Is Washington considering a firepower solution to unrest? The Department of Homeland Security just ordered 450 million rounds of special “hollow point” .40 caliber ammunition from defense contractor ATK. The high performance HST bullets are designed for law enforcement and ATK says they offer “optimum penetration for terminal performance.” While we can only guess in what situations this type of domestic firepower might be used by Homeland Security, American citizens should also remember this type of ammunition has been outlawed in international warfare by the Hague Convention Declaration III since 1899.
In addition, the Department has an open bid to stockpile rifle ammo, up to 175 million rounds of .223 caliber ammo, the same used by NATO forces.
Why? The answer is clear: The Federal government is gearing up for the unprecedented social unrest (worse than Greece or Spain) when Washington is forced to impose “austerity” plans next year, after this November’s elections. Either that or face runaway inflation to pay for the costly welfare programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps and massive unfunded liabilities.
Protestors could be denied basic civil rights. The new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) takes away basic rights of American citizens who are considered “terrorists” or “enemy combatants,” who can now be held indefinitely without trial and without legal representation. (After signing the bill, President Obama later said he would “never” impose this Act on Americans. Don’t bet on it.)
The Obama administration is getting desperate. As part of the federal-aid highway bill, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) has added a provision that allows for anyone who owes the IRS more than $50,000 to be denied a passport. (Senate Bill 1813 is now in the House.)
The TSA is expanding rapidly its power. It’s not enough for swarms of government agents to invade our privacy with enhanced pat-downs at airports, but they are also now engaging in random car stops on highways across America.
And this just in: What if you go to jail as a dissident or enemy of the state? Or even for a traffic violation? In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled last week that police can strip search anyone who is taken to jail. According to the High Court decision, jailers may perform invasive strip searches on people arrested even for “minor offenses.” This travesty of justice was made in the case of Albert Florence, a black man who was arrested in New Jersey on a warrant for an unpaid fine, even though he had paid it and had proof of that payment on him when he was arrested. The guards forced him to strip naked and expose his mouth, nose, ears and genitals to a visual search in case he was hiding anything. Who cast the deciding majority vote? Justice Anthony Kennedy, the man who will decide the fate of ObamaCare in June.
Ron Holland is the author of several books, including The Threat to the Private Pension SystemÂ and Escape the Pension Trap, and ofÂ numerous special reports and hundreds of articles on investment and political topics, many of which focus on the interplay between politics and the investment markets.
Today is a day of runaway grade inflation and a paper currency (degrees) which is declining in value. Education used to be backed by the intrinsic value of “skills” (like a gold standard) which would stand on their own merit, but today many employers are socializing the workforce by hiring those who have paper “degrees” over those who actually have talent – and the State is sponsoring this. The State’s sponsorship of a monopoly on jobs (certification) certainly is nothing new, as it was something that even Lysander Spooner in the 19th century was irate about – that one needed to have a bachelor’s degree and training to practice law. He argued that this effectively created a government-sponsored discrimination against the poor who could not afford the costlier degrees. Indeed, government certification severely hinders the free market and is a great threat to liberty. Why can’t employers make their own decisions about who to hire, and why can’t consumers choose for themselves what certification they accept as valid? Why can’t we allow independent certification agencies to assess the skills of a person? The government wants a monopoly over certification, education, and jobs – that’s why.
College students today could be infinitely smarter if there was severe deregulation of the “education industry”. Along with this centralized control of education and the accreditation system, schools end up having to severely limit a student’s ability to freely inquire in order to fulfill the requirements of the State. In turn, many classes which are difficult have the same amount of assigned credit points as harder classes, which destroys the incentive for students to challenge themselves. Won’t an employer hire a 4.0 GPA student who took simple classes vs. a 2.8 GPA student who took difficult classes? The problem of education is a headache that is never-ending.
Many curriculums, for example, are fixed and totally limit the knowledge and skills a student can obtain. Time is wasted pursuing “required classes” rather than useful skills. Many classes have lost their objective commitment to evaluating whether or not a student possesses a certain skill and instead evaluate a student based on if they have completed the assignment. The consequence of these socialized education choices is that students lack the freedom to develop their skills all while paying a high price for certification which is worth less than it could be if we had a free market.
With today’s technological advances, it is very surprising that education is so costly and that so little is achieved compared to what COULD be. Why does it sound like such a strange idea that at age 14 young people today could start earning their bachelor’s degree? We should have already mastered how to teach high school and to implement it at younger ages. And why are college degrees so costly today? A computer from 10 years ago compared to a brand new computer today costs so much less, because it is a product of a relatively freer market. Why aren’t the costs of education also declining? They would if we had freedom in education which would lead to innovative teaching methods and less time needed for instruction and less cost of materials for schooling.
If the certifications of the State were taken away and independent agencies and new schools allowed to pop up, the competition between old schools and new schools would actually strengthen the quality of education of existing universities, colleges, and other education establishments, as well as allow the new productive schools to flourish. The freedom for students to PASSIONATELY LOVE what they learn might again exist, rather than grade-slavery. We might have new grading methods that more resemble life: in life’s test, you can get a 200% or a -100%. Maybe if we had a free education system, we might be able to create such methods. Businesses certainly are like that, where you can have something go wrong and lose money and get a -100% on a test; or, you can sell something for double the price you intended to: a 200% success. But schools don’t like to allow you to get ahead or to fail miserably: you can usually get grades in the range of 60%-100%, below 60% being failure. Therefore, even the measurements of schooling are socialized, and yet it is amazing to me that all assignments often have a grade attached to them: how would you grade a person’s relationship with God, for instance? Some assignments don’t have numerical values, but are pass/fail or more complex than the simple grading paradigm that many schools use. In mathematics there are complex numbers and other strange mathematical symbols; perhaps I am advocating for a grading system more sophisticated in reflecting those realities.
Whatever grading system that’s used, the point is that many schools (and the education industry) are complete enemies of freedom, and they hardly make substantial changes or impacts on society outside of their already-defined parameters. We have a whole school-government-workplace complex which needs to be challenged. There are plenty of better or different ways of doing things, but we aren’t allowed to try them because of government regulation and misguided public sentiment that “college degrees are valuable in themselves”. No, what is valuable in itself is skill, and students would most be able to develop their skill if they had more freedom. Skill is as valuable as gold and both have something much more than paper does: objective value, unrelated to teacher opinion. We need more people to fight to free our schools and workplaces from the jaws of government destruction; let’s keep moving.
Peak Housing reflects not just a credit bubble but Peak Fraud and Peak Suburbia.
Once again pundits are claiming that housing is “finally recovering.” But they’re overlooking three peaks: Peak Housing, Peak Financial Fraud, and Peak Suburbia, all of which suggest years of stagnation and decline, not “recovery.”
Here is the latest Case-Shiller index, which has traced out a nearly textbook bubble and a return to the mean that has been artificially restrained by trillions of dollars of Federal subsidies and backstopping of the housing market:
Here is a classic bubble and pop.Â Note that the “recovery” to bubble heights never arrived: 12 years later, the NASDAQ is around 3,000. If we adjust that by the 33% inflation since 2000 calculated by the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), then the NAZ is around 40% of the 2000 peak.
Note that there were several “recoveries” that fizzled before the index finally round-tripped to pre-bubble prices. On the Case-Shiller, that suggests an eventual drop from 130 to 75, the pre-bubble level.
Like all other systems that have run their course, housing follows an S-curve.Â After the vaporization of assets and cash in the Great Depression, America had largely reverted to a nation of renters. The postwar boom of plentiful jobs, cheap, government-guaranteed VA mortgages and virgin flat land near cities combined to fuel a suburban housing boom.
By the 1960s, the belief that housing was the bedrock of middle class wealth was firmly established. This was the explanation and motivation for buying a home: “housing never declines,” and a rapid rate of household formation made it easy to sell a house to somebody else.
The high inflation of the 1970s and subsequent leap in housing prices embedded another key concept in the national psyche:Â housing wasn’t just a forced savings plan that doubled as shelter, it was the speculative road to riches.
The mini-bubble of the late 1980s popped, sending housing into a six-year slump, but Peak Financialization and Peak Financial Fraud arose to goose housing to a new and spectacular credit-fueled bubble of frenzied speculation.
