33 Strange Facts About America That Most Americans Would Be Shocked To Learn

By Michael Snyder, Economic Collapse Blog.

33 SignDid you know that about one-fourth of the entire global prison population is in the United States?  Did you know that Apple has more money than the U.S. Treasury?  Did you know that if you have no debt and also have 10 dollars in your wallet that you are wealthier than 25 percent of all Americans?  Did you know that by the time an American child reaches the age of 18, that child will have seen approximately 40,000 murders on television?  There are some things that are great about the United States, and there are definitely some things that are not so great.  Once upon a time we were the most loved and most respected nation on the entire planet, but those days are long gone.  We have wrecked our economy, we have lost our values and we have fumbled away our future.  But if you look close enough, you can still see many of the things that once made this country a shining beacon to the rest of the world.  This article includes some weird facts, some fun facts, but also some very troubling facts.  It has been said that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, and hopefully as people enjoy reading the fun facts in this article they will also take note of the more serious facts.  If we are ever going to change course as a nation, we need to come to grips with just how far we have fallen.  The following are 33 strange facts about America that most Americans would be shocked to learn…

#1 The amount of cement that China used from 2011 to 2013 was greater than the total amount of cement that the United States used during the entire 20th century.

#2 In more than half of all U.S. states, the highest paid public employee in the state is a football coach.

#3 It costs the U.S. government 1.8 cents to mint a penny and 9.4 cents to mint a nickel.

#4 Almost half of all Americans (47 percent) do not put a single penny out of their paychecks into savings.

#5 In 2014, police in the United States killed 1,100 people.  During that same year, police in Canada killed 14 people, police in China killed 12 people and police in Germany didn’t kill anyone at all.

#6 The state of Alaska is 429 times larger than the state of Rhode Island is.  But Rhode Island has a significantly larger population than Alaska does.

#7 Alaska has a longer coastline than all of the other 49 U.S. states put together.

#8 The city of Juneau, Alaska is about 3,000 square miles in size.  It is actually larger than the entire state of Delaware.

#9 When LBJ’s “War on Poverty” began, less than 10 percent of all U.S. children were growing up in single parent households.  Today, that number has skyrocketed to 33 percent.

#10 In 1950, less than 5 percent of all babies in America were born to unmarried parents.  Today, that number is over 40 percent.

#11 The poverty rate for households that are led by a married couple is 6.8 percent.  For households that are led by a female single parent, the poverty rate is 37.1 percent.

#12 In 2013, women earned 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees that were awarded that year in the United States.

#13 According to the CDC, 34.6 percent of all men in the U.S. are obese at this point.

#14 The average supermarket in the United States wastes about 3,000 pounds of food each year.

#15 Right now, more than 200 million people around the planet are officially considered to be unemployed.  Meanwhile, approximately 20 percent of the garbage that goes into our landfills is food.

#16 There is a city in Bangladesh called Dhaka where workers are paid just one dollar for every 1,000 bricks that they carry.  Meanwhile, the “inactivity rate” for men in their prime working years in the United States is hovering near record high levels.

#17 According to one recent survey, 81 percent of Russians now have a negative view of the United States.  That is much higher than at the end of the Cold War era.

#18 Montana has three times as many cows as it does people.

#19 The grizzly bear is the official state animal of California.  But no grizzly bears have been seen there since 1922.

#20 One recent survey discovered that “a steady job” is the number one thing that American women are looking for in a husband, and another survey discovered that 75 percent of women would have a serious problem dating an unemployed man.

#21 According to a study conducted by economist Carl Benedikt Frey and engineer Michael Osborne, 47 percent of the jobs in the United States could soon be lost to computers, robots and other forms of technology.

#22 The only place in the United States where coffee is grown commercially is in Hawaii.

#23 The original name of the city of Atlanta was “Terminus“.

#24 The state with the most millionaires per capita is Maryland.

#25 There are more than 4 million adult websites on the Internet, and they get more traffic than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined.

#26 86 percent of men include “having children” in their definition of success.  For women, that number is only 73 percent.

#27 One survey of 50-year-old men in the U.S. found that only 12 percent of them said that they were “very happy”.

#28 The United States has 845 motor vehicles for every 1,000 people.  Japan only has 593 for every 1,000 people, and Germany only has 540 for every 1,000 people.

#29 The average American spends more than 10 hours a day using an electronic device.

#30 48 percent of all Americans do not have any emergency supplies in their homes whatsoever.

#31 There are three towns in the United States that have the name “Santa Claus“.

#32 There is actually a town in Michigan called “Hell“.

#33 There are 60,000 miles of blood vessels in your body.  If they were stretched out in a single line, they could go around the planet more than twice.

Posted in General | 8 Comments

Study by Physicians for Social Responsibility: US Wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan have Killed 1.3 Million – Conservative Estimate

Physicians for Social Responsibility has released a new study on US war against the Middle East:

“This investigation comes to the conclusion that the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, i.e. a total of around 1.3 million. Not included in this figure are further war zones such as Yemen. The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware of and propagated by the media and major NGOs. And this is only a conservative estimate. The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely.”

The report also notes that the  2006 study by The Lancet, which found that, due to the illegal invasion of Iraq, “655,000 people had died” by that time, was “the most meticulous of all” of the studies that have been done previously.

Further:

“There is probably no other war that has seen such a fierce and drawn-out controversy surrounding the number of its victims. One main reason for this is the lack of legitimacy for the U.S.-led attack on Iraq – even in the U.S. itself. The original pretexts for going to war quickly turned out to be spurious, and from then on only the “liberation of the country from a violent dictatorship” and the “democratization” and “stabilization” of Iraq remained as justification for the war and occupation. This picture, laboriously constructed with the help of the media, is of course impossible to reconcile with the many hundreds of thousands of war casualties.”

“…mainstream media … only quote figures given by the pro-U.S. administration in Iraq or by the project Iraq Body Count…”

“The numbers relayed by the media (previously 43,000 and now 110,000) should in themselves be terrifying enough, as they correspond to the annihilation of an entire city’s population. But apparently they are still perceived as tolerable and, moreover, even easy to explain given the picture of excessive religiously motivated violence. The figure of 655,000 deaths in the first three war years alone, however, clearly points to a crime against humanity approaching genocide. Had this been understood and recognized by the public at large, the Iraq policy of the U.S. and its European allies would not have been tenable for long.”

“A poll carried out by the Associated Press (AP) two years ago found that, on average, U.S. citizens believe that only 9,900 Iraqis were killed during the occupation. With such distorted figures, outrage about the war is hardly to be expected. This state of affairs could be very different if the public were made aware that the actual number is likely to be more than a hundred times higher.

