Aug 072013
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* FIRST CONGRESSMAN ALLOWED TO READ SECRET TREATY SAYS, “THIS … HANDS THE SOVEREIGNTY OF OUR COUNTRY OVER TO CORPORATE INTERESTS”

By Tyler Durden, zerohedge

[…] Yesterday, Congressman Alan Grayson (who knows how to read legislation … he was a successful lawyer before he was elected to Congress, and has written and co-sponsored numerous bills himself including the bill to audit the Federal Reserve and – most recently – the “Mind Your Own Business Act” to stop NSA spying) announced that he had been allowed to read the text of TPP – and that it is  an anti-American power grab by big corporations:

Last month, 10,000 of us submitted comments to the United States Trade Representative (USTR), in which we objected to new so-called free trade agreements. We asked that the government not sell out our democracy to corporate interests.

Because of this pressure, the USTR  finally let a member of Congress – little ole me, Alan Grayson [anyone who's seen Grayson in action knows that he is formidable] – actually see the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is a large, secret trade agreement that is being negotiated with many countries in East Asia and South America.

The TPP is nicknamed “NAFTA on steroids.”  Now that I’ve read it, I can see why. I can’t tell you what’s in the agreement, because the U.S. Trade Representative calls it classified. But I can tell you two things about it.

1)    There is no national security purpose in keeping this text secret.

2)    This agreement hands the sovereignty of our country over to corporate interests.

3)    What they can’t afford to tell the American public is that [the rest of this sentence is classified].

***

I will be fighting this agreement with everything I’ve got. And I know you’ll be there every step of the way.

***

Courage,

Congressman Alan Grayson

Grayson also noted:

It is ironic in a way that the government thinks it’s alright to have a record of every single call that an American makes, but not alright for an American citizen to know what sovereign powers the government is negotiating away.

***

Having seen what I’ve seen, I would characterize this as a gross abrogation of American sovereignty. And I would further characterize it as a punch in the face to the middle class of America. I think that’s fair to say from what I’ve seen so far. But I’m not allowed to tell you why!

Remember that one of the best definitions of fascism – the one used by Mussolini – is the “merger of state and corporate power”. Our nation has been moving in that direction for a number of years, where government and giant corporations are becoming more and more intertwined in a malignant, symbiotic relationship.   TPP would be the nail in the coffin for free market economics and democracy.

Note to progressives who support public banking: This is a key battle.

Note to those who oppose to what they call “one world government” or a “new world order”: This is the big fight.

READ / VIDEO @ http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2013-06-19/first-congressman-allowed-read-secret-treaty-says-“-hands-sovereignty-our-cou

MORE INFO ON THE TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT (TPP) @ http://99getsmart.com/?p=3715

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* 8 WAYS PRIVATIZATION HAS FAILED AMERICA

By Paul Buchheit, CommonDreams

Privatization is fascism repackaged

Privatization is fascism repackaged

Some of America’s leading news analysts are beginning to recognize the fallacy of the “free market.” Said Ted Koppel, “We are privatizing ourselves into one disaster after another.” Fareed Zakaria admitted, “I am a big fan of the free market…But precisely because it is so powerful, in places where it doesn’t work well, it can cause huge distortions.” They’re right. A little analysis reveals that privatization doesn’t seem to work in any of the areas vital to the American public.

Health Care

Our private health care system is by far the most expensive system in the developed world. Forty-two percent of sick Americans skipped doctor’s visits and/or medication purchases in 2011 because of excessive costs. The price of common surgeries is anywhere from three to ten times higher in the U.S. than in Great Britain, Canada, France, or Germany. Some of the documented tales: a $15,000 charge for lab tests for which a Medicare patient would have paid a few hundred dollars; an $8,000 special stress test for which Medicare would have paid $554; and a $60,000 gall bladder operation, which was covered for $2,000 under a private policy. […]

Water

A Citigroup economist gushed, “Water as an asset class will, in my view, become eventually the single most important physical-commodity based asset class, dwarfing oil, copper, agricultural commodities and precious metals.”