That systemic fraud was a key dynamic of the housing bubble is undeniable:everyone from those buying houses with no-document loans to money-center banks selling fraudulent mortgage-backed securities was relying on fraud. Peak Fraud isn’t a necessary feature of financial bubbles, but it is often a causal factor among others.
If you have any doubt that the Crash of 1929 was accompanied by Peak Financial Fraud, I invite you to read John Kenneth Galbraith’sÂ The Great Crash 1929.
Alas, all bubbles pop, and now the world has changed.Â The overt fraud has been driven underground, but the repercussions of the institutionalized fraud of MERS and mortgage-backed securities hasn’t been resolved; it remains in the market’s blood stream, slowly poisoning what’s left of the private mortgage market.
Peak Fraud will not be returning to the housing market, but its toxic consequences linger in the system. Does anyone seriously think the 4.4 million home equity lines of credit loans (HELOCs) on lenders’ books are priced at their true market value? Accounting fraud in the form of overstated mortgage valuations is still rampant, and everyone knows it.
The rapid household formation of the 1950s and 60s period has given way to a generational decline.Â When housing, credit and oil were all cheap and plentiful, single people could buy condos and homes themselves, even with modest incomes. Credit may be cheap but housing and oil are not, and inflation has ravaged incomes, as noted here many times.
The demographics simply don’t support rapid household formation; household formation is following an S-curve, too.
Then there’s Peak Suburbia and Peak Commuting to Distant Exurban McMansions.Here is a chart that correlates GDP (gross domestic product), the broad measure of economic growth and prosperity, with the price of oil and wages. Note that rising oil costs and stagnant wages take the wind out of the economy’s sails.
Simply put, declining wages and high oil prices erode households’ ability and willingness to buy a surburban home and pay for the gasoline needed to commute hundreds of miles every week.
Once the belief that housing is the bedrock of middle class wealth fades, so too will the motivation to risk homeownership in an economy that puts a premium on mobility and frequent changes of careers and jobs.Â We can discern a sea-change in this chart of housing activity: despite trillions of dollars in subsidies, guaranteed mortgages and other types of Federal support, the housing market has not recovered, it has only stopped plummeting:
Only one aspect of housing hasn’t yet peaked: property taxes.Â If the risks of homeownership weren’t apparent before, they certainly are now as local governments jack up property taxes to indenture homeowners into tax donkeys.
Note that property taxes declined significantly in the previous recession (2000-2002), but theyÂ rose steeply in the 2008-9 recession, and continued climbing.Â The recent modest slippage may have several factors: lower valuations in states that set property taxes on assessed values, tax revenues declining as homes in foreclosure languish with unpaid property taxes, and so on.
Anyone claiming that property taxes have peaked will have to support that claim with evidence that local governments have found other sources of tax revenues to replace property taxes. Until that dynamic changes, then local government will have every incentive to jack up property taxes by any and all means available.
There are two overriding worries that we inevitably have during a time of danger and emergency. First, we want to know that we are safe. (Are we at risk? What should we do? Where should we go?) Second, we want to reassure ourselves of the safety of others â especially, of course, of our closest friends and family members.
Many people look to address both of these concerns with one simple rule: when a disaster or an emergency strikes, every member of the family is to immediately return home and congregate there (as long as the disaster is not close to home). This allows family members to easily account for one another and quickly determine whether someone is missing. It also, in most situations, offers an optimal amount of personal safety.Â In your own home you will feel safe from war and terror. It may provide a basement to hide during a tornado and a rooftop to utilize in case of flooding.Â It also gives a family access to all its emergency storage supplies.
But there are some situations when returning home is simply unfeasible, when your apartment may be inaccessible or may actually pose a greater safety risk. What should you do in such situations? Where should your family congregate? It is important here to have a Plan B â a backup emergency meeting spot.Â More specifically, in fact, you need a Plan B, C, and D. Yes, three backup plans. Hereâs generally how they should break down:
Plan B: Meet outside your building. If you canât meet inside your apartment for whatever reason, there are times (ex. in case of fire) where meeting on your street or even on the front stoop can make for a viable alternative. Thereâs no reason to meet far away if itâs not necessary, so this Plan B should always apply whenever the apartment itself does not offer a feasible location.
Plan C: Meet somewhere near your building. If you canât meet inside or outside of your apartment, the next step is to have a nearby destination in your neighborhood where your family members could easily congregate. This place will often be another home (that of your friends or relatives, for example). It could, however, just as easily be a park, a school, or a public building with which your family is familiar.
Plan D: Meet somewhere far away. Finally, in cases when your whole town is under threat from an emergency, your family should have a Plan D meeting spot that lies some distance away. Picking this spot can be tricky because it needs to take multiple emergency possibilities into consideration (for example, it should not be located closer to a river in case of flooding) and it needs to be accessible for all family members.
These are the backup plans that your family should implement to insure contact and safety in an emergency situation. Although our apartments are often safe and we would generally want to congregate there, itâs essential to have contingency plans in place so as to insure preparedness no matter what the situation may present.
The Federal Reserve says that everything is going to be okay.Â The Fed says that unemployment is going to go down, inflation is going to remain low and economic growth is going to steadily increase.Â Do you believe them this time?Â As you will see later in this article, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has been dead wrong about the economy over and over again.Â But the mainstream media and many Americans still seem to have a lot of faith in the Federal Reserve.Â It doesn’t seem to matter that Bernanke and other Fed officials have been telling the American people lies for years.Â As I always say, most people believe what they want to believe, and many people seem to want to have blind faith in the Federal Reserve even when logic and reason would dictate otherwise.Â The truth is that things are not going to be getting much better than they are right now.Â When the next wave of the financial crisis hits, the U.S. economy is going to fall back into recession, financial markets are going to crash and unemployment is going to absolutely skyrocket.Â But you will never hear any of that from the Federal Reserve.
The following are 5 new lies that the Federal Reserve is telling the American people.Â After each lie I have posted what The Economic Collapse Blog thinks is actually going to happen….
#1Â The Federal Reserve says that the labor market has improved and that unemployment is going to decline significantly over the next few years.
The following is a quote from the FOMC press release that was released on Wednesday….
Labor market conditions have improved in recent months; the unemployment rate has declined but remains elevated.
The Federal Reserve is projecting that the unemployment rate will fall within the range ofÂ 7.8 percent and 8.0 percentÂ by the end of 2012.
The Federal Reserve is also projecting that the unemployment rate will fall within the range ofÂ 6.7 percent and 7.4 percentÂ by the end of 2014.
The Economic Collapse Blog says that the labor marketÂ has not improved.Â In March 2010,Â 58.5 percentÂ of all working age Americans had a job.Â Exactly two years later in March 2012,Â 58.5 percentÂ of all working age Americans had a job.Â If the labor market was improving, the percentage of working age Americans with a job should have gone up.
The Economic Collapse Blog also says that while there is a chance the official unemployment rate may go down slightly in the short-term, the truth is that it is going to go up into double digits once the next wave of the financial crisis hits us.
#2Â The Federal Reserve says that that U.S. economy is going to experience solid GDP growth over the next couple of years.
In fact, the Federal Reserve is projecting that U.S. GDP will be rising at an annual rate that falls betweenÂ 3.1 percent and 3.6 percentÂ by the end of 2014.
The Economic Collapse Blog says that a great economic cataclysmÂ is coming….
“When the European banking system crashes (and it will) it is going to reverberate around the globe.Â The epicenter of the next great financial crisis is going to be in Europe, and it is getting closer with each passing day.”
#3Â The Federal Reserve says that we can expect low inflation for an extended period of time.
The Federal Reserve is officially projecting that the annual rate of inflation will not be higher thanÂ 2.0 percentÂ by the end of 2012.Â Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reinforced this projection during his press conference on Wednesday….
âBut we expect that to pass through the system, and assuming no new shocks in the oil sector, inflation ought to moderate to about 2 percent later this year.â
The Economic Collapse Blog says that the Fed is being tremendously dishonest and that if inflation was measured the exact same way that it was measured back in 1980, the annual rate of inflation would beÂ more than 10 percentÂ right now.
The truth is that mostÂ middle class familiesÂ know that we do not have low inflation right now.Â This is hammered home millions of times a day when average Americans visit the gas station or the grocery store.
At the beginning of the next recession inflation will likely subside, but that will only be because economic activity will be slowing down dramatically.
#4Â The Federal Reserve says that it has built up a 30 year reputation for keeping inflation low.
