Denmark police on alert over leaflets warning of new terror attack »»
Leaflets have surfaced in Copenhagen threatening a new and bigger terror attack in the same district where filmmaker Finn Norgaard was gunned down in February, as he was participating in a free speech event, local media reported. Read Full Article at RT.com Read more...
Aussie teens arrested in Melbourne over alleged 'ISIS-inspired' terrorist plot »»
Five teenagers aged 18 and 19, arrested in the early hours of Saturday in a series of raids in Melbourne, were allegedly planning "atrocious" ISIS-inspired attacks on police and the public next week at Anzac Day events in Australia. Read Full Article at RT.com Read more...
Russia to loan Greece ‘up to $5bn’ to join Turkish pipeline – report »»
Russia is planning to pay Greece large a multibillion advance against future profits from operating a gas pipeline that would pump Russian fuel through Turkey and Greece to the rest of Southern Europe, German magazine Spiegel reported. Read Full Article at RT.com Read more...
US revives MSM propaganda arm in ‘big way’ against Russia »»
The US media industry has been the arm of the government for decades, but now the Cold War tool is being resurrected in a “big way” to tackle any Russian influence on the information flow, foreign affairs expert Richard Becker told RT. Read Full Article at RT.com Read more...
At least 33 people have been killed and more than 100 injured in a series of explosions in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, according to police and local media. ISIS has claimed responsibility. Read Full Article at RT.com Read more...
New Eastern Outlook
Russia’s Missile Wall in Iran »»
The popular narrative surrounding the conflict between the West and Iran has always been one of a dangerous rogue state bent on obtaining nuclear weapons before triggering a nuclear-fueled Armageddon aimed at Israel. Underneath this elementary propaganda, lies a more complex truth underpinning a proxy conflict between East and West. Just as had been the […] Read more...
American Jihadi: Why Westerners Fight for the Islamic State »»
Media outlets and government circles both cringe and squirm when the subject of Westerners leaving the West to go fight in Syria and Iraq with the Islamic State arises. While acquiring data and calculating accurate numbers wildly diverges from source to source, there is no doubt that ANY number simply makes countries like the United […] Read more...
Situation in Lebanon Against the Background of Crisis in Syria »»
Though the domestic political situation in Lebanon is relatively stable, its possible worsening in the near future should not be excluded. The interference of external forces and persistent split of the Lebanese society over the events in neighboring Syria where the violent civil war is still ongoing along with active external intervention (by the USA, […] Read more...
A new Round in the Anti-corruption Drive in South Korea »»
The South Korean government approved ratification of a new anti-corruption law passed by parliament on March 24, 2015, already informally been dubbed the “Kim Young-ran Act” after its author, the former chairmen of the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission. This law that has been debated since the beginning of the year has provoked big arguments and […] Read more...
Israel: submarines armed with nuclear weapons? »»
The fact that Israel has nuclear weapons became public quite recently, although Tel Aviv has been concealing this fact carefully for several decades with the support of the United States and several Western European countries. Some Western experts estimate that the Jewish state may dispose of over 400 nuclear warheads which were created in the […] Read more...
Financial Reform's Effect on Shadow Banking »»
An undated photo of the General Electric sign, atop 30 Rockefeller Plaza, in New York. GE recently decided to sell off most of its financial services unit. (Photo: Brian Harkin for The New York Times)There are two big lessons from General Electric's announcement that the company is planning to get out of the finance business.
First, the much maligned Dodd-Frank financial reform law is doing some real good. Second, Republicans have been talking nonsense on the subject. (OK, maybe the second isn't really news, but it's important to understand just what kind of nonsense Republicans have been talking.)
GE Capital, the company's finance unit, was a quintessential example of the rise of shadow banking. In most important respects it acted like a bank. It created systemic risks very much like a bank. But it was effectively unregulated, and had to be bailed out through ad hoc arrangements that understandably made many people furious about putting taxpayers on the hook for private irresponsibility.
Most economists believe that the rise of shadow banking had less to do with the advantages of such nonbank banks than it did with regulatory arbitrage - that is, institutions like GE Capital were all about exploiting the lack of adequate oversight. And the general view is that the 2008 financial crisis occurred largely because regulatory evasion had reached the point where an old-fashioned wave of bank runs (albeit wearing somewhat different clothes) was once again possible.
The Dodd-Frank Act tried to fix these bad incentives by subjecting "systemically important financial institutions" - or SIFIs - to greater oversight and higher capital and liquidity requirements. And sure enough, GE is, in effect, now saying: If we have to compete on a level playing field, and if we can't play the moral hazard game, it's not worth being in this business. That's a clear demonstration that reform is working.
Now the official GOP line has been, more or less, that the crisis had nothing to do with runaway banks - that it was all about Barney Frank, the former chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, somehow forcing poor, innocent bankers to make loans to "Those People." And the line on the right also asserts that the SIFI designation is actually an invitation to behave badly, that institutions so designated know that they are too big to fail and can start living high on the moral hazard hog.
But as the economist Mike Konczal noted recently on the Roosevelt Institute's blog, GE - following in the footsteps of others, notably MetLife - is clearly desperate to get out from under the SIFI designation. It sure looks as if being named a SIFI is indeed what it's supposed to be: a burden rather than a bonus.
Jeb Bush's Elephant in the Room: Role in "Bush v. Gore" Recount »»
Little noticed among Jeb Bush's recently released emails, published on jebemails.com, is this one (Dec. 6, 2000) offering thanks to his brother's future Supreme Court Chief Justice Appointee, John Roberts, for legal advice during the election. "Thank you for your time today. I really appreciate your input on my role in this unique and historic situation," he wrote.
If Bush wants to run for the presidency in 2016, he should answer questions about his involvement, and the media should fact-check and obtain the truth.
Jeb Bush may have a problem in the primaries with his family name because of his father and brother's legacies of the Iraq war and the 2008 recession -issues that may have been handled very differently in a Gore presidency - and now attempts to distance himself from them with the widely covered statement, "I'm my own man." The media has not, however, even mentioned what may be his biggest problem: his level of responsibility in Florida for taking the 2000 election from Gore and the national repercussions.
Bush's communications director in July 2001, Katie Baur, said, "While he recused himself from any involvement in what happened after Nov. 7, he did not recuse himself from his role as a brother." What's not known is that the level of direct involvement was, frankly, enormous. The Los Angeles Times reported on July 14, 2001, "The Florida governor's office in Tallahassee made 95 telephone calls to the George W. Bush presidential campaign, its advisors, lawyers and staffers during the 36-day recount period, records show. At least 10 calls came from an office number used primarily by Jeb Bush."
At least one call from Jeb Bush's number "went to Karl Rove, his brother's campaign strategist. ... One went to the Texas governor's chief of staff, Clay Johnson. Additional calls were logged to cell phones assigned to Bush campaign staffers."
Bush emailed in July 2001: "I have no clue what these calls were about." He had "no clue" of what his own calls were about while his brother was on the cusp of winning or losing the presidency?
Even before the recount, Florida officials were aware of flaws in the voting system that Katherine Harris, the secretary of state under Governor Bush, directed. Harris was co-chair of the Bush campaign, itself a likely conflict of interest for the state's top voting procedures official.
"There emerges a confluence of circumstances that indicates intimidation and harassment of the Florida voters, and that was set in motion long before the November election," said Commissioner Victoria Wilson of the US Commission on Civil Rights in their report, "Voting Irregularities in Florida During the 2000 Presidential Election." Issued June 8, 2001, the report accuses Florida election officials of "gross dereliction" and "injustice."
The report revealed that 14.4 percent of Florida's black voters cast ballots that were rejected, compared with 1.6 percent of nonblack Florida voters. Also, 11 percent of Florida voters were African American; they cast 54 percent of the 180,000 supposedly spoiled ballots.
The report adds, "This overall lack of leadership in protecting voting rights was largely responsible for the broad array of problems in Florida during the 2000 election."
Proper conversations between Bush and Harris would have been how to expedite the counting of the most voters possible. Improper conversations would have been how to stop counts in pro-Gore areas. Which were they?
Other questions include:
Who did Jeb call within the Bush camp, including Rove, to strategize before and during the recount, and what was discussed?
Did he help suppress targeted votes before and during the recount?
What instructions or guidance did Bush and Harris discuss concerning the slow walk in the election recount until the US Supreme Court finally said "enough?"
To this day, Bush has not updated his "no clue" statement, but current presidential voters, including participants in the Iowa caucuses, deserve answers. The actions were only 15 years ago and have affected the economy and Iraq to this day. Until Bush says what he did (if anything) to slow walk the count so that Gore would lose by a US Supreme Court stop of the counting, there is reason for voters to question his role, and to factor that role into their voting this time around.
Des Moines Register editor's note: Jeb Bush's office declined to respond last week to this op-ed.
"A Corporate Trojan Horse": Critics Decry Secretive TPP Deal as a Threat to Democracy »»
Senate Finance Committee leaders Republican Orrin Hatch and Democrat Ron Wyden are expected to introduce a "fast-track" trade promotion authority bill as early as this week that would give the president authority to negotiate the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and then present it to Congress for a yes-or-no vote, with no amendments allowed. On Wednesday, more than 1,000 labor union members rallied on Capitol Hill to call on Democrats to oppose "fast-track" authority. We speak with two people closely following the proposed legislation: Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, and Rep. Alan Grayson, a Democrat from Florida.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
NERMEENSHAIKH: We turn now to the pending vote in Congress on the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global trade deal currently being negotiated between the United States and 11 Latin American and Asian countries. Senate Finance Committee leaders Republican Orrin Hatch and Democrat Ron Wyden are expected to introduce a fast-track trade promotion authority bill as early as this week that would give the president authority to negotiate the TPP trade deal and then present it to Congress for a yes-or-no vote, with no amendments allowed. The bill would need 60 votes to pass the full Senate. Republicans control 54 votes, and almost all are expected to vote for the measure.
On Wednesday, more than a thousand labor union members rallied outside the US Capitol to call on Democrats to oppose fast-track authority. They were joined by several members of Congress. This is Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
SEN. BERNIESANDERS: What this is about is not just trade. It is about whether this United States Congress begins to work for the middle class and working families of this country or whether it is totally owned by billionaires and their lobbyists.
AMYGOODMAN: That's Independent Senator Bernie Sanders. We'll let you know if he actually officially announces that he's running for president.
For more on the brewing battle in Congress over the Trans-Pacific Partnership and fast-track authority in Congress, we're joined by two guests. Lori Wallach is with us, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. And Congressmember Alan Grayson is with us, a Democrat from Florida.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Lori Wallach, let's just begin with you. We have been following the whole issue of both fast track and TPP, but for those who are not familiar with it - perhaps that's why bills like this go the way they go - explain briefly why the Trans-Pacific Partnership is so significant.
LORIWALLACH: The Trans-Pacific Partnership would make it easier for corporations to offshore our jobs. It's based on the NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and the Korea Free Trade Agreement. It has the same provisions that give companies who offshore, who relocate their investments, special privileges and protections that make it cheaper and safer to move our jobs to low-wage countries. And TPP includes a lot of low-wage countries, which means our wages will get pushed down, when Americans are made to compete, for instance, with workers in Vietnam who are making less than 60 cents an hour.
In addition, TPP would open to 9,000 more corporations the right to drag the US government into investor-state corporate tribunals. Those are the extrajudicial tribunals where panels of three corporate attorneys would be empowered to rule on a claim brought directly against the US government by a foreign corporation claiming they should get compensation from our tax dollars for any domestic law they think violates their rights under the agreement, and they should get paid for their lost future profits for having to meet our laws.
In addition, provisions of the TPP - because most of it's not about trade; 29 chapters, only five about trade - chapters would undermine Internet freedom. The copyright chapter has pieces of SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, in it. The patent chapter would increase medicine prices. It gives big pharmaceutical companies extra monopolies. The financial services chapter would roll back financial regulation. The procurement chapter would undermine "Buy America," "Buy Local" preferences. Basically - the services chapter would undermine energy regulation and undermine the policies that we need to combat the climate crisis. Basically, the entire agenda that is necessary for a decent life and livelihood and health of America, and the people in the 11 other countries, is being rolled back in the name of a trade agreement that really is just a corporate Trojan horse tool negotiated for six years in secrecy.
NERMEENSHAIKH: And, Congressman Alan Grayson, could you explain your opposition to fast-track authority and what you're calling on your colleagues in Congress to do?
REP. ALANGRAYSON: Well, I agree with everything that Lori just said, but I think there's also a bigger picture to consider. Our free trade, our so-called free trade, policies have been a disaster for the United States since NAFTA was enacted. Before NAFTA was enacted and went into effect 20 years ago, we never had any year in our history when we had a trade deficit of $135 billion or more. Every single year since then, for 20 years in a row, our trade deficit has been over $135 billion. Our last 14 trade deficits have been the 14 largest trade deficits not only in our history, but in the history of the entire world. And the result of that is that we've gone from $2 trillion in surplus with our trade to $11 trillion in debt. And we've lost five million manufacturing jobs and roughly 15 million other jobs in the last 20 years. So we've lost twice: We've lost the jobs, and we've also gone deeper and deeper into debt. So what's happening is not that we're buying goods and services from foreigners and they're buying an equal amount of goods and services from us - that's the way free trade is supposed to work. What's actually happening is that we're buying our goods and services from foreigners, and they are taking the money that we give to them for that and buying our assets.
That has all sorts of consequences for our economy. First we lose those jobs. Secondly, it makes American income and wealth more and more unequal. The reason why we have the fourth most unequal distribution of wealth in the world is because of fake trade. The reason why we have a bizarre, at this point unprecedented, quantitative easing policy, where the government uses the cash in our pockets to buy up assets and drive those asset prices up further and further, is because of fake trade. The reason why we have a federal deficit is because we have a trade deficit. And what happens is, the TPP, fast track, the Transatlantic version of TPP, these dramatically increase the amount of countries with whom we have this relationship - they quadruple them - and they put us on a fast track to hell, where America is nothing but cheap labor and debt slavery.
AMYGOODMAN: I want to turn to President Obama speaking in February after he began the major push for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
PRESIDENTBARACKOBAMA: This is bipartisan legislation that would protect American workers and promote American businesses, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren't just free, but are fair. It would level the playing field for American workers. It would hold all countries to the same high labor and environmental standards to which we hold ourselves.