(Noam Chomsky observes on this point: What if Germans thought only 60,000 Jews [100 times less than the actual number] had been killed by the Nazis?  Then we might perceive there was a slight problem with German society.)

The report. 

Physicians for Social Responsibility won the Nobel Prize in 1985.

Reporter and UK-based colleague on Twitter

Posted in General, Politics / World News | 3 Comments

Top 10 Reasons Bill Maher Is Not “Our Best Weapon Against ISIS”

10. This sort of argument for debunking Islam in the media as the best way to “defeat” ISIS/ISIL misses the fact that ISIS recruits from the United States make up almost certainly much less than 1% of recruits, so that 99% of the problem, even on its own terms, remains completely unsolved.

9. Even if failure to expose Islam and other religions as ancient myths lacking basis in reality were a significant cause of people joining ISIS, it would not approach the primary cause without which ISIS would not exist, namely U.S. violence in the Middle East. Explaining to would-be ISIS martyrs that there aren’t really 72 virgins and isn’t really a heaven couldn’t possibly do as much to reduce ISIS recruitment as explaining to active and would-be members of the U.S. military that arming and bombing and drone-striking distant lands doesn’t actually protect the United States but rather generates so much hostility against it that groups like ISIS produce full-length films imploring the U.S. military to attack it.

8. Of course religion is often a huge part of what motivates members of the U.S. military as well. Congressman Sam Johnson has introduced the “Preserve and Protect God in Military Oaths Act of 2015,” to force cadets at the Air Force Academy to say “so help me God” in their oaths. Ted Cruz just announced his campaign for the U.S. presidency at Liberty University, where students learn to drone-murder for Jesus. What is “our best weapon” against that?

7. U.S. recruits to ISIS enamored of Muslim martyrdom could just as well have risked their lives preaching Islam in Alabama. Why choose to risk their lives attacking U.S. troops? The reason is not simply a variety of Islam. Rather it is alienation from the United States. Anwar Al-Awlaki was plenty Muslim when he supported U.S. wars. It was U.S. racism, bigotry, brutality, and militarism that drove him into opposition to the U.S. — which tragically took the form of advocating violence.

6. Bill Maher pushes racism and bigotry, even concentration camps. The idea that such attitudes are the best response to Islamic hostility and violence is outrageously naive. Were Maher advocating inclusiveness and community at home and abroad, I might take seriously the idea that he was helping.

5. Who is the group to which “Our” is applied in the phrase “our best weapon”? As a human I want an answer to ISIS that works for people in the United States, Europe, Iraq, Syria, and the rest of that region, including Sunnis, and including members of ISIS. The idea that a new war on ISIS is going to repair the damage of the previous wars, which created ISIS, is sadly delusional (but if it leads President Obama to make peace with Iran, I’ll take that result gratefully).

4. What is the “weapon” in “our best weapon”? When speech is understood as a weapon it ceases to be useful as speech. Religion is declining in the West and even in the United States, but thinking of those still clinging to it as wartime enemies is exactly the wrong way to advance that process. Thinking of an actual war that has numerous motivations as a struggle over religious beliefs will, likely as not, cause those sympathetic to one side or the other to adopt those beliefs or to hold them more firmly.

3. Highlighting stories of a small number of would-be U.S. recruits is propaganda aimed at instilling fear and suggesting a local presence and an actual threat from what is after all a small and very distant group of people.

2. Such propaganda hides actual motivations and causes. Causes hidden include: past wars on Iraq, sectarian divisions created by those wars, poverty and desperation, regional power grabs, international power grabs, the flow of weapons into the region (largely from the United States), the brutality and cruelty and incompetence of the government of Iraq, the weapons and trainers provided by the United States to the “moderate” groups that cease to be moderate or that surrender to those that are not. Motivations include: rage, hunger, fear, the desire for revenge, the desire to see the United States leave the region, the desire to achieve power or safety or riches, the profit motives of the weapons sellers and oil barons, and the belief that violence can be used to end violence.

1. Hiding the primary problems keeps us from seeing the primary solutions. Each of these steps would work wonders compared to telling U.S. television viewers that Islam isn’t true: Ceasing to ship weapons to the region; urging an arms embargo on all parties; negotiating a ceasefire with all regional parties including Iran and Russia; sending in a major contingent of nonviolent peaceworkers and human shields, independent journalists, aid workers, and nonviolent activist trainers; providing reparations and aid on a Marshall Plan scale; negotiating a WMD-free Middle East. If those steps were being taken well, I’d be all for finding time to critique religions.

Posted in General | 5 Comments

Tunisian Terror Attack Suspects Trained In U.S. “Liberated” Libya

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

Libya has turned into a complete and total disaster zone/terrorist training camp ever since America and its allies decided to liberate it. While certainly not perfect under Qaddafi, it was an infinitely better place before NATO intervention than after. Not only that, but the entire justification for the “freedom” delivered to it by Western powers was, naturally, based on lies and propaganda. I covered this last month in the post, The Forgotten War – Understanding the Incredible Debacle Left Behind by NATO in Libya. Here’s an excerpt:

In retrospect, Obama’s intervention in Libya was an abject failure, judged even by its own standards. Libya has not only failed to evolve into a democracy; it has devolved into a failed state. Violent deaths and other human rights abuses have increased severalfold. Rather than helping the United States combat terrorism, as Qaddafi did during his last decade in power, Libya now serves as a safe haven for militias affiliated with both al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). The Libya intervention has harmed other U.S. interests as well: undermining nuclear nonproliferation, chilling Russian cooperation at the UN, and fueling Syria’s civil war.?

As bad as Libya’s human rights situation was under Qaddafi, it has gotten worse since NATO ousted him. Immediately after taking power, the rebels perpetrated scores of reprisal killings, in addition to torturing, beating, and arbitrarily detaining thousands of suspected Qaddafi supporters. The rebels also expelled 30,000 mostly black residents from the town of Tawergha and burned or looted their homes and shops, on the grounds that some of them supposedly had been mercenaries. Six months after the war, Human Rights Watch declared that the abuses “appear to be so widespread and systematic that they may amount to crimes against humanity.”?

As a consequence of such pervasive violence, the UN estimates that roughly 400,000 Libyans have fled their homes, a quarter of whom have left the country altogether. ?

Unfortunately, the “failure” in Libya has now creeped into its neighbors’ backyards.

From the AP:

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — The two gunmen who killed 21 people at a museum in Tunis trained in neighboring Libya before carrying out the deadly attack and were known to authorities, Tunisian security officials said Friday.

The attack at the National Bardo Museum Wednesday has raised concerns about the spread of extremism in North Africa and particularly in Tunisia — the only country to emerge from the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings with a functioning democracy.