Ben Bernanke actually had the gall to make the following claim during his press conference on Wednesday….
“We, the Federal Reserve, have spent 30 years building up credibility for low and stable inflation, which has proved extremely valuable in that weâve been able to take strong accommodative actions in the last four, five years to support the economy.”
The Economic Collapse Blog says that theÂ Federal ReserveÂ has nearly a 100 year reputation for destroying the value of the U.S. dollar.Â Even using the Fed’s doctored numbers, the value of the U.S. dollar has declinedÂ by more than 95 percentÂ since 1913.
To get a really good idea of just how much the dollar has been destroyed by the Fed over the years, just check outÂ this chart.
#5Â Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says that we should trust him because the Federal Reserve stands ready to do whatever is necessary to support the U.S. economy.
“If appropriate… we remain entirely prepared to take additional action”
The Economic Collapse Blog says that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is doing a great disservice by not warning the American people about the tremendous crisis that is coming.Â In aÂ recent articleÂ I stated that this next crisis will blindside most Americans just like the last one did….
“Sadly, just like back in 2008, most people will never even see this next crisis coming.”
So who should you trust – the Federal Reserve or all of the half-crazed bloggers out there that are warning about the “serious doom” that is coming.
Well, come back to this article in a year or two and compare how accurate the predictions were.
In the end, time will tell who is telling lies and who is not.
If we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.
The controversial killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman as a âneighborhood watch patrolâ is one of the biggest stories of 2012 so far. Â And with his trial upcoming, it will continue to be so. Â The incident is a rallying point for those that think that gun control is a necessary evil for the United States and that it is time for the Second Amendment (you know, the one that guarantees that we have the right to bear arms) to be nullified. Â Many people believe that President Obama will seek some sort of legislation if he is re-elected to a second term in November that will cripple the ability of the American people to get guns. Â Or ammo. Â Many conspiracy theorists believe that Obama might try to make it difficult to get the bullets more than taking on guns directly. Â By restricting ammunition, the guns that are currently in Americanâs hands would be rendered harmless and useless.
The government uses strategies like this all the time. Â Consider Internet poker. Â The United States was able to stamp out this form of what it calls âgamblingâ (most poker players contend that poker is a game of skill and not luck) not by outlawing or criminalizing the playing of it online, but by making it illegal for United States banks to process electronic transactions. Â So, itâs perfectly legal to play online poker, but you have no way to deposit money. Â The same concept is what many fear will be behind gun control. Â Stop the bullets, stop the guns. Â Simple enough.
The timing of the Trayvon Martin story only spotlights the issue and helps the agenda of those that want to take guns out of peopleâs hands. Â But have you paid attention to the news lately? Â The media has bombarded us with violent outbreaks, all involving handguns. Â If you thought it seemed like a lot more shootings were taking place, you were right. Â Consider:
January 29, 2012 â 5 shot dead in Birmingham, Alabama
February 22, 2012 â 5 shot dead in Atlanta, Georgia
February 27, 2012 â 3 shot dead, 3 wounded in Cleveland, Ohio
March 8, 2012 â 2 shot dead, 7 wounded in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
April 1, 2012 â 2 shot dead and 12 injured in Miami, Florida
April 2, 2012 â 4 wounded from gunshots in Hattiesburg, Mississippi
April 2, 2012 â 7 shot dead, 3 wounded in Oakland, California
Thatâs pretty staggering statistics for the last four months of 2012. Â Consider also 2011, which had its share of shootings as well. Â One notable entry is another shooting at Virginia Tech. Â What are the odds of two shooting events on one college campus? Â Then you have the international incident of the Norway shooter. Â Shootings are becoming remarkably common, so common in fact that we often donât even pay attention now when one hits the news. Â Remember Columbine? Â School shootings used to be a polarizing, show-stopping event. Â Now they are almost commonplace. Â But why? Â Why now?
The government likes to have reasons for what it does. Â The amount of gun-related violence this year alone will give them all the ammunition they need to pursue gun regulation if Obama is re-elected. Â With a second-term President with nothing to lose, it may be time for the New World Order to make one of its primary objectives a reality. Â Are you ready for the gunless era of America? Â Itâs just around the corner.
As far back as I can remember, the overarching message of the American social atmosphere has been one of idolization.Â Oh to one day join the ranks of the âprofessional classâ; that 5% to 10% of our culture which enjoys unparalleled respect and an assumed position of knowledge, so much so that they are rarely even required to qualify themselves to anyone besides their own compatriots.Â The goal of every person I knew during my formative years with a desire to succeed was to one day hold in their hands an official looking embossed document announcing their ascension to the ranks of the intellectually anointed.Â I was never so keen on the ideaâŚ
The dangers of academic deification are numerous.Â Those who dominate the educational language of the times determine the moral compass (or lack of compass) of the curriculum.Â They control who is accepted and who is rejected, not by measure of intelligence or skill, but by their willingness to conform to the establishment ideal.Â They construct a kind of automaton class, which has been taught not to learn independently, but to parrot propaganda without question.Â Simultaneously, those of us who do not âmake the gradeâ are relegated to the role of obliged worshippers; accepting the claims of the professional class as gospel regardless of how incorrect they happen to be.Â To put it simply; the whole thing is disgustingly inbred.
Elitism has always lent itself to morbid forms of educational molestation.Â This is nothing new, especially within their own limited circles.Â However, to have such perversions of logic and reason gutting the minds of entire generations across endless stretches of our country without any counterbalance is a far more heinous state of affairs in the long run.Â Ultimately, this highway can only lead to a deterioration of our future, and the death of reason itself.
Recently, I attended a discussion panel on Constitutionalism at a university in Helena, the capital of Montana, and admittedly, was not expecting much insight.Â (At the moment of arrival I noticed the buildings had been plastered with Kony 2012 posters.Â The campus seemed to be completely unaware that the YouTube film is a George Soros funded âWag the Dogâ farce.)Â Even in a fiercely independent region such as the Northern Rockies, the collectivist hardline reigns supreme on most college campuses.Â Sadly, very few actual students attended the discussion, and the audience was predominantly made up of local political players, retired legislators, and faculty.Â Surprisingly, Stewart Rhodes of Oath Keepers was invited to participate in the discussion, obviously to add at least some semblance of balance or âdebateâ to an otherwise one-sided affair.Â The mix was like oil and water.
The overall tone was weighted with legal drudgery.Â Many of the speakers were focused intently on secondary details and banal explorations into individual Constitutional cases without any regard for the bigger picture.Â When confronted with questions on the indefinite detainment provisions of the NDAA, government surveillance, or executive ordered assassinations of U.S. citizens, the panelists responded with lukewarm apathy.Â The solutions we discuss regularly within the Liberty Movement, such as state nullification based on the 10th Amendment, assertions of local political control through Constitutional Sheriffs, and even civil disobedience, were treated with indignant responses and general confusion.
A consistent theme arose from the academics present, trying to run damage control on Rhodesâ points on federal encroachment and ultimate tyranny.Â Their position?Â Defiance is unacceptable (or at least, not politically correctâŚ).Â Americans have NO recourse against a centralized government.Â Not through their state and local representatives, and not through concerted confrontation.Â In fact, to even suggest that states act on their own accord without permission is an outlandish idea.Â In the end, the only outlet for the public isâŚ.to vote.
No one seemed to be able to address the fact that both major parties supported the exact same unconstitutional policies, thus making national level elections an act of pure futility. The point was brushed asideâŚ
Sickly shades of socialism hung heavy in the room.Â One speaker even suggested that the states could not possibly survive financially without centralized aid.Â He was apparently too ignorant to understand that the federal government itself is bankrupt, incapable of producing true savings, and printing fiat Ad Nauseum just to stay afloat.Â Every 30 seconds I heard a statement that made me cringe.
Universities are todayâs centers of connection.Â They are one of the last vestiges of American tribalism and community in an age of self isolation and artificial technological cultism.Â Adults do not meet face to face much anymore to share knowledge, or discuss the troubles of the day.Â The academic world provides such opportunity, but at a terrible price.Â To connect with the world, students must comply.Â To be taken seriously, they must adopt, consciously or unconsciously, the robes of the state.Â They must abandon the passions of rebellion and become indifferent to the truth.Â All actions and ideas must be embraced by the group, or cast aside.Â They must live a life of dependency, breeding a culture of fear, for that which others keep for us, they can easily take away.
