Wednesday, December 14, 2011

REPORT: Hundreds of toys contain toxic chemicals

(WXYZ) - Hundreds of toys contain the toxic chemical BPA (bisphenol A), according to a new report.
The information was based on data collected under a new safety law passed in Maine, that requires companies to report chemicals found in their toys.
More than 650 brand-name products are on the list, including toys from Playmobil, LeapFrog, Chicco and SpyNet.
To see the complete list, click here.
Researchers say long-term exposure to BPA can affect brain development, reproductive organs and behavior.
On Tuesday, State Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) will introduce a bill to give Michigan families better access to information about their children's toys.
The "Safe Children's Products Act" would require the state to create a list of chemicals found in children's products that could be harmful. It would also require toy companies to report any toxic chemicals found in their products.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

This Is What Your ATM Will Look Like During a Bank Panic

Thousands of Latvians lined up at bank counters and ATMs over the weekend in an attempt to withdraw their savings from Swedbank, the country’s largest banking institution.

Swedbank’s Latvian chief Maris Mancinskis on Monday called the rumors “absurd.” He said the bank is functioning normally and all depositors will have access to their funds via bank machines.

Mancinskis said some 10,000 Latvians withdrew over 10 million lats ($20 million) on Sunday.

Latvia’s 10th largest bank, Latvijas Krajbanka, is currently being liquidated after regulators uncovered fraud on a massive scale. Depositors were left without access to their money for days.

Via: Total Collapse

As rumors of imminent collapse began to build due to the bank’s reported liquidity problems in Estonia and Sweden, Latvians panicked and headed for their cash. This was the scene outside of numerous ATM’s in Latvia’s capital city, Riga:


Gerald Celente, "They are Robbing Celente to pay the Goldman Sachs Gang"

Detroit delays paying some vendors to make city’s payroll

DETROIT (AP) — The financially struggling city of Detroit has delayed paying some of its vendors and contractors to fund payroll.
Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown told the Detroit Free Press for a story today that the delays allow the city to fund its payroll. He said Detroit must act quickly to repair its finances.
Mayor Dave Bing’s office acknowledged that it’s delaying some payments but said the intention is to fully compensate everyone.
Bing has said Detroit faces a $150 million budget deficit and a projected $45 million cash shortfall. He is seeking concessions from city unions.
Michigan Department of Treasury officials have started a preliminary review of Detroit’s finances, a possible first step to an emergency manager’s appointment.

Peter Schiff: "All the Speculators, all the Bankers...all the Financiers want Inflation"

Analyzing a Dollar Collapse

Secret trade report obtained by AIPAC and Israel compromised sensitive US industry secrets

WASHINGTON, Dec 13, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Following a three year Freedom of Information Act battle, US Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk has been forced to publicly release a secret report about America's first bilateral trade agreement. The 1984 report predicted which US industries would be most harmed by massive trade preferences for Israel.
Israeli Lobby: US Political and Media TwistersIn 2009 the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep), a Washington nonprofit that works to improve policy formulation, sought public release of the report. The USTR refused. IRmep appealed to an outside review panel arguing that declassified FBI files revealed both the Israeli government and American Israel Public Affairs Committee unlawfully obtained the report in 1984. A declassified FBI investigation uncovered AIPAC's receipt of the report from Israel's Economics Minister, who refused to divulge how he obtained it. IRmep successfully argued that Americans most harmed by the data theft should also have access to the report.
The International Trade Commission compiled "Probable Economic Effect of Providing Duty-Free Treatment for Imports from Israel" by soliciting confidential business information from all concerned industries. US tomato growers and canners wanted to protect domestic production and jobs while discounting Israel as a significant market for US products. Arkansas bromine producers were concerned that Israel's state-owned producer would displace private sector US jobs in an economically challenged region.
According to the secret trade report,
"Opposition to the duty-free tariff treatment for jewelry was voiced by the largest national jewelry trade association and several domestic producers...Support for the elimination of jewelry tariffs came from an importer and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee....The implementation of this proposal would eliminate uncertainty about the future of the GSP program, a program which is the key to Israel's competitiveness in the US market."
Passage of Israel trade preferences into law in 1985 created a chronic US deficit averaging $10 billion per year. In May of 2011, IRmep's Center for Policy and Law Enforcement filed a petition with the USTR Section 301 Committee demanding $6.64 billion in compensation for exporters that suffered confidential business information loss to AIPAC and Israel. Although USTR refused to pursue the petition, the report's public release now provides crucial evidence for civil damage claims to be filed in court against AIPAC. Stakeholders may now download released sections of the report and links to FBI files at:

35 Shocking Facts That Prove That College Education Has Become A Giant Money Making Scam

The following are 35 shocking facts that prove that college education in America has become a giant money making scam....

The Student Loan Debt Bubble

#1 After adjusting for inflation, U.S. college students are borrowing about twice as much money as they did a decade ago.

#2 According to the College Board, college tuition is absolutely soaring.

Average tuition and fees at public colleges rose 8.3 percent this year and, with room and board, now exceed $17,000 a year, according to the College Board.

#3 Average yearly tuition at private universities in the United States is now up to $27,293. That figure has increased by 29% in just the past five years.

#4 In America today, approximately two-thirds of all college students graduate with student loan debt.

#5 In 2010, the average college graduate had accumulated approximately $25,000 in student loan debt by graduation day.

#6 According to the Student Loan Debt Clock, total student loan debt in the United States will surpass the 1 trillion dollar mark in early 2012.

#7 The total amount of student loan debt in the United States now exceeds the total amount of credit card debt in the United States.

#8 Over the past 25 years, the cost of college tuition has increased at an average rate that is approximately 6% higher than the general rate of inflation.

#9 Back in 1952, a full year of tuition at Harvard was only $600. Today, it is $35,568.

