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One Nation Under Surveillance
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America's Best Kept Secret: Rising Suburban Poverty
by Michelle Hirsch
Posted December 31, 2011

suburban povertyBoth urban and suburban America were badly hammered by the financial meltdown and recession – leading to stubbornly high unemployment, widespread foreclosures and "underwater" homes, high food and gas prices and sharp cutbacks in government and private social services. But the overall impact has been worse in suburban areas, because many low-skilled jobs disappeared along with the plants and businesses that once provided employment. Other companies shifted their business strategy towards developing a high-skill, high-tech labor force.

The 10-year surge in suburban poverty is putting enormous budgetary pressure on county and local governments and non-profits, which are struggling to meet a rising demand for social services, counseling and financial assistance. The number of students qualifying for subsidized lunches in Conyers, an Atlanta suburb, grew by 63 percent this year, compared with a 46 percent increase in 2006. Many suburban areas of Columbus, Ohio, have also seen their subsidized lunch enrollment more than double over the past five years, the Columbus Post Dispatch reported earlier this year. More...

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Local police stockpile high-tech, combat-ready gear
by Andrew Becker
Posted December 23, 2011

military or police?If terrorists ever target Fargo, N.D., the local police will be ready.

In recent years, they have bought bomb-detection robots, digital communications equipment and Kevlar helmets, like those used by soldiers in foreign wars. For local siege situations requiring real firepower, police there can use a new $256,643 armored truck, complete with a rotating turret. Until that day, however, the menacing truck is mostly used for training runs and appearances at the annual Fargo picnic, where it's been displayed near a children's bounce house.

Fargo, like thousands of other communities in every state, has been on a gear-buying spree with the aid of more than $34 billion in federal government grants since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. No one can say exactly what has been purchased in total across the country or how it's being used, because the federal government doesn't keep close track. State and local governments don't maintain uniform records. More...

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Bankers Rule the World: "The Network of Global Corporate Control"
by Stephen Lendman
Posted December 18, 2011

money rulesTransnational giants are the dominant institution of our time - especially financial ones with money power control of everything.
They decide who governs and how, who serves on courts, what laws are enacted, and whether or not wars are waged. Corporate dominance, especially financial power, and democratic values are incompatible.They operate ruthlessly as private tyrannies. They're predators. We're prey, and every day we're eaten alive. They do it because they can, and in America by mandate.

Publicly owned US corporations, including financial ones, must serve shareholders by maximizing equity value through higher profits. They do it by exploiting nations, people and resources ruthlessly. Social responsibility doesn't matter. Neither does being worker-friendly, a good citizen, or friend of the earth. Bottom line priorities alone matter. Failure to pursue fiduciary responsibilities means possible dismissal or shareholder lawsuits.

Yet nothing in America's Constitution or statute laws endow corporations with their rights. They usurped them by co-opting Washington, the nation's courts, state capitals, and city halls. As a result, over half the world's largest economies are corporations. Financial ones controlling the power of money are most dominant. More...

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Legislating Tyranny in America, Orwell and Beyond
by Stephen Lendman
Posted December 16, 2011

Land of the free?Obama won't prosecute CIA torturers, Wall Street crooks, other corporate criminals, lawless war profiteers, or other venal high-level civilian or government officials. Instead, expect him to sign into law (or at least tacitly approve) indefinite military detentions of US citizens allegedly associated with terrorist groups, with or without corroborating evidence.

Post-9/11, US freedoms and other democratic values dramatically eroded. Enactment of police state provisions in the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act comes closer to ending them entirely. On December 5, the ACLU headlined, "Indefinite Detention, Endless Worldwide War and the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)," saying: Enactment of this measure will authorize "the military to pick up and imprison people, including US citizens, without charging them or putting them on trial." More...

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Occupy Evictions: Did the Money Masters Win?
by Rudy Avizius
Posted December 15, 2011

police protecting the bankersHas anyone asked themselves this question: where would our country's economy be right now, if they had enforced banking regulations as vigorously as they enforce park rules?

It is ironic that so many in this country have fallen for the corporate media propaganda that seeks to divide the masses and have us fight each other. They wish to accomplish this so that we do not focus on those who pillaged the economy and Treasury and left the devastation of millions without jobs, millions of families foreclosed upon and left in the streets to fend for themselves, the 50 million without health insurance, and the record nearly 46 million now on food stamps.

This is a standard divide and conquer tactic so that we are focused on each other, rather than on the perpetrators. The corporate media drivel tells us that these victims are lazy, and need to work harder to find jobs. The same corporate media where the rich pay other rich people to tell the middle class to blame poor people.

Does anyone else find it odd how so many millions became so lazy and shiftless after the financial overlords trashed our economy in 2008? More...

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E-Voting System "Remotely Accessed" on "Multiple Occasions" by Unknown Computer
by Brad Friedman
Posted December 15, 2011

Voting machine fraudAccording to the Initial Report from a landmark independent forensic audit of the Venango County, PA, touch-screen voting system --- the same system used in dozens of counties across the state and country --- someone used a computer that was not a part of county's election network to remotely access the central election tabulator computer, illegally, "on multiple occasions." Despite the disturbing report, as obtained by The BRAD BLOG and posted in full below, we may never get to learn who did it or why, if Venango's County Commissioners, a local judge, and the nation's largest e-voting company have their way. And that's not all we won't get to find out about.

When pressed to explain why he believed the the County Commissioners and their legal representatives had been working so hard for months to keep the audit from happening, Adams told us bluntly: "They know there's something wrong." More...

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Occupy is Not Just About Occupying
by Kevin Zeese
Posted December 11, 2011

Not just about occupationWith encampments being closed across the country it is important to remember the end goal is not to occupy public space, it is to end corporate rule. We seek to replace the rule of money with the rule of people. Occupying is a tactic but the grand strategy of the Occupy Movement is to weaken the pillars that hold the corporate-government in place by educating, organizing and mobilizing people into an independent political force.

The elites are foolish to think they will stop this movement by closing occupations. The Occupy Movement will evolve in new and unpredictable ways that will make the elites wish for the days of mere public encampments. The 1% should know they will be held accountable. The people have found their voice and will not be silenced. The era of the rule of money is nearing its end. More...

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How to Survive and Prosper in the Coming Financial Meltdown
by Sam Chee Kong
Posted December 8, 2011

Financial collapseHow are you going to buy food, gas, water, get some cash from the ATM when everything is empty. There is no way you can get out from your house when curfew is declared and how about the mobs, rioters and looters that are roaming the streets. How about some firearms to protect your family? Have you stock up enough dry foods and water for the next 1-2 months? Have you got cash in hand because you can't buy your necessity with gold bars and coins.

So the next question is, how are you going to prepare for the coming crisis? What you need to do? We provide the following guidelines for you to follow so that even though the crisis may strike tomorrow, next week, next month or next year you will be prepared. More...

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The Zero Point of Systemic Collapse
by Chris Hedges
Posted December 3, 201
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the elites knowWe stand on the cusp of one of the bleakest periods in human history when the bright lights of a civilization blink out and we will descend for decades, if not centuries, into barbarity. The elites have successfully convinced us that we no longer have the capacity to understand the revealed truths presented before us or to fight back against the chaos caused by economic and environmental catastrophe. As long as the mass of bewildered and frightened people, fed images that permit them to perpetually hallucinate, exist in this state of barbarism, they may periodically strike out with a blind fury against increased state repression, widespread poverty and food shortages. But they will lack the ability and self-confidence to challenge in big and small ways the structures of control. The fantasy of widespread popular revolts and mass movements breaking the hegemony of the corporate state is just that – a fantasy.

Too many resistance movements continue to buy into the facade of electoral politics, parliaments, constitutions, bills of rights, lobbying and the appearance of a rational economy. The levers of power have become so contaminated that the needs and voices of citizens have become irrelevant. The election of Barack Obama was yet another triumph of propaganda over substance and a skillful manipulation and betrayal of the public by the mass media. We mistook style and ethnicity – an advertising tactic pioneered by the United Colors of Benetton and Calvin Klein – for progressive politics and genuine change. We confused how we were made to feel with knowledge. More...

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American's Comfortably Numb on the Highway to Economic Collapse
by James Quinn
Posted November 29, 2011


collapse of empireAs I observe the zombie like reactions of Americans to our catastrophic economic highway to collapse, the continued plundering and pillaging of the national treasury by criminal Wall Street bankers, non-enforcement of existing laws against those who committed the largest crime in history, and reaction to young people across the country getting beaten, bludgeoned, shot with tear gas and pepper sprayed by police, I can't help but wonder whether there is anyone home. Why are most Americans so passively accepting of these calamitous conditions? How did we become so comfortably numb? I've concluded Americans have chosen willful ignorance over thoughtful critical thinking due to their own intellectual laziness and overpowering mind manipulation by the elite through their propaganda emitting media machines. Some people are awaking from their trance, but the vast majority is still slumbering or fuming at erroneous perpetrators.

The oligarchy of moneyed interests have done a spectacular job convincing the working middle class they should be angry at 20 year old OWS protestors, illegal immigrants and the inner city welfare class, rather than the true culprits – the Federal Reserve, Wall Street banks and mega-corporations. This is a testament to the power of propaganda and the intellectual slothfulness of the average American. U.S. based mega-corporations fired 864,000 higher wage American workers between 2000 and 2010, while hiring almost 3 million workers in low wage foreign countries, using their billions in cash to buy back their own stocks, and paying corporate executives shamefully excessive compensation. The corporate mainstream media treats corporate CEO's like rock stars as if they deserve to be compensated at a level 185 times the average worker. More...

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This Changes Everything: How the 99% Woke Up
by Sarah van Gelder
Posted November 29, 2011

Too big to failSomething happened in September 2011 so unexpected that no politician or pundit saw it coming.

Inspired by the Arab Spring and uprisings in Europe, sparked by a challenge from Adbusters magazine to show up at Wall Street on September 17 and "bring a tent," and encouraged by veteran New York activists, a few thousand people gathered in the financial district of New York City. At the end of the day, some of them set up camp in Zuccotti Park and started what became a national—and now international—movement.

The Occupy movement, as it has come to be called, named the source of the crises of our time: Wall Street banks, big corporations, and others among the 1% are claiming the world's wealth for themselves at the expense of the 99% and having their way with our governments. This is a truth that political insiders and the media had avoided, even while the assets of the top 1% reached levels not seen since the 1920s. But now that this genie is out of the bottle, it can't easily be put back in. More...

