Friday, April 9, 2010

Bilderberg To Prolong Global Financial Recession For Another Year

Tucker: Elite will get together in Sitges, Spain from June 3-6 to push agenda for world economic governance; Hotel Dolce Sitges likely location

Bilderberg To Prolong Global Financial Recession For Another Year 090410top

The Bilderberg Group will meet this year in Spain and continue to advance their agenda for world economic governance while agreeing to prolong the global financial recession for another year, according to Bilderberg sleuth Jim Tucker, who has discovered through his routinely accurate inside sources that the conference will take place from June 3-6.

Bilderberg sleuths were correct in predicting that this year’s meeting would take place in western Europe, but were wrong in pinpointing the UK as the likeliest location. The 2010 conference will take place in a coastal resort called Sitges, which is about 20 miles from Barcelona.

Bilderberg have now been absent from the UK for the longest time in their history. Even if Bilderberg chooses the UK as their 2011 destination, 13 years will have passed since their 1998 conference in Scotland, the longest gap between UK conferences since the group’s founding in 1954. As we highlighted yesterday, Bilderberg’s decision to avoid the UK is undoubtedly related to increased awareness of the group and the expectation that they would receive unwanted press attention as well as sizeable demonstrations if they held the meeting in the British Isles.

Bilderberg last met in Spain in 1989 when they held their annual conference on the Spanish island of La Toja.

This year’s confab will be similarly secluded, with Bilderberg’s increasing army of police and private security guards on hand to create a lock down of the entire resort.

Bilderberg will have a wide choice of hotels from which to host their secretive get-together, meaning the precise location of the conference will be harder than ever to pin down. The area is known for having a plethora of high standard hotels and is a popular tourist resort.

The most likely candidate however would appear to be the Hotel Dolce Sitges (pictured top), a 5 star luxury resort adjacent to a prestigious golf club. Forming the consensus which sets the agenda for global policy behind closed doors can be stressful, which is why Bilderbergers like to interrupt their scheming with the odd round of golf.

“Business facilities include 11 meeting rooms, 25 breakout rooms, 2 boardrooms, and a spacious amphitheatre accommodating up to 60 guests. All of the venues are equipped with the latest audiovisual technologies and ideal for holding congresses, cocktails, weddings and any other kind of event for up to 550 guests,” states the promotional text for the hotel, suggesting it would be ideal for the Bilderbergers.

Bilderberg To Prolong Global Financial Recession For Another Year 090410top2
The Hotel Dolce Sitges has no rooms available from June 2 to June 6, strongly indicating that this is when the resort will be locked down for the arrival of Bilderberg elitists.

The resort appears to be suitably secluded and away from the crowded tourist areas, making it perfect for Bilderberg’s needs. In addition, attempting to book a room from June 3-6 via the hotel’s website reveals that no rooms are available from June 2 to June 6, strongly indicating that this is when the resort will be locked down for Bilderberg.

However, Bilderberg has been known to leak false information about where the group is staying, so we cannot confirm the exact location until Jim Tucker or Daniel Estulin pinpoint the precise location via their inside sources, who have proven to be habitually accurate.

Bilderberg To Prolong Global Financial Recession For Another Year sitges
State of the art conference facilities and 5 star luxury suggest the Hotel Dolce Sitges may be the preferred location for this year’s Bilderberg meeting.

This year’s confab will focus around prolonging the global financial recession and creating more economic woe in order to provide the pretext for more regulation in pursuit of world economic governance, according to Jim Tucker’s sources.

“Bilderberg hopes to keep the global recession going for at least a year, according to an international financial consultant who deals personally with many of them. This is because, among several reasons, Bilderberg still hopes to create a global “treasury department” under the United Nations. Bilderberg first undertook this mission at its meeting last spring in Greece, but the effort was blocked by nationalists in Europe and the United States. “Nationalists” (a dirty word in Bilderberg) objected to surrendering sovereignty to the UN,” writes Tucker.

Tucker’s source highlighted a recent speech by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in which he called for a “new global monetary order.” As we have highlighted, such rhetoric has been abundant over the past year, with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and EU President Herman Van Rompuy repeatedly echoing similar ideas.

As Bilderberg investigator Daniel Estulin revealed during last year’s Bilderberg meeting in Greece, elitists were planning to paint a false picture of economic recovery in order to sucker investors into ploughing their money back into the stock market, which is exactly what has happened with the Dow soaring back to just below the 11,000 level.

Estulin correctly predicted the housing crash and the 2008 financial meltdown as a result of what his sources inside Bilderberg told him the elite were planning based on what was said at their 2006 meeting in Canada and the 2007 conference in Turkey.

“Bilderberg’s ultimate goal remains unchanged,” writes Tucker. “Turn the UN into a world government with “nation-states” becoming merely geographic references. The European Union is to become a single political entity, followed by the “American Union” and, finally, the “Asian-Pacific Union.” The “American Union” is to include the entire Western Hemisphere, including Cuba and other offshore islands.”

Cash-strapped county offers Hollywood chance to blow up decaying bridge

A financially-strapped Florida county has offered Hollywood the chance to blow up a bridge it cannot afford to maintain.

Friendship Bridge in Tampa Bay

The decaying 2.6 mile-long Friendship Trail Bridge was deemed unsafe and closed last year after an engineering report concluded it was in danger of collapsing into Tampa Bay.

Politicians in Pinellas County have baulked at the $48 million (£32 million) it would cost to repair the concrete bridge but are also dismayed by the $13 million (£8.5million) it would cost to demolish it.

The solution that has been put forward by John Morroni, a county commissioner, is to offer a big-budget filmmaker the chance to include the bridge's demolition in its production.

"See if there is anyone, any kind of filmers, that would like to come down and blow up that bridge for a movie," Mr Morroni told the St Petersburg Times.

And they would do it under their budget and it wouldn't cost us a thing, or very little." The idea may sound far-fetched but Pinellas County has had some success in this area. In 1991, the producers of Lethal Weapon 3, an action film starring Mel Gibson, paid the county $50,000 for the right to film the old city hall being torn down.

However, the feasibility of auctioning the bridge's destruction has been played down by the state's film commission, which seeks to encourage productions in Florida.

Todd Roobin, a Florida Film Board member, said Hollywood producers no longer had the sort of budget to cover the entire cost of a demolition although he conceded they might pay for some of it.

The Coming European Debt Wars

Government debt in Greece is just the first in a series of European debt bombs that are set to explode. The mortgage debts in post-Soviet economies and Iceland are more explosive. Although these countries are not in the Eurozone, most of their debts are denominated in euros. Some 87% of Latvia’s debts are in euros or other foreign currencies, and are owed mainly to Swedish banks, while Hungary and Romania owe euro-debts mainly to Austrian banks. So their government borrowing by non-euro members has been to support exchange rates to pay these private-sector debts to foreign banks, not to finance a domestic budget deficit as in Greece.

All these debts are unpayably high because most of these countries are running deepening trade deficits and are sinking into depression. Now that real estate prices are plunging, trade deficits are no longer financed by an inflow of foreign-currency mortgage lending and property buyouts. There is no visible means of support to stabilize currencies (e.g., healthy economies). For the past year these countries have supported their exchange rates by borrowing from the EU and IMF. The terms of this borrowing are politically unsustainable: sharp public sector budget cuts, higher tax rates on already over-taxed labor, and austerity plans that shrink economies and drive more labor to emigrate.

Bankers in Sweden and Austria, Germany and Britain are about to discover that extending credit to nations that can’t (or won’t) pay may be their problem, not that of their debtors. No one wants to accept the fact that debts that can’t be paid, won’t be. Someone must bear the cost as debts go into default or are written down, to be paid in sharply depreciated currencies, but many legal experts find debt agreements calling for repayment in euros unenforceable. Every sovereign nation has the right to legislate its own debt terms, and the coming currency re-alignments and debt write-downs will be much more than mere “haircuts.”

