The leaders of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Tim Johnson (D., S.D.) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R., Idaho), released a draft bill on Sunday that would provide explicit government guarantees on mortgage-backed securities (MBS) generated by privately-owned banks and financial institutions. The gigantic giveaway to Wall Street would put US taxpayers on the hook for 90 percent of the losses on toxic MBS the likes of which crashed the financial system in 2008 plunging the economy into the deepest slump since the Great Depression. Proponents of the bill say that new rules by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) –which set standards for a “qualified mortgage” (QM)– assure that borrowers will be able to repay their loans thus reducing the chances of a similar meltdown in the future. However, those QE rules were largely shaped by lobbyists and attorneys from the banking industry who eviscerated strict underwriting requirements– like high FICO scores and 20 percent down payments– in order to lend freely to borrowers who may be less able to repay their loans. Additionally, a particularly lethal clause has been inserted into the bill that would provide blanket coverage for all MBS (whether they met the CFPB’s QE standard or not) in the event of another financial crisis. Here’s the paragraph:
“Sec.305. Authority to protect taxpayers in unusual and exigent market conditions….
If the Corporation, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, determine that unusual and exigent circumstances threaten mortgage credit availability within the U.S. housing market, FMIC may provide insurance on covered securities that do not meet the requirements under section 302 including those for first loss position of private market holders.” (“Freddie And Fannie Reform – The Monster Has Arrived”, Zero Hedge)
In other words, if the bill passes, US taxpayers will be responsible for any and all bailouts deemed necessary by the regulators mentioned above. And, since all of those regulators are in Wall Street’s hip-pocket, there’s no question what they’ll do when the time comes. They’ll bailout they’re fatcat buddies and dump the losses on John Q. Public.
If you can’t believe what you are reading or if you think that the system is so thoroughly corrupt it can’t be fixed; you’re not alone. This latest outrage just confirms that the Congress, the executive and all the chief regulators are mere marionettes performing whatever task is asked of them by their Wall Street paymasters.
The stated goal of the Johnson-Crapo bill is to “overhaul” mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac so that “private capital can play the central role in home finance.” (That’s how Barack Obama summed it up.) Of course, that’s not really the purpose at all. The real objective is to hand over the profit-generating mechanism to the private banks (Fannie and Freddie have been raking in the dough for the last three years) while the red ink is passed on to the public. That’s what’s really going on.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the bill will
“construct an elaborate new platform by which a number of private-sector entities, together with a privately held but federally regulated utility, would replace key roles long played by Fannie and Freddie….”
“The legislation replaces the mortgage-finance giants with a new system in which the government would continue to play a potentially significant role insuring U.S. home loans.” (“Plan for Mortgage Giants Takes Shape”, Wall Street Journal)
“Significant role”? What significant role? (Here’s where it gets interesting.)
“The Senate bill would repurpose the firms’ existing regulator as a new “Federal Mortgage Insurance Corp.” and charge the agency with approving new firms to pool loans into securities. Those firms could then purchase federal insurance to guarantee payments to investors in those bonds. The FMIC would insure mortgage bonds much the way the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. provides bank-deposit insurance.”
Unbelievable. So they want to turn F and F into an insurance company that backs up the garbage mortgages created by the same banks that just ripped us all off for trillions of dollars on the same freaking swindle?
You can’t be serious?
More from the WSJ: “Mortgage guarantors would be required to maintain a 10% capital buffer against losses and to have that capital extinguished before the federal insurance would be triggered.”
10 percent? What the hell difference does 10 percent make; that’s a drop in the bucket. If the banks are going to issue mortgages to people who can’t repay the debt, then they need to cover the damn losses themselves, otherwise they shouldn’t be in the banking biz to begin with, right?
This is such an outrageous, in-your-face ripoff, it shouldn’t even require a response. These jokers should be laughed out of the senate. All the same, the bill is moving forward, and President Twoface has thrown his weigh behind it. Is there sort of illicit, under-the-table, villainous activity this man won’t support?
Not when it comes to his big bank buddies, there isn’t. Now check out this clip from an article by economist Dean Baker. Baker refers to the Corker-Warner bill, but the Crapo-Johnson fiasco is roughly the same deal. Here’s Baker:
“The Corker-Warner bill does much more than just eliminate Fannie and Freddie. In their place, it would establish a system whereby private financial institutions could issue mortgage-backed securities (MBS) that carry a government guarantee. In the event that a large number of mortgages in the MBS went bad, the investors would be on the hook for losses up to 10 percent of its value, after that point the government gets the tab.
If you think that sounds like a reasonable system, then you must not have been around during the housing crash and ensuing financial crisis. At the peak of the crisis in 2008-2009 the worst subprime MBS were selling at 30-40 cents on the dollar. This means the government would have been picking up a large tab under the Corker-Warner system, even if investors had been forced to eat a loss equal to 10 percent of the MBS price.
The pre-crisis financial structure gave banks an enormous incentive to package low quality and even fraudulent mortgages into MBS. The system laid out in the Corker-Warner bill would make these incentives even larger. The biggest difference is that now the banks can tell investors that their MBS come with a government guarantee, so that they most they stand to lose is 10 percent of the purchase price.” (“The disastrous idea for privatizing Fannie and Freddie”, Dean Baker, Al Jazeera)
Just ponder that last part for a minute: “The bill would make these incentives even larger.”
Do you really think we should create bigger incentives for these dirtbags to rip us off? Does that make sense to you? Here’s more from Baker:
“The changes in financial regulation are also unlikely to provide much protection. In the immediate wake of the crisis there were demands securitizers keep a substantial stake in the mortgages they put into their pools, to ensure that they had an incentive to only securitize good mortgages. Some reformers were demanding as much as a 20 percent stake in every mortgage.
Over the course of the debate on the Dodd-Frank bill and subsequent rules writing this stake got ever smaller. Instead of being 20 percent, it was decided that securitizers only had to keep a 5 percent stake. And for mortgages meeting certain standards they wouldn’t have to keep any stake at all.
Originally only mortgages in which the homeowner had a down payment of 20 percent or more passed this good mortgage standard. That cutoff got lowered to 10 percent and then was lowered further to 5 percent. Even though mortgages with just 5 percent down are four times as likely to default as mortgages with 20 percent or more down, securitizers will not be required to keep any stake in them when they put them into a MBS.”
Hold on there, Dean. You mean Dodd Frank didn’t ”put things right”? What the heck? I thought that “tough new regulations” assured us that the banks wouldn’t blow up the system again in five years or so. Was that all baloney?
Yep, sure was. 100% baloney. Once the banks unleashed their army of attorneys and lobbyists on Capital Hill, new regulations didn’t stand a chance. They turned Dodd Frank into mincemeat and now we’re back to square one.
And don’t expect the ratings agencies to help out either because they’re in the same shape they were before the crash. No changes at all. They still get paid by the guys who issue the mortgage-backed securities (MBS) which is about the same as if you paid the salary of the guy who grades your midterm exam. Do you think that might cloud his judgment a bit? You’re damn right, it would; just like paying the ratings agencies guarantees you’ll get the rating you want. The whole system sucks.
And as far as the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, well, you guessed it. The banks played a role in drafting the new “Qualified Mortgage” standard too, which is really no standard at all, since no self-respecting lender would ever use the same criteria for issuing a loan or mortgage. For example, no banker is going to say, “Heck, Josh, we don’t need your credit scores. We don’t need a down-payment. We’re all friends here, right? So, how much do you need for that mortgage old buddy, $300,000, $400,000, $500,000. You name it. The sky’s the limit.”
No down payment? No credit scores? And they have the audacity to call this a qualified mortgage?
Qualified for what? Qualified for sticking it to the taxpayers? The real purpose of the qualified mortgage is to protect the banks from their own shifty deals. That’s what it’s all about. It provides them with “safe harbor” in the event that the borrower defaults. What does that mean?
It means that the government can’t get its money back if the loan blows up. The qualified mortgage actually protects the banks, not the consumer. That’s why it’s such a farce, just like Dodd Frank is a farce. Nothing has changed. Nothing. In fact, it’s gotten worse. Now we’re on the hook for whatever losses the banks run up peddling mortgage credit to anyone who can fog a mirror.
We’ll leave the last word for Dean Baker, since he seems like the only guy in America who has figured out what the hell is going on:
“In short, the Corker-Warner plan to privatize Fannie and Freddie is essentially a proposal to reinstitute the structure of incentives that gave us the housing bubble and the financial crisis, but this time with the added fuel of an explicit government guarantee on the subprime MBS. If that doesn’t sound like a great idea to you then you haven’t spent enough time around powerful people in Washington.”
The Johnson-Crapo bill doesn’t have anything to do with “winding down” Fannie and Freddie or “overhauling” the mortgage finance industry. It’s a bald-face ripoff engineered by two chiseling senators who are putting the country at risk to beef up Wall Street’s bottom line.
It’s the scam of the century.
Humanity needs sleep and we quickly realize how much we need it after a night of no sleep. Sleep is vital for health, mood, memory, better thinking, stronger immunity, weight, sex and stress.
Dreams are also important to allow our subconscious to express. Science is now uncovering that dreams play a central role in our emotional health, psychological health, our memory, our learning and as a way to help us to find solutions to our problems. If we are seriously sleep deprived, we actually start to dream while awake.
Sleep also may help the human brain get better organized by filing away important memories and discarding unwanted information.
Scientists at the University of Rochester have found one of the reasons our brain needs sleep to survive. Turns out, when we sleep, our brain takes that time to clean out the build-up of brain junk we accumulate during our waking hours. When cells do their daily cell-type work, they produce waste product. The brain has its own garbage men, carried on the waves of cerebrospinal fluid, who surf the leftovers straight down to your liver for elimination. As it turns out, the brain’s garbage men move twice as fast when you’re sleeping, because your neurons shrink by half, making the fluid channels wider.
You spend 1/3 of your life on a mattress. You are drooling, sweating, having sex, lounging around and holding children on a mattress. You are making direct contact with a mattress and if you didn’t know this already, the vast majority of today’s mattresses are made from highly toxic volatile chemicals compounds that are linked to serious health problems. You breathe in these chemicals while you sleep and you absorb them when you sweat through a process of osmosis.
Sleeping disorders in the U.S. are growing at an alarming rate, and have been labeled as epidemic. Is the problem literally staring them in the face at night?
Most people aren’t sleeping well and research shows that 95% will go undiagnosed, and 70 million people in the U.S. report that they suffer from sleep-related pain (Time Magazine). And recent studies have linked poor sleep with the growth of many disease states, specifically: diabetes, obesity, stroke, heart disease, allergies, and fibromyalgia.
Since the mid- to late ’60s, most mattresses have been made of polyurethane foam, a petroleum-based material that emits volatile organic compounds. Most mattresses sold today contain some polyurethane foam and many contain specialty foams such as latex or memory foam, which consistently break down and release chemicals. The most common toxic materials used in making a mattress include petrochemicals, polyurethane, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), formaldehyde, antimony trioxide, phthalates, and boric acid. These chemicals are used for the foam fillers, material adhesives, and for water-resistance. Most are used to make the mattress flame retardant, per federal law, causing mattress toxicity to increase. All these chemicals individually give off their own noxious fumes, commonly referred to as off-gassing.
Sleepers may report smelling the fumes when the mattress is first bought, which eventually ceases; however, although the off-gas smell no longer is detectable, toxins are still continuously being released and inhaled by the sleeper. Studies show that when a person is sleeping on a mattress with such chemicals, the toxins can seep into the body through the skin. This is supported through scientific research that has shown PCDE’s to be found in women’s breast milk in the U.S., a fact that has led many to fear that children are more likely to suffer greater than adults from mattress toxicity.
In 2005, Walter Bader, author of the book Toxic Bedrooms, sent several mattresses to an Atlanta-based lab. A memory-foam model was found to emit 61 chemicals, including the carcinogens benzene and naphthalene. But hey, it’s ok because its government approved? Right.
But there is another troublemaker in your mattress that you should be aware of and that is pesticide residue lurking in the cotton components of your mattress. Non-organic cotton is grown with pesticides, which are neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors that can cancer and nervous-system disorders. There are 107 active ingredients in pesticides still used in the U.S. that are carcinogenic, and 14 are known to cause reproductive problems in animals, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Not “in the mood?” Your mattress may be contributing.
Also, most mattress covers are made with synthetic fabrics that pose more health risks. Man made synthetic fabrics are made of toxic petrochemicals and then sprayed with flame retardants and other dangerous chemical finishes. Using synthetic, non-organic bedding and blankets also contributes to toxicity.
Researchers are questioning the origin of the increased incidences in pediatric respiratory issues, such as asthma, learning disabilities (specifically Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and lower IQ levels. Some have speculated there is a strong correlation between these issues and the materials used in children’s mattress and bedding items. Infants, children and pregnant women require more sleep per day in order to develop and function properly, resulting in an increased amount of exposure time.
Another study, utilizing mice, was conducted to measure the effect of breathing the emission (off-gassing) of four types of mattresses on the respiratory system. This study revealed that all mattresses containing synthetic materials caused upper airways irritation in up to 57% of the breaths measured, and saw decreased air flow by 17-23%.
Taking this information into account, it is then no surprise for many who wake up feeling, sick, tired and stuffy. Chemicals in your mattress and bedding are the culprit and they are also interfering with your much needed rest.
Compound mattress toxicity, with environmental toxins, household toxins, toiletry toxins, synthetic fabric toxins and pesticide ridden foods, it is no wonder people are getting cancer at alarming rates! We are drowning in a toxic soup and a “safe amount” every day soon becomes a heavy burden taking its toll.
But organic mattresses and organic mattress pads do exist! They are made with organic cotton, organic wool, organic latex (comes from rubber trees), with no chemicals of any kind. There are companies that sell mattresses that are completely natural and toxin-free, not just a little bit organic. The best companies will provide you with transparency from harvest to factory to showroom.
A sleep study conducted by Peter R. Dickson (1984) examined sleep quality of participants when sleeping on natural wool (participants slept on a wool pad that was placed under their sheet). He found that participants moved (tossed and turned) significantly less in the night. Additionally, participants in the study reported that they had slept better and that they felt better the next day when sleeping on the wool. Wool is hypothesized to increase sleep quality and reduce tossing and turning because 1) it reduces pressure points; and 2) it regulates body temperature.
Wool has an abundance of air spaces between the fibers that cushion the body and alleviate pressure points. This helps to support the spine and eventually distribute pressure to allow for a night free of tension and full of REM sleep. You will feel the difference.
Wools natural ability to wick away moisture and regulate temperature results in calmer heart rates due to lower humidity next to the skin. This provides for an optimal skin temperature that allows for a great nights’ rest.
Wool is the only fiber that is naturally flame resistant. Its main component, a protein called keratin, coupled with the moisture collected in its fibers, make it difficult to ignite.
The benefits of an organic, natural fiber mattress include: chemical free, hypoallergenic, provides ventilation, sustainable, biodegradable, durable, safe for children and adults, alleviates pressure, itch free, non toxic, absolute comfort, long lasting and coil free. Coils act as cancer-causing radiation antenna.
Don’t trust your government to protect your health. Take control of your own health. Research. Buy wisely.
Source: Lana Lokteff | Red Ice Creations
The Fed’s easy money policies have pushed margin debt on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to record levels laying the groundwork for a severe correction or another violent market crash.
In December, margin debt rose by $21 billion to an all-time high of $445 billion.
Buying equities on margin, that is, with loads of borrowed cash, is a sign of excessive risk taking the likes of which invariably takes place whenever the Central Bank creates subsidies for speculation by keeping interest rates pegged below the rate of inflation or by pumping trillions of dollars into the bloated financial system through misguided liquidity programs like QE.
Investors have shrugged off dismal earnings reports, abnormally-high unemployment, flagging demand, droopy incomes, stagnant wages and swollen P/E ratios and loaded up on stocks confident that the Fed’s infusions of liquidity will keep prices going higher. It’s only a matter of time before they see the mistake they’ve made.
The chart below illustrates how zero rates and QE lead to excessive risk taking. The correlation between the stratospheric rise of margin debt and the Fed’s destabilizing monetary policy is hard to avoid. This is what bubblemaking looks like in real time.
Chart: Seeking Alpha.
In the minutes of the FOMC’s December meeting, FOMC officials acknowledge the froth they’ve created in financial assets which is why they’ve begun to scale back their asset purchases. The Fed hopes that by gradually winding down QE they’ll be able to stage a soft landing rather than a full-blown crash. Here’s an excerpt from the FOMC’s minutes:
“In their discussion of potential risks, several participants commented on the rise in forward price-to-earnings ratios for some smallcap stocks, the increased level of equity repurchases, or the rise in margin credit. One pointed to the increase in issuance of leveraged loans this year and the apparent decline in the average quality of such loans.”
There you have it, the Fed sees the results of its work; the distortions in P/E ratios, the exuberant stock buybacks (“equity repurchases”), the deterioration in the quality of leveraged loans, and the steady rise in margin debt. They see it all, all the bubbles they’ve created with their gargantuan $3 trillion surge of liquidity. Now they have started to reverse the policy by reducing their asset purchase from $85 bil to $65 bil per month, the effects of which can already be seen in the Emerging Markets.
The bubble in Emerging Markets has burst sending foreign currencies plunging and triggering a sharp reversal in capital flows. The hot money that flooded the EMs,–(which lowered the cost of borrowing for businesses and consumers)–is entirely attributable to the Fed’s policy. QE pushes down long-term interest rates forcing investors to search for higher yield in other markets. Thus, the cost of money drops in EMs creating a boom that abruptly ends when the policy changes (as it has).
