Thursday 29 August 2013

Are you ready to pay 4, 5 or possibly even 6 dollars for a gallon of gasoline?

Will War With Syria Cause The Price Of Oil To Explode Higher?

  War has consequences, and a conflict with Syria has the potential to escalate wildly out of control very rapidly.  The Obama administration is pledging that the upcoming attack on Syria will be “brief and limited” and that the steady flow of oil out of the Middle East will not be interrupted.  But what happens if Syria strikes back?  What happens if Syrian missiles start raining down on Tel Aviv?  What happens if Hezbollah or Iran starts attacking U.S. or Israeli targets?  Unless Syria, Hezbollah and Iran all stand down and refuse to fight back, we could very easily be looking at a major regional war in the Middle East, and that could cause the price of oil to explode higher.  Syria is not a major oil producer, but approximately a third of all of the crude oil in the world is produced in the Middle East.  If the Suez Canal or the Persian Gulf (or both) get shut down for an extended period of time, the consequences would be dramatic.  The price of oil has already risen about 15% so far this summer, and war in the Middle East could potentially send it soaring into record territory.
We can always hope that cooler heads prevail and that a conflict is avoided, but at this point it does not look like that is going to happen.  In fact, according to Richard Engel of NBC News, a senior U.S. official has admitted that “we’re past the point of return” and that a strike on Syria can be expected within days.
Obama is promising that the U.S. will “take limited, tailored approaches”, and that we will not be “getting drawn into a long conflict, not a repetition of, you know, Iraq, which I know a lot of people are worried about”, but how in the world can he guarantee that?
SyriaIran and Hezbollah have all threatened to attack Israel if the U.S. attacks Syria.
If missiles start raining down on Israeli cities, the Israelis are not just going to sit there and take it like they did during the first Gulf War.  In fact, according to the Los Angeles Times, “Israeli leaders are making it clear that they have no intention of standing down this time if attacked”.
If Israel is attacked, their military response will be absolutely massive.
And then we will have the major regional war in the Middle East that so many people have been warning about for so many years.  Hundreds of thousands of people will die and the global economy will be paralyzed.
So what will Obama do in such a situation?
Will he pack up and go home?
Of course not.  We would be committed to fighting a brutal, horrific war that there was absolutely no reason to start in the first place.
And we are already starting to feel the effect of rising tensions in the Middle East.  This week, the price of oil rose to a 10-month high
U.S. oil prices soared to an 18-month high as traders worried that a potential military strike against Syria could disrupt the region’s oil supplies.
October crude futures surged 2.9%, to $109.01 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, their highest close since February 2012. Brent futures ended up 3.2% at $114.28 a barrel, a six-month high.
Posted below is a chart that shows how the price of oil has moved over the past several decades.  Could we soon break the all-time record of $147 a barrel that was set back in 2008?…
The Price Of Oil
And of course we all remember what happened when the price of oil got that high back in 2008.  The global economy was plunged into the worst downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
A major conflict in the Middle East, especially if it goes on for an extended period of time, could send the price of oil to absolutely ridiculous levels.
Every single day, a massive amount of oil is moved through the Suez Canal.  The following is from a recent Wall Street Journal article
To the southwest is the Suez Canal, one such chokepoint, which connects the Red Sea and the Gulf of the Suez with the Mediterranean Sea. The canal transports about 800,000 barrels of crude and 1.4 million barrels of petroleum products daily, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Another regional oil shipping route potentially threatened by the Syria crisis is the Sumed, or Suez-Mediterranean, pipeline, also in Egypt, which moves oil from the Persian Gulf region to the Mediterranean. The Sumed handles 1.7 million barrels of crude oil per day, the EIA said.
And of course an enormous amount of oil moves through the Persian Gulf each day as well.  If the Suez Canal and/or the Persian Gulf were to be shut down, there would almost immediately be global supply problems.
So how high could the price of oil go?
Well, according to CNBC, some analysts believe that $150 a barrel could easily be hit if the U.S. attacks Syria…
Some analysts believe even U.S. crude, West Texas Intermediate (WTI crude) could get close to the $150 zone. “If oil prices spike on the Syria attack, and surge above $120, the next logical upside target is going to be the 2008 high of $147, which could easily be taken out,” said John Kilduff of Again Capital. “It’s the retaliation to the retaliation that we have to be worried about.”
If the price of oil soars up to that level and keeps going, we could see the price of gasoline go up to four, five or maybe even six dollars a gallon in some areas of the country.
You better start saving up lots of gas money.
It looks like you are going to need it.

Monday 26 August 2013

Who is Worse NYPD or NSA ?

The surveillance debate triggered by Edward Snowden's leaks frequently features government spokespeople assuring Americans that the authorities aren't targeting us with their spying activities. Implicit is the notion that if Americans werebeing targeted, that would be an abuse of power. 

