Saturday, May 30, 2009

Global Markets Weekahead: Return of inflation?

When the controlled press starts openly discussing inflation, you know it's going to be bad - always worse than they're willing to admit.

    By Natsuko Waki

    LONDON (Reuters) - Surging oil and commodity prices coupled with a falling dollar are prompting some investors to brace for a return of inflation, which would benefit equities and damage most government bonds. Inflation -- which in the short to medium term benefits equities and risky assets because of rising prices -- had all but disappeared after the global economy fell into recession and commodity prices sank last year.

    However, signs of a global economic recovery -- which next week's manufacturing and service sector surveys and other data could reinforce -- are leading to a renewed surge in energy and commodities and the outperformance of inflation-protected debt securities over benchmark government bonds.

    Oil prices are nearly double their four-year low in December. The Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a global commodities benchmark, has hit a six-month high while the Baltic Dry Index, which tracks rates to ship dry commodities, has risen more than 320 percent since the start of the year.

    To exacerbate matters, the dollar is on track for the worst monthly performance since December 2008, which could further fuel buying in dollar-based commodities.

    The return of inflationary forces at a time the world is grappling with the threat of deflation, could prompt investors to invest in assets such as stocks because rising prices erode the value of cash. Already struggling government bonds, apart from inflation-linked debt, could come under further pressure.

    "We're in a reflation trade. Confidence is off its low from March and asset prices are rising. The beneficial period will continue until we find reasons to be pessimistic again," said David Miller, partner and head of alternative investments at Cheviot Asset Management.

    "People are getting out of the dollar, into commodities, into equities... Selectively there are reasons to buy commodities in a portfolio."

    Miller said while the commodity supercycle might not materialize, crisis-related factors such as the absence of farmers credit are constraining supply and pressuring prices. Continued...

The 'No Problem' Mindset:
Guaranteed Destruction

By Gary North

    Most people will not change. Too radical. Not going with the flow. Not betting against the herd.

    The best examples in the 20th century were Jews in Germany in 1933. They stayed. This included Jewish bankers, all of whom could have left. They thought they could deal with Hitler. They did not read Mein Kampf. They did not take it seriously.

    About 7% did leave early: 38,000 out of 523,000. More left after 1938. By 1941, about 160,000 remained in Germany. Then emigration was closed by the Nazis. Earlier, it was encouraged. The data are here.

    At some price, almost all could have left. There were countries that would have let them in. They would have had to learn a new language. They would have arrived in poverty. But Jews had faced those options ever since the Assyrian captivity in the eighth century B.C. So what?

    They all would not have escaped the Nazis. Some would have moved to other European countries that were overrun by Germany after 1939. But they could have tried to get away. They stayed. They refused to acknowledge the warning signals. "It can't be that bad." It got worse.

    Jews had an answer for worrywarts. "No problem. We can handle it."

    The Armenians went through the same thing. The Turkish massacres of 1895 were a foretaste. Most stayed behind. Then came the genocide of 1915.


    Look back at the economy in October 2007. The Dow was at 14,000. The banks were booming. Real estate was down a little, but the experts gave no warning. They were wrong. All of them.

    The U.S. government is running a $1.8 trillion deficit this year. Federal tax receipts are down 34%, which means that the deficit will go above $2 trillion. No one cares. No one says, "This is the end. The American economy will never again be what it was."

    Think "2007." Would you have believed that Chrysler and GM were both headed for bankruptcy? In October 2007 GM shares were at $43. Now they are at $1. There was an industry called investment banking. Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and Goldman Sachs were not part of the commercial banking system. To survive, a few made the transition in September 2008. Some did not make the cut.

    Merrill Lynch is gone. Bank of America and Citigroup were bailed out by the government. They would have gone under. They sell for a fraction of what they did in 2007.

    And what do most people say? "No problem."

    There is no problem for which their answer is not "no problem."

    Medicare will go bust. Social Security will go bust. "No problem."

    The unemployment rate keeps rising. "No problem."

    When people refuse to face reality, because reality is going to be more painful than anything they have experienced, they look for signs that the problems they cannot avoid without changing are really not that bad. They look for offsetting good news.

    They think the status quo ante will return. The U.S. government is about to spend another $30 billion to buy a dead carcass of a company. It has already spent $20 billion. "No problem."

    The government will let the company stiff bondholders for $27 billion in exchange for 10% of the company, 72% owned by the government and 17% by the United Auto Workers medical insurance fund. "No problem."

    Bondholders were originally told that it would take a 90% vote to authorize this. The government has changed the rules. It will determine after the May 30 vote by bondholders what percentage must approve. "No problem.

    The company will never return to what it was. "No problem." People will not buy as many cars as before from a company run by the government and the United Auto Workers. "No problem."

    The Dow rose 100 points on the rumor that the largest bondholders will accept the deal. The deal is a disaster, but investors are in "No problem" mode. Somehow, the wipeout is less of a wipeout.

    Who is going to buy a GM car instead of a Japanese car? Here is a company that is about to break its contracts with thousands of its dealers. "No problem." Yet buyers are expected to trust a GM warranty.

    Oldsmobile is gone. "No problem." Pontiac is going. "No problem." Cadillac sells its cars with an ad of a flash model putting the pedal to the medal. Hot stuff! The company thinks people with money will not see through this ad. The Cadillac division has lost its way. "No problem."

    The price/earnings ratio for the S&P 500 is over 120. Traditionally, 20 was regarded a sell. The investor pays $120 on the hope that the stock will retain a dollar of earnings, and pay investors some minimal percentage of these earnings as dividends. "No problem."

    We are watching the investment world adopting a lemming mentality that has always produced losses. "This time it's different. No problem."


    The Conference Board announced that consumer confidence is up to 55. The 50 figure is neutral. Yet consumer confidence is a lagging indicator historically. When it rises, the stock market usually falls.

    The indicator is a reflection on what the stock market has done recently. To use consumer confidence as a justification for buying stocks is nonsense. This is like saying, "I will buy stocks because the public is confident, which based on the fact that stocks have risen." If that strategy worked, stocks would never stop rising.

    Even hard-money newsletter readers are beginning to doubt that the recent good news is in fact "less worse than expected" bad news. This is the stuff of dreams that do not come true.

    Readers look at the reports, and the reports look awful: falling home prices, rising unemployment, an astronomical Federal deficit. But the media say we are close to a bottom – the bottom of a crash that none of them forecasted.

    Readers think, "by the standards of late 2007, what we are seeing daily was inconceivable." Optimists speak of a slow, weak recovery. Pessimists speak of hyperinflation and depression simultaneously. But as the chorus proclaims "No problem," the public mindlessly picks up this refrain.

    "We have nothing to fear but . . . fear itself!" Yet as FDR delivered those words, Hitler was consolidating power in Germany. Stalin was beginning the purges. A quarter of the U.S. work force was unemployed. But Roosevelt began the refrain: "No problem." Four years later, unemployment was still 20%. The Federal deficit had ballooned. Happy days were not here again.

    Your friends don't want to hear your pessimism anymore. They don't want to change. They will refuse to change.

    In 1934, Ludwig von Mises realized that Hitler, an Austrian, would seek to bring Austria under German hegemony. He warned Jewish economists to leave. They had been his students at his famous seminar in Vienna. Fritz Machlup believed him, and came to the U.S. So did Gottfried Haberler. Mises went to Switzerland as a professor, leaving his great personal library behind. He fled to the U.S. in 1940, after France had fallen. He never got a full-time teaching job again.

    A few listened. Most did not. "No problem."


    People count the costs of making a change. This is wise. Jesus taught:

      For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage [ambassador], and desireth conditions of peace (Luke 14:28–32).

    In short, count the costs. This is what people have refused to do. They have counted the cost of doing something radical. It's high. They have counted the immediate cost of doing nothing new. It seems low. They prefer doing nothing.

    But what about the long term? What about:

      1. Retirement (no Social Security or Medicare)
      2. The Federal Deficit ($1.8 trillion this year)
      3. Federal Reserve's monetary base (doubled)
      4. Falling house prices
      5. Rising unemployment
      6. The war in Afghanistan (forever, until our defeat)

    "No problem!"

    How do you reason with these people? Answer: you don't, if you value your time and your privacy. If you turn out to be wrong, you will be ridiculed or at least treated as a child. If you are correct, you will be hated. You will also be hit up for money. If you are a Christian, you will be told you are heartless. You will become a line of credit for those whose mantra was "No problem!"

    They don't want to change. They will not change. They will not listen to you.

    And when things turn out much worse than even most newsletter writers are forecasting, you will be hated. Are you prepared for this?

