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Big Oil’s “Sore Losers” Lead The Drive To War

March 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

“We are witnessing a huge geopolitical game in which the aim is the destruction of Russia as a geopolitical opponent of the US or of the global financial oligarchy…..The realization of this project is in line with the concept of global domination that is being carried out by the US.”

- Vladimir Yakunin, former Russian senior diplomat

“History shows that wherever the U.S. meddles; chaos and misery are soon to follow.”

- Kalithea, comments line, Moon of Alabama

Following a 13 year rampage that has reduced large swathes of Central Asia and the Middle East to anarchy and ruin, the US military juggernaut has finally met its match on a small peninsula in southeastern Ukraine that serves as the primary operating base for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Crimea is the door through which Washington must pass if it intends to extend its forward-operating bases throughout Eurasia, seize control of vital pipeline corridors and resources, and establish itself as the dominant military/economic power-player in the new century. Unfortunately, for Washington, Moscow has no intention of withdrawing from the Crimea or relinquishing control of its critical military outpost in Sevastopol. That means that the Crimea–which has been invaded by the Cimmerians, Bulgars, Greeks, Scythians, Goths, Huns, Khazars, Ottomans, Turks, Mongols, and Germans–could see another conflagration in the months ahead, perhaps, triggering a Third World War, the collapse of the existing global security structure, and a new world order, albeit quite different from the one imagined by the fantasists at the Council on Foreign Relations and the other far-right think tanks that guide US foreign policy and who are responsible for the present crisis.

How Washington conducts itself in this new conflict will tell us whether the authors of the War on Terror–that public relations hoax that concealed the goals of eviscerated civil liberties and one world government–were really serious about actualizing their NWO vision or if it was merely the collective pipedream of corporate CEOs and bored bankers with too much time on their hands. In the Crimea, the empire faces a real adversary, not a disparate group of Kalashinov-waving jihadis in flip-flops. This is the Russian Army; they know how to defend themselves and they are prepared to do so. That puts the ball in Obama’s court. It’s up to him and his crackpot “Grand Chessboard” advisors to decide how far they want to push this. Do they want to intensify the rhetoric and ratchet up the sanctions until blows are exchanged, or pick up their chips and walk away before things get out of hand? Do they want to risk it all on one daredevil roll of the dice or move on to Plan B? That’s the question. Whatever US policymakers decide, one thing is certain, Moscow is not going to budge. Their back is already against the wall. Besides, they know that a lunatic with a knife is on the loose, and they’re ready to do whatever is required to protect their people. If Washington decides to cross that line and provoke a fight, then there’s going to trouble. It’s as simple as that.

Perma-hawk, John McCain thinks that Obama should take off the gloves and show Putin who’s boss. In an interview with TIME magazine McCain said “This is a chess match reminiscent of the Cold War and we need to realize that and act accordingly…We need to take certain measures that would convince Putin that there is a very high cost to actions that he is taking now.”

“High cost” says McCain, but high cost for who?

What McCain fails to realize is that this is not Afghanistan and Obama is not in a spitting match with puppet Karzai. Leveling sanctions against Moscow will have significant consequences, the likes of which could cause real harm to US interests. Did we mention that “ExxonMobil’s biggest non-US oil project is a collaboration with Russia’s Rosneft in the Arctic, where it has billions of dollars of investments at stake.” What if Putin decides that it’s no longer in Moscow’s interest to honor contracts that were made with US corporations? What do you think the reaction of shareholders will be to that news? And that’s just one example. There are many more.

Any confrontation with Russia will result in asymmetrical attacks on the dollar, the bond market, and oil supplies. Maybe the US could defeat Russian forces in the Crimea. Maybe they could sink the fleet and rout the troops, but there’ll be a heavy price to pay and no one will be happy with the outcome. Here’s a clip from an article at Testosterone Pit that sums it up nicely:

“Sergei Glazyev, the most hardline of Putin’s advisors, sketched the retaliation strategy: Drop the dollar, sell US Treasuries, encourage Russian companies to default on their dollar-denominated debts, and create an alternative currency system with the BRICS and hydrocarbon producers like Venezuela and Iran…

Putin’s ally and trusted friend, Rosneft president Igor Sechin…suggested that it was “advisable to create an international stock-exchange for the participating countries, where transactions could be registered with the use of regional currencies.” (From Now On, No Compromises Are Possible For Russia, Testosterone Pit)

As the US continues to abuse its power, these changes become more and more necessary. Foreign governments must form new alliances in order to abandon the present system–the “dollar system”–and establish greater parity between nation-states, the very nation-states that Washington is destroying one-by-one to establish its ghoulish vision of global corporate utopia. The only way to derail that project is by exposing the glaring weakness in the system itself, which is the use of an international currency that is backed by $15 trillion in government debt, $4 trillion in Federal Reserve debt, and trillions more in unpaid and unpayable federal obligations. Whatever steps Moscow takes to abort the current system and replace the world’s reserve currency with money that represents a fair store of value, should be applauded. Washington’s reckless and homicidal behavior around the world make it particularly unsuitable as the de facto steward of the global financial system or to enjoy seigniorage, which allows the US to play banker to the rest of the world. The dollar is the foundation upon which rests the three pillars of imperial strength; political, economic and military. Remove that foundation and the entire edifice comes crashing to earth. Having abused that power, by killing and maiming millions of people across the planet; the world needs to transition to another, more benign way of consummating its business transactions, preferably a currency that is not backed by the blood and misery of innocent victims. Paul Volcker summed up the feelings of many dollar-critics in 2010 when he had this to say:

“The growing sense around much of the world is that we have lost both relative economic strength and more important, we have lost a coherent successful governing model to be emulated by the rest of the world. Instead, we’re faced with broken financial markets, underperformance of our economy and a fractious political climate.”

America is irreparably broken and Washington is a moral swamp. The world needs regime change; new leaders, new direction and a different system.

In our last article, we tried to draw attention to the role of big oil in the present crisis. Author Nafeez Ahmed expands on that theme in a “must read” article in Monday’s Guardian. Check out this brief excerpt from Ahmed’s piece titled “Ukraine crisis is about Great Power oil, gas pipeline rivalry”:

“Ukraine is increasingly perceived to be critically situated in the emerging battle to dominate energy transport corridors linking the oil and natural gas reserves of the Caspian basin to European markets… Considerable competition has already emerged over the construction of pipelines. Whether Ukraine will provide alternative routes helping to diversify access, as the West would prefer, or ‘find itself forced to play the role of a Russian subsidiary,’ remains to be seen.” (Guardian)

The western oil giants have been playing “catch up” for more than a decade with Putin checkmating them at every turn. As it happens, the wily KGB alum has turned out to be a better businessman than any of his competitors, essentially whooping them at their own game, using the free market to extend his network of pipelines across Central Asia and into Europe. That’s what the current crisis is all about. Big Oil came up “losers” in the resource war so now they want Uncle Sam to apply some muscle to put them back in the game. It’s called “sour grapes”, which refers to the whining that people do when they got beat fair and square. Here’s more from Ahmed:

“To be sure, the violent rioting was triggered by frustration with (Ukrainian President) Yanukovych’s rejection of the EU deal, (in favor of Putin’s sudden offer of a 30% cheaper gas bill and a $15 billion aid package) along with rocketing energy, food and other consumer bills, linked to Ukraine’s domestic gas woes ….. Police brutality to suppress what began as peaceful demonstrations was the last straw…” (Ukraine crisis is about Great Power oil, gas pipeline rivalry, Guardian)

In other words, Yanukovych rejected an offer from Chevron that the EU and Washington were pushing, and went with the sweeter deal from Russia. According to Ahmed, that pissed off the bigwigs who decided to incite the rioting. (“Putin’s sudden offer of a 30% cheaper gas bill and a $15 billion aid package provoked the protests…”)

Like we said before; it’s just a case of sour grapes.

So, tell me, dear reader: Is this the first time you’ve heard a respected analyst say that oil was behind the rioting, the coup, and the confrontation with Moscow?

I’ll bet it is. Whatever tentacles Wall Street may have wrapped around the White House, Capital Hill, and the US judiciary; Big Oil still rules the roost. The Apostles of the Fossil are the oldest and most powerful club in Washington, and “What they say, goes”. As Ahmed so articulately points out:

“Resource scarcity, competition to dominate Eurasian energy corridors, are behind Russian militarism and US interference…Ukraine is caught hapless in the midst of this accelerating struggle to dominate Eurasia’s energy corridors in the last decades of the age of fossil fuels.” (“Ukraine crisis is about Great Power oil, gas pipeline rivalry”, Guardian)

Did I hear someone say “Resource War”?

As we noted in an earlier article, NWO mastermind Zbigniew Brzezinski characterized the conflict with Russia in terms of cutting off “Western access to the Caspian Sea and Central Asia”. For some unknown reason, America’s behemoth oil corporations think the resources that lie beneath Russian soil belong to them. The question is whether their agents will push Obama to put American troops at risk to assert that claim. If they do, there’s going to be a war.


Mike Whitney is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com

Deluded Currency Cultists Believe The Dollar Is Invincible

March 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

At the onset of the derivatives collapse in 2007/2008 it would have been easy to assume that most of America was receiving a valuable education in normalcy bias.

In 2006, the amount of ego on display surrounding mortgage investment was so disturbingly grotesque anyone with any true understanding of the situation felt like projectile vomiting. To watch the smug righteousness of MSNBC and FOX economic pundits as they predicted the infinite rise of American property markets despite all evidence to the contrary was truly mind blowing. When the whole system imploded, it was difficult to know whether one should laugh, or cry.

The saddest aspect of the credit crisis of 2008 was not the massive chain reaction of bankruptcies or the threat of institutional insolvency. Rather, it was the delusional assumptions of the public that the grand mortgage casino was going to go on forever. There is nothing worse than witnessing the victim of a Ponzi scheme defend the lie which has ultimately destroyed him. As much as I am for people waking up to the nature of the crisis, there comes a point when those who are going to figure it out will figure it out, and the rest are essentially hopeless.

The cultism surrounding the U.S. economy and the U.S. dollar is truly mind boggling, and by “cultism” I mean a blind faith in the fiat currency mechanism that goes beyond all logic, reason and evidence.

In recent weeks it has become more visible as global financiers play both sides of the Ukrainian conflict, luring Americans into a frenzy of false patriotism and an anti-Russo-sports-team-mentality. My personal distaste for Vladimir Putin revolves around my understanding that he is just as much a puppet of the International Monetary Fund and international banks as Barack Obama, but many Americans hate him simply because the mainstream media has designated him the next villain in the fantasy tale of U.S. foreign policy.

Open threats from Russia that they will dump U.S. treasury bond holdings and the dollar’s world reserve status if NATO interferes in the Ukraine have been met with wildly naive chest beating from dollar cultists.  I am beginning to see the talking points everywhere.

“Let them dump the dollar, Russia’s holdings are minimal!” Or, “Let them throw out Treasuries, they’ll just be shooting themselves in the foot!” are the battle cries heard across the web. I wish I could convey how insane this viewpoint is, especially in light of the fact that many alternative economic analysts, including myself, have been predicting just such a scenario for years.

Despite the childish boastings of the dollar devout, there is an extraordinarily good possibility that the life of the greenback will be snuffed out in the near term. Here are the facts…

1) Russia will not be alone in its decouple from the dollar system. China, our largest foreign creditor, and India (a supposed ally) have clearly sided with Russia on the Ukranian issue. China has stated that it will back Russia’s play in the event that sanctions are brought to bear by NATO, or if a shooting conflict erupts.

2) China has already been slowly dumping the dollar as a world reserve currency using bilateral trade agreements with numerous countries, including Russia, India, Australia, Brazil, Germany, Japan, etc. These agreements allow FOREX currency swaps and export/import purchases to be made with China without the use of the dollar. China has been preparing itself for a divorce from U.S. economic dependence for at least a decade. The idea that they would actually follow through over political tensions should NOT surprise anyone if they have beenpaying attention.

3) A total drop of the dollar or U.S. treasury bonds by Russia and China would send shock waves through global markets. Russia is a major energy supplier for most of Europe. China is the largest export/import nation in the world. If they refuse to accept dollars as a trade mechanism, numerous countries will fall in line to abandon the greenback as well. The fact that so many Americans refuse to acknowledge this reality is a recipe for disaster.

The only advantage the U.S. has traditionally offered in terms of international trade has been the American consumer, whose unchecked debt spending partly fueled the rise of the industrialized East, not to mention the biggest credit bubble in history. The role of America as a consumer market is collapsing today, however. The mainstream media and the Federal Reserve can blame the steady decline in retail sales on the “weather” all they want, but negative indicators in global manufacturing often take many months to register in the statistics, meaning, this destabilization began long before the days turned cold.

4) China has been shifting away from export dependency since at least 2008, calling for a larger consumer based market at home. This process of enriching the Chinese consumer has almost been completed. The lie that China “needs the U.S.” in order to survive economically needs to be thrown out like the utter propaganda it is.

5) China (and most of the world) has ended new dollar purchases for their FOREX reserves, and has no plans to make new purchases in the future.

6) China executed the second largest dump of U.S. Treasury bonds in history in the past month.

7) Russia, China, and numerous other countries, including U.S. “allies”, have been calling for the end of the dollar’s world reserve status and the institution of a new global basket currencyusing the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR). Even Putin has suggested that the IMF take over administration of the global economy and issue the SDR as a world currency system. This flies in the face of those who argue that the IMF is somehow “American run”. The truth is, the IMF is run by global banks and no more answers to the U.S. government than the Federal Reserve answers to the U.S. government.

 

8) The Federal Reserve has been creating trillions of dollars in fiat just to prop up U.S. markets since 2008, and we are still seeing a considerable decline in global manufacturing, retail, personal home sales, and a general malaise in consumer demand. Without a full audit, there is no way to know exactly how much currency has been generated or how much is floating around in foreign markets. Any loss of world reserve status would send that flood of dollars back into the U.S., most likely ending in a hyperinflationary environment.

9) Another rather dubious argument I see often is the claim that the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury could simply “negate” a Treasury dump by refusing to acknowledge creditor liabilities. Or, that they could simply print what they need to snap up the bonds, much like the German government tried to do during the Weimar collapse. Unfortunately, this plan did not work out so well for the Germans, nor has it worked for any other nation in history, so I’m not sure why people think the U.S. could pull it off. However, this is the kind of cultism we are surrounded by. These folks think the U.S. economy and the dollar are untouchable.

Yes, the Fed and the Treasury could hypothetically erase existing liabilities, but what dollar cultists do not seem to grasp is that the dollar’s value is not built on Treasury purchases. The dollar’s value is built on faith and reputation. If a nation refuses to pay out on its debts, this is called default. A default by the U.S. would immediately damage the reputation of bonds and dollars as a good investment. Global markets will refuse to purchase or hold any mechanism that they think will not earn them a profit. How many investors today are anxious to jump into Greek treasury bonds, for instance?

Finally, it is unwise to operate on the assumption that foreign creditors will accept dollars as payment on U.S. Treasury bonds if they believe the Federal Reserve is monetizing the debt. When Weimar imploded under the weight of currency devaluation, many foreign governments refused to accept the German mark as payment. Instead, they demanded payment in raw commodities, like coal, lumber and ore. Expect that China and other debt holders will demand payment in U.S. goods, infrastructure, or perhaps even land.

10) Most treasury holdings in foreign coffers are not long term bonds. Rather, they are short term bonds which mature in weeks or months, instead of years. Dollar proponents constantly cite the continued accumulation of treasury bonds by other governments as a sign that the dollar is still desirable as ever. Unfortunately, they have failed to look at the nature of these bond purchases. When China rolls over millions in short term bonds and replaces them with other short term bonds, this does not suggest they have much faith in America’s long term ability to service its debt. It would also make sense that if China had plans to remove itself from the dollar system, they would move into short term bonds which can be liquidated quickly.

11) China is on the fast track to becoming the largest holder of physical gold in the world. Russia has also greatly expanded its gold purchases. Whatever losses they might suffer from a dump of their Treasury bond investments; it will be more than made up in the incredible explosion in precious metals prices that would follow.

12) The most common argument against the dollar losing world reserve status has been that such a shift would be “impossible” because no other currency in the world has the adequate liquidity needed to replace the dollar in global trade. These people have apparently not been paying attention to the Chinese yuan. China has been quietly issuing trillions in yuan denominated bonds, securities and currency around the world. Current estimates calculate around $24 trillion created by the PBOC and the banks under its control.

Mainstream talking heads are calling this a “debt bubble.” However, this debt creation makes perfect sense if China’s plan is to create enough liquidity in its currency in order to offer a viable alternative to the U.S. dollar. Linking the yuan to the IMF’s basket currency would complete the picture, forming a perfect dollar replacement while dollar cheerleading-economists stand dumbstruck.