In New York City, the debate is different, because there's no doubt about the NYPD's surveillance tactics: they're definitely targeting innocent Americans citizens and legal residents. And that's an ongoing abuse of power, even if comparatively fewer people have heard about it.

We've known for some time that innocent Muslim Americans were ethnically profiled by undercover NYPD officers,causing significant, under-acknowledged hardship in affected communities. 

Earlier this summer, Charlie Savage reportedon four C.I.A. officers embedded within the NYPD, despite the strict rules governing the spy agency's behavior within the United States. And today, New York has published "The NYPD Division of UnAmerican Activities," in which Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman unearth even more alarming details about the NYPD Demographics Unit.
  • Official secrecy defined the program from the beginning. "Documents related to this new unit were stamped NYPD SECRET. Even the City Council, Congress, and the White House--the people paying the bills--weren't told about it.
  • This is straight-up profiling. "They mapped, looking for 28 'ancestries of interest.' Nearly all were Muslim. There were Middle Eastern and South Asian countries such as Pakistan, Iran, Syria, and Egypt. Former Soviet states like Uzbekistan and Chechnya were included because of their large Muslim populations. The last 'ancestry' on the list was 'American Black Muslim.'"
  • Files on New Yorkers were started on the flimsiest of pretexts. "One Muslim man made it into files even though he praised President Bush's State of the Union address and said people who criticized the U.S. government didn't realize how good they had it. Two men of Pakistani ancestry were included for saying the nation's policies had become increasingly anti-Muslim since 9/11. Muslims who criticized the CIA's use of drones to launch missiles in Pakistan were documented."
  • Inevitably, spying was used for purposes other than counterterrorism. "Surveillance turned out to be habit-forming... Undercover officers traveled the country, keeping tabs on liberal protest groups like Time's Up and the Friends of Brad Will. Police infiltrated demonstrations and collected information about antiwar groups and those that marched against police brutality. Detectives monitored activist websites and copied the contents into police files, including one memo in 2008 for Kelly that reported the contents of a website about a group of women organizing a boycott to protest the police shooting of Sean Bell, an unarmed black man killed the morning before his wedding.
The full story contains a lot more objectionable behavior, and after reading how the undercover officers operate it's easy to understand why the unit would cause Muslim American mosque attendees, small business owners and patrons, and students throughout the city to grow paranoid in their daily lives. And defenders of the program are unable to point to even a single case where it prevented a terrorist attack -- in fact, they can't even point to a terrorism-related arrest or prosecution. 

Usually, when I write phrases like, "This is how a secret police force with files on innocent Americans starts," I'm issuing a warning about the future. But the NYPD literally started a secret police unit that began indiscriminately keeping files on innocent Americans. This isn't a warning about a slippery slope. It is an observation about ongoing abuse of civil liberties in America's biggest city.

Source: The Atlantic

What You Really Need to Know About Aspartame and GMOs the Science and Health Risks

Coca-Cola claims diet drinks promote weight loss, but studies show that artificial sweeteners actually contribute to weight gain.
In response to a plunge in sales of artificially sweetened sodas last week, Coca-Cola announced plans to roll out an ad campaign to win back popular favor for its aspartame-containing beverage, Diet Coke. (Diet Pepsi, which also contains aspartame, saw its sales fall 6.2 percent in 2012 while regular Pepsi sales fell little more than half that amount.)

The safety of aspartame, which the FDA approved for human consumption in 1981, has long been in dispute, before, during and after its approval by the FDA. The simmering controversy is notable for the parallels between aspartame’s safety and regulatory history, and that of another controversial industrial food product – genetically modified foods known as GMOs.

Aspartame, developed by Searle, was approved for public consumption despite the strong concerns of FDA scientists, who were overruled by Arthur Hull Hayes, Jr. then the newly appointed FDA chief—handpicked by Donald Rumsfeld, the former CEO of Searle, and the Secretary of Defense in two Republican administrations. Hayes pushed through the approval, and then returned to the same industry (at Searle’s public relations firm).

Upon aspartame’s approval, Searle gained two things: 1) The ability to market and profit from this product (sold as NutraSweet or Equal); and 2) the upper hand in science.

Since then, industry sponsored science has sustained the FDA decision, opposing both independent scientific findings, as well as citizen reports of adverse reactions. After a profitable three decades, first for Searle, soon thereafter for Monsanto, which bought Searle in 1985, the vestiges of the former company are now owned by Pfizer. But public confidence in aspartame has steadily eroded. Coca-Cola’s ad campaign seeks to restore that confidence.