Now, I'm the first to admit that past trade deals haven't always lived up to the hype. And that's why we've successfully gone after countries that break the rules at our workers' expense. But that doesn't mean we should close ourselves off from new opportunities and sit on the sidelines while other countries write our future for us.
AMYGOODMAN: So, that's President Obama speaking in February. President Obama is, obviously, president of the United States, leading Democrat. Congressman Grayson, he represents your party, as well. Why the difference? Who are the blocs now that are united? We're not just talking it's Democrats here and Republicans here. What set of Republicans and Democrats agree on this?
REP. ALANGRAYSON: Well, it's a mystery to me. You know, I was in the room when the president gave that statement and made that speech. He gave a 45-minute speech. On those three sentences, that was the only time during that entire speech when the Republicans rose up and applauded him and the Democrats did not. And I think that's very revealing. There are very, very few Democratic votes in the House of Representatives, because we represent ordinary working people. The groups that are lobbying the hardest for this are the multinational corporations and their K Street lobbyists. They're the ones who desperately want to see this passed, for the reasons that Lori Wallach just mentioned and enumerated. Ordinary Democrats represent constituencies who have been hurt hard, really hurt very hard, by the loss of those five million manufacturing jobs and 15 million other jobs. Go to any Democratic district in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. And the fact is that there is very little support, if any significant support, within the Democratic House Caucus for fast track or for TPP. We do have a few corporate Democrats. Frankly, we do have a couple of sell-out Democrats, who have sold out to the corporate lobbyists. But the bulk of the Democratic Party well understands, along with the labor movement and ordinary people, that these policies have been disastrous for us. And it is a lie to say that they will improve the economy. In fact, they will continue the downward trend of the economy, until foreigners own everything.
NERMEENSHAIKH: Well, Lori Wallach, I want to ask you about a comment that you made about President Obama's shift on this, since he voted in 2005 against the Central American Free Trade Agreement and subsequently explained his decision in the Chicago Tribune, what you referred to - his op-ed, that is - as his "Hamlet essay." Could you say why you called it that and what you think accounts for this transition of his on free trade?
LORIWALLACH: Well, I called it his Hamlet essay because it was on the one hand, on the other hand, to be or not to be. And he basically voted against the Central American NAFTA expansion, CAFTA, Central America Free Trade Agreement, probably mainly for political reasons. He would have been one of the very few Democrats who was for it. But the op-ed that he wrote in the Chicago Tribune basically laid out how much he wanted to be for the agreement. And I'm not sure it's so much a transition as he went from not feeling very strongly about these issues, but being surrounded by a lot of advisers who thought it was a great idea - NAFTA, CAFTA - the sort of few last unrequited NAFTA lovers in the Democratic Party. And unfortunately, those are precisely the people he brought in, as president, to be his international economic advisers. So, the Larry Summers, Mike Froman, who is the current trade ambassador, these guys, some of them, like Froman, a Wall Street revolving-door guy, some of them authors of NAFTA, so maybe a little cognitive dissonance about what it did - those guys have marinated him in NAFTA juice, and it's come, basically, to seep into his pores. And he now has become a guy who basically, but for maybe the Democratic Congress saving him - the Democrats in Congress - would basically ruin his own legacy by passing a trade agreement that would undermine everything he's achieved and everything he says he stands for. The good news, as Congressman Grayson said, is that there are only a handful of Democrats who are left who are either undecided or prepared to support fast track.
And so, for folks across the country, this is a vote that could happen by the end of April. We're talking quick. Every day that this debate gets aired, more and more people come out against. So, every person should find out where their member in the House of Representatives stands on fast track, and just ask them directly. Call the office over the weekend, your member of Congress's home. Look in the blue pages. Get the local address. Just stop by. A lot of them have office hours. And just ask, "Will you commit to me, your constituent, that you're going to hold onto your constitutional trade powers, not vote for fast track, which throws that away - it's a process that literally is a delegation of Congress's authority to stand up for us - and make sure we don't see more jobs offshored with trade agreements?" That is what we all have to do, and we have to do it now.
AMYGOODMAN: And, Lori, can you talk about the investment chapter of TPP, that was leaked by WikiLeaks, which highlights the intent of US-led negotiators to create a tribunal where corporations can sue governments if their laws interfere with a company's claimed future profits?
LORIWALLACH: So, this is the chapter that both creates the incentives that basically promote countries to offshore. Ironically, the Cato Institute is against this chapter because, from their perspective, it's an unfair market distortion giving a subsidy in favor of offshoring. They have no problem with offshoring; they just think the market should decide, we shouldn't use our trade agreements to promote job offshoring. So, the flipside of that is, and one of the special privileges the corporations would get is, they get elevated literally to nationhood. They get the same status as a nation state to privately enforce the terms of a public treaty. It's called investor-state dispute resolution. And if you want to learn a lot about it, go to www.isdscorporateattacks.org, isdscorporateattacks.org. It's a new website that has all of these cases where corporations are empowered to drag a sovereign government to a tribunal of three private-sector trade attorneys, who rotate between being the attorneys for the corporations suing the governments and being the "judges." No conflict-of-interest rules. And these three private corporate attorneys can order a government to pay our tax dollars, in unlimited amounts, to a foreign corporation because they think that our domestic environmental, land-use, zoning, health, labor laws violate their new corporate rights in an agreement like TPP.
And the thing is, we've got a passel of those kind of agreements already. Folks remember, under NAFTA, we've had some horrible cases. Four hundred million dollars has already been paid out to corporations, even under NAFTA, where the system is narrower than what's proposed for TPP. But there are very few companies from the countries we've had the past agreements with, because it's mainly been developing countries. So there are 9,000 existing companies in all 50 agreements we have with this system. Just with TPP alone, we have another 9,000, mainly companies from Japan, so countries with - companies with sophistication and wherewithal. Plus, if we did the European agreement, we'd quadruple our liability, so that it's only a matter of time before our laws get sacked. Warning to everyone: Go look at the Sierra Club website. Recent case like this under NAFTA called the Bilcon case, Sierra Club has a great exposé on it. The actual one of the tribunalists, one of the corporate lawyers, steps back and says, "If we keep doing things like this - I have to break with the rest of you. If we keep doing this, this investor-state system is going to chill all our environmental laws." That's what one of the tribunalists said.
AMYGOODMAN: Congressman Grayson, do you have to rely on WikiLeaks to get information about what's actually in the TPP agreement?
REP. ALANGRAYSON: Well, one of the sad and disturbing elements of this whole process has been the artificial secrecy that's been imposed by the administration and by the trade representative on these dealings. I can't think of any other occasion, when I've served in Congress, when I've seen the element of deception loom so large here. The public is better informed of Iraqi attacks on ISIS, which you'd think would be classified, than it is informed on a trade deal that's going to determine our economic future for the next 20 years. What's happened is that, right at the beginning, the trade representative took the absurd position that everything that was being negotiated was classified, even though it was directly in the hands of the foreign governments with whom he was negotiating. Remember, normally, we have a classified system to keep information away from our enemies, or at least other governments. In this case, it was the other governments that had the information, and it was Congress and the American people who were being denied the information. And they took that position for five years, even though 100 members of Congress wrote a letter to the trade representative saying, "Cut this out."
Now, I'm the first member of Congress to actually see any part of the TPP, even though 600 corporate lobbyists are, quote, "advisers" to the trade representative and they get to see everything. And I insisted they take that information to my office, and in return they told me I couldn't take it with me, I couldn't take it home, I couldn't make notes on it, I couldn't have my staff present. And here's the kicker: They didn't want me to discuss it with the media, the public or even other members of Congress. So it's a farce. And it's meant specifically to keep the information away from the American people, because if the American people knew what was going on, they'd recognize that it's a punch to the face of the middle class in America.
Investigations of California Group Homes Marked by Delays and Uncertainty »»
A ProPublica examination has found that the California Department of Social Services fails to swiftly or conclusively investigate hundreds of claims of misconduct and other problems in group homes that house the state's most troubled children.
ProPublica reviewed more than 450 complaint investigations undertaken by the agency between 2009 and 2014 from roughly 50 Level 14 group homes, the residential facilities for California's most acutely disturbed children. More than half the investigations produced "inconclusive" findings, meaning that no determination of facts was reached in cases that involved sexual abuse, physical assaults, drug use or inadequate care at the facilities.
In some instances, the agency didn't even begin its investigations in earnest until well after the alleged perpetrators and victims had moved on from the home. In other cases, the accused and the accusers lived side by side for months.
Additionally, in the investigations in which complaints were substantiated, the agency almost never imposed one of its toughest sanctions – civil penalties. Instead, even in cases where children were injured or sexually abused by their peers, the state was satisfied to order "retraining" for the staff that had failed to oversee the children.
Michael Weston, a Department of Social Services spokesman, defended the rigor of the investigations. He said the hundreds of "inconclusive" findings were the only fair determinations when the truth behind the allegations could not be established.
"Are you suggesting that they should substantiate things that they don't have preponderance of the evidence to substantiate?" Weston asked, referring to the department's investigators. "You want to investigate something thoroughly, but again, we're not encouraging people to substantiate things if they don't have a preponderance of the evidence to substantiate."
Weston added that all complaints are given "top priority," and are investigated "as soon as possible."
Advocates and experts in the field say the inconclusive reports reflect a deeper problem.
"The people conducting these investigations really aren't appropriately trained," said Bill Grimm, a lawyer with the National Center for Youth Law. "They don't look at it with a kind of rigid approach that someone in law enforcement would use in a criminal investigation. That really undercuts the legitimacy of these investigations."
In addition to acting on complaints filed by children, their families or workers at the facilities, the department is required to investigate what are known as "unusual incidents" – a range of episodes that can involve everything from missed medication to reports of criminal activity that come to involve the local police. The homes are required to file them electronically. The department must review each report within days and decide if it warrants further review. In those cases, inspectors typically visit the home, interview staff and children involved in the incident, and determine whether the home has violated its legal obligations.
ProPublica reviewed a sample of nearly 100 such investigations. The department appears to respond faster to incident reports than complaints and rarely makes "inconclusive" findings, but the investigations are sometimes left open indefinitely. Of the 100 investigations, DSS left about one-third of the cases open, found violations in another third, and deemed there were no violations in the final third.
In the cases involving complaints filed by the children or their families, the department is supposed to visit the home and initiate its investigation within 10 days. There are no legal requirements as to when the investigation must conclude. In dozens of instances, the records reviewed by ProPublica fail to make clear whether inspectors visited the home within 10 days of the complaint. The records do make clear that investigations often drag on for months.
In some respects, it's understandable the department often struggles to reach a definitive conclusion. The complaints are often made by children with severe mental health issues, whose accounts may not be consistently reliable.
Still, close examination of these cases reveal disturbing outcomes and oversights.
At the Bayfront Youth and Family Services home in Long Beach, ProPublica looked at 43 complaints from 2009 to 2014. Thirty-two were deemed inconclusive. The allegations ranged in severity. Some were very serious: children claiming they'd been viciously attacked by their peers or counselors. Others were minor, such as when a child said the home's staff had abruptly ended a home phone call by hanging up the line.
Over this five-year period, the department substantiated 10 complaints that included allegations of sexual activity and the improper use of restraints, meaning instances in which children were physically calmed or controlled by staff. In 2012, the department determined that several children had been injured during the staff's use of restraints and that staff at the home had deployed the technique far too often.
Yet, in the two years prior, Marleana Reed, the home's director, had promised DSS on nine separate occasions that she would retrain her staff on the proper use of restraints and other supervisory issues.. The department accepted her "plans of correction," but the same problems went on for years.
Reed did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
On March 26, 2010, according to DSS files, two children had sex in one of the home's "day rooms." Reed told the department she retrained the staffers who were supposed to be supervising the children. That year, eight more complaints of serious abuses came in. Children said they'd been punched, kicked and bitten, sometimes by staff, sometimes by each other. The department substantiated three complaints. One involved a counselor who had allegedly grabbed a child by the neck. In another, a child was given an icepack after he broke his clavicle. The boy didn't receive medical treatment for several hours. In a third incident, a child stood accused of "inappropriately touching" another in a movie theater. In each instance, the department accepted Reed's promises to retrain her staff and imposed no other sanctions.
In 2011, the pattern continued. Children lodged 11 complaints that year and four were substantiated. Two involved allegations of assault by staff. The department also investigated 16 separate incident reports that year, formal notices filed by staff at Bayfront. In one, inspectors confirmed that a counselor punched a child. In another, a child was found slashing her arm in a bathroom and was later hospitalized after swallowing a piece of metal. Reed fired four employees involved in incidents that year and told the department she had retrained several others. In November of that year, the department issued a civil penalty after confirming that two children had sex on the campus - the second such incident in a year.
In March 2012, records show, a department inspector spoke to Reed at the home. Children had fought or left the campus on four consecutive days that month and the inspector was concerned about the volume of restraints on the campus. Reed was instructed to tell her staff to use the technique only as a "last recourse." But reports of violence between staff and clients continued that year.
On October 22, the home incurred another civil penalty after a child's face was injured during a restraint. A week later, the "day room" again was the site of sexual activity among children, according to an incident report.
In the first six months of 2013, department inspectors investigated six more complaints and responded to three incident reports at Bayfront. They substantiated just one complaint, finding that a child's thighs, torso and arms had been bruised during several restraints.
In spite of the home's record, the department allowed the facility to expand.
In the summer of 2013, the home added one more child to each of 11 rooms that originally housed two. It now has a capacity of 40 boys and girls, making it one of the largest Level 14 facilities in the state.
Since then, state inspectors have been back to the facility at least a dozen times to investigate claims of beatings and harassment perpetrated by staff. Again and again, the investigations have ended with a finding of "inconclusive."
Department of Social Services spokesman Weston would not answer questions about the home and the state's oversight of it.
Other homes had their share of problems, too, the records show.
In March of 2009, the Department of Social Services received a complaint that a staff member at a 28-bed group home called Casa Pacifica in Camarillo was having sex with a minor resident.
The home's chief executive, Steven Elson, had hired the worker in 2008, and Elson said the man passed a background check performed by DSS. Elson said he had submitted the man's fingerprints and work history information to the department. The department, Elson said, reviewed the material and cleared him to work in the home in early 2008.