A 2009 analysis of water and sewer utilities by Food and Water Watch found that private companies charge up to 80 percent more for water and 100 percent more for sewer services. A more recent study confirms that privatization will generally “increase the long-term costs borne by the public.” Privatization is “shortsighted, irresponsible and costly.” […]

READ @ http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/08/05

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* A 280,000% MARK UP FOR … WATER? A LOOK INSIDE THE BOTTLED WATER INDUSTRY

By Tyler Durden, zerohedge

fijibottledwater-copy-62

Imagine there was a time when bottled water didn’t exist in our catalog of popular commodities. Perhaps the trend started in 1976 when the chic French sparkling water, Perrier made its introduction. There it was seductively bottled in its emerald green glass amongst the era of disco and the spectacle of excesses… who could resist right?! What could be more decadent than to package, sell and consume what most consider (in the western world) a common human right easily supplied through a home faucet! It’s absurd that the cost of designer water is at a “280,000% markup” to your tap water and it’s reaching record heights in consumption.

15 The Beginning of the Insanity

It wasn’t until the 1990s when bottled H2O became an everyday common sight and a symbol of our cultural desire towards fitness and “health-consciousness”. Even today health enthusiasts claim drinking water often helps to “detox and boost the metabolism!”

There have been controversies about chemicals leeching into the water from the soft plastic material of bottles, but the FDA determined the containers “do not pose a health risk to consumers.” IBISWorld reports that the “U.S. is the largest consumer for bottled water in the world, followed by Mexico, China, and Brazil”.

14 The Bottled Water Scheme 

Regular drinking water competes with itself in a bottle, but reviewing the cost difference, you’ve got to wonder why or how? As for the water piped into your home or work place, it costs less than one penny per gallon! Fairfax Water organization, (FCWA) states, “The average price of water in the U.S. is about $1.50 for 1,000 gallons.”

Let’s look at your favorite 20 oz. bottled H2O, it will run you up to $3 per bottle at the corner convenience store and up to $4 at a posh restaurant or nightclub. If you buy bulk at Costo or other markets, the price averages are .31 cents per bottle, but that still remains enormously expensive when compared to tap water. Granted many don’t like tap water quality, but modern technology allows for an array of water filters.

In the mid-1990s, soda companies found that the niche market for bottled water could be huge, why not? The profits were obvious! Pepsi and Coca-Cola jumped into a race with their brands Aquafina and Dasani; they led the way to making bottled water what it is today. […]

READ @ http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-07-29/280000-mark-water-look-inside-bottled-water-industry

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* BANKS: FUDGED HEALTH REPORT

By Eric Toussaint, CADTM

arton9330-dda55

Part 9 of the series : Series: Banks versus the People: the Underside of a Rigged Game! and follow up of Banks bluff in a completely legal way, published the 19 June available here.

Neoliberal euphoria and Basel II

The Basel II accords were drafted at a time of neoliberal euphoria when capitalist bankers had obtained the cancellation of the few prudential rules that still remained from the 1930 Great Depression.

Basel II coincided with Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, the US central bank, |1| speechifying about the ability of financial markets to regulate themselves and recommending the suppression of any constraint that still shackled the said bankers’ ‘creativity’.

The Basel II accords were implemented in 2004-2005, just before the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2007, and are still valid in 2013-2014. The Basel III accords that were drafted in 2010 as the crisis was deepening, and revised in 2011, |2| are still only at the stage of interpretation and negotiation. They are not to be fully implemented until 2018-2019. This is why it is really worth beginning by taking the time to understand the Basel II accords, whereas most commentators focus on the Basel III measures as though they were already effective. Supervising authorities, governments in cahoots with major private banks, and most of the media attempt to convince citizens that constraints have been imposed on the finance industry. This is a lie. As we shall see even the Basel III measures will not really change the slack regulations that allow banks to act as they please. Indeed banks will still be able to cook their books and fiddle their health reports thanks to the system whereby their assets are weighted relative to the degree of risk. They will also be allowed to legally trade off the balance sheet, and thus be prompted to take more risks. These two facts alone are enough to undermine the array of small measures that have been widely and loudly advertised. To show how harsh the Basel III standards are, banks grumble and try to get the authorities to soften the measures or delay their implementation. This is just taking the public for a ride. Leaders and supervisory authorities show how complicit they are with large private banks.