13) China’s retreat away from dollar denominated investments has left a hole in the U.S. bond market.  Recently, that negative space was filled by an unexpected source; namely Belgium.  A country whose GDP represents less than 1% of total global GDP buying more U.S. bonds than China?  The whole concept sounds bizarre.  Here is the capital coming from?

Think about it this way – Belgium is the political center of the European Union and a haven for international financiers.  There are more corporate cronies, lobbyists, bureaucrats, and foreign dignitaries in Belgium than in all of Washington D.C.  But more importantly, Belgium struck a deal with the IMF in 2012 to begin pumping SDR denominated funds into “low income economies”.  I would suggest that this funding flows both ways, and that now, the IMF is feeding capital into Belgium in order to buy U.S. Treasury Bonds.  That is to say, the IMF is going to start using smaller member countries with limited savings as proxies to purchase U.S. debt using IMF money.

The ultimate danger of the IMF (run by internationalists, not the U.S. government) pre-positioning itself as the primary buyer of U.S. debt is that when the U.S. finally defaults (and it will), the IMF is likely to become the “guardian angel” of the U.S. economy, offering aid in exchange for total administrative control of our financial system, and the institution of the SDR as a world reserve replacement for the dollar.

14) The serious prospect of regional conflict or world war over tensions between the Ukraine and Russia, Japan and China, the U.S. and Syria, the U.S. and Iran, the U.S. and North Korea, etc., could make the effort of exposing the plan to shift economic power into a one world system centralized under the IMF almost meaningless.  How many people will truly care about the financial power grab by banking elites if it drifts under the surface of catastrophic engineered wars?  They’ll be too busy hating and fighting artificially created boogeymen to pay attention to the real globalist culprits.

I have been pointing out for quite a long time that globalists need a “cover event”; a disaster, an economic war or a shooting war, in order to provide a smokescreen for the collapse of the dollar. Alternative analysts have been consistently correct in predicting the trend towards the dump of the dollar. Years ago, we were laughed at for suggesting China would shift towards a consumer based economy and away from U.S. dependence. Today, it is mainstream news. We were laughed at for suggesting that nations like Russia and China would drop the dollar as a reserve currency. Today, they are already in the process of doing it. And, we were laughed at for suggesting that Russia or China would use their debt holdings as leverage against the U.S. in the event of a geopolitical conflict. Today, they are openly making threats.

I have to say, I’ve grown tired of the dollar cultists. How many times can a group of people be wrong and still argue with those who have been consistently right? The answer is that zealots never actually escape their own delusions, even when their delusions lead them and those around them to ruin. I suspect that in the face of complete dollar collapse, they will still be rationalizing the chaos and pontificating on our “lack of understanding” while the theater burns down around them.

Source: Brandon Smith | Alt-Market

Ukraine

March 8, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

When it gets complicated and confusing, when you’re overwhelmed with too much information, changing daily; too many explanations, some contradictory … try putting it into some kind of context by stepping back and looking at the larger, long-term picture.

The United States strives for world domination, hegemony wherever possible, their main occupation for over a century, it’s what they do for a living. The United States, NATO and the European Union form The Holy Triumvirate. The Holy Triumvirate has subsidiaries, chiefly The International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organization, International Criminal Court … all help to keep in line those governments lacking the Holy Triumvirate Seal Of Approval: the IMF, WB, and WTO impose market fundamentalism, while foreign leaders who act too independent are threatened with being handed over to the ICC for heavy punishment, as the United States imposes sanctions on governments and their leaders as only the King of Sanctions can, lacking any sense of hypocrisy or irony.

And who threatens United States domination? Who can challenge The Holy Triumvirate’s hegemony? Only Russia and China, if they were as imperialistic as the Western powers. (No, the Soviet Union wasn’t imperialistic; that was self-defense; Eastern Europe was a highway twice used by the West to invade; tens of millions of Russians killed or wounded.)

Since the end of the Cold War the United States has been surrounding Russia, building one base after another, ceaselessly looking for new ones, including in Ukraine; one missile site after another, with Moscow in range; NATO has grabbed one former Soviet Republic after another. The White House, and the unquestioning American mainstream media, have assured us that such operations have nothing to do with Russia. And Russia has been told the same, much to Moscow’s continuous skepticism. “Look,” said Russian president Vladimir Putin about NATO some years ago, “is this is a military organization? Yes, it’s military. … Is it moving towards our border? It’s moving towards our border. Why?”

The Holy Triumvirate would love to rip Ukraine from the Moscow bosom, evict the Russian Black Sea Fleet, and establish a US military and/or NATO presence on Russia’s border. (In case you were wondering what prompted the Russian military action.) Kiev’s membership in the EU would then not be far off; after which the country could embrace the joys of neo-conservatism, receiving the benefits of the standard privatization-deregulation-austerity package and join Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Spain as an impoverished orphan of the family; but no price is too great to pay to for being part of glorious Europe and the West!

The Ukrainian insurgents and their Western-power supporters didn’t care who their Ukrainian allies were in carrying out their coup against President Viktor Yanukovych last month … thugs who set policemen on fire head to toe … all manner of extreme right-wingers, including Chechnyan Islamic militants  … a deputy of the ultra-right Svoboda Party, part of the new government, who threatens to rebuild Ukraine’s nukes in three to six months.  … the snipers firing on the protestors who apparently were not what they appeared to be – A bugged phone conversation between Urmas Paet, the Estonian foreign minister, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, reveals Paet saying: “There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition.”  … neo-Nazi protestors in Kiev who have openly denounced Jews, hoisting a banner honoring Stepan Bandera, the infamous Ukrainian nationalist who collaborated with the German Nazis during World War II and whose militias participated in atrocities against Jews and Poles.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on February 24 that Ukrainian Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman advised “Kiev’s Jews to leave the city and even the country.” Edward Dolinsky, head of an umbrella organization of Ukrainian Jews, described the situation for Ukrainian Jews as “dire” and requested Israel’s help.

All in all a questionable gang of allies for a dubious cause; reminiscent of the Kosovo Liberation Army thugs Washington put into power for an earlier regime change, and has kept in power since 1999.

The now-famous recorded phone conversation between top US State Department official Victoria Nuland and the US ambassador to the Ukraine, wherein they discuss which Ukrainians would be to Washington’s liking in a new government, and which not, is an example of this regime-change mentality. Nuland’s choice, Arseniy Yatseniuk, emerged as interim prime minister.

The National Endowment for Democracy, an agency created by the Reagan administration in 1983 to promote political action and psychological warfare against states not in love with US foreign policy, is Washington’s foremost non-military tool for effecting regime change. The NED website lists 65 projects that it has supported financially in recent years in Ukraine.  The descriptions NED gives to the projects don’t reveal the fact that generally their programs impart the basic philosophy that working people and other citizens are best served under a system of free enterprise, class cooperation, collective bargaining, minimal government intervention in the economy, and opposition to socialism in any shape or form. A free-market economy is equated with democracy, reform, and growth; and the merits of foreign investment in their economy are emphasized.

The idea was that the NED would do somewhat overtly what the CIA had been doing covertly for decades, and thus, hopefully, eliminate the stigma associated with CIA covert activities. Allen Weinstein, who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, declared in 1991: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

NED, receives virtually all its financing from the US government ($5 billion in total since 1991  ), but it likes to refer to itself as an NGO (Non-governmental organization) because this helps to maintain a certain credibility abroad that an official US government agency might not have. But NGO is the wrong category. NED is a GO. Its long-time intervention in Ukraine is as supra-legal as the Russian military deployment there. Journalist Robert Parry has observed:

For NED and American neocons, Yanukovych’s electoral legitimacy lasted only as long as he accepted European demands for new “trade agreements” and stern economic “reforms” required by the International Monetary Fund. When Yanukovych was negotiating those pacts, he won praise, but when he judged the price too high for Ukraine and opted for a more generous deal from Russia, he immediately became a target for “regime change.”

Thus, we have to ask, as Mr. Putin asked – “Why?” Why has NED been funding 65 projects in one foreign country? Why were Washington officials grooming a replacement for President Yanukovych, legally and democratically elected in 2010, who, in the face of protests, moved elections up so he could have been voted out of office – not thrown out by a mob? Yanukovych made repeated important concessions, including amnesty for those arrested and offering, on January 25, to make two of his adversaries prime minister and deputy prime minister; all to no avail; key elements of the protestors, and those behind them, wanted their putsch.

Carl Gershman, president of NED, wrote last September that “Ukraine is the biggest prize”.  The man knows whereof he speaks. He has presided over NED since its beginning, overseeing the Rose Revolution in Georgia (2003), the Orange Revolution in Ukraine (2004), the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon (2005), the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan (2005), the Green Revolution in Iran (2009), and now Ukraine once again. It’s as if the Cold War never ended.

The current unbridled animosity of the American media toward Putin also reflects an old practice. The United States is so accustomed to world leaders holding their tongue and not voicing criticism of Washington’s policies appropriate to the criminality of those policies, that when a Vladimir Putin comes along and expresses even a relatively mild condemnation he is labeled Public Enemy Number One and his words are accordingly ridiculed or ignored.

On March 2 US Secretary of State John Kerry condemned Russia’s “incredible act of aggression” in Ukraine (Crimea) and threatened economic sanctions. “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text.”

Iraq was in the 21st century. Senator John Kerry voted for it. Hypocrisy of this magnitude has to be respected.

POSTSCRIPT: Ukraine’s interim prime minister announced March 7 that he has invited the NATO Council to hold a meeting in Kiev over the recent developments in the country. “I invited the North Atlantic Council to visit Kiev and hold a meeting there,” Arseny Yatsenyuk said during a visit to Brussels, where he met with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and EU officials. “We believe that it will strengthen our cooperation.”

Notes

  1. Guardian Weekly (London), June 27, 2001
  2. RT television (RT.com, Moscow/Washington, DC), March 1, 2014
  3. Deputy Mikhail Golovko, RT, March 1, 2014
  4. RT, March 5, 2014, “The EU’s Ukraine policy and moral bankruptcy”; the phone conversation is believed to have taken place February 26.
  5. NED 2012 Annual Report
  6. Washington Post, September 22, 1991
  7. Victoria Nuland, speaking at the National Press Club, Washington, DC, December 13, 2013
  8. Washington Post, September 26, 2013
  9. “Face the Nation”, CBS, March 2, 2014


William Blum is the author of:

  • Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
  • West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
  • Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire


Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org

Email to bblum6@aol.com

Website: WilliamBlum.org

William Blum is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Grand Puppetmaster Brzezinski Directing War Strategies From The Shadows

March 8, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

“From the moment the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the United States has relentlessly pursued a strategy of encircling Russia, just as it has with other perceived enemies like China and Iran. It has brought 12 countries in central Europe, all of them formerly allied with Moscow, into the NATO alliance. US military power is now directly on Russia’s borders…This crisis is in part the result of a zero-sum calculation that has shaped US policy toward Moscow since the Cold War: Any loss for Russia is an American victory, and anything positive that happens to, for, or in Russia is bad for the United States. This is an approach that intensifies confrontation, rather than soothing it.”

- Stephen Kinzer, “US a full partner in Ukraine debacle”, Boston Globe

“We have removed all of our heavy weapons from the European part of Russia and put them behind the Urals” and “reduced our Armed Forces by 300,000. We have taken several other steps required by the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces Treaty in Europe (ACAF). But what have we seen in response? Eastern Europe is receiving new weapons, two new military bases are being set up in Romania and in Bulgaria, and there are two new missile launch areas — a radar in Czech republic and missile systems in Poland. And we are asking ourselves the question: what is going on? Russia is disarming unilaterally. But if we disarm unilaterally then we would like to see our partners be willing to do the same thing in Europe. On the contrary, Europe is being pumped full of new weapons systems. And of course we cannot help but be concerned.”

- Russian President Vladimir Putin, Munich Conference on Security Policy, February 2007

The Obama administration’s rationale for supporting the fascist-led coup in Ukraine collapsed on Wednesday when a “hacked” phone call between EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet revealed that the snipers who fired on protestors in Maidan Square in Kiev were not aligned with President Viktor Yanukovych, but with the protest leaders themselves. The significance of the discovery cannot be overstated since the Obama team has used the killing of protestors to justify its support for the new imposter government. Now it appears that members of the new government may be implicated in the killing of innocent civilians. This new information could force Obama to withdraw his support for the coup plotters in Kiev, which would derail the administration’s plan to remove Russia from the Crimea and expand NATO into Ukraine. Here’s a short recap of the details from an article in Russia Today:

“Estonian foreign ministry has confirmed the recording of his conversation with EU foreign policy chief is authentic. Urmas Paet said that snipers who shot at protesters and police in Kiev were hired by Maidan leaders.

During the conversation, Paet stressed that “there is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovich, but it was somebody from the new coalition.”….

The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued a statement on its website, saying that the recording of the leaked telephone conversation between Paet and Ashton is “authentic.” (“Estonian Foreign Ministry confirms authenticity of leaked call on Kiev snipers“, Russia Today)

To its credit, the UK Guardian published an article reporting the basic facts, but there’s been no coverage by the New York Times, the Washington Post or any of the major TV News networks. America’s elite media are engaged in a coordinated news blackout to keep people from seeing that the Obama administration and their EU collaborators are supporting a group of far-right extremists who were directly involved in the killing of civilians in order to topple a democratically-elected government. Here’s more from the same article:

“…there is a stronger and stronger understanding that behind snipers it was not Yanukovych, it was somebody from the new coalition,” Paet says…the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened.” (“Ukraine crisis: bugged call reveals conspiracy theory about Kiev snipers“, Guardian)

There won’t be an investigation because an investigation would reveal the truth, and the truth would undermine Obama’s plan to install a puppet regime in Kiev. The new government has already shown that it is more than willing to do Washington’s bidding, that is, to impose austerity measures on the working people of Ukraine, to pay off fatcat bondholders in Berlin and Brussels via more extortionist IMF loans, to extend NATO to Russia’s border in contravention of agreements made with Bush the Elder following the fall of the Berlin Wall, and to pursue the crackpot dreams of global hegemony laid out in “The Grand Chessboard” by New World Order fantasist Zbigniew Brzezinski. These are the primary objectives of the present policy which could be upended by the allegations of foul play.

The smoking gun revelations of the hacked phone call came just hours before US officials indicated they were planning to increase their military footprint in Eastern Europe. According to the World Socialist Web Site:

“Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Pentagon will boost joint training of NATO forces in Poland and step up NATO air patrols in the Baltics…US military officials said they were deploying six F-15 fighter jets and KC-135 transport planes. ….One guided-missile frigate, the USS Taylor, is still in a Black Sea port in Turkey after patrolling the region during the Sochi Olympics…

Turkish officials confirmed that they had given a US Navy warship permission to pass through the Bosphorus straits into the Black Sea, which borders Ukraine.” (“Amid Ukraine crisis, US launches military escalation in Eastern Europe”, World Socialist Web Site)

Also Russia Today reports that: “The guided missile destroyer, the USS Truxton, is heading to the Black Sea, for what the US military said is a “routine” deployment…The ship has a crew of about 300 and is part of an aircraft carrier strike group that left the US in mid-February.” (“US navy confirms missile destroyer USS Truxton approaching the Black Sea”, RT)

“Routine deployment”? So provoking a war with Russia is “routine”? Talk about understatement.

The military escalation occurs in an atmosphere of heightened tension between the two nuclear-armed powers and will certainly add to their mutual distrust. Hagel’s deployment is consistent with a plan for antagonizing Moscow that was proposed just days earlier in the Washington Post by the Obama administration’s ideological godfather, Zbigniew Brzezinski. Here’s a bit of what Brzezinski had to say in the article titled “What is to be done? Putin’s aggression in Ukraine needs a response”:

“…the West should promptly recognize the current government of Ukraine as legitimate. Uncertainty regarding its legal status could tempt Putin to repeat his Crimean charade…

“…the West should convey.. that the Ukrainian army can count on immediate and direct Western aid so as to enhance its defensive capabilities. There should be no doubt left in Putin’s mind that an attack on Ukraine would precipitate a prolonged and costly engagement, and Ukrainians should not fear that they would be left in the lurch.

Meanwhile, NATO forces, consistent with the organization’s contingency planning, should be put on alert. High readiness for some immediate airlift to Europe of U.S. airborne units would be politically and militarily meaningful. If the West wants to avoid a conflict, there should be no ambiguity in the Kremlin as to what might be precipitated by further adventurist use of force in the middle of Europe.” (“What is to be done? Putin’s aggression in Ukraine needs a response”, Washington Post)

“Adventurist”? Dr. Strangelove is calling the Kremlin adventurist when his recommendations would put NATO, the US and Moscow on hairtrigger alert increasing the chances of an error in judgment that could lead to thermonuclear war. Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?

