Friday, April 29, 2011
How we've come full-circle.
commentary by Tony Cartalucci
Turban wearing cavemen were never what the "War on Terror" was about.
Many have said in the wake of 9/11 that the "War on Terror" was only temporarily reserved for the "Muslim extremists" but would soon include any nationality, religion, or demographic that stood in the way of the globalists' megalomaniacal designs. As we develop our knowledge of the real world around us, we begin to understand the key to real freedom - self-sufficiency and independence on a personal and local level. Realizing that real freedom also stands in the way of the globalists' designs, it was only inevitable that any attempt to become independent of their burgeoning world-spanning empire, would "make the list" of terroristic activities as well.
While it is easy to understand a narrative of terrorism that includes bomb-vest wearing foreigners infiltrating our cities and killing people on their way to work, it becomes increasingly difficult to understand as the definition of terrorism is shifted toward you and me. Recently, Zero Hedge reported on the FBI's conviction of Bernard von NotHaus, an American who was minting his own money. This was not counterfeited US currency, rather it was a private, competing currency backed with precious metals.
The FBI specifically mentioned "terrorism" in relation to Mr. von NotHaus's case.
“Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism,” U.S. Attorney Tompkins said in announcing the verdict. “While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country,” she added. “We are determined to meet these threats through infiltration, disruption, and dismantling of organizations which seek to challenge the legitimacy of our democratic form of government.”
However, the Federal Reserve note is not legitimate currency in any shape, form or way, legally, economically, or ideologically. The US Constitution has solely given Congress the duty to issue our nation's currency and set its value (Article 1 Section 8). This is not a duty the Congress can pawn off onto the Federal Reserve - a cartel of private banks. But just as US policy is now being created and purveyed by corporate think-tanks instead of our legislative branch, our monetary policy is being created and purveyed by private banks, not our Congress.
The threat von NotHaus posed was not to the US economy, nor the US Constitution, but rather to the corporations that have hijacked and monopolized them. By offering Americans an alternative to the private banking cartel's collapsing fiat currency, von NotHaus gave us an opportunity to entirely replace this corrupt system, become independent once again as a nation and restore the US Constitution.
Fake War on Terror expands into Fake War on Economic Terror
To help explain why we are terrorists for resisting receivership under crony-corporate fascism, there is News Corporation's Glenn Beck. News Corporation itself is a member of the corporate-financier run Council on Foreign Relations, with Fox News' Rupert Murdoch holding an individual membership as well.
Glenn Beck has recently sided with US Attorney Tompkins' decision, calling Bernard von NotHaus "misguided" and that what von NotHaus was doing was "illegal." Beck goes on to say that von NotHaus' idea of using sound currency based on tangible assets is "not the answer."
Beck then uses the zero tolerance exhibited by the Department of Justice as a call to action against SEIU's Steve Lerner who allegedly wants to usher in financial crisis by collapsing JP Morgan. If anyone is guilty of inciting economic terrorism, Glenn Beck postulates, it would be Steve Lerner.
Beck lays out how SEIU thugs, who he claims work for Obama, are going to take
down JP Morgan and the "American economy." Beck fails to mention that by
"American economy" he means the banking oligarchy that has entirely hijacked
it, and whose henchmen run Obama's administration from top to bottom.
Those keeping tabs on Glenn Beck's gibbering disinformation might remember him claiming that the SEIU are thugs working for America's political "left," specifically Obama's administration. To a point he is right, the SEIU clearly has served Obama's administration. However, when we consider that every aspect of Obama's administration is dictated by corporate think-tanks with memberships including the world's largest corporations and personalities from both sides of America's political spectrum, the "left conspiracy" Beck speaks of begins to fall apart.
A partial look at the mountain of lost humanity that constitutes Obama's administration reveals that corporate interests are well represented, with a disproportional amount of financiers involved in "advising" Obama. If ever there was a team poised to stop the economic terrorism Obama's SEIU thugs are about to unleash, it would be Obama's administration itself.
Timothy Geithner (Secretary of the Treasury): Group of 30, Council on Foreign Relations, private Federal Reserve
Eric Holder (Attorney General): Covington & Burling lobbying for Merck and representing Chiquita International Brands in lawsuits brought by relatives of people killed by Colombian terrorists.
Eric Shinseki (Secretary of Veteran Affairs): US Army, Council on Foreign Relations, Honeywell director (military contractor), Ducommun director (military contractor).
Rahm Emanuel (former Chief of Staff): Freddie Mac
William Daley (Chief of Staff): JP Morgan executive committee member
Susan Rice (UN Ambassador): McKinsey and Company, Brookings Institute, Council on Foreign Relations
Peter Orszag, (former Budget Director): Citi Group, Council on Foreign Relations
Paul Volcker: Council on Foreign Relations, private Federal Reserve, Group of 30
Ronald Kirk (US Trade Representative): lobbyist, part of Goldman Sachs, Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts, and Texas Pacific Group partnership to buyout Energy Future Holdings.
Lawrence Summers (National Economic Council Director): World Bank, Council on Foreign Relations
It is unclear why Beck is peddling such a poorly dressed conspiracy theory. One possible explanation is that the global corporate-financier oligarchy realizes its weak spot and is conjuring up the appropriate bogeymen to justify a robust effort to defend it. Beck's narrative holds up the SEIU, a bogeyman Beck has meticulously built up over the years, as a group for his impressionable audience to relate all anti-Wall Street activists with.
Max Keiser breaks down his "Crash JP Morgan, Buy Silver" campaign.
Lerner's rhetoric sounds strikingly similar to Keiser's call to crash JP.
One man, who is most assuredly not an SEIU member is finance pundit Max Keiser. Kesier has been leading a campaign named "Crash JP Morgan Buy Silver," which aims at encouraging people worldwide to buy physically delivered silver to put JP Morgan out of business. JP Morgan has been issuing paper certificates representing silver they do not own (counterfeiting). Should people around the world (and they are) heed Keiser's call and force firms like JP Morgan to deliver silver they do not hold, they will "crash."
Due to the amount of criminally procured wealth, power, and influence JP Morgan has accumulated over the decades (through activities like counterfeiting silver certificates), its "crashing" would undoubtedly threaten the stability of the global Ponzi-economy. However, JP Morgan is but a member of the global corporate-financier oligarchy whose unsustainable megalomaniacal pursuits have already threatened the stability of the real global economy.
Collapsing JP Morgan in this manner, while simultaneously collecting silver, sets a precedence of systematically dismantling and replacing all corporations accumulating and wielding unwarranted influence. Considering that these corporations literally wage war in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya to obtain and protect their interests, they undoubtedly have a plan to ward off men like Max Keiser, or Bernard von NotHaus who has already been labeled a domestic terrorist by the FBI and faces 15 years in prison.
By labeling men like von NotHaus a terrorist, the prospect of shifting the poorly justified American police-state toward activists challenging corporate interests becomes an alarming possibility. Indeed, should von NotHaus end up in jail, it will become an alarming reality. By associating men like von NotHaus or Keiser with ready-made villains like the SEIU, it makes it easier for the general public to accept such crackdowns. The answer though, is not to be cowed into falling in line, but to become more aggressive in heeding the calls of boycotts and activism like Keiser's "Crash JP Morgan, Buy Silver" campaign.
The veneer of invincibility has already been peeled back in another challenge to corporate dominion, this time in the world of media. Alternative media and peer-to-peer file sharing have in tandem peeled away massive segments of the corporate media's audience and profits. The countermeasures of litigation, intrusive regulations, and lobbying employed have not only categorically failed, but have actually awakened many to the true nature of these bloated, antiquated money men.
Backlashes against GMO giants like Cargill and Monsanto with the concurrent rise of organic farming and farmers' markets have also proven these corporations are but paper tigers in the face of informed and determined populations who are not only prepared to fight back, but have taken steps to entirely replace them as well.
How Self-Sufficiency Becomes "Terrorism"
For any problem there are two paths. One involves policy, namely regulations and laws. Another involves innovation and technical solutions.
Our prehistoric ancestors when faced with the adversity of starvation didn't resort to policy, such as rationing or population control, but instead picked up a stick, sharpened it, and embarked on hunts of animals our physiology was otherwise incapable of bringing down. Innovation not only allowed us to survive, but to flourish. We built better spears, we devised bows and arrows, we developed agricultural technology, and when our populations swelled due to our ability to prevail against natural odds, we explored and settled new climbs and places.
Early man didn't solve his problems with policy, he solved them
with innovation, tools (technology), & ingenuity. Instead of rationing
food and implementing population control, these men created
spears and hunted down otherwise unapproachable prey.
Innovation and technology has allowed us to create the current society we now live in. Technology has reached a point where it allows individuals and communities to do ever more on their own without the need of bloated central governments and world spanning corporate empires. If left unchecked, governments and corporations will begin to shrink in size and capacity, playing an ever minimizing role in our daily lives.
This trend toward technologically facilitated localism translates into an unsavory world order for the ruling global corporate-financier oligarchs, a world order they are fighting ceaselessly to prevent from coming into being. They fight this battle by monopolizing ideas, information, energy, technology, and the monetary system, in tandem with the systematic sabotaging of our education system, constant intellectual pollution via mainstream media, and the devastating physical and mental effects of the food and pharmaceutical industries. Much of this is justified through a Malthusian-themed strategy of tension involving narratives of overpopulation and resource scarcity.