Before we turn to Basel III, let us examine the Basel II accords that are currently effective. […]

READ @ http://cadtm.org/Banks-Fudged-health-report

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* REDISTRIBUTING WEALTH IS THE WRONG WAY TO FIX A RIGGED GAME

By Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

don't cheat full flickr

In my review of Twilight of the Elites, Chris Hayes’s thoughtful critique of American meritocracy, I largely agreed with his contention that the current system is frequently rigged by those at the top.

How should that be fixed? I’d prefer a polity constantly attuned to abuses of power and committed to tweaking the rules of the game in a constant effort to make them as neutral, fair, and equitable as possible. With apologies for the violence a one-sentence summary necessarily does to a subtle, book-length argument, Hayes emphasized the need for affirmative action and redistribution of wealth. Discouraged about the prospects of remedying unfairness, he wanted to address its consequences, causing me to worry that alleviating the symptoms would make the disease easier to ignore.

As I put it at the time:

If rich Americans are gaming the system to illegitimately increase their wealth, if they are pulling up the ladder so that they can never be replaced as elites, if they are too socially distant from the people over whose lives they wield great influence, and if they aren’t even punished like regular people when they break the rules, surely there are urgent policy changes needed that are a lot more targeted to reforming the elite than ‘raise their taxes and spread the wealth.’

Better to eliminate ill-gotten gains than to redistribute them. […]

READ @ http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/08/redistributing-wealth-is-the-wrong-way-to-fix-a-rigged-game/278391/

Jun 162012
 

 

* BREAKING ’08 PLEDGE, LEAKED DOC SHOWS OBAMA WANTS TO HELP CORPORATIONS AVOID REGULATIONS

Source: Democracy Now!

DemocracyNow.org -A draft agreement leaked Wednesday shows the Obama administration is pushing a secretive trade agreement that could vastly expand corporate power and directly contradict a 2008 campaign promise by President Obama. A U.S. proposal for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact between the United States and eight Pacific nations would allow foreign corporations operating in the U.S. to appeal key regulations to an international tribunal. The body would have the power to override U.S. law and issue penalties for failure to comply with its ruling. We speak to Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, a fair trade group that posted the leaked documents on its website. “This is not just a bad trade agreement,” Wallach says. “This is a 1% power tool that could rip up our basic needs and rights.”

VIDEO @ http://www.democracynow.org/

RELATED POST: 

- The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement: The 1% Strike Back Against Occupy Movement: http://99getsmart.com/?p=3715

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* FED MEMBERS GAVE THEIR OWN BANKS $4 TRILLION DURING BAILOUT

Source: RT

A report just released by the US Government Accountability Office explains how the Federal Reserve divvied up more than $4 trillion in low-interest loans after the fiscal crisis of 2008, and the news shouldn’t be all that surprising.

When the Federal Reserve looked towards bailing out some of the biggest banks in the country, more than one dozen of the financial institutions that benefited from the Fed’s Hail Mary were members of the central bank’s own board, reports the GAO. At least 18 current and former directors of the Fed’s regional branches saw to it that their own banks were awarded loans with often next-to-no interest by the country’s central bank during the height of the financial crisis that crippled the American economy and spurred rampant unemployment and home foreclosures for those unable to receive assistance.

Although the crisis continues to have an effect on Americans that were devastated by the recession, the banks that survived the near meltdown were largely able to do so because some of their CEOs sat on the same Federal Reserve board the decided on how to dish out trillions of dollars. […]

READ @ http://rt.com/usa/news/fed-federal-reserve-report-938/

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* MAN CALLS JP MORGAN CHASE CEO A CROOK TO HIS FACE

Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SX_qudiWdxU&feature=youtu.be

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* ON JUNE 17 WE SAY: THERE IS NO RETURN TO THEIR PLANS

Source: REinFORM.nl

The Greek elections on May 6 delivered a clear message: NO MORE AUSTERITY. No political party or coalition has any legitimacy to continue the austerity policies either inside or outside the Eurozone. Regardless the result of the coming elections we will continue to take the streets and struggle against the neoliberal policies in Greece and all over Europe. The victory of the people in Greece will be a victory for all people in Europe. The defeat of the Troika, the release from the debt and the toppling of the corrupt political system in Greece is the first step for the struggle for a just society in Europe.