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The Shocking Truth About the Crackdown on Occupy
by Naomi Wolf
Posted November 25, 2011

Militarized policeSince Occupy is heavily surveilled and infiltrated, it is likely that the DHS and police informers are aware, before Occupy itself is, what its emerging agenda is going to look like. If legislating away lobbyists' privileges to earn boundless fees once they are close to the legislative process, reforming the banks so they can't suck money out of fake derivatives products, and, most critically, opening the books on a system that allowed members of Congress to profit personally – and immensely – from their own legislation, are two beats away from the grasp of an electorally organized Occupy movement well, you will call out the troops on stopping that advance.

So, when you connect the dots, properly understood, what happened this week is the first battle in a civil war; a civil war in which, for now, only one side is choosing violence. It is a battle in which members of Congress, with the collusion of the American president, sent violent, organized suppression against the people they are supposed to represent. Occupy has touched the third rail: personal congressional profits streams. Even though they are, as yet, unaware of what the implications of their movement are, those threatened by the stirrings of their dreams of reform are not.

Sadly, Americans this week have come one step closer to being true brothers and sisters of the protesters in Tahrir Square. Like them, our own national leaders, who likely see their own personal wealth under threat from transparency and reform, are now making war upon us. More...

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More on Police Departments' Collusion in Defense of 1%: Who's the Organization Coordinating Those Crackdown Calls?
By Geov Parrish
Posted November 20, 2011

Imperial guard for the bankersInteresting report this evening in the San Francisco Bay Guardian suggesting that big city mayors have not been the only ones making conference calls in an effort to coordinate crackdowns on Occupy Movement encampments:

...a little-known but influential private membership based organization has placed itself at the center of advising and coordinating the crackdown on the encampments. The Police Executive Research Forum, an international non-governmental organization with ties to law enforcement and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has been coordinating conference calls with major metropolitan mayors and police chiefs to advise them on policing matters and discuss response to the Occupy movement. The group has distributed a recently published guide on policing political events....

Law enforcement officials and policy-makers in America know full well that serious protests — and more — are inevitable given the economic tumult and suffering the U.S. has seen over the last three years (and will continue to see for the foreseeable future). A country cannot radically reduce quality-of-life expectations, devote itself to the interests of its super-rich, and all but eliminate its middle class without triggering sustained citizen fury. More...

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Occupy Seattle - Message From Minister Who Was Pepper Sprayed
by Reverend Rich Lang
Posted November 19, 2011

SinnersThe police were once conceived to be a citizen force created to serve and protect the public. Today however, the police have been militarized and view the populace as enemy combatants, as threats to their well being. They are trained to enter the protesting arena as unfeeling protectors of property and people. What has changed in our time is that the police are entering the arena of protest as agents of provocation. They push and shove at will, they ride their bicycles up the backs of protesters, they engage in verbal abuse. Their commanders allow this breach of discipline. Their comrades silently condone the bullying. The police become the agitators encouraging violence. It is as if they are spoiling for a fight --- a fight mind you against the citizenry, against the youth, the unemployed, and those who are trying to return America back to its promise, and dare I say it, return America to its covenant with God, "we hold these truths to be self evident..."

The police, on the other hand, were afraid. Their quick use of chemical warfare reveals how cowardly they are. The unwillingness of their commanders to maintain discipline reveals how incompetent they are becoming --- the only tool in their bag is brutality and like a drunken raging father beating wife and kids, the police have increasingly disgraced themselves. Step by step they are being shaped into the front face of fascism, the emerging police state that protects the property interests of the Marie Antionette's who have seized control of our government, commerce, media, military and increasingly the Church itself. More...

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With People in the Streets, 1 Percent Congress Continues to Push Austerity
by Dave Johnson
Posted November 7, 2011

Government for the wealthyThis situation of crony government protecting the connected rich while people are in the streets demanding change is more and more reminiscent of Egypt under Mubarak. In the real world tens of thousands are in the streets around the country demanding taxes on the rich and an end to corporate rule, as a new report lists profitable companies that pay no taxes at all. Today's jobs report is not enough to even keep up. But in the Congress Senate Republicans filibuster another jobs bill and the "super committee" is looking at how much to take out of the economy and out of the things We the People do for each other -- in order to keep taxes low for the rich and their giant corporations.

Poll after poll shows the public overwhelmingly supports increasing taxes on the wealthy, bringing corporations under control, and reigning in trade agreements that suck our jobs, factories, companies and industries out of the country. People do not want Medicare, Social Security and other essential government programs cut, they want the rich and corporations and Wall Street to start paying their share. More...

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U.S. Millennial Generation Battles Against Wall Street Modeled on Egypt and Tunisia Protests
by James Quinn
Posted November 3, 2011

Corrupt wealthOn September 17, a mere six weeks ago, a few hundred young people showed up in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan to protest our corrupt, broken and Wall Street manipulated economic and political system. That first night, approximately 100 protestors occupied the park and were outnumbered by the NYPD in full riot gear. The idea to Occupy Wall Street began circulating on the internet in late August. The Millenial Generation used their social networks and put their tech savvy talents to work. Before long, thousands of protestors showed up in cities across the U.S. The model for this movement was the successful demonstrations in Egypt and Tunisia, earlier in the year.

It seems the young people in this country have realized they have no future when the system is run for the benefit of an oligarchy consisting of Wall Street banks, mega-corporations, media conglomerates, and puppet politicians in Washington D.C. These people will stop at nothing to retain their wealth and power. Not only do they want to retain it, they are actively trying to increase it. They have achieved their goal beyond all expectations, and are still able to convince a large portion of the population through their propaganda machine they deserve every penny. More...

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Communicating via People Pedal Power
by Susan Galleymore
Posted November 2, 2011

Do we really need nuclear or coal plants?One single bicycle - and many pedaling people - powers Occupy San Francisco's media center: three laptops, a handful of cell phones and wi-fi hotspots.

It is fitting that, on the day when as many as 5,000 protested outside Wells Fargo Bank, something as simple, sustainable and ubiquitous as a bicycle video-streamed and communicated the goings-on to the rest of the country and the world.

This people pedal power demystifies electricity and sends a hopeful message: if one bicycle, a few batteries and many human beings enable worldwide communication, how dependent are we, the people, on centralized coal and nuclear power plants? More...

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Wall Street Firms Spy on Protesters in Tax-Funded Center
by Pam Martens
Posted October 28, 2011

Wall St spying on citizensIn a secretive government facility Wall Street firms get to sit alongside the New York Police Department and spy on law-abiding citizens.

According to newly unearthed documents, the planning for this high tech facility on lower Broadway dates back six years. In correspondence from 2005 that rests quietly in the Securities and Exchange Commission's archives, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly promised Edward Forst, a Goldman Sachs' Executive Vice President at the time, that the NYPD "is committed to the development and implementation of a comprehensive security plan for Lower Manhattan. One component of the plan will be a centralized coordination center that will provide space for full-time, on site representation from Goldman Sachs and other stakeholders." More...

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Under pressure to make arrests, police and troopers push back
by Brendon J. Lyons
Posted October 25, 2011

Occupy AlbanyALBANY, NY -- In a tense battle of wills, state troopers and Albany police held off making arrests of dozens of protesters near the Capitol over the weekend even as Albany's mayor, under pressure from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration, had urged his police chief to enforce a city curfew.

"We were ready to make arrests if needed, but these people complied with our orders," a State Police official said. However, he added that State Police supported the defiant posture of Albany police leaders to hold off making arrests for the low-level offense of trespassing, in part because of concern it could incite a riot or draw thousands of protesters in a backlash that could endanger police and the public.

"We don't have those resources, and these people were not causing trouble," the official said. "The bottom line is the police know policing, not the governor and not the mayor." More...

Are the guards of the money powers starting to rebel as well?

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A Tale of 3 Cities
by Rudy Avizius
Posted October 24, 2011

who are they protecting?A story of my visits to 3 Occupy cities: Washington DC, New York, and Philadelphia. This article will compare and contrast how each city handled the protests.

The end of the article will summarize the advantages and disadvantages of each approach taken and how these approaches affected police costs, level of order maintained, court overloads, numbers of arrests, and public relations with the police. More.

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How Can We Rouse Police and Other Protectors of the Corporatocracy -- "Guards" of the Status Quo -- to Join the OWS Rebellion?
By Bruce E. Levine
Posted October 22, 2011

"In a highly developed society, the Establishment cannot survive without the obedience and loyalty of millions of people who are given small rewards to keep the system going: the soldiers and police, teachers and ministers, administrators and social workers, technicians and production workers, doctors, lawyers. . . . They become the guards of the system, buffers between the upper and lower classes. If they stop obeying, the system falls."

—Howard Zinn, from "The Coming Revolt of the Guards," A People's History of the United States,

Guards of the powerfulFor those of us who have demonstrated and marched in the Occupy movement, it is obvious that the police and the corporate press serve as guards—buffers between the vast majority of the American people and the ruling "corporatocracy" (the partnership of giant corporations, the wealthy elite, and their collaborating politicians). In addition to the police and the corporate press, there are millions of other guards employed by the corporatocracy to keep people obedient and maintain the status quo.

Even a partial revolt of the guards could increase the number of protesters on the streets from the thousands to the millions. When did Zinn predict the revolt would occur, and how can this revolt be accelerated? More...

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The Natural Course of the US Empire
By Bill Bonner
Posted October 21, 2011

American EmpireThe Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement goes on in America. And 70,000 Greeks "clash with police," say the news headlines. People are upset. They know something is wrong. But they don't know what. The real explanation is too complicated. They won't sit still for it. So, they look for scapegoats — the rich, the banks, the Chinese.

We've made a number of big predictions here in The Daily Reckoning. Some of what we've foreseen has actually come to pass — the crash of the tech bubble, the collapse of the housing market…the Great Correction. Some of what we've forecast has not yet happened. Some never will.

But here is our most audacious forecast yet: the US is headed for ruin and revolution. The revolution will almost certainly be put down, violently. But the ruin cannot be stopped. More...

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My Night With Occupy Wall St
by Rudy Avizius
Posted October 17, 2011

Trapped behind barriersAt approximately 1:00 AM, a light rain started falling and I decided to sit on my chair, using the tarp for shelter. I watched as the crowd quickly adapted and almost instantly everyone seemed to wearing ponchos or utilizing umbrellas. Then I received the first real surprise of the visit. The skies opened up and almost instantly started pouring heavily. Immediately a great cheer went out among the crowd that reverberated between the large buildings that surround the park. This sent a chill down my spine. These people were so used to being wet that they actually welcomed the rain............