    Do you have a real plan to deal with what is obviously an unfolding disaster: rising government ownership, massive deficits, rising unemployment, falling house prices, busted retirement pensions, rising interest rates (falling corporate bonds), and Federal Reserve inflation on a scale never seen in American history?

    Or do you think you can delay. "No problem!"


    We live in today's world. It's bad, but it's not a catastrophe. We must keep our heads above water.

    A Tsunami is coming. In such a scenario, you have got to get out of the water and off the beach. But few people ever do, unless they have seen a tsunami. Few have.

    Allocate some percent of your wealth to tsunami-avoidance. Do it quietly. Do not discuss this with your big-mouth brother-in-law.

    What do you really think is likely to happen? Not what you would prefer will happen.

    Think, "General Motors in October 2007"

    Think Chrysler, Merrill Lynch, and Lehman Brothers.

    No one saw it coming. It came.

    Problems. Big, big problems.

Gary North [send him mail] is the author of Mises on Money. Visit He is also the author of a free 20-volume series, An Economic Commentary on the Bible.

Copyright © 2009 Gary North

Exceptional Us

by John Liechty

    "I don’t mind the human race," begins Kenneth Rexroth’s poem Discrimination. But soon admits: "I shouldn’t care to see my own sister marry one. Even if she loved him, think of the children." Many people share such reservations towards Homo sapiens, who has such an ironic air of misnomer about him. Homo bellicosus, perhaps… Homo screwloosus … but Homo sapiens? Wise Man??

    Mark Twain’s take on the situation is typically arch: "Man was made at the end of the week’s work, when God was tired." Yes, we’ve come up with Lao Tzu, Bach, Rumi, St. Francis, Etta James, Una Muno, Maimonides, Shackleton, and Shakespeare. But then there’s the B List: Jim Jones, Stalin, Idi Amin, Barry Manilow, Judas Iscariot, Donald Rumsfeld… A case for human preeminence can be made, but with the B List allowed as evidence, it cannot be won.

    And yes, there’s the Our-Brain-Is-Bigger-Than-Yours argument, which our species so often manages to make sound like a schoolyard taunt. But I don’t see what it really has to do with anything. By big-brain logic, why shouldn’t the apex of creation award go to the elephant for its trunk, or the chameleon for its tongue, or the cockroach for its resilience, or the ant for its abundance, or the mandrill for its backside? Big brains are fine, I guess, but does having one really make the experience of life vastly superior to that of, say, a green turtle or a head louse or an indigo bunting?

    "Of course it does!" reflexively growl all but eight of the 6.6 billion Homo sapiens currently subdividing, as inequitably as can be gotten away with, the crust of this planet. Upon which we must trot out Mark Twain again: "God’s noblest work? Man. Who found it out? Man."

    The notion of human exceptionalism is closely related to its sub-strain, the notion of national exceptionalism, boiling down in our case to: "God’s noblest nation? America. Who found it out? America." Are we special? Undeniably. Ben Franklin, Andrew Carnegie, Sojourner Truth, Edward Hopper, Marilyn Monroe… Point Reyes, the Golden Gate Bridge, the 1968 Tigers, the Chrysler Building… But enough lists. Are we different? Yes. Are we unique? In many ways, yes. But are we extra-special? Are we extra-extra-special? Are we immeasurably better than the French? Are we, in the Clinton Administration word, indispensable? That’s what the zealous proponent of American exceptionalism wants to hear. Not just that we’re special – that we’re specialer than anyone else in history. Our special is bigger than your special.

    "The United States does not torture," a now-discarded President assured us in 2005. We knew it wasn’t true, we knew that the Bush government was very possibly torturing someone even as the denial was spoken. But we nodded our heads anyway, because overriding whatever else we knew was the fond notion that we’re special. Torture is something the evildoers do. We might indulge in a little "water-boarding" or "walling" now and then, but that’s different and as government lawyers went to a lot of trouble to discover, legal too. It could result in kidney failure or insanity or death, but it wasn’t the crude stuff the bad guys practice. How could it be? "America does not torture," a fresh President declared in February of this year, declining to note that we pay client states to do it for us. Masters of what Orwell termed doublethink, we pretend not to notice.

    A few days ago, Stephen Green of Midland, Texas, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the 2006 rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi. Green also killed the girl’s mother, father, and five-year-old sister, disgracing himself, the uniform he wore, and one would have thought his country. Yet one of the attorneys on the case found occasion to doublethink glory from disgrace: "This trial represents some of the most important principles of our Constitution and our democracy in action. The decision of how justice would be best served was left to the people."

    Ah, a special ending, after all. The Will of the People! Democracy in Action! Justice Served! While it may be worth applauding that a war criminal has been tried and is going to prison, let’s recall that a number of war criminals are still at large. (The most high profile among them are busy with their memoirs.) And let’s at least acknowledge that our principles had as much to do with sending Stephen Green to Iraq as with sending him to prison – and plenty to do with sending Abeer al-Janabi, and how many like her, to an early grave. The Iraq War has been a sordid business from day one. Where was Democracy in Action when the serpent was hatched?

    Through it all, a tone-deaf choir of American exceptionalists has remained center stage, like preschoolers chanting that venerable lyric: "I am special, I am special. Look at me! Look at me!" The tune has long ceased to entertain the ears of the world, and is even starting to grate on domestic ears. The choir is uncommonly persistent, but perhaps it is time to expand the repertoire or retreat to the wings.

Friday, May 29, 2009

New York City's Eco Cops


Succumbing to the Dark Side

by Paul Craig Roberts

    Torture is a violation of U.S. and international law. Yet, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, on the basis of legally incompetent memos prepared by Justice Department officials, gave the OK to interrogators to violate U.S. and international law.

    The new Obama administration shows no inclination to uphold the rule of law by prosecuting those who abused their offices and broke the law.

    Cheney claims, absurdly, that torture was necessary in order to save American cities from nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists. Many Americans have bought the argument that torture is morally justified in order to make terrorists reveal where ticking nuclear bombs are before they explode.

    However, there were no hidden ticking nuclear bombs. Hypothetical scenarios were used to justify torture for other purposes.

    We now know that the reason the Bush regime tortured its captives was to coerce false testimony that linked Iraq and Saddam Hussein to al-Qaida and Sept. 11. Without this “evidence,” the U.S. invasion of Iraq remains a war crime under the Nuremberg standard.

    Torture, then, was a second Bush regime crime used to produce an alibi for the illegal and unprovoked U.S. invasion of Iraq.

    U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, understands the danger to Americans of permitting government to violate the law. In “Torturing the Rule of Law,” he said that the U.S. government’s use of torture to produce excuses for illegal actions is the most radicalizing force at work today. “The fact that our government engages in evil behavior under the auspices of the American people is what poses the greatest threat to the American people, and it must not be allowed to stand.”

    One might think that the American public’s toleration of torture reflects the breakdown of the country’s Christian faith. Alas, a recent poll released by the Pew Forum reveals that most white Christian evangelicals and white Catholics condone torture. In contrast, only a minority of those who seldom or never attend church services condones torture.

    It is a known fact that torture produces unreliable information. The only purpose of torture is to produce false confessions. The fact that a majority of American Christians condones torture enabled the Bush regime’s efforts to legalize torture.

    George Hunsinger, professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, has stepped into the Christian void with a powerful book, “Torture Is a Moral Issue.” A collection of essays by thoughtful and moral people, including an American admiral and general, the book demonstrates the danger of torture to the human soul, to civil liberty, and to the morale and safety of soldiers.

    Condoning torture, Hunsinger writes, “marks a milestone in the disintegration of American democracy.” In his contribution, Hunsinger destroys the constructed hypothetical scenarios used to create a moral case for torture. He points out that no such real-world cases ever exist. Once torture is normalized, it is used despite the absence of the hypothetical scenario.

    Hunsinger notes that “evidence” obtained by torture can have catastrophic consequences. In making the case against Iraq at the United Nations, former Secretary of State Colin Powell assured the countries of the world that his evidence rested on “facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.” Today, Powell and his chief of staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, are ashamed that the “evidence” for Powell’s U.N. speech turned out to be nothing but the coerced false confession of Al-Libi, who was relentlessly tortured in Egypt in order to produce a justification for Bush’s illegal invasion of Iraq.

    Some Americans, unable to face the criminality and inhumanity of their own government, maintain that the government hasn’t tortured anyone, because waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” are not torture. This is really grasping at straws. As Paul points out, according to U.S. precedent alone, waterboarding has been considered to be torture since 1945, when the United States hanged Japanese military officers for waterboarding captured Americans.

    If the Obama regime does not hold the Bush regime accountable for violating U.S. and international law, then the Obama regime is complicit in the Bush regime’s crimes. If the American people permit Obama to look the other way in order “to move on,” the American people are also complicit in the crimes.

