The Liberty Beacon

The Liberty Beacon




by Mac Slavo

Are there really secret manipulations of the economy going on in the shadows of Wall Street and Washington?

Do bears crap in the woods?

The NY Post’s controversial columnist John Crudele has thrown down the gauntlet, declaring that the market is rigged. And not only does everyone know it, but it is now being admitted.

The stock market is rigged.

When I started making that claim years ago — and provided solid evidence — people scoffed. Some called it a conspiracy theory, tinfoil hats and that sort of stuff. Most people just ignored me.

But that’s not happening anymore. The dirty secret is out.

Ed Yardeni, a longtime Wall Street guru who isn’t one of the clowns of the bunch, said flat out last week that the market was being propped up. “These markets are all rigged, and I don’t say that critically. I just say that factually,” he asserted on CNBC.

Yardeni’s claim is the most basic one: that the Federal Reserve won’t do anything that will upset Wall Street and, in fact, is doing all it can to help the stock market.

So the Federal Reserve is propping up Wall Street, and the economy by extension, not only by issuing free money through QE3, but buying up bonds and shares as well.

This form of manipulation extends globally, with many other central banks propping up the market, and even the U.S. government… as a means of covert proxy investment:

The Bank of Japan — and other central bankers around the world — could easily be purchasing shares of American companies to help out the US stock market.

And Japan could even be doing it with the blessing of Washington, which is afraid any direct intervention in equities on its part would be discovered by nosy people like me.

Last fall, we learned that one American exchange has made intervention in — rigging — foreign governments easier and cheaper to accomplish. In October, it emerged that CME Group, the Chicago exchange that trades options and commodities, had an incentive program under which foreign central banks could buy stock market derivatives like the Standard & Poor’s futures contracts at a discount.

According to Crudele, Japan is encouraging its private sector engage in the shadow market boosting as well – you know, for the greater good.

That’s called rigging the market for a higher purpose, or hoping people who can afford to invest in stocks will make lots of money and spend it.

Underneath it all, the market rigging creates unfair advantage by operating under false pretenses:

The bigger problem is this: If stock prices are artificially inflated, nobody can tell what a company is really worth.”

Recently, SHTF reported that former SEC director John Ramsay also admitted the market is rigged, stating “Today’s rules have been crafted to the benefit of insiders.”

The same article cited an author following the manipulations of Wall Street:

“The market is rigged against retail investors, has questioned the tactics involved in using algorithms to buy and sell shares in fractions of a second.”

Of course, if we listened to comedians instead of experts, we would have known that long ago.

The late George Carlin said it better than anyone probably could: “The game is rigged!”

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Biloxi1911-466Lewis Wickes Hine Child labor at Gorenflo Canning Co., Biloxi, Mississippi 1911

Yellen Sees Gradual Pace of Rate Increases Starting This Year (Bloomberg)
Housing Contribution To US GDP Lowest In Post-War Era (Zero Hedge)
The Bottom’s Not In – This Market Is Dumber Than A Mule (David Stockman)
Greek Crisis Nears A Turning Point (MarketWatch)
Austerity Is Greece’s Only Hope (Hans-Werner Sinn)
Varoufakis Denies Resignation, Greeks Accused Of “Gambling” Away Trust (Teleg.)
Alternate Greek FinMin Tsakalotos Says Athens ‘Prepared For Rift’ (Kathimerini)
Greece Submits New List Of Reforms To Unlock Further Aid (Reuters)
Greece’s German Allies Aghast as Tsipras Fails to Assure (Bloomberg)
Is Spain’s Recovery For Real? (Guardian)
Someone Needs To Go Broke In The Australian Iron Ore Industry (Guardian)
Emerging World: Heading For Contagious Credit Crisis? (CNBC)
Oil Is Preparing For A New World Order (CNBC)
Japan Inc. Doesn’t Believe In Abenomics (CNBC)
Petrobras Said to Start Asset Sale With Fields in Argentina (Bloomberg)
Reinhart and Rogoff: Cut Government Debt Creatively (Bloomberg)
Elizabeth Warren Launches Counteroffensive Against Citigroup (Bloomberg)
Monsanto Lobbyist Calls Roundup Safe for Humans, But Won’t Drink It (RawStory)

Why am I thinking June? Is it because everybody says it won’t be?

Yellen Sees Gradual Pace of Rate Increases Starting This Year (Bloomberg)

Chair Janet Yellen said she expects the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this year, and that subsequent increases will be gradual without following a predictable path. “I expect that conditions may warrant an increase in the federal funds rate target sometime this year,” Yellen said Friday in remarks prepared for delivery in San Francisco. She and fellow policy makers “generally anticipate that a rather gradual rise in the federal funds rate will be appropriate over the next few years.” After the initial increase, officials won’t follow “any predetermined course of tightening” that involves similar-sized increases at regular intervals, Yellen said.

“The actual path of policy will evolve as economic conditions evolve, and policy tightening could speed up, slow down, pause, or even reverse course depending on actual and expected developments in real activity and inflation,” she said. Policy makers last week opened the door to an interest-rate increase as soon as June, while also signaling they’ll go slow once they get started. The benchmark federal funds rate has been kept near zero since December 2008. Rates near zero helped cause a “sizable reduction” in labor market slack, and a modest rate increase is “highly unlikely” to halt that progress, Yellen said.[..]

The labor market is “likely to improve further in coming months,” Yellen said. At the same time, progress on meeting the Fed’s inflation goal has been “notably absent.” Some of the weakness in inflation “likely reflects continuing slack” in labor markets. Despite disappointing retail-sales data, she said consumer spending probably will “expand at a good clip this year given such robust fundamentals as strong employment gains, boosts to real incomes from lower energy prices, continued increases in household wealth, and a relatively high level of consumer confidence.”

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End of a line.

Housing Contribution To US GDP Lowest In Post-War Era (Zero Hedge)

Deutsche Bank is out predicting that a sluggish US housing market is likely to impact the supply of MBS going forward. As DB notes, housing isn’t the GDP contributor it once was and not by a long shot. Not only that, but when it comes to recoveries, the housing market’s GDP contribution was 7 times below its post WW2 average in year one and has fared even worse since. Here’s DB with more:

The contribution of housing to US GDP continues to run at some of the lowest levels since the end of World War II. New construction of single- and multi-family homes, renovations, broker fees and the like still only make up a bit more than 3% of current GDP, well below the post-war average of 4.7%. Not only has the level of lift from housing come in low, but it has bounced out of the last official recession slowly, too. Housing on average has contributed a half a percentage point to GDP a year after the end of every post-war US recession. This time around, housing added only 7 bp. And the contribution of housing in the second and third years after the recent recession also has fallen well below post-war averages.

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“Even if the pace is slackening, the Chinese are still building high-rise apartments which will remain empty and airports, roads, rails and bridges that are hideously redundant.”

The Bottom’s Not In – This Market Is Dumber Than A Mule (David Stockman)

They were trying to put in a bottom – again! The sell-off earlier this week amounted to the sixth sizeable “dip” since November 20 – so the market’s ingrained reflex was back at work all afternoon, trying to scoop up the “bargains”. But the roundtrip to the flat-line shown below is not a classic “wall of worry” and its not a “bottom” that’s being put in. This market is dumber than a mule, and the nation’s central bank and its counterparts around the world have made it so. The plain truth is that six years of torrential money printing and worldwide ZIRP have not happened with impunity. On the one hand, massive, sustained and universal financial repression caused an artificial growth and investment boom in much of the world, especially China and the EM, which has now run out of steam and is visibly and rapidly cooling.

There is probably no better proxy for the global investment boom than the spot price of iron ore because it captures China’s massive infrastructure construction spree and the waves of mining, shipbuilding, steel-making and construction materials spending that it set off all over the world. But this huge tidal wave has now crested, leaving behind the worst of both worlds – cooling demand and still expanding supply. For the first time since around 1980, China’s steel consumption is projected to fall in 2015 – with demand slumping from 830 million tons last year toward 800 million tons, and that is just the beginning as China’s credit-fueled construction frenzy finally comes to a halt. In fact, during the boom that took iron ore prices from a historic level of around $20-30 per ton to a peak of nearly $200 in 2011, China’s iron and steel capacity grew like topsy. Production capacity expanded from about 200 million tons at the turn of the century to upwards of 1.1 billion tons at present.

Yet this year’s decline of demand to around 800 million tons does not begin to reflect the coming adjustment. That’s because there is still a residual component of one-time demand in that number that is in no way sustainable. Even if the pace is slackening, the Chinese are still building high-rise apartments which will remain empty and airports, roads, rails and bridges that are hideously redundant. Eventually that will end because even the red capitalist rulers in Beijing are terrified of China’s towering mountain of debt – $28 trillion and still rising by hundreds of billions every month. Yet underneath this one-time explosion of demand for steel, aluminum, copper, concrete and the rest of the materials slate is something called sell-through demand. The latter reflects the sustainable level of demand for replacement of long-lived assets like bridges and shorter-term durables like cars and appliances. In the case of steel, that sustainable “sell through” demand level could be as low as 500-600 million tons or hardly half of China’s steel production capacity.

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“For the first time since the early 20th century, there are the elements of a genuine revolution brewing in Europe, a continent plagued by violence throughout its history.”

Greek Crisis Nears A Turning Point (MarketWatch)

The simmering crisis in Greece has the potential to become one of those seemingly small events that leads to big consequences. The election of a radical government by a public exhausted from five years of debilitating recession, the war of words conducted by that government in the face of the iron fist of establishment power in the European Union, and the expected resolution either in the form of a total retreat by the Greek government and its collapse or an exit from the euro – all this seems relatively small on the scale of global events. But few expected the assassination of an Austrian royal heir to start World War I, or the shelling of a military depot in Gdansk by German forces in 1939 to lead to the conflagration of World War II, or, for that matter, the strike in 1980 by Polish trade union Solidarity in that same port city to lead to the unraveling of the Soviet empire.