But listen to the tone of Brzezinski’s op-ed. In just a few short paragraphs, the author–who many respect as a restrained and brilliant global strategist–refers to Putin as a thug, a Mafia gangster, Mussolini, and Hitler. I imagine if he had another paragraph to work with, he would have added Beelzebub Satan to the list.

This isn’t politics; it’s hysterics. It’s incendiary, jingoistic mumbo-jumbo intended to rouse the public and fan the flames of nationalism. It’s the same kind of self-righteous raving that precipitated the invasion of Iraq.

And what is Brzezinski saying?

Is he saying that events in the Crimea are a threat to US national security? Is he saying that the US should now feel free to apply the Monroe Doctrine everywhere across the planet, sticking our big nose wherever the president sees fit?

The trouble in the Crimea has nothing to do with the United States. We have no dog in this fight. This is about military expansion into Eurasia, this is about pipeline corridors and oil fields, this is about dismantling the Russian Federation and positioning multinational corporations and Wall Street investment banks in Asia for the new century. And, finally, this is an ego-driven crusade by an old man who wants to see his looneybin NWO global hegemony vision enacted before they cart him off on a marble slab. That’s what this is really about; the glorious new world disorder, the dystopian wetdream of thinktank patricians everywhere whose only purpose in life is to initiate wars that other-peoples-sons will have to fight.

Entering Ukraine into the corporate-western alliance is a critical part of Brzezinski’s masterplan. The basic strategy has been underway since the fall of the Berlin Wall when neoliberal carpetbaggers from the US assisted in the looting of the former Soviet state leaving Russia politically broken and economically destitute. Since then, US policy towards Russia has been overtly hostile, making every effort to encircle the oil-rich nation while positioning nuclear missile installations on its perimeter. Now Washington is using its fascist-backed coup in Ukraine to force Moscow to relinquish its grip on a region that is vital to its national security.

Here’s a brief excerpt from an interview with Stephen Cohen, professor of Russian studies and history emeritus at New York University on Monday on PBS Newshour. Cohen helps to clarify what is really going on viv a vis the US and Russia:

“What we’re watching today is the worst kind of history being made, the descent of a new Cold War divide between West and East in Europe, this time not in faraway Berlin, but right on Russia’s borders through Ukraine. That will be instability and the prospect of war for decades to come for our kids and our grandchildren. The official version is that Putin is to blame; he did this. But it simply isn’t true. This began 20 years ago when Clinton began the movement of NATO toward Russia, a movement that’s continued.

…the fundamental issue here is that, three or four years ago, Putin made absolutely clear he had two red lines…One was in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. (Putin would not allow NATO in Georgia) The other was in Ukraine. We crossed both. You got a war in Georgia in 2008, and you have got today in Ukraine because we, the United States and Europe, crossed Putin’s red line.” (PBS News Hour)

There’s no doubt who is to blame for the present conflict in Cohen’s mind. It’s Washington.

So, here we are, between a rock and a hard place: Putin cannot back down on an issue that’s crucial to national security, and Washington is more determined than ever to pull Ukraine into –what Henry Kissinger calls–”a cooperative international system.” (aka–global capitalist rule) That means there’s going to be a war.

On Thursday, Crimea MPs voted unanimously to hold a referendum on whether the region should become a part of Russia or not. The balloting will take place in 10 days although Obama has already said that he will not honor the results. Apparently, other countries need to get the green-light from Washington before they conduct their elections now. This is how ridiculous things have gotten.

In 2008, Brzezinski revealed the real motives behind US aggression in Central Asia in an article that appeared in the Huffington Post that dealt primarily with the dust up in Georgia. (where Putin deployed Russian troops to defend Russian speaking civilians in South Ossetia.) Here’s what Brzezinski had to say:

“The question the international community now confronts is how to respond to a Russia that engages in the blatant use of force with larger imperial designs in mind: to reintegrate the former Soviet space under the Kremlin’s control and to cut Western access to the Caspian Sea and Central Asia by gaining control over the Baku/Ceyhan pipeline that runs through Georgia.

In brief, the stakes are very significant. At stake is access to oil as that resource grows ever more scarce and expensive and how a major power conducts itself in our newly interdependent world, conduct that should be based on accommodation and consensus, not on brute force.

If Georgia is subverted, not only will the West be cut off from the Caspian Sea and Central Asia. We can logically anticipate that Putin, if not resisted, will use the same tactics toward the Ukraine. Putin has already made public threats against Ukraine.” (“Brzezinski: Russia’s invasion of Georgia is Reminiscent of Stalin’s attack on Finland”; Huffington Post)

Huh? It sounds a lot like Brzezinski thinks that oil should be his. Or maybe he thinks it belongs to the western oil giants; is that it?

So we’re not dealing with national security, sovereignty or spheres of influence here. What we’re really talking about is “access to oil.” Not only that, but Brzezinski is being quite blunt in his assertion that “the West” –as he calls it–has a legitimate claim to the resources on other people’s land. Where’d he come up with that one?

In another interview on Kavkacenter.com, in 2008, Brzezinski sounded the same alarm with a slightly different twist. Here’s an excerpt from the article titled ”Russia tends to destabilize Georgia”:

“Brzezinski said the United States witnessed “cases of possible threats by Russia… motivated not by some territorial disputes….but caused by intention to take control over the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline”.

“If Georgia government is destabilized, western access to Baku, Caspian Sea and further will be limited”, said Brzezinski …. he stated that Russia will try to consolidate its monopoly on these markets and will use all existing political and economic levers, including “politically motivated cessation of energy supplies” in Europe and Baltic states.

“Russia actively tends to isolate the Central Asian region from direct access to world economy, especially to energy supplies”, considers the political scientist.” (“Zbigniew Brzezinski: ”Russia tends to destabilize Georgia” kavkacenter.com)

Putin is not isolating anyone and he’s certainly not taking over anyone’s damned pipeline. He’s the president of Russia. He sells oil and makes money, that’s how the system works. It’s called capitalism. But the oil is theirs. The natural gas is theirs. The pipelines are theirs. Not ours. Get over it!

Don’t kid yourself, it’s all about oil. Oil and power. The United States imperial ambitions are thoroughly marinated in oil, access to oil, and control of oil. Without oil, there’s no empire, no dollar hegemony, no overbloated, bullyboy military throwing weaker countries against the wall and extorting tribute. Oil is the coin of the realm, the path to global domination.

Putin has audacity to think that the oil beneath Russian soil belongs to Russia. Washington wants to change his mind about that. And that’s why the situation in Ukraine is so dangerous, because the voracious thirst for oil is pushing us all towards another world war.


Mike Whitney is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com

Ukraine Crisis: Just Another Globalist-Engineered Powder Keg

March 5, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

When one studies history, all events seem to revolve around the applications and degenerations of war. Great feats of human understanding, realization and enlightenment barely register in the mental footnotes of the average person. War is what we remember, idealize and aggrandize, which is why war is the tool most often exploited by oligarchy to distract the masses while it centralizes power.

With the exception of a few revolutions, most wars are instigated and controlled by financial elites, manipulating governments on both sides of the game to produce a preconceived result. The rise of National Socialism in Germany, for instance, was largely funded by corporate entities based in the U.S., including Rockefeller giant Standard Oil, JPMorgan and even IBM, which built the collating machines specifically used to organize Nazi extermination camps, the same machines IBM representatives serviced on site at places like Auschwitz. As a public figure, Adolf Hitler was considered a joke by most people in German society, until, of course, the Nazi Party received incredible levels of corporate investment. This aid was most evident in what came to be known as the Keppler Fund created through the Keppler Circle, a group of interests with contacts largely based in the U.S.

George W. Bush’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, used his position as director of the New York-based Union Banking Corporation to launder money for the Third Reich throughout the war. After being exposed and charged for trading with the enemy, the case against Bush magically disappeared in a puff of smoke, and the Bush family went on to become one of the most powerful political forces in America.

Without the aid of international conglomerates and banks, the Third Reich would have never risen to power.

The rise of communism in Russia through the Bolshevik Revolution was no different. As outlined in Professor Antony Sutton’s book Wall Street And The Bolshevik Revolution with vast detail and irrefutable supporting evidence, it was globalist financiers that created the social petri dish in which the communist takeover flourished.  The same financiers that aided the Nazis…

The two sides, National Socialism and communism, were essentially identical despotic governmental structures conjured by the same group of elites. These two sides, these two fraudulent ideologies, were then pitted against each other in an engineered conflict that we now call World War II, resulting in an estimated 48 million casualties globally and the ultimate formation of the United Nations, a precursor to world government.

Every major international crisis for the past century or more has ended with an even greater consolidation of world power into the hands of the few, and this is no accident.

When I discuss the concept of the false left/right paradigm with people, especially those in the liberty movement, I often see a light turn on, a moment of awareness in their faces. Many of us understand the con game because we live it day to day. We see past the superficial rhetoric of Republican and Democratic party leadership and take note of their numerous similarities, including foreign policy, domestic defense policy and economic policy. The voting records of the major players in both parties are almost identical. One is hard-pressed to find much difference in ideology between Bush and Barack Obama, for example; or Obama and John McCain; or Obama and Mitt Romney, for that matter.

When I suggest, however, that similar false paradigms are used between two apparently opposed nations, the light fades, and people are left dumbstruck. Despite the fact that globalist financiers shoveled capital into the U.S., British, German and Soviet military complexes all at the same time during World War II, many Americans do not want to believe that such a thing could be happening today.

In response, I present the crisis in Ukraine versus the crisis in Syria…

Ukraine Versus Syria

It seems as though much of the public has already forgotten that at the end of 2013, the U.S. came within a razor’s edge of economic disaster — not to mention the possibility of World War III. The war drums in Washington were thundering for “intervention” in Syria and the overthrow of Bashar Assad. The only thing that saved us, I believe, were the tireless efforts of the independent media in exposing the darker motives behind the Syrian insurgency and the bloodlust of the Obama Administration. The problem is that when the elites lose one avenue toward war and distraction, they have a tendency to simply create another. Eventually, the public is so overwhelmed by multiple trigger points and political powder kegs that they lose track of reality. I often call this the “scattergun effect.”

The crisis in the Ukraine is almost a carbon copy of the civil war in Syria, culminating in what I believe to be the exact same intent.

The Money

Money from globalist centers has been flowing into the Ukrainian opposition since at least 2004, when the Carnegie Foundation was caught filtering funds to anti-Russian political candidate Viktor Yushchenko, as well as to the groups who supported him.

The Ukrainian Supreme Court called for a runoff due to massive voter fraud and the rise of the pro-Western Orange Revolution, determining the winner to be Yushchenko over none other than Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych went on to win the 2010 elections, and the revolution returned to oust him this year.

It has been discovered that the current revolution has also been receiving funds from NATO and U.S. interests, not just from the State Department, but also from billionaires like Pierre Omidyar, the chairman of eBay and the new boss of journalist Glen Greenwald, the same journalist who is now famous for being the first to expose National Security Agency documents obtained by Edward Snowden.

Much of the monetary support from such financiers was being funneled to men like Oleh Rybachuk, the right-hand man to Yanukovych during the Orange Revolution and a favorite of neoconservatives and the State Department in the U.S.

The International Monetary Fund has also jumped at the chance to throw money at the new Ukrainian regime, which would prevent default of the country and allow the opposition movement to focus their attentions on Russia.

The revolution in Syria was also primarily driven by Western funds and arms transferred through training grounds like Benghazi, Libya. There is much evidence to suggest that theattack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was designed to possibly cover up the arming of Syrian rebels by the CIA, who had agents on the ground who still have not been allowed to testify in front of Congress.

After this conspiracy was exposed in the mainstream, globalist-controlled governments decided to openly supply money and weapons to the Syrian insurgency, instead of ending the subterfuge.

The ‘Rebels’

Some revolutions are quite real in their intent and motivations. But many either become co-opted by elites through financing, or they are created from thin air from the very beginning. Usually, the rebellions that are completely fabricated tend to lean toward extreme zealotry.

The Syrian insurgency is rife with, if not entirely dominated by, men associated with al-Qaida. Governments in the U.S. and Israel continue to support the insurgency despite their open affiliation with a group that is supposedly our greatest enemy. Syrian insurgents have been recorded committing numerous atrocities, including mass execution, the torture of civilians and even the cannibalism of human organs.

The revolution in Ukraine is run primarily by the Svoboda Party, a National Socialist (fascist) organization headed by Oleh Tyahnybok.  Here is a photo of Tyahnybok giving a familiar salute:

So far, the opposition in Ukraine has been mostly careful in avoiding the same insane displays of random violence that plagued the Syrians’ public image. It is important to remember though that mainstream outlets like Reuters went far out of their way in attempts to humanize Syrian al-Qaida. Their methods were exposed only through the vigilance of the independent media. With the fascist Svoboda in power in the Ukraine, I believe it is only a matter of time before we see video reports of similar atrocities, giving Russia a perfect rationalization to use military force.

John McCain?

I am now thoroughly convinced that John McCain is a pasty ghoul of the highest order. He claims to be conservative yet supports almost every action of the Obama Administration. He is constantly defending anti-Constitutional actions by the Federal government, including the Enemy Belligerents Act, which was eventually melded into the National Defense Authorization Act; NSA surveillance of U.S. citizens; and even gun control.

And for some reason, the guy makes appearances like clockwork right before or during major overthrows of existing governments. McCain was in Libya during the coup against Moammar Gadhafi.

McCain showed up to essentially buy off the rebels in Tunisia.

McCain hung out with al-Qaida in Syria.

And, what a surprise, McCain met with the Ukrainian opposition movement just before the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych.  Here is a photo of McCain giving a speech to the opposition with none other than Neo-Nazi Oleh Tyahnybok standing over his left shoulder.

Why McCain? I have no idea. All I know is, if this guy shows up in your country, take cover.

Russia In The Middle

The great danger in Syria was not necessarily the chance of war with Assad. Rather, it was the chance that a war with Assad would expand into a larger conflagration with Iran and Russia. Russia’s only naval facility in the Mideast is on the coast of Tartus in Syria, and Russia has long-standing economic and political ties to Syria and Iran. Any physical action by the West in the region would have elicited a response from Vladimir Putin. The mainstream argument claims that the threat of Russian intervention scared off Obama, but I believe the only reason war actions were not executed by the White House and the globalists was because they didn’t have even minimal support from the general public. For any war, you need at least a moderate percentage of the population to back your play.

In Ukraine, we find the globalists creating tensions between the West and the East yet again. Russia’s most vital naval base sits in Crimea, an autonomous state tethered to the Ukrainian mainland. Currently, Russia has flooded Crimea with troops in response to the regime change in Ukraine. The new Ukrainian government (backed by NATO) has called this an “invasion” and an act of war, while Western warmongers like McCain and Lindsay Graham spread the propaganda meme that Russia made such a move only because Putin believes the Obama Administration to be “weak.”

Clearly, the idea here is to engineer either high tensions or eventual war between Russia and the United States. Syria failed to produce the desired outcome, so the Ukraine was tapped instead.

Energy Markets And The Dollar At Risk

In Syria, any U.S. led military action would have resulted in the immediate closing of the Straight of Hormuz by Iran, threatening to obstruct up to 30% of global petroleum shipments.  Foreign resentment could have easily led to the abandonment of the U.S. dollar as the petro-currency.  Both China and Russia implied the possibility of an economic response to American intervention, though they did not officially go into specifics.  In all likelihood, the dollar’s world reserve status would have been damaged irrevocably.

In the Ukraine, the chance of intervention has been countered with VERY specific threats from Russia, including a freeze on natural gas imports to the European Union through Gazprom, which supplies approximately 30% of the EU’s fuel.  In 2009, a temporary Ukranian pipeline closure led to widespread shortages across Europe.  While some in the mainstream claim that Russia’s influence over EU energy has “diminished” the fact is a loss of 30% of natural gas reserves for an extended period would inflate energy prices wildly and cripple the EU’s economy.

Another specific reaction given by Russia is the dumping of U.S. treasury bonds.  Russia’s bond holdings may not seem like much leverage, except for the fact that China has now publicly backed Russian efforts in the Ukraine, just as they backed Russian opposition to U.S. activities in Syria.  A dump of bonds by Russia would invariably be followed by a Chinese dump as well.  In fact, China and Russia have been setting the stage for a global dollar decoupling since at least 2008.   I have been warning for years that globalists and central bankers needed a “cover event”, a distraction or scapegoat imposing enough to provide a veil of chaos in which they could then destroy the greenback as the world reserve and usher in a global currency system.  The Ukraine crisis offers yet another opportunity for this plan to unfold.

The False Paradigm And The Globalist Chessboard

So far, I have outlined what appears to be a correspondence of conspiracy between Syria and the Ukraine and how each event has the continued potential to trigger regional conflict, dollar collapse, or world war. But is this conspiracy one-sided? Are only the West and NATO being manipulated by globalists to box in Russia and provoke a conflict? And what do globalists have to gain by sparking such disaster?

