The Dollar May Remain Strong For Longer Than We Think

I have long been a dollar bull, not for any over-arching reasons based on inflation, deflation, rising geopolitical multi-polarity or any of the other issues that touch on the dollar’s valuation vis-à-vis other currencies. My analysis focuses on a few basics:  the dollar’s status as the global reserve currency, Triffin’s Paradox (a.k.a. Triffin’s Dilemma) and global capital flows into the dollar and dollar-denominated assets such as U.S. Treasury bonds.

Reserve Currencies vs. Trading Currencies

When we say the U.S. dollar is the global reserve currency, what does that mean?  There is often some confusion about the difference between a trading currency and a reserve currency.  Let’s use an example to explain the difference.

Country A trades $10 billion of goods and services with Country B, which does $10.01 billion of trade with Country A.  The two nations agree to a trade pact that enables the two nations to trade currencies directly, that is, without converting the payments for trade into a third currency such as the dollar.

Once the bilateral trade is settled, a modest $10 million remains as a surplus/trade deficit.  The owner of the surplus (Country B, in this example) can trade that excess currency on the global foreign exchange (FX) market, use it to buy goods or services, or hold it. The modest $10 million is a tiny slice of the two trading nations’ money stock and gross domestic products (GDP), and it has little effect on either global or domestic finance. The $10 million is a small claim against the currency of the nation running the trade deficit (Country A, in this case).

The main takeaway is that billions of dollars of trade transactions may yield very little surplus/deficit.

Trading currencies are examples of the transactional nature of money: money enables transactions.

A reserve currency, on the other hand, is an example of money as a store of value: nations hold reserve currencies as stores of value that can be sold to support their own currency if the need arises.

A reserve currency is quite different from a trading currency an it must meet these minimum requirements to function as a reserve currency:

1. It must be liquid – that is, it can be readily bought and sold on the global foreign exchange market in size, i.e. large quantities, without affecting the value of the currency;

2.  Its value must be relatively stable – that is, it trades in a narrow range with other currencies, and

3.  Its value is set by supply and demand – i.e. capital flows and market forces, rather than an arbitrary peg.

Many observers greet the announcement of recent bilateral or multi-lateral currency agreements as evidence the U.S. dollar is weakening.  But this is mixing apples and oranges: the U.S. doesn’t gain much by issuing a currency that serves transactional needs — it offers no profit to the U.S. if trade between other nations is conducted in yen, renminbi, euros or quatloos.

The demand for transactional currency is temporary. Transact the trade, and then the cash moves on to the next transaction.

The demand for reserve currency is not transactional. A nation that wants to build reserves must acquire the reserve currency and hold it.

Nations that issue reserve currencies must issue enough of their currency to satisfy the global demand for reserves, and the only way to do this is run substantial *and* permanent trade deficits.

Triffin’s Paradox/Dilemma

This brings us to Triffin’s Paradox, which has two basic parts:

1.  Any nation that issues the reserve currency must run a trade deficit to supply the world with surplus currency to hold in reserve and as a result,

2.  The issuing nation faces the paradox that the needs of global trading community are generally different from the needs of domestic policy makers.

The global trading community requires that the issuer of the reserve currency run trade deficits large enough to satisfy the demand for reserves, while domestic audiences want a strong export sector, i.e. a trade surplus.

You can’t have it both ways: if you want to issue a reserve currency, you have to run a trade deficit that is commensurate in size with the global demand for your currency.

Since supply and demand set price, this push-pull affects the value of the U.S. dollar: U.S. exporters want a weak dollar to spur foreign demand for their products, while foreign holders of the USD want a strong dollar that holds its value/purchasing power.

It is impossible for any nation to maintain the reserve currency and run trade surpluses. If you run trade surpluses, you cannot supply the global economy with the currency it needs for reserves, payment of debt denominated in the reserve currency and domestic credit expansion.

Why Hold Reserves?

Why do countries need reserves in the first place?  The answer can get complicated, but the basic dynamic is supply and demand: if Nation A prints vast quantities of its own currency (let’s call it the quatloo) and uses the cash to buy goods and services without creating an equivalent amount of goods and services to sell to other nations, it will run a large trade deficit.

The supply of quatloos will soon exceed the demand: everybody who accepted freshly printed quatloos for their exports wants to trade them for goods or unload them as soon as possible. As a result, the value of quatloos on the global FX market falls, and Nation A is in danger of plunging into a currency crisis: as the value of the quatloo declines, the price of imports rises within Nation A, and soon people can no longer afford imports from other nations—for example, grain and oil.

One way Nation A can support the value of its quatloos is to sell its reserve currency and use the cash to buy quatloos, soaking up the excess supply that is depressing the quatloo’s value. So currency reserves act as a stabilizing anchor for the nation’s own currency.

There is another often-overlooked role for currency reserves: they act as the asset base for the expansion of credit within the domestic economy. A central bank with substantial reserves can issue credit in the domestic currency commensurate with its holdings of assets such as gold or currency reserves.

The Supply and Demand for Dollars

There are number of reasons why nations might choose to buy or sell U.S. dollars, or assets denominated in dollars such as Treasury bonds. Let’s start by noting that the dollar is not the only reserve currency; the USD is roughly 62% of global currency reserves, the euro is about 25% and other currencies make up the balance.

Nations might sell dollars and buy another reserve currency to diversify their holdings, hedge against a decline in the dollar relative to other reserve currencies, or perhaps as a form of geopolitical weapon or protest against American hegemony or specific policies.

Much has been made of global capital leaving U.S. Treasury bonds. Yet if we glance at a chart of foreign holdings of Treasuries, we note that foreign owners have steadily increased their holdings of Treasuries, other than a shallow dip in 2013:

For years, observers have seen the massive Treasury holdings of China as a potential financial weapon: if China were to dump a trillion dollars of Treasuries, that sale would disrupt the global market for U.S. bonds. (I have always held the Fed could issue a fresh $1 trillion and buy the lot in one fell swoop.)