The Greek crisis could well become a similar turning point in history. Amid all the posturing, dogmatism and bad faith in the standoff between the government of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and European and international monetary officials is a genuine challenge not only to the postwar integration of Europe but the entire foundation of the peace ushered in during that period. So if you’re sick and tired of hearing about Greece, think again. For the first time since the early 20th century, there are the elements of a genuine revolution brewing in Europe, a continent plagued by violence throughout its history. The bumbling, short-sighted policies of the German government under Chancellor Angela Merkel and the spineless Brussels bureaucracy dominated by Berlin are in many ways similar to previous miscalculations by European leaders that plunged Europe and the world into disaster.

And it is not helped by a U.S. foreign policy in disarray under the weak and uneven leadership of a president ill-equipped to deal with global realpolitik. The Greek government itself seems to be operating in a parallel universe of false hopes. The economy minister, George Stathakis, said he is optimistic Greece will reach an agreement with international lenders next week even though their stated goals remain diametrically opposed.

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No, it’s not.

Austerity Is Greece’s Only Hope (Hans-Werner Sinn)

The euro has brought a balance-of-payments crisis to Europe, just as the gold standard did in the 1920s. In fact, there is only one difference between the two episodes: During today’s crisis, huge international rescue packages have been available. These rescue packages have relieved the eurozone’s financial distress, but at a high cost. Not only have they enabled investors to avoid paying for their poor decisions; they have also given overpriced southern European countries the opportunity to defer real depreciation in the form of a reduction of relative prices of goods. This is necessary to restore the competitiveness that was destroyed in the euro’s initial years, when it caused excessive inflation.

Indeed, for countries like Greece, Portugal, or Spain, regaining competitiveness would require them to lower the prices of their own products relative to the rest of the eurozone by about 30%, compared to the beginning of the crisis. Italy probably needs to reduce its relative prices by 10-15%. But Portugal and Italy have so far failed to deliver any such “real depreciation,” while relative prices in Greece and Spain have fallen by only 8% and 6%, respectively. Revealingly, of all the crisis countries, only Ireland managed to turn the corner. The reason is obvious: its bubble already burst at the end of 2006, before any rescue funds were available.

Ireland was on its own, so it had no option but to implement massive austerity measures, reducing its product prices relative to other eurozone countries by 13% from peak to trough. Today, Ireland’s unemployment rate is falling dramatically, and its manufacturing sector is booming. In relative terms, Greece received most of Europe’s bailout money and showed the largest increase in unemployment. The official loans granted to the country by the European Central Bank and the international community have increased more than sixfold during the past five years, from €53 billion ($58 billion) in February 2010 to €324 billion, or 181% of GDP, now. Nevertheless, the unemployment rate has more than doubled, from 11% to 26%.

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“Any decision to remove ELA would effectively force Greece out of the eurozone by pulling the plug..”

Varoufakis Denies Resignation, Greeks Accused Of “Gambling” Away Trust (Teleg.)

Responding to a story in Bild on Friday morning, who quoted a Greek government source saying that it was only a matter of time until Mr Varoufakis resigned, the “rock-star” former academic tweeted he found the reports of his apparent demise, “amusing”. A Greek government official had earlier dismissed the reports, telling Reuters: “None of this is true, it’s far from reality.” Mr Varoufakis has become a controversial figure in the fractious negotiations between Greece and its eurozone creditors. Tensions reached a peak when the minister was caught up in a farcical argument over whether he “stuck the middle finger” to the eurozone giant during a lecture he gave in 2013. The finance minister, who is not a member of parliament for the Syriza party, also walked out on an TV interview earlier this month, after he was questioned about being a “liability” to his government.

Athens has been scrambling to make repayments to its creditors while continuing to pay wages and pensions. The government now faces another €2.4bn cash squeeze in April, including a €450m loan repayment to the IMF on April 9. In a bid to finally release €7.2bn in bail-out funds, Greece has promised to deliver a full reform list to creditors by Monday. But in a sign of the frayed relations between the debtor country and its paymasters, Germany’s Bundesbank chief accused the Leftist government of betraying the trust of its creditors. “Until the autumn, an improvement in the economy had been discernible. But the new government has gambled away a lot of trust,” said Jens Weidmann, an ardent critic of financial relief for Athens. Mr Weidmann added he did not “buy the argument that they are financially overburdened,” referring to the state of Greece’s finances.

As part of its efforts to stay solvent over the next few weeks, Greece has requested a €1.9bn transfer of profits held by the ECB, from the holdings of Greek government bonds. So far, the ECB has rebuffed all Greek pleas to alleviate their cash squeeze. The central bank has been keeping Greek banks alive through the provision of emergency liquidity assitance (ELA), after it stopped its ordinary lending to the country after Syriza’s election. Any decision to remove ELA would effectively force Greece out of the eurozone by pulling the plug on the country’s stricken lenders and giving way to capital controls.

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“We are creating ambiguity with the creditors intentionally because they have to know that we are prepared for a rift, otherwise you can’t negotiate..”

Alternate Greek FinMin Tsakalotos Says Athens ‘Prepared For Rift’ (Kathimerini)

Alternate Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos on Friday made waves by saying that the Greek government was “always prepared for a rift.” Tsakalotos, who is the ministry’s key official for international economic relations, made the comment during an interview on Star television channel, prompting a flurry of reactions and criticism on social media. Tsakalotos was speaking just two days after Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was caught on camera during a visit to Crete on the occasion of Greece’s Independence Day telling a citizen that he hoped Greeks would continue to back the government “after the rift.” Varoufakis’ comment was subsequently played down by SYRIZA commentators who said he might have been referring to a possible rift with vested interests in Greece rather than with the country’s creditors.

Apparently in the same vein, Tsakalotos said on Friday, “If you don’t entertain the possibility of a rift in the back of your mind then obviously the creditors will pass the same measures as they did with the previous [government].” “We are creating ambiguity with the creditors intentionally because they have to know that we are prepared for a rift, otherwise you can’t negotiate,” he said. He added that the new government is intent on backing “those who lost a lot in the crisis, and that we are prepared, if things do not go well, for a rift.” Prior to his comments, Tsakalotos took part in a meeting with Varoufakis and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

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Motions. Through. Going.

Greece Submits New List Of Reforms To Unlock Further Aid (Reuters)

Greece has sent its creditors a long-awaited list of reforms with a pledge to produce a small budget surplus this year in the hope that it will unlock badly needed cash, Greek government officials said on Friday. The EU and IMF lenders, informally called the Brussels Group, will start discussing the list later on Friday, a euro zone official said, although a Greek official said the examination would begin on Saturday. Their approval, followed by the blessing of euro zone finance ministers, will be needed for Athens to unfreeze further aid and stave off bankruptcy. Athens has not indicated whether the latest list will contain a more far-reaching reform program than a previous list of seven reforms on broad issues ranging from tax evasion to public sector reforms, which failed to impress lenders.

The new list includes measures to boost state revenues by €3 billion this year, but will not include any “recessionary measures” like wage or pension cuts, a government official said. The list estimates a primary budget surplus of 1.5% for 2015 – below the 3% target included in the country’s existing EU/IMF bailout – and growth of 1.4%, the official said. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s left-wing government has previously said the list will include measures to improve investor sentiment, boost tax revenues, and judicial reform. The government is also expected to address some form of pension reform, though it has already excluded any attempt to raise the retirement age or other sensitive measures that would be viewed as cutting pension payouts for austerity-hit Greeks.

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Aghast, I tell you.

Greece’s German Allies Aghast as Tsipras Fails to Assure (Bloomberg)

Even Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s friends in Germany are getting exasperated with his government after a visit to Berlin fueled skepticism that he can do what’s needed to end the impasse over his country’s finances. While the atmosphere was good in talks between Tsipras and Chancellor Angela Merkel this week, an improvement in tone may not help resolve a standoff over the reforms required to unlock aid, according to a German government official familiar with the chancellor’s strategy on Greece who asked not to be named because the meeting was private. Members of Merkel’s Social Democratic coalition partners, who have sought to strike a more moderate tone on Greece than her party, were left unconvinced that he can resolve the crisis.

“What’s coming out of Greece is moving completely in the wrong direction,” Joachim Poss, a Social Democratic lawmaker who is the party’s deputy parliamentary spokesman on finance policy, said in an interview. “The situation is really worrying — we’re stunned watching the developments.” Tsipras’s difficulty in persuading even more measured German policy makers he’s on the right track risks entrenching a conflict with Greece’s European creditors as his government runs out of money. More than a month after winning an extension of the country’s bailout deal, Greek officials will finally submit plans on how they’ll meet the conditions for releasing aid on Friday, an official from Tsipras’s administration said.

The delay led Thomas Oppermann, the Social Democrat Bundestag floor leader, to join Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in speculating about a possible Greek exit. “A Greek exit from the euro zone would be a political disaster, not only for the euro zone but for the whole idea of Europe,” Oppermann told Deutschlandfunk radio March 24. “Of course we can’t rule that out. It’s first of all down to the Greek government whether it does what is required to stay in the euro zone.”

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“..even when Rajoy says it’s getting better it pushes down his ratings because people don’t believe it.”