Six months later, Elson said he started receiving emails from staff about the worker. The man was supposed to be working exclusively with boys, but he kept showing up in the girls' cottage. Elson said he reprimanded the man, but decided to keep him on the staff.
In early 2009, a female resident of the home complained about the man's conduct. She said the man had been having sex with another girl on the campus. Elson's staff filed an unusual incident report with DSS. Elson said he also began an internal investigation. He couldn't substantiate the girl's claim. The alleged victim said she never had sex with the man and the accuser recanted her allegation. Elson said he fired the worker anyway.
DSS didn't begin its investigation until five weeks after the man had been fired. The investigation then took nine months. In that time, DSS wasn't able to substantiate the allegation of sex abuse.
But the inspectors did unearth one troubling, incontrovertible fact: It turned out the worker had impregnated an under-age child eight years earlier in 2001, state records show. The child was not a resident of a group home, and the man had yet to begin working for a home. Still, both the department and Elson missed that troubling episode during their background check.
No action was taken against the facility."There are no deficiencies cited," the report concludes.
Elson, in an interview, said that his facility had acted responsibly. He said he was disappointed, but not altogether surprised by the department's conduct in the investigation.
"It's a big bureaucracy. They regulate thousands of facilities: senior care, day care centers, group homes. Thousands of fingerprints and other information go to them. I know they probably aren't going to catch everything," Elson said. "But here's the thing. Child serving businesses - day care centers, schools, places that work with children - they are a magnet for pedophile types. So you've got to be super careful and have policies that will highlight activity that might be concerning."
In February 2010, DSS banned the former worker from working at any facility overseen by the department. Weston, the DSS spokesman, would not elaborate on how the department missed the earlier instance of child abuse.
"There was no information provided to the Department during the background check process that would have allowed the Department to deny the application for clearance," he said.
In San Diego, the list of complaints made against the San Diego Center for Children in February of 2013 were lengthy and serious: too many children; not enough staff; staff members were driving residents of the facility around the city despite having been drinking and taking drugs; the facility's medical technicians were underqualified. State investigators took nine months to investigate the charges. Ultimately, they declared they could neither prove nor disprove any of the allegations. "Therefore, the above allegations are found to be inconclusive at this time," the DSS report reads.
Representatives of the group home declined to address the specific allegations, saying only that they try to maintain a transparent and open relationship with the department and are sometimes frustrated themselves by DSS's inconclusive reports.
"As an organization we would like the opportunity to be cleared of allegations such as these and have the reports reflect the department's actual findings," said Cheryl Rode, the home's senior clinical director.
In December of 2012, a staffer at the Fred Finch Youth Center in Lemon Grove had allegedly broken a child's collar bone. After nine months, investigators confirmed that the child had indeed suffered a fracture. But, their report said, "there is insufficient evidence to determine how the injury occurred." There is no indication that the child or the alleged assailant had been relocated.
In an interview, Fred Finch Youth Center President and CEO Tom Alexander said the boy broke his collar bone when counselors were trying to prevent him from attacking them and other children.
"It was an accident," Alexander said. "The staff did what they could. He was a big kid, probably 240 pounds or something like that."
Alexander said that, in general, it's not unusual for a DSS investigation to culminate in an "inconclusive" finding. He said reports often sit on the desks of investigators for months after an initial questioning. Alexander attributes the delays to underfunding and understaffing in the department.
"They don't have the staff to get out to the facilities and investigate as quickly as they should," Alexander said. "People's memories change. A kid might feel strongly about a complaint three weeks ago and now they can't remember it. That leads to more inconclusive reports than they'd have if they had adequate staff to make rapid and comprehensive review of allegations."
Weston told ProPublica the agency is sufficiently funded to "meet its mandates."
Maria Ramiu, an attorney for the Youth Law Center in San Francisco, said the inconclusive reports suggest a lack of training and expertise on the part of DSS investigators.
"You can move from being a DMV clerk to working as a [Licensing Program Analyst] if you meet the state's basic requirements," Ramiu said, referring to the DSS employees who respond to complaints. "It goes to the core of whether we have an oversight system that is structured to keep kids safe. These children are very vulnerable. This is a population that is likely to be preyed upon because of their history of abuse. They are isolated. But we don't have a good system of protection for them."
Grayson on Money and Politics: "If We Do Nothing, We Can Kiss This Country Goodbye" »»
A day after a mailman from Florida landed a tiny personal aircraft called a gyrocopter on the lawn of the US Capitol in a protest to demand campaign finance reform, we speak to Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida about money and politics. Grayson also reveals that he will "probably" run for US Senate in 2016 for Marco Rubio's seat, who has joined the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMYGOODMAN: Congressman Grayson, I assume you heard the story of the gyrocopter that landed on the White House lawn [Capitol lawn]. This mailman named Doug Hughes, basically a flying bicycle, landed on the lawn. He expected to be blown out of the air. But he said he was doing this for campaign finance reform. He had a letter to every member of Congress. I want to ask you, how much does the money that is going to your fellow Democrats and Republicans determine their support for TPP?
REP. ALANGRAYSON: It's decisive. I am the only member of the House of Representatives - there are 435 of us -
AMYGOODMAN: Rather, he landed on the lawn of the US Capitol, so it was even closer to you.
REP. ALANGRAYSON: That's right. I'm the only member of the House of Representatives who raised most of his campaign funds in the last election from small contributions of less than $200. Thousands of people came to our website, CongressmanWithGuts.com, and made contributions. I am one - one - out of 435. On the other side of the building, over at the US Senate, there's only one member of the US Senate who raised most of his campaign from some small contributions. That's Bernie Sanders, who you heard earlier in this broadcast. That tells you something. In fact, to a large degree, in both parties, because of the absence of campaign finance reform, the place is bought and paid for. And the only question is: Do the members stay bought? That's what the corporate lobbyists stay up late at night wondering about: Is that member going to stay bought?
Now, I was actually in the courtroom when this disastrous Citizens United decision was decided five years ago. Mitch McConnell was two seats to my left. We were the only public officials who were in the courtroom. Mitch McConnell was the happiest I have ever seen him that day. He was literally chortling when the decision was rendered. And I said on MSNBC that night five years ago that if we do nothing, you can kiss this country goodbye. Well, pucker up, because right now the millionaires and the billionaires and the multinational corporations are calling the shots with whatever they want in TPP, whatever they want in fast track - more generally, whatever they want. They get the bailouts. They get the tax breaks. They get the so-called deregulation. They get what they want here because they get what they pay for.
AMYGOODMAN: Congressman Grayson, very quickly, Bernie Sanders hasn't yet officially announced that he's running for president, but what about you? Senator Rubio has announced he is running for president. Will you be running for his seat in Florida?
REP. ALANGRAYSON: I'm giving it a lot of attention. The answer is probably yes, but I haven't made up my mind yet once and for all. I hope to do that soon.
AMYGOODMAN: Well, we want to thank you for being with us, Congressman Alan Grayson, Democrat of Florida's 9th Congressional District, and Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch.
This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we're going to Cambridge, Massachusetts. What's Harvard Heat Week? Stay with us.
Since I began writing analysis for the liberty movement more than eight years ago, I have always said that we will know when the endgame of the globalists is upon us when the criminals come out into the light of day and admit to their crimes. At that moment, it will be because they no longer fear either the repercussions or their plans being obstructed.
As I plan to show in this installment of my series on the hidden fiscal collapse of America, the endgame has indeed arrived. At the very least, the international elites seem to think success is within their grasp, for they now openly expose their own criminality. But they do so in a way that attempts to divert blame or to rationalize their actions as being for the “greater good.”
In Part 4 of this series, I discussed the reality of the false East/West paradigm and the fact that the “conflict” between Eastern and Western interests is nothing more than Kabuki theater constructed by globalists and designed to mesmerize the masses. You see, the problem with most people is that they tend to let their innate sense of tribalism drive them to take sides in war without understanding the fundamental root of that war. In most cases, they believe one side must be “good” and one side must be “bad.” Globalists understand this weakness of human collectivism, and they exploit it as often as possible. They create conflicts from out of the void, conflicts in which BOTH sides are controlled. Then, they let the masses fumble like idiots trying to set the noose around the other guy’s neck.
The East/West paradigm is just another in a long line of false confrontations engineered by the elites, but it is one that is most dangerous to the liberty movement itself. In our rage over the destruction of freedom and prosperity within our own country, some of us have come to assume that the source of all that is unholy bubbles at the heart of U.S. corporate and government activity and that the East is in the midst of some kind of rebellion. This is simply nonsense.
Recently, a reader sent me a link that reminded me of comments made by Rep. Louis T. McFadden, chairman of the House Banking Committee, on May 4, 1933. In the wake of his battle against the Federal Reserve, he said:
“… the treacherous signing away of American rights at the 7-power conference at London in July 1931 … put the Federal Reserve System under the control of the Bank of International Settlements.”
Even in 1933, there were some people who could see that the Federal Reserve was just an errand boy, an economic hit man for a more powerful entity. Sadly, McFadden died in 1936 from coronary thrombosis before he could make any headway in his crusade. The truth he stamped into the public record, though, lives on; and it is a truth that many people just don’t want to hear. It is easier to quantify the threat of the Federal Reserve. It is easier to believe that the Fed either controls the entire game or (for the more sheep-minded citizenry) that the Fed is a harmless “quasi-governmental body.” Many of us in the movement want to believe it is the gateway to the seventh circle of hell because if the Fed dies, then we win. And the Fed appears to be killable, most notably in light of certain actions on the part of the East. Unfortunately, the problem is far more complex.
As McFadden exposed, the Fed is merely a tentacle, one of many slithering at the behest of a larger vampire squid. The Bank for International Settlements appears to be the eye of the leviathan. I have been happy to see that the BIS is gaining more and more attention from the alternative media as a primary threat to the stability of the world. Zero Hedge published a very interesting article on the BIS banking cabal recently, excerpted from a book by Adam LeBor and titled “Meet The Secretive Group That Runs The World.”
Of course, this is not the first exposé on the BIS. Even Harper’s published a surprisingly honest (though only half the story) piece on the bank, titled “Ruling The World Of Money,” back in 1983. In it, the magazine claims that “…the unabashed purpose of its (BIS) elite monthly meetings is to coordinate and, if possible, to control all monetary activities in the industrialized world.”
Any central bank that ends up on the membership roster of the BIS should be for all intents and purposes considered a pawn of the BIS. This includes the central banks of Eastern nations supposedly in opposition to Western power. The very beginning history of the BIS is stained with blood, since it financially played both sides of World War II and aided the funding of the Nazi apparatus. Keep in mind that Germany, Japan and the Allies were all members of the BIS from 1931 on and remained members through the war. Bankers have been pitting countries against each other for a very long time, and they have no loyalties to any particular nation.
The BIS had to fade into the background for a time after its partnership with fascists was made public after the war. So the elites formed yet another monstrosity, the International Monetary Fund, to take its place in the public eye. However, the BIS continues to this day to pull the strings of the world’s central banks and, by extension, the world’s governments.
The strategy of engineered conflict has not changed. I have written numerous articles on the undeniable collusion between Russia and the IMF, including the avid Russian support for the IMF’s new global reserve currency, the Special Drawing Rights. You can read those articles here, here and here.
Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin have continued their love affair with the IMF since 2009, when they called for the SDR to become the world reserve currency.
Last year, Putin reasserted the goal of the BRICS to become more involved (enveloped) in the IMF system:
"In the BRICS case we see a whole set of coinciding strategic interests. First of all, this is the common intention to reform the international monetary and financial system. In the present form it is unjust to the BRICS countries and to new economies in general. We should take a more active part in the IMF and the World Bank’s decision-making system. The international monetary system itself depends a lot on the US dollar, or, to be precise, on the monetary and financial policy of the US authorities. The BRICS countries want to change this."
I also have been covering the Chinese shift away from the dollar and into the arms of the IMF’s currency basket for years.
The great lie today is that China and Russia are anti-New World Order. Yet as I discussed in my last article, China (and Russia) have consistently called for a global conversion into the SDR basket system, and they want this system to be run by the IMF. The IMF, in turn, has consistently called for the end of the dollar as the world reserve currency and has openly embraced institutions like the new Asian regional bank, the AIIB, which is dominated by China, despite the fact that many people wrongly believe that the AIIB is somehow “competition” to the IMF or World Bank.
World Bank managing director Mulyani Indrawati told Xinhua in an interview.
“We will definitely open for cooperation with AIIB [sic]. Even now, we are working very closely in the beginning and looking at the setting, principle and framework of this institution.”
She also dismissed worries that the AIIB will compete against the World Bank or existing regional development banks and noted the global need for infrastructure is huge to accommodate multiple organisations.
Speaking at the opening of the China Development Forum in Beijing, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said the IMF would be “delighted” to co-operate with AIIB, and the institutions have “massive” room for cooperation.
More on the history of China and its partnership with the New World Order can be found in James Corbett’s excellent video analysis here.
At the level of international banking and monetary policy, there is absolutely NO indication of any legitimate conflict between the East and the West. Again, such battles are only theater for the masses. But what purpose does this theater serve?
The fake economic war between East and West provides cover and rationale for the true goal of the internationalists: the destruction of the dollar as the world reserve currency and the ascendency of the SDR global monetary system. The endgame of the bankers is, of course, global government. It has been the longtime dream of the Fabian socialists permeating the central banking universe. A global currency system and centralized economic management are first-step psychological weapons against the public. If the world operates on a singular currency mechanism and a singular economic authority, why not have a singular governmental system as well?
The mistake many liberty movement analysts make is the assumption that the internationalists are somehow dedicated to U.S. interests. The idea that globalists have any loyalties to any sovereign government is a ridiculous notion. Fabians hate sovereign separations between nations (as much as they hate individual liberties), and they seek to ultimately destroy all boundaries for the sake of a singular global fiscal-political edifice.
But the elites cannot simply kill the dollar and replace it outright. They need a magic trick, a smoke-and-mirrors hologram, a sexy assistant in a sequined bathing suit and fireworks galore while they pull their global basket reserve out of a top hat. The false East/West paradigm is the perfect distraction. What better way to destroy the dollar and conjure a new world reserve than to pit one block of nations you dominate against the other block of nations you dominate and blame the resulting economic catastrophe on the "barbarism of sovereign nationalism,” which you also plan to erase in due course?
The elites are preparing for this event, and they are not content only to trigger it then sit back and watch it happen. They also hope to construct a new image for themselves as the prophets who tried to warn the world — the financial “sages” who would be our rescuers.
