* CHICAGO SUMMIT: NATO TO COMPLETE DOMINATION OF ARAB WORLD
By Richard Rozoff, StopNATO
[…] Regarding transformations in the Arab world over the past fifteen months in relation to NATO, the net result is that the U.S.-dominated military alliance is poised to gain one new adjunct, Libya, with Syria targeted as the next. Lebanon is another prospect for the Mediterranean Dialogue after Libya and Syria, which if it occurs will convert the entire Mediterranean basin into NATO territory. Similarly, if the West and its Arab monarch allies can arrange for the installation of compliant regimes in Iraq and Yemen (perhaps royal pretenders to complete the pattern), NATO can acquire two additional Istanbul Cooperation Initiative cohorts as well. The alliance identifies Iraq as a partner state and the NATO Training Mission-Iraq was instrumental in building the nation’s new armed forces from scratch, training everyone from the top officer corps to oil police.
In respect to the remaining Arabic-speaking countries, since at least 2005 leading American and NATO officials have promoted the deployment of NATO forces to Palestine in the event of, or as a precondition for, a peace deal with Israel. Last August Palestine’s Ma’an News Agency reported that “Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told visiting US Congressmen on Thursday that the security of the future Palestinian state will be handed to NATO under US command…” […]
[…] NATO and its allies in the (expanding) Gulf Cooperation Council are reversing 60 years of Arab independence and nonalignment, of pan-Arabism and of republican and socialist models of development in Arab nations in an effort to subordinate the 350,000,000 inhabitants of the Arab world to their regional and global agendas.
* “DRACHMA CLAUSES” FOR GREECE’S EXIT FROM THE EUROZONE
Source: Testosterone Pit
The largest banks in Greece—National, Alpha, Eurobank, and Piraeus—reported €28.2 billion in losses for the year 2011. Almost 13% of GDP! It included the bond swap that had saddled private-sector bondholders with a 74% loss. But no worries. Rescue funds were already lined up at the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund, which had received €25 billion in bonds from the European Financial Stability Facility the day before—part of the second bailout package of €130 billion that the Troika of the ECB, IMF, and EU had orchestrated. The banks, not the Greeks themselves, are getting bailed out. The big money is rolling in—and the ever wily Greek political elite have figured it out. Read…. They’re Not Even Trying Anymore.
But “solidarity of the union has its limits,” said even soft-spoken Jens Weidmann, President of the Bundesbank on Saturday. “That’s why we linked the aid to conditions….”
A whole litany of them. And they have caused riots in the streets. But if they aren’t met, the bailout will stop. That’s the threat. A leaked report by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso includes a 15% cut in private sector wages and an overhaul of the system for collective bargaining—both of which will go over very well in Greece. It also calls for privatization of public gas and electric utilities, comprehensive reform of the tax system, reform of the pension system, including “fighting fraud in disability pensions,” and a “radical” overhaul of public procurement which is inefficient and costly.
And corrupt: former Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos was thrown into the hoosegow just before the Orthodox Easter weekend, having been accused of extensive defense procurement fraud and money laundering that he’d conducted for years via a network of people and off-shore companies. Corruption on all levels haunts Greece. In the Corruption Perception Index, Greece is in 80th place, sharing that position with the likes of El Salvador. It is worse than China whose corruption is legendary. It is in last place within the Eurozone. But something unexpected happened. For this astonishing change in a society that hasn’t seen a glimmer of improvement in years, read…. In Greece, even Corruption Is in a Depression […]
* THE FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IS UNDERWAY
By Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge
Update: according to Belgian Le Soir, first exit polls show that Hollande is not surprisingly ahead, with 27% of the vote, 25.5% for Sarkozy, 16% for Marine Le Pen, and 13% for Jean-Luc Melenchon. More or less just as expected, and setting the stage for the runoff round which will be Hollande’s to lose.
As of 8 am CET, polls are open in the first round of the French presidential elections where voters are expected to trim the playing field of ten to just two candidates, incumbent Nicholas Sarkozy and his socialist challenger Francois Hollande, who will then face off in a May 6 runoff, where as of now Hollande is expected to have a comfortable lead and take over the presidency as the disgruntled French take their revenge for an economy that is contracting, an unemployment rate that keeps rising (see enclosed) despite promises to the contrary, and as their to “express a distaste for a president who has come to be seen as flashy following his highly publicized marriage to supermodel Carla Bruni early in his term, occasional rude outbursts in public and his chumminess with rich executives.