Is Spain’s Recovery For Real? (Guardian)

With this an election year in Spain, the tone in Madrid has turned triumphalist. Last month the finance minister predicted the country would enjoy five years of growth of up to 3%, while prime minister Mariano Rajoy has declared “the crisis is over” – only to be slapped down by the president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, who said that could hardly be the case with 4.5 million people out of work. Backtracking, Rajoy said the crisis was over, but not its legacy. After regional polls in Andalusia handed 15 seats to anti-austerity party Podemos, 2015 is a big year for Spanish politics. There are also municipal elections in Madrid and Barcelona, another regional poll in Catalonia, and then, in November, the general election.

But not all voters share the government’s upbeat outlook. On the day the country’s economic minister, Luis de Guindos, gave his optimistic five-year forecasts to an audience of businesspeople, the national statistics office published a survey showing that four out of every five Spaniards believe the economy is in the same or worse state than last year and over half don’t believe things will improve in 2016. As more and more people pass the two-year cut-off for unemployment benefit, the number of beggars on the streets of Madrid and Barcelona is growing, many of them middle-aged, while an estimated 1.5 million Spaniards are now relying on soup kitchens for food. So what is really happening? [..]

Julia Fossi of the Barcelona soup kitchen Esperanza (the Spanish word for “hope”) says there has been a notable rise in the number of Spaniards sleeping on the street. “The average age is around 40 to 50,” she says. “People are evicted from their homes and sleep in entrances of banks. We had one woman who had been thrown out of her home who was sleeping in La Caixa with her cat.” Edward Hugh, a Welsh economist based in Spain, says: “The economic situation is perceived by most Spaniards as being so bad that even when Rajoy says it’s getting better it pushes down his ratings because people don’t believe it.”

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Everyone’s answer to the price slump: produce more.

Someone Needs To Go Broke In The Australian Iron Ore Industry (Guardian)

The Australian iron ore industry is poised for a huge shake-up as the global glut worsens and margins continue to tighten. The nation’s biggest iron ore miners, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, are still making money and expanding production, but questions remain about the viability of their heavily indebted rivals Fortescue and Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill project. Iron ore is trading at a six-year low of around $US55 per tonne amid weaker Chinese demand. The price slump this week prompted Fortescue’s chairman Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest to call for a cap on iron ore production which was promptly dismissed by Rinehart and the head of Rio Tinto Sam Walsh. But the price outlook remains bleak, with an extra 200m tonnes of the steel-making ingredient expected to be dumped on the market over the next few years.

Morningstar analyst Matthew Hodge says higher cost miners like Fortescue and Roy Hill will soon be “running to stand still”. “There has to be some rationalisation,” Hodge said. “Someone needs to go broke, or some miners need to merge production because what’s happening at the moment is unsustainable. “Things are bad and there’s no real sign they’re going to get any better soon, unless there’s a bit more enthusiasm around forming a cartel.” Fortescue has just finished a huge expansion program and Rio Tinto plans to expand by another 50m tonnes while Roy Hill will begin ramping up to 55m tonnes in September. Lurking in the background is Brazilian giant Vale which is planning a $20bn investment to expand production by another 90m tonnes by 2018.

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Why the question mark?

Emerging World: Heading For Contagious Credit Crisis? (CNBC)

Major emerging markets (EMs) like Brazil and Russia could be at risk of a widespread credit crisis—that could impact the world’s financial markets, experts warn. ING Investment Management warned in March that banks and companies in some emerging markets could topple if their currencies remained under pressure and capital outflows continue. “This pressure threatens to bring the fundamentally weakest countries into deep economic and political trouble,” said M.J. Bakkum, senior emerging markets strategist at ING, in a research note. “Brazil, Russia and Turkey are the most vulnerable. It is not impossible that serious corporate defaults happen or even that banks fall over in one of these countries. For the first time since 2002, we should consider the risk of contagion in the emerging world, with possibly implications for global financial markets.”

On Friday, Barclays cut its outlook for all major EM economies, with the exception of India, which it upgraded, and Indonesia, which it left unchanged. It forecast that EMs as a whole would decelerate to post average annual gross domestic product growth from 4.8% of 4.5% in 2015, with three of the four “BRIC” economies—Brazil, Russia and China—seen slowing. “This contrasts with the notable acceleration in advanced economies’ growth and implies the narrowest EM-DM (development market) growth gap since the early 2000s,” said analysts led by Christian Keller in Barclays Research’s quarterly EM report. On Friday, Capital Economics said that the global economy was “unlikely” to return to pre-crisis rates of growth without a revival in the BRICs.

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New oil order.

Oil Is Preparing For A New World Order (CNBC)

A new oil order has arrived and it will be marked by greater uncertainty and generally lower oil prices as the oil industry frantically re-prices as costs decline and gains in efficiency are made, strategists say. As investors continue to weigh up the fallout of a rout in oil prices since June last year, Goldman Sachs has warned that the “level of uncertainty cannot be underestimated as these dynamics spill over into the price of commodities, currencies and consumption baskets around the world, with far-reaching market and economic implications.” And amid heightened uncertainty, oil prices can swing sharply in either direction as developments this week have shown with a crisis in Yemen triggering a spike in crude.

“Oil has been sideways for about four months, in a $15 range; it hits a bottom, bounces up, hits the top comes back down,” Sean Corrigan, founder of True Sinews Consultancy told CNBC Europe’s “Squawk Box” Friday.”We’re all waiting for the next break and trying to find the signal that will push us from this range,” he added. The Goldman Sachs note, published late last week, adds that while it believes “the new equilibrium price for oil is $65 a barrel for WTI and $70 a barrel for Brent, the risks are skewed to the downside.” Those forecasts would imply gains of at least 21% for Brent crude from current levels around $58 and a rise of about 30% for WTI, which is trading at around $50. Still, and more significantly, prices would remain more than 30% below peak levels of above $100 a barrel on both oil contracts seen last year before concerns about a supply glut helped drive prices down.

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Nobody does.

Japan Inc. Doesn’t Believe In Abenomics (CNBC)

Tokyo stock prices are at fifteen-year highs, but Japanese corporations remain pessimistic about the country’s growth potential as Abenomics has fallen short of expectations, analysts say. “The demographics are negative – Japan is a super-aging society, not a growth market,” Fujitsu Research Institute senior economist Martin Schulz told CNBC by phone on Friday. “Japanese corporations have adapted and their strategy is to look for growth overseas.” More than two years after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to power, a sharply weaker yen has boosted profits at blue chip exporters, spurring a sharp stock rally. But a recent government survey confirmed that Japan Inc remains pessimistic about the outlook for economic growth.

More companies plan to hold back from new capital investments, this year’s survey showed; the proportion planning new investments over the next three years was down 1.9 percentage points on-year, at 64.5%. “Companies still do not believe in Abenomics,” said Mizuho Research Institute chief economist Hajime Takata in a note published on Friday. “After fifteen years of deflation, corporate Japan’s mindset remains conservative,” he added by email. Still, while the broader economy is struggling to recover from the three percentage point consumption tax increase in April 2014 that tipped the economy into a technical recession, many of Japan’s blue chip corporations are thriving on a weaker yen.

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Public assets for pennies on the dollar to feudal lords.

Petrobras Said to Start Asset Sale With Fields in Argentina (Bloomberg)

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, the state-controlled company at the center of Brazil’s biggest corruption scandal, agreed to sell oil and natural gas fields in southern Argentina to billionaire Eduardo Eurnekian’s Corporacion America, two people with knowledge of the deal said. The sale, the first divestment since a management overhaul at Petrobras last month, was approved by the Rio de Janeiro-based company this month, the people said. The fields, in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz, are valued at about $90 million with proven reserves that are 75% gas, one of the people said.

The sale process in Argentina began in September and was delayed as Petrobras became ensnared in a corruption scandal that led to the resignation of Maria das Gracas Silva Foster as chief executive officer in February. New CEO Aldemir Bendine is leading a review of investment plans and corporate governance and is seeking to increase asset sales to raise funds as the company is locked out of international credit markets. Eurnekian is looking to expand his oil and gas unit after purchasing a majority stake in Cia General de Combustibles in 2013. The 82-year-old businessmen runs the holding with several nephews encompassing industries from airports to construction.

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Really? “Expanding the economy, especially in Europe, hasn’t been that easy?”

Reinhart and Rogoff: Cut Government Debt Creatively (Bloomberg)

It’s not just companies like Google and Facebook that need to tap creativity to thrive. Governments laboring under sovereign debt burdens should do so too, suggests a new Harvard Kennedy School research paper by Carmen M. Reinhart, Vincent Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff. During the financial crisis, governments piled up so much debt that they’re now forced to think outside the box about how to get rid of the burden. Really, they should have considered the broader swath of options all along, their research suggests. Some cookie-cutter solutions include boosting growth, running primary budget surpluses and selling state-owned assets. Expanding the economy, especially in Europe, hasn’t been that easy.

On average, the growth of real GDP at very high levels of debt is below that at low levels of debt, the economists wrote. And selling off efficient utilities may bring governments some short-term relief while depriving them of revenues they could have expected over the long term. So how about more ingenious ways to fight debt? In the past these included taxing the wealthy, boosting inflation and even defaulting on debt obligations, the three economists wrote. “Advanced countries have relied far more on such approaches than many observers choose to remember,” the economists wrote, examining 70 episodes across 22 advanced economies since 1800.

Big debt hurts capital markets and economic growth and deprives the government of the crucial weapon of taking up more credit to respond to unexpected catastrophes. That’s why officials scramble to cut the burden when they can and how they can. [..] “Governments are the last line of resort in many situations, and it is important to maintain the option value of being able to issue sudden large bursts of debt in response to catastrophes (war, financial or otherwise),” Reinhart, Reinhart and Rogoff wrote in the latest paper. “The message from dozens of episodes of significant debt reductions in advanced economies since the Napoleonic War is that everything is on the table.”