Capital is fleeing EMs at an unprecedented pace precipitating a dramatic slowdown in economic activity, higher consumer prices and widespread public distress. The Fed is 100% responsible for the turmoil in emerging markets, a fact which even mainstream news outlets blandly admit. Here’s an excerpt from an article in Bloomberg just this week:
“Investors are pulling money from exchange-traded funds that track emerging markets at the fastest rate on record…More than $7 billion flowed from ETFs investing in developing-nation assets in January, the most since the securities were created, data compiled by Bloomberg show…
Emerging economies have benefited from cheap money as three rounds of Fed bond buying pushed capital into their borders in search of higher returns…
The Fed’s asset purchases had helped fuel a credit boom in developing nations from Turkey to Brazil. Accumulated capital inflows to developing-country’s debt markets since 2008 reached $1.1 trillion, or $470 billion more than their long-term trend, according to a study by the International Monetary Fund in October.” (“Record Cash Leaves Emerging Market ETFs on Lira Drop“, Bloomberg)
The Fed doesn’t care if other countries are hurt by its policies. What the Fed worries about is how the taper is going to effect Wall Street. If the slightest reduction in asset purchases causes this much turbulence abroad, then what’s it going to do to US stock and bond markets?
The answer, of course, is that stocks are going to fall…hard. It can’t be avoided. And while the amount of margin debt is not a reliable tool for calling a top; it’s safe to say that the recent spike in investor leverage has moved the arrow well into the red zone. Investors are going to cash out long before the Fed ends QE altogether, which means the selloff could persist for some time to come much like after the dot.com bubble popped and stocks drifted lower for a full year. Now check out this clip from Alhambra Investment Partners newsletter titled “The Year of Leverage”:
“For the year, total margin debt usage jumped by an almost incomprehensible $123 billion, while cash balances declined by $19 billion. That $142 billion leveraged bet on stocks far surpasses any twelve month period in history. The only times that were even close to as leveraged were the year leading up to June 2007 (-$89 billion) and the twelve months preceding February and March 2000 (-$77 billion). Both of those marked significant tops in the market.” ( Alhambra Investment Partners newsletter titled “The Year of Leverage“)
Repeat: “The $142 billion leveraged bet on stocks far surpasses any twelve month period in history.”
Investors are “all-in” because they think that the Fed has their back. They think that Bernanke (or Yellen) will not allow stocks to fall too far without intervening. (This is called the “Bernanke Put”) So far, that’s been a winning strategy, but that might be changing. The Fed’s determination to taper suggests that it wants to withdraw its stimulus to avoid being blamed for the bursting bubble. (“Plausible deniability”?) That’s what’s driving the current policy. Here’s more on margin debt from Wolf Richter at Testosterone Pit:
“On the New York Stock Exchange, margin credit has been hitting new records for months. All three mega-crashes in my investing lifetime have been accompanied by record-setting peaks in margin debt. In September 1987, a month before the crash, margin credit peaked at 0.88% of GDP. In March 2000, when the crash began, margin credit peaked at 2.7% of GDP. In July 2007, three months before the downdraft started, margin credit peaked at 2.6% of GDP. Now, margin credit has already reached 2.5% of GDP.” (“Plagued By Indigestion, Fed Issues Asset-Bubble Warning”, Testosterone Pit)
Stock market crashes are always connected to massive leverage, loosey-goosey monetary policy and irrational exuberance (“excessive risk taking”), the toxic combo that presently rules the markets. The Federal Reserve is invariably the source of all bubblemaking and financial instability.
As we noted earlier, equity repurchases or stock buybacks are another sign of froth. Here’s an excellent summary on the topic by Alhambra Investment Partners:
“In the third quarter of 2013, share repurchases totaled $128.2 billion, the highest level since Q4 2007. For the twelve months ended in September 2013, aggregate share repurchases were an astounding $445.3 billion; the only twelve-month period greater than that total was the calendar year of 2007 and its $589 billion.
The common argument advanced in favor of such share repurchases is that companies are using cash to recognize undervalued stocks, but that is total hogwash…
…corporate managers are no different than the reviled stereotypical retail investor. Both leverage themselves further and further as the market goes higher, not in recognizing undervalued stocks or companies but in full froth of chasing obscene values via rationalizations.” ( Alhambra Investment Partners newsletter titled “The Year of Leverage”)
In other words, corporate managers are doing the same thing as your average margin investor. They are loading up on financial assets–not because they think they are a good value or because they expect higher earnings –but because Fed policy supports artificially-high prices. That’s what’s driving the bull market, the Fed’s thumb on the scale. Remove the thumb, and you have a whole new ballgame (as we see in the EMs). There’s also a bubble in high yield “junk” bonds which just had their second biggest year on record (Total issuance $324 billion) Investors are only too happy to dump their money into high-risk debt believing that companies never default or that the Fed will save the day again credit tightens and the dominoes start tumbling through the debt markets. According to Testosterone Pit:
“The cost of a high-yield bond on an absolute coupon basis is as low as it’s ever been,” explained Baratta, king of Blackstone’s $53 billion in private equity assets. Even the riskiest companies are selling the riskiest bonds at low yields… Why would anyone buy this crap?” (“Bubble Trouble: Record Junk Bond Issuance, A Barrage Of IPOs, “Out Of Whack” Valuations, And Grim Earnings Growth”, Testosterone Pit)
Why, indeed? Of course, the author is just being rhetorical, after all, he knows why people are piling into junk. It’s because the Fed has kept a gun to their heads for 5 years, forcing them to grab higher yield wherever they can find it. That’s how Bernanke’s dogwhistle monetary policy works. By slashing rates to zero, the Fed coerces investors to speculate on any type of garbage that’s available. That why junk “just had its second biggest year on record.” You can thank Bernanke.
Housing is also in a bubble due to the Fed’s zero rates, withheld inventory, government modification programs, and an unprecedented uptick in all-cash investors. Clearly, there’s never been a market more manipulated than housing. It’s a joke.
The surge of Wall Street liquidity has spilled over into housing distorting prices and reducing the number of first time homebuyers to an all-time low. The homeownership rate is actually falling even while prices climb higher, which is just one of many anomalies created by the Fed’s policy. (Who’s ever heard of a housing boom, where the number of firsttime homebuyers is dropping?)
Also, the Central Bank has purchased more than $1 trillion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) via QE, which begs the question: How can housing prices NOT be in a bubble?
As we noted earlier, the Fed understands the impact its policies have had. They know the markets are overheated and they’re determined to do something about it. A recent article in Bloomberg explains the Fed’s plan for winding down QE “without doing damage to the economy”. Here’s a short excerpt from the piece:
“Janet Yellen probably will confront a test during her tenure as Federal Reserve chairman that both of her predecessors flunked: defusing asset bubbles without doing damage to the economy…
Yellen is ‘going to be trying to do something that no one has ever done,’ said Stephen Cecchetti, former economic adviser for the Bank for International Settlements, the Basel, Switzerland-based central bank for monetary authorities. She needs ‘to ensure that accommodative monetary policy doesn’t create significant financial stability risks,’ he said in an interview…
The Fed’s ‘first, second and third lines of defense” for dealing with such imbalances is to rely on supervision, regulation and so-called macro-prudential policies, such as mortgage loan-to-value restrictions, Bernanke told the Brookings Institution in Washington on Jan. 16. ….Only as a last resort would it consider raising interest rates.’ (“Yellen Faces Test Bernanke Failed: Ease Bubbles“, Bloomberg)
You got that?
So the Fed is going into the “bubble-deflating” biz.
And uber-dove Yellen is going to put things right. She’s going to eliminate the price distortions and gradually return the markets to normalcy.
She’s going to wind down QE and start to reduce the Fed’s $4 trillion balance sheet.
And she’s going to do all of this without raising interest rates or sending stocks into freefall?
Right. It’s a pipedream. The first sign of trouble and old Yellen will be scuttling across the floor of the New York Stock Exchange with a punch bowl the size of Yankee Stadium.
You can bet on it.
Urban War Zones are now a reality inside many American cities.
It’s no longer necessary to go to Iraq, Afghanistan or Africa to enter a real war zone and have to fight for your life.
Thanks to massive CIA drug trafficking and American Free-trade Treaties like NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT & WTO, many American inner cities have been transformed into actual war zones.
These inner city war zones are infested with drug gangs that outnumber police and out gun them too.
At present these gangs are typically competing and battling with each other for turf and making a living selling drugs and running prostitutes, some captive sex-slaves. At some point if the economy worsens and the SHTF, they could easily start looting and attacking anyone and everyone.
However, in every major city in America at present, violent urban predators prey on the unarmed, old, weak, sick or disabled. And while out of control Police Swat Teams battle these predators and drug gangs, they often tyrannize the innocent which include women and young children, using excessive force all too often. There are numerous incidents of such teams murdering innocents after attacking the wrong home.
The massive War on Drugs was designed as a dualistic program. One hand, the top secret part involves the USG bringing in massive amounts of illegal drugs to raise “off the books money” for covert ops. The other hand uses all serious gang crimes arising as a pretext to militarize the police as justify their deployment as Nazi Storm Troopers.
This second part of the War on Drugs is for public disclosure and consumption. In response to all this massive urban breakdown, the worsening economy and increasing government tyranny from the Department of Homeland Security, the TSA and out of control local police, Americans are arming at an astounding rate. Guns are literally flying off the shelves and ammo sales are at an all time high also.
Americans now arming up in mass in order to protect themselves from and this increasing USG Tyranny of the USG, DHS and their local militarized and Mind-kontrolled local police (1) and from increasing and spreading urban crime which includes robberies, car-jackings, home burglaries and home invasions.
Also given as an important reason for arming up for the first time when asked, is a fear of possible impending economic collapse with an associated SHTF occurrence. Many express a salient and absolute need to be able to protect themselves and/or their family members from possible looters and armed home invaders which would likely accompany a SHTF urban breakdown situation.
And who should be credited with creating such a foreboding urban environment? It is the Globalist Traitors and infil-Traitors who have hijacked the political process and Banking in America.
These Globalist “enemies within” have rammed through economically disastrous Free-Trade Agreements and forced Diversity, Perversions and Political correctness accompanied by massive immigration, most illegal. All this has been designed to destroy the borders, language and culture of America, to neutralize its Constitution, Bill of Rights and Rule of Law while transforming America into a economically distressed Third World Nation.
These Globalist enemies within the Gates have been working very hard to transform America into a Democracy (Mob rule by the masses) from the Republic which was set up by our Founding Fathers. Obviously any real enforcement of the US Constitution would assure that American would remain a republic the way it was set up.
Since the imposition of so-called “Free Trade” policies upon the American Republic, urban decay and blight have become epidemic in major American cities. Many cities have turned into Urban Jungles, where only the strongest survive. In these Urban Jungles, violent gangs prevail and the weak are parasitized and consumed, afraid to go out of their homes, especially after dark.
Take Chicago, which has become a “kill or be kill” free fire Urban War Zone in some of its Urban areas. Chicago is the one of the most gun restricted areas ever, but the only ones that do not carry guns to defend themselves are law abiding citizens.
Gang members have all the guns they want, supplied by drug gangs and the CIA and BATF.http://www.cbsnews.com/news/gang-wars-at-the-root-of-chicagos-high-murder-rate/
Some of these areas such as Washington DC have been rated as having a 300% chance of being mugged if out after dark in certain areas, which means you could likely be robbed three times in a single block if you have a victim profile (old, young, weak, disabled, female). The real unemployment rate is 37%, despite phony USG that it is 7% or less.(2)
And now Detroit has been declared Bankrupt. It has been reported that retired police and City workers will now receive approximately 13% of their pensions due.
The Ruins of Detroit:
The ten Most Dangerous American Cities which are truly Urban Jungles at Night:
There are areas in Detroit, South Chicago and St. Louis that are so violent and infested with violent gangs that even the police refuse to enter unless ordered and then do so with major forces.
Until recently parts of Detroit was so violent that police and ambulances refused to provide service during the night hours and often found abandoned dead bodies (murder victims) days later. Detroit, known as “Iron City”, the jewel of America, used to be prosperous beyond measure based on the manufacture of the world’s finest cars.
Remember what a 1965 Olds Starfire coupe was like, or a mid 60′s Buick Wildcat or Pontiac Bonneville was like. How about a mid 60′s Chevy with a HP409 engine or a Plymouth Belvedere with a 426 Hemi or 440 Wedge engine?
That all changed in 1971 with the introduction of very extreme anti-pollution “clean air” laws which reduced automotive engine compression ratios from approximately 10.5 to 8.5, required the installation of retarded, goofy extremely inefficient camshafts. The result was garbage engines that had little power, consumed huge increases in gasoline and a major shift in chassis quality to near complete crap. At that point American automotive quality was gone and is only starting to come back now forty years later.
This is but one symptom of the covert Globalist engineering of American Society on behalf of the City of London zionist Central Banksters.
This of course created a great opportunity for the Japanese Auto manufacturers, secretly owned and controlled by the super-elite American Banking families. When W. Edwards Deming, an astute American engineer approached American Automotive Manufacturers in Detroit and proposed his plan to drastically reduce defects and lemons, he was rebuffed because it was felt his plan was too expensive and too slow.
Deming’s plan required 100% quality checks and verification of all parts from every supplier instead of the approximately 1% or less sampling. When Deming approached the Japanese, who had already shown a new coming expertise in motorcycles and quality circles in their electronics manufacturing, his program was accepted and implemented.
The rest is history, and after about 15 years, the American Automotive manufacturers have been playing a catch up game ever since for quality with the Japanese Auto manufacturers.
And now the Korean Automotive Manufacturers have hired retired Japanese automotive engineers as consultants and have adopted many of their same practices and principals to their automotive manufacturing. The result?
Some Autos manufactured in South Korea have attained the same quality as the Japanese which are considered to currently be the highest quality in the world. As many automotive enthusiasts suggest, if you want the best performance buy German, if you want the highest quality buy Japanese.
It is a fair assumption that Globalism and the Free-Trade Agreements it produced, have resulted in the exportation of most American heavy industry, manufacturing and millions of good paying jobs. This alone has seriously harmed the American economy and set America on a path of destruction, starting first with its Urban Centers which have become urban wastelands and jungles, and now progressively spreading to middle class and upper middle class outlying suburbs.
Fair Trade with suitably adjusted reasonable Tariffs to protect American Jobs are necessary to America’s economic survival and prosperity. Free Trade is not Free at all and is an abomination to the American republic and its Sovereignty.
It is a tool of the Globalists to enhance the earnings of their international offshore Globalist corporations at the expense of the American worker. It is nothing less than a secret war against America’s Sovereignty and the Republic itself.
The only other globalist tactic to destroy America that approaches its effectiveness are the policies of unrestricted illegal immigration, forced diversity, cultural programming that perversion is good, required perversion programming in the public schools that it is normal, and political correctness.
Obviously these are all Globalist weapons of covert war waged against America to destroy its borders, language and culture and gut it economically. These Globalist weapons have been deployed against Americans in order to transform America into a Third World “Democracy” instead of the Republic that it was set up to be by the Founding Fathers.
These Traitors and Infil-Traitors in Congress and the Administration keep financing and running foreign wars for Israel in order to establish Democracy like they keep claiming we have in America. We have never had a democracy but they have been doing their best to kill the Republic on the behalf of their zionist owners and masters This is of course one of the biggest lies ever told.
America has always been a Republic, a democracy is mob rule. Of course bringing in 30-60 million illegal immigrants and millions of legally sanctioned foreign workers has quickly undermined American culture and tradition and established a real base to elect politicians who appeal to the masses. The election of President Obama was the first of such travesties.
Up until recently when American aircraft manufacturers starting buying foreign parts, American aircraft were the best in the world, especially the military aircraft and fighter/interceptors. Now we have an F-22 with a contaminated O2 system from China that causes some pilots to start passing out and a Boeing Dreamliner with a faulty battery system that was imported.
For years St. Louis has been so poor that some of their police radio don’t work properly and their squad cars are in disrepair. In East Los Angeles, despite how tough and well armed the LA Police Department is, top police officials know that they are completely outgunned by Mexican drug gangs allowed to enter and do business inside America and also provided arms shipped by the CIA and the BATF.
It’s not as if Americans weren’t duly warned what such Free-Trade Treaties would produce, because Presidential Candidate Ross Perot went public with what was coming. He described the effects as a “giant sucking sound” for American jobs as they would leave America in droves.
But despite Perot’s grave warnings, President George HW Bush signed NAFTA on Dec. 17, 1992 with full Congressional support. The NAFTA Treaty was ratified after Bill Clinton became President. Soon after the sucking sound started, with shocking support the the US Department of State which provided massive grants to major corporations to move manufacturing to Mexico. These grants continued at American taxpayer expense under the subsequent Trade Treaties that were subsequently signed and ratified such as CAFTA, GATT, and WTO.
Unbeknownst to most Americans, President Obama is now deeply involved in secret negotiations to pass the Trans Pacific Partnership Treaty (TPP) which experts have described as “NAFTA on Steroids”. TPP is far more than just another Free Trade Treaty which continues to lower the value of American wages to the “rock bottom” levels in third world countries. If signed and ratified by Congress, the TPP would be the complete end to any remaining American Sovereignty.
What established this frenzy for Free-Trade Agreements? It is now known that The last duly elected President of the United States of America was Ronald Reagan. It is also known by seasoned intel officers that Ronald Reagan distrusted American Intel in general and especially his Vice President George HW Bush.
In fact it has now been discovered that President Reagan distrusted the CIA and American Intel so much, he set up his “Kitchen Cabinet” and brought in Lee Wanta as his Secret Agent under the Totten Doctrine (3).
George HW Bush was illegally elected later as President, since his father Prescott Bush had signed an Immunity Agreement that no future Bushes (Scherfs) would ever run for office after he was arrested for “aiding the enemy” and his Union Bank assets were seized by FDR during WW2.