    Hunsinger, Paul and others are trying to save our souls, our humanity, our civil liberty and the rule of law. Obama can say that he forbids torture, but if those responsible are not held accountable, he has no way of enforcing his order. As perpetrators are discharged from the military and re-enter society, some will find employment as police officers and prison officials and guards, and the practice will spread. The dark side will take over America.


Leap in U.S. debt hits taxpayers with 12% more red ink

You know things are about to come to a head when even the controlled media is forced to admit they're bad. Of course, as bad as they're willing to admit, we know it's really much worse.

    Taxpayers are on the hook for an extra $55,000 a household to cover rising federal commitments made just in the past year for retirement benefits, the national debt and other government promises, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

    The 12% rise in red ink in 2008 stems from an explosion of federal borrowing during the recession, plus an aging population driving up the costs of Medicare and Social Security.

    That's the biggest leap in the long-term burden on taxpayers since a Medicare prescription drug benefit was added in 2003.

    The latest increase raises federal obligations to a record $546,668 per household in 2008, according to the USA TODAY analysis. That's quadruple what the average U.S. household owes for all mortgages, car loans, credit cards and other debt combined.

    "We have a huge implicit mortgage on every household in America — except, unlike a real mortgage, it's not backed up by a house," says David Walker, former U.S. comptroller general, the government's top auditor.

    USA TODAY used federal data to compute all government liabilities, from Treasury bonds to Medicare to military pensions.

    Bottom line: The government took on $6.8 trillion in new obligations in 2008, pushing the total owed to a record $63.8 trillion.

    The numbers measure what's needed today — set aside in a lump sum, earning interest — to pay benefits that won't be covered by future taxes.

Full story...

We are all "terrorists" now

    Never give to your friend power that your enemy might one day inherit.

We were warned. We were warned by all the whacko conspirists, the Ron Pauls, the traitors who didn't want our government to have the power to protect us. They told us, and we laughed at them, we attacked them, we humiliated them. We dismissed their warnings. We threw our hands at them. This is America; we don't violate the rights of the people. Our government has better things to do than to spy on and oppress its own people. I remember this well. I was once one of those people, who supported the Patriot Act, supported warrantless wiretapping, supported indefinitely detaining prisoners. These were terrorists, I thought. If you hadn't done anything wrong, you had nothing to worry about.

These arguments were a fantasy, a nightmare scenario, that had not yet manifested itself. Today they are not fantasy, they are not conspiracy theory; they are reality. How could we be so stupid, so naive? We are now all terrorists in the eyes of our government, with no more rights than the "terrorists" being held in our numerous concentration camps. Liberals must stick to principle: if they opposed these violations under Bush, they must oppose them under Obama. And Obama's fascist police state programs make Bush look like Mickey Mouse. Conservatives must find their principles, not because it's a democrat doing the oppressing, but because they stand on the side of liberty and oppose tyranny, no matter what letter the tyrant has next to his name.

Many today are still blissfully ignorant of the fact that their government has turned the homeland security police state, created with the intent to protect us from foreign terrorists, on themselves, right under their noses. Follow the bouncing ball. Section 802 of the Patriot Act defines any crime an act of domestic terrorism. In 2002, the Bush administration implemented a parellel legal system for terrorists in which those designated terrorists lose constitutional and civil liberties. Under this system, the administration can order a clandestine search of a U.S. citizen's home and, based on the information gathered, secretly declare the citizen an enemy combatant, to be held indefinitely at a U.S. military base. Courts would have very limited authority to second-guess the detention, to the extent that they were even aware of it. In September, 2005, the 4th Circuit Court of appeals ruled that US citizens could be held as unlawful combatants and be stripped of constitutional rights and held indefinitely without being charged. How Americans could be so naive to believe these "anti-terror" initiatives don't target them is a testimony to how dumbed-down we are as a society. But it gets worse.

Currently there are 1.1 million Americans on the TSA no-fly list, who have never been charged with a crime. Their right to travel has been severely restricted, for God knows what reason; certainly not all of them are terrorists. Perhaps they mouthed off to some TSA goon, or refused to take their shoes off, or refused to consent to their daughter being felt up by some TSA pervert, or refused to be "virtually strip searched" in the TSA's millimeter wave machine. Perhaps they looked at one of them crossly. Remember, the government, under the Patriot Act, does not need to charge you with a crime. You can be labeled a terrorist and stripped of all rights, without due process.

There are numerous state law enforcement and DHS memo leaks that essentially labeled everyone in the country a potential terrorist, or, as Rahm Emanuel called those on the no-fly list, maybe potential terrorists (you can't make this stuff up). The Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) Report on the Modern Militia Movement lumped together opponents of the New World Order (NWO), opponents of the North American Union (NAU), anti-Semites, Americans angry over Ruby Ridge and Waco (the modern day Boston Massacre), anti-gay and lesbian hate groups, pro-second amendment groups, Constitutionalists, anti-abortion activists, Y2K conspirists, racist white supremacists angry over a black man being elected president, anti-Federal Reserve activists, Christian fundamentalists, and supporters of alternative political parties, naming supporters of Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin (Constitution Party) and Bob Barr (Libertarian Party) specifically, as well as documenting "extremist" symbols such as the Gadsden flag ("Don't Tread on Me").

Numerous DHS memo leaks expanded the "terrorist" lexicon, which included "disgruntled military veterans" and illegal immigration opposition. Our government especially views veterans as a threat because they have sworn an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and they are highly trained and motivated, as well as well armed. The DHS Domestic Extremism Lexicon "provides definitions for key terms and phrases that often appear in DHS analysis that addresses the nature and scope of the threat that domestic, non-Islamic extremism poses to the United States." The key part of this sentence is phrases that often appear. These phrases include alternative media, animal rights groups, anti-abortion groups, anti-immigrant groups, whites, blacks, Christians, Jews, Cubans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, environmentalists, right-wing extremists, left-wing extremists, neo-Nazis, militias, patriots, anti-tax movements, and racial Nordic mysticism. Did they leave anyone out?

Refer back to the TSA no-fly list and watch then-congressman Rahm Emanuel state that those "maybe potential terrorists" on the no-fly list are "no longer a part of the American family" and are undeserving of constitutional rights. Gun grabber Caroline McCarthy has introduced the HR 2401 No Fly, No Buy Act which puts Emanuel's agenda into law. Representative Peter King, a republican, introduced HR 2159 Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act, which enables the Attorney General to, at his own whim and without any due process, label anyone a terrorist and strip them of constitutional rights. Do not be comforted by the fact that these bills have not yet become law; they are part of the fascist agenda of our government and, with democrats' overwhelming majority in Congress, a foregone conclusion.

We must wake up. We must examine the facts of what our government is doing, and not be afraid to see what we see. We should never have consented to stripping the civil rights of "terrorists" in the first place, trampling on 800 years of civilized jurisprudence, but we can no longer comfort ourselves with the idea that if you're not a terrorist you needn't fear your government; we are all terrorists now. The actions documented here only scratch the surface of what they have done and what they have planned. Tyranny cannot foment itself without first disarming the citizenry. "Terrorism" is the vehicle through which the government will attempt to disarm us and implement other oppressive violations of our natural and constitutional rights. We either resist them, or become their slaves. Decide.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The anti-police state: Netherlands to close prisons for lack of criminals


    The Dutch justice ministry has announced it will close eight prisons and cut 1,200 jobs in the prison system. A decline in crime has left many cells empty.

    During the 1990s the Netherlands faced a shortage of prison cells, but a decline in crime has since led to overcapacity in the prison system. The country now has capacity for 14,000 prisoners but only 12,000 detainees.

    Deputy justice minister Nebahat Albayrak announced on Tuesday that eight prisons will be closed, resulting in the loss of 1,200 jobs. Natural redundancy and other measures should prevent any forced lay-offs, the minister said.

    The overcapacity is a result of the declining crime rate, which the ministry's research department expects to continue for some time.

Maybe our government should study what the Netherlands is doing right. Maybe, just maybe, it's because less things are illegal. Nah...

Forget vaccines...take your vitamin D

by Bill Sardi

    Health demographers guesstimate that if human populations in Northern Europe were to achieve adequate vitamin D3 levels (40 nanograms per milliliter of blood sample) this would save 17.7% in direct and indirect healthcare costs, saving hundreds of billions of dollars/Euros per year.

    If these Northern European statistics can be extrapolated to the United States, the U.S. would save about $4.4 trillion in healthcare costs over the next decade.

    Such an extrapolation cannot be cleanly made since Northern Europe exists in a less sunny climate where far less vitamin D is produced, particularly in winter months; however, vitamin D deficiency is widely reported even in sunny climates such as Florida.