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“The big banks have issued a threat, and it’s up to us to fight back.”

Elizabeth Warren Launches Counteroffensive Against Citigroup (Bloomberg)

Just hours after Reuters reported that Citigroup and other banks are debating whether to halt some of their own donations, Senator Elizabeth Warren is calling on her followers to make up the difference. Citing “concerns that Senate Democrats could give Warren and lawmakers who share her views more power,” Citigroup has already decided for now to withhold donations to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, sources inside the bank told Reuters. The maximum that bank could donate under campaign finance rules is $15,000 per year. “Citi’s Political Action Committee contributes to candidates and parties across the political spectrum that share our desire for pro-business policies that promote economic growth,” Molly Millerwise Meiners, Citi’s Director of Corporate Communications said in a statement.

Citigroup confirmed that it has not donated to the DSCC yet. “The big banks have issued a threat, and it’s up to us to fight back.” As for other banks, Goldman Sachs has already sent its 2015 donations, while Bank of America and JP Morgan are also considering their next steps. In December, Warren gave a long speech criticizing the close ties between Citigroup and Congress. “There’s a lot of talk coming from Citigroup about how the Dodd-Frank Act isn’t perfect,” Warren said. “So let me say this to anyone who is listening at Citi: I agree with you. Dodd-Frank isn’t perfect. It should have broken you into pieces.” The move is more symbolic than financial, and has already spurred a counteroffensive from Warren.

In a fundraising request (titled “Wall Street isn’t happy with us,”) Warren accused the banks of wanting Washington to puts its needs before Americans and “get a little public fanny-kissing for their money too.” The pitch argues that 2016 Democratic Senate candidates could lose $30,000 each, and asks for for help raising matching funds. “The big banks have issued a threat, and it’s up to us to fight back,” Warren wrote. If Citigroup, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America wanted to give Warren—a skilled fundraiser—a chance to bolster her image as an anti-Wall Street progressive hero and raise a few thousands, they succeeded. What this won’t do is make it easier for Democrats to soften their tone toward Wall Street.

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All honest people, mind you. Upstanding.

Monsanto Lobbyist Calls Roundup Safe for Humans, But Won’t Drink It (RawStory)

A controversial lobbyist who claimed that the chemical in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer was safe for humans refused to drink his own words when a French television journalist offered him a glass. In a preview of an upcoming documentary on French TV, Dr. Patrick Moore tells a Canal+ interviewer that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide, was not increasing the rate of cancer in Argentina.

“You can drink a whole quart of it and it won’t hurt you,” Moore insists.
“You want to drink some?” the interviewer asks. “We have some here.”
“I’d be happy to, actually,” Moore replies, adding, “Not really. But I know it wouldn’t hurt me.”
“If you say so, I have some,” the interviewer presses.
“I’m not stupid,” Moore declares.
“So, it’s dangerous?” the interviewer concludes.

But Moore claims that Roundup is so safe that “people try to commit suicide” by drinking it, and they “fail regularly.”
“Tell the truth, it’s dangerous,” the interviewer says.
“It’s not dangerous to humans,” Moore remarks. “No, it’s not.”
“So, are you ready to drink one glass?” the interviewer continues to press.
“No, I’m not an idiot,” Moore says defiantly. “Interview me about golden rice, that’s what I’m talking about.”

At that point, Moore declares that the “interview is finished.”
“That’s a good way to solve things,” the interviewer quips.
“Jerk!” Moore grumbles as he storms off the set.

According to EcoWatch, Moore was an early member of Greenpeace before becoming a consultant for “the polluting companies that Greenpeace works to change: Big Oil, pesticides and GMO agribusiness, forestry, nuclear power … anyone who puts up the money for truth-benders who appear to carry scientific and environmental authority.”

Read more …


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The Liberty Beacon recommends you visit The Automatic Earth for more great articles and pertinent information.

Income Tax

By TLB Contributor: Robin Koerner

I have just paid my biggest bill of the year. The invoice was for a cool 9% of my entire annual income – or my “Adjusted Gross Income” (AGI) as it appears on my tax returns, which have just been filed. And that invoice was from my accountant who just filed them for me.

I have a pretty modest income – so modest, in fact, that my AGI is of the order of a half of the median household income across the United States – the kind of income that triggers significant subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. Even the “top line” of my income falls short of that median: so it’s not as if I’m earning loads and deducting huge amounts.

My financial life last year was pretty simple: my earnings derived from a modest real estate portfolio and some freelance/consulting work. My income is earned through my small business, which, for those who know about these things, is an S-corporation. I have no employees. I do no payroll.

Yet, I have just paid my accountant more than a month’s worth of income to complete my tax returns.

How many pages of tax returns do you think that I, a single individual, and my S-corporation (a small business) had to file, bearing in mind the small amount of income in question?

Frankly, there’s no good reason the answer is not one or two. But you already know the answer is more than that, don’t you?

Ten? Try again.

Twenty? Keep going.

Surely not 50?

You’re still not close.

Did I hear you say 100 – you’re going for three digits now? Wow.

Still not there.

The answer, my fellow American tax victims, is 149.

Just take a moment to absorb that. A sub median-earning American taxpayer, engaged in simple business activities, has a 149 page tax return. And if he doesn’t get it right, his error is punishable. Of that 149, about 100 go to the Feds.

Completing 149 pages of tax forms/schedules/supporting statements is a lot of work. And I know exactly how much it is, because of that big invoice from the accountant that I already mentioned.

It’s $2000 of work – my aforementioned largest bill of the year. And it’s $2000 of work I in no way could have done myself.

I’m no high school drop-out. I have a first class degree in physics from one of the best universities in the world. I like numbers. I like logic. I like intellectual rigor. I even have a nerdy love of spreadsheets (which tells me, for example, exactly how much I spent on groceries this month five years ago ($173.41, as it happens. I’m low-maintenance)).

But I could not reverse engineer those 149 pages of tax returns if my life depended on it. And I would defy anyone without a CPA qualification to be able to do so.

I have no complaint about my accountant, who provided very good service this year, but even he couldn’t get it right first time. As I type this article, I am awaiting “corrected” state returns (which are no shorter).

Moreover, as any small businessman knows, my accountant can only generate those 149 pages of returns after I have compiled all the necessary numbers and data in neat spreadsheets, nicely itemized and comprehensively annotated (two or three days’ work, right there, perhaps?). I know for sure that most tax payers are not as proficient with Excel as I am – so my accountants have an easy time of it with me. (He even told me so.)

Here’s the reality of the American tax system for modestly earning individuals who run small businesses:

My government has put me in a position where I must either pay 9% of my income to a professional just to enable me to avoid punishment, asset garnishment and even imprisonment. Supposedly, I can “do my own taxes”, but that is a joke. No one who has not gone to school for it could accurately complete those 149 pages with any honest degree of confidence – and I don’t care what software he’s using. Moreover, even if it were do-able, the time taken to learn how to do it and then do it properly would be measured in weeks, not hours. And we don’t get to invoice the IRS for our time.

Look in wonder, America, at the most regressive aspect of any taxation system in the world – its utter complexity to the point of Kafkaesque absurdity. And if you think it must be like that, literally a few days ago, the British chancellor announced the abolition of the annual tax return in the United Kingdom.

Can anyone, conservative or progressive, justify the need for self-employed individual to spend 9 percent of his income just to remain a free citizen in good standing or, should he not have the money to spare, to go to school to navigate his way through whichever of the 74,000 pages of the tax code apply to him?

If the tax code were sufficiently sensible that I could do my own taxes (which, as someone who likes money, spreadsheets and math, I’d be very happy to do), I could have paid the Feds double my actual tax bill – and still have been a thousand dollars better off on the money I’d have saved on tax preparation. Relative to the current situation, both I and the country would have been significantly better off.

It is established Constitutional Law (by Supreme Court precedent), basic morality and simple common sense that the government may not place an undue burden on a fundamental right – such as the right to stay out of prison even if one doesn’t have an accounting degree and the right not be forced to expend one’s property on anything other than actual taxes owed.

To quantify the absurdity, here’s a comparison I’ve never seen made before.

In the course of a year, my assets and non-business activities generate nine times as much tax (in the form chiefly of property taxes and sales taxes), as my end-of-year check to the IRS. The cost to me of compliance on that first nine-tenths of my tax burden is zero, while the cost to me of compliance with the other one tenth is about double the amount I actually owe.

You really can’t make it up.

Let me offer these thoughts, then, not as an article, but as an open letter to our government, the IRS and any Constitutional attorneys out there.

To the government, I am notifying you of the undue burden that you are placing on law-abiding citizens whose income, it happens, is deemed by recent legislation to be sufficiently modest that it wishes to subsidize my healthcare: the cost of this undue burden more than cancels out all such subsidies.

To the IRS, I ask this question. What will you do if I save my $2000 in preparation fees, pay you 50% more than I did this year, and I don’t complete those forms? A bonus to me of doing this would be that I don’t have to lie any more. Because we all know that you are forcing me to lie when I sign that paper saying “I declare that I have examined a copy of my electronic individual income tax return and accompanying schedules and statements for the tax year ending December 31, 2014, and to the best of my knowledge and belief, it is true, correct, and complete.”

… The real truth is that, “to the best of my knowledge and belief”, no person who is not trained, certified and engaged in daily work in the business of tax preparation, could possibly expect that he could generate a correct 149 pages of this stuff – regardless of how well he tried. And, moreover, the fact that he cannot is exactly why he can’t be expected to vouch for the work of the accountants whom he’d not have to hire if he did understand what on earth was going on in the first place.