As with every other catastrophic fabricated war, the goal is the erasure of sovereign identity while consolidating of economic, political and social power. It is not enough that global financiers dominate the banking industry and own most politicians; they want to transform the public psyche. They want US to ask THEM for global governance. This manufacture of consent is often achieved by pitting two controlled governments against each other and then, in the wake of the tragedy, calling for global unification. The argument is always presented that if we simply abandoned the concept of nation states and reform under a single world body, all war would “disappear.”

The question is whether Russia’s Putin is aware of the plan. Is he a part of it?  Are we seeing repeat theater of a puppet Russia versus a puppet NATO like that witnessed during the Cold War?

What I do know is that Putin has, a number of times in the past, called for global control of the economy through the IMF and the institution of a new global currency using the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR).

Loans from the IMF are what saved Russia from debt default in the late 1990s. And Putin has recently called for consultations with the IMF concerning Crimea. Remember, this is the same IMF that is working to fund his opponents in Western Ukraine.

Bottom line, if you believe in national sovereignty and decentralization of power, Putin is NOT your buddy. Once again, we have the globalists injecting money into both sides of a conflict which could morph into something nightmarish.  Putin wants global economic governance and consolidation under the IMF just as much as the supposedly “American-run” IMF wants consolidation.  Global governance of finance and money creation ultimately means global governance of everything else.

Is a war being created through the false paradigm of East versus West in order to pave the road for global government?  Are East/West tensions being exploited as a smokescreen for the final destruction of the dollar’s world reserve status?  It is hard to say if the Ukraine will be the final trigger; however, the evidence suggests that if a conflict occurs, regardless of who “wins” such a scenario, the IMF comes out on top.

Imagine you are playing a game of chess by yourself. Which side wins at the end of that game: black or white? The answer is it doesn’t matter. You always win when you control both sides.

Source: Brandon Smith | Alt-Market

Guns, Ammo And Other Great Ways To Fight Inflation

March 5, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Cast your mind back to the fall of 2008. Lehman Bros. had just failed, and for those in Washington, it was thought all the banks were about to go up in smoke.

Of all the radical policies that were enacted in response to the crisis, one of the stealthiest was the Fed’s decision to begin paying banks interest on their “excess reserves.”

This change, begun in October 2008, has netted the banking industry billions of risk-free dollars over the last five years. It’s been nothing more than a pure government subsidy. And the majority of the public has been blissfully unaware.

There are signs, however, that the Fed’s gift to the banks may be coming to an end. Below, we discuss the implications of such a move on you and your savings.

Before we do that, we must first explain what “excess reserves” are.

Commercial banks are required a keep a certain amount of money on deposit at the Fed based on how much a bank holds in customer deposits. Bankers normally keep as little money at the Fed as possible. They prefer to use those funds to make loans or buy securities and earn interest.

Any extra cash held at the Fed over and above what they’re required to hold is known as excess reserves.

Up until the fall of Lehman Bros. in September 2008, banks’ excess reserves at the Fed were essentially zero. Back then, lending money as fast as possible was the name of the game.

But a month later, the central bank began paying 0.25% interest to banks on any excess reserves. The result? Five years later, banks have $2.5 trillion in excess reserves sitting at the Fed.

This means the Fed pays banks $6.25 billion a year in interest courtesy of a policy change made in a panic.

But this policy may be about to change.

In October, the minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting included a discussion of excess reserves. Specifically, it was noted that “Most participants thought that a reduction by the Board of Governors in the interest rate paid on excess reserves could be worth considering at some stage.”

Alan Blinder, though, who was once the vice chairman at the Fed, wrote in The Wall Street Journal that he interpreted the minutes’ tea leaves to really mean the voting members “love the idea” of reducing the rate being paid on these reserves.

Changing this policy would be significant and it has the potential to unleash a torrent of liquidity through the commercial banking system.

When the Fed quits paying this interest, the banks will have no reason to leave their cash at the Fed. The most reasonable option is to lend the $2.5 trillion instead. And through the power of fractionalized banking, the money supply could then be increased by up to 10 times that amount.

Needless to say, $25 trillion is a gargantuan quantity of money. The total money supply as measured by M2, for example, was just short of $11 trillion in December. Now, it’s unlikely to see the money supply triple if the Fed were to stop paying interest on these reserves. But it’s easy to imagine a significant jump in money creation if it were lent out into the economy instead of sitting idle at the central bank.

And if that happens, inflation will follow.

Watching the Fed, however, is only part of the inflation story. Investors who want to protect themselves must also keep a close eye on what the commercial banks are doing. And we’re beginning to see that bankers, after five years of licking their wounds, are starting to say yes again after turning potential borrowers away en masse since the crash. In other words, the commercial banking system is also beginning to light the fuse to ignite the inflationary tinder created by the Federal Reserve.

This is important because, according to Steve Hanke, professor of applied economics at John Hopkins University, commercial banks create 85% of the money supply, while the remaining 15% is created by the Fed.

And there’s evidence that commercial bank lending is heating up. In December, bank credit was up 5.9% according to the latest H.8 numbers from the Federal Reserve. This is the largest increase we’ve seen since the crash. Just as a reminder, bank credit fell 6.7% in 2009. The big December increases were in the commercial and industrial loan category, which jumped 14.1%, and consumer loans, which increased 6.4%.

Commercial real estate lending is also making a comeback. “More banks are now on the offense, not on defense anymore, when it comes to commercial real estate,” said bank analyst Anthony Polini.

Compass Point Research & Trading analyst Kevin Barker says that commercial real estate is “definitely becoming a significant driver of loan growth [and] to the extent that the banks can take advantage, it could be a tail wind to earnings.”

While investors worry about Fed tapering and rising interest rates, it’s exactly what banks need. Higher rates provide banks the incentive to lend, which will spur money creation in the commercial banking system.

Meaning as banks start to lend and rates begin to rise, the money supply could begin to grow, and in turn, price inflation could rear its ugly head.

While gold and silver are the traditional hedges to central bank inflation, it helps to think outside those metallic boxes. This can be as simple as stocking up on items that you know you’ll need in the future. Last month in The Daily Reckoning, for example, Addison Wiggin, made the case for buying five years’ worth of razor blades. (See “3 Ways to Make Your Portfolio Inflation-Proof”)

At last year’s Agora Financial Symposium in Vancouver, I mentioned stocking up on real things like cigarettes and liquor too. You may not smoke, drink, or shoot — but you can always sell or trade cigarettes, booze, and ammunition.

There are currently shortages of ammo (.22 caliber rounds sell out in minutes in my town each week), and bullet prices have exploded. Cigarettes and liquor are demonized, taxed, and seem to always increase in price.

All of these physical goods should be on your “buy” list.

Source: The Daily Reckoning

Ukraine’s Uncertain Future

March 3, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

To understand the ongoing crisis in Ukraine it is necessary to take a look at two maps: the distribution of votes between Viktor Yanukovych (blue) and Yulia Tymoshenko (yellow) in the presidential election of January 2010, and the linguistic divide between the mostly Ukrainian-speaking western and central regions (red, pink) and the predominantly Russian-speaking southern and eastern regions (brown, yellow, beige).

These two maps coincide to an astonishing degree. They reflect a fundamental cultural and emotional division, not merely a difference of opinion on the issue of the EU association or the presence of the Russian Black Sea fleet in the Crimean Peninsula. It is a division between two fundamentally incompatible identities. As such, it is comparable to the divide apparent in the electoral map of the 1860 presidential election.

The main difference is that Ukraine is an  evenly divided country, by territory and by population. The “unionists” (Western Ukrainian nationalists) cannot hope to subjugate and “reconstruct” the Russians and pro-Russian Ukrainians, who dominate the Black Sea coast and the East. The “separatists” (from Kharkhov in the northeast to Odessa in the southeast) will never become “Ukrainians” in the tradition of Stepan Bandera and the SS Division “Galizien.”

Any great power that attempts to control the whole of this deeply divided country will come to a grief. The pro-Russians in the east and along the Black Sea coast can never convert the Western Ukrainians to the paradigm of a Moscow-friendly “borderland” (the literal meaning of “Ukraine”), whose destiny is in a close association with Russia. The nationalists will never cajole their eastern and southern would-be compatriots to an image of “Ukraine” defined by a visceral hatred of Russia and all her works.

Ukrainian nationalism is a hybrid phenomenon. Its cradle is in Lavov, a predominantly Polish city until September 1939, whose ethnic composition (and that of the surrounding countryside) was irreversibly changed by the genocidal Banderists during the war and by Stalin’s commissars thereafter. The eastern border was arbitrarily drawn in 1922 by the non-Russian Bolsheviks, hell-bent on reducing Russia in size. The 85% Russian Crimea was transferred to Ukraine from Russia by a stroke of Nikita Khrushchev’s drunken pen in February 1954. There is nothing sacred and nothing permanent about those absurd borders. Any attempt to uphold them with the force of arms will lead to bloodshed, as Tito’s equally arbitrarily drawn internal boundaries did lead in ex-Yugoslavia two decades ago.

The “orange revolution” in the fall of 2004 produced an inept leader (Yushchenko) and a corrupt operator (Tymoshenko) whose terminal incompetence paved the way for Yanukovych’s victory four years ago. He proved to be equally incompetent and corrupt, paving the way for the Maidan-engineered revolutionary putsch last week. Western powers stage-managed a violent overthrow of what was, stricto sensu, a democratically elected chief of state. They will now reap the benefits: a bankrupt economy in immediate need of some tens of billions of ready liquidity, a disintegrating country with secessionist regions that cannot be controlled short of a civil war, and a new Cold War-like flashpoint that nobody needs. Jihadists of all countries, rejoice!

For Russia the future of Ukraine – and especially its Black Sea coast – is an existential issue. For the United States it is an optional crisis, the outcome of which will not affect the security and well-being of America in the slightest. John McCain would just love to repeat the disastrous Crimean War of 160 years ago, but he is insane. It is to be hoped that reason will prevail.


Srdja (Serge) Trifkovic, author, historian, foreign affairs analyst, and foreign affairs editor of “Chronicles.” He has a BA (Hon) in international relations from the University of Sussex (UK), a BA in political science from the University of Zagreb (Croatia), and a PhD in history from the University of Southampton (UK).

www.trifkovic.mysite.com

Dr. Srdja Trifkovic is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

The Greatest Propaganda Coup of Our Time?

March 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

There’s good propaganda and bad propaganda. Bad propaganda is generally crude, amateurish Judy Miller “mobile weapons lab-type” nonsense that figures that people are so stupid they’ll believe anything that appears in “the paper of record.” Good propaganda, on the other hand, uses factual, sometimes documented material in a coordinated campaign with the other major media to cobble-together a narrative that is credible, but false.

The so called Fed’s transcripts, which were released last week, fall into the latter category. The transcripts (1,865 pages) reveal the details of 14 emergency meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) in 2008, when the financial crisis was at its peak and the Fed braintrust was deliberating on how best to prevent a full-blown meltdown. But while the conversations between the members are accurately recorded, they don’t tell the gist of the story or provide the context that’s needed to grasp the bigger picture. Instead, they’re used to portray the members of the Fed as affable, well-meaning bunglers who did the best they could in ‘very trying circumstances’. While this is effective propaganda, it’s basically a lie, mainly because it diverts attention from the Fed’s role in crashing the financial system, preventing the remedies that were needed from being implemented (nationalizing the giant Wall Street banks), and coercing Congress into approving gigantic, economy-killing bailouts which shifted trillions of dollars to insolvent financial institutions that should have been euthanized.

What I’m saying is that the Fed’s transcripts are, perhaps, the greatest propaganda coup of our time. They take advantage of the fact that people simply forget a lot of what happened during the crisis and, as a result, absolve the Fed of any accountability for what is likely the crime of the century. It’s an accomplishment that PR-pioneer Edward Bernays would have applauded. After all, it was Bernays who argued that the sheeple need to be constantly bamboozled to keep them in line. Here’s a clip from his magnum opus “Propaganda”:

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”

Sound familiar? My guess is that Bernays’ maxim probably features prominently in editors offices across the country where “manufacturing consent” is Job 1 and where no story so trivial that it can’t be spun in a way that serves the financial interests of the MSM’s constituents. (Should I say “clients”?) The Fed’s transcripts are just a particularly egregious example. Just look at the coverage in the New York Times and judge for yourself. Here’s an excerpt from an article titled “Fed Misread Crisis in 2008, Records Show”:

“The hundreds of pages of transcripts, based on recordings made at the time, reveal the ignorance of Fed officials about economic conditions during the climactic months of the financial crisis. Officials repeatedly fretted about overstimulating the economy, only to realize time and again that they needed to redouble efforts to contain the crisis.” (“Fed Misread Crisis in 2008, Records Show”, New York Times)

This quote is so misleading on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin.

First of all, the New York Times is the ideological wellspring of elite propaganda in the US. They set the tone and the others follow. That’s the way the system works. So it always pays to go to the source and try to figure out what really lies behind the words, that is, the motive behind the smokescreen of half-truths, distortions, and lies. How is the Times trying to bend perceptions and steer the public in their corporate-friendly direction, that’s the question. In this case, the Times wants its readers to believe that the Fed members “misread the crisis”; that they were ‘behind the curve’ and stressed-out, but–dad-gum-it–they were trying their level-best to make things work out for everybody.

How believable is that? Not very believable at all.

Keep in mind, the crisis had been going on for a full year before the discussions in these transcripts took place, so it’s not like the members were plopped in a room the day before Lehman blew up and had to decide what to do. No. They had plenty of time to figure out the lay of the land, get their bearings and do what was in the best interests of the country. Here’s more from the Times:

 ”My initial takeaway from these voluminous transcripts is that they paint a disturbing picture of a central bank that was in the dark about each looming disaster throughout 2008. That meant that the nation’s top bank regulators were unprepared to deal with the consequences of each new event.”

Have you ever read such nonsense in your life? Of course, the Fed knew what was going on. How could they NOT know? Their buddies on Wall Street were taking it in the stern sheets every time their dingy asset pile was downgraded which was every damn day. It was costing them a bundle which means they were probably on the phone 24-7 to (Treasury Secretary) Henry Paulson whining for help. “You gotta give us a hand here, Hank. The whole Street is going toes-up. Please.”

Here’s more from the NYT:

“Some Fed officials have argued that the Fed was blind in 2008 because it relied, like everyone else, on a standard set of economic indicators. As late as August 2008, “there were no clear signs that many financial firms were about to fail catastrophically,” Mr. Bullard said in a November presentation in Arkansas that the St. Louis Fed recirculated on Friday. “There was a reasonable case that the U.S. could continue to ‘muddle through.’ (“Fed Misread Crisis in 2008, Records Show”, New York Times)

There’s that same refrain again, “Blind”, “In the dark”, “Behind the curve”, “Misread the crisis”.

Notice how the Times only invokes terminology that implies the Fed is blameless. But it’s all baloney. Everyone knew what was going on. Check out this excerpt from a post by Nouriel Roubini that was written nearly a full year before Lehman failed:

“The United States has now effectively entered into a serious and painful recession. The debate is not anymore on whether the economy will experience a soft landing or a hard landing; it is rather on how hard the hard landing recession will be. The factors that make the recession inevitable include the nation’s worst-ever housing recession, which is still getting worse; a severe liquidity and credit crunch in financial markets that is getting worse than when it started last summer; high oil and gasoline prices; falling capital spending by the corporate sector; a slackening labor market where few jobs are being created and the unemployment rate is sharply up; and shopped-out, savings-less and debt-burdened American consumers who — thanks to falling home prices — can no longer use their homes as ATM machines to allow them to spend more than their income. As private consumption in the US is over 70% of GDP the US consumer now retrenching and cutting spending ensures that a recession is now underway.

On top of this recession there are now serious risks of a systemic financial crisis in the US as the financial losses are spreading from subprime to near prime and prime mortgages, consumer debt (credit cards, auto loans, student loans), commercial real estate loans, leveraged loans and postponed/restructured/canceled LBO and, soon enough, sharply rising default rates on corporate bonds that will lead to a second round of large losses in credit default swaps. The total of all of these financial losses could be above $1 trillion thus triggering a massive credit crunch and a systemic financial sector crisis.” ( Nouriel Roubini Global EconoMonitor)

Roubini didn’t have some secret source for data that wasn’t available to the Fed. The financial system was collapsing and it had been collapsing for a full year. Everyone who followed the markets knew it. Hell, the Fed had already opened its Discount Window and the Term Auction Facility (TAF) in 2007 to prop up the ailing banks–something they’d never done before– so they certainly knew the system was cratering. So, why’s the Times prattling this silly fairytale that “the Fed was in the dark” in 2008?