On May 6, the people gave a decisive blow to the former ruling parties that conceded the austerity policies and brought the state’s economy to its knees. Since the May elections the propaganda of the mainstream media and statements of officials are trying to force the people in Greece to accept the policies of the Troika and the previous government. The media promote gloomy scenarios together with an image of Greece regressing back to the Stone Age in case the austerity policies come to a halt. On top of it, a patronized left-wing / right-wing division is imposed on the Greek society. EU-officials ignore the message of the Greek elections and keep interfering with domestic politics by expressing their expectation from the new government to stick to the commitments of the previous administration. The IMF director C. Lagarde, the German Chancellor A. Merkel and the German minister of Finance W. Schäuble accuse openly the people in Greece for the disaster to come in case they decide to turn their back to their policies. Their propaganda aims at persuading the Greeks to give the majority-vote to the pro-austerity parties.

The EU and the IMF expect from the new government to apply budget cuts up to 1.5% of GDP within 2012 and 3.8% until 2015. According to the Revised Adjustment Program of March 2012 this goal will be achieved by the redundancy of 150.000 civil servants, a further decrease in salaries and pensions below 600€ and 400€ respectively, and the complete abolishment of employment protection and social-security benefits. These measures will be applied on top of the 25% loss of average income, the 100.000 companies that have closed down, an unemployment rate that has reached 21%, and the rapidly increasing rates of homelessness and suicides. […]

READ @ http://www.reinform.nl/on-june-17-we-say-there-is-no-return-to-their-plans/

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* ICELANDIC RECOVERY PLAN

Source: James Corbett, GRTV

Iceland was one of the hardest hit nations in the immediate aftermath of the September 2008 economic meltdown. Asked by their own government to pay Britain and Holland for bailing out their Icesave-exposed banks, the people overwhelmingly said “no.” Do the actions of the Icelandic people present an example for the rest of the world as we see the global economy teetering on the edge of collapse? Find out on this week’s GRTV Feature Interview with Michael Hudson.

VIDEO @ http://michael-hudson.com/2011/11/iceland-recovery-plan/

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* ICELAND PORVES THAT BAILING OUT THE MIDDLE CLASS WORKS BETTER THAN BAILING OUT THE BANKS

Source: The Young Turks

Cenk explains why Iceland is a perfect example for how bailing out citizens instead of banks can help an economy recover. Between 2001 and 2010, the median net worth in the United States dropped 20 percent. Meanwhile, Iceland invested in their middle class, provided debt relief for 25 percent of its citizens, and now the economy is on the rebound. “We were told here in the United States, both by Republicans and Tim Geithner, ‘That can’t work; it’ll destroy our economy,” Cenk says, but Iceland disproves that by now doing better than the U.S. and the Eurozone.

READ / VIDEO @ http://current.com/shows/the-young-turks/videos/iceland-proves-that-bailing-out-the-middle-class-works-better-than-bailing-out-banks

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* THE VICIOUS CYCLE OF ECONOMIC INEQUALITY

By Joseph E. Stiglitz, Politico

America’s growing inequality is likely to play an important role in this election — and rightly so. Americans see that something is happening to our society: We have become increasingly divided. We may all be in the same boat — but some are traveling steerage and others first class.

Inequality is now far higher than just 30 years ago. The top 1 percent today gets around 20 percent of the nation’s income — twice what it did two decades ago. The top 0.1 percent’s share has almost tripled. Disparities in wealth are even greater.

Some on the right argue that this is the politics of envy. They say what matters is not the share of the pie — but the size of the slice. But inequality, especially of the U.S. variety, is bad for growth. The country grew faster in the decades after World War II — when it was also growing together, with all groups seeing increases in income. But those at the bottom were growing the most. […]

READ @ http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0612/77280.html

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* NIGEL FARAGE EXPOSING NE GIANT EURO BANKING SCAM

Source: youtube

Nigel Farage MEP, Leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), Co-President of the ‘Europe of Freedom and Democracy’ (EFD) Group in the European Parliament.