Following a similar pattern, the 1992 FDA declaration that GMO seeds and plants were “substantially equivalent” to regular seeds and plants, also occurred despite the concerns of FDA scientists, who were overruled by a policy maker (Michael R. Taylor) who came in to the FDA (as Deputy Commissioner of Policy) from industry (Monsanto’s law firm), got GMOs approved, and then returned to the same industry (serving as a Monsanto Vice President for Public Policy). Note: Taylor is currently Commissioner for Food at the FDA.
This time the Searle/Monsanto playbook gave Monsanto three things:
  1. The ability to develop, market, and profit from its products 
  2. The upper hand in science, AND
  3. The right to patent its seeds and products and to protect its patents.
With many open questions about the long-range health and environment impacts of GMOs, today over 20 years after FDA approval, public discomfort with GMOs continues to rise (this needs to be backed up – maybe mention the number of states working for GMO labeling laws, or a poll of some sort). While industry science supports use, other evidence continues to emerge. (can you give a quick example of some evidence)

Wherever science gets mired in debate between independent researchers and pro-industry factions, health risks may only become apparent over time. That means that it can slow science by limiting scientific access for study. Aspartame is freely available, yet it still took 30 years for concerns over aspartame’s health risks to amplify to levels that would significantly dent sales. We can learn a lot about the risks from GMOs by taking a look at aspartame.

Conflicting Studies

In its ads, and media messaging, Coke plans to tout the benefits of its aspartame-containing soft drinks as a weight loss aid. Its print ad, rolling out in Atlanta and Chicago this week say that, “diet drinks can help people manage their weight.” Despite Coke’s claim, several studies found that artificial sweeteners fail to promote weight loss, and instead contribute to weight gain.

According to one of the researchers, the San Antonio Heart Study, which studied over 1,100 participants found that, “On average, for each diet soft drink our participants drank per day, they were 65 percent more likely to become overweight during the next seven to eight years, and 41 percent more likely to become obese.”

The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) confirmed these findings when it found that, “Daily consumption of diet drinks was associated with a 36% greater risk for metabolic syndrome and a 67% increased risk for type 2 diabetes.”

One mechanism for weight gain could be that the “Overstimulation of sugar receptors from frequent use of these hyper-intense sweeteners may limit tolerance for more complex tastes,” says David Ludwig, leading Harvard clinician and researcher into the causes and treatment of the obesity epidemic. As a result, less sweet or non-sweet foods may become unpalatable, driving people to avoid healthy foods and eat unhealthy ones.

Given this evidence, Coke’s boast that diet drinks produce weight loss may be a fib, but nowadays, industries wooing the public back to their products can also bolster their claims with science. Though confusing to a public seeking answers, for every scientific finding, there is often an oppositescientific finding.

2012 study published in theJournal of Nutritionconcluded that, “There is no evidence that low calorie sweeteners can be claimed to be a cause of higher body weights in adults.”
What explains these opposite findings? Well, the thrust of the JN study is that with so many egregious foods on the nutritional landscape, it’s hard to single out just one. Point taken. Surprisingly, this implied critique of the industrial food system comes from the four study authors, three of whom had “received consulting fees, honoraria, donations, and unrestricted grants from food, beverage, and pharmaceutical companies.”
The Double-Faced Role of Science
If only all science was as unanimous as climate science. Despite a lack of political will to address climate change, and public bafflement about how to tackle it, there is no uncertainty in climate science.

But that’s harder to locate in other regulatory realms, due to opposing claimants. When assessing the health and safety of products and practices, government regulators default to industry sponsored scientific research. It’s up to independent scientists (or members of the general public) to uncover evidence of harm— all too often after governmental approval.

Sometimes the shoe winds up on the other foot: Industry sponsored scientists question the safety of their competitors’ products. Exaggerated concerns over artisanal jams, or locally grown lettuce come from the pesticide-ridden ag industry. Drug companies fret that someone will reject pharmaceuticals because they take vitamin C. In such cases, independent scientists, farmers, or consumers counter health concerns with evidence of no to low-harm for non-industrial products.

Beyond aspartame’s benefits (or lack thereof) for weight loss, over the last three decades, public health gatekeepers, reliant on industry research, consistently affirm that aspartame (marketed as NutraSweet and Equal) is safe. This past week, both the FDA and the American Cancer Society were cited in the media coverage following Coke’s campaign launch.

The American Cancer society noted that, "Most studies using people have found that aspartame is not linked to an increased risk of cancer." The same language appears on the ACS online information page on aspartame’s cancer risk."Most studies in people have not found that aspartame use is linked to an increased risk of cancer.”
This is misleading because when scientists consider evidence, they don’t merely count the number of studies. They evaluate the weight of the evidence, and damning evidence on aspartame goes back to the mid-1960s. The phrase “most studies” likely refers to the many industry-sponsored studies, but certain significant independent studies find that there are health concerns.

The ACS aspartame website was created in February 2011, and never revised to include significant 2012 findings on aspartame cancer risks. When this past week, the ACS (and the FDA) weighed in with Coke on the safety of aspartame, both the agency and the premiere cancer organization omitted mention of a well-regarded December 2012Harvard study which found that a daily serving of diet soda increased the risks of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma in men. 

Nor was this the first warning of aspartame's health risks. As is often the case with science, first there were animal studies.