I’ll tell you why: It’s because this whole transcript business is a big, freaking whitewash to absolve the shysters at the Fed of any legal accountability, that’s why. That’s why they’re stitching together this comical fable that the Fed was simply an innocent victim of circumstances beyond its control. And that’s why they want to focus attention on the members of the FOMC quibbling over meaningless technicalities –like non-existent inflation or interest rates–so people think they’re just kind-hearted buffoons who bumbled-along as best as they could. It’s all designed to deflect blame.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying these conversations didn’t happen. They did, at least I think they did. I just think that the revisionist media is being employed to spin the facts in a way that minimizes the culpability of the central bank in its dodgy, collaborationist engineering of the bailouts. (You don’t hear the Times talking about Hank Paulson’s 50 or 60 phone calls to G-Sax headquarters in the week before Lehman kicked the bucket, do you? But, that’s where a real reporter would look for the truth.)

The purpose of the NYT article is to create plausible deniability for the perpetrators of the biggest ripoff in world history, a ripoff which continues to this very day since the same policies are in place, the same thieving fraudsters are being protected from prosecution, and the same boundless chasm of private debt is being concealed through accounting flim-flam to prevent losses to the insatiable bondholders who have the country by the balls and who set policy on everything from capital requirements on complex derivatives to toppling democratically-elected governments in Ukraine. These are the big money guys behind the vacillating-hologram poseurs like Obama and Bernanke, who are nothing more than kowtowing sock puppets who jump whenever they’re told. Here’s more bunkum from the Gray Lady:

 ”By early March, the Fed was moving to replace investors as a source of funding for Wall Street.

Financial firms, particularly in the mortgage business, were beginning to fail because they could not borrow money. Investors had lost confidence in their ability to predict which loans would be repaid. Countrywide Financial, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, sold itself for a relative pittance to Bank of America. Bear Stearns, one of the largest packagers and sellers of mortgage-backed securities, was teetering toward collapse.

On March 7, the Fed offered companies up to $200 billion in funding. Three days later, Mr. Bernanke secured the Fed policy-making committee’s approval to double that amount to $400 billion, telling his colleagues, “We live in a very special time.”

Finally, on March 16, the Fed effectively removed any limit on Wall Street funding even as it arranged the Bear Stearns rescue.” (“Fed Misread Crisis in 2008, Records Show”, New York Times)

This part deserves a little more explanation. The author says “the Fed was moving to replace investors as a source of funding for Wall Street.” Uh, yeah; because the whole flimsy house of cards came crashing down when investors figured out Wall Street was peddling toxic assets. So the money dried up. No one buys crap assets after they find out they’re crap; it’s a simple fact of life. The Times makes this sound like this was some kind of unavoidable natural disaster, like an earthquake or a tornado. It wasn’t. It was a crime, a crime for which no one has been indicted or sent to prison. That might have been worth mentioning, don’t you think?

More from the NYT: “…on March 16, the Fed effectively removed any limit on Wall Street funding even as it arranged the Bear Stearns rescue.”

Yipee! Free money for all the crooks who blew up the financial system and plunged the economy into recession. The Fed assumed blatantly-illegal powers it was never provided under its charter and used them to reward the people who were responsible for the crash, namely, the Fed’s moneybags constituents on Wall Street. It was a straightforward transfer of wealth to the Bank Mafia. Don’t you think the author should have mentioned something about that, just for the sake of context, maybe?

Again, the Times wants us to believe that the men who made these extraordinary decisions were just ordinary guys like you and me trying to muddle through a rough patch doing the best they could.

Right. I mean, c’mon, this is some pretty impressive propaganda, don’t you think? It takes a real talent to come up with this stuff, which is why most of these NYT guys probably got their sheepskin at Harvard or Yale, the establishment’s petri-dish for serial liars.

By September 2008, Bernanke and Paulson knew the game was over. The crisis had been raging for more than a year and the nation’s biggest banks were broke. (Bernanke even admitted as much in testimony before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission in 2011 when he said “only one ….out of maybe the 13 of the most important financial institutions in the United States…was not at serious risk of failure within a period of a week or two.” He knew the banks were busted, and so did Paulson.) Their only chance to save their buddies was a Hail Mary pass in the form of Lehman Brothers. In other words, they had to create a “Financial 9-11″, a big enough crisis to blackmail congress into $700 no-strings-attached bailout called the TARP. And it worked too. They pushed Lehman to its death, scared the bejesus out of congress, and walked away with 700 billion smackers for their shifty gangster friends on Wall Street. Chalk up one for Hank and Bennie.

The only good thing to emerge from the Fed’s transcripts is that it proves that the people who’ve been saying all along that Lehman was deliberately snuffed-out in order to swindle money out of congress were right. Here’s how economist Dean Baker summed it up the other day on his blog:

“Gretchen Morgensen (NYT financial reporter) picks up an important point in the Fed transcripts from 2008. The discussion around the decision to allow Lehman to go bankrupt makes it very clear that it was a decision. In other words the Fed did not rescue Lehman because it chose not to.

This is important because the key regulators involved in this decision, Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, and Timothy Geithner, have been allowed to rewrite history and claim that they didn’t rescue Lehman because they lacked the legal authority to rescue it. This is transparent tripe, which should be evident to any knowledgeable observer.” (“The Decision to Let Lehman Fail”, Dean Baker, CEPR)

Here’s the quote from Morgenson’s piece to which Baker is alluding:

“In public statements since that time, the Fed has maintained that the government didn’t have the tools to save Lehman. These documents appear to tell a different story. Some comments made at the Sept. 16 meeting, directly after Lehman filed for bankruptcy, indicate that letting Lehman fail was more of a policy decision than a passive one.” (“A New Light on Regulators in the Dark”, Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times)

Ah ha! So it was a planned demolition after all. At least that’s settled.

Here’s something else you’ll want to know: It was always within Bernanke’s power to stop the bank run and end to the panic, but if he relieved the pressure in the markets too soon (he figured), then Congress wouldn’t cave in to his demands and approve the TARP. Because, at the time, a solid majority of Republicans and Democrats in congress were adamantly opposed to the TARP and even voted it down on the first ballot. Here’s a clip from a speech by, Rep Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) in September 2008 which sums up the grassroots opposition to the bailouts:

“The $700 bailout bill is being driven by fear not fact. This is too much money, in too short of time, going to too few people, while too many questions remain unanswered. Why aren’t we having hearings…Why aren’t we considering any other alternatives other than giving $700 billion to Wall Street? Why aren’t we passing new laws to stop the speculation which triggered this? Why aren’t we putting up new regulatory structures to protect the investors? Why aren’t we directly helping homeowners with their debt burdens? Why aren’t we helping American families faced with bankruptcy? Isn’t time for fundamental change to our debt-based monetary system so we can free ourselves from the manipulation of the Federal Reserve and the banks? Is this the US Congress or the Board of Directors of Goldman Sachs?”

But despite overwhelming public resistance, the TARP was pushed through and Wall Street prevailed. mainly by sabotaging the democratic process the way they always do when it doesn’t suit their objectives.)

Of course, as we said earlier, Bernanke never really needed the money from TARP to stop the panic anyway. (Not one penny of the $700 bil was used to shore up the money markets or commercial paper markets where the bank run took place.) All Bernanke needed to do was to provide backstops for those two markets and, Voila, the problem was solved. Here’s Dean Baker with the details:

“Bernanke deliberately misled Congress to help pass the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). He told them that the commercial paper market was shutting down, raising the prospect that most of corporate America would be unable to get the short-term credit needed to meet its payroll and pay other bills. Bernanke neglected to mention that he could singlehandedly keep the commercial paper market operating by setting up a special Fed lending facility for this purpose. He announced the establishment of a lending facility to buy commercial paper the weekend after Congress approved TARP.” (“Ben Bernanke; Wall Street’s Servant”, Dean Baker, Guardian)

So, there you have it. The American people were fleeced in broad daylight by the same dissembling cutthroats the NYT is now trying to characterize as well-meaning bunglers who were just trying to save the country from another Great Depression.

I could be wrong, but I think we’ve reached Peak Propaganda on this one.

(Note: By “good” propaganda, I mean “effective” propaganda. From an ethical point of view, propaganda can never be good because its objective is to intentionally mislead people…..which is bad.)


Mike Whitney is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com

Central Banker Appointed As Prime Minister of Ukraine

February 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Arseniy Yatsenyuk

Newly appointed Prime Minister of Ukraine and former central banker Arseniy Yatsenyuk

A reshuffled Ukrainian Parliament installed following a coup last week has voted to appoint Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the new prime minister of the country. Yats, as Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. State Department, called him, is a natural choice. He is a millionaire former banker who served as economy minister, foreign minister and parliamentary speaker before Yanukovych took office in 2010. He is a member of Yulie Tymoshenko’s Fatherland Party. Prior to the revolution cooked up by the State Department and executed by ultra-nationalist street thugs, Tymoshenko was incarcerated for embezzlement and other crimes against the people of Ukraine. Now she will be part of the installed government, same as she was after the last orchestrated coup, the Orange Revolution.

Yats will deliver Ukraine to the international bankers. “Ukraine is on the brink of bankruptcy and needs to be saved from collapse — Yatsenyuk has a strong economic background,” Ariel Cohen, senior fellow at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, told Bloomberg on Wednesday. “Ukraine faces difficult reforms but without them there won’t be a successful future.”

Discussion with the IMF is crucial, US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said earlier this week. In order to cinch the deal, the U.S. government will sweeten the pot. Lew talked with the IMF boss, Christine Lagarde, about Ukraine as he headed back from a globalist confab, the G-20 meeting in Sydney, Australia.

“Secretary Lew informed Managing Director Lagarde that he had spoken earlier in the day with Ukrainian leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk and advised him of the broad support for an international assistance package centered on the IMF, as soon as the transitional Ukrainian government is fully established by the Parliament,” MNI News reported on Monday. “Secretary Lew also noted that he had communicated to Mr. Yatsenyuk the need to quickly begin implementing economic reforms and enter discussions with the IMF following the establishment of the transitional government.”

Ukraine’s story is right out of the IMF playbook. The nation’s corrupt leaders past and present – most notably Tymoshenko, who went to prison for corruption and wholesale thievery – have enriched themselves at the expensive of ordinary Ukrainians.

“Ukraine at the dawn of independence was among the ten most developed countries, and now it drags out a miserable existence,” Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko said last year. The nation’s leaders “signed a memorandum with the International Monetary Fund to meet the requirements of the oligarchs, but on the other hand — to timely pay the interest on the IMF loans and to raise the prices for gas and electricity,” Symonenko said.

The Orange Revolution – initiated by NED, IRI, Soros and the CIA – installed a rogue’s gallery of self-seeking sociopaths who further bankrupted a country already seriously debilitated by corruption.

For the IMF and the financial elite, Ukraine is nothing less than a tantalizing bounty. “Its fertile black soil generated more than one-fourth of Soviet agricultural output, and its farms provided substantial quantities of meat, milk, grain, and vegetables to other republics,” notes ABO, a website covering energy resources. “Likewise, its diversified heavy industry supplied the unique equipment (for example, large diameter pipes) and raw materials to industrial and mining sites (vertical drilling apparatus) in other regions of the former USSR.”

After breaking away from the Soviet Union and declaring independence, it was thought the country would “liberalize” its industry and resources, in other words open them up for privatization by transnational corporations and international banks, but this did not happen quickly enough for the financiers and the corporatists.

“The drop in steel prices and Ukraine’s exposure to the global financial crisis due to aggressive foreign borrowing lowered growth in 2008 and the economy contracted more than 15 percent in 2009, among the worst economic performances in the world,” ABO explains. “In August 2010, Ukraine, under the Yanukovych Administration, reached a new agreement with the IMF for a $15.1 billion Stand-By Agreement. Economic growth resumed in 2010 and 2011, buoyed by exports. After initial disbursements, the IMF program stalled in early 2011 due to the Ukrainian Government’s lack of progress in implementing key gas sector reforms, namely gas tariff increases. Economic growth slowed in the second half of 2012 with Ukraine finishing the year in technical recession following two consecutive quarters of negative growth.”

Now that Yanukovych is out of the picture, the banker minion Yats is lording over the Parliament, and thuggish fascists control the streets and guard against a counter revolution that my threaten Wall Street’s coup, the coast is clear for the IMF to pick up where it left off. Ukraine, now one of the poorest countries in Europe thanks to a kleptocracy supported by Washington and Wall Street, is wide open for further looting.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk Ukraine

Source: http://www.infowars.com/central-banker-appointed-as-prime-minister-of-ukraine/

Fasten Your Seatbelts: The Coming Global Monetary Reset

February 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The big currency reset. It’s not a case of ‘if’ – it’s a case ofwhen.

Don’t expect your provincial Secretary of Treasury or Chancellor Exchequer to warn you about what is coming around the corner, because they are either too stupid to know, or too busy covering their own backsides.

To understand where we are, it’s very important to understand how we got here (another point which bureaucrats and backers do not want the general populace to know).

A quick history lesson then…

The Opposite of Emerging is Submerging

Lulled and distracted by the antics of developed country central banks and emerging economy central banks – to constantly “pump-up the jam” and flood the economy with paper casino chips from either Fort Knox or Mount Gox, the real tectonic shift of the global economy since 2008 has been more or less ignored by financial gurus and sages. It is taken as “normal” that deflation, ordisinflation is operating in the developed economies, but now we can see that rip-roaring inflation operating in the emerging economies.

Supposedly, this is ‘Muddle Through’, but since 2008 the North-South paradigm has all but dissolved – the developed OECD economies are locked in a death embrace with the Emerging economies. The developed economies are now locked into chronic globalization – exporting monetary inflation while importing cheap industrial goods, services and resources.

Since 2008 the always-promised ‘world shift’ of the economy from west to east, and from north to south has happened, but the net result is a shock. Pretending “we didn’t know” is comforting, but ultimately stupid.

This is an unstable equilibrium, or an interregnum – even a sideshow, because the current global economic context and process is the exact opposite of sustainable. Harm to both North and South is now the main impact of the post-2008 process of overreach and intense fiat paper shuffling. Listing the consequences and causes of this overreach is not easy and always open to argument, but possibly the best summary is to suggest that since 2008, ‘Ricardo’s comparative advantage‘ paradigm has been inverted. Economic and above all monetary globalization is now the path to ruin and poverty. From win-win to lose-lose. The worse it gets, expect the architects of ruin – establishment politicians, central bankers and financial pundits, to retreat into even deeper denial.

The Production Bubble That Triggers the Collapse

Another simple way to argue the global economy has overreached is that industrial and economic production capacity in the Emerging economies (EMs), starting with the BRICs, is now massively over-sized. This means the EMs can and will saturate the post-industrial, deflating North with industrial supply at every stage and opportunity as technology, design and product development throw up a new market openings everywhere. Examples like the car and cellphone, fashion wear and off-shore call center industries are relatively “classic”. All of these are already saturated with capacity – but the EMs are still adding more. Previous historical “classic examples” of this process for example included the ship building industry, but the scale paradigm has been woefully ignored.


BRAZILIAN SKILLZ: Production of top-line automobiles in Brazil has surpassed many of its ‘developed’ counterparts.

Since 2008, the process has intensified, creating an increasingly certain outlook for a forced and fiat end to the willingness of the EMs to accept the fiat currency endlessly printed to finance the deflating, de-industrializing DMs (developed economies).

This will not necessarily be a politicized process, of the type hinted at by India’s central bank governor (see http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/tag/raghuram-rajan/), due to the rapidity and scale of the crisis, but instead trigger the collapse of the current global fiat monetary orderdictated by national economic self-defence and survival in the EMs.

The economic jump start of the Ricardo model, which has run riot for the last quarter-century, and went into over-drived from 2008 – will be abandoned.

Deflation/Inflation: Two Sides of the Same Bitcoin

Ricardo’s original model held sunny Portugual as a producer of cork and sherry, while rainy England could produce wine casks from its oak forests and wool from its sheep flocks. The money used in a basically resource-based exchange using then-rapidly growing maritime transport capabilities was held to be stable and gold-linked (or based). Later on, low-cost labor resources were built into Ricardo’s paradigm called “comparative advantage”. The EMs since the 1980s have played the role of resource providers while the DMs were the solvent market suppliers.

While there was a clear limit on cork, wine, oak casks and woolens supply and demand, this does not really apply to modern global fiat money and modern industrial technology. These are high gain positive feedback processes which only stop when they hit a brick wall.

The Ricardo comparative advantage model does not apply to post-1980′s globalization and super economies – like those of China and India, where industrial technology has raced ahead of infrastructure development. This is simply a bomb waiting to explode, alongside the industrial capacity growth, the EMs engaged massive growth of credit, mushroom growth urbanization, neglect of the agriculture and food sector, and turning a blind eye to rampant or even “structural” corruption. Inflation was the sure and certain result.

The results do not stop there. While inflation took off inside the EMs, with their economies producing more than they can consume, and exporting to the DMs which consume more than they produce, the EMs are also exported deflation to the developed market economies. At the same time, the emerging market economies mined out their capital bases to maintain their breakneck growth of industrial capacity.