There is no point in devaluing, unless “to excess” – that is, by enough to actually change trade and production patterns. That is why Franklin Roosevelt devalued the US dollar by 75% against gold in 1933, raising its official price from $20 to $35 an ounce. And to avoid raising the U.S. debt burden proportionally, he annulled the “gold clause” indexing payment of bank loans to the price of gold. This is where the political fight will occur today – over the payment of debt in currencies that are devalued.

Another byproduct of the Great Depression in the United States and Canada was to free mortgage debtors from personal liability, making it possible to recover from bankruptcy. Foreclosing banks can take possession of collateral real estate, but do not have any further claim on the mortgagees. This practice – grounded in common law – shows how North America has freed itself from the legacy of feudal-style creditor power and the debtors’ prisons that made earlier European debt laws so harsh.

The question is, who will bear the loss? Keeping debts denominated in euros would bankrupt much local business and real estate. Conversely, re-denominating these debts in local depreciated currency will wipe out the capital of many euro-based banks. But these banks are foreigners, after all – and in the end, governments must represent their own home electorates. Foreign banks do not vote.

Foreign dollar holders have lost 29/30th of the gold value of their holdings since the United States stopped settling its balance-of-payments deficits in gold in 1971. They now receive less than a thirtieth of this, as the price has risen to $1,100 an ounce. If the world can take that, why shouldn’t it take the coming European debt write-downs in stride?

There is growing recognition that the post-Soviet economies were structured from the start to benefit foreign interests, not local economies. For example, Latvian labor is taxed at over 50% (labor, employer, and social tax) – so high as to make it noncompetitive, while property taxes are less than 1%, providing an incentive toward rampant speculation. This skewed tax philosophy made the “Baltic Tigers” and central Europe prime loan markets for Swedish and Austrian banks, but their labor could not find well-paying work at home. Nothing like this (or their abysmal workplace protection laws) is found in the Western European, North American or Asian economies.

It seems unreasonable and unrealistic to expect that large sectors of the New European population can be made subject to salary garnishment throughout their lives, reducing them to a lifetime of debt peonage. Future relations between Old and New Europe will depend on the Eurozone’s willingness to re-design the post-Soviet economies on more solvent lines – with more productive credit and a less rentier-biased tax system that promotes employment rather than asset-price inflation that drives labor to emigrate. In addition to currency realignments to deal with unaffordable debt, the indicated line of solution for these countries is a major shift of taxes off labor onto land, making them more like Western Europe. There is no just alternative. Otherwise, the age-old conflict-of-interest between creditors and debtors threatens to split Europe into opposing political camps, with Iceland the dress rehearsal.

Until this debt problem is resolved – and the only way to resolve it is to negotiate a debt write-off – European expansion (the absorption of New Europe into Old Europe) seems over. But the transition to this future solution will not be easy. Financial interests still wield dominant power over the EU, and will resist the inevitable. Gordon Brown already has shown his colors in his threats against Iceland to illegally and improperly use the IMF as a collection agent for debts that Iceland doesn’t legally owe, and to blackball Icelandic membership in the EU.

Confronted with Mr. Brown’s bullying – and that of Britain’s Dutch poodles – 97% of Icelandic voters opposed the debt settlement that Britain and the Netherlands sought to force down the throat of Allthing members last month. This high a vote has not been seen in the world since the old Stalinist era.

It is only a foretaste. The choice that Europe ends up making will likely drive millions into the streets. Political and economic alliances will shift, currencies will crumble and governments will fall. The European Union and indeed, the international financial system will change in ways yet to be seen. This will be especially the case if nations adopt the Argentina model and refuse to make payment until steep discounts are made.

Paying in euros – for real estate and personal income streams in negative equity, where the debts exceed the current value of income flows available to pay mortgages or for that matter, personal debts – is impossible for nations that hope to maintain a modicum of civil society. “Austerity plans” IMF and EU style is an antiseptic, technocratic jargon for life-shortening and killing impact of gutting income, social services, spending on health on hospitals, education and other basic needs, and selling off public infrastructure for buyers to turn nations into “tollbooth economies” where everyone is obliged to pay access prices for roads, education, medical care and other costs of living and doing business that have long been subsidized by progressive taxation in North America and Western Europe.

The battle lines are being drawn regarding how private and public debts are to be repaid. For nations that balk at repayment in euros, the creditor nations have their “muscle” waiting in the wings: the credit rating agencies. At the first sign a nation is balking in paying in hard currency, or even at the first hint of it questioning a foreign debt as improper, the agencies will move in to reduce a nation’s credit rating. This will increase the cost of borrowing and threaten to paralyze the economy by starving it for credit.

The most recent shot was fired n April 6 when Moody’s downgraded Iceland’s debt from stable to negative. “Moody’s acknowledged that Iceland might still achieve a better deal in renewed negotiations, but said the current uncertainty was hurting the country’s short-term economic and financial prospects.”[1]

The fight is on. It should be an interesting decade.

by Prof. Micheal Hudson

Jim Rogers Discusses Commodities Market, Gold Prices

Click this link ......

The Guy Who Stole All Our Money Now Wants to Steal Our Paycheck, Too

Ben Bernanke has funneled trillions of dollars worth of bailouts, guarantees and sweetheart deals to U.S. (and foreign - and see this) banks.

This money was pickpocketed from you and me, directly (through government spending) and indirectly (increasing debt costs, future inflation, etc).

Bernanke is now calling for tax increases and raising the possibility of reductions in entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security.

Tax increases means we keep less from each paycheck. Reduction in services means that money we've already paid to the government (through social security, etc.) will now instead be paid to the bankers to service the U.S. debt.

Isn't that like a guy who stole our money now trying to steal our paycheck, too?

As JR writes:

We now have the unbelievable spectacle of the banker as the taxman—Volcker, the banker calling for a VAT tax; Bernanke calling for a tax hike and the possibility of reductions in Medicare and Social Security.

At last, the pretense is gone. First these bankers, posing as national leaders with a mission to rein in inflation, steal the money from the treasury, debase the currency, game the debt, and, now, take the lead in asking for more.

What a VAT Means for the Economy

Click this link ........

Wall street's Naked short Swindle, $3.87 trillion dollar lawsuit.

Click this link ......

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke sounds a warning on growing deficit

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke warned Wednesday that Americans may have to accept higher taxes or changes in cherished entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security if the nation is to avoid staggering budget deficits that threaten to choke off economic growth.

"These choices are difficult, and it always seems easier to put them off -- until the day they cannot be put off anymore," Bernanke said in a speech. "But unless we as a nation demonstrate a strong commitment to fiscal responsibility, in the longer run we will have neither financial stability nor healthy economic growth."

His stern lecture came as the economy is emerging from the worst recession in years, sending the stock market up considerably over the past year and raising public hopes for a return to prosperity. But the economic downturn -- with tumbling tax revenue, aggressive stimulus spending and rising safety-net payments such as unemployment insurance -- has driven already large budget deficits to their highest level relative to the economy since the end of World War II. This has fueled public concern over how long the United States can sustain its fiscal policies.

The health-care bill signed by President Obama last month has further stoked the national debate over government entitlement programs, though the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has projected that the legislation would actually reduce future deficits.

Barely two months after Bernanke was confirmed by Congress for a second term following a bruising fight, he used his bully pulpit to tread into an area of economic policy that is usually the province of the president and Congress. He characterized the budget gap as the biggest long-term economic challenge the nation faces, even as he acknowledged that reducing the deficit immediately would be "neither practical nor advisable" given the still-weak economy.

While the immediate audience for the speech was the Dallas Regional Chamber, his message was intended for Congress and the Obama administration. Officials in both branches have spoken of the need for a more sustainable fiscal policy, but few have proposed concrete plans to achieve it. A deficit commission created by Obama is scheduled to begin meeting at the end of the month.

With his warning about what could be the next economic crisis, Bernanke offered a contrast to Alan Greenspan, his predecessor as Fed chairman. Greenspan did little to sound an alert about the housing and credit bubbles that brought on the financial crisis and was pilloried on Wednesday by a special congressional commission for the Fed's lapses during his tenure.

Bernanke did not endorse any particular approach to reducing the deficit. But he laid out the "difficult choices."