Finally, and most importantly – to any Constitutional attorney: I can’t pay you (see above), but I have a tax return that will make your eyes bleed. Get me in front of a jury or, better yet, the Supreme Court, and let us ask 12 or nine reasonable people if the burden of completing this particular tax return – a requirement I must meet to retain my liberty and my property – is reasonable or not. And if just one of the jury or bench believes that a reasonably educated person could accurately complete my tax return in a reasonable period, I’ll be happily defeated – as long as he shows me how.

Otherwise, use me as a legal guinea pig to pull down this entire rotten structure that turns good people into unwilling law breakers or liars of both, reserving its very worst for those of us on modest means who wish to rise in the spirit of the American Dream, which our government and its agents seem all too willing to crush.

Our tax code is so complex that people our government deems too poor to buy their own health insurance must fork over nearly a tenth of their income just to comply with it. I cannot be the only one.
If I could reasonably compute my own tax – and it’s a matter of common law, surely, that a typical citizen must reasonably be able to meet all impositions of the state by his own means – I’d willingly pay double my current income tax because of all the money I’d save on compliance: I’d save enough to visit my family in England twice in a year; I’d save almost my entire year’s grocery bill; I’d save the cost of the roof over my head for two months.

I can afford my tax bill. I just cannot afford to calculate it. And as you can see from my short list, the complexity of this calculation has a very real impact on my life.

This complexity of our Federal tax system is crushingly regressive; it is impoverishing, and it is morally indefensible.

Simplifying the tax code would be simply the most immediately effective, progressive and moral low-hanging fruit Congress could pick. More importantly, the Constitutional requirement of not attaching undue burdens to our fundamental rights – whose protection, according to our Declaration of Independence, is the very justification of the existence of the state – legally and morally demands it.


TLB recommends you visit Ben Swann  for more pertinent articles and information.

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elbit_0-466Drones developed by the Israeli firm Elbit have been tested in attacks on Gaza’s children. (Flickr)


Submitted by Rania Khalek

Israel has supplied 60.7 percent of the world’s drones since 1985, according to new data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

As a result, Israel is the single greatest source of drone proliferation in the world.

In second place is the United States, which accounts for 23.9 percent of global drone exports, followed by Canada at 6.4 percent, France at 1.6 percent, Austria at 1.4 percent, Italy at 1.1 percent, Germany at 1 percent and China at 0.9 percent.

Conversely, the United Kingdom is the world’s number one importer of drones. Between 2010 and 2014, the UK bought 55 drones from Israel and six armed drones from the US, which accounted for one third of global drone deliveries in that time period.

The vast majority of the drone market is comprised of surveillance drones,

The US, UK and Israel are the only countries in the world known to have used armed drones, deployed exclusively against nonwhite predominantly Muslim populations in nations and territories that have been pillaged and destroyed by Western conquest.

The besieged Gaza Strip has served as the leading testing ground for both armed and surveillance drones.

Tested on Palestinians

Over the last decade, Israel’s use of robotic warfare against Palestinians has escalated dramatically, with each new military assault on Gaza relying more heavily on drones than the last.

Last summer, Israel’s 51-day bombing campaign against Gaza killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, including more than 500 children.

Based on data collected by the Al Mezan Center for Human rights, a Corporate Watch investigation found that at least 37 percent of those killed, or 840 people, died in drone strikes alone.


Corporate Watch chart of drone deaths in Gaza by year.

Lost in the numbers is the psychological terror inflicted on the people of the Gaza ghetto, especially children, by the constant presence of drones buzzing overhead with the capacity to rain death on those below at any moment.

This has been wildly lucrative for Israeli arms companies, which exploit Israel’s frequent military assaults as opportunities to expedite the testing of their products on human subjects.

Easy access to a captive Palestinian population to experiment on allows Israeli arms producers to market their products as “combat proven,” a coveted seal of approval that gives Israel a competitive edge in the international arms trade. Israel’s repression technology is then exported to regimes that are similarly invested in subjugating the poor and marginalized.

This dystopian arrangement has paved the way for Israel, a country the size of New Jersey, to rank among the globe’s top arms exporters.

A case in point is Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest military technology firm, which produces 85 percent of the drones that make up the Israeli army’s vast arsenal.

The Hermes 900, a drone manufactured by Elbit, was deployed operationally for the first time against Palestinians in Gaza last summer, even though it was still undergoing testing. Nicknamed the Kochav — which is Hebrew for “star” — the Hermes 900’s blood-soaked performance garnered widespread praise at Israel’s annual drone conference, held less than a month after the Gaza slaughter.

The Hermes 900 is a more advanced version of the Hermes 450, an aerial attack and surveillance drone that was used by the Israeli army to deliberately target civilians in Gaza during Israel’s previous onslaught in late 2008 and early 2009, according to Human Rights Watch.

The Hermes drone was also used to kill civilians in Israel’s attack on Lebanon in 2006, including Red Cross workers, ambulance drivers and dozens of people fleeing their homes in a desperate search for safety from Israeli bombardment.

Marketed in the company brochure as “combat-proven” and “Fighting terror for over a decade,” the Hermes 450 boasts “a class-leading safety and reliability record.”

Apparently impressed by the aircraft’s capacity for bloodshed, the Brazilian government purchased a fleet of Hermes drones to help crush the massive protests that erupted across Brazil against the 2014 World Cup.

Thales UK — a subsidiary of the French company, Thales, which is ranked as the eleventh largest arms producer in the world — signed a $1.6 billion joint venture with Elbit Systems in 2011 to develop a new drone fleet called Watchkeeper for the British military.

The Watchkeeper is being modeled on the Hermes 450, which has been deployed by the British army in Afghanistan.

Elbit might be Israel’s largest drone producer, but it’s hardly the only Israeli company selling equipment tested on Palestinians to regimes around the world.

According to an investigation by Drones UK, Israel has exported drone technology to at least fifty different countries, enabling atrocities and fueling war.

With America’s blessing, Israel sold drones and fighter jets to Sri Lanka, which were used to commit atrocities against Sri Lanka’s ethnic Tamil minority.

South Korea recently purchased the Heron drone, which is produced by Israel Aerospace Industries and has been deployed for surveillance and target acquisition in Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Gaza.

In addition to helping crush World Cup protests, Israeli drones have been used by Brazilian police to invade the nation’s favelas.

In certain instances, Israel has sold drones to both sides in a given conflict. Both Russia and Georgia — between whom a conflict took place in 2008 — were armed with Israeli drones. Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) have reportedly both  used Israeli drones.

Meanwhile, Israel’s drone exports to India have provoked a drone “arms race” with neighboring Pakistan, according to the organization Drones UK.

Israel invented drones

Israel was instrumental in pioneering the modern drone due largely to the ideology at its core.

Israel’s creation as a majority Jewish state was precipitated by the pre-meditated ethnic cleansing of 750,000 indigenous Palestinians by Zionist militias in 1948 — which Palestinians refer to as the Nakba, or catastrophe. Israel has spent every day since then consolidating and expanding its Jewish majority in historic Palestine, which has required tremendous levels of violence, including the ongoing containment and exclusion of the native Palestinian inhabitants still under its control.

The Israeli economy has been built around advancing this goal, giving rise to a booming “homeland security” industry that caters to the designs of Zionism and then repackages occupation-style repression for export and profit.

Drone technology has been crucial to this endeavor.

After suffering heavy losses in its 1973 war with Egypt, the Israeli regime, for the first time in its existence, was met with backlash from an Israeli Jewish public unaccustomed to high soldier casualties.

It was in the aftermath of the 1973 war that the Israeli government began investing heavily in drone technology, minimizing the risk to its soldiers, effectively pacifying future opposition to endless war, expansion and conquest.

Israel Aerospace Industries, known as Israel Aircraft Industries at the time, and the Israeli company Tadiran were tasked with designing drones for real-time intelligence collection in the occupied Sinai.

Soon enough, IAI invented the Scout drone, which was deployed in 1982 to coordinate targeting during Israel’s deadly invasion of Lebanon. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Israel tested and refined a variety of drones on the people of southern Lebanon in an attempt to crush armed resistance to its occupation. With each operation came another wave of advancements in drone technology.

With the start of the second intifada and Israel’s forced withdraw from southern Lebanon in 2000, the occupied West Bank and Gaza became Israel’s primary testing grounds for drone warfare.

Israeli drones provided hidden attack helicopters with coordinates to fire on during Israel’s ruthless 2002 attack on the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. As early as 2004, Israeli drones were raining down missiles on the Gaza Strip in targeted assassinations of Palestinians fighters.

Though the US started utilizing and investing in drone technology before Israel, Israel was always one step ahead.

It’s no coincidence that Abraham Karem, an Israeli citizen, designed the Predator drone, which has been deployed by the US military and the CIA to carry out targeted assassinations that have left hundreds of innocent people dead. The Iraqi-born Karem received a degree in aeronautical engineering at the Haifa-based Israel Institute of Technology — better known as the Technion —  and got his start at IAI before immigrating to the US after he was blackballed by the Israeli government for starting his own drone company.

Today, Gaza is surrounded with Israeli drones by air, land and sea.

In addition to the surveillance drones that hover overhead, the walls of the Gaza cage will soon be reinforced by Border Patroller, an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), or land drone, armed with remote-controlled weapons. Designed by the Israeli company G-NIUS, a joint venture between Elbit Systems and IAI, the Border Patroller, like the walls it fortifies, will prevent the Palestinian refugees of Gaza from escaping their cage.

The Protector, produced by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, is an unmanned sea vehicle (USV), or boat drone, that roams Gaza’s coast to obstruct Palestinian fishermen from making a living.

If the proliferation of Israel’s aerial drones is any indication, it won’t be long before land and sea drones spread to all corners of the globe.