...........At approximately 6:00AM the park was so full that you could hardly fit another person into it. Why did the police not open up the barriers that were trapping so many people into such a small area? They could easily have closed the 2 minor small streets on either side of the park to accommodate the swelling numbers. This would have kept traffic flowing smoothly on Broadway and Church Streets while having a minimal amount of officers to control traffic flow. Instead the authorities have directed the NYPD to use large numbers of manpower to enforce the ever tightening barricades. This is another example of the arrogant and poor decision making on the part of the authorities, another sad and ineffective attempt to dispirit this movement. More...

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German officials admit using spyware on citizens, as Big Brother scandal grows
By Bob Sullivan
Posted October 13, 2011

Government SpyingA government surveillance software scandal that erupted in Germany this weekend has spread beyond that nation's borders, raising questions about how far government officials around the globe might go to monitor citizens through spyware.

On Saturday, as reported on MSNBC.com, the German-based Chaos Computer Club announced it had examined a Trojan horse program allegedly spread by government officials to secretly spy on citizens' Internet travels, e-mail, chat and more. The software, originally intended only to help officials intercept Internet phone calls through legal wiretaps, went far beyond those permissible purposes, the hacker group alleged. The group called the government's use of the software outrageous and demanded it be destroyed immediately. More...

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Occupy Movement Has No Message?
by Rudy Avizius
Posted October 12, 2011



There are those who say that the Occupy Movement has no message. The main stream media has subjected this movement to an aggressive "perception management" assault in an effort to discredit it. Yet the movement keeps growing and spreading. This video shows some of the reasons this movement is growing. This is not a liberal cause, this is not a conservative cause, this is a common cause.

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The US Empire: A Tragic Comedy in Three Acts
by Bill Bonner
Posted September 12, 2011

American EmpireWe hear that Ron Paul was booed in the Republican presidential debates. Why? He suggested that we get out of the empire business, bring the troops home and become a civilized nation again. What a party pooper…a wet blanket…a killjoy! An empire is so much more entertaining. We already have three wars going on…at last count…and quasi-wars in several other places.

Having an empire is like having a football team that plays for mortal stakes. It's fun to watch…at least when your team is winning. And now, Team USA is kicking butts all over the planet. That's why at football games, for example, (or so we've heard) images of the football team are sometimes mixed with images of US combat troops. The flag flies. The lumpen salute. They don't want to think about it; they just want the homeland team to win! More...

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Wall Street Protests Get Specific: Could "Bank Transfer Day" Pit Americans Against Their Big Banks?
by Martha C. White
Posted October 11, 2011

Bank transfer dayThe growing anger directed at U.S. banks (especially the big ones that took federal bailout funds) over recent fee increases coalesced this weekend into a Facebook-driven campaign urging Americans to close their accounts at large banks and move their money to credit unions by Nov. 5.

Though not initiated by the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York and other cities around the country, the effort has been embraced by the protesters, and their "We are the 99%" mantra is all over the "Bank Transfer Day" Facebook page — making this the first specific action by a political movement that has been criticized as unfocused and incoherent. More...

Maybe now the bankers will get very nervous.

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Why the Elites Are in Trouble
Posted October 10, 2011
by Chris Hedges

We need transformationThese protesters have not come to work within the system. They are not pleading with Congress for electoral reform. They know electoral politics is a farce and have found another way to be heard and exercise power. They have no faith, nor should they, in the political system or the two major political parties. They know the press will not amplify their voices, and so they created a press of their own. They know the economy serves the oligarchs, so they formed their own communal system. This movement is an effort to take our country back.

This is a goal the power elite cannot comprehend. They cannot envision a day when they will not be in charge of our lives. The elites believe, and seek to make us believe, that globalization and unfettered capitalism are natural law, some kind of permanent and eternal dynamic that can never be altered. What the elites fail to realize is that rebellion will not stop until the corporate state is extinguished. It will not stop until there is an end to the corporate abuse of the poor, the working class, the elderly, the sick, children, those being slaughtered in our imperial wars and tortured in our black sites. It will not stop until foreclosures and bank repossessions stop. It will not stop until students no longer have to go into debt to be educated, and families no longer have to plunge into bankruptcy to pay medical bills. It will not stop until the corporate destruction of the ecosystem stops, and our relationships with each other and the planet are radically reconfigured. And that is why the elites, and the rotted and degenerate system of corporate power they sustain, are in trouble. That is why they keep asking what the demands are. They don't understand what is happening. They are deaf, dumb and blind. More...

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The Big Banks Lose Control of the Optics
by Joseph A. Palermo
Posted September 10, 2011

ChaseIf JPMorgan Chase and the rest of the money cartel cared one whit about people perceiving them as being slightly more tolerable corporate citizens, they would have long ago voluntarily offered a lifeline to underwater mortgage holders and to local governments. Yet their campaign donations, lobbying activities, and predatory practices in abusing their "customers" (like Bank of America's recent fee hike or Jamie Dimon's big donation to the New York Police Department) show that these behemoths have no intention of reforming themselves. Instead, they intend to continue to give the country the shaft thinking themselves immune to the public's wrath by virtue of the immense piles of money they control -- which is precisely the problem, isn't it? More...

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The Best Among Us
by Chris Hedges
Posted October 1, 2011

Occupy Wall arrestThere are no excuses left. Either you join the revolt taking place on Wall Street and in the financial districts of other cities across the country or you stand on the wrong side of history. Either you obstruct, in the only form left to us, which is civil disobedience, the plundering by the criminal class on Wall Street and accelerated destruction of the ecosystem that sustains the human species, or become the passive enabler of a monstrous evil. Either you taste, feel and smell the intoxication of freedom and revolt or sink into the miasma of despair and apathy. Either you are a rebel or a slave.

Choose. But choose fast. The state and corporate forces are determined to crush this. They are not going to wait for you. They are terrified this will spread. They have their long phalanxes of police on motorcycles, their rows of white paddy wagons, their foot soldiers hunting for you on the streets with pepper spray and orange plastic nets. They have their metal barricades set up on every single street leading into the New York financial district, where the mandarins in Brooks Brothers suits use your money, money they stole from you, to gamble and speculate and gorge themselves while one in four children outside those barricades depend on food stamps to eat. More...

https://occupywallst.org/

There will be an occupation of Washington DC starting Oct 6. Other occupations are soon coming to Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, and now in foreign countries as well.

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Attica's 40th Anniversary: Still on the Wrong Road
by Michael E. Deutsch
September 25, 2011

Attica prisonSeptember 9 marks 40 years since the uprising at Attica State Prison, in upstate New York, and the deadly and sadistic retaking of the prison - and mass torture of hundreds of prisoners all the rest of the day and night and beyond - by state police and prison guards on the morning of September 13. When the shooting stopped and the gas lifted, 29 unarmed prisoners and ten hostages were dead, slaughtered by the assault force.

Over a hundred more prisoners were shot, some maimed for life and many others seriously injured. In addition, almost the entire 1,200-plus prisoners who occupied D yard and had hoped that their demands for humane treatment would be addressed by the authorities, were systematically stripped and beaten, made to run gauntlets of club swinging police as they were herded back into cells, while dozens of supposed leaders and other special targets were taken aside for more personal vengeance. The United States Court of Appeals, hardly a pro-prisoner or even liberal institution, called the rehousing of the prisoners, "an orgy of brutality." More...

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#OccupyWallStreet Is More Than a Hashtag - It's Revolution in Formation
by Nathan Schneider
Posted September 23, 2011

Occupy Wall Street MovementA lot of what you've probably seen or read about the #occupywallstreet action is wrong, especially if you're getting it on the Internet. The action started as an idea posted online and word about it then spread and is still spreading, online. But what makes it really matter now is precisely that it is happening offline, in a physical, public space, live and in person. That's where the occupiers are assembling the rudiments of a movement.

At the center of occupied Liberty Plaza, a dozen or so huddle around computers in the media area, managing a makeshift Internet hotspot, a humming generator and the (theoretically) 24-hour livestream. They can edit and post videos of arrests in no time flat, then bombard Twitter until they're viral. More...

https://occupywallst.org/

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A Huge Housing Bargain — but Not for You
by Roger Arnold
Posted September 14, 2011

vulture capitalistsThe largest transfer of wealth from the public to private sector is about to begin. The federal government will be bulk-selling the massive portfolio of foreclosed homes now owned by HUD, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to private investors — vulture funds.

These homes, which are now the property of the U.S. government, the U.S. taxpayer, U.S. citizens collectively, are going to be sold to private investor conglomerates at extraordinarily large discounts to real value.

You and I will not be allowed to participate. These investors will come from the private-equity and hedge-fund community, Goldman Sachs and its derivatives, as well as foreign sovereign wealth funds that can bring a billion dollars or more to each transaction. More...

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Capital gains tax rates benefiting wealthy feed growing gap between rich and poor
by Steven Mufson and Jia Lynn Yang
Posted September 13, 2011

tax them lerss than workers?For the very richest Americans, low tax rates on capital gains are better than any Christmas gift. As a result of a pair of rate cuts, first under President Bill Clinton and then under Bush, most of the richest Americans pay lower overall tax rates than middle-class Americans do. And this is one reason the gap between the wealthy and the rest of the country is widening dramatically.

The rates on capital gains — which include profits from the sale of stocks, bonds and real estate — should be a key point in negotiations over how to shrink the budget deficit, some lawmakers say.

Most Americans depend on wages and salaries for their income, which is subject to a graduated tax so the big earners pay higher percentages. The capital gains tax turns that idea on its head, capping the rate at 15 percent for long-term investments. As a result, anyone making more than $34,500 a year in wages and salary is taxed at a higher rate than a billionaire is taxed on untold millions in capital gains. More...

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Tax the super-rich or riots will rage in 2012
by Paul B. Farrell
Posted September 11, 2011

Social tensions are buildingListen to that hissing: The fuse is rapidly burning, warning us. Wake up before the rage explodes in your face. This firestorm is endangering America's future. From forces outside, yes. But far more deadly, from deep within our collective psyche. We have lost our moral compass. We are self-destructing.

Crackpot warning? No. This warning comes from the elite International Monetary Fund. A recent IMF report looked at "the causes of the two major U.S. economic crises over the past 100 years, the Great Depression of 1929 and the Great Recession of 2007," writes Rana Foroohar, an economics editor at Time magazine. More...

