Friday, March 15, 2013

America’s Retirement Crisis

Veterans Today – by Stephen Lendman
Decades of class war leaves most Americans nearing retirement woefully unprepared.
Since the mid-1970s, real wages haven’t kept pace with inflation. Benefits steadily eroded. High-paying jobs disappeared. Improved technology forces wage earners to work harder for less.
So-called “free” markets work only for those who control them. A handful of winners benefit at the expense of most others. Conditions get progressively worse.  
Wealth disparity extremes are unprecedented. Neoliberal harshness force-feeds austerity when stimulus is needed. Public needs go begging.
American inequality is institutionalized. Bipartisan complicity assures it. Class war rages. America’s social contract is targeted for destruction.
Both sides agree. They support giving bankers, war profiteers, other corporate favorites, and super-rich elites greater wealth at the expense of most others.
A May 2012 Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) study highlighted America’s retirement crisis. American workers face trouble.
The percentage of those expecting to retire after age 65 increased to 37%. In 1991, only 11% expected to do so.
One-third of US workers expect to retire at age 70 or older. Growing numbers expect never being able to do so.
Over two-thirds expect to work at least part-time past age 65. At the same time, health and economic crisis conditions keep many of them from doing so.
Nearly one-third are woefully unprepared. Their savings are less than $1,000. Many others have nothing in reserve. Around 60% have less than $25,000.
Fewer than half of working Americans calculated how much they need in retirement. About two-thirds feel they’re behind schedule preparing for it.
Only 14% believe they’re adequately prepared. Only one-third have defined benefit plans.
Few understand retirement healthcare costs. Medicare is eroding as treatment expenses soar.
Protracted economic crisis conditions, high unemployment, growing poverty, and other concerns create enormous uncertainties. Most workers approaching retirement haven’t prepared. Covering expenses is harder than ever.
Economics Professor/retirement expert Teresa Ghilarducci says maintaining living standards in retirement requires 20 times annual income in savings.
Few Americans are prepared. Three-fourths nearing age 65 have less than $30,000 saved. “For the first time in US history,” she says, “every source of retirement income is under siege.”
Professor James Russell discussed it, saying:
“The great 30-year experiment in 401(k) and similar retirement financing schemes that depend on stock market investments has failed.”
Even before the” 2008 crash, clear signs showed “that very few workers would be able to accumulate enough wealth through these accounts to insure retirement financial security.”
Since the 19th century, every generation was better off than previous ones. No longer. Institutionalized inequality victimizes most Americans. It’s been that way since the mid-1970s.
Examples include eroded unionization, stagnant wages, lost benefits, Social Security and Medicare under siege, and high-risk defined contribution plans replacing secure defined benefit ones.
The 1978 Revenue Act changed things. Sections 401(k), 403(b), and 457 let retirement plan contributions be made with pretax dollars.
Employers bait and switch. They exploit workers advantageously. They replace defined benefit plans with defined contribution ones.
They often don’t work. They falsely claim worker investments provide secure retirement income. Evidence shows otherwise.
Lifetime obligations exceed what most people save. Financial services industry con artists skim huge profits off the top. They do so in large commissions. They add up over time.
Social Security, public pensions, and defined benefit plans work as intended. They support retirement security. Marketplace uncertainty is eliminated.
Money power runs America. It controls Obama and congressional majorities. It’s destroying the future of millions. A new Senate study explains more.
Most retirees face financial trouble. They’re worse off than their parents and grandparents. Protracted Main Street depression conditions destroyed 40% of personal wealth.
High unemployment compounds trouble. So do stagnant wages, eroding benefits, and savings paying virtually no interest.
Stock market gains go mainly to rich elites. Progressive economists express concerns. Americans are increasingly on their own sink or swim. Retirement security is fast disappearing.
America’s social contract is under siege. Class war rages. Social Security and Medicare are targeted for elimination. Wealth, power, privilege, and dominance alone matter.
Fiscal cliff doublespeak duplicity conceals what’s planned. Bipartisan double-dealing targets America’s middle class and millions most disadvantaged.
A new Senate report says America faces a huge retirement savings deficit. It’s about $6.6 trillion. It’s about $57,000 per household. It’s double or more what most households have in savings. It assures current crisis conditions worsening.
Based on Federal Reserve data, the Center for Retirement Research (CRR) estimates 53% of US workers aged 30 or older woefully unprepared for retirement.
In 2001, it was 38%. In 1989, it was 30%. Other studies confirm CRR’s findings.
Alicia Munnell serves as CRR director. “There is a mismatch between retirement needs rising and retirement benefits contracting,” she says.
Current conditions are polar opposite earlier ones. From Social Security’s 1935 enactment through the mid-1970s, things improved for most Americans.
No longer. Most people are increasingly on their own. They’re woefully unprepared. They earn and save too little. Trouble awaits them later on. Dire economic conditions exacerbates things.
Recent retirement policy changes contribute to growing inequality. Washington grants at least $80 billion annually in tax breaks to encourage 401(k)-type accounts.
Benefits go largely to upper-income households. The system is rigged for them. It’s done at the expense of most others.
Those earning $200,000 annually and contributing 15% of pay to retirement savings reap an additional $7,000.
Workers receiving $20,000 and contributing the same percentage get nothing. They don’t earn enough to qualify. Others earning $50,000 get about $2,100.
Workers in defined benefit plans face uncertainty. They’re underfunded and eroding. Benefits are frozen and disappearing.
Public pensions have similar problems. They’re being looted. They’re targeted for eventual elimination. They may be gone in another decade or sooner.
Most households today have few options. Government scoundrels target them. Austerity substitutes for help. Dire conditions are worsening.
One worker spoke for others. He’s aged 60. He thought he’d be comfortable in retirement. In 2002, he was laid off. “People talk about a lost decade,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been through,” he stressed.
He spent the last 10 years struggling. He was in and out of low pay/poor benefit/part-time contract jobs. He drained his savings to get by. Doing so excludes retiring when he planned.
Growing millions suffer similar hardships. Nothing is done to help them. Bipartisan harshness substitutes. America’s future looks grim.
Power politics replaced fairness. Corporate empowerment and privilege are institutionalized. Wealth is disproportionately shared. Ordinary people are exploited. Growing millions are left high and dry.
America is rife with corruption and gangsterism. The criminal class in Washington is bipartisan. Kleptocrats run things. They’re complicit with corporate crooks. Poverty, unemployment, hunger and homelessness are at near record levels.
Social justice are four-letter words. Police state harshness confronts resisters. Big monied interests alone matter. Obama’s committed to serve them. So are party bosses and most congressional members.
America’s unfit to live in. It’s unprincipled and morally reprehensible. It force-feeds hard times. The worst by far is yet to come.
America’s “going to crash big time,” says Paul Craig Roberts. Humanity hopes it’ll happen in time to matter.