How could anyone possibly sustain themselves on a diet of congealing fantasy, and personal inadequacy?Â The intellectual life bears other fruits as well.Â Where it lacks in substance, it makes up for in ego, proving that being educated is not necessarily the same as being intelligent.Â The following is a list of common character traits visible in the average intellectual idiot, a breed that poisons the American well, and is quickly eroding away any chance of Constitutional revivalâŚ
In an astonishing bit of unexpected news, a senior State Department official has announced, “The war on terror is over.” This stems from the idea, reports theÂ National Journal, that, “it is no longer the case, in other words, that every Islamist is seen as a potential accessory to terrorists.”
This is great news, isn’t it? If the “War on Terror” is over, then we can repeal and reverse all the ridiculous police state laws that were put in place to protect us from terrorism… right?
I mean, can we nowÂ fire the TSA?Â They were only put in place after the “terror” attacks on 9/11. If the war on terror is over, the TSA is no longer needed (even if you assume they were effective at all, which they weren’t).
Can we nowrepeal the Patriot Actwhich was passed out of an urgency to defend America from terrorists?
Will ObamaÂ nullify the NDAAÂ that he recently signed, which uses the excuse of the “war on terror” to legalize secret arrests and the stripping of due process from all Americans?
Can we nowÂ deconstruct the DHSÂ and fire Janet Napolitano who has become the (nauseating) face of “fear your neighbor” campaigns?
The police state is not about stopping terror, it’s about promoting it
And why? Because all these things mentioned abovewere never designed to stop terrorists. They were designed to imprison the American people and turn America into a police state dictatorship drowning inÂ a culture of fearÂ promoted by the state.
“War is the health of the state,” said Randolph Bourne, a writer and intellectual who lived a century ago.
That’s why these police state laws will never be revoked. In fact, they will likely be expanded with yet more legislation, more nullification of the Bill of Rights, more secret arrests and more secret prisons endorsed by Obama (yeah, the guy who once ran on the platform of shutting down secret military prisons but turned out to be a total liar… is anyone surprised?).
That’s becauseÂ the government IS the terrorist!Â That’s why the FBI has been caught numerous timesÂ staging phony terror plotsÂ in the United States.
That’s why all this surveillance and police state power that was enacted in response to the 9/11 attacks will be kept in place indefinitely! Because it’s really about wagingÂ a war on the American people, not a war with some fictitious, unseen enemy.
Â Is the U.S. in a savings crisis? We think not, though one may be brewing if attitudes toward the budget deficit donât change in Washington. The fact is that for the past 20 years, America has grown faster than Europe and Japan, two of the worldâs highest savers. Year after year, U.S. deficits are financed, bills are paid, and living standards rise. If anything, America is awash in money.Â So whereâs the crisis?
2008 answered that question pretty well, I think. They asked for a crisis, and they got one. This is the same slack-jawed cocaine-addled bozo thinking that led some very serious analysts to declaim that subprime was âcontainedâ in 2007 (of course, we know now that thanks to the cult of endless syphilitic re-hypothecation nothing can be contained), and the same brand of thinking that leads someÂ very serious economistsÂ today to claim that the threat of an alien invasion would trigger an economic recovery.
Hereâs the dreamland fantasy:
It could only go up and up, right? This time is different, right?
And hereâs the crisis:
I know, I know. Correlation does not imply causation. But thatâs a pretty brutal correlation: personal savings fall lower and lower and lo and behold we hit a once-in-a-generation crisis. (Of course, if governments keep repeating the policies that led to that âonce in a generation crisisâ, it will be soon be a twice-, or thrice-in-a-generation crisis).
So what brought us here? What took us from the savings and investment-driven society of the postwar years to the wild-eyed derivatives, hookers and iPads society enchained to a crushing swathe of debt?
Was it moral decline? The decline of the notion that debt is something to be avoided? Was it the softening and fattening of society, bread and circuses, Superbowls and all-you-can-eat Vegas buffets? TheÂ aura of American invincibilityÂ having won the cold war? The arrogance of modernity, and the undying myth that âthis time is differentâ?
All factors played their part. However one shines out above and beyond any other:Â the intellectual fallacy that all GDP is equal, and that GDP growth â even debt-driven growth, even growth based on lies, fallacies and errors â paves the road to the future.
Â Simply, the social variables emerged from a period in which the dominant intellectual, governmental and media culture condoned and actively encouraged profligacy.
Easy money policies pushed by Greenspan and the lackeys of irresponsibility discouraged savings in favour of consumption. As it became less (in the short term) expensive to borrow and consum, more people did it. It became socially acceptable. As the debt was securitised, and Â pumped off into the shadow banking system for endless re-hypothecation and carry trading, the companies issuing the debt stopped giving a damn about creditworthiness. The easy-money mythology led to house price rises that seemedÂ never-endingÂ and built up the social acceptability of Â remortgaging your house, and spending the proceeds on boats, cruises and keeping up with the Joneses.
That is where the BusinessWeek article picked up; to an objective observer versed in history, the United States fiscal and financial situation in 2005 seemed perverse and absurd. But GDP kept growing, and the hopium kept flowing, and so this time it was different until it wasnât.
The thing about GDP, is that it doesnât really measure wealth creation, or the size of the economy. It measures a derivative of that: money circulation. If Congress passed a law saying that everyone in America had to smoke meth (hey, if you can mandate the purchase of health insurance, why not mandate drug consumption in the name of increasing GDP?) and gamble all their disposable income on horse racing, GDP would almost certainly improve. And thatâs growth, right? Except it isnât. Real growth comes from innovation, productivity, imagination, and hard work. You can attempt to quantify it, but there is no easy catch-all number that will give you a quick and simple insight.
Hereâs industrial production:
In 2005, we were where we were five years previous. That looked problematic at the very least.
Hereâs the US trade balance:
In 2005 â after a century of being creditor and importer to the world â America was running the greatest trade deficit in history. America was losing its spirit of self-sufficiency, which in my view was one of the keys behind its earlier successes.
So it was easy to find a brewing crisis without even looking at the crisis of savings, and without even looking at the growing bubbles in subprime, in the DJIA, in securitisation, in student debt, and in McMansions. But only if you knew where to look. Only if you knew that the concept of GDP â the prism through which the political and intellectual hoi polloi viewed the economy â didnât really represent the underlying reality.
The frightening truth is that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And the focus of the intellectual and governmental elite since the crisis has been on reflationism â reflating GDP, housing, stocks, corporate earnings, consumer borrowing â with no regard to the concept that the system being reflatedÂ is the problem.
House Bill 1505 could be nearing a vote, and it offers a whole lot more than many bargained for. Â HR 1505 seeks to implement one of the most extensive increases in Police State power that Iâve seen in a long time, not to mention furthering the UNâs Agenda 21.
The intent of this bill is to prohibit the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture from taking action on public lands which impede the border activities of the Secretary of Homeland Security. Â One might simply think it is Congressâ way of making sure that Border Patrol can operate freely and unimpeded while preventing terrorism and illegal immigration.
In reality, this bill serves to decimate the US Constitution, negate the 10th Amendment, and infringe upon local, county, and state jurisdiction by giving 100 miles of land adjacent toÂ anyÂ international border directly to Homeland Security without any recourse or oversight.
Section 2, (b) (1)Â
Authorized Activities of U.S. Customs and Border Protection-
(A) Construction and maintenance of roads.
(B) Construction and maintenance of fences.
(C) Use vehicles to patrol.
(D) Installation, maintenance, and operation of surveillance equipment and sensors.
(E) Use of aircraft.Â (Drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)
(F) Deployment of temporary tactical infrastructure,Â including forward operating bases.
Forward operating bases? Â Is DHS expecting warfare or armed conflict at one of our borders?
While 100 miles might not seem like a lot to some people, have a look at this map and judge for yourself. The red zones serve as an approximation of the land areas that will come under Homeland Security control to do as they please. Â Youâll notice that the entire states of Florida and Hawaii are covered, and this map fails to account for international âbordersâ and âzonesâ surrounding the United Nations building in New York City, consulates, embassies, or any âinternational trade zonesâ throughout the country.
What happens to the sovereignty of these jurisdictions when they must answer to the Secretary of Homeland Security? Â And as we all know, DHS is not merely Border Patrol.
