Saturday, August 31, 2013

U.S. Dollar: “Reserve” To “Laughing Stock” Currency In Less Than One Century

By Michael Lombardi, MBA for Profit Confidential:
As we march towards another debt ceiling limit…
The U.S. Treasury Secretary, Jacob J. Lew, wrote a letter to Congress this week stating the U.S. government will hit the debt ceiling by October. He wrote, “…Congress should act as soon as possible to protect America’s good credit by extending normal borrowing authority well before any risk of default becomes imminent.” (Source: U.S. Department of the Treasury, August 26, 2013.)
Lew added, “Protecting the full faith and credit of the United States is the responsibility of Congress because only Congress can extend the nation’s borrowing authority. Failure to meet that responsibility would cause irreparable harm to the American economy.” (Source: Ibid.)
Will Congress raise the debt ceiling again? It certainly will!
Since 1960, Congress has raised the debt ceiling 78 times—49 times under Republican presidents and 29 times under Democratic presidents. (Source: U.S. Department of the Treasury web site, last accessed August 27, 2013.)
The debt ceiling, which is set by Congress, puts a restriction on how much the national debt can be increased.
On August 23, 2012, the U.S. national debt stood at $15.97 trillion. Fast-forward one year to August 23, 2013, and our national debt hit $16.73 trillion. (Source: Treasury Direct web site, last accessed August 27, 2013.) This is an increase in the national debt of 4.75% in just one year. Of course, in all 78 times Congress raised the debt ceiling, the new debt ceiling limit was later hit and needed to be raised again.
Our government continues to post an annual budget deficit. For the four fiscal years from 2009 to 2012, the federal government posted a deficit of more than $1.0 trillion annually. This year, it may be less—but not by much.
The letter to Congress by the U.S. Treasury Secretary is a simple request to increase the credit limit on America’s credit card—just as a family that spends more than it earns might do.
One might think this cannot go on forever—the debt ceiling being raised and the government subsequently hitting that new limit. But when we look at the fact that our debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio is only 105% and Japan’s debt-to-GDP is 205%, our national debt would have to double to $32.0 trillion for us to match Japan’s debt-to-GDP. But, of course, at that level of debt, instead of the U.S. dollar being the reserve currency of the world, it would likely become the “laughing stock” currency of the world.
Michael’s Personal Notes:
So far, 487 companies in the S&P 500 have reported their second-quarter earnings. Turns out 72% of them were able to beat mean estimates. The blended corporate earnings growth rate for S&P 500 companies in the second quarter was 2.1%. (Source: “Earnings Insight,” FactSet, August 23, 2013.)
On the surface, the corporate earnings growth rate of these companies certainly looks good. But the devil resides in the details!

While a significant number of the S&P 500 companies were able to beat the already-lowered earnings estimates in the second quarter, only 53% of these companies reported revenues above mean estimates. Not impressive.
The financial sector of the S&P 500 reported earnings growth of 28.1% in the second quarter—this was, hands down, the biggest contributor to “robust” growth in corporate earnings we saw in the second quarter.
The other nine sectors of the index didn’t do as well. Sectors like the consumer discretionary, utilities, consumer staples, health care, and industrial sectors showed corporate earnings growth of less than five percent. The telecom services, information technology, energy, and material sectors had negative earnings growth.
In other words: take the financial sector out from the S&P 500 and corporate earnings for the second quarter border negative growth.
Going forward, it’s a rough road. For the third quarter, 103 S&P 500 companies have provided an earnings outlook. Of these companies, 85 of them have issued a negative outlook, while only 18 have provided positive guidance. The number of S&P 500 companies that are pessimistic about their corporate earnings in the current quarter makes up more than 82% of those that have issued their earnings guidance!
All of this shouldn’t come as a surprise to readers of Profit Confidential; in these pages, I have been talking about slowing corporate earnings and revenues since the beginning of this year. For the second quarter, companies in the S&P 500 only beat already-lowered expectations!
Now that we are hearing that the Federal Reserve may pull back on all that paper money printing it’s been busy with, the stock market is going down. The chart below clearly shows the index is falling apart. Don’t expect corporate earnings to save it!
                        Chart courtesy of
What He Said:
“The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the other major stock market indices finished yesterday with the best two-day showing since 2002. I’m looking at the market rally of the past two days as a classic stock market bear trap. As the economy gets closer to contraction, 2008 will likely be a most challenging economic year for America.” Michael Lombardi in Profit Confidential, November 29, 2007. The Dow Jones Industrial Average peaked at 14,279 in October 2007. A “suckers” rally developed in November 2007, which Michael quickly classified as a bear trap for his readers. By mid-November 2008, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 8,726. By Michael Lombardi, MBA for Profit Confidential.
Those wildly optimistic estimates of earnings growth that analysts work on so studiously by copying and pasting what companies tell them, or by doing channel checks and poking around the industry? Well, they have been shrinking for 2013 – at the last moment as reality forced them to. But they’re still boom in the fourth quarter. Read…. Deluded Optimism in Corporate Earnings Growth (Now Shriveling).

If the British Can Stop Their Government From Waging War in Syria, Why Can't We?

Today, once again, it feels like we're being herded into supporting a military action in Syria that will end up, like the Iraq War, making the world an even more dangerous place than it is now. Then, as now, we see influential journalists tripping over themselves to fall into line.
The British parliament's vote against going along with the United States' attack on Syria is a direct result of that country's attempts to come to terms with the lies of the Iraq War. Unlike the United States, the people in the United Kingdom forced their government to convene a commission where former Prime Minister Tony Blair and other Iraq War luminaries were asked some uncomfortable questions. (When was the last time you saw George W. Bush or Dick Cheney grilled for their roles in fomenting the Iraq War?) The vote in the U.K. shows that there are just enough people there who have apparently wised up to make a difference and aren't willing to let their elected representatives hoodwink them into another precipitous military action based on dubious "intelligence."
In 2008 (and in 2012) the American people rejected the neo-con, John Bolton view of the world, where the U.S. acts as the world's "indispensible" nation meting out "justice" through its awe-inspiring military power. Yet President Barack Obama is apparently preparing to bomb Syria unilaterally without even the pathetic "coalition of the willing" that had backed George W. Bush's attack on Iraq.
President Obama is moving us into another "national security" area where neo-con belligerence is considered the "new normal." He has already normalized executive branch assassinations, warrantless NSA surveillance, and cracking down on whistle blowers. Now, if he goes through with his unilateral bombing of Syria without a Congressional resolution or a United Nations mandate we'll be right back in the bad old days when George W. Bush set loose John Yoo to interpret the legal "limits" to presidential power. While claiming the moral high ground Obama is losing the moral high ground.
In the 21st century launching wars willy-nilly is far too perilous given the destructive power and widespread distribution of high-tech weaponry. When initiating something like this no one can be certain which act of military violence might set off a chain of events that plunges the region or the world into catastrophe. There are far too many variables to Obama's promised cruise missile barrage against Syria to fall into a neat and predictable outcome. Not even the Svengalis among our nation's most esteemed pundits can tell you how many "Friedman Units" will have to pass before the wreckage of this pending attack on Syria is cleared away.
The President just got done celebrating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, but this month also marks the 60th anniversary of the CIA's coup against Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran that contributed mightily to the subsequent failures of American policy in the Middle East. If one considers the record of the United States: the assistance in Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq War; or U.S. forces' use of depleted uranium and white phosphorous in the 1991 and the 2003 Iraq Wars; or giving its blessing to Israel when it dropped about a million cluster bombs in southern Lebanon as a parting shot in its war with Hezbollah in the summer of 2006, (not to mention the Agent Orange dropped in Vietnam), and what we see is a government whose expressions of moral outrage, at least internationally, lack credibility. And from the moment President Obama drew his "red line" against the use of chemical weapons we've been told that U.S. "credibility" is at stake if he doesn't bomb the shit out of Syria.