The Animal Studies

As early as 1967 and again in 1971, animal study outcomes provoked questions about aspartame health risks. In 1980, a Public Board of Inquiry (PBOI) convened by the FDA, revoked an earlier approval of aspartame because of a study indicating it caused brain tumors in rats.

More recently, a 2007 study conducted by Mirando Soffritti, the scientific director of the Ramazzini Foundation of Oncology and Environmental Sciences (in Bologna, Italy), found high rates of lymphomas, leukemias and other cancers in rats consuming aspartame. As in the Harvard study, this similar constellation of cancers was more pronounced in males.

Soffritti, a prominent international scientist, designed his research to correct design flaws he identified in the original Searle research. Searle scientists followed rats for only two years, which roughly equates to age 53 in the human lifespan. The Ramazzini study used a larger cohort of rats (1,900 vs. 300-700 animals) and followed them throughout their natural life cycle. Soffritti’s rationale for the study design was that:

Cancer is a disease of the third part of life. You have 75 percent of cancer diagnoses for people who are 55 years old or older. So if you truncate the experiments at 110 weeks and the rats are supposed to survive until 150 to 160 weeks, it means you avoid the development of cancer at the time when cancer would be starting to arise.

When independent, international, or even mainstream Harvard scientists find post-approval evidence of health risks from ingredients (like aspartame or GMOs), they are in effect acting as scientific whistleblowers, but scientific whistleblowers all too easily are dismissed or marginalized as cranks or quacks.

Yet over time, the evidence mounts. As aspartame research continues to emerge, the history of aspartame science and its suppression confers key lessons for the scientific assessment of GMOs.

First, GMOs were introduced a decade later than aspartame, and have much less science, and consumer report. Second, GMOs are difficult for independent scientists to study because Monsanto (via patent law) limits access to its seeds. Nevertheless, two animal studies done in Europe found evidence of tumor growth in mice consuming GMO ingredients. A storm of protest erupted over the study design both for the earlierEnglish study and the recent French study.

But while study designs can often be improved, and independent research merits better funding, it’s vital that critiques not end by suffocating all independent research into industrial food products.

A 2009 position paper published by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, surveyed animal studies on GMO health effects, and found:
  • Immune dysregulation of inflammatory markers associated with increases in asthma, allergy, and inflammation. [1] [2]
  • Functional and structural changes of the liver, which can alter fat and carbohydrate metabolism [3] [4] [5]
  • Intestinal and immune system damage, including proliferative cell growth [6]
  • Changes in the kidney, pancreas and spleen have also been documented [7] [8][9]
  • Links to infertility and low birth weight [10]
  • Changes in the expression of 400 genes that “control protein synthesis and modification, cell signaling, cholesterol synthesis, and insulin regulation [11]
This review of animal studies is a strong indicator of areas of health concern entailed by GMO consumption.

The Public Trust

What people find so hard to wrap their minds around is this: How can major gatekeeping organizations, trusted by the public, lay claim to scientific validation of product safety while selectively ignoring animal studies and other meaningful science?

First, it’s obvious that institutional loyalties, economic pressures and reputations make it hard for organizations like the FDA and the ACS to shift their stance on nearly three decades of safety claims.

Second, we the public allow it. Apart from climate science, in most cases where there is scientific debate, there is complexity. As the breakdown in traditional journalism eats away at traditional scientific reporting, people seek simple answers and lack time for nuanced analysis.

Most of the educated public wants to trust science, without having to evaluate its credibility—and industry takes advantage of that.
“If at the outset, agencies like the FDA con
fer scientific validation on an industrial food product or ingredient, going forward, industry can more readily maintain the scientific upper-hand,” says James S. Turner, chairman of Citizens for Health, a health and science policy organization.

The studies industry commissions will be cited. Contending studies will be invalidated. Typically corporate funded science has more generous budgets for larger cohorts of participants in a study than independent researchers. This can translate into a seemingly “scientific” basis for rejecting independent research, because “most studies” are funded by industry and support industry claims.

Because it takes time and money to progress up the chain of proof from animal to human studies, it may take decades for independent science to reverse the initial advantage conferred by a government agency like the FDA, the USDA, or the EPA. By then the product or ingredient is in wide use, making its risks “impossible” to accept (even with scientific proof) given that by then millions have been exposed to its dangers. Moreover, there is heavy economic vestment in the use of even a nutritionally valueless ingredient like aspartame.

Finally, since our medical treatment and research model focus on treatments of disease, rather than the causes of disease, it will be harder after the fact to ascertain whether a person’s illness was caused by aspartame or GMOs or other exposure to chemicals, like in plastic bottles and containers containing bisphenol-A (BPA), or chemicals used in fracking oil and gas wells, which are becoming more common, or myriad other chemicals or combinations of chemicals.

Mirando Soffritti defined the bottom line when he spoke to the New York Times back when his animal study was first published:
“If something is a carcinogen in animals, then it should not be added to food, especially if there are so many people that are going to be consuming it.”
When it comes to the novel ingredients in the food supply, independent study is a must.