It is also known that George HW Bush ran his own private CIA inside the CIA which served the specific needs of the zionist City of London Central Banksters and their franchisees, the American private Federal Reserve and major Wall Street Banksters.
Some former top American Intel believe that it was this private GHW Bush Intel organization that tried to assassinate President Reagan, by using their man, a secret service man who fired a high speed plastic disc from a compressed air powered disc-gun, the type displayed by William Colby in Congressional Hearings on the abuses of American Intel.
PBS Judy Woodruff had reported this of seeing the SS man fire a gun from a second story window that night on PBS but the story was quickly squelched and she changed it after a very convincing “not to worry visit” from some very serious American Intel agents. President Reagan, despite a long slow disjointed route to the hospital, survived. This assassination attempt however signaled that the Treasonous Bush Cabal had attained a major power base inside the Military and Congress.
The sad thing is that all the political power and influence necessary to accomplish this and to transform the American Congress into Traitors was due to the vast money provided to K Street Lobbyists and zionist espionage groups like AIPAC, ADL, B’nai B’brith, and the like by the Central Banksters and the various Judaic groups shaken down and manipulated by zionist for donations.
So the first beach-head of the Globalists (aka zionist City of London Central Banksters and the “Old Black Nobility” they represented) was established with a bought, owned and controlled US Congress. Once GHW Bush was elected President, the circle of control was complete.
One of George W. Bush’s major assignments was to take American further down the Globalist path by fighting more Mideast wars for Israel. Another was to destroy the Republic party by being the worst President ever and fully debasing the Republican, which he did. Now the Republican leaders in Congress are tricking the Republican Party into committing suicide by agreeing to back the Democratic legislation for making illegal immigrants legal and future citizens.
So it is now obvious that the Republic Party is finished and Americans need to rise up and form a new Third Party. Otherwise you can be assured that just like in the last Presidential election, both candidates will be owned by the Bush Cabal.Unless the Bush Cabal has been fully exposed and displaced by then which is now real possibility.
It has been estimated that there are now approximately 30 million illegal immigrants inside Americaallowed in by a Globalist controlled USG who prevented border enforcement and liberal immigration laws which are not enforced. With the the passage of the currently proposed Democratic plan for legalizing illegal immigrants, this number could easily grow to 60 to 100 million.
In most major American Cities, Police are not allowed to arrest suspected illegal immigrants for minor traffic violations or check their identification for legal status. Not so for those whose license plates are run and show up as actual American Citizens. And this is all due to orders coming down from a few top policy-Makers who operate at the nexus of the Secret Shadow Government (SSG).
GHWB could now institute major efforts to undo all the excellent plans for the economic and industrial reconstruction of America that President Reagan had set in place and activated. As has been disclosed in a previous article (4), President Reagan had brought in Lee Wanta to serve as his Secret Agent because he didn’t trust the CIA which had been corrupted and hijacked by GHWB.
It should now be exceedingly clear to those who are well informed about the degradation of the American economy and rule of law accompanied by increasing tyranny, deployment of DHS, TSA and the passage of all the unConstitutional draconian laws (like the so-called Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and NDAA 2014).
All this is being engineered by foreign controlled Globalist traitors and infil-Traitors who have hijacked America and worked hard to export heavy industry, manufacturing and jobs.
And that they are doing this to asset strip America, destroy it’s economy and the Republic itself in order to Balkanize America and prevent it from ever rising in economic strength again and operating as a Republic “of the people, by the people and for the people”.
Their motives for all this? To covertly re-fight the Revolutionary war that was lost and retake America on behalf of the zionist City of London Central Banksters and their Kingpin overlords the Old Black Nobility (OBN). These hidden masters of the world-wide occult network which runs the IZCS prefer to stay hidden in the background where they can pull all the strings of several top Policy-Makers in America with no personal risk to themselves.
What can be done to turn this around? Obviously the first step is to get rid of all Free-Trade Agreements. In order to do this all the zionist espionage fronts inside America such as AIPAC, ADL, B’nai B’rith and the like must be fully exposed and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. In order to do this zionist Israeli-American dual citizens inside Congress and the USG and its Agencies must be exposed as traitors and agents of foreign espionage and routed out of power.
America has to stop fighting Israel’s illegal Mideast wars and withdraw all aid and support for Israel as long as it is a criminal, racist apartheid state persecuting and murdering Palestinians and stealing their land incrementally.
Lee Wanta, a great American Heroe that served as President Reagan’s Secret Agent under the Totten Doctrine and was instrumental in bringing down the evil Soviet Union
We need to re-institute the Wanta Reconstructing America Plan based on the Maglev High Speed Rail System which has the necessary funding already available. (5)
And it is time to also re-establish the Want Economic Recovery Plan for America that was also set up under President Reagan, but later stopped cold by George HW Bush and his Cabal when they instituted a secret coup to take over the whole USG on behalf of the City of London zionist Central Banksters and their Wall Street and Federal Reserve Franchisees.(6)
In fact it is a reasonable assumption that the massive Free-Trade attack on America’s economy was largely a reaction by the Bush Cabal to these amazing economic reconstruction plans President Reagan had put in place through his Secret Agent Lee Wanta, who was the master strategist that took down the Soviet Union for President Reagan.
Recent respected surveys show that a majority of American are disgusted with the current administration and rating of the lowest ever experienced in America in the last century. Congress is also rated at an all time low with only 9% approving of it. Many view the current President as an alien imposter with no traceable past. Some alternative media writers have stated that he is a sheep-dipped CIA creation just like Bill Clinton. All this is a mute point. Why?
Because Ronald Reagan was the last duly elected President of the United States of America, the Republic, all presidents since have been fraudulently elected and owned by the Bush Cabal. And this Bush Cabal is the Action Agent of the City of London zionist Central Banksters and their International Zionist Crime Syndicate (IZCS).
The IZCS is centered in Israel where most intel is done by privatized Israeli corporations serving as American Defense and Intel contractors. It is these private Israeli contactors who control all NSA raw intel and almost all American communications including internal White House phone calls and messaging, as well as all Pentagon and DOD communications.
Obviously the Bush Cabal has been able to install its own Presidential puppets and run a lucrative illegal drug trafficking operations into America. All done to destabilize and “dirty up” American Cities while absorbing a great deal of the Welfare dollars and capturing vast “off the books” funds for their own covert operations and bribery of Congress. It is a fair conclusion that the Bush Cabal has destroyed the American Rule of Law, debased any true enforcement of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights and has corrupted every institution and agency of the USG.
However there is good news. A growing force for good has emerged in the Alternative Media now transmitted everywhere instantly on demand by the worldwide Internet, the new Gutenberg Press and the NWO Globalist’s Achilles Heel. Yes, the Controlled Mass media (CMMM) has been a propaganda mouthpiece for the Bush Cabal and the IZCS, but is now losing its appeal and credibility. The CMMM keeps feeding lies and crap to the American public that are obviously false, like the Mideast American wars are wars to establish Democracy. More and more Americans now realize this is complete BS, that we are there to fight Israel’s wars and defend British Oil interests.
Compare the articles of Veterans Today and other respected truth media now which are being published and read by millions inside America and all over the world with the CMMM. You will see the gap between the alternative media truth and the CMMM lies is ever widening and we are starting to see Alternative Media’s popularity driving stories into the CMMM, even thought the CMMM usually attempts to neutralize their significance.
Many thousands of brave American Soldiers who were lied to and deceived into fighting these illegal, unConstitutional, unprovoked, undeclared wars for Israel and Big Oil, thinking that they were defending America and its freedom. Few greater lies and deceptions has ever been predicated on Americans than this complete lie. Many thousands of Americans have been killed and horribly wounded and disabled in this war.
If the American Military ever fully realizes that all these wars were phony and based on a lie and that Israel did the 9/11 attacks with the help of a cabal within the USAF and JCS, there will be hell to pay for all those perps involved. And now there is good reason to believe that day is coming in the not too distant future.
As most Americans are beginning to realize, America has been infil-Traited by Traitors and Infil-Traitors in the highest positions of the USG. The major economic deterioration and loss of assets to the Wall Street Banksters and the private Federal reserve through financial Fraud have been staggering and Americans are catching on the the BLATANTLY OBVIOUS.
When American society reaches a critical mass awakening to this obvious situation that Globalists have been doing everything they can to destroy America, there will be major Blow-back of astounding proportions. When 12% of Americans are awakened, a critical mass and major turning point will be reached and you will begin to see major social change like never conceived, and this will all be due to major Blow-back from awakening.
The elites hate to acknowledge it, but when large numbers of ordinary people are moved to action, it changes the narrow political world where the elites call the shots. Inside accounts reveal the extent to which Johnson and Nixon’s conduct of the Vietnam War was constrained by the huge anti-war movement. It was the civil rights movement, not compelling arguments, that convinced members of Congress to end legal racial discrimination. More recently, the townhall meetings, dominated by people opposed to health care reform, have been a serious roadblock for those pushing reform…. A big turnout … can make a real difference….When someone tells you to stop imagining that you are having an impact, ask them to please direct their energy into getting 10 friends to join you in doing what needs to be done. If it has no impact, you’ll have gone down trying. If it has an impact, nobody will tell you for many years. (7)
This coming complete awakening will be due to information dispensed and diffused by the Alternative Media and the worldwide Internet as well as word of mouth. it is best viewed as a byproduct of a new and powerful emerging worldwide populism which has now reached the point it is unstoppable. One recent study has established 10% as a critical mass, turning point for Society.(8)
I believe we are already at 11% and when we reach 12%, the days of the Bush cabal will be dated. They know it too and are scared sh*tless. That is why they have been going for broke trying to ram the NWO down our throats and militarize local police and build up DHS to oppress and then mass murder us.
It’s time to speak up to all your family, friends and associates that we need to abandon the Republican and Democratic political Parties. Both parties are owned and controlled by the same Overlord, the IZCS who bought them and can blackmail them with NSA provided intel.
Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, who is also a Vet and a Navy Seal/UDT man had it right in his book of the Replican and Democrat Political Gangs in America, DemoCRIPS and ReBLOODlicans (9).
Gov. Ventura recommends Americans dump both political Parties which serve the same corrupt masters and start electing alternative candidates only who are not associated with either of the two parties.
It should now be exceedingly clear to those who are well informed about the degradation of the American economy and rule of law accompanied by increasing tyranny, deployment of DHS, TSA and the passage of all the unConstitutional draconian laws (like the so-called Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and NDAA 2014), that all this is being engineered by foreign controlled Globalist traitors and infil-Traitors who have hijacked America and worked hard to export heavy industry, manufacturing and jobs.
And that they are doing this to asset strip America, destroy it’s economy and the Republic itself in order to Balkanize America and prevent it from ever rising in economic strength again and operating as a Republic “of the people, by the people and for the people”.
Their motives for all this? To covertly re-fight the Revolutionary war that was lost and retake America on behalf of the zionist City of London Central Banksters and their Kingpin overlords the Old Black Nobility (OBN). These hidden masters of the world-wide occult network which runs the IZCS prefer to stay hidden in the background where they can pull all the strings of several top Policy-Makers in America with no personal risk to themselves.
(3) TOTTEN DOCTRINE [ 92 U.S. 105, 107 (1875) ]
Source: Preston James | Veterans Today
They never taught this in history class…
In October 1944, at age eighteen, I was drafted into the U.S. army. Largely because of the “Battle of the Bulge,” my training was cut short, my furlough was halved, and I was sent overseas immediately. Upon arrival in Le Havre, France, we were quickly loaded into box cars and shipped to the front. When we got there, I was suffering increasingly severe symptoms of mononucleosis, and was sent to a hospital in Belgium. Since mononucleosis was then known as the “kissing disease,” I mailed a letter of thanks to my girlfriend.
By the time I left the hospital, the outfit I had trained with in Spartanburg, South Carolina, was deep inside Germany, so, despite my protests, I was placed in a “repo depot” (replacement depot). I lost interest in the units to which I was assigned, and don’t recall all of them: non-combat units were ridiculed at that time. My separation qualification record states I was mostly with Company C, 14th Infantry Regiment, during my seventeen-month stay in Germany, but I remember being transferred to other outfits also.
In late March or early April 1945, I was sent to guard a POW camp near Andernach along the Rhine. I had four years of high school German, so I was able to talk to the prisoners, although this was forbidden. Gradually, however, I was used as an interpreter and asked to ferret out members of the S.S. (I found none.)
In Andernach about 50,000 prisoners of all ages were held in an open field surrounded by barbed wire. The women were kept in a separate enclosure that I did not see until later. The men I guarded had no shelter and no blankets. Many had no coats. They slept in the mud, wet and cold, with inadequate slit trenches for excrement. It was a cold, wet spring, and their misery from exposure alone was evident.
Even more shocking was to see the prisoners throwing grass and weeds into a tin can containing a thin soup. They told me they did this to help ease their hunger pains. Quickly they grew emaciated. Dysentery raged, and soon they were sleeping in their own excrement, too weak and crowded to reach the slit trenches. Many were begging for food, sickening and dying before our eyes. We had ample food and supplies, but did nothing to help them, including no medical assistance.
Outraged, I protested to my officers and was met with hostility or bland indifference. When pressed, they explained they were under strict orders from “higher up.” No officer would dare do this to 50,000 men if he felt that it was “out of line,” leaving him open to charges. Realizing my protests were useless, I asked a friend working in the kitchen if he could slip me some extra food for the prisoners. He too said they were under strict orders to severely ration the prisoners’ food, and that these orders came from “higher up.” But he said they had more food than they knew what to do with, and would sneak me some.
When I threw this food over the barbed wire to the prisoners, I was caught and threatened with imprisonment. I repeated the “offense,” and one officer angrily threatened to shoot me. I assumed this was a bluff until I encountered a captain on a hill above the Rhine shooting down at a group of German civilian women with his .45 caliber pistol. When I asked, “Why?,” he mumbled, “Target practice,” and fired until his pistol was empty. I saw the women running for cover, but, at that distance, couldn’t tell if any had been hit.
This is when I realized I was dealing with cold-blooded killers filled with moralistic hatred. They considered the Germans subhuman and worthy of extermination; another expression of the downward spiral of racism. Articles in the G.I. newspaper, Stars and Stripes, played up the German concentration camps, complete with photos of emaciated bodies. This amplified our self-righteous cruelty, and made it easier to imitate behavior we were supposed to oppose. Also, I think, soldiers not exposed to combat were trying to prove how tough they were by taking it out on the prisoners and civilians.
These prisoners, I found out, were mostly farmers and workingmen, as simple and ignorant as many of our own troops. As time went on, more of them lapsed into a zombie-like state of listlessness, while others tried to escape in a demented or suicidal fashion, running through open fields in broad daylight towards the Rhine to quench their thirst. They were mowed down.
Some prisoners were as eager for cigarettes as for food, saying they took the edge off their hunger. Accordingly, enterprising G.I. “Yankee traders” were acquiring hordes of watches and rings in exchange for handfuls of cigarettes or less. When I began throwing cartons of cigarettes to the prisoners to ruin this trade, I was threatened by rank-and-file G.I.s too.
The only bright spot in this gloomy picture came one night when. I was put on the “graveyard shift,” from two to four a.m. Actually, there was a graveyard on the uphill side of this enclosure, not many yards away. My superiors had forgotten to give me a flashlight and I hadn’t bothered to ask for one, disgusted as I was with the whole situation by that time. It was a fairly bright night and I soon became aware of a prisoner crawling under the wires towards the graveyard. We were supposed to shoot escapees on sight, so I started to get up from the ground to warn him to get back. Suddenly I noticed another prisoner crawling from the graveyard back to the enclosure. They were risking their lives to get to the graveyard for something. I had to investigate.
When I entered the gloom of this shrubby, tree-shaded cemetery, I felt completely vulnerable, but somehow curiosity kept me moving. Despite my caution, I tripped over the legs of someone in a prone position. Whipping my rifle around while stumbling and trying to regain composure of mind and body, I soon was relieved I hadn’t reflexively fired. The figure sat up. Gradually, I could see the beautiful but terror-stricken face of a woman with a picnic basket nearby. German civilians were not allowed to feed, nor even come near the prisoners, so I quickly assured her I approved of what she was doing, not to be afraid, and that I would leave the graveyard to get out of the way.
I did so immediately and sat down, leaning against a tree at the edge of the cemetery to be inconspicuous and not frighten the prisoners. I imagined then, and still do now, what it would be like to meet a beautiful woman with a picnic basket under those conditions as a prisoner. I have never forgotten her face.
Eventually, more prisoners crawled back to the enclosure. I saw they were dragging food to their comrades, and could only admire their courage and devotion.
On May 8, V.E. Day , I decided to celebrate with some prisoners I was guarding who were baking bread the other prisoners occasionally received. This group had all the bread they could eat, and shared the jovial mood generated by the end of the war. We all thought we were going home soon, a pathetic hope on their part. We were in what was to become the French zone [of occupation], where I soon would witness the brutality of the French soldiers when we transferred our prisoners to them for their slave labor camps.
On this day, however, we were happy.
As a gesture of friendliness, I emptied my rifle and stood it in the corner, even allowing them to play with it at their request. This thoroughly “broke the ice,” and soon we were singing songs we taught each other, or that I had learned in high school German class (“Du, du, liegst mir im Herzen”). Out of gratitude, they baked me a special small loaf of sweet bread, the only possible present they had left to offer. I stuffed it in my “Eisenhower jacket,” and snuck it back to my barracks, eating it when I had privacy. I have never tasted more delicious bread, nor felt a deeper sense of communion while eating it. I believe a cosmic sense of Christ (the Oneness of all Being) revealed its normally hidden presence to me on that occasion, influencing my later decision to major in philosophy and religion.