It becomes clear that geopolitical domination facilitated by the very fake "War on Terror" is only one step in a larger plan. As the globalists fight on to destroy the nation-state worldwide, they fight domestically to destroy self-sufficiency and independence. Just as foreign nations become terrorist extremists for resisting the oligarchs globally, we are becoming domestic and economic terrorists for resisting them on the home front.
For more information on alternative economics, getting self-sufficient and moving on without the parasitic, incompetent, criminal globalist oligarchs:
Acme Markets said Thursday it will cut 900 part-time workers “to align its work force with sales volume.”
Malvern, Pa.-based Acme said the plan “does not change Acme’s overall commitment to the Delaware Valley,” where it is No. 1 with 18 percent of the market.
The division of Supervalu Inc. (NYSE:SVU) said “the least-senior employees” working between 12 and 16 hours a week are the most likely to lose jobs.
The job cuts are part of a larger plan that includes lower prices. Acme President Dan Sanders said, “Unfortunately, we have more associates than we need to serve our current level of sales, and we must take immediate action to change our business.” The company has 117 stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland.
In recent months, the Philadelphia supermarket sector has seen a number of store closings and acquisitions. Analysts have forecast consolidation for the market.
Exxon's huge oil profits will aggravate drivers with gasoline prices averaging $3.89 per gallon nationally.The world's largest publicly traded company said today that higher oil prices boosted profits 69 percent from a year ago. The result was Exxon's best since earning a record $14.83 billion in 2008's third quarter.
Exxon's results followed strong profit gains by other oil companies.
Europe's largest oil company, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, reported $8.78 billion in first-quarter profits, up 60 percent from a year ago. BP PLC's quarterly earnings rose 16 percent to $7.2 billion. ConocoPhillips said net income grew 43 percent to $3 billion and Occidental Petroleum Corp. said earnings climbed 46 percent to $1.55 billion.
Chevron Corp., the second-biggest U.S. oil company, is expected Friday to report a 25 percent increase to $5.69 billion.
Argus Research analyst Phil Weiss said oil companies will struggle to win over people as long as they're making billions of dollars every quarter, even though he thinks the industry makes a reasonable argument.
Geithner At CFR On Dollar, Oil: "Under My Watch U.S. Will NEVER Pursue A Weak Dollar Policy" (Video)
Sometimes things work out so perfectly, there is absolutely no need to comment.
Video - Council on Foreign Relations, Tim Geithner on U.S. fiscal crunch, rising food and oil prices, and weakness of the U.S. dollar - April 27, 2011
(Reuters) - Nokia will axe 7,000 jobs and outsource its Symbian software development unit to cut 1 billion euros ($1.46 billion) in costs as it struggles to compete in the smartphone market.
Nokia, the world's largest phone maker by volume, on Wednesday detailed an overhaul of its phone business following its decision to start using Microsoft software instead of its own Symbian platform.
The move includes laying off 4,000 staff and transferring another 3,000 to services firm Accenture - a total 12 percent of its phone unit workforce.
Accenture will take over Nokia's Symbian software activities and will become a primary software partner for future smartphones running on Microsoft's Windows platform. Shares in Tieto, a local services supplier to Nokia, dropped more than 3 percent.
Nokia investors welcomed the Accenture deal as a quicker and cheaper way to exit its Symbian operations than full-scale layoffs requiring big severance packages, sending Nokia shares 3.3 percent higher on the Helsinki stock exchange. In New York Nokia shares were up 4.3 percent by 1917 GMT, while Accenture was 0.3 percent firmer.
"This is about keeping focus within Nokia on Windows Phone. It helps to get rid of any doubts on where this company is going," said Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi.
Nokia's Chief Executive Stephen Elop told Finnish national broadcaster YLE it was possible the first Nokia phone running on Windows software could reach customers this year.
Accenture said the deal gives it additional scale in mobile, an important initiative for the company, putting it "at the heart of" Nokia and Microsoft which are developing the third major mobile platform in addition to Google and Apple.
The deal does not include Symbian software code.
The job cuts and site closings let Nokia cut annual business research and development costs by 1 billion euros, or 18 percent, by 2013 from 5.65 billion in 2010.
"Restructuring had been widely expected, but Nokia will be hoping that the transfer of 3,000 of jobs to Accenture will help cushion the blow as it ramps down its Symbian investments," said Ben Wood, head of research at CCS Insight.
Nokia's market share in smartphones has fallen sharply over the past few years as it loses out to Apple and other manufacturers of high-end handsets.
"The competitive environment has changed rapidly," Elop told a news conference in Helsinki, while outlining which parts of its operations will be hit the most.
Nokia said most of the 4,000 layoffs will take place in Finland, Denmark and Britain, with all workers staying on the payroll through 2011.
Nokia hired Elop from Microsoft last year to replace Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo in a bid to compete more effectively in the smartphone market. He is the first non-Finn to run the company, which evolved from a rubber boots-to-TVs conglomerate into a global mobile phone maker in the 1990s.
In its native Finland, Nokia will cut 1,400 jobs.
"This went slightly better than expected because Nokia transfers Symbian development. These 1,400 people ... should have quite good chances to find new jobs," said Pertti Porokari, chairman of the Union of Professional Engineers in Finland.
Nokia said it would wind down its large operations in Copenhagen, cutting 950 jobs there, and close its second headquarters in White Plains, New York.
The move crushed Finnish media speculations of Nokia planning to move its headquarters to the United States.
"Finland absolutely remains in the heart of Nokia's future," Elop said.
Job cuts at Finland's flagship company are a blow to confidence in the country, already struggling with unemployment of around 8 percent.
Worries about jobs and possible cuts to social welfare helped the populist True Finns party in the country's general election earlier this month.
Nokia's telecom gear arm Nokia Siemens Networks cut about 9,000 jobs after it started operations in 2007.
by Michael Snyder
Is going to college a worthwhile investment? Is the education that our young people are receiving at our colleges and universities really worth all of the time, money and effort that is required? Decades ago, a college education was quite inexpensive and it was almost an automatic ticket to the middle class. But today all of that has changed. At this point, college education is a big business. There are currently more than 18 million students enrolled at the nearly 5,000 colleges and universities currently in operation throughout the United States. There are quite a few "institutions of higher learning" that now charge $40,000 or even $50,000 a year for tuition. That does not even count room and board and other living expenses.
Meanwhile, as you will see from the statistics posted below, the quality of education at our colleges and universities has deteriorated badly. When graduation finally arrives, many of our college students have actually learned very little, they find themselves unable to get good jobs and yet they end up trapped in student loan debt hell for essentially the rest of their lives.
Across America today, "guidance counselors" are pushing millions of high school students to go to the very best colleges that they can get into, but they rarely warn them about how much it is going to cost or about the sad reality that they could end up being burdened by massive debt loads for decades to come.
Yes, college is a ton of fun and it is a really unique experience. If you can get someone else to pay for it then you should definitely consider going.
There are also many careers which absolutely require a college degree. Depending on your career goals, you may not have much of a choice of whether to go to college or not.
But that doesn't mean that you have to go to student loan debt hell.
You don't have to go to the most expensive school that you can get into.
You don't have to take out huge student loans.
There is no shame in picking a school based on affordability.
The truth is that pretty much wherever you go to school the quality of the education is going to be rather pathetic. A highly trained cat could pass most college courses in the United States today.
Personally, I have had the chance to spend quite a number of years on college campuses. I enjoyed my time and I have some pretty pieces of parchment to put up on the wall. I have seen with my own eyes what goes on at our institutions of higher learning. In a previous article, I described what life is like for most "average students" enrolled in our colleges and universities today....
The vast majority of college students in America spend two to four hours a day in the classroom and maybe an hour or two outside the classroom studying. The remainder of the time these "students" are out drinking beer, partying, chasing after sex partners, going to sporting events, playing video games, hanging out with friends, chatting on Facebook or getting into trouble. When they say that college is the most fun that most people will ever have in their lives they mean it. It is basically one huge party.
If you are a parent and you are shelling out tens of thousands of dollars every year to pay for college you need to know the truth.
You are being ripped off.
Sadly, a college education just is not that good of an investment anymore. Tuition costs have absolutely skyrocketed even as the quality of education has plummeted.
A college education is not worth getting locked into crippling student loan payments for the next 30 years.
Even many university professors are now acknowledging that student loan debt has become a horrific societal problem. Just check out what one professor was quoted as saying in a recent article in The Huffington Post....
“Thirty years ago, college was a wise, modest investment,” says Fabio Rojas, a professor of sociology at Indiana University. He studies the politics of higher education. “Now, it’s a lifetime lock-in, an albatross you can’t escape.”
Anyone that is thinking of going to college needs to do a cost/benefit analysis.
Is it really going to be worth it?
For some people the answer will be "yes" and for some people the answer will be "no".
But sadly, hardly anyone that goes to college these days gets a "good" education.
To get an idea of just how "dumbed down" we have become as a nation, just check out this Harvard entrance exam from 1869.
I wouldn't have a prayer of passing that exam.