The criminals are coming into the light, and they are wearing the masks of saviors.
Alan Greenspan is now suddenly a staunch promoter of economic caution, warning that “something big … a significant market event …” is about to happen, and that gold is now a good investment as opposed to the dollar.
Janet Yellen has openly conceded that cash is not a convenient store of value.
Jamie Dimon is getting in on the prognosticator action, asserting that another financial crisis is coming.
The World Bank has been polite enough to warn the public that “now is the time to prepare for the next crisis.”
The BIS now produces statements on a regular basis predicting a possible “violent reversal of global markets,” just as it conveniently alerted the public to the possibility of credit collapse in 2007 right before the derivatives crisis.
Literally every elitist and his drunken uncle now publicly discuss the danger of another market crash. That’s a rather stark reversal from a few years ago when recovery was a mainstream absolute, Bernanke was being called a hero, and fiat stimulus was the fountain of youth. How would they know that such an event is coming? They built the conditions by which a collapse is inevitable, and now they want to purify themselves in the waters of Lake Minnetonka and absolve their institutions of all future ugliness.
I would like to point out, though, that banker warnings of volatility and crisis are generally given far too late for average people to act accordingly. I would also like to point out that the rising chorus of mainstream voices giving predictions of destabilization are also marginalizing and isolating the U.S. and the Federal Reserve as the root cause. The U.S. is nothing more than a storefront for elitist activities. And the Federal Reserve is a tentacle that can be sacrificed if it means achieving total centralization. All signs and evidence point to what the IMF calls the “great global economic reset.” The plans for this reset do not include U.S. prosperity or a thriving dollar.
Sand-nado - Beijing Battered By Blanket Of Red Dust »»
In yet another ripped from the movies-screen-esque event, Beijing was brought to a standstill today as a massive Interstellar-like sandstorm covered the Chinese capital in thick blanket of red dust, sparking social media discussions of the end of the world. As RT reports, The China Meteorological Administration issued a yellow sandstorm alert – the third-most serious danger level, which given the images below, makes us wonder just WTF it takes to get to a level 1 sandstorm...
Stunning!! In a city of 21 million people...
As RT reports,Some areas in the city of 21 million recorded air pollution of nearly 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter, which is considered hazardous for people’s health.
Beijing residents had to wear face masks and goggles to protect themselves from the red sand and avoid injury and respiratory problems.
The bad visibility seriously disrupted traffic, causing large traffic jams all over the capital.
Beijing is considered among the most polluted cities in the planet, with environmental watchdog Chinese Hazardous saying on Thursday that air particles, which cause asthma and breathing problems, were more than double the national target in the capital.
What is the real story of energy and the economy? We hear two predominant energy stories. One is the story economists tell: The economy can grow forever; energy shortages will have no impact on the economy. We can simply substitute other forms of energy, or do without.
Another version of the energy and the economy story is the view of many who believe in the “Peak Oil” theory. According to this view, oil supply can decrease with only a minor impact on the economy. The economy will continue along as before, except with higher prices. These higher prices encourage the production of alternatives, such wind and solar. At this point, it is not just peak oilers who endorse this view, but many others as well.
In my view, the real story of energy and the economy is much less favorable than either of these views. It is a story of oil limits that will make themselves known as financial limits, quite possibly in the near term—perhaps in as little time as a few months or years. Our underlying problem is diminishing returns—it takes more and more effort (hours of workers’ time and quantities of resources), to produce essentially the same goods and services.
We don’t measure our investment results with respect to the quantity of end product produced (barrels of oil produced, liters of fresh water produced, kilos of copper produced, or number of workers provided with sufficient education to work in high tech industries), so we don’t realize that we are becoming increasingly inefficient at producing desired end products. See my post “How increased inefficiency explains falling oil prices.”
Figure 1. The way we would expect the cost of the extraction of energy supplies to rise, as finite supplies deplete.
Wages, viewed in terms of the product produced–oil in this case–can be expected to decrease as well. This change isn’t evident in usual efficiency statistics, because some of the workers are providing new kinds of services, such as fracking services, that weren’t required before.
Figure 2. Wages per worker in units of oil produced, corresponding to amounts shown in Figure 1.
Even investment is becoming increasingly inefficient. It takes more and more investment to extract a given quantity of oil or other energy product. This investment needs to stay in place longer as well. The ultra-low interest rates we have been experiencing reflect the poor returns investments are now making.
The myth exists that prices of all of the scarce goods and services will rise high and higher, as the economy encounters scarcity. The real story, though, is that the inflation-adjusted purchasing power of common workers is falling lower and lower, especially in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Not only can these workers afford to buy less, but they can also afford to borrow less. This means that their ability to purchase expensive goods created from commodities is falling.
At some point, this lack of purchasing power can be expected to affect the financial markets, and the prices of many commodities can be expected to fall. In fact, this already seems to be happening.
The likely impact of such a fall in commodity prices is not good. If low oil prices cannot be “turned around,” they will lead to debt defaults, and these debt defaults are likely to lead to failing financial institutions. Failing financial institutions have the potential to bring down the system, because it becomes very difficult for businesses to continue if they are not supported by a banking system that allows a company to pay its employees. Workers also need the banking system to pay for goods and to save for a “rainy day.”
A big part of what has allowed the economy to grow to the size it is today is increasing debt levels. These rising debt levels play many roles:
They make high-priced goods more affordable to consumers.
They create greater demand for goods, allowing more end-product goods to be produced.
They create more demand for commodities required to make end-product goods, allowing the price of these commodities to rise, so that more businesses have more incentive to create/extract these commodities.
At some point, debt levels stop rising as fast as they have in the past (because of a lack of growth in purchasing power because of diminishing returns in investment), and the whole system tends to fall toward collapse. We seem to have reached this point in the middle of 2014. China was raising its total debt level rapidly up until the early part of 2014, then suddenly moderated its growth in debt level in mid 2014. At about the same time, the US scaled back and eliminated it program of quantitative easing (QE). Oil prices dropped starting in mid-2014, at the time debt levels started moderating. Other commodity prices started falling as early as 2011, indicating likely affordability problems.
We are now in the period when many people still believe everything is going well. Oil prices and other commodity prices are low—what is “not to like”? The answer is that the system in not at all sustainable—profits of oil companies and other commodity businesses are down, just as wages of common workers in developed countries are down in inflation-adjusted terms. Companies are cutting back in investment in oil production. Soon oil production will drop. With lower oil supply, the economy will face huge challenges.
Many people believe that oil prices can bounce back up again, but this really isn’t the case, because of growing inefficiency related to limits we are reaching–the need to use more advanced techniques to produce oil; the need for desalination for water in some places; the need for more pollution control equipment that doesn’t really increase the finished goods and services we are producing but instead makes goods more expensive to produce.
Each worker is, on average, producing less and less of the finished goods we really need. Whether we like it or not, standards of living will have to fall. The amount of debt workers can afford decreases rather than increases. This new reality can be expected to manifest itself in debt defaults and increasing financial system problems.
Even if oil prices bounce back up again, it is doubtful that shale oil drillers will be able to again borrow at a sufficiently high rate to increase their production again—what lender will believe that oil prices will remain high indefinitely?
Is The Student Debt Bubble About To Witness Its 2007 Moment? »»
Two days ago we highlighted a new study from the St. Louis Fed where someone had the very prudent idea to strip out loans in deferment and forbearance from the denominator of the student debt delinquency rate equation so everyone could get a better idea of what the real numbers look like.
The thing is, you can’t be delinquent when you aren’t required to make payments, so if you divide the number of delinquent student loans by the total amount of outstanding debt including loans in deferment and forbearance, you are comparing apples to oranges. Only around 55% of outstanding student loans are in repayment, and obviously, what we really want to know is what percentage of those loans are delinquent. We don’t care what percentage of total outstanding student debt is delinquent because 45% of borrowers aren’t yet required to make payments so it makes absolutely no sense to include them in the equation — we know what percentage of that group is delinquent, it’s 0%, because no one is asking them for any money yet.
What we can do though, is divide the amount of debt that’s delinquent by the total amount of debt in repayment and then extrapolate from that and say something like this: “If 55% of total student debt is currently in repayment and 27% of that is delinquent, then it seems reasonable to assume that a similar rate will prevail for the other 45% of borrowers once they go into repayment unless something changes in the economy which it won’t, so in all likelihood, about 1 in 3 student borrowers will end up 30 or more days delinquent and that adds up to about $400 billion in student debt that likely won’t be in good standing.”
This is particularly bad news when you consider that “the TBAC forecasts, in its worst economic case scenario for the millennial generation (which sadly, based on recent employment and income trends for America's young adults is more like the base case scenario), total student loans, which currently stand a little over $1 trillion (or more than all the credit card debt in America), is set to triple in just the next decade, hitting a whopping $3.3 trillion by 2024.”
Needless to say, a near 30% delinquency rate on a projected $3.3 trillion mountain of debt is a very, very bad thing especially when that debt ends up packaged and sold to investors in the form of ABS. Here’s a brief look at what the market looks like for student loan-backed ABS currently via Deutsche Bank:
With $3.5 billion pricing year-to-date, student loan ABS issuance lags Q1 2014 by 20%, but remains on track to reach our projection of $15 billion in 2015. Navient leads the way with $1.7 billion in issuance year-to-date, followed by Nelnet with $1.3 billion. Although they have yet to come to market during 2015, we expect to see Sallie Mae issue multiple transactions during the remainder of 2015. Additional supply resulting from FFELP loan portfolio sales should continue to bolster SL ABS issuance as well.
Given (real) delinquency rates on the assets backing this paper, we wonder when this market will have its own version of what happened to the MBS market in July 2007 when suddenly, all three major ratings agencies woke up to what they had helped facilitate in the housing market and quickly moved to downgrade billions in deals backed by souring mortgages. Here, as a reminder, is a recap of what happened then:
On July 10, 2007 Moody’s downgraded 399 bonds backed by subprime mortgages which together totaled some $5.2 billion. Meanwhile, S&P suggested it was close to cutting ratings on more than $12 billion in mortgage-backed securities due to declining home prices and rising default rates. On July 12, Fitch Ratings placed 19 structured collateralized debt obligations on Ratings Watch Negative due to a significant deterioration in the underlying portfolios of residential mortgage-backed securities. Fitch said that as part of a revised rating methodology, it was raising the default probability it assumed on residential mortgage-backed securities issued since 2005 by a full 25%. That same day, S&P cut its ratings on 498 subprime mortgage related bonds worth some $6.39 billion.
With all of the above in mind, we bring you the following, from Moody’s:
Moody's reviews for downgrade several tranches in FFELP student loan securitizations as a result of the risk of default at maturity
Approximately $3.0 billion of asset-backed securities affected
New York, April 08, 2015 -- Moody's Investors Service has placed on review for downgrade the ratings of 14 tranches in 14 securitizations backed by student loans originated under the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP). The loans are guaranteed by the US government for a minimum of 97% of defaulted principal and accrued interest.
That’s right, just 9 days ago, Moody’s put $3 billion (so nearly the equivalent of 2015 Q1 supply) of student loan-backed ABS on watch for downgrade based on the likelihood of default. Here’s a list of which tranches from which deals are at risk:
Here’s a little color from DB:
On April 8, Moody’s placed 14 FFELP SL ABS tranches on review for downgrade due to their view that these bonds may not be fully paid down prior to legal final maturity, resulting in an event of default for these transactions. In an event of a default, repayment of the class A notes may be accelerated at the request of the majority of class A note holders…
Prepayments in the affected deals have come in slower than anticipated at issuance due to factors including higher-than-expected utilization rates of deferral and forbearance, weakness in the job market for new grads following the financial crisis, and expanded availability and uptake of income-based repayment (IBR) plans. The use of IBR has been heavily marketed by the Obama administration as it helps borrowers avoid default by lowering monthly payments and ultimately forgiving any remaining principal after 25 years.
So just as we have been warning about for sometime now: an underestimation of the impact of deferral and forbearance and weakness in the job market is likely to trigger defaults on billions in student loans and because these loans comprise the collateral pool backing ABS sold to investors, the ripple effect is magnified and we wonder if the July 2007 moment for the student loan-backed ABS market may come sooner rather than later.
* * *
Full text of Moody’s PR:
The reviews for downgrade are a result of the increased risk that the tranches will not fully pay down by their respective final maturity dates. Failure to repay a note on the final maturity date represents an event of default under the trust documents. Recoveries upon default would be very high, although the timing of such recoveries would depend on the transaction structures and voting rights upon default for each transaction.
The risk is a result of low payment rates on the underlying securitized pools of student loans, driven by low rates of voluntary prepayments, high volumes of loans in deferment and forbearance, and the growing popularity of Income-Based Repayment (IBR) and extended repayment programs.
Voluntary prepayment rates in FFELP loan pools remain historically low as a result of sluggish economic growth and high unemployment rates among recent graduates. Although prepayments rose to 2%-3% of the loans in repayment in 2014, partly as a result of borrowers refinancing their FFELP loans through private student loans and Federal Direct consolidation loans, prepayments remain low relative to historical levels. Deferment and forbearance levels remain high throughout the life of the collateral pools, although they recently declined slightly from peak levels in 2009-11. As of December 2014, roughly 33% of loans in repayment in Navient's non-consolidation loan collateral pools were in deferment and forbearance, compared with 16% for Navient's consolidation loan collateral pools. The growing popularity of IBR, which extends the life of the loans to up to 25 years from the standard 10-year term of non-consolidation loans, and the extended repayment option (for borrowers with balances of more than $30,000) is further lengthening the weighted-average life of the student loan collateral pools. In some pools, loans in IBR and extended repayment represented 10%-12% of the balance of loans in repayment. Similar trends are common among most collateral pools underlying FFELP student loan securitizations.
The rating actions are focusing on tranches that mature in the next five years because they are at most risk of breaching final maturity dates. Tranches that mature after that could benefit from higher voluntary prepayments and lower deferment and forbearance rates as economic conditions continue to improve.
During its review, Moody's will evaluate recent and expected future pool amortization trends and structural features of the transactions. In addition, Moody's will consider Navient's December 2014 amendments to a number of its transactions that allow for the limited and discretionary repurchase of loans. Any such repurchases would accelerate the repayment of the related notes. In its review, Moody's will consider, among other things, the amount and timing of any such loan repurchases.