Shortly afterwards, some of our weak and sickly prisoners were marched off by French soldiers to their camp. We were riding on a truck behind this column. Temporarily, it slowed down and dropped back, perhaps because the driver was as shocked as I was. Whenever a German prisoner staggered or dropped back, he was hit on the head with a club and killed. The bodies were rolled to the side of the road to be picked up by another truck. For many, this quick death might have been preferable to slow starvation in our “killing fields.”
When I finally saw the German women held in a separate enclosure, I asked why we were holding them prisoner. I was told they were “camp followers,” selected as breeding stock for the S.S. to create a super-race. I spoke to some, and must say I never met a more spirited or attractive group of women. I certainly didn’t think they deserved imprisonment.
More and more I was used as an interpreter, and was able to prevent some particularly unfortunate arrests. One somewhat amusing incident involved an old farmer who was being dragged away by several M.P.s. I was told he had a “fancy Nazi medal,” which they showed me. Fortunately, I had a chart identifying such medals. He’d been awarded it for having five children! Perhaps his wife was somewhat relieved to get him “off her back,” but I didn’t think one of our death camps was a fair punishment for his contribution to Germany. The M.P.s agreed and released him to continue his “dirty work.”
Famine began to spread among the German civilians also. It was a common sight to see German women up to their elbows in our garbage cans looking for something edible — that is, if they weren’t chased away.
When I interviewed mayors of small towns and villages, I was told that their supply of food had been taken away by “displaced persons” (foreigners who had worked in Germany), who packed the food on trucks and drove away. When I reported this, the response was a shrug. I never saw any Red Cross at the camp or helping civilians, although their coffee and doughnut stands were available everywhere else for us. In the meantime, the Germans had to rely on the sharing of hidden stores until the next harvest.
Hunger made German women more “available,” but despite this, rape was prevalent and often accompanied by additional violence. In particular I remember an eighteen-year old woman who had the side of her faced smashed with a rifle butt, and was then raped by two G.I.s. Even the French complained that the rapes, looting and drunken destructiveness on the part of our troops was excessive. In Le Havre, we’d been given booklets warning us that the German soldiers had maintained a high standard of behavior with French civilians who were peaceful, and that we should do the same. In this we failed miserably.
“So what?” some would say. “The enemy’s atrocities were worse than ours.” It is true that I experienced only the end of the war, when we were already the victors. The German opportunity for atrocities had faded, while ours was at hand. But two wrongs don’t make a right. Rather than copying our enemy’s crimes, we should aim once and for all to break the cycle of hatred and vengeance that has plagued and distorted human history. This is why I am speaking out now, 45 years after the crime. We can never prevent individual war crimes, but we can, if enough of us speak out, influence government policy. We can reject government propaganda that depicts our enemies as subhuman and encourages the kind of outrages I witnessed. We can protest the bombing of civilian targets, which still goes on today. And we can refuse ever to condone our government’s murder of unarmed and defeated prisoners of war.
I realize it’s difficult for the average citizen to admit witnessing a crime of this magnitude, especially if implicated himself. Even G.I.s sympathetic to the victims were afraid to complain and get into trouble, they told me. And the danger has not ceased. Since I spoke out a few weeks ago, I have received threatening calls and had my mailbox smashed. But its been worth it. Writing about these atrocities has been a catharsis of feelings suppressed too long, a liberation, that perhaps will remind other witnesses that “the truth will make us free, have no fear.” We may even learn a supreme lesson from all this: only love can conquer all.
About the author
Martin Brech lives in Mahopac, New York. When he wrote this memoir essay in 1990, he was an Adjunct Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Brech holds a master’s degree in theology from Columbia University, and is a Unitarian-Universalist minister.
Source: Martin Brech | Truthstream Media
Collectivism is alive and well within the party apparatus of the Republican jellyfish tax cutters. This loathsome game of surrender is the hallmark of phony conservatives. The article, Why the GOP are cowards, needs to be read again, since its application has proven once again that big government is in actuality, the default position of the party of double talk.
“Republicanism is not equivalent with the GOP political party. Genuine conservatism has had fleeting representation within that party. Examine the history and the principles of each. A real conservative stands for the principles of individual civil liberty and personal responsibility, limited government, states rights, separation of powers – federalism, minimal taxes, honest money, bonafide free enterprise, defense of borders, an American First foreign policy, lawful statues and traditional values. A true conservative believes in the righteousness of the 1776 Revolution. Republicans that are authentic conservatives have a serious dilemma, how do you justify the record of the GOP?”
Review the House of Representative totals, as Roll Call provides in the Breaking Down the Budget Vote, with a link how each member voted. Mark the weasels and prepare for the primary season.
When the august Cato Institute challenges the credibility of the GOP in How Serious Are Republicans?, the rank and file conservatives better face up to the fact that voting Republican is akin to blacks casting their ballot for Democrats. Both parties take for granted their core constituencies, while selling them out for the authoritarian supra government that never improves the lives of regular citizens.
“More of it is just political cowardice, out of fear of cutting something that might offend some voter, somewhere. Notice how quickly the FAA’s sequester issues were resolved once potential voters (and campaign donors) squawked. The furloughs of air-traffic controllers were unnecessary, resulting from union contract issues and the deliberate decision of the Obama administration to make the sequester as painful as possible, and should have been fixed. But it’s clear that Republicans moved so fast in part because it was largely upper-middle-class voters who were affected.
Similar meekness is pushing other Republicans to suggest that the party should move away from “austerity” to support a “growth agenda.” House majority leader Eric Cantor, for example, has expressed a desire to “focus on what lies beyond these fiscal debates.” And, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal exhorts Republicans, “We seem to have an obsession with government bookkeeping … We as Republicans have to accept that government number-crunching – even conservative number-crunching – is not the answer to our nation’s problems.”
It is easy to cut spending that you don’t like. But if Republicans are serious about cutting spending, lowering our debt, and reducing the size of government, they are going to have to cut spending that they like. They are going to have to make cuts that affect their districts and their constituents. They are going to have to accept cuts in defense. And, they are going to have to structurally reform entitlements, even at the risk of angering seniors.”
This new “bipartisan budget deal” cobbled together by Paul Ryan and Patty Murray behind closed doors smells like the rotten garbage we have become accustomed to see coming out of DC.
When DC reaches a bipartisan compromise on spending, taxpayers always lose. Compromise means, “Democrats get the spending they want AND Republicans get the spending they want.”
Heritage Foundation points out three simple facts about this deal:
- It busts through the so-called “spending caps” set in place by the sequester.
- It taxes and spends more.
- It spends now with supposed savings coming later.
Wait before panic sets in, the media wants you to believe that Republican Senators are coming to the rescue. A silver bullet (supplied by DHS) and voted for by GOP “career politicians”, killed the lone ranger a long time ago.
Even in the UK, the Mail identifies the essential disconnect in the GOP, It’s war! Senate gears up for epic battle as ZERO Republicans line up to support budget agreement (and Democrats need to find at least five); “The GOP’s Senate leaders plan to launch a procedural effort to kill the plan over a laundry list of objections – including a claim that it short-changes military veterans and other government retirees.”
Sure looks like Big Government by any standard is the admitted GOP platform.
The Tea Party Patriot notice continues.
Here are our predictions about what is going to happen next.
- The House will pass this budget deal.
- In the Senate, Republicans like Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, and John Cornyn will all vote no because they have primary challengers, knowing that it will pass anyway because the Democrats and other squishy Republicans will vote for it.
- They will use this deal to grease the wheels for amnesty, making amnesty that much easier to pass.
- The increase in taxes and fees will remain while the spending restraint will never happen because they will simply do what they are doing now, which is change the law to eliminate the spending cuts.
- With this deal they are pushing the next round of budget talks out to 2015 so that they can focus on what’s important to them – reelection. Instead of tackling budget issues again in 2014, this deal allows them to avoid those talks during an election year.
- They will use the extra time this gives them to co-opt new members that are elected in 2014.
- Finally, the next budget, whenever that happens, won’t even keep these new higher levels of spending. We predict spending will increase again.
Remember the war against fiscal conservatives and small government libertarians, waged by establishment Republicans. The Republican Convention and the Ron Paul Revolution is a clear example of the ultimate policy objectives of GOP party collectivists.
“The Grand Old Party produced a scripted appeal to the faithful. The 2012 Republican Party convention in Tampa, designed to sell a filtered image of a country club version of conservatism, begs the historic substance of a traditional embodiment of true timeless values. Hitting a range of obligatory themes is not equivalent to standing for the principles of a constitutional republic. Appealing to the estranged elements of the GOP needs more than words to restore faith and hope. Reasoned policy stands require a refutation of the failure of the Neoconservative agenda. So do not be duped by the language in the platform.”
The Irrelevance of the Republican Party essay argues that the same old false choice is nothing but a hoax. “The only rational option is to create a true grass roots party that encompasses the disaffected middle class. NeoCons are traitors. Establishment proponents loyal to the two party farce, do not allow genuine conservative doctrines into public policy.”
With that said, the revulsion of the Obama presidency is demonstrated with every administrative action. The Big Government era is back in force under the self-absorbed Pied Piper of statist executive rule. With each note from the flute of this imposter, the government plagues spread wider and causes the death of representative democracy. Yet, the Republican doctrine accepts the “compromise” and act as a befuddled facilitator.
Carrying the fight to the enemy is not part of the GOP script. The emergence of the Tea Party movement is in direct correlation to the fiscal irresponsibility out of the beltway brigade in the army of the district of criminals. Spineless Republicans are closet Federalists or worse, latent potentates. The corporatists that direct both parties ravel in the enjoyment of phony party squabbles. With every new charade, the course of policy continues to advance the fascist state.
Once upon a time Congressional Resistance against Presidential Despotism was normal. “The primacy of the legislature over the executive branch was always the intent of our founding fathers. Unfortunately, the exact reverse has taken hold in the den of inequity that holds court in Washington, DC.”
The John Boehner speakership is synonymous with capitulation. In many ways, the combat against federal tyrants intensifies and gathers more recruits, when the face of the enemy is a pure progressive police state. Cooperative captivity is no more tolerable then peaceful coexistence.
Citizens unwilling to take the battle to the government with forceful lobbying of their viewpoints deserve enslavement. Third party activism is imperative so that the electorate can compare a liberty directed, small government manifesto to the bipartisan state-controlled platform pushed by both major parties.
How many times do you need to be kicked in the face before you stop turning the other cheek? Obama and Boehner share the same bathhouse. Both keep sticking it in the derrière of the taxpayer. That Republican “Big Tent” now covers the socialists that pretend to be representing the people, while empowering the big government nightmare.
“Men (people) are rarely aware of the real reasons which motivate their actions.” — Edward Bernays, Propaganda, 1928
The winter holidays are traditionally supposed to embody a certain ideal of that which is best in the hearts of human beings. As the world around us retreats into ice and snow and the Earth’s northern cycle returns to death once again, the holidays represent a time of contemplation, as well as an opportunity to shine a light in an otherwise dark and dreary period. This heritage is as old as history, dating back to an era in which agriculture was paramount and men garnered far more respect for the tides of nature. The parallel relationship between social “renewal” and seasonal renewal has served the collective psyche of Western society, in my view, for the better. Unfortunately, this process has all but vanished today, twisted and mutilated into something sinister and poisonous.
Those of us who pay attention are well aware of a trend of cultural decline within our nation, and this problem is disturbingly visible from Thanksgiving to Christmas. It’s not just the highly publicized Black Friday (now Black Thursday) riots over semi-cheap Chinese-made garbage. Those are certainly vile examples:
Rather, it’s the behavior of people throughout the season on a daily basis that is most disconcerting. I have personally witnessed, as I’m sure many people have, a magnified and astonishing disregard for conscience and basic decency growing worse each year for at least the past decade. That which is most unsettling about our society today is somehow unleashed with wild abandon every year at this time.
The idiocy and barbarism seems to span all economic “classes” — from the upper-middle-class snob screaming at bewildered cashiers over a coupon worth 50 cents, to the middle-class suburbanites brawling on the sticky floors of Wal-Mart over flat-screen TVs, to the part-time employee who sold her soul for minimum wage and who now yells at people on Thanksgiving eve to stop filming the mindless brawls that her corporate masters encourage because such videos might “reflect badly” on the company image. The dark side truly knows no social or financial bounds.
Every year, we see this behavior, shake our heads in dismay and look forward to the beginning of January, when Americans go back to being only moderately disdainful toward each other. This time, however, instead of merely gawking in disbelief at the circus sideshow, I would like to challenge people to explore more deeply the true motivations of the mob itself, as well as the motivations of the elitists who manipulate the mob for their own purposes. Let’s take a look at the fundamental dynamics of the psychology of mobs and the madness of crowds.
Filling The Emptiness
In my recent article ‘You Should Feel Sorry For Sheeple; Here’s Why’, I outline the inner life, or rather the lack of inner life, common to the average sheeple. Many of my compatriots find it increasingly difficult to muster any pity for the sheeple subculture, and I can see why. When given ample opportunity, sheeple always sink toward the worst humanity has to offer usually in an effort to aggrandize themselves.
But let’s set aside that sick feeling in our stomachs when thinking of sheeple and really consider what their existence is like. What does a sheeple’s daily life consist of?
In most cases I’ve observed, he lives what he believes to be the American dream. He wakes up in the morning swelling with superficial concerns of personal gain, scheming ways in which he can raise his perceived stature among the other sheeple around him. He then then travels to his place of employment, usually a job he hates, in order to accumulate enough wealth (scraps from the plates of government and corporate financiers) to buy all the “things” he assumes everyone else wants. In the process, he pawns off his children to state-run schools designed to crush their spirits; and he becomes estranged from his spouse, who begins to forget why they ever got married in the first place. He returns home physically and emotionally drained, knowing that he did nothing worthwhile with his time, only to sit apathetically in front of his television for a few hours being bombarded with cancerous marketing propaganda and barely talking with the family he tells himself he works so hard for.
Think about it. Think of the pitch-black void that his life has become. Think of all the abandoned dreams, all the missed opportunities for experience and joy, all the moments of reflection and self-education that were missed because he was “too busy” trying to elevate himself within the ranks of a heartless collective.
Now, for one frightening moment, imagine this is your life. No sense of legitimate pride or individualism. No understanding of the underlying events that affect your environment or the high-placed people who determine your future. No thoughts outside the mainstream box. No recognition of possible alternative ways to live or how to break free. No hope for tomorrow but the endless drudgery of today’s mediocrity. Think of the unconscious rage you would have brewing inside like a putrid ball of sulfur and magma.
This rage is what sheeple use to fill the emptiness inside themselves once they subconsciously realize that no amount of frivolous consumerism will make them whole. Typically, they are on constant lookout for opportunities to vent their anger at unsuspecting victims in drive-by fashion.
Somehow, the holidays appear to have become a prime period of opportunity during which society opens the door for the dark side to come out and for sheeple to passively or not-so-passively project their failings onto others. For now, we might presume that this behavior is somewhat contained and relegated to particular moments of seasonal insanity, but the consequences of the willfully ignorant strata of American culture could go far beyond what most morally conscious people want to predict.
The Psychopath Next Door
“If thirty years ago anyone had dared to predict that our psychological development was tending towards a revival of the medieval persecutions of the Jews, that Europe would again tremble before the Roman fasces and the tramp of legions, that people would once more give the Roman salute, as two thousand years ago, and that instead of the Christian Cross an archaic swastika would lure onward millions of warriors ready for death — why, that man would have been hooted at as a mystical fool.” — Carl Jung, Archetypes And The Collective Unconscious, 1938
In his book, The Undiscovered Self, one of the fathers of modern psychology, Carl Gustav Jung, discusses the tension-filled relationship between the individual versus the collective and the state. In particular, he studies how individuals become swallowed up in the actions of the collective mob and how this momentum invariably leads to mass atrocities that defy imagination. A point of primary importance in Jung’s work is his discovery that at least 10 percent of any population at any given time is made up of individuals with latent psychopathic or sociopathic tendencies. Meaning, at least one out of every 10 random people around you today was born with the capacity for psychopathic behavior, including the ability to completely ignore inherent conscience.
The idea that one out of every 10 people near you might suddenly burst into an overwhelming animalistic blood fever is, of course, terrifying to many people. But generally, latent psychopathy in a person does not surface in immediately recognizable ways; and many people with that potential live their entire lives without ever acting on it. Some even come to terms with it through self-awareness and dispel it altogether. Problems arise, though, as Jung warned, when a society creates an environment in which emotionally or physically violent psychopathic acts become “acceptable” to the collective. That is to say, individual latent psychopaths and sociopaths are not so much a danger on their own; but when they get together in an organization or mob, the terrible floodgates open.
During national crisis, or during great ideological shifts towards collectivism, the 10 percent are given ample opportunity to act out their inner impulses. The corrupt state will often give latent psychopaths free reign or seek them out for positions of petty authority, leaving the gates to hell ajar, as it were.
Another dangerous reality is that these same people tend to pursue positions of authority, or they unconsciously gravitate toward events and situations that allow them to act on their darker side without facing consequences. One might even suggest that there will always be a potential for despotic regimes exactly because the 10 percent will likely always be around to be used as a weapon by dictatorships.
The mass rage and self-absorption we witness during the holidays feels ominous to us because it is just a glimpse of the greater shadow side of the American public. It is a glimpse of the kind of mentality that makes all human catastrophe possible. Like the tip of a shark fin cutting the surface of the water, we swim fearing not the dorsal, but the monster we KNOW it is connected to.