What about you?
We really do need to rethink our approach to higher education in this country.
Posted below are 21 statistics about college tuition, student loan debt and the quality of college education in the United States....
#1 Since 1978, the cost of college tuition in the United States has gone up by over 900 percent.
#2 In 2010, the average college graduate had accumulated approximately $25,000 in student loan debt by graduation day.
#3 Approximately two-thirds of all college students graduate with student loans.
#4 Americans have accumulated well over $900 billion in student loan debt. That figure is higher than the total amount of credit card debt in the United States.
#5 The typical U.S. college student spends less than 30 hours a week on academics.
#6 According to very extensive research detailed in a new book entitled "Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses", 45 percent of U.S. college students exhibit "no significant gains in learning" after two years in college.
#7 Today, college students spend approximately 50% less time studying than U.S. college students did just a few decades ago.
#8 35% of U.S. college students spend 5 hours or less studying per week.
#9 50% of U.S. college students have never taken a class where they had to write more than 20 pages.
#10 32% of U.S. college students have never taken a class where they had to read more than 40 pages in a week.
#11 U.S. college students spend 24% of their time sleeping, 51% of their time socializing and 7% of their time studying.
#12 Federal statistics reveal that only 36 percent of the full-time students who began college in 2001 received a bachelor's degree within four years.
#13 Nearly half of all the graduate science students enrolled at colleges and universities in the United States are foreigners.
#14 According to the Economic Policy Institute, the unemployment rate for college graduates younger than 25 years old was 9.3 percent in 2010.
#15 One-third of all college graduates end up taking jobs that don't even require college degrees.
#16 In the United States today, over 18,000 parking lot attendants have college degrees.
#17 In the United States today, 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees.
#18 In the United States today, approximately 365,000 cashiers have college degrees.
#19 In the United States today, 24.5 percent of all retail salespersons have a college degree.
#20 Once they get out into the "real world", 70% of college graduates wish that they had spent more time preparing for the "real world" while they were still in school.
#21 Approximately 14 percent of all students that graduate with student loan debt end up defaulting within 3 years of making their first student loan payment.
There are millions of young college graduates running around out there that are wondering where all of the "good jobs" are. All of their lives they were promised that if they worked really hard and got good grades that the system would reward them.
Sometimes when you do everything right you still can't get a job. A while back The Huffington Post featured the story of Kyle Daley - a highly qualified UCLA graduate who had been unemployed for 19 months at the time....
I spent my time at UCLA preparing for the outside world. I had internships in congressional offices, political action committees, non-profits and even as a personal intern to a successful venture capitalist. These weren't the run-of-the-mill office internships; I worked in marketing, press relations, research and analysis. Additionally, the mayor and city council of my hometown appointed me to serve on two citywide governing bodies, the planning commission and the open government commission. I used to think that given my experience, finding work after graduation would be easy.
At this point, however, looking for a job is my job. I recently counted the number of job applications I have sent out over the past year -- it amounts to several hundred. I have tried to find part-time work at local stores or restaurants, only to be turned away. Apparently, having a college degree implies that I might bail out quickly when a better opportunity comes along.
The sad truth is that a college degree is not an automatic ticket to the middle class any longer.
But for millions of young Americans a college degree is an automatic ticket to student loan debt hell.
Student loan debt is one of the most insidious forms of debt. You can't get away from student loan debt no matter what you do. Federal bankruptcy law makes it nearly impossible to discharge student loan debts, and many recent grads end up with loan payments that absolutely devastate them financially at a time when they are struggling to get on their feet and make something of themselves.
So are you still sure that you want to go to college?
Another open secret is that most of our colleges and universities are little more than indoctrination centers. Most people would be absolutely shocked at how much unfiltered propaganda is being pounded into the heads of our young people.
At most colleges and universities, when it comes to the "big questions" there is a "right answer" and there is virtually no discussion of any other alternatives.
In most fields there is an "orthodoxy" that you had better adhere to if you want to get good grades.
Let's just say that "independent thought" and "critical thinking" are not really encouraged at most of our institutions of higher learning.
Am I bitter because I didn't do well? No, I actually did extremely well in school. I have seen the system from the inside. I know how it works.
It is a giant fraud.
If you want to go to college because you want to have a good time or because it will help you get your career started then by all means go for it.
Just realize what you are signing up for.
Russia (EUREX: OMXR.EX - news) decided on Thursday to halt premium petrol exports and switch the flow to the home market to fight shortages and a price rise that is coinciding with growing voter discontent.
The sudden announcement from the world's biggest oil producer came after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered his government to tackle an issue that has been gaining increasing attention ahead of upcoming parliamentary polls.
Government official said the ban would apply for the month of May alone and only cover high octane petrol (gasoline) sold at the highest prices.
But Putin also ordered an immediate boost in export duties and a cut in local excise taxes aimed at keeping most future petrol sales of all types within Russia.
"Prepare proposal and drafts that will raise export tariffs on oil products starting in May," news agencies quoted Putin as telling his ministers.
The flurry of decisions came after two dozen Russian regions reported shortages that were causing prices at the pump to jump by as much as 30 percent since the weekend.
Russia officially exported three million tonnes of petrol last year but energy companies are reporting higher foreign deliveries in the first quarter because of surging global energy prices.
Deputy Energy Ministry Sergei Kudryashov said companies had already matched last year's export total by the end of March.
The surge in exports came after Putin accused oil firms of using the North Africa and Middle East crises to "crudely exact maximum gains" and ordered an immediate freeze in local gasoline prices.
The move received broad play on state controlled television and seemed to paint Putin as a defender of citizens' interests against the greed and excesses of oil executives.
But analysts said that Putin's February showdown with the oil tycoons could have directly contributed to the Russian companies' decision to seek foreign markets and abandon local consumers.
"Putin ordered (oil companies) to control wholesale and retail prices and they complied," the Vedomosti business daily remarked.
"But world oil prices continued to grow and the companies quietly stepped up their exports, leaving only enough for the domestic market to keep their own (gas station) chains going," Vedomosti observed.
The steady rise in consumer prices -- particularly those on food -- has been reflected in polls showing the ruling party entering December's parliamentary elections with the lowest approval rating in its history.
Officials were quick on Thursday to suggest that any further increases would be both minimal and easily resolved.
The head of Russia's biggest private oil producer Lukoil (MCX: LKOH.ME - news) said future rises should not exceed seven percent while the deputy energy minister called the shortage only structural in nature.
He noted that most regions receive their supplies from Rosneft and Gazpromneft -- the oil wing of Russia's natural gas monopoly -- and that the two government-controlled companies were now more than willing to help.
We "will jointly set up a schedule for May deliveries" with the state-held firms, Kudryashov said.
His ministry also introduced a long-discussed proposal to force all Russian companies to sell at least 15 percent of their gasoline on the local market at market prices.
Almost all energy sales within Russia are currently conducted according to fixed prices negotiated by producers and their clients -- many of them either state corporations or regional administrations.
By Bill Wilson – Iceland is free. And it will remain so, so long as her people wish to remain autonomous of the foreign domination of her would-be masters — in this case, international bankers.
On April 9, the fiercely independent people of island-nation defeated a referendum that would have bailed out the UK and the Netherlands who had covered the deposits of British and Dutch investors who had lost funds in Icesave bank in 2008.
At the time of the bank’s failure, Iceland refused to cover the losses. But the UK and Netherlands nonetheless have demanded that Iceland repay them for the “loan” as a condition for admission into the European Union.
In response, the Icelandic people have told Europe to go pound sand. The final vote was 103,207 to 69,462, or 58.9 percent to 39.7 percent. “Taxpayers should not be responsible for paying the debts of a private institution,” said Sigriur Andersen, a spokeswoman for the Advice group that opposed the bailout.
A similar referendum in 2009 on the issue, although with harsher terms, found 93.2 percent of the Icelandic electorate rejecting a proposal to guarantee the deposits of foreign investors who had funds in the Icelandic bank. The referendum was invoked when President Olafur Ragnur Grimmson vetoed legislation the Althingi, Iceland’s parliament, had passed to pay back the British and Dutch.
Under the terms of the agreement, Iceland would have had to pay £2.35 billion to the UK, and €1.32 billion to the Netherlands by 2046 at a 3 percent interest rate. Its rejection for the second time by Iceland is a testament to its people, who feel they should bear no responsibility for the losses of foreigners endured in the financial crisis.
That opposition to bailouts led to Iceland’s decision to allow the bank to fail in 2008. Not that the taxpayers there could have afforded to. As noted by Bloomberg News, at the time the crisis hit in 2008, “the banks had debts equal to 10 times Iceland’s $12 billion GDP.”
“These were private banks and we didn’t pump money into them in order to keep them going; the state did not shoulder the responsibility of the failed private banks,” Iceland President Olafur Grimsson told Bloomberg Television.
The voters’ rejection came despite threats to isolate Iceland from funding in international financial institutions. Iceland’s national debt has already been downgraded by credit rating agencies, and now those same agencies have promised to do so once again as punishment for defying the will of international bankers.
This is just the latest in the long drama since 2008 of global institutions refusing to take losses in the financial crisis. Threats of a global economic depression and claims of being “too big to fail” have equated to a loaded gun to the heads of representative governments in the U.S. and Europe. Iceland is of particular interest because it did not bail out its banks like Ireland did, or foreign ones like the U.S. did.