"To avoid large and ultimately unsustainable budget deficits, the nation will ultimately have to choose among higher taxes, modifications to entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, less spending on everything else from education to defense, or some combination of the above," he said.

His remarks highlighted the difficulties posed by funding these entitlement programs over the long term. With the population aging and medical costs rising faster than inflation, Medicare is set to become a major drain on the federal budget in the coming decades, though the recently passed health-care bill has delayed the date when the program will begin to require big infusions of cash.

Social Security is already draining resources from the broader federal budget, as spending on benefits has risen above this year's Social Security tax collections. While that gap is expected to be fleeting, the program, the largest single item in the federal budget, is projected to require sustained support within the next 10 years.

Bernanke argued that if the government develops a "credible plan" to reduce long-term deficits, it could help boost the economy before long. Such a plan could enhance investors' confidence in the financial health of the United States and make them more willing to lend the government money at lower interest rates. That, in turn, could lower long-term interest rates in general, making it cheaper for Americans to get a home mortgage or for companies to borrow money to build a factory.


Initial jobless claims increase unexpectedly

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of newly laid-off workers seeking unemployment benefits rose last week, a sign that jobs remain scarce even as the economy recovers.

The increase also may result from the difficulty the Labor Department has in seasonally adjusting the claims around the Easter holiday, which falls on different weeks each year.

"This is ... a volatile time when the numbers move around quite a bit," a department analyst said.

The Labor Department said Thursday that first-time claims increased by 18,000 in the week ended April 3, to a seasonally adjusted 460,000. That's worse than economists' estimates of a drop to 435,000, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

California also closed its state offices for a holiday on March 31, which likely held down the claims figures. On an unadjusted basis, claims rose by 6,500 to nearly 415,000.

Initial claims have dropped four out of the past six weeks and many economists say they are likely to soon resume their decline.

"Not everything goes in a straight line," Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, wrote in a research note. "Definitely not the claims data."

Separately, retail sales jumped last month as warmer weather and the Easter holiday brought out shoppers in droves.

Discounter Target Corp., department store Macy's Inc., clothier Gap Inc. and Victoria's Secret parent Limited Brands Inc. posted double-digit increases that beat Wall Street analysts' expectations.

Overall, sales in stores open at least a year rose 9 percent in March, based on an index of 31 retailers compiled by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

The stock market dipped in midday trading. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 16 points while broader indexes also edged down.

Economists closely watch unemployment insurance filings, which are seen as a gauge of layoffs and a measure of companies' willingness to hire new workers.

The four week average, which smoothes volatility, rose to 450,250. Two weeks ago, the average fell to its lowest level since September 2008, when Lehman Brothers collapsed and the financial crisis intensified.

Jobless claims peaked during the recession at 651,000 in late March 2009.

The figures underscore that the job market remains weak even as the economy recovers. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday that high unemployment is one of the toughest challenges the economy faces.

While layoffs have slowed, hiring is "very weak," he said.

"We are far from being out of the woods," Bernanke said in a speech in Dallas. "Many Americans are still grappling with unemployment or foreclosure or both."

On a more positive note in the Labor Department's report, the tally of people continuing to claim benefits fell by 131,000 to 4.55 million, the lowest level since December 2008.

That figure lags initial claims by a week. But it doesn't include millions of people who have used up the regular 26 weeks of benefits typically provided by states, and are receiving extended benefits for up to 73 additional weeks, paid for by the federal government.

Slightly more than 5.8 million people were receiving extended benefits in the week ended March 20, the latest data available, a drop of about 230,000 from the previous week. The extended benefit data isn't seasonally adjusted and is volatile from week to week.

Other recent reports have indicated that employers are slowly ramping up hiring. The Labor Department said Friday that the nation added a net total of 162,000 jobs in March, the most in three years. The unemployment rate held at 9.7 percent for the third straight month.

Layoffs fell to their lowest level in three years in February, according to a separate government report Tuesday. But hiring remained about 40 percent below pre-recession levels.

Some companies are still cutting jobs. An oilfield services company, Denver-based EnerCrest, said this month it has closed five locations in four states, losing 225 employees. Business software company Computer Associates Inc. said Tuesday that it is cutting 1,000 jobs as part of a plan to reduce costs.

Some recipients of the extended federal aid could see their benefits disrupted this week, as Congress failed to approve a continuation of the federal programs before leaving for a two-week vacation at the end of March.

That could cut off benefits for more than 200,000 people this week, according to the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group, but Congressional Democratic leaders have said they will make up for the lost checks when they extend the program later this month.

AP Retail Writer Mae Anderson contributed to this report from New York City.

10 Million Americans Disappeared during the Great Depression Time

While America lectures Russia on the 1932-33 famine in Ukraine, Russian historian Boris Borisov asks what became of over seven million American citizens who disappeared from US population records in the 1930s.

RT: What made you research the history of what you call "American Holodomor"?

B.B: It was very simple. As I was doing comparative research of the American Great Depression in the 1930s, and the Great Depression of the 1990s in Russia, I grew interested in the social dimension of the tragedy. It was logical that I looked up official American documents and found out that the discrepancies were so obvious that any independent researcher would not but have doubt about the official U.S. statistic data. All appears to be rather interesting. I will come to that later.

The U.S. Congress added fuel to the fire by adopting resolutions nearly every year blaming the Soviet government for alleged stagedfamine in the 1930s in Ukraine. The first resolution came in 1988, 50 years after the events described. The current members of Congress wonder about the following, and I quote, "people in the government were aware of what was going on, but did not do anything to help the starving".

At that very period of 1930s, the wealthy city of New York saw kilometre-long lines of people for free soup. There were no queues on the city"s main streets though, but not because there were no hungry people but because most of the cities did not have any money ? they were just bankrupt.

So, I became curious about that and carried out some research that brought about interesting results.

RT: You say that America of the early 1930s made over seven million people perish. It"s a horrifying figure and it needs an explanation. What do you base yourresearch on and why do you say the population statistics of the U.S. government of 1932-33 was falsified?

B.B.: Seven and a half million people does not mean the number of particular victims of the famine, but a general demographic loss, or the difference between the supposed population on the date of the census that was due to be held in 1940 and the factual number of people. In reality, the total demographic loss is bigger. The fact is not contested by anyone. The figure is more than ten million people.

However, when you start researching the subject, you find that there is a migration component ? people were coming to the country and leaving. All can be calculated. It turns out then, that three million people can be subtracted at the cost of migration ? in approximate figures, as it is not a scientific report.

What"s left is 7.5 million people still missing. The question is: ?

Voluntary defenders of U.S. values who venture to discuss the matter with me, normally begin with a statement that those people were simply not born. However, if we take the age pyramid and distribute the people according to their dates of birth, it becomes apparent that 5.5 million children and two million grown-ups are missing from the 7.5 million. So, those two million people could not have been non-existent ? as they had been born. They could only die.

As a result, I consider the two million of grown-up victims as the limit proved from the bottom ? for 10 years, let me emphasise this.

Could the remaining children out of those 5.5 not have been born? The U.S. statistics does not answer this question. If we use the method of international juxtapositions and see how demography reacted to similar disastrous events in other countries, we will see that the distribution of the demographic was divided between the children who had died and had not been born in the ratio of ? to ?. In other words, it"s from 2 to 4 million extra losses.

The overall loss in ten years could be estimated as being from four - or slightly fewer - to six - or slightly more - million.

Let me quote some figures, if you don"t mind ? demonstrating how other countries reacted to the similar situation. If you believe that four or six million people is a terrible number, let me quote this: male mortality rate in Russia: 810,000 in 1984; 1,226,000 in 1994 - whereas the population is the same. In other words, as compared with 1984, the year 1996 had an additional number of 416,000 dead males. You have to add females and children to that figure.

As of now the prevalence of the death rate over birth rate yet remains, although smaller. Some say it is horrible, others say it"s normal as the country is developing. So there are different takes about there being half a million dead. Nobody tears his or her hair out to discuss this.