The Magicians Of Manufactured Consent
Jung, once a favorite of Sigmund Freud’s, broke sharply with Freud’s analytical school when he realized Freud would not accept the idea of inherent psychological properties beyond base instincts. Freud believed that conscience, morality, artistic ability, reason, etc. were all extensions of environment and experience. Freud’s theories on psychology focused on the idea that man was driven by base animal urges at his core, that people have no complex inborn contents and that all one needed to do was manipulate his environment to make himself “healthy.” Jung’s studies proved otherwise, finding that there are vast layers of inborn knowledge and personality in every individual.
It was not until Freud was near death that he admitted the merit of Jung’s work. Jung was shunned by the mainstream and labeled everything from a “charlatan” to an “anti-Semite” because of his opposition to the Freudian method.
Some industrious elites did find Freud’s notions of environmental manipulation useful, though, including his nephew, Edward Bernays, who saw it not as a way to make people healthy, but rather, to make them unhealthy. Bernays wrote extensively on the use of propaganda to control what he called “herd instinct,” believing (as most elitists believe) that self-governance of common people was “dangerous” and that the irrational public had to be controlled for their own good and the good of the nation. His entire philosophy is summed up in this quote:
“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. … We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. … In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons… who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”
Bernays was instrumental in promoting Freudian psychology in the United States, where it became the mainstay of universities across the country. He helped establish the Tavistock Institute, a globalist think-tank much like the Council On Foreign Relations, focused on molding public opinion. He was also instrumental in promoting psychological propaganda models in everyday corporate marketing and political campaigns. He called this “engineering consent.”
It was Bernays who taught the marketing world how to appeal to the basest instincts of human beings and to use those instinctual desires to covertly control them. Corporations used Bernays’ strategies to create an atmosphere of decadent consumption in America that has lasted since the end of World War II. The idea was simple: Convince the public that buying corporate products will satisfy their animal urges. All commercialism to this day revolves around this method (which is why almost every beer commercial for several decades has included scantily clad women or sexual innuendo, for example).
But Bernays was not only teaching corporations how to tap into existing human impulses, he was also teaching corporations and governments how to use psychological trickery to manipulate the citizenry to RELY on their basest impulses. Essentially, Bernays taught the establishment how to convince people, or shame people, into ignoring their greater selves and indulging their psychopathic and sociopathic urges. Bernays taught the establishment how to turn people into zombies.
We see the clear results today all around us as we enter into the absurdity that Christmas has become. The ramifications are dire. The holidays have come to represent not hope, but despair; not reflection, but callowness; not compassion, but narcissism and selfishness. They have become a yearly measure of our Nation’s sharp fall into something more or less horrific, something ironically inhuman.
The only solution is to strive with everything we have to remind others, and ourselves, that we are more than the sum of our darker instincts. That we have been living in the midst of a carefully crafted lie meant to make us impotent and non-threatening to the establishment. That there are greater and more meaningful contents at our core, and these elements of our being can only be satisfied by one thing: the truth.
Source: Brandon Smith | Alt-Market
With all that is being written about the national economic collapse, people seem to be waiting for some huge event.
However, for many North Americans, the collapse is here. This isn’t relegated to only lower income neighborhoods. As an article from a Cincinnati new station stated, “Hunger doesn’t know a zip code.”
For many people who were formerly financially comfortable, the economic collapse has already happened in the form of a job loss, hours that have been cut back due to Obamacare requirements for employers, an exorbitant medical bill or other crushing debt, or simply an inflation rate that has outstripped your pay increases. Despite all of the warnings, many people are still going to be absolutely blindsided.
- Which utility can I live without?
- Should I walk away from my mortgage?
- Should I eat something so I can work harder or should I skip meals so my kids have food?
- Should I use the grocery money to take my child to the doctor or should I wait and hope he/she improves without medical intervention?
- Do I risk the IRS-enforced penalties by forgoing enrollment in Obamacare or should I skip that whole grocery shopping thing so I can pay the monthly premiums and enormous deductibles in order to stay in the government’s good graces?
These are the kind of decisions that people across the nation are grappling with every day.
I’m talking about good people, hardworking men and women who have always been employed and paid their bills. A personal financial crisis does not just strike those stereotypical “welfare queens” with the long manicured nails, Gucci knock-off purse, and a grocery cart full of EBT-funded lobster.
I’m talking about the person next door, who seems to have it all together. I’m talking about that quiet family that sits two rows in front of you at church. I’m talking about that two-income family with two children and a car in the driveway that takes them to work and school 5 days a week. I’m talking about people just like you and me.
What is a personal economic collapse?
A personal economic collapse is a little different than the major crises you see all over Europe right now, where huge segments of the population can’t feed their children or stay employed. It is a crisis that just hits your family due to a given set of circumstances. (In actuality North Americans are on the brink of the kind of collapse that is occurring in Europe, but because of easy access to credit and a buy-now, pay-later society, many of us still have the appearance of prosperity.)
Here are some signs that you may be in the midst of a personal economic collapse:
- You can only afford to pay the minimum payment on most of your bills.
- The same dollar amount you used to spend on groceries doesn’t buy enough food to feed your family for the week.
- You can’t afford to go to the doctor when you’re sick.
- You are taking dangerous steps to “stretch” needed medications because you can’t afford the prescriptions.
- Your utility bills are past due and your power is in danger of being cut off.
- You skip meals in order to save money or to have enough food for your kids.
- You’ve lost your job or had your hours cut.
- You have lost property due to foreclosure or repossession (such as your home or your vehicle).
Surviving the crisis
Times are tough but you can survive this.
1.) First you have to see exactly where you are.
It’s time for a brutally honest assessment of your finances. If you use your debit card or credit card for most expenditures, you’ll easily be able to see what you’re spending and bringing in.
Print off your bank account statements for the past 2 months. On a piece of paper, track where your money is going. List the following
- Car payments
- Vehicle operating expenses (fuel, repairs)
- Credit card and other debt payments
- Telephone/Cell phone
- Extracurricular activities for the kids
- Extracurricular activities for the adults
- Dining out
- School expenses
- Recreational spending
- Miscellaneous (anything that doesn’t fall into the above categories gets its own category or goes here)
Don’t say to yourself, “Well, I usually don’t spend $400 on clothing so that isn’t realistic.” If you spent it, then it’s realistic. You are averaging together two months, which should account for those less common expenses. Brutal honesty isn’t fun, but it’s vital for this exercise.
So . . . what do you see when you look at your piece of paper with your average monthly expenditures for the past two months? Are there any surprises? Did you actually realize how much you’ve been spending? Most of us will immediately see places that we can trim the budget. Those $1-$5 purchases can really add up. Reining them in may just allow you to take care of an important need that you thought you could not meet.
It can’t continue like this. The economy will not withstand it. Step one is to see where you can cut things out right now from the above expenditures. Can you reduce your grocery bill? Slash meals out? Budget more carefully for gift-giving and school clothes?
2.) Rethink necessities.
If your finances are out of control, the best possible reality check is a stark look at what necessities really are. It is not necessary to life to have an iPhone, a vehicle in both stalls of your two-car garage, or for your children to all have separate bedrooms. People in Southern and Eastern Europe right now will tell you, as they scramble for food, basic over-the-counter medications like aspirin, and shelter, that necessities are those things essential to life:
- Food (and the ability to cook it)
- Medicine and medical supplies
- Basic hygiene supplies
- Shelter (including sanitation, lights, heat)
- Simple tools
- Defense items
Absolutely everything above those basic necessities is a luxury.
So, by this definition, what luxuries do you have?
3.) Reduce your monthly output
Reduce your monthly payments by cutting frivolous expenses. Look at every single monthly payment that comes out of your bank account and slash relentlessly. Consider cutting the following:
- Cell phones
- Home phones
- Gym memberships
- Restaurant meals
- Unnecessary driving
- Entertainment such as trips to the movies, the skating rink, or the mall
4.) Waste not, want not.
We live in a disposable society. Food comes in throw-away containers. People replace things instead of repairing them. If you throw out more than a couple of bags of garbage each week, that’s a very good sign that you may be wasting resources.
Before throwing anything away, pause and think about how it might be able to be reused.
Food: Many times small amounts of leftovers can be recycled into a brand new meal. Meat bones can be used to make broth or stock. Small amounts of veggies or grains can be frozen and added to a future soup or casserole. Leftovers can be frozen in meal-sized portions to take to work for a brown-bag lunch. (Learn more about repurposing leftovers HERE.)
Clothing: Clothing that is torn or damaged can often be repaired with only rudimentary sewing skills. If it has been outgrown or cannot be repaired, often the fabric or yarn can be reused for other purposes, from cleaning rags to fashionable accessories like scarves and headbands, or home items like throw pillows, potholders or rag rugs. When all else fails, the fabric can be used for cleaning rags or patches to repair other items. Keep jars full of buttons, elastic, and other notions that can easily be removed before you throw a clothing item away or relegate it to the rag bag.
Electronics: Obviously, initially you should attempt to repair (or have repaired) electronic items that are not working. If this is not feasible, are there components of the item that can be reused, either now or in the future? What about hardware such as screws or fasteners?
Containers: Most food comes in a container of some sort. Before throwing the container away, consider whether or not it might be useful. Glass jars, plastic tubs, and plastic bags can often be reused to store food in your refrigerator or to contain food in brown bag lunches. Clean aluminum cans can hold all manner of items, from hardware and tools in a workshop to sewing and craft supplies. Use your imagination.
5.) Take control of your food budget.
The price of food is skyrocketing. Who hasn’t been to the grocery store recently and been shocked at the high price of that cart full of groceries or at the mysterious shrinking food packages that are the same price as yesterday’s larger ones?
Stockpile: Create a stockpile of nutritious, healthy staples at today’s prices to enjoy when the cost goes even higher tomorrow. (Learn how to create a frugal food stockpile HERE.)
Preserve: Learn to preserve food yourself when you come across a windfall. Pressure canning,waterbath canning, freezing, and dehydrating can allow you to take advantage of great sales or end-of-season scores.
Eat less: This suggestion isn’t for everyone, but many of us could stand to shed a few pounds. Perhaps now would be a good time to cut back a little and shrink both your waistline and your weekly food bill. Lots of people eat for the sheer entertainment of it or out of habit. Next time you’re watching TV, grab some mending or a crossword puzzle instead of a bag of potato chips. Dish out slightly smaller servings at dinnertime to leave enough to stretch the leftovers for a brown bag meal the next day.
Drink water: Skip the beverages and drink water instead. At less than $1 per gallon for purchased water you simply can’t beat the price. It’s better for you, also, than sugary drinks. If you are lucky enough to have well water or access to spring water, your drinks don’t have to cost you a penny.
Focus on nutrition instead of convenience: Buy the best quality of food you can, and skip the processed, nutritionless convenience foods.
Grow your own. In the summer, grow the biggest garden you can. In the winter, or if you are an apartment dweller, put some sprouts and greens in a sunny windowsill to add some fresh produce for pennies.
6.) Reduce your dependence on utilities.
Energy rates are skyrocketing. As the prices begin to rise, more and more people will be unable to pay their bills and eventually their power will be shut off. Check your bill each month and as prices increase, use less power. Try some of these ideas to reduce your reliance and drop your bills.
- Hand wash your clothing
- Hang clothes to dry
- Cook on a woodstove or outdoor grill
- Can foods to preserve them instead of relying on a large chest freezer
- Turn the heat down a few degrees and use non-grid methods to keep warm
- Use rain barrels to collect water
- Direct the gray water from your washing machines to reservoirs
- Turn off the lights and open the blinds
- Use solar lighting whenever possible
How do you intend to weather the storm?
There are bleak days ahead. Have you planned for this? What strategies do you intend to use to weather the financial crisis that is coming for all of us? What suggestions do you have for families who are undergoing their own economic collapses? Please post questions and ideas in the comments section below.
Source: The Organic Prepper
It is often said there only two kinds of people in this world: those who know, and those who don’t. I would expand on this and say that there are actually three kinds of people: those who know, those who don’t know, and those who don’t care to know. Members of the last group are the kind of people I would characterize as “sheeple.”
Sheeple are members of a culture or society who are not necessarily oblivious to the reality of their surroundings; they may have been exposed to valuable truths on numerous occasions. However, when confronted with facts contrary to their conditioned viewpoint, they become aggressive and antagonistic in their behavior, seeking to dismiss and attack the truth by attacking the messenger and denying reason. Sheeple exist on both sides of America’s false political paradigm, and they exist in all social “classes”. In fact, the “professional class” and the hierarchy of academia are rampant breeding grounds for sheeple; who I sometimes refer to as “intellectual idiots”. Doctors and lawyers, scientists and politicians are all just as prone to the sheeple plague as anyone else; the only difference is that they have a bureaucratic apparatus behind them which gives them a false sense of importance. All they have to do is tow the establishment line, and promote the establishment view.
Of course the common argument made by sheeple is that EVERYONE thinks everyone else is blind to the truth, which in their minds, somehow vindicates their behavior. However, the characteristic that absolutely defines a sheeple is not necessarily a lack of knowledge, but an unwillingness to consider or embrace obvious logic or truth in order to protect their egos and biases from harm. A sheeple’s mindset is driven by self centered motives.
So-called mainstream media outlets go out of their way to reinforce this aggressive mindset by establishing the illusion that sheeple are the “majority” and that the majority perception (which has been constructed by the MSM) is the only correct perception.
Many liberty movement activists have noted recently that there has been a surge in media propaganda aimed at painting the survival, preparedness and liberty cultures as “fringe,” “reactionary,” “extremist,” “conspiracy-minded,” etc. National Geographic’s television show “Doomsday Preppers” appears to have been designed specifically to seek out the worst possible representatives of the movement and parade their failings like a carnival sideshow. Rarely do they give focus to the logical arguments regarding why their subjects become preppers, nor do they normally choose subjects who can explain as much in a coherent manner. This is a very similar tactic used by the establishment media at large-scale protests; they generally attempt to interview the least-eloquent and easiest-to-ridicule person present and make that person a momentary mascot for the entire group and the philosophy they hold dear.
The goal is to give sheeple comfort that they are “normal” and that anyone who steps outside the bounds of the mainstream is “abnormal” and a welcome target for the collective.
It would appear that the life of a sheeple is a life of relative bliss. The whole of the establishment machine seems engineered to make them happy and the rest of us miserable. But is a sheeple’s existence the ideal? Are they actually happy in their ignorance? Are they truly safe within the confines of the system? Here a just a few reasons why you should feel sorry for them.
Sheeple Are Nothing Without The Collective
A sheeple gathers his entire identity from the group. He acts the way he believes the group wants him to act. He thinks the way he believes the group wants him to think. All of his “ideas” are notions pre-approved by the mainstream. All of his arguments and talking points are positions he heard from the media, or academia, and he has never formed an original opinion in his life. Without the group telling him what to do, the average sheeple is lost and disoriented. When cast into a crisis situation requiring individual initiative, he panics or becomes apathetic, waiting for the system to come and save him rather than taking care of himself. Sheeple are so dependent on others for every aspect of their personality and their survival that when faced with disaster, they are the most likely people to curl up and die.
Sheeple Crave Constant Approval From Others
Sheeple are not only reliant on the collective for their identity and their survival; they also need a steady supplement of approval from others in order to function day to day. When a sheeple leaves his home, he is worried about how his appearance is perceived, how his attitude is perceived, how his lifestyle is perceived and how his opinions are perceived. Everything he does from the moment his day begins revolves around ensuring that the collective approves of him. Even his acts of “rebellion” are often merely approved forms of superficial “individualism” reliant on style rather than substance. This approval becomes a kind of emotional drug to which the sheeple is addicted. He will never make waves among the herd or stand out against any aspect of the herd worldview, because their approval sustains and cements his very existence. To take collective approval away from him would be like cutting off a heroin junky’s supplier. To be shunned by the group would destroy him psychologically.
Sheeple Are Incapable Of Original Creativity
Because sheeple spend most of their waking moments trying to appease the collective, they rarely, if ever, have the energy or inclination to create something of their own. Sheeple do not make astonishing works of art. They do not achieve scientific discovery. They do not make history through philosophical or ideological innovation. Instead, they regurgitate the words of others and hijack ideas from greater minds. They remain constant spectators in life, watching change from the bleachers, caught in the tides of time and tossed about like congealed satellites of Pacific Ocean garbage from the after-wash of Fukushima. The destiny of the common sheeple is entirely determined by the outcome of wars and restorations waged by small groups of aware individuals — some of them good, some of them evil.
Sheeple Have No Passion
If you draw all of your beliefs from what the collective deems acceptable, then it is difficult, if not impossible, to become legitimately passionate about them. Sheeple have little to no personal connection to their ideals or principles; so they become mutable, empty and uninspired. They tend to turn toward cynicism as a way to compensate, making fun of everything, especially those who ARE passionate about something. The only ideal that they will fight for is the collective itself, because who they are is so intertwined with the survival of the system. To threaten the concept of the collective is to threaten the sheeple’s existence by extension.
Sheeple Are Useless
The average sheeple does not learn how to be self-reliant because it is considered “abnormal” by the mainstream to be self-reliant. The collective and the state are the provider. They are mother and father. Sheeple have full faith that the system will protect them from any and all harm. When violence erupts, they cower and hide instead of defending themselves and others. When large-scale catastrophe strikes, they either sit idle waiting for the state to save them or they join yet another irrational mob. They do not take proactive measures, because they never felt the need to learn how.
Consider this: Why do the mainstream and the people subject to it care if others prepare for disaster or end their dependency on the establishment? Why are they so desperate to attack those of us who find our own path? If the system is so effective and the collective so correct in its methodology, then individualists are hurting only themselves by walking away, right? But for the sheeple, successfully self-reliant individuals become a constant reminder of their own inadequacies. They feel that if they cannot survive without the system, NO ONE can survive without the system; and they will make sure that individualists never prove otherwise. “You didn’t build that” becomes the sheeple motto, as they scratch and scrape like spoiled children, trying to dismantle the momentum of independent movements and ventures in non-participation.