Spread of extremism in North Africa, brought to you by NATO.

In the country’s capital Tunis, hundreds citizens on Friday thronged the main avenue where demonstrators overthrew dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali four years ago, celebrating independence day in defiance of the attacks that left 17 cruise ship tourists dead.

Some danced draped in Tunisian flags and others held aloft hand-written signs that read “JeSuisBardo” for “I am Bardo,” a slogan that has captured attention as an anti-terrorism rallying cry on social media.

“We are here to say ‘no’ to terrorism,” said Astal Marwen, a 19-year-old political science and law student, at the rally. “The attackers are part of a small minority, and they have the wrong conception of what Islam is.”

Gotta hand it to the Tunisians. They should thank their blessings they’ve thus far avoided America’s freedom bombs.

The attackers slipped out of the country in December and received weapons training in Libya which is awash in well-armed militias fighting for control, said Rafik Chelli, a top official in the Interior Ministry in a TV interview late Thursday.

The Islamic State group, based in Iraq and Syria, has claimed responsibility for the Bardo attack. Several well-armed groups in Libya have pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State.

As I noted on Twitter the other day:

Posted in Politics / World News | 1 Comment

If the U.S. Sends Weapons to Ukraine, “the EU Will Break Up … and the American Century Will Have Ended In Shame, Disgrace and Defeat”

Is the U.S. Digging Its Own Grave?

In response to the news that the U.S. House of Representatives has just voted to send weapons to Ukraine, guest writer Eric Zuesse sent me the following email:

My guess is that if Obama sends weapons [to Ukraine], then the EU will break up, and the U.S. will have, as remaining European allies, only Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and maybe two or three other small nations. The Donbass military (as it now is), will, I think, nonetheless win against the third invasion from Ukraine; and Putin and his ally China will also have, as new allies, Japan and South Korea, and much of Europe, and maybe even including Australia and UK; and the American Century will have ended in shame, disgrace and defeat, without any nuclear war (which would be pointless, even for America’s psychopathic aristocrats). So: I am more optimistic than Paul Craig Roberts and some others are.

I think that the U.S. aristocracy are shocking other nations’ aristocracies at how evil they are, and that this will cause those others to distrust the U.S. aristocrats so much, that the American Empire will end in shame, disgrace, defeat, humiliation, and collapse. I think that this collapse will be unprecedented in world history. But for me, this was decisive in making me as optimistic as I now am. (However, I have been optimistic, though less so, ever since the end of June, which was when Obama lost the first Ukrainian war of invasion against Donbass.)

What do you think?

Posted in Politics / World News | 23 Comments

Why I Oppose War With Iran

War with Iran Would Be Disastrous

Israeli prime minister Netanyahu and a number of U.S. Congress members warn that peace with Iran would be catastrophic.

Are they right?

We think the mullahs in Iran are assholes (we also think fundamentalist Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Jews are assholes). In fact, most Iranians are moderates who don’t like how fundamentalist the mullahs are.

But Iran isn’t the danger the hawks would have you believe …

Let’s look at the facts:

  • Contrary to widespread claims, there is that Iran is building a nuclear weapon.  Even Israel that Iran has not decided to build a nuclear bomb.
  • The U.S. helped fund Iran’s nuclear program

  • that Iran poses very little threat to the West or Israel . Top American and Israeli military and intelligence officials say that – even if Iran did build a nuclear bomb – it would not be that dangerous, because Israel and America have so many more nukes. And see this
  • The U.S. armed and supported Iraq after it invaded Iran and engaged in a long, bloody war which included the use of chemical weapons. Here is former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld meeting with Saddam Hussein in the 1980’s, several months after Saddam had used chemical weapons in a massacre:

  • The CIA admits that the U.S. overthrew the moderate, suit-and-tie-wearing, Democratically-elected prime minister of Iran in 1953. He was overthrown because he had nationalized Iran’s oil, which had previously been controlled by BP and other Western oil companies. As part of that action, the CIA admits that it hired Iranians to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its prime minister
  • Hawks in the U.S. government been pushing for another round of regime change in Iran for decades
  • The people pushing for war against Iran are the same people who pushed for war against Iraq, and said it would be a “cakewalk”. See this and this
  • If the U.S. hadn’t overthrown the moderate Iranian government, the fundamentalist Mullahs would have never taken over. (Moreover, the U.S. has had a large hand in strengthening radical Islam in the Middle East by supporting radicals to fight the Soviets and others)
Posted in Politics / World News | 6 Comments

The Only Truly Compliant, Submissive Citizen in a Police State Is a Dead One

By John Whitehead, constitutional and human rights attorney, and founder of the Rutherford Institute.

“Do exactly what I say, and we’ll get along fine. Do not question me or talk back in any way. You do not have the right to object to anything I may say or ask you to do, or ask for clarification if my demands are unclear or contradictory. You must obey me under all circumstances without hesitation, no matter how arbitrary, unreasonable, discriminatory, or blatantly racist my commands may be. Anything other than immediate perfect servile compliance will be labeled as resisting arrest, and expose you to the possibility of a violent reaction from me. That reaction could cause you severe injury or even death. And I will suffer no consequences. It’s your choice: Comply, or die.”— “‘Comply or Die’ policing must stop,” Daily KOS

Americans as young as 4 years old are being leg shackled, handcuffed, tasered and held at gun point for not being quiet, not being orderly and just being childlike—i.e., not being compliant enough.

Americans as old as 95 are being beaten, shot and killed for questioning an order, hesitating in the face of a directive, and mistaking a policeman crashing through their door for a criminal breaking into their home—i.e., not being submissive enough.

And Americans of every age and skin color are being taught the painful lesson that the only truly compliant, submissive and obedient citizen in a police state is a dead one.

It doesn’t matter where you live—big city or small town—it’s the same scenario being played out over and over again in which government agents, hyped up on their own authority and the power of their uniform, ride roughshod over the rights of the citizenry. In turn, Americans are being brainwashed into believing that anyone who wears a government uniform—soldier, police officer, prison guard—must be obeyed without question.

Franklin Graham, the heir to Billy Graham’s evangelical empire, offered up this “simple” piece of advice for “Blacks, Whites, Latinos, and everybody else” hoping to survive an encounter with the police:

Most police shootings can be avoided. It comes down to respect for authority and obedience. If a police officer tells you to stop, you stop. If a police officer tells you to put your hands in the air, you put your hands in the air. If a police officer tells you to lay down face first with your hands behind your back, you lay down face first with your hands behind your back. It’s as simple as that. Even if you think the police officer is wrong—YOU OBEY.