But interestingly, we find instead that China’s holdings of Treasuries have been relatively stable recently, at around 20% of total foreign-owned Treasury bonds:

The discussion of major foreign holders of Treasury Securities, i.e. foreign states and central banks, often overlooks one key driver of this trade: states seeking to weaken their own currency to boost their exports sell their own currency and buy U.S. dollars (or dollar-denominated assets such as Treasuries). This increases the supply of their own currency, pushing the value lower, while the increased demand for dollars pushes the value of USD higher.

In terms of foreign trade, this weakens the currency of the buyer of Treasuries in relation to the dollar.

In other words, major holders of U.S. Treasuries such as China and Japan have an over-riding incentive to keep buying Treasuries: buying dollars stabilizes or weakens their currency vis-a-vis the U.S. dollar, making their goods and services cheaper in the U.S. and thereby boosting their exports.

There are two other reasons nations might buy dollars: the dollar is available in size, unlike smaller currencies such as the Swiss franc, and it is widely viewed as a proxy of U.S. economic, military and diplomatic stability: in other words, in periods of crisis, the dollar is widely viewed as a safe haven currency.


We now have a basic understanding of the forces of supply and demand for the dollar as a reserve currency: nations buy dollars as reserves, and also to weaken or stabilize the value of their own currency against the dollar, a strategy designed to boost their exports to the U.S.

On the supply side, the U.S. issues a surplus of dollars for others to use as reserves by running a trade deficit. Should that deficit shrink, the supply of dollars will also shrink.

In Part 2: Why The US Dollar Could Strengthen – A Lot From Here we analyze the surprisingly likely drivers that may keep the US dollar strengthening over the next few years, especially if another economic/financial crisis arrives. While there are many reasons to fear for the longer term viability of the US dollar given America’s current misguided monetary policy and exponentially increasing debt & liabilities, the next few years could well see it appreciate further by 50-100% relative to the world’s other major fiat currencies.

For those understandably disgusted by the reckless expansion of the US money supply over the past six years, it’s vitally important to remember that the road to our monetary endgame is not a straight line, nor necessarily intuitive. To have the best chance of remaining solvent, understanding the likeliest pathways the route will take is often nearly as important as correctly predicting the final destination.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

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Call your Rep TODAY: Vote ‘NO’ on Military Aid to Syrian ‘Rebels’

Preface from Washington’s Blog: It is now beyond dispute that the U.S. and its allies have armed ISIS and its allies.  That hasn’t worked out so well …

From Just Foreign Policy.

Congress is expected to vote soon on a controversial proposal to arm and train Syrian rebels. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have expressed opposition. With recent reports that some so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels this proposal seeks to arm have signed non-aggression pacts with ISIS, as in the past, now is not the time to rush into a policy whose consequences remain so unknown.

Meanwhile, the Congressional Progressive Caucus has introduced H. Con. Res. 114, demanding a robust debate and an authorization vote on any use of force. Sponsors so far include Reps. Grijalva, Ellison, Lee, McGovern, Defazio, Grayson, and Welch.

MoveOn, Win Without War, Peace Action and many other groups have called for a National Day of Action TODAY to say: stop the rush to war in Iraq & Syria!

Call your Representative NOW at (202) 224-3121. When you speak to a staffer (or leave a message), you can use the talking points below:

Hi, my name is ______, and I’m a constituent from _______.

I urge you to vote “NO” on expanding military aid to rebel groups in Syria. More weapons to groups we don’t know, who may use them against us or our allies in the future, will only make the situation worse.

I also urge you to co-sponsor H. Con. Res. 114, demanding a debate and an authorization vote on any use of force and the prohibition of the use of ground troops.

Posted in Politics / World News | 2 Comments

Demagogue’s Delight: US Extremist Leader Advances Militant Agenda

(Warning: Graphic Images)

Extremist groups in the US have publicly announced that they are going to violate international law and commit aggression by detonating large-scale explosives inside Syria, without UN member-state Syria’s permission or cooperation, without being attacked, and without UN Security Council authorization, which is legally required.  It is countless international terrorist actions like this, combined with silly claims like “We are a nation of laws”, that have made Obama a worldwide laughingstock and tragicomic dunce.

Obama, of course, cares nothing about that, since he, as any marginally aware person can see, only needs the support or passive acceptance of an uninformed US public, and perhaps a dictator ally or two.

The US militant leader has stated that if Syria acts in complete accordance with international law and in any way resists the US terror-planes or terrorist forces committing aggression against Syria, Obama will then use that as a pretext to simply execute Assad as he executed Qaddafi and thousands of other suspects.

Yes, this particular extremist, Obama, executes suspects in the most barbaric way possible, on a near daily basis, by using intense, concentrated pressure and jagged metal fragments to dismember their bodies and splash out their organs.  This typically produces a long, excruciating, torturous demise through organ failure and bleeding out while writhing in agony.  What this form of execution looks like:

US Extremist Favored Execution Technique


US Extremist Favored Execution Technique

Video of the civilian woman’s lengthy torture/execution by US-backed forces here.

Obama used this form of execution on, for example, a crowded farmer’s market, where he placed and detonated internationally banned cluster fragmentation explosives (the industrial version of what the Boston Bombers tried to make) and executed 16 women, five of them pregnant, and 21 children.

The industrial version of cluster bombs are tightly packed with sharp plastic instead of metal fragments, so that way metal detectors can’t locate the pieces inside people’s bodies and they can’t be surgically removed from people who may otherwise have had a chance of surviving the (disturbingly twisted) execution attempt.

Extremist leader Obama tried to illegally bomb Syria last year, but his propaganda attempt to demagogue the public and others into accepting the aggression didn’t work.  This is likely because the “demon” he used to try to whip up fear, hatred, and other such emotions in the public, was Assad, a white-skinned guy who wears a Western-style suit.

It also didn’t work because the “act” Obama tried to use as the incitement to commit aggression was a chemical bombing of hundreds of kids, carried out not by Assad, as Obama knowingly lied, but, as revealed by Seymour Hersh’s US government sources, by US-ally Turkey and the Western/US-backed Islamic extremist groups (like ISIS) trying to kill Assad.

Once it was known that the horrific chemical attack was carried out by the US side, by a US ally, this was censored in the US, and conspicuously not used as a reason to bomb the US allies and US-allied groups who carried out the attack, with US government knowledge.