Likewise, there were opposing viewpoints in the USA. Some said it was horrible ? "We had millions of people deprived of their land!" ? those who read Steinbeck well knew the situation from his documentary-authentic novels depicting starving children. Others say, "No, it"s all right. We"re fighting depression and all is as scheduled." Like here today, I think.

RT: Imagine the so-called "hungry marches" in the times of President Hoover and quote memories of a child about those events. Did you actually find any survivors still alive to tell the story and confirm the fact of "American Holodomor"?

B.B.: Let me draw your attention to the fact that it was not me who called those marches "hunger marches". They were called so by the participants. When someone goes marching in protest against war, they protest against war because people get killed there. When someone protests against hunger, it means they protest against dying of starvation, and the people are ready for social unrest. You may know that not only the police but also regular military troops were used to disperse those marches.

There is a huge amount of evidence. Let me quote some. For example. The thing is that in summer an article by Dmitriy Lyskov was published in the English translation, with some conclusions drawn from myresearch. That caused active discussion in English-language blogs, also in the USA, which is understandable.

What do Americans write in their stories? Just three quotes:

1) The ancient members of my family told me how people used to come to the door asking to do a day"s work for only a meal.

2) If this story is true and our federal government knew the enormity of the crisis during the 30s, then it might explain their silence about thefamine in Ukraine during the same time.

3) It's a good argument. I heard lots of stories about the Depression from all my relatives, and especially from my mother and father. People were starving, I don"t dispute that. But I don"t think it would have been seven million.

We can see flat ideological statements about democracy and freedom in the USA then, therefore such things just could not have been there. However, we have authentic stories, so numerous that one could make volumes out of them and put them on a shelf.

RT: Such outstanding historical moments are usually reflected in literature, films, and, of course, journalist reports and research articles. The American depression is definitely one of those remarkable periods. Is there any proof of your theory in an article of a newspaper of that time?

B.B.: They did write about it, of course, but in a style similar to that used in our newspapers about the 1990s. They criticised the government, parties fought each other, someone criticised local authorities, someone insisted on their programmes, others on the opposite. As a whole, however, the bigger picture of the epoch will be seen only in a while. As for sources, they can be used for reference about those real events that were happening there.

Of course, journalists may be interested in a fact about a tractor that pulled down a farm. There are many facts of this kind ? Steinbeck eloquently tells a lot about such things. But as to what happened to that farm later, the fact being that ten people left but only eight came back, is seldom told ? both then and now. It"s not something of big interest to journalists.

For instance, who died in your family in the past two years?

You must bear in mind that those who died are in the lowest stratum of the American society ? either had been poor, or became poor and failed to get out of this level. Try to find research details about the death rate among homeless people in Russia now ? you will encounter big difficulties. You may find, but that may take a long time. And you will hardly find anything in newspapers, despite the fact that mortality among the homeless is there. And it"s about citizens of Russia and most likely the number of those dying is big. Perhaps the factor that not all of them volunteered to become homeless is the answer.

RT: In your article, you write about the agrarian business lobby you claim is guilty of destroying the state food resources. Can you please tell more about it and maybe compare it to any instance of more recent economic wars or lobbies, maybe?

B.B.: The modern example is obvious ? it"s a modern programme of producing fuel from food. It"s not by chance, that the Cuban leader Fidel Castro raised this question, thus dotting the "i"s" and crossing the "t"s". As a matter of fact, producing fuel from food is something to enrich someone, whereas impoverishing dozens of millions of others. The process is already there and the current increase of food prices is already causing political unrest and more deaths. Medical specialists don't do this in third-world countries nor in rich countries so far. The process is under way. Unless stopped, by the end of the 21st century, the programme of obtaining fuel from food will be studied in history books on pages next to Hitler and concentration camps. The scale of the consequences would be comparable, in terms of the number of victims.

This is what concerns the current situation.

RT: We had these discussions in the time of chaos and depression in the world"s financial markets. Hundreds of people are losing their jobs, credits are not paid back, the mortgage crisis is on. As an economist, do you see this as the beginning of a new great depression and, actually, a new Holodomor?

B.B.: Comparing the current crisis with the Great Depression has become commonplace in economic discussions. I would rather not over-load you with some economic terms but let me give you a simple example. The modern crisis radically differs from the one in the early 20th century. Whereas that crisis was of an industrial society, this one is of a post-industrial society and the economy of services.

What does that mean? Imagine yourself a highly-paid specialist in securities. You strike deals and earn a lot. You"re sure you"re worth it, because the deals yield good profits. Who do you need? A legal adviser. Many of them, with an office, secretaries, clerks ? all of whom help you not to lose your money and do your business. Who do the legal advisers need? They need bank employees who take their lucrative salaries and deposit them at advantageous terms. This is what makes up the first financial circle.

The first circle is followed by another one, where people need property dealers, as they are very busy themselves and would not build homes on their own. They would need a tourist agent to quickly arrange that their bottoms could be warmed up in Hawaii. And they need transfer agents to arrange all the transportation.

Then follows the third circle of the services industry ? including cafes where the guys from the first and second circles have coffee, restaurant where they dine, fitness centres to make them fit sometimes ? an they're necessary in the centre of the city, because they cannot afford getting away from the money source spring as someone else can crawl up and scoop from it. Ninety per cent of the fee is taken by the rent of the premises in the prestigious locations.

All the rest is arranged likewise.

Now, imagine that the stock market has collapsed. You have no job and no revenue. So you pack to leave ? Lehman Brothers all pack. You don"t need legal advisers anymore. If you do, however, you have no money to pay them with. No bank specialists are required. That is followed by no need for a property agent, and all the rest down the chain.

What have we got as a result? In an industrial economy, an enterprise has some safety factor ? some reserves, long-term contracts, some property they can sell or mortgage at the end of the day. There is no such safety margin in the services industry. As soon as the money source stops, the services industry rumbles like a house of cards.

So, things may be developing now much faster than in the pre-WWII times. This is what we can see happening now during a very short period of time, much shorter than in the time of the Great Depression, major financial institutions collapsed, which set the alarm bells ringing, as French President Sarkozy put it, making the economy a little smarter. This is well understood by the leaders, but nobody says how to do this.

Jewish group to fight 'over the top' racial tension

The Jewish Defence League of Canada is planning on setting up shop in Ottawa with one simple message: “Don’t mess with us.”

Meir Weinstein, the league’s national director, claims there is a “disturbing trend” of racial tension between Arabs and Jews in Ottawa, highlighted by an apparently anti-Semitic attack on a pair of Carleton University students in Gatineau earlier this week.

But regardless of that attack, “we feel that things are over the top already,” said Weinstein.

“There is very high anxiety in Ottawa,” said Weinstein. “It’s almost non-stop the activities and vilification against the Jewish people.”

B’Nai Brith Canada also weighed in, calling the machete attack a “spill-over effect” of “hate-fests” like Israeli Apartheid Week, which has been the source of controversy on university campuses, including Carleton’s.

Weinstein said he hasn’t spoken to officials at Carleton University, but he was critical of the response from university administration to anti-Semitic slogans discovered scrawled in a bathroom stall last month during Israeli Apartheid Week.

Weinstein promised to “stir something up” when he holds an open house meeting off campus sometime within the next month.

JDL Canada distances itself from the U.S.-based Jewish Defence League, whose core ideology, according to its website, is to combat anti-Semitism “by whatever means necessary” and says it is “sinful” for Jews “to sit idly by while Jews are harmed, suffer and even die.”

The Los Angeles-based organization, which claims to be “the most controversial, yet most effective of all Jewish organizations,” has been branded a “violent extremist” organization by the FBI.

Det. John Byers of the Ottawa police hate crimes section said he has “no issue” with the JDL setting up shop in the capital, but said the organization’s motivation may be misguided.

“It’s one thing to say there’s a pattern of behaviour, but if you look at each incident independently and there is no pattern, and no linkages, then is there really a problem or are things being blown out of proportion?” said Byers.

“I have no sense of any underlying racial tension, nor has anyone come to me with any concern of that calibre.”

Ben Saifer, a Carleton University student and outspoken supporter of Israeli Apartheid Week, said he is “concerned” with the JDL establishing a presence in Ottawa.