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The Cost of 9/11 — in Dollars
by Lindsay Blakely
Posted September 10, 2011

9-11 costsThe terrorists who crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 spent an estimated $400,000 to $500,000 to kill nearly 3,000 people. The total costs of the attack for U.S. companies and taxpayers are much more difficult to ascertain. The cost of losing so many human lives is incalculable. And the economic toll is difficult to tally, given the ongoing and indirect expense of war.

Here are a few of the 9/11 line items:

  • $7 billion: Amount paid out through the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund to the survivors of the 2,880 people killed and 2,680 injured in the attacks.
  • $408 billion: Cost to operate the Department of Homeland Security since it was created in 2002.
  • $80.1 billion: Civilian and military intelligence gathering costs in 2010 – more than double what was spent in 2001.
  • $43 billion: Minimum cost of 10 years worth of U.S. airport security. Passengers cover roughly 40 percent each year through the passenger security tax of $2.50 per flight. More...

For another article on this issue: NY Times 9-11 tally.

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Labor's Demise As A Countervailing Power
by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
Posted September 6, 2011

Labor losing its powerIt is Labor Day weekend, 2011, but labor has nothing to celebrate. The jobs that once gave American workers a stake in capitalism have left and gone away. Corporations in pursuit of near-term profits have moved labor's jobs to China, India, Indonesia, Taiwan, South Korea and Eastern Europe.

Labor arbitrage, that is, the substitution of foreign labor that is paid less than its productivity for American labor, has enriched Wall Street, shareholders and corporate CEOs, but it has devastated American employment, household incomes, tax base, and the outlook for the US economy.

In 1994 the Clinton "progressive" administration defined long-term discouraged workers out of existence. Consequently, no official unemployment rate includes long-term (more than six months) discouraged workers as unemployed. John Williams estimates this number and adds it to the U6 measure to produce a current rate of US unemployment of 22.7%, an unemployment rate 2.5 times higher than the official rate. More...

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Can the Middle Class Be Saved?
by Don Peck
Posted September 6, 2011

Middle class brokenIn October 2005, three Citigroup analysts released a report describing the pattern of growth in the U.S. economy. To really understand the future of the economy and the stock market, they wrote, you first needed to recognize that there was "no such animal as the U.S. consumer," and that concepts such as "average" consumer debt and "average" consumer spending were highly misleading.

In fact, they said, America was composed of two distinct groups: the rich and the rest. And for the purposes of investment decisions, the second group didn't matter; tracking its spending habits or worrying over its savings rate was a waste of time. All the action in the American economy was at the top: the richest 1 percent of households earned as much each year as the bottom 60 percent put together; they possessed as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent; and with each passing year, a greater share of the nation's treasure was flowing through their hands and into their pockets. More...

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As America's Economy Collapses, "New Normal" Police State Takes Shape
by Tom Burghardt
Posted August 27, 2011

POlice StateForget your rights. As corporate overlords position themselves to seize what little remains of a tattered social net (adieu Medicare and Medicaid! Social Security? Au revoir!), the Obama administration is moving at break-neck speed to expand police state programs first stood-up by the Bush government.

With British politicians demanding a clampdown on social media in the wake of London riots, and with the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) agency having done so last week in San Francisco, switching off underground cell phone service to help squelch a protest against police violence, authoritarian control tactics, aping those deployed in Egypt and Tunisia (that worked out well!) are becoming the norm in so-called "Western democracies." More...

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British Riots: Elites "Shocked" The Poor Are Rising Up Against Brutal Austerity Measures
by Laurie Penny
Posted August 16, 2011

British riotsMost of the people who will be writing, speaking and pontificating about the disorder this weekend have absolutely no idea what it is like to grow up in a community where there are no jobs, no space to live or move, and the police are on the streets stopping-and-searching you as you come home from school. The people who do will be waking up this week in the sure and certain knowledge that after decades of being ignored and marginalised and harassed by the police, after months of seeing any conceivable hope of a better future confiscated, they are finally on the news. In one NBC report, a young man in Tottenham was asked if rioting really achieved anything:

"Yes," said the young man. "You wouldn't be talking to me now if we didn't riot, would you?"

"Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you."

Eavesdropping from among the onlookers, I looked around. A dozen TV crews and newspaper reporters interviewing the young men everywhere. More...

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Stop Coddling the Super-Rich
by Warren E. Buffett
Posted August 15, 2011

Tax the rich!OUR leaders have asked for "shared sacrifice." But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as "carried interest," thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they'd been long-term investors. More...

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Food stamp use rises to record 45.8 million
by Blake Ellis
Posted August 8, 2011

Hunger in AmericaNEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Nearly 15% of the U.S. population relied on food stamps in May, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

The number of Americans using the government's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) -- more commonly referred to as food stamps -- shot to an all-time high of 45.8 million in May, the USDA reported. That's up 12% from a year ago, and 34% higher than two years ago. More...

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The Food Crisis War Endgame
by Andrew McKillop
Posted August 5, 2011

Food crisisGlobal agribusiness is very comparable to, and dependent on global banking. Through massive corporate consolidation in agriculture, food and farming, coordinated and convergent global food regulations, and chaff dollars euro and yen thrown on the gaming play tables of unrestrained food commodity speculation, agribusiness creates food shortage, and has a vested interest in food price explosions. To be sure, we wont expect the agribusiness players to say that ! Commodity-oriented agribusiness is a corporate profit tool, but farmers net few or no gains from this. Farmers are low-tech debt-serfs in the low income countries, and are high-tech debt-serfs in the high income countries.

We therefore need to understand the strategy and tactics in order to fight back against them: this war is produced by the exact same elites who have destroyed our economic and monetary systems, but the damage done to natural ecosystems and living species is not going to be changed overnight through a stroke of the pen. More...

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The Legislation That Could Kill Internet Privacy for Good
by Conor Friedersdorf
Posted August 4, 2011

remember J. Edgar Hoover?An overzealous bill that claims to be about stopping child pornography turns every Web user into a person to monitor. Every right-thinking person abhors child pornography. To combat it, legislators have brought through committee a poorly conceived, over-broad Congressional bill, The Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011. It is arguably the biggest threat to civil liberties now under consideration in the United States. The potential victims: everyone who uses the Internet.

Under language approved 19 to 10 by a House committee, the firm that sells you Internet access would be required to track all of your Internet activity and save it for 18 months, along with your name, the address where you live, your bank account numbers, your credit card numbers, and IP addresses you've been assigned. More...

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The War on You
by Michael Collins
Posted August 3, 2011

Hired puppets of the elitesLet the word go forth from Washington! The corporate rulers occupying our nation's capital have declared war on just about every citizen.

Have no doubt: those in the upper ranges of the top 1% of wealth in this country (aka The Money Party) want to kick you to the curb. They want to reduce your social security and make you go broke paying for medical care.

They want to lower your wages and trash your retirement.They ignore the clear facts that we've had negative job growth since 2000 and the situation is just getting worse.

They want to ship jobs, factories, and entire businesses overseas and give companies that do that a big fat tax credit for doing so. They've been given so much for nothing for so long. Now, they're ready to take it all. It's their time! More...

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Debt Ceiling Crisis Objective is to Scrap Social Security and Medicare
by Bob Chapman
Posted August 2, 2011

Rich cut social securityA game of chicken is being run in Washington by two groups of politicians run and owned by the same group of people behind the scenes. They all want enabling debt extension with a small touch of austerity. They want a deal that has the legs to keep the economy going until after the next election. The most important thing they want is a reduction in Social Security and Medicare, so those funds can be used to reduce debt and fund the military industrial complex. They also want starvation and the inability to buy drugs by the elderly to hasten their demise. That means less Social Security and Medicare spending.

The debt limit will be raised, but we fervently hope without Social Security and Medicare cuts. You have to understand your adversaries. These people in Congress are almost all paid whores and the people who control them with money are insane. If you can grasp that you can understand what really this is all about. Watch carefully which members won't allow military cuts and which want to cut SS and Medicare and then you will have identified the enemy. More...

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The Debt Ceiling, Imposing a Radical Pro-Rich Agenda
by Michael Hudson
Posted July 24, 2011

Wall Street casinoSheila Bair said none of this money, not a penny, [$16 trillion in Fed loans to the big banks] had to be given away at all. She said the job of the FDIC was to do what it did with Washington Mutual and IndyMac. They could have closed down Citibank, they could have closed down AIG and the others. Depositors insured by the FDIC wouldn't have lost a penny. She said, "That's what the FDIC does."

She was overruled by Geithner and by the Treasury Department, and especially by Bernanke, who essentially said, "We have to save the rich first. We have to save the gamblers." There was plenty of money in all of the banks to cover all of the retail vanilla deposits for businesses and families. What there was not money for was for all the cross-gambles that they had made on derivatives—that is, which way interest rates would go, which way currencies would go. And so, this was really a casino. These were bets. And people like the AIG couldn't pay. And the question is, how are you going to get the winners in this casino to get money from the losers, who are broke? So these $16 trillion worth of loans were all for junk securities. They weren't for the solid securities that did back out the deposits. These were all for junk gambles, having nothing to do with the real economy at all. More...

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21st-Century Slaves: How Corporations Exploit Prison Labor
by Rania Khalek
Posted July 23, 2011

Slave laborIt's no secret that America imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation in history. With just 5 percent of the world's population, the US currently holds 25 percent of the world's prisoners. In 2008, over 2.3 million Americans were in prison or jail, with one of every 48 working-age men behind bars.

As it turns out, private companies have a cheap, easy labor market, and it isn't in China, Indonesia, Haiti, or Mexico. It's right here in the land of the free, where large corporations increasingly employ prisoners as a source of cheap and sometimes free labor.

In the eyes of the corporation, inmate labor is a brilliant strategy in the eternal quest to maximize profit. By dipping into the prison labor pool, companies have their pick of workers who are not only cheap but easily controlled. Companies are free to avoid providing benefits like health insurance or sick days, while simultaneously paying little to no wages. They don't need to worry about unions or demands for vacation time or raises. Inmate workers are full-time and never late or absent because of family problems. More...

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Austerity and Deficit Hawks Say, "Let Them Eat Cake,"
The People Will Say, "Off With Their Heads"

by David DeGraw
Posted July 23, 2011

Power elite telling us about Social SecurityDo you know why the deficit hawks want to cut and privatize your Social Security?

It's because these people flat out stole the money [5] you spent your entire working life putting aside into the system. Excuse me for not being "civilized" enough, apologies, they didn't "steal" it, they just "borrowed" it and are refusing to pay it back.