To have legitimacy what the Obama Administration should do is go through the proper channels of the United Nations, allow the U.N. investigators to do their work in Syria, bring their findings to the General Assembly, and have a vote on the use of military force to re-establish the "norm" of punitive action against states that use chemical weapons. After those conditions have been met if Russia and China veto the measure in the Security Council it will show the world that two major powers are not willing to punish the Syrian regime for gassing its own people. In the eyes of "world opinion" (if there is such a thing) the United States then could be seen as being slightly less hypocritical than if it plows ahead with this ill-advised unilateral military operation.
As it stands right now, the kind of strikes Obama is promising are illegal both at home (if Congress doesn't pass a resolution approving them) and abroad (if it doesn't have the imprimatur of the United Nations). Obama's "shot across the bow" against Syria (which is a terrible analogy) will only serve to de-legitimize America's aims in the Middle East. And by building on George W. Bush's precedent of saying "fuck you" to the United Nations, it will simply normalize the dangerous neo-con policies that the American people rejected in two presidential elections.
On the domestic political front, Karl Rove and Reince Priebus must be thrilled because the Democratic Senate candidates in 2014 are going to have to campaign apologizing for yet another unpopular war in the Middle East. The Democratic faithful are already fatigued by Obama's lack of action on a number of fronts relating to jobs and education, NSA spying, and drone policies. Add to this disillusioning mix the U.S. partaking in another bloodbath in the Middle East and the Democratic base is going to limp into 2014 just as it had limped into 2010. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could then complete his long-term project of turning Obama into a lame duck, thereby setting back the struggles for greater unionization of low-wage workers, dealing with climate change, protecting women's rights, and every other piece of the progressive agenda.
War might be the "health of the State," but historically it has been fatal for those who value progressive reform. And with Raytheon's stock now ticking upward anticipating the billions of dollars worth of Tomahawk cruise missiles going up in smoke, war is the "health of the Corporation" too.
There's a reason why the United Nations Charter requires the Security Council to approve any military operation. It was designed to try to keep little wars from growing into larger ones by providing an off-ramp before the big powers are drawn in. President Obama sounds overconfident that the Syrian regime and its allies will not respond in any way to a unilateral attack against them.
But what if there are Russians or other third country nationals or technicians killed around some of the sites the U.S. decides to "take out?" What if any number of freelance groups allied with the Syrians and Iranians decide to launch some attacks on their own giving the governments of Syria and Iran plausible deniability that they had nothing to do with them?
Maybe the U.S. objective all along has been to try to tip the balance against Iran and its Shia allies in the Arab world by neutralizing Syria and the chemical weapons issue is just a pretext? That possibility might explain why the U.S. is adamant about eschewing the U.N.
Or maybe the Americans are being snookered into another war by cunning regional players who know the U.S. is always shopping for a pretext to assert its military dominance in that part of the world?
Or maybe the U.S. weapons contractors simply cannot contain their greed any longer after the winding down of the Iraq War and are seeking new revenue streams? Or maybe what's driving this is the internal logic of what used to be called "U.S. imperialism," which requires punitive strikes now and then to show everyone in a neighborhood floating on a sea of oil that the United States is not afraid to use its military to protect its "vital interests?"
On the other hand, why would the Syrian government, which has shown itself to be so brutal in massacring its own people, be intimidated by the kind of "limited" short duration strike Obama spoke about during his recent PBS interview? A few hundred cruise missiles aren't going to change anything.
Are we really ready to believe that striking selected targets in Syria will have any wider effect on the civil war or the balance of power in the region that has unfolded between the Sunni states and their allies and the Shiites in Iraq, Iran, and Lebanon and their allies?
It was the U.S. military aggression in Iraq in the first place that ended up turning that country's "power ministries" (Interior, Defense, Foreign Affairs, Oil) over to the Shiite majority for the first time ever, and in the process, strengthened Iran's power in the region. This de facto alliance between Iran and Iraq put the Sunni kingdoms in a weakened position. Now it appears the United States wants to punish the Shia power centers of its own creation.
Conveniently, the chemical weapons attack of August 21st in Syria delivers a perfect pretext for the U.S. to attack. And if Syria or its proxies respond by hitting U.S. "interests" in their neighborhood the U.S. is then fully justified to "defend" itself with strikes against Iran or Hezbollah or more aimed at Syria. The American people have been kept in the dark about what's happening in the Middle East. Even after eight years of occupying Iraq the average American knows very little about the region and its people. We are told once again by our government: "trust us," we have the "intelligence." Journalists are even throwing around the term "slam dunk" without any sense of irony.
It all reminds me of the confidence that President Lyndon Johnson showed in February 1964 when his National Security Council drew up 66 targets to hit in North Vietnam. He saw it as limited in scope and believed it would teach Ho Chi Minh a lesson. Instead, it opened a Pandora's box that cost 58,000 American lives and at least 2 million Vietnamese in a war that marks one of the most shameful episodes in American history. Yet it appears our leaders have learned nothing from our experiences in Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq.
"Governments lie," the great journalist I.F. Stone used to say. And the Middle East has more than its fair share of double-crossers and people posing as one thing but carrying out an agenda for something else. We cannot believe anything that comes out of the offices of any of those regimes, but neither can we believe our own government since we've caught it in so many lies, particularly those designed to facilitate going to war. Pretexts come and go (Remember the Maine! -- The Gulf of Tonkin Incident! -- Iraqi WMD!) and consent in a democracy must be manufactured. We've been told that "we" must enforce a "norm" against the use of prohibited weapons. But ever since the CIA coup in Iran 60 years ago that lit the fuse of theocratic revolution U.S. policy in the Middle East has been one disaster after another for the people in the region and for the American people too. I don't think a few billion dollars worth of cruise missiles can erase more than a half-century of misguided imperial policy.

LABOR PARTICIPATION RATE HITS 34-YEAR LOW… Teen employment hits record lows, suggesting lost generation


The percentage of Americans who have a job or are looking for one, known as the labor force participation rate (LFPR), has plunged to a 34-year low, according to a new report from staffing company Express Employment Professionals.
Teen employment hits record lows, suggesting lost generation
WASHINGTON — For the fourth consecutive summer, teen employment has stayed anchored around record lows, prompting experts to fear that a generation of youth is likely to be economically stunted with lower earnings and opportunities in years ahead.Read more here:

The One Graph That Sums Up Why We're Going to War With Syria

 the, one, graph, that, sums, up, why, were, going, to, war, with, syria,

If ever there was a sign of the military industrial complex in America, this graph is it.
Reports that the United States is very near to launching an attack against Syria to punish Damascus for the use of chemical weapons sent Raytheon’s stock price to a 52-week high this week.
Who is Raytheon? The manufacturer of the BGM-109, more commonly known as the Tomahawk missile, the weapon of choice of the Obama administration in any strike against Syria.
Raytheon stock has surged over the past two months, coinciding with the biggest U.S. military build-up America has mounted since it launched an assault against Libya in 2011.
Raytheon is a Cambridge, Mass.,-based American defense contractor with total employment of 72,400 people. It is the world’s largest manufacturer of guided missiles and produces such widely used weapons as the AIM-7 Sparrow missile, the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile and the BGM-109 Tomahawk. The company is also responsible for the Air Warfare Simulation program used by the Air Force. According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2010, the company had nearly $23 billion in arms sales, more than 90% of its total revenue for the year.
Read more on SyriaObama Officially Pins the Blame Of Chemical Weapons Attack On Assad
The Pentagon buys 196 Tomahawk missiles a year, considered the "minimum sustaining rate" for the U.S. military's arsenal. And there are some key members of Congress who think more should be spent on these weapons.
“There are many of us who have been concerned for years about maintaining our missile capabilities,” said Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, to Politico.
Raytheon has delivered 252 missiles this fiscal year and 361 last fiscal year. War with Syria means that there would likely be a future increase in orders for the missiles, which can go for about $1 million a pop. In the 2011 U.S. military adventure into Libya, 124 Tomahawk missiles were fired by U.S. and UK ships against Libyan targets. The Libya campaign would give a comparable bar on how many Tomahawk missiles will be used in a Syrian campaign.
Supply and demand, baby.
The BGM-109 has been used in each of America's official conflicts in the last 22 years. Using wings and a flight system, cruise missiles like the Tomahawk are designed to carry a heavy warhead at subsonic speeds over a significant distance. Originally developed by General Dynamics in the 70s, the 3,500 lb. 20 foot long Tomahawk missile is now manufactured by Raytheon, a large U.S. defense contractor. Each unit can cost anywhere from the mid-$500,000s to almost $1.5 million, depending on the chosen configuration, payload, and booster deployment. The missile's modular system allows it to carry a conventional or nuclear payload if needed.