#10 The cost of college textbooks has tripled over the past decade.

#11 One survey found that 23 percent of all college students actually use credit cards to pay for tuition or fees.

#12 According to recent Pew Research Center polling, 75% of all Americans believe that college is too expensive for most Americans to afford.

#13 College has become so expensive that it is causing many college students to do desperate things in order to pay for it. For example, an increasing number of young college women are actively advertising on the Internet for "sugar daddies" who will help them pay their college bills.

#14 The student loan default rate has nearly doubled since 2005.

#15 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.

The Quality Of College Education In America Stinks

#16 The typical U.S. college student spends less than 30 hours a week on academics.

#17 According to very extensive research detailed in a new book entitled "Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses", 45 percent of all U.S. college students exhibit "no significant gains in learning" after two years in college.

#18 Today, college students spend approximately 50% less time studying than U.S. college students did just a few decades ago.

#19 35% of U.S. college students spend 5 hours or less studying per week.

#20 50% of U.S. college students have never taken a class where they had to write more than 20 pages.

#21 32% of U.S. college students have never taken a class where they had to read more than 40 pages in a week.

#22 U.S. college students spend 24% of their time sleeping, 51% of their time socializing and 7% of their time studying.

#23 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.

Not Enough Jobs For College Graduates

#24 Only 55.3% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 were employed last year. That was the lowest level that we have seen since World War II.

#25 According to the Economic Policy Institute, the "official" unemployment rate for college graduates younger than 25 years old was 9.3 percent in 2010.

#26 One-third of all college graduates end up taking jobs that don't even require college degrees.

#27 In the United States today, there are more than 100,000 janitors that have college degrees.

#28 In the United States today, 317,000 waiters and waitresses have college degrees.

#29 In the United States today, approximately 365,000 cashiers have college degrees.

#30 In the United States today, 24.5 percent of all retail salespeople have a college degree.

#31 The percentage of mail carriers with a college degree is now 4 times higher than it was back in 1970.

#32 Right now, there are 5.9 million Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 that are living with their parents.

#33 According to one recent survey, only 14 percent of all Americans that are 28 or 29 years old are optimistic about their financial futures.

#34 Record numbers of Americans are going to college, but incomes for young American adults just keep falling. Since the year 2000, incomes for U.S. households led by someone between the ages of 25 and 34 have fallen by about 12 percent after you adjust for inflation.

#35 Once they get out into the "real world", 70% of all college graduates wish that they had spent more time preparing for the "real world" while they were still in school.

'Bankers & bosses drive EU down Great Depression road'

Euro crisis teaches Bernanke another painful lesson

The US Federal Reserve is expected to hold interest rates near zero at its last meeting of the year as the eurozone debt crisis shows the fragile recovery is not insulated from shocks elsewhere in the world.

Ben Bernanke, chairman of the US Federal Reserve, is likely to keep the stimulus it has in place and possibly extend it early next year.
With the exception of Mitt Romney, those Republicans vying to take on President Barack Obama next year have made clear they're no friend of this Fed. It's too interventionist, is debasing the dollar, punishing the country's savers and institutionally secretive.

Newt Gingrich would like to see Ben Bernanke turfed out, while Ron Paul, the Texan Congressman who has been a consistent critic of the central bank for decades, would like to see its mandate changed to one that focuses only on controlling inflation. But there's one area most of them and Bernanke would agree on: the string of better economic data over the last month is nothing to get euphoric about.

For the Republican nominees, an improving economy risks cementing Obama in the Oval Office for another four years. Bernanke and Fed officials, on the other hand, have been beguiled by false dawns for this recovery before. The central bank cut its forecast for US growth three times this year.

Bernanke's also had to admit that the Fed doesn't fully understand why the recovery has struggled to put down roots. At a press conference in the spring, he pointed to the disruption from Japan's earthquake and higher oil prices, before telling his audience that the bank hadn't got a complete handle on why growth was disappointing.

It would therefore be a surprise if Tuesday's statement from the Fed lends too positive a gloss to November's drop in the unemployment rate or evidence - today's retail sales figures aside - that growth in consumer spending has picked up in the third and fourth quarters after grinding to a half in the second quarter. The economy has delivered better showing in the second half of the year than the 0.8pc expansion it mustered in the first six months.

None of which will be enough for Bernanke and his policy allies on the Fed's Open Market Committee - vice-chairman Janet Yellen, NY Fed chief Bill Dudley and Charles Evans at the Chicago Fed - to call time on the stimulus the central bank has provided since the autumn of 2008. To its critics, the Fed, like the Bank of England, has looked like an institution playing a desperate game of catch up since failing to anticipate the credit crunch and, initially at least, underestimating its scale.

It's why the majority of banks expect the Fed to embark on another round of quantitative easing sometime in the first quarter of next year. That's despite warnings - including one this week from the Bank for International Settlements - that more QE will have a limited effect. Bernanke & Co. are unlikely to be deterred by either internal dissent on the FOMC or greater political opposition, which will surely come if more QE does.

Bernanke can, rightly, point to a fiscal policy that's both so far failed to provide much in the way of short-term stimulus for the economy and a plan to reverse the long-term trajectory for America's national debt. Above all else, though, Bernanke can point to the risks to the US that are still bubbling away in Europe. Senior Fed officials have said nothing publicly since Friday's summit in Brussels and we're unlikely to get much illumination from their statement later today.

But the crisis of the euro is the latest - and by far the most dangerous - shock to hit the US economy this year. With the US recovery far from secure, the Fed will keep the stimulus it has in place and possibly extend it. Unlike some of those competing to be the Republican nominee, 2011 will have taught Bernanke that a still fragile economy is not insulated as the effects of the financial crisis play elsewhere in the world.