Colossal $25,000 fine for Russian vandal in Rome »»
A Russian tourist has been fined 20,000 euros ($25,000) after he carved a giant letter ‘K’ onto the wall of the most well-known structure in all of Italy – the ancient Colosseum in Rome. Read more...
‘American beer is just filthy water’ - Czech President »»
The Czech president Milos Zeman eulogized his country’s trademark beverage, while insulting US beer as “filthy water” during a presidential business summit in the Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan. Read more...
Ron Paul praises defeat of USA Freedom Act »»
Former congressman Ron Paul is praising lawmakers on Capitol Hill for failing to approve the USA Freedom Act last week, even though the bill would have reformed some of the policies of the National Security Agency. Read more...
‘BRICS system’ – healthy alternative to ‘defunct dollar system’ »»
The BRICS Bank marks a major step to de-dollarization, and a new monetary system. It should replace the western-dominated “predatory casino scheme” that has contributed to world wars and “economic terrorism,” says former World Bank economist Peter Koenig. Read more...
Ferguson grand jury reaches decision - report »»
A grand jury has reached a decision regarding whether or not to indict Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson over the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, according to the Washington Post. Read more...
New Eastern Outlook
Russia Turns East at Shocking Speed with China Mega Energy Deals »»
While Western mainstream media concentrates attention on the emissions agreement signed by US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi at the recent APEC Beijing Summit, Russia’s Putin and China’s Xi quietly signed major new energy agreements that will have enormous geopolitical significance in bringing about the very nightmare that US strategists such as Zbigniew […] Read more...
CIA’s Analysis of the International Trends to 2030 »»
Attempts to predict the global trends is one of the key elements of Washington‘s policy, since if successful these attempts will not simply allow the White House to adjust its foreign policy accordingly, but take a number of steps to ensure the US dominance in the world. Not surprisingly, the White House ordered the US […] Read more...
Russian-Vietnamese Relations: Position and Prospects »»
Today Russian-Vietnamese relations are developing in a complex political environment both for Russia and for the Asia-Pacific region. However, for Moscow, against the background of sanctions imposed by the West, the eastern direction of its policy has become a vital alternative. The task is extremely important – to create concrete substance to the “turn to […] Read more...
Egypt and Russia: Expediencies and “Historical Realities” between Old Friends »»
There has been much commentary on the recent arms sale agreement between Russia and Egypt, announced on 12th August. Analysts have spent pages taking about “strategic balance”, and how Egypt buying $3.5 billion of Russian arms will affect its relations with its neighbours and the West. The point everyone seems to have missed, however, is […] Read more...
“Dr. Death” to Be Sentenced on November 26 »»
Dr. Wouter Basson—dubbed by the media “Dr. Death”– will face sentencing by the Health Professions Council of South Africa on November 26-29, a sentencing that has now been delayed for nearly a year. In December of 2013, Basson was found guilty by the HPCSA for acting unprofessionally as a medical doctor during his tenure as […] Read more...
Obama Refuses to Close Door on Torture »»
This year President Barack Obama rejected two excellent opportunities to close the door on the shameful use of torture and cruelty by the United States. First, his administration has resisted attempts by Senate investigators to release a coherent version of their report on torture by the Central Intelligence Agency. Such refusals have led to speculation that they have sought to delay matters so that Republicans can block its release after they take control of the chamber in January. Second, the Obama State Department said last week that the Convention Against Torture requires it to prevent torture only in places that the U.S. "controls as a governmental authority."
The media made much of the U.S.declaration that "torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment are forbidden in all places, at all times, with no exceptions." But this statement of principle is not new. Starting with President Ronald Reagan, the U.S. has taken the position that torture and cruel treatment are banned. President George W. Bush departed from this principle — although even he paid lip service to the ideal.
More strikingly, the U.S. didn't explain whether it believed that torture and cruel treatment was forbidden worldwide under domestic law or under the torture treaty. This distinction is important. The brutal tactics employed by the U.S. after 9/11 have led many observers to question its commitment to postwar human rights treaties. Both allied and hostile nations were watching to see if Obama acknowledged that the U.S. was bound by global torture standards. His answer did not reassure them.
The goal of the torture treaty is twofold: to reiterate the absolute ban on torture and to effect the ban by requiring countries to take practical measures to prevent and punish torture, no matter where it takes place.
The Obama administration, however, has taken the position that only people within its governmental authority — for example, at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility or aboard U.S.-flagged aircraft and ships — are covered by legal restrictions against torture and cruel treatment. This stance is better than that of the previous administration, which argued that the ban simply didn't apply to operations abroad. But it provides little comfort to those over whom the U.S. exercises control but who are technically under the authority of another country. For instance, the prisoners held at the U.S. air base in Bagram, Afghanistan, where the United States calls the shots even though it exercises only partial legal control, may be out of luck. The CIA black sites that Obama shut down? Probably not covered either.
The administration's legal parsing is somewhat hard to accept, because under domestic law, including the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, the U.S. is forbidden from subjecting any person under its "physical control" to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, no matter where they are. As the president's own former top international lawyer has argued, it requires no change in law or policy to acknowledge that such conduct is forbidden under the torture treaty as well.
Perhaps Obama dithered because the treaty obliges countries to prevent torture and cruelty. In addition to ensuring that U.S. soldiers and spies don't torture people, the U.S. is not allowed to use proxies to get around the rules. In conducting the war on terrorism, the U.S. sent people to be interrogated by security agencies notorious for their use of torture, in countries such as Egypt and Jordan. Just last week the U.S. asked Congress to exempt its operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant from the 1997 law that bars funding military units suspected of "gross human rights violations" such as murder, torture and extrajudicial imprisonment.
A clean break from Bush's legacy requires the Obama administration to renounce the country's direct use of torture as well as its use by those whose conduct we control. The risks of equivocating are great. By not taking a firm stance, Obama leaves the door open for future presidents — as well as other countries — to claim the authority to abuse people who are held in foreign territory or to use proxies to do so.
The president has been too timid to bring the country back from the dark side. Instead, he has left the national debate in a gray area where the morality and efficacy of torture and cruelty continue to be up for discussion. As a result, he has left the world insecure about the U.S. stance, wondering whether his administration wishes to maintain some wiggle room on the universal ban against brutality.
Students, parents and activists staged one protest after another last year against Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to close 50 schools. The closings have been the most controversial item on the mayor's education agenda, which is likely to play a significant role in next year's mayoral election. (Photo: Jonathan Gibby)
Chicago - On a Monday evening in September, the normally desolate stretch of 75th Street near Yates Avenue in South Shore was lined with cars. Inside a banquet hall, Charles Kyle sat on a small stage with Karen Lewis and asked her questions about crime, economic development and, most of all, education.
"Renaissance 2010 was a real-estate plan," Lewis told the crowd in her matter-of-fact style. Lewis was referring to former Mayor Richard M. Daley's controversial plan, aggressively continued by his successor Rahm Emanuel, to open new schools while closing failing ones in an effort to keep middle-class families in the city. "I don't think many people understand that."
Though the mayoral election was months away, Lewis, the head of the Chicago Teachers Union, was gearing up to mount a dramatic challenge to Emanuel in his bid for a second term. As is well-known by now, serious health issues forced Lewis to bow out of the race before she officially entered it.
Yet Kyle, the moderator for the Exchange Ideas community forum, which sponsors events aimed at improving South Shore, says the concerns that drew so many residents out to hear Lewis and cling to her words still weigh heavily on the neighborhood.
Black communities, more so than any other neighborhoods in Chicago, have been dramatically affected by the education reform policies championed by Emanuel. The neighborhoods are simultaneously struggling with crime, high unemployment, loss of wealth as a result of the housing crisis and a dire need for economic investment.
A case in point: Last year, South Shore became a food desert when the Dominick's grocery store on 71st Street closed, leaving residents with one neighborhood choice: a weekend farmers market. The neighborhood's dilemma reflects the economic development problems faced by other black communities in the city that want to lure new businesses and jobs. For example, tax increment finance districts, created to spark economic development, have not generated the same level of revenue on the South Side as elsewhere. Among the city's active TIFs, not a single district on the South Side is ranked in the top 20 for property tax revenue.
Meanwhile, the anger about schools came to a head with last year's closings of 50 schools, virtually all in black neighborhoods. And it is squarely at Emanuel's doorstep, a potential threat to his re-election hopes: A shocking 77 percent of black voters disapprove of Emanuel's handling of schools and only 10 percent agree with the policy of increasing funding for charter schools while cutting budgets for neighborhood schools, according to an August 2014 Chicago Tribune poll.
Education also promises to figure prominently in aldermanic races, where both the teachers union and the group Democrats for Education Reform, which supports Emanuel's policies, are seeking to field and support candidates who will back their agendas.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announces playground improvements at Kelly Park in Brighton Park. Over the past few months, as Emanuel gears up for the mayoral campaign, he has announced a number of school and park playground improvements. (Photo: Emily Jan)
Mayoral challenger Bob Fioretti calls Emanuel the most divisive education politician since Michelle Rhee, the former Washington, D.C., schools chief who made national headlines for shaking up the district but became mired in allegations of test-score cheating on her watch.
"For the sake of politics, he gave children the shaft," Fioretti says.
Another challenger, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, spoke to an audience of teachers union members at a recent dinner and told them that a belief in the importance of neighborhood schools is what sets him apart from Emanuel. Garcia recounted his involvement in a hunger strike that led to the creation of Little Village High School.
"We stood up for our children and protected them," Garcia told the audience, after receiving Lewis' crucial endorsement. "Instead of closing our schools, I believe in successful community schools."
Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett says she has not seen the polls that show dissatisfaction with the mayor's policies. And she strongly disagrees with the notion that neighborhood schools have suffered from disinvestment under Emanuel. The district has spent "tens of millions of dollars" putting new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curricula and International Baccalaureate programs into some neighborhood schools, while providing extra help to failing schools, Byrd-Bennett points out. "These things have made a tremendous difference," she says.
* * *
The dissatisfaction with Emanuel's education agenda is local evidence of a rising tide against the current version of "school reform." In New York City, for example, Mayor Bill de Blasio rode to victory on campaign promises that he would curb charter expansion and standardized tests, and forge better relationships with teachers and parents.
Chicago's mass school closings became symbolic across the country of the disinvestment in neighborhood schools that has come as a result of the privatization movement, says author and education historian Diane Ravitch.
"No one had ever done that in one day in America," she says of the 50 closings. Ravitch, who is also on the education faculty at New York University, is perhaps the most outspoken and well-known critic of the reform movement that she once strongly supported.
The public is also increasingly resistant to the use of standardized tests, another hallmark of reform. More and more, people have begun to realize that standardized tests are used to justify the closing of neighborhood schools and privatization of school systems, Ravitch says.
A recent report by the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, known as FairTest, examined the anti-testing movement. According to the report, in New York City, 60,000 children and their parents refused to take federally mandated state tests in grades three through eight in 2014, up from a few thousand in 2013. More than 1,000 children and families opted out in both Chicago and Colorado, FairTest found, and smaller numbers of families did so in other regions.
Meanwhile, the charter movement is now more than a decade old and the public is starting to ask hard questions about it, notes Peter Cunningham, who was press secretary for Arne Duncan when Duncan ran Chicago schools and followed him to the U.S. Department of Education.