“While marginal, the JDL has a history of being a racist and violent organization,” said Saifer. “We hope that if they do actually come, the Ottawa community will reject this message.

Saifer, who is Jewish, said he hasn’t experienced any racial tension at Carleton, saying instead that political disagreements have created “healthy debate” on campus.

Hate crime facts:

  • According to the most recent numbers available from Statistics Canada, police-reported hate crimes are actually on the decline in Canada.
  • In 2007, 785 hate crimes were reported and investigated across the country, down from 892 the previous year.
  • Of those, 64% were motivated by ethnicity, with blacks being the most frequent targets.
  • One-quarter of all hate crimes (185) were motivated by religion, down from 220 in 2006.
  • Incidents against the Jewish faith accounted for two-thirds of those.
  • A Debt Level Great Enough To Threaten The Dollar Rating

    Your purchasing power is less and less with every passing day, changes coming to currencies, no end to corruption in government, Wall Street, and banking, US states on the verge of bankruptcy, economic and financial zombies on the old continent, globalization has brought us to the brink of collapse, Interest rate volatility to come soon, US debt far over GDP, property abandoned.

    Almost every day in almost any currency your purchasing power in terms of gold is less and less. Thus, these currencies in which you save the fruits of your labor are cheating you out of your savings.

    The US dollar is particularly vulnerable because of its staggering debt even though it is the world reserve currency. In fact the debt is so onerous that we believe the quality rating of the dollar could be lowered by the end of the year. Many other currencies face the same dilemma and in the final analysis only gold will be worth what it is today or in the future.

    Unless the US government expropriates Americans’ retirement plans they won’t be able to fund their sovereign debt. This situation is exacerbated by continued fiscal deficits of some $1.8 trillion. The administration and the Democratic Party are bound and determined to destroy America financially. Between government, Wall Street and banking America is being destroyed. This did not just happen that way; it was planned that way. When people discover what has been done to them there will probably be a revolution.

    Government spends excessively, as free trade and globalization keeps America under a staggering load of unemployment in what has become a corporatist fascist nation controlled by Wall Street and banking and run by Marxists, who for years have operated in the shadows as bureaucrats.

    Many American states are on the edge of bankruptcy. Their only hope is massive layoffs and reduced services adding to the already massive unemployment that plagues our nation. The situation is close presently to resembling the 1930s and that is after trillions of dollars created out of thin air permeated the economy. Worse yet, nothing has been done deliberately to solve the problems. One might think the antics of government; banking and Wall Street were deliberate-unfortunately they are. It won’t be long before everything will be nationalized and corporatist fascism will be in full flower.

    Corruption in government, Wall Street and banking knows no end. This in addition to the looting of funds for Social Security and Medicare, that the Treasury now must fund, when they cannot even fund current debt without having the Fed buy it with money created out of thin air. Talk about inflation – it is surely on the way. If we use GAAP accounting, not the US government’s cash figures, the deficit is really in the vicinity of $4.5 to $5 trillion, not $1.8 trillion. This, of course, is nothing new and the same lying and secrecy is in force worldwide. All that people have saved worldwide has been stolen from them – they just do not know it yet.

    The situation in Europe is so bad that all of Europe is attacking Germany because they save and do not spend enough and their balance of payments surplus is obscene to other spenders not only in the euro zone, but in the entire EU as well. Their thought is Germany should be losers like we are. Then there are the PIIGS who care about little or nothing. We know we lived for years in all of these countries and fully understand where they are coming from. They all wanted socialism and it has doomed them, as has the euro zone and the European Union. They are about to discover socialism and debt are about to destroy them. You have made yourselves into economic and financial zombies. There is no one left to bail you out. Subsidizing everything doesn’t work as they are soon to find out. When Europe and America fail unfortunately they are going to in part take the entire world down with them – no one is going to be spared.

    We have an economy in a state of collapse and part of the reason for that is free trade, globalization, offshoring and outsourcing, which since 2000 has cost America some 8 million good quality jobs. Where are you Smoot-Hawley now that we need you? There are many reasons why the American economy is collapsing and free trade, British mercantilism, is one of them.

    As we have said for months there is a multilateral change coming in currencies. A massive devaluation of all currencies and a debt settlement between countries. When that happens consumers worldwide will lose 2/3’s of their purchasing power on the final leg down into deflationary depression, which is probably 1-1/2 to 2 years away. Your only protection against such events is holding gold and silver related assets.

    Those who have opted for general stock investments since 1998 have come out even if they were lucky and that includes massive market manipulation by our government. Not just failed policies. The creation in August 1988 of the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets” has been a disaster for free markets and a gift to dictators and would be tyrants. The markets are a giant scam and their underpinnings are about to collapse. There has been little or no growth over those years. Real estate bubbles in residential and commercial markets have collapsed and the stock market will soon follow. Hitting you right in the forehead is almost a 4% yield on 10-year T-notes that could well become 5% by yearend, which we predicted late last year. That will put the 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 6-1/4% to 6-1/2%. What do you think that will do to real estate, markets and profits? This is mainly because of sovereign debt that grows exponentially every minute of every day. These pyromaniacs in the White House and Congress add to the conflagration all day every day. The result has been a 25% loss in the S&P since March of 2000, and a loss versus gold of 75%. Gold has risen from $252 to $1,224 and silver from $3.50 to $20.00 with massive government and Fed suppression. Where do you think your money should have been and where your money should be? In gold and silver bullion, coins and shares. Yes, as usual we were crazy and we were right and we are going to continue to be right, because we understand what the Illuminists are up too.

    You live in a bankrupt country, along with 18 other major bankrupts, and you will soon learn how you are going to lose everything you have worked a lifetime for. A rise in interest rates of 5% adds $620 billion annually to the US debt in interest alone and that is rising exponentially. The US, nor any government, can survive such debt service.

    We are calling inflation, real inflation, not the official variety of 3%, but at 8%. John Williams says on the things you buy every day it is 10%. We should easily see 14-5/8% inflation by the end of the year just as we did 2-1/2 years ago.

    The Fed has ended its $1.25 trillion program of buying toxic debt from lenders. We do not know if that is the correct figure, we do not know from whom they were purchased and we do not know what was paid for the MBS, because it is a secret. This purchase has put downward pressure on interest rates for the past 15 months. This is an abnormal procedure and it can be expected that interest rates would move higher. It also means that the fed will now be a seller in the market as the FDIC is attempting to be. If sold these securities will put downward pressure on these bonds and force higher rates in a market that is already subject to crowding out by the treasury. In addition, quantitative easing is being phased out, putting further upward pressure on rates. The Fed if it continues these policies may stem hyperinflation but they run the distinct risk of having deflation run out of control, which could easily drive the economy into deflationary depression. This is a super human feat we do not see being accomplished without major damage, at the least.

    Rate volatility is going to increase dramatically, as the Fed works to hold the 10-year T-bill rate below 4%. This is what they did previously at great cost to savers and taxpayers.

    As rates climb the dollar carry trade becomes much less attractive and as it is unwound borrowed money is pulled from other investments, such as bonds putting more upward pressure on rates and at the same time downward pressure on stocks, which have been purchased with borrowed money. If the Fed tightens, as they might on Wednesday, yields will move even higher. If that happens those in the carry trade and bonds and shares will see gains evaporate and sales of both bonds and stock will ensue, as the carry trade is unwound. This is what markets are now facing.

    This takes us to municipal bonds and particularly California, which has $85 billion in debt, that has to be paid by its citizens, of which about 40% do not pay any taxes. In addition it officially has 12.4% unemployment, which is really about 25% and getting worse daily. This is a state with $1 trillion to $3.5 trillion in unfunded pensions and the world’s 8th largest economy. This is a state that, via federal subsidy, sold “Build America Bonds”, bonds yielding 6.3%, or 2.4%, higher rates than Treasuries. California is on the edge of bankruptcy and their municipal bonds should be sold, as many from other states should be sold as well. States won’t work out of their problems for years.