As long as Israel’s economy is shaped by the subjugation and elimination of Palestinians, it will continue to function as a factory for cutting-edge repression technology that sustains racism and inequality around the globe.


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TLB recommends you visit The Electronic Intifada for more great articles and pertinent information.



by Paul Craig Roberts

Washington’s EU vassals might be finding their backbone. Britain, Germany, France, and Italy are reported to have defied Washington’s orders and applied to join the Chinese-led Asian Investment Bank. Australia, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland and Luxembourg might also join.

Washington uses its development banks such as the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, along with the IMF, in order to exercise financial and political hegemony. These banks are crucial elements of American economic and political imperialism.

The Chinese-led bank will, of course, be much more effective. The Chinese will use the bank to actually help countries and thereby make friends and grow trust, whereas Washington uses its banks for domination by force.

This new bank, together with the BRICS Bank, will provide countries with escape routes from Washington’s domination.

The Evil Empire is beginning to crack. It will crack more as the Russian-Chinese alliance unfolds its potentials and when European capitals understand that hegemonic Washington has put their existence at risk in order to try to prevent Russia’s rise. The crazed American and British neocon nazis, and their dupes among the populations, comprise the greatest human threat that the world has ever known. The sooner the Evil Empire collapses, the safer the world will be.

Here is the report:

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West and How America Was Lost.


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TLB recommends you visit Institute for Political Economy for more great articles and pertinent information.


By TLB Contributor: Dave Hodges

One person wrote to me, recently, and innocently stated that his bank, Bank of America, could simply pay off their derivatives debt and that, in effect, there is nothing to worry about.

Dear Dave,

I read your articles every morning and even tho they have good information, but you are wrong about the economy crashing. I talked to my Bank of America Vice President yesterday and he told me you are a fear monger and a conspiracy theorist after I showed him articles you have written advising people to get their money out of the bank. He laughed at you and said anyone who reads this garbage should be put in a loony bin. He showed me figures which tells me you are wrong and everyone else like you such as the Hagmanns are wrong. Are you disinfo agent? Is this why you tell people to take their money out of the bank because you are part of a plot to collapse the system?  Please stick to helping moms like Monica Wesolowsky and stay away from the financial stuff. You did a great job getting her son back. But there is nothing wrong with the economy. You scared my wife to death and she  still wants to take our money out of Bank of America.

Robert ____

St. Louis. MO.

There Are None So Blind As Those Who Will Not See

Robert’s wife must feel like it’s the Monday before Black Tuesday in 1929. I know that many of you have family members who think you are insane to suggest that your bank could fail. My heart breaks for many of my fellow Americans who will never know what hit them.

Despite several and multiple warnings coming from both this publication and dozens of others that the crash of the U.S. economy could come at any time, some people continue to go through life as if nothing is wrong.

sheeple 2Logic means nothing to the sheep of America, proof means nothing to these people, even scripture from Revelations means nothing. It is as if some people go from website to website and leave their message of ignorant bliss that our economy is fine and we will never have anything to worry about and anyone who says different, is a fear-monger. By the way, the term “fear monger”, just like the term, “conspiracy theorist”, was created by the mainstream media, in order to marginalize any individual who has serious concerns about the elite and their intentions regarding the direction that the planet is headed.

More Fear Mongering Wrapped Within a Conspiracy Theory

Since the $18 trillion dollar debt, the $240 trillion dollar unfunded liabilities and the $1.5 quadrillion dollar derivatives debt, the all-time low ratings of the Baltic Dry Index, the massive amounts of food on the docks of several of our ports, the fact that the Trans Pacific Partnership is poised to seize control of both the US economy and the political process in America means nothing to the flocks of sheep in this country, perhaps there is a another number which will capture the attention of these people. The number is $80 trillion dollars.

The United States taxpayer is on the hook to JP Morgan and Bank of America for nearly $80 trillion dollars, apiece, in order to cover their share of the derivatives debt. Raise your hand if knew that. We must have a lot of broken arms in America this morning. Amazingly, very few have mentioned this in the three years that this “silent” bail-out has been in effect.

First of all, if you are one of the millions of customers of these banks, you need to realize that the entire GDP of the planet is under $70 trillion dollars and your bank owes more money to the originators of the Credit Swap Derivatives than the entire value of the planet, per mega bank!  Take your time, I will wait right here as you rub your eyes and reread the previous passage… The facts are so indisputable, that even mainstream publications such as Bloomberg are reporting on this reality and have been since 2011 when the Federal Reserve and the FDIC guaranteed the derivatives debt for JP Morgan and Bank of America for derivatives debt up to almost $80 trillion dollars each.

Even Robert Reich wrote an editorial piece expressing grave concern over the state of the derivatives debt, the U.S. mega banks and how the U.S. taxpayer is now on the hook to support the trillions of dollars of derivatives debt. The situation is so dire that Bank of America shifted its derivatives debt, previously located in its Merrill investment banking unit, to its banking depository arm, which magically was given access to the Fed discount window and is protected by the FDIC (i.e. that would be you).

Unmistakable Implications

In 2013, Bank of America had a little over one trillion dollars in deposits. The FDIC is guaranteeing the derivatives debt for this bank to the tune of almost $80 trillion dollars. And the entire GDP of the planet is less than the FDIC guarantee. This is a prescription for economic Armageddon.

strawSolely based upon the condition of the megabanks, it is a foregone conclusion that these bank customers are going to lose their assets. Since the U.S. only takes in $2 trillion dollars per year, where is the money going to come from to cover the derivatives debt? The interest on the derivatives debt is exploding faster than we can pay the interest on it. This one set of circumstances is enough, on its own, to collapse the U.S. economy. This could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. However, we have a lot of straws sitting upon the backs of the American camel.

1. The national debt.

2. The national deficit.

3. The stock market bubble.

4. The MERS mortgage fraud which has stolen an estimated 13 million homes.

5. The 1.5 quadrillion derivatives debt.

6. The record low Baltic Index which speaks to the health of the global economy.

7. Record consumer credit debt.

8. 5o million Americans on food stamps.

9. Shadow Stats which states that 23% of Americans are unemployed and underemployed

10. A weakened military as we sit upon the edge of World War III at a time when Obama is downsizing our military and firing its leadership base.

11. Increased foreign reliance of food imports (20% of the total).

12. The FCC is trying to gain control over the Internet in an attempt to silence the opposition of the independent media.

13. Food inflation which some estimate to be at about 18%.

14. The media is owned by six corporations who have helped to create this problem.

15. Christians and their religion are now under attack while other religions are being glorified in contrast (see Rocky Mountain High School, Ft. Collins, CO).

Yet, there is nothing wrong to the millions of sheep which are still enthralled with the mainstream media and their false doctrine based upon elite servitude.

For millions of Americans, it is time to go through a personal debt and personal resource allocation. It is time to get one’s spiritual house in order. It is time to reorganize your life in order to meet the challenges of the new reality which is upon us. It is time to lock arms with fellow Christians who refuse to comply with illegal orders, laws and executive orders.

No one organization has all the correct answers about what to do with one’s resources because America is in uncharted waters. However, there are some common sense things that can be done that you can do to help improve your chances of survival and that will be the topic of the most requested article that people want me to write on which asks the question “What should I do with my (spiritual, physical and financial) assets?


About the Author

Dave Hodges is the host of the popular radio talk show, which airs from 9 PM to Midnight (Central). The show can be heard by clicking the following icon in the upper right hand corner of The Common Sense Show.

© 2014. The Common Sense Show. The Logo and Articles are protected by U.S. Copyright Laws, and are not to be downloaded or reproduced in any way without the written permission of Dave Hodges. Copyright 2014. Dave Hodges. All Rights Reserved

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by Paul Fassa

Chiropractors who administer unnecessary adjustments after an automobile accident in order to collect maximum insurance payments does occur sometimes. But as far as the patients go, no harm, no foul. Maybe even some benefits for other ailments not caused by the accident.

It’s known that chemotherapy and radiation are harmful, however, and regardless of their claims, their true cure rate is under five percent. The cancer industry likes to claim higher rates based on remaining alive for five years or remissions that don’t last. But even after that, many don’t live much longer or their overall health is adversely affected.

Deaths during chemo or radiation are attributed to the disease and never to the treatments, though it has been observed that chemo and radiation do worsen health and even kill. The mainstream cancer industry would fail without insurance to cover their outrageous costs since so few can afford them, while much less expensive and more effective cancer treatments are not covered by insurance in the USA. Economically not so rational, eh?

In one decade alone, oncologists’ incomes have increased over 85 percent even as patient visits increased only 12 percent. Could that be due somewhat to allowing oncologists who administer chemo out of their own offices and clinics to purchase chemotherapy drugs at wholesale and mark them up two fold, ya think?

Dr. Lorraine Day cured her breast cancer naturally. Here’s what she knows about chemotherapy.

Exploiting Cancer Fear and Extorting Insurance Coverages

Since testing for early intervention that can contribute to cancer, such as mammograms and PSA tests that often lead to injurious biopsies, a doctor can get cynical enough to exploit the insurance coverages by administering harsh chemo drugs if the patient shouldn’t receive them or even if the patient doesn’t have cancer at all!

One not so uncommon practice is to maintain high chemo dosing and/or radiation with heavy morphine dosing added as an older patient is hopelessly on the way out, sometimes right up to the patient’s last breath. Of course, Medicare or Medicaid usually get the bill.

Journalist Tony Isaacs reports in his article “Dying Cancer Patients are Being Milked of Every Last Dollar” how studies from the journal “The Oncologist” and the journal “Cancer” reported that one in five dying patients are given chemo with two weeks of their deaths and a third of terminal cancer patients aren’t sent to hospice until they have three days or less to live.