"We are further down the path," says Cunningham, who now runs an organization called Education Post. "Is it enough to say that 29 percent of charter schools out-perform traditional schools? Maybe it should be 40 percent or 50 percent. It is not acceptable for charter schools to be worse."
CEO Byrd-Bennett says she is "absolutely agnostic [about] the type of school" and wants to talk instead about high-quality schools.
She also points out that her administration has held charter schools accountable by creating a warning list for those not performing well, and closing two charters during her tenure. But the mayor and Byrd-Bennett will not commit to curtailing charter expansion altogether.
These days, Emanuel talks little about charter schools, perhaps recognizing that they are not politically popular. No new ones will be approved for next school year, putting the timetable for the approval process outside the timeframe for the run-up to the mayoral election.
* * *
Providing a good education for his son has always been a priority for Charles Kyle and his son's mother, Kyle says. But the issue really hit home when he began to look at schools as his son was nearing kindergarten age. He went to visit Madison Elementary School, which he had attended until sixth grade. Along with familiarity, proximity was a factor: Madison is located less than a block from where he lives.
Kyle says he would have liked to show his commitment to the neighborhood by sending his son to the local school. But he just wasn't impressed. "The kindergarten classroom didn't have sight words on the wall," he says. The school's test scores are average to below-average.
Fewer than half of the children who live in the attendance area go to Madison, which has space for up to 750 students, but enrolled only 233 students at the time Kyle visited.
So when Kyle's son was offered a seat at Murray Language Academy, a magnet school two neighborhoods away in Hyde Park, he reluctantly accepted it. Murray has high test scores and also offers foreign language classes—French, Spanish, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese—every day.
Charles Kyle picks up his son Landon, who attends kindergarten at Murray Language Academy in Hyde Park. Like most South Shore residents, Kyle decided not to send his son to a neighborhood school. Kyle felt his local school was not up to par academically. (Photo: Grace Donnelly)
Kyle's experience is replicated in families throughout South Shore: About 8,000 school-aged children live in the community, but instead of attending the neighborhood schools, they are spread out among 364 schools across the city. That means more than half of the city's public schools have at least one student from South Shore, according to a Catalyst Chicago analysis.
Yet the exodus hasn't resulted in children traveling to substantially better schools. Among those children who leave the neighborhood to attend school, only 21 percent are enrolled in top schools. A larger number, 25 percent, are enrolled in schools with test scores that are among the worst in the city. African-American students are more likely to travel to mediocre or poor-performing schools than any other group of children.
The phenomenon is not new. For years, the number of students traveling outside their neighborhood to school has been on the rise. And one point in Emanuel's favor is that a smaller percentage of students are now making the trip to low-achieving schools than under Daley, according to a Catalyst analysis.
Still, Byrd-Bennett says she is "very worried" about the numbers and says the district needs to do a better job of sharing information with parents. "Sometimes schools appeal to parents because they are quiet or calm, but they are not high-quality [educationally]," she says.
Last year's school closings may have aggravated the trend: Two-thirds of the schools designated to take in displaced children experienced a significant drop in state test scores—an indicator that children from closed schools perhaps fared no better academically in their new ones.
* * *
Another bone of contention in black communities is the diminishing public input and control of decisions about schools in African-American neighborhoods.
When Emanuel walked into office, only three of the schools in South Shore and South Chicago, the community next door, were run by private entities. Now, eight of 21 schools, or about 38 percent, are either charter schools, contract schools or turnaround schools, which are managed by the non-profit Academy for Urban School Leadership.
A telling example is evident in South Shore. Val Free, execcutive director of the South Shore Planning Coalition, recalls the opening of Great Lakes Academy, a charter school that is technically in South Chicago but draws South Shore students.
Free feels that Great Lakes was forced upon the community unnecessarily. Virtually all the neighborhood elementary schools in the surrounding area are underutilized. While many are low-performing schools, one of them, Powell Elementary, earned the highest academic rating last year.
"Why would you try to dilute Powell by adding a charter?" Free says. "It seems like sabotage."
Neither the planning coalition nor the South Shore Community Action Council—one of several such entities created by CPS to weigh in on school decisions—supported the Great Lakes plan. Yet school board members approved it and the charter opened its doors last school year.
Free says her group asked the charter operator to sign a community benefits agreement that would stipulate having a certain number of people from the neighborhood on the school's board, in the classroom and in other jobs, such as janitorial.
Great Lakes Charter operator Katherine Myers was resistant, Free says. At one point, the charter did offer spots on the board to community members. Yet when Free was nominated to serve, Myers refused because Free had opposed the opening of the school.
Despite how she felt about the school, Free says she would have been fair on the board out of a desire to have the students get a good education. (Myers did not return numerous calls from Catalyst.)
Henry English, the head of the Black United Fund, which supports local non-profits and is active in the community, says he is disappointed when he sees the teachers walking through the doors of Great Lakes.
"They seem short on experience," he says. "Great Lakes did not hire any teachers from the community… that is for sure."
* * *
The impact of school actions—closings, turnarounds in which most teachers end up losing their jobs, and charter expansion—on the black teaching force is a major flashpoint for many in the black community. African-American teachers have borne the brunt of layoffs as a result of closings, since the teaching force at shuttered schools was largely made up of veteran black teachers, according to an analysis of Illinois teacher service records. Meanwhile, the new, privately run schools have tended to hire younger, white teachers.
Citywide, 1,134 black educators—teachers, social workers and school counselors—are gone from the CPS payroll in recent years, according to CTU data. (The numbers include retirees.) In South Shore, the number is 91. These job figures help fuel antagonism toward charters and turnaround schools.
What typically has happened to schools in South Shore and other black communities is the exact opposite of what has taken place in white and Latino communities.
Take Lakeview, a mostly white North Side community that, like South Shore, sits on the lakefront. Here, 70 percent of children attend their neighborhood school. Of those students who travel outside the community, nearly 90 percent land at a high-achieving school. No charters or contract schools operate in Lakeview. No schools have closed or undergone a turnaround. And since 2011, 140 additional teachers are working in schools in the neighborhood.
The contrast in what has happened in different communities has been by design. Andrea Zopp, a school board member and head of the Chicago Urban League, told a City Club audience recently that charters and other privately run schools were opened in neighborhoods that needed "quality options."
District officials have also maintained that school closings were intended to make the school system more efficient by shuttering buildings with too few children, and that the closings were done at one time to minimize disruption over multiple years.
But the closings were still a bitter pill for many to swallow. And as for choice, education organizer Jitu Brown of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization argues that what people want is good neighborhood schools, not a million options to sift through. Brown is also national coordinator for Journey for Justice, an alliance of activists who have fought against school closings, turnarounds and charter expansion in communities of color.
"It has ripped black communities apart, and people are becoming more sophisticated and angry," Brown says.
* * *
Last year, Kyle worked in an afterschool program at Fiske Elementary in Woodlawn, a school designated to take in displaced students from Sexton. Kyle says that the students in his program felt as if they were being moved around like pawns on a chess board.
"No one asked them what they felt about the merger," Kyle says. "They didn't have a choice at all, and they felt abandoned by the staff at their old school."
The first few months at Fiske were rough, Kyle recalls. Students fought and the staff struggled to maintain discipline. Eventually, the environment calmed down. But Kyle worries that the disappointment the students had in the education system will linger.
Like others, Free has mixed feelings about the closings. The schools were failing and "not producing global citizens," she says. Free, like so many parents, decided not to send her son to a neighborhood high school; instead, she enrolled him at the Chicago Military Academy at Bronzeville, a good 6 miles from South Shore.
Yet what didn't make sense to her, and still does not, is that immediately after closing schools, neighborhoods with a lot of half-empty buildings got new schools thrust on them.
Byrd-Bennett acknowledges that some community groups are still unhappy about the closings, but adds that parents of displaced students have told her they are pleased with the education their children are getting.
According to CPS statistics, 74 percent of welcoming schools saw their enrollment fall by more than 10 students. Byrd-Bennett said she is not familiar with those figures.
* * *
When Emanuel talks about schools now, he emphasizes new programs and statistics that have improved, like graduation rates. The five-year graduation rate this year was 69 percent, up from 58 percent when he came into office.
Kyle says the statistic does not resonate for him or people in his community. Despite areas of South Shore that are wealthier, the community still has blocks crowded with abandoned apartment buildings, boarded-up businesses, high unemployment and too many young guys hanging out with nothing to do all day.
The graduation rate for black males in Chicago still hovers at about 50 percent and is still the lowest compared with other racial groups. A shocking 92 percent of black male teens in Chicago are unemployed, according to a January 2014 Chicago Urban League report.
Sitting at a coffee shop one day, Kyle looks out the window and points to a young man whose shoulders are slouched as he peers down the block. Kyle says the boy's name is Donte and he worked with him at Fiske. "I told him to go home, but look, he is back out there," he says.
The combination of dropouts and high unemployment means that illegal activity is commonplace. This reality intertwines with other concerns, including education and the ability to attract businesses to the neighborhood.
It becomes a cycle that is hard for a community to break. "I never saw a good school surrounded by a depressed community," says Kyle.
The Chicago Reporter is a nonprofit investigative news organization that focuses on race, poverty and income inequality.
Tallying Up Returns on Corporations' Political Investments »»
Amount that the 200 most politically active corporations in the U.S. spent on federal lobbying and campaign contributions between 2007 and 2012, according to a new report from the Sunlight Foundation titled "Fixed Fortunes": $5.8 billion
In return, amount they got in federal business and support: $4.4 trillion
For every dollar spent influencing politics, amount these corporations received from the federal government, on average: $760
Total value of federal government-issued contracts to purchase goods and services during that period: more than $3 trillion
Portion of those contracts that went to these most politically active corporations: 1/3
Rank of finance, insurance and real estate among the sectors that accounted for most of the 200 corporate political powerhouses: 1
Total amount in loans and other assistance issued under a program created by Congress to address the 2008 financial crisis: $410 billion
Percent of that which went to just 16 of these politically influential companies: 73
Number of foreign financial service and banking firms that were among the companies that received the biggest returns on their political investments: 3*
Amount that North Carolina-based Bank of America spent on campaign contributions and lobbying during the period studied: $45.2 million
Value of federal business and support it got in return: $476.2 billion
Amount that Georgia-based utility giant Southern Co. spent on campaign contributions and lobbying: $86.2 million
Value of federal business and support it got in return: $597.6 million
Southern Co.'s effective tax rate: 11%
Amount that North Carolina-based utility giant Duke Energy spent on contributions and lobbying: $36 million
Value of federal business and support it got: $229.7 million
Duke Energy's effective tax rate: 3%
Portion of Americans who believe corporations should have to pay more in taxes: 2/3
Percent of Americans who trust the federal government: 19
* UBS and Credit Suisse Group of Switzerland and Deutsche Bank of Germany.
On the News With Thom Hartmann: The Future of the Postal Service May Be in Jeopardy, and More »»
In today's On the News segment: If Congress refuses to act in the next month, the future of the United States Postal Service could be in jeopardy; about one out of every 30 kids in the US is homeless; Walmart workers are preparing for their biggest Black Friday strike yet; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the best of the rest of Economic and Labor News...