This states very emphatically that HS can do what they want, not just in violation of authority of other departments, it also gives Homeland Security a waiver to violate Congressional statute, which directs the actions of those other departments. An explanation of those waivers is given in section (c), the clarifications.
Please take your time as you read all the laws that HR 1505 is able to violate through a âwaiverâ -
â(c)(2) DESCRIPTION OF LAWS WAIVED â The laws referred to in paragraph (1) are:
â˘ National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.),
â˘ Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.),
â˘ Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.),
â˘ National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470 et seq.),
â˘ Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. 703 et seq.),
â˘ Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.),
â˘ Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (16 U.S.C. 470aa et seq.),
â˘ Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300f et seq.),
â˘ Noise Control Act of 1972 (42 U.S.C. 4901 et seq.),
â˘ Solid Waste Disposal Act (42 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.),
â˘ Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (42 U.S.C. 9601 et seq.),
â˘ Public Law 86-523 (16 U.S.C. 469 et seq.),
â˘ Act of June 8, 1906 (commonly known as the `Antiquities Act of 1906â˛) (16 U.S.C. 431 et seq.),
â˘ Act of August 21, 1935 (16 U.S.C. 461 et seq.),
â˘ Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (16 U.S.C. 1271 et seq.),
â˘ Farmland Protection Policy Act (7 U.S.C. 4201 et seq.),
â˘ Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (16 U.S.C. 1451 et seq.),
â˘ Wilderness Act (16 U.S.C. 1131 et seq.),
â˘ Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.),
â˘ National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 668dd et seq.),
â˘ Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (16 U.S.C. 742a et seq.),
â˘ Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (16 U.S.C. 661 et seq.),
â˘ Subchapter II of chapter 5, and chapter 7, of title 5, United States Code (commonly known as the `Administrative Procedure Actâ),
â˘ Otay Mountain Wilderness Act of 1999 (Public Law 106-145, 113 Stat. 1711),
â˘ Sections 102(29) and 103 of California Desert Protection Act of 1994 (16 U.S.C. 410aaa et seq.),
â˘ National Park Service Organic Act (16 U.S.C. 1 et seq.),
â˘ Public Law 91-383 (16 U.S.C. 1a-1 et seq.),
â˘ Sections 401(7), 403, and 404 of the National Parks and Recreation Act of 1978 (Public Law 95-625, 92 Stat. 3467),
â˘ Arizona Desert Wilderness Act of 1990 (16 U.S.C. 1132 note; Public Law 101-628),
â˘ Section 10 of the Act of March 3, 1899 (33 U.S.C. 403),
â˘ Act of June 8, 1940 (16 U.S.C. 668 et seq.), (25 U.S.C. 3001 et seq.),
â˘ Public Law 95-341 (42 U.S.C. 1996),
â˘ Public Law 103-141 (42 U.S.C. 2000bb et seq.),
â˘ Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.),
â˘ Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960 (16 U.S.C. 528 et seq.)
Can anyone say, âAgenda 21 Police State?â
Luckily, Section 3 of this bill states that it has a 5 year sunset,Â thereafter havingÂ no force or effect.
The innocent sounding acronym stands for High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program. Located in remote Gakona, Alaska, the HAARP facility is highly guarded.Â Â Although the status is âunclassifiedâ, even the website has a harsh warning (a âCautionary StatementâÂ ) to let readers know that by accessing the site, they are being monitored.Â Â HAARP is operated by the US Air Force.
HAARP for Dummies
HAARP presents itself as a communications research facility.Â Â The website states: âHAARP is a scientific endeavor aimed at studying the properties and behavior of the ionosphere, with particular emphasis on being able to understand and use it to enhance communications and surveillance systems for both civilian and defense purposes.â
The system works like this:
HAARP will zap the upper atmosphere with a focused and steerable electromagnetic beam. It is an advanced model of an “ionospheric heater.” (The ionosphere is the electrically-charged sphere surrounding Earth’s upper atmosphere. It ranges between 40 to 60 miles above the surface of the Earth.)
Put simply, the apparatus for HAARP is a reversal of a radio telescope; antenna send out signals instead of receiving. HAARP is the test run for a super-powerful radiowave-beaming technology that lifts areas of the ionosphere by focusing a beam and heating those areas. Electromagnetic waves then bounce back onto earth and penetrate everything — living and dead.
Donât Worry: Poking Holes in the Atmosphere is Harmless
The ionosphere is the protective layer of our atmosphere.Â Â The only reason that life is possible on the planet is because the ionosphere keeps the sunâs radiation, âsolar windâ, from reaching the earth.
We are reassured by the de facto government, the Department of Defense and the US Air Force that poking 20 mile holes in the ionosphereÂ to control the weatherÂ communicate with satellites and submarines is completely harmless.
You donât have to be a nuclear physicist to see that this is a very bad idea.Â HAARP is the tool that could trigger an extinction event.
The Real Scoop on HAARPâs Capabilities
A look at one of the patent applications tells us the unadvertised possibilities of this system. This patent is fromÂ ARCO Power Technologies Incorporated (APTI) the contractor that built the HAARP facility in Alaska. (APTI is owned by the Atlantic Richfield Company, one of the worldâs biggest oil companies.)
“Thus, this invention provides the ability to put unprecedented amounts of power in the Earth’s atmosphere at strategic locations and to maintain the power injection level particularly if random pulsing is employed, in a manner far more precise and better controlled than heretofore accomplished by the prior art, particularly by detonation of nuclear devices of various yields at various altitudes… “
“…it is possible not only to interfere with third party communications but to take advantage of one or more such beams to carry out a communications network even though the rest of the world’s communications are disrupted. Put another way, what is used to disrupt another’s communications can be employed by one knowledgeable of this invention as a communication network at the same time.”
“… large regions of the atmosphere could be lifted to an unexpectedly high altitude so that missiles encounter unexpected and unplanned drag forces with resultant destruction.”
“Weather modification is possible by, for example, altering upper atmosphere wind patterns by constructing one or more plumes of atmospheric particles which will act as a lens or focusing device…. molecular modifications of the atmosphere can take place so that positive environmental effects can be achieved. Besides actually changing the molecular composition of an atmospheric region, a particular molecule or molecules can be chosen for increased presence. For example, ozone, nitrogen, etc., concentrations in the atmosphere could be artificially increased.”
The words in this patent make the sinister intents of HAARP very clear.Â The USAF intends to control the weather.
Of course, the military is unlikely to have interest in technology that cannot be weaponized.Â Â The fact that the Alaskan HAARP facility is a USAF facility is evidence enough that the intention exists to use this either offensively, defensively, or both.
You may be wondering, âHow could weather be used as a weapon?â
Not only can HAARP technologyÂ causeÂ severe weather to occur, it can stop naturally occurring weather that the ecological system requires to maintain itself.
Using this technology, weather systems could be pushed and relocated, causing devastating droughts in agricultural areas.Â Â The weather could be changed in delicate ecosystems like rainforests.Â Â Freezes could be forced in the middle of the summer growing season.Â Â The detrimental effects on agriculture could cause a massive die-off from starvation.
Weather has now been harnessed as a weapon.
Taking it a step further, if an enemy is hit with a devastating batch or tornadoes or a hurricane, they will be able to do little to fight back â they will be occupied with trying to survive the attack of Mother Nature â except in this case, itâs Mother Natureâs evil twin who is acting.
There is a great deal of speculation about HAARP-induced earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.Â Â This video explains how theÂ resonance theories of Nicola TeslaÂ could be used to cause devastating earthquakes like the catastrophes in Haiti, Japan, and Chile.
Itâs open for debate, of course, but if the masterminds in control of HAARP are responsible for the earthquake in Japan, they arenât just responsible for the immediate deaths from quake damage and the tsunami.Â Â TheÂ radiation releasedÂ as a direct result of the earthquake will cause ongoing deaths, as we in the Northern Hemisphere strive in vain to avoid tainted foods and water.
If depopulation and eugenics is the master plan, HAARP could be the idealÂ tool to enact that plan.
Whose Finger is on the Button?
The Department of Defense of our de facto government is in control of the mind-boggling power of this technology.Â Â This means our Commander in Chief, Barack Obama (who dances to the commands of puppetmasters like AIPAC and the United Nations) is ultimately the one with his finger on the button.
Barack Obama, who already fancies himself as the King of America, has the power to issue a command that could cause an extinction level event.