It astounds me how people constantly debate the fiscal condition of Social Security but they never seem to notice or mention that the Social Security Trust Fund has been looted. Guess what? Between Wall Street, wars and tax breaks for multi-millionaires and billionaires, the $2.5 trillion surplus [5] that was supposed to be used for your retirement has already been used. Forgive me for being blunt, but one-tenth of one percent of the population is giving you the finger and telling you to "suck it in and cope." More...

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What Happened to the $2.6 Trillion Social Security Trust Fund?
by Merrill Matthews
Posted July 17, 2011

Social Security trust fundTreasury Secretary Timothy Geithner echoed the president on CBS's Face the Nation Sunday implying that if a budget deal isn't reached by August 2, seniors might not get their Social Security checks. Well, either Obama and Geithner are lying to us now, or they and all defenders of the Social Security status quo have been lying to us for decades. It must be one or the other.

Here's why: Social Security has a trust fund, and that trust fund is supposed to have $2.6 trillion in it, according to the Social Security trustees. If there are real assets in the trust fund, then Social Security can mail the checks, regardless of what Congress does about the debt limit. More...

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Is the Debt Crisis Just Another Trumped Up Scam to Steal Social Security?
by Julia Dalton
Posted July 14, 2011

Cut Social Security?We're all heard the hysteria, "If America doesn't raise the debt ceiling she'll default on her loans for the first time in our nations history." Everyone in Washington is in a panic. All the Chicken Little's are running around proclaiming, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" The corporate media picks up the mantra and echoes it throughout the land. "The sky is falling! The sky is falling." Now everyone's in a panic, running around screaming, "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"

What to do? What to do? "I know. I've got it," proclaims President Obama, "We'll cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. I'm so brilliant." Really? Why didn't I think of that? More...

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Tax Rates of the Super-Rich: Not as High as Those Making Much Less
by Carla Fried
Posted July 8, 2011

Lower tax rates for the richNot even the 400 wealthiest American households were immune from the 2008 financial crisis. New data released by the Internal Revenue Service says the mega rich saw their income drop 21.5 percent to a mere $108.2 billion in 2008. But hey, that still works out to a cool $270 million average for each of the top 400, or about 5,400 times the average household income.

Before your jealousy meter kicks in, you might want to skip straight to righteous indignation. According to the IRS, the average effective tax rate for the top 400 was 18.1 percent in 2008. While that tax rate is indeed 33 percent higher than the national average of 13.6 percent, it is also lower than the 19.6 percent average effective tax rate paid by folks with 2008 adjusted gross income between $200,000-$500,000, and the 24.1 percent average rate for filers with AGIs of $500,000-$1,000,000. More...

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Executive Pay Up 23 Percent Over Last Year
By Pradnya Joshi
Posted July 5, 2011

Fat CatIt turns out that the good times are even better than we thought for American chief executives. The final figures show that the median pay for top executives at 200 big companies last year was $10.8 million. That works out to a 23 percent gain from 2009. The earlier study had put the median pay at a none-too-shabby $9.6 million, up 12 percent.

Most ordinary Americans aren't getting raises anywhere close to those of these chief executives. Many aren't getting raises at all — or even regular paychecks. Unemployment is still stuck at more than 9 percent. Resurgent executive pay has some corporate watchdogs worried that companies have already forgotten the lessons of the bust. Boards have promised to tie executive pay to company success, but by some measures pay is rising faster than performance.More...

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One Small Town in America Quietly Enjoys the Health Care Most Americans Only Dream of
by Kay Tillow
Posted July 1, 2011

Countries with universal health careWhen Congress passes a national single-payer bill, we can all be enrolled in the twinkling of an eye -- just like Libby, Montana.

Back when he presided over the Senate's health care reform debate, Max Baucus, chairman of the all-powerful Senate Finance Committee, had said everything was on the table — except for single-payer universal health care. When doctors, nurses, and others rose in his hearing to insist that single payer be included in the debate, the Montana Democrat had them arrested. As more stood up, Baucus could be heard on his open microphone saying, "We need more police."

Yet when Baucus needed a solution to a catastrophic health disaster in Libby, Montana and surrounding Lincoln County, he turned to the nation's single-payer healthcare system, Medicare, to solve the problem. More...

Every advanced western nation has some form of universal health care. Even Iraq and Afghansitan have universal health care paid for by the United States war funding. Doesn't anyone see something wrong here? How many people died in order for Baucus to protect insurance company profits?

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Get Ready to be Financially Conscripted into Financial Repression
by Arnold Bock
Posted June 30, 2011

DEbt slaveryA four percent interest rate below the real rate of inflation, compounded over ten years, reduces in half the 'real' value of payments to the government's debt holders and entitlement recipients. Imagine what it does to the purchasing power of social security payments. Everyone gets the number of dollars promised, but they just don't buy as much. Magical, isn't it, especially if citizens think they are getting richer because their pay checks rise and their houses start to increase in price, thanks to inflation.

In the absence of large foreign buyers of US government debt, we the citizens will be conscripted to fill the gap, all for the greater good of the nation's future. A captive audience of citizen-savers and investors are expected to be a compliant army of civic minded patriots herded into the role of federal bond buyers in order to save the nation for future generations of Americans. Of course we will be assisted by the FED with a rejuvenated and renamed QE3 program...designed to drive dollar devaluation and inflation. More...

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State of New Jersey throws pensioners under the bus
by Rudy Avizius
Posted June 18, 2011

pensioners left with nothingThe state of NJ is getting ready to throw its pensioners under the bus. The recent "agreement" reached between Governor Christie and the "leaders" of the Senate and Assembly have decided to forgo cost of living increases for those retirees receiving NJ pensions. While on the surface this may seem a reasonable and "acceptable" compromise, closer scrutiny reveals that this is an insidious plan that will leave pensioners who had worked their entire lives and paid their agreed to amounts into the system faithfully, (unlike the state of NJ) with a rapidly decreasing standard of living and potentially totally broke.

Let's analyze what will happen. We all know that that inflation is increasing and will continue to accelerate as the Federal Resereve continues to print more dollars to protect the interests of Wall Street and the "too big to fail" banks. The official government figures for inflation stand at around 2.5% to 3%, but everyone who has to support a family knows that these highly manipulated figures do not represent the real rate of inflation. Shadowstats.com, a highly regarded website that calculates the real rates has determined that the current inflation rate is at 12%, not the much lower government figure.

Now consider this: if the true rate of inflation is 12%, IN 4 SHORT YEARS PENSIONERS WILL LOSE HALF OF THEIR BUYING POWER! Consider how much buying power will be lost over 8 years, or 12 years. These pensioners will have close to NOTHING! More...

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Congress gets richer in bad economy
by Jake Sherman & John Bresnahan
Posted June 17, 2011

Tax cuts for them?The U.S. economy continues to sputter along, unemployment remains at a stubbornly high 9.1 percent, the federal deficit is $1.4 trillion and talk of a "double-dip" recession abounds.

Yet members of Congress remain far wealthier than the average American, and their net worth keeps shooting up, regardless of the real world economy. And Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), one of the most controversial members of the House, has moved to the top of the list, with a minimum net worth in excess of $220 million, according to new financial disclosures released Wednesday. More...

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Will The Banksters And The Corporatocracy Eventually Own It All?
by Michael
Posted June 17, 2011

Economic collapseToday, average Americans have less power relative to the monolithic corporate and governmental institutions that dominate our society than at any other point in U.S. history. Sadly, this is not what our founding fathers ever envisioned. Our founding fathers established a government "of the people, by the people, for the people", but what we have today is very far from that ideal. In America today, wealth and power are very highly concentrated, and if you have neither wealth nor power than most of our politicians really do not have any interest in you. Over the past several decades, those with huge amounts of money and power have been busy rigging the game so that the rest of the money and power slowly but surely funnels into their hands. If current trends continue, the banksters and the corpocracy will eventually own it all. Below you will find 29 statistics about extreme income inequality in America. Sadly, most of these statistics will be out of date in a year or two because wealth and power will be much more concentrated by that time. More...

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The Rich Are Destroying the Economy
by Shamus Cooke
Posted June 13, 2011

Wealthy killing economyEver since the Great Recession shook the foundations of the U.S. economy, President Obama has been promising recovery. Evidence of this recovery, we were told, was manifested in the massive post-bailout profits corporations made. Soon enough, the President assured us, these corporations would tire of hoarding mountains of cash and start a hiring bonanza, followed by raising wages and benefits. It was either wishful thinking or conscious deception. The recent stock market meltdown has squashed any hope of a corporate-led recovery.

The Democrats fought the recession by the same methods the Republicans used to create it: allowing the super rich to recklessly dominate the economy while giving them massive handouts. This strategy, commonly referred to as Reaganomics or Trickle Down Economics, is now religion to both Democrats and Republicans; never mind the staged in-fighting for the gullible or complicit media. More...

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Third World America 2011, We've Arrived
by Janet Tavakoli
Posted June 11, 2011

3rd worldThe destruction of the middle class has accelerated. Housing values have plummeted, and investors earn negative real rates of inflation adjusted returns on "safe" investments like money market funds. Food, fuel, and medical costs have skyrocketed. Essential civil services are underfunded while taxes escalate. The middle class is sinking fast as saved wealth is destroyed and its standard of living erodes.

The U.S. escalated its debt to fund the ongoing bailout of the banking system. TARP was a small part of it. The Fed now owns over a trillion in suspect assets it bought from banks, and it daily provides them with almost zero cost money so high spreads help them earn their way out of the financial hole in their balance sheets. No one went to jail, and bankers reward themselves with billions in bonuses.

Banks broke their TARP agreement to lend to small and medium sized businesses. They lent to large businesses that outsource a lot of labor. The iPads stolen by Chicago gangs are mostly made in Asia. Banks and their enablers in Washington starved the U.S. of the biggest source of sustainable job growth: capital investment in the United States. More...

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The Earth Is Full
by Thomas L. Friedman
Posted June 9, 201
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Too many peopleYou really do have to wonder whether a few years from now we'll look back at the first decade of the 21st century — when food prices spiked, energy prices soared, world population surged, tornados plowed through cities, floods and droughts set records, populations were displaced and governments were threatened by the confluence of it all — and ask ourselves: What were we thinking? How did we not panic when the evidence was so obvious that we'd crossed some growth/climate/natural resource/population redlines all at once?