Clearly, Graham’s message resonated with a core group of Americans: almost 200,000 individuals “liked” the message on Facebook, with an astounding 83,000 fans sharing his words of advice with their own friends, none of whom seem to recall that Jesus Christ, whom they claim to follow and model their lives after, not only stood up to the police state of his day but was put to death for it.

It’s not just mainstream evangelicals who have been brainwashed into believing that a good citizen is a compliant citizen and that obedience will save us from the police state. In the wake of a grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer responsible for the choking death of Eric Garner, Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, declared:

“We have to teach our children, our sons and our daughters, no matter what they look like, to respect New York City police officers, teach them to comply with New York City police officers even if they think it’s unjust.”

Similarly, Officer Sunil Dutta of the Los Angeles Police Department advises:

If you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me.”

In other words, it doesn’t matter if you’re in the right, it doesn’t matter if a cop is in the wrong, it doesn’t matter if you’re being treated with less than the respect you deserve. If you want to emerge from a police encounter with your life and body intact, then you’d better comply, submit, obey orders, respect authority and generally do whatever a cop tells you to do.

In this way, the old police motto to “protect and serve” has become “comply or die.” As I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State and in my forthcoming book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, this is the unfortunate, misguided, perverse message being beaten, shot, tasered and slammed into our collective consciousness, and it is regrettably starting to take root.

Despite the growing number of criminal charges (ranging from resisting arrest and interference to disorderly conduct, obstruction, and failure to obey a police order) that get trotted out anytime a citizen voices discontent with the government or challenges or even questions the authority of the powers that be, the problems we’re experiencing in terms of police shootings have little to do with rebellion or belligerence or resistance.

Rather, the problem arises when compliance doesn’t happen fast enough to suit the police.

For instance, 15-year-old Jamar Nicholson was shot in the back by police after they spotted him standing next to a friend holding a toy gun. “Officers ordered the boy to drop the weapon multiple times,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “When he didn’t comply, one of the officers opened fire.”

Martese Johnson, a 20-year-old college student, unarmed and in the process of walking away from a bar where he’d just been denied entry for being underage, was tackled by police and had his head slammed to the ground and bloodied, allegedly for being intoxicated, belligerent and using a fake ID. Johnson, who it turns out was polite, had a legal ID and was not drunk, survived the encounter after 10 stitches to his head.

And then there was Christopher Lollie, who was tasered, arrested and charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct and obstruction of the legal process for refusing to identify himself to police while waiting to pick his children up from their daycare. Footage of the encounter shows Lollie asking, “Why do I have to let you know who I am? I don’t have to let you know who I am if I haven’t broken any laws.” The charges against Lollie were eventually dropped.

Nicholson, Johnson and Lollie aren’t the only Americans being taught a hard lesson about compliance at the end of a government-issued gun.

World War II veteran John Wrana, 95 years old, dependent on a walker to get around, and a resident of an assisted living center, was rushed by five police officers—one with a Taser and riot shield, others with handguns and a 12-gauge Mossberg pump shotgun—after refusing treatment for a urinary tract infection and brandishing a shoehorn. One of the officers, allegedly fearing for his safety, fired multiple beanbag rounds at Wrana at close range, who bled to death from internal injuries.

James Howard Allen, 74 years old and recovering at home from a surgery, was shot and killed by police who were asked by family members to do a welfare check on him. When police crashed through the man’s back door, they found Allen, perhaps having just awoken and fearing a burglary, armed with a gun.

These shootings and deaths, and many more like them, constitute a drop in the proverbial bucket when it comes to police killing unarmed American citizens, and yet you’d be hard-pressed to find exact numbers for how many unarmed citizens are killed by police every year. Indeed, while police go to great lengths to document how many police are killed in the line of duty, police agencies aren’t actually required to report the number of times police officers engage in homicide. Suffice it to say, however, that the numbers are significantly underreported.

One website estimates that police kill on average three citizens a day in the United States. In 2014, 1100 individuals were killed by police in the U.S. That’s 70 times more than other first-world nations, and almost 20 times more than the number of U.S. troops killed in the same year in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Rarely are these officers given more than a slap on the wrist. More often than not, they operate with impunity, are shielded from justice by the governmental bureaucracy, and are granted qualified immunity by the courts.

A recent report by the Justice Department on police shootings in Philadelphia, which boasts the fourth largest police department in the country, found that half of the unarmed people shot by police over a seven-year span were “shot because the officer saw something (like a cellphone) or some action (like a person pulling at the waist of their pants) and misidentified it as a threat.”

Now it’s one thing for those who back the police—no matter what the circumstance—to insist that if you just obey a police officer, you’ll be safe. But what happens when compliance isn’t enough?

What happens if you play it safe, comply and do whatever a police officer tells you to do, don’t talk back, don’t threaten, and don’t walk away—in other words, don’t do anything that even hints at resistance—and still, you find yourself staring down the wrong end of a government agent’s gun? After all, the news is riddled with reports of individuals who didn’t resist when confronted by police and still got tasered, tackled or shot simply because they looked at police in a threatening manner or moved in a way that made an officer “fear” for his safety.

For instance, Levar Jones, pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt, was shot after complying with a police officer’s order to retrieve his license. The trooper justified his shooting of the unarmed man by insisting that Jones reached for his license “aggressively.”

What more could Jones or anyone have done to protect himself in that situation? How does a citizen protect himself against a police officer’s tendency to shoot first and ask questions later, oftentimes based only on their highly subjective “feeling” of being threatened?

The short answer is you can’t.

The assurance of safety in exchange for compliance is a false, misguided doctrine that has us headed towards a totalitarian regime the likes of which the world has seen before.

Rest assured, if we just cower before government agents and meekly obey, we’ll find ourselves repeating history. However, history also shows us a different path, one that involves standing up and speaking truth to power. Jesus Christ walked that road. So did Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and countless other freedom fighters whose actions changed the course of history.

Indeed, had Christ merely complied with the Roman police state, there would have been no crucifixion and no Christian religion. Had Gandhi meekly fallen in line with the British Empire’s dictates, the Indian people would never have won their independence. Had Martin Luther King Jr. obeyed the laws of his day, there would have been no civil rights movement. And if the founding fathers had marched in lockstep with royal decrees, there would have been no American Revolution.

The long answer, therefore, is that we must adopt a different mindset and follow a different path if we are to alter the outcome of these interactions with police.

No matter what path you follow, it will be fraught with peril. America is in the midst of a nervous breakdown, brought about by prolonged exposure to the American police state, and there are few places that are safe anymore.

A good test is this: if you live in a community that has welcomed the trappings of the police state with open arms (surveillance cameras, forced DNA extractions, Stingray devices, red light cameras, private prisons, etc.), all the while allowing its police forces to militarize, weaponize and operate beyond the reach of the Constitution, then you don’t live in a democratic republic—you live in a microcosm of the American police state.