In its budget submission for fiscal 2013, the White House requested 196 Tomahawks, for a total program cost of $320 million. The White House is requesting the same amount next fiscal year, for a cost of $325 million.
War is big business, and Syria is paying the bills.
Need more proof that companies are profiting off of the recent Syria war mongering?
Lockheed Martin — the largest arms-producing and military services company in the world, with nearly $3 billion more in arms sales — saw its stock spike to a six month high on Monday, the day that the war drums with Syria really started beating.

Mind Control and Narrative Psy-Ops

Happiness Brigades could soon be part of every town and smart city – making us brimful of sunshine to fulfill the United Nations’ mandate for Gross Global Happiness. Tracked and monitored, the “not-yet-happy” could be brought up to spec with a specialized brain zapper, such as the ultrasonic neural interface funded by DARPA.

‘Pfff!’, you may be thinking – ‘I just won’t use it!’ … but smart ID chips are already being phased in as part of the global “federated identity ecosystem”, and chances of avoiding these are looking slim. The ID proposals include hackable biometrics, which will push us closer to “passthoughts” that rely on our unique, live, brainwave patterns; DARPA’s “portable brain recording device” (EEG) could be used for this. So can heartbeat sensors (ECG). The smartphones which we’ll be expected to use for ID, payment, health services, and life-logging, are ridiculously prone to loss and theft, so by the time ubiquitous surveillance, implants, and neural interfaces have become normal, connecting your brain to the Internet might seem like a natural step. This, of course, would then make us the most vulnerable we could ever be. So just what are these ‘brain zappers’, and what do we mean when we talk about ‘mind control’?

Zapping the brain can have a great many good uses, but these have to be weighed against the equal number of potential bads. Scientists have discovered it’s possible to send signals to the brain to control a person’s movements, just like voodoo. They can cure or cause addiction. They can make you happy, or they can make you sad. As for mind control, times have moved on, and the new methods of public manipulation are slicker than ever. Ye Olde Propaganda has always been a political tool, such as spreading rumors about adversaries, and ‘winning hearts and minds’ by guile. The early days of scientific propaganda, though, can be traced back to Edward Bernays, and a ‘story’ he created, using his media connections, to get women to start smoking. This was also the beginning of branding – the women on TV were said to be smoking ‘torches of freedom’. Time moved on, the Internet arrived and big data took over. There was so much data they didn’t know what to do. They had to put it into an understandable format, to be able to analyse, communicate and act upon the data being gathered. So in the last decade, intelligence agencies, and even corporations, have begun to frame their reports as narratives which shape, explain, and make sense of the data. Cognitive computers themselves can do this – creating news articles from pooled data, just like I’m doing here, but with no human being involved. These computer-generated narratives are also on DARPA’s wish list, along with sensors to monitor people’s reactions to stories, in real-time. As for propaganda, now called ‘strategic communications’, the powers-that-be see it all in terms of ‘telling a story’. Defence departments are now focused on creating ‘counter-narratives’, i.e. stories they believe will counteract the effects of ‘radicalism’. DARPA’S “Narrative Networks” program made the news in 2011 – the link to propaganda was clear to all. So it’s important to understand that the program is still going! Moreover, stories can be used to affect changes in a person’s beliefs, their sense of identity, and even memory, partly because they stimulate the release of brain chemicals. So can neural interfaces. And DARPA’s funding of neural interfaces – and storytellers – is part of this program.

There are several ways to zap the brain – usually involving electrical and/or magnetic energy. The most common is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) – when targeted at a specific area in the brain, TMS can create a variety of effects, including emotional changes, and even bodily movement. As reported by Activist Post, DARPA funded a study at Arizona State University, which aimed to, (i) map out the precise areas of the brain that are affected by stories; (ii) analyse how people respond to specific stories; and (iii) test ways of changing their response to a story, i.e. by altering the story format, and/or zapping their brains with TMS. This technique is more properly referred to as neuromodulation, and involves stimulating the release of neurotransmitters by targeting specific areas of the brain with electromagnetic pulses; it’s being used to treat neurological and psychiatric disorders, in place of medication. Whilst more serious conditions have been treated with deep brain stimulation, using implanted microchips, people with pain and depression can be treated with TMS using a headset for the duration of the therapy. Unlike EEG recording devices (read-only), this headset is a computer-to-brain interface (CBI), since signals are sent to the brain, from a computer (i.e. write-only).

Obviously, this is where we start to get on very dodgy ground indeed. Especially when we find out that DARPA’s interest in narrative networks extends to the way both stories and TMS affect a person’s brain chemistry: they stimulate the release of profoundly important neurotransmitters (and/or hormones), especially dopamine and oxytocin. DARPA’s research, led by General Casebeer, has found that stories affect our emotions, our cultural and religious beliefs, and even memory. In other words, the narratives we hear (on TV, in the news, blogs, tweets, etc) affect important brain chemicals, and therefore our very identities. And so do pulsed electromagnetic fields – such as TMS. TMS can only be delivered via either a CBI or implants. As noted in my last article, BCI headsets, such as those made by Emotiv and Neurosky, are well-developed and becoming popular amongst neuro-gamers and quantified-selfers. CBIs are less advanced, as their use is far more complicated. However, neuromodulation is being used to treat a wide range of problems (including depression, and chronic pain), which is likely to stimulate growth in the market[1] for personal brain zappers. DARPA is clearly aware of the vast range of possible applications for these devices, and have also been funding a new way of altering brain chemistry, called pulsed ultrasound, along with the US Department of Defense, and the US Army. Often referred to as focused ultrasound (FUS), this technology made the news in 2010, when William J Tyler, whilst at Arizona State University, won an award from DARPA for research into CBIs which use ultrasonic pulses[2] to effect a variety of changes in the brain. Tyler has also worked with the Army Research Lab to look for ways to encode “sensory data onto the cortex using pulsed ultrasound” which can be “focused through the skull to any discrete region of the brain with millimeter accuracy.” Tyler has published several papers showing the effects achieved using pulsed ultrasound, and has a company called NeuroTrek (formerly Synsonix, Inc.), which has received substantial sums from government funding. NeuroTrek sees its device as having applicability beyond serious medical conditions, and beyond the battlefield, claiming it could be used by gamers, the communications industry, and the entertainment industry. Researchers at Arizona State University have also published several papers on pulsed ultrasound, as well as several patent application. Last year, Tyler filed a patent application for "Devices and Methods for Modulating Brain Activity" and another one this month (“Optimization of Ultrasound Waveform Characteristics for Transcranial Ultrasound Neuromodulation”), with two of his colleagues (one of whom includes Daniel Wetmore, who has contributed to the submission of several FUS patent applications; see also D P Jang, et al,in Korea). An article in quoted Tyler as saying, Maybe the next generation of social entertainment networks will involve downloading customized information or experiences from personalized computer clouds while encoding them into the brain using ultrasound. I see no reason to rule out that possibility. Focused ultrasound can deliver, “complex spatiotemporal patterns of acoustic waves” to achieve similar results to TMS, but has a spatial resolution which is five times greater, and can reach far deeper into the brain, meaning a lot more can be done with it, such as: neurological/psychiatric intervention cognitive enhancement behavioral reinforcement TBI (traumatic brain injury) protection pain intervention anxiety/stress reduction long term alertfulness/wakefulness navigational commands/assistance Ahem! Did you notice “behavioral reinforcement” on that list? Are you thinking Pavlov’s dogs, aka operant conditioning? You’d be right – ultrasound delivered via a CBI can be used to activate reward pathways (dopamine) in the brain, which,“may be used to condition and/or reinforce certain desired attributes and/or to motivate specific behavioral actions . . . rats conditioned to press a bar to receive intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) of [specific parts of the brain] will lead to reinforcing behaviors such that the rat ignores all other environmental cues and will engage in repeated bar pressing behaviors in order to gain the reinforcing/pleasure inducing ICSS of those brain nuclei.” Sure sounds like addiction to me. Soooo . . . Just stay away from them there mind-machines, eh? Errrm, well, that might not save you from having your brain messed with, I’m afraid. You see, propaganda has taken an entirely new turn. It’s gone from putting a spin on things, to an attempt to oversee the stories we all hear, whether it’s the news, or blogs we read, and even Tweets, or posts on Internet forums. DARPA has spent several years analysing universal narrative structures, and the physiological effects they have on people, as well as tracking popular narratives (and the memes they produce) in social media. (I’ll explain this more in a separate article.) General Casebeer, who is leading the research on narrative networks for DARPA, notes the sense of ‘reward’ is linked to the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter which can affect whether you like or dislike a story, and which also “enervates several important parts of the brain responsible for memory, drive, judgment”.