You need to know this. If Congress refuses to act in the next month, the future of the United States Postal Service could be in jeopardy. This lame duck session may be the last chance to pass the Postal Reform Act of 2014 before Sen. Ron Johnson takes over as chair of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, which oversees the Postal Service. While that legislation is far from perfect, it's unlikely that the new, anti-union, pro-privatization Republican chairman will offer any better solutions. The Postal Reform Act of 2014 would begin to scale back the poison-pill requirement that they pre-fund employee benefits 75 years into the future. However, that bipartisan bill would also open the door to ending Saturday mail delivery, raising postal rates, or even stopping door-to-door delivery. As bad as those provisions may be, none of them are mandated in the bill, and they could be removed from the legislation before it's enacted. And, they're still far better than Ron Johnson's suggestions, which include bankruptcy, layoffs, terminating union contracts, and even privatization. They only way to prevent Republicans from trying to push these extreme measures is to pass the Postal Reform Act now, preferably without provisions that threaten Saturday or door-to-door delivery. The Postal Service is a national treasure that has provided reliable, affordable communication since the beginning of our country. Republicans can't stand the fact that USPS is the largest unionized employer in our nation, and that's one of the most important reasons we must fight to protect it. There are only a few days left in this lame duck session, so call Congress now and tell them to save the Postal Service.
About one out of every 30 kids in the US is homeless. A new report called "America's Youngest Outcasts" from the National Center on Family Homelessness says that almost 2.5 million children did not have a place to call home at some point in 2013. That's an all-time high for our nation, but it's not the type of record we should be celebrating. In the richest country on Earth, low-wages, lack of affordable housing, and a shrinking social safety net are pushing more and more parents out on the street, and that means their kids are going right along with them. These homeless children face immediate problems like hunger and illness, but the long-term effects on their education and social development can impact their entire lives. Carmela DeCandia, one of the co-authors of the report, said, "As a society, we're going to pay a high price in human and economic terms." We're failing these kids, and there is no acceptable reason for it. We can afford to pay parents more. We can afford to fund our safety net. And, if we can't afford to care for our children, what right do we have to call ourselves "exceptional?"
Walmart workers are preparing for their biggest Black Friday strike yet. For the last two years, employees and organizers from the group Our Walmart held rallies outside Walmart stores all over the country. This year, protests are expected outside at least 1,600 stores, and workers will be joined by tens of thousands of their supporters. Once again, these protests will focus on the workers' fight for better wages and the right to unionize, and they'll take place on the busiest shopping day of the year. Organizers hope to remind shoppers that the low-price retailer can afford to pay a living wage without raising prices, and highlight their ongoing fight to help workers form a union. Walmart rakes in billions every year in profits, and even more in direct and in-direct taxpayer subsidies. There's no excuse for the company to keep paying poverty wages. The Our Walmart protesters want the right to fair pay and union representation, and they're not giving up until those reasonable demands have been met.
You may think that slavery came to an end about 150 years ago, but according to Australia's "Walk Free Foundation," you'd be wrong. A new report from that organization says that slavery was found in every country they studied, and there are more than 35 million people living in slavery right now. That report explains that forms of modern-day slavery range from children being forced to work or marry early, to men who can't leave work because of crushing debts, to women and girls who are exploited as unpaid, abused domestic help. Even here in the U.S., the researchers found people subject to many different forms of modern-day slavery, like bonded labor, physical confinement, or deplorable working conditions without rest or drinking water. Our so-called developed nation is not immune to human exploitation. Andrew Forrest, Chairman of the Walk Free Foundation, said, "These findings show that modern slavery exists in every country. We are all responsible for the most appalling situations where modern slavery exists and the desperate misery it brings upon our fellow human beings." And, that means we're all responsible for bringing this horrible practice to an end.
And finally... New York City understands that internet access is a basic right, not a privilege. So, next year, the Big Apple is going to turn their old payphones into free WiFi hotspots. The new plan, called LinkNYC, will replace 10,000 decrepit payphones with new towers that offer people free WiFi, nationwide calling, and even a place to charge their phones and other devices. Even in New York City, one of the most modern cities on the planet, 20 percent of residents don't have access to high-speed internet. That number is even higher among minority communities and the elderly. Considering that many important applications, services, and agencies are now only available online, the lack of internet access can prevent someone from applying for jobs, registering for government benefits, or requesting help with various services. These new WiFi hotspots can help bridge that gap, and connect millions to the world wide web. Although the LinkNYC plan hasn't been approved yet, city regulators are already working to ensure it complies with laws and regulations, and a team of companies is ready to install the new towers. Just like basic phone service and utilities, everyone should have access to the web, and LinkNYC is a great way to make that happen.
And that's the way it is - for the week of November 24, 2014 – I'm Thom Hartmann – on the Economic and Labor News.
How low can and will oil prices go, and what will the effects of those prices be? I bet you’ll have a hard time finding even just two people who have the same opinion on that. Not that it’s merely a matter of opinion, mind you, there are a great number of real life factors that come into play. It’s not an easy game.
OPEC gets together next week, and it’s a cartel divided. Many if not most of its members are suffering some kind of losses at present prices, and the obvious choice seems to be to cut output in order to raise prices again. But that’s not easy either, because at lower prices they need more output, not less, to minimize the damage. Besides, is non-OPEC producers don’t cut their output, OPWC cuts may do very little to lift prices.
After the recent plunge in prices, WTI is in the $75 per barrel range, and Brent around $80, the playing field has already been altered significantly. Some producers are fine with oil at $60, others need $120. Many Middle East governments need high prices to keep domestic unrest at bay, even if they can produce relatively cheaply. Some, like Venezuela, are already very close to what looks like a collapse.
There doesn’t seem to be much doubt that Saudi Arabia’s decision to cut its prices has played a major role in bringing down prices. The reason why it’s done that, however, is not so clear. Weakening the economic and political power of Russia, Venezuela and ISIS is a very obvious underlying reason. That the House of Fahd would engage in some sort of battle with US shale seems less likely; the Saudi rulers don’t fight the US that has protected them militarily for decades in the volatile region they’re in.
These geopolitical reasons behind the price drop are interesting, but perhaps the purely economic background plays a far greater role than we tend to think. We know that most large economies are not doing well at all, and we also know that their leaders and central bankers do whatever they can to make us think that pig was born with lipstick on. But perhaps we lose something in the translation, perhaps things are worse than we realize.
An article at MarketWatch by ‘investment specialist’ Ivan Martchev suggests that the impact on the price of oil of the economic slowdown in China could be far greater, in the recent past as well as going forward, than most wish to acknowledge. Since a lot of demand growth comes from China, as Europeans and Americans drive less miles per capita, a significant slowing of that growth demand could be a major factor in where oil prices go in 2015. Martchev:
One thing that strikes me about this oil-price decline is how persistent and methodical it has been. Commodities trend much differently than stocks as strong trends sometimes seem almost linear in nature with very shallow countertrend moves. I have used the analogy that the zigs and zags of stocks are typically much better defined than those for key commodities in strong trends.
The other asset class that tends to show such “zagless” strong trends at times is currencies. This can easily be seen in the Japanese yen’s USD/JPY [..] The euro is also showing a weakening trend [..] Strong declines in commodity prices signify a supply-demand imbalance. You can’t quickly shut off supply, as there are many already-spent budgets and projects that need to be completed, so weakening demand can carry the oil price much further.
I think this oil situation has little to do with the U.S. and much more to do with Europe and China, much the same way in which commodity-price weakness in 1997-1998 was due to the Asian Crisis and not U.S. demand.
How low can the oil price go? [..] we know that the cash cost of shale oil is about $60 per barrel, varying among different producers, and that historically, commodity producers have been known to produce their respective commodities at a loss to keep personnel and equipment going, as well a service debts that have financed their recent expansion.
In that regard, it would be interesting to note that energy junk bonds comprise 16% of the junk-bond market, and their issuance is up 148% to $211 billion according to Fitch. So, yes, I think the oil price can decline below $60.
As to how low the oil prices can go, that depends on how much China will slow down as the number-one consumer of oil. China’s financial system is operating on record leverage at the moment. Record leverage in the financial system and a sharply weakening real-estate market suggest that their economic slowdown has the potential to carry far below Beijing’s GDP growth target of 7%.
Yes, China has had three real-estate downturns in the past seven years, but the latest one is coming at a time of debt-driven boom, which means the consequences this time can be quite different. I used to think that China was a classic savings-and-investment economic-growth model, and it was, but that was 10 years ago.
I no longer think that, since GDP growth in the past five years has come from ever-increasing leverage ratios in the banking system. No debt-driven boom is permanent by definition, so the decline in the Chinese real-estate market has the potential to create a domino effect there in 2015. If China does decelerate well below 7% in 2015, an oil price target in the $30 to $40 range is completely realistic.
I have to agree wit that conclusion. And I think China is doing far worse than it lets on. Even if official Beijing numbers fail to reflect this, the amount of oil imported should reflect it. recently, China, has stockpiled large quantities, but it has no limitless storage facilities. One would presume its demand on global oil markets may diminish quite a bit soon.
It’s interesting to see Martchev note that both the China economy and the US shale industry are extremely leveraged, i.e. both are in dangerously deep debt positions. The kind that a slowdown can hurt badly, if not murder outright.
Back in July, Wolf Richter pointed to the Ponzi that US shale has turned into:
[..] the Energy Department’s EIA has checked into it and after crunching some numbers found:
Based on data compiled from quarterly reports, for the year ending March 31, 2014, cash from operations for 127 major oil and natural gas companies totaled $568 billion, and major uses of cash totaled $677 billion, a difference of almost $110 billion.
To fill this $110 billion hole that they’d dug in just one year, these 127 oil and gas companies went out and increased their net debt by $106 billion. But that wasn’t enough. To raise more cash, they also sold $73 billion in assets. It left them with more cash (borrowed cash, that is) on the balance sheet than before, which pleased analysts, and it left them with a pile of additional debt and fewer assets to generate revenues with in order to service this debt.
It has been going on for years. During each of the last three years, the gap was over $100 billion.
If oil prices sink further on the lack of Chinese demand, perhaps even to $30-$40, what will be left of US shale? And I’m not even talking about the 75% or so output decline rates per well, which makes shale a questionable undertaking in the first place. I’ve said repeatedly that US shale is about money, not energy, that it’s a land speculation wager and not much else.
And even at $75 per barrel, that industry is already in big trouble. Not long ago, we saw indications that shale companies would keep drilling and producing full blast with their profit margins being strangled, out of fear that investors would walk away if they showed any sign of weakness. Now, that is no longer their biggest worry:
The slowdown in the U.S. oil-drilling boom spread to two of the nation’s largest fields this week. The Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico, the country’s biggest oil play, lost four rigs targeting crude, dropping to 558, Baker Hughes aid on its website today. Those in North Dakota’s Williston Basin, the third-largest and home to the Bakken shale formation, slid to the lowest level since August, according to the Houston-based field services company’s website.
It was the first time in four weeks that oil rigs dropped in the Williston. “We’ll start to see really big drops early next year if oil prices stay the same,” James Williams, president of WTRG Economics in London, Arkansas, said. Nineteen shale regions in the U.S. are no longer profitable with oil at $75 a barrel, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Those areas, including parts of the Eaglebine and Eagle Ford in Texas, pumped about 413,000 barrels a day, according to the latest data available from Drillinginfo and company presentations. Domestic oil output slipped 59,000 barrels a day in the week ended Nov. 14 [..] Hess said in a conference call Nov. 10 that it’ll cut its rig count to 14 next year in response to the lower oil prices. Apache, with headquarters in Houston, will reduce spending in North America by 25% next year, a company statement issued yesterday shows.