If you have no real say in how your local law enforcement operates, if the only oversight of police actions is carried out by fellow officers, if any attempt to criticize the police is edited out or not covered by your local newspaper or TV station, drowned out by your fellow citizens, or intimidated into silence by your local police, then you have no recourse when it comes to police abuses.

Finally, if, despite having done nothing wrong, you feel nervous during a police encounter, you fear doing or saying the wrong thing in front of an officer will get you shot, and your local police dress and act like extensions of the military and treat you like a suspect, then it’s safe to say that you are not the one holding the upper hand in the master-servant relationship anymore.

This is the death rattle of the American dream, which was built on the idea that no one is above the law, that our rights are inalienable and cannot be taken away, and that our government and its appointed agents exist to serve us.

Posted in Politics / World News | 1 Comment

U.S.-v.-Russia: Even Stephen Cohen Is Starting to Speak the Truth

Eric Zuesse

An alarming development is that Stephen F. Cohen, the internationally prominent scholar of Russia, is acknowledging that (1:35 on the video) “for the first time in my long life (I began in this field in the 1960s), I think the possibility of war with Russia is real,” and he clearly and unequivocally places all of the blame for it on the U.S. leadership. He calls this “possibly a fateful turning-point in history.” He also says “it could be the beginning of the end of the so-called trans-Atlantic alliance.”

He goes on to say (2:20): “This problem began in the 1990s, when the Clinton Administration adopted a winner-take-all policy toward post-Soviet Russia … Russia gives, we take. … This policy was adopted by the Clinton Administration but is pursued by every [meaning both] political party, every President, every American Congress, since President Clinton, to President Obama. This meant that the United States was entitled to a sphere or zone of influence as large as it wished, right up to Russia’s borders, and Russia was entitled to no sphere of influence, at all, not even in Georgia, … or in Ukraine (with which Russia had been intermarried for centuries).”

He also speaks clearly about the misrepresentations of Putin by the American Government, and he clearly states (5:25): “He’s more European than 99% of other Russians.”

Regarding Ukraine (5:45): “Since November of 2013, Putin has been not aggressive, but reactive, at every stage.”

Regarding, in America, the effective unanimity of allowed scholarly and media opinions to the contrary of the actual facts, (and this is the most startling thing of all, so you might want to go straight to it, at 7:05): “This is an unprecedented situation in American politics. … This is exceedingly dangerous, and this is a failure of American democracy. Why it happened, I am not sure.”

He condemns (7:30) “this extraordinarily irrational [non] factual demonization of Putin … and this too is hard to explain.”

Europe (8:40): “Now things have begun to change. Europe is splitting on this.” He acknowledges “Crimea is not coming back [to Ukraine],” and urges “a Ukraine — and this is what the dispute began over — free to trade with Russia and with the West.” And, “no membership in NATO for Ukraine. … This has to be in writing. No more oral promises such as they gave to Gorbachev. And it has to be ratified by the United Nations.”

Regarding Obama (13:00): “I have never seen an American President make such personal remarks about a Russian leader [Putin] in public.”

Regarding the existing Ukrainian Government (14:10): “This is not a democratic regime. … Unless the West stops supporting Kiev unconditionally, I fear we are drifting toward war with Russia.”

WOW! When even a word-mincer such as he, is stating that the U.S. Government is seeking to conquer Russia, that is news!

He doesn’t even so much as mention the Ukrainian Government’s war to eliminate the residents in the resisting region (Donbass — Ukraine’s far-east). There is still a lot of the ugliness that he covers up: Obama’s having installed these genocidally anti-Russian nazis into power, the IMFs subservience to the Obama regime, the failure of European leaders to state flat-out that this American establishment of a nazi regime in Europe (Ukraine) is disgusting and will receive no cooperation whatsoever from them.

But it’s a lot better than Cohen’s earlier mealy-mouthed statements. And what it shows to all of us is that he is now truly alarmed. Having started out by condemning “American hawks” regarding Ukraine, he has finally come to condemning specifically both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — two Democratic Party Presidents — and saying that democracy in America might itself already be gone, and that the end of civilization might be the result from all of this. 

Which ought to alarm us all.

Things are so scary now, that even he is beginning to come close to saying publicly (to whatever small public the U.S. aristocracy will allow him to be heard) that America’s corruption at the top is threatening the continued existence of civilization.

Implicit in his statements is that there is massive and systematic censorship and warping of the truth on the part of America’s aristocrats.

Regarding the reason why Cohen had not previously been so alarmed and truth-telling about the Ukrainian situation, he provided a hint in this lecture — a lecture to a group of European scholars:

He said (7:55): “We thought, some of us [Americans] when we got together and talked in 2014, that you would come to our rescue — ‘you’ I mean Europe — … we thought that Europe being part of the same history as Russia, closer to Russia, economically embedded in Russia to an extent that the United States isn’t, would put an end to this crisis. But instead most countries in the EU went along with Washington’s policies.”

In other words: He (and, evidently, his friends) ignored the evidence, such as this and this and this, all of which atrocities Obama supported and his White House was even personally implicated in, which indicated that Obama was hard-charging into conquering Russia, and was using Ukraine as the proxy-state to make it happen, and had used Ukraine’s nazis as his Ukrainian Government’s spearhead, specifically because Ukraine’s nazis fanatically hate Russians and want them dead.

Elsewhere in his talk, Cohen said (12:45) that Obama is “a weak foreign-policy leader.” This is like Hitler-supporter David Irving’s similarly explaining Hitler’s bad decisions by saying that Hitler was a “weak leader who was taken advantage of by his advisors.” Cohen (and presumably also his friends) are like that about Obama: they simply refuse to consider the evidence that the man is evil — they ignore it; they don’t want to see it.

Consequently, with such naivete about power, they were expecting people such as this to block Obama. They shoved responsibility off onto Europeans. In other words: Cohen (and his friends) are blind to the ugliness in their own sty, because they want to be.

Maybe before people like that open their eyes to what’s happening, eveybody will be turned to nuclear char, and so such liberals won’t even need to suffer disillusionment about the world in which they have lived.

Relying upon liberals to protect the world from fascists or even nazis, always fails. But that’s all the aristocracy will even allow onto the field, at all (at least in America). Progressives, people who acknowledge the reality, are portrayed simply as being kooks.

———-

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, and of Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.

Posted in Business / Economics, General, Politics / World News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Israel Spies On U.S. Negotiations With Iran, Gives Info to Congressmen Trying to Block a Deal … The BIGGER Picture

Of Course Israel Was Spying On U.S. Negotiations With Iran

It is – rightfully – front-page news that Israel was caught spying on the closed-door negotiations between the U.S. and Iran.

