ‘society’. The valuation process increases in complexity as the number of different forms of money in coexistence increases, to such a degree that no more than a handful would most likely coexist at the same time within the same society. Which commodity transforms into or out of the category of ‘money’ is a Darwinian selection process determined by the Market.

The mere logistics of gathering, manufacturing and handling each form of money significantly shapes the culture of a society, impacting the way and manner a society interacts. All those who use the same form, or forms, of money have something in common with each other. Any change in the form of money will impact societal interaction as a whole and individually. When a society changes or alters its form of money, societal changes occur in proportion to the magnitude of the change or alteration.

11 August 2013

The Market

Market (Random House Dictionary)
A meeting of people for selling and buying.

Trading allows one specialty to be exchanged for another specialty. Each specialty has its own nuances and learning curve to overcome. Nobody can cover all the required specialties of life, hence the need for trade. Specialties develop economic efficiencies, which saves work, time, and resources.

The intrinsic value of each form of money is comparative to the intrinsic values of all other forms of money. All factors affecting the valuation of each and all forms of money are inclusive in the Market. The Market checks and balances the valuation of each form of money in relation to everything that is valued. The valuation process is comparative, variable, corrective, and ongoing in the Market.

The relational complexity of the Market is analogous to the complexity of the weather system. Modern weather forecasting is still limited in accuracy to less than a few days. In fact, the weather itself can significantly alter Market valuations by drought, flood, etc. and is therefore a significant component of the Market. The complexity of the Market is all inclusive.

Barter is the process by which valuations are mutually achieved. Whether one takes the price as is or haggles over it, it is still part of the barter process, with or without money. Money merely facilitates the barter process.

Transactions of categorical sizes, large to small, use different forms of money, with overlapping of all categories, which allows the Market to make comparative valuations among the various forms of money. All forms of money cannot be perfectly proportioned throughout a society, which creates societal distinctions based on the proportional use of each form of money. Historically, metals had been established forms of money long before written history. Large transactions used gold, small transactions used copper, and transactions in between used silver, all overlapping in use. The metals are still represented in today’s coinage, though not in substance.

05 August 2013

Minting Money

Any form of money can be minted into Monetary Units: packaged units of money of specific quantity and quality. The Monetary Unit is a reliable and convenient store of value, simplifying the valuation and logistical process of barter. The Minter guarantees the content of each Monetary Unit, such as a stamp, and keeps a portion of the minted material, called seigniorage, to cover the expense of minting.

The Monetary Unit is equivalent to a standard weight and measure. A meter is a fixed length, and a liter is a fixed volume. Once defined, the standard should never change. A changing standard is societally disruptive. As an example, if the meter or yard were to be redefined, the impact upon science, engineering, and the trades would be severely disruptive. In the same manner and same magnitude, redefining the Monetary Unit disrupts comparative valuations, negatively impacting the Market and Society.

The minting of money is very ancient in origin.

Moses, Prince of Egypt by Howard Fast (Fictional History)
Yet a sort of money there had to be, and among the Phoenicians pearls and precious stones became the units of trade and measure. The Sea Rovers of the Achaean islands used balls of tin and gold and silver, and the people of Hatti used the most precious metal man had ever found, iron, in cubit-long bars. Among the Egyptians, yardage of linen and sacks of wheat had become too cumbersome for the ever growing commerce of the City of the Ramses, and finger-rings and bracelets of copper, tin and gold were becoming set units of value. Nowhere on all the known earth was there a place where the Egyptian ring had not found its way, and there was no movable product of the earth that had not been unloaded at the stone docks of Ramses.

The legacy of the ancient metals as forms of money lingers today in modern coins. Such pieces of metal have been excavated in Troy, Asia Minor, Babylonia, Assyria, Syria, Egypt, and Iran. The first public building constructed by the new government of the United States, well before the Capitol or White House, was the Mint.

12 June 2013

Burning Man Burning Monk

50 years ago....