There are numerous other hugely influential neurotransmitters[3] than can be modulated by both neural interfaces and stories, including oxytocin (the ‘love hormone’). This powerful brain chemical is linked to the modulation of trust. Paul Zak, who has worked with General Casebeer on creating persuasive narratives, even believes our level of morality is dependent on the level of oxytocin we produce (psychopaths have little of it in situations that make other people release loads!). Zak and Casebeer contributed to a high-level meeting on the use of narratives to ‘stop terrorism’. This meeting, attended by researchers, and military and federal agencies, was convened to examine the ‘Neurobiology of Political Violence’, including discussion of TMS, which can “turn parts of the human brain on and off”. Casebeer noted, “There is some emerging work being done on how Tweets can create a rise in oxytocin release based on message content.” We should bear in mind here the US Government’s Strategic Communications plan, which involves sentiment analysis, the use of counter-narratives, and ‘downvoting’ stories which it does not approve of, preventing discussion of certain ‘banned’ topics, as well as using “persona management software” to create false identities, and thus manipulate public perception of news and fool people into believing in a false ‘popular consensus’. This astroturfing technique has become common, and is just one part of the new Psy-op strategy – controlling the conversation. By manipulating the news we hear, our primal responses can therefore be influenced, without us even knowing it. Obviously this has been going on for years, in the form of propaganda and reputation control, but the methods just keep getting slicker, and all the more insidious. Narratives are becoming the weapon of choice, said to be capable of nipping ‘radicalisation’ in the bud. Terrorists are said to ‘be radicalised’ by influential others, as if it were something done to them, and bit by bit, radicalisation is being defined as ‘mistrust of government’, which could one day mean little indignant nobodies such as myself being listed as ‘dangerous’!

I digress…. The point is that CBIs could become commonplace, given the huge range of potential applications, such as moderating the production of brain chemicals involved in emotion (e.g. serotonin), much like psychotropic drugs.[4] Brain-to-computer interfaces (BCIs) are already being used to link people’s minds/feelings to a movie they’re watching. MyndPlay have devised an EEG headset (using Neurosky’s microchips) which monitors the viewer’s emotional reactions to the movie, and changes the ending accordingly. (As a side note, analysing their state of mind also provides an insight into the kind of personality they have!)

Maybe some people would want the signal to work the other way as well, so when they’re watching a movie, their brain chemicals can be boosted to give them a more immersive experience. How about a boost of adrenaline for the fight scenes, or a dose of oxytocin to ‘feel’, empathically, what the characters in the film are ‘feeling’? What could be better? (says she, sarcastically). Both ‘narrative therapy’ and TMS are now being recommended for the treatment of depression. How long till Hollywood gets hold of it? It’s a lot harder to bring a CBI to market than it is a BCI, because of the direction in which it works! There will always be issues with insurance, and brain zapping techniques are still in the early stages of development/understanding. Should the use of CBIs become widespread, they could be used to condition people in almost any way imaginable. What is perhaps even more frightening is that it is now technically feasible that ultrasound techniques could be used, … to activate sensory or motor brain regions of the subject to produce movement or to create synthetic brain imagery. For example …. projections of visual sounds to auditory regions of the brain, ability to generate virtual maps/images onto visual brain regions, ability to control body movement patterns of an individual. Such brain stimulation may …. cause the subject to make a turning motion in order to guide that subject via GPS or other feedback from navigation technology, or stimulate motor areas of the subject's brain to cause the subject to make a motor action. Such methods and devices may be used for any application, including but not limited to, recreational, entertainment, and/or video gaming applications. (my italics) In fact, this was done with a brain-to-brain interface(BBI) earlier this year! By the power of thought, and the use of transcranial focused ultrasound (FUS), a researcher was able to cause a rat’s tail to move. (Video of this on YouTube has a strobe in it.) Even more astounding is the announcement this week that human-to-human neural interfacing has been achieved, as shown in the video below:

Neural dust (powered by ultrasound), which was proposed last month, remains an undeveloped concept, whilst research into optogenetics has made significant progress. The mind boggles. It used to be that people had to guess what the public wanted; they could do polls and ask around people in the know, or even rely on hunches, but now things are very slick and super-sneaky. The definition of propaganda will, in fact, need to change; data from mass surveillance is being used to create targeted messages, which could be embedded into news articles, movies, TV shows, blogs, online forums, speeches, etc, for both political and commercial purposes, whilst our brains are monitored for our reactions, and possibly even neuromodulated to ensure our well-being, as each nation strives for Gross National Happiness. The new propaganda is sooooo subliminal, you and I might not notice. It may even be that events are being engineered over time to create the narrative that will be our history; perhaps people like me are being framed as ‘conspiracy theorists’ to serve a future purpose, as the characters in a future ‘story of how we got here’, who threatened the peace of the world, and had to be ‘made happy’. It used to be that the study of narrative belonged mainly to the literary world, encompassing other subjective concerns such as philosophy, and history. Not any more. Forever in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’, the scientific study of stories breaches our last frontier, and could be used to reveal, and possibly even directly control, our unconscious minds. It used to be that we’d worry about what would - one day - be possible, and we’ve grown up on a diet of media memes that help us imagine Orwellian scenes. Now we know how we can be controlled, even from a distance - and we can even list the brand names. The next step is mass production, the essence of mission creep. Here endeth yet another sorry tale of a nightmare life, another affirmation of the craziness of the world. Perhaps the alternative media-sphere, just by trying to understand what is going on, has come to function like predictive programming! So much doom and gloom. Lots of newsworthy possibilities, waiting in the wings to become our future reality, as if there’s no alternative. But really, it needn’t be so. There are those among you with creative flair, visions, and ideas. Storytellers and artists. So help us please with tales of brighter imaginings, sing us songs and tell us stories of a better world that’s coming. Dream a dream and change the narrative so we see the future that you see. A better place to be. Footnotes: [1] As reported by BusinessWire, “Neuromodulation devices have emerged as one of the fastest growing segments of the medical device market due to high demand for minimally invasive and non-invasive treatment. With advancements in technology, neuromodulation is expected to become a promising therapeutic area and high growth industry in the next decade, as it offers symptomatic relief mainly from chronic pain, incontinence, heart failure, headache, depression, epilepsy, etc. The neuromodulation devices market includes deep brain stimulation, spinal cord stimulation, vagus nerve stimulation, sacral nerve stimulation and other external stimulation devices such as transcranial magnetic stimulation, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). The neuromodulation technique acts directly upon nerves or the target area where the activity of nerves is altered due to biological responses produced by electrical stimulation or drug infusion. These devices include small electrodes that are attached to the brain, the spinal cord, or peripheral nerves. These precisely placed leads are connected by means of an extension cable to a pulse generator to generate electrical stimulation. Neuromodulation can have applications in any area of the body and can treat several diseases like chronic pain, epilepsy, psychiatric disorder, movement disorder, cardiovascular disorder, genitourinary and colorectal disorder, stroke and brain injury, and gastric disorder.” [2] A patent application, submitted on behalf of Arizona State University, for “Devices and Methods for Modulating Brain Activity” (2012), stated,“Ultrasound (US) has been used for many medical applications, and is generally known as cyclic sound pressure with a frequency greater than the upper limit of human hearing. The production of ultrasound is used in many different fields, typically to penetrate a medium and measure the reflection signature or to supply focused energy. ….. A well-known application of this technique is its use in sonography to produce a picture of a fetus in a womb. ….. US waveforms can be defined by their acoustic frequency, intensity, waveform duration, and other parameters that vary the timecourse of acoustic waves in a target tissue.” [3] such as acetylcholine, histamine, hypocretin, serotonin, and norepinephrine. [4] See, for instance, ‘Transcranial ultrasound (TUS) effects on mental states: A pilot study’, by Hameroff et al, 2012, University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, Tucson, AZ, USA