James Kelly, Homeless Houston Veteran, Ticketed For ‘Disturbing The Contents Of A Garbage Can’

Huffington Post – by Eleanor Goldberg
James Kelly was just hoping to retrieve a discarded donut from the trash. But the homeless Houston man was served a ticket instead.
The Navy veteran was cited on March 7 for “disturbing the contents of a garbage can,” because he had been rummaging through the bin for something to eat, KPRC reports. Outraged activists have stepped forward to support Kelly, including the ACLU, which is going to represent him in court, free of charge.
“Anybody that desires to see someone else go hungry, just has no heart,” Kelly told KPRC.
The statute that prohibits people from digging through the trash has been around since 1942 and supporters say it’s critical in keeping the streets clean, the Houston Chronicle Reported. Most officers say that they wouldn’t cite someone for taking food from a dumpster, though.
“I know on the face of it, it sounds very cruel,” Ray Hunt, president of the Houston Police Officers’ Union, told the Chronicle. “It’s not officers being inhumane. It’s police officers responding to citizens’ complaints about someone removing garbage from their garbage can, and leaving it on the ground. It’s creating a mess.”
But this incident reeks of another legal issue that advocates are calling foul.
Last year, the Houston City Council ruled that people can’t publicly feed the homelesswithout the consent of property owners and the city.
The law poses risks for both those living on the streets and activists trying to feed those in need. The maximum penalty for people who violate the law is a misdemeanor charge and a $500 fine, a penalty many nonprofits simply can’t afford, the Daily Caller reported.
Despite the risks, many homeless advocates say they are willing to take their chances in order to keep people from going hungry.
“I have never been one to break the law,” Amber Rodriguez, executive director ofNoah’s Kitchen in Houston, told the Daily Caller. “But if I see people who need food, I am going to feed them.”
As activists continue to go to bat for Kelly, and other homeless people in similar predicaments, they may find some comfort in the way other cities have handled controversial homeless legislation.
Back in August of last year, a federal judge blocked Philadelphia Mayor Nutter’s proposed ban of feeding homeless people along a major parkway, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
“It hardly needs to be said that plaintiffs’ food-sharing programs benefit the public interest,” District Judge William H. Yohn Jr., wrote. “Despite [the city's] considerable efforts, many Philadelphians remain homeless and hungry.”