TRANSCRIPT: 

Nigel Farage : “Another one bites the dust. Country number four, Spain, gets bailed out and we all of course know that it won’t be the last. Though I wondered over the weekend whether perhaps I was missing something, because when the Spanish prime minister Mr Rajoy got up, he said that this bailout shows what a success the eurozone has been. And I thought, well, having listened to him over the previous couple of weeks telling us that there would not be a bailout, I got the feeling after all his twists and turns he’s just about the most incompetent leader in the whole of Europe, and that’s saying something, because there is pretty stiff competition. Indeed, every single prediction of yours, Mr Barroso, has been wrong, and dear old Herman Van Rompuy, well he’s done a runner hasn’t he. Because the last time he was here, he told us we had turned the corner, that the euro crisis was over and he hasn’t bothered to come back and see us.

I remember being here ten years ago, hearing the launch of the Lisbon Agenda. We were told that with the euro, by 2010 we would have full employment and indeed that Europe would be the competitive and dynamic powerhouse of the world. By any objective criteria the Euro has failed, and in fact there is a looming, impending disaster. You know, this deal makes things worse not better. A hundred billion [euro] is put up for the Spanish banking system, and 20 per cent of that money has to come from Italy. And under the deal the Italians have to lend to the Spanish banks at 3 per cent but to get that money they have to borrow on the markets at 7 per cent. It’s genius isn’t it. It really is brilliant. So what we are doing with this package is we are actually driving countries like Italy towards needing to be bailed out themselves. In addition to that, we put a further 10 per cent on Spanish national debt and I tell you, any banking analyst will tell you, 100 billion does not solve the Spanish banking problem, it would need to be more like 400 billion. And with Greece teetering on the edge of Euro withdrawal, the real elephant in the room is that once Greece leaves, the ECB, the European Central Bank is bust. It’s gone. It has 444 billion euros worth of exposure to the bailed-out countries and to rectify that you’ll need to have a cash call from Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy. You couldn’t make it up could you! It is total and utter failure. This ship, the euro Titanic has now hit the iceberg and sadly there simply aren’t enough life boats.”

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_0g-LImpoU&feature=colike

Feb 072012
 

 

* JEFFERY TUCKER MAKES THE CASE AGAINST THE FEDERAL RESERVE

Source: youtube.com

In the video below, Austrian economist, Jeffrey Tucker, founder of Laissez Faire books, talks with RT’s Lauren Lyster.  Several free-market related topics are discussed, including: central banks, minimum wages, and interest rates. Worth watching:

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Uc-7G95hZzw

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* FEDERAL RESERVE CONTINUES SHADOW BAILOUT OF BANKING INDUSTRY – $947 BILLION OF OVERPAID AND LOW DEMAND MORTGAGE BACKED SECURITIES SIT ON THE MASSIVE $2.8 TRILLION FED BALANCE SHEET. THE PRICE OF THIS HIDDEN BAILOUT WILL HIT ALL AMERICANS

Source: MyBudget360.com

The Federal Reserve continues a secretive bailout of the banking system by purchasing more and more questionable mortgage backed securities.  You would think that $1 trillion would catch the attention of the media but they seemed focus on other trivial items.  The Fed balance sheet is still at record levels above $2.8 trillion to be exact, but the more troubling aspect of all of this is the amount of mortgage backed securities they have purchased.  They continue to hoard toxic commercial real estate loans and a massive amount of residential mortgage backed securities.  How much?  The Fed now holds over $947 billion in mortgage backed securities.  Keep in mind that prior to this financial crisis the Fed rarely held anything else except quality paper on its balance sheet.  Yet this is the cost of the shadow financial bailout. […]

READ and CHARTS @ http://www.mybudget360.com/federal-reserve-continues-shadow-bailout-of-banking-industry-947-billion-mbs-hidden/

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* OLD MORTGAGES RISE FROM THE DEAD, HAUNT HOMEOWNERS

By Michelle Conlin, Rueters

[…] Diane Thompson, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center, says she has defended hundreds of foreclosure cases, and in nearly all of them, the homeowner was not in default. “The record-keeping on the part of the mortgage servicers is not to be trusted.”