On an almost daily basis now, the EMs are all shifting to current account deficit with the inevitable consequences of national currency devaluation, further inflation, and of course – higher interest rates.

Win-Win to Lose-Lose: Global Fiat Currency Crisis

The post-1980′s economic globalization paradigm can be called an initial ‘Win-Win’ model which eventually morphed to Lose-Lose.

The industrial nations of the DMs, which formerly benefited from the resource nations of the EMs under the previous ‘Ricardo-type’ model, are now mired in debt and de-industrialization, making it impossible for them to “grow their way out of crisis”. The EMs on their present industrial expansion path can only grow themselves into rapidly-deepening crisis.

The “money-in-the-middle” especially concerns the US dollar and its subsidiary partner, theeuro, both of which are vastly overvalued fiat currencies – but against what? Almost inevitably, this will feature a big rebound for gold, playing the starring role of in this latest episode of “Canary in the Monetary Coal Mine”. From a personal standpoint, or national (for those who have any), physical gold and silver could end up providing solid protection against the exposure of a monetary reset.

Conversely, commodities are unlikely to profit on an enduring sustained basis, due to economic restructuring, re-centering and contraction being almost certain.

Commenting on the IMF’s latest report on global capital flows since 1980, Reuters on 30 January said that while the IMF estimates net capital inflows to emerging economies as $7 trillion or more only since 2005, this was a “legacy trend” hinged on the EMs running a much higher GDP growth differential above the DMs than present. The IMF report noted that for 2014, economic growth in the BRICs will go on declining, and for Russia and Brazil, they will be less even than the GDP growth of the US and Britain. While the IMF’s economists do not allow themselves to project break-of-series change to the global economy, the process of what Gordon T. Long calls “Global collateral impairment” can easily default as the net result of apparently ‘unrelated and complex’ runaway processes.

This collateral impairment will inevitably trigger multi-national currency protection measures, a situation already clear in countries like Turkey, India, Argentina and other EMs.

For DMs in the North, plans are likely already underway. Will the reset feature a brand new reserve currency, or the introduction a fledgling single global, or virtual currency? If so, what will it be backed by (or maybe it won’t). It’s hard to know right now, but a shift of that magnitude could provide for the introduction of something new in the mix.

It’s a case of problem, reaction, solution, and one can assume that this Hegelian equation has already been mapped out on the back of a napkin in an executive dining floor of the one of the world leading central banks, possibly written using Christine Lagarde’s lip stick.

As a result, sacrificing GDP growth to protect the national money in the EMs will be inevitable. In turn, this will send a severe shock wave North to the DMs ,which have surfed on the latter-day version of the Ricardo paradigm for the last 30 years, and are now left unable to adapt.

The basic conclusion is that a global monetary reset is now overdue.

There will be shock waves, and haircuts too.

Brace yourself for impact, because it’s coming.

Source: Andrew McKillop | 21st Century Wire

Obama To Americans: You Don’t Deserve To Be Free

February 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

President Obama’s Kansas speech is a remarkable document. In calling for more government controls, more taxation, more collectivism, he has two paragraphs that give the show away. Take a look at them.

there is a certain crowd in Washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let’s respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. “The market will take care of everything,” they tell us. If we just cut more regulations and cut more taxes–especially for the wealthy–our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, well, that’s the price of liberty.

Now, it’s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our rugged individualism and our healthy skepticism of too much government. That’s in America’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. (Laughter.) But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked. (Applause.) It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression. It’s not what led to the incredible postwar booms of the ’50s and ’60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade. (Applause.) I mean, understand, it’s not as if we haven’t tried this theory.

Though not in Washington, I’m in that “certain crowd” that has been saying for decades that the market will take care of everything. It’s not really a crowd, it’s a tiny group of radicals–radicals for capitalism, in Ayn Rand’s well-turned phrase.

The only thing that the market doesn’t take care of is anti-market acts: acts that initiate physical force. That’s why we need government: to wield retaliatory force to defend individual rights.

Radicals for capitalism would, as the Declaration of Independence says, use government only “to secure these rights”–the rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. (Yes, I added “property” in there–property rights are inseparable from the other three.)

That’s the political philosophy on which Obama is trying to hang the blame for the recent financial crisis and every other social ill. But ask yourself, are we few radical capitalists in charge? Have radical capitalists been in charge at any time in the last, oh, say 100 years?

I pick 100 years deliberately, because it was exactly 100 years ago that a gigantic anti-capitalist measure was put into effect: the Federal Reserve System. For 100 years, government, not the free market, has controlled money and banking. How’s that worked out? How’s the value of the dollar held up since 1913? Is it worth one-fiftieth of its value then or only one-one-hundredth? You be the judge. How did the dollar hold up over the 100 years before this government take-over of money and banking? It actually gained slightly in value.

Laissez-faire hasn’t existed since the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. That was the first of a plethora of government crimes against the free market.

Radical capitalists are just beginning to have a slight effect on the Right wing. The overwhelming majority on the Right are eclectic. Which is a nice way of saying inconsistent.

The typical Republican would never, ever say “the market will take care of everything.” He’d say, “the market will take care of most things, and for the other things, we need the regulatory-welfare state.”

They are for individualism–except when they are against it. They are against free markets and individualism not only when they agree with the Left that we must have antitrust laws and the Federal Reserve, but also when they demand immigration controls, government schools, regulatory agencies, Medicare, laws prohibiting abortion, Social Security, “public works” projects, the “social safety net,” laws against insider trading, banking regulation, and the whole system of fiat money.

Obama blames economic woes, some real some manufactured (“inequality”) on a philosophy and policy that was abandoned a century ago. What doesn’t exist is what he says didn’t work.

Obama absurdly suggests that timid, half-hearted, compromisers, like George W. Bush, installed laissez-faire capitalism–on the grounds that they tinkered with one or two regulations (Glass-Steagall) and marginal tax rates–while blanking out the fact that under the Bush administration, government spending ballooned, growing much faster than under Clinton, and 50,000 new regulations were added to the Federal Register.

The philosophy of individualism and the politics of laissez-faire would mean government spending of about one-tenth its present level. It would also mean an end to all regulatory agencies: no SEC, FDA, NLRB, FAA, OSHA, EPA, FTC, ATF, CFTC, FHA, FCC–to name just some of the better known of the 430 agencies listed in the federal register.

Even you, dear reader, are probably wondering how on earth anyone could challenge things like Social Security, government schools, and the FDA. But that’s not the point. The point is: these statist, anti-capitalist programs exist and have existed for about a century. The point is: Obama is pretending that the Progressive Era, the New Deal, and the Great Society were repealed, so that he can blame the financial crisis on capitalism. He’s pretending that George Bush was George Washington.

We radical capitalists say that it was the regulatory-welfare state that imploded in 2008. You may disagree, but let’s argue that out, rather than engaging in the Big Lie that what failed was laissez-faire and individualism.

The question is: in the messy mixture of government controls and remnants of capitalism, which element caused the Great Depression and the recent financial crisis?

By raising that question, we uncover the fundamental: the meaning of capitalism and the meaning of government controls. Capitalism means freedom. Government means force.

Suddenly, the whole issue comes into focus: Obama is saying that freedom leads to poverty and force leads to wealth. He’s saying: “Look, we tried leaving you free to live your own life, and that didn’t work. You have to be forced, you have to have your earnings seized by the state, you have to work under our directions–under penalty of fines or imprisonment. You don’t deserve to be free.”

As a bit of ugly irony, this is precisely what former white slave-owners said after the Civil War: “The black man can’t handle freedom; we have to force him for his own good.” The innovation of the Left is to extend that viewpoint to all races.

Putting the issue as force vs. freedom shows how the shoe is on the other foot regarding what Obama said. Let me re-write it:

there is a certain crowd in Washington who, for the last few decades, have said, let’s respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. “The government will take care of everything,” they tell us. If we just pile on even more regulations and raise taxes–especially on the wealthy–our economy will grow stronger. Sure, they say, there will be winners and losers. But if the losers are protected by more social programs and a higher minimum wage, if there is more Quantitative Easing by the Fed, then jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle up to everybody else. And, they argue, even if prosperity doesn’t trickle up, well, that’s the price of the social safety net.

Now, it’s a simple theory. And we have to admit, it’s one that speaks to our intellectuals’ collectivism and Paul Krugman’s skepticism about freedom. That’s in Harvard’s DNA. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. (Laughter.) But here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked. (Applause.) It didn’t work when it was tried in the Soviet Union. It’s not what led to the incredible booms in India and China. And it didn’t work when Europe tried it during over the last decades. (Applause.) I mean, understand, it’s not as if we haven’t tried this statist theory.

How does that sound? That’s blaming an actual, existing condition–government controls and wealth-expropriation–not a condition that ended in the late 19th century.

So which is the path to prosperity and happiness–freedom or force? Remember that force is aimed at preventing you from acting on your rational judgment.

Obama’s real antagonist is Ayn Rand, who made the case that reason is man’s basic means of survival and coercion is anti-reason. Force initiated against free, innocent men is directed at stopping them from acting on their own thinking. It makes them, under threat of fines and imprisonment, act as the government demands rather than as they think their self-interest requires. That’s the whole point of threatening force: to make people act against their own judgment.

The radical, uncompromised, laissez-faire capitalism that Obama pretends was in place in 2008 is exactly what morality demands. Because, as Ayn Rand wrote in 1961: “No man has the right to initiate the use of physical force against others. . . . To claim the right to initiate the use of physical force against another man–the right to compel his agreement by the threat of physical destruction–is to evict oneself automatically from the realm of rights, of morality and of the intellect.”

Obama and his fellow statists have indeed evicted themselves from that realm.

Source: forbes.com

Obama’s Multiple Regime Change Fronts

February 19, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Previous articles discussed Obama’s rogue agenda in detail. His destructive pattern continues unabated. Throughout his tenure, he did what supporters thought impossible.

He exceeded the worst of George Bush. His policies replicate Republican hardliners. Neocons infest his administration.

He’s waging war on humanity. He’s doing at home and abroad.

He wrecked America’s economy. He looted the nation’s wealth. He handed Wall Street crooks multi-trillions of dollars. He gave trillions more to war profiteers.

Other corporate favorites benefitted hugely. So did super-rich elites. Ordinary Americans struggle through protracted Depression level conditions.

Hard times keep getting harder. They persist. They show no signs of ending. Growing millions face impoverishment without jobs or futures.

Freedoms are disappearing in plain sight. Police state ruthlessness targets dissent. Abuse of power is institutionalized.

Multiple regime change fronts target foreign leaders. Independent ones aren’t tolerated. Obama wants Syria’s Assad replaced.

He’s waging proxy to oust him. He’s responsible for three years of bloody conflict. Mass slaughter, destruction and unspeakable human misery define it.

Millions of internally and externally displaced Syrians attest to his ruthlessness. War rages without end.

Peace talks are more pretense than real. Full-scale US intervention may follow their failure. They’re currently deadlocked. They’re going nowhere.

Syrians want their sovereign rights protected. Obama wants unconditional surrender. He wants pro-Western puppet governance replacing Assad. He wants similar stooges in charge elsewhere.

So-called Iranian nuclear talks may fail. Pursuing them is red herring cover for regime change.

Iran’s nuclear program is entirely peaceful. It has no military component. Washington hardliners claim otherwise. So does Obama.

Saying so flies in the face of hard evidence. Annual US intelligence assessments affirm Iran’s peaceful program. So do IAEA inspectors.

Regime change matters more. So does eliminating an Israeli rival. Perhaps Obama plans more war to do it. Maybe he intends manipulating nuclear talks to fail as pretext.

Maybe he’ll attack Iran jointly with Israel. Maybe he’ll risk regional war doing it. Imagine the unthinkable.

Imagine humanity threatening nuclear war. Bush administration’s 2001 Nuclear Policy Review asserted first strike nuclear policy strategy.

His 2002 and 2006 National Security Strategies reaffirmed it. In 2010, Obama’s Nuclear Posture Review was old wine in new bottles.

Rhetoric changed, not policy. Obama “reserves the right” to use nuclear weapons preemptively. He does so based on real or invented threats.

He does it against non-nuclear power states. His land/sea/air triad offensive can be activated on his call alone.

He can order bombs away against any country. He can claim preemptive defense against a nonexistent existential threat. He can risk mushroom-shaped cloud denouement doing so.

Total war risks what no responsible leader would dare. Obama waged multiple direct and proxy wars throughout his entire tenure.

He’s got other targets in mind. How many more millions will suffer on his watch? How many more will perish? How much more human suffering is too much?

America’s super-weapons include the Mother of All Bombs. It has globe-circling delivery systems. It has arsenal strength able to extinguish human life in hours. Days at most.

It’s perhaps lawless enough to try. Evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr (1904 – 2005) said human intelligence doesn’t guarantee survival.

Beetles and bacteria stand a better chance than humans. They may become the only species ever to self-destruct.

Hubris produces bad endings. America faces the same fate as all previous empires. None survived.

America’s denouement may take humanity with it. Imagine having leaders willing to risk it. Imagine ending life on earth.

Waging war on Syria risks regional war. Attacking Iran risks the unthinkable. Plans were readied years ago. Updating followed.

Bombs away could happen with push button ease. Is Obama foolhardy enough to risk it?

Ukraine is targeted for regime change. The battle for its soul continues. Same old, same old reflects US policy.

Obama wants another independent leader toppled. He wants pro-Western stooge governance replacing him.

He wants opposition leader Arseny Yatsenyuk leading it. On Sunday, he addressed supporters publicly. He did so in Ukraine’s Independence Square.

President Viktor Yanukovych extended an olive branch earlier. Yatsenyuk rejected his offer to become prime minister. He’s forming his own government, he said.

He wants Ukraine’s 2004 constitution reinstated. It calls for combined parliamentary/presidential rule.

Obama wants Ukraine colonized for profit. He wants its resources plundered. He wants ordinary Ukrainians turned into serfs. He wants Russia increasingly weakened and isolated.

He’s in league with ultranationalist extremists. He’s involved in inciting continuing violent clashes.

He wants all former Soviet republics transformed into subservient US satellites. He wants America’s war machine encroaching on Russia’s borders.

Imagine challenging the only other nation able to match America’s nuclear might blow for blow.

Imagine the potential mother of all conflicts. Imagine the possible mother of all bad endings.

Imagine an irresponsible US leader willing to risk the unthinkable. Imagine bipartisan complicity doing nothing to stop him. Imagine strong anti-war sentiment absent on streets protesting.

Imagine America again getting away with mass murder. Imagine it on the most unspeakable of ugly scales.

Imagine risking humanity’s survival in the process. Imagine imperial madness exceeding everything preceding it.

Imagine targeting Venezuela at the same time. Imagine wanting Bolivarian social justice destroyed.

Imagine trying for the past 15 years to extinguish it. Imagine new schemes following failed ones.

Imagine wanting control of Venezuela’s vast oil reserves. They’re the world’s largest. Big Oil has its eye on the prize it covets.

Obama killed Chavez. He was either poisoned or infected with cancer causing substances.

Maduro believes he’s targeted the same way. He knows Obama wants him ousted. He wants fascist governance replacing him.

US manipulated violence continues on Venezuelan streets. On Sunday, President Nicolas Maduro addressed thousands of supporters.

“You want to see people in the streets? We’ll give you people in the streets,” he said. Thousands cheered him.

“I’m not going to give one millimeter of the power the Venezuelan people have given me.”

“Nothing will stop me from building this revolution which comandante Chavez left us.”

Maduro denounced protesters as coup d’etat fascists. Responsible parties will be prosecuted according to the full letter of the law, he said.

He accused former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe of fomenting unrest. He called him an “enemy of Venezuela.”

So is anti-Bolivarian fascist politician Leopoldo Lopez. He heads

Venezuela’s hard-right Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) party.

He incited violence. “There cannot be peace,” he said. A warrant was issued for his arrest.

He’s charged with murder, terrorism, conspiracy, incitement to crime, setting fire to a public building, damaging public property, public intimidation, and inflicting serious injuries.

Maduro called him “the face of fascism.” He threatens Venezuelan freedom. He’s against Bolivarian fairness. So are other likeminded extremists.

On Sunday, Venezuelan Minister of Interior and Justice Miguel Rodriguez Torres spoke publicly. He condemned opposition-provoked street violence.

“(V)andalism protests, he called them. Popular Will party extremists incite them. John Kerry issued an outrageous one-sided statement. In didn’t surprise. In part, he said:

“We are particularly alarmed by reports that the Venezuelan government has arrested or detained scores of anti-government protestors and issued an arrest warrant for opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.”

“These actions have a chilling effect on citizens’ rights to express their grievances peacefully.”

He ignored Washington’s role in inciting violence. He condemned what he supports.