The new propaganda cover for attacking Syria (which the USA has been doing non-stop since 1948) is a much better tool for a demagogue like Obama to whip up fear and hate in an uninformed populace.  The newly designated propaganda “demons” are not white, suit-wearing people like Assad, but are dark-skinned people who wear masks and release videos of beheadings.

These kinds of acts, like the former chemical attack by US allies, bother US™ state-controllers zero, on a scale of one to ten.

Saudi Arabia beheads people on video regularly (or cuts off their hands, whips them thousands of times for exercising free speech, etc.), and Obama, in 2013, sent the theocratic Saudi regime the biggest shipment of weapons in the history of the USA.

And when sickening killings of American civilians work against, rather than for, US expansion/aggression purposes, news of them is simply suppressed, like the rape, horrible torture, and sadistic murder of multiple American nuns by US-trained, equipped, advised, supplied, and backed forces in Latin America.  The American nuns were found dumped in a ditch with their heads gone and underwear ripped off.

Know the names of any of those American nuns?  We should think about the reason why we are constantly beaten over the head with the names of civilians executed by groups that provide a pretext for US empire expansion, but not the names of executed civilians that make the US and its proxy forces look bad, and demand constriction, rather than expansion, of US empire.

So, once Obama starts bombing in Syria, he will claim or report legal Syrian government firing upon US planes (as if the US wouldn’t fire on planes illegally bombing targets in the US), and then use that as a reason to extend his crime further and murder Assad and, ideally, install a brutal US puppet who would increase US state/corporate control over the world energy market.

(Before oil burgeoned, the US government openly stated that it wanted to control the world market for what was then the key product, cotton.  As oil is today, cotton was known to be a lever of power that would allow the slave-driving US to bring non-slave-states “to their knees”.)

While the drooling, decrepit, blogger-whipping, hand amputating, head-chopping king of Saudi Arabia looks forward to his personal meetings with his partner and mentor Obama, one wonders if Assad is getting nervous.

However, Assad has his own forces and friends, including Iran, nuclear Russia, and nuclear China (all of which, unlike the US, which alone on Earth rejects it, support the idea of food as a fundamental human right).  Leaders of these countries all know perfectly well what Obama is doing, and they say so all the time.  If Obama, indeed, starts trying to murder Assad directly, and not just through terrorist proxy forces as he’s been doing for years, there will be consequences for many people, including US citizens.

This, of course, does not slow Obama down, since the operation has nothing to do with security for the people funding Obama’s terrorism: US taxpayers.  Empire expansion operations are virtually always carried out in spite of drastically decreasing security for US taxpayers and their families.

Those of us who are aware must help others.  We must band together for non-violent action to protect ourselves from brutal terrorist extremists like Obama, who continually, knowingly decrease our security by committing terrorist attacks around the world.  We must make it a goal to build a democratic society so we can, for the first time, start following international law, or at least stop dispossessing people, torturing people, stealing land, committing and supporting genocide and ethnic cleansing, and the like.

Notice Switzerland, a tiny country, does not have to do any of this stuff that the USG swears it has to do around the world, despite Switzerland being one one billionth as militarily powerful as the US.  And if you are thinking, well, Switzerland doesn’t help anyone, either, you’re forgetting that the Red Cross always somehow manages NOT to kill tens of millions of civilians, or even one.  And no, the US is not “well-meaning but ham-handed”.  It’s just a bunch of calculating criminals doing whatever they can because it benefits them.

Also note:

Analysts inside and outside the government, from Dick Cheney to Noam Chomsky, knew full well before the illegal 2003 US invasion of Iraq that the invasion would vastly increase terrorism and instability in the region and worldwide, and increase terror threats to the US.  Cheney stated in the early 90s that a US invasion would cause “pieces of Iraq to go flying off”, as in various factions would all claim parts of Iraq as their own, which is exactly what has happened.

Bush scheduled US forces to be withdrawn from Iraq in 2011.  Obama tried to get legal immunity for the troops so he could keep them there indefinitely, but found it was politically impossible at that point.  Well, now, with a better propaganda cover (ISIS), the Mongol hoards are back.

Yes, Iraqis have said they were better off under US-installed-and-backed Saddam than they were after the US destroyed their country from 1990 to the present.  Yes, they have said the Americans are worse than the Mongol hoards.

But the USA’s goal is not to make people happy.  It is, as stated, to dominate the planet so that the highest possible amount of power and luxury can be extracted from the world by the people controlling US™ and global power.

We also need to be aware that Obama is demanding more cash and weapons for the Islamic extremist groups in Syria even as they are all signing cooperation agreements with ISIS.  The terrorist Islamic group FSA specifically refuses to fight against ISIS.  It and the other “moderate” Islamic extremist groups have always shared their weapons with ISIS and Al Qaeda.  This was always known to everyone, and Obama wants to give them more.  (If we think Obama is stupid and doesn’t know the effect this will have, it just means WE are stupid.  He knows very well what he’s doing.)  But, shhhhh.  The public is NOT supposed to know about this.

Remember: ISIS (est. 2014) is the reason the USA has been bombing and committing terror in the Middle East since 1948.  That’s all.  It’s not like Obama wants to overthrow Assad.

“Assad Must Go, Obama Says” – Washington Post

Oh, yeah.

One other, related tidbit: the US heads a gang called the “Five Eyes”, which consists of the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

It’s interesting to note that in every one of these “countries”, barbarian hoards expanded to them from the UK, committed genocide against and exterminated the native inhabitants, dug in and barricaded themselves, formed new outposts, and then continued their global expansion operations from there, which is what we are witnessing today as the “Eyes” threaten humans with extinction through nuclear war and/or fossil fuel burning, which the remnants of the exterminated indigenous peoples do their best to protest.

As a bare minimum, we all need to do what Washington’s Blog and Just Foreign Policy suggest and Call your Rep TODAY: Vote ‘NO’ on Military Aid to Syrian ‘Rebels’.

Robert Barsocchini is an American investigative journalist and writer for the film industry.  Here is his blog.  Also see his free e-book, Whatever it Takes – Hillary Clinton’s Record of Support for War and other Depravities.  Click here to follow Robert and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.

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Top U.S. Military Official: Our Arab “Allies” Support ISIS

Member of Senate Armed Services Committee Agrees

America’s top military official – the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey – just admitted in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing what we’ve been saying for months … America’s closest allies are supporting ISIS:


GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: I know major Arab allies who fund them.