This article first appeared at Get Mind Smart
Read more at h

All Wars Are Bankers' Wars

BREAKING: Obama admin consults oil experts as it weighs action against Syria!! Get ready for $5/gal!

Obama administration officials have contacted energy experts in recent days to discuss oil market conditions as the president weighs a military strike against Syria, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
There are no signs the government is preparing to tap emergency oil reserves soon in a bid to tame rising prices, according to the sources who spoke with Reuters this week, though the administration is closely monitoring the situation.
U.S. consults oil experts as it weighs action against Syria
BREAKING! U.S. willing to act alone on Syria attack! It’s ON!!
U.S. willing to act alone on Syria attack
WASHINGTON — The White House signaled that the United States would act alone in Syria if necessary to protect its national security interests, as a Western coalition that just days ago appeared determined to launch a joint military action split wide open. President Obama appeared increasingly isolated after British Prime Minister David Cameron lost a vote Thursday in the House of Commons on endorsing military action. It was a stunning defeat for a government that days ago called for punishing Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces for alleged use of chemical weapons against rebel-held neighborhoods last week.
Will War With Syria Cause The Price Of Oil To Explode Higher?
Are you ready to pay four, five or possibly even six dollars for a gallon of gasoline?  War has consequences, and a conflict with Syria has the potential to escalate wildly out of control very rapidly.  The Obama administration is pledging that the upcoming attack on Syria will be “brief and limited” and that the steady flow of oil out of the Middle East will not be interrupted.  But what happens if Syria strikes back?  What happens if Syrian missiles start raining down on Tel Aviv?  What happens if Hezbollah or Iran starts attacking U.S. or Israeli targets?  Unless Syria, Hezbollah and Iran all stand down and refuse to fight back, we could very easily be looking at a major regional war in the Middle East, and that could cause the price of oil to explode higher.  Syria is not a major oil producer, but approximately a third of all of the crude oil in the world is produced in the Middle East.  If the Suez Canal or the Persian Gulf (or both) get shut down for an extended period of time, the consequences would be dramatic.  The price of oil has already risen about 15% so far this summer, and war in the Middle East could potentially send it soaring into record territory.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Asian shares mostly rise as Syria action on hold

By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian stocks rose and oil prices tumbled as a possible U.S. military strike on Syria appeared less likely, while the dollar remained not far from a three-week high against a basket of currencies after upbeat U.S. growth data.
While most regional emerging market currencies scratched out gains on Friday, the damage for the month was extensive as investors positioned for the U.S. Federal Reserve to begin tapering its asset-buying stimulus as early as next month.
European markets could feel the pinch of weaker heavyweight energy shares, but are expected to be little-changed at the open after rallying on Thursday.
Financial spreadbetters expect Britain's FTSE 100 (.FTSE) to open down 6 points, to up 2 points; Germany's DAX (.GDAXI) to open down 2 to 11 points, or 0.1 percent lower; and France's CAC 40 (.FCHI) to open down 3 points to flat.
U.S. intervention in Syria in response to what Western governments believe was President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons looked set to be delayed at least until United Nations investigators report back after leaving Syria on Saturday.
On Thursday, Britain's parliament rejected British participation in any military action against Syria, while China said there should be no rush to force U.N. Security Council action against Syria until the U.N. inspectors' investigation is complete.
But U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Friday that America will continue to seek out an international coalition to act together on Syria.
The dollar index (.DXY) was slightly lower at 81.916, after rising as high as 82.067 on Thursday, its highest level since August 5.
U.S. data overnight showed the U.S. economy grew at a quicker-than-expected annual pace of 2.5 percent in the second quarter. Combined with a fall in weekly jobless claims, this growth reinforced expectations that the Fed is gearing up to reduce its stimulus.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.miapj0000pus> finished up about 0.7 percent, managing a 0.1 percent weekly gain but a 1.3 percent monthly loss.
But Japan's benchmark Nikkei stock average (NIK:^9452) bucked the regional trend on Friday and gave up early gains, losing 0.5 percent and ending both the week and month with respective losses of about 2 percent despite government data that painted a brighter economic picture. Rising prices, falling unemployment, higher incomes and factory activity gathering momentum pointed to an ongoing recovery in the world's third-largest economy.
Against the perceived safe-haven Japanese yen, the dollar shed 0.2 percent to 98.13 yen, moving back toward a two-week low of 96.81 yen hit on trading platform EBS on Wednesday.
"If investors sell emerging countries' currencies and buy safe-haven yen, it will hurt Japan's exporters' shares, so we may have to brace for that possibility. Concerns on Syria have not faded completely, either," said Masanaga Kono, senior strategist at Amundi Japan.
The looming reduction of the Fed's quantitative easing has taken a toll on U.S. stocks, but emerging market currencies have borne the brunt.
The Indian rupee has tumbled more than 10 percent against the dollar so far this month, which would be its largest monthly depreciation ever if it ends around current levels, according to Thomson Reuters data. The rupee plunged to a record low earlier this week as policymakers scrambled for solutions.
The Indonesian rupiah has lost nearly 6 percent so far in August, which would be its biggest monthly fall since November 2008. On Thursday, Indonesia's central bank raised its main interest rates, the latest country forced to defend its currency as investors pulled out funds from emerging markets in search of safer destinations.
"The rate hikes are only a brief measure. Sentiment on the rupiah is really pessimistic, given the country's current account deficit and high inflation," said Yuna Park, a currency and bond analyst at Dongbu Securities in Seoul.
Brent crude prices fell 0.7 percent to $114.31 a barrel after spiking to a six-month high on Wednesday on fears that any foreign military action in Syria would destabilize the Middle East, which pumps a third of the world's oil, and would disrupt crude supply.
Gold eased 0.1 percent to around $1,406.29 an ounce, moving away from a 3-1/2 month high hit on Wednesday as fears over Syria prompted a flight to safety.
Copper prices added 0.5 percent at $7,185 a tonne (1.1023 ton), after sliding for a third day on Thursday and reaching their lowest price in almost three weeks due to the stronger dollar, concerns about Syria and slightly higher inventories. But they were still on track to mark their biggest monthly gain in nearly a year.
On Wall Street on Thursday, stocks ended higher in thin volume, taking back some lost ground after their worst daily decline since June earlier this week. Over the past two sessions, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index (.SPX) has gained about 0.5 percent, but remains down 1.5 percent for the week.
(Additional reporting by Ayai Tomisawa in Tokyo and Jongwoo Cheon in Singapore; Editing by Eric Meijer)