300 US Paratroopers Arrive In Ukraine After Russia Says Its Missiles Will Target NATO Member States »»
While the escalation of the second Cold War between Russia and the US over their proxy conflict in Ukraine has been relegated to the back pages due to the lack of any flash points in recent months, events in eastern Europe continue to build up to an increasingly unstable equilibrium. Just yesterday, Russia again accused the United States of "seeking political and military dominance and sought to put blame on the West for international security crises, including the conflict in east Ukraine."
It didn't stop there. According to the WSJ, Russia’s top general warned European countries planning to host installations for a U.S.-led missile-defense shield that Russian forces would be forced to target them.
“Nonnuclear powers where missile-defense installations are being installed have become the objects of priority response,” Gen. Valery Gerasimov said, referring to Poland and Romania.
It was unclear if Russia would use conventional weapons or tactical short-range nuclear missiles for deterrence purposes.
The comments came at a defense conference in Moscow where a series of high-level Russian leaders repeatedly warned of perceived threats that the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization posed to modern Russia.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said, according to Reuters, that a drive by the United States and its allies to bring Kiev closer to the West was a threat to Moscow and had forced it to react.
"The United States and its allies have crossed all possible lines in their drive to bring Kiev into their orbit. That could not have failed to trigger our reaction," he told an annual security conference in Moscow.
General Valery Gerasimov, chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, reiterated Russia's warning: "Considering themselves the winners of the Cold War, the United States decided to reshape the world to fit its needs."
"Aiming at complete dominance, Washington stopped taking into account the interests of other countries and respect international law."
When asked about the annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Shoigu "blamed the violence on Kiev and sought to dismiss Western criticism that Russia was forcibly remaking European borders, pointing in turn to Western military involvement in Serbia, Iraq and Libya."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the conference attended by envoys from China, Iran, Pakistan and some of Russia's regional allies, that Kiev had to deliver on its obligations under peace agreements reached in Minsk to "safeguard unity of the Ukrainian state".
The problem is that at this point it doesn't matter who started what, where and how: just like the Intifada, or any other regional, thousand year-old conflict in Europe or any other part of the world, all that remains are the escalating steps, and how long until one of the two adversaries snaps and engages in an action from which there is no return.
Yet despite Russia's very clear threat that its missiles are now armed at two more NATO countries, and numerous previous warnings that the official dispatch of US troops in Ukraine, besides the countless ones who are there on a mercenary basis, will lead to a flash point in the second Cold War, earlier today 300 hundred US paratroopers arrived in Ukraine - a non-NATO country - to "train its forces fighting pro-Russian rebels" according to the US army website.
As AFP notes, the move could "destabilize" the war-torn ex-Soviet country, which clearly is the intention. Because as we have warned on numerous occasions, the entire world is now headed into an event horizon in which the neo-cons have bet that only regional (or not so regional) war can be the economic stimulus that pushes the world out of its global depressed funk. Just like the first Great Depression.
According to AFP, the troops from the 173rd Airborne Brigade arrived on Tuesday and Wednesday in Yavoriv, western Ukraine, to spend six months training three battalions of Ukrainian troops, the army said in a statement.
"We will have about 300 soldiers from the brigade on the ground providing the training that will last over the next six months," said US army spokesman Donald Wrenn.
Moscow was obviously displeased: "The participation of instructors and experts from third countries on Ukrainian territory ... of course, does not help to resolve the conflict," president Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Pekov said, quoted by Russian news agencies.
"On the contrary, it can seriously destabilise the situation."
Just as Russian troops training Mexican Federales would be sternly frowned upon by the Obama administration.
But that's doesn't matter: what matters is that US troops will now train the National Guard of Ukraine, a reservist force that was reformed in 2014 to bring volunteers and militia under government control. They will do so literally within meters of the Russian border.
"We will be conducting classes on war-fighting functions, as well as training to sustain and increase the professionalism and proficiency of military staffs," Major Jose Mendez, operations officer for the brigade, was quoted as saying on the US army website.
Ukraine had asked the United States to send the training mission, dubbed Operation Fearless Guardian, according to an article published by the US army on April 11.
According to the US Army the brigade, as the Army Contingency Response Force in Europe, is conducting continuous operations in six different countries.
"This is the new norm for the 173rd," Mendez said. "The 173rd is in a special position, as the only forwardly-positioned airborne brigade in Europe, we have the ability to be anywhere in the U.S. European Command area of responsibility in 18 hours or less."
The brigade has trained with Ukrainian forces in international exercises throughout Europe, as well as within Ukraine, most recently last September in the Rapid Trident series of exercises, an annual U.S. Army Europe-led exercise designed to promote regional stability and security. The two forces are scheduled to participate in Exercise Rapid Trident 2015 later this year.
Paratroopers, from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, arrive at Lviv International Airport in Lviv, Ukraine, April 11, 2015, in support of Fearless Guardian, a program to train Ukrainian national guard troops.
A ground convoy drove all the way from the brigade's base in northern Italy to the Ukrainian military zone in Yavoriv near the Polish border, with vehicles and equipment.
The US and Ukrainian armies stressed the equipment was for use by the US brigade in the training and is not to be issued to Ukrainian forces. Fifty paratroopers travelled with that 25-vehicle convoy, which arrived on April 10, while further troops arrived on April 14 and 15, the US army website said.
Ukraine's defence ministry said in a statement that the training would begin with a ceremony on April 20.
What happens after will likely assure the second consecutive very "volatile" summer. The good news for economists whose GDP predictions will be dead wrong once more, is that they will have yet another aspect of that thing called "reality" to blame it on.
Obama’s War on Donbass: The Devastating Toll After One Year of Conflict »»
US combat troops are working with Ukrainian forces. NATO planes arrive regularly carrying heavy weapons, munitions and other war supplies. Sputnik News explained the toll so far after one year of conflict.
UN figures claim 6,072 killed – another 15,345… Read more...
Ukraine: How the Mainstream Media Distorts the News »»
People see their own nation, and foreign nations, through the filter of the press that’s available to them; so, if that filter is systematically distorting (distorting in ways that most of the others similarly do), then democracy cannot function, public… Read more...
Congress Introduces Fast Track Legislation to Help Enact Anti-Consumer Trade Bills »»
Congressional passage of so-called “trade promotion authority” (TPA) will let Obama expedite the legislative process for pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) bills.
The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA 2015)… Read more...
It’s Not Hockey We’re Playing Against Russia »»
Watching the news off an on throughout the day provides a glimpse of the spin that the mainstream media (MSM – mainly CBC) put on the situation in Ukraine.
The first broadcast I heard contained some interesting comments. It indicated… Read more...
Greece Might Allow Russia to Use Its Military Bases – Greek Defense Analyst »»
In an interview for Russia’s RIA Novosti, Greek defense analyst Ilias Iliopoulos noted that in the interests of closer military-technical cooperation with Russia, Greece could allow the country to use its military bases, and that this possibility may well be… Read more...
Car bomb kills three outside U.S. consulate in Iraq’s Kurdish capital »»
Training Drills Expand As DHS Fortifies Ammo Stockpile »»
Federal government continues unprecedented ammo purchase. Read more...
FBI Requests Meeting with Infowars Reporter »»
Agents asked Biggs to meet with them in El Paso, Texas. Read more...
Diplomat Exposes How Al-Qaeda Works For The West »»
Insider gives insight into how the west funds and protects terrorists. Read more...
Fukushima Tap Water Wins ‘Gold Quality Award,’ Officials Claim Safe to Drink »»
Water was previously deemed unfit to drink in weeks following nuclear disaster. Read more...
The 4th Media
More Than 100 People Were Killed By Police In March Alone: State Terror w/in US Society »»
According to the website KilledByPolice.net, more than 100 people died at the hands of law enforcement in the month of March. The figure, which comes 31 days after the release of the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing report, averages out to more than three people killed in America each day by police officers. Out of the 111 people who died during police encounters, the majority have been unarmed men of color. Many of the victims were mentally ill. And a number were both, Think Progress points out. Despite an ongoing national conversation surrounding officer misconduct, racial profiling, and use of excessive force, the numbers seem to be steadily increasing. In fact, March saw 36 more deaths at the hands of police than the previous month. Read more...
Women Plan Walk Across the DMZ to Support Peace and Korean Unification »»
On March 11, women who are planning to cross the DMZ separating the two Koreas held a press conference at the United Nations. They explained that 30 women from around the world would hold a walk for peace in Korea in May 2015. The group hoped to meet with North Korean women in North Korea […] Read more...
On the Cusp of the Further Perfection of Evil »»
Can Evil Be Defeated? John W. Whitehead is a constitutional attorney. As head of the Rutherford Institute he is actively involved in defending our civil liberties. Being actively involved in legal cases, he experiences first hand the transformation of law from a shield of the American people into a weapon in the hands of the government. American civil liberty was seriously eroded prior to 9/11 and the rise of the police/warfare state, a story I tell in How America Was Lost. Lawrence Stratton and I documented the loss of law as a shield of the American people in our book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions (2000, 2008). Whitehead in his book, A Government of Wolves (2013) and in his just released Battlefield America (2015) shows how quickly and thoroughly the police state has taken root. Read more...
American Hell for Yemen: US Still Has NO Rival for Bringing Destruction to Millions of People around the World »»
Freedom Rider: American Hell for Yemen The U.S.-spawned whirlwind of carnage and destruction has wrecked the societies of Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen, yet most Americans feel themselves blameless. “The people, the corporate media and the political system all accept that their government has the right to intervene in the affairs of other nations […] Read more...
The US-unleashed propaganda war against China has reached unprecedented level in Latin America. Americans use all means at their disposal for that purpose, including hundreds of TV channels, thousands of radio stations and films telling about “Chinese threat”. Puppet journalists are regularly used now to make skillfully prepared fakes go around. Ballyhoo is raised by […] Read more...
21st Century Wire
Latest ‘ISIS Camp in Mexico’ Story is Completely FAKE »»
J.R. Smith | This latest fake story is designed to further polarize an already ill-informed and divided America along false left-right lines. Read more...
Gerald Celente: ‘America Is Turning Into a Fascist State’ »»
Rense Radio Network | The nation is falling over the edge. Read more...
Music With A Message: The Prime Artist – ‘Melt Us’ »»
Music With A Message | Humanity's survival is being challenged, so how will we respond? Read more...
Synthetic Cannabinoid ‘Spice’, NOT Ebola, Killed Ft. Hood Soldier »»
21WIRE + RT | More shameless media fear mongering over Ebola in America. Read more...
Debt 101: Japan Overtakes China as Largest US Creditor »»
Belarus – Russia launch Atomexpo 2015: Arrests, Imprisonment and Years of Hard Labor »»
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : April 22 – 24 Belarus will be hosting the 7th Atomexpo with over 80 Belarus and Russian companies participating in the display of the latest Belarus and Russian nuclear energy technology. The expo is jointly organized by Belarus and Russia. Elephants are, like in the United States, the UK, France and […] Read more...
Russia’s S-300 Missile Wall in Iran »»
Tony Cartalucci (NEO) : The popular narrative surrounding the conflict between the West and Iran has always been one of a dangerous rogue state bent on obtaining nuclear weapons before triggering a nuclear-fueled Armageddon aimed at Israel. Underneath this elementary propaganda, lies a more complex truth underpinning a proxy conflict between East and West. Just […] Read more...
States ready for arm wrestle with Abbott to get better deal on hospitals, schools »»
Michelle Grattan (TC) : Leaders were all crooning the same reassuring tune at the Council of Australian Governments news conference – about their constructive talk and co-operation – until an angry Colin Barnett declared he must have been at a different meeting. “The elephant in the room is the GST and that’s what this COAG […] Read more...
Venezuela and Uruguay Strike Oil Deal, Strengthen Bilateral Ties »»
Lucas Koerner (VA) : Venezuelan Vice-President Jorge Arreaza met with his Uruguayan counterpart Raul Sendic yesterday to discuss a new trade deal that will see Venezuela export oil to its Southern Cone neighbor in exchange for agricultural products, including rice, chicken, and dairy items. Speaking from the Uruguayan Parliament, Arreaza noted that Venezuela has “energy […] Read more...
Elliot Tinguely (TFC) : In late March, Ted Cruz announced his run for presidency. Given this development, it’s worth taking a look at a few key aspects of his political career. Where is his money coming from? Where is it going? What’s his voting record look like? A thorough analysis of these aspects of his […] Read more...
Video: Walmart ‘Plumbing’ Issue Related To DHS Underground Tunnel Network: “This Is A Very Real Situation” »»
Mac Slavo | There’s been much speculation about the recent closures of Walmart stores around the country.
US lawmakers agree to fast-track secretive international trade deals »»
RT | Leaders of two key congressional panels have agreed on a deal that would “fast-track” the Obama administration’s ability to draft a pair of controversial international trade bills and move them through Congress
12 Bad Strategies That Will Get Preppers Killed »»
Bad Strategy #1: “I’ll just hunt and live off the land.” Oh my gosh. No, you probably won’t. You might try to hunt, but guess what? Loads of other people have this same idea. Unless you live hundreds of miles from civilization, the population of deer and wild turkeys will be quickly decimated in an […]
Health & Beauty Antiperspirant – to make your own, apply baking soda with a powder puff under arms. Bee Stings – to sooth the pain and draw out the stinger, apply a paste of baking soda and water to the affected area. Breath – to freshen, gargle with 2 ounces of water mixed with ½ […]
Off-Grid Charging System For AA-AAA Batteries, Plus USB »»
OPUS BT-C2400 Battery Charger (AA, AAA) This Ni-MH ‘smart’ charger is unique in that in addition to plugging into a standard AC wall outlet, it also operates from 12 volts DC with the included car adapter – also enabling use with some portable (foldable) solar panels (10 watts or greater @ 12-16volts DC). This enables […]
1. Start with cold drained curds from “Farmer’s Cheese” made from two gallons of milk. (It was drained in the refrigerator) 2. Sprinkle on 2 teaspoons of salt, mix in to form pea-sized crumbles. 3. In a blender, blend 1 teaspoon of uncontaminated blue cheese (I used “Saga Blue”) with 1/4 cup of cool clean […]
9 Things You Didn’t Know About the Second Amendment »»
1. The Second Amendment codifies a pre-existing right The Constitution doesn’t grant or create rights; it recognizes and protects rights that inherently exist. This is why the Founders used the word “unalienable” previously in the Declaration of Independence; these rights cannot be created or taken away. In D.C. v. Heller, the Supreme Court said the […]
Pensioner finds snake in his oven in Halliwell, UK »»
David Atherton scooped up the reptile and put it in a plastic food recycling box and alerted police after he watched it fall to the floor and curl up
A pensioner ready to enjoy a meal of pie and chips was shocked to discover a three foot snake slithering around inside his oven.