If that fervor catches on amongst taxpayers worldwide, as it has in Iceland and with the tea party movement in America, the banks would have something to fear; that is, the inability to draw from limitless amounts of funding from gullible government officials and central banks. It appears that the root cause is government guarantees, whether explicit or implicit, on risk-taking by the banks.
Ultimately, such guarantees are not necessary to maintain full employment or even prop up an economy with growth, they are simply designed to allow these international institutions to overleverage and increase their profit margins in good times — and to avoid catastrophic losses in bad times.
The lesson here is instructive across the pond, but it is a chilling one. If the U.S. — or any sovereign for that matter — attempts to restructure their debts, or to force private investors to take a haircut on their own foolish gambles, these international institutions have promised the equivalent of economic war in response. However, the alternative is for representative governments to sacrifice their independence to a cadre of faceless bankers who share no allegiance to any nation.
It is the conflict that has already defined the beginning of the 21st Century. The question is whether free peoples will choose to remain free, as Iceland has, or to submit.
Bill Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government. You can follow Bill on Twitter at @BillWilsonALG.
Read more at NetRightDaily.com: http://netrightdaily.com/2011/04/iceland-declares-independence-from-international-banks/#ixzz1KuAhSIUz
Chairman Bernanke hadn’t even finished his press conference when an investor of our acquaintance who was watching on television sent over an email describing the event as the “illusion of transparency.” We’re not sure the blame attaches solely to Mr. Bernanke, in that the person holding a press conference is never the only player. There are also those who ask, or fail to ask, the questions. In any event, it’s hard to see much illumination in a press conference in which the chairman of a central bank whose currency is collapsing fails to utter even once the word gold.
That is the stunt that Mr. Bernanke managed to pull off this afternoon. He spoke of inflation only in terms of the consumer price index. His willingness, even eagerness, to signal that there was unlikely to be a third round of quantitative easing suggested to Evan Lorenz, who was covering the event for the Sun and for Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, that he was acknowledging that inflation is on the horizon. “Inflation ahead,” is the headline the Drudge Report, which has been one of the keenest observers of the dollar collapse, put up over a second headline, “GOLD RECORD— AGAIN.”
Even as the chairman was speaking, the economist David Malpass pointed out in a telegram this afternoon, the dollar lost value, dropping to a 1,529th of an ounce of gold. Yet not a word about gold at the press conference. Call it the dog that didn’t bark. The chairman spoke of the high cost of gas without once acknowledging that the price of gasoline is lower in value — meaning it takes less gold or silver to buy it — than it did at, say, the start of President Obama’s term. The president seemed oblivious to this irony when he spoke in his radio address over the weekend of how there is no “silver bullet” that will deal with the soaring gas prices.
What the silver price actual shows is that it’s not the gasoline that’s going up but the dollar that’s going down. So it’s just bizarre for Mr. Bernanke to be talking of a “strong and stable” dollar, which he did, Mr. Malpass pointed out, three times in the press conference. The result is what Mr. Malpass called “a disconnect between the rhetoric and the policy” because “the dollar is neither strong nor stable and the U.S. hasn’t supported it.” Said Mr. Malpass, a former official under President Reagan: “For years, Treasury and the Fed have acted as if the current value of the dollar qualifies as “strong and stable.” This severely undercuts the credibility of Treasury and the Fed on the dollar.”
A France Telecom-Orange worker has died after setting himself alight outside his office, the latest in a wave of suicides at the company. The 57-year-old married father of four, described as a sociable member of staff, set himself on fire in the car park of a site at Merignac, near Bordeaux, after arriving for a morning shift.
He had worked for the company for 30 years, most recently at a call centre dealing with company accounts, and was a trade union member who monitored safety and work conditions. Paramedics could do nothing to save him.
François Deschamps, of the CFE-CGC Unsa union, suggested the man had struggled with being made to frequently change jobs. "Those enforced changes meant he had to sell his house. He had written to the management on several occasions and in my understanding had no reply," Deschamps told AFP. "I saw him two or three weeks ago. I did not feel like he was on the verge of suicide."
France Telecom is Europe's third largest mobile phone operator and biggest provider of broadband internet services. But in recent years it has become synonymous with death and despair in what management called a "suicide contagion effect".
At least 23 of its employees killed themselves last year, and there were more than 30 reported suicides in 2008 and 2009, as well as many more attempts.
Among those who were found dead at their homes, some had left notes explicitly linking their suicide to their jobs. Unions complained of a climate of bullying, extreme pressure, poor management methods and restructuring cuts that forced people to repeatedly change jobs.
A 28-year-old worker who was found dead in his garage in Besançon in the east of France in August 2009 had left a note that talked of his girlfriend, but also mentioned how he felt "helpless" and "angry" over issues at work. A French prosecutor said it was impossible to formally establish a link between France Telecom and the suicide, but workers held a protest march over his death.
A month earlier, a 52-year-old employee killed himself in Marseille, leaving a note blaming "overwork" and "management by terror". He wrote: "I am committing suicide because of my work at France Telecom. That's the only reason."
Other deaths included that of a 51-year-old who threw himself off a bridge in the Alps after being moved from a back-office job to one in a call centre.
Staff said the climate had worsened since privatisation. Some staff complained of divorce, family breakdown and being forced to sell homes due to random job changes.
Last October an official report found that the plan, begun in 2006, to slim down the company and scrap 22,000 jobs in three months was behind the feeling of distress among staff.
In recent months, the company has increased the presence of psychological support workers and pledged to reduce workplace stress and staff difficulties.
Its former head, Didier Lombard, who had warned of a "spiral of death" stood down last year and was replaced by his deputy as a sign that management was taking the crisis seriously. Lombard had been criticised by unions for his poor choice of language in describing a "suicide trend" at France Telecom.
The former state-owned monopoly was privatised in 1997, although the French government remained the biggest shareholder.
Under government pressure, the company was ordered to put in place measures to monitor and counsel staff thought to be suicidal, and at one point froze 500 employee transfers that were part of restructuring plans.
While Americans are robbed at the gas pump, Exxon Mobil will this week report a 60% increase in its quarterly net profits to a cool $10 billion. Royal Dutch/Shell will report a 30% increase.
In 1975 British writer Anthony Sampson penned The Seven Sisters, bestowing a collective name on a shadowy oil cartel, which throughout its history has sought to eliminate competitors and control the world’s oil resource. Sampson’s “Seven Sisters” name came from independent Italian oil man Enrico Mattei.
In the 1960’s Mattei began negotiating with Algeria, Libya and other nationalistic OPEC states who wanted to sell their oil internationally without having to deal with the Seven Sisters. Algeria had a long history of defying Big Oil and was once ruled by President Houari Boumedienne, one of the great Arab socialist leaders of all time, who initiated the original ideas for a more just “New International Economic Order” in fiery speeches at the UN, where he encouraged producer cartels modeled on OPEC as a means to Third World emancipation.
In 1962 Mattei died in a mysterious plane crash. Former French intelligence agent Thyraud de Vosjoli says French intelligence was involved. William McHale of Time magazine, who covered Mattei’s attempt to break the Big Oil cartel, also died under strange circumstances.
A tidal wave of mergers at the turn of the millennium transformed Sampson’s Seven Sisters – Royal Dutch/Shell, British Petroleum, Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, Texaco and Gulf – into a more tightly controlled cartel which, in my book Big Oil & Their Bankers…, I term the Four Horsemen: Exxon Mobil, Chevron Texaco, BP Amoco and Royal Dutch/Shell.
By the late 1800’s John D. Rockefeller had become popularly known as “the Illumination Merchant” during a time when oil was powering the reading lamps of every American household. Rockefeller figured out that it was the refining of oil into various end products and not actual crude production which held the key to control of the industry.
By 1895 his Standard Oil Company owned 95% of all refineries in the US while expanding operations overseas. Summing up his attitude towards his new oil monopoly, Rockefeller once stated, “The day of combination is here to stay. Individualism is gone never to return”.
Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust began illuminating the New World with funding from Kuhn Loeb and Rothschild banking families. While the Rockefellers worked the American side of the energy matrix, the Rothschilds consolidated their control over Old World oil resources.
By 1892 Shell Oil, under the direction of Marcus Samuel, began shipping South Sea crude through the new Suez Canal to supply Europe’s factories. Shell took its name from the abundance of seashells which lined the shores of the Dutch-controlled archipelago that is now Indonesia. The Samuel family controls London’s biggest merchant bank Hill Samuel, along with the trading house Samuel Montagu.
In 1903 the Swedish Nobel and the French Rothschild’s Far East Trading – financed by King Wilhelm III – combined with Samuel and Oppenheimer’s Shell Oil to form the Asiatic Petroleum Company.
In 1927 Royal Dutch Petroleum discovered oil at Seria off the coast of Brunei, whose Sultan would become the world’s richest man as a result of his loyalty to Royal Dutch. The Dutch and British monarchs who control Royal Dutch merged their company with the Oppenheimer and Samuel’s Shell Oil and Nobel and Rothschild’s Far East Trading and Royal Dutch/Shell was born. Queen Beatrix of the Dutch House of Orange and Lord Victor Rothschild are its two largest shareholders.