    Repeated health warnings to avoid strong sun exposure caused Americans to stay out of the sun and to screen out solar radiation over the fear of skin cancer. Yet mortality from skin cancer is small next to the premature deaths caused by vitamin D shortages.

    Northern Europe is at a higher latitude, has a largely indoor lifestyle, has a general lack of vitamin D-fortified food and government regulations severely restrict dosage of vitamin D supplements. The latter measure ensures a certain level of disease in Northern European human populations.

    Mass vitamin D supplementation would save about $1346 per year in healthcare costs per person in the U.S., or over $4000 a year for a family of three. Costs to provide 3000 international units of daily supplemental vitamin D would be about $10/year per person.

    William B. Grant PhD of the Sunlight, Nutrition, and Health Research Center (SUNARC), in San Francisco, is one of the researchers who drafted the report published in the March 4 issue of Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology.

    The report estimates vitamin D3 supplementation would reduce the incidence of Type 1 childhood diabetes by a relative 78%; hip fracture by 26%; all cancer among postmenopausal women by 35%; seasonal flu and common cold incidence by 90% and overall mortality by 7%. Other studies show mortality rates would be reduced by 10–20% that would increase life expectancy by about 2–3 years.

    For every dollar spent on vitamin D supplementation, $20 healthcare dollars would be saved.

Please continue reading...

Another bad omen: Credit scores fall as Americans struggle to pay bills

Much of these bills Americans are failing to pay are credit cards, and when credit card companies start tanking, it'll just be another layer added to the misery.

    As more consumers struggle with bills, their credit scores are paying a price.

    From the third quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009 — the latest data available — the average TransUnion credit score dropped 6 points to 651, the credit bureau says. Scores fell more dramatically in states hardest hit by the housing bust: California saw a 10-point drop, for example, and Arizona, 11.

    "Consumers are feeling the bite of the current recession," says Ezra Becker, a director in TransUnion's financial services group. "With delinquencies showing up in credit files, it's not surprising that the average score is decreasing somewhat."

    Becker believes credit scores aren't likely to improve — and could even drop further — through the second quarter of 2010.

    More than 200 million U.S. consumers have credit scores, so a change of even a few points in the national average can be significant, experts say.

Read the full story...

IRS tax revenue falls along with taxpayers' income

Of course, the government's solution to falling tax revenue due to taxpayers making less money is, take more of their money. The government sure knows how to kick you when you're down.

    Federal tax revenue plunged $138 billion, or 34%, in April vs. a year ago — the biggest April drop since 1981, a study released Tuesday by the American Institute for Economic Research says.

    When the economy slumps, so does tax revenue, and this recession has been no different, says Kerry Lynch, senior fellow at the AIER and author of the study. "It illustrates how severe the recession has been."

    For example, 6 million people lost jobs in the 12 months ended in April — and that means far fewer dollars from income taxes. Income tax revenue dropped 44% from a year ago.

    "These are staggering numbers," Lynch says.

    Big revenue losses mean that the U.S. budget deficit may be larger than predicted this year and in future years.

Read full story...

New Investor Worry: Treasury Selloff Spiking Interest Rates

Of course, higher interest rates are GOOD for economic recovery. But the government thinks it can alleviate long term economic hardship by forcing interest rates to near zero, when in reality all they're doing is prolonging the hardship. Better to get the pain over with now, in the short term, than push the recovery back and intensify the pain and suffering. There will be pain and suffering, no matter what the government does. The less they do, the less pain there will be.

    The stock market is watching the bond market, wary a spike in interest rates will derail a fragile economic recovery and snuff the market's rally.

    Stocks tumbled Wednesday, but the real drama was in Treasurys and mortgages.

    A selling spree in Treasurys pushed rates higher, taking the yield curve to its steepest on record as spreads between the 2-year and 10-year widened by over a dozen basis points on Wednesday alone.

    The 10-year saw its yield move above 3.70 percent, after trading at 3.55 percent the previous day. The selling wave hit bonds shortly after 1 p.m., even after the auction of $35 billion in 5-year notes was well received.

    "It was a great auction. It was just the follow through that was a problem," said Brian Edmonds, head of interest rate trading at Cantor Fitzgerald.

    Traders are bracing for more of the same Thursday. The Treasury is auctioning another $26 billion in notes, this time 7-years.

    The heavy issuance - more than $100 billion this week alone - has been pressuring the market.

    Some key data will also get the market's attention Thursday, including weekly jobless claims, durable goods and new home sales.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

British banks revolt against Obama tax plan

I'm starting to like this word revolt.

    British banks and stockbrokers may refuse to take on American clients if new international tax proposals outlined by President Obama are passed.

    The decision, which would make it hard for Americans in London to open bank accounts and trade shares, is being discussed by executives at Britain's banks and brokers who say it could become too expensive to service American clients. The proposals, which were unveiled as part of the president's first budget, are designed to clamp-down on American tax evaders abroad. However bank bosses say they are being asked to take on the task of collecting American taxes at a cost and legal liability that are inexpedient.

    Andy Thompson of Association of Private Client Investment Managers and Stockbrokers (APCIMS) said: "The cost and administration of the US tax regime is causing UK investment firms to consider disinvesting in US shares on behalf of their clients. This is not right and emphasises that the administration of a tax regime on a global scale without any flexibility damages the very economy it is trying to protect."

    One executive at a top UK bank who didn't want to be named for fear of angering the IRS said: "It's just about manageable under the current system - and that's because we're big. The danger to us is suddenly being hauled over the coals by the IRS for a client that hasn't paid proper taxes. The audit costs will soar. We'll have to pay it but I know plenty of smaller players won't."

Read all of it.

FBI 'lured dimwits' into terror plot

An update to this story. Anyone with functioning brain cells can see this was a propaganda episode meant to justify our domestic police state, AKA the war on terror.

    ON the steps of New York city hall on Friday, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor, praised the police officers and federal agents who helped disrupt an apparent terrorist plot to blow up a synagogue and shoot down military aircraft.

    The mayor was flanked by more than 100 homeland security and counter-terrorist specialists, all of whom had a hand in an elaborate sting that netted four alleged Muslim extremists. Their plan, according to FBI agents, was to detonate a “fireball that would make the country gasp”.

    The operation was acclaimed by New York officials for its success in averting what David Paterson, the state governor, described as “a heinous crime”.

    Yet not every New Yorker was impressed by the latest in a long line of purported anti-terrorist triumphs that have supposedly averted tragedy in New York, Chicago, Toronto and several other North American cities since September 11, 2001.

    “This whole operation was a foolish waste of time and money,” claimed Terence Kindlon, a defence lawyer who represented the last terror suspect to be tried in New York state. “It is almost as if the FBI cooked up the plot and found four idiots to install as defendants.”

    Kindlon’s complaints were echoed by other legal experts who have repeatedly questioned the FBI’s reliance on undercover informants – known as confidential witnesses (CWs) – who lure gullible radicals into far-fetched plots that are then foiled by the agents monitoring them.

    The last such plot purportedly involved an alleged attempt to blow up a fuel pipeline at John F Kennedy airport in New York in 2007; the defendants are awaiting trial in a case that depends heavily on evidence from an undercover CW.

    “One question [about the synagogue case] that has to be answered is: did the informant go in and enlist people who were otherwise not considering trouble ?” said Kevin Luibrand, who represented a Muslim businessman caught up in another FBI sting three years ago. “Did the government induce someone to commit a crime?”

    The other question that US security experts were debating was how much had been achieved by assigning more than 100 agents to a year-long investigation of three petty criminals and a mentally ill Haitian immigrant, none of whom had any connection with any known terrorist group. “They were all unsophisticated dimwits,” said Kindlon.
Read all of it.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

In just 3 months Americans bought enough guns to outfit the entire Chinese and Indian armies combined

Molon labe!

    You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.” - Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto WWII

    You also bought 1,529,635,000 rounds of ammunition in just the month of December 2008. Yeah that is right, that is Billion with a “B”. This number takes no accounting of reloading or reloaded ammunition.

The Wonder Product for the Frugal:


    How many cleaning products do you own? Take a look under your sink and you may be surprised at the accumulation. It seems there is a different product for everything; one to clean sinks, another to clean toilets, one for granite, one for floors, another for stovetops, one for windows, another for wood surfaces, and the list goes on, cluttering your cabinets and robbing you of space.