France is struggling with feeble economic growth, a gaping trade deficit, 10 percent unemployment and strained public finances that prompted ratings agency Standard & Poor’s to cut the country’s triple-A credit rating in January.” In a major shift for the country, Hollande would become France’s first left-wing president since Francois Mitterand, who beat incumbent Valery Giscard-d’Estaing in 1981. As Reuters reports, “Hollande, 57, promises less drastic spending cuts than Sarkozy and wants higher taxes on the wealthy to fund state-aided job creation, in particular a 75 percent upper tax rate on income above 1 million euros ($1.32 million).” The Buffett Rule may have failed in the US but La Loi de Buffett is alive and well in soon to be uber-socialist France. Yet it is not so much Hollande’s domestic policies, as his international ones, especially vis-a-vis the European Fiscal Treaty, Germany, and most importantly the ECB, that roiled markets last week, causing French CDS to spike to the widest since January. In other news, goodbye Merkozy, hello Horkel as the power center shifts yet again to a new source of uncertainty and potential contagion. […]
* WHISTLEBLOWER REVEALS WIDESPREAD BRIBERY BY WALMART IN MEXICO
By Pat Garofalo, Think Progress
One former executive told the Times about how Walmart employees brought envelopes of cash to government officials in Mexico in order to boost the company’s expansion:
The Times examination included more than 15 hours of interviews with the former executive, Sergio Cicero Zapata, who resigned from Wal-Mart de Mexico in 2004 after nearly a decade in the company’s real estate department.
In the interviews, Mr. Cicero recounted how he had helped organize years of payoffs. He described personally dispatching two trusted outside lawyers to deliver envelopes of cash to government officials. They targeted mayors and city council members, obscure urban planners, low-level bureaucrats who issued permits — anyone with the power to thwart Wal-Mart’s growth. The bribes, he said, bought zoning approvals, reductions in environmental impact fees and the allegiance of neighborhood leaders.[…]
* THE BIG SWINDLE AND A FOG OF DEBT – HIDING THE UNEMPLOYED IN THE HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE AND THREE YEARS OF ECONOMIC RECOVERY EQUATES TO 11.5 MORE AMERICANS ON FOOD STAMPS
Source: My Budget 360
A large part of our recovery is running on public relations trickery and smoke and mirrors debt machinery. Let me explain what I mean by this since on the surface we have been out of a recession since the summer of 2009. Government debt is soaring and public debt in certain sectors is flying off the charts. Take for example food stamp usage and student loan debt. These payments typically rise during tough times as would be expected. So you would conclude that being in year three of this so-called recovery that costs for both of these sectors would be retreating. You would be absolutely wrong in this Alice and Wonderland debt world. The student debt market has become a predatory landmine for prospective students and continues to grow like a wild fungus. Food stamp usage is expected to be high deep into 2014. Can you call it a recovery by using accounting magic that actually hides the continuing deterioration of the middle class?
How is it a recovery when 15 percent of the population is receiving food assistance just to stay afloat? But examine the chart carefully. When the recession officially ended in 2009 there were 35 million Americans on food stamps. Today, three years later and deep into a recovery we have 46.5 million Americans receiving food stamps! In other words, food stamp usage has increased by more than 32 percent during the recovery. Since when does a recovery involve increasing the amount of Americans on food stamps? […]
* SENATOR CHURCH’S PROPHETIC WARNING
Source: Washington’s Blog
Senator Frank Church – who chaired the famous “Church Committee” into the unlawful FBI Cointel program, and who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – said in 1975:
“Th[e National Security Agency's] capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. [If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A.] could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.“
Now, the NSA is building a $2 billion dollar facility in Utah which will use the world’s most powerful supercomputer to monitor virtually all phone calls, emails, internet usage, purchases and rentals, break all encryption, and then store everyone’s data permanently.
The former head of the program for the NSA recently held his thumb and forefinger close together, and said:
We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state. […]
READ @ http://tinyurl.com/6ou3avz