One of these days, our arrogance will be repaid a thousand fold when the weather strikes back.
Just because weÂ canÂ change the weather doesnât mean weÂ should.
China’s military warned the United States on Saturday that U.S.-Philippine military exercises have raised risks of armed confrontation over the disputed South China Sea in the toughest high-level warning yet after weeks of tensions.
China’s official Liberation Army Daily warned that recent jostling with the Philippines over disputed seas where both countries have sent ships could boil over into outright conflict, and laid much of the blame at Washington’s door.
This week American and Filipino troops launched a fortnight of annual naval drills amid the stand-off between Beijing and Manila, who have accused each other of encroaching on sovereign seas near the Scarborough Shoal, west of a former U.S. navy base at Subic Bay.
The joint exercises are held in different seas around the Philippines; the leg that takes place in the South China Sea area starts on Monday.
“Anyone with clear eyes saw long ago that behind these drills is reflected a mentality that will lead the South China Sea issue down a fork in the road towards military confrontation and resolution through armed force,” said the commentary in the Chinese paper, which is the chief mouthpiece of the People’s Liberation Army.
We seem to get a more or less, constant stream of mail from people who go âone step beyond preppingâ and go so far as to actually leave and bug out of America.
George, for example, has plenty of readers, it turns out, in places like Ecuador and Chile, where lots of Americans are moving to extend their retirement incomes. But in some places, like Panama, where Georgeâs brother-in-law is back from, it seems like the overseas boom in real estate has come to a screeching halt.
So we ask ourselves: does it make sense to leave America and move elsewhere for the long term?
What Your Money Buys
For people on fixed incomes, one starting point is to consider what things cost in the country that you are thinking of retiring to . . . or just moving to in order to escape the rat race of North America. The problem is sorting out truth from fiction about what things cost.
Fortunately, there is a widely recognized method of balancing things out using a system called “Purchasing Power Parity.” Wikipedia sums up the concept this way:
In economics, purchasing power parity (PPP) asks how much money would be needed to purchase the same goods and services in two countries, and uses that to calculate an implicit foreign exchange rate.
Using that PPP rate, an amount of money thus has the same purchasing power in different countries. Among other uses, PPP rates facilitate international comparisons of income, as market exchange rates are often volatile, are affected by political and financial factors that do not lead to immediate changes in income and tend to systematically understate the standard of living in poor countries, due to the BalassaâSamuelson effect.
What Makes a “Livable” Country?
Most of the readerâs weâve corresponded with fall into one of two camps: Those that do not wish to learn Spanish, or some other global language, and those who do take the time to learn âsomething else.â
To be sure, climate and natural resources figure prominently in any equation as well, and along with this, as long as weâve got the thinking caps on, we may also wish to consider other factors, such as population density per square mile.
Depending on how you rank these, there are plenty of different answers that could be best â but it would only be âbest for youâ since anyone else would likely have a different weighting model from such a decision.
In 2008, Forbes Magazine did a really thorough look at the question of whereâs the best place to be an American Expat (expatriate) and topping their list was Singapore. Thatâs not likely to be the case today, since prices in Singapore have risen, and, remember, the Forbes article was directed at a different market than retirees â they were talking about expat job postings in the main.
Georgeâs long-time friend, Bernard Grover, who serves as the slightly tongue-n-cheek Bureau Chief for UrbanSurvival in Jakarta, moved there several years ago and has thrived. Not only has he gotten married and been able to pursue many business interests, but heâs learned the odd mix of languages common to that part of Indonesia where, last we checked, he was working on introducing comedy clubs to the country. One drawback: many people smoke in Asia . . . tobacco smoke is far more prevalent where profits can be had from uninformed consumers.
Another of UrbanSurvivalâs readers is Don DuBosque who publishes regular comments on his adventures of being an expat in Uruguay. We find âMy day in Uruguayâ to be a pretty insightful look at restarting somewhere else, but with the big asterisk that says â*MUST LEARN SPANISHâ before such a move is attempted.
To be sure, another reader, who packed up his family after selling his home in Chicago near the height of real estate prices (tsk tsk Georgeâs doings in part) has found success and happiness in New Zealand. While his first job was as a high-end IT manager for the government upon arrival for the first year and a half, the inevitable cutbacks in spending took their toll and he and his family were forced to do something different. Last we heard, he was still doing IT work, but also teaching baking to locals and doing classes in his local community.
Some of the little things that some from living in a foreign country are hard to put into words. Georgeâs Kiwi reader, for example, took great delight in being able to ride a motorized skateboard, something which is verboten in most American cities.
Itâs also hard to put the adventure of moving out of oneâs mind for long. In 1983, George resigned from a successful broadcasting career to move his then-wife and three kids to the Cayman Islands where he lived for two years as senior vice president of the countryâs national airline. While it was a ânow for something completely differentâ kind of life, it was extremely broadening, and once in the airline business the number of cities he was able to visit skyrocketed, along with jungle adventure in Equitos, climbing Machu Picchu, lunching in Panama City, diving in the Turks and Caicos, and so forth.
But there is a downside â and this is something that people who go on about being an expat donât talk about too much. Itâs the matter of becoming, in the case of living on Grand Cayman, a bit âisland happyâ after a while. Because he flew into the US quite frequently, George didnât come down with it much, but it was hard on the family living on an island with just 25-miles or road populated by a few thousand cars and, English-speaking or not, it was still a very British place.
On the other hand, Gaye lives on a small island only accessible by ferry (or pricey float plane service) and does not seem to suffer any of the symptoms of island living.Â Perhaps age and maturity â and no kids â are the solution to this malady.
But What About Simply Bugging Out?
In terms of a âquick bug outâ,Â unless you can time your exit perfectly to the collapse of the global computer infrastructure/grid, it seems to us to be a pretty risky business to try a âshot at a brass ringâ on the way out.
On the other hand, on Social Security could you live happily on a cheap beach in Mexico or Chile, or in a gorgeous mountain town in Ecuador? You bet.
The combination of unfettered corporate greed, a eugenics agenda and corrupt political manipulation forms an unholy trinity that could make Monsanto the real Cyberdyne Systems.Â In the Terminator movies, Cyberdyne Systems created the artificial intelligence computer system Skynet, which destroyed most life on earth and forced survivors to live.
Proving once again that fact is indeed as strange as fiction, the Monsanto Company could singlehandedly cause TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It).
The History of Monsanto
Monsanto was started in St. Louis, Missouri in 1901 by John Francis Queeny, whose background was in the pharmaceutical industry.Â Beginning as it would continue, the first product made by Monsanto was saccharin, a controversial artificial sweetener now banned in many countries for its links to cancer.
Over the last century, Monsanto was responsible for bringing many controversial substances to the market.
Bovine Growth Hormone
Initially a chemical company, it wasnât until 1982 that Monsanto branched into agriculture, immediately tying the chemical background to the formerly wholesome business of growing food.Â Monsanto was determined to improve on nature and by the late 1980s had begun trials with genetically modified crops.
Monsanto and the Court System
Monsanto is no stranger to either side of the courtroom. In effort to eradicate the family farm, Monsanto has taken many farmers to court for patent infringement.Â Farms unfortunate enough to be downwind of Monsanto have been sued because of cross-pollination with Monsanto plants from neighbouring farms.Â Because these farmers did not purchase seeds from Monsanto, they were âstealingâ the benefits of this genetic engineering, and thus, successfully sued until they lost their businesses to the greedy company.
Farmers have incurred millions of dollars in judgements, sometimes even being required to pay for Monsantoâs investigation of their crops and Monsantoâs legal expenses.Â According to the Center for Food Safety, the odds are stacked against the farmers. âMonsanto has an annual budget of $10 million dollars and a staff of 75 devoted solely to investigating and prosecuting farmers.â
Monsanto has been in the defendantâs seat as well.Â The chemical giant recently settled for an undisclosed amount with the residents of Nitro, West Virginia in a class action lawsuit over the production of the carcinogenic chemical 2,4,5-T, an ingredient in herbicides and pesticides, as well as the banned âAgent Orange.â
A group of more than 300,000 organic farmers recently took a page from Monsantoâs book and sued the company because they found through testing that their crops had been âtaintedâ by genetically modified plants growing nearby. The case, unfortunately, was dismissed.