Your tax dollars at work: Inside the United States’ $52.6B “black budget”

The United States’ “black budget” for fiscal 2013 amounts to $52.6 billion (or $167 per American), and it details what The Washington Post calls a “bureaucratic and operational landscape that has never been subject to public scrutiny.”
According to a new front-page story on Thursday, the Post says that it now has the entire 178-page classified budget summary as supplied by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden. This entire budget comprises the annual expenditures for the NSA, the CIA, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), and other spy and military agencies.
With respect to the tech-focused highlights, the Post notes that the CIA and NSA “have launched aggressive new efforts to hack into foreign computer networks to steal information or sabotage enemy systems, embracing what the budget refers to as ‘offensive cyber operations.’”
Additionally, it appears there are far more potential leakers than we once thought. According to the Post’s reporting, the “NSA planned to investigate at least 4,000 possible insider threats in 2013, cases in which the agency suspected sensitive information may have been compromised by one of its own.”
Not surprisingly, the documents also apparently show that the United States has its eyes particularly on the international community’s two biggest pariahs: North Korea and Iran. The US intelligence community has “all but surrounded [North Korea] with surveillance platforms” and “new surveillance techniques and technologies have enabled analysts to identify suspected nuclear sites that had not been detected in satellite images [from Iran]”
Since Snowden leaked his set of documents to the Post, The Guardian, and others, there has been increasing attention focused on the vast surveillance network that captures a huge amount of digital communications. However, as Ars has pointed out previously, storing all that data for long periods of time is near-impossible—so the NSA has to resort to short-term capture and then selective searching and filtered storage.
The Post reports that of the NSA’s budget, it was “projected to spend $48.6 million on research projects to assist ‘coping with information overload,’ an occupational hazard as the volumes of intake have increased sharply from fiber optic cables and Silicon Valley Internet providers.”

s00per s33kr1t

But it’s not just the NSA getting in on the SIGINT (signal intelligence) game. As the Post reports:
Even the CIA devotes $1.7 billion, or nearly 12 percent of its budget, to technical collection efforts including a program called “CLANSIG” that former officials said is the agency’s more targeted version of the massive data collection operations of the NSA.
The CIA is pursuing tracking systems “that minimize or eliminate the need for physical access and enable deep concealment operations against hard targets.”
The agency has deployed new biometric sensors to confirm the identities and locations of al-Qaeda operatives. The system has been used in the CIA’s drone campaign.
The NSA is also planning high-risk covert missions, a lesser-known part of its work, to plant what it calls “tailored radio frequency solutions” in hostile territory—close-in sensors to intercept communications that do not pass through global networks.
Sadly, neither the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s (ODNI) newly created Twitter or Tumblr accounts have a response to the new document.
“The United States has made a considerable investment in the Intelligence Community since the terror attacks of 9/11, a time which includes wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Arab Spring, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction technology, and asymmetric threats in such areas as cyber-warfare,” the ODNI’s director, James Clapper, told the Post.
“Our budgets are classified as they could provide insight for foreign intelligence services to discern our top national priorities, capabilities, and sources and methods that allow us to obtain information to counter threats,” he added.
The Post has created an interactive Web feature to better understand the black budget.

Detroit stopped issuing death, birth certificates after bankruptcy

Detroit’s funeral directors received this unusual text message last month. “FYI, city of Detroit can’t process death certificates because they have no paper and don’t have money to buy any.”
The message, from a fellow funeral director, was mostly true: The city did stop issuing certified copies of birth and death certificates on July 23, days after the July 18 bankruptcy filing. That day, a nervous paper vendor demanded cash — and the city wanted to do business as usual, on credit.
FYI: In bankrupt and frequently bizarre Detroit, dying is easy. It’s proving you are dead that’s hard.
Cutbacks in hours, balky vendors, and the news that Herman Kiefer Complex will close Oct. 1 are all affecting the city’s death and dying business. The city’s vital records department will close and Wayne County will assume responsibility for issuing birth and death certificates, according to Bill Nowling, spokesman for Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.
“Have you ever heard such a crock?” asked Wallace Williams, president of the Michigan Select Funeral Directors Association, when asked about the paper shortage. “They told us they ran out of paper and it might take five days to get some.” Williams, who texted his 20 or so funeral director members, says the potential impact of a death certificate shortage was dire.
Without certified copies of death certificates, families couldn’t access bank accounts, file insurance claims, or access probate court. The families are often struggling financially, grieving and frustrated by any bureaucratic delay. And although funeral homes provide copies as a service to families, they wind up taking the heat.
While funeral homes and hospitals could file birth and death certificates on July 23, the city requires a special embossed paper for certified copies. Because the forms are unique to each jurisdiction, the paper couldn’t be borrowed — although some funeral directors tried to lend paper to the records department.
“Employees (at the vital records department) were sitting outside because they didn’t have anything to do,” says the Rev. Gleo Wade, Stinson Funeral Home director, who drove to the vital records department that day to see what was going on. “I’ve never seen the employees just sitting outside like that before.”
Funeral directors and employees had never witnessed a death certificate system collapse, either. Funeral home officials say the department is already understaffed and stretched thin. “People don’t understand that families become very upset when they can’t get the certificate.”
Bill Nowling, spokesman for Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, says the problem was short-lived, once the vendor was assured payment. It was the kind of scenario Orr knew could occur from the beginning of his tenure here. Calming nervous vendors — the ones whose services are needed as part of the city’s function — is a new skill set for city officials.
Not long after running out of death certificate paper, the county told funeral directors it would no longer release bodies from the Wayne County morgueon Sundays, explaining that Sunday was a slow day for funeral homes anyway. The medical examiner’s office is now closed on holidays, too, but will make exceptions for religions that require immediate burial.
Funeral directors are not pleased.“Back in the day, they’d release bodies all day long,” said Williams, the funeral director association president.
“Death doesn’t take any holidays,” he said. “Death happens every day of the week and especially on weekends.”

U.S. Justice Department Gives State Police, Newtown $2.5M

The Sandy Hook security cash cow:
U.S. Justice Department Gives State Police, Newtown $2.5M
28 Aug 2013 Attorney General Eric Holder announced Wednesday that the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance will give $2.5 million in funding to the Connecticut State Police and local law enforcement for their response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The Town of Newtown will receive $602,293 for police officers’ time during the past school year (Dec. 14, 2012 through June 2013) to respond to the shooting, provide public protection services afterward, and to monitor local schools. The State of Connecticut will receive $663,444 for State Police troopers’ overtime to assist Newtown police with tactical response and law enforcement activities… The Town of Monroe, which gave a vacant elementary school to the Newtown community to use as the new Sandy Hook Elementary School, will receive $882,812 for police officers’ time to secure and monitor the new school.