Meanwhile, 91 percent of dying cancer patients were given radiation treatments, most of them dying in agony from those treatments before they could even finish them. Would you want your parent or grandparent to go through this?

Tony also reported how 25 percent of Medicare expenses occurred in Virginia during patients’ final month. So as long as the money is available, pumping dying older patients with toxic drugs and cooking them with radiation treatments is part of that good ole’ standard of care, the culpability cover for damages from conventional medicine. Meanwhile, most of those patients are heavily discouraged from seeking less harmful and more effective alternative treatments. With older folks especially, Medicare is usually the piggy bank that gets exploited even though that program does not usually completely pay what oncologists normally invoice for their “services”. And since Medicare usually doesn’t cover the whole bill, the patient or patient’s immediate family is responsible for the remainder of the bill that is zealously pursued by collection agencies for those doctors.

A Recent Real Life Incident of Medical Insurance Fraud

It may be easy to scam a private insurance company somewhat and suffer a refusal to pay or slap on the wrist. But Medicare is a federal program monitored state by state that has ambitious federal prosecutors sniffing for cheaters due to the extreme amounts of payouts that are now suspicious. This is how one doctor in Michigan got sniffed out in 2014.

Dr. Farid Fata, a prominent cancer doctor in Michigan surprisingly confessed to intentionally and wrongfully diagnosing relatively healthy people with cancer for the purpose of profiteering from chemo drug sales.

His crimes were so egregious that the prosecuting federal attorney Barbara McQuade sought a life sentence, not so much for the $62 million dollars he had fraudulently bilked Medicare for over a six year period, but for the harm done to many of his 1200 patients over that time.

According to a retired oncologist, Dr. Sayed Mohammed, who has noticed this trend over the last 10 years, “Many of these unscrupulous physicians are like businessmen without a conscience. The only difference is they have your health and trust in their hands – a very dangerous combination when money is involved.”

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Mr. Americana | February 10th, 2015

HONOLULU—China has suggested arming Hawaii’s independence activists in retaliation for U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and recently threatened to challenge American sovereignty by making legal claims to the Pacific islands as its territory.

Chinese threats to back several groups of Hawaiian independence activists who want to restore the islands’ constitutional monarchy, ousted in a U.S.-backed coup over a century ago, has raised concerns that military facilities on the strategic central Pacific archipelago are threatened at a time when the Obama administration is engaged in a major shift toward Asia as part of its military and diplomatic rebalance.

Michael Pillsbury, a Pentagon consultant and author of the recent book 100 Year Marathon, said Chinese military hawks, known as “ying pai,” told him they are ready to provide arms to Hawaiian independence activists in retaliation for U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

“Beijing’s extraordinary sensitivity to American arms sales to Taiwan—even one bullet or a spare tire for a jeep—often provokes angry words,” said Pillsbury who has held talks with 35 Chinese generals in recent years.

“A favorite comparison the ying pai has made to me is ‘How would the Pentagon like it if we provide arms to our friends in Hawaiian independence movement?’” he said. “I was incredulous because I had never heard of such a movement in Hawaii, but, after checking I met a few of them.”

Pillsbury said Chinese backing for the independence movement would be a concern. Some U.S. archival material shows U.S. authorities acted on their own in the 1898 annexation, he said, something Congress later investigated.

Pillsbury’s book, published last week, reveals that Chinese hawks in the military and Communist Party are a key part of a 100-year strategy to vanquish and eventually overtake the United States as the world’s leading power in the coming decades.

Another indicator of Chinese interest in fomenting unrest in Hawaii surfaced in 2012, when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton revealed Beijing had threatened to assert legal, territorial claims over Hawaii.

Clinton said U.S. ownership of Hawaii came up during talks with the Chinese after she pushed back against Beijing’s destabilizing territorial activities in the South China Sea.

“At one point in one of my long discussions about this, one of my Chinese interlocutors said, ‘Well, we could claim Hawaii,’” she said. “I said, ‘Well, go ahead, and we’ll go to arbitration and prove we own it. That’s what we want you to do.’”

The Hawaii sovereignty movement is made up at least 10 groups that are seeking some form of independence fromthe United States and the re-establishment of the monarchy ousted in 1893, with the support of the U.S. government and a company of U.S. Marines.

The movement is non-violent and its protests in recent years have been limited to temporary takeovers of government facilities.

Leon Siu, a Hawaiian-born musician who holds the title of foreign minister of the Hawaiian Kingdom, one of the groups seeking independence, says U.S. military facilities on the islands are contrary to the original monarchy’s neutrality.

“First of all we’re not native Hawaiians. We’re Hawaiian nationals and we see our country as a lawful, independent country, and we’re working to restore that,” Siu said in an interview. “The bottom line is we want our country back.”


hawaiian foreign minister


Siu said he has met with Chinese government representatives in the past but was unable to discern their motives orlevel of support for Hawaiian independence. He has been working through international organizations and international legal institutions for the past 10 years to gain recognition of Hawaii as an independent state.

Hawaii was ruled under an internationally neutral constitutional monarchy in the late 1800s. After the 1893 coup, a provisional government and then a Republic of Hawaii preceded formal U.S. annexation as a territory in 1898. Hawaii became the 50th state in 1959. About 1.4 million people live on the eight main islands.

Hawaii today remains one of the Pentagon’s most important strategic military outposts, located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, some 2,500 miles from California, and 4,000 miles from Tokyo. It is the central point of the military’s strategy of shifting forces to the Asia Pacific as part of the so-called “rebalance,” designed to counter Chinese bullying in the region.

The Navy’s historic Pearl Harbor Naval Base is home to the U.S. Pacific Fleet, which commands some 27 ships, 1,100 aircraft, and more than 140,000 sailors and civilians based throughout the Asia Pacific.

The Air Force operates nearby Hickam Air Force Base, headquarters of the Pacific Air Force, with 45,000 airmen in the region and 300 warplanes.

The Army’s Schofield Barracks is the headquarters for 80,000 Army troops deployed throughout the Asia Pacific region. The Army, facing sharp budget cuts, has announced plans to cut the number of troops based at Schofield by 16,000 and another 3,800 at nearby Fort Shafter.

The National Security Agency also operates a major electronic eavesdropping post in Hawaii known as “Kunia.”

A defense official said military counterintelligence agencies several years ago conducted routine assessments of the Hawaiian independence movement to determine whether the movement might pose a threat, should its activists turn to violence and threaten U.S. troops.

Siu, of the Hawaiian Kingdom group, said he was told by a Pentagon official several years ago that contingency plans had been drawn up for withdrawing forces from Hawaii in the event of independence. “But I’m sure [the U.S. military] would rather renegotiate” the military bases to keep forces in place, he said.

Pentagon and Pacific Command spokesmen said they were unaware of any such contingency plan. “I’m not aware of any concerns here in the Pentagon for something like this occurring,” said Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright.

On a future U.S. military presence, Siu said Hawaiian nationals believe they should be the ones to determine whether U.S. military bases remain in the country.

A military presence, however, would be contrary to Hawaii’s declared status as a neutral power in 1854.

A new Hawaiian Kingdom government after independence would have to decide the fate of the military facilities.


chinese navy


“I would favor a relationship [in which] the United States would help protect us because of our treaty of friendship, as well as Britain and France and every other nation with whom we have treaties, such as China, Japan,” Siu said.

“More specifically, I would not favor the United States maintaining their military bases here but that’s not my decision,” he added.

Siu says that despite the creation of the U.S. state of Hawaii in 1959, the kingdom remained a lawful entity that includes the entire Hawaii island chain and the remnants of the population at the time of the coup.

Under the 1933 Montevideo Convention, the Hawaii Kingdom meets all the conditions of a sovereign nation, except that it is not conducting international affairs, except on a small scale, he said, noting that his job has been carrying out that mission at the United Nations in New York and Geneva for the past 10 years.

Several international court cases also are challenging what Siu calls the “unlawful occupation” of Hawaii by the United States.

The independence movement was given new life in 1993 under the administration of President Bill Clinton who signed the Apology Resolution recognizing that the United States “apologizes to native Hawaiians on behalf of the people of the United States for the overthrow of the Kingdom of

Hawaii on January 17, 1893, with the participation of agents and citizens of the United States, and the deprivation of the rights of native Hawaiians to self-determination.”

Not surprisingly, both the Hawaiian state government and the federal government dispute the independence activists’ claims. Both have tried to placate the movement by offering to recognize native Hawaiians as an American Indian tribe, with the same level of independence Indian tribes have had within the U.S. system of government.

Siu says the federal government has dismissed the independence claims as “water under the bridge” arguing that because of long U.S. government control that past claims of independence are no longer valid.

“Native Hawaiian people are quite insulted to be grouped as an American Indian tribe and so that has been totally rejected by our people,” he said.

Cindy McMillan, a spokeswoman for Hawaiian Democratic Gov. David Ige, said the governor was unavailable to comment.

Chinese Embassy spokesman Zhu Haiquan said he has never heard any Chinese officials use “such rhetoric as you mentioned.”

“It is either a serious misunderstanding or a rumor with untold intentions,” he said.

China opposes arms sales to Taiwan, Zhu added.


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By TLB Contributor: Ellen Brown

Remember when the infamous Goldman Sachs delivered a thinly-veiled threat to the Greek Parliament in December, warning them to elect a pro-austerity prime minister or risk having central bank liquidity cut off to their banks? (See January 6th post here.) It seems the European Central Bank (headed by Mario Draghi, former managing director of Goldman Sachs International) has now made good on the threat.