GRAHAM: Yeah, but do they embrace them? They fund them because the Free Syrian Army couldn’t fight Assad. They were trying to beat Assad. I think they realized the folly of their ways.

Maybe a good start for defeating ISIS would be to stop funding them and their BFFs?

Posted in Politics / World News | 7 Comments

43 Million People Kicked Out of Their Homes

War, our leaders tell us, is needed to make the world a better place.

Well, maybe not so much for the 43 million people who’ve been driven out of their homes and remain in a precarious state as internally displaced persons (24 million), refugees (12 million), and those struggling to return to their homes.

The U.N.’s figures for the end of 2013 (found here) list Syria as the origin of 9 million such exiles. The cost of escalating the war in Syria is often treated as a financial cost or — in rare cases — as a human cost in injury and death. There is also the human cost of ruining homes, neighborhoods, villages, and cities as places in which to live.

Just ask Colombia which comes in second place following years of war — a place where peace talks are underway and desperately needed with — among other catastrophes — nearly 6 million people deprived of their homes.

The war on drugs is rivaled by the war on Africa, with the Democratic Republic of the Congo coming in third after years of the U.S.-backed deadliest war since World War II, but only because the war on “terror” has slipped. Afghanistan is in fourth place with 3.6 million desperate, suffering, dying, and in many cases understandably angry and resentful at losing a place to live.  (Remember that over 90% of Afghans not only didn’t participate in the events of 9-11 involving Saudis flying planes into buildings, but have never even heard of those events.) Post-liberation Iraq is at 1.5 million displaced and refugees. Other nations graced by regular U.S. missile strikes that make the top of the list include Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen — and, of course, with Israeli help: Palestine.

Humanitarian wars have a homelessness problem.

Part of that problem finds its way to Western borders where the people involved should be greeted with restitution rather than resentment. Honduran children aren’t bringing Ebola-infected Korans. They’re fleeing a U.S.-backed coup and Fort Benning-trained torturers.  The “immigration problem” and “immigrants rights” debate should be replaced with a serious discussion of refugee rights, human rights, and the-right-to-peace.

Start here.


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Laughing Our Way to Destruction

If members of the U.S. public were ever to wonder what the other 95% of humanity thinks about them, would it be better to break that harsh truth to them gently or just to blurt it out?

I’m going to go with the latter.

Here’s Frankie Boyle explaining the advantages of Scottish independence: “Scotland would no longer have to invade places like Afghanistan for American interests. . . . I don’t support America’s wars. I don’t even think they are wars. They’re one-way traffic, mass-murder. There’s never been a time when a shepherd has beaten a helicopter. You never switch on the news to see ‘A shock result in Afghanistan today when a missile was destroyed by a wedding.’ Because not only will America go into your country and kill all your people. But what’s worse I think is they’ll come back twenty years later and make a movie about how killing your people made their soldiers feel sad. Oh boo hoo hoo. Americans making a movie about what Vietnam did to the soldiers is like a serial killer telling you what stopping suddenly for hitchhikers did to his clutch.”

If you don’t think people find such remarks acceptable, listen to this laughter:

Living in the United States we’ve been trained to appreciate the fact that the wars do in fact make the soldiers feel sad. In fact they significantly increase rates of depression and violence and suicide. We tell each other not to blame the soldiers, rather to blame the top politicians. But then we don’t really do that, do we? Bush is off painting himself in the bathtub and otherwise doing his imitation of the original King George III during his blue urine period. Obama is cheered by his fans because his wars make him sad and he declares them with such heartfelt reluctance. But from the point of view of people who are told about non-American deaths in their newspapers and on their televisions and radios (that is, from the point of view of 95% of humanity) U.S. wars are mass-slaughter of innocents. Ninety percent of the deaths are on one side. Ninety percent of those deaths are civilians by every definition. When the U.S. says it’s going to launch another war because it opposes genocide, the rest of the world responds “We what the f%^$^! do you call your wars?”

Think the rest of the world is crazy? Think it’s just bad jokes that miss the serious complicated facts of the matter. Watch how an intelligent Englishman watches an Obama speech:

Or you can watch how an American views Lindsey Graham’s speeches:

Or how an American comedian views U.S. foreign policy:

When an American gets honest about U.S. warmongering it has to be a joke. It has to sneak in. We don’t want to hear it. But we shouldn’t keep imagining the rest of the world doesn’t know what’s going on.


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Janus Yellen and the Great Transition from Risk-On to Risk-Off

The end of risk-on cannot be prettily managed.

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus is the god of transitions–beginnings and endings of conflict, war and peace, journeys, trades and eras. Janus has two faces, as befits a god that looks both to the future and to the past.

In our era of omnipotent central banks worshipped by the Status Quo, we have a goddess of financial transitions–Janus Yellen, the two-faced chair/deity of the Federal Reserve–to usher in the Great Transition from risk-on to risk-off.

What is risk-on? Speculative bets directly enabled by central bank issued free money for financiers–also known by the bland technocrat perception management labels stimulus and quantitative easing (QE).

The primary risk-on policies are:

1. ZIRP–zero interest rate policy. This enables financiers (but not J.Q. Citizen) to borrow money for next to nothing and then use this free money to buy assets that pay dividends or interest.

This is effectively a gift to banks and financiers. The goal is straightforward: transfer great wealth from the peasants who once earned interest on their savings to the banks, who have rebuilt their bad-bet-shattered balance sheets on the backs of tax donkeys and savers.

2. Asset purchases. The Fed has bought almost $4 trillion of Treasury bonds and mortgages from primary dealers (banks) and other financial institutions. This is effectively a transfer of cash directly into the financial system.

Those closest to the Fed money-spigot benefit directly from asset purchases (a.k.a. quantitative easing). Those far from the spigot (the 99.9%) get nothing but slightly lower interest on their crushing debt.

Those with low/no debt have lost hundreds of billions in interest that has been transferred to the banks by ZIRP and QE, which actively suppresses interest rates.