And the Obama administration is particularly outraged that Israel allegedly shared that information with Republican congressmen who want to stop any peaceful deal with Iran.

This is certainly outrageous … but small, in the grand scheme of things.

Why?

Because Israeli spying on America is so rampant that U.S. officials have labeled it “alarming, even terrifying”.

And because the U.S. has only half-heartedly asked Israel to stop … Israel has told the U.S. to pound sand.

As if that isn’t bad enough, the NSA voluntarily shares the raw data it collects on American citizens with Israel.

This includes raw data on U.S. government officials.   This not only raises major privacy concerns for American citizens, but it might mean that Israel is spying on the American Congress and other high-level politicians.

Indeed, leaked NSA documents show that U.S. intelligence officials are concerned that the NSA may be putting Israel’s security needs ahead of America’s.

Moreover, top NSA officials have told Washington’s Blog that mass surveillance by the NSA is really aimed at blackmail. And see this.

Indeed, 5,000 years of history shows that spying on one’s own people is always aimed at crushing dissent.  (Incidentally, opposing unnecessary, costly wars – such as war against Iran – is treated as terrorism and unacceptable dissent.)

But it’s not just Americans … America’s spy apparatus also helps foreign governments – like Israel – crush dissent by citizens in their countries.

Indeed, spying is really a power grab.  As Snowden accurately said:

These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.

Posted in Politics / World News | 2 Comments

Orwell and Kafka Do America: How the Government Steals Your Money–“Legally,” Of Course

Due process and rule of law have been replaced with “legalized” looting by government in America.

Did you know that the government of Iran steals your cash if they find more than loose change in your car? They don’t arrest you for any crime, for the simple reason you didn’t commit any crime; but it isn’t about crime and punishment–it’s about“legalizing” theft by the state.

So the government toadies don’t charge you with a crime or arrest you–they just steal your money.

Pity the poor Iranian people–clearly, there is no rule of law to protect them from their predatory, rapacious, fake-democracy, quasi-totalitarian government.

Did you also know that if you deposit too much money in modest sums, the government of Iran steals all your deposits? They will claim–oh, the twisted logic of Orwellian, repressive governments–that you are obviously a drug dealer who is avoiding laws that require banks to report large deposits to the government.

Once again, you won’t be charged with a crime–in true Orwellian fashion the suspicion that you may have committed a crime is sufficient reason to steal your cash. Pity the poor Iranian people, living in such a banana-republic kleptocracy.

Did you also know that if you are caught with any drug paraphernalia in your vehicle, the government of Iran steals your vehicle? The crime isn’t a drug crime–it’s a property crime: what are you doing with the government of Iran’s vehicle?

Pity the poor Iranian people, living in a Kafkaesque nightmare where suspicion alone justifies the government stealing from its citizens, and an unrelated crime (possessing drug paraphernalia) is used to justify state theft.

As in a Kafkaesque nightmare, the state is above the law when it needs an excuse to steal your car or cash. There is no crime, no arrest, no due process–just the state thugs threatening that you should shut up and be happy they don’t take everything you own.

Your car and cash are guilty–and your house, too.

Alas, dear reader, I have misled you. It is not the Iranian government that uses these tricks to steal from its people–it is the U.S. government that uses these above-the-law excuses to blatantly steal from its citizens. I presented these Orwellian, Kafkaesque travesties of the rule of law as being Iranian so you would see them for what they are–the actions of an above-the-law, predatory state which falsely claims to be a democracy with a functioning judiciary.

All these forms of civil forfeiture in America are well documented:

Taken: Under civil forfeiture, Americans who haven’t been charged with wrongdoing can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes. Is that all we’re losing?

Stop and Seize (six parts)

I strongly recommend reading every word of these articles before you start spouting nonsense about what a great and glorious government and legal system we have here in America.

After six years of gorging on the ill-gotten civil forfeiture gains of kleptocratic local government mafias, the Attorney General of the U.S., Eric Holder, recently announced that the federal government would no longer be taking its 20% share of the pounds of flesh stripped from the bones of U.S. citizens.

As my old African-American foreman F.B. would say: that’s awful white of you, Eric, after feasting on the billions of dollars stolen from Americans for six long years. The same can be said of President Obama, who has ignored the officially sanctioned thievery by government thugs and toadies for six long years.

Why Eric Holder’s civil forfeiture decision won’t stop civil forfeiture abuse

This is how Orwell and Kafka do America: each absurd justification for stealing private property is more outrageous than the next.

But wait–there’s More! That bastion of liberal politics, the state of California, a state completely dominated by Democrats claiming the cherished mantle of Progressive, is undoubtedly the most rapacious, thieving, Kafkaesque government in any nation claiming to be a democracy.

As I have documented in detail, the mere suspicion that you might owe the state of California some tax is enough for the state to steal all the money it finds in any of your bank accounts. And in a fashion that would have made the NKVD of the former Soviet Union proud, you also have to pay the bank a $100 (or more) fee for stealing your money for the state of California. (At least in some accounts, you had to pay for the bullet the NKVD would put in the back of your head.)

After they take all your money, you can call the state tax office and listen to a recording. If you have any money left, you can spend it trying to prove your own innocence, since the state of California already declared you guilty without any evidence or due process.

Welcome to the Predatory State of California–Even If You Don’t Live There (March 20, 2012)

The Predatory State of California, Part 2 (March 21, 2012)

Welcome to the United States of Orwell, Part 2: Law-Abiding Taxpayers Are Treated as Criminals While the Real Criminals Go Free (March 27, 2012)

When the state steals our cash or car on mere suspicion, you have no recourse other than horrendously costly and time-consuming legal actions. So you no longer have enough money to prove your innocence now that we’ve declared your car and cash guilty?

Tough luck, bucko–be glad you live in a fake democracy with a fake rule of law, a fake judiciary, and a government of thugs with the officially sanctioned right to steal your money and possessions without any due process or court proceedings.

Be glad we don’t have to torture a confession out of you, like the NKVD/KGB did in the former Soviet Union, because your cash and car are already guilty.

And that’s how Orwell and Kafka work in America–a nation that once was a democracy and could once claim to live under rule of law. Wake up and smell the stench of a gilded gulag, America; we’re living in one whether you care to admit it or not.

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America’s Colombian “Drug War” Herbicide Linked to Cancer. US Continues to Push World’s Most Lethal Drug: Tobacco

The Associated Press reports that “the world’s most-popular weed killer” has been discovered to be “a likely cause of cancer”:

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a French-based research arm of the World Health Organization, has reclassified the herbicide glyphosate as a result of what it said is convincing evidence the chemical produces cancer in lab animals and more limited findings it causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in humans.

the glyphosate-containing herbicide Roundup [made by Monsanto] is a mainstay of industrial agriculture.