The Planned Obsolescence of Humanity

Barbara H. Peterson, Guest Writer
Waking Times 

Remember when things lasted a long time? I recall going with my dad to the hardware store, and being able to find just about everything needed to fix anything on the ranch. Need a gasket? Just get the gasket material and cut your own. Got a gadget that won’t work? Just get the part that’s broken, replace that one part, and the gadget works again. Not so, today. Today, we buy something, and if it doesn’t work, we simply throw it away and get a new one, because that is the way things are made.  They are not made to last. They are made to break and the sooner, the better.

This is planned obsolescence, and it has been eroding our society ever since it was set in motion along with mass marketing and fast-tracked, courtesy of Edward Bernays, who set up the first “public relations” department for the express purpose of using propaganda as a tool to manipulate the public for profit. We are now strangling in its grip, oblivious to the reality behind the slogans and hype, and successfully programmed to think this is normal, standing proud in our ignorance.
  With a need for instant gratification firmly entrenched in our nation’s psyche by an army of professional con artists out to make a buck, the concept of a throwaway society reared its ugly head to the delight of those behind the scenes, greedily rubbing their hands together in anticipation of the windfall they were about to receive – profit without end. And this is the society in which we now live. A society based on instant gratification and planned obsolescence.
I noticed that this nation’s “fix it yourself” mentality started changing years ago. Parts that were once easily obtainable became “no longer available.” Want a part to fix your whatchamacallit? Nope, can’t have it – gotta get a new one. The parts aren’t available anymore, and good luck getting your whatchamacallit open to replace anything in it. If it breaks, don’t fix it, throw it away and buy a new one.
Cars that were once made to be worked on by home mechanics now take a computer specialist to diagnose. Who cares? After all, if consumers buy a new car every couple of years or so, who needs them to last? Can’t wear the same dress to the party, gotta have a new one, along with shoes to match. Last year’s style simply will not do.
Yes, the corporations have programmed us well. We are a nation of wasteful consumers, keeping the gluttonous purveyors of gadgets, doohickeys and flash in champagne and caviar. Thank you, Edward Bernays, for your ever so helpful insight into enabling corporations to program the masses for wasteful spending in order to line the pockets of greedy, blood sucking leaches whose only purpose is to use us up and spit us out. You see, planned obsolescence does not merely apply to things. It also applies to people.

We are living in a world where very powerful people behind the scenes hold license to decide who is to live and who is to die. They get to pick and choose who the throwaway people are. The expendables. The ones who hold no worth in their eyes. Through some sort of arbitrary judgment – one lives, one dies, and the rules always change.
The rules change because the object has no say and no value – functioning merely as a piece on the grand chessboard. And if you happen to be the flavor of the month, you get to live. But only for a time, and only if you are nice. Really, really nice and obey your masters. But it won’t be forever. Forever is much too good for the pawns. Pawns are meant to be sacrificed, just as we are being sacrificed on the altar of big business and decaying from whatever poisons the propaganda machine put forth by Bernays directs us to take.
We’re poked and prodded, drugged into submission, shot full of poisons, and fed toxic waste. We are, each and every one of us, a statistic in a planned obsolescence program. And while we are breaking down from stress, toxins, chemicals, GMOs, vaccines, and medical quackery, to name a few, we are generating a whole lotta cash for a whole lotta people, as well as providing valuable data while we serve as guinea pigs for experimental research in genetic modification.
But what the hey? After all is said and done, the puppet masters will survive! And they will garner more and more cash and power to play at immortality. The goal? Remaking the world and its inhabitants from the molecule up. We the people are living under planned obsolescence. And we don’t even know it because we are being systematically fed comfortable lies by a propaganda machine in the guise of public relations for the express purpose of profit, power and total control.