Sheeple Are Easily Forgotten
To live a life of endless acceptance is to live a life of meaningless obscurity. When one arrives at his deathbed, does he want to reflect on all of his regrets or all of his accomplishments? Most of us would rather find joy than sadness when looking back over our past. For sheeple, though, this will not be possible — for what have they ever done besides conform? What will they have left behind except a world worse off than when they were born? What will they have accomplished, but more pain and struggle for future generations? In the end, what have their lives really been worth?
I cannot imagine a torture more vicious and terrifying than to realize in the face of one’s final days that one wasted his entire life trying to please the plethora of idiots around him, instead of educating them and himself and molding tomorrow for the better. I cannot imagine a punishment more severe than to spend the majority of one’s years as a slave without even knowing it. I cannot imagine an existence more deserving of pity and remorse than that of the sheeple.
Source: Brandon Smith | Alt-Market
I was watching “The Mentalist” on TV recently, where some guy was being tortured, had a finger cut off with pruning shears and his face caressed with an acetylene torch. Yikes! And even during that nice little detective show “Castle,” you can always count on seeing a whole bunch of blood and guts — not to mention the torture scenes and disemboweling now available on “Elementary” and “Body of Proof” and “Revolution” and “Person of Interest” and “Scandal”. And these are just the milder prime-time television shows. I’m not even going to get into the nightmare-producing horrors of “Criminal Minds” and “Law & Order SVU” — because I can’t even bear to watch those.
And then there are all those currently-popular “undead” shows too. How many times can you torture a werewolf or drive a stake through a vampire’s heart before he or she is truly dead? Apparently a lot.
I can think of at least eight TV series off the top of my head right now that face this very problem nightly in our very own living rooms: Dracula, The Originals, Vampire Diaries, Grimm, Once Upon a Time, Sleepy Hollow, Beauty and the Beast, Supernaturals. And, again, that’s not even counting cable and “True Blood”. What are America’s television viewers THINKING! Are they that hungry for blood? Apparently.
But thank goodness I can’t afford cable TV because that would mean there would be 500 more channels with 500 more new and different ways to kill people off violently and with lots of blood and torture and gore. Good grief, no wonder hardly anyone blinked when the horrendous secret tortures of Abu Ghraib, Zero Dark 30 and Palestine were exposed to America by social media . “No big deal. We see that kind of stuff on TV every night!” Americans replied.
If one were to judge the American way of life solely by what its most popular television programs are, one would think that Americans were all murderous blood-thirsty psychopathic nut cases who dream only of blood.
To quote George H.W. Bush, “The American way of life is non-negotiable.” Makes you wonder about that.
And speaking of TV violence and George H.W. Bush, wouldn’t you just love it if, on his deathbed, Poppy Bush suddenly decided to make one last attempt at becoming one of the most famous men in history (in the grand tradition of John Wilkes Booth for instance — or Marcus Julius Brutus) by finally confessing to his role in the assassination of John Kennedy. Wow! That would really earn Poppy a place in our history books for sure!
But what I would really love to see would be Dick Cheney doing the same thing: In a fabulous deathbed interview with Olivia Pope herself, Cheney would finally “tell all” about what he had really been doing on the day that the Twin Towers fell. Hell, even Dracula himself would come back from the Undead to watch that TV show. Me too.
I bet there’s a whole long list of creepy “Patriots” here in America, just like those creepy Patriots in “Revolution,” who know exactly where all the bodies in recent American history are buried — and these creepy guys are all getting up there in age. So if any of these shadowy “Persons of Interest” should suddenly decide that they want to add to America’s “Body of Proof,” become an “Original” and create a huge “Scandal,” now is the time!
I have just one more thing to say about the mind-numbing violence of JFK’s assassination: If it had happened today instead of 50 years ago, every SmartPhone in Dallas would have posted that video on FaceBook in a nanosecond — a la the shooting of Oscar Grant. And that grassy knoll shooter wouldn’t have stood a chance in Hell of getting away. And there couldn’t have been any slimy Warren Commission cover-ups either.
America’s shadow figures and black-ops plotters can no longer get away with the low-life garbage they used to easily pull off 50 years ago, thanks to social media. And that’s “Elementary”.
Overheard on a military base on Veterans Day: “You gotta love America. Even our gangsters are better-armed.”
It was the silence that made this voyage different from all of those before it.
Not the absence of sound, exactly.
The wind still whipped the sails and whistled in the rigging. The waves still sloshed against the fibreglass hull.
And there were plenty of other noises: muffled thuds and bumps and scrapes as the boat knocked against pieces of debris.
What was missing was the cries of the seabirds which, on all previous similar voyages, had surrounded the boat.
The birds were missing because the fish were missing.
Exactly 10 years before, when Newcastle yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen had sailed exactly the same course from Melbourne to Osaka, all he’d had to do to catch a fish from the ocean between Brisbane and Japan was throw out a baited line.
“There was not one of the 28 days on that portion of the trip when we didn’t catch a good-sized fish to cook up and eat with some rice,” Macfadyen recalled.
But this time, on that whole long leg of sea journey, the total catch was two.
No fish. No birds. Hardly a sign of life at all.
“In years gone by I’d gotten used to all the birds and their noises,” he said.
“They’d be following the boat, sometimes resting on the mast before taking off again. You’d see flocks of them wheeling over the surface of the sea in the distance, feeding on pilchards.”
But in March and April this year, only silence and desolation surrounded his boat, Funnel Web, as it sped across the surface of a haunted ocean.
North of the equator, up above New Guinea, the ocean-racers saw a big fishing boat working a reef in the distance.
“All day it was there, trawling back and forth. It was a big ship, like a mother-ship,”he said.
And all night it worked too, under bright floodlights. And in the morning Macfadyen was awoken by his crewman calling out, urgently, that the ship had launched a speedboat.
“Obviously I was worried. We were unarmed and pirates are a real worry in those waters. I thought, if these guys had weapons then we were in deep trouble.”
But they weren’t pirates, not in the conventional sense, at least. The speedboat came alongside and the Melanesian men aboard offered gifts of fruit and jars of jam and preserves.
“And they gave us five big sugar-bags full of fish,” he said.
“They were good, big fish, of all kinds. Some were fresh, but others had obviously been in the sun for a while.
“We told them there was no way we could possibly use all those fish. There were just two of us, with no real place to store or keep them. They just shrugged and told us to tip them overboard. That’s what they would have done with them anyway, they said.
“They told us that his was just a small fraction of one day’s by-catch. That they were only interested in tuna and to them, everything else was rubbish. It was all killed, all dumped. They just trawled that reef day and night and stripped it of every living thing.”
Macfadyen felt sick to his heart. That was one fishing boat among countless more working unseen beyond the horizon, many of them doing exactly the same thing.
No wonder the sea was dead. No wonder his baited lines caught nothing. There was nothing to catch.
If that sounds depressing, it only got worse.
The next leg of the long voyage was from Osaka to San Francisco and for most of that trip the desolation was tinged with nauseous horror and a degree of fear.
“After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead,” Macfadyen said.
“We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumour on its head. It was pretty sickening.
“I’ve done a lot of miles on the ocean in my life and I’m used to seeing turtles, dolphins, sharks and big flurries of feeding birds. But this time, for 3000 nautical miles there was nothing alive to be seen.”
In place of the missing life was garbage in astounding volumes.
“Part of it was the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Japan a couple of years ago. The wave came in over the land, picked up an unbelievable load of stuff and carried it out to sea. And it’s still out there, everywhere you look.”
Ivan’s brother, Glenn, who boarded at Hawaii for the run into the United States, marvelled at the “thousands on thousands” of yellow plastic buoys. The huge tangles of synthetic rope, fishing lines and nets. Pieces of polystyrene foam by the million. And slicks of oil and petrol, everywhere.
Countless hundreds of wooden power poles are out there, snapped off by the killer wave and still trailing their wires in the middle of the sea.
“In years gone by, when you were becalmed by lack of wind, you’d just start your engine and motor on,” Ivan said.
Not this time.
“In a lot of places we couldn’t start our motor for fear of entangling the propeller in the mass of pieces of rope and cable. That’s an unheard of situation, out in the ocean.
“If we did decide to motor we couldn’t do it at night, only in the daytime with a lookout on the bow, watching for rubbish.
“On the bow, in the waters above Hawaii, you could see right down into the depths. I could see that the debris isn’t just on the surface, it’s all the way down. And it’s all sizes, from a soft-drink bottle to pieces the size of a big car or truck.
“We saw a factory chimney sticking out of the water, with some kind of boiler thing still attached below the surface. We saw a big container-type thing, just rolling over and over on the waves.
“We were weaving around these pieces of debris. It was like sailing through a garbage tip.
“Below decks you were constantly hearing things hitting against the hull, and you were constantly afraid of hitting something really big. As it was, the hull was scratched and dented all over the place from bits and pieces we never saw.”
Plastic was ubiquitous. Bottles, bags and every kind of throwaway domestic item you can imagine, from broken chairs to dustpans, toys and utensils.
And something else. The boat’s vivid yellow paint job, never faded by sun or sea in years gone past, reacted with something in the water off Japan, losing its sheen in a strange and unprecedented way.
Back in Newcastle, Ivan Macfadyen is still coming to terms with the shock and horror of the voyage.
“The ocean is broken,” he said, shaking his head in stunned disbelief.
Recognising the problem is vast, and that no organisations or governments appear to have a particular interest in doing anything about it, Macfadyen is looking for ideas.
He plans to lobby government ministers, hoping they might help.
More immediately, he will approach the organisers of Australia’s major ocean races, trying to enlist yachties into an international scheme that uses volunteer yachtsmen to monitor debris and marine life.
Macfadyen signed up to this scheme while he was in the US, responding to an approach by US academics who asked yachties to fill in daily survey forms and collect samples for radiation testing – a significant concern in the wake of the tsunami and consequent nuclear power station failure in Japan.
“I asked them why don’t we push for a fleet to go and clean up the mess,” he said.
“But they said they’d calculated that the environmental damage from burning the fuel to do that job would be worse than just leaving the debris there.”
Source: Greg Ray | Newcastle Herald
“Repo has a flaw: It is vulnerable to panic, that is, ‘depositors’ may ‘withdraw’ their money at any time, forcing the system into massive deleveraging. We saw this over and over again with demand deposits in all of U.S. history prior to deposit insurance. This problem has not been addressed by the Dodd-Frank legislation. So, it could happen again.” – Gary B. Gorton, Professor of Management and Finance, Yale School of Management (lifted from Repowatch)
Subprime mortgages did not cause the financial crisis, nor did the housing bubble or Lehman Brothers. The financial crisis originated in a corner of the shadow banking system called the repo market. That’s where the bank run occurred that froze the secondary market, sent prices on mortgage-backed assets plunging, and pushed the financial system into a death spiral. In the Great Crash of 2008, repo was ground zero, the epicenter of the global catastrophe. As analyst David Weidner noted in the Wall Street Journal, “The repo market wasn’t just a part of the meltdown. It was the meltdown.”
Regrettably, the Federal Reserve’s nontraditional monetary policies (ZIRP and QE) have succeeded in restoring the repo market to it’s precrisis level of activity, but without implementing any of the changes that would have made the system safer. Repo is as vulnerable and crisis-prone today as it was when the French bank PNB Paribas stopped redemptions in its off-balance sheet operations in 2007 kicking off the tumultuous bank run that would eventually implode the entire system and push the economy into the deepest slump since the Great Depression. By failing to rein in repo, the Fed has ensured that financial crises will be a regular feature in the future occurring every 15 or 20 years as was the case before banks were more strictly regulated and government backstops were put in place. Repo returns us to Wild West “anything goes” banking.
Why would the Fed be so reckless and pave the way for another disaster? We’ll get to that in a minute, but first, let’s give a brief explanation of repo and how the system works.
Repo is short for repurchase agreement. The repo market is where primary dealers sell securities with an agreement for the seller to buy back the securities at a later date. This sounds more complicated than it is. What’s really going on is the seller (primary dealers) are getting short-term loans from money market funds, securities firms, banks etc in order to maintain a position in securities in which they’re suppose to make markets. So, repo is like a loan that’s secured with collateral. (ie–the securities) It is a “funding mechanism”.
What touched off the Crash of 2008, was the discovery that the collateral that was being used for repo funding was “toxic”, that is, the securities were not Triple A after all, but subprime mortgage-backed gunk that would only fetch pennies on the dollar. So, when PNB Paribas stopped redemptions in its off-balance sheet operations on August 9, 2007, the rout began. Cash-heavy investors (like money markets) turned off the lending spigot, which reduced trillions of dollars of MBS to junk-status, precipitated massive fire sales of distressed assets that were dumped on the market pushing prices further and further down wiping out trillions in equity and reducing the financial system to a smoldering pile of rubble. That’s why the Fed stepped in, backstopped the system with explicit guarantees for both regulated and unregulated financial institutions and set about to reflate financial asset prices to their precrisis highs.
Newly appointed Fed chairman Janet Yellen summarized what happened in the panic in a speech she gave earlier this year. She said:
“The trigger for the acute phase of the financial crisis was the rapid unwinding of large amounts of short-term wholesale funding that had been made available to highly leveraged and/or maturity-transforming financial firms.”
In other words, the crisis began in repo. Unfortunately, Wall Street has fended off all attempts to fix the system, because repo is a particularly lucrative area of activity. And we are talking serious money here, too. Tri-party repo alone–which is a small subset of the larger repo market–represents “about $1.6 trillion in outstanding repos daily.” That means that the prospect of a big dealer dumping his portfolio of securities on the market at a moment’s notice igniting another panic, is never far away.
Why do banks borrow in the unregulated, shadow system instead of conducting their business in the light of day where regulators can check the quality of the underlying collateral, oversee the various transactions on public trading platforms, and make sure that capital requirements are maintained?
It’s because the banks want to deploy all their capital, leverage up to their eyeballs and play fast-and-loose with the rules. Here’s what the New York Fed has to say on the topic:
“One clear motivation for intermediation outside of the traditional banking system is for private actors to evade regulation and taxes. The academic literature documents that motivation explains part of the growth and collapse of shadow banking over the past decade…
Regulation typically forces private actors to do something which they would otherwise not do: pay taxes to the official sector, disclose additional information to investors, or hold more capital against financial exposures. Financial activity which has been re-structured to avoid taxes, disclosure, and/or capital requirements, is referred to as arbitrage activity.” (“Shadow Bank Monitoring“, Federal Reserve Bank of New York Staff Reports, September, 2013)
In other words, the banks are conducting their operations in the shadows because it’s cheaper. That’s what this is all about. Here’s more from the same report:
“While the fundamental reason for commercial bank runs is the sequential servicing constraint, for shadow banks the effective constraint is the presence of fire sale externalities. In a run, shadow banking entities have to sell assets at a discount, which depresses market pricing. This provides incentives to withdraw funding—before other shadow banking depositors arrive.”
Okay, so when there’s a run on the local bank, the bank may have to offload some of its illiquid assets (real estate, commercial property, etc) to meet the increased demand of depositors who want their money, but they can also rely on government backing. (deposit insurance). But with shadow banking–like repo– it’s a bit different; the problem is fire sales. For example, when repo lenders–like the big money markets–demanded more collateral from the banks in exchange for short-term funding; the banks were forced to dump more of their assets en masse pushing prices lower, eroding their equity and leaving many of the banks deep in the red. This is how the panic wiped out Wall Street and cleared the way for the $700 TARP bailout. It all started in repo.
The point is, had the system been adequately regulated with the appropriate safeguards in place, there would have been no fire sales, no panic, and no crisis. Regulators would have made sure that the underlying collateral was legit, that is, they would have made sure that the subprime borrowers were creditworthy and able to repay their loans. They would have made sure that repo borrowers (the banks) had sufficient capital to meet redemptions if problems arose. And regulators would have limited excessive leveraging of the securitized assets.
Regulation works. It provides safety, stability, and security as opposed to panic, bankruptcy and severe recession which is the scenario that Wall Street’s profiteers seem to prefer. Now check this out from the NY Fed:
“While leveraged lending collapsed in 2008 from a peak of $680 billion in 2007, it has rebounded very quickly, and is now at record levels of volume, projected to be larger than $1 trillion in 2013…” (NY Fed)
How’s that for progress, eh? So, Bernanke’s reflation efforts have effectively restored the same shabby, poorly designed system to its former glory putting all of us at risk again. Here’s more:
“One area of concern, however, is the significant increase in the fraction of covenant lite loans, which have increased dramatically from 0 percent in 2010 to 60 percent in 2013. This deterioration in loan underwriting has come hand-in-hand with an increased presence of retail investors in the leveraged loan market, through both CLOs and prime funds, as relatively sophisticated investors, like banks and hedge funds, are exiting the asset class.” (New York Fed)
Great. So now we are seeing the same problems that emerged in 2004 and 2005 with subprime mortgages, that is, there’s so much liquidity in the system–thanks to the Fed’s zero rates and QE– that investors are dabbling in all-types of risky garbage that you wouldn’t normally touch with a 10 foot dungpole. Check this out from Testosterone Pit:
“Shadow banking loans are estimated to have reached $15 trillion in the US. And among them is a particularly hot category: lending to highly leveraged companies with junk credit ratings. … the NY Fed found that these loans are increasingly issued in a loosey-goosey manner, with low underwriting standards. And issuance has soared…
Layered into these crappy and risky loans are the crappiest and riskiest of all loans, namely “covenant-lite” loans. Their covenants are so watered down and so full of holes that investors have few if any protections in case of default. If the Fed ever allows reality to set, and these companies stumble under their load of debt or can’t refinance it at ridiculously low rates, investors can kiss their money goodbye.” …
these desperate small investors…have unknowingly made a quantum leap in risk – allowing the smart money, which hears the hot air hissing from the credit bubble, to bail out. This must be one of the proudest moments in Chairman Bernanke’s glorious tenure.” (“Fed: Hedge Funds, Banks Sell Crappiest Debt To Small Investors (Before Credit Bubble Blows Up) ” Testosterone Pit)
Nice, eh? So the big boys are planning to vamoose before the whole house of cards comes tumbling down. Meanwhile, Mom and Pop are about to get reamed for the umpteenth time when the Fed “tapers” and these covenant lite IEDs blow up in their face taking another sizable chunk out of their retirement savings. Way to go, Bernanke. Here’s more from the NY Fed report:
“Shadow credit transformation increased from only 5 percent of total credit transformation in 1945 to a peak amount of 60 percent in 2008 before declining to 55 percent in 2011.”