"The only answer can be denial," argues Paul Gilding, the veteran Australian environmentalist-entrepreneur, who described this moment in a new book called "The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring On the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World." "When you are surrounded by something so big that requires you to change everything about the way you think and see the world, then denial is the natural response. But the longer we wait, the bigger the response required." More...

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The $2.5 Trillion Tragedy
by Zaid Jilani
Posted June 9, 2011

Bush tax CutsToday marks the 10th anniversary of former President George W. Bush signing into law his 2001 tax cuts (he passed a second round in 2003). While doing so, Bush promised prosperity and growth, but the nation got neither.

The cost of these budget-busting 2001 and 2003 tax cuts was, as estimated by Citizens for Tax Justice, roughly $2.5 trillion through 2010. But America didn't have to go down this route of cutting taxes and hoping for growth to miraculously appear. There were other policy options available to policymakers. More...

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Our Fantasy Nation?
by Nicholas D. Kristof
Posted June 7, 2011

Gated communitiesThe wealthiest 1 percent of Americans already have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent, based on Federal Reserve data. Yet two-thirds of the proposed Republican budget cuts would harm low- and moderate-income families, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

In fairness to Pakistan and Congo, wealthy people in such countries manage to live surprisingly comfortably. Instead of financing education with taxes, these feudal elites send their children to elite private schools. Instead of financing a reliable police force, they hire bodyguards. Instead of supporting a modern health care system for their nation, they fly to hospitals in London.

You can tell the extreme cases by the hum of diesel generators at night. Instead of paying taxes for a reliable electrical grid, each wealthy family installs its own powerful generator to run the lights and air-conditioning. It's noisy and stinks, but at least you don't have to pay for the poor. More...

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Hospital Accounting: It's Complicated
by Lynn M. Petrovich
Posted June 7, 2011

sticker shockHere's an interesting tidbit: If you can afford health insurance, the hospital will accept $2,739 as payment in full; if you can't afford health insurance, you'll owe more, like $16,808.

That's not complicated, that's sick.

So in an effort to thwart my frustration with regard to how much the hospital's services cost to the hospital and why they would negotiate with our for-profit health insurance conglomerates to accept a sum that is sixteen percent of what they billed, I decided to dive into their financial statements because, like most hospitals in America, it's a non-profit 501(c)(3) institution. IRS Form 990s are public information. More...

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US army of fakes tracks Facebook users
by James Nixon
Posted June 6, 2011

Army spyingAnonymous, the WikiLeaks-loving online hacktivist collective, claims the US military is developing a piece of software that can infiltrate Facebook and other social networks using an army of fake profiles, cross-referencing information to "track and identify" individuals.

Evidence of the software - code-named 'Metal Gear' by the group - was uncovered in leaked emails belonging to US security contractor HBGary, after the company was attacked by Anonymous for providing assistance to the FBI in unmasking its members. More...

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Europe Replacing Economic Democracy with Financial Oligarchy
by Michael Hudson
Posted June 6, 2011

Finance is a form of warfare. Like military conquest, its aim is to gain control of land, public infrastructure, and to impose tribute. This involves dictating laws to its subjects, and concentrating social as well as economic planning in centralized hands. This is what now is being done by financial means, without the cost to the aggressor of fielding an army. But the economies under attacked may be devastated as deeply by financial stringency as by military attack when it comes to demographic shrinkage, shortened life spans, emigration and capital flight.

This attack is being mounted not by nation states as such, but by a cosmopolitan financial class. Finance always has been cosmopolitan more than nationalistic – and always has sought to impose its priorities and lawmaking power over those of parliamentary democracies. More...

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Welcome to the Soviet States of America 2011
by Mike Whitney
Posted June 3, 2011

protection racketSeriously, things are really looking bad. Apart from killing people, we really don't do anything anymore. We have a humongous, over-bloated military that lumbers from one war to the next spreading misery wherever it goes, and meanwhile, back at home, things continue to go to the dogs. How long can that go on?

You can't get a job anymore, because all the jobs have been shipped off to Guandong Province or someplace South of the border. The best you can hope for is some part-time gig jerking double-tall-mochas or steering folks towards the red-dot special on Aisle 9. So, how can you sustain a middle class on a measly $9.50 per hour? It can't be done.

And just look at Washington. What a joke. The White House is just a protection racket for big business. And Congress, well, what can you say about congress? We'd be better off if they just packed their bags and went home for all the good they do. Then at least we could turn the House of Representatives into a homeless shelter or something that had some practical value for people. At any rate, we wouldn't have to listen to the bloviating of numbskulls like Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid anymore. That's got to be worth something. More...

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The Corporate States of America
by Rudy Avizius
Posted May 31, 2011

Corporate corruptionAmericans have long had a sneaking suspicion that there was a "hidden hand" directing our government in Washington and the states, and they were right. The "hidden hand" was actually the corporations, unions, and other special interests that contribute literally $billions to our politicians in order to influence legislation that will favor them. This has happened even with the limits that have been placed on these groups that prevented them from directly contributing to campaigns.

Thursday January 21 2010, will go down in history as a dark day. This is the day that a divided Supreme Court, in a case of unbelievable overreach removed all limits on corporate political campaign spending. If you thought our politicians were corrupt and beholden to corporations before, things are about to get a LOT WORSE now that all limits have been removed. Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas and Kennedy swept aside decades of legislative restrictions on the money from corporations in political campaigns and ruled that companies can use corporate funds to support or oppose candidates. These 5 justices have just opened the floodgates and the strangle hold the banks have over the nation's wealth will now be amplified by this Supreme Court ruling that has totally removed all limits on campaign financing by corporations. This black day will go ultimately go down in history where the Supreme Court officially validated the takeover of the government by the corporations. The amounts of money spent on the 2010 midterm elections was a record, and the amounts that will be spent on the 2012 presidential elections are projected to total $BILLIONS! More...

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United States on the Road to Ruin, Your Trigger Points
by Gary North
Posted May 31, 2011

better to have left earlier?When would a wise Jew have begun making plans to leave Germany? 1933? 1934? 1938? 1939?

In retrospect, most people would say 1933, the year Hitler was appointed (not elected) Chancellor by President von Hindenburg. On 30 January, Hitler became Chancellor. He asked Hindenburg to dissolve the government and schedule new elections for March 5, which Hindenburg did.

Should a Jew have begun packing his bags? Maybe not. Maybe after the next election, the Nazis would have been defeated. More...

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Why You Should Move Your Money
by moveyourmoneyproject.org
Posted May 30, 2011

Don't fund the fat catsInvest in Main Street, not Wall Street. When you keep your money in a local financial institution, that money in turn is reinvested in local businesses, which is important for building a stable economy and encouraging local growth. Put your money in the big Wall Street banks however, and they will use your deposits to make risky investments, gambling at the expense of the economy as a whole.

End too big to fail. The big banks on Wall Street gambled with our money, then demanded a bailout of $700 billion. The size of these Wall Street "Banksters" threatens our economic system, yet their size has only increased since we bailed them out. According to FDIC data, the largest 5 banks held 13% of US deposits in 1994, today they hold 38%. If the government won't step in and break them up, then we must move our money ourselves and end "Too Big To Fail" once and for all. More...

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10 Steps to Defeat the Corporatocracy
by Bruce E. Levine
Posted May 23, 2011

Corporate States of AmericaMany Americans know that the United States is not a democracy but a "corporatocracy," in which we are ruled by a partnership of giant corporations, the extremely wealthy elite and corporate-collaborator government officials. However, the truth of such tyranny is not enough to set most of us free to take action. Too many of us have become pacified by corporatocracy-created institutions and culture.

Some activists insist that this political passivity problem is caused by Americans' ignorance due to corporate media propaganda, and others claim that political passivity is caused by the inability to organize due to a lack of money. However, polls show that on the important issues of our day - from senseless wars, to Wall Street bailouts, to corporate tax-dodging, to health insurance rip-offs - the majority of Americans are not ignorant to the reality that they are being screwed. And American history is replete with organizational examples - from the Underground Railroad, to the Great Populist Revolt, to the Flint sit-down strike, to large wildcat strikes a generation ago - of successful rebels who had little money but lots of guts and solidarity.

The elite spend their lives stockpiling money and have the financial clout to bribe, divide and conquer the rest of us. The only way to overcome the power of money is with the power of courage and solidarity. More...

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Tax Rates of the Super-Rich: Not as High as Those Making Much Less
By Carla Fried
Posted May 13, 2011

Rich pay low tax ratesNot even the 400 wealthiest American households were immune from the 2008 financial crisis. New data released by the Internal Revenue Service says the mega rich saw their income drop 21.5 percent to a mere $108.2 billion in 2008. But hey, that still works out to a cool $270 million average for each of the top 400, or about 5,400 times the average household income.

As Warren Buffett has repeatedly railed, there is something rather askew when his tax rate is lower than the rate his employees pay. And now that deficit reduction has become a part of the national conversation, poll after poll shows that a majority of Americans support raising tax rates on folks with incomes above $250,000, let alone $270 million. Yet just the other day House Speaker John Boehner insisted that tax hikes are "off the table" during the current debt ceiling/deficit chats. Seriously? For everyone? This sort of data dump from the IRS sure makes it hard to defend the current system for the uber-wealthy. More...

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How the McEconomy Bombed the American Worker
The Hollowing Out of the Middle Class
by Andy Kroll
Posted May 9, 2011

Hollowing out of the middle classThink of it as a parable for these grim economic times. On April 19th, McDonald's launched its first-ever national hiring day, signing up 62,000 new workers at stores throughout the country. For some context, that's more jobs created by one company in a single day than the net job creation of the entire U.S. economy in 2009. And if that boggles the mind, consider how many workers applied to local McDonald's franchises that day and left empty-handed: 938,000 of them. With a 6.2% acceptance rate in its spring hiring blitz, McDonald's was more selective than the Princeton, Stanford, or Yale University admission offices.

It shouldn't be surprising that a million souls flocked to McDonald's hoping for a steady paycheck, when nearly 14 million Americans are out of work and nearly a million more are too discouraged even to look for a job. At this point, it apparently made no difference to them that the fast-food industry pays some of the lowest wages around: on average, $8.89 an hour, or barely half the $15.95 hourly average across all American industries. More...

