CBS’ 60 Minutes to Air Segment on Chinese Espionage

As this ties into my latest book, “The Guys Who Spied for China,” a roman a clef  based on  author Gordon Basichis’ personal experiences uncovering Chinese Espionage Networks in the United States, I  wanted to make you aware of the forthcoming segment on CBS 60 Minutes, Sunday night, February 28th.

The segment concerns Chinese Espionage in America .   For those who do not consider Charlie Sheen’s entering rehab to be the ultimate in current events will find  the 60 Minutes segment  all too revealing about a prevalent problem that has long been ignored for what is perceived as long term economic gain. In short, we have taken way too lightly the continuing issues of Chinese Espionage and how it has impacted our economy and strategic advantage. Both Chinese Nationals and American workers trusted with our most sensitive technological and military secrets have sold them off for ideological purposes but mostly for personal financial gain. I hope this segment of 60 Minutes when aired, we make its viewers aware of our need to establish measures that can best blunt Chinese Espionage efforts.

You can check out the video teaser at this link on CBS.Com

Burying a Generation in Student Debt

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The good news is that a student will graduate from college.  With a college degree, a younger person has a greater capability of shaping his career and life in general.  The student has the opportunity to make more money.   Advancements come easier when you have a college degree.   Or so the story goes.

The fact is many college students are drowning in debt created by borrowing money to go to school.   They borrowed the money out of necessity, to obtain a decent education.  Without a college education, you then are stuck with a high school education, which for all intent and purpose is pretty useless in this modern age.

Kids borrow the money and graduate college, believing there will be jobs and opportunity.  Instead, for the last number of years they have walked into a world where the jobs are limited, the economy in a meltdown, and where outsourcing to other countries has depleted the job market.  Competition for jobs is fierce and the student debt keeps piling up.  According to the Huffington Post , the average student will graduate $23,000 in debt.   I believe that is a very conservative estimate.   Having looked over the cost of college tuition recently, that’s about one year’s tuition in most public universities.

There are two kinds of student loans.  The first is the Stafford or government loan.  It is a good loan, but it has its limitations.  Mainly, you can’t borrow all the money you need as a student.  So, especially if you enroll in a private school, you take out private loans.  From a bank.  Which is guaranteed by the Federal government.

Fannie Mae and Sallie Mae employ some 35,000 persons.   They are the middle men in the great bank loan debacle.  They and the banks employ lobbyists to persuade congressman to do such things as deny students what’s left of  the common consumer rights that most people enjoy.  Students can not file bankruptcy as a means of walking away from their loans.  Should they hit a bad patch, and many graduates have, then the interest builds, compounds, becomes outrageous and the bank can assess an additional 25% on the principal should the student have the tough luck to default.

It is probably the closest thing to indentured bondage we have seen in this country in quite awhile.  The kind of slavery we cluck in anguish over, should it happen to immigrants who have their freedom held for ransom by the coyotes and others who smuggled them into this country for exorbitant prices.   But when it happens to our kids, well hell, it’s just a matter of doing business.  We just sell them down the river.

The student loan system is a disgrace.  Or I should say the part where students are forced to borrow from private banks for the extra money they need.   It preys upon the poor and middle class, the kids whose parents are either too poor or too strapped in a bad economy to pay for their tuition.   Work your way through college?   With college tuition as high as it is, this is hardly likely.   If you could live, eat, and pay your tuition you would have the kind of job in the first place that wouldn’t require you to sacrifice it for a college diploma.

There is a reform bill proposed by Congress, but lobbyists are working hard to beat it down.   The banks detest the fact that the loan money may go directly to the students without the banks taking their unfair share of the cut.   So they can jack up the interest rates and bonus their executives for a job well done.    So they can pay off persons in the legislature so they will not institute any real reform.   It’s not bribery, of course.  It is campaign contributions, a couple of dozen favors, and a job once you retire from the hallowed halls of Congress.

And kids starve.  They struggle.  They try to gain traction in an already tough and competitive world.  They watched their jobs outsourced by another group of corporate interests who also lobby Congress so they can send American jobs overseas while still enjoying hefty tax cuts.

This is an entire  generation we are talking about, with additional generations to follow.  This is our best and our brightest.  And we are screwing them royally.  Charging them a bunch for the opportunity to go to school and make something of themselves, and then holding their lives for ransom afterwords.  It’s a new form of the old company store, where the company owns everything and the coal mine, including your ass.