So now the shadow players are generating more than half of all the nation’s credit via their dodgy, unregulated operations. Why? So a handful of ravenous banks can make bigger profits.
According to the Financial Stability Board (FSB) “credit intermediation that takes place in an environment where prudential regulatory standards and supervisory oversight are either not applied or are applied to a materially lesser or different degree than is the case for regular banks engaged in similar activities.” (FSB, 2011).
Read that over again. What they’re saying is that it’s a completely ridiculous, insane system. We’ve given the banks this outrageous privilege of creating private money out of thin air, (credit) and they spit in our face. They won’t even follow a few simple rules that would make the process safer for everyone. Keep in mind, that Dodd Frank does nothing to remedy the problems in repo.
One last thing (from the NY Fed):
“Intermediaries create liquidity in the shadow banking system by levering up the collateral value of their assets. However, the liquidity creation comes at the cost of financial fragility as fluctuations in uncertainty cause a flight to quality from shadow liabilities to safe assets. The collapse of shadow banking liquidity has real effects via the pricing of credit and generates prolonged slumps after adverse shocks.”
Repeat: “liquidity creation comes at the cost of financial fragility as fluctuations in uncertainty cause a flight to quality from shadow liabilities to safe assets.”
Can you believe it? The Fed doesn’t even try to deny what’s going on. They admit that letting the banks ratchet up their leverage increases “financial fragility ” which could precipitate another crash. (“flight to quality from shadow liabilities to safe assets.”) In other words, the Fed KNOWS the system is nuts, just like they know that it’s only a matter of time before the whole bloody thing blows up again and the economy goes off the cliff. Still, they’re not going to lift a finger to change the system.
You know why.
Because a few fatcats at the top like the way things are now, that’s why.
If that doesn’t make your blood boil, I don’t know what will.
“Hi! We’re the news…manufacturing witnesses, creating dupes, and using true believers. Just like an intelligence agency. Come join us!”
Focus on the network evening news. This is where the staging is done well.
First, we have the image itself, the colors in foreground and background, the blend of restful and charged hues. The anchor and his/her smooth style.
Then we have the shifting of venue from the studio to reporters in the field, demonstrating the reach of coverage: the planet. As if this equals authenticity.
The managing editor, usually the elite anchor, chooses the stories to cover and their sequence.
The anchor goes on the air: “Our top story tonight, more signs of gridlock today on Capitol Hill, as legislators walked out of a session on federal budget negotiations…”
The viewer fills in the context for the story: “Oh yes, the government. We want the government to get something done, but they’re not. We want to government to avoid a shutdown. These people are always arguing with each other. They don’t agree. They’re in conflict. Yes, conflict, just like on the cop shows.”
The anchor: “The Chinese government reports the new flu epidemic has spread to three provinces. Forty-two people have already died, and nearly a thousand are hospitalized…”
The viewer again supplies context, such as it is: “Flu. Dangerous. Epidemic. Could it arrive here? Get my flu shot. Do the Chinese doctors know what they’re doing? Crowded cities. Maybe more cases all of a sudden. Ten thousand, a hundred thousand.”
The anchor: “A new university study states that gun owners often stock up on weapons and ammunition, and this trend has jumped quickly since the Newtown, Connecticut, school-shooting tragedy…”
The viewer: “People with guns. Why do they need a dozen weapons? People in small towns. I don’t need a gun. The police have guns. Could I kill somebody if he broke into the house?”
The anchor: “Doctors at Yale University have made a discovery that could lead to new treatments in the battle against Autism…”
Viewer: “That would be good. More research. Laboratory. Germs. The brain.”
If, at the end of the newscast, the viewer bothered to review the stories and his own reactions to them, he would realize he’d learned almost nothing. But reflection is not the game.
In fact, the flow of the news stories has washed over him and created very little except a sense of continuity.
It would never occur to him to wonder: are the squabbling political legislators really two branches of the same Party? Does government have the Constitutional right to incur this much debt? Where is all that money coming from? Taxes? Other sources? Who invents money?
Is the flu dangerous for most people? If not, why not? Do governments overstate case numbers? How do they actually test patients for the flu? Are the tests accurate? Are they just trying to convince us to get vaccines?
What happens when the government has overwhelming force and citizens have no guns?
When the researchers keep saying “may” and “could,” does that mean they’ve actually discovered something useful about Autism, or are they just hyping their own work and trying to get funding for their next project?
These are only a few of the many questions the typical viewer never considers.
Therefore, every story on the news broadcast achieves the goal of keeping the context small and narrow—night after night, year after year. The overall effect of this, yes, staging, is small viewer, small viewer’s mind, small viewer’s understanding.
Billions of dollars are spent by the networks to build a reality the size of a room in a cheap motel.
Next we come to words over pictures. More and more, news broadcasts are using the rudimentary film technique of a voice narrating what the viewer is seeing on the screen.
People are shouting and running and falling in a street. The anchor or a field reporter says: “The country is in turmoil. Parliament has suspended sessions for the third day in a row, as the government decides what to do about uprisings aimed at forcing democratic elections…”
Well, the voice must be right, because we’re seeing the pictures. If the voice said the riots were due to garbage-pickup cancellations, the viewer would believe that, too.
How about this: two-day-old footage of runners approaching the finish line of the Boston Marathon. A puff of smoke rises at the right of the screen. A runner falls down in the street. The anchor is saying: “The FBI has announced a bomb made in a pressure cooker caused the injuries and deaths.”
Must be so. We saw the pictures and heard the voice explain.
We see Building #7 of the WTC collapse. Must have been the result of a fire. The anchor tells us so. Words over pictures.
We see footage of Lee Harvey Oswald inside the Dallas police station. The anchor tells he’s about to be transferred, under heavy guard, to another location. Oswald must be guilty, because we’re seeing him in a police station, and the anchor just said “under heavy guard.”
Staged news. It works. Why?
Because it mirrors what the human mind, in an infantile state, is always doing: looking at the world and seeking a brief summary to explain what the world is, at any given moment.
Since the dawn of time, untold billions of people have been urging a “television anchor” to “explain the pictures.”
The news gives them that precise thing, that precise solution, every night.
“Well, Mr. Jones,” the doctor says, as he pins X-rays to a screen in his office. “See this? Right here? We’ll need to start chemo immediately, and then we may have to remove most of your brain, and as a followup, take out one eye.”
Sure, why not? The patient saw the pictures and the anchor explained them.
After watching and listening to the last year of news, the population is ready to see the president or one of his minions step up to a microphone and say, “Quantitative easing…sequester…”
Reaction? “Don’t know what it is, but it must be okay.”
Eventually, people get the idea and do it for themselves. They see things, they invent one-liners to explain them. They’re their own anchors. They short-cut and undermine their own experience with vapid summaries of what it all means.
“Here are the photos. Just look at these photos. Don’t look at any other photos. These are the killers. Here’s what it means: we’re going to send in SWAT teams and rout you out of your homes at gunpoint, we’ll search your homes, no warrants, and you’re going to comply, and when it’s over and we’ve caught them, you’ll cheer.”
“Sure. Okay. We will.”
Pictures, explanation, obedience.
The staging of reality, the staging of news; they’re the same thing.
At some point in time, the television audience begins to experience an itch. “If reality is the news, then maybe I could become a visible piece of reality. Maybe I could get on the news. What would I have to do? How can I stand out? What outlandish thing could I cook up?”
Anyone’s face could appear on the screen and flicker there and be driven into the minds of millions of people as something hypnotic.
If not fortune, then at least fame.
Whereas an honest television news anchor, if one existed, would say:
“The battle over the government shutdown and its funding continue as a piece of planned chaos. Events like this are shaped well in advance by men who manipulate the One Political Party With Two Heads, and you, the viewer, are reacting predictably. You’re choosing sides. You’re angry. And I’m sitting here on most nights adding fuel to the fire. The fix is in, and I’m going along with it. Here in the studio, I’m staging the news about staged reality.”
The news is a movie of a movie.
And then, of course, when the news cuts to commercial, the fake reality of products takes over:
“Well, every night they’re showing the same brand names, so those brands must be better than the unnamed alternatives.”
Which devolves into: “I like this commercial better than that commercial. This is a great commercial.”
Which devolves into: reality is an advertisement for itself.
Source: Jon Rappoport | No More Fake News
Millions around the world today are hoping the US federal government shuts down at midnight on Monday. Many have thoughts of wars and occupations ending in their regions… but, sadly, this is not part of the “services” that will be cut during a shutdown.
In fact, not only will the Department of Offense continue on as usual but so will all the tyrannical agencies such as the DEA, IRS, ATF, CIA and countless other alphabet soup agencies of oppression.
What will “shut down”? According to CNN these are the Top 10 Ways A Government Shutdown Would Affect Your Daily Life:
1. I’m Proud To Be An American. According to CNN, “the biggest hit would be to the collective psyche. America is the largest economy in the world and a beacon for how democracy ought to work”. It is sad if even one person in the US has their “psyche” hurt because of this! It is sad how many people in the US now consider their country/region and the government that rules it as being one in the same. Not to mention that the US was never designed to be a democracy… it was set-up as a Republic and all the founding fathers spoke very warily against any sort of democracy. Democracy, fundamentally, is mob rule and anti-freedom. It is the tyranny of the majority against the minority.
2. Anything Dirty or Dingy or Dusty. It is unbelievable that this #2 reason from CNN warns people of how dramatically their lives will be affected if the federal government shuts down (and this after #1 was that it might hurt their “psyche”). It goes on to say that the only region in the entire country where trash pickup may stop in the event of a shutdown is in Washington, District of Criminals. Hardly a national disaster! And, not to mention, that if that really were the case, free market private enterprise would spring up, like in Detroit, and people would actually have good options for waste disposal rather than a communist style, centrally planned garbage pickup.
3. Money. According to CNN, if you need a loan from the government, you won’t be able to get it in event of a shut down. Good! If you are such a credit risk that no one in private enterprise will lend you money then, definitely, the government shouldn’t lend you the money they stole from the innocent victims in their tax farm! They also mention that Socialist InSecurity (SS) cheques may stop coming. This is often one of the first things the government tries to scare people with, as Barack Obama did in 2011, during the last event of this type. Why? Because old people vote in much greater numbers than younger people and scaring them with threats of withheld money works. What should really scare them is that both the US government and its SS Ponzi scheme is bankrupt.
4. Ammunition. According to CNN, “A shutdown would affect the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Translation: That gun permit you wanted processed wouldn’t happen anytime soon”. The ATF shutting down would be a wonderful thing. So sad in the “land of the free” that one of the biggest threats to a government shutdown is that you may not get permission from the government to have a gun!
5. Drugs. According to CNN, “The Republicans want to defund Obamacare in exchange for funding the government. But the health care act at the center of this storm would continue its implementation process during a shutdown. That’s because its funds aren’t dependent on the congressional budget process”. CNN is really reaching to find 10 ways this shut down will affect people when they explicitly state that #5 won’t affect drugs or Obamacare!
6. The Mail. CNN is really running out of ideas now that they have to bring up the post office, that bankrupt, antiquated, 1800s style of delivering information that the internet, FedEx and UPS rendered it obsolete decades ago. Oh, but here CNN again let’s us know that even that embarrassing anachronism won’t actually shut down! “You know that whole ‘Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night’ thing? Apparently, the U.S. Postal Service works through shutdowns as well.”
7. The Roads! Muh Roads! For the third time in a row CNN says this will be unaffected (what was the point of this list again?). They pitch this one as, “If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street” as though to lead you into thinking the roads will close without the federal government, but then they don’t mention roads again. Here’s what they had to say on it, “You may be thinking, ‘No functioning government, no need to pay taxes.’ Think again. The Man would continue to collect taxes. U.S. bonds would still be issued. And other essential banking functions would go on”. So, here is another one that won’t affect you, unfortunately. You still have to pay extortion to the federal government, even if they are “shut down”.
8. The Military. CNN says, “The good news (for you) is that the men and women in uniform would continue to keep you safe. “… okay, that’s four in a row that won’t affect people on a list of 10 ways the shut down will affect you! Instead it is the usual propaganda trying to make people feel like the US military “protects” Americans.
9. Celebrate! Seriously, this is #9 on the list. Here’s what they said, “Don’t come to work if you’re a federal employee. You’re on furlough. (Offer not valid for workers in ‘critical services,’ such as air traffic controllers, hazardous waste handlers and food inspectors.) Do take some time to celebrate. In previous shutdowns, everyone who stayed home was paid retroactively after peace returned to Washington”. So, the shutdown is a good thing because millions of federal government employees get a free vacation that will be paid by Americans who will be paying for them to do nothing.
10. National Parks. According to CNN, “Need to get away? Well, you can’t. At least not to national parks. Or to national zoos. Or to national museums. They’d all be closed. That’s 368 National Park Service sites closed, millions of visitors turned away. Were you thinking more along the lines of a trip to France? If you don’t already have a passport, you might have to bid that adieu — you might not get your blue book in time. The last time the government threw a hissy fit, 200,000 applications for passports went unprocessed. Tourism and airline revenues reeled”. So, some parks may be shuttered and your permission to travel may be withheld.
That’s it? That’s the best that CNN can come up with on how a potential government shutdown will affect people? Your psyche may get hurt (if you had a delusional belief in the US government being the same as yourself); there may not be garbage collection in Washington, Den of Criminals; you won’t be able to get a federal loan and you may not get permission from the government to have a gun or travel.
And this is what has the mainstream media talking about non-stop?
Of course, if the Federal Reserve did not print the money (QE2Infinity) to keep the US government going with over a $1 trillion deficit per year, 90% plus of what the government does would come to an immediate halt. Then there would be countless very serious things that would “affect your life”. Anyone depending on food stamps (which is now over 50 million people), anyone depending on SS to survive would definitely be affected as there’d be no money to pay them. And, not to mention, every bank in the US would be insolvent and all depositor’s money would be lost as the FDIC is also bankrupt.
But, we aren’t betting on that ever happening. This is democracy, after all. And that means keeping the debts and new money flowing until the economic system collapses as the printing of money causes the eventual demise of the dollar and The End Of The Monetary System As We Know It (TEOTMSAWKI).
This system is now down to two options: massive debt default or massive inflation and neither is particularly good for anyone living in the US. Every major government or empire in history when faced with those two options chose to continue printing money until the currency collapsed.
In either case, what is happening today is nothing compared to what is going to happen. Use this time to prepare and get your assets, and if you can, even your own ass outside of what will be ground zero for this economic collapse, the US.
We talk about all the ways to do that at the TDV newsletter including things like putting your IRA into a self-directed IRA and getting the assets internationalized (into precious metals offshore – like we talk about in Getting Your Gold Out Of Dodge – and foreign real estate like Galt’s Gulch in Chile), getting offshore bank accounts and set-up with an offshore corporation for your business endeavors (TDV Offshore), getting a foreign residency or passport (TDV Passports) and, if you have assets over $1 million, using TDV Wealth Management to get the assets safely outside of the blast radius.
What is going on in Washington, DC, today could mean postponing a trip to Yellowstone national park or having delayed garbage pickup in DC itself. What is coming in the next few months and years has the potential to destroy all your assets and leave you devoid of any way of earning income as the economy is totally destroyed by a currency collapse.
The best case scenario for the populace of the US in the long run is for a complete shutdown of the US federal government… But, that collapse is going to be messy and a lot of people are going to get hurt in the short term during that collapse.
Anarcho-Capitalist. Libertarian. Freedom fighter against mankind’s two biggest enemies, the State and the Central Banks. Jeff Berwick is the founder of The Dollar Vigilante, CEO of TDV Media & Services and host of the popular video podcast, Anarchast. Jeff is a prominent speaker at many of the world’s freedom, investment and gold conferences as well as regularly in the media including CNBC, CNN and Fox Business.
Source: Jeff Berwick | The Dollar Vigilante
They are 67 new families, or about 400 Palestinian refugees displaced from Syria, residing in 60 recently erected tents set up as an emergency ‘gathering’ near the Ein el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp adjacent to the city of Sidon in southern Lebanon. In all, there are approximately 75,000 thousand Palestinians in Lebanon who have fled from Syria over the past 28 months.
Additional Palestinians arrive every week and sometimes meet former neighbors from Yarmouk and other Syrian Palestinian camps at the Masnaa Lebanon-Syria border crossing. The new arrivals are often grimaced to happen upon their countrymen who are returning to take their chances facing death in Syria including dodging the snipers and bombings targeting Yarmouk and elsewhere. The reasons the returnees give for returning to Syria focus on the appalling humanitarian conditions in Lebanon for Palestinians as well as the nearly 780,000 other refugees here from Syria.