Vietnam war reporter Malcolm Browne dies
28 Aug 2012
A journalist who captured an iconic image of a burning South Vietnamese monk in 1963 has died at the age of 81. Associated Press (AP) correspondent Malcolm Browne won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting from Vietnam in 1964. His photograph of Thich Quang Duc, an elderly monk who set himself on fire in Saigon, became one of the first defining images of the escalating conflict. The image reportedly made it directly to the desk of US President John F Kennedy, who told his newly appointed ambassador to South Vietnam: "We have to do something about that regime." Within months South Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem was deposed in a coup as the country's struggle against Viet Cong insurgents intensified.

Overthrow by Stephen Kinzer, 2006, Excerpt
Description of Malcolm Browne and the Photograph

The final act in the drama of Diems’ rule was unfolding. On May 8, Buddhists gathered in Hue to mark the 2,527th birthday of the Buddha. The local strongman, Ngo Dinh Can – the president’s brother – decided to enforce a old decree prohibiting the celebrants from flying the traditional blue-red-saffron Buddhist flag. Buddhists began a series of protest. Police fired on them, killing a woman and eight children.

Malcolm Browne, the Associated Press correspondent in Saigon, was still working when his office telephone rang late on the evening of June 10, 1963. The caller was Thich Duc Nghiep, a Buddhist monk Browne had come to know while covering the escalating conflict between Buddhists and the catholic-dominated government of South Vietnam. He told Browne that anyone who appeared at the Xa Loi Pagoda the next morning would witness “an important event.”

Browne had written extensively about the spreading Buddhist rebellion and sensed that it would shape Vietnam’s future. Before dawn the next morning, he and his Vietnamese assistant set out for the pagoda. They found it packed with monks in saffron-colored robes and nuns in gray ones. The air inside was hot, thick, and heavily scented wit incense. Smoke spiraled upward from a hundred braziers. Holy men and women lost themselves in ancient chants.

Browne took a place. One of the nuns approached him, and as she poured him tea, he could see tears streaming down her face. A few minutes later, Thich Duc Nghiep caught sight of him and approached. He had a simple question: do not leave “until events have run their course.”

For half an hour Browne sat amid this scene. Suddenly, at a signal, the monks and nuns stopped their chanting, rose, solemnly filed out of the pagoda, and formed a column outside. They assembled behind an old Austin sedan carrying five monks and followed it through the streets. Where Phan Dinh Phung intersected with one of the city’s major avenues, Le Van Duyet, the procession stopped. Marchers formed a circle to block off all approaches.

Three monks emerged from the car, one elderly and the others supporting him. The younger ones placed a square cushion on the pavement in the center of the intersection and helped the older one settle into the archetypal lotus position. As he fingered his oak beads and murmured the sacred words nam mo amita Buddha, “return to Buddha,” they fetched a gasoline tank from the car and splashed a pink gas-and-diesel mixture over him. After they stepped away, he produced a box of matches, lit one, and dropped it into his lap. Instantly he was consumed by fire.

“As the breeze whipped the flames from his face, I could see that although his eyes were closed, his features were contorted with agony. But throughout his ordeal he never uttered a sound or changed his position, even as the smell of burning flesh filled the air. A horrified moan arose from the crowd, and the ragged chanting of some of the monks was interrupted by screams and cries of anguish. Two monks unfurled a large cloth banner reading [in English], “A Buddhist Priest Burns for Buddhist Demands.”

Stunned by what he was seeing, Browne reflexively shot picture after picture. After a few minutes, a fire truck and several police cars with shrieking sirens appeared, but the demonstrators lay in front of them and clung to their wheels so they could not reach the pyre. Soon the flames began to subside. When they died out, several monks appeared with a wooden coffin and tried to lift the dead man’s body into it. His limbs had become rigid. As the coffin was carried back to Xa Loi Pagoda, both arms spilled out. One was still smoking.

The monk who burned himself to death on the morning of June 11 was named Thich Quang Duc. He was sixty-seven years old, had been a monk for nearly half a century, and was revered as a bodhisattva, a being on the path to enlightenment. In a statement that his comrades attributed to his death, he made a “respectful” plea to Diem to show “charity and compassion” to all religions.

The ruling family’s most outspoken member, Madame Nhu, replied by ridiculing the spectacle of what she called a “barbeque.” “Let them burn,” she said. “We shall clap our hands.”