David Atherton was about to put his meal inside the cooker when he saw the black and white banded California king hanging at the side.
The 65-year-old scooped up the reptile, put it in a plastic food recycling box and alerted police after he watched it fall to the floor and curl up.
RSPCA officers retrieved the snake the same evening and it has been given a temporary home with a local conservationist.
Mr Atherton, from Halliwell, near Bolton, Greater Manchester, revealed his sister Margaret, 73, who has a phobia of the animal, had to be taken to hospital with heart problems after becoming distressed when she heard of the incident.
He said: "Her phobia is so bad she cannot even look at a snake on TV, let alone see one in real life. Read more...
Oil leak goes almost unnoticed: Secrecy shrouds decade-old oil spill in Gulf »»
U.S. lets Taylor Energy shield information as trade secrets
Over the Gulf of Mexico | Down to just one full-time employee, Taylor Energy Company exists for only one reason: to fight an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico that has gone largely unnoticed, despite creating miles-long slicks for more than a decade.
The New Orleans-based company has downplayed the leak's environmental impact, likening it to scores of minor spills and natural seeps that the Gulf routinely absorbs.
But an Associated Press investigation has revealed evidence that the spill is far worse than what Taylor — or the government — has publicly reported. Presented with AP's findings, the Coast Guard provided a new leak estimate that is about 20 times greater than one recently touted by the company.
Outside experts said the spill could be even worse — possibly one of the largest ever in the Gulf, albeit still dwarfed by BP's massive 2010 gusher.
The roots of the leak lie in an underwater mudslide triggered by Hurricane Ivan's waves in September 2004.
That toppled Taylor's platform and buried 28 wells under sediment about 10 miles off Louisiana's coast at a depth of roughly 475 feet.
Without access to the buried wells, traditional "plug and abandon" efforts wouldn't work.The Coast Guard said in 2008 the leak posed a "significant threat" to the environment, though there is no evidence oil from the site has reached shore.
Ian MacDonald, a Florida State University biological oceanography professor and expert witness in a lawsuit against Taylor, said the sheen "presents a substantial threat to the environment" and is capable of harming birds, fish and other marine life. Even after spending tens of millions of dollars to contain and stop the leak, Taylor said nothing can be done to completely halt the chronic oil sheens. Read more...
April blizzard conditions cause 70-vehicle pile up on Wyoming interstate; 10 inches of snow in one day »»
As many as 70 vehicles piled up in one spot of a Wyoming interstate Thursday after a heavy April storm dropped almost 10 inches of snow on the area, authorities said.
An almost 150-mile-long stretch of Interstate 80 remained closed in both directions Thursday afternoon between Cheyenne in southeast Wyoming and Rawlins in the central part of the state because of treacherous, slick conditions that caused accidents across the area, officials said. The worst spot was near mile post 342, between Cheyenne and Laramie, two of the state's major population centers.
The state Highway Patrol said three major accidents happened at that location within just a few hours, the first at 11:22 a.m. ET (1:22 p.m. ET) in blizzard conditions. All told, as many as 50 commercial vehicles and 20 passenger vehicles were piled up at the scene, it said.
No deaths were reported, but the Highway Patrol said, "but multiple injuries have been confirmed." Details on the injuries weren't immediately available.
State Transportation Dept. traffic cameras showed that a long line of trucks and cars remained stalled at that location late in the afternoon:
The National Weather Service said parts of Laramie County along I-80 got up to 9.8 inches of snow — and things could get worse.
Snow was expected to increase overnight into Friday morning, with as much as a foot of snow expected along the southern Laramie range. "there will likely be significant impacts to travel, especially along Interstate 80 from Buford to Arlington," it said. Read more...
MH370 search may be in the wrong place again »»
Australia admits it may look at a new patch of ocean. What's more worrying than the undiscovered yet is that not one piece of floating wreckage has been spotted where it should've washed up.
Something significant was missing when senior ministers from Malaysia, Australia and China announced a new effort to find the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on Thursday. There was no mention of what is fast becoming the most perplexing feature of this multi-layered mystery: why has no floating wreckage turned up?
Make no mistake, the more time that passes without a single piece of floating wreckage being found the stranger it gets.
There is no previous case in the history of modern intercontinental jets where a crash into an ocean has not produced floating wreckage - and within days of the disaster. No matter how violent the impact of an airplane hitting the water there will always be some scattered debris that never sinks.
Last fall the Australian Transport Safety Board, who are directing the sea search for the Boeing 777, said they had assigned a team of experts usually used to predict the path of oil spills to produce a "drift model" - a highly sophisticated calculation combining ocean currents, wind and weather patterns and knowledge of the buoyancy of airplane wreckage - in order to predict when and where wreckage from Flight 370 would appear in places where it would be spotted.
At that time the Australians said that their best guess was that wreckage could take as long as a year to appear and that the most likely place was the long coastline of Western Sumatra on the Indonesian archipelago.
With more than a year gone by nothing has turned up. Read more...
US shocked at Beijing's unbelievable progress of airstrip in South China Sea »»
New satellite imagery shows the extent of China's construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea. Fiery Cross Reef could soon serve as a military-grade runway in the middle of the ocean. And despite its own military presence in the region, US officials are in panic.
Dredging sand from the seafloor, the Chinese government has been steadily building artificial landmasses atop sunken reefs in the Spratly Islands archipelago. In part, the islands will be used to bolster emergency response in the region. But Beijing also says the islands will be used as military defense posts, which worries officials in Washington, already concerned about a growing Chinese influence.
Images obtained by IHS Jane's Defense Weekly from Airbus Defence and Space show just how rapid the island growth has been. With construction beginning only last year, Fiery Cross Reef is now home to China's first airstrip in the South China Sea. With 503 metered already paved, the runway could be as long as 3,000 meters once completed. That's long enough to support heavy military transport planes and fighter jets, according to Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies. Read more...
The Vigilant Citizen
The Disturbing Message Behind Sia’s Videos “Chandelier”, “Elastic Heart” and “Big Girls Cry” »»
Sia’s video trilogy, “Chandelier”, Elastic Heart”, and “Big Girls Cry”, all feature the young dancer Maddie Ziegler performing elaborate choreography. A deeper look at the symbolism in these videos reveals the disturbing story of a young girl’s abuse inside the elite’s system of mind control. While she only obtained mainstream success in 2014, Sia has [...]
Perfume’s “Pick Me Up” Brings Illuminati Mind Control Symbolism to Japan »»
J-Pop is a force to be reckoned with in Asia and, like all major musical markets, it is not exempt from the occult elite’s Agenda. Perfume’s “Pick Me Up” is all about Illuminati symbolism and the elite’s favorite theme: Portraying artists as mind controlled slaves. In the span of a few years, I published several [...]
How Tom Cruise and John Travolta are Controlled by Scientology According to New Documentary »»
The documentary ‘Going Clear’ reveals to what extent Tom Cruise and John Travolta are controlled by Scientology. Most importantly, it provides a glimpse at the dark side of the occult elite’s “show business” system. Before airing the two hour documentary Going Clear : Scientology and the Prison of Belief, HBO hired 160 lawyers to fight [...]
CIA Secret Experiments (documentary) »»
This National Geographic documentary looks into the CIA’s secret experiments conducted during the Cold War. It mainly focuses on mind control and the brainwashing techniques attached to it : Hypnosis, electroshock therapy and drugs. CIA Secret Experiments explores a page of the book History that is often heavily redacted or completely shredded. It is about [...]
The Hidden Meaning of Taylor Swift’s Video “Style” »»
Taylor Swift’s Style is said to be about her ex-lover Harry Styles. Through symbolism, however, the video gives the song another meaning: It is about the having an alter persona, the ultimate result of Monarch mind control. Taylor Swift has for years been one of the biggest selling artist in the record industry. She is [...]
Welfare System Designed to Keep the Poor Poorer »»
Sanford Schram, professor of political science at Hunter College, says new state laws that place restrictions on welfare recipients mark the poor as deviant and are designed to keep them from receiving welfare Read more...
Obama to Get "Fast Track" for Trade Pacts »»
Kevin Zeese, co-director of Popular Resistance, says fast track for trade pacts is complete capitulation to global corporate rule and we have to stop it now Read more...
How I Joined the CIA - John Kiriakou on Reality Asserts Itself (2/8) »»
Mr. Kiriakou tells Paul Jay about being recruited to join the CIA in university Read more...
Baltimore Cutting Water to Hundreds of Residents and Zero Corporations »»
City residents rally against water shutoffs, but city officials maintain their necessity Read more...
I Believed America Could Do No Wrong - John Kiriakou, Former CIA Official, on Reality Asserts Itself (1/8) »»
Mr. Kiriakou was the first U.S. government official to confirm that waterboarding was official policy. He spent 23 months in prison after being convicted of passing classified information to a reporter. He speaks to Paul Jay while still under house arrest Read more...
Expert Says “Banning Cash” The Only Solution to Negative Interest Market Problems »»
For these big players, it is a simple matter of banning, or at least penalizing, cash and other straight forward currencies so that the larger economy can remain tightly controlled. Read more...
Video: Walmart ‘Plumbing’ Issue Related To DHS Underground Tunnel Network: “This Is A Very Real Situation” »»
Is it possible that these abrupt closures have something to do with the Department of Homeland Security and the integration of private businesses with broader government emergency response plans? Read more...
Video: Armed National Guard Troops Patrol Residential Streets In California »»
Somebody in the upper echelons of our command & control apparatus thinks something very significant is going to happen in the near future... Read more...
Food Chain Catastrophe: Emergency Shut Down Of West Coast Fisheries: “Populations Have Crashed 91 Percent” »»
Could it be that the collapse of honey bee colonies, mass sea life die-offs, and changing climates in once lush growing regions are all the result of the same thing? Read more...
But cash injections will likely keep the largest corporate-corpses going on and on. Read more...
Stop Making Sense
Body cameras could transform policing – for the worse »»
Shakeer Rahman writes for Al Jazeera America: ‘The day after video surfaced of a North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer shooting Walter Scott in the back, the town’s mayor announced plans to outfit all its police officers with body cameras. The New York Police Department has started to put cameras on officers, and the White House […] Read more...
Troops referred to Ferguson protesters as “enemy forces” – emails show »»
Joanna Walters reports for The Guardian: ‘As the Missouri national guard prepared to deploy to the streets of Ferguson last year during protests sparked by the shooting death of Michael Brown, the troops used highly militarised language such as “enemy forces” and “adversaries” to refer to citizen demonstrators. Documents detailing the military mission divided the crowds […] Read more...
Campaign 2016: Hillary Clinton’s Fake Populism Is a Hit »»
Matt Taibbi writes for Rolling Stone: ‘[…] The reaction to Hillary’s campaign announcement went exactly according to script. Newspapers and news sites ever-so-slightly raised figurative eyebrows at the tone of Hillary’s announcement, remarking upon its “populist” flair. This is no plutocrat who plans to ride to the White House upon a historically massive assload of […] Read more...
Robert Scheer: Why I Will Never Support Hillary Clinton for President »»
Hillary Clinton’s Empowerment Why Wall Street Loves Hillary Hillary Clinton Wants Money Out Of Politics? Seems Dubious President Hillary Clinton? It’s More Likely Than You Think Fighting Among Hillary Donors Shows Money Matters More Than Voters Libya: Hillary Clinton’s WMD Moment? The Warmongering Record of Hillary Clinton Down and Out With Hillary Clinton Hillary Clinton reviews Henry Kissinger’s […] Read more...
Editor’s Note: Last night RT aired Putin’s annual marathon Q&A session. You can watch the full four hours, or you can read selected highlights in the links below (I’d go with this option). 12 things we learned from the Russian President’s call-in RT’s highlights from Putin’s annual Q&A session In Call-In Show, Putin Says Russia Will Not […] Read more...
The Economic Collapse Blog
The Global Liquidity Squeeze Has Begun »»
Get ready for another major worldwide credit crunch. Today, the entire global financial system resembles a colossal spiral of debt. Just about all economic activity involves the flow of credit in some way, and so the only way to have “economic growth” is to introduce even more debt into the system. When the system started [...]
Flat Broke, Living In A Moldy Basement And Relying On Food Stamps And Medicaid »»
Could you imagine being a single parent and trying to survive in America today on $10.50 an hour? For a moment, I want you to imagine that you are living in a moldy apartment that is so badly maintained that rain seeps in whenever it rains. You are employed, but you are completely dependent on [...]
Huge Trouble Is Percolating Just Under The Surface Of The Global Economy »»
Did you know that the number of publicly traded companies declaring bankruptcy has reached a five year high? And did you know that Chinese exports are absolutely collapsing and that Chinese economic growth in 2014 was the weakest in over 20 years? Even though things may seem to be okay on the surface for the [...]
ISIS Has Camps On The U.S. Border, But Obama Says ‘Right-Wing Extremists’ Are The Greatest Terror Threat »»
ISIS camps have now been discovered directly across the U.S. border with Mexico, ISIS operatives have been captured illegally entering the United States, and ISIS is threatening to conduct a massive campaign of terror against U.S. targets, and yet Barack Obama and his underlings continue to insist that “right-wing extremists” are the greatest terror threat [...]
The Six Too Big To Fail Banks In The U.S. Have 278 TRILLION Dollars Of Exposure To Derivatives »»
The very same people that caused the last economic crisis have created a 278 TRILLION dollar derivatives time bomb that could go off at any moment. When this absolutely colossal bubble does implode, we are going to be faced with the worst economic crash in the history of the United States. During the last financial [...]
Those who fled religious oppression »»
William Brewster is portrayed in U.S. Capitol rotunda holding an open Bible, in the painting “Embarkation of the Pilgrims.” He is also portrayed in the rotunda giving thanks to God in the “Frieze of American History” depiction of “The Landing of the Pilgrims.”