Palestinians forced into Lebanon from Syria soon learn, if they were not aware previously, that all Palestinians refugees in Lebanon are barred by law from the most elementary civil rights to work and to own a home. More than 50 professions open to Palestinians in Syria and in every other country, including occupied Palestine, are forbidden here. Two examples of jobs Palestinians can do and are doing in Lebanon when they arrive from Syria include scavenging through the rotting filth at Saida Garbage Mountain and other Lebanese government public garbage dumps to find something worth a few Lebanese Lira (LL) to help their loved ones survive. No, nearly impossible to secure work permit, is even required so they need not fear arrest by the Lebanese authorities who irregularly round up Palestinian violators of this country’s no work for Palestinian refugees ban.
The same, “no work permit required” reality is true of another profession which critics accuse the “Government” of Lebanon and its competing politicians of approving instead of allowing even one currently banned legitimate job to those whose lives are at risk and who are desperately in need of livelihood.
That profession which is open to every Palestinian today in Lebanon willing to consider it, is ‘hired gun’.
While both the major political grouping in Lebanon will deny they do it but will accuse the other, the fact of the matter is that both continue to discreetly recruit Palestinians to fight their personal battles on the cheap. It is unfortunately the case that some Palestinians, sweltering in the squalid, fetid camps in Lebanon, discriminated against in public institutions of higher learning, and barred from internationally mandated elementary civil rights, are seeking jobs as militiamen. This against the admonitions and sage counsel of the older generation of PLO fighters, now mainly retired, that the Syrian civil war is not theirs and that Palestinian involvement will not advance Return to Palestine and reclaiming stolen homes and land, by one minute or by one inch.
The choice for many Palestinian young men in Lebanon has come down to guns or education. By force of Lebanese law and under threat of prison for violators, Palestinians are denied the elementary civil rights to work in more than 50 professions and are barred by a 2001 racist law from them or their families, more than six decades living as refugees in Lebanon, from even owning a home. Among Palestinian youth, unemployment rates hover around 70%, while refugee students are also discriminated against in admission to Lebanese state institutions of higher education, including the relatively low-tuition fees at Lebanese University. This makes it difficult for young Palestinians in Lebanon to pursue higher education after graduating from UNWRA schools and passing the Baccalaureate II exam. Being barred from most jobs, it is very difficult to come up with even modest sums for tuition payments.
Against this backdrop of flagrant state sponsored discrimination, if one were to offer un-employed young camp resident, say $ 200 per month, an AK-47 with plenty of ammo, and free cigarettes, the odds are good that you just might have yourself a militiaman. Those journalists and observers who spent much of the summer of 2011 in Libya saw a similar phenomenon and now it’s also the case in Syria. In Lebanon, it is resurgent from the 1975-90 civil war days. The gun for hire resource is being exploited across the political spectrum here among many of the same confessions and political parties that ignited this country’s massively destructive civil war more than three decades ago.
Today, some Palestinians are being paid to fight for certain factions whether from the North of Lebanon at Tripoli and Akkar, to Beirut and various contentious areas such as Tariq al-Jdideh, Sabra, Cola, and down south in Saida during recent clashes that saw 16 Lebanese army killed and twice that number from the supporters of Salafist activist Ahmad Asir. Despite denials from some sources, there were a few Palestinians who fought for Asir and some Palestinians joined other militia including the Hezbollah organized “Resistance Brigades’ and the Lebanese army in fighting against Asir’s forces. An investigation in supposedly underway of the army’s conduct and the involvement of political parties from both the March 14anti-Assad sects and elements of the March 8th pro-Assad groups regarding recruitment of Palestinian youngsters.
President Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly warned Palestinians in Lebanon during his 72 hour visit to Lebanon last week to reject these offers and not to be drawn into the Syrian conflict despite the ‘market place maneuverings’ going on here from various armed confessions. What he meant is that as most of the Lebanese sects are frantically arming and seeking gunmen and weapons, that Palestinian s must refuse to be exploited once again and that they must reject any involvement in a military conflict that contravenes their communities wishes and their national interest. He lectured a gathering of PLO factions at a Palestine Embassy event that this terrible error was the case during the 1975-1990 Lebanese civil wars. For that involvement, Palestinians in Lebanon continue to pay a very heavy price from certain factions here that rather see Lebanon’s economy continue to decline than allow Palestinians to work and help build the local economy as they have done in countless other countries which granted them the right to work and the opportunity to invest in the economy with their technical competence and business skills.
As one Palestinian academic pointed out last week to this observer, “While President Abbas assured Lebanese politicians that Palestinian factions did not want to join the Syrian civil war, he also chastised Lebanon’s government in private for not pressuring various factions, most with representatives in Parliament, to stop recruiting and enticing the hapless, desperate for work refugees, forced into Lebanon against their will.
PA President Abbas also repeated the PLO’s willingness to turn the refugee camps weapons over to the government. He did this with a straight face but surely he knows well that despite the regular scapegoating of Palestinians refugees in Lebanon and the danger they are said by some to pose because some have access to light arms, as everyone in Lebanon does, the truth of the matter is that the Lebanese political groups, even the most open about their hatred of Palestinians in Lebanon, do not want the state to collect or receive as gifts the arms in the Palestinian camps and gatherings, however many there they in fact are. The reason is that if the Palestinians had no weapons at all in the camp, it would make it awkward for some politicians to use the fear of a return to the early 1970’s and the potential danger of a Palestinian uprising for sects political advantage. Truth told, there is no realistic fear, unless provoked, from Palestinians arms. They are exaggerated as is the number of salafist factions inside camps. Yet without the right to work, some Palestinians will doubtless be seduced into becoming hired guns for scarce cash to feed their families.
Hiring young men as gunmen in Lebanon is also impliedly condoned by silence on this problem from various polarized and politicized religious leaders. Some of Lebanon’s religious personalities, too often, wearing pious faces and donning prelatical ‘Pope-wannabe’, if sometimes comical, outfits, and often sporting fingers ringed with gold and precious jewels, intone their gospels according to St. Mark, or his equivalents, about human dignity and being our brother’s keeper, and often referencing “ our blood-veins support for Palestine and the Right of Return.” While simultaneously standing in Janus-faced opposition to the elementary internationally mandated right to work for Palestinians in Lebanon.
When a Palestinian is arrested for carrying a weapon, it’s often front-page news but also usually exaggerated or later shown to be inaccurate. What is more surprising is that more Palestinians are not in the streets, motivated by the Arab Spring and Islamic Awakening, demanding the civil right to work. Yet signs are starting to appear of a pending and overdue intifada in Lebanon demanding this universally recognized right of every refugee to be able to seek work to sustain oneself and family.
Rumors abound these tense days in many part of Lebanon, as if to say, “I told you didn’t I? The Palestinians are the source of most of Lebanon’s problems!” (or the Zionists, or the Saudis, EU, Iranians, Syrians, other Lebanese sects or the Americans, or just about anyone except, this countries deeply destructive confessional system and the Lebanese who profit from this, to date, failed state. Too many Lebanese politicians reject granting rights to Palestinian refugees while they seek to gain personal, regional and international benefits from playing the “Palestinian card”. Meanwhile, dangerous temperature and pressure levels are building in the huge Presto cookers that are Lebanon’s camps.
On a brighter note, arriving with a late news item of 7/18/13, are the just released results of the General Science (SG) and Life Science (SV) secondary school official exam results known as the Baccalaureate II exam results. Preliminary analysis suggests that despite all their hardships, Palestinian and Syrian refugees have done well on the required exams.
One Palestinian mother from Yarmouk camp in Damascus, now among the 700 Palestinian refugee families temporarily here from Syria, and squeezed into the already overflowing Shatila camp explained to this observer as she proudly displayed this week’s announcement of her children’s academic success. She beamed that even with little electricity in her family hovel, polluted drinking water, no fresh air and not much food this past year, her daughter’s and son’s success in passing ‘the BACC II” made her forget her family’s misery.
So it is that the doors are cracked open for higher education, if Palestinian refugees in Lebanon can come up with tuition, sometimes fairly modest by western standards but beyond the means of a majority of camp families. The good news that there will be places in Lebanon’s institutions of higher learning this fall semester, assuming that these youngsters, desperate to be allowed to work at the same jobs that every other foreigner in granted on arriving to Lebanon, do not heed the sirens calls of various sects here, singing seductive songs of quick cash in exchange for carrying a gun.
On April 19, 2013 at the Shatila Camp Youth Center, exactly 30 years to the week following the death of American journalist, Janet Lee Stevens here in Beirut, and recalling times during the 1982 Israeli aggression that rained American bombs of various types down on the civilian population, and still hearing Janet’s voice telling young Palestinian defenders, during the 75-day Zionist siege, “ Once the fighting ends you must, every one of you, return to school, whether to study quantum physics or literature or whatever interests you. Higher education is what will hasten your return to Palestine. Education is your greatest resource and your most potent weapon.”
Speaking at the Shatila Scholarship Award event, one American, paying tribute to Janet as a mediator and advocate for Palestine, and addressing the tuition grant recipients, sought to encourage these future Palestinian leaders:
“An education is forever and its purpose is to enjoy a more productive lifetime while seeking to fulfill all of what each of us is capable as we give back to our respective communities. Staying in school here in Lebanon where we are all guests, just for the time being, and pursuing knowledge and practical skills is a quintessential and noble act and commitment of Resistance against oppression and occupation – anywhere. Education cannot be ethnically cleansed, stolen, tortured, jailed, uprooted, bulldozed, massacred, murdered, bombed or burned down. Rather, staying in school and pursuing ones dream is what your cherished for-bearers, who were forced from their homes and lands into Lebanon and trekked from Palestine- approximately 130,000- in the summer and fall of 1948, would want for you, and expect of you.
Education is a Saladinian Resistance toward liberating, six decades after the Nakba, those still under occupation in Palestine. And to help achieve for refugees in the diaspora, their inalienable full Right of Return.”
When and how do we put an end to this outrage which is an urgent humanitarian imperative shared by every one of us?
We end it immediately.
We do it by Lebanon’s parliament, taking 90 minutes of its time, which is all that would be required, and grant these youngsters the most elementary civil right to work which will also enable them to pursue their dreams of higher education.
And by international support.
This can be facilitated by international pressure. One telephone call from Washington, Riyadh, or Tehran, to local political allies, can get the job done in just over an hour without further procrastination.
If not, to add to its other problems, Lebanon may face a civil right intifada– ignited by continued repression.
In the words of the angelic Miss Hiba of Ein el Hilweh camp, now 19 years old and three years after her defiant declaration in 2010 to those who sneered at her that she should get married at age 16, and with her beauty, could demand a handsome dowry for her impoverished family, and forget about college: “There is no other choice than success with the civil rights goal of every Palestinian in Lebanon to seek a job and to pursue education as we peacefully intensify our struggle to Return to our stolen and still occupied country, Palestine. “
Today, Hiba continues the good fight as she completes next year, her degree in engineering. She insists she will need this knowledge when she returns to her family’s occupied home near Safed.
It’s not hard to find critics of the Assad government in the Governorate (Muhafazat) of Homs or for that matter, to varying degrees in Syria’s other thirteen Governorates according to Syrian analysts interviewed by this observer and reports from human rights groups including lawyers representing dissidents in Syria. However, after nearly 27 months of turmoil, the public opinion pendulum is markedly shifting back in support of the current regime.
One international political result was registered at the United Nations this past week when a US-Qatari-Saudi drafted General Assembly Resolution that was designed to increase pressure on the Assad government stumbled badly and fell far short of what the Saudi Ambassador to the UN and other US allies predicted would be an overwhelming vote in favor.
Effect of shift in popular opinion in Syria
Over the past four or five months it has become increasingly clear that public opinion in Syria is shifting for reasons that include, but are not limited to the following:
While inflation at the grocery stores in probably the most common complaint heard from a cross-section of society here, the population is adapting somewhat to higher prices and it appears to credit the government for efforts, some successful, to soften the impact of the illegal US-led sanctions that target this same Syrian population for purely political reasons to achieve regime change.
While Syrians demand dignity and freedom from oppressive security forces and an end to corruption, as all people do in this region and beyond, they are witnessing a return to near normalcy with respect to supplies of electricity, benzene, mazout fuel oil, bus schedules, schools, and a host of public services such as garbage collection, street sweeping, park maintenance, and sympathetic traffic cops who are rather understanding of short-cuts taken by drivers and pedestrians due to “the situation”.
In addition, public service announcement and even text messages demonstrate that the government is aware of the degree of suffering among the population, accept partial blame, and are focusing on remedial measure and crucially, ending the crisis with its horrific bloodshed. One observes here a definite trend of the pulling together of a high percentage of Syrians who share a very unique history and culture and who are deeply connected to their country and who are increasingly repelled by the continuing killing from all sides including the recent barbarisms of body mutilations and summary executions videotaped and broadcast on utube by jihadist elements. The latter who these days come from nearly three dozen countries, paid for and indoctrinated by enemies of Syria’s Arab nationalism and deep rooted pillar of resistance to the occupation of Palestine.
In addition, many among Syria’s 23 million citizens, who initially supported the uprising following government reaction to event in Deraa in March 2011, now have serious second thoughts about who exactly would replace the current government. Events in Syria are also making plain that the army is still loyal to the Assad government, and according to Jane’s Defense Weekly, is actually gaining experience and strength as well as the well-known fact that as western diplomats are admitting, the “opposition militias” are hopelessly fractured, turning one another, many essential mafia outfits, and beginning to resemble their fellow jihadists from Libya, Chechnya and in between.
Opinion in Damascus and surrounding areas visited this past week, confirms this observers experience the past five months of a sharp and fairly rapid shift in opinion that now strongly favors letting the Syrian people themselves decide, without outside interference, whether the Assad regime will stay, and indeed, whether, the Baathist party will continue to represent majority opinion, not through wanton violence but rather via next June’s election. Many express confidence in the run up to this critical vote, noting that the election will be closely monitored by the international community to assure fairness.
Perhaps aided by the current glorious May weather, a certain optimism, that was more scarce in the past, pervades many neighborhoods.
For different reasons, foreign powers, including the USA, Turkey, European Union, the UK Jordan and even the majority population of the six Gulf Cooperation Council family run countries, according to Pew Research, are shifting their earlier positions which were based in part of the US administration, NATO, and Israeli assurances that the Assad government would surely fall quickly, “A matter of days, not weeks” US President Obama promised. That was two years ago.
As noted above, this trend has accelerated since the UN General Assembly vote with last weeks which did not go as planned on the biased and politicized non-binding draft resolution on Syria.
The public reaction in Syria and across the Middle East is substantially that the “Friends of Syria” non-binding GA resolution contradicts the reality on the ground, backs terrorism in Syria and hinders the international efforts to help achieve a political solution to the crisis in this country. Only 107 states voted in favor of the resolution, 12 against while 59 countries, mostly from Africa and Latin America, abstained from voting.
One reason the vote fell short of the 130 favorable votes that the basically same resolution garnered the past two times is that it is widely viewed as ignoring the crimes and atrocities committed by the armed jihadist groups in Syria and the flow of thousands of international terrorists backed by the West, the Gulf states and Turkey who provide them with weapons and money. According to the Russian delegate, backed by several other speakers, “the resolutions ignores all the terrorists’ heinous crimes and denounces what it called the escalation of the attacks by the Syrian government”. Afterward one Latin American Permanent Representative told Inner City Press that the count would have been below 100 if not for some “last minute arm-twisting.” As it turned out, 15 countries didn’t vote at all, opting to “get coffee,” as one African Permanent Representative put it before the vote.
Syria’s Ambassador al-Jaafari exposes a hoax in the Gulf
Syria’s permanent Envoy to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari said his country regretted the adoption of a biased and unbalanced UN resolution, thanking the countries that rejected the resolution “for their responsible positions which support the UN principles and the international law articles”. He noted that the decrease in the number of countries that voted in favor and the increase of numbers of those who abstained from voting indicates the growing international understanding of the reality of what is happening in Syria due to the foreign interference, support of terrorism, the spread of extremism and incitement besides the refusal of dialogue.
“We rely on the UN and its member states to support Syria and its people against the culture of extremism and terrorism, and to encourage the comprehensive national dialogue to peacefully resolve the Syrian crisis.” he said. In a statement released after the vote on the UN draft resolution on Syria, al-Jaafari He said that the French delegation had foiled the issuance of a number of UN press releases to condemn the terrorist acts committed by al-Qaeda-linked armed groups in Syria which claimed the lives of thousands of Syrians as it foiled a UN release to condemn the attempt of assassination of the Syrian Premier.
After Qatar’s ambassador spoke in favor of the resolution his country drafted (and re-drafted several time), Ja’afari revealed that there existed an e-mail, from the representative of the Syrian opposition given to Syria’s embassy in Qatar, showing Qatar’s involvement in the kidnapping of UN peacekeepers by the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade. He read out a phone number from the e-mail as several Gulf diplomats grimaced or scowled, and three left the Chamber.
Visibly stunned, the UK Permanent Representative Lyall Grant called the whole matter “deeply confusing”. Another Permanent Representative, from a militia contributing country, said that if true, it’s “very problematic.” The reasons include the fact that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had just thanked Qatar for its roles in the release of the UN Peacekeepers the earlier kidnapping of whom the Qatari government may have planned, paid for and executed.
Meanwhile, Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson Martin Nesirky said he would not disclose any more about the “negotiations to free the peacekeepers or who was behind the crime.”
Score a major diplomatic victory for Syria’s UN Ambassador as public opinion shifts in favor of the Assad government and pressure as well as certain optimism builds in the run-up to the Geneva II conference being organized by the White House and the Kremlin.