    But how many cleaning products do you really need? Chemical makers and big business would have you believe you need many. But for frugalities and environmentalists alike, the answer is simple: just one. White vinegar is the all-in-one cleaner that is not only inexpensive, but it’s powerful. It's all you need. People often use bleach for disinfecting, however, while bleach does kill bacteria and viruses, it doesn’t kill mold. Enter white vinegar, the mold-killer. Get over the smell now! Yes, vinegar has a distinct odor but it dissipates quickly. With white vinegar, you can clean your entire house with just one product and you also eliminate and prevent mold. Although there are innumerable health benefits from vinegar, this blog is focusing on its benefits as a frugal cleaning agent.

    Facts about vinegar:
    • It kills germs and viruses. White vinegar is known to kill 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, 80 percent of germs and viruses.
    • It’s inexpensive. White vinegar costs around $1 for a liter, which is $2–$3 less than a bottle of household cleaner.
    • It lasts a long time. The shelf life of vinegar is almost indefinite, according to The Vinegar Institute's research studies. Because of vinegar's acid nature it is self-preserving and does not need refrigeration. White Vinegar will remain virtually unchanged over an extended period of time.
    • It’s natural and environmentally safe. Vinegar is a natural organic bi-product of fruits, vegetables and grains. It is therefore edible and biodegradable. It is 'The Perfect Household Cleaner'™ for your family because it is very safe for the environment, for family members, especially those with asthma, and around young children. It doesn't contain harmful toxic chemicals, so if in the course of normal household cleaning you 'pour it down the drain' its impact on municipal sewer and water treatment systems is just like any food product.
    Get your squirt bottles ready. To use vinegar as your all-purpose cleaning product of choice, simply pour full-strength white vinegar into a trigger spray bottle and you are ready to tackle most soiled surfaces around your house. Spray and then wipe clean with a lint-free cloth or paper towel. There is no need to rinse. It will not leave a residue. Some surfaces you may want to dilute with water. The stronger the dilution of vinegar, the stronger the cleaning power. Leave the vinegar trigger-spray bottle under your sink or in your cleaning bucket so it is ready to clean when you are.

Read it all.

Police/Surveillance State in Britain

Could this be coming to America? You betcha!

Camera grid to log number plates

    John Catt found himself on the wrong side of the ANPR system. He regularly attends anti-war demonstrations outside a factory in Brighton, his home town.

    It was at one of these protests that Sussex police put a "marker" on his car. That meant he was added to a "hotlist".

    This is a system meant for criminals but John Catt has not been convicted of anything and on a trip to London, the pensioner found himself pulled over by an anti-terror unit.

    "I was threatened under the Terrorist Act. I had to answer every question they put to me, and if there were any questions I would refuse to answer, I would be arrested. I thought to myself, what kind of world are we living in?"

    Sussex police would not talk about the case.

The full story is here. This of course is contrary to a recent report that concluded only 3% of crimes in Britain are solved by using CCTV evidence. There is obviously an ulterior motive for these cameras.

Rachel Maddow lambasts Obama on indefinite detention

Liberals are slowly wisening up to the fact that Obama's campaign rhetoric was nothing but rhetoric, or worse, outright lies. But will they look deeper into the reason for this, that Obama now works for the same people that Bush did; that the President is not the one in charge?

Obama: We're out of money

Really Barry? You don't say?

Of course, what I always endeavor to do when I'm broke is...spend more money! And people see our government doing this and think, hey, let's give this a try and see how it pans out, completely oblivious that if anyone - on an individual or business level - operated their finances this way it would lead to total ruin. We are truly brain-dead.

    In a sobering holiday interview with C-SPAN, President Obama boldly told Americans: "We are out of money."

    C-SPAN host Steve Scully broke from a meek Washington press corps with probing questions for the new president.

    SCULLY: You know the numbers, $1.7 trillion debt, a national deficit of $11 trillion. At what point do we run out of money?

    OBAMA: Well, we are out of money now. We are operating in deep deficits, not caused by any decisions we've made on health care so far. This is a consequence of the crisis that we've seen and in fact our failure to make some good decisions on health care over the last several decades.

    So we've got a short-term problem, which is we had to spend a lot of money to salvage our financial system, we had to deal with the auto companies, a huge recession which drains tax revenue at the same time it's putting more pressure on governments to provide unemployment insurance or make sure that food stamps are available for people who have been laid off.

    So we have a short-term problem and we also have a long-term problem. The short-term problem is dwarfed by the long-term problem. And the long-term problem is Medicaid and Medicare. If we don't reduce long-term health care inflation substantially, we can't get control of the deficit.

    So, one option is just to do nothing. We say, well, it's too expensive for us to make some short-term investments in health care. We can't afford it. We've got this big deficit. Let's just keep the health care system that we've got now.

    Along that trajectory, we will see health care cost as an overall share of our federal spending grow and grow and grow and grow until essentially it consumes everything...

    SCULLY: When you see GM though as “Government Motors,” you're reaction?

    OBAMA: Well, you know – look we are trying to help an auto industry that is going through a combination of bad decision making over many years and an unprecedented crisis or at least a crisis we haven't seen since the 1930's. And you know the economy is going to bounce back and we want to get out of the business of helping auto companies as quickly as we can. I have got more enough to do without that. In the same way that I want to get out of the business of helping banks, but we have to make some strategic decisions about strategic industries...

    SCULLY: States like California in desperate financial situation, will you be forced to bail out the states?

    OBAMA: No. I think that what you're seeing in states is that anytime you got a severe recession like this, as I said before, their demands on services are higher. So, they are sending more money out. At the same time, they're bringing less tax revenue in. And that's a painful adjustment, what we're going end up seeing is lot of states making very difficult choices there...

From Drudge...

Friday, May 22, 2009

FBI "Terror" Entrapment

There are few people who criticize Islam more than me, and I would be the last person to down-play the effects subscribing to this hideous ideology will have on somebody, especially if they are born into a fundamentalist culture. I would also be the last person to say Muslims do not pose a threat of some sort on Americans, although I have no doubt that threat is greatly exacerbated by our foreign policy over the past 100 years.

This does not excuse the grotesque police state that has been thrust down our throats in this (no-so) new era of terrorism, and there is no doubt that the mob, who demanded this police state in the first place, as if the State could actually protect them, needs constant reminders of why they have surrendered their liberties for the sake of "security". The government is well aware of this pathology and jumps on every opportunity, real or imagined, to remind us that we desperately need this leviathan to keep us safe.

No case illustrates this better than the recent foiled "terror plot" against New York City synagogues. The FBI got a hold of a group of dead-beat Muslims of questionable mental capacity - "intellectually challenged" with borderline IQ, drug users and medicated for schizophrenia - who were disgruntled over American foreign policy, swayed them to turn to violent jihad, gave them dummy weapons, and then arrested them for the plot they entrapped them in. "It's hard to envision a more chilling plot," assistant U.S. attorney Eric Snyder said. "These are extremely violent men." Is he talking about these mentally retarded rejects, of the FBI?

Surely the mob will blindly look upon this incident as a reminder of how another 9-11 is always right around the corner, with only the good intentioned graces of the homeland security state standing in the way of such horrors. But the particulars of this "crime" are out in the open for anyone willing to read between the propaganda. The fact is, the FBI profiled these individuals and found them prime candidates to be brainwashed into committing terror. They were not "extremely violent men" until the FBI got a hold of them, and the only chilling plot was the one the FBI entrapped these men in, yet we are to believe were it not for the FBI, who, again, created the plot in the first place, a heinous terrorist attack would have occurred.

Are we that stupid?

It's coming...

Are you ready for hard times?

U.S. to 'eventually' lose AAA rating

    May 22 (Bloomberg) -- Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner committed to cutting the budget deficit as concern about deteriorating U.S. creditworthiness deepened, and ascribed a sell-off in Treasuries to prospects for an economic recovery.

    “It’s very important that this Congress and this president put in place policies that will bring those deficits down to a sustainable level over the medium term,” Geithner said in an interview with Bloomberg Television yesterday. He added that the target is reducing the gap to about 3 percent of gross domestic product, from a projected 12.9 percent this year.

    The dollar extended declines today after Treasuries and American stocks slumped on concern the U.S. government’s debt rating may at some point be lowered. Bill Gross, the co-chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Co., said the U.S. “eventually” will lose its AAA grade.

Fed: High Inflation on the Horizon

    May 22 (Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia President Charles Plosser said prices may rise 2.5 percent in 2011, a rate well above central bankers’ preferred range, and cautioned against complacency on inflation.

    “The economy may be at greater risk of inflation than the conventional wisdom indicates,” Plosser said in a speech yesterday in New York. “While inflation expectations appear to remain anchored, we should not become sanguine about our credibility. It can be easily lost.”

    The bank president’s inflation forecast for 2011 exceeds central bank officials’ long-run preferred range of 1.7 percent to 2 percent, and contrasts with the concerns of some officials and economists that the economic slump may provoke a broad decline in prices.