In 1872 Baron Julius du Reuter was granted his 50-year concession in Iran. In 1914 the British government took control of his Anglo-Persian Company and renamed it Anglo-Iranian, then British Petroleum, then BP. Britain’s House of Windsor controls a large stake in BP Amoco while the Kuwaiti monarchy owns 9.5%.
In 1906 the US government ordered the dissolution of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust, charging that Standard violated the new Sherman Anti-Trust Act. On May 15, 1911 the US Supreme Court declared, “Seven men and a corporate machine have conspired against their fellow citizens. For the safety of the Republic we now decree that this dangerous conspiracy must be ended by November 15th”.
But the breakup of Standard Oil along state lines only served to increase the wealth of the Rockefeller family, who retained 25% interest in each new company. Soon the new companies began to reintegrate.
The new Standard Oil of New York merged with Vacuum Oil to form Socony-Vacuum, which became Mobil in 1966. Standard Oil of Indiana joined with Standard Oil of Nebraska and Standard Oil of Kansas and in 1985 became Amoco. In 1972 Standard Oil of New Jersey became Exxon. In 1984 Standard Oil of California joined with Standard Oil Kentucky to become Chevron. Standard Oil of Ohio (Sohio) retained the Standard brand until it was bought by BP, which also bought trust-baby Atlantic Richfield (ARCO). Thus the Rockefellers came to own a large chunk of BP.
By 1920 Exxon, BP and Royal Dutch/Shell dominated the world’s booming oil business, with the Rockefeller, Rothschild, Samuel, Nobel and Oppenheimer families, along with British and Dutch royals owning the brunt of their stock. Two other Rockefeller babies, Mobil and Chevron, weren’t far behind the Big Three. The Texas Murchison family – themselves patronized by the Rockefellers – controlled Texaco, while the Mellon family – with its own ties to the Rockefeller fortune – controlled Seventh Sister Gulf Oil.
The first known attempt by the Seven Sisters to stifle competition came in 1928 when Sir John Cadman of British Petroleum, Sir Henry Deterding of Royal Dutch/Shell, Walter Teagle of Exxon and William Mellon of Gulf met at Cadman’s castle near Achnacarry, Scotland. Here an agreement was reached that would divide up the world’s oil reserves and markets.
The Achnacarry Agreement became known to oil industry insiders as the As Is Agreement because its aim was to maintain a status quo under which the Seven Sisters controlled the world’s oil through market share agreements, sharing of refining and storage facilities, and by agreeing to limit production to keep prices high.
Big Oil signed three more agreements in the next six years. The 1930 Memorandum of Understanding for European Markets was followed by the 1932 Heads of Agreement for Distribution and the 1934 Draft Memorandum of Principles.
Between 1931 and 1933 the Four Horsemen ruthlessly cut the price for East Texas crude from $.98/barrel to $.10/barrel. Many Texas wildcatters were run out of business. Those that remained were forced to agree to strict production quotas under threat of ruin by the majors – quotas that still exist to this day. It is these quotas, not “the environmentalists” (as the reactionary right claims) that serve to keep the US dependent on Persian Gulf oil, where Big Oil dominates the game.
By taking the oil industry international – which requires billions in capital – the Four Horsemen keep independent challenges to their hegemony at bay. They also put thousands of US oil workers out of jobs in Texas and Louisiana.
John D. Rockefeller himself did not control crude reserves. Instead he invested heavily in refining and cut deals with the Morgan-controlled railroads to cut his shipping costs. Texas wildcatters had to pay much more to ship their oil. They possessed neither the esoteric knowledge of refining crude, nor the capital to build expensive refineries. All their money was tied up in drilling rigs, which were not cheap either.
Today the Rockefeller family fortune is even more heavily invested in downstream oil operations such as petrochemicals and plastics, as well as in industries that are dependent on oil such as banking, aerospace and automobiles.
In the 1980’s long-time Chase Manhattan chairman David Rockefeller invested $35 billion in Singapore, which has since become an important refining and storage center. Royal Dutch/Shell’s largest single refinery is at Pulau Bukom, Singapore. In 1991, as the Asian Tigers began to roar, Exxon Mobil introduced unleaded gas to Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore. It produces it at its giant Jurong refinery in Singapore.
The Four Horsemen have followed the money downstream. They are the world’s largest refiners and marketers of crude oil in all of its various end-product forms. RoyalDutch/Shell is both the leading marketer and refiner of crude oil and is currently the source of one in ten barrels of refined product in the world. Its bottom line has benefited greatly from this downstream move with the firm showing record profits starting in 1988 and many years since. Seventy-seven percent of Shell profits now come from petrochemicals.
Shell also owns the world’s largest refinery complex on the Netherlands Antilles island of Aruba, just off the Venezuelan coast. In 1991 Shell sold an outdated refinery on the neighboring island of Curacao while upgrading its Aruba facilities. The completion of this massive complex caused Venezuelan crude to become much more important to global oil supply. Crude from African nations like Nigeria and Angola is also refined at the Shell Aruba facility, which sits next to a hulking Exxon Mobil refinery named Lago, after Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo, from where most Venezuelan crude is derived.
Royal Dutch/Shell is currently focused on development of natural gas markets, investing heavily in Middle Distillate Synthesis (MDS) plants that convert liquefied natural gas to high-grade liquid products. By 1996 they had built MDS facilities in Malaysia, Nigeria and Norway. In 1993 Shell joined with Mitsubishi and Exxon Mobil in a $3 billion natural gas project in Venezuela and launched a $1.1 billion petrochemical expansion in Brazil. That same year BP Amoco discovered huge oilfields in neighboring Columbia.
By 1969 Exxon owned 67 oil refineries in 37 countries. Over 60% of Exxon’s 1991 profits came from downstream operations. In the first quarter of that year alone, Exxon made a $2.4 billion profit, the highest quarterly profit since Rockefeller founded Standard Oil of New Jersey in 1882. It was no coincidence that the Gulf War was being prosecuted during this time, with Exxon meeting much of the demand generated by the US military and its allies.
In the early 1990’s Exxon bought the plastics division of Allied Signal and entered joint ventures with both Dow and Monsanto in the thermoplastic elastomer realm. According to Exxon Mobil’s 2001 10K filing to the SEC, the company netted $17 billion in year 2000. From 2003-2006, during the US occupation of Iraq, the company regularly broke its own record for biggest quarterly profit by any corporation in US history.
Recently the Four Horsemen have been swimming back upstream, becoming the top four retailers of gas in the US. They own every major pipeline in the world and the vast majority of oil tankers. Royal Dutch/Shell has 114 ships in its armada. Recently the company added seven giant liquefied natural gas tankers. Shell has 133,000 employees worldwide and in 1991, boasted assets of $105 billion. Shell’s Bullwinkle oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico is taller than the world’s highest building.
Exxon Mobil leads the way in producing lubricant base stocks and its scientists invented butyl rubber. It has operations in 200 countries and is the only firm that operates in the harsh Beaufort Sea, where it built 19 islands of steel to drill from. Exxon owns most of the land in Yemen (5.6 million acres), Oman and Chad. Its 1991 assets totaled $87 billion.
The latest wave of mergers in the oil industry began in the early 1960’s. Eight of the top twenty-five oil companies in 1960 had merged by 1970. Exxon bought Monterey Oil and Honolulu Oil. Chevron scooped up Standard Oil of Kentucky. Atlantic Oil merged with Richfield Refining to form ARCO, which then gobbled up Sinclair. Marathon Oil bought Plymouth Refining.
Another merger wave ensued in the 1980’s. Chevron bought Gulf in 1984. Texaco purchased Getty Oil. Mobil bought Superior Oil. BP grabbed both Britoil and Sohio (Standard Oil of Ohio). ARCO bought City Services. US Steel purchased Marathon Oil. The 1984 discovery of North Sea oil consolidated the position of Big Oil – especially Royal Dutch/Shell and Exxon – whose Shell Expro joint venture was awarded the prime concessions.
In 1985 Shell bought Occidental Petroleum’s Columbian interests. In 1988 it took over Tenneco’s assets in that country. The 1990’s saw Amoco (Standard Oil of IN) hitching its wagons to BP to form BP Amoco. In 1999 BP Amoco bought ARCO, giving the company 72% ownership of the Alaskan Pipeline.
Exxon bought Texaco Canada and Mexico’s Compania General de Lubricantes in 1991. Conoco was purchased by DuPont. In March 1997, Texaco and RD/Shell merged their US refining operations.
The final and most dramatic wave of consolidation saw Exxon merge with Mobil in November 1999. That same year Chevron bought Thailand’s Rutherford-Moran Oil and Argentina’s Petrolera Argentina San Jorge. In July 2000 Chevron merged its petrochemical business with that of Phillips to form Chevron Phillips Chemical Company. That same year Chevron tied the knot with Texaco.
On August 30, 2002 Conoco’s merger with Phillips Petroleum was approved creating Conoco Phillips, which in 2005 bought coal titan Burlington Resources. In 2002 Royal Dutch/Shell bought up previously merged Pennzoil/Quaker State as well as Britain’s biggest remaining independent oil company – Enterprise Oil. In 2005 Chevron Texaco bought Unocal. And Four Horsemen rode on.