3. Liquidity. This simply means the Fed will create as much money as is needed to meet the borrowing needs of the financial system. This unlimited liquidity is offered not just to U.S. banks, but to the entire global banking system. The Fed doesn’t just bail out U.S. speculators–it bails out speculators worldwide.

In other words, the Fed deities are lavishly generous to financiers everywhere.

But all these risk-on policies have created extremes of speculative bets, which have generated corresponding extremes in systemic risk. Those who have skimmed profits from risk-onspeculation with borrowed money and leveraged bets need to unwind/exit their bets to book their gains.

This unwinding of speculative excesses is risk-off.

It falls to Janus Yellen to oversee this transition from roughly 20 years of risk-on to risk-off. The trick will be to unwind all the debt and leverage without collapsing the global speculative house of cards.

Janus Yellen’s job is to manage the transition such that banking sector profits are maintained.One way to do this is to raise interest rates incrementally.

Ilargi at makes a compelling case for the Fed raising interest rates sooner than most believe possible as the only means left to maintain banking-sector profits: The Fed Has A Big Surprise Waiting For You.

Though we can be confident that Janus Yellen’s face looking back in time sees the Fed’s unprecedented efforts to prop up a failed, broken financial system as a success, to the rest of us, the past is easily visible: central banks did not fix what is broken in the financial system; they simply papered over the sources of speculative instability with multiple layers of additional bureaucracy, ZIRP, QE and unlimited liquidity. As a result, the threat of speculative instability was only deferred, not eliminated.

The future is much less clear. As Janus Yellen looks ahead, she finds no real historic parallels for the extremes of risk-on debt, leverage and speculation that unprecedented central bank intervention have conjured up.

She also finds no recent precedent for the gargantuan expansion of financial claims on real wealth that dwarf the actual expansion of real wealth since the 2008-09 Global Financial Meltdown: energy extracted, soybeans harvested, industrial equipment manufactured, etc.

Multiplying the financial claims on real wealth by creating money and selling Treasury bonds that are claims on future wealth does not expand real wealth. This is the foundational falsity of risk-on monetary easing and the speculation it fuels: expanding claims on real wealth does not increase real wealth.

The idea that expanding financial claims on wealth is wealth is entirely illusory, and this is why risk-on is a self-liquidating dynamic: as everyone holding a claim tries to cash in their illusory gains, the risk-on trade implodes.

Janus Yellen is trying to engineer an impossible “solution” to this destabilizing dynamic: gently transition risk-on to risk-off so imperceptibly that the market for phantom assets will magically absorb all the selling.

But this assumes there will be buyers ready to bid up the market value of these phantom assets as the smart money distributes/sells. And that is of course the dynamic of bubbles throughout human history: there are ready buyers right up to the point that prices start dropping sharply. Then the bid vanishes as the pool of greater fools has been drained and there are no buyers, only sellers.

Perhaps what Janus Yellen’s future-facing eyes see is a future in which central banks are forced to become the buyers of last resort not just of trillions of dollars in home mortgages and sovereign bonds, but every other asset as well: real estate, corporate junk bonds, swampland, the debt of bankrupt cities–everything.

This is nothing but another expansion of financial claims, masked by the apparition of phantom assets on the central bank balance sheets. Buying up phantom assets does not transform them into real wealth. Regardless of how Janus Yellen tries to sell the idea as the miraculous “fix” to the systemic bubble in claims the central banks have inflated, it will fail just as predictably as her plan to defuse the risk-on trade while maintaining the inflated value of the phantom assets the speculative frenzy has created out of nothing.

The end of risk-on cannot be prettily managed. If Janus Yellen had looked far enough back in history, she would already know that. 

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From the Very Start, the CIA Has Engaged In Covert Terrorism to Give Government Plausible Deniability

“So Planned and Executed That Any US Government Responsibility For Them Is Not Evident To Unauthorized Persons And That If Uncovered The US Government Can Plausibly Disclaim Any Responsibility For Them”

Everyone knows that the CIA spies …

But – from the beginning – the CIA has also carried out black hat covert operations.

Specifically, the CIA was formed in September 1947.

A mere 9 months later, the National Security Council issued a directive to the CIA to engage in covert operations:

As used in this directive, “covert operations” are understood to be all activities (except as noted herein) which are conducted or sponsored by this Government against hostile foreign states or groups or in support of friendly foreign states or groups but which are so planned and executed that any US Government responsibility for them is not evident to unauthorized persons and that if uncovered the US Government can plausibly disclaim any responsibility for them. Specifically, such operations shall include any covert activities related to: propaganda, economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance movements, guerrillas and refugee liberation groups, and support of indigenous anti-communist elements in threatened countries of the free world. Such operations shall not include armed conflict by recognized military forces, espionage, counter-espionage, and cover and deception for military operations.

Since then, the CIA has engaged in a variety of unsavory covert options, including:

  • Running drugs in order to support its covert operations. See this, this, this and this

Indeed, many top experts – including government officials – say that America is the largest sponsor of terror in the world … largely through the work of the CIA. And see this.

For example:

The United States has long been an exporter of terrorism, according to a secret CIA analysis released Wednesday by the Web site WikiLeaks.

  • The head and special agent in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office said that most terror attacks are committed by our CIA and FBI.
  • The director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan – Lt. General William Odom - noted:

Because the United States itself has a long record of supporting terrorists and using terrorist tactics, the slogans of today’s war on terrorism merely makes the United States look hypocritical to the rest of the world.

Odom also said:

By any measure the US has long used terrorism. In ‘78-79 the Senate was trying to pass a law against international terrorism – in every version they produced, the lawyers said the US would be in violation.

(audio here).

Posted in Politics / World News | 2 Comments

U.S., NATO, Hold Joint War Games in Ukraine, and Give Ukraine Weapons, to Continue Ethnic Cleansing Campaign

Eric Zuesse

During 15-26 September, the U.S. and 14 other NATO countries are holding war games in Ukraine, in order to assist the Ukrainian military to eliminate Ukraine’s cultural Russians. Ukraine is not yet a NATO country, but aims to become one; and NATO under President Obama has ended being any sort of alliance for democracy, and is now instead little more than an alliance against Russia — a Cold War alliance this time not against communism and the Soviet Union (which are long gone), but instead for American conquest, pure and simple, to dominate the entire world militarily – including especially domination over Russia. That would then be Obama’s enduring achievement in foreign policy: extending “The American Century” into a second century.