    Last week the Dow rose 0.7%; S&P 1%, the Russell 2000 0.7% and the Nasdaq was unchanged. Banks rose 0.3%; broker/dealers 0.8%; cyclicals 0.8%; transports 1.2%; consumers 1.2%, as utilities fell 1.8%. High tech fell 0.3% as semis gained 1.1% and Internets fell 0.2%. Biotechs fell 0.2%; gold gained $12.00; the HUI rose 6.2% and the USDX fell 0.6% to 81.17.

    Two-year Treasury bills rose 6 bps to 1.02%; the 10-year T-notes rose 10 bps to 3.95% and the 10-year German bund fell 7 bps to 3.08%.

    The Freddie Mac 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose 9 bps to 5.08%; the 15’s rose 5 bps to 4.39%; one-year ARMs fell 15 bps to 4.05% and jumbos rose 1 bps to 5.83%.

    Fed credit declined $7.4 billion. Fed foreign holdings of Treasury, Agency debt rose $7.2 billion to a record of $3.020 trillion. Custody holdings for foreign central banks increased $64.5 billion just year-to-date, and year-on-year 15.7%.

    M2 narrow money supply fell $10 billion.

    Total money market fund assets fell $30 billion to $2.983 trillion, the first time below $3 trillion since 10/07. Year-to-date it is off $311 billion and year-on-year it is off 22.2%.

    Commercial paper fell $5.2 billion, or 20.8% ytd and 24.9% yoy.

    America’s debt is now $31 trillion, or 2-1/2 times US GDP. Americans on average only own 11% of their home the remainder is debt. Home prices are headed lower until 2013, so 20% lower prices are a certainty. In some areas homes have already fallen 60% to 75%. This situation will feed on itself for years and bankruptcies and inventory for sale will flourish for years. About 45% of homes have mortgages. We wrote five years ago that the government wants to own and nationalize those homes, so they can control the public.

    As we wrote earlier we expect another large stimulus plan soon and the Fed to reverse gears and flood the world with money sometime soon. This should be the last rescue and the result will be hyperinflation followed by collapse and a deflationary depression. This is the last chance to buy gold and silver inexpensively.

    If you do not think there was inflation in 2007 and 2008 homeowners insurance rose 24%, in 2008 it rose 31% and again in 2009-10 it rose 31%.

    Treasury debt is on the ropes and is about to cause the Illuminists real trouble, along with higher interest rates. Later this year or early next year debt as a percentage will reach 95%. From there on its collapse. How can anyone conceive deficits of more than $10 trillion over the next ten years?

    The ISM Non-Manufacturing Index release by the Institute for Supply Management rose in March to 55.4 from 53.0. The index reached the highest level since November of 2007.

    The increase to 55.4 was above market expectations of an increase to 53.3. The data shows that the economic activity in the US continues to improve.

    More Americans unexpectedly signed contracts in February to buy previously owned homes, signaling government efforts to support the market will start pay off.

    The index of purchase agreements, or pending home sales, rose 8.2 percent, the second-biggest gain on record and the largest since October 2001, after a revised 7.8 percent drop in January, the National Association of Realtors announced today in Washington.

    Hedge funds that aim to profit from macroeconomic upheavals have had a lacklustre start to 2010, in spite of some of the biggest international monetary crises in more than a decade. – The Greek debt crisis and steep falls in value for both the euro and sterling have failed to translate into noticeable gains for most macro managers, many of whom predicted a stellar year on the back of huge global economic rebalancing.

    So-called global macro hedge funds, which specialise in bets on interest rates, sovereign bonds and currencies, have on average lost 1.25 per cent on investments so far this year, according to industry data compiled by Hedge Fund Research, a Chicago-based index compiler.

    Many of the hedge fund industry’s biggest names have so far failed to turn market crises to their advantage often in spite of fervent political criticism linking them to damaging market “speculation”.

    The 5-foot alligator lurking in the algae-green waters of the community swimming pool was not the worst thing code-enforcement officers have found in recent years at AAA Apartments in Cocoa.

    Bathrooms infested with mold. Walls with gaping holes where air conditioners had been ripped out. Garbage and trash strewn about the 52-unit complex. The city began issuing code-violation fines in 2007, back at the beginning of the housing slump, and the apartments’ co-owners soon owed the city $1.8 million more than three times the current list price of the property, and enough money to motivate the now-former co-owners to try bribing a code-enforcement officer.

    AAA Apartments, now bank-owned, may be an example of things to come. As home foreclosures continue to mount throughout Central Florida, code-enforcement officers say apartments, condominiums and other commercial buildings are being abandoned by their owners and repossessed by banks in growing numbers.

    A surprise Fed announcement eclipsed the disappointing March Employment Report on Friday. Yes, it is a disappointment despite the media and permabull spin, because the Street expected March NFP to exceed 200k. One forecast had the job gain at 400k. But only 48k temporary Census workers were recorded. So only 162k NFP were reported.

    Birth Death Model jobs are 81k, even though ADP, who actually does a count, showed small business lost 112k jobs. Professional services gained 11,000 jobs, but 40,000 were part-time jobs.

    Review and determination by the Board of Governors of the advance and discount rates to be charged by Federal Reserve Banks.

    Traders quickly surmised that if the Fed is going to allow public access to an emergency meeting to discuss a possible discount rate hike, the probability is very high that a discount rate will occur soon.

    The probable reason for the public airing is to disabuse the notion that the Fed’s secrecy keeps the public in the dark about its operations while it tips coming policy to insiders who profit on the inside info.

    Most of the financial media ignored the Fed notice and reported the dollar surged because the jobs report indicated the economy had turned the corner. How is this possible when the number of jobs were below the consensus forecast?

    Other financial media types spun the disappointing NFP as good news because it means the Fed cannot hike rates. But the dollar rally contradicts this notion…If anything, SPMs jumped on asset allocation, which will be a temporary boost for stocks. Perhaps the past months’ upward revisions were a factor.

    The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for January was revised from -26,000 to +14,000, and the change for February was revised from -36,000 to -14,000.

    Once again we see chicanery in the March Employment because the Household Survey shows a gain of 264k jobs but ‘Men 20 years & over’ accounted for a 290k job gain. ‘Women 20 years & over’ LOST 42k jobs. This is absurd.

    You might recall that we noted that the January Employment Report recorded a 541k jobs increase in the Household Survey due to an increase of 529k of jobs for ‘Women 20 years & over’, while ‘Men 20 years & over’ LOST 1k jobs. This is impossible!

    Now we see the opposite scheme ‘Men 20 years & over’ gained 290k jobs; women lost 42k jobs.

    The Household Survey shows an increase of 308,000 jobs, but the BLS did not report this in the preamble to the report. Most of the gain is due to 233,000 gain in ‘Men 20 years and older’. ‘Men 16 year and older’ account for 297,000 of the 308,000 jobs gain in the Household Survey! For February, ‘Women 20 years of age and older’ increased only 11,000.

    Wages fell 0.1% (+0.2% expected), a record for the data series; but it only goes back to 2006. Wages should increase before employment increases due to the high cost of benefits.

    U6, comprehensive unemployment, increase 0.1 to 16.9% in March. ‘Unemployed for 27 weeks or more’ hit a record 44.1%. Per Alan Abelson, the odds of finding a job sank to 18.7% from Feb’s 20.1%. The Exhaust Rate (people that have exhausted unemployment benefits) hit 54.01% for February.

    Gallup Daily tracking finds that 20.3% of the U.S. workforce was underemployed in March. [The 149,268 consumer bankruptcies filed in March represented the highest monthly consumer filing total since Congress overhauled the Bankruptcy Code in 2005.]

    For the week ended Wednesday, the Fed’s balance contracted $5.992B due to the sale of $5.103B of MBS. The Fed monetized $1.5B of agencies.

    US banks earned $2.5bn last year from an accounting rule that enables them to book gains – known as “Christmas capital” by buying assets at a discount, a new study shows. More than half of all acquisitions of failed banks last year resulted in such gains, according to SNL Financial, which compiled the data.