Browne’s photos of the burning monk stunned people around the world. The day after they were taken, a visitor to the Oval Office noticed that President John F. Kennedy had a set of them on his desk. They seemed to symbolize the unraveling of South Vietnam and the impotence of its president, Ngo Dinh Diem. These images helped push the Kennedy administration toward a momentous decision. Diem had lost the administration’s confidence and would be overthrown.

A Woman Among Warlords by Malalai Joya, 2009, Excerpts
The hundreds of Afghan women who set themselves ablaze are not only committing suicide to escape their misery – they are crying out for justice. These heartrending cases of self-immolation are acts of defiance as well as despair, and these women are not just victims but symbols of resistance; they are the first stage of larger protests against injustice.

In the News

Two Tibetan monks in China die after self-immolations
25 Apr 2013
Two Tibetan monks have died after setting themselves alight in southern China's Sichuan province, reports say. The monks, aged 20 and 23, set themselves on fire at the Kirti monastery in Aba county, said Radio Free Asia and Free Tibet. The monastery has been a focal point of protests in recent months. More than 100 Tibetans, mostly young monks, have set themselves on fire since 2011 - many fatally - in apparent protest against Chinese rule.

Saudi dies after setting himself on fire in protest
17 May 2013
The BBC understands Mr Alhouraysi killed himself on Wednesday after being unable to present his identification papers when he was searched by police. He is said to have been previously stripped of his Saudi citizenship. Reports of self-immolation in the ultra-conservative kingdom are rare. Two years ago a man in his 60s has died after setting himself on fire in Samitah in Saudi Arabia's south-western Jizan region. The incident echoes the death of a Tunisian who set fire to himself as a protest in 2011, triggering revolution.

Tunisia Khedri: Young man dies after self-immolation
13 Mar 2013
A young Tunisian cigarette vendor has died after setting himself on fire - an act reminiscent of the event which triggered the "Arab Spring" in 2010. Adel Khedhri, 27, set himself alight on Tuesday on a street in central Tunis, the focus of protests which toppled long-time leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali two years ago. Analysts say Tunisia is deeply divided between supporters of the Islamist-led government and secularists, while youth unemployment remains stubbornly high.

Ivory Coast man sets himself alight at Rome airport
14 Feb 2013
An Ivorian man about to be deported from Italy has set himself alight at Fiumicino airport in the capital, Rome, Italian media has reported. A customs official extinguished the flames, but the young man is believed to be badly burnt. The man from Ivory Coast reportedly hid the fuel in his suitcase.

France Nantes: Man burns himself to death at job center
13 Feb 2013
A man, 43, who was declared ineligible for unemployment benefit has died after setting himself on fire outside a job center in western France. The police had been alerted by messages he sent to the media announcing his plans to kill himself publicly. The jobless number in France recently rose to levels not seen in 12 years. Last month, a jobless man in the Spanish city of Malaga also died after setting himself alight. Local politicians reacted with horror to news of the self-immolation, adding that only a formal inquest could perhaps establish the man's true motives.

Tibetans guilty of murder for 'inciting immolations'
31 Jan 2013
A Tibetan monk has received a suspended death sentence and his nephew 10 years in jail for inciting eight people to self-immolate. Tibetan activists had said the men were forced to confess to the charges. Nearly 100 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2009, many fatally, in protest at Chinese rule. Most of the self-immolations have taken place in ethnic Tibetan areas outside Tibet. Foreign media are banned from the region, making verifying the self-immolation cases difficult. The sentences are believed to be the first since a legal ruling stipulating that anyone aiding immolations would be charged with murder. Activist groups and the Tibetan government-in-exile say the self-immolations are protests against tight Chinese control of the region and religious repression. China's leaders blame the Dalai Lama for inciting the self-immolations and encouraging Tibetan separatism, a charge he strongly rejects.

China jails six Tibetans for inciting immolations
01 Feb 2013
Six ethnic Tibetans have been sentenced to between three and 12 years in prison in China's Gansu province in connection with a local man's self-immolation. Four were found guilty of "intentional homicide" at Thursday's trial and two of "picking quarrels and provoking troubles". The convictions are believed to be the first since a legal ruling in China stipulating that anyone aiding immolations would be charged with murder. Nearly 100 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2009, many fatally, in apparent protest at Chinese rule. 