This has implications, AP continues, for the US “aerial spraying program in Colombia”:

[A] fumigation program, which is financed by the U.S. and partly carried out by American contractors [has sprayed] 4 million acres of land in the past two decades to kill coca plants, whose leaves are used to produce cocaine.

Colombia’s left likens [the program] to the U.S. military’s use of the Agent Orange herbicide during the Vietnam War.

In 2013, Colombia agreed to pay Ecuador $15 million to settle a lawsuit over economic and human damage tied to spraying along the countries’ border.

The US government has stated:

…damage to the environment and health risks from production of cocaine far outweigh the adverse effects of aerial eradication.

And, AP notes:

…the spraying program is operating as usual.

As the spraying of Colombia with known likely carcinogens is being carried out due to purported US hand-wringing over the adverse effects of drugs on humans, the US continues to push the world’s most lethal drug, tobacco:

The United States is consistently the world’s number 4 producer of tobacco.

In 2002, the US Department of Agriculture recorded that that US was the world’s number 2 exporter of tobacco, and that was after a steep decline in US exports, as noted below.

A report to Congress on “U.S. Tobacco Production, Consumption, and Export Trends” finds:

exports 1

exports 2

The report notes that US share of global tobacco exports has declined in recent years, but this only a “problem” for US manufacturers, not US cigarette corporations themselves, as they are simply shipping their manufacturing overseas:

The apparent lack of competitiveness of domestic cigarette manufacturers may be more of a problem for U.S. growers than for the manufacturers. Philip Morris, the largest domestic manufacturer is addressing the problem by acquiring foreign manufacturing plants. These foreign operations will likely be the source of cigarettes supplying the growing global demand for American-style cigarettes. As anecdotal evidence, Philip Morris claims in its 2002 Annual Report to stockholders a 3.5% increase in sales from its international operations. That increase pushed Philip Morris International’s total shipments (non-U.S.) to 723.1 billion cigarettes. In contrast, total U.S. output was 565 billion (22% less than Philip Morris off-shore production), and U.S. exports declined 5%.

The US uses its position of dominance to forcefully push its lethal drugs on weaker countries, including its “allies”:

A research paper on Tobacco Control reports:

The US Cigarette Export Association (USCEA), an association of US tobacco companies, successfully utilised the 1984 amendments to Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act to enlist cooperation of the executive branch of the US government in threatening trade sanctions against countries in Asia where quotas, high tariffs, high retail taxes, and advertising and distribution restrictions on tobacco were alleged to unfairly limit the markets for US tobacco products.13 The challenge was especially harmful to youth and women, who had historically low rates of cigarette smoking. A Goverment Accountability Office study showed that smoking among South Korean male teens rose from 18.4% to 29.8% in a single year, and quintupled among teen women, rising from 1.6 to 8.7%.

The World Health Organization reports that tobacco is a:

Leading cause of death, illness, and impoverishment

The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing nearly six million people a year. More than five million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while more than 600 000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. Approximately one person dies every six seconds due to tobacco, accounting for one in 10 adult deaths. Up to half of current users will eventually die of a tobacco-related disease.

Tobacco users who die prematurely deprive their families of income, raise the cost of health care and hinder economic development.

Tobacco caused 100 million deaths in the 20th century.

If current trends continue, it may cause one billion deaths in the 21st century.

Unchecked, tobacco-related deaths will increase to more than eight million per year by 2030.

Bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship [like the ones the US uses threats to prevent, as noted above] can reduce tobacco consumption.

These alarming findings suggest that Colombia should immediately enter the US “war on drugs” and start spraying the US with carcinogenic chemicals to kill the tobacco leaves that are used to produce cigarettes.  If Colombia can’t do it alone, perhaps an alliance of countries would be up to the task.  Clearly, the benefits would far outweigh the adverse effects of aerial eradication and, as AP reports, while the “left” and “leftists” in the US might be against it, the program would have the support of the center, the right, and the US government.

While Colombia is here spraying, they might want to hit US fast food corporations and some other institutions, as well.  Benefits will far outweigh the costs.

Author and UK-based colleague on Twitter.  Author is a contributor to Washington’s Blog and writes professionally for the film industry. 

Posted in Energy / Environment, General, Politics / World News, Science / Technology | 3 Comments

Intelligence Services Block Activists’ Emails … And Frame Them With Fake Emails

Is Big Brother Blocking Your Mail?

You send an email to a reporter saying that you’ve got proof of criminal wrongdoing by a government official … or a big bank.  You never receive a response.

Or you send an email to an expert on monetary policy asking if the Federal Reserve’s policies help the rich at the expense of the little guy … or an expert on radiation asking if the Fukushima accident might endanger public health.  You never receive a response.

This might be for any number of perfectly innocent reasons, including:

  • Your email ended up in their spam folder
  • They’re busy
  • They’re not interested enough to write back
  • They think you’re a bore or a crank

But there could be another explanation …

By way of background, China has blocked gmail for its citizens.

Yahoo blocked emails relating to the Occupy protests.

Bahrain uses British software that allows the government to frame political activists by creating messages from that person that they never typed.  35 other countries use the same software.

Tunisia monitored and blocked the emails of activists, so they were never delivered.  For example:

There is also technical surveillance whereby downloading or adding attachment to an email must go through a central server. Under the pretext of protecting public order and national security, a 1998 post and telecommunications law enables the authorities to intercept and check the content of email messages and in fact electronic surveillance such as filtering of email messages of government opponents have been reported.  Global Voices Advocacy Director and Tunisia Activist Sami Ben Gharbia conducted a test from the Netherlands with two Tunisia-based activists and confirmed by logging to their email accounts from the Netherland that what he sees is not what they receive when they login from Tunisia, and that they cannot access some of the messages they receive.

The Tunisian government used software from Western companies to block emails of political dissidents.

A prominent American political writer said that – if Tunisia is doing it – you can bet that Western countries are, as well.

Indeed, Snowden revealed that the British spy agency GCHQ has developed numerous offensive digital tools, including:

Ability to deny functionality to send/receive email or view material online.

***

Ability to spoof any email address and send email under that identity.

***

Mass delivery of email messaging to support an Information Operations campaign.

The potential for stifling dissent is staggering.

Posted in Politics / World News, Science / Technology | 7 Comments

IMF: Ukraine Must Now Steal $1.5B+ from Russia to Buy Arms

http://deutsche-wirtschafts-nachrichten.de/2015/03/24/iwf-ukraine-soll-seine-schulden-an-russland-nicht-zurueckzahlen/

IMF: Ukraine will not pay back [part of] its debts to Russia

German Economic News  |  Published: 03/24/15 00:25 clock [Translation, and interspersed notes, by Eric Zuesse.]