The problems grew from a lot of sloppy recordkeeping that began during the housing boom, when Wall Street built a quick-and-dirty back-office operation to process mortgages quickly so lenders could sell as many loans as possible. As the loans were later sold to investors, and then resold around the world, the back office system sidestepped crucial legal procedures.

Now it’s becoming clear just how dysfunctional and, according to several state attorneys general, how fraudulent the whole system was.

Depositions from “affidavit slaves” depict a surreal, assembly-line world in which the banks and their partner firms hired hair stylists, fast-food kids and Wal-Mart floor workers, paying them $10 an hour, to pose as bank vice presidents, assistant secretaries and corporate attorneys.

These “robosigners” became a national sensation in the fall of 2010 when it was revealed that they faked titles, forged documents and backdated affidavits so they could make up for the bypassed procedures and foreclose on properties.

They passed around notary stamps as if they were salt. They did all of this, they testified, without verifying a single word in any of the documents – as is required by law.

And it was all done, they say, to foreclose on as many homeowners as fast as possible. […]

READ @ http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/26/us-usa-housing-mortgage-reincarnation-idUSTRE80P0SJ20120126

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* WHO KILLED THE MONEY PRINTER?

Source: TheAutomaticEarth.org

Friday’s NFP number brought us some altogether unprecedented BS from the BLS. Much has already been said about the filthy stench emanating from these “data points”, so I will just review the most important points here. First thing to note is that squeezing a record 1.2 million people out of the “labor force”(people who don’t waste time looking for jobs that don’t exist) is apparently a sure fire way to get the headline unemployment rate down to only 8.3%  […]

READ and CHARTS @ http://theautomaticearth.org/Finance/who-killed-the-money-printer.html

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* THERE ARE NO JOBS IN CHICAGO – VIDEO

Source: youtube.com

People standing outside for hours in 10 degree weather in hopes of getting a job …

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_UTGh5iMXtc#!

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* COMMUTERS CAN’T MISS THE MILLIONAIRES TAX OF 2012!

Source: www.millionairestaxca.com

Freeway blogging! This morning at 8 freeway overpass locations all over California volunteers held giant signs touting the Millionaires Tax of 2012. This included Richmond (seen below) through which hundreds of thousands of commuters pass on their way into San Francisco.

Media from all over the state, including ABC News, have covered the banners and the powerful message behind them: Our tax code needs to reflect the interests of middle-class Californians, not the special interests of corporate CEOs and their lobbyists. Now is the time to revamp our tax code here in California so it’s fair to the 99% of us who play by the rules, not just the 1% who lobby hard and re-write the rules. […]

READ @ http://www.millionairestaxca.com/index.php

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* THE GREAT DIVERGENCE 

By Timothy Noah, Slate

Part One: Introducing the Great Divergence

In 1915, a statistician at the University of Wisconsin named Willford I. King published The Wealth and Income of the People of the United States, the most comprehensive study of its kind to date. The United States was displacing Great Britain as the world’s wealthiest nation, but detailed information about its economy was not yet readily available; the federal government wouldn’t start collecting such data in any systematic way until the 1930s. One of King’s purposes was to reassure the public that all Americans were sharing in the country’s newfound wealth.

King was somewhat troubled to find that the richest 1 percent possessed about 15 percent of the nation’s income. (A more authoritative subsequent calculation puts the figure slightly higher, at about 18 percent.1)

This was the era in which the accumulated wealth of America’s richest families—the Rockefellers, the Vanderbilts, the Carnegies—helped prompt creation of the modern income tax, lest disparities in wealth turn the United States into a European-style aristocracy. The socialist movement was at its historic peak, a wave of anarchist bombings was terrorizing the nation’s industrialists, and President Woodrow Wilson’s attorney general, Alexander Palmer, would soon stage brutal raids on radicals of every stripe. In American history, there has never been a time when class warfare seemed more imminent.