Doublespeak duplicity defines US policy. Kerry called on Venezuela’s government “to provide the political space necessary for meaningful dialogue with the Venezuelan people…”

He urged restoration of calm. He called “(f)reedoms of expression and peaceful assembly…universal rights.”

Venezuela “has an obligation to protect” them,” he said.

Bolivarian principles champion them. America systematically trashes rule of law principles. It’s waging economic, political and street clash war on Venezuela. Don’t expect Kerry to explain.

Obama has three years left in office. How many more independent governments does he plan to target?

How much more street violence will he cause? How many more wars will he wage? How much more carnage will follow?

How much longer will Americans tolerate his lawlessness? The only solution is nonviolent revolution.

Resisting tyranny is a national imperative. America’s Declaration of Independence endorsed it, saying:

“(W)hever any form of government (threatens) life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.”

Jefferson, Madison and other notable Americans supported doing so. Tyranny is too unjust to tolerate. Good people are obligated to resist.

It’s a noble tradition. It’s a universal right for justice. It’s high time Americans got some. The alternative is perhaps perish.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

How Big Banks Are Cashing In On Food Stamps

February 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Many benefit programs have gone high tech with debit cards and J.P. Morgan Chase and others are making a pretty penny charging users fees. What is there to be done?

The Agricultural Act of 2014, signed into law by President Obama last Friday, includes $8 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over the next decade. One way the bill proposes to accomplish these savings is by reducing food stamp fraud. When the new farm bill is enacted, many of America’s hardest working families will experience cuts in services and have trouble putting food on their family’s table. But there will be major gains for an industry that most Americans might not expect: banking.

Banks reap hefty profits helping governments make payments to individuals, business that only got better when agencies switch from making payments on paper—checks and vouchers—to electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards. EBT cards look and work like debit cards, and by 2002, had entirely replaced the stamp booklets that gave the food stamp program its name. SNAP is the most well-known program delivered via EBT, but they also carry payments for Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF); Women, Infants and Children (WIC); childcare subsidies; state general assistance; and many other programs. EBT use is widespread, from the corner store to the supercenter. According to a 2012 USDA report, SNAP funds, averaging $133 per family member per month, can be spent at more than 246,000 authorized stores, farmers’ markets, farms, and meal providers nationwide.

Not only are the operating costs of delivering benefits by EBT lower—no paper checks to cut, envelopes to stuff, or postage to pay—but electronic forms of payment allow banks to multiply opportunities for revenue generation. Banks hold contracts with federal, state, and municipal agencies to provide EBT cards and services, collect interest on federal reserve money held for government programs (though not on SNAP funds), charge transaction fees for merchant use of bank technology and infrastructure, and levy penalties on users for EBT card loss, out-of-network use, and balance inquiries. Banks make money distributing government benefits if the economy is bad, because more people sign up for assistance; they make money if the economy is good, because rising interest rates mean more profit on the money they hold to distribute to beneficiaries.

Distributing government benefits is a lucrative industry. According to theGovernment Accountability Institute, J.P. Morgan Chase, which currently controls EBT contracts in 21 states, Guam, and the Virgin Islands, made more than half a billion dollars between 2004 and 2012 providing government benefits to U.S. citizens. In New York alone, J.P. Morgan Electronic Financial Services (EFS) holds a nine-year, $177 million EBT services contract with the State Office of Temporary and Disability Services (OTDA). New York currently pays $0.95 per month for each its 1.7 million SNAP cases. In addition, J.P. Morgan EFS collects penalties and fees from benefit recipients: $5 to replace a lost EBT card, $0.40 for each balance inquiry, $0.50 each time their cards are declined for insufficient funds, and $1.50 per withdrawal if they use ATMs to get cash more than once a month. While information about profit margins on EBT contracts is neither collected at the national level nor released by banks, EBT is a significant growth area for big banks. Last year, the Federal Reserve Payments Study reported that the number of EBT transactions more than doubled since 2006.

Electronic benefits delivery is such a rewarding business that banks seem to fear only two things: policy changes and bad publicity. The publicity problems of EBT programs became obvious over the last three months of 2103 when three major EBT system failure scandals erupted. The threat of policy change is perhaps less visible. New regulations could take distribution of these benefits out of the hands of for-profit banks, limit the fees they are able to collect, or mandate a switch from EBT cards to different kinds of electronic funds transfer with fewer opportunities for generating revenue, such as direct deposit. But banks have nothing to fear in the new Agricultural Act; it’s only good news for the finance sector.

The new farm bill lowers benefit levels somewhat, exempts new categories of people—college students, ex-felons, and lottery winners—from SNAP eligibility, and prohibits advertising to increase enrollment of eligible individuals, like radio and television campaign launched by the USDA in 2004. But the bill’s sponsor, Representative Frank Lucas (R-OK), and other members of the House Committee on Agriculture seem to trust that detecting and preventing fraud will accomplish much of the hoped-for savings. The new Act includes numerous fraud-fighting provisions, including those that:

  • Require merchants to maintain unique terminal identification numbers for point of sale machines, further restrict the kinds of food that can be bought with SNAP, and bar manual sales of food items without bar codes;
  • Improve procedures and technologies to facilitate state-to-state and state-to-federal information sharing;
  • Invite federal-state collaborative pilot projects to “identify, investigate, and reduce fraud” by merchants; and
  • Set aside $40 million to help the USDA store information, such as food purchase data from chain stores and loyalty card companies, and data-mine it, by linking store sales and EBT transaction data at the household level to uncover purchasing patterns, for example.

In short, the SNAP fraud provisions will increase the ability of state and federal agencies to track who bought what food, where, and for how much. A vast amount of information on the purchases of millions of U.S. citizens will be collected by state agencies and private entities, stored by the USDA, and data-mined for patterns of EBT use that indicate fraud.

Why will this intensified focus on fraud work out so well for banks? First, banks innovate and control the most cutting-edge technologies that detect and prevent fraud in electronic funds transfer. The financial sector employs armies of computer programmers, IT specialists, and software engineers, and banks hold dozens of patents on biometric technology, data-mining systems, and payment tracking software. State and federal agencies can develop fraud-fighting code and procedures themselves, but many lack sufficient capacity and choose instead to contract with banks. Florida, for example, piloted an eight-month EBT abuse detection project in 2012 that was staffed by both J.P. Morgan and state employees, as Peter Schweizer reported in The Daily Beast. The anti-fraud provisions of the farm bill, thus, provide a significant opportunity for more, and more lucrative, contracts for banks.

Second, fraud in food stamps, despite public perceptions, is already low, and getting from very little fraud to zero fraud is prohibitively expensive. This is especially true for trafficking—the trading of SNAP benefits for cash—the most common form of SNAP fraud. Merchants and recipients must work together to traffic SNAP benefits. Recipients approach a merchant, who might offer 50 cents on the dollar to convert food stamps to cash. The merchant runs the EBT card, hands over cash, and then reports sales for reimbursement by the Treasury. Current fraud detection and prevention focuses on suspicious patterns—merchants who claim lots of even-dollar sales, recipients who spend all of their SNAP benefits in the first week of the month—but traffickers have adjusted quickly, learning to input odd dollar amounts and to spread requests for reimbursement over time.

The USDA estimates that the amount of SNAP benefits being trafficked has been reduced by 145 percent since 1993. According to a March 2011 Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) report, for the period of 2006-2008, trafficking diverted about 1 cent of each benefit dollar. Trafficking is difficult to detect and prevent, because retailers and recipients who commit fraud adapt as fast as banks, states, and the USDA can develop new data-mining and investigative procedures. This fraud-detection arms race is expensive and time-consuming for government agencies and contractors, and adds cumbersome limits and procedures for users—both merchants and recipients—most of whom aren’t committing fraud.

What cost are we willing to bear to reduce SNAP fraud to less than a penny per dollar? Federal and state government agencies invest astronomical sums in high-tech tools to address a financially negligible problem. For comparison’s sake, while we lose $330 million a year to SNAP trafficking, Ashlea Ebeling of Forbesestimates that the U.S. government loses $40 to $70 billion a year to offshore tax evasion. Nevertheless, in 2012, the FNS conducted 4,396 undercover investigations of retail grocers suspected of fraud, at an undisclosed cost to taxpayers, identifying violations in about 40 percent of cases. In 2011, Alabama’s RFP for EBT services strongly encouraged potential vendors to “recommend the use of new and innovative technologies” to “improve detection and prevention of fraud” and integrate biometrics in their proposals for the state’s SNAP program. The five-year Alabama contract, worth $51 million, went to Xerox, the same company that denied SNAP users in 17 states access to food for several hours when they shut down their EBT system without any warning last October.

Third, only three firms handle the majority of EBT contracts with states and U.S. territories: J.P. Morgan EFS (23 contracts); Xerox State and Local Solutions, Inc. (17 contracts); and eFunds Corporation, a subsidiary of FIS Global (11 contracts). On February 10, J.P. Morgan confirmed that it plans to sell its prepaid card business, including U.S. Public Sector and EBT programs, after suffering a serious data breach on debit cards used at Target stores and facing inquiries from Connecticut and New York about its lack of sufficient privacy safeguards and high card fees. This may leave even fewer players in the mix, and that’s a bad thing, according to Michele Simon, author of the report, “Food Stamps, Follow the Money: Are Corporations Profiting From Hungry Americans?”, who provided a copy of the New York/J.P. Morgan EBT contract for this story. When so few firms control such significant market share, it implies limited competition and excessive market power. Simon suggests, in fact, that the recent changes to SNAP represent a large, mostly overlooked corporate subsidy. “The real policy challenge in SNAP is not fraud. It is the fact that we have an $80 billion a year program that does not solve hunger, and certainly does not provide good nutrition, but instead is a boon for banks, big box retailers, and junk food companies.”

If banks are secret winners, the losers are pretty clear: taxpayers, particularly those who receive nutritional support through the SNAP program. That’s one in seven Americans at this moment, and 52 percent of all Americans at some point in their lifetimes, according to Mark Rank, author of One Nation, Underprivileged: Why American Poverty Affects Us All. Put simply, the Agricultural Act of 2014 takes money from a program that serves the majority of Americans and gives it to banks and high-tech companies.

But it does something else. These provisions improve a system meant to collect information on the food purchases of more than half of the U.S. population, and fund the development of increasingly sophisticated technology to sift and analyze it. In the same year that we expressed shock and outrage that the NSA is collecting meta-information on our cellphone calls and Google searches, why are we acquiescing, even welcoming, a sophisticated new program to collect American consumer information? Do we really want the federal and state governments data-mining our grocery lists?

We need a solution that contains bank profits and prevents this kind of mass surveillance. The answer’s simple: stop trying to predict fraud, eliminate complicated rules about what can and cannot be bought with food stamps, and switch to direct deposit.

A key challenge of this solution is connecting benefits recipients with affordable bank accounts, because for-profit banks are not particularly interested in low-balance, high-transaction customers. But, according to Aleta Sprague, policy analyst in the Asset Building Program at the New America Foundation, strategies that focus on eliminating barriers to bank accounts will provide significant benefits for poor and working Americans. Connecting benefits recipients to the financial mainstream poses real challenges to both the public assistance system and current financial practices, but there are intriguing experiments already underway. In Washington state, for example, a collaboration of the Department of Commerce and Burst for Prosperity is connecting households on public assistance with affordable banking services and requiring that no-fee accounts be included in future EBT provider contracts.

“Instead of seeking to monitor and regulate every purchase a low-income consumer makes,” says Sprague, “we should recognize and capitalize on the potential of the public assistance system to serve as a mechanism for financial inclusion. That way, rather than constructing the safety net around distrust of the poor, we would leverage the system to increase families’ financial autonomy and capabilities.”

Direct deposit is more efficient, cheaper, and requires less administrative oversight. That’s why the IRS, Social Security, and Unemployment Insurance encourage us to use it. What direct deposit would not allow is paternalistic rules about how public assistance beneficiaries choose to use their resources to best support their families. Treating SNAP recipients like the reasonable, hard-working adults they are is not only simpler and less expensive; it is most just.

Source: VIRGINIA EUBANKS | THE AMERICAN PROSPECT

Foreclosure Filings Jump As Investors Eye Exits

February 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

“Speculators may do no harm as bubbles on a steady stream of enterprise. But the position is serious when enterprise becomes the bubble on a whirlpool of speculation. When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done.” – John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money

It’s too bad Keynes isn’t around today to see how the toxic combo of financial engineering, central bank liquidity and fraud have transformed the world’s biggest economy into a hobbled, crisis-prone invalid that’s unable to grow without giant doses of zero-rate heroin and mega-leverage crack-cocaine. This is exactly what the British economist warned about more than half a century ago in his magnum opus, “The General Theory…”, that you can’t build a vital, prosperous economy on the ripoff, Ponzi scams of Wall Street charlatans, mountebanks and swindlers. It can’t be done. And, yet– here we are again– in the middle of another historic asset-price bubble conceived and engineered by the bubbleheaded crackpots at the Federal Reserve. Go figure?

Just take a look at housing, which is at the end of an astonishing 18-month run that was entirely precipitated by what?

Higher wages?

Nope.

Lower unemployment?

Wrong again.

Consumer confidence, bigger incomes, credit expansion, growing revenues, pent-up demand?

No, no, no, no and no. Economic fundamentals played no part in the so called housing rebound. In fact–as everyone knows–the economy stinks as bad today as it did 4 years ago when the government number-crunchers announced the end of the recession. The reason prices have been rising is because of the Fed’s loosy-goosey monetary policy (fake rates and QE), inventory suppression, bogus gov mortgage modification programs, and unprecedented speculation. (mainly Private Equity and investors groups) Those are the four legs of the stool propping up housing. Only now it looks like a couple of those legs are in the process of being sawed off which is going to put downward pressure on sales and prices. Take a look at this from DS News:

“A majority of experts surveyed by Zillow and Pulsenomics expect large-scale investors will pull out of the housing market in the next few years…

Out of 110 economists, real estate experts, and investment strategists surveyed in Zillow’s latest Home Value Index, 57 percent said they think institutional investors will work to sell the majority of homes in their portfolios “in the next three to five years.” These investors are largely credited with propping up housing during its recession, helping to keep sales volumes from plummeting too far.

While their withdrawal will most certainly affect today’s still-fragile market—79 percent of those surveyed said the impact would be “significant or somewhat significant” should investor activity curtail this year.”
Experts Predict Level Playing Field as Investors Withdraw, DS News

This is what we were afraid of from the very beginning, that the big PE firms would pack-it-in and move on once they’d made a killing, which they have, since prices soared 12 percent in one year. Now they want to get out while they getting is good, which means that–in some of the hotter markets where investors represented upwards of 50 percent of all purchases–there will have to be a new source of demand. Unfortunately, the demand for housing has never been weaker.

Sales are down, purchase applications are down, and the country’s homeownership rate has slipped to levels not seen since 1995, 18 years ago. The Fed’s $1 trillion purchase of mortgage backed securities (MBS) and zero rates have done nothing to stimulate “organic” consumer demand. Zilch. No “trickle down” at all. All the policy has done is generate a temporary surge of speculation that’s distorted prices and created conditions for another big bust. Get a load of this article from Housing Perspectives:

“Although household growth is the major driver of housing demand, getting an accurate picture of recent trends in this measure is difficult…In its recent release, the HVS reported annual household growth of just 448,800 in 2013. This represents a 48 percent drop in household growth relative to that from 2012 and marked the lowest annual household growth measure since 2008, in the depths of the Great Recession (Figure 1).

021114_mccue_figure1_sm
Source: US Census Bureau, Housing Vacancy Survey

Repeat: “…a 48 percent drop in household growth relative to that from 2012 and marked the lowest annual household growth measure since 2008, in the depths of the Great Recession.”

Do you really think there are enough firsttime homebuyers in out there in Mortgageland to fill that gap?

In your dreams! Keep in mind, that a lot of firsttime homebuyers are collage grads who want to start a family and put down roots. Regrettably, nearly half of those potential buyers have been scrubbed from the list due to their burgeoning student loans which now exceed $1 trillion. These kids will probably never own a home, let-alone have a positive impact on sales in 2014. Ain’t gonna happen.

Maybe this is why the banks are suddenly speeding up their foreclosure filings, because they want to offload more of their distressed inventory before prices fall. Is that it? Check out this article on Housingwire:

“Monthly foreclosure filings — including default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — reversed course and increased 8% to 124,419 in January from December, according to the latest report from RealtyTrac.

This marks the 40th consecutive month where foreclosure activity declined on an annual basis, with filings down 18% from January…

As a whole, 57,259 U.S. properties started the foreclosure process for the first time in January, rising 10% from December…

…this month’s foreclosure starts increased from a year ago in 22 states, including Maryland (up 126%), Connecticut (up 82%), New Jersey (up 79%), California (up 57%), and Pennsylvania (up 39%).