[1] Finamore A, Roselli M, Britti S, et al. Intestinal and peripheral immune response to MON 810 maize ingestion in weaning and old mice. J Agric. Food Chem. 2008; 56(23):11533–11539.
[2] Kroghsbo S, Madsen C, Poulsen M, et al. Immunotoxicological studies of genetically modified rice expression PHA-E lectin or Bt toxin in Wistar rats. Toxicology. 2008; 245:24–34.
[3] Malatesta M, Boraldi F, Annovi G, et al. A long-term study on female mice fed on a genetically modified soybean:effects on liver ageing. Histochem Cell Biol. 2008; 130:967–977.
[4] Velimirov A, Binter C, Zentek J. Biological effects of transgenic maize NK603xMON810 fed in long term reproduction studies in mice. Report-Federal Ministry of Health, Family and Youth. 2008.
[5] Kilic A, Aday M. A three generational study with genetically modified Bt corn in rats: biochemical and histopathological investigation. Food Chem. Toxicol. 2008; 46(3):1164–1170.
[6] Op cit Finamore, J Agric. Food Chem. 2008
[7] Ibid
[8] op cit Report-Federal Ministry of Health, Family and Youth. 2008.
[9] Op cit Food Chem. Toxicol. 2008;
[10] op cit Report-Federal Ministry of Health, Family and Youth. 2008.
[11] Food Chem. Toxicol. 2008

Sunday 25 August 2013

4 Year Old Girl’s Vegetable Garden Must Go, Says USDA

With each passing day, it seems the United States of America, “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave” is becoming more and more like the Communist Russia I learned about in elementary school where people weren't allowed to grow their own food unless the State “allowed” it.
In this latest crackdown on citizens simply trying to provide for themselves using the most basic of skills – gardening – the USDA’s Rural Development Agency is forbidding Rosie, an industrious 4-year old girl in South Dakota from using a small, unused area outside her subsidized housing unit to grow green vegetables.
Rosie’s mother, Mary (names changed to protect the child’s identity), is single and severely disabled. She and her daughter live on a fixed income disability payment of $628/month. The garden vegetables growing just outside her backdoor lovingly tended by Rosie provide a fresh and healthy addition to their diet that they could not otherwise easily afford.
Rosie started the garden in May 2013, but now the property management company has ordered the garden be removed this week!
The reason?
Gardening apparently goes against the rules set by the USDA’s Rural Development Agency which forbids residents to have structures of any kind within landscaped areas. It seems to me that the practice of growing vegetables by the most needy in our society would take precedence over landscaping, wouldn’t you agree?
I wonder if the USDA plans to establish “rules” about breathing air in subsidized areas too?
The Federal bureaucracy seems to think that it owns those individuals who receive any sort of government assistance and that their behavior is completely within its jurisdiction to control no matter how ridiculous or blatantly un-American the power-tripping “rules” they decide to put in place may be.
Think this is an isolated case? It’s not. I write regularly on this blog about these outrageous situations where ordinary citizens are bullied by out of control bureaucrats, the most recent being aMother in Maine who was harassed and threatened by the Department of Health and Human Services(DHHS) for feeding her healthy, robust 3 month old son homemade goat milk formula instead of horribly unhealthy commercial formula from the store laced with rancid vegetable oils and GMOs!
What You Can Do Now to Help Rosie
It is truly unfathomable that our country has degenerated to the point where a person can no longer garden without permission from bureaucratic thugs who get paid with our hard earned tax dollars to think up these rules – not laws – rules that have never been voted on by the elected representatives of the citizens expected to abide by those rules.
If you recall, this is exactly the sort of authoritarian insanity that started the American Revolutionary War (tea party anyone?).
Tell the USDA where it can put its “rules” against gardening by those living in rural, subsidized areas.
You can either sign the petition to save Rosie’s garden by clicking here or send an outraged letter directly to Elsie Meeks, State Director for South Dakota, USDA Rural Development Agency.
Sample Email to USDA

You can copy/paste the email template below to send directly from your email provider. Template provided courtesy of Kitchen Gardeners International.
Subject: Allow USDA-subsidized housing residents to grow vegetable gardens
Message body:
Dear Director Meeks,
I urge you to make a loud and clear statement to all the property management companies your agency contracts that USDA-subsidized residents have the right to keep their own vegetable gardens provided that these gardens are actively maintained. Vegetable gardens grow healthy and affordable foods as well as a sense of community. Rather than preventing low-income and disabled residents from providing for themselves, we should be doing everything we can to encourage them. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Sincerely yours,
(Your name, your town, your state)