And that’s just a Bloomberg account. You need salt with that. What is clear is that even at $75, angst is setting in, if not yet panic. If China demand falls substantially in 2015, and prices move south of $70, $60 etc., that panic will be there. In US shale, in Venezuela, in Russia, and all across producing nations. Even if OPEC on November 27 decides on an output cut, there’s no guarantee members will stick to it. Let alone non-members.
And sure, yes, eventually production will sink so much that prices stop falling. But with all major economies in the doldrums, it may not hit a bottom until $40 or even lower. Oil was last- and briefly – at $40 exactly 6 years ago, but today is a very different situation.
All the stimulus, all $50 trillion or so globally, has been thrown into the fire, and look at where we are. There’s nothing left, and there won’t be another $50 trillion. Sure, stock markets set records. But who cares with oil at $40?
Calling for more QE, from Japan and/or Europe or even grandma Yellen, is either entirely useless or will work only to prop up stock markets for a very short time. Diminishing returns.
The one word that comes to mind here is bloodbath. Well, unless China miraculously recovers. But who believes in that?
Auto Loan Delinquencies Surge 18% Among Young Americans »»
Auto loan delinquency rates jumped nearly 13% in the last year, according to a new report by Transunion, with young (under-30) Americans seeing a 17.8% surge in 60+ day delinquency rates, as auto loan debt rose for the 14th straight quarter to $17,352. While these are notable rises, the overall levels remain low for now, but subprime-loan-delinquencies rose notably to 5.31%. However, in a somewhat stunningly blinkered conclusion, Transunion's Peter Terek notes "the uptick in delinquency reflects a healthy and thriving auto finance industry where credit is more broadly available to all consumers." So delinquencies are great news...
Auto loan delinquency rates jumped nearly 13% in the last year to close Q3 2014 at 1.16%. At the same time, auto loan debt rose for the 14th straight quarter to $17,352. The latest TransUnion auto loan report also found that delinquency rates increased most for the youngest population subset with those under the age of 30 seeing a nearly 18% rise.
Auto loan debt per borrower rose 3.9% from $16,694 in Q3 2013 to $17,352 in Q3 2014. On a quarterly basis, auto loan debt increased 1.4% from $17,108 in Q2 2014. Auto loan balances rose in every state between Q3 2013 and Q3 2014. Among the largest U.S. cities, Phoenix, Atlanta and Chicago saw the largest yearly auto loan debt rises of approximately 5%.
TransUnion recorded 64.2 million auto loan accounts as of Q3 2014, up from 59.4 million in Q3 2013.
The subprime delinquency rate (those consumers with a VantageScore® 3.0 credit score lower than 601) increased from 4.50% in Q3 2013 to 5.31% in Q3 2014. The share of non-prime, higher risk loan originations (with a VantageScore® 3.0 credit score lower than 661) grew by 14 basis points (from 36.39% in Q2 2013 to 36.53% in Q2 2014). This percentage is higher than what was observed five years ago near the end of the recession (31.67% in Q2 2009).
Wall Street is only one of several financial roach motels in what has become a giant slum of a global economy. Notional “money” scuttles in for safety and nourishment, but may never get out alive. Tom Friedman of The New York Times really put one over on the soft-headed American public when he declared in a string of books that the global economy was a permanent installation in the human condition. What we’re seeing “out there” these days is the basic operating system of that economy trying to shake itself to pieces.
The reason it has to try so hard is that the various players in the global economy game have constructed an armature of falsehood to hold it in place — for instance the pipeline of central bank “liquidity” creation that pretends to be capital propping up markets. It would be most accurate to call it fake wealth. It is not liquid at all but rather gaseous, and that is why it tends to blow “bubbles” in the places to which it flows. When the bubbles pop, the gas will tend to escape quickly and dramatically, and the ground will be littered with the pathetic broken balloons of so many hopes and dreams.
All of this mighty, tragic effort to prop up a matrix of lies might have gone into a set of activities aimed at preserving the project of remaining civilized. But that would have required the dismantling of rackets such as agri-business, big-box commerce, the medical-hostage game, the Happy Motoring channel-stuffing scam, the suburban sprawl “industry,” and the higher ed loan swindle. All of these evil systems have to go and must be replaced by more straightforward and honest endeavors aimed at growing food, doing trade, healing people, traveling, building places worth living in, and learning useful things.
All of those endeavors have to become smaller, less complex, more local, and reality-based — rather than based, as now, on overgrown and sinister intermediaries creaming off layers of value, leaving nothing behind but a thin entropic gruel of waste. All of this inescapable reform is being held up by the intransigence of a banking system that can’t admit that it has entered the stage of criticality. It sustains itself on its sheer faith in perpetual levitation. It is reasonable to believe that upsetting that faith might lead to war. After all, a number of places organized as nation-states will be full of angry, distressed citizens clamoring for sustenance and easy answers — and quite a bit of their remaining real capital is stored in the form of things that blow up.
There is an awful lot that President Barack Obama has to answer for after all this time. But there is almost no public chatter (let alone true debate) about his failure to discipline the banking system. He should have commenced to restructure the biggest banks in January of 2009. He should have proposed through his congressional proxies the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall act. Almost nobody besides Bill Black has remarked on the remarkable record of the SEC under Obama in making no criminal referrals to the Department of Justice, not to mention the stupendous dereliction of Attorney General Eric Holder.
Of course, Barack Obama is not the only eminent office holder in the land. The behavior of all the others the past decade represents such a titanic failure of nerve and action that the younger generation must think that only revolution can avail. I believe they’ll get their chance. Everything on the horizon — most particularly the idiotic chorus of financial “bulls” — points to an ever more harrowing outcome of the orchestrated pretense that governs money matters in this moment of history.
More of the moment is the anxious decision of the Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury in the matter of Michael Brown’s death. The race hustlers so prominently showcased on CNN want to put over the story that there is only one possible just decision. If it doesn’t work out the way they like, this will be a bloody holiday and perhaps the beginning of something much bigger.
Russian Crew Boards 1st Mistral Carrier As France Quietly Completes Construction Of 2nd Ship »»
Once again it appears France is speaking from both sides of its mouth. As Hollande openly stands behind moar sanctions against Russia and 'talks' about withholding delivery of the first Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Russia, ITAR-TASS reportsthe construction of the second ship - ironically named Sevastopol, after the capital of Crimea - has been carried out according to schedule. Furthermore, judging by the rhetoric of foreign affairs minister d'Artagnan that "France’s obligations to Russia under the contract on the helicopter carrier must be fulfilled," it appears Putin will get his way soon.
Russian troops are boarding the disputed first Mistral-class ship...
And the second Mistral-class ship is ready and remains in dry-dock in Saint-Nazaire...
The construction of the Sevastopol Mistral ship is carried out according to schedule, a source in the United Shipbuilding Corporation told TASS. The source confirmed that the dry dock in Saint-Nazaire where the ship is docked was filled up with water on the 20th of November.
According to the agency’s source, the second helicopter carrier construction is being carried out in accordance with the terms of the deal and the ship has been launched.
Currently, Russia is waiting for France to decide on the delivery of the first helicopter carrier, the Vladivostok. Its delivery was due earlier this month, however, Paris has not yet decided on the date, because of the crisis in Ukraine.
French Vice-President of the commission on foreign affairs, defense and armament Aymeri de Montesquiou d’Artagnan said in the interview with TASS, he believes that Paris will meet its commitments.
“Historically, Russia plays an important role in the world; it helped France in the First World War, the French politician noted. This summer I travelled to Moscow to attend the opening of the monument to the Russian soldier, who played a prominent role and changed the entire course of the great war”.
D'Artagnan pointed to the importance of the dialogue between Paris and Moscow. “We need to hear each other, to strengthen confidence, he said. - I agree with those who believe that France’s obligations to Russia under the contract on the helicopter carrier must be fulfilled”.
Blistering Demand For 2 Year Paper Send Entire Curve Tighter »»
If the sellside community was expected to side with the Fed and sell Treasury paper, especially near maturities, then today's 2 Year auction, which just priced at a hot 0.542%, or 1.1 bps through the 0.553% When Issued, indicating more than ample demand for Treasury paper. Further confirming the demand was the surging Bid to Cover, which at 3.714 was the highest of 2014, and the most since December's 3.767.The internals too showed demand across all buyer classes, with Directs taking down 16.2%, Indirects getting 35.83% of the auction and Dealers left with 48%, or just a fraction below the 12 month average.
Altogether, a solid auction, which saw the entire treasury curve jerk 2 bps tighter once the results were announced.
Russland legt Beweise zum Abschuss der MH 017 vor »»
Von Anfang an stand die Frage im Raum, warum die USA-NATO keine Aufnahmen ihrer Spionagesatelliten veröffentlicht haben, um ihre Version des Absturzes der MH 017 zu beweisen. Diese Frage ist jetzt geklärt. Die Satellitenfotos beweisen das Gegenteil. Ich selbst muss… Read more...
Swiss Gold Referendum: What It Really Means »»
In a few days the Swiss people will go to the polls to decide whether the Swiss central bank is to be required to hold 20% of its reserves in the form of gold. Polls show that the gold requirement… Read more...
EEUU Ingiere en Argentina por su Reserva de Gas de Esquisto »»
La reserva de gas de esquisto en Argentina podría ser la causa de la injerencia de EE. UU. a través de los fondos buitre que acosan este país.
El analista internacional, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, habló de la creciente tensión de… Read more...
Introduction: The Beginning
Exactly a century and a quarter ago, amid the numerous immigrants then pouring into Canada, a 19-year-old youth landed in Montreal. It was 1882, just 6 years after the establishment of Canada as a federal state, and… Read more...
U.S. Among Three Countries at U.N. Officially Backing Nazism and Holocaust-Denial. Israel Parts Company from Them; Germany Abstains »»
In a U.N. vote, on November 21st, only three countries — the United States, Ukraine, and Canada — voted against a resolution to condemn racist facsism, or “nazism,” and to condemn denial of Germany’s World War II Holocaust primarily against… Read more...
Obamacare premiums: Going up unless you shop »»
Legal opinion: Washington Police Don’t Need Permission to Film Inside Your Home »»
Privacy debated rages as police move towards body cams. Read more...
How the Pentagon’s Skynet Would Automate War »»
The Pentagon plans to monopolize imminent “transformational advances” in nanotechnology, robotics, and energy. Read more...
The 4th Media
UN Resolution on Iran Mockery of Justice »»
The not-very-independent UN body has made a mockery of justice by soldering a resolution on the so-called human rights violations in Iran. The farce becomes more markedly absurd when you consider the plethora of human rights abuses going unpunished in the world with the UN laying a lid of ignorance on these blatant violations. Late […] Read more...
CETA, TTIP: Don’t Let Them Get Away With It »»
As part of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), there are plans to enshrine massive powers for corporations that will allow them to challenge regulations both at home and abroad if they affect profits. EU member states could find domestic laws quite useless as they become challenged in secretive, offshore tribunals where national laws […] Read more...
Opening the Gates to World War III »»
According to news reports, Washington has decided to arm Ukraine for renewed military assault on Russian ethnics in Donetsk and Luhansk. A Russian foreign ministry official condemned Washington’s reckless decision to supply weapons to Kiev as a violation of agreements that would make a political resolution of the conflict less likely. This statement is perplexing. […] Read more...