The Four Horsemen have interlocking directorates with the international mega-banks. Exxon Mobil shares board members with JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Canada and Prudential. Chevron Texaco has interlocks with Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase. BP Amoco shares directors with JP Morgan Chase. RD/Shell has ties with Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, N. M. Rothschild & Sons and Bank of England.
Former Citibank chairman Walter Shipley sat on Exxon Mobil’s board, as did Wayne Calloway of Citigroup and Allen Murray of JP Morgan Chase. Willard Butcher of Chase sat on the board of Chevron Texaco. Former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan came from Morgan Guaranty Trust and served on the board of Mobil. BP Amoco director Lewis Preston went on to become president of the World Bank.
Other BP Amoco directors have included Sir Eric Drake, the #2 man at the world’s largest port operator P&O Nedlloyd and a director at Hudson Bay Company and Kleinwort Benson. William Johnston Keswick, whose family controls Hong Kong powerhouse Jardine Matheson, also sat on the board of BP Amoco. Keswick’s son is a director at HSBC. The Hong Kong connection is even stronger at RD/Shell.
Lord Armstrong of Ilminster sat on the boards of RD/Shell, N. M. Rothschild & Sons, Rio Tinto and Inchcape. Cathay Pacific Airlines owner and HSBC insider Sir John Swire was a director at Shell, as was Sir Peter Orr, who joins Armstrong on Inchape’s board. Shell director Sir Peter Baxendell joins Armstrong on the board of Rio Tinto, while Shell’s Sir Robert Clark sits on the board of the Bank of England.
As a result of the deregulation craze in the US companies no longer have to report their top shareholders to the SEC. According to 1993 10K reports filed by the Four Horsemen, the Rothschild, Rockefeller and Warburg banking combines still control Big Oil. The Rockefellers exert control through New York mega-banks and Banker’s Trust, which in 1999 was purchased by Warburg-controlled Deutsche Bank in its bid to become the largest bank in the world.
As of 1993 Banker’s Trust was #1 shareholder in Exxon. Chemical Bank was #4 and J.P. Morgan was #5. Both are now part of JP Morgan Chase. Banker’s Trust was also leading shareholder at Mobil. BP listed Morgan Guaranty as its biggest owner in 1993, while Amoco listed Banker’s Trust as its #2 shareholder. Chevron listed Banker’s Trust as its #5 shareholder, while Texaco listed J.P. Morgan as its #4 owner and Banker’s Trust as #9.
Thus, Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan Chase – the banks of Warburg and Rockefeller – have increased shares in Exxon Mobil, BP Amoco and Chevron Texaco. Rothschild-controlled Bank of America and Wells Fargo exert West Coast control over Big Oil, while Mellon Bank also remains a big player. Wells Fargo and Mellon Bank were both top 10 shareholders of Exxon Mobil, Chevron Texaco and BP Amoco as of 1993.
Information on RD/Shell is harder to obtain since they are registered in the UK and Holland and are not required to file 10K reports. It is 60% owned by Royal Dutch Petroleum of Holland and 40% owned by Shell Trading & Transport of the UK. The company has only 14,000 stockholders and few directors. The consensus from researchers is that Royal Dutch/Shell is still controlled by the Rothschild, Oppenheimer, Nobel and Samuel families along with the British House of Windsor and the Dutch House of Orange.
Queen Beatrix of the Dutch House of Orange and Lord Victor Rothschild are the two largest shareholders of RD/Shell. Queen Beatix’ mother Juliana was once the richest woman in the world and a patroness of the right-wing occult movement. Prince Bernhard, who married Juliana in 1937, was a member of the Hitler Youth Movement, the Nazi SS and an employee of Nazi combine I. G. Farben. He sits on the boards of over 300 European companies and founded the Bilderbergers.
When you’re being robbed, it’s always a good idea to be able to identify the perp. Now if only we could get the cops to bring em’ in…
Dean Henderson is the author of Big Oil & Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families & Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics & Terror Network and The Grateful Unrich: Revolution in 50 Countries. His Left Hook blog is at www.deanhenderson.wordpress.com
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Wal-Mart's core shoppers are running out of money much faster than a year ago due to rising gasoline prices, and the retail giant is worried, CEO Mike Duke said Wednesday.
"We're seeing core consumers under a lot of pressure," Duke said at an event in New York. "There's no doubt that rising fuel prices are having an impact."
Wal-Mart shoppers, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck, typically shop in bulk at the beginning of the month when their paychecks come in.
Lately, they're "running out of money" at a faster clip, he said.
"Purchases are really dropping off by the end of the month even more than last year," Duke said. "This end-of-month [purchases] cycle is growing to be a concern.
To that end, Duke said he's not seeing signs of a recovery yet.
With food prices rising, Duke said Wal-Mart is charging customers more for some fresh groceries while reducing prices on other merchandise such as electronics.
Wal-Mart has struggled with seven straight quarters of sales declines in its stores.
Addressing that challenge, Duke said the company made mistakes by shrinking product variety and not being more aggressive on prices compared to its competitors.
"What's made Wal-Mart great over the decades is 'every day low prices' and our [product] assortment," he said. "We got away from it."
Now, with its strategy of low prices all the time back in place, Duke said making Wal-Mart a "one-stop shopping stop" is a critical response to dealing with the rising price of fuel.
Americans don't have the luxury of driving all over town to do their shopping.
Other than competing on prices and products, Duke said Wal-Mart is focused on leveraging technology -- especially social networking -- more aggressively to drive sales.
"Social networking is much more a part of the purchasing decision," he said. "Consumers are communicating with each other on Facebook about how they spend their money and what they're buying."
Do you have enough larder to feed your family and some friends if grocery stores ran out of food? How about several assault rifles and a few thousand rounds of ammo? Solar panels, a water filter, medical kits, bug-out bags, fire starters, tents, sleeping bags, some junk silver and reserve gasoline?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
It’s becoming apparent to many Americans that depending on our local, state and federal governments in the event of an emergency, catastrophic societal collapse or widespread disaster will not be sufficient to meet the needs of your family. Residents in Colorado (and likely the other 49 states) are stockpiling in droves and preparing to live off the grid if it comes to that:
A Black Forest resident has erected a geodesic dome on her 5-acre spread to grow vegetables, keeps horses for emergency transportation, in case she can’t get gasoline for her car, and plans to acquire chickens and goats as food sources.
A husband and wife who have a cabin on 100 acres of secluded land in Park County have weaned their property from the electric grid, acquired a three-year food supply and taken other measures to become self-sufficient.While there’s little threat of the earthquake and tsumani that rocked Japan last month in landlocked Colorado, other epic crises on the home front are possible: A flood or fire. A terrorist attack. A nuclear weapons launch. World War III. Or an apocalyptic-type scenario.An increasing number of people say they are getting ready.“More people are getting into the survivalist mode. I’ve been in business 30 years, and I’ve never sold so many assault rifles as now. The last year was the best we’ve ever had,” said Mel Bernstein, a Class III weapons dealer and owner of Dragon Man’s shooting range east of Colorado Springs.Israeli gas masks, helmets and sand bags also have been selling well, he said.
“People are putting stuff away in case something big happens,” he said. “I think it’s superstition, but it’s been good for business.”Interest in the survivalist movement has been heightened, many say, by global turmoil.The ongoing strife in the Middle East, the lingering possibility that the Obama administration will enact stricter gun laws and the sustained economic downturn, coupled with political unrest in Libya and Japan’s nuclear catastrophe, have made people uneasy.In addition, doomsday prophesies by Nostradamus and the Mayans pinpointing 2012 are distressing for some. There’s also a group of Christians who say they’ve determined that the end of the world will begin on May 21.“People are afraid, and they want to be able to protect their families,” Bernstein said.
Y2K — the dawning of the third millennium — brought forth a fury of survivalist instincts, as many believed the nation’s network of electric connections and computer systems would crash.
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, raised concern among even the complacent.
But this time in history feels more urgent, say those who identify themselves as “preppers” — people preparing to have all they need to sustain a catastrophe.“There’s a distinct possibility that some other country could wipe out our electronics and computers, and the U.S. infrastructure is not ready — it would take six months to rebuild a transformer,” said Bob, a retired engineer who said he designed airplanes, power plants and aqueducts for the government.He asked that his last name not be used because he shares a philosophy common among preppers: the desire for anonymity. Not everyone understands why they’re doing what they’re doing, Bob said, and there’s the possibility of others looting their stockpiles.“Preppers will give someone a pound of rice and a bowl of soup, but we’ll defend ourselves against people who are going to take everything we have,” he said. “We’re doing this to make sure that we can live the way we’ve been living and we’re not going to be out there scrounging or stealing food from others.”There are any number of scenarios, both natural and man-made, that could lead to what preppers refer to as TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World as We Know It), be it an electro magnetic pulse attack, a US dollar hyperinflation, economic collapse, an earthquake along the New Madrid Fault Line, Yellow Stone’s super volcano, or the purported Mayan end of days.
While some may be more likely to occur than others, and some are improbable outliers, the fact that the possibilities exist, and that there are a whole host of reasons why life as we have come to know it could be halted from one day to the next, makes preparedness that much more reasonable.