    NO JOKE: Airline Considers Passenger Lavatory Use Fee


    First came the news that no frills airline Spirit Airlines was going to charge travelers for bringing on their own carry on luggage. That stirred a lot of outrage on talk shows: a lot of people are pissed off.

    And now even THAT will cost you (so to speak) if an Airline in Ireland has its way: it wants to charge for lavatory use.

    The phrase “if you’ve got go, you’ve got to go” may soon need the phrase “and you better have some change to do it, too.”

    Fresh on the heels of one budget airline announcing that it will ask passengers to pay extra to bring carry-on bags on board, another is considering charging them for using the lavatory.

    Ryanair, which is based in Dublin, Ireland, and bills itself as “Europe’s first and largest low fares airline,” is mulling a plan that would require travelers to pay either 1 euro or 1 British pound (about $1.33 or $1.52) for using the bathroom on flights lasting one hour or less.

    If they do this, it may be a case where Irish eyes won’t be smiling..

    The plan, titled “Ryanair Cost Saving Proposal,” was published in the airline’s inflight magazine.

    The carrier said it is working with Boeing to develop a coin-operated door release so that when nature calls, passengers would need to deposit the change before being able to use the facilities.

    The idea is to encourage people to use restrooms in airport terminals before boarding, Ryanair said. If the airline were to proceed, the changes would be at least 12 to 18 months away.

    The CNN report also contains this detail which shows how the airline is considering the bottom line while being inconsiderate of the needs of the nature-calls-ASAP needs of its passengers:

    As part of the plan, the airline is also considering removing two of the three lavatories on some of its planes so it could squeeze in up to six extra seats. The move would help reduce fares by at least 5 percent, Ryanair said.

    Get that great idea?

    1. They want to charge you to use their restroom.
    2. The waits will probably be longer (anyone who flies knows that on each flight there seems to be someone in the restroom apparently writing his or her doctoral thesis or apparently sitting on the throne knitting three pairs of long underwear while the line outside of increasingly uncomfortable passengers lengthens).

    CNN notes that this isn’t the first time the airline has considered a “toilet fee:”

    CEO Michael O’Leary told the BBC in February 2009 that he was considering the charge.

    The problem is, if Ryanair does it and it is successful, you can bet other airlines will at least consider it

    So in the past flying meant you had to endure leg cramps.

    Now, if you fly and don’t have the spare change and Ryanair gets its way and it catches on, you may have to endure other cramps as well. (Will this lead to an increase in adult diaper sales? Depends.)

    But perhaps this is much ado about nothing and it won’t happen in the end.

    Brace Yourself for Obamacare Taxes

    Now that President Obama's health-insurance overhaul has become law, we can brace ourselves for the new taxes. What new taxes? Aren't they only on the "rich" and on large companies?

    It's true that the Obama plan includes new taxes on upper-income people. For example, the Medicare tax will now be applied to investment income. People making more than $200,000, will now have to pay a 2.9Â percent tax on investment income over that limit. For people earning salaries of more than $200,000, their payroll tax will rise from 1.45 to 2.35Â percent on the amount over that limit. (The so-called employer's share will remain the same.)

    All told, the new Medicare taxes are projected to take in $184 billion by 2019, although that assumes the tax targets are stationary and unable to take evasive action. That is highly doubtful.

    Other new taxes include the levy on high-end employer-purchased health insurance. Since this tax was offensive to labor unions, which negotiates so-called Cadillac plans for their members, it was put off until 2018 (when a two-term Obama would be out of office), so there's plenty of time to modify it. There are also assorted large fees on drug and medical-device companies. "Fees" charged by government is a euphemism for "taxes."

    One might expect the corporate targets of such "fees" to object, but there's been no objection. The companies supported ObamaCare in principle if not in every particular. Why? One reason is that along with the new charges comes the mandate compelling al U.S. residents to buy insurance (or have it bought for them). Big taxpayer subsidies are in the offing. Compulsory insurance therefore is money in the companies' pockets; the new "fees" will be worked into the prices charged their captive clientele. Why do you think those companies' stock prices are rising?

    Moreover, big companies can always grapple with new taxes and regulations more easily than smaller companies can. So taxes and regulations have a way of concentrating industries by diminishing competition. ObamaCare is a classic government-backed cartel.

    At any rate, those are not the taxes I am not referring to when I say we should brace ourselves. The taxes I mean are the implicit taxes that ObamaCare will impose on most productive people. What's an implicit tax?

    Everyone knows what a tax is. It's a government decree that individuals or businesses pay a sum of money or face penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment. Taxes are levied on all sorts of things, including incomes and the sale of products and services. The essence of a tax, then, is the payment of money under duress created by politicians.

    Once we understand this, we can see that the state is able to tax us indirectly as well as directly. For example, when government imposes a tariff on foreign goods, this tax is not formally imposed on consumers. But if the tariff leads to higher prices for the foreign goods and their domestic counterparts (which is usually the purpose), consumers end up paying the tax in those higher prices. The formal target is irrelevant. It's a tax on consumers.

    Government can tax us even more indirectly. The pending cap-and-trade proposal, by charging companies for permits to emit carbon dioxide, will raise the price of energy and products embodying that energy. The difference between prices with and without cap-and-trade is a tax because the higher payment is the result of a government decree. It doesn't matter that Congress passed no formal tax.

    Now we can see how ObamaCare will tax much of the middle class. Under the new law, everyone everyone will have to buy government-defined medical coverage or have it bought for him by his employer, reducing cash wages. Thus, anyone who would not have bought insurance or would have bought a less-expensive policy will pay an implicit tax.

    But that's not all. When government subsidizes demand, as ObamaCare will, prices rise. So under ObamaCare, everyone paying his own way will pay more for medical services (and insurance) than otherwise. That difference is a tax because it results from a government decree.

    Thus, ObamaCare is a massive tax increase on the middle class. How soon can it be repealed?

    Copyright © 2010 Future of Freedom Foundation

    Study: 1.2 million households lost to recession

    As friends and families double up, ‘overcrowding’ is up fivefold

    Since Richard Brown lost his job to the recession and his Boston home to foreclosure a year ago, he’s been working short-term consulting assignments until he gets back on his feet. In the meantime, he’s been “couch surfing.”

    “I’ve lived with my brother, my cousin, my friend and my dad,” he said. “The IRS keeps calling me, asking me: ‘What’s your address?’ And I say, ‘What week is this?’”

    Armed with college degree and an MBA, Brown, 49, built a solid resume over three decades as a corporate controller for several Fortune 500 companies, including W.R. Grace and Wal-Mart, before launching his own global consulting business with clients in Europe and Mexico. But when the Panic of 2008 sent clients scrambling, he was unable to keep up with a jump in his mortgage payments and lost his home to foreclosure.

    Brown represents one of the more than 1.2 million households lost to the recession, according to a report issued this week by the Mortgage Bankers Association that looked at data between 2005 and 2008. That number doesn’t include information from 2009, when job losses and foreclosures continued to rise.

    So it's likely that the full impact of the 8.4 million jobs lost and nearly three million homes foreclosed on since the recession began has taken an even bigger toll on the number of American households.

    “Given the depth of the downturn in 2009, and the ongoing weakness in the job market through the beginning of this year, this study gives no reason to expect that household formation has picked up at all," said Gary Painter, a professor at the University of Southern California who conducted the study.

    The study also shed some light on what happens to the people in those "lost" households. It’s widely assumed that many who lose a home to foreclosure become renters. But since the recession began, there has been a five-fold increase in “overcrowding” of remaining households — defined as more than one person per room, according to the study.

    That doubling-up is happening as families who lose their homes move in with friends or family. In other cases, younger people have delayed moving out on their own, instead staying with their parents until the economy improves. Others who fail to find work after graduating from college move back home.

    Falling homeownership levels
    The decline in households is weighing on both the home buying and rental markets. Since the number of home foreclosures began surging in 2007, the national homeownership rate has been steadily falling. But renters also have been forced to double up or move in with friends or family. That’s a major reason that the vacancy rate for U.S. apartments stood at 8 percent in the first quarter, the highest level since 1986, according to a report this week from Reis, a real estate research firm.