William Brewster was a leader of the Pilgrim church in England. As the [...] Read more...
Mom arrested, boy, 11, seized over school presentation »»
(Washington Post) On March 24, cannabis oil activist Shona Banda’s life was flipped upside-down after her son was taken from her by the State of Kansas. The ordeal started when police and counselors at her 11-year-old son’s school conducted a drug education class. Her son, who had previously lived in Colorado for a period of [...] Read more...
(CNN) Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, a former top deputy to Saddam Hussein and more recently a key figure in Sunni extremist groups battling the Iraqi government, has been killed in a security operation in that country, Iraqi state-run television reported Friday.
Al-Douri was the highest-ranking member of Hussein’s regime to evade capture — the “King of Clubs” [...] Read more...
(San Francisco Chronicle) The next time you’re in an airport, you’ll be frozen in fear, touching nothing and no one because according to leaked TSA behavior checklists, basically existing in an airport is enough to get you suspected of terrorism.
The Intercept obtained a confidential TSA document that details its terrorism checklist — behaviors that could [...] Read more...
Jeb tells voter: 'I don't understand your life' »»
(Daily Caller) Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush told a New Hampshire voter Friday that he doesn’t understand their life.
“I am from Florida. I don’t understand your life,” Bush told a voter who asked a question about ethanol mandates in fuel, according to Patrick Derenze, an observer of Bush’s speech at the “Politics and Eggs” breakfast [...] Read more...
Connecting the War at Home and Abroad with Eugene Puryear »»
Lawmakers pushing through the next bloated war budget have received millions in campaign contributions from defense contractors, according to Open Secrets. While the military industrial complex churns unabated and bombs drop across the Middle East in our names, citizens in America continue to be victimized by economic warfare and terrorized by militarized police forces. On this episode of Media Roots Radio, … Read More Read more...
Government Agents Gone Rogue, Iran Letter & House of Cards Propaganda »»
Abby and Robbie Martin discuss the case of hacker Matt DeHart, the bizarre circumstances surrounding the Bin Laden raid, the Tom Cotton letter to Iran attempting to undermine the diplomatic negotiations, Vice’s interview with Obama and House of Cards Season three’s anti-Russian propaganda. If you want to directly download the podcast, click the down arrow icon on the right of … Read More Read more...
Netanyahu’s Victory and Zionism Unmasked with Rania Khalek »»
This month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared victory after a close re-election race, cementing his right wing Likud party in power for another term. Right before the election, Netanyahu reinforced his rejection of Palestinian statehood, vowed to continue building settlements and doubled down on his decade long fear-mongering campaign against Iran. Since Netanyahu spoke at Congress, the media has … Read More Read more...
Independent Media and the Cultural Revolution at Zeitgeist Day »»
One human family living on one organism. Yet man is embroiled in a war against himself. Unfortunately this blatant truth hasn’t yet been realized by the vast majority of humans living on earth. The wars against ISIS, Russia, and now laughably Venezuela are dominating headlines in the latest front of the information war, but a far more deadly battle is being … Read More Read more...
Final Thoughts from Danny Schechter »»
Journalist, filmmaker, and activist, Danny Schechter, “The News Dissector,” died on March 19, 2015 at 72 years old. Schechter was a true pioneer of progressive independent journalism. He had a long career with ABC and CNN before unplugging from the mainstream to produce judicious films and write hard hitting books. He was a free press champion and fierce anti-apartheid activist … Read More Read more...
• Truth ignored in movie about American sharpshooter. By Bill White — Christopher Scott “Chris” Kyle, the subject of the flag-waving fluff film, American Sniper, was hardly a role model. An invader, he looted, murdered and pillaged during the American invasion of Iraq like a savage of old. Read more...
• International observers, independent researchers say vote was a “sham and a scam.” By John Tiffany — On September 18, 2014, Scotland’s voters went to the polls to vote on the question: Should Scotland be independent as it was prior to 1603? In some areas 90% of the Read more...
• Research scientist: You can expect to see one in two children afflicted by 2025. By Victor Thorn — Is the world facing an explosion in the number of children with autism? A respected researcher believes it is already happening. During a controversial conference late last year in Read more...
• U.S., Iran, UK, France, Russia, China, Germany agree. By John Friend — Despite the hysterical, irrational protestations of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his sycophants embedded throughout all levels of the American political and media establishment, Iran finally came to a respectable preliminary agreement over its Read more...
A Los Angeles Times investigation found that “the Missile Defense Agency, an arm of the Pentagon charged with protecting U.S. troops and ships and the American homeland, in trying to fashion a shield against a sneak missile attack, military planners gambled on costly projects that flopped, leaving a Read more...
Strategic Culture Foundation
Iran will comply with its international nuclear power commitments - Rouhani »»
Broken windows is a broken policy in US »»
The deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and others at the hands of police demonstrate that the “broken windows” theory of policing doesn’t work and should be eliminated. The theory that targeting low-level crimes will reduce major ones has led to the deaths of unarmed blacks by police over petty crime, mistaken identity, toy guns, bungled raids, and rash judgments based on stereotypes.
Russia, China force US 'de-dollarization' »»
A recent agreement between Russia and China to switch to domestic currencies in bilateral trading will pave the way for the “de-dollarization” of the global economy, a Finnish political economist says.
At least 33 killed, 100 injured in Afghanistan blasts »»
Published time: April 18, 2015 04:55Edited time: April 18, 2015 06:31 At least 33 people have been killed and more than 100 injured in a series of explosions in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, according to police and local media. A blast took place outside a local bank, police chief Fazel Ahmad Sherzad told […] Read more...
Obama and Kim Jong-un strike a chord for peace in viral commercial »»
Published time: April 17, 2015 14:18 Screenshot from youtube.com video Despite the North Korean leader’s apparent preference for maintaining his communist country’s pariah-state status, he appeared in a viral video in Hongdae, South Korea, performing a lively duet with US President Barack Obama. In a rare moment of joy between the United States and North […] Read more...
Fast Track Bill Would Legitimize White House Secrecy and Clear the Way for Anti-User Trade Deals »»
Following months of protest, Congress has finally put forth bicameral Fast Track legislation today to rush trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) through Congress. Sens. Orrin Hatch and Ron Wyden, and Rep. Paul Ryan, respectively, introduced the bill titled the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability […] Read more...
Uprooted & evicted: World Bank-funded projects force millions off their land »»
Published time: April 17, 2015 05:01Edited time: April 17, 2015 05:34 Reuters/Siegfried Modola World Bank ventures in less developed countries are hurting the people the organization has sworn to protect, with almost four million people across the globe left homeless, forcefully evicted and relocated as a result of World Bank-funded projects. A probe by the […] Read more...
Mass student protest in Chile escalates into clashes with riot police (VIDEO) »»
Published time: April 16, 2015 22:19 Reuters/Ivan Alvarado Riot police in Chile have deployed water cannons and tear gas against demonstrators who were lobbing rocks and street signs, after a mostly-peaceful march against a contentious university reform and corruption allegations ended in violent clashes. Organizers say that 150,000 students filled the streets of Santiago on […] Read more...
Foreign Policy Journal
Prognosis for an Iran Nuclear Agreement: Major Differences Remain »»
Drawn out negotiations will present a political problem for President Obama.
Volunteers Gather to Care for Glenn Ford, Exonerated Louisiana Man Who Is Now Dying from Cancer »»
In Louisiana, former prosecutor Marty Stroud has met with former death row prisoner Glenn Ford to apologize to him for wrongfully charging him with murder. After 30 years in prison, Ford was released from death row last year after the state admitted new evidence proves he was not the killer. Stroud recently wrote a three-page letter in the Shreveport Times calling on the state to stop refusing to compensate Ford, who now has stage 4 lung cancer. We get an update on Ford’s case from his friend Jackie Sumell. Read more...
Watch: Art Exhibit Recreates Tiny Cell Where the Late Herman Wallace Spent 42 Years in Solitary »»
We speak with New Orleans-based artist Jackie Sumell about her collaboration with former prisoner and Black Panther, Herman Wallace. As Democracy Now! reported in October of 2013, Wallace died just days after his conviction was overturned and he was released from nearly 42 years in solitary confinement. He was a member of the Angola 3, who was convicted for the 1972 murder of a prison guard, but long maintained his innocence and said they were framed for their political activism. The project Wallace worked on with Sumell began when she asked him, "What sort of house does a man who has lived in a 6-foot-by-9-foot cell for over 30 years dream of?" You can see his response in the exhibit called "#76759: Featuring the House That Herman Built." The exhibit opened this week at the Brooklyn Public Library's main branch and includes a life-sized replica of Wallace’s prison cell, selections from his correspondence with Sumell, books from his reading list, and, in the library's main lobby, a model of the dream house that he designed. Read more...
Did NBC Cover Up Role of U.S.-Backed Free Syrian Army in 2012 Kidnapping of Richard Engel? »»
NBC News is at the center of a new controversy, this time focused on its chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel. Back in 2012 he and five other members of an NBC News team were kidnapped by armed gunmen in Syria. They were held for five days. Just after his release Engel spoke on NBC News and said this about his captors: "This is a government militia. These are people who are loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. They are Shiite." Well, earlier this week, a New York Times investigation prompted Engel to revise his story and reveal he was actually captured by Sunni militants affiliated with the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army. In an article published on Wednesday, Engel said the kidnappers had "put on an elaborate ruse to convince us they were Shiite Shabiha militiamen." According to the Times investigation, NBC knew more than it let on about the kidnappers. We speak to As'ad AbuKhalil, professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus. He runs the Angry Arab News Service blog. He expressed serious doubts about the circumstances surrounding Engel's captivity and release when the story first broke in December 2012. Read more...
Test Mutiny: Tens of Thousands of New York Parents Revolt Against Standardized Exams »»
In an act of mass civil disobedience, tens of thousands of parents in New York state had their children boycott the annual English Language Arts exam this week. At some Long Island and upstate school districts, abstention levels reached 80 percent. Protest organizers say at least 155,000 pupils opted out -- and that is with only half of school districts tallied so far. The action is seen as a significant challenge to the education agenda of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and to standardized testing nationwide. More than a decade after the passage of No Child Left Behind, educators, parents and students nationwide are protesting the preponderant reliance on high-stakes standardized testing, saying it gives undue importance to ambiguous data and compromises learning in favor of test prep. We speak to Jack Bierwirth, superintendent of Herricks Public Schools in Long Island, and parent Toni Smith-Thompson, who led the boycott against standardized testing at Central Park East 1 Elementary School in East Harlem. Read more...
Lawmakers Reach Deal to Give Obama TPP Fast-Track Authority, Iraqi Forces Retake Towns Near Oil Refinery from ISIL, Al-Qaeda Gains Ground in South Yemen; U.N. Envoy Resigns, WikiLeaks Publishes Full Database of Hacked Sony Emails, Muslim Migrants Accused of Pushing 12 Christians Overboard, Obama Signs "Doc Fix" Law to Overhaul Medicare Payments, Wesleyan Students Launch Fossil Fuel Divestment Sit-In; Harvard Blockade Continues, Gyrocopter Pilot Who Landed on Capitol Lawn Could Face 4 Years in Prison, Vatican Ends Takeover of U.S. Nuns Accused of "Radical Feminism", Former IMF Chief Rodrigo Rato Probed for Money Laundering, Bernanke to Take Hedge Fund Job in Latest Sign of Revolving Door, Judge Allows U.S. Lawsuit over Murder of Chilean Musician Víctor Jara, Amnesty International Details "Chilling Crackdown" in Bahrain, Jeb Bush Calls for Congress to Approve Lynch Nomination, Parents of Martin Richard Oppose Death Penalty for Tsarnaev, Jewish Studies Scholar Cancels Univ. of Illinois Lecture over Salaita Dismissal, New Yorkers Protest Income Inequality at Billionaire's Condo Building, House Republicans Pass Tax Break for Wealthiest 0.2% Read more...
Michigan's Snyder holds talks on 2016 run »»
Ad maker Fred Davis said the governor is "pondering the decision." Read more...
Rubio warns on Iran, terror threat to U.S. »»
He even raised the possibility of an Iranian missile strike on the homeland. Read more...
Court chilly to Obama immigration moves »»
One judge used the president's own words to put a Justice Department lawyer on the defensive. Read more...
Bush talks grandkids, country's future »»
Facing criticism of his family, he is trying to orient his message toward the future, not the past. Read more...
As everyone knows by now, the Federal Reserve’s main tool in economic warfare has become hyper low interest rates and, thus, extremely cheap money for large institutions vis-à-vis the controversial reign of QE – quantitative easing.
Now, the how-low-can-you-go climate has created negative interest rates, meaning not only that many investments carry no return but that many deposits cost money.
Well-known Citigroup economist William Buiter says the solution to this backwards market is to rein in the appeal of normal currencies like cash – because it is “causing problems” for central bank manipulation:
When economic conditions worsen, they react by reducing interest rates in order to stimulate the economy. But, as has happened across the world in recent years, there comes a point where those central banks run out of room to cut — they can bring interest rates to zero, but reducing them further below that is fraught with problems, the biggest of which is cash in the economy.
Negative interest rates are rendered ineffective by the “effective lower bound” – essentially the point at which a reasonable person would stop depositing money into banks and bonds at cost and instead hold cash, which while it doesn’t produce interest, certainly remains liquid and tangible.
From an economist point of view, however, it is cash holders who must be reined in (not Wall Street or the central banks):
Fundamentally, the ELB [effective lower bound] problem comes down to cash. According to Buiter, the ELB only exists at all due to the existence of cash, which is a bearer instrument that pays zero nominal rates. Why have your money on deposit at a negative rate that reduces your wealth when you can have it in cash and suffer no reduction?
Cash therefore gives people an easy and effective way of avoiding negative nominal rates.
The solution? For these big players, it is a simple matter of banning, or at least penalizing, cash and other straightforward currencies with additional transaction fees:
Buiter’s note suggests three ways to address this problem:
Remove the fixed exchange rate between currency and central bank reserves/deposits.
SHTF reported only days ago about the shift in the treatment of cash, with JPMorgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon also called to rein in cash by charging customers the “true cost” of using these everyday instruments:
Moreover, JPMorgan and other big banks are expanding their policies of charging customers to hold deposits, validate funds and make transactions – charges that JPMorgan sees as the “true cost of moving money.”