Biden in Kiev on US Regime-Change Victory Tour »»
US vice president Joe Biden flew into Kiev this week to celebrate the anniversary of the Maidan protests that led to the overthrow of Ukraine’s government. With arms waving and his wife in tow, as he stepped off Air Force One, the spectacle was tantamount to an unctuous victory lap for American regime change in […] Read more...
The Islamic State (ISIS), The Boogeymen of Our Times: Justifying US Hegemony and the (so-called) “Humanitarian Warfare” »»
When faced with the prospect of analyzing the current rise of ISIS, or the misinformed albeit widely accepted and perceived threat of Russia, or that of Iran, it is imperative that we keep in mind a few key points. One of these is the US foreign policy strategy of containment, or more aptly, the strategy […] Read more...
21st Century Wire
Hagel’s Ritual Resignation, and The War Ahead »»
Patrick Henningsen | Did Hagel really resign, or was he fired? The writing was already on the wall... Read more...
Episode #60 – SUNDAY WIRE: ‘Beyond Thunderdome’ with Patrick Henningsen, guest Basil Valentine »»
SUNDAY WIRE | Covering the week's top stories from the US, Europe... and beyond. Read more...
ISIS Coin: ‘Islamic State’ Steal Gaddafi’s Plan to Mint a Gold Dinar »»
21WIRE + Jihad Watch | If only the West had backed Gaddafi - instead of backing ISIS, the world might be a safer place. Read more...
Terrorist Bedfellows: Saudi Arabia and Israel »»
21WIRE | “We call on the council to place Hezbollah on the list of terrorist organizations" says Saudi. Read more...
Team America: ISIS is ‘McCain’s Army’ »»
21WIRE + Tony Cartalucci | Like many before them, ISIS is functioning as a US-controlled covert paramilitary force, who have grown out of control. Read more...
Ukrainian NATO Membership divides East and West as well as Western Alliance »»
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Ukraine’s NATO membership depends on a referendum. Russia demands guarantees that Ukraine won’t become a NATO member, while Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier of a less than sovereign NATO member Germany attempts to mediate, talking about a “partnership for peace”, suggesting that Germany is uncomfortable with NATO’s […] Read more...
USA: Why Children Are 8 Times More Likely to Be Killed By a Police Officer »»
Susanne Posel (OC) : An officer for the Cleveland Division of Police (CPD) recently shot a 12 year old boy for having a BB airsoft gun after an anonymous person called 911. The caller said: “There’s a guy, possibly a juvenile, in there with a pistol, you know, it’s probably fake, but he’s like pointing […] Read more...
Russian-Vietnamese Relations: Position and Prospects »»
Dmitry Mosyakov (NEO) : Today Russian-Vietnamese relations are developing in a complex political environment both for Russia and for the Asia-Pacific region. However, for Moscow, against the background of sanctions imposed by the West, the eastern direction of its policy has become a vital alternative. The task is extremely important – to create concrete substance to […] Read more...
Five food tips that could save your life after a heart attack »»
Clare Collins (TC) : Every ten minutes in Australia someone has a heart attack. For 17% this will be fatal; the rest get a second chance. If you have had a close call, these five food tips will help get your health back on track. 1. Eat more wholegrain cereals There are heart health benefits from eating a […] Read more...
Why the idea of fair, affordable care in the US is still a problem »»
Liz McFall (TC) : The period of Open Enrollment, the annual window in which eligible Americans can sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), has got off to a fairly smooth start. Even so it is clear that the act, also known as Obamacare, has another difficult year ahead. The attempt to […] Read more...
Three things the government doesn’t want you to know about Obamacare »»
J.D. Heyes | Just when you think that you have heard all that you can possibly hear about what is wrong with the Affordable Care Act -- from broken promises, underperforming enrollment goals and higher costs to millions who still lack health insurance coverage -- there is more to report
Report: 81% of GM Crops Approved Without Adequate Safety Studies »»
“Risk assessment is compromised when relatively few studies are used to determine impacts” What’s a recipe for environmental mayhem and the destruction of human health? The approval of genetically modified organisms by governments worldwide without any scientific safety studies. A new study published by the risk-assessment journal Environment International states that of the GM crops […]
New DHS immigration rules: Drunk drivers, sex abusers, drug dealers, gun offenders not top deportation priorities »»
The Department of Homeland Security has just released new “Policies for the Apprehension, Detention, and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants.” Designed to fill in the details after President Obama’s announcement that at least four million currently illegal immigrants will be given work permits, Social Security numbers and protection from deportation, the DHS guidelines are instructions […]
FUDGED: White House Pads Obamacare Numbers With Dental Plan Enrollees »»
The Obama administration said it erroneously calculated the number of people with health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, incorrectly adding 380,000 dental subscribers to raise the total above 7 million. The accurate number with full health-care plans is 6.7 million as of Oct. 15, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and […]
ALL ABOARD! 100,000 MORE EXPECTED TO FLOOD BORDER… »»
The Obama administration is bracing for another surge of illegal immigrants next spring, bringing online a family detention center that will have 2,400 beds. “We must be prepared for traditional, seasonal increases in illegal migration. The Dilley facility will provide invaluable surge capacity should apprehensions of adults with children once again surge this […]
Obama Will Legalize More Workers Than Jobs Created »»
More competition for scarce jobs President Barack Obama’s unilateral amnesty will quickly add as many foreign workers to the nation’s legal labor force as the total number of new jobs created by his economy since 2009. The plans, expected to be announced late Nov. 20, will distribute five million work permits to illegal immigrants, […]
Sleep apnea linked to poor aerobic fitness »»
People with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea may have an intrinsic inability to burn high amounts of oxygen during strenuous aerobic exercise, according to a new study led by researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.
The study, reported in the current issue of Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, shows that people with sleep apnea, in which breathing repeatedly starts and stops during slumber, have a lower peak oxygen uptake during aerobic activity than those who do not suffer from the sleep disorder.
People who suffer from apnea are more likely to be obese and thus would be expected to be less fit as well. The researchers, however, found that apnea patients had a reduced aerobic fitness, even compared with those of similar body mass indices.
"Encouraging patients to exercise more is part of the story, but that is not the whole story," said lead author Jeremy Beitler, MD, assistant clinical professor in pulmonary and critical care medicine. "We believe the sleep apnea itself causes structural changes in muscle that contributes to their difficulty exercising." Read more...
Ted Cruz (R - Texas) begins his speech delivered on the Senate floor Nov. 20th, 2014 with "The words of Cicero - powerfully relevant 2,077 years later," and then proceeds to recite Cicero's speech "In Catilinam (Against Catiline)" delivered to the Roman Senate in 63 B.C. with some modifications to fit his purpose. During this period in Roman history there was martial law, accusations of high treason, and the specter of civil war.
America today is increasingly becoming like the - now lost - Roman empire.
After Lucius Sergius Catiline lost an election to Marcus Tullius Cicero for Rome's highest office of consul, Cicero claimed that Catiline conspired to murder him and attempt a coup d'état. Cicero presented to the consul a letter, allegedly written by Catiline, that was found and presented as evidence of the conspiracy. Martial law was declared, and Catiline was denounced in the Senate - a triumph about which Cicero never tired of reminding his peers and readers (Catiline went into exile and soon after died in battle with his army). This is the official version of events where Cicero is generally hailed as a remarkable orator and a model for democracy that is still widely taught to this day.
There is much more to this Cicero character and how the Cataline conspiracy became Rome's 9/11. You can listen to a discussion on the subject on this SOTT Talk Radio broadcast. A more in depth analysis of the situation will be featured in the next installment of Laura Knight-Jadczyk's Secret History series.
Anyway, back to Ted Cruz. Catiline, a Popularis, was an advocate for the poor. He called for the cancellation of debts and openly backed land redistribution. Cicero, on the other hand, was aligned to the Optimates ("Best Men") who wished to preserve the aristocracy's power. Cicero created a law banning such populist gestures. In Cruz's speech, he aligns himself with Cicero and paints Obama as a modern day Catiline. As if Obama was not (s)elected by, and is not working for the 1% that enjoys the fruit of the labours of the masses of ordinary humanity.
Cruz delivers quite the inflammatory speech and makes sure to include the threats implied in Cicero's original speech. Read more...
Roof collapse threat in the U.S. Great Lakes area as massive snow melts »»
Several roofs collapsed in the Great Lakes area last week as they succumbed to extreme lake-effect snow, totaling up to 7 feet. Now, even as the snow melts with warmer weather, the threat remains for more roof collapses.
For flat-lying roofs, gutters could still be jammed with packed snow, which could lead to additional collapse concerns. In a snowpack as dense as what the greater Buffalo area was covered in, Spamer said there could be nearly 4 inches or water held within snow.
The threat for structural damage is lower for angled roofs as the snow will melt and send water trickling down the side of the home or building.
A cold rain can also lead to heavier snow and more weight on a rooftop because when the rain falls it is then absorbed by snow already on the rooftop. As a result, the snow becomes even heavier than it was before the rain.
If the snow becomes too heavy, it can weaken the internal structure of a roof and cause damage or even cause the roof to collapse completely. Read more...
Residents evacuated as Pico do Fogo volcano in Cape Verde erupts after a 20 year silence »»
Pico do Fogo - a shield volcano on the island of Fogo in the Cape Verde islands, off the west coast of Africa - began erupting on Sunday (November 23, 2014). It's the first eruption since 1995, nearly 20 years. Already, hundreds of residents living in the vicinity have been evacuated, and a local airport has been closed.
Erik Klemetti wrote on his excellent Eruptions blog at Wired:
The eruption has formed a small steam-and-ash plume near the flanks of Pico, a small cone inside the main caldera at Fogo. Earthquakes became noticeable to people living on the island starting Saturday night and by morning, an eruption had begun. According to volcanologists monitoring Fogo, the volcano had been showing signs of unrest "for awhile ... " Most of the activity at Fogo for the past 500 years has occurred within the main caldera of the volcano and the eruption in 1995 was centered on the flanks of Pico. The eruptions are dominantly lava flows, although unlike shield volcanoes like Kilauea, Fogo erupts both low-silica basanite (similar to basalt but higher in alkaline elements like sodium and potassium) and high-silica phonolite (similar to rhyolite but higher alkalines). That eruption in 1995 created a lava flow field that spread over 6 square kilometers of the caldera floor. Read more...
Utah police now responsible for more killings than street gangs and drug dealers »»
Police officers have been responsible for more homicides in the state of Utah since 2010 than gangs or drug dealers, a new report has revealed.
Of the nearly 300 homicides in the state in the past five years, from the beginning of 2010 through October 2014, Utah police have killed 45 of those victims, or 15 percent, according to a review of records - ranging from media reports and crime statistics to medical-examiner and court documents - by the Salt Lake Tribune. Police account for more killings than gangs, drug dealers or from child abuse, the newspaper reported, but less than spouse or dating-partner fatalities.
A fatal police shooting that occurred on Saturday was not counted and remains under investigation, the Tribune reported.
"The numbers reflect that there could be an issue, and it's going to take a deeper understanding of these shootings," said Chris Gebhardt, a former police lieutenant and sergeant who worked in Washington, DC and Utah. "It definitely can't be written off as citizen groups being upset with law enforcement."
Comment: There is no "could be", it definitely is an issue.