US banks earn record $42.2B in 2nd quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. banks earned more from April through June than during any quarter on record, aided by a steep drop in losses from bad loans.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. says the banking industry earned $42.2 billion in the second quarter, up 23 percent from the second quarter of 2012. About 54 percent of U.S. banks reported improved earnings from a year earlier.
Banks' losses on loans tumbled 30.7 percent from a year earlier to $14.2 billion, the lowest in six years. And bank lending increased 1 percent from the first quarter. Greater lending helps boost consumer and business spending, leading to more jobs and faster economic growth.
Still, the report shows that the largest banks continue to drive the industry's profits while smaller institutions have struggled. Banks with assets exceeding $10 billion make up only 1.5 percent of U.S. banks. Yet they accounted for about 82 percent of the industry's earnings in the April-June quarter.
Those banks include Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wells Fargo & Co. Most have recovered with help from federal bailout money and record-low borrowing rates.
Overall, FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg said the second-quarter results "show a continuation of the recovery in the banking industry."
One concern is the recent spike in interest rates. Rates have risen since Chairman Ben Bernanke indicated this spring that the Federal Reserve could slow its bond purchases later this year, if the economy continues to show improvement. The bond purchases have kept long-term interest rates low.
Higher interest rates could have mixed impact on banks. On one hand, they make it more expensive for banks to borrow. But they also enable banks to charge more for loans.
"It's a tricky balance to strike," Gruenberg said at a news conference.
Losses on loans fell to the lowest level since the third quarter of 2007. Home equity loans showed the greatest declines in losses.
Another sign of the industry's health is that fewer banks are at risk of failure. The number of banks on the FDIC's "problem" list fell to 553 as of June 30 from 612 in the first quarter.
And so far this year, only 20 banks have failed. That follows 51 closures last year, 92 in 2011 and 157 in 2010. The 2010 closures were the most in one year since the height of the savings and loan crisis in 1992.
The FDIC is backed by the government, and its deposits are guaranteed up to $250,000 per account. Apart from its deposit insurance fund, the agency also has tens of billions in loss reserves.

Dollar Collapse and WW3 : Does an Invasion of Syria Signal a U.S. Dollar Collapse?

In today’s video, Fabian Calvo of AMTV discusses whether an invasion of syria signals a US dollar collapse.
Dollar Collapse and WW3 HAS BEGUN !!! WATCH THIS !

Guess What: You are an UNSECURED Creditor! Your Money Is Not Safe In The Big Banks from a Confiscating Government

“The plans for confiscation have been developed. They have been approved, and are awaiting the next crisis.”
by PTS
You know how frustrating it is when you experience a computer crash: you have the potential to lose family pictures, email lists, a college term paper, and videos taken on vacation. All of that information, GONE, forever, in the blink of an eye, if you did not back them up. But the same thing can happen to wealth, as especially illustrated by the NASDAQ outage of last week, except that your computer-hosted wealth can not be backed up.

But how many people understand that? How many people in your circle of influence realize that all of their wealth is nothing but a bunch of 1?s and Zeros floating around in some bank’s computer system, which could be wiped out in a nanosecond?
The real frightening thing is that wealth can be lost, not due to a computer glitch or technical hiccup, but by design. This video makes the scary point that plans are already in place to rob the citizens of the US, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and the EU in the exact same way as bank depositors awoke one March 25th, 2013 morning in Cyprus to realize that up to 60% of their wealth had evaporated overnight. Of course, the big banksters made sure that their money was safe out of Dodge before that happened. Cyprus, as this video says, was the “test run” for the rest of us. Could it happen here? Read More…

War is a Racket by Smedley Butler

JPMorgan Bribery Probe Said to Expand as Spreadsheet Found

Dawn Kopecki
August 29, 2013
A probe of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s hiring practices in China has uncovered red flags across Asia, including an internal spreadsheet that linked appointments to specific deals pursued by the bank, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The Justice Department has joined the Securities and Exchange Commission in examining whether JPMorgan hired people so that their family members in government and elsewhere would steer business to the firm, possibly violating bribery laws, said one of the people, all of whom asked to not be named because the inquiry isn’t public. The bank has opened an internal investigation that has flagged more than 200 hires for review, said two people with knowledge of the examination, results of which JPMorgan is sharing with regulators.
The scrutiny began in Hong Kong and has now expanded to countries across Asia, looking at interns as well as full-time workers, two people said. The employees include influential politicians’ family members who worked in JPMorgan’s investment bank, as well as relatives of asset-management clients, the people said. Wall Street firms have long enlisted people whose pedigree and connections can win business, a practice that doesn’t necessarily violate the law.

‘Real Jobs’

The SEC will hunt for evidence showing “these weren’t real jobs, that they were only there because their father or mother were important public officials,” said Dan Hurson, a former U.S. prosecutor and SEC lawyer who runs his own Washington practice. “If the public official requested the job for the child, that would be a strong indication to the company that the official was seeking and receiving something of value.”
The government hasn’t accused JPMorgan or its executives of wrongdoing in connection with the hiring inquiry.
“We are fully cooperating with regulators,” Mark Kornblau, a company spokesman, said in an interview. Michael Passman, a spokesman at the Justice Department, and John Nester at the SEC declined to comment.
“This is an example of the difficulties foreign firms face in doing business in China,” David Marshall, a Singapore-based banking analyst at CreditSights Inc., wrote in an e-mailed response to questions today. “The problem for the foreign firms is that local practices may be different from — and at times in conflict with — the legal and ethical rules under which they are required to operate.”

Linking Decisions

JPMorgan, which has been in the Asia-Pacific region for about 140 years, has a presence in 16 countries in the region including AustraliaJapanSouth Korea, China, Singapore,ThailandBangladesh and India.
The spreadsheet, which links some hiring decisions to specific transactions pursued by the bank, may be viewed by regulators as evidence that JPMorgan added people in exchange for business, according to one person with knowledge of the review.
The bank has hired law firm Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP, one of the people said. It also has enlisted King & Wood Mallesons and Herbert Smith Freehills, The Lawyer reported last week, citing unidentified people close to the matter. Paul Weiss is handling the U.S. probe, according to the publication.

U.K. Laws

The company is also examining its hiring practices in Europe and elsewhere, two of the people said. The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act bars companies from making payments or providing anything of value to government officials to win business. The U.K.’s Bribery Act enacted in 2011 imposes a broader ban on payments that entice anyone to improperly carry out their duties.
The Serious Fraud Office, which enforces U.K. laws targeting fraud, bribery and corruption, isn’t currently investigating JPMorgan’s hiring practices for signs of bribery, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.
JPMorgan, led by Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon, 57, is contending with criminal investigations of its energy-trading and mortgage-backed securities operations. The firm also faces U.S. probes of its anti-money-laundering safeguards, foreclosures, credit-card collections, and $6.2 billion in losses last year on botched derivatives bets by a U.K. trader known as the London Whale.

Dimon’s Push

The company has made bolstering internal controls and regulatory compliance its priority this year, Dimon told investors in April. Shannon Warren was appointed in January to lead a new companywide oversight and control group.
“We’ve taken some of our best people and we’ve given them command-and-control authority, we’ve staffed them up, and we’re going to fix every single last” problem, Dimon told investors at a June conference.
The bank made a reference to an SEC investigation of its personnel in a quarterly filing on Aug. 7, saying the regulator had asked for information about the “employment of certain former employees in Hong Kong and its business relationships with certain clients.”
The SEC requests have focused on two people in China whose parents have leadership roles at a state-controlled financial company and a railway, the New York Times reported Aug. 17, citing a U.S. government document it had reviewed.
After each appointment, the bank got assignments from firms connected to the new hires’ parents, according to the newspaper. The government document and public records don’t indicate that the employees helped JPMorgan secure the business or that the workers were unqualified, the newspaper said.

Doom & Gloom: ‘Unemployment bad to worse’, over 200 million people unemployed globally and no end in sight for the recession, massive social drama ahead?

With over 200 million people unemployed globally and no end in sight for the recession, the need for jobs has never been greater. Youth unemployment has reached critical levels and threatens to destabilize many countries. What can be done to create more jobs and kick-start the global economy? Guy Ryder, the Director-General of the ILO, joins Oksana to consider these issues.

Watch the full program here:

Peter Schiff & Jim Rogers – Dont Bet Against Gold! The Price Will Only Go Up! Prepare For A Full-Scale Market Mess!

Peter Schiff – Dont Bet Against Gold! The Price Will Only Go Up! You Won’t Win!, economy 2014, 2013 economic collapse, dollar crisis, gold price,
Jim Rogers – Gold Going Much Much Higher – Prepare For Market Panic

“when this artificial sea of liquidity ends we’re gonna see panic in a lot of markets, including in the US, including in West developed markets.”
Aug. 28 – Potential conflict in Syria and the scaling back of Fed stimulus point to a full-scale market ”mess,” says investor Jim Rogers, with the countries running trade deficits likely to be hardest hit.