Monsantoâs Incestuous Relationship with the Federal Government
Part of the reason Monsanto has been so successful in the courtroom has been the companyâs incestuous ties to the US de facto government.Â Despite the blatant conflicts of interest, Monsanto executives have held Cabinet, judicial and policy-making positions in the Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations.Â When youâre sleeping with the enemy, the enemy tends to get away with all manner of crimes.
Michael Taylor:Â VP of Monsanto Ă Deputy Commissioner of the FDA
Roger Beachy:Â Director of the Danforth Plant Science Center (paid for by Monsanto) Ă director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Elena Kagan:Â Obama Solicitor General (when she famously took Monsanto’s side against organic farmers in the Roundup Ready Alfalfa case) Ă US Supreme Court justice.
Clarence Thomas:Â General Counsel for Monsanto Ă US Supreme Court justice.
Margaret Miller:Â Monsanto supervisor Ă Deputy Director of Human Food Safety Donald Rumsfield: Board of Directors for Monsantoâs Searle Pharmaceuticals Ă US Secretary of Defense
Ann Veneman:Â Monsanto Board of Directors Ă US Secretary of Agriculture
Linda Fisher: Assistant Administrator at the EPA Ă VP of Monsanto Ă Deputy Administrator of the EPA
Dr. Michael A.Friedman: Deputy Commisioner of the FDA Ă Senior VP of Monsanto
Monsantoâs Corporate Bedfellows
Monsantoâs collusion goes further than mere ties with government.Â The power-mad and wealthy seem to be magnetically drawn to the company.
Recently, public depopulation proponent Bill Gates bought half a million shares in Monsanto and began âgiftingâ Monsanto seeds to farmers in Third World countries.Â These farmers will be permanently tied to Monsanto, as the self-terminating seeds will have to be repurchased every year.
Monsantoâs Board of Directors has ties to corporate giants such as McDonalds, Cisco Systems, Sara Lee, Lockheed Martin and Proctor and Gamble, to name a few.
Monsanto has sponsored exhibits at Disneyworld and Disneyland.
Monsanto has tentacles in the following companies through mergers and spin-offs:Â GD Searle, the Nutrasweet Company, Pharmacia, Upjohn, Eli Lilly & Co., Seminis, Delta and Pine Land Company, and De Ruiter Seeds.
Starving Amidst Abundance
Perhaps the most disturbing issue with Monsanto and their products is the fact that the genetically engineered food is simply untested â we donât know the full repercussions from eating this stuff.
Animal studies in Europe have proven that animals fed a GMO diet are more likely to suffer from organ failure. The study concluded, âIt is unacceptable to submit 500 million Europeans and several billions of consumers worldwide to the new pesticide GM-derived foods or feed, this being done without more controls (if any) than the only 3-month-long toxicological tests.â
Other studies have shown disturbing results like stomach lesions, increased risk of anaphylactic shock, increased antibiotic resistance, and toxins in the bloodstreams of newborns.
We arenât allowed to be warned about GMOs either.Â Although Obama promised labeling of GMO foods appearing at your local grocery store, itâs yet another campaign promise that has never been fulfilled.Â The state of Vermont is currently being sued by Monsanto for labeling GMO foods. The FDA has also refused to force GMO producers to label their food.Â At this point, the only way you can be sure you are getting your food as nature intended it is to pay high prices for organic foods.
Monsanto has changed the face of world agriculture to the point that each trip to the grocery store results in a lottery of genetic mutations.Â Will the tomato that you eat today cause bleeding ulcers tomorrow?Â Will the gmo corn that insinuates itself into 90% of processed foods cause your child to have a resistance to antibiotics that might otherwise save her life? Are you missing important nutrients by consuming these foods, causing you to overeat to attempt to satiate your need for vitamins and minerals?
Monsanto has been publicly accused of mishandling toxic chemicals.Â Many of the items the company has brought to market have since been banned, which suggests proper testing was not done in the first place.Â With all of Monsantoâs criminal accessories in the US de facto government, as well as Big Pharma and other corporate entities, is it any stretch to question the companyâs mutation of our food supply?
Amidst all of this genetically modified abundance, wouldnât it be ironic to perish from malnutrition?
Monsanto Plays Monopoly
With the worldâs farms as its gameboard, Monsanto is aggressively taking over agriculture.Â As mentioned above, one of the primary ways Monsanto removes the competition is through lawsuits that regular farmers can not afford.
Another tactic used by Monsanto is that of genetically engineering seeds to be self-terminating.Â Quite simply, Monsanto seeds can be used to grow one plant.Â The time-honored practice of carefully harvesting seeds from plants so that they can be reused will not work with Monsanto seeds because they have been sterilized.
The donations of Monsanto seeds to Third World countries is, then, somewhat akin to the drug dealer who gives his clients a âfree sampleâ for their first hit.Â The client has no choice but to come back.
The creation of the self-terminating seed causes a revolving need for more seeds every year.Â If plants grown in subsequent years are found to have some residual DNA from previous Monsanto plantings, the farmer knows he will be sued and lose everything.Â The farmer is unable to propagate from previous crops.Â Monsanto has created a customer who has no option but to purchase from them year after year.
As a method to take over the world, what better way than to control the source from which all food comes?Â If the ONLY seeds are one day these modified sterile creations, what happens when those seeds disappear?Â What happens if Monsanto stops producing the seeds?Â What if seeds become regulated and only distributed in certain amounts to certain growers?
Starvation on a scale more massive than the world has ever seen occurs.
Control is complete and absolute.
This is the ultimate power.
âWho controls the food supply controls the people.â
If running out of your own money wasnât bad enough, policy makers are increasingly spending other peoplesâ money to bail their country out. At the upcoming G-20 meeting, finance ministers from around the world will contemplate an increase to the resources of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). At stake for politicians is whether they can continue to do what they know best â to play politics. In contrast, at stake for investors may be whether currencies will retain their function as a store of value.
Letâs highlight Spain, as the country may be the key to understanding how dynamics may play out. Last November, Spaniards voted for change by electing conservative Prime Minister Rajoy, handing him an absolute majority in parliament, displacing the previous, socialist government. The election may cause former British Prime Minister Thatcher to change her view, that socialism is doomed to fail, as ultimately you run out of other peopleâs money. It doesnât take a socialist to run out of money. In the case of Spain, if you run out of your own peopleâs money, there may always be other peoplesâ money.
One of the major concerns is Spain’s regional government debt. Spain consists of 17 autonomous regions, whose total debt almost doubled in the past three years, due to economic recession and a housing market collapse. In many ways, Spain reflects a microcosm of how the Eurozone as a whole is structured:
â˘Spanish regions have the power to issue public debt. The central government has little ability to interfere with regional government spending and is prohibited by Spanish law to bailout regional governments.
â˘While regions enjoy high autonomy on spending, the central government retains effective control over regional government revenue.
â˘Spain has its own peripheral problems: the most indebted region, Catalonia, recorded 20.7% debt-to-regional-GDP ratio and 3.6% deficit-to-GDP ratio in 2011. Its 10-year bond yield recently breached 10%, far beyond the yield on 10-year Spanish government bonds, which yield around 6%. In 2011, the total debt of 17 regional governments rose to âŹ140 billion, accounting for 13.1% of Spain’s GDP. This number is up from 6.7% by 2008.
â˘Spanish law forbids the central government from rescuing regional governments (in much the same way that the Maastricht Treaty prohibits bailouts of EU countries). In practice, the central government appears to have implicitly helped Valencia, Spainâs 2nd most indebted region, with a âŹ123 million loan repayment to Deutsche Bank.
More broadly known are Spainâs banking woes. Unlike much of Europe, a housing boom propelled much of Spainâs recent growth, causing Spainâs regional banks, in particular, to become overly exposed to the mortgage sector. Spainâs banks are very dependent on liquidity provided by the European Central Bank (ECB). The recent 3 year long-term refinancing operation (LTRO) by the ECB at first took pressure of the Spanish banking system, but has since been seen more critically, as Spainâs banks may be using the liquidity to buy Spanish government debt, thus increasing inter-dependency and potentially making nationalization of Spanish banks (read: the Spanish government taking on the obligations of its banks) more, rather than less likely.