Scheduled foreclosure auctions jumped 13% in January compared to the previous month.”RealtyTrac: Monthly foreclosure filings reverse course, rise 8%, Housingwire

Like most articles on housing, you have to sift through the bullshit to figure out what’s really going on, but it’s worth the effort. The banks have been dragging their feet for 40 months now, slowing down the foreclosure process (and adding to the shadow supply of distressed homes.) in order to push up prices hoping to ignite another boom. Now–after 3 and a half years of blatant collusion–they’ve done a 180 and started speeding up foreclosures. Why?

It’s because they agree with the above-mentioned “110 economists, real estate experts, and investment strategists” who think that “institutional investors” are going to call-it-quits and move on to greener pastures. That’s going to push down prices, which means they’re going to lose money. So they want to get ahead of the curve and dump more houses on the market before the stampede. That way, they lose less money.

Keep in mind, the banks are up-to-their-eyeballs in distressed inventory. Even conservative estimates of shadow backlog puts the figure of 90-day delinquent or worse, above 3 million homes. But if you review the gloomier prognostications, the sum could easily exceed 6 million homes, enough to suck the entire bleeding banking system into a black hole of insolvency. There was an interesting article on the topic in Bloomberg last week. It seems that, “bond king” Jeffrey Gundlach has been warning mortgage-backed security purchasers that they should to pay more attention to underlying collateral in MBSs (vacant homes, that is) which have been “rotting away” for “six years” or more. Here’s a clip from the article:

“The housing market is softer than people think,” Mr. Gundlach said, pointing to a slowdown in mortgage refinancing, shares of homebuilders that have dropped 13% since reaching a high in May, and the time it’s taking to liquidate defaulted loans…

About 32% of seriously delinquent borrowers, those at least 90 days late, haven’t made a payment in more than four years, up 7% from the beginning of 2012, according to Fitch analyst Sean Nelson.

“These timelines could still increase for another year or so,” Mr. Nelson said, leading to even higher losses because of added legal and tax costs, and a greater potential for properties to deteriorate.”
Gundlach Counting Rotting Homes Makes Subprime Bear, Bloomberg

Let me get this straight: The number of “seriously delinquent borrowers” has actually gone up in the last year? Not only that, but many of these people “haven’t made a payment in more than four years”?

That’s a mighty fine recovery you got there, Mr. Bernanke. Sheesh.

Keep in mind, the backlog of unwanted homes could be a lot bigger than most people think. Way bigger. I was reading an article by Keith Jurow the other day, (“The Coming Mortgage Delinquency Disaster”, Keith Jurow, dshort.com) that paints a pretty grim picture of what is really going on behind the faux inventory numbers. Jurow–who has done extensive research on pre-foreclosure notice filings in New York state– says: “The number of monthly foreclosure filings in Suffolk County on Long Island …(were) more than 180,000 (while) fewer than 1,000 foreclosure filings had been served each month in (the last 4 years). By this calculation, Jurow figures that there should have been 1,192,000 foreclosures in New York state while the actual percentage of homes that have been repossessed remains in the single digits. (Read the whole article here.)

Chew on that for a minute. So, that’s a total of 180,000 homeowners who would have faced foreclosure under normal conditions, while less than 48,000 have actually been foreclosed. That’s 132,000 fewer foreclosures than there should have been IN JUST ONE COUNTY IN ONE STATE ALONE.”

The reason the prodigious shadow stockpile continues to balloon is quite simple, as Jurow points out in his piece: “Servicers do not foreclose on seriously delinquent borrowers throughout the entire NYC metro area. Completed foreclosures have actually declined rather dramatically throughout the nation in the past two years. The difference is that in the NYC metro, the servicers have not been foreclosing since the spring of 2009.”

So, there you have it; the banks haven’t been foreclosing because it hasn’t been in their interest to foreclose. Foreclosure sales push down prices which batters balance sheets and scares shareholders. Who wants that? So the game goes on. Only now, the dynamic is changing. Skittish investors are eyeing the exits, QE is winding down, and housing prices have peaked. The recovery has reached its zenith, which is why the bankers want get off on the top floor before the elevator begins its bumpy descent.

People who are thinking about buying a house in the near future, should watch developments in the market closely and proceed with extreme caution. No one wants to get burned in another bank swindle.


Mike Whitney is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com

Greed + Cartels = US Sickcare/ObamaCare

February 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Sickcare/ObamaCare is fundamentally broken at every level.

The incremental nature of change makes it difficult for us to notice how systems that once worked well with modest costs have transmogrified into broken systems that cost a fortune. Exhibit # 1 is higher education: 40 years ago, four-year public universities were affordable and two-year community colleges were almost free. Now students have to borrow $1 trillion to pay for the exorbitant privilege of higher education.

And no, the difference isn’t that states don’t provide the same funding–the difference is costs have soared while the yield on the investment has plummeted. Please read:

The Mafia State of Mind

Our Two Most Onerous Taxes: College Tuition and Healthcare Insurance

Our Middleman-Skimming Economy

America’s Make-Work Sectors (Healthcare and Higher Education) Have Run Out of Oxygen

Longtime correspondent Ishabaka (an M.D. with 30+ years experience in primary care and as an emergency room physician) responded to this article with an insider’s account of what happens when greed and cartels take over healthcare.After reading What’s wrong with American hospitals?, a scathing deconstruction of for-profit healthcare, Ishabaka submitted this commentary:

I could have told you what was wrong with our hospital system by 1989 – nobody would listen to me back then.

Up til the ’70′s, almost all hospitals in the United States were not for profit COMMUNITY HOSPITALS. They were LOCAL. The Board of Directors was made up of some senior doctors, maybe the head nurse, and various other prominent local businessmen and professionals. Others (mostly Catholic), were run as non-profits by religious orders. A very few, mostly very small hospitals were for profit, usually owned by a group of doctors, or even one doctor.

The mission of these community hospitals was to provide for the LOCAL COMMUNITY – one and all. Payment was various – private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, self pay – and the idea was to collect just enough money to keep the hospital going, and provide care for the poor who had no money to pay. If your grandma got bad care – you could go – in person – to the local, say, banker, on the Board of Directors, and tell him – and he would CARE.

THIS SYSTEM WORKED, and kept costs DOWN. Remember, the hospital just needed enough money to stay in the black. Often local wealthy people would will money to the hospital in which they had been cared for.

In the ’80′s – there was the arrival of the for-profit cartels – and I use the world cartels specifically – these were run by people with the sociopathic Goldman Sachs type mentality – their sole goal was to acquire huge sums of money for themselves, their hospital directors, and their SHAREHOLDERS. They used a typical sneaky technique – they’d come into town, and tell the locals they could run the hospital much cheaper, because of their economy of scale. People believed this, and the cartels bought out most of the community hospitals.

I worked at one such for-profit hospital and had a 21-year old indigent man come in who’d been struck by a car while walking, and was rapidly bleeding to death. The hospital administrator refused to open the operating room, even though I had a surgeon right there, willing and able to operate for free to save this young man’s life. The surgeon threw a fit, and he was a big wheel at the hospital and the administrator backed down – otherwise I firmly believe the young man would have died. This was LEGAL back then, before the EMTLA law was passed because similar abuses were rampant NATIONWIDE.

Around this time, the administrators of the remaining community hospitals found out the administrators of the for-profit hospitals were making tens of times their salaries – and bonuses based on profits – and started demanding similar salaries and bonuses based on PROFITS – a contradiction of the old concept of community hospitals (the article does touch on this).

How do you increase hospital profits? Number one – avoid any care for the poor you can weasel out of. Number two – cut staff to the bone and beyond (one of hospital’s biggest expenses). Most American hospitals now have UNSAFE nurse to patient ratios because of this.

As far as patient care goes, nurses are the most important people in hospitals. I know of one lady who DIED while in a monitored bed, and wasn’t found dead until several hours later due to the criminally low nursing staff ratio in a hospital I worked in. I HAD complained about the dearth of nurses, and was threatened with the loss of my job. Another side effect of this is, nursing in hospitals has become unbearable for nurses who really cared about their patients – many good hospital nurses have left hospital work for other fields. The results are appalling.

I saved the life of a patient an unqualified, under-educated nurse gave the wrong medicine to – a medicine that IMMEDIATELY MAKES YOU STOP BREATHING, because it was cheaper for the hospital to hire her than a knowledgeable and experienced nurse. The medicine is pancuronium bromide, if you want to Google it. The nurse didn’t know one of the effects was cessation of breathing – this is Pharmacology for Nurses 101, this drug is used all day long in every operating room in America (where doctors WANT patients under anesthesia to stop breathing, and put them on breathing machines during the surgery – which is very safe if done correctly).

I could go on and on. Simple things, like the instruments you use to suture cuts – community hospitals used to buy Swiss or German made ones that were of the finest quality, sterilize and re-use them over and over. This changed to disposable instruments that sometimes literally fell apart in my hands. Bandage tape that didn’t stick, instead of quality Johnson and Johnson tape – anything to save a buck.

It is not getting better, it is getting worse. The nurses I know tell me hospitals are cutting staff even MORE now in preparation for Obamacare.

I will end with a story that illustrates the difference between Old School and New School hospital administrators.

I had the pleasure of working five years in a real community hospital. One of the senior administrators (R.I.P.) was a gentleman who’d made his fortune in the grocery business. In his late 80′s, he would arrive at the emergency department entrance every morning between seven and eight am, and proceed to walk throughout the hospital. He would ask various and sundry staff how they were getting along – everyone from janitors to senior physicians. If something was amiss – HE RECTIFIED THE SITUATION. Tragically, this hospital was bought out, and is now part of a chain.

I had the displeasure of working in a “community” (really for-profit) hospital with a middle aged administrator who NEVER set foot outside his office or conference rooms – he NEVER appeared in the (very large and busy) emergency department once. This was in the early 90′s, and one year it was revealed that his compensation was $600,000 – and a brand new Lexus as a “performance bonus”. He was on the golf course by three pm every single day. That was the hospital where the woman who was being “monitored” (alarms and all that) was found very cold and dead after a delay of who knows how many hours.

Thank you, Ishabaka, for telling it like it really is. Needless to say, ObamaCare (the Orwellian-named Affordable Care Act–ACA) purposefully ignores everything that is fundamentally broken with U.S. sickcare and extends the soaring-cost cartel system, essentially promising to stripmine the taxpayers of however many trillions of dollars are needed to generate outsized profits for the cartels.

Only those with no exposure to the real costs of ObamaCare approve of the current sickcare system. Government employees who have no idea how much their coverage costs, well-paid shills and toadies like Paul Krugman, academics with tenure and lifetime healthcare coverage–all these people swallow the fraud whole and declare it delicious.

Only those of us who are paying the real, unsubsidized cost know how unsustainable the system is, and only those inside the machine know how broken it is at every level. Greed + cartels = Sickcare/ObamaCare. Love your servitude, baby–it’s affordable, really, really, really it is.

Source: Blacklisted News

“Have An Exit Plan”

February 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Matt Drudge, owner and publisher of the “Drudge Report,” recently tweeted a cryptic warning to his readers, “Have an exit plan.” Here is how Susan Duclos reported the story in BeforeItsNews.com:

“The economic indicators are bad, markets, the weakening dollar, banks preventing large withdrawals, news of China banks halting all cash transfers, in fact, economies across the globe are failing, and much more has led to a simple, four word Tweet from American political commentator and the creator and editor of the Drudge Report, Matt Drudge, that chillingly states ‘Have an exit plan.’”

Duclos also wrote, “Drudge’s words should be a warning to everyone, it is coming, it is almost here and ‘have an exit plan’ ready.”

See the report here:

Have An Exit Plan

The Drudge Report is one of the finest news sources on the Web. Matt is well connected. This is the first time I have known of him to write such a warning–as mysterious as it was. No, I do not know what Matt learned to cause him to write this warning; but I do believe we should all pay attention to it.

I know it’s hard for most Americans to believe that something cataclysmic could ever happen to this country, but all of the signs on the horizon indicate that things simply cannot continue as they are for a whole lot longer. The stock markets are being manipulated by the Feds, as are the precious metals markets. Unemployment is vastly greater than what is being officially reported. Hyperinflation is a looming probability. The Feds are printing money like there is no tomorrow. Congress is totally unwilling to control its spending habits no matter which political party is in the majority. Republicans and Democrats alike continue to smash the so-called “debt ceiling.” Federal courts are unwilling to rein-in an out-of-control White House that seems determined to trample and ignore the Bill of Rights. Several countries are desperately trying to find a way to dump the dollar. U.S. foreign policy has made enemies of practically every nation on earth–as has the NSA’s global snooping. Our military is weaker and more demoralized than at any time in recent memory–maybe ever. China and Russia continue to unite militarily. More Americans are expatriating out of the country than at any time in our country’s history. Local and State law enforcement personnel more and more resemble Storm Troopers rather than peace officers. The America that was once the most envied nation in the world is now the most despised. Government corruption at the highest levels mirrors those of banana republics. For the most part, the Church in America is impotent and irrelevant. And, culturally-speaking, honesty and decency are practically non-existent. This is a recipe for disaster.

Unlike the days of America’s first Great Depression, most of us now live in major metropolitan areas. Can one imagine what life would be like in any major city in America today should normalcy be interrupted for more than a few days? Has everyone forgotten what New Orleans looked like following Hurricane Katrina? In any kind of area-wide emergency, there are about four hours (you read it right: HOURS) worth of food and supplies on store shelves–and the same with fuel at the gas pumps. And can you imagine what that big city of yours is going to look like when the welfare checks are not delivered?

I know. I know. Every time I touch on this subject, I hear from hundreds of Christian people saying things like, “Chuck, my exit plan is Jesus is coming” or “God has it all under control,” etc. But most of those same people lock their doors at night and give their teenagers (or even children) cell phones “just in case.” Many have AAA or similar plans for travel emergencies. Most of them have car insurance and homeowner’s insurance. Most have some sort of retirement plan–or wish they did. Most of them tell their wives and daughters to avoid the “bad” parts of town. Every day they routinely put in practice commonsense plans for their family’s safety. So, why is it every time the subject of having a plan for some sort of a national emergency comes up, they get all holier-than-thou and start talking about Jesus coming back?

First of all, most of America’s pastors and churches are doing nothing to help their people make commonsense preparations for any number of looming disasters. In fact, they are fueling the passiveness and indifference most people are drowning in. In the second place, the establishment media is deliberately hiding and obfuscating the truth. In the third place, too many politicians are so consumed with their own lust for wealth and power, that they would do anything to keep the American people in the dark. And, yes, some of them are actually ignorant themselves and are immersed in their own darkness. And, beyond that, the American people continue to turn their backs on honest political candidates–who know what’s going on and would truly make a gallant effort to turn the ship of state around–and elect the same kinds of establishment elitists (regardless of party) who only want to maintain the status quo.

Ladies and gentlemen, this party is almost over. The charade is about to be exposed. Whether it be by divine judgment or the natural result of all of this corruption and graft (probably both), America is going to be forced to pay the bills. And it’s not going to be pretty.

Government agencies are not buying up millions of rounds of hollow-point ammunition for target practice. First it was the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), then it was the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), then the Social Security Administration (SSA), then the Department of Education (DE), then the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and now it’s the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). That’s right. The Post Office is making mega-purchases of ammunition.

See this report:

US Postal Service Announces Giant Ammo Purchase

But when Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) recently introduced a bill that would have overturned a federal ban that prohibits citizens who possess concealed weapon permits from carrying inside post offices, members of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee voted to kill the bill–including Montana Senator Jon Tester, Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor, and Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu. Obviously, elitists love it when government employees are armed but private citizens are not.

And I can tell you for a fact that there is a host of federal law enforcement personnel–who know what is going on–that are personally leading their own families to prepare for bad times. Many economists are doing the same thing.

The Scripture states, “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.” (Proverbs 22:3 KJV) Famous Bible commentators Karl Keil and Friedrich Delitzsch quote the verse this way: “The prudent man arises from his perceiving an evil standing before him; he sees the approaching overthrow of a decaying house, or in a sudden storm the fearful flood, and betimes [early] betakes himself to a place of safety; the simple [foolish], on the contrary, go blindly forward into the threatening danger, and must bear the punishment of their carelessness.”

Ladies and gentlemen, America’s house is decaying; there is an evil standing before us; the fearful flood will come; and the sudden storm will strike. How we respond before that happens will reveal our prudence or our foolishness. I’m with Matt Drudge: “Have an exit plan.” This is especially true if you live in or near a big city.

P.S. I highly recommend Joel Skousen’s well-researched book, “Strategic Relocation.” It is chock-full of helpful information regarding dangerous and safe places and what to do about it. Learn about Skousen’s book here:

Joel Skousen “Strategic Relocation”


Chuck Baldwin is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

You can reach him at: chuck@chuckbaldwinlive.com
Please visit Chuck’s web site at: http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com

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