That was when the richest 1 percent accounted for 18 percent of the nation’s income. Today, the richest 1 percent account for 24 percent of the nation’s income. What caused this to happen? […]

READ @ http://img.slate.com/media/3/100914_NoahT_GreatDivergence.pdf

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* INDEPENDENT REPORT CONTRADICTS WESTERN PORTRAIT OF SYRIA

Source: Washington’s Blog

ARAB LEAGUE REPORT SHOWS THAT SYRIA HAS BEEN MISCHARACTERIZED

[…] Perhaps most importantly, the report notes that the Syrian people do not want foreign intervention:

However, the citizens believe the crisis should be resolved peacefully through Arab mediation alone, without international intervention. Doing so would allow them to live in peace and complete the reform process and bring about the change they desire.

The report condemns violence by both sides, but stresses that much of the violence has been perpetrated by the rebels against government forces:

In Homs and Dera‘a, the Mission observed armed groups committing acts of violence against Government forces, resulting in death and injury among their ranks. In certain situations, Government forces responded to attacks against their personnel with force. The observers noted that some of the armed groups were using flares and armour-piercing projectiles.

In Homs, Idlib and Hama, the Observer Mission witnessed acts of violence being committed against Government forces and civilians that resulted in several deaths and injuries. Examples of those acts include the bombing of a civilian bus, killing eight persons and injuring others, including women and children, and the bombing of a train carrying diesel oil. In another incident in Homs, a police bus was blown up, killing two police officers. A fuel pipeline and some small bridges were also bombed.

***

Recently, there have been incidents that could widen the gap and increase bitterness between the parties. These incidents can have grave consequences and lead to the loss of life and property. Such incidents include the bombing of buildings, trains carrying fuel, vehicles carrying diesel oil and explosions targeting the police, members of the media and fuel pipelines. Some of those attacks have been carried out by the Free
Syrian Army [the main opposition group] and some by other armed opposition groups. [...]

READ @ http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/02/independent-report-shows-that-syrian-government-violence-has-been-exaggerated.html

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* EXPOSED: THE ARAB AGENDA IN SYRIA

By Pepe Escobar, Asia Times

[…] The Arab League’s Ministerial Committee had approved the report, with four votes in favor (Algeria, Egypt, Sudan and GCC member Oman) and only one against; guess who, Qatar – which is now presiding the Arab League because the emirate bought their (rotating) turn from the Palestinian Authority.

So the report was either ignored (by Western corporate media) or mercilessly destroyed – by Arab media, virtually all of it financed by either the House of Saud or Qatar. It was not even discussed – because it was prevented by the GCC from being translated from Arabic into English and published in the Arab League’s website.Until it was leaked. Here it is, in full.The report is adamant. There was no organized, lethal repression by the Syrian government against peaceful protesters. Instead, the report points to shady armed gangs as responsible for hundreds of deaths among Syrian civilians, and over one thousand among the Syrian army, using lethal tactics such as bombing of civilian buses, bombing of trains carrying diesel oil, bombing of police buses and bombing of bridges and pipelines.Once again, the official NATOGCC version of Syria is of a popular uprising smashed by bullets and tanks. Instead, BRICS members Russia and China, and large swathes of the developing world see it as the Syrian government fighting heavily armed foreign mercenaries. The report largely confirms these suspicions.

The Syrian National Council is essentially a Muslim Brotherhood outfit affiliated with both the House of Saud and Qatar – with an uneasy Israel quietly supporting it in the background. Legitimacy is not exactly its cup of green tea. As for the Free Syrian Army, it does have its defectors, and well-meaning opponents of the Assad regime, but most of all is infested with these foreign mercenaries weaponized by the GCC, especially Salafist gangs.

Still NATOGCC, blocked from applying in Syria its one-size-fits-all model of promoting “democracy” by bombing a country and getting rid of the proverbial evil dictator, won’t be deterred. GCC leaders House of Saud and Qatar bluntly dismissed their own report and went straight to the meat of the matter; impose a NATOGCC regime change via the UN Security Council. […]

READ @ http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NB04Ak01.html

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* LEBANON: ISRAELI ARMS TO SYRIAN REBELS, U.S. DRONE BASE TO FOLLOW?