We watch self-righteous legislators go on about how budgetary concerns are burdening and  bankrupting our future generations.   But we don’t hear much about the burden of student loans.   Not more than a whisper.  Never mind the fact that the poor kids in the land of opportunity, make that the new poor, the middle class, are disrupted at the starting gate from seizing that opportunity.   Forget that we took away their consumer rights with the sole justification being that they are students.

Forget everything.  Including the future.

Nature’s Way of Sorting Out the Environment

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I was reading a recent article in the Los Angeles Times about how the cold spell in Florida is killing many of the nonnative animal life.   Burmese Pythons and African Rock Pythons are buying the farm on a major scale.  Iguanas are falling dead from trees.  Nonnative fish are dying by the thousands.   The Mayan cichlid, walking catfish, and spotfin spiny eel, are among the fish floating lifeless to the water’s surface.

I would take this to mean that this is nature’s way of telling these invasive animals to get the hell out of where they don’t belong.   Not that they had a choice in the matter, as many were brought over on ships, or in the case of the snakes, they were former pets that were let go in the Everglades when the novelty wore off or when the hurricane deposited their former domiciles on FEMA’s statistical list of trash.   Nevertheless, these animals who thrive in the warmer climes of he tropics will only thrive so long when the temperature takes a dramatic turn.

Yes, I would take this as part of nature’s way of rearranging the order of things.   I have to wonder what else does nature have in store for us.   We are inundated with dire predictions about global warming, which is not global warming, really, but dramatic climate change.  What’s this mean?  It means that not everything will warm up, but in places that are already warm, it will probably get warmer still.  In the colder spots on the climate, it may get colder still.

Yet the Arctic is melting and Florida has a cold spell.  Who knows what is really going on?   What I do know is that things change.  I have stood in places up on the high desert of Four Corners, Monument National Valley and further North.   It is hard rock, bone dry.  Yet in places you can still see actual dinosaur footprints in what is now rock or really hard ground.   Dinosaur footprints.  I kid you not.   This is the legacy of an earlier time when this vast region was under water, either covered by seawater or vast marshes that prevailed for millions of years.

Things change.  As a civilization that wants to believe that all things are safe and permanent, we have yet to get the memo that the planet is ever changing and in doing so is making things more or less secure at his own universal discretion.  Or in reaction to the conditions we inflict upon our planet.

Suffice it to say that while some of the global changes my be cyclical, it still doesn’t mean it is a good idea to pollute the hell out of it.  You can’t treat the Earth like a rental car and expect it to run smoothly.  Common sense would have it that dumping poisons into our water, filling our air with toxic crap, and leaving piles of waste on our lands and in our oceans will hardly result in something positive.   Common sense would say if you put poison in water then you will poison yourself when you drink the water, and poison the fish that live in that water.  Who you will eat.

In short, global warming may not be a result of our human transgressions, but our human transgressions aren’t helping things either.  No matter how long we care to live in denial.   You do not have to tie natural cycles and human pollution together to validate the fact the planet is going through changes.   Planetary cycles can still take effect, regardless of human pollution.  But for sure as hell, human pollution is not going to improve the situation, any.   Poison the oceans, the fresh water and the landscape, and it is still poisoned, whether there is climate change or not.   Common sense should bear that out.

But, unfortunately, common sense is not so common.  It took certain people hundreds if not thousands of years to realize that crapping upstream and drinking the same water downstream will result in disease.   People in some spots took thousands of years to correlate sex with the making of babies.  In some places on the globe, it seems it is still the case.  Recognizing the existence of germs took awhile.

And then there is the money factor.  There are those who are making money and those who are making more money by ignoring the obvious.   It is cost effective n the short run to ignore the obvious.  If you take the precautions and impose the industrial standards to eliminate or reduce pollution it will cost you bucks in the short run.   This cuts into your bottom line.  The bottom line in America and most countries is the major modern religion and messing with the bottom line for the sake of such minor considerations as the welfare of humanity borders on sacrilege.

Then there are the people who are allegedly in power.  The legislators.   What was once a somewhat responsible body of lawmakers who tried to oversee the well being of their constituents, looks more like a group of small time hustlers, working the corridors of government for their next corporate handout.   With some exception, most are being paid by their keepers to assure us that all is well and that they are maintaining “our way of life.”    They are paid to nod their heads and look the other way, examining their purses and the prospects of future elections, which more often than not conflicts with public interest.

In short,  depending on which side of the argument you come down on,most of the exploration of global change and its consequence is based  on mixes of scientific research, religious and social conjecture, guesswork, and omission.  Why omission ?   Good question.