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The Xtremes: Subversive Recipes for Catastrophic Times
by Ronnie Cummins
Posted May 6, 2011

People powerAfter seven generations of industrial Business as Usual—burning up fossil fuels, waging war on nature and public health, and discharging greenhouse gas pollution into the atmosphere like there's no tomorrow—we've peaked. Distracted by know-nothing climate change deniers and betrayed by cowardly politicians, we're suddenly face-to-face with the Xtremes: Peak Oil, relentless heat, cold, droughts, blizzards, floods, pestilence, crop failures, and evermore deadly "natural" catastrophes, including hurricanes, tornados, forest fires, typhoons, and earthquakes. Held hostage by out-of-control energy corporations, make-believe terrorist threats, and indentured politicians, we lurch from disaster to disaster.

Last year the BP oil spill, this year the Fukushima meltdown. Checking our gauges for oil, food, water, topsoil, clean air, climate stability, ethical business practices, and democracy, we're running on empty. Economic depression, nuclear meltdown, extreme weather, catastrophic oil spills, crop failures, contamination of aquifers through natural gas fracking and oil sands extraction, dirty coal and mountaintop removal, genetically engineered "Frankenfoods" and agrofuels, endless wars for oil and strategic resources, and deteriorating public health--welcome to the New World Order of 2011. Bend down for the New Global Lords, our planetary Board of Directors: 1200 billionaires, 10 million millionaires, and 1000 giant multinational corporations. More...

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Citizens Successfully Close Bank
By EndTheIllusion
Posted April 18, 2011 (Tax Day)

About 50 determined citizens successfully shut down a Bank Of America branch in Philadelphia on April 18, 2011, TAX DAY for most American citizens.

Bank of America is one of many very large corporations that make $billions in profits, and then use tax loopholes and off shore tax havens to avoid paying taxes on their profits. In fact according to the Government Accountability Office, 2 out 3 corporations pay no taxes. Then the politicians who are bought by these same corporations and the uber wealthy get themselves even more tax loopholes and tax cuts. All this while our government debates throwing veterans into homelessness, cutting heating aid for the elderly, and benefits for mothers with children.

So this group of determined citizens decided to do something about this moral crisis on our society.

 

YouTube page for this video.

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Only Little People Pay Taxes
by Dave Gilson
Posted April 18, 2011 (Tax Day)

Leona HelmsleyWhy a janitor ends up with a higher tax rate than a millionaire, and seven more charts that show how the richest Americans beat the IRS.

"We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes," billionaire hotelier Leona Helmsley famously (and allegedly) sniffed. She wasn't entirely correct: The superrich do still pay taxes. The wealthiest 1 percent of taxpayers pay 32 percent of all income tax collected by the federal government.

But the superrich don't pay as much as they used to—and thanks to a combination of tax cuts and preferential tax policies, their tax obligations can be less demanding than the so-called little people's. In fact, the very wealthiest Americans' tax burden has been steadily dropping for years, even as they've enjoyed astounding income growth not seen by the vast majority of Americans. More...

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The Real Housewives of Wall Street
By Matt Taibbi
Posted April 13, 2011

the Fed & Wall StWhy is the Federal Reserve forking over $220 million in bailout money to the wives of two Morgan Stanley bigwigs?

It's hard to imagine a pair of people you would less want to hand a giant welfare check to — yet that's exactly what the Fed did. Just two months before the Macks bought their fancy carriage house in Manhattan, Christy and her pal Susan launched their investment initiative called Waterfall TALF. Neither seems to have any experience whatsoever in finance, beyond Susan's penchant for dabbling in thoroughbred racehorses. But with an upfront investment of $15 million, they quickly received $220 million in cash from the Fed, most of which they used to purchase student loans and commercial mortgages. The loans were set up so that Christy and Susan would keep 100 percent of any gains on the deals, while the Fed and the Treasury (read: the taxpayer) would eat 90 percent of the losses. Given out as part of a bailout program ostensibly designed to help ordinary people by kick-starting consumer lending, the deals were a classic heads-I-win, tails-you-lose investment.

This is the deal of a lifetime. Think about it: You borrow millions, buy a bunch of crap securities and stash them on the Fed's books. If the securities lose money, you leave them on the Fed's lap and the public eats the loss. But if they make money, you take them back, cash them in and repay the funds you borrowed from the Fed. "Remember that crazy guy in the commercials who ran around covered in dollar bills shouting, 'The government is giving out free money!' " says Black. "As crazy as he was, this is making it real." More...

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U.S. Downward Debt Spiral Into the Abyss
by Jesse
Posted April 11, 2011

The attacks are threefold:

- resisting financial and political reform which caused the crisis in the first place. Three years after the crisis and no major player has even been indicted, the bonus system is flourishing political corruptionagain, and politicians are taking many millions in funds from the bankers and wealthy elite to promote their agendas.

- blaming the victims, and compelling them to take the greatest pain of the bailouts, and continuing bailouts and subsidies to the financial class through spending reallocations. The bailouts and spending on the military industrial complex are crowding out the public functions of government. There are even people trying to justify the theft of the Social Security Trust. Look, the funds are gone, we've taken them and given them to the banks! So no use crying over spilt milk, suck it up, and let's move on and take your cuts.

- shifting the impulse to reform from financial reform to 'tax reform' that further supports the monied interests. Cut taxes for the wealthiest as your primary agenda using a variety of deceptive means like promoting a consumption tax, of a flat income tax with offshore havens and loopholes, so the burden falls most heavily on those who spend the greatest percentage of their labor on subsistence, basic needs. More...

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This Is What Resistance Looks Like
by Chris Hedges
Posted April 5, 2011

This is what resistance looks likeThe phrase consent of the governed has been turned into a cruel joke. There is no way to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs. Civil disobedience is the only tool we have left.

We will not halt the laying off of teachers and other public employees, the slashing of unemployment benefits, the closing of public libraries, the reduction of student loans, the foreclosures, the gutting of public education and early childhood programs or the dismantling of basic social services such as heating assistance for the elderly until we start to carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience against the financial institutions responsible for our debacle. The banks and Wall Street, which have erected the corporate state to serve their interests at our expense, caused the financial crisis. The bankers and their lobbyists crafted tax havens that account for up to $1 trillion in tax revenue lost every decade. More...

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Class Warfare Scoreboard : Guess Who's Winning?
by Mike Whitney
Posted April 2, 2011

Class warfareFunny how that works, eh? Funny how American-style capitalism is like a big conveyor-belt trundling all the wealth to those on the top floor. And, it's getting worse too. The gross inequality now exceeds the period before the '29 Crash and rivals the robber barons era. Hey, we're back in the Gilded Age.

And what are all these fatcats doing with their mountains of money...planning for the future, building a stronger economy, reinvesting in America?

Hell, no. They're swapping paper assets with each other to goose the market so they can leave their bratty kids another billion or two before they meet their maker. Don't believe me? This is from Bloomberg:

"U.S. executives are starting to spend the record $940 billion in cash they built up after the credit crisis, just in time for annual shareholder meetings. Takeovers topped $256 billion this quarter... Standard & Poor's 500 Index companies authorized 38 percent more buybacks in 2011 than a year earlier and dividends may increase to a record $31.07 a share in 2013...More...

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The Collapse of Globalization
by Chris Hedges
Posted March 31, 2011

Corporate effigyIt does not matter, as writers such as John Ralston Saul have pointed out, that every one of globalism's promises has turned out to be a lie. It does not matter that economic inequality has gotten worse and that most of the world's wealth has became concentrated in a few hands. It does not matter that the middle class—the beating heart of any democracy—is disappearing and that the rights and wages of the working class have fallen into precipitous decline as labor regulations, protection of our manufacturing base and labor unions have been demolished. It does not matter that corporations have used the destruction of trade barriers as a mechanism for massive tax evasion, a technique that allows conglomerates such as General Electric to avoid paying any taxes. It does not matter that corporations are exploiting and killing the ecosystem on which the human species depends for life. The steady barrage of illusions disseminated by corporate systems of propaganda, in which words are often replaced with music and images, are impervious to truth.

The aim of the corporate state is not to feed, clothe or house the masses, but to shift all economic, social and political power and wealth into the hands of the tiny corporate elite. It is to create a world where the heads of corporations make $900,000 an hour and four-job families struggle to survive. The corporate elite achieves its aims of greater and greater profit by weakening and dismantling government agencies and taking over or destroying public institutions. Charter schools, mercenary armies, a for-profit health insurance industry and outsourcing every facet of government work, from clerical tasks to intelligence, feed the corporate beast at our expense. More...

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HOURLY RATES - A Modest Essay about Extraordinary Paychecks
by Bartlett Naylor
Posted March 30, 2011

Astounding greed!No matter how well compensated our Hollywood and sports stars are, the real money comes from the business of money. The AFL-CIO's PayWatch noted that recently major bankers, apparently embarrassed by their dependence on record taxpayer subsidies, have tightened their belts. Thomas Montag, president of global banking at Bank of America, received only $29 million, or $14,500 an hour.

But the hedge funds have no such restraint. The magazine Institutional Investor declared David Tepper the best paid hedge fund manager in 2009 at $4 billion.9 To put this in perspective, that is $2 million an hour. That is one million dollars every half hour. A Pittsburgh native, he donated $55 million to Carnegie Mellon University, which gratefully changed the name of a graduate program to the David Tepper School of Business.10 That was half a week's paycheck.

The hedge fund managers largely profit in a zero sum game. They don't produce or provide services in the ordinary sense. They place bets against other gamblers, and for every dollar they win, someone else loses. Many of the securities in which they traffic are synthetic, meaning they are mere bets on the performance of other things such as real stocks, bonds, commodities or mortgage payments. If a bond fails, then the credit default insurance, or credit default swap, becomes valuable. . More...

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U.S. Super-Rich the Greatest Living Parasites Flourish as Inequalities Deepen
by James Petras
Posted March 30, 2011

parasitic ruling classThe US has the most billionaires in the world (413), better than one third of the total, the greatest proportion among the "big countries in the world. A closer look also reveals that among the top 200 billionaires (those with $5.2 billion and more) there are 57 from the US (29%). Over one third made their fortune through speculative activity, predators on the productive economy and exploiters of the property and stock market. This is the highest percentage of any major country in Europe or Asia (with the exception of England).

The enormous concentration of wealth in the hands of this tiny parasitical ruling class is one reason why the US has the worst inequalities of any advanced economy and among the worst in the entire world. Speculators do not employ workers, they secure tax loopholes and bailouts and then press for cuts in the social budget, since they do not require a healthy, educated workforce (except for a tiny elite). In 1976 the top 1% held 20% of the wealth; in 2007 they commanded 35% of total wealth. Eighty percent of Americans own only 15% of the wealth. . More...

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The Gathering Political and Economic Storm
by James Quinn
Posted March 14, 2011

Gathering stormThe implosion of the financial system was created by the actions of the Wall Street financers that have been looting the country for decades. They created mortgage products (no doc, liar loans, Alt-A, negative amortization) designed to encourage people to commit fraud. They purposely promoted this massive fraud because they had perfected the art of derivatives. The issuers of these fraudulent mortgages bore none of the risk from their guaranteed default. They packaged them into MBOs and MBSs, bought AAA ratings from Moodys, and shilled them to pension managers, insurance companies, municipalities, states, and little old ladies. Then they bet against their own products with credit default swaps. Their greed and avarice was so extreme, they leveraged their own balance sheets 40 to 1 and then bought their own toxic waste.

The working age population has risen by 5 million, while the number of employed Americans has declined by 6.5 million. The true unemployment rate has risen from 12% to 22%. In September 2008 there were 30.8 million Americans on food stamps. Today there are 44 million Americans on food stamps (14% of the U.S. population), a 43% increase in 2 1/2 years. The annual cost has risen by $37 billion, a 100% increase in 2 1/2 years.

No Wall Street executive has been prosecuted for the fraudulent actions committed by their banks. Wall Street banks handed out $43.3 billion in bonuses in 2009/2010 for a job well done. More...

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Stealing from Social Security to Pay for Wars and Bailouts
by Paul Craig Roberts
Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan's first term
Posted March 11, 2011

They stole your pensionWhat I am about to tell you might come as a shock, but it is the absolute truth, which you can verify for yourself by going online to the government's annual OASDI and HI reports. According to the official 2010 Social Security reports, between 1984 and 2009 the American people contributed $2 trillion, that is $2,000 billion, more to Social Security and Medicare in payroll taxes than was paid out in benefits.

What happened to the surplus $2,000 billion, or $2,000,000,000,000.

The government spent it.

Over the past quarter century, $2 trillion in Social Security and Medicare revenues have been used to finance wars and pork-barrel projects of the US government. More...

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America is NOT broke
by Michael Moore
Posted March 10, 2011

Pleant of moneyAmerica is not broke!

Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you'll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It's just that it's not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.

Today just 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined.

Let me say that again. 400 obscenely rich people, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar taxpayer "bailout" of 2008, now have more loot, stock and property than the assets of 155 million Americans combined. If you can't bring yourself to call that a financial coup d'état, then you are simply not being honest about what you know in your heart to be true. More...

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Amnesty for the Banksters, Debtor's Prison for the Serfs
by William N. Grigg
Posted February 22, 2011

Past relic or a vision of the future?Long before he orchestrated a scheme to rig auctions of tax liens in Baltimore, attorney and real estate mogul Harvey M. Nusbaum had a long and lucrative career in officially sanctioned crime as an IRS agent.

In 2002, Nusbaum grew weary of robbing people on behalf of the state. Rather than repenting in sackcloth and ashes, as any decent person would, he hired out as a privateer -- a freelance buyer and collector of tax debts.

This form of retail fascism -- a public-private partnership in plunder -- was immensely profitable for Nusbaum. Had he exercised even the slightest restraint on his corrupt appetite, Nusbaum most likely wouldn't be headed for prison. More...

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Genetic Engineering: Scientists warn of link between dangerous new pathogen and Monsanto's Roundup
by Rady Ananda
Posted February 21, 2011

Genetically modified foodA plant pathologist experienced in protecting against biological warfare recently warned the USDA of a new, self-replicating, micro-fungal virus-sized organism which may be causing spontaneous abortions in livestock, sudden death syndrome in Monsanto's Roundup Ready soy, and wilt in Monsanto's RR corn.

Dr. Don M. Huber, who coordinates the Emergent Diseases and Pathogens committee of the American Phytopathological Society, as part of the USDA National Plant Disease Recovery System, warned Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that this pathogen threatens the US food and feed supply and can lead to the collapse of the US corn and soy export markets. Likewise, deregulation of GE alfalfa "could be a calamity,"

In a 2009 study, researchers linked organ damage with consumption of Monsanto's GM maize, based on Monsanto's trial data. As we reported last year, Gilles-Eric Séralini, et al., concluded that the raw data from all three GMO studies reveal that novel pesticide residues will be present in food and feed and may pose grave health risks to those consuming them. Such negative findings probably explain why Monsanto and other biotech firms so vociferously block independent research. More...

With genetic manipulation of our food crops, we are playing Russian Roulette with our food supply.

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Social Security is not an "entitlement" program
by Marti Oakley
Posted February 20, 2011

You have paid for Social SecurityThere is far more at stake here than what the District terms an "unfunded liability". When you hear those in the District speak about this liability, you need to understand what they are really saying. This is an intra-governmental debt, meaning; a debt accrued within the government. It is a liability to the federal government because it is owed to "you" and they have no way of paying it back without taxing you more heavily. You are the "full faith and credit" of the United States corporation. That means government runs up the bills and we pay it.

Another option proffered is cutting the amount of benefits. This one is really sneaky! You are supposed to think that by cutting benefits this will somehow offset any future shortfalls in Social Security. Here's what it really does: It increases the amount of SS surpluses accrued because it lowers the amount being paid out of the fund and increases the funds available to the ongoing theft of your investment. While millions are out of work and not investing in Social Security, this scam will reduce payouts while maintaining virtually the same level of surplus the Federal government is going to steal. More...

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Student loans leave crushing debt burden
by Scott Cohn
Posted February 16, 2011

STudent loan burdenThe cost of a college education is rising faster than the cost of medical care and as much as three times as fast as consumer prices in general. But that's just the beginning of the price of admission.

This is the story of a debt crisis few are talking about. Unlike most other forms of debt, student loans carry almost no consumer protections and little ability to refinance. By law, they can't be wiped out in bankruptcy. Those laws were passed in response to the last student loan crisis in the 1980s. But Collinge believes it created a system he calls predatory.

"These powers would make a mobster envious," he said. More...

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Ruling on Behalf of Wall Street's "Super Rich": The Financial End Time has Arrived
by Prof. Michael Hudson
Posted February 5, 2011

corporate raiderThe argument is made that "The rich create jobs." After all, somebody has to build the yachts. What is missing is the more general principle: Wealth and income inequality destroy job creation. This is because beyond the wealthy soon reach a limit on how much they can consume. They spend their money buying financial securities – mainly bonds, which end up indebting the economy. And the debt overhead is what is pushing today's economy into deepening depression.

Since the 1980s, corporate raiders have borrowed high-interest "junk bond" credit to take over companies and make money by stripping assets, cutting back long-term investment, research and development, and paying out depreciation credit to their financiers. Financially parasitized companies use corporate income to buy back their stock to support its price – and hence, the value of stock options that financial managers give themselves – and borrow yet more money for stock buybacks or simply to pay out as dividends. When the process has run its course, they threaten their work force with bankruptcy that will wipe out its pension benefits if employees do not agree to "downsize" their claims and replace defined-benefit plans with defined-contribution plans (in which all that employees know is how much they pay in each month, not what they will get in the end). By the time this point has been reached, the financial managers have paid themselves outsized salaries and bonuses, and cashed in their stock options – all subsidized by the government's favorable tax treatment of debt leveraging. More...

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American Eulogy
by James Quinn
Posted January 31, 2011

Game overWhenever an act doesn't make sense and seems irrational, you need to ask yourself, "who benefits?" Who has benefitted from the hysteria? The answer is in plain sight. The moneyed interests benefitted. The military industrial complex benefitted. The Federal Government bureaucracy benefitted. Wall Street bankers benefitted. Mega-corporations and their CEOs benefitted. The top 1% ruling elite gained more wealth and more power. They created the mass hysteria with the assistance of their corporate owned mainstream media and completed their pillaging of the middle class with the cooperation of regulators, rating agencies and their ultimate weapon, the privately owned Federal Reserve bank, that has enriched its owners while impoverishing those whose only aspiration was to do an honest day's work, raise their families, and live in relative comfort, safety, and happiness.

Most Americans still believe the fairy tale of the American Dream, that no matter how humble your beginnings, everyone has a fair chance to become rich in America. The truth is that the wealthy ruling class owns the country. The top 1% control 43% of the financial wealth of the nation. The top 10% control 83% of the financial wealth of the nation. There is a misperception that the ultra-rich earn their wealth. The facts show otherwise. In 2008, only 19% of the income reported by the 13,480 individuals or families making over $10 million came from wages and salaries. More...

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Goldman CEO gets salary boost, $12.6 million shares
By Elinor Comlay and Dan Wilchins
Posted January 30, 2011

Blankfein wins lottery jackpot every yearGoldman Sachs Group tripled Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein's base salary and awarded him $12.6 million (7.9 million pounds) of stock, even after the bank's net income plunged last year.

Blankfein is receiving base pay of $2 million effective Jan 1, up from $600,000, the company said in a filing.

The shares awarded to Blankfein amount to a 42 percent increase from the all-stock bonus he received for 2009, and are the latest sign that U.S. banks are moving away from some of the austerities imposed by the financial crisis. Many critics complained that banks privatise their profits and socialize their losses. Big bonuses paid for 2009 would have intensified public outrage. More...

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein stands to collect $100 million bonus

Lloyd Blankfein's Goldman Sachs played a significant role in the global economic meltdown. Then they were bailed out with taxpayer funds. Now the executives award themselves bonuses and salaries that are the equipvalent of winning the lottery jackpot EVERY YEAR! All this while millions are unemployed, millions are losing their homes, people around the world are now rioting over food costs, and millions saw their life savings shrink by 50%. Way to go Lloyd, you're such a humanitarian who in your own words is "doing God's work"!

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Welcome To 1984: Your Papers, Please
by John Pugsley
Posted January 20, 2011

POlice StateDriving from California to East Texas, my daughter and grandson were 90 miles into the Lone Star state when traffic was stopped at a road block just outside the little town of Sierra Blanca.

Drug-sniffing dogs worked down the line of cars. Under treatment for a medical condition for which her California doctor prescribed medical marijuana, my daughter had a small amount in her luggage in the trunk. The dogs immediately sniffed it. She showed the police her medical authorization, but California law didn't apply in Texas. She and my grandson were arrested, taken to jail and put into a holding tank with a dozen or more men and women who had been arrested for the same crime.

A few days later, singer Willie Nelson was arrested at that same checkpoint. My daughter was fined $550. Perhaps Willie got off just signing a few autographs. More...

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