Monday 19 August 2013



On Aug. 13, the state of New York’s Regulatory office issued subpoenas to every major Bitcoin operator just days after a Federal judge declared that the digital currency was in fact, real money.  In a statement today from NYSDFS’s superintendent Benjamin Lawsky, the regulator confirmed that the government no longer recognizes Bitcoin as a parallel to a barter currency, and that it must now follow national and international regulatory laws as any other globally recognized currency does.
Declaring Bitcoin “a virtual Wild West for narcotraffickers and other criminals,” the New York State Department of Financial Services is stepping into the sheriff’s boots.
“We believe that – for a number of reasons – putting in place appropriate regulatory safeguards for virtual currencies will be beneficial to the long-term strength of the virtual currency industry,” said NYSDFS superintendent Benjamin Lawsky in a statement. – Forbes
 Since its creation in 2008, immediately after the credit crisis nearly took down the Western financial system, Bitcoin has grown into an international medium of exchange that is quickly being recognized around the world.  Working as a strictly digital currency with a limited money supply, the intention of Bitcoin is to give consumers an alternative means of exchange without the interference of banks and regulatory systems inflating or controlling its application.
Over the past five years, the United States and most of the Western economies have ignored Bitcoin, seeing it only as a minor annoyance in the entire scope of economic transactions.  But when the banking holiday in Cyprus occurred, and continuing austerity has impoverished the people of Greece, bitcoin suddenly rose to center stage as citizens in these countries beganusing it en masse as their own national currencies were restricted by policies and capital controls.
So now with economic and financial headlwinds pointing towards a new monetary crisis, the powers that be are no longer ignoring the potential of Bitcoin, and are instead using a plagiarized form the old axiom, if you can’t beat them, co-opt them.  And within the course of one week, the U.S. courts have indicted one individual for fraud in a ‘bitcoin ponzi scheme’, and subsequently declared the digital currency ‘real money’ by de facto law.
Additionally within days of this ruling, Bloomberg created a Forex ticker for Bitcoin trading (XBT), and now the state of New York is seeking to impose massive regulations on the currency under the auspices of preventing ‘money laundering’ and ‘tax evasion’.
The whole purpose of Bitcoin was to be a means in which people could get out of the matrix of monetary debt slavery and to enable an exchange of products and services determined by the market, and not by central bank policy and control.  But as the digital currency grew in scope, and became a threat to the global financial system, the U.S. government wasted little time in co-opting Bitcoin so that it is no longer a free means of performing transactions, but instead another asset the system can soon use to exploit the people.

JP Morgan surprised their gold price manipulation no longer effective in forcing prices down

JP Morgan surprised their gold price manipulation no longer effective in forcing prices down

In last weeks publication of Flow’s & Liquidity, JP Morgan noted that the rise in gold prices appeared to be tied to numerous hedge funds that were dissolving their GLD ETF holdings to go long in OTC derivatives as gold prices begin to rise due to higher demand.  These actions have led the bank to desperately seek physical gold for delivery from multiple sources such as HSBC and Scotia Mocatta, and are revealing the end game consequences of their years of forcing down paper gold prices in the market.
JPM Eligible
Chart courtesy of Zerohedge
SEC filings showed that the largest hedge fund holders of the gold ETFs liquidated most of their positions in Q2, although the single largest holder commented that they had simply switched their exposure from ETFs to the OTC derivative market as the current downward sloping forward curve makes it cheaper to be long gold through futures than via the ETF.
… a backwardated (downward sloping) gold forward curve is very unusual. This is an indicator of how strong physical demand is, i.e. spot is bid up relative to forward prices due to strong demand for immediate delivery of gold. – Flow’s and Liquidity via Zerohedge
JP Morgan, which is a shareholder and partner in the Federal Reserve, has been using the GLD ETF and paper spot price to drive down gold for a number of years.  The primary purpose of these actions is to mask the dollars insolvency, and keep the actual price of gold from exploding as the central bank runs its quantitative easing and money printing programs.
However, as the price has been pushed down, more and more investors, central banks, and even nations like India and China have increased their buying and demand of physical gold instead of simply rolling over their paper contracts in the futures market.  These deliveries, along with the major market bombshells earlier this year with Holland’s ABN AMRO and Germany’s demand for a return of their gold reserves, have broken wide open the paper market manipulation, and are putting JP Morgan in a bind to come up with gold they do not have.
Like the Fed’s going all in with Quantitative easing, JP Morgan is believed to have been naked shorting both gold and silver to numbers reaching as high as 100 times the amount of physical metal stored in their vaults.  This revelation came from whistle-blower Andrew Maguire, who after his testimony with the CFTC, was almost killed in a car crash by an assailant who tried to escape the crash scene, and was eventually apprehended by police in a high speed chase.
On March 23, 2010, GATA Director Adrian Douglas was contacted by a whistleblower by the name of Andrew Maguire. Maguire is a metals trader in London. He has been told first-hand by traders working for JPMorganChase that JPMorganChase manipulates the precious metals markets, and they have bragged to how they make money doing so.
In November 2009 Maguire contacted the CFTC enforcement division to report this criminal activity. He described in detail the way JPMorgan Chase signals to the market its intention to take down the precious metals. Traders recognize these signals and make money shorting the metals alongside JPM. Maguire explained how there are routine market manipulations at the time of option expiry, non-farm payroll data releases, and COMEX contract rollover, as well as ad-hoc events. –Gata
 The credit crisis of 2008 had many signals to both regulators, and the investing public, of the insolvency that lay ready to explode upon the financial world, and the subsequent crash that was soon to come.  And just as the stock markets have rebounded in the past five years to new all-time highs, the growing belief is that the bubbles created by the Fed, and the manipulation of gold and silver prices by banks such as JP Morgan, have put the economy once again on the precipice of collapse, only this time, there will not be a taxpayer bailout coming to stop the system from going into cardiac arrest.
And as JP Morgan desperately seeks any bank vault holding gold to help cover their dwindling supplies, forces outside their control are leaving the paper market in droves and seeking protection in the physical metal, which appears ready to blast off in price, and sink the banks that have manipulated it.