We leave a lot of things out of any argument.  We do this out of convenience.   While there are obscure noises about overcrowding,  increased strain on an already fragile infrastructure and ecosystem, we don’t talk much about overpopulation.  We fear for social and political repercussions when entertain the fact that the world has too many people.   We are are overcrowded.  Some of the population is undernourished.  And most of the population is undereducated and hardly prepared for the next decades of the twenty-first century.

We cover this by talking about the unique quality of every human being and making Hallmark cards of our sentiment, without addressing the true dangers that overpopulation will create.   We talk about global warning and claim hundred of millions will die.   What we don’t do is say that if we keep flooding this planet with the crushing hordes, it will cause natural reaction.    And natural reactions are often grim and consequential.

We cry over an earthquake in Haiti but ignore the fact that overcrowding, ignorance and the rest may well result in a pandemic, the likes of which we have never experienced.   Yes, it is a pity for Haiti, but if watching a quarter million die on one small island is nearly unbearable, what will it be like when hundreds of millions, billions, start dying from previously unknown diseases?  Diseases for what there will not be a cure.

So we argue out of convenience.  Convenience in this case means we pick and choose the safer salient points while leaving out the dozens of considerations that may really cause us harm.   We find consolation in sentiment when pressing issues loom before us.  We deal in modern day superstitions and embrace the religious either in its traditional form or as some metaphysical salad bar to support whatever half baked theory we are using to confront very real global events.

I would consider that more people have died from ignorance than anything else.  Ignorance has led to war, has caused us to crap upstream and drink downstream.  We overpopulate out of ignorance of the consequences and how it reduces the general well being of this planet.   We declare theory and conjecture as truth and fact,  although we have not yet been able to gather all the relevant information.  We are ignorant and proud of it.

Will all this happen?   It’s probable but not certain.   History is often a cruel prognosticator of what life has in store.   Historically, civilizations have come and gone.   Civilizations here have vanished.   There is room to speculate that even on other planets what was once living is now long since dead.

But then there is the other side of the coin.   Despite the cold spell in Florida, not every nonnative animal has died.   the smaller pythons are surviving, as they are able to adapt by slipping into smaller rock crevices and other spots that may keep them warm enough to ride out of the cold.    Only half the green iguanas have succumbed.  Maybe it’s dumb iguana luck, or it is Darwin’s Laws of Natural Selection, or the Survival of the Fittest, as it is sometimes known.  Or as the more religious will inveigh, it is the hand of divine providence.

I don’t know.  In the case of how and why some live and others don’t everyone has a valid opinion.   As long as it remains an opinion and isn’t carved in stone as absolute fact.

What we do know is that things chance.  Nothing remains the same, whether we want it to, or not.  And life goes on.

Content of Author Gordon Basichis Interview with Nanci Arvizu

Last week, I announced Gordon Basichis to be Interviewed on Nanci Arvizu’s Page Readers.   This was the interview about my new book, “The Guys Who Spied for China,” a roman a clef about uncovering Chinese Spy Networks in California and the United States.

The book has been receiving good reviews, with critics calling in quirky and darkly humorous.  I dare say it is by no means your typical spy story.  It is character based and has a unique perspective.  Anyway, enough of that.   For those interested here is the interview between Nanci and I.

Author Gordon Basichis to be Interviewed on Nanci Arvizu’s Page Talk

DadPhotoTouch Gordon Basichis, author and Co-Founder of the Corra Group, will be interviewed by Nanci Arivzu for her Blog Radio Show, Page Talk Readers.   Arvizu is the longtime host of Page Readers and conducts live interviews with authors on any number of subjects.   Listeners are invited to call and and ask questions.    The interview is scheduled for Thursday, February 4th, at 9 A.M. Pacific Time.

Arvizu will be talking to Basichis about his latest book, “The Guys Who Spied for China.”   The book is a roman a clef, detailing his first person experiences uncovering Chinese Espionage Networks that had been operating in the United States since after the Korean War.   The initial spy network was comprised of Americans and Europeans.   The story  is set around the United States but mostly takes place in California and in the Santa Monica Mountains, just above Beverly Hills.

Early reviews of “The Guys Who Spied for China,” describe the book as quirky and darkly humorous.   Basichis assures readers it is not your standard spy novel.  “The Guys Who Spied for China,” was published by Minstrel’s Alley, an independent West Coast Publisher.

Basichis is the author of two other books, “Beautiful Bad Girl, The Vicki Morgan Story,” which details the tempestuous relationship between mistress Vicki Morgan and Department Store scion and member of Ronald Reagan’s kitchen cabinet, Alfred Bloomingdale.

For more on “The Guys Who Spied for China,” reviews are available at Amazon.com The book is available from Kindle as well as trade paperback.   For more on Corra Group, go to its website at www.corragroup.com