The Ukrainian Government is too insolvent to buy weapons (officially called “lethal assistance,” by contrast to supplying non-lethal items such as food, vests, etc.). Some unnamed NATO countries are thus now donating weapons, to help the Ukrainian Government slaughter enough residents in Ukraine’s southeast so as to enable the coup-regime that was imposed by Obama on Ukraine in February, to become elected into power in nationwide Ukrainian elections, so that this can be called a ‘democracy,’ though that’s what Obama overthrew in February — the man who was authentically democratically elected in 2010. But what got that man elected was overwhelmingly votes from the areas in Ukraine that are now being bombed by the Government that Obama installed. The Ukrainian ‘election’ that was held on May 25th was held only in Ukraine’s northeast, where Obama’s coup was popular. Ukraine was already bombing and trying to exterminate residents of the southeast. After enough residents there, in the southeast, have either escaped from Ukraine or else been slaughtered by Ukraine’s troops, the anti-Russian Government imposed by Obama in February will finally be able to survive a nationwide election, and then the U.S. will become enabled to install nuclear missiles there, aimed against Russian cities. That achievement can’t happen, however, unless the ethnic cleansing campaign is first successfully completed, because the people who live there are pro-Russian: they therefore must be eliminated before our missiles are installed. That’s also the reason why the people whom Obama installed to run the country are followers of Hitler, a man who hated Russians almost as much as he hated Jews. Ukraine’s best troops slaughtering the residents in Ukraine’s southeast are ardent nazis patterned on Hitler’s SS, and some even call themselves “Nazi.” President Obama doesn’t find that embarrassing; to the contrary: it’s his policy — he approves of this Government, because he installed it.

Under U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, fascists were defeated in Germany, Italy, and Japan; but under U.S. President Barack Obama, nazism, which is the specifically racist form of fascism, is being restored to power in Ukraine, so as to enable the U.S. military to destroy Russia, by placing nuclear missiles right next door to it. In addition, Western oil companies, Monsanto, and other U.S. international corporations, are moving in, and Russian companies are being expelled from Ukraine.

Although America’s Republicans oppose Obama and say that he isn’t supporting enough the Ukrainian Government (that he actually installed), America’s Democrats admire Obama and think that his support of nazis in Ukraine is just fine as it is, and that it achieves just the right balance there, and elsewhere in the world, such as in Iraq and Syria, where the U.S. had brought Sunni Islamic fundamentalism and now wages war against it, likewise in perfect policy-balance.

The United States of today might have sided with Hitler and Mussolini, not only against Stalin, but even against Churchill. We’ve come a long, long, way, since WWII.

If President Obama is a liberal, then what is a conservative, in today’s America? How conservative would that have to be, to qualify as “conservative” here? Yet, still, Mr. Obama is probably less conservative than Hitler, though perhaps only equally conservative as Mussolini, who, after all, wasn’t nearly so obsessed to destroy Russia. Perhaps if Obama had been President during the 1940s, the U.S. would have sent reinforcements to help Hitler’s troops at the Battle of Leningrad.

Anyway, nazism has returned, in Ukraine, thanks to U.S. President Barack Obama.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Posted in Business / Economics, Energy / Environment, General, Politics / World News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Is Risk-On About to Switch to Risk-Off?

Cranking markets full of financial cocaine so they never correct simply sets up the crash-and-burn destruction of the addict.

Human memory being what it is, almost three years of risk-on euphoria has created the illusion that risk-on is The New Normal that will continue on for years to come. Perhaps, but there are converging signals that suggest the risk-on trade is about to reverse polarity to risk-off. These include:

1. Junk bonds. Two charts below (one from Lance Roberts and the second from Chris Kimble) suggest the risk-on extremes have reached the point of reversal.

2. Soaring U.S. dollar. Without going into detail, it’s increasingly clear that the soaring USD is destabilizing the global foreign exchange (FX) markets. FX has been the source of many of the risk-oncarry trades that have been driplines of financial cocaine for global stock markets.

3. Reversal of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing (QE) programs.Though the stock market has roundly ignored the withdrawal of $600 billion of free money for financiers stock market stimulus all year, the October end of the QE asset buying program now looms large.

The Fed has already trimmed its asset-buying binge from $85 billion/month ($1 trillion/year) to $25 billion/month. Risk-on proponents claim that this reduction has been replaced by Bank of Japan and European Central Bank QE programs, but this belief fails to take into account the diminishing returns on BOJ and ECB stimulus.

THose spigots have been open for so long that adding more monetary stimulus no longer moves the needle positively. Rather, the extreme measures push the global fianncial system into increasingly risky territory.

4. Geopolitical spillover. One key element of the risk-on trade is the magical-thinking belief that the U.S. stock market is completely decoupled from geopolitical dynamics. In other words, Japan and Europe can sink into recession, China’s growth can slow, the Mideast can be destabilized by multiple open conflicts and none of these issues will ever matter, as long as “the Fed has our backs,” “corporate profits keep rising,” etc.

Geopolitics matter even if only because global dynamics cause global players to switch from risk-on to risk-off as markets destabilize and carry trades dry up. Highly leveraged traders must delever, and that selling on the margins tends to topple dominoes that lead straight to the core.

The market for high-yield bonds is a well-known canary in the risk-on coalmine.These two charts should give anyone pause–the canary is stiff and cold but has been propped up in its cage by risk-on cultists fearful of any intrusion of reality:

Junk Bonds: A Replay of the Past? (Chris Kimble)

The VIX, a measure of volatility, has been suppressed by risk-on euphoria for so long, 13 looks high. Market participants seem to have forgotten that the VIX can go to 30, never mind 13:

I’ve marked up a daily chart of the SPX (S&P 500) to show the megaphone topping pattern has broken lower, and the key support of the 20-day moving average (1992) and the previous high (1991) has been broken.

The last time SPX broke below the 20-day MA, the market swooned in what now looks like a warning shot that the risk-on trade was at risk of reversing to risk-off.

The weekly chart of SPX shows how long the risk-on trade has run. Markets typically touch their 50-week moving averages occasionally, just as a statistical mean reversion dynamic. The SPX hasn’t kissed its 50-week MA since late 2012, and hasn’t visited its 200-week moving average since 2011.