In addition, almost all uses of deadly force by police have gone unpunished by county prosecutors across the state. Only one fatal police shooting since 2010 was ruled unjustified - but that criminal charge was later dropped by a judge. Read more...
The Vigilant Citizen
The Vigilant Citizen Book Has Been Published! »»
The VC Book is a compilation of the best Vigilant Citizen articles written since the site’s creation in late 2008. [...]
Who Is In Charge of Development: The Elite or the Majorities? (2/2) »»
The conclusion of conversation with UN economist Richard Kozul-Wright on the far-reaching impact of a lecture given by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa on the politics of development Read more...
Who Is In Charge of Development: The Elite or the Majorities? (1/2) »»
Part 1 of a conversation with UN economist Richard Kozul-Wright on the far-reaching impact of a lecture on the politics of development given by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa Read more...
TRNN Replay: Fannie Lou Hamer and the Racist Dixiecrats - Bob Moses on Reality Asserts Itself (6/9) »»
Mr. Moses describes how in 1874 the white racist Democratic Party violently overthrew the Governor of Mississippi (who had been elected by a mostly black Republican Party), and how these Dixiecrats became a wing of the national Democratic Party right up to 1964, when the Mississippi Freedom Democrats ended their reign Read more...
Baltimore Residents Demand Legislative Action to End Police Impunity »»
In light of revelations of brutality by Baltimore police officers,
residents, attorneys and current and former law enforcement offer testimony on whether the Maryland legislature should repeal key components of the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights. Read more...
TRNN Replay: Destroy Their Economic Livelihoods, and They Will Come »»
Jeff Faux: 95% of immigrant children who cross the US-Mexico border are from
countries that the US has dominated or controlled during the past century Read more...
Video: “I Don’t Need To Look For A Job Because I Get A Check From The Government” »»
I get to sit home… I get to go visit my friends all day… I even get to smoke weed… Read more...
Strategic Relocation: Survival Retreat Strategies For When Something Big Goes Down »»
Have you considered the terrain or cover required for perimeter defense? What about the growing climate; will you have the ability to grow food or raise animals in the middle of winter? Where will you get water in hot climates? If you're not around to watch over your supplies will you bury them or secure them in a basement? All of these are important factors that help make up a whole and complete relocation strategy.
Not Just Our Crumbling Economy: “Something’s Happening to America No Amount of Money Can Fix” »»
It can be found on the streets of our inner cities, in dark basements in extremely rural communities, in the most prestigious boardrooms on Wall Street, and definitely in the halls of power in Washington. Read more...
The New World Order: Does It All Just Boil Down To A Battle For Your Soul? »»
The collectivist philosophy requires the utter destruction of all competitors; otherwise, it can never truly prevail. Read more...
Rioters To Target Whites: “You Will Never Be Safe… Not You, Not Your Children” »»
You will never be safe, never in your life. None of you. Not you, not your children – none of you will be safe. Read more...
Stop Making Sense
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ‘Resigns’ »»
Helene Cooper reports for The New York Times: ‘Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel handed in his resignation on Monday, the first cabinet-level casualty of the collapse of President Obama’s Democratic majority in the Senate and the struggles of his national security team to respond to an onslaught of global crises. [...] Administration officials said that Mr. Obama […] Read more...
The Syrian Labyrinth: A review of Reese Erlich’s new book ‘Inside Syria’ »»
Conn Hallinan recently reviewed Reece Erlich’s new book ‘Inside Syria’ for Foreign Policy In Focus: ‘Reese Erlich’s informative and insightful book Inside Syria (Prometheus, 2014) brings to mind the Greek myth of a vast maze under the palace at Knossos, with one exception: King Minos’ labyrinth on Crete concealed a single Minotaur, whereas Syria is teeming […] Read more...
US Statements, Actions on Syria Starkly Different »»
Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar: ‘Vice President Joe Biden spent four hours today in private meetings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The topic: how to impose regime change on Syria, Turkey’s war-torn neighbor to the south. Publicly, the US has been in favor of regime change for years, and had been backing “moderate” rebel […] Read more...
Utah Considers Cutting Off Water to the NSA’s Monster Data Center »»
Robert McMillan reports for Wired: ‘Lawmakers are considering a bill that would shut off the water spigot to the massive data center operated by the National Security Agency in Bluffdale, Utah. The legislation, proposed by Utah lawmaker Marc Roberts, is due to go to the floor of the Utah House of Representatives early next year, […] Read more...
Seattle police may dump plans for body cams, citing records requests »»
Joe Mullin reports for Arstechnica: ‘Police in Seattle are just weeks away from implementing pilot program in which 12 officers will test different types of body cameras. It’s a first step in a plan to put body cameras on the department’s more than 1,000 officers by the year 2016. Now that plan may get put on ice, due […] Read more...
The Economic Collapse Blog
Are You Better Off This Thanksgiving Than You Were Last Thanksgiving? »»
Are you in better shape financially than you were last Thanksgiving? If so, you should consider yourself to be very fortunate because most Americans are not. As you chow down on turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce this Thursday, please remember that there are millions of Americans that simply cannot afford to eat such a meal. [...] Read more...
10 Examples Of The Social Decay That Is Eating Away At America Like Cancer »»
It isn’t just our economy that is crumbling. Something is happening to America that no amount of money will be able to fix. Everywhere around us we can see evidence of the social decay that is systematically eating away at the foundations of our society. It can be found on the streets of our inner [...] Read more...
3 Of The 10 Largest Economies In The World Have Already Fallen Into Recession – Is The U.S. Next? »»
Are you waiting for the next major wave of the global economic collapse to strike? Well, you might want to start paying attention again. Three of the ten largest economies on the planet have already fallen into recession, and there are very serious warning signs coming from several other global economic powerhouses. Things are already [...] Read more...
Obamacare = A Death Panel For The U.S. Economy »»
Did you know that some Americans are being hit with health insurance rate increases of more than 500 percent? Taking advantage of “the stupidity of the American voter”, the Democrats succeeded in ramming through one of the worst pieces of legislation that has ever come before Congress. The full implementation of Obamacare has been repeatedly [...] Read more...
Obama’s Secret Treaty Would Be The Most Important Step Toward A One World Economic System »»
Barack Obama is secretly negotiating the largest international trade agreement in history, and the mainstream media in the United States is almost completely ignoring it. If this treaty is adopted, it will be the most important step toward a one world economic system that we have ever seen. The name of this treaty is “the [...] Read more...
Rand Paul seeks declaration of war against ISIS »»
(WASHINGTON TIMES) Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, one of the sharpest Republican critics of President Obama’s strategy to combat the Islamic State terrorist group, unveiled a draft Declaration of War resolution Monday that he plans to introduce when Congress comes back in December.
“I believe the president must come to Congress to begin a war and [...] Read more...
How well do you know your Thanksgiving? »»
Like many of you, I’ll be giving thanks this Thursday with my family, which includes a dozen school-age little ones. While the turkey is roasting, we’ll play some quizzes, cleverly designed to share the history of the pilgrims and the holiday. Here’s a Thanksgiving Day quiz you can play with your kids after the [...] Read more...
Obama’s rules for “lib progs” (liberal progressive Democrats):
Eschew truth. Lie well and often so as to believe in your lies. Never admit to telling a lie or being wrong.
Pretend to be smart though dumb as a brick. Talk authoritatively and pressingly about subjects of which you know nothing except what’s on the teleprompter.
When a [...] Read more...
Sen. Carl Levin to head Pentagon? »»
(WASHINGTON TIMES) President Obama has a short list of possible replacements for outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and sources close to the administration say the front-runner is former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy
Michele Flournoy, who would become the first women to head the Pentagon if appointed.
Former senior Pentagon officials, including one who served under Mr. Obama, said Mrs. Flournoy [...] Read more...
The Democrats' gender-gap problem »»
(Enter Stage Right) — Establishment punditry which constantly warns Republicans about their “Gender Gap” problem, but it is the Democrats who have the problem. Consider the drubbing which Democrats took in the 2014 midterm, losing races up and down the ticket from United State Senate contests to state agriculture commissioners.
Democrats in 2014 won [...] Read more...
The Climate Change “Debate” and Marketization of Nature: Everyone Loses »»
Despite near-unanimous global scientific and governmental consensus that global warming is accelerating due to human activity, debating this fact is still a favorite political pastime in the United States. Governments around the world acknowledge the science that connects industrialization, increased greenhouse gas emissions, and their detrimental impact on the climate, and are currently acting upon solutions. Yet the US, one of the largest greenhouse gas … Read More Read more...
Drone Wars Can’t Exist Without Decades-Long Genocide in Congo »»
In January of 2014, a UN surveillance drone crashed in Eastern Congo. According to the UN, the drone was part of a surveillance operation to keep tabs on warring militias that have been fighting in the country since 1996. Ironic, considering the manufacture of drones is entirely dependent on the bloody conflict taking place on the ground below. That’s because the source … Read More Read more...
The Order to “Support the Troops” is Killing Veterans »»
If there’s one thing that unifies the nation in times of perpetual war it’s the pledge to “Support the Troops”. Between yellow ribbon magnets, patriotic anthems at sports games and corporate marketing campaigns, the rhetoric that those in uniform are protecting freedom is hammered into the psyche of Americans at every turn. But no war ever fought by the US … Read More Read more...
How Words Absolve Pillaging and Mass Murder »»
Obama’s election marked a new dawn for hundreds of millions of people, who were looking to an eloquent, constitutional lawyer for “Hope” and “Change” in America. However, it quickly became apparent that Obama had little substance beyond the slogans branded by his campaign.With a little more than a year left in his presidency, his milquetoast legacy has been embodied by … Read More Read more...
BP: Scandal, Lies and Another Massive Oil Spill Cover-Up »»
Forget Stephen King. If you want scary, read U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier’s 150-page Findings of Fact released recently in the Deepwater Horizon case. Although the judge found BP liable for “gross negligence,” some U.S. media failed to mention that Barbier let BP off the hook on punitive damages. And that stuns me, given that the record seems to identify enough smoking … Read More Read more...
DOZENS OF BRAND NEW UNCENSORED BOOKS & VIDEOS FROM AMERICAN FREE PRESS BOOKSTORE S&H BONUS: FREE S&H inside the U.S. on all orders over $100!* S&H BONUS: $10 S&H credit on all non-U.S. orders over $100!* SUPER BONUS: AFP will send you a FREE gift certificate worth Read more...
Secret DoJ Spy Program Regularly Records Cell Phone Calls »»
By Keith Johnson — Did you think that the National Security Agency was the only United States government entity engaged in warrantless spying on your private telephone conversations? Think again. A recent report in The Wall Street Journal revealed that one law enforcement branch of the U.S. Department Read more...
Vast Surveillance Network Documents Your Driving Every Day »»
By Olga Belinskaya — A massive, largely hidden surveillance network “runs across America, powered by the repo industry,” announced The Boston Globe’s online arm “BetaBoston,” in a March 5, 2014 headline. Insurers and lenders of car loans needed a cheap and efficient way to track down their property Read more...
• Was ‘Harper Revolution’ driven by NWO/CIA front group and Big Oil? By Ronald L. Ray — Stephen Joseph Harper, the prime minister of Canada, has changed the face of Canadian politics, especially since the Conservative Party of Canada came to power in 2006 and consolidated gains in Read more...