    The future pace of household destruction or formation is uncertain. A lot depends on how quickly the job and housing markets recover. The outlook for both is mixed.

    Though many economists expect the economy to add several hundred thousand new jobs a month as the recovery gains strength, it will likely take years to restore employment to its pre-recession levels. After the 2001 recession, it took four years of job growth to restore a 2 percent drop in employment. This time around employment levels have fallen by 6 percent.

    Homeownership levels, meanwhile, continue to decline. New foreclosures filings are running about 300,000 a month, according to RealtyTrac. There are currently some 5 million homeowners that are 90 days or more past due on their mortgages, according to Fannie Mae chief economist Doug Duncan.

    Though the pace of foreclosures has recently begun to taper off, there are indications they may pick up again as lenders redouble efforts to work out bad loans, and mortgage defaults continue to bring new foreclosures.

    “Some of the foreclosure backlogs are working their way through the system at this point,” Duncan told CNBC.

    Millions more homeowners who are current on their mortgages owe more than their home is worth. Though the government recently issued another round of guidelines to lenders urging them to reduce the principal owed on those loans, the process is mostly voluntary.

    Rise in homelessness
    So far, lenders have been slow to cut the size of a mortgage to make monthly payments more affordable. As a result, an increasing number of families are walking away from their homes in a process known in the industry as “strategic default.”

    That can become contagious, said Duncan, as neighbors follow suit. “If they see someone else in their neighborhood that walks away, it increases the likelihood they will seriously consider not paying theirs,” he said.

    It’s not a move to be taken lightly. The resulting damage to a borrower’s credit history can hurt job prospects with a new employer or create a barrier to renting.

    In some cases, the loss of a house to foreclosure is leaving families homeless, though there is little national data available on how many are affected. A recent study by the Department of Housing and Urban Development found family homelessness on the rise since the recession began, with the biggest increases in suburban and rural areas.

    Other groups, like the National Alliance to End Homelessness, report that a rising number of older adults are without a permanent place to live.

    “The limited existing research tells a story of increasing homelessness among adults ages 50 and older,” the group said in a recent report.

    The formation of new households isn’t expected to pick up again until at least 2012, according to the MBA study, even as the population continues to increase. Between 2005 and 2008, those 1.2 million households were lost even as the population grew by 3.4 million.

    In the meantime, former homeowners like Brown are left scrambling for alternatives. He recently move into a rooming house where he continues to track down consulting work.

    “I pay $600 for a third-floor room that gets hot in the summer,” he said. “It’s a blow. I don’t belong here. I’m an educated person. I’ve held executive positions. And here I am in a boarding house where Russian is a first language.”

    Cancer vaccine programme suspended after 4 girls die

    The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has told Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat to immediately suspend the cervical cancer control vaccination programme for girls. The programme is part of a two-year study to look into the utility of a vaccine in public health programmes and acceptability of Gardasil, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine made by Merck. Gardasil, available in chemist shops across the country, is marketed in India by MSD Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd.
    The programme was marred by controversy after four deaths and complications among 120 girls were reported after vaccination. The girls complained of stomach disorders, epilepsy, headaches and early menarche. Women activists fear the vaccine may impact the mental health of girls who have shown no signs of distress so far.
    Health ministry sources said the vaccination programme is being conducted by Gardasil, jointly with PATH, a Seattle-based NGO, ICMR and the two state governments. About 32,000 girls, aged 10-14, were to be tested in the study.
    ICMR chief Dr VM Katoch clarified ICMR was only a technical partner, with an advisory role, in the project. But Katoch said they were checking out who was at fault.
    Questioning the study, CPMleader Brinda Karat said: "How has the government embarked on the study of giving three injections to the girls when it is also planning a massive multi-centric dose determination study to see if two doses will suffice?"
    For a drug to be administered to children, Karat said, it has to go through stages of clinical trial, including phase 3 adult clinical trials. With Gardasil, only one trial has been carried out with a small sample of 110 girls, which has followed up with them for a month after completion of vaccination and that too only to look at the immune response post-vaccination, Karat said. The vaccine has also been approved for adult women aged 27, Karat said, without any trials with them at all.
    Karat also alleged scientific logic and ethical guidelines have been violated at each step during drug and vaccine trials.

    Psychologists Explain Iraq Airstrike Video

    The sight of human beings, most of them unarmed, being gunned down from above is jarring enough.

    But for many people who watched the video of a 2007 assault by an Army Apache helicopter in Baghdad, released Monday by, the most disturbing detail was the cockpit chatter. The soldiers joked, chuckled and jeered as they shot people in the street, including a Reuters photographer and a driver, believing them to be insurgents.

    “Look at those dead bastards,” one said. “Nice,” another responded.

    In recent days, many veterans have made the point that fighters cannot do their jobs without creating psychological distance from the enemy. One reason that the soldiers seemed as if they were playing a video game is that, in a morbid but necessary sense, they were.

    “You don’t want combat soldiers to be foolish or to jump the gun, but their job is to destroy the enemy, and one way they’re able to do that is to see it as a game, so that the people don’t seem real,” said Bret A. Moore, a former Army psychologist and co-author of the forthcoming book “Wheels Down: Adjusting to Life After Deployment.”

    Military training is fundamentally an exercise in overcoming a fear of killing another human, said Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, author of the book “On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society,” who is a former Army Ranger.

    Combat training “is the only technique that will reliably influence the primitive, midbrain processing of a frightened human being” to take another life, the colonel writes. “Conditioning in flight simulators enables pilots to respond reflexively to emergency situations even when frightened.”

    The men in the Apache helicopter in the video flew into an area that was being contested, during a broader conflict in which a number of helicopters had been shot down.

    Several other factors are on display during the 38-minute video, said psychologists in and out of the military. (A shortened 17-minute version of the video has been viewed about three million times on YouTube.)

    Soldiers and Marines are taught to observe rules of engagement, and throughout the video those in the helicopter call base for permission to shoot. But at a more primal level, fighters in a war zone must think of themselves as predators first — not bait. That frame of mind affects not only how a person thinks, but what he sees and hears, especially in the presence of imminent danger, or the perception of a threat.

    The fighters in the helicopter say over the radio that they are sure they see a “weapon,” even though the Reuters photographer, Namir Noor-Eldeen, is carrying a camera.

    “It’s tragic that this all begins with the apparent mistaking of a camera” for a weapon, said David A. Dunning, a psychologist at Cornell University. “But it’s perfectly understandable with what we know now about context and vision. Take the same image and put it in a bathroom, and you swear it’s a hair dryer; put it in a workshop, and you swear it’s a power drill.”

    To a soldier or a pilot, it can look like life or death. “I worked with medevac pilots, and vulnerability is a huge issue for them,” Dr. Moore said.

    The video does show that the second object that the soldiers identified as a weapon was a rocket-propelled grenade, or R.P.G. “An R.P.G. can take them down in a second,” Dr. Moore said.

    After the helicopter guns down a group of men, the video shows a van stopping to pick up one of the wounded. The soldiers in the helicopter suspect it to be hostile and, after getting clearance from base, fire again. Two children in the van are wounded, and one of the soldiers remarks, “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.”

    Here again, psychologists say, when people are intensely focused on observing some specific feature of the landscape, they may not even see what is obvious to another observer. The classic demonstration of this is a video in which people toss around a basketball; viewers told to count the number of passes rarely see a person in a gorilla suit who strolls into the picture, stops and faces the camera, and strolls out.

    The soldiers were looking for combatants; experts say it is not clear they would have seen children, even if they should have.

    The video’s emotional impact on viewers is also partly rooted in the combination of intimacy and distance it gives them, some experts said. The viewer sees a wider tragedy unfolding, in hindsight, from the safety of a desk; the soldiers are reacting in real time, on high alert, exposed.

    In recent studies, researchers have shown that such distance tempts people to script how they would act in the same place, and overestimate the force of their own professed moral principles.

    “We don’t express our better angels as much as we’d like to think, especially when strong emotions are involved,” Dr. Dunning said. He added, “What another person does in that situation should stand as forewarning for what we would do ourselves.”