The mesmerizing mass media have conditioned public opinion. Are we all victims of mass-level trauma-based mind control?

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Laws to penalize Drug Lords NOW being used on the innocent

State “civil-forfeiture”(CF) laws aimed at drug kingpins are being twisted to confiscate the property of people “never charged with a crime,” The New Yorker magazine (August 12) asserts.
Example: a Philadelphia couple fighting a home eviction after their son sold a small amount of marijuana to an informant.
What’s more, a high proportion of the victims appear to be African-Americans and Latinos, the magazine says.
Example: Tenaha, Texas, where victims of CF actions were motorists who had been pulled over for routine traffic stops, “and the targets were disproportionately black and Latino,” The New Yorker quotes one defense attorney as stating.
Under laws once enacted to penalize drug dealers and their ilk, the authorities using CF “are routinely targeting the workaday homes, cars, cash savings, and other belongings” of the innocent, writes magazine reporter Sarah Stillman.
“In general, you needn’t be found guilty to have your assets claimed by law enforcement; in some states, suspicion on par with ‘probable cause’ is sufficient. Nor must you be charged with a crime or even be accused of one,” Stillman adds.
“Unlike criminal forfeiture, which requires that a person be convicted of an offense before his or her property is confiscated, civil forfeiture is a lawsuit filed directly against a possession, regardless of its owner’s guilt or innocence.”
Owners who wish to contest CF often find that the cost of hiring a lawyer far exceeds the value of their seized goods, the magazine reports. “There’s this myth that they’re cracking down on drug cartels and kingpins,” says Lee McGrath, of the Institute for Justice, of Arlington, Va. In fact, the victims “aren’t entitled to a public defender and can’t afford a lawyer and the only rational response is to walk away from your property, because of the infeasibility of getting your money back.”
Since in many states law enforcement authorities can use CF revenue as they like, the temptation of easy money collides with ethical values. Reporter Stillman writes, in some Texas counties, more than 40 percent of law-enforcement budgets come from forfeiture” so that a system “that proved successful at wringing profits from drug cartels and white-collar fraudsters has given rise to corruption and violations of civil liberties.”
“What stands out to me is the nature of how pervasive and dependent police really are on civil-asset forfeiture—its their bread and butter—and, therefore, how difficult it is to engage in systemic reform,” says Vanita Gupta, a deputy legal director of the ACLU.
Jennifer Boatwright, one of the 140 CF plaintiffs in a suit against Tenaha, Tex., said the county district attorney threatened to put her in jail and her son into child protective services, if she did not sign over $6,000 in her car. “Where are we?” Stillman quotes her as saying. “Is this some kind of foreign country where they’re selling people’s kids off?”
(No, Ms. Boatwright: it’s worse than that. This is some kind of country where the president is ordering illegal drone strikes in foreign countries that are killing children by the score.)
Sherwood Ross can be reached at