Source: StopNATO

[…] We hear from retired Lebanese general Amin Khteit.

“The opening of the airport is officially motivated by economic reasons as well as by the needs of the tourist industry and local residents. But it seems that other reasons are behind it. For example, Burhan Ghalioun, the head of the opposition Syrian National Council, ordered a special plane with medicaments to Beirut, as it was reported, for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

“But there is no need for Syrians in Lebanon to order medicaments aboard. In fact there are proven reports that that plane delivered Israeli weapons which later were sent to the insurgents in Syria. That is why there are grounds to assume that the airport in the north of Lebanon will become a transshipment base to supply weapons to Syrian insurgents. I suppose there is also an agreement with Lebanese officials on the establishment of a US military base in this district.”

If the US settles down in the Kleyate district there will be many variants in using the airport. One of the most probable variants is that it will become a base for US drones, the chief editor of the military review journal Independent Viktor Litovkin says:

“Such an airdrome is quite suitable to become a base for drones. Of course, there are different types of drones and some of them don’t even require any special conditions. In this particular case everything will depend on the tasks set for the flying vehicles.” […]

READ @ http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/lebanon-israeli-arms-to-syrian-rebels-u-s-drone-base-to-follow/

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* IRAN: A MANUFACTURED THREAT

By Stephen Lendman

Iran attacked no other country in over 200 years. It threatens none now. It’s neighbors know it. So do Washington and Israel.

Nonetheless, saber rattling warnings continue. At issue is making an independent state a client one. It’s why Washington orchestrated Syria’s insurgency and continues anti-Iranian propaganda.

Tehran won’t tolerate losing its sovereignty, nor should it. It suffered a generation of repression under Washington’s installed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi after the CIA’s first ever coup ousted democratically elected Mohammad Mosaddegh.

It also knows how America and Israel reign terror throughout the region. As a result, it’s prepared to defend itself if attacked.

America’s business is war, permanent war for unchallenged global dominance. Post-9/11, multiple ones raged and continue. Ordinary people want them stopped.

On February 4, dozens of anti-war organizations held a “Day of Mass Action to Stop a US War on Iran.” Among others, The World Can’t Wait announced it headlining, “NO war! NO sanctions! No intervention! No Assassinations.” […]

READ @ http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/

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* U.S. IRAN POLICY IN ‘LOCKSTEP’ WITH ISRAEL? PRESIDENT OBAMA RISKS BECOMING A MAJOR-LEAGUE WAR CRIMINAL

By Dave Lindorff, This Can’t Be Happening

It’s a relief to know that President Obama’s “preferred” solution to dealing with disagreements with Iran is diplomacy, as he said yesterday in an interview on NBC TV, but at the same time, it’s profoundly disturbing that he is simultaneously saying that, as an AP report on the interview put it: he would “not take options off the table to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.”

Equally disturbing are the president’s mutually contradictory statements that, on the one hand, he feels that “Any kind of additional military activity inside the Gulf is disruptive and has a big effect on us,” and that on the other, he will “make sure that we work in lockstep” with Israel in dealing with Iran and its nuclear program.

Lockstep? With Israel? […]

READ @ http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/1050

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* TOP OFFICIAL: DRONE CRITICS ARE AL QAEDA ENABLERS

By Glenn Greenwald, Salon

The New York Times‘ Scott Shane reported this morning on the Bureau of Investigative Journalism study I wrote about yesterday, detailing that the U.S. drone program, as the NYT put it, “repeatedly targeted rescuers who responded to the scene of a strike, as well as mourners at subsequent funerals.” Shane’s article contains this paragraph:

A senior American counterterrorism official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, questioned the report’s findings, saying “targeting decisions are the product of intensive intelligence collection and observation.” The official added: “One must wonder why an effort that has so carefully gone after terrorists who plot to kill civilians has been subjected to so much misinformation. Let’s be under no illusions — there are a number of elements who would like nothing more than to malign these efforts and help Al Qaeda succeed.”

READ @ http://www.salon.com/2012/02/06/top_official_drone_critics_are_al_qaeda_enablers/singleton/