We’ve seen how governments respond to disasters. Recent history in the modern age suggests that there is simply no way to meet the needs of millions of people if a far-from-equilibrium situation were to arise.
Americans spend thousands of dollars per year on insurance for our homes, our cars, our health, our lives, and even our mortgages.
Is it really so crazy to insure ourselves from unforeseen black swans by stockpiling some food, water, supplies and a means to protect them?
The US government is spending billions of dollars to prepare for unlikely events like war, catastrophic collapse of society, and even asteroids – maybe you should consider a little end-of-the-world insurance as well.
References: Colorado Springs Gazette, The Columbus Republic, Steve Quayle
United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL), Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) and rival U.S. carriers added a record $420 in fuel surcharges to round-trip European fares as soaring oil prices propelled first-quarter losses.
Across the industry, surcharges are as much as 50 percent greater than those put in place when fuel prices reached a record three years ago, according to air-travel website BestFares.com.
Jet fuel has become airlines’ biggest operating expense, surpassing labor and climbing to an average $2.96 a gallon from January through March, up 41 percent from a year earlier. U.S. carriers raised surcharges and fares and trimmed expansion plans to try to preserve the full-year profitability achieved in 2010, when demand rebounded after the financial crisis.
“No one foresaw the dramatic increase that has occurred over the last three months,” Chief Executive Officer Gerard Arpey told American Airlines employees in an April 20 e-mail. “It is beyond frustrating to see the fruits of our labor wiped out by something over which we have seemingly little control.”
Combined first-quarter losses for the five biggest U.S. airlines widened to $951 million from $892 million a year earlier. Among the five, only Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV) reported a profit.
Adding surcharges, which airlines have used on international flights for decades, is easier than boosting prices because fees are applied to thousands of ticket-pricing algorithms at once. Fare increases are set for individual routes and time frames, then adjusted if competitors don’t match.
“There’s no question they’re getting smarter about it,” said Michael Derchin, a CRT Capital Group LLC analyst in Stamford, Connecticut. “Even if fuel prices go down a little, you can bet that the surcharges will stay because they need it.”
American parent AMR Corp. (AMR), based in Fort Worth, Texas, was unable to overcome a 25 percent surge in fuel spending even after sales jumped 9.2 percent in the first quarter. The $1.84 billion fuel bill represented almost a third of total operating expenses.
United’s fuel expenses climbed $725 million from a year earlier, or about 35 percent, and hedging blunted about $154 million of that, Chief Financial Officer Zane Rowe said on a conference call after the Chicago-based company’s April 21 earnings report.
“Surcharges are the most effective tool for passing through higher fuel prices” for international routes, Chief Revenue Officer Jim Compton said on the call. Those fees have risen 26 percent this year on Atlantic flights, 42 percent for Latin American routes and 47 percent across the Pacific.
‘Veiled Fare Increase’
Some consultants questioned the extent of airlines’ surcharges, because the increases are outpacing fuel-price gains. Jet fuel for immediate delivery in New York Harbor closed at $3.39 a gallon yesterday, about 22 percent less than the July 2008 record of $4.36 a gallon, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“It seems airlines have come to rely on fuel surcharges as a veiled fare increase,” said Jay Sorensen, a former Midwest Airlines marketing director who is now an aviation consultant at IdeaWorks in Shorewood, Wisconsin. “The fuel surcharge should truly reflect the cost of fuel. If they are rising in excess of that, that is an abuse.”
Jet fuel climbed 29 percent from the end of last year through April 25, matching the increase in the same period of 2008, said Jean Medina, spokeswoman for the Air Transport Association, the lobbying group for the largest U.S. airlines.
“In 2008, the airlines lost $23.7 billion,” she said in an e-mailed statement. “Fuel is the airlines’ single largest expense, and due in large part to skyrocketing fuel prices, carriers lost $1 billion in the first quarter alone. Like any business, airlines must be able to cover their costs.”
The $420 surcharge on U.S.-Europe flights, which make up one of the most competitive international markets, compares with $330 in the summer of 2008 when fuel prices peaked, said Tom Parsons, chief executive of BestFares.com. The prevailing U.S.- London surcharge is $362, up from $302 in the 2008 period, he said.
Fuel surcharges between the U.S. and some countries in South America are as much as $580 round trip today, up from $390 in 2008, said Parsons, who compiles fare data in part from Sabre Holdings Corp. The fee on flights between the U.S. and Sydney is $500 now, compared with $220 in mid-2008, he said.
The Bloomberg U.S. Airlines Index slumped 11 percent this year through yesterday, compared with a 32 percent jump in jet fuel. Rising prices for crude oil, which is refined into jet fuel, also can slow economic growth and discourage lucrative business travel.
From April through June 2008, use of surcharges climbed 48 percent overall, said Zachary Wynne, a marketing analyst at Washington-based ATPCO, which collects and distributes airline fares worldwide.
The surcharges are influenced by local government regulations, flight distance and airline competition, said Tim Smith, an American Airlines spokesman.
Surcharges usually are the same among major carriers, and may be lower in markets with more competition, said Rick Seaney, CEO of Dallas-based FareCompare.com.
‘Hard to Argue’
An added benefit of the surcharges for carriers is that they’re not taxed and contractual corporate fare-discount agreements don’t apply, said Howard Brooks, the global travel practice leader at ICG Commerce, which helps companies including Whirlpool Corp. and Kimberly-Clark Corp. lower their travel spending. ICG Commerce is based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.
“Fuel surcharges are very hard to argue with,” Brooks said. “As long as airlines treat this as a reimbursement of actual costs and not a profit-maker to them, then there aren’t many things that can be done about it.”
United, the world’s largest carrier, expects to spend almost $13 billion on fuel this year, up more than $3 billion from 2010, said Christen David, a spokeswoman. The company was formed in the October merger of United and Continental airlines.
US Airways Group Inc. (LCC) will pay about $1.4 billion more for fuel this year than last, double what the carrier budgeted for, Chief Financial Officer Derek Kerr said on April 6.
Delta’s bill for fuel and related taxes rose about $610 million to $2.63 billion in this year’s first quarter compared with the same period in 2010. The company said it saved about $78 million through fuel hedges in the period.
For the full year, the Atlanta-based carrier said it would spend about $3 billion more on fuel than last year.
“As you see fuel rise and continue to rise over the course of the next few months, you can expect ticket prices to increase,” Delta President Ed Bastian said on an April 26 conference call. “That’s a fairly basic fundamental.”
In addition to boosting surcharges, four of the five biggest U.S. airlines -- United, Delta, American and Tempe, Arizona-based US Airways -- have trimmed capacity growth plans this year.
Delta is recouping about 70 percent of its costs and that “isn’t enough,” CEO Richard Anderson said on the call. “We must fully recapture our cost on every flight every day to maintain and improve our earnings performance.”
The U.S. is “deeply disappointed” after India told it this week that Boeing Co. (BA) and Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) “were not selected for procurement” for the warplane, the American embassy in New Delhi said in a statement, citing Ambassador Timothy Roemer. India’s Defence Ministry will not comment on reports it has shortlisted the aircraft of France’s Dassault Aviation SA (AM) and the European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co., ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said by phone today.
The contest for India’s order may not be over yet, with approval by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s cabinet required following the Defense Ministry’s final recommendation. Obama has sought to strengthen ties with India, the world’s second-fastest growing major economy, aiming to boost export and job growth as the U.S. struggles to pull down an elevated unemployment rate.
“A remaining uncertainty is that the defining nature of the U.S.-Indian strategic partnership might trump the purely operational and technical considerations” that have given an advantage to the European companies, said Kapil Kak, a retired Indian air vice marshal who is a director of the Center for Air Power Studies, a New Delhi think-tank.
Lockheed, based in the Washington suburb of Bethesda, Maryland, has offered its F-16 fighter, while Chicago-based Boeing aims to sell the F/A-18 Super Hornet. Those planes were first designed in the 1970s and Lockheed’s F-22, the most advanced and expensive fighter in the U.S. arsenal, was not offered for the sale.
The ministry’s preference for the newer, European models “is not a political choice,” said V.K. Kapoor, a retired lieutenant general who monitors India’s military procurements. “It was a by-the-book technical assessment that the American F-16 and F/A-18, despite their upgrades, are not future- generation aircraft,” Kapoor said by phone. “They can remain current for another five or 10 years, but this deal is going to determine the operational capacity of our air force for the next 30 years.”
The Defence Ministry will open talks with Dassault and EADS “to see how to get the best overall deal out of the companies,” Kak said, citing air force officials. “We can expect that to begin in June and to take eight or nine months,” he said.
Lockheed closed down 0.1 percent at $79.06 in New York yesterday, when the Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index advanced 0.4 percent. Boeing gained 3.2 percent to $78.55 after Citigroup Inc. raised its share-price estimate on the company.
The U.S. is “respectful of the procurement process” and will continue to “develop our defense partnership with India,” Roemer said in the statement.
Boeing said in a statement it was disappointed and will request a debriefing from the Indian air force on the decision.