Spain Malaga: Jobless man 'burns himself to death'
04 Jan 2012
A jobless man in the southern Spanish city of Malaga has died in hospital a day after apparently setting himself ablaze in the street.Neighbors and witnesses told Spanish newspapers that the 57-year-old, of North African origin, was suffering from financial problems. Another man is being treated in the same hospital apparently after setting himself alight in Malaga on Thursday. The 63-year-old was found with serious injuries beside his burning car under a road bridge, police said. Spanish media have reported a number of cases in recent months of people facing poverty in the country's recession killing themselves.

Tibetan students protest, as four more self-immolations reported
27 Nov 2012
The four self-immolations occurred in Gansu, Sichuan and Qinghai provinces on Sunday and Monday. Of the four Tibetans who set themselves on fire in separate incidents, three are reported to have died. Teenage nun Sangay Dolmas died in Qinghai on Sunday. Kunchok Tsering, 18, and Gonpo Tearing, 24, died in Gansu on Monday. Wang Gyal, 20, a former monk, set himself on fire in Sichuan on Monday. His condition is currently unknown. More than 80 Tibetans have set themselves alight since 2011 in what activists say are protests against Beijing's rule. More than half are believed to have died. 

Tibetan immolations: China offers rewards for information
25 Oct 2012
Police in China's Gansu province are offering rewards for information about planned self-immolations by Tibetans. The authorities in Gansu's Gannan prefecture say recent immolations affected social stability. On Monday a man, believed to be in his 50s, died after he set himself on fire near the Labrang monastery. A day later another Tibetan set himself on fire in the same region. China's leaders blame the Dalai Lama, the Tibetans' exiled spiritual leader, for inciting the self-immolations and encouraging separatism. He rejects this, and both activist groups and the Tibetan government-in-exile say the self-immolations are protests against tight Chinese control of the region and religious repression.

Gaza teenager dies after self-immolation
03 Sep 2012
A man has died in Gaza after setting himself alight in apparent protest against his family's living conditions, Palestinian officials say. Mohamed Abu Nada, 18, had poured petrol over himself after walking into the morgue at Shifa hospital in Gaza City last Thursday, doctors said. His father said he had sent his son out to look for work because the family was struggling to make ends meet. In recent months, two Israelis have died of their injuries after setting themselves alight in protest at government welfare cuts and the rising cost of living.

Two Tibetan teenagers die in self-immolations
28 Aug 2012
Two Tibetan teenagers have died after setting themselves on fire in Sichuan province, outside the Kirti Monastery in Aba county, where many of the self-immolations have taken place. This brings the number of Tibetans who have set themselves on fire since 2009 to 51. The young men were shouting slogans against Chinese rule and policies in Tibet as their bodies burned. 

The event that sparked the Arab Spring
17 Dec 2011
Rallies have marked the first anniversary of the event that triggered the Arab Spring uprisings. Young Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire after he was banned from selling fruit to earn a living. His extreme act sparked the first open protests against the Tunisian government, which in turn set off demonstrations around the Arab world.

Why do people set themselves on fire?
18 Jan 2011
The spectacle of a violent death in a public place can also have an enormous impact. Over the past few decades, hundreds of people have sacrificed their lives in this kind of protest, including Vietnamese Buddhists, Lithuanian nationalists, South Korean leftists, upper-caste Indian students and Kurdish nationalists in Western Europe. Photographer Malcolm Browne's picture of an elderly Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Duc, engulfed in flames as he burned himself to death in Saigon in 1963, has become one of the iconic images of the war. In 1965, Alice Herz, an 82-year-old pacifist, immolated herself on a Detroit street corner in an act of protest against the Vietnam War. This was followed by the suicide of Norman Morrison, who set fire to himself on the steps of the Pentagon. And in 1969, a young university student named Jan Palach initiated the use of this form of protest against the Soviet Union, in an act of self-immolation in Wenceslas Square in Prague. Palach became a legend almost overnight and still has a significant place in Czech mythology.