ISIS: Brutal Islamic State Also A Threat to Banking Cartels »»
By Bill White — Brutality, torture and murder are all things that the United States gladly tolerates in its allies. But there is one thing that the U.S. cannot tolerate: a usury-free economy. Having invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, overturned the government of Libya and split the government of Read more...
Strategic Culture Foundation
Paul Craig Roberts: Swiss Gold Referendum: What It Really Means »»
In a few days the Swiss people will go to the polls to decide whether the Swiss central bank is to be required to hold 20% of its reserves in the form of gold. Polls show that the gold requirement is favored by the less well off and opposed by wealthy Swiss invested in stocks. These poll results provide new insight into the real reason for Quantitative Easing by the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank. Read more...
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s surprise resignation — reportedly at the strong urging of the White House — will dominate Beltway news in the coming days. But perhaps the much more significant foreign-policy news came early Saturday morning. Read more...
Hungary’s Viktor Orban: Washington’s New Enemy Image »»
A Warning to Ferguson Police »»
BILL QUIGLEY Police officers should approach Ferguson protestors with caution and fully respect their constitutional rights. That is the clear message from recent court awards and settlements against police force abuses against demonstrators. New York City just paid out $17.9 million to more than 1800 protestors arrested during the 2004 Republican National Convention, according to ... Read more...
Paul Craig Roberts RINF Alternative News In a few days the Swiss people will go to the polls to decide whether the Swiss central bank is to be required to hold 20% of its reserves in the form of gold. Polls show that the gold requirement is favored by the less well off and opposed ... Read more...
U.S. Among Only 3 Countries at U.N. Officially Backing Nazism & Holocaust-Denial; Israel Parts Company from Them; Germany Abstains »»
Eric Zuesse In a U.N. vote, on November 21st, only three countries — the United States, Ukraine, and Canada — voted against a resolution to condemn racist facsism, or “nazism,” and to condemn denial of Germany’s World War II Holocaust against primarily Jews. This measure passed the General Assembly, on a vote of 115 in ... Read more...
Washington’s Gamble: Russian Roulette, The Pale Blue Dot And All Out War »»
Colin Todhunter The ‘Pale Blue Dot’ is the name of the photograph of the Earth taken in 1990 by the Voyager spacecraft, some six billion kilometres away from our planet as the craft was about to leave the Solar System. The Earth appears as a miniscule dot, almost lost in the vastness of space . ... Read more...
Tell Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz: Stop Supporting Efforts to Kill GMO Labeling Laws »»
Starbucks wants you to think the company is on your side when it comes to GMO labeling laws. But it isn’t. As long as Starbucks is a dues-paying member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), which is party to a lawsuit against the state of Vermont intended to overturn Vermont’s recently passed GMO labeling law, the coffee ... Read more...
We Are Change
Why and How The Main Stream Media Is Manipulating The Situation Ferguson »»
Why the surveillance state lives on »»
Once upon a time, Glenn Greenwald was a lonely voice in the blogging wilderness, and Edward Snowden was an isolated functionary at the heart of the American national-security state. Then everything seemed to change at once. Snowden, who was desperate to tell his fellow Americans of the evils of NSA surveillance, revealed his secrets to Greenwald, Congress erupted, the entire world got angry, and Greenwald won a Pulitzer and a fat media contract from a billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar while Snowden became the most famous exile in the world.
Kerry holds another meeting with Zarif »»
A senior American diplomat says US Secretary of State John Kerry has held his eighth meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif in the Austrian capital Vienna, despite the international failure to reach a comprehensive agreement on Tehran’s nuclear energy program.
US Defense Sec. Hagel resigns over apparent disagreements with White House »»
Chuck Hagel. (AFP Photo / Jim Watson) United States Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down from his post atop the Pentagon, the Obama-appointee said Monday from the White House. Flanked by US President Barack Obama and the vice president during a Monday morning announcement, Hagel, 68, acknowledged that he submitted his resignation, confirming reports […]
Report: British elite unit carrying out secret missions in Iraq, hundreds of ISIS militants killed »»
Reuters/James Vellacot British SAS troops have been conducting secret missions that have killed hundreds of Islamic State militants. Using quad bikes and 4×4’s in Iraq, they have been seeking out enemy forces usually at night, killing up to eight terrorists a day. Sources from the Ministry of Defense had previously stated that the Special Air […]
Germany to drop investigation into US spying on Merkel – report »»
Reuters / Stefan Wermuth Germany might decide to drop the investigation against the US tapping of Angela Merkel’s communications according to a German magazine report released Saturday. German magazine Focus used sources close to the German justice ministry to back up their allegations. It quoted one source’s comments saying that basically nothing had been done […]
Obama secretly extends US combat operation in Afghanistan »»
U.S. President Barack Obama. (AFP Photo / Ethan Miller) President Barack Obama has secretly signed an order that expands the United States’ direct combat role in Afghanistan throughout 2015, the New York Times reported. Signed over the last few weeks, the secret order permits American forces to continue to battle the Taliban and other militants […]
Car-hacked: Cyber-criminals could target driverless vehicles, cause chaos – expert »»
Mark Wilson / Getty Images / AFP Driverless vehicles will require tough protection from hackers attempting to hijack them and create chaos on Britain’s roads, cyber security experts warn. Autonomous cars, such as Google’s self-driving vehicle, could curb road deaths by ruling out the dangers of common human errors. But the reliability and security of […]
Longest-Serving U.S. Prisoner in Solitary Ordered Free Again, But State Obstruction Bars His Release »»
A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court ruling ordering Louisiana to release Albert Woodfox, a former Black Panther who has spent more than 40 years in solitary confinement, longer than any prisoner in the United States. Woodfox and the late Herman Wallace, another prisoner of the "Angola 3," were convicted of murdering a guard at Angola Prison. The Angola 3 and their supporters say they were framed for their political activism. A federal judge ruled last year that Woodfox should be set free on the basis of racial discrimination in his retrial. It was the third time Woodfox’s conviction has been overturned, but prosecutors have negated the victories with a series of appeals. Thursday’s ruling by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the order for Woodfox’s release in a unanimous decision. But prosecutors could still delay its enforcement with more appeals to keep Woodfox behind bars. We are joined by two guests: Robert King, a member of the Angola 3 who spent 29 years in solitary confinement for a murder he did not commit; and Carine Williams, a lawyer for Albert Woodfox with the firm Squire Patton Boggs. Read more...
After Vowing to End Combat Mission in Afghanistan, Obama Secretly Extends America's Longest War »»
President Obama has secretly extended the U.S. role in Afghanistan despite earlier promises to wind down America's longest war. According to the New York Times, Obama has signed a classified order that ensures U.S. troops will have a direct role in fighting. In addition, the order reportedly enables American jets, bombers and drones to bolster Afghan troops on combat missions. And, under certain circumstances, it would apparently authorize U.S. air-strikes to support Afghan military operations throughout the country. The decision contradicts Obama's earlier announcement that the U.S. military would have no combat role in Afghanistan next year. Afghanistan's new president Ashraf Ghani has also backed an expanded U.S. military role. Ghani, who took office in September, has also reportedly lifted limits on U.S. airstrikes and joint raids that his predecessor Hamid Karzai had put in place. We go to Kabul to speak with Dr. Hakim, a peace activist and physician who has provided humanitarian relief in Afghanistan for the last decade. We are also joined by Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, who has just returned from Afghanistan. Read more...
Headlines for November 24, 2014 »»
Ferguson Braces for Grand Jury Decision in Michael Brown Case, Obama, Holder Address Ferguson Protests Ahead of Grand Jury Decision, Cleveland Police Fatally Shoot 12-Year Old Boy Holding Toy Pellet Gun, NPYD Officer Kills Unarmed African-American in Housing Project, Obama Signs Executive Order on Immigration, Urges GOP to "Pass a Bill", Obama Extends U.S. Combat Role in Afghanistan With Secret Order, Suicide Bombing Kills Dozens in Afghanistan, Iran Nuclear Talks Reportedly Extended as Deadline Passes, Boko Haram Kills Dozens in Nigeria Attack, Al-Shabaab Kills 28 in Kenya Bus Shooting, Israel Cabinet Approves Measure to Codify Israel as Jewish Nation-State, GOP-Controlled Panel Rejects Right Wing Claims on Benghazi, University of Virginia Suspends Fraternities in Row over Sexual Assault, Impunity, Dozens Arrested Opposing Pipeline Expansion in Western Canada, Hundreds Rally at Georgia Detention Center, Ft. Benning, Ohio Man Freed After 39 Years on Wrongful Conviction; Longest-Held U.S. Prisoner to Be Exonerated, Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry Dies at 78 Read more...
Viggo Mortensen Helps Mark 10 Years of Howard Zinn's "Voices of a People's History" »»
Actors including Viggo Mortensen, Peter Sarsgaard and Kelly Macdonald are gathering in New York today for a reading of "Voices of a People's History of the United States," based on the late historian Howard Zinn's book "A People's History of the United States" -- which has sold over a million copies. The event marks the 10th anniversary of publication of "Voices," which was edited by Zinn and Anthony Arnove. Mortensen, an Academy Award-nominated actor whose credits include The Lord of the Rings trilogy, has appeared in numerous performances of "Voices" and is a cast member of the television documentary version, "The People Speak." He joins us along with Anthony Arnove to discuss the 10th anniversary of "Voices" and its continued political relevance today. Read more...
Food Chains: New Film Tracks How Immokalee Workers Won Fair Wages from Corporate Giants »»
Opening today around the U.S., the new film "Food Chains" documents the groundbreaking partnership between farm workers, Florida tomato farmers and some of the largest fast-food and grocery chains in the world. We are joined by one of the film's key players, Gerardo Reyes-Chávez, a farm worker and organizer with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Reyes-Chávez has helped lead the group's success getting 12 corporations to join their Fair Food Program -- including McDonald's, Taco Bell and, most recently, the retail giant Wal-Mart. Participants agree to pay a premium for the tomatoes in order to support a "penny per pound" bonus that is then paid to the tomato pickers. Soon, the Fair Food label will appear on Florida tomatoes at participating stores. Read more...
Burwell soliciting ideas for 'increased transparency' at HHS »»
This comes after the House GOP discovered that officials had overstated Obamacare enrollment. Read more...
Terrorism insurance fight heats up »»
The fight now centers on House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling and Sen. Chuck Schumer. Read more...
Ryan promotes staffers to Ways and Means »»
He is also bringing on a former senior aide to Speaker John Boehner as his communications director. Read more...
Defense Secretary Hagel steps down »»
Hagel submitted his letter of resignation to Obama Monday morning, a senior Defense official said, after "several weeks" of discussions. Read more...
Ex-NBC employee claims he aided Cosby »»
Frank Scotti says he would help Cosby send money to women and would stand guard. Read more...
Jailed Hacker Guccifer Warns of Second Nuke False Flag Plan for US City »»
Renowned hacker Guccifer, who accessed the private emails of numerous top military, political and intelligence leaders, told the New York Times that a city in Pennsylvania is the target of a nuke attack in 2015. He made a similar warning two weeks ago for Chicago. Guccifer also revealed that he is sitting on an archive of hacked emails that have not been publicly released.
Truth is an enemy of wealth and power. - Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
Sometimes in life we are presented with an opportunity that shows us, without question, what greatness looks like, sounds like and acts like. There are other times in our lives when we realize just how inner-connected we are with the other people on this planet. Then, it happens. We are presented with a gift that we could never have imagined. We come face to face with honesty, integrity and true patriotism.