In December, a multi-billion-dollar loan [variously stated as $3-$3.5 billion] to Ukraine comes due, which Ukraine had received from Russia. The IMF has provided a new debt plan, however, dictating that existing loans to Ukraine that have an expiration-date are to be subjected to a haircut. Thus, the resource gap of the country totaling $40 billion is to be reduced.

Since the crisis, Ukraine has received several loans from the IMF and the EU [and the U.S.]. These loans must be repaid in a few years from now. However, the financial situation of the country remains vulnerable. Over the next four years overdue loans totaling $15 billion need to be paid [they’re mostly loans from Russia]. Only three billion of them are an old loan Russia that has to be paid in December of this year. The IMF might prevent it [from being repaid in full, even though it has seniority over the new loans that are coming from the West].

The IMF has developed a program for Ukraine, under which the current financial hole is to be filled in the amount $40 billion. The due debts [the senior debt] are part of the plan, and will be restructured, according to the IMF. Exactly how it is to happen, the IMF does not explain. Experts say that the IMF believes that Russia should participate in a haircut. The Financial Times reports [“Bailout projections indicate Ukraine will not repay Russia debt” 5:21 PM, 22 March 2015] that the IMF requires that Russia’s $3.5 billion bond issue be included in the restructuring. Charles Blitzer, a former IMF employee, has informed the FT of this.

However, Blitzer is uncertain how large the haircut will be. “It is up to the Ukrainian authorities to determine the extent and nature of the debt restructuring,” he said. [In other words: the IMF will grant Ukraine the right to determine how much of that $3-3.5B will be repaid to Russia. The Kyiv Post puts it this way: “Kyiv does not intend to fully repay a $3 billion bond owed to Russia this year according to official projections underpinning Ukraine’s new international bailout, say credit experts.”] Government sources close to the matter estimate that there will be a planned debt reduction of 50 percent. “But creditors would rather try to agree on a term extension,” said Blitzer.

Whether all international creditors will accept a haircut, and if so, to what extent, is not yet clear. Last week, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanow said that Russia still expects that the $3.5B debt will be repaid this December in full. And Franklin Templeton [Funds], the largest bondholder of Ukraine, has brought in Blackstone legal help for debt negotiations.

Last week, the Ukrainian Finance Minister [the American] Natalija Jaresko told the WSJ that so far pledged loans to Ukraine [$40B] will not be enough to bring Ukraine back onto its feet. “The package will stabilize the banking system, but it is not enough to seriously re-stimulate growth,” said Jaresko. “I need more support.” She said that no nation currently pays more to protect the entire world from a nuclear power [Russia] than does Ukraine, and that, “if our partners, for whatever reason, are not able to assist us with defensive military means, then they should provide us more financial assistance [so that we can buy the weapons against Russia ourselves].”

This past Friday, the Ukrainian central bank had to explain why three of Ukraine’s banks were being declared insolvent. The VAB Bank, Astra Bank and the City Commerce Bank are now deprived of their licenses. At the same time, Ukraine is already planning an expansion of military resources. In sum, for the year of 2015, a total of $3.8 billion will be spent on armaments. [This by a country that cannot even pay its bondholders, when all of the new Ukrainian bonds are actually paying only for Ukraine’s war against the residents of its own former Donbass region.]

———-

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, and of Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.

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5-minute video on US/UK war ‘leaders’: ‘Violent criminal psychopaths make fools of us. Stop acting reasonable about this.’

hat tip: Zen Gardener

Democracy Now interviewed Arundhati Roy in the above 5-minute interview; Roy speaks the Emperor’s New Clothes facts:

Are you thinking, speaking, and taking action for the psychopaths’ lawful arrests and/or Truth & Reconciliation (and here) for OBVIOUS War Crimes?

If not, how are you justifying your inaction to stop these war-murders?

If not, what is your “better idea”?

Note: Examiner.com has blocked public access to my articles on their site (and from other whistleblowers). If you’d like to search for those articles other sites may have republished, use words from the article title within the blocked link. Or, go to http://archive.org/web/, paste the expired link into the box, click “Browse history,” then click onto the screenshots of that page for each time it was screen-shot and uploaded to webarchive. Then switch the expired URLs with webarchived ones of that same information. I’ll update as “hobby time” allows; including my earliest work from 2009 to 2011 (blocked author pages: here, here).

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Who Left the Crash Window Open?

Can stocks keep hitting new highs even as sales and profits fall?

Given that we live in a world where a modest 3% decline in the stock market triggers panicky demands for more quantitative easing (QE 4), few observers expect much a correction, regardless of the souring fundamentals such as sales and profits.

A correspondent notified me of a Puetz “crash” window (based on the analysis of Stephen J. Puetz) opening in late March-early April. (Since I am not a subscriber to Puetz’s work, I can’t confirm this.) As I understand it, while these windows do not predict a crash/sharp correction, such moves tend to occur in these windows, which are based on cycles and events such as eclipses.

So I decided to look for any evidence that a sharp correction might be in the offing.

One classic precursor of corrections is weakening market leaders and narrowing of breadth/liquidity/volume. When leaders who pulled the index higher roll over, the index is usually not far behind.

Consider the chart of Apple, (AAPL), long the engine that has been pulling the indices higher for years. Apple’s chart is looking weak:

Another classic precursor of a decline is high levels of complacency, which is reflected in a low VIX or volatility index. When fear has been vanquished, the VIX declines to the 10-12 range. These levels reliably indicate market tops.

Interestingly, the VIX has been tracing out a descending wedge, a pattern that is usually bullish. (The VIX soars when stocks fall sharply and fear comes alive.)

The signs of a global slowdown are so plentiful that even the most ardent bulls should start feeling caution. Yet the central-bank-driven stock markets in the UK and Germany are hitting new highs, and the S&P 500 (SPX) in the US is within a few points of its all-time high.

But the S&P 500 is acting rather tired. Despite the declining VIX, the SPX has only managed a tepid 30-point gain in the past three months–months that are typically among the best in the calendar year for strong equity gains. This is characteristic not of a robust Bull trend but of a topping process–a process that typically takes several months to manifest.

Can stocks keep hitting new highs even as sales and profits fall? History suggests we’ve reached Peak Central Banking–the faith that central bank easing can push markets higher forever, regardless of fundamentals, has reached near-euphoric levels. Few fear a decline or an increase in volatility.

So it’s all smooth sailing even as the global economy slides into recession? That is a disconnect from reality that beggars belief.

Perhaps the VIX will soon awaken from its slumbers, reflecting a “surprise” plummet in stocks.


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Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy
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