Notice that inflation is the Fed's policy and that deflation - defined by them as lowering prices (which of course is incorrect) is characterized as bad, even though for the average person lower prices are a good thing, especially in hard economic times. What do they have against poor and middle class people?

Dollar Weakens

What a crazy concept: when you print up a bunch of money, it drastically loses value!

    May 22 (Bloomberg) -- The dollar fell to a four-month low against the euro after Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, said America’s recovery may be “slow” and Standard & Poor’s threat to strip Britain’s AAA debt rating stoked concern that U.S. bonds may also be downgraded.
    The dollar declined 0.5 percent against the euro and 0.4 percent to the lowest in nine weeks versus the yen as of 11:38 a.m. in London. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.1 percent and Europe’s Stoxx 600 Index was up 0.2 percent. Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 0.6 percent.

    The pound weakened against all but three of the 16 major currencies after S&P lowered the outlook on the U.K.’s AAA rating yesterday to “negative” from “stable,” citing the nation’s slowing economy and growing debt burden. Governments around the world are selling more bonds than ever to battle the worst recession since World War II. The U.S. Treasury will auction about $101 billion of securities next week, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimates the government will sell a total of $3.25 trillion in debt this fiscal year to finance President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus measures.

    ‘Triple Whammy’

    “Speculation has increased that the U.S. could potentially face a credit rating downgrade and in doing so, lose its AAA rating,” Lee Hardman, a foreign-exchange strategist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd., wrote in an e-mailed report today. Investors in U.S. assets may face a “triple whammy of falling U.S. equities, U.S. government debt and the dollar,” he said.

Recession Turns Malls Into Ghost Towns

This - the commercial real estate crash, as has been warned, is the next hammer to drop on the U.S. economy, and it will make the housing crash look like a trip to Disney Land.

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Malls, those ubiquitous shopping meccas that sprang up in the 1950s, are dwindling in number, with many struggling properties reduced to largely vacant shells.

    On the low-income east side of Charlotte, N.C., the 1.1-million-square-foot Eastland Mall recently lost a slew of key tenants, including a Dillard's and, next month, a Sears. Sales per square foot at the venue fell to $210 in 2008 from $288 in 2001.

    The Metcalf South Shopping Center in Overland Park, Kan., is languishing after plans to redevelop it into an open-air shopping district fizzled. The stretch of shops that connects the two largest tenants -- a Sears and a Macy's -- stands mostly vacant, patrolled by security guards.

    With their maze of walkways and fast-food courts, malls have long been an iconic, if sometimes unsightly, presence in the American retail landscape. A few were made famous by their sheer size, others for the range of shopping and social diversions they provided.

    But the long recession is helping to empty out the promenades. Some analysts estimate that the number of so-called "dead malls" -- centers debilitated by anemic sales and high vacancy rates -- will swell to more than 100 by the end of this year.
    The industry's woes are worsening. Thinning customer traffic, and subsequent hits to tenants' sales and profits, prompted Standard & Poor's Corp. last month to lower the credit ratings of the department-store sector. That knocked Macy's Inc. and J.C. Penney Co. into junk territory and pushed others deeper into junk. Sears Holdings Corp., a cornerstone tenant at many malls, is expected to close 23 stores this month and next.

    General Growth Properties, which owns more than 200 U.S. malls, filed for bankruptcy protection April 16, due mainly to its failure to refinance billions of dollars of debt coming due. While the real-estate investment trust has said the filing will have no impact on its mall business, analysts say a prolonged bankruptcy proceeding could make retailers nervous about sticking around once their leases expire.

    The severity of the recession is turning some malls that were once viewed as viable into potential casualties. "Any mall that's sitting on life support is probably going to get its plug pulled" as the economy stalls, says Michael Glimcher, chairman and CEO of Glimcher Realty Trust, which owns 23 U.S. properties, including Eastland Mall in Charlotte.

Florida's BankUnited fails, will cost FDIC $4.9B

    WASHINGTON (AP) - The federal seizure of struggling Florida thrift BankUnited FSB is expected to cost the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. $4.9 billion, representing the second-largest hit to the FDIC's insurance fund since the financial crisis began felling banks last year.

    The costliest was last year's seizure of California lender IndyMac Bank, on which the bank insurance fund is estimated to have lost $10.7 billion.

    The Office of Thrift Supervision, a Treasury Department agency, said Thursday that BankUnited FSB reported $1.2 billion in losses last year as defaults on loans piled up. The thrift "was critically undercapitalized and in an unsafe condition to conduct business," the agency said in a statement.

    Coral Gables, Fla.-based BankUnited FSB is the 34th federally insured institution to be closed this year, and the biggest. Florida's largest banking institution with about $13 billion in assets as of May 2 was sold for $900 million to an investor group led by former North Fork Bancorp Chairman and CEO John Kanas. It will reopen as a newly chartered savings bank called BankUnited on Friday, with Kanas at the helm.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

More bad economic numbers

These shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, but ignorant people are going to be disappointed because they think if they hope hard enough a bottom will magically appear. I love the headline reporting we've lost over 600,000 jobs the last month. Normally I'd alter it to reflect honesty and reality but it's just too amusing to me.

Jobless Claims in U.S. Decreased 12,000 to 631,000

    May 21 (Bloomberg) -- More Americans than forecast filed claims for unemployment insurance last week, and the total number of workers receiving benefits rose to a record, signs the job market continues to weaken even as the economic slump eases.

    Initial jobless claims fell by 12,000 to 631,000 in the week ended May 16, from a revised 643,000 the prior week that was higher than initially estimated, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The total number of people collecting benefits rose to 6.66 million, a record reading for a 16th straight week, and a sign companies are still not hiring.

    Job losses are likely to continue after Chrysler LLC filed for bankruptcy and General Motors Corp. may follow suit and terminate 1,100 U.S. dealers. The auto slump threatens to slow any recovery from the deepest recession in half a century and keep pushing unemployment higher.

    “We expect upward pressure on claims stemming from auto- related layoffs,” said Maxwell Clarke, chief U.S. economist at IDEAglobal in New York, who acurately forecast the initial claims number. “The labor market will remain weak, with gradual improvement on the horizon.” (There are no gradual improvements on the horizon)

Michigan unemployment reaches 12.9 percent in April

    Lansing -- Michigan's unemployment rate rose to 12.9 percent in April, its highest mark since late 1983.

    The state said Wednesday that Michigan's seasonally adjusted jobless rate was pushed up by large job losses in manufacturing and construction.

    Last month's jobless rate was the highest in Michigan since unemployment reached 13 percent in November 1983. Michigan's jobless rate in March, 12.6 percent, already was highest in the nation.

    The national unemployment rate rose from 8.5 percent in March to 8.9 percent in April.

Obama's militaristic youth corp

The feds had this piece of fascist crap taken off YouTube, for obvious reasons. The cat's already out of the bag.

Obama's Militaristic Youth Corp Commercial

Man held on $500,000 bail for buying ammo

How long before people own up to the fact that they're after our gun rights?

    HAVERHILL — Keni Garcia told police he intended to use the 30,000 bullets they found in his car and home for target practice.

    That is hard to believe, the prosecutor at Garcia's arraignment said, because if he were to fire a gun for eight hours a day, it would take weeks for him to use all of it.

    Garcia, who allegedly bought thousands of rounds of ammunition and had 10,000 bullets in his car when he was stopped by police Thursday, was ordered held on $500,000 cash bail yesterday.

    Attorney Socrates de la Cruz of Lawrence, who represented Garcia, 32, of 12 Freeman St., at his arraignment in Haverhill District Court, said he will appeal the high bail in Superior Court.

    Garcia is charged with three counts of possession of a high-capacity firearm, illegal possession of ammunition and illegal storage of a firearm. His case was continued until June 12.

    Assistant District Attorney Christopher Holland asked Judge Patricia Dowling to impose $750,000 cash bail.

    "He has no reason to stay here," Holland said.

    The judge ordered Garcia to surrender his passport, and said that if he makes bail he is not to leave Massachusetts.

Full story...

Government training youth corps to take on veterans and other extremists/terrorists

IMPERIAL, Calif. — Ten minutes into arrant mayhem in this town near the Mexican border, and the gunman, a disgruntled Iraq war veteran, has already taken out two people, one slumped in his desk, the other covered in blood on the floor.

The responding officers — eight teenage boys and girls, the youngest 14 — face tripwire, a thin cloud of poisonous gas and loud shots — BAM! BAM! — fired from behind a flimsy wall. They move quickly, pellet guns drawn and masks affixed.

“United States Border Patrol! Put your hands up!” screams one in a voice cracking with adolescent determination as the suspect is subdued.