The character that makes a man is not necessarily his accomplishments. How many people do you remember that gave you an honest handshake? Kept their word when it mattered most? Stood by you during your darkest hour? These people are few and far between in most peoples lives. In other peoples lives, sadly, they are nonexistent. It seems there is a total disconnect developing between truth and lies. Lies have become truth and truth has become very, very dangerous; some may argue deadly. Just look at the rash of banker “suicides” over the past three-four months. There have been so many, I can no longer keep count.
Friday November 21 there was moment when it became crystal clear that sometimes the puzzle pieces are moved around without any of our assistance. Opportunities arise and we must strike while the iron is hot.
I had been preparing for almost two weeks, researching, developing questions and making an attempt to put together an interview worthy of the guest that I would be asking questions. The good news is, Dr. Roberts is well versed and answered my questions with the kind of depth that only comes from a lifetime of knowledge. The tapestry that is woven is light on the ear, dark in places and downright infuriating at times. The frustration comes from the reality of what our once great country has become – which is nothing more than giant ATM machine sucking the life blood out of the citizens of the world. The patient is getting close to either a) dying or b) unplugging altogether and developing a whole new system that is not under the control of American hegemony.
When the US Mint sells out of the world's premier silver coin and the price of silver does not go to the moon, what does that say about how the system works?
When you have demand that outstrips supply and the price is falling you know the price is rigged. There’s no other explanation. -- Dr. Roberts
What about when a handful, fewer than 100 people, have more wealth than 60% of a nation?
The United States now has one of the worst income and wealth distributions on the face of the earth; it’s woret than some of the third world gangster states. It’s extraordinary they completely have destroyed the United States as an opportunity society.
Dr. Roberts was gracious enough to share what he knows about the Swiss Gold Initiative and, hopefully, this article will make its way all around the Swiss countryside. It would be good for it circulate through Germany as well to let the people of Germany know we want them to succeed as well.
What the polls in Switzerland show is all the poor people are in favor of the Central Bank keeping 20% of their reserves in gold, while all the rich people are against it. The view in Switzerland is, if this passes it means a strong Franc, and therefore, it means the cost of living for the poor, falls. A strong Franc helps the poor people. It reduces their cost of living.
If the Germans had gold with which to back the Mark, a return to the Mark; it would be the end of the American hegemony over Europe. It would break up NATO, it would break up the EU and therefore, it could well be there is plenty of gold in Ft. Knox, but they’re not going to let the Germans have theirs back because it could be used for a strong Mark…which would then go hand-in-hand with a strong Ruble. You know Russians have been buying gold and there’s a limit on how much the American authorities, financial banks and hedge funds can drive down the Ruble….when they (the Russians and Germans) are sitting on tons and tons of gold!!
Whatever it (gold) does, it reduces American power and, therefore, reduces the likelihood of nuclear war. Even if we have dislocations, financially, it kind of ends this view, this hubris, that the United States is indispensable, it’s an exceptional country, ordained to exercise hegemony over the world and any country that gets in the way, like Russia and China has to be dealt with in severe ways…
With the BRICS and the SCO continually moving in positive directions and making strides to take care of business, protect their country and do all they can to get away from the dollar, what is the reality of moving away from the dollar? We have seen what happened when Hussein and Gaddafi attempted to use another form of payment for their oil? Can you say Tomahawk missiles? Sure you can. They rained down on Libya like a hail storm before a tornado. Hussein, the media simply made into a monster and then the authorities tracked him down like an animal and made a circus of the whole situation. Then they killed him.
No country that participates in the dollar payment system is independent. No country that participates in the dollar payment system has sovereignty. They’re vassal states; they’re subject to Washington’s orders. And if they disobey they are overthrown or they get sanctions. –(Rory)or they get bombed
This is an interview that should be listened to at least once. If you don’t stick around till the very last word, you are going to miss the point of the first two paragraphs of this article along with one of the best stories you will hear anywhere.
It will not shock readers to hear that quite often legislation on Capitol Hill is not as advertised. When Congress wants to do something particularly objectionable, they tend give it a fine-sounding name. The PATRIOT Act is perhaps the best-known example. The legislation had been drafted well before 9/11 but was going nowhere. Then the 9/11 attacks gave it a new lease on life. Politicians exploited the surge in patriotism following the attack to reintroduce the bill and call it the PATRIOT Act. To oppose it at that time was, by design, to seem unpatriotic.
At the time, 62 Democrats voted against the Act. On the Republican side there were only three no votes: former Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), former Rep. Butch Otter (R-ID), and myself.
The abuses of the Constitution in the PATRIOT Act do not need to be fully recounted here, but Presidents Bush and Obama both claimed authority based on it to gut the Fourth Amendment. The PATRIOT Act ushered in the era of warrantless wiretapping, monitoring of our Internet behavior, watering down of probable cause, and much more. After the revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden, we know how the NSA viewed constitutional restraints on surveillance of American people during the PATRIOT Act period.
After several re-authorizations of the PATRIOT Act, including some cosmetic reforms, Congress last October unveiled the USA FREEDOM Act. This was advertised as the first wholesale PATRIOT Act Reform bill. In fact, the House version was watered down to the point of meaninglessness and the Senate version was not much better. The final straw was the bill’s extension of key elements of the PATRIOT Act until 2017.
Fortunately, last week the USA FREEDOM Act was blocked from further consideration in the US Senate. The procedural vote was significant and important, but it caused some confusion as well. While some well-meaning pro-privacy groups endorsed the FREEDOM Act as a first step to reform, some anti-liberty neoconservatives opposed the legislation because even its anemic reforms were unacceptable. The truth is, Americans should not accept one more extension of the PATRIOT Act and should not endorse its continued dismemberment of our constitutional liberties. If that means some Senators vote with anti-liberty colleagues to kill the extension, we should still consider it a victory.
As the PATRIOT Act first faced a sunset in 2005, I had this to say in the debate over whether it should be re-authorized:
“When Congress passed the Patriot Act in the emotional aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks, a sunset provision was inserted in the bill that causes certain sections to expire at the end of 2005. But this begs the question: If these provisions are critical tools in the fight against terrorism, why revoke them after five years? Conversely, if these provisions violate civil liberties, why is it acceptable to suspend the Constitution for any amount of time?”
Reform is often meant to preserve, not repeal bad legislation. When the public is strongly opposed to a particular policy you will almost never hear politicians say “let’s repeal the law.” It is always a pledge to reform the policy or law. The USA FREEDOM Act was no different.
With the failure of the FREEDOM Act to move ahead in the Senate last week, several of the most egregious sections of the PATRIOT Act are set to sunset next June absent a new authorization. Congress will no doubt be under great pressure to extend these measures. We must do our very best to make sure they are unsuccessful!
As we reported in 2012, in an article titled "Roundup Herbicide Linked To Overgrowth of Deadly Bacteria," a growing body of research points to the world's most popular herbicide as causing dysbios (pathogenic alteration of gut bacteria), a condition which profoundly affects and alters the so-called holobiont, or total set of organisms that make up our bodily constitution, and as a consequence, health. Because we depend on the proper selection and quantity of bacterial strains with which we co-evolved over countless eons, any significant disruption of the commensal ties to this microbial universe will result in a state of suboptimal functioning, ultimately leading to disease.
The exploding gluten sensitivity epidemic, for instance, may be a direct result of the increasing prevalence of glyphosate-tainted commodities in the food chain, a topic recently explored in a collaborative paper produced through myself, Jeffrey Smith, Stephanie Seneff, Tom Malterre, and Dr. Tom O' Bryan, which can be read here.
The brilliant and outspoken MIT senior scientist Stephanie Seneff is quoted in a recent article on the topic:
The way glyphosate works is that it interrupts the shikimate pathway, a metabolic function in plants that allows them to create essential amino acids. When this path is interrupted, the plants die. Human cells don't have a shikimate pathway so scientists and researchers believed that exposure to glyphosate would be harmless.
Indeed, in the new study researchers discovered that glyphosate altered the microflora of 4-year old cows such that the highly pathogenic Clostridum botulinum strains of bacteria flourished, leading them to conlude:
"[G]lyphosate causes dysbiosis which favors the production of botulinum toxin in the rumen. The global regulations restrictions for the use of glyphosate should be re-evaluated."
Consider that botulinum,
"..is the most acutely toxic substance known, and that despite the fact it is FDA-approved for use "cosmetically," e.g. Botox injections, it is being looked at as a potential bioweapon because it only takes 75 billionths of a gram (75 ng) to kill a person weighing 75 kg (165 lbs). It has been estimated that only 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) would be enough to kill the entire human population."
Any chemical capable of increasing the proliferation of botulinum producing bacteria should be considered a clear and present threat to human health. The fact that the predominant agricultural model in the U.S. relies on GM plants which are designed to survive being doused in this toxicant, e.g. GM soy, corn, canola, indicates that anyone eating a standard GMO-heavy American diet (S.A.D diet) is likely being exposed to chemicals which shift their microbiome towards the botulinum producing pole.
Present regulatory models on GM foods do not account for the widespread contamination of the food crops (and the environment) with Roundup and glyphosate, and therefore consider conventional and organically-produced crops as 'substantially equivalent,' even though glyphosate exposure and contamination of GM food clearly violates this principle.
As research on the toxicity of glyphosate (and Roundup) accumulates, the consumer has only one option available to avoid inevitable harm: namely, avoid at all costs foods that are produced within this chemical-dependent agricultural model, either growing one's own food, buying from a fully vetted farmer or community supported agricultural source, or focusing on buying non-GMO certified and/or organically produced food which does not rely on chemicals of this type.
This article first appeared at GreenMedInfo. Please visit to access their vast database of articles and the latest information in natural health.
Over the past several years there has been a long string of deaths in the financial community. Top executives and advisers in the banking industry have been dying off in droves, and often under very peculiar circumstances. This year alone has seen 16 banker deaths, with most of them ruled as suicides. Now we can chalk that number up to 17, with the death of Shawn Miller of Citigroup.
Miller was found dead in his apartment with his wrists and throat slashed, and the case is now being investigated as a suicide. He was apparently a well known advocate for responsible business practices.
Police believe Miller killed himself, Detective Martin Speechley, an NYPD spokesman, told Bloomberg News Wednesday. However, the official cause of death will remain a mystery until the autopsy report is concluded. Miller “was highly regarded at Citi and across the financial services industry as a leader and tireless advocate for environmental and sustainable business practices,” top managers at Citigroup wrote in a letter to staff in his department, Bloomberg reported.
“He will be greatly missed by all who knew him,” the letter said.
Miller had a strong background in advocating corporate social responsibility throughout his career, first at the World Bank and then at Citigroup.
After winning a US government-funded fellowship to study Bengali in Calcutta, India, Miller worked for the International Finance Corp, the investment arm of the World Bank, for nine years, advocating “public consultation” and better cooperation with environmental and human rights groups.
At Citigroup from 2004, he was responsible for policies drawn up by the Equator Principles Association, a group of 80 lenders worldwide that called for banks to defend environmental and social conditions when financing projects, Bloomberg News reported.
He co-authored standards for “responsible risk decision-making,” according to Citigroup’s website.
However, not everything is as it seems with the death of Shawn Miller.