With new measures for cybersecurity, fraud protection and payment verification in mind, JPMorgan is slated to tack on new processing fees and add costs for all transactions, and especially ‘outmoded’ payments like cash and checks and the loafing “free riders” who use them.
Regarding cash, Dimon stated:
We need to build a real-time system that properly charges participants for usage, allows for good customer service, and minimizes fraud and bad behavior.
Will they really ban cash?
For his part, Buiter admits there are disadvantages to banning cash – particularly for little people who still deal in paper money, the poor, those operating in community markets and for those concerned with privacy. He lists:
Abolishing currency will constitute a noticeable change in many people’s lives and change often tends to be resisted.
Currency use remains high among the poor and some older people. (Buiter suggests that keeping low-denomination cash in circulation — nothing larger than $5 — might solve this.)
Central banks and governments would lose seigniorage revenue.
Abolishing currency would inevitably be associated with a loss of privacy and create risks of excessive intrusion by the government.
Switching exclusively to electronic payments may create new security and operational risks.
But ultimately, Buiter doesn’t care. To him, these are “weak” arguments against banning cash, and apparently anything and everything should be done to keep the bizarro system of money flowing – and power over the entire economy in the hands of the Federal Reserve.
Never mind that it will only benefit those at the top, or that it will punish the poor and working classes – even in the most ordinary of transactions – while forcing the masses onto an electronic platform that can be tracked and restricted based upon rules from the top.
Apparently, that has been the agenda for decades, with plans to control the population through a digital, cashless control grid.
Once that point is reached, cash won’t just be obsolete, it will be criminal. It is coming. The question is how soon will it arrive?
A lawsuit has been initiated by a student who claims she was kicked out of the Baker College, Michigan nursing program because she challenged an instructor who gave a lesson that encouraged lying to patients in order to get them vaccinated. Moreover, she claims that the "lying" could take the form of inducing panic or other forms of coercion like threatening the loss of Medicaid. Kenny Valenzuela highlights the details.
Although some might call it a conspiracy theory, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the United Nations have been accused for decades of trying to secretly reduce the world’s population by hiding contraceptives in vaccines that are purported to be for other purposes.
In 1992, during a meeting at the UN headquarters in Geneva, scientists and “women’s health advocates” discussed the use of “fertility regulating vaccines, particularly the anti-Human Chorionic Gonadotropin vaccine. (source)
If you had any doubt in your mind that this was true, doctors at a Catholic hospital in Kenya are out to prove that millions of girls have been tricked into receiving an injection that will render them sterile for years.
Independent laboratory testing has confirmed that a tetanus vaccine given to over 2.3 million young women in Kenya contained the HCG antigen.
HCG was developed by the WHO as a long-term contraceptive. It causes the body to attack a fetus through an antibody response, and can cause spontaneous abortions for 3 years after the woman is injected with the drug.
Dr. Muhame Ngare of Mercy Medical Centre in Nairobi said:
We sent six samples from around Kenya to laboratories in South Africa. They tested positive for the HCG antigen. They were all laced with HCG.
This proved right our worst fears; that this WHO campaign is not about eradicating neonatal tetanus but a well-coordinated forceful population control mass sterilization exercise using a proven fertility regulating vaccine. This evidence was presented to the Ministry of Health before the third round of immunization but was ignored. (source)
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Kenyan health ministry has denied that this is the case, offering up claims that many women who received the vaccine became pregnant afterwards. But Dr. Ngare (who, incidentally, is pro-vaccine, just not pro-secret-sterilizing-additive) stands firm in his assertion and provides a convincing argument.
Either we are lying or the government is lying. But ask yourself, ‘What reason do the Catholic doctors have for lying?’ The Catholic Church has been here in Kenya providing health care and vaccinating for 100 years for longer than Kenya has existed as a country.
Usually we give a series three shots over two to three years, we give it anyone who comes into the clinic with an open wound, men, women or children. If this is intended to inoculate children in the womb, why give it to girls starting at 15 years? You cannot get married till you are 18.” The usual way to vaccinate children is to wait till they are six weeks old.
The only time tetanus vaccine has been given in five doses is when it is used as a carrier in fertility regulating vaccines laced with the pregnancy hormone, Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) developed by WHO in 1992. (source)
Hmmm…so why would this vaccine only be given to young, fertile women? Since tetanus is a type of bacterial infection that occurs after a person is wounded with a rusty or dirty object, wouldn’t it stand to reason that this vaccine, if given in the interest of protecting patients from the infection, be given to both genders, and people of a variety of ages? Are girls at the height of fertility somehow more likely to injure themselves in such a way?
The Kenyan government has a glib answer. Apparently, they wish to proactively inoculate babies in the womb against tetanus, which causes 550 deaths per year.
Catholic priests across Kenya are advising their congregants to refuse these vaccinations.
Earlier this week Michael Snyder warned that the bottom of our food chain is going through a catastrophic collapse with sea creatures dying in absolutely massive numbers. The cause of the problem is a mystery to scientists who claim that they can’t pinpoint how or why it’s happening.
What’s worse, the collapse of sea life in the Pacific Ocean isn’t something that will affect us several decades into the future. The implications are being seen right now, as evidenced by an emergency closure of fisheries along the West coast this week.
On Wednesday federal regulators announced the early closure of sardine fisheries in California, Oregon and Washington. According to the most recent data, the sardine populations has been wiped out with populations seeing a decline of 91% in just the last eight years.
Meeting outside Santa Rosa, California, the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to direct NOAA Fisheries Service to halt the current season as early as possible, affecting about 100 fishing boats with sardine permits…
The action was taken based on revised estimates of sardine populations, which found the fish were declining in numbers faster than earlier believed…
The council did not take Wednesday’s decision lightly and understood the pain the closure would impose on the fishing industry, said council member Michele Culver, representing the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. She added that it was necessary because a new assessment of sardine stocks showed they were much lower than estimated last year, when harvest quotas were set.
Sardines, like honey bees, don’t seem important to the casual observer. But just like honey bees, which are experiencing their own colony collapse, they are critical to the propagation of the global food chain. The immediate effects can be seen on the creatures next in line:
… 90 percent of this year’s class of sea lion pups were starving for lack of sardines to eat.
“The sardine populations have crashed 91 percent since 2007,” he said after the vote.
“We would have liked to see this happen much sooner, but now we can start to rebuild this sardine population that is so important to the health of the ocean.”
But even closing of commercial fisheries may not be the solution. As Snyder points out in the aforementioned report, there are some unexplained phenomena occurring in the Pacific ocean and either scientists don’t have a clue what is happening, or someone is keeping a gag order on researchers.
According to two University of Washington scientific research papers that were recently released, a 1,000 mile stretch of the Pacific Ocean has warmed up by several degrees, and nobody seems to know why this is happening. This giant “blob” of warm water was first observed in late 2013, and it is playing havoc with our climate. And since this giant “blob” first showed up, fish and other sea creatures have been dying in absolutely massive numbers.
The issue could potentially be one of climate change – but not the kind of climate change we hear from politicians who just want to put carbon tax credits in their pocket. Rather, we could be talking about cyclical climate shifts that have occurred regularly throughout the course of earth’s history. And with those shifts come massive migrations and species die-offs.
We have three cores melted out of their reactor buildings, lost in the mudrock and sandstone, which we have failed to locate and mitigate.
We have an underground river running under the ruins, which we have failed to divert around the reactors.
We have three empty reactors, containing nothing but corium splatter left when they blew up and melted out.
We have the Pacific Ocean Ecosystem, which we have stressed beyond endurance, through ocean dumping, over fishing, agricultural runoff, and now unrestricted radiation.
We have the sudden collapse of the Pacific Ocean Ecosystem, with a threatened collapse of the biosphere.
We continue to allow corporate and governmental inaction.
What in hell did you think was going to happen?
Something is wrong with world’s food chain and one Harvard Professor suggested last year that recent signs, namely with the die-off of honeybee populations, are a prelude of things to come:
But he now warns that a pollinator drop could be the least our worries at this point.
That it may be a sign of things to come – bees acting as the canary in the coalmine.
That not only are we connected to bees through our food supply, but that the plight that so afflicts them may very well soon be our own.
Could it be that the collapse of honeybee colonies, mass sea life die-offs, and changing climates in once lush growing regions are all the result of the same underlying phenomena?
If so, then we can soon expect not just higher food prices, but a breakdown in the food chain itself.
And though none of us can truly prepare for a decades-long (or longer) food disaster and the complexities that would come along with it (like mass migrations and resource wars), we can take steps to make ourselves as self sustainable as possible, while also preparing emergency plans to respond to the initial brunt of the force should it hit.
When the Washington Post chooses to pen an insulting, condescending editorial targeting entire nations speaking up against Western impropriety, one can just as well assume the precise opposite of whatever narrative the Post is trying to push forward is true.
Regarding American biotech companies and their attempts to infest the planet with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and in particular their attempts to corrupt the whole of Europe with their unwanted poison through a backdoor (Ukraine), has prompted Russia to speak up for their Eastern European neighbor. Up until the armed coup in 2013-2014, also known as the “Euromaidan,” Ukraine had adamantly rejected GMOs.
With an obedient client regime now installed in Kiev, a series of political, economic and military decisions have been made that have more or less extinguished Ukraine as a sovereign nation state. Along with its extinguished sovereignty comes a complete lack of desire for self-preservation, and so, sowing one’s fields with genetically tainted, unsafe, literal poison goes from being adamantly avoided, to being openly embraced.
This brings us back to the Washington Post and a recent editorial it has published. Titled, “Russia says Western investment in Ukraine’s farms is a plot to take over the world,” it first attempts to make Russia’s accusations that Monsanto is now moving in on Ukraine with plans to institute GMOs nationwide sound unfounded. That is until the Post itself admits that is precisely what Monsanto is doing. The pieces claims:
Ukraine has long tried to sell itself to Europe as the once-and-future breadbasket of the continent, promising that Western investment is the key to making its under-exploited black earth bloom.
But official Russia would like you to know that all this agricultural development talk is really just a secret plot to help companies like Monsanto take over the world.
Then the Post openly admits:
Genetically-modified cultivation was long banned in Ukraine – as was the sale of farmland.
But the association agreement signed between the European Union and Ukraine last year may have created new space for the potential introduction of genetically-modified crops in Ukraine.
Finally, the Post mentions Monsanto:
Monsanto – perhaps the most recognizable corporate name in genetically modified products – did express interest in investing in Ukraine last year. (It’s worth noting that the company operates in Russia as well, though not with GMOs, just as it has operated in Ukraine.)
Since Monsanto already operates in Ukraine, what else would it be investing in additionally that it hasn’t had the opportunity to before besides GMOs? Ukraine would serve as the perfect victim to host Monsanto and other biotech corporations’ GMO-infected products in the heart of Europe.
With the EU itself relaxing some of its regulations regarding GMOs, likely without the consent of a population increasingly conscious of the risks and actively seeking organic alternatives, biotech conglomerates hope to make GMO products spread from what will be the completely unregulated fields of Ukraine, into Europe and to become as ubiquitous and unavoidable as they are in America.
Elsewhere around the world, big-agriculture has attempted to use other backdoors to bring their products into regions they are wholly rejected, including Asia where “Golden Rice” has been proposed as the answer to fighting “vitamin A deficiency,” even when simply planting some carrots would accomplish this goal more easily, cheaper and without the threat of tainting Asia’s rice crops with a strain consumers would reject out of hand.
In other instances, conquering Western interests, like in Afghanistan, have used “aid” as a backdoor to bring big-agriculture and GMOs into the region.
So by the Post’s own admission and by simply looking at what Monsanto and its counterparts have done all over the world already, they themselves couldn’t agree more with the Russian Federation regarding Monsanto’s obvious intentions in Ukraine and for the rest of Europe.
The Post, like many papers across America and Europe, has long-served the interests of the monied elite, with biotech and big-agriculture counted prominently among them. The Post and others will spin and obfuscate Monsanto’s intentions until it is too late to overturn the genetic corruption their crops will inflict on the once well-protected, sovereign fields of Ukraine.
Like many other things in Ukraine, the so-called “Euromaiden” that was allegedly spurred for freedom and self-determination has clearly stripped Ukraine of both its freedom and its ability to determine what is best for itself. From a military set upon its own people, to an economy looted by foreign interests, to a government directed literally by foreigners who chair it, to now fields to be sown with genetically altered poison, the ruination of Ukraine is nearly complete and a lasting testament to what the West truly means when it says “democratization.”
No One Will Buy GMO-Tainted Crops
Included in Russia’s comments regarding the impending despoilment of Ukraine’s agricultural industry by Monsanto and others, the Post would report:
Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev told a meeting of his counterparts in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on Tuesday that the West plans to grown “genetically modified crops” in Ukraine. And it’s a fool’s errand too, he suggested, because, “to put it mildly, Europe will not approve of such products.”
The Post, in its role as associate lobbyist for big-agriculture, attempts to downplay this fact. However, reported elsewhere, even within the Western media itself, are reports that the agricultural powerhouse that is the United States is now importing organic corn because consumers refuse to eat tainted GMO products grown within the States.
A growing demand for organics, and the near-total reliance by U.S. farmers on genetically modified corn and soybeans, is driving a surge in imports from other nations where crops largely are free of bioengineering.
Imports such as corn from Romania and soybeans from India are booming, according to an analysis of U.S. trade data released Wednesday by the Organic Trade Association and Pennsylvania State University.
The humiliation of a nation historically self-reliant agriculturally having to import something as basic as corn because everything grown domestically is poisoned is a lesson any Ukrainian seeking to preserve what is left of not only their dignity, but their sense of self-preservation should take note of. Even as the “miracle” of GMO evaporates amid an increasingly astute market in the United States, US corporations are buying off Ukraine’s infinitely servile regime to place Ukraine’s neck into the same noose.
However, in a way the Post is right. Russia is crazy to think Monsanto is taking over the world. The corporation, despite untold of billions pumped into lobbying, propaganda, bribes and other forms of mass persuasion, is failing miserably to convince people to ingest their poison, even in the nation their headquarters is located in. However, Russia shedding light on what Monsanto is trying to do in Ukraine, against the obvious best interests of Ukraine itself, is yet another illustration of how the “Euromaiden” putsch had nothing to do with freedom, and everything to do with Washington and Wall Street hijacking yet another nation and its resources out from under its own people under the guise of “democracy.”