It is all quite a step up from the square knot.

The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence — an intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters.

This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl,” said A. J. Lowenthal, a sheriff’s deputy here in Imperial County, whose life clock, he says, is set around the Explorers events he helps run. “It fits right in with the honor and bravery of the Boy Scouts.”

The training, which leaders say is not intended to be applied outside the simulated Explorer setting, can involve chasing down illegal border crossers as well as more dangerous situations that include facing down terrorists and taking out “active shooters,” like those who bring gunfire and death to college campuses. In a simulation here of a raid on a marijuana field, several Explorers were instructed on how to quiet an obstreperous lookout.

Put him on his face and put a knee in his back,” a Border Patrol agent explained. “I guarantee that he’ll shut up.”
This is just outright, blatant fascism. Staggering. Full story...

Day of reckoning looms for the U.S. dollar

The U.S. dollar's day of reckoning may be inching closer as its status as a safe-haven currency fades with every uptick in stocks and commodities and its potential risks - debt and inflation - are brought under a harsher spotlight.

Ashraf Laidi, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, said Wednesday a "serious case of dollar damage" was underway.

"We long warned about the day of reckoning for the dollar emerging at the next economic recovery," Mr. Laidi said in a note.

Mr. Laidi said economic recovery would weigh on the greenback as real demand for commodities, coupled with improved risk appetite, caused investors to seek higher yields in emerging markets and commodity currencies. This would draw investment away from the U.S. dollar, which was dragged down by growing debt and the risk quantitative easing would eventually spark a surge in inflation.

Full story...

Obama's 'Preventive Detention' Plan

You would think that Obama would've learned by now that in this day and age, you can never speak 'off the record'.

    WASHINGTON — President Obama told human rights advocates at the White House on Wednesday that he was mulling the need for a “preventive detention” system that would establish a legal basis for the United States to incarcerate terrorism suspects who are deemed a threat to national security but cannot be tried, two participants in the private session said.

    The discussion, in a 90-minute meeting in the Cabinet Room that included Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and other top administration officials, came on the eve of a much-anticipated speech Mr. Obama is to give Thursday on a number of thorny national security matters, including his promise to close the detention center at the naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

    Human rights advocates are growing deeply uneasy with Mr. Obama’s stance on these issues, especially his recent move to block the release of photographs showing abuse of detainees, and his announcement that he is willing to try terrorism suspects in military commissions — a concept he criticized bitterly as a presidential candidate.

    The two participants, outsiders who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the session was intended to be off the record, said they left the meeting dismayed.

    They said Mr. Obama told them he was thinking about “the long game” — how to establish a legal system that would endure for future presidents. He raised the issue of preventive detention himself, but made clear that he had not made a decision on it. Several senior White House officials did not respond to requests for comment on the outsiders’ accounts.

    “He was almost ruminating over the need for statutory change to the laws so that we can deal with individuals who we can’t charge and detain,” one participant said. “We’ve known this is on the horizon for many years, but we were able to hold it off with George Bush. The idea that we might find ourselves fighting with the Obama administration over these powers is really stunning.”

Full story...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Taliban "terrorists" fighting US forces with our own weapons

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Pentagon munitions have leaked from Afghan forces to Taliban militants, enabling them to fight an insurgency for years against materially superior US and Afghan forces, The New York Times reported.

According to a Times study of ammunition markings, of 30 rifle magazines removed from the corpses of insurgents in eastern Afghanistan last month, at least 17 contained cartridges, or rounds, "identical" to ammunition the United States has provided to Afghan government forces.

Although "the scope of that diversion remains unknown," the newspaper warned that "poor discipline and outright corruption among Afghan forces may have helped insurgents stay supplied" in the wake of "only spotty" US and Afghan controls of weapons and ammunition sent to Afghanistan.

Following criticism for failing to account for thousands of rifles provided to Afghan security forces, some of which have been found in the hands of militants, the Pentagon launched a database documenting small arms supplied to Afghan units.

And the US-led Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan, which is responsible for training and supplying Afghan forces, has said it has prioritized accounting for all Afghan military and police property.

"The emphasis from our perspective is on accountability of all logistics property," the transition command's deputy chief, Brigadier General Anthony Ierardi told the newspaper.

Leakage of Pentagon-supplied armaments to insurgents is an "absolutely worst-case scenario," he said.

But no similar system of accountability is applied to ammunition, which is more difficult to trace than firearms.

Military officers told the newspaper that US forces do not examine all captured arms and munitions to determine how they fell into the hands of insurgents and whether the Afghan government was supplying -- even indirectly -- the Taliban.

The reasons for the gap, according to The Times, owed to "limited resources and institutional memory of issued arms, as well as an absence of collaboration between field units that collect equipment and the investigators and supervisors in Kabul who could trace it."


The Weimar Hyperinflation: Could it Happen Again?

It was horrible. Horrible! Like lightning it struck. No one was prepared. The shelves in the grocery stores were empty. You could buy nothing with your paper money.” – Harvard University law professor Friedrich Kessler on the Weimar Republic hyperinflation (1993 interview)

Some worried commentators are predicting a massive hyperinflation of the sort suffered by Weimar Germany in 1923, when a wheelbarrow full of paper money could barely buy a loaf of bread. An April 29 editorial in the San Francisco Examiner warned:

    “With an unprecedented deficit that’s approaching $2 trillion, [the President’s 2010] budget proposal is a surefire prescription for hyperinflation. So every senator and representative who votes for this monster $3.6 trillion budget will be endorsing a spending spree that could very well turn America into the next Weimar Republic.”1

In an investment newsletter called Money Morning on April 9, Martin Hutchinson pointed to disturbing parallels between current government monetary policy and Weimar Germany’s, when 50% of government spending was being funded by seigniorage – merely printing money.2 However, there is something puzzling in his data. He indicates that the British government is already funding more of its budget by seigniorage than Weimar Germany did at the height of its massive hyperinflation; yet the pound is still holding its own, under circumstances said to have caused the complete destruction of the German mark. Something else must have been responsible for the mark’s collapse besides mere money-printing to meet the government’s budget, but what? And are we threatened by the same risk today? Let’s take a closer look at the data.

History Repeats Itself – or Does It?

In his well-researched article, Hutchinson notes that Weimar Germany had been suffering from inflation ever since World War I; but it was in the two year period between 1921 and 1923 that the true “Weimar hyperinflation” occurred. By the time it had ended in November 1923, the mark was worth only one-trillionth of what it had been worth back in 1914. Hutchinson goes on:

“The current policy mix reflects those of Germany during the period between 1919 and 1923. The Weimar government was unwilling to raise taxes to fund post-war reconstruction and war-reparations payments, and so it ran large budget deficits. It kept interest rates far below inflation, expanding money supply rapidly and raising 50% of government spending through seigniorage (printing money and living off the profits from issuing it). . . .

“The really chilling parallel is that the United States, Britain and Japan have now taken to funding their budget deficits through seigniorage. In the United States, the Fed is buying $300 billion worth of U.S. Treasury bonds (T-bonds) over a six-month period, a rate of $600 billion per annum, 15% of federal spending of $4 trillion. In Britain, the Bank of England (BOE) is buying 75 billion pounds of gilts [the British equivalent of U.S. Treasury bonds] over three months. That’s 300 billion pounds per annum, 65% of British government spending of 454 billion pounds. Thus, while the United States is approaching Weimar German policy (50% of spending) quite rapidly, Britain has already overtaken it!”

And that is where the data gets confusing. If Britain is already meeting a larger percentage of its budget deficit by seigniorage than Germany did at the height of its hyperinflation, why is the pound now worth about as much on foreign exchange markets as it was nine years ago, under circumstances said to have driven the mark to a trillionth of its former value in the same period, and most of this in only two years? Meanwhile, the U.S. dollar has actually gotten stronger relative to other currencies since the policy was begun last year of massive “quantitative easing” (today’s euphemism for seigniorage).3 Central banks rather than governments are now doing the printing, but the effect on the money supply should be the same as in the government money-printing schemes of old. The government debt bought by the central banks is never actually paid off but is just rolled over from year to year; and once the new money is in the money supply, it stays there, diluting the value of the currency. So why haven’t our currencies already collapsed to a trillionth of their former value, as happened in Weimar Germany? Indeed, if it were a simple question of supply and demand, a government would have to print a trillion times its earlier money supply to drop its currency by a factor of a trillion; and even the German government isn’t charged with having done that. Something else must have been going on in the Weimar Republic, but what?