Even the most avid Bulls should grasp that market corrections of 10% to 20% are statistical features of all markets. Cranking markets full of financial cocaine so they never correct simply sets up the crash-and-burn destruction of the addict. 

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The Smoking Guns of the 2001 Anthrax Attacks

Must-Read:  “The 2001 Anthrax Deception”

Professor Graeme MacQueen has written a must-read book on the anthrax attacks on America: The 2001 Anthrax Deception.

Even those of us who have paid close attention to – and written broadly on – the 2001 anthrax attacks will learn stunning new information.

For example, we learned the following eye-opening facts from the book:

  • There was a set of 3 letters sent around the same time as the initial anthrax mailings, which attempted to frame the Russians for the anthrax attacks, and which warned of further attacks.  These letters could not have been sent by Dr. Bruce Ivins (the scientist the FBI blamed for the attacks), nor could they have been “copycat” letters
  • Less than 3 months before the anthrax attack, the government carried out a simulated exercise called “Dark Winter”, where: a lethal germ had been aerosolized then released; anonymous letters threatened anthrax attacks; Iraq and Al Qaeda are blamed for the attacks; and preparations are made for the drastic reduction of civil liberties in the United States, including martial law
  • The National Academy of Sciences found that the anthrax mailed to Congressmen and the media could have come from a different source altogether than the flask maintained by Ivins
  • The Department of Justice argued in a lawsuit that the anthrax used in the attacks was of a completely different nature (dried, aerosolized, and specially treated to act as a lethal weapon) than maintained by Dr. Ivins (a standard liquid solution):
  • PBS’ Frontline, ProPublica and McClatchy newspaper all found that Dr. Ivins was doing valid and important work during the timeframes when the FBI claims that he “went missing”
  • There is reason to suspect that the same people who carried out 9/11 also carried out the anthrax attacks

We’re not the only people who have already spent countless hours researching the anthrax attacks who MacQueen’s work enlightening. For example, Meryl Nass, M.D. – consultant on the prevention and mitigation of bioterrorism for the Director of National Intelligence and the World Bank, and an expert on anthrax vaccines – writes:

Finally, a book has come out that explodes the FBI’s anthrax letters case. Not only is there no evidence linking Army scientist Bruce Ivins to the crime–it turns out his famous flask of anthrax was never proven to be related to the attack spores! MacQueen peeks behind the curtain, showing that nothing about the anthrax letters case is as it seems.

And Dr. Francis A. Boyle – author of the U.S. domestic implementing legislation for the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, and a Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois, Champaign – notes:

Professor MacQueen provides yet another piece of the puzzle connecting the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 to the immediately following anthrax attacks of October 2001 that were indisputably conducted by Agents of the United States government.

We agree with Denis J. Halliday – UN Assistant Secretary-General from 1994-98 – who says:

This deeply troubling book should be read by all thinking Americans.

Posted in Politics / World News, Science / Technology | 17 Comments

VIDEO: Debt – There’s Just Too Damn Much Of It

The fundamental failing of today’s global economy can be summarized simply: Too Much Debt

We have taken too much of it on, too fast, in too many markets around the world, to have any hope of making good on it. Not only does the math not work out, but also on a moral level, we are placing a tremendous obligation on future generations that will unfairly limit the prosperity they can enjoy tomorrow in order to finance our consumption today.

In the US alone, total credit market debt stands at over $57 trillion and is doing its damnedest to continue expanding exponentially. Since simple math shows us that this debt level cannot be supported, the key questions to ask at this stage are:

Will the unsupportable debt disappear via default, or inflation?

And very important:

When these debts do disappear, who will take the losses?

For the best viewing experience, watch the above video in hi-definition (HD) and in expanded screen mode

Coming next Friday: Chapter 14: Assets & Liabilities

For those who simply don’t want to wait until the end of the year to view the entire new series, you can indulge your binge-watching craving by enrolling to The entire full new series, all 27 chapters of it, is available — now– to our enrolled users.

The full suite of chapters in this new Crash Course series can be found at

And for those who have yet to view it, be sure to watch the ‘Accelerated’ Crash Course — the under-1-hour condensation of the new 4.5-hour series. It’s a great vehicle for introducing new eyes to this material.

Posted in General | 2 Comments


“Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.” ― Mark Twain

I never believe government manufactured numbers. They will always be adjusted, massaged, and manipulated to achieve a happy ending for the propagandists attempting to control and fleece the sheep. Yesterday, the government produced retail sales numbers for August that were weak and the corporate MSM propaganda machine immediately threw up bold headlines declaring how strong these numbers were. Positive stories were published on the interwebs and Wall Street hack economists were rolled out on CNBC, where the bubble headed bimbos and prostitutes for the status quo like Jim Cramer and Steve Liesman declared the recovery gaining strength. Woo Hoo.

If everyone else is whipping out that credit card, why aren’t you? Credit card debt has reached a new post recession high. They tell me consumer confidence is soaring. Forget about the 92 million working age Americans supposedly not in the labor force. Forget about real household income hovering at 1999 levels. Forget about median household net worth still 30% lower than 2007. Forget about what you see with your own two eyes in malls, strip centers and office parks as you motor around our suburban sprawl empire of debt. Those Store Closing, Space Available, and For Lease signs mean nothing.