The week after the leftwing Syriza candidate Alexis Tsipras was sworn in as prime minister, the ECB announced that it would no longer accept Greek government bonds and government-guaranteed debts as collateral for central bank loans to Greek banks. The banks were reduced to getting their central bank liquidity through “Emergency Liquidity Assistance” (ELA), which is at high interest rates and can also be terminated by the ECB at will.

In an interview reported in the German magazine Der Spiegel on March 6th, Alexis Tsipras said that the ECB was “holding a noose around Greece’s neck.” If the ECB continued its hardball tactics, he warned, “it will be back to the thriller we saw before February” (referring to the market turmoil accompanying negotiations before a four-month bailout extension was finally agreed to).

The noose around Greece’s neck is this: the ECB will not accept Greek bonds as collateral for the central bank liquidity all banks need, until the new Syriza government accepts the very stringent austerity program imposed by the troika (the EU Commission, ECB and IMF). That means selling off public assets (including ports, airports, electric and petroleum companies), slashing salaries and pensions, drastically increasing taxes and dismantling social services, while creating special funds to save the banking system.

These are the mafia-like extortion tactics by which entire economies are yoked into paying off debts to foreign banks – debts that must be paid with the labor, assets and patrimony of people who had nothing to do with incurring them.

Playing Chicken with the People’s Money

Greece is not the first to feel the noose tightening on its neck. As The Economist notes, in 2013 the ECB announced that it would cut off Emergency Lending Assistance to Cypriot banks within days, unless the government agreed to its bailout terms. Similar threats were used to get agreement from the Irish government in 2010.

Likewise, says The Economist, the “Greek banks’ growing dependence on ELA leaves the government at the ECB’s mercy as it tries to renegotiate the bailout.”

Mark Weisbrot commented in the Huffington Post:

We should be clear about what this means. The ECB’s move was completely unnecessary . . . . It looks very much like a deliberate attempt to undermine the new government.

. . . The ECB could . . . stabilize Greek bond yields at low levels, but instead it chose . . . to go to the opposite extreme — and I mean extreme — to promote a run on bank deposits, tank the Greek stock market, and drive up Greek borrowing costs.

Weisbrot observed that the troika had plunged the Eurozone into at least two additional years of unnecessary recession beginning in 2011, because “they were playing a similar game of chicken. . . . [T]he ECB deliberately allowed these market actors to create an existential crisis for the euro, in order to force concessions from the governments of Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, and Ireland.”

The Tourniquet of Central Bank Liquidity

Not just Greek banks but all banks are reliant on central bank liquidity, because they are all technically insolvent. They all lend money they don’t have. They rely on being able to borrow from other banks, the money market, or the central bank as needed to balance their books. The central bank (which has the power to print money) is the ultimate backstop in this sleight of hand. If that source of liquidity dries up, the banks go down.

In the Eurozone, the national central banks of member countries have relinquished this critical credit power to the European Central Bank. And the ECB, like the US Federal Reserve, marches to the drums of large international banks rather than to the democratic will of the people.

Lest there be any doubt, let’s review Goldman’s December memo to the Greek Parliament, reprinted on Zerohedge. Titled “From GRecovery to GRelapse,” it warned:

[H]erein lies the main risk for Greece. The economy needs the only lender of last resort to the banking system to maintain ample provision of liquidity. And this is not just because banks may require resources to help reduce future refinancing risks for the sovereign. But also because banks are already reliant on government issued or government guaranteed securities to maintain the current levels of liquidity constant.

In the event of a severe Greek government clash with international lenders, interruption of liquidity provision to Greek banks by the ECB could potentially even lead to a Cyprus-style prolonged “bank holiday”. And market fears for potential Euro-exit risks could rise at that point. [Emphasis added.]

Why would the ECB have to “interrupt liquidity provision” just because of a “clash with international lenders”? As Mark Weisbrot observed, the move was completely unnecessary. The central bank can flick the credit switch on or off at its whim. Any country that resists going along with the troika’s austerity program may find that its banks have been cut off from this critical liquidity, because the government and the banks are no longer considered “good credit risks.” And that damning judgment becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, as is happening in Greece.

“The Icing on the Cake”

Adding insult to injury, the ballooning Greek debt was incurred to save the very international banks to whom it is now largely owed. Worse, those banks bought the debt with cheap loans from the ECB! Pepe Escobar writes:

The troika sold Greece an economic racket . . . . Essentially, Greece’s public debt went from private to public hands when the ECB and the IMF ‘rescued’ private (German, French, Spanish) banks. The debt, of course, ballooned. The troika intervened, not to save Greece, but to save private banking.

The ECB bought public debt from private banks for a fortune, because the ECB could not buy public debt directly from the Greek state. The icing on this layer cake is that private banks had found the cash to buy Greece’s public debt exactly from…the ECB, profiting from ultra-friendly interest rates. This is outright theft. And it’s the thieves that have been setting the rules of the game all along.

That brings us back to the role of Goldman Sachs (dubbed by Matt Taibbi the “Vampire Squid”), which “helped” Greece get into the Eurozone through a highly questionable derivative scheme involving a currency swap that used artificially high exchange rates to conceal Greek debt.

Goldman then turned around and hedged its bets by shorting Greek debt.

Predictably, these derivative bets went very wrong for the less sophisticated of the two players. A €2.8 billion loan to Greece in 2001 became a €5.1 billion debt by 2005.

Despite this debt burden, in 2006 Greece remained within the ECB’s 3% budget deficit guidelines. It got into serious trouble only after the 2008 banking crisis. In late 2009, Goldman joined in bearish bets on Greek debt launched by heavyweight hedge funds to put selling pressure on the euro, forcing Greece into the bailout and austerity measures that have since destroyed its economy.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote in the UK Telegraph on March 2nd:

Syriza has long argued that [its post-2009] debt is illegitimate, alleging that the ECB bought Greek bonds in 2010 in order to save the European banking system and prevent contagion at a time when the eurozone did not have a financial firewall, not to help Greece.

Mr. Varoufakis [the newly-appointed Greek finance minister] said the result was to head off a Greek default to private creditors that would have led to a large haircut for foreign banks if events had been allowed to run their normal course, reducing Greece’s debt burden to manageable levels. Instead, the EU authorities took a series of steps to avert this cathartic moment, ultimately foisting €245bn of loan packages onto the Greek taxpayer and pushing public debt to 182pc of GDP.

The Toxic Central Banking System

Pepe Escobar concludes:

Beware of Masters of the Universe dispensing smiles. Draghi and the . . . ECB goons may dispense all the smiles in the world, but what they are graphically demonstrating once again is how toxic central banking is now enshrined as a mortal enemy of democracy.

National central banks are no longer tools of governments for the benefit of the people. Governments have become tools of a global central banking system serving the interests of giant international financial institutions. These “too big to fail” behemoths must be saved at the expense of local banks, their depositors, and local economies generally.

How to escape the tentacles of this toxic squid-like banking hierarchy?

For countries with a bit more room to maneuver than Greece has, one option is to withdraw public and private deposits and put them in publicly-owned banks. The megabanks are deemed too big to fail only because the people’s money is tied up in them. They could be allowed to fail if public funds were not at risk.

The German SBFIC (Savings Banks Foundation for International Cooperation) has proposed a pilot project on the Sparkassen model for Greece. Other provocative options have also been proposed, but that interesting subject must wait for another article.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt. Her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her nearly-300 blog articles are at Listen to “It’s Our Money with Ellen Brown” on PRN here.


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Mr Americana
March 9th, 2015

( – Many people are living longer, but not to age 112 or beyond — except in the records of theSocial Security Administration.

The SSA’s inspector general has identified 6.5 million number-holders age 112 — or older — for whom no death date has been entered in the main electronic file, called Numident.

The audit, dated March 4, 2015, concluded that SSA lacks the controls necessary to annote death information on the records of number-holders who exceed “maximum reasonable life expectancies.”

“We obtained Numident data that identified approximately 6.5 million numberholders born before June 16, 1901 who did not have a date of death on their record,” the report states.

Some of the numbers assigned to long-dead people were used fraudulently to open bank accounts.

And thousands of those numbers apparently were used by illegal immigrants to apply for work:

“During Calendar Years 2008 through 2011, SSA received 4,024 E-Verify inquiries using the SSNs of 3,873 numberholders born before June 16, 1901,” the report said. “These inquiries indicate individuals’ attempts to use the SSNs to apply for work.”

“It is incredible that the Social Security Administration in 2015 does not have the technical sophistication to ensure that people they know to be deceased are actually noted as dead,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“Tens of thousands of these numbers are currently being used to report wages to the Social Security Administrationand to the IRS. People are fraudulently, but successfully, applying for jobs and benefits with these numbers. Making sure Social Security cleans up its death master file to prevent future errors and fraud is a good government reform we can all agree on,” Johnson said.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the committee’s ranking member, called the findings a “major problem” that wastes taxpayers’ money, exposes citizens to identity theft and undermines confidence in government:

“It is simply unacceptable that our nation’s database of Social Security numbers of supposedly living people includes more than six and a half million people who are older than 112 years of age, with a few thousand having birth dates from before the Civil War. Preventing agency errors by keeping track of who has died is a relatively simple problem that the government should pursue as a high priority.”

According to the IG, the Social Security Administration matches death reports received from various sources against its payment records, then records the date of a number-holder’s death in its Numerical Identification System, or Numident.

Information from Numident is then used to create SSA’s “Death Master File,” which is used by financial institutions and various government entities to prevent identity fraud. If a death is not recorded on the Numident, it will not appear in the DMF.

The IG made four recommendations for resolving the discrepancies and improving the accuracy of the Death Master File to “prevent future misuse of these SSNs.”


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