But it’s okay, our replacements are right around the corner. After all, the bodies we have can’t last forever. Let’s throw them away and get new ones. What say we make them bigger, better, smarter and more controllable than the obsolete model. The human model.
Why not build super soldiers that we can just replace when we feel like it? Expendable. Throwaways. Or factory workers, or maybe housekeepers, maids, miners, firefighters, police, truck drivers…. The possibilities are endless. One gives you trouble, just throw it away and get a new one. And when the time comes to shed this mortal shell, just hop right on into the artificial body of your dreams, courtesy of a brain transplant, or maybe your brain on a chip, implanted in that disposable body.
Natural humans would become as obsolete as last year’s iPod.

A powerful dream, eh? Complete control over life and death. Intoxicating. And also dangerous. Very dangerous. Not to mention foolish, disastrous, maniacal, insane, against nature and all that is right and natural and good. Man replacing man and nature. The same species that thinks nuclear power plants on fault lines are an okay idea. Go figure. But seriously, what could possibly go wrong? ©2013 Barbara H. Peterson

The Federal Reserve System Is A Massive Wealth Redistribution Scheme

by Michael
The Federal Reserve System Is A Massive Wealth Redistribution Scheme
During fiscal year 2012, $359,796,008,919.49 that had been forcibly extracted from American taxpayers was transferred into other hands.  Most of it ended up in the pockets of the global elite.  So what did the American people get in return for that 359 billion dollars?  Nothing at all.  No roads were built, no schools were constructed, no teachers were paid and none of it went to national defense.  It was simply interest that was owed on the national debt, and most of it just made the ultra-wealthy even wealthier.  But this is exactly what the Federal Reserve system was designed to do when it was created back in 1913.  It was designed to get the U.S. government trapped in an endless spiral of debt that would systematically drain the wealth of the American people and transfer it to the ultra-wealthy and the international bankers.  When most people think of a “wealth redistribution scheme”, they think of a government raising taxes in order to give money to poor people.  But the Federal Reserve system works in reverse.  Money is taken from all of us and it is redistributed to the global elite.  That is why a federal income tax was instituted the exact same year that the Federal Reserve was.  Money is extracted from all of us through taxation, and then it is transferred from the federal government to the ultra-wealthy through debt payments.
So what role does the Federal Reserve system play in all of this?
Many critics of the Fed focus on how much money the Fed makes each year, but that is a mistake.  The truth is that the Fed returns the vast majority of the money that it makes to the U.S. Treasury.  The Fed is not a money making machine itself.  Rather, it is a system that enables others to make hundreds of billions of dollars each year.
I think that it is easiest to think of the Fed as a “middle man” between the U.S. government and the global elite.  It was designed by the international bankers for the benefit of the international bankers.  The entire goal of the Federal Reserve system is to make the ultra-wealthy even wealthier.
The Fed is a privately-owned banking cartel that has a monopoly over money creation in the United States.  Nobody else, including the U.S. government, can print money.  So those that claim that “the U.S. government can print money” are just dead wrong.
When the U.S. government wants to spend more money than it has, it asks the Fed to make some more money.  The Fed then creates money out of thin air that did not previously exist.  Normally this money is not even printed up.  It is just entered into a computer.
In return for the new money, the U.S. government gives the Federal Reserve some U.S. Treasury bonds.  In essence, U.S. Treasury bonds are promises to pay back money.  But the U.S. government always agrees to pay back more money than it receives.  So a larger amount of debt is created than the amount of new money that is created.
When the Federal Reserve receives those U.S. Treasury bonds, most of the time they take them and auction them off to interested buyers.  This is how they get into the hands of the ultra-wealthy and the international bankers.
So how is the U.S. government ever supposed to pay back all that debt if the amount of new debt being created is always larger than the amount of new money that is being created?
Well, the theory is that the money will be able circulate through the U.S. economy really fast and that the federal government will be able to tax it enough times and at a high enough rate to be able to pay off the debt plus the interest.