I didn’t get a chance to peruse the commerce department drivel until this morning. They put out unadjusted data and adjusted data. Shockingly, the adjusted data is always rosier than the unadjusted data. I wonder why? I can understand the rationale for adjusting month to month data due to holidays and calendar events. But I still don’t trust the adjustments. There should not be a major difference when comparing year over year data. The adjusted data should reflect the same relationship to the unadjusted data on a year over year basis. Well guess what? It appears our friendly government drones may be pumping the current data to give the appearance of recovery. Here are my observations after taking a look at the government propaganda report:

  • The unadjusted retail sales were only 3.2% higher than last August. Considering government reported inflation of 2%, that is a pretty shitty result. But have no fear. The “ADJUSTED” retail sales for August were 5.0% higher than last August. WTF? Guess which number gets reported to the sheep?
  • Hysterically, your government drones consider lending deadbeats $40,000 for seven years with no money down to drive away with a GM deathtrap SUV as a retail sale. The billions in subprime auto loans led to an 8.8% YoY surge in “ADJUSTED” auto sales. It seems the unadjusted number only went up 5.3%.
  • When you back out the Federal Reserve/Wall Street pumped auto sales, which will ultimately result in billions of written off bad debt (you’ll pick up the tab), unadjusted retail sales were only 2.7% higher than last August. With real inflation of 5% or more, real retail sales are negative on a year over year basis.
  • Despite financing deals of 4 years with no interest, furniture and electronics retail sales were flat versus last August. If there really is a housing recovery and 2.1 million more Americans are employed versus last August how could these discretionary sales be flat, and negative on an inflation adjusted basis?
  • Grocery store sales were up only 2.1% over last year. Even the government is reporting 2.7% food inflation in the last year. We all know it is closer to 10%, so people are actually reducing the amount of food they are buying. That is a sure sign of an economic recovery.
  • Clothing store sales were flat and department store sales were negative versus last August. So much for the back to school storyline. I do believe August is back to school time. The Sears and JC Penney Bataan Death March trudges toward bankruptcy.
  • What did surge was sales at restaurants and bars. They soared by 6.8% versus last August. We already know Darden, Yum Brands and McDonalds have reported dreadful results, so either the government is lying, soaring food prices are being passed on to customers, or people are so depressed by this awesome economic recovery they are drinking themselves into a stupor.

As a side note on the accuracy of this government data, in a previous role at IKEA, when I was a much younger man, I was responsible for filling out the monthly government retail surveys for the Census Bureau. The government drones collecting this data do not check it. They do not require proof that it is right. It is self reported by retailers across the country. Filling out this crap for the government was about as low on my priority list as whale shit. If I was really busy, I’d make the numbers up, scribble them on the form and put it in the mail. The numbers the government are accumulating are crap. And then they massage the crap. And then they publish the crap as if it means something. It’s nothing but crap.

When you see the headlines touting strong retail sales, you need to consider what you are actually seeing in the real world. RadioShack will be filing for bankruptcy within months. Wet Seal will follow. Sears is about two years from a bankruptcy filing. JC Penney’s turnaround is a sham. They continue to lose hundreds of millions every quarter and will be filing for bankruptcy within the next couple years. Target and Wal-Mart continue to post awful sales results and have stopped expanding. And as you drive around in your leased BMW, you see more Space Available signs than operating outlets in every strip center in America.

My anecdotal proof of this relentless slow motion retail trainwreck is twofold. We received our second 30% off discount coupon from Kohl’s in the last three weeks. We are so indifferent to these constant offers that we didn’t even use the first one. I have to wear dress clothes to work every day, so I went over to Kohl’s this morning when they opened at 8:00 am to get some dress shirts and pants.

The parking lot was an oasis of empty spots and there were maybe 5 customers in the entire store. I went to the mens’ section and was shocked to see about two dozen 60% to 80% off racks. There are usually two or three racks. The store was overflowing with summer merchandise. Summer is over. The store should have been overflowing with Fall merchandise. They are clearly in the midst of an inventory disaster. I found excellent dress shirts on the 70% off rack. Everything I bought was at least 50% off, even before my 30% coupon and another $10 menswear coupon.

I live in a relatively upscale suburban area and still this Kohl’s is an absolute disaster. Their gross margin is going to be hammered. Profits are going to implode. Kohl’s has always been a favorite retailer of the middle class. Decent quality at reasonable prices. Their comp store sales were between positive 5% and 15% for years, until the 2008 financial collapse. Their struggles since then coincide with the decline of middle class incomes and the fake jobs recovery. The fact that they are spiraling downward flies in the face of the propaganda being spewed by the government and media.There is no recovery for the average American.

My second data point happened on Thursday. An accident on the Turnpike forced me to take Lincoln Drive and Germantown Pike home from work (1 hour and 55 minutes of agony). I hadn’t taken this route in about six months. Germantown Pike winds through the Chestnut Hill section of Philly. This is an artsy fartsy area with boutique retail, chic outlets, and fancy restaurants. The upper middle class frequents the area. The retail stores were always open, occupied and busy.

Not anymore. I saw dozens of empty storefronts, Space Available, and For Lease signs. The open stores had no customers. The trendy eating establishments had few patrons. Even the yuppie latte drinking areas are beginning to crumble. Every office park I passed had Space Available signs in front. The amount of vacant retail and office space in this country is too vast to comprehend and is being under-reported by the real estate whores whose job it is to rent space. Ignoring the facts and the truth doesn’t change the facts and the truth.

Do you believe the government and the corporate media, or do you believe your own two eyes?

You can ignore the government reported happy talk. When retailers and restaurants report their actual sales and profits, the truth shall be revealed. It will set you free.

Posted in General | 6 Comments

After New York: Rally for Peace and Climate in DC

An interactive townhall discussion of how we get to peace

Speakers: Andy Shallal, Barbara Wien, David Swanson, and YOU

When: Monday, September 22, 11:30-1:30

Where: SIS Founders Room, American University
4400 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016

Food and drink provided!

War, Whistleblowing, and Independent Journalism

Join us for the powerful documentary Body of War (co-produced and co-directed by Phil Donahue), followed by a discussion with whistleblowers and journalists.
When: Monday, September 22
6:30 pm: Body of War film screening

8 pm: Q&A with Phil Donahue

8:15 pm: Panel
*  William Binney, NSA whistleblower
*  Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, EPA whistleblower
*  Phil Donahue, journalist
*  Thomas Drake, NSA whistleblower
*  Peter Kuznick, professor of history
*  Jesselyn Radack, DOJ whistleblower
*  Kirk Wiebe, NSA whistleblower
Moderator: Norman Solomon

Where: American University — Butler Board Room (located on the 6th floor above the Bender arena sports complex)

Optional: You can sign up on FaceBook here.

This event is sponsored by and the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University, and co-sponsored by

For more information on the speakers, click here

Nonviolent civil resistance for peace and climate at the White House

When: Tuesday, September 23, 10 a.m.

Where: Pennsylvania Ave. in front of White House.

More information.

Posted in General | 1 Comment