It's official: Government planning coup of GMAC

GM Finance Arm to Get a Fresh Bailout

    WASHINGTON -- The Treasury Department is poised to inject more than $7 billion into GMAC LLC, the first installment of a new government aid package that could reach $14 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

    As a result of the move, the government within months could end up owning both GMAC and General Motors Corp. The GM plan being devised by President Barack Obama's auto task force calls for the government to emerge with a majority stake. And the increasing infusion of taxpayer money into GMAC could turn the U.S. government into a majority shareholder there.

Full story (subscription necessary)...

The ever-expanding police state

Tennessee speeders could get fingerprinted
Bill ignites debate about privacy vs. cost savings

    Motorists stopped for traffic violations in Tennessee could be fingerprinted if state lawmakers approve a bill pending in the legislature.

    Currently, when drivers are cited during traffic stops, police officers ask for the driver's signature on the ticket, but the proposed bill would allow police departments to eliminate signatures and collect fingerprints.

    Supporters say collecting fingerprints would save money and help police determine whether the driver is wanted for a criminal offense, but opponents worry that it allows the government to tread on individual privacy rights.

    "The way I see it, if they take your fingerprint, they have access to your history and that's an invasion of privacy," said Martha Simms, 27, a mother of two who recently got a speeding ticket in Davidson County.

    State Sen. Joe Haynes and State Rep. Mike Stewart co-sponsored the bill, which gives police departments the choice of collecting a signature or a fingerprint, or collecting a signature and a fingerprint. The bill has been approved by the state House of Representatives, and senators will vote on the measure Wednesday.

    The bill, if passed, will take effect on July 1. At that time, any police department within the state could require fingerprinting as a means of identification, said Haynes, a Goodlettsville Democrat. "It's their discretion," he said.

Full story...

Fed Open to Buying More Securities

Here comes the inflation.

    WASHINGTON -- Some Federal Reserve officials are open to raising the amounts of mortgage and Treasury securities purchase programs beyond the $1.75 trillion that they have already committed to buying, according to minutes from the Fed’s April meeting.

    Officials, meanwhile, projected an even deeper recession than they expected three months earlier and a more sluggish recovery over the next two years as labor markets remain under pressure.

    “Some members noted that a further increase in the total amount of purchases might well be warranted at some point to spur a more rapid pace of recovery,” according to the minutes of the April 28-29 meeting, released Wednesday with the usual lag. (Read the full minutes.)

    As widely expected, the Fed kept the target federal funds for interbank lending in a range near zero at that meeting. In a statement, officials said rates will stay “exceptionally low...for an extended period” suggesting rates could stay where they are into next year.

Which is of course the worst thing they could do. Full story...

Founders' quote of the day

I could literally quote Jefferson every day for the rest of my life.

    And what country can preserve its liberties, if it's rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."

Another Assault on Constitutional Liberties

All one has to do is sign an affidavit saying you hurt their feelings, and you're arrested. Absurd, yes, but also very serious.

    A bill introduced in the House of Representatives last month by Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., is designed to prevent cyberbullying, making it punishable by a fine and up to two years in prison.

    But at least one blogger is calling the Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act the "Censorship Act of 2009" -- and many free speech advocates say its language is too broad and that it would act as judge and jury to determine whether there is significant evidence to prove that one person "cyberbullied" another.

    "We have existing harassment statutes in all 50 states that already cover this problem," says Parry Aftab, a lawyer and Internet security expert who's at the forefront of the anti-cyberbullying movement. "We don't need Linda Sanchez's law."

    Even Sanchez's attempt to define the term "cyberbullying" poses problems, said UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh.

    "The bill defines it as 'using electronic means to support severe, repeated and hostile behavior,' but what does 'severe, hostile and repeated behavior' mean?" he asked.

    "I've written articles opposing the bill that have appeared online. That's electronic and -- because I've written a few of them -- repeated. I was also severe and hostile in my criticisms. Under her law, I can now go to jail."

    And so could many political commentators and Web bloggers who earn their keep by being confrontational and inflammatory. A TV host like MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who's been openly and repeatedly hostile to former Vice President Dick Cheney on his Web site, would not be safe from prosecution, the analysts say.

    Even advocates of child safety on the Internet say the bill is impractical, at best.

    "Even if you wanted to, you can't legislate against meanness," said Larry Magid, co-director of "It's contextual. If I call you fat, maybe I was bullying, or maybe I was concerned about your health, or maybe it was a relatively innocuous slight."

Full story, and the link to the text of the bill:

    (a) Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

Panel votes to investigate 'Extremism' report

Democrats on a key House panel joined Republicans in a unanimous vote calling for a formal inquiry into the Homeland Security Department to determine how a contentious report that described military veterans as possible recruits for radical extremists was developed and distributed.

In a rare bipartisan manner, the House Homeland Security Committee agreed to a resolution of inquiry that calls for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to turn over all documents used to draft the report "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment."

"When this DHS-produced assessment first surfaced in April, like many Americans, I had issues with its content," said Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the committee.

"Certainly its definition of 'rightwing extremism,' which did not clarify that extremist violence was the department's true focus, raised considerable concern," Mr. Thompson said. "So did the suggestion that returning war veterans posed a potential threat to the homeland."

The subpoena measure was originally introduced May 6 by Rep. Peter T. King of New York, the panel's ranking Republican, along with other GOP leaders. But the move was criticized then by Mr. Thompson as "another GOP stunt aimed at embarrassing the new administration."

The full House must approve the subpoena for documents before it becomes binding. The documents must be turned over within 14 legislative days of such a vote.

Ms. Napolitano appeared before the committee last week and said the report has been pulled from the agency's internal Web site.

Mr. Thompson did not say during Tuesday's hearing why he changed his mind, and a spokesman did not return a call for comment.

"I am interested in getting all of the facts that went into this report," Mr. Thompson said.

However, Mr. King called it an "unprecedented display of cooperation on a resolution of inquiry."

"I assume Bennie wanted to do the right thing, and he realized that we have members across the board who are dissatisfied with the department and it really created a firestorm in many districts."


Alex Jones talks about the origins and agenda of Bilderberg

You didn't know?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Gun-grabber Rep. Carolyn McCarthy Introduces “No Fly, No Buy Act”

In 2007, then Democrat member of the United States House of Representatives, Rahm Emanuel, told the gathered at the annual Stand Up For a Safe America event sponsored by the Brady Center that if your name is on the terrorist no fly list you will not be allowed to own a gun.

In 2007, according to the Inspector General of the FBI-administered Terrorist Screening Center, there were well over 700,000 names on the no-fly database and the list was growing at an astronomical rate of 20,000 records per month. That means the list now contains more than a million people. Senator Ted Kennedy, Rep. John Lewis, and former Senator Ted Steven’s wife, Catherine Stevens are on the list.

According to Rahm Emanuel, now Obama’s Chief of Staff, every last one of them are terrorists who will have their Second Amendment right to own a firearm stripped.

Rahm Emanuel wasn’t blowing smoke. His proposal to rob more than a million Americans of their Second Amendment right to own firearms may soon become law if a notorious gun-grabber has her way.

On May 13, Democrat Rep. Carolyn McCarthy introduced The No Fly, No Buy Act (H.R. 2401), a bill that will merge the TSA’s no-fly list with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), a point-of-sale system for determining eligibility to purchase a firearm in the United States, Guam, and Puerto Rico. It was created in November of 1993 when the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 (Brady Act), Public Law 103-159, was signed into law. Permanent provisions of the Brady Act went into effect on November 30, 1998, and required the U.S. Attorney General to establish NICS.

“For far too long, the ‘terror gap’ has left a wide open loophole in our nation’s gun safety laws that could allow terrorist to acquire guns the same way any law abiding citizen can,” McCarthy declared as she introduced her bill. McCarthy and Congressman Steve Israel, flanked by law enforcement officials, stressed “the importance of keeping guns out of the hands of people that are known or suspected terrorists,” according to the Floral Park Dispatch. “The No Fly, No Buy Act uses existing TSA data to update the NICS system with the names of known or suspected terrorists to disqualify them from passing the Brady Background Check. This is a common sense gun bill that will prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands,” McCarthy said.

The Department of Homeland Security now considers veterans, advocates of the Second Amendment, and states’ rights activists as terrorists.

“Since September 11, 2001, Congress has passed many laws to improve homeland security,” the Floral Park Dispatch continues. “Yet, this loophole remains open. If someone is denied the chance to board an airplane because of suspected ties to terrorists, then they should also be denied the opportunity to purchase a gun. Individuals with ties to terrorists have bought guns in the past and used them to kill Americans.”

The language of H.R. 2401 reads as follows: “To increase public safety and reduce the threat to domestic security by including persons who may be prevented from boarding an aircraft in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and for other purposes,” according to the Open Congress website. reports that the bill was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

It does not take a lot of imagination to speculate what “other purposes” will ultimately mean.