But that never seems to work out, does it?
Instead, the federal government always finds that it can’t fund government activities and pay off the debt at the same time, so they always come back to borrow more.  That is why it is called a debt spiral.
So the debt just keeps getting larger and larger.  Today, the U.S. national debt is more than 5000 times larger than it was when the Federal Reserve was first created.
And as the debt keeps getting larger and larger, so does the money supply.  And that is why we have such a problem with inflation.  Since the Federal Reserve was first created, the U.S. dollar has lost more than 96 percent of its value.
But the global elite are not just doing this in the United States.  They have established similar systems in almost every nation on earth.
So every year, gigantic mountains of money are transferred from taxpayers all over the globe into their pockets.
And that is the primary reason why they have so much money.
It has been estimated that the global elite have up to 32 TRILLION dollarsstashed in offshore banks around the planet.
And that is just the money that we know about.
Are you starting to understand why people are so upset about this stuff?
Fortunately, people all over the world are starting to wake up to this massive wealth redistribution scheme.
The creation of money should belong to the people – not to the global elite.
Just consider a statement that Italian politician Beppe Grillo once made
“Whom does the money belong to? Who does its ownership belong to? To the State fine…then to us, we are the State. You know that the State doesn’t exist, it is only a legal entity. WE are the state, then the money is ours…fine. Then let me know one thing. If the money belongs to us…Why…do they lend it to us??”
Doesn’t that make sense?
If the currency of a nation belongs to the people of a nation, then why do we let the elite create our money out of thin air and lend it back to us?
Why do we continue to use a debt-based currency system that is making the global elite far wealthier at the expense of all the rest of us?
For much more on how the Federal Reserve works, please see my previous article entitled “10 Things That Every American Should Know About The Federal Reserve“.
Please share this article with as many people as you can.  I have tried to simplify things as much as possible in this article so that even people that have been through the dumbed-down public education system in the United States should be able to understand it.
So what do you think about the Federal Reserve?
Are you angry that hundreds of billions of dollars are being transferred from U.S. taxpayers to the global elite every single year?
Are you disgusted that money that is created out of thin air by the Federal Reserve is being used to bankrupt our nation and enslave future generations of Americans to trillions of dollars of debt?
Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below…

Wall Street Computers on Auto Pilot – More deception and stupidity – Biggest Rally since 1996 – But there were real reasons for a rally then

In the late 90′s is when the business started to boom. Apple and Microsoft were doing great and developing their main products. The economy was doing great at that time. Even though a bubble was inflated and eventually deflated, many internet businesses continue to thrive and grow beyond the correction.
But today?
In an era of the internet, computers and robotics, we have nothing that drives the market in terms of creating jobs. Labor is less needed than ever and this won’t change unless we devolve back to stone age.
Instead, the internet replaces any form of physical retail needed in terms of retail space and employees. Computers replace people at registers and check in at airports and soon all other public transportation as well.
Robotics are being developed to perform precise surgeries, soon to replace surgeons. Physical libraries are disappearing, so are post offices, banks, travel agencies and many other business due to increases in mechanized and computerized efficiency making human labor unnecessary. Even cars are being built by robots. Schools are using computers to teach kids. And we should start to see more of this in the near future.
Bottom line, there is no way of creating new jobs sufficient to provide labor for everyone. labor is becoming increasingly unnecessary. The logical conclusion is that jobs for the masses are disappearing. MSM lies about recovery and the job market. Hours per person are being cut, so it appears as if more people are getting jobs, but it’s not true.
And if you looked at government jobs and any sector dealing with bureaucratic tasks such as health care, public, phone and insurance companies, they could use a complete overhaul to be made more efficient. At this time the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Here too, computers will soon make everything more efficient. This would be the time to think about a new system for society to function. Great thinkers before us predicted how leisure time would increase and could be used for studies and exploration of science, literature and the arts. This can only work if the governing sector cooperates and a system supporting the new reality is created. Instead they’re perpetuating an old and outdated model that is bound to collapse.
This is reality. Not what you’re made to believe on a daily basis about a recovering economy. Wall Street has nothing to do with this reality. The stock market is it’s own imaginary world where a few people push buttons for the benefit of a small percentage of society of greedy people. This game cannot and will not work out in the long run. The stock market is so manipulated and removed from economic reality that they can’t even stage a crash to take insