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One Nation Under Surveillance
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Profiting from Your Thirst as Global Elite Rush to Control Water Worldwide
by Jo-Shing Yang
Posted December 24, 2012

who owns water?A disturbing trend in the water sector is accelerating worldwide. The new "water barons" --- the Wall Street banks and elitist multibillionaires --- are buying up water all over the world at unprecedented pace. Familiar mega-banks and investing powerhouses such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Macquarie Bank, Barclays Bank, the Blackstone Group, Allianz, and HSBC Bank, among others, are consolidating their control over water.

The second disturbing trend is that while the new water barons are buying up water all over the world, governments are moving fast to limit citizens' ability to become water self-sufficient (as evidenced by the well-publicized Gary Harrington's case in Oregon, in which the state criminalized the collection of rainwater in three ponds located on his private land, by convicting him on nine counts and sentencing him for 30 days in jail). Let's put this criminalization in perspective:

Billionaire T. Boone Pickens owned more water rights than any other individuals in America, with rights over enough of the Ogallala Aquifer to drain approximately 200,000 acre-feet (or 65 billion gallons of water) a year. But ordinary citizen Gary Harrington cannot collect rainwater runoff on 170 acres of his private land. More...

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The Cashless Society is Almost Here – And With Some Very Sinister Implications
by Patrick Henningsen
Posted December 11, 2012

cashless societyIn 2008, the public had an opportunity to collapse the predatory banking system that has been trading insolvent and gambling on thin air. But the very same ruling establishment who engineered the crisis to begin with, masterfully presented their own solution as the remedy by establishing the precedent of the state bailing out any gambling losses incurred by the banking community.

In the end society relented, and with help of pro-banking political leadership on both sides of the Atlantic, they adopted the pre-packaged belief that a cluster of bloated and corrupt financial institutions were simply too big to fail. Aside from being a massive redistribution of wealth upwards into the hands of the speculative elite classes, this was merely a test by the establishment to see how far they could go in robbing the public, pushing up inflation, hoovering up real assets, robbing pension funds and enslaving taxpayers to generations of debt the bankers created – all in one swoop. More...

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The US Is Now a Police State
by Doug Casey (Casey Research)
Posted December 1, 2012

prison industryLouis: We often get letters from angry readers who accuse you of hating America, disloyalty, and perhaps even treason. These people don't know or understand what I do about you – that you love the idea that was America. It's the United State it has become for which you have nothing but contempt. Perhaps we should try to explain this to them?

Doug: I doubt it would work; it's a tough row to hoe, trying to explain things to people who are so set in their thinking that they truly and literally don't want to hear anything that might threaten their notions. A person who feels threatened by ideas and who responds with emotion is acting irrationally. How can we have a discussion with someone whose emotion trumps their reason? How do we even begin to untangle the thinking of people who will gather this week to give thanks for the bounty produced by freedom and hard work – the famous puritan work ethic – by eating a turkey bought with food stamps? More...

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Stand Still for the Apocolypse
by Chris Hedges
Posted November 29, 2012

climate change floodingHumans must immediately implement a series of radical measures to halt carbon emissions or prepare for the collapse of entire ecosystems and the displacement, suffering and death of hundreds of millions of the globe's inhabitants, according to a report commissioned by the World Bank. The continued failure to respond aggressively to climate change, the report warns, will mean that the planet will inevitably warm by at least 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, ushering in an apocalypse.

This will cause a precipitous drop in crop yields, along with the loss of many fish species, resulting in widespread hunger and starvation. Hundreds of millions of people will be forced to abandon their homes in coastal areas and on islands that will be submerged as the sea rises. There will be an explosion in diseases such as malaria, cholera and dengue fever. Devastating heat waves and droughts, as well as floods, especially in the tropics, will render parts of the Earth uninhabitable. The rain forest covering the Amazon basin will disappear. Coral reefs will vanish. Numerous animal and plant species, many of which are vital to sustaining human populations, will become extinct. Monstrous storms will eradicate biodiversity, along with whole cities and communities. More...

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DHS to Double US Drone Fleet
by Trevor Timm, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Posted November 24, 2012

Predators over U.S. to doubleDespite renewed criticism from both parties in Congress that domestic drones pose a privacy danger to US citizens - and a report from its own Inspector General recommending to stop buying them - the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has indicated it wants to more than double its fleet of Predator drones used to fly surveillance missions inside the United States.

Yesterday, California Watch reported that DHS signed a contract that could be worth as much as $443 million with General Atomics for the purchase up to fourteen additional Predator drones to fly near the border of Mexico and Canada. Congress would still need to appropriate the funds, but if they did, DHS' drone fleet woud increase to twenty-four. More...

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Wall Street Uses the Third Way to Lead Its Assault on Social Security
by William K Black
Posted November 17, 2012

wall street stealing social securityThird Way, lobbyists for and from Wall Street who are leading the effort to enrich Wall Street by privatizing Social Security, was created by Wall Street to fool some of the people all of the time. I have written previously to expose their fictional claims to be a moderate or liberal Democratic group.

Eric Laursen documented Wall Street's effort to become even wealthier by privatizing Social Security in articles and his recent book ("The People's Pension: The Struggle to Defend Social Security Since Reagan".

I showed that Third Way makes itself useful by providing a faux "liberal" or "moderate" "Democratic" quote machine that can be used to discredit Democrats and Democratic policies such as the safety net. I gave examples of how Third Way gave aid and comfort to the effort to defeat Elizabeth Warren and the effort to unravel the safety net. Third Way continues to prove that you can fool some of the people all of the time. More...

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Yes, the FBI and CIA can read your email. Here's how
by Zack Whittaker
Posted November 16, 2012

government spying on you"Petraeus-gate," some U.S. pundits are calling it. How significant is it that even the head of the CIA can have his emails read by an albeit friendly domestic intelligence agency, which can lead to his resignation and global, and very public humiliation?

The U.S. government -- and likely your own government, for that matter -- is either watching your online activity every minute of the day through automated methods and non-human eavesdropping techniques, or has the ability to dip in as and when it deems necessary -- sometimes with a warrant, sometimes without.

This has not only landed the former CIA chief in hot water but has ignited the debate over how, when, and why governments and law enforcement agencies are able to access ordinary citizens' email accounts, even if they are the head of the most powerful intelligence agency in the world. More...

This whole General Petraeus story smells like 4 day old fish. Are we to believe that the head of the CIA thought his GMail account was secure from FBI surveillance? Or is the corporate media not giving us the whole story. Neither scenario is reassuring.

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LIVE: From KXL Pipeline-Lies, Cover-up,Corruption Equal.... Environmental DISASTER!
by Brett Redmayne-Titley
Posted November 6, 2012

tar sands protestHow did one foreign Corporation form its own militia, become in control of the local courts, fraudulently abuse the land rights of hundreds of Texas and Oklahoma landholders, arrest, fabricate charges for, and incarcerated peaceful protesters, jeopardize the health of millions of Americans, and threaten the world with a global environmental catastrophe, all in the name of corporate profit?

  • Why did TransCanada manage to get the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) taken from the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA) and switched to the State Department?
  • Why will TransCanada not release the names of the toxic chemical delusions used to prepare the tar sands for high-pressure shipment through this pipe line?
  • Why is the Cook County court system apparently under the control of TransCanada?
  • Why is the state of Texas manufacturing new laws to help TransCanada charge protesters with excessive crimes that demand extraordinary bail amounts?
  • Why is TransCanada burying the pipeline seventeen feet deep? More...

Do you really want mercenaries hired by foreign corporations arresting U.S. citizens?

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10 Filthy-Rich, Tax-Dodging Hypocrites Pushing Disastrous Austerity on America
by Sarah Anderson and Scott Klinger
Posted November 4, 2012

tax dodgersThe Fix the Debt coalition is using the so-called "fiscal cliff" to push the same old corporate agenda of more tax breaks while shifting the burden on to the rest of us.Brace yourself for one of the most aggressive corporate lobbying campaigns of all time. And one of the most hypocritical.

"Fix the Debt " is a coalition of more than 80 CEOs who claim they know best how to deal with our nation's fiscal challenges. The group boasts a $60 million budget just for the initial phase of a massive media and lobbying campaign. The irony is that CEOs in the coalition's leadership have been major contributors to the national debt they now claim to know how to fix. These are guys who've mastered every tax-dodging trick in the book. And now that they've boosted their corporate profits by draining the public treasury, how do they propose we put our fiscal house back in order? By squeezing programs for the poor and elderly, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Fix the Debt claims their agenda is not just about spending cuts. But when it comes to their tax proposals, they use the slippery term "pro-growth reform" to push for cuts in deductions that are likely to include credits for working families and — you guessed it — more corporate tax breaks. Chief among these is a proposal to switch to a territorial system under which corporate foreign earnings would be permanently exempted (instead of being taxed when they are returned to America). More...

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American Empire: A Disaster on Autopilot
by Tom Engelhardt
Posted October 15, 2012

American EmpireA great power without a significant enemy? You might have to go back to the Roman Empire at its height or some Chinese dynasty in full flower to find anything like it. And yet Osama bin Laden is dead. Al-Qaeda is reportedly a shadow of its former self. The great regional threats of the moment, North Korea and Iran, are regimes held together by baling wire and the suffering of their populaces. The only incipient great power rival on the planet, China, has just launched its first aircraft carrier, a refurbished Ukrainian throwaway from the 1990s on whose deck the country has no planes capable of landing.

The more dominant the U.S. military becomes in its ability to destroy and the more its forces are spread across the globe, the more the defeats and semi-defeats pile up, the more the missteps and mistakes grow, the more the strains show, the more the suicides rise, the more the nation's treasure disappears down a black hole -- and in response to all of this, the more moves the Pentagon makes.

Think of it as the American imperial paradox: everywhere there are now "threats" against our well-being which seem to demand action and yet nowhere are there commensurate enemies to go with them. More...

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The Great American Empire - Decline, Decay, Denial, Delusion & Despair
by James Quinn
Posted October 10, 2012

empire in declineThe majority of Americans seem OK with just waddling through life, accepting the lies and misinformation blasted from the boob tube and their various iGadgets by their owners, gorging themselves to death on Twinkies and Cheetos, paying 15% interest on their $10,000 rolling credit card balance, and growing ever more dependent on the welfare/warfare state to provide and protect them from accepting personal responsibility for their lives. A minority of critical thinking people have chosen to question everything they see and hear being spewed at us by the propagandist mainstream media, the corporate fascist government, and the powerful banking cabal that has an iron grip upon our throats as they choke the life out of the global economy in their never ending desire for more riches and more power.

The financialization of America was a conscious decision by the oligarchs. They controlled the issuance of credit. They controlled the currency and level of inflation inflicted upon the masses. They controlled the corporations selling consumer goods on credit. They controlled the Congress, courts, and government agencies with their deep pocket lobbying and buying of influence. Lastly, they controlled the media messages and molded the opinions and tastes of the masses through their Bernaysian propaganda techniques perfected over the decades. More...

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Wall Street's War Against the Cities
by Michael Hudson
Posted October 9, 2012

thank you bankersThe pace of Wall Street's war against the 99% is quickening in preparation for the kill. Having demonized public employees for being scheduled to receive pensions on their lifetime employment service, bondholders are insisting on getting the money instead. It is the same austerity philosophy that has been forced on Greece and Spain – and the same that is prompting President Obama and Mitt Romney to urge scaling back Social Security and Medicare.

Social Security can easily be paid. After the 2007 crash the Fed printed $13 trillion on its computers to give to bankers. It can do the same for Social Security – and for federal grants-in-aid to America's states and cities. It can pay state and local pension obligations in the same way it has paid Wall Street's 1%. The problem is that the Fed is only willing do what central banks were founded to do – finance government deficits – to give to the banks. The aim is to save bondholders and the banks' high-flying counterparties, not the 99%. More...

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Arctic Ice Melt, Psychopathic Capitalism and the Corporate Media
by David Cromwell and David Edwards
Posted October 8, 2012

corporate malfeasanceLast month, climate scientists announced that Arctic sea ice had shrunk to its smallest surface area since satellite observations began in 1979. An ice-free summer in the Arctic, once projected to be more than a century away, now looks possible just a few decades from now. Some scientists say it may happen within the next few years.

The loss is hugely significant because Arctic sea ice reflects most solar energy into space, helping to keep the Earth at a moderate temperature. But when the ice melts it reveals dark waters below, which absorb more than 90 percent of the solar energy that hits them, leading to faster warming both locally and globally. More...

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DHS 'fusion centers' portrayed as pools of ineptitude, civil liberties intrusions
by Robert O'Harrow Jr.
Posted October 4, 2012

DHS ineptitudeAn initiative aimed at improving intelligence sharing has done little to make the country more secure, despite as much as $1.4 billion in federal spending, according to a two-year examination by Senate investigators.

The nationwide network of offices known as "fusion centers" was launched after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to address concerns that local, state and federal authorities were not sharing information effectively about potential terrorist threats. But after nine years — and regular praise from officials at the Department of Homeland Security — the 77 fusion centers have become pools of ineptitude, waste and civil liberties intrusions, according to a scathing 141-page report by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs permanent subcommittee on investigations. More...

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Occupy My Foreclosure
by Andrea Egizi
Posted October 3, 2012

foreclosureFor millions of Americans, owning a home is the grandest symbol of having accomplished the illusion of the "American Dream". Being a homeowner signifies success, financial stability and responsibility. I too had the indoctrinated belief to become a homeowner and felt great pride signing all the papers on closing day. Unfortunately, that bliss was short-lived.

I was relieved to hear that President Obama had signed a new bill called the "Making Homes Affordable Program" to help homeowners like me. The bill was geared specifically to help struggling underwater homeowners stay put in their homes by facilitating a loan reduction between the lending bank and the homeowner. Given that my hours at work were reduced due to the economic downturn, and I had lost an entire half of our family income due to impending divorce, I considered this program as a godsend. More...

RealtyTrac released its U.S. Foreclosure Market Report™ for August 2012, which shows foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — were reported on 193,508 U.S. properties in the month of August alone. Every one of these represents a family or individual.

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WikiLeaks: US Ambassador Planned "Retaliation" Against France Over Ban on Monsanto Corn
by Mike Ludwig
Posted October 1, 2012

gentically modifiedThe former United States ambassador to France suggested "moving to retaliation" against France and the European Union (EU) in late 2007 to fight a French ban on Monsanto's genetically modified (GM) corn and changes in European policy toward biotech crops, according to a cable released by WikiLeaks on Sunday.

Former Ambassador Craig Stapleton was concerned about France's decision to suspend cultivation of Monsanto's MON-810 corn and warned that a new French environmental review standard could spread anti-biotech policy across the EU. More...

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Seven Examples of a "Police State," and How They Are Appearing in the US
by Will Potter
Posted September 30, 2012

police state"Has the United States become a police state?" That's the stark question I was asked at the beginning of a recent radio interview.

Framing the current political climate in these terms is quite blunt, and can be jarring to some people because it automatically conjures images of, for example, Nazi Germany. That's clearly different than what is occurring right now in the United States. So how do we conceptualize the current state of government repression, and how do we put it in a historical context?

Is this a police state? If not, what is it? The image that most people hold of a "police state" is a representation of extreme power dynamics, and repressive tactics to maintain them, at specific points of history. The current political climate in the United States is unique in many ways, and distinct from those eras. However, it shares core attributes that we generally associate with a "police state". More...

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Revolt of the Rich: Have Our Financial Elites Already Seceded from America?
by Richard Clark
Posted September 27, 2012

gated community"What I mean by this secession is a withdrawal into enclaves, an internal immigration, whereby the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its wellbeing except as a place to extract loot.

Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it. If one can afford private security, public safety is of no concern; if one owns a Gulfstream jet, crumbling bridges cause less apprehension -- and viable public transportation doesn't even show up on the radar screen. With private doctors on call and a chartered plane to get to the Mayo Clinic, why worry about Medicare?

In both world wars, even a Harvard man or a New York socialite might know the weight of an army pack. Now the military is for suckers from the laboring classes whose subprime mortgages you just sliced into CDOs and sold to gullible investors in order to buy your second Bentley or rustle up the cash to get Rod Stewart to perform at your birthday party. The sentiment among the super-rich towards the rest of America is often one of contempt rather than noblesse. More...

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Craving for More and More Wealth. Refusing Capitalism
by Colin Todhunter
Posted September 24, 2012

shopping addictionCapitalism is based on addiction. It encourages people to crave for more and more wealth and more and more products. Ridiculously wealthy people want even more riches, resulting in war, exploitation and the immiseration of working folk. In turn, ordinary people have been encouraged to take out ever greater debts in order to purchase an endless stream of goods of dubious worth. This addictive behaviour is ultimately ruinous for the individual, humankind and the environment, which becomes stripped bare in the process.

Too many people now see through the lies of economic neo-liberal hegemony and capitalism, however, and realise that the encouragement of cynicism and apathy and of trivializing or ridiculing dissent and dissenters is part and parcel of the propaganda. More...

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Five Looming Curses of Privatization
by Paul Bucheit
Posted Septmeber 18, 2012

privatization of waterWith the breakdown of the private financial industry, and with the decision by corporations to stop meeting their tax responsibilities, and with the dramatic surge in tax haven abuse, less tax revenue is available to state and local governments. Deprived of funding, governments are forced to consider privatization schemes to balance their budgets. But any such scheme comes with adversity and pain.

The futility of diverting public funds into the hands of profitseekers has been well-documented. Here are a few of the gathering curses of privatization. More...

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Civil Disobedience Actions Blockade Entrance to Site of TPP Negotiations in VA
by Its Our Economy
Posted Sept 12, 2012

Flush the TPPA rapidly growing movement is organizing to oppose the unprecedented lack of transparency surrounding the Obama Administration's handling of the TPP discussions. While 600 corporate lobbyists have been allowed access to and input on the draft texts from the beginning of negotiations three years ago, the public and even members of US Congress have not been allowed to see what is being proposed on their behalf.

"People need to know that the Trans Pacific Partnership is being negotiated in secret to hide the content.The TPP will redefine the terms of trade in ways that give corporations power over nations, makes them unaccountable and threatens the health of people and the future of the planet," said Baltimore native Dr. Margaret Flowers, co-director of ItsOurEconomy.us, as she dangled by a climbing harness 20 feet above the pavement and dozens of agitated police officers and sheriff's deputies. Flowers is a medical doctor and said she was moved to take action in particular because she is concerned about the likelihood that the TPP would increase drug prices by expanding corporate patent rights. More...

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Re-Defining the First Amendment....with COPS!
by Brett Redmayne-Titley
Posted August 6, 2012

protecting our rights?Examples of the new definition of America's remaining First Amendment were featured at the 2012 Democratic National Convention,as soon as the first protester marchers stepped-off, Sunday, Sept 2, from Marshall Park. A huge crowd of approximately 8,000 would normally have been a strong indication of America's growing discontent and demand for change. Sadly, the huge crowd was divided into about 500 journalists, 3000, or so, apathetic gawkers from the Charlotte area,1000 passionate, very vocal, protesters, and........ 3,500 cops.

Appearing not be involved were thousands of area residents, whose single effort was to stare at the passing protesters, while taking pictures. Despite the protesters doing their best to represent, and enlighten, these apathetic sheep, none joined the protest and all were content to utilize this passing democracy vicariously, remaining disaffected, and as apathetic as before. Only the occasional unenlightened redneck took the energy to participate, by defaming the protestors to the thrill of other members of the crowd. Most just stood staring, as if lobotomized by their steady, decades long, diet of corn syrup, junk food, and main stream media propaganda. More...

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Bill Gross: "Normal" Economic Growth Impossible Now
By Terry Weiss
Posted Sept 5, 2012

systemic collapse aheadMartenson and a team of scientists, economists, and geopolitical analysts recently conducted a thorough investigation into the sustainability of exponential growth. They're findings revealed a startling pattern.

This pattern, Martenson says, shows that not only is market growth unsustainable - but a crash is imminent."It's a catastrophic pattern in the markets," Martenson said, "one we believe could soon hasten an economic collapse - a chain of events that could lead to massive inflation, the swift fall of the dollar, and a total halt to the way we currently live our lives." The mysterious pattern was so alarming, according to Martenson, the team presented their research to the United Nations, 16 world governments, and to Fortune 500 companies.

They've concluded this catastrophic pattern is not limited to the stock market..."We found the same catastrophic pattern in our energy, food, water and economic systems," Martenson said. "And these systems could all implode at the same time. Food, water, energy, money. Everything."

The pattern Martenson identified affects the entire global economic system. It's eerily similar, he explains, to the kind of pattern you see in a pyramid scheme, one that escalates exponentially before it collapses - with little notice. More...

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How Your Movements Are Being Tracked, Probably Without Your Knowledge
by Tana Ganeva
Posted Sept 2, 2012

surveillance everywhereIn May, Utah lawmakers were surprised to learn that the US Drug Enforcement Agency had worked out a plan with local sheriffs to pack the state's main interstate highway, I-15, with Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRs) that could track any vehicle passing through. At a hearing of the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee, the ACLU of Utah and committee members aired their concerns, asking such questions as: Why store the travel histories of law-abiding Utah residents in a federal database in Virginia? What about residents who don't want anyone to know they drive to Nevada to gamble? Wouldn't drug traffickers catch on and just start taking a different highway? (That's the case, according to local reports.)

According to the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, ALPRs have become so pervasive in America that they constitute a "covert national surveillance grid." The civil liberties group has mapped the spread of ALPRs, and contends on its Web site that, "Silently, but constantly, the government is now watching, recording your everyday travels and storing years of your activities in massive data warehouses that can be quickly 'mined' to find out when and where you have been, whom you've visited, meetings you've attended, and activities you've taken part in." More...

Documents that were secured by EPIC, the privacy non-profit, recently revealed that actually there is an arrangement whereby the customs license plate reader data is now being given or shared with private corporations like the insurance industry.  So, wondering whether every law enforcement entity has access to this is sort of a moot point when actually they have no problem providing this information to private corporations.

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The RNC Arrives in Tampa and With It, Martial Law
by S. Paul Forrest
Posted August 27, 2012

freedom of speechIn preparation for this event, the City of Tampa has spent nearly $100 Million dollars of tax payer money. The expenses include everything from surveillance cameras to mounted police patrolling the streets and barricades to keep anyone out who would dare not support the politics of nothingness. Our downtown has been transformed from a normally peaceful one into a war zone patrolled and monitored by the Secret Service and several other law enforcement agencies. Streets are being closed, bus lines rerouted and during the event, the Cross Town expressway, closed. As news and military helicopters fly above, the police and the court system below prepare for what they predict will be an event surrounded by violent protests. They are now more than ready to protect the interests of a political system that has all but abandoned We the People.

Along with this tour de force of police presence, the right-wing aligned media has taken the opportunity to further the agenda of their poli-pets by demonizing those who are preparing to protest against the GOP, be they rational protestors or not, serving to send a message to their listeners that any who cares enough about America to stand up for her, is the enemy. More...

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Mega-Million CEOs: Our Tax Dollars at Work
by Sam Pizzigati
Posted August 21, 2012

our tax dollarsSome 25 other major U.S. corporations, the Institute for Policy Studies reports in the latest annual Executive Excess, last year paid their CEOs more than they paid Uncle Sam.Among these big-time tax avoiders: Ford Motor, International Paper, AT&T, Halliburton. All together, these 26 all-star tax manipulators reported $28.2 billion in corporate profits last year and received nearly $4.3 billion in tax refunds.

The CEOs at these 26 corporate giants averaged $20.4 million in 2011 compensation."In effect, we're rewarding corporate executives for gaming the tax system," note the four of us who wrote this latest Executive Excess. "Our tax code is helping the CEOs of our nation's most prosperous corporations pick Uncle Sam's pocket." More...

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WIKILEAKS: Surveillance Cameras Around The Country Are Being Used In A Huge Spy Network
by David Seaman
Posted August 13, 2012

surveillance stateThe U.S. cable networks won't be covering this one tonight (not accurately, anyway), but Trapwire is making the rounds on social media today—it reportedly became a Trending hashtag on Twitter earlier in the day.Trapwire is the name of a program revealed in the latest Wikileaks bonanza—it is the mother of all leaks, by the way. Trapwire would make something like disclosure of UFO contact or imminent failure of a major U.S. bank fairly boring news by comparison.

And someone out there seems to be quite disappointed that word is getting out so swiftly; the Wikileaks web site is reportedly sustaining 10GB worth of DDoS attacks each second, which is massive. More...

Another website with more on this story.
And another website with more information.

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America's Descent Into Darkness
by Morris Berman
Posted August 6, 2012

land of the free?Strange things are happening in the United States these days, and every day seems to bring additional scary news. The similarity to the erosion of civil liberties in Germany during the 1930s is a bit too close for comfort. Many will regard this statement as hyperbole, and, to some extent, it is. But let's take a close look at what is going on before we dismiss the comparison out of hand.

By way of comparison, one thing that makes me particularly nervous is what has been called the "conspiracy of silence." Almost nobody spoke up in Germany as this process was unfolding, and the American public has been similarly silent about the events documented below. Indeed, I would venture to say that 98% of the American public (maybe more) is unaware of events such as these, or of the passage of repressive legislation, and that they wouldn't care even if they did know about it. ("Hey, I ain't no Ay-rab!") The classic quote that has come down to us is from Martin Niemoeller, a German pastor and theologian who wound up in the Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps. More....

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The Impending Collapse of American Medicine
by Robert S. Dotson, M.D.
Posted August 6, 2012

american medicineThirty years have passed since a much younger physician opened his ophthalmology practice in East Tennessee. A lifetime of hopes and expectations, intermingled with the usual collection of fears and uncertainties, has sped past at blinding speed. Children came, grew up, and moved on to their own lives. Parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, many friends and colleagues have returned to dust in advance of their fading photos.

Any thinking American knows that there is something terribly wrong with the health care system in this country. Throughout my career, the political ruling elite has been enacting piecemeal a version of "universal" healthcare coverage to satisfy the demands of an increasingly vocal, but also increasingly disenfranchised citizenry. Our overlords, of course, have been more motivated by enhancing corporate bottom lines and enriching themselves, than in genuinely helping the peasantry. More...

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Goldman Sachs's New York Prison Deal Saves All the Risk for the Taxpayer
by Jason Farago
Posted August 5, 2012

private profitsReplacing public responsibility with private profit is a one-way bargain, and the state will shoulder the burden when it goes bad. Instead of ending up at Riker's Island, Goldman Sachs executives look to profit off it.

Mike Bloomberg, still the mayor of New York after all these years, has announced a new four-year program to keep prisoners from reoffending after their sentences, funded by $9.6m from Goldman Sachs. When we said we wanted to see the bankers in the clink, this is not what we meant.

It may sound like a nice philanthropic gesture, but that $9.6m sum isn't a donation; it's a loan. As City Hall explained, Goldman is being incentivized to produce results – if recidivism drops by 10%, Goldman gets the money back, and if it drops further then the GS boys will turn a small profit. (One idea for Lloyd Blankfein: if you really want to end up in the black, just hire the ex-offenders to work at Goldman, where I can't imagine they'd have much trouble fitting in.) More...

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The CEO Plan to Steal Your Social Security and Medicare
by Dean Baker
Posted August 3, 2012

stealing social securityMany of the same folks who brought the economy to ruin just a few years ago are now going to come up with a plan that is supposed to set the budget and the economy on a forward path. At the center of their proposal are big cuts in Social Security and Medicare.

The corporate CEO crew is also considering a plan to raise the normal retirement age for Social Security to 69. And, they want to reduce the benefit formula for high income workers which, incredibly, they define as people who earn more than $40,000 a year. Their main trick for Medicare is to raise the age of eligibility from 65 to 67. Apparently our CEO gang has not discovered that the health insurance market for older people is a disaster. They also continue to promote the misconception that the problem is Medicare and Medicaid.

These programs are actually much more efficient than private insurers. The real problem is our private sector health care system, which already costs more than twice as much per person as the average in other wealthy countries, with few obvious benefits in outcomes. More...

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Privatization: The Big Joke That Isn't Funny
by Paul Buchheit
Posted August 1, 2012

privatizationThe privatization of public goods and services turns basic human needs into products to buy and sell. That's more than a joke, it's an insult, it's a perversion. It generally benefits only a privileged group of businesspeople and their companies while increasing inequality and undermining the common good.

Various studies have identified the 'benefits' of privatization as profitability and productivity, efficiency, wider share ownership and good investment returns. These are business benefits. More balanced studies consider the effects on average people, who have paid into a long-established societal support system for their schools and emergency services, water and transportation systems, and eventually health care and retirement benefits. More...

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Working to Keep Homeowners In Their Homes
Interview with David Petrovich
Posted July 31, 2012


ForeclosuresLoan securitization and the sub-subcontracting of servicing rights from one "foreclosure shop" to another have made things much, much more difficult for the borrower. A major obstacle for both the borrower and for the country's recovery from this nightmare is this: The loan servicer's interests and the borrower's interests are in conflict. Simplistically, loan servicers are paid more when a loan is delinquent, in default or in foreclosure. It is in the loan servicer's best, financial self-interest to keep loans in perpetual default. They hit the jackpot when they foreclose.

Contrary to what we hear or read, loan servicers drag out the "modification" process as long as possible, then foreclose because they get paid more to do that than modify loans and keep people in their homes. More...
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Betrayal of the American Dream
by Donald Bartlett and James Steele
Posted July 29, 2012

BetrayalThis is the story of how a small number of people in power have deliberately put in place policies that have enriched themselves while cutting the ground out from underneath America's greatest asset — its middle class.

Their actions, going back more than three decades, have relegated untold numbers of American men and women to the economic scrap heap — to lives of reduced earnings, chronic job insecurity and a retirement with fewer and fewer benefits. Millions have lost their jobs. Others have lost their homes. Nearly all face an uncertain future.

Astonishingly, this has been carried out in what is considered the world's greatest democracy, where the will of the people is supposed to prevail. It no longer does. America is now ruled by the few — the wealthy and the powerful who have become this country's ruling class. More...

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The Careerists
by Chris Hedges
Posted July 28, 2012

human drones doing as toldThe greatest crimes of human history are made possible by the most colorless human beings. They are the careerists. The bureaucrats. The cynics. They do the little chores that make vast, complicated systems of exploitation and death a reality. They collect and read the personal data gathered on tens of millions of us by the security and surveillance state. They keep the accounts of ExxonMobil, BP and Goldman Sachs. They build or pilot aerial drones. They work in corporate advertising and public relations. They issue the forms. They process the papers. They deny food stamps to some and unemployment benefits or medical coverage to others. They enforce the laws and the regulations. And they do not ask questions.

Good. Evil. These words do not mean anything to them. They are beyond morality. They are there to make corporate systems function. If insurance companies abandon tens of millions of sick to suffer and die, so be it. If banks and sheriff departments toss families out of their homes, so be it. If financial firms rob citizens of their savings, so be it. If the government shuts down schools and libraries, so be it. If the military murders children in Pakistan or Afghanistan, so be it. If commodity speculators drive up the cost of rice and corn and wheat so that they are unaffordable for hundreds of millions of poor across the planet, so be it. If Congress and the courts strip citizens of basic civil liberties, so be it. If the fossil fuel industry turns the earth into a broiler of greenhouse gases that doom us, so be it. They serve the system. The god of profit and exploitation. More...

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CIA Outsources Assasination Squad to Blackwater
by Conor Friedersdorf
Posted July 23, 2012

privatized assassinationsIt was one of the biggest secrets of the post-9/11 era: soon after the attacks, President Bush gave the CIA permission to create a top secret assassination unit to find and kill Al Qaeda operatives. The program was kept from Congress for seven years. And when Leon Panetta told legislators about it in 2009, he revealed that the CIA had hired the private security firm Blackwater to help run it. "The move was historic," says Evan Wright, the two-time National Magazine Award-winning journalist who wrote Generation Kill. "It seems to have marked the first time the U.S. government outsourced a covert assassination service to private enterprise."

A former Air Force lieutenant colonel, speaking on the record and using the present tense, said in 2011 that "private contractors are whacking people like crazy over in Afghanistan for the CIA."

Needless to say, this ought to spark an investigation, but more than that, it should cause Americans to step back and reflect on how vulnerable we've made ourselves to bad actors in the post-9/11 era. We're giving C.I.A. agents and even private security contractors the sort of power no individual should wield. And apparently our screening apparatus turns out to be lacking. More...

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America's Drones Are Homeward Bound
by Ann Wright
Posted July 22, 2012

drones in the USAAmericans have been protesting and getting arrested at U.S. drone bases and research institutions for years, and some members of Congress are starting to respond to the pressure. But it's not that drones are being used to extrajudicially execute people, including Americans, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia that has U.S. lawmakers concerned. Rather it's the possible and probable violation of Americans' privacy in the United States by unlawful drone surveillance that has caught the attention of legislators.

Rep. Jeff Landry, R-La., says "there is distrust amongst the people who have come and discussed this issue with me about our government. It's raising alarm with the American public." Based on those discussions, Landry has placed a provision in a defense spending bill that would prohibit information gathered by drones without a warrant from being used as evidence in court. More...

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Here is Why Our Elites are Not Fixing the Economy
by Dave Johnson
Posted July 16, 2012

works for meWhen we had democracy, We, the People made the rules and we ran our country and our economy for our benefit. Now that we are a plutocracy things are different. The reason our elites are not doing anything to fix the economy is because from their viewpoint, things are just fine.

Our political leaders dance with the ones that bring them. Increasingly they are dancing with the billionaires and their giant corporations. Our politicians are doing and saying increasingly incomprehensible things. The separation from regular people is unbelievable. But in politics you "dance with the one that brung ya," and these things become comprehensible and believable when you look at who is bringing them to the dance. More...

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Pensions Under Attack in America
by Mark Vorpahl
Posted July 15, 2012

underfunded pensionOn Friday, July 6, President Obama signed into law a bill that would renew transportation programs and extend low interest rates on student loans for one year. While this minimal gesture resulted in, no doubt, sighs of relief from those burdened by student debt, tucked away within the bill's pages was a little-noticed proposal to further erode the funding of workers' pensions. The bill was a brilliant sleight of hand where what it appeared to be giving with one hand distracted the public from what it was taking away with the other.

Aside from the more publicly known parts of this bill, it also reduced the amount that corporations pay into an already grossly underfunded pension system. The way it achieved this is with a complex equation factoring in interest rates, changes in how businesses calculate what they must contribute to retirement premiums, and how these contributions are tax deductible. The end result of this opaque process of number crunching is that, according to the Society of Actuaries, employer pension contributions will be reduced overall from a mandatory $80 billion to $45 billion this year alone. Next year this amount will be slashed by $73 billion. More...

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Profit Driven Prison Industrial Complex: The Economics of Incarceration in the USA
by Nile Bowie
Posted July 11, 2012

For profit prisonsFor anyone paying attention, there is no shortage of issues that fundamentally challenge the underpinning moral infrastructure of American society and the values it claims to uphold. Under the conceptual illusion of liberty, few things are more sobering than the amount of Americans who will spend the rest of their lives in an isolated correctional facility – ostensibly, being corrected. The United States of America has long held the highest incarceration rate in the world, far surpassing any other nation. Presently, the prison population in America consists of more than six million people, a number exceeding the amount of prisoners held in the gulags of the former Soviet Union at any point in its history.

The political action committees assembled by private prison enterprises have also wielded incredible influence with respect to administering harsher immigration legislation. The number of illegal immigrants being incarcerated inside the United States is rising exponentially under Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an agency responsible for annually overseeing the imprisonment of 400,000 foreign nationals at the cost of over $1.9 billion on custody-related operations. The agency has come under heavy criticism for seeking to contract a 1,250-bed immigration detention facility in Essex County, New Jersey to a private company that shares intimate ties to New Jersey's Governor, Chris Christie. More...

The problem with a for profit prison system is that there is a perverse incentive to have as many prisoners as possible to boost profits. In a public prison system, the incentives are to sucessfully rehabilitate and to have as few prisoners as possible.

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A Wall Street Gambling Tax: The Remedy to Inequality
by Dean Baker
Posted July 6, 2012

Wall St gambling taxAs the presidential election builds up steam, the Washington elites in both parties are actively scheming to find ways to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits for retired workers. The media have widely reported on efforts to slip through a version of the deficit reduction plan developed by Morgan Stanley director Erskine Bowles and former senator Alan Simpson. Since the vast majority of voters across the political spectrum reject cuts to these programs, the Washington insiders hope to spring this one on us after the election, when the public will have no say.

That is the sort of anti-democratic behavior we expect from elites who naturally want to protect their own interests. Of course the rest of us are more concerned about the well-being of the country as a whole rather than the preserving the wealth of the richest 1 percent. More...

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New World Order Blueprint Leaked
by Rudy Avizius
Posted June 21, 2012

New World OrderOn June 12, a leaked copy of the investment chapter for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was made public. This copy was analyzed by Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch and has been verified as authentic. This agreement has been negotiated IN SECRET for 2-1/2 years and no information has ever been released until this leak. So why have the details of this negotiation been so secret? This agreement has been framed as a "free trade" agreement and yet out of 26 chapters only two have anything to do with trade. The other 24 chapters grant new corporate privileges and rights, while limiting governments and protective regulations.

If implemented, this agreement will hard code corporate dominance over sovereign governments into international law that will supercede any federal, state, or local laws of any member country. This document alone should set alarm bells ringing, but if one steps back and looks at the larger picture, the future ramifications look even more ominous. After completing this reading, see what your conclusions are. More...

Another article on the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement.

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America's Student Loan Racket
by Stephen Lendman
Posted June 10, 2012

crushing student debtSome face burdens up to $100,000 or higher. If unpaid after 30 years, it's a $500,000 obligation. If default or declare bankruptcy, it's unforgiven. Bondage is permanent.

Lenders thrive from defaults. Wages can be garnished. So can portions of Social Security and other retirement benefits. A conspiratorial alliance of lenders, guarantors, servicers, and collection companies derive income from debt service and inflated collection fees. Principle, accrued interest, late payment and collection agency penalties create enormous burdens to repay.

Once entrapped, escape is impossible. Unless repaid, future lives and careers are impaired. Today's economic crisis exacerbates conditions. Job opportunities are scarce. Ones for higher education grads are even fewer. More...

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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Quiet Drama in Philadelphia
by Ellen Brown
Posted May 26, 2012

not televisedLast week, the city of Philadelphia's school system announced that it expects to close 40 public schools next year, and 64 schools by 2017. The school district expects to lose 40% of its current enrollment, and thousands of experienced, qualified teachers. But corporate media in other cities made no mention of these massive school closings -- nor of those in Chicago, Atlanta, or New York City.

It's all about balancing the budgets of cities that have lost revenues from the economic downturn. Supposedly, there is simply no money for the luxury of providing an education for the people.

Meanwhile, in Other Unreported News . . ., an alternative vision was put before a conference in Philadelphia in late April that drew delegates from all over the United States. The theme of the first Public Banking in America conference, held at the Quaker Friends Center on April 28-29th, was that to fix the economy, we first need to take back the "money power"—the power to create currency and credit. More...

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America's Downward Social and Economic Spiral
by James Quinn
Posted May 24, 2012

economic declineThe only new buildings along this stretch of highway further emphasize what is seemingly important to our society. There are numerous architecturally grand bank branches dominating this highway. There is a beautiful new building housing the Social Security Administration for this area. This is where the obese, depressed and unemployable flock to sign up for the SSDI gravy train. And lastly there are a few medical facilities that are top notch. It seems that banks, government and medicine are doing just fine. But what do they produce?

Our entire society is in a downward social and economic spiral. We are just at different levels of decay (Dante's circles of hell). At the current pace it won't be long before I'm writing about the 50 States of Squalor. It is virtually impossible to reverse a decline that has been underway for the last three decades. We sold our souls to Wall Street and chose a debt financed illusion of wealth over productive savings and investment which would have led to real wealth. Our choices are reflected in the continued deterioration and decay along West Chester Pike and the squalor that is West Philly. Grey and decay will carry the day. More...

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Colonized by Corporations
by Chris Hedges
Posted May 16, 2012

corporate ruleWe are controlled by tiny corporate entities that have no loyalty to the nation and indeed in the language of traditional patriotism are traitors. They strip us of our resources, keep us politically passive and enrich themselves at our expense. The colonized are denied job security. Incomes are reduced to subsistence level. The poor are plunged into desperation. Mass movements, such as labor unions, are dismantled. The school system is degraded so only the elites have access to a superior education. Laws are written to legalize corporate plunder and abuse, as well as criminalize dissent. And the ensuing fear and instability—keenly felt this past weekend by the more than 200,000 Americans who lost their unemployment benefits—ensure political passivity by diverting all personal energy toward survival. It is an old, old game.

A change of power does not require the election of a Mitt Romney or a Barack Obama or a Democratic majority in Congress, or an attempt to reform the system or electing progressive candidates, but rather a destruction of corporate domination of the political process—Gamer's "patron-client" networks. It requires the establishment of new mechanisms of governance to distribute wealth and protect resources, to curtail corporate power, to cope with the destruction of the ecosystem and to foster the common good. But we must first recognize ourselves as colonial subjects. We must accept that we have no effective voice in the way we are governed. More...

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How to Destroy Education While Making a Trillion Dollars
by Robert Freeman
Posted May 5, 2012

destroying public educationThe U.S is ratcheting up a societal-level war on public education. At issue is whether we are going to make it better — build it into something estimable, a social asset that undergirds a noble and prosperous society — or whether we're going to tear it down so that private investors can get their hands on the almost $1 trillion we spend on it every year. The tear-it-down option is the civilian equivalent of Ben Tre, but on a vastly larger scale and with incomparably greater stakes: we must destroy public education in order to save it. It's still early in the game, but right now the momentum is with the wreckers because that's where the money is. Whether they succeed or not will be up to you.

Here's a three-step recipe for how to destroy education. It maps perfectly to how to make a prodigious profit by privatizing it. It is the essential game plan of the big money boys. More...

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U.S. Gov't Making Preperations for Expected Major Social Unrest Next Year
by Ron Holland
Posted April 30, 2012

Riot police in MinnesotaThe Department of Homeland Security just ordered 450 million rounds of special "hollow point" .40 caliber ammunition from defense contractor ATK. The high performance HST bullets are designed for law enforcement and ATK says they offer "optimum penetration for terminal performance." While we can only guess in what situations this type of domestic firepower might be used by Homeland Security, American citizens should also remember this type of ammunition has been outlawed in international warfare by the Hague Convention Declaration III since 1899. In addition, the Department has an open bid to stockpile rifle ammo, up to 175 million rounds of .223 caliber ammo, the same used by NATO forces.

The new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) takes away basic rights of American citizens who are considered "terrorists" or "enemy combatants." such individuals can now be held indefinitely without trial and without legal representation. After signing the bill, President Obama said he would "never" impose this Act on Americans but don't bet on it! More...

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Video: Corrupt Canadian Banking System
Posted April 29, 2012

This YouTube video went viral of a 12 year girl who blew a crowd away with facts about how banks created money out of thin air and then charge you and the country interest on this free money. The system she describes applies to the United States and Europe as well.

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The Inequity of Private-Equity Hustlers
by Jim Hightower
Posted April 26, 2012

layoffs for private gainWhat are these phantasmagoric money machines that they call "private-equity firms?" They're much in the news these days. They operate by borrowing big piles of cash at high interest rates from rich speculators to buy out XYZ Corp. Then, to meet the interest payments owed to the speculators (and to siphon off a financial killing for themselves), the fixers do two things: One, they plunder XYZ's assets, selling the profitable chunks of the corporation; and two, they severely downsize the XYZ workforce, firing as many workers as possible and demanding deep wage cuts and benefit givebacks from the employees they keep.

It's a raw redistribution-of-wealth scheme, shifting XYZ's wage payments from its many workers to a handful of wealthy high rollers. The process downsizes America's middle class, while creating no real economic value. Nothing equitable about it. More...

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Five Reasons Why The Very Rich Have NOT Earned Their Money
by Paul Buchheit
Posted April 24, 2012

Rich have not earned their moneyThe wealthiest Americans believe they've earned their money through hard work and innovation, and that they're the most productive members of society. For the most part they're wrong. As the facts below will show, they're not nearly as productive as middle-class workers. Yet they've taken almost all the new income over the past 30 years.

Workers have TRIPLED their productivity over 30 years while the richest 1% have TRIPLED their share of income. Worker pay remained flat as the top 10% took almost all the productivity gains since 1980. Private tuition is skyrocketing, with student loans reaching the $1 trillion mark. Bonuses continue for executives at Ford and Bank of America and Sirius and other companies who have underperformed and/or laid off workers.

No, the captains of industry have not earned their money because of their top-notch management skills. Five reasons why they have not earned their money: More...

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The Prison Labor Complex
by Steve Fraser and Joshua Freeman
Posted April 21, 2012

prison slavery for corporate profitSweatshop labor is back with a vengeance. It can be found across broad stretches of the American economy and around the world. Penitentiaries have become a niche market for such work. The privatization of prisons in recent years has meant the creation of a small army of workers too coerced and right-less to complain.

Prisoners, whose ranks increasingly consist of those for whom the legitimate economy has found no use, now make up a virtual brigade within the reserve army of the unemployed whose ranks have ballooned along with the U.S. incarceration rate. The Corrections Corporation of America and G4S (formerly Wackenhut), two prison privatizers, sell inmate labor at subminimum wages to Fortune 500 corporations like Chevron, Bank of America, AT&T, and IBM.

These companies can, in most states, lease factories in prisons or prisoners to work on the outside. All told, nearly a million prisoners are now making office furniture, working in call centers, fabricating body armor, taking hotel reservations, working in slaughterhouses, or manufacturing textiles, shoes, and clothing, while getting paid somewhere between 93 cents and $4.73 per day. Rarely can you find workers so pliable, easy to control, stripped of political rights, and subject to martial discipline at the first sign of recalcitrance. More...

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Wall Street's Massive Freak Out When Asked to Pay Their Fair Share
by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship
Posted April 20, 2012

Extreme wealthBenjamin Franklin, who used his many talents to become a wealthy man, famously said that the only things certain in life are death and taxes. But if you're a corporate CEO in America today, even they can be put on the back burner – death held at bay by the best medical care money can buy and the latest in surgical and life extension techniques, taxes conveniently shunted aside courtesy of loopholes, overseas investment and governments that conveniently look the other way.

To add insult to injury, average taxpayers even help subsidize the private jet travel of the rich. On the Times' DealBook blog, mergers and acquisitions expert Steven Davidoff writes, "If an outside security consultant determines that executives need a private jet and other services for their safety, the Internal Revenue Service cuts corporate chieftains a break. In such cases, the chief executive will pay a reduced tax bill or sometimes no tax at all." More...

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The United States is Run by Sociopaths, Economics and Evil
by Doug Casey
Posted April 19, 2012

MadoffWe're headed towards economic and financial bankruptcy. But that's mostly because society has been largely intellectually and morally bankrupt for some time. I don't believe a society can rise to real prosperity without a sound intellectual and moral foundation – that's why the US was so uniquely prosperous for so long, because it had such a foundation. And it's also why societies like Saudi Arabia will collapse as soon as the exogenous things that support them are pulled away. It's why the USSR collapsed. It's the reason why countries everywhere across time reach a peak (if they ever do), then stagnate and decline.

This isn't a matter of academic contemplation, for the same reason that it doesn't matter much if you're in a first-class cabin when the ship it's in is taking on water. More...

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How the US Uses Sexual Humiliation as a Political Tool to Control the Masses
by Naomi Wolf
Posted April 17, 2012

TSA searchIn a five-four ruling this week, the supreme court decided that anyone can be strip-searched upon arrest for any offense, however minor, at any time. This horror show ruling joins two recent horror show laws: the NDAA, which lets anyone be arrested forever at any time, and HR 347, the "trespass bill", which gives you a 10-year sentence for protesting anywhere near someone with secret service protection. These criminalizations of being human follow, of course, the mini-uprising of the Occupy movement.

In surreal reasoning, justice Anthony Kennedy explained that this ruling is necessary because the 9/11 bomber could have been stopped for speeding. How would strip searching him have prevented the attack? Did justice Kennedy imagine that plans to blow up the twin towers had been concealed in a body cavity? In still more bizarre non-logic, his and the other justices' decision rests on concerns about weapons and contraband in prison systems. But people under arrest – that is, who are not yet convicted – haven't been introduced into a prison population. More...

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Cracks in the Pillars of Power
by Kevin Zeese
Posted April 14, 2012

cracks in the systemIn recent weeks several big finance insiders have publicly exposed fault lines in the U.S. financial system. Their inside views are telling us that the corruption we see is real and, more importantly, those in the system know it.

Financiers that break from the corruption of gluttonous greed can become the conscience of a sector that seems to have no conscience. Let's hope their courage is contagious and others follow their lead. We need a revolt from inside big finance that will help radically transform finance from greed to generosity, from gluttony to moderation and from selfishness to community benevolence.

A thorough examination of the corruption of big finance came in a recent shareholder letter from Robert Wilmers, the Chairman and CEO of M&T Bank. He laments that " it is difficult, for one who has spent more than a generation in the field, to recall a time when banking as a profession has been publicly held in such persistently low esteem" noting that polls show "only a quarter of the American public expressed confidence in the integrity of bankers ." More...

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Wells Fargo's prison cash cow
by Glenn Greenwald
Posted April 13, 2012

prisons for profitWells Fargo is one of the top five largest banks in America, a fact that on its own is damning enough, basic human decency not exactly being conducive to success in the financial industry. Despite, or rather because of, its role as one of the leading sub-prime mortgage lenders prior to the 2008 crash in the housing market, the bank was handed $37 billion from the U.S. government, a transfer of wealth from the foreclosed upon have-nots to the haves doing the foreclosing – people like chairman and CEO John Stumpf, whose compensation actually rose after his company's de facto bankruptcy to a cool $18 million last year.

As Wells Fargo has grown over the years, using its bailout funds to gobble up rival Wachovia and expand to the East Coast, so has the U.S. prison population. By 2008, one in 100 American adults were either in jail or in prison – and one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34, many simply for non-violent offenses, justice not so much blind as bigoted. Overall, more than 2.3 million people are currently behind bars, up 50 percent in the last 15 years, the land of the free now accounting for a full quarter of the world's prisoners. These developments are not unrelated. More...

Again, the incentives of a for profit private prison system are all wrong. Their inventive is to maximize the number of inmates for maximium profit. A state based system has the incentive to minimize the number of inmates to reduce costs. With the huge growth in private prison systems, is it any wonder that the US inmate population is exploding?

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Thirteen Ways Government Tracks Us
by Bill Quigley
Posted April 12, 2012

government surveillancePrivacy is eroding fast as technology offers government increasing ways to track and spy on citizens. The Washington Post reported there are 3,984 federal, state and local organizations working on domestic counterterrorism. Most collect information on people in the US. Here are thirteen examples of how some of the biggest government agencies and programs track people.

The technology for tracking and identifying people is exploding as is the government appetite for it. Soon, police everywhere will be equipped with handheld devices to collect fingerprint, face, iris and even DNA information on the spot and have it instantly sent to national databases for comparison and storage.

Bloomberg News reports the newest surveillance products "can also secretly activate laptop webcams or microphones on mobile devices," change the contents of written emails mid-transmission, and use voice recognition to scan phone networks. More...

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The Who, How, and Why Behind Silver Price Manipulation
by Peter Krauth
Posted April 7, 2012

silver price manipulatorWhat exactly are the dominant players doing to manipulate the price?

The current exact mechanism they use to suddenly rig the price lower is High Frequency Trading (HFT). This is the placing of sell orders in great quantities by computer programs that suddenly appear as legitimate orders, but are really mostly "spoofs," or orders entered and canceled immediately (in the fractions of a second). When the sell orders first appear, they spook others into selling as they give the appearance of great selling about to hit the market. Instead, it is all a bluff, intended only to scare others into selling, as the vast majority of these original sell orders are never executed, nor were they ever intended to be executed. They were designed for one purpose only - to scare others into selling.

Through HFT, the commercials are able to push prices suddenly lower on very little actual volume. But once prices are put lower, the outside selling (from those who are frightened by the drop in prices) hits the market. It is that outside selling from technical traders that the commercials then buy. In a nutshell that's the HFT scam in silver. It is important to grasp the fact that the actual selling (and commercial buying) takes place AFTER the price drops. Most people think great selling is what causes the price to decline, but that's not true. The great selling only comes in after the price has been put lower, which is the purpose behind HFT in silver. More...

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The "Cashless Society" and Total Monetary Surveillance
by Lew Rockwell
Posted April 6, 2012

surveillanceMost people think of a cashless society as something that is way off in the distant future. Unfortunately, that is simply not the case. The truth is that a cashless society is much closer than most people would ever dare to imagine. To a large degree, the transition to a cashless society is being done voluntarily. Today, only 7 percent of all transactions in the United States are done with cash, and most of those transactions involve very small amounts of money. Just think about it for a moment. Where do you still use cash these days? If you buy a burger or if you purchase something at a flea market you will still use cash, but for any mid-size or large transaction the vast majority of people out there will use another form of payment. Our financial system is dramatically changing, and cash is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. We live in a digital world, and national governments and big banks are both encouraging the move away from paper currency and coins. But what would a cashless society mean for our future? Are there any dangers to such a system?

Those are very important questions, but most of the time both sides of the issue are not presented in a balanced way in the mainstream media. Instead, most mainstream news articles tend to trash cash and talk about how wonderful digital currency is. More...

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Have You Posted Your Pictures on the Internet?
Invasive Surveillance Technology Awaits

by Kelley Bergman
Posted March 24, 2012

ce?We've all done it at one point or another, posting our pictures of ourselves, family and friends on websites and social network portals such as Facebook. Whether it be submitting your picture to output a cartoon or aged version of yourself, or uploading your personal snapshots to Facebook, marketing campaigns are aggressively being pushed by digital media corporations to obtain your facial biometrics. However, most people are completely unaware of the deceptive nature of these campaigns and their intentions.

Opponents to facial recognition technology are well aware that its acceptance and integration within society are growing in combination with wider use of video surveillance, which is likely to grow increasingly invasive over time. Once installed, this kind of a surveillance system rarely remains confined to its original purpose. New ways of applying the technology are leading to abuse as authorities or operators find them to be an irresistible expansion of their power. Ultimately, the privacy of citizens will suffer another blow. The threat is that widespread surveillance will change the character, feel, and quality of our lives. More...

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The Ascendence of Sociopaths in US Governance, How to Surive What's to Come
by Casey Research
Posted March 22, 2012

USA becoming a police state?Living as an international man used to be just an interesting possibility. But few Americans opted for it, since the US used to reward those who settled in and put down roots. In fact, it rewarded them better than any other country in the world, so there was nothing pressing about becoming an international man.
Things change, however, and being rooted like a plant, at least if you have a choice, is a suboptimal strategy for surviving and prospering. Throughout history, almost every place has at some point become dangerous for those who were stuck there. It may be America's turn.

For those who can take up the life of an international man, it's no longer just an interesting lifestyle decision. It has become, at a minimum, an asset saver, and it could be a life saver. That said, I understand the hesitation you may feel about taking action; pulling up one's roots (or at least grafting some of them to a new location) can be almost as traumatic to a man as to a vegetable. More...

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How To Bring Down the System, Any System, Non-violently
by Gary North
Posted March 21, 2012

Follow the rulesFour words: "Follow the rules exactly."

That's it? That's it.

Any system? Any system.

There are 3 reasons for this. These reasons are universal.

First, every institution assumes voluntary compliance in at least 95% of all cases. This may be a low-ball estimate. Most people comply, either out of fear or lack of concern or strong belief in the system and its goals. More...

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Occupy Miami Raided, SWAT Team Draws Weapons on Children
by Allison Kilkenny
Posted March 17, 2012

Militarized policeThis week, I've been exploring all the different types of ways police and the District Attorney's office in New York have been monitoring, bullying, and harassing Occupiers. Of course, this civil liberties accosting is by no means isolated to the New York City area as we saw on Tuesday when dozens of police equipped with shotguns and assault rifles stormed a Miami, Florida apartment and drew their weapons on peaceful protesters and children with the local Occupy Wall Street campaign.

If a SWAT team drew down on unarmed occupiers, that would still be a horrifying, newsworthy story, but what makes the Miami event additionally alarming is that these were not squatters, but rather legal residents. More...

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Why Greg Smith Is 'Dead Right' About Goldman Sachs
by Michael Hirsh
Posted March 16, 2012

Goldman SachsThe resignation letter heard round the world proves what we already know: Washington would like to think it can change the culture of Wall Street -- and it can't. Goldman and all the other investment banks are plagued by conflicts of interest. The problem is that over time all of them, but especially Goldman, have shifted from the business of advising clients or raising capital for clients to trading on their own account. I have the impression (from books about the Pecora hearings) that in the 1930s Glass Steagall was motivated as much by outrage at conflicts of interest (e.g. Citibank famously stuffing the accounts of its deposit holders with foreign bonds that then went bankrupt) as the desire to make the banking system more stable."

But we didn't get a new Glass-Steagall. Instead, courtesy of Tim Geithner and Co., we got the milquetoasty Volcker Rule (which the Treasury only backed, after a year of ignoring Paul Volcker, when Barack Obama insisted on it, as I have previously written), dubious rules about unwinding Wall Street's still-giant firms in a crisis, and a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that is under constant assault on Capitol Hill. So it beggars common sense to think that we're really getting a new Wall Street. More...

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Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs
by Greg Smith
Posted March 15, 2012

Goldman SachsToday is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm — first as a summer intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it.

It might sound surprising to a skeptical public, but culture was always a vital part of Goldman Sachs's success. It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients. The culture was the secret sauce that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients' trust for 143 years. It wasn't just about making money; this alone will not sustain a firm for so long. It had something to do with pride and belief in the organization. I am sad to say that I look around today and see virtually no trace of the culture that made me love working for this firm for many years. I no longer have the pride, or the belief. More...

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Don't Tell Us It's Not a Class War
by Gerald Caplan
Posted March 4, 2012

class warfare The entire world seems to be one huge advertisement for The Shock Doctrine. Naomi Klein showed in her revelatory book how the corporate-political-military-media complex exploits crises to further impose their harsh right-wing agenda – even when they themselves created the crisis. In a sane world, the economic meltdown and deep recession of the past four years would have led at minimum to stringent regulation of financiers and speculators plus programs to assist their victims. But in this world, you have to be nuts to believe in a sane world.

In reality, everything that's happened in the past several years has gone to further empower and enrich the 1 per cent (or maybe the 5 per cent) at the expense of the rest of us. Look anywhere you want. What else does the universal demand for austerity programs mean? What else does the sudden concerted attack on public sector workers mean? What else does the intransigent line taken by multinational corporations against their unions mean? What else does the demand for "right-to-work" laws mean? What else does the widespread attack on seniors' pensions mean? More...

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Our Depraved Future of Debt Slavery
by Ashvin Pandurangi
Posted February 26, 2012

Debt slaveryOur global society is facing conditions of systemic dependency, greed and malice very similar to those which existed in the American South of the late 19th century, which created a system of slavery for blacks just as ruthless as that which existed before the Civil War. The modern industrial and financial elites cannot tolerate any policies of systemic debt forgiveness, since almost all of their wealth is invested in instruments tied to those debts (including the underlying currencies).

At the same time, they cannot continue extracting surplus value when large segments of the developed world's population remain saturated with debt, which acts to suppress aggregate demand for goods, services and capital investment. In order to continue making profits, then, they must have extensive access to very cheap labor and fixed capital inputs. They must transform the consuming classes of the first world into indentured servants and slaves through already established channels of financial and political oppression, and also pick up productive assets for "pennies on the dollar". More...

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Drones Come to the US
by Bill Van Auken
Posted February 22, 2012

Drones over USA little-noted amendment to a $63 billion Federal Aviation Authority appropriations bill has ominous implications for democratic rights in the United States. President Barack Obama signed the bill, the "FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012", into law on February 14. It clears the way for a vast expansion of the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, over US territory.

The legislation, passed earlier this month, underscores the link between the explosive growth of US militarism abroad and the steady advance of police state repression at home. By 2020 an estimated 30,000 drones could be operating in US skies—including military, police and corporate-owned UAVs. They are already in use by the Department of Homeland Security in monitoring US borders.

Moreover, there is no reason to believe that drones inside the United States will not be armed, putting to use within the United States the experience the US government has obtained from its killing spree in Pakistan and the assassination of Awlaki. In this regard, it is worth recalling the arguments used to justify the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act signed into law by Obama last December. More...

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How to Radicalize a Moderate
By Julia Alford-Fowler
Posted February 21, 2012

Occupy PhillyIn the mind of most American citizens, local government officials exist (at least the majority of the time) to serve and answer to the people who elected them. It is within this system of accountability that we rely upon to make sure our best interests are being served. While I had a healthy amount of skepticism, this was my held view until the fall of 2011. I believed that the Mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, and his staff were in office to protect their citizens, myself included, and that the problems of this country were for the most part the result of unchecked corporate greed on Wall Street, amid a variety of other issues.

What follows is an account of how my thinking was transformed from this moderate view of a trust in those in power into one in which my faith in our government and specifically, those who govern, was destroyed. More...

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Central Banks Financial Terrorism
by Bob Chapman
Posted February 17, 2012

Central bankAmericans, in order to continue their idyllic lifestyles have traded in their freedom and liberty for promises of security from terrorists. We give up our country to a group of totally insane elitists just as the Germans did so long ago. There is nothing sensible anymore. The middle class has lost its logic. They do not want to see through anything as long as they have theirs and nothing disrupts their lives. By living in this cocoon it allows Americans to live in their own world and overlook what their government is doing in their name. Do not forget living as prisoners makes us safer. You might ask why people would want to take our freedoms away from us? We can certainly understand a terrorists' motivation, but the elitist's goals are far more complicated. They want our hearts and our minds. They want to enslave us, because they consider us useless rabble to do as we are told. They want the complete submission of all societies. More...

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Economist: NATO/G8 Summits Could Be A Disaster
by CBS News
Posted February 1, 201
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protests in ChicagoA University of Chicago economist says Antarctica or Guam would be better places than Chicago for the upcoming G8 and NATO summits, now scheduled for mid-May in the Windy City. Economist Allen Sanderson often questions large scale government subsidies for sports venues like Soldier Field for the Bears and U.S. Cellular Field for the White Sox. In the case of the NATO and G8 summits, Sanderson says there's a lot of downside for the city's reputation and little upside in the way of economic development.

"It's just a potential disaster," Sanderson said. "Again, I hope it's not. I hope things go really well and the city gets a real positive spin from it, but if you were betting in Las Vegas, you'd bet that's not going to be the outcome." More...

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How the Swedes and Norwegians Broke the Power of the "1 Percent"
by George Lakey
Posted January 29, 2012

Throwing out the 1%It's worthwhile to consider other countries where masses of people succeeded in nonviolently bringing about a high degree of democracy and economic justice. Sweden and Norway, for example, both experienced a major power shift in the 1930s after prolonged nonviolent struggle. They "fired" the top 1 percent of people who set the direction for society and created the basis for something different.

Both countries had a history of horrendous poverty. When the 1 percent was in charge, hundreds of thousands of people emigrated to avoid starvation. Under the leadership of the working class, however, both countries built robust and successful economies that nearly eliminated poverty, expanded free university education, abolished slums, provided excellent health care available to all as a matter of right and created a system of full employment. Unlike the Norwegians, the Swedes didn't find oil, but that didn't stop them from building what the latest CIA World Factbook calls "an enviable standard of living."

There was a time when Scandinavian workers didn't expect that the electoral arena could deliver the change they believed in. They realized that, with the 1 percent in charge, electoral "democracy" was stacked against them, so nonviolent direct action was needed to exert the power for change. More...

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The Middle Class Disappears, Rise of the Praetorian Class
by Casey Research
Posted January 18, 2012

rise of praetorian classThe Praetorian Class includes members of the Armed Services, federal, state and local law enforcement personnel as well as numerous militarized officials including agents from the DEA, Immigrations, Customs Enforcement, Air Marshalls, US Marshalls, and more. It also includes, although to a lesser extent, various stage actors in the expanding security theater such as TSA personnel. The main mission of the Praetorian Class is to keep the order of the day. This requires displaying an intimidating presence in their interactions with the Economic Class.

Another clear change is the physical appearance of members of the Praetorian Class. The uniforms transition from relatively inconspicuous attire to "battle uniforms" such are those now standard issue to both the military and law enforcement personnel. These optics reinforce the position of the Praetorian Class as maintainers of public order, convey a message of physical dominance and establish chronic low-level fear among the masses. Sometimes referred to as the militarization of the police force, this characterization traditionally refers to the increasing firepower in even municipal police departments. Frequently lost in this observation, however, is the psychological impact that such a heavily armed police presence has on the "civilian" population – specifically that it further separates the Praetorian Class from the Economic Class. More...

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The question: Is This Land Made for You and Me - or for the Super-Rich?

this is not your landAn answer: The ownership of this land is as tightly owned and controlled as is the land in countries dominated by oligarchies. Half of the territory of the United States is held by government (although the rights to extract natural resources from the public domain are awarded almost without compensation to the rest of us). Of the other half of the land area, roughly 95% is held by just 3-5% of the population (even when ownership of corporate shares of stock is considered).

The monopolization of the land and natural resources of this nation is one of the most serious and least discussed issues covered by the media or anyone else.

Ed Dodson

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2012 – The Year Of Living Dangerously
by James Quinn
Posted January 12, 2012

corporate fascismCivic decay revealed itself dramatically in 2011 as millions of young people across the country occupied parks and town squares in a fruitless effort to correctly point out how the ruthless oligarchs inhabiting Wall Street bank executive suites, Mega-corporation boardrooms, the Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building, and the hallways of Congress had pillaged the wealth of the middle class through inflation, taxation, fraud and outright thievery. The majority of over-medicated, lethargic, uninterested, ignorant Americans yawned at this selfless display of courage and civil disobedience as they chose to occupy lines for hours to get the latest iPad or $3 waffle-maker at Wal-Mart. Delusional, non-thinking dolts across the land watched on their 60 inch HDTVs as young protestors got clubbed, beaten, tear gassed, tasered, maced, and brutalized by paid mercenaries for the ruling oligarchy. They treated the horrific scenes of brutality as if it was just one of their 30 favorite reality TV shows.

Despite controlling the media, the money and the levers of power in Washington D.C., those in power cannot spin the reality of a middle class being systematically wiped out by the policies put in place by the corporate fascist oligarchs running this country. As Wall Street profits and bonuses flow like honey, the lines at food banks look like the lines at Best Buy on Black Friday and homeless shelters overflow with former members of the middle class. The ministry of propaganda (BLS, BEA) reports improving economic conditions while the number of Americans in the food stamp program has jumped from 38 million when the recession officially ended in late 2009 to 46.3 million today. Having 15% of the population surviving on food stamps is surely a sign of economic recovery. More...

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Report: Big Bank Bonuses in 2011
by Public Accountability Initiative
Posted January 11, 2012

banker bonusSeven big banks – Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, US Bank, and Wells Fargo – are set to dole out year-end bonuses in the coming weeks. The banks do not release data on compensation until early next year, but it is possible to estimate the size of this year's compensation pool based on data from the first three quarters of 2011 (note that compensation pools include salaries, benefits, and bonuses).

Press reports have suggested that Wall Street bankers will face a pay cut this year, but based on figures from the third quarter, compensation pools at the big banks are on track to be slightly larger than last year's record breaking number: a combined $156 billion in total compensation. More...

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The Outlook for the New Year, Tyranny in the Forecast
by Paul Craig Roberts,
Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan's first term
Posted January 4, 2012

tyranny in forecastThe Bush/Obama regimes have put the foundation in place for imprisoning critics of the government without due process of law. The First Amendment is being all but restricted to rah-rah Americans who chant USA! USA! USA! Washington has set itself up as world prosecutor, forever berating other countries for human rights violations, while Washington alone bombs half a dozen countries into the stone age and threatens several more with the same treatment, all the while violating US statutory law and the Geneva Conventions by torturing detainees.

Washington rounds up assorted foreign politicians, whose countries were afflicted with civil wars, and sends them off to be tried as war criminals, while its own war crimes continue to mount. However, if a person exposes Washington's war crimes, that person is held without charges in conditions that approximate torture.

The past year gave us other ominous tyrannical developments. President Obama announced that he had a list of Americans whom he intended to assassinate without due process of law, and Homeland Security, itself an Orwellian name, announced that it had shifted its attention from terrorists to "domestic extremists." The latter are undefined and consist of whomever Homeland Security so designates. More...

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Are You Being Tracked? 8 Ways Your Privacy Is Being Eroded Online and Off
By David Rosen
Posted January 1, 2012

Drones on US mainlandIn May, President Obama extended the Patriot Act for four more years, renewing the federal government's powers to search records and conduct roving wiretaps in pursuit of terrorists. "It's an important tool for us to continue dealing with an ongoing terrorist threat," Obama said.

Three aspects of the widening net of state security monitoring of Americans involve the use of drones, GPS tracking, "smart" drivers licenses and the increasing use of face recognition capabilities.

In December 2011, North Dakota law enforcement officials raided a remote farm seeking six missing cows. Using a military-like assault plan, local police got help from the state highway patrol, a regional SWAT team, a bomb squad, ambulances and deputy sheriffs from three other counties. They also employed a Predator B drone. The military-like campaign resulted in the arrests of Susan and Rodney Brossart and seven of their children. This is the first known arrest of U.S. citizens with help from a Predator drone. More...

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