Sweden’s Saab AB (SAABB) said in a statement that its Gripen fighter had been dropped from consideration for the planned purchase of 126 jets, a deal that Kak said may expand to 200 or more because of attrition among the Indian air force’s fleet of MiG-21 aircraft, some of which were built in the 1970s.
A spokesman for Russia’s state arms export agency, Rosoboronexport, Vyacheslav Davidenko, declined in a phone interview to comment on the reported exclusion of state- controlled OAO United Aircraft Corp.
Foreign governments and companies struggling to recover from global recession are competing to sell the $120 billion worth of arms that India may buy from next year to 2017 according to an estimate last year by the Confederation of Indian Industry and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India Pvt.
Obama led a delegation of CEOs, including Boeing’s Jim McNerney, on a November visit to India in which the president urged increased trade between the two countries that he said will support tens of thousands of U.S. jobs. French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived a month later with the CEOs of Dassault and EADS, and Russia’s President Dmitri Medvedev followed to lobby for military sales.
India’s Defence Ministry issued letters to EADS and Dassault asking them to extend the validity of their bids for the warplane contract, the Press Trust of India reported, citing company sources it didn’t identify. The New Delhi-based military affairs website Stratpost said the letters were issued April 27, “effectively making up the shortlist” for the purchase.
“We’ve seen indications for nearly two months now that the Indian air force seems inclined to shortlist the Eurofighter and Rafale,” built respectively by EADS and Dassault, said Kak. India’s air force can operate only about 30 of its desired 40 air squadrons because of the aging of its MiG-21s and Dassault Mirage 2000s, he said.
Twenty-one air force MiGs crashed between 2007 and 2010, Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony told parliament last year.
India’s arms-buying has been slowed by officials’ sensitivities over corruption scandals in previous purchases, including one that helped drive Singh’s Congress Party to defeat in 1989 elections, say analysts such as Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, senior fellow for South Asia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
Since the 1980s, no Indian government has made an open-bid arms purchase valued at as much as $100 million, or about 1 percent of the fighter deal’s size, Roy-Chaudhury and other analysts say.
“I have been personally assured at the highest levels of the Indian government that the procurement process for this aircraft has been and will be transparent and fair,” Roemer said yesterday. His statement was released by the U.S. Embassy hours after it announced that he has offered his resignation for “personal, professional and family reasons.”
That billions of US taxpayer dollars are going to Israel at a time when programs like Medicare and Social Security are facing cuts is absolutely indefensible.
The Ugly Truth
Apologists for Israel sometimes argue that critics of that nation hold the government in Tel Aviv up to an impossibly high standard, that many condemn Israelis for doing things that other countries in the world also do routinely. That argument has a certain persuasiveness in that Bahrain’s Sunni rulers treat the country’s Shi’a majority just as badly as Israeli Jews treat Palestinian Arabs, but it misses the point. How Israel treats its own minority citizens, Gazans, and residents of the West Bank, and its neighbors might be significant from a humanitarian point of view, but it is not a vital interest of the United States. That Washington has become a victim of the internal politics of the Middle East is largely due to manipulation by Israel and its lobby, which has turned all Americans into enablers of Israeli policies, no matter how short-sighted or ill-conceived. It is the US national interest that has been sacrificed in the process. That is the point.
For those who would argue that such a view of the US interest versus that of Israel is simplistic, I would point out three developments over the past several weeks that together make the case that Israel has extraordinary ability to manipulate Washington. First would be the budget debate, in which Republicans united to call for deep cuts in the proposed federal budget before settling for less than one tenth of one percent. Senator Rand Paul had courageously raised the possibility of ending all foreign aid, including to Israel, but generally speaking any reduction in assistance at the current $3 billion plus level was off the table. Several congressmen, including Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs committee, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor explicitly stated their opposition to any reduction in aid to Israel. But the real surprise came in the final spending bill. Israel not only was not cut in its assistance level, it received $205 million in additional funding for its Iron Dome defensive missile development, which competes with US defense firm Raytheon’s Patriot system.
That billions of US taxpayer dollars are going to Israel at a time when programs like Medicare and Social Security are facing cuts is absolutely indefensible. That Congress would be so tone deaf as to vote more money for Israel when domestic programs are being slashed is symptomatic of the hold that the Lobby has over the US government. Israel does not need money from the United States. It has a strong economy and in per capita income it ranks at the same level as Great Britain. Its citizens receive free medical care and education through university level. It has received generous trade and co-production concessions from Congress that some claim amount to $10 billion a year in aggregate national income while its own markets are difficult for US companies to penetrate. The only explanation for Israel’s being showered with American taxpayer largesse is that the Lobby wants it to be so, to provide a tangible sign of America’s unflinching support.
A second indication of Israel’s control over Congress even when it is not in the US national interest is the issuance of frequent resolutions by both the House and Senate in support of every move taken by Israel. Ever since the United Nations’ Goldstone Report was released, detailing Israeli war crimes in its Cast Lead invasion of Gaza in January 2009, there have been efforts to delegitimize the report’s findings. Normally, the US is able to block any investigation into Israeli missteps, as it successfully did when Lebanon was bombed and invaded in 2006, an event that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described as “birth pangs of a new Middle East,” but the devastation of UN sponsored relief facilities and schools resulting from Cast Lead was such that an international investigation could not be avoided.
The Obama Administration has persistently questioned the Goldstone Report’s conclusions, the media has largely ignored the crimes against civilians that it describes, and Congress has been working hard to put pressure on the United Nations to rescind the report in its entirety. The objective of Israel’s friends is to protect its government and defense forces from any accountability for the deaths of 1,400 Palestinians, most of whom were civilians and many of whom were children. Israel’s independent investigation into possible war crimes committed by its soldiers has been essentially bogus, with only one soldier receiving seven months in jail for fraudulently using a stolen credit card.
The strenuous efforts by the United States government to shield Israel make all Americans complicit in a cover-up of war crimes, which is precisely how the rest of the world sees it. Senate Resolution 138, which passed by a unanimous consent vote on April 14th, called on the United Nations to rescind the Goldstone Report, demanded that the UN Human Rights Council be reformed so that it will stop criticizing Israel, and urged the White House to take the lead to “limit the damage that this libelous report has caused to our close ally Israel…” But it did not have any teeth in terms of compelling a UN response.
That failure has been addressed by the House of Representatives. The Foreign Affairs Committee of the House is currently considering a bill, HR 1501, “To withhold United States contributions to the United Nations until the United Nations formally retracts” the Goldstone Report. As the committee is headed by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a passionate supporter of Israel, it is certain that the bill will go to the full House for approval, where it will likely pass overwhelmingly. However one feels about the United Nations in general, it is difficult to understate what this bill will do to America’s standing vis-à-vis a number of international bodies. There is no possible explanation for this bill but to protect Israel from any and all legitimate criticism. As is frequently the case, the United States and its citizens will pay the price in terms of America’s approval rating sinking even lower worldwide. Defending Israel from criticism does not appear either in the US Constitution or the Bill of Rights and sacrificing American interests for those of a foreign power is just not acceptable, but Congress has long since abandoned any attempt to mandate minimal standards of accountability, either for itself or for the state of Israel.
Finally, there is the invitation by Congress to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session. Netanyahu will do so during the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual convention at the end of May. The speech is at the invitation of the new Republican leadership of the House of Representatives, but it is sure to have bipartisan support. In a widely reported meeting with Netanyahu in November 2010, Eric Cantor, House majority leader, met privately with Bibi Netanyahu and said the Republican Party would serve “as a check on” the Obama Administration over its policies in the Middle East. Then “He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other.” In other words, Cantor was meeting with the leader of a foreign country and promising to do whatever he could to influence and even subvert the foreign policy of his own country. Cantor apparently is delivering on his pledge because the timing of the Netanyahu visit and speech is clearly designed to preempt any peace plan offered by the White House that Israel might object to, meaning that Congress is again undercutting on behalf of Israel the prerogative of the president to conduct foreign policy.
It has already leaked that Netanyahu will likely reveal what he calls a new peace plan asserting forcefully that Israel’s security must be guaranteed. Which means a Palestinian state with no authority to do anything that states normally do, disarmed and not even controlling its own borders or airspace. It would essentially be the status quo wrapped up as a totally bogus peace agreement and there is no sign that Netanyahu might be willing to abandon his most ardent supporters, 500,000 strong in the settlements built on Palestinian land.
It is difficult to see what the American interest is in offering a congressional bully pulpit to a man like Netanyahu who has clearly condoned war crimes and it would seem pointless to listen to yet another Israeli attempt to prevaricate and, let’s face it, lie. Conservative columnist Joe Sobran once commented on an earlier Netanyahu speech before Congress back in 1996. He likened the response to that given to Josef Stalin when addressing the Supreme Soviet, with everyone standing up and applauding wildly because no one dared to be seen as the first to stop clapping. Hopefully both Ron and Rand Paul and Dennis Kucinich will not bother to applaud at all.
And looking ahead there will be congressional and White House moves to stop the Palestinians from attempting to declare statehood when the UN General Assembly reopens in September, a move that Israel and AIPAC condemn. Stay tuned. If there is a genuine American national interest in any of these shenanigans, it completely escapes me as to what it might be, but one has to conclude that there is nothing good for the United States and its citizens in any of this.