Monday 5 August 2013

40 Stats That Prove The U.S. Economy Has Already Been Collapsing Over The Past Decade


The "coming economic collapse" has already been happening. You see, the truth is that the economic collapse is not a single event. It has already started, it is happening right now, and it will accelerate during the years ahead.
 The statistics in this article show very clearly that the U.S. economy has fallen dramatically over the past ten years or so. Unfortunately, there are lots of mockers out there that love to mock the idea of an economic collapse even though one is happening right in front of our eyes.
They love to say stuff like this (and I am paraphrasing): "An economic collapse is never going to happen. We can consume far more wealth than we produce forever. We can pile up gigantic mountains of debt forever. There is no way that the party is over. In fact, the party is just getting started. Woo-hoo!" That sounds absolutely ridiculous, but "economists" and "journalists" actually write things that reflect these kinds of sentiments every single day. They do not seem alarmed about the fact that our national debt is nearly 17 times larger than it was 30 years ago. They do not seem alarmed about the fact that the total amount of debt in our country is more than 28 times larger than it was 40 years ago.
They do not seem alarmed about the fact that our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted and we are steadily becoming poorer as a nation. They just think that the magic formula of print, borrow, spend and consume can go on indefinitely. Unfortunately, the truth is that a massive economic disaster has already started to unfold. We inherited the greatest economic machine in the history of the world, but we totally wrecked it. We have been able to live far, far beyond our means for the last couple of decades thanks to the greatest debt bubble in the history of the planet, but now that debt bubble is getting ready to burst. Anyone with half a brain should be able to see what is coming. Just open your eyes and look at the facts. The following are 40 stats that prove the U.S. economy has already been collapsing over the past decade...
#1 According to the World Bank, U.S. GDP accounted for 31.8 percent of all global economic activity in 2001. That number dropped to 21.6 percent in 2011.
#2 The United States was once ranked #1 in the world in GDP per capita. Today we have slipped to #14.
#3 The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.
#4 Since the year 2000, the size of the U.S. national debt has grown by more than 11 trillion dollars.
#5 Back in the year 2000, our trade deficit with China was 83 billion dollars. Last year, it was 315 billion dollars.
#6 In the year 2000, about 17 million Americans were employed in manufacturing. Today, only about 12 million Americans are employed in manufacturing.
#7 The United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.
#8 The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.
#9 Between December 2000 and December 2010, 38 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Ohio were lost, 42 percent of the manufacturing jobs in North Carolina were lost and 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Michigan were lost.
#10 Back in 1998, the United States had 25 percent of the world’s high-tech export market and China had just 10 percent. Today, China’s high-tech exports are more than twice the size of U.S. high-tech exports.
#11 In 2002, the United States had a trade deficit in "advanced technology products" of $16 billion with the rest of the world. In 2010, that number skyrocketed to $82 billion.
#12 The United States has lost more than a quarter of all of its high-tech manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.
#13 The number of full-time workers in the United States is nearly 6 million below the old record that was set back in 2007.
#14 The average duration of unemployment in the United States is nearly three times as long as it was back in the year 2000.
#15 Throughout the year 2000, more than 64 percent of all working age Americans had a job. Today, only 58.7 percent of all working age Americans have a job.
#16 The official unemployment rate has been at 7.5 percent or higher for 54 months in a row. That is the longest stretch in U.S. history.
#17 The U.S. government says that the number of Americans "not in the labor force" rose by 17.9 million between 2000 and 2011. During the entire decade of the 1980s, the number of Americans "not in the labor force" rose by only 1.7 million.
#18 The average number of hours worked per employed person per year has fallen by about 100 since the year 2000.
#19 The U.S. economy continues to trade good paying jobs for low paying jobs. 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.
#20 The U.S. economy lost more than 220,000 small businesses during the recent recession.
#21 The percentage of Americans that are self-employed has steadily declined over the past decade and is now at an all-time low.
#22 According to economist Tim Kane, the following is how the number of startup jobs per 1000 Americans breaks down by presidential administration...
Bush Sr.: 11.3
Clinton: 11.2
Bush Jr.: 10.8
Obama: 7.8
#23 In the year 2000, there were only 17 million Americans on food stamps. Today, there are more than 47 million Americans on food stamps.
#24 In the year 2000, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages was approximately 21 percent. Today, the ratio of social welfare benefits to salaries and wages is approximately 35 percent.
#25 Since Barack Obama entered the White House, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States has risen from $1.85 to $3.64.
#26 More than twice as many new homes were sold in the United States in 2005 as will be sold in 2013.
#27 Right now there are 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing. That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.
#28 The price of ground beef increased by 61 percent between 2002 and 2012.
#29 According to USA Today, water bills have actually tripled over the past 12 years in some areas of the country.
#30 In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance. Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.
#31 Median household income in the United States has fallen for four years in a row.
#32 As I mentioned recently, the homeownership rate in America is now at its lowest level in nearly 18 years.
#33 Back in the year 2000, the mortgage delinquency rate was about 2 percent. Today, it is nearly 10 percent.
#34 Median household income for families with children dropped by a whopping $6,300 between 2001 and 2011.
#35 Back in 2007, about 28 percent of all working families were considered to be among "the working poor". Today, that number is up to 32 percent even though our politicians tell us that the economy is supposedly recovering.
#36 According to the Federal Reserve, the median net worth of families in the United States declined "from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010".
#37 According to the New York Times, the average debt burden for U.S. households that earn $20,000 a year or less "more than doubled to $26,000 between 2001 and 2010".
#38 Medicare spending increased by 138 percent between 1999 and 2010.
#39 During Obama's first term, the federal government accumulated more debt than it did under the first 42 U.S presidents combined.
#40 Today, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless. This is the first time that has ever happened in our history. That number has risen by 57 percent since the 2006-2007 school year.
Are there any other items that you would add to this list? Please feel free to join the discussion by posting a comment below...
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