The tensions between Spanish regions and its national government are nothing new. And thatâs really the main lesson here: itâs business as usual in Spain! As of late, Rajoyâs government appears to be reining in regional control over budgets in earnest. However, Spaniards are used to eternal debates on where subsidies should come from, how to stop regions from spending, and â conversely – how to find ways around restrictions. In brief, Spaniards are pros at this battle. Not surprisingly, when thereâs a threat of market headwinds, Rajoy is publicly committing to reform. The moment the pressure abates, it appears those promises are forgotten. Spain is proof that the only language policy makers may be listening to is that of the bond market.
As painful as it is, volatile markets are necessary to keep policy makers focused. Whenever Spanish bonds come under pressure, Spain moves further from talk and closer to action, with respect to implementation of more austerity measures, as well as the pursuit of structural reforms. Spain â like so many developed countries â has rigid bureaucracies aimed at protecting the old (companies and employees) at the cost of preventing the new, stifling innovation and fostering massive youth unemployment. Structural reform is politically painful. What is striking about Spain is that it has an enviable position of a government with an absolute majority. Yet, even such a seemingly strong government is dragging its feet in implementing reform. In the process, political support is eroding, thus making it increasingly difficult to pursue reforms as the economic environment worsens.
Politicians always appear to consider the cost of acting versus the cost of inaction. As long as more money is lined up: be that from the central government for the regions; be that from a European stability fund for the government; or be it from the IMF, incentives for reforms are taken away. In many ways, Catalonia should be getting the message that its budget is unsustainable, but with help on the way from Madrid, the region may continue its bad habits.
In his first television interview since he resigned from the National Security Agency over its domestic surveillance program, William Binney discusses the NSAâs massive power to spy on Americans and why the FBI raided his home after he became a whistleblower. Binney was a key source for investigative journalist James Bamfordâs recent exposĂŠ in Wired Magazine about how the NSA is quietly building the largest spy center in the country in Bluffdale, Utah. The Utah spy center will contain near-bottomless databases to store all forms of communication collected by the agency, including private emails, cell phone calls, Google searches and other personal data.
Binney served in the NSA for over 30 years, including a time as technical director of the NSAâs World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group. Since retiring from the NSA in 2001, he has warned that the NSAâs data-mining program has become so vast that it could “create an Orwellian state.” Today marks the first time Binney has spoken on national television about NSA surveillance.
Everyone with the slightest connection to marijuana knows that â420âł is code for weed, or the time to smoke it, or something like that. But when you have a magazine called The 420 Times, you should know the real story behind 420. And since we do, so so will you.
You wonât be surprised to learn that it involves a bunch of high school kids in California. This particular bunch went to San Rafael High School and called themselves âThe Waldosâ because, well, they used to meet by a wall. One day in 1971 they heard a rumor that there was a secret crop of marijuana hidden somewhere in the area, so they came up with a plan to find it.
They decided to meet every day after school, by a statue of Louis Pasteur, at 4:20 PM. Then they got in a car, hotboxed it to a fare-thee-well, and went searching for the Mythical Garden Of Grass.
They never found the Golden Stash, but started using â420âł as code for their meetings, then as a general code for weed or weed-related activities in general (just like itâs used today).
And that might have been the end of it, except that San Rafael is in Marin County, and several of the Waldos had family connections to the Grateful Dead. Their use of â420âł as code for marijuana quickly spread through the backstage denizens of the Dead, and then through the entire Deadhead community. You know, those happy folks who followed the Dead from town to town, bringing their happiness, weed, and language with them everywhere they wentâŚ?
You know the rest. Now â420âł means weed in any context. Is it 4:20 yet? Time to smoke. â420-friendlyâ to renters on Craigslist means you wonât be hassled when you move in with your bong. And of course, April 20 (4/20) is pretty much party day everywhere, involving actual organized smoking activities, even where illegal.
Itâs also been slipped into more movies than youâd care to count; not just traditional âstoner flicksâ but also things like Fast Times At Ridgemont High and Pulp Fiction. But perhaps the best âslip jobâ was the one that permanently encoded 420 in the lawâŚmarijuana law, no less.
The Compassionate Use Act of 1996, Californiaâs groundbreaking legislation that made medical marijuana legal for the first time, was not actually passed by the legislators themselves, but by direct democracy as Proposition 215. When the California legislators finally got around to solidifying some of the unclear concepts in Prop. 215, they passed it as Senate Bill 420 for all the world to see.
But wait, thereâs more.
In The Hitchhikerâs Guide To the Galaxy, the mega-super-duper-computer Deep Â Throat calculates the answer to âLife, the Universe, and Everythingâ to be precisely 42, which is clearly just 10% of a perfect 420.
And in what is clearly either an incredible coincidence or proof that God is not only playing dice with the universe, but smoking fatties while he rolls them bones, the first-ever intentional LSD trip was taken by Dr. Albert Hofmann way back in 1943 at exactly 4:20 PM (and it was on April 19âŚdamn! So close!).
Bob Dylan Is A Time Lord
Thereâs also Bob Dylanâs immortal party song, Rainy Day Women #12 and 35, with its subtle chorus, âEverybody must get stoned!â. No question about what Dylan meant by âstonedâ, either, since he made a practice of smoking a joint or two before performing that particular song. If that wasnât enough, heâs also the guy who turned The Beatles on to weed.
Dylan fans need no further proof that their guy is omniscient, since that song was released on Dylanâs Blonde On Blondee album in 1966, before any of the Waldos even got to high school.
The Veterans Affairs Department faces a “staggering” backlog of 897,566 disability claims with more than 65 percent pending for more than 125 days, a problem compounded by an error rate of 16 percent, representatives of veterans’ services organizations told lawmakers on the House Veterans Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
The department has seen a 48 percent increase in claims since 2008. Officials expect the backlog will grow to 1.2 million claims this year and another 50,000 will accrue in 2013 as veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars flood the system, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee in March. He vowed to process all claims in fewer than 125 days with a 98 percent accuracy standard by 2015.
Jeffrey Hall, assistant national legislative director for Disabled American Veterans, an advocacy group, told House lawmakers Wednesday that “while the elimination of the backlog will be a welcome milestone, we must remember that eliminating the backlog is not necessarily the same goal as reforming the claims processing system, nor does it guarantee that veterans are better served.”
James Wear, assistant director for veterans benefits policy for the group Veterans of Foreign Wars, testified that the high error rate and the poor quality of VA’s rating decisions, which determine the financial benefits veterans receive, are a serious problem.
“Quality of decision-making is problematic . . . The national average [error rate] has remained nearly stationary at 16 percent for months,” Wear said, adding the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Baltimore regional office has the worst claims error rate in the country — 29 percent, which is a slight improvement over its error rate of 33 percent just a few months ago.
Randall Fisher, the American Legion’s service officer for Kentucky, told lawmakers that in order to improve the claims process, VA must make training a priority and hire more veterans whose experience would prove beneficial. Hall said due to budget constraints, VA has cut back on training, conducting it locally rather than using its national training academy.
“We have concerns that this change was made strictly for short-term financial considerations rather than to achieve the long-term goal of reforming the claims processing system,” he said.
Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., the ranking member on the committee, said, “There’s no shortcut of getting around the basics — of having well-trained employees who are empowered with the right tools and the right systems to get the job done right the first time.”
Shinseki promised earlier this month that VA will roll out its paperless Veterans Benefit Management System to 16 regional offices by September, with installation in all 56 regional offices in 2013. Hall said he was concerned budget constraints could impede the national rollout of VBMS, and urged the committee to provide full funding for the system. VA requested $92.3 million for VBMS in 2013, and spent a total of $343.6 million on the system in 2011 and 2012.
Even as it moves to a paperless claims system, Hall said VA still will face older paper claims and it has yet to determine when or how those would be converted to digital files. A majority of claims processed each year are for reopened or appealed claims, which can remain active for decades. “Until all legacy claims are converted to digital data files, VBA could be forced to continue paper processing for decades,” Hall said.
Paul Sullivan, managing director for public affairs and veteran outreach at Bergmann & Moore LLC, a law firm based in Bethesda, Md., said veterans service organizations or lawyers representing veterans cannot gain access to VBMS, something he urged the committee to change.
On Monday, VA announced plans to streamline and speed up disability claims processing by segmenting claims so those that can be more easily rated can be moved quickly through the system; more complex claims would be handled by more experienced and skilled employees.
Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said VA’s track record of making changes to its claims processing system has been “substandard.” He added that VA needs to ensure that the much touted VBMS system is set up correctly and used efficiently.