BRICS To Protect Itself From The U.S. Federal Reserve
BRICS countries are building a joint line of defense in the event of new sharp fluctuations in global financial markets. The leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa may announce the creation of a reserve pool of $ 100 billion during the G20 summit. This was stated by the Deputy Minister of Finance of China Zhu Guanyao. And the deputy Governor of the People’s Bank of China Yi Gang made it clear that in Beijing the strongest impact on global financial stability is expected from the United States. Namely – the intention of the Federal Reserve to stop providing liquidity to buy debt obligations. Read more:

Iran puts West in 'Check' with Omani Gas Deal

The Iranian government announced this week it secured a long-term natural gas agreement with its maritime neighbors in Oman. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vowed to lead the country as a moderate when he was sworn in to office in early August.  The Iranian Oil Ministry vowed to move the country's oil and natural gas industries closer to the international community and the gas deal with Oman was touted as a breakthrough in a deal first discussed in 2007. Officials there vowed to move quickly on infrastructure developments. Either Iran is trying to show it's serious about engagement or its just window dressing as usual for the Islamic republic.
Iran holds the second-largest deposits of natural gas reserves in the world and most of those reserves haven't been developed. Its offshore South Pars gas field is considered one of the largest in the world, giving Iran the claim to the No. 3 spot in terms of natural gas production. Sanctions have curtailed some developments, though even the U.S. Energy Department said it expects Iranian natural gas production to increase in the years to come.
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said a natural gas deal was signed with his Omani counterpart Mohammed bin Hamad al-Rumhy during a recent visit to Tehran by high-ranking figures from Muscat. Zanganeh said the government would work quickly on determining the length and route for an undersea natural gas pipeline to Oman. He told the Oil Ministry's news service, Shana, he was tasked with picking an Iranian consultant to start examining the technical and economic issues of the pipeline soon. His Omani counterpart said both sides were "very keen" on the project.
Zanganeh said he was eager to do more to ensure Iran's oil can get to the international oil markets as well. He said the Rouhani administration is facing a wide-range of challenges "but we have to try out best to increase oil exports."
Western sanctions on Iran are designed to starve the government of export revenue it could use to finance its nuclear program, which the government maintains is for peaceful purposes. Rouhani, a former nuclear negotiator, stuck to the mantra that Iran is entitled to nuclear research program but has suggested he was ready to continue working with European negotiators.
His oil minister stressed the Iranian energy sector was open to any consumer or country willing to invest in the country.
"There is no limitation to that effect and we will open once more the country’s market and potentials to win their cooperation in the new phase of the petroleum industry development," he said.
The visit to Iran by Omani delegates was considered a rare event in some circles. The United States counts Oman as a long-time ally and imports some of its crude oil. The U.S. State Department said the traditional market for oil field supplies and services in Oman should continue to develop. That means Iran would be walking, more or less, into western turf with its natural gas ambitions. Speculation surfaced during bilateral talks in Tehran that Omani delegates were carrying a U.S. message with them, though Iranian officials shrugged off the suggestion.
Two rounds of nuclear negotiations in the waning months of the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad administration resulted in few, if any, breakthroughs. The United States was accused of acting like "a jerk" in its reception of the Rouhani administration and, with the 2016 campaign right around the corner, the situation is unlikely to change. The ball seems to be therefore in Rouhani's court -- either he's serious about leading the country out of isolation or he's playing the game just well enough to let his adversaries think they're winning.

SUPER-SIZED STRIKE! Fast-Food Strikes Expand Across U.S. to 50 Cities

National fast-food wage protests kick off in New York
NEW YORK — Beginning a day of protests that organizers say will spread to 50 cities and 1,000 stores across the country, a crowd of chanting workers gathered Thursday morning at a McDonald’sin midtown Manhattan to call for higher wages and the chance to join a union.
About 500 people, including workers, activists, religious leaders, news crews and local politicians, gathered outside the McDonald’s on Fifth Avenue. The protesters chanted “Si Se Puede” (“Yes, We Can”) and “Hey, hey, ho, ho $7.25 has got to go,” holding signs saying “On Strike: Can’t Survive on $7.25,” referring to the federal minimum wage.
The protesters plan to spread out to other stores throughout New York during the day. Protests are also expected in Los Angeles, Chicago, Charlotte, N.C., and other cities.,0,5191267.story
Fast-Food Strikes Expand Across U.S. to 50 Cities
Fast-food workers in 50 U.S. cities plan to walk off the job today in an attempt to ratchet up pressure on McDonald’s Corp. (MCD) and Wendy’s Co. to raise wages.
Protests that began in New York last year are spreading to cities including BostonChicago, Denver, San Diego and Indianapolis, according to the Service Employees International Union, which is advising the strikers. About 200 workers showed up at the two-story Rock N Roll McDonald’s store in Chicago’s River North neighborhood this morning chanting: “Hey hey, ho ho, poverty wages gotta go!”

The non-union workers are demanding the right to organize and wages of $15 an hour, more than double the federal minimum of $7.25. They now make $9 an hour on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By simultaneously targeting the largest chains, including Yum! Brand Inc.’s Taco Bell and KFC, Subway and Burger King Worldwide Inc. (BKW), organizers want to force a sector-wide response.
“What the workers are trying to do is hold the corporations accountable,” said Mary Kay Henry, SEIU president.
SOUTHFIELD (WWJ/AP) - A local McDonald’s restaurant was forced to close after its employees walked out and hundreds gathered outside to protest for higher wages.
The restaurant on 8 Mile and Lahser roads along the Detroit/Southfield city line was just one location locally where fast food workers are participating in a nationwide “walkout for better wages.”
Going off track: Subway franchisees decry deep discounts as hospital-bound CEO struggles to right course
This summer wasn’t the best time for Subway sandwich shops — the world’s largest restaurant chain — to stumble.
Founder and owner Fred DeLuca — the driving force and vision behind the Milford, Conn., chain’s growth into a 40,000-unit chain — is in a Connecticut hospital getting treatment for leukemia and, he has told associates, is awaiting a bone marrow transplant.
Still, the 65-year-old billionaire businessman is directing the chain’s operations from a hospital bed.
The hands-on owner is still in daily contact with regional managers trying to find new ways to reverse the sales decline, a Subway development agent told The Post

The Only Reason the Markets Are Rallying Today

by Phoenix Capital Research

The market is rallying today on August performance gaming. The talking heads will claim this move has something to do with fundamentals, but the reality is that the move up yesterday and today consists of fund managers doing whatever they can to end this month with their holdings as high as possible. Nothing else.

This is obvious in that volume is too low (the lowest since 1997) and there are simply too many awful things happening in the world to warrant any kind of bullishness. Indeed, if you believe war is good for the markets, consider the recent moves in Northrup Grumman and Raytheon: both of them weapons manufacturers.

Shouldn’t these companies be spiking higher now that the war drums are beating?

Behind this backdrop of things getting “better,” things are in fact getting worse for the markets. The primary driver or stock prices since 2009 has been liquidity from the world’s Central Banks.

That era is now ending.

China has said it sees no need for future Government stimulus. Japan’s Abenomics is failing miserably with July retail sales dropping -0.3% (compared to the 0.1% growth that was expected). Angela Merkel of Germany has said that Greece shouldn’t have been allowed in the Euro. The latest GDP print in the US further bolsters arguments that the Fed should taper its QE programs.

None of these are positive for the markets which are back in bubble mode.
The liquidity faucet for the markets is closing. Few investors have taken note but the Central banks are already moving to take them system off of life support.

We’ll see how that goes.

If you have not taken steps to prepare for a market collapse, we have a FREE Special Report that outlines how to prepare your portfolio. To pick up a copy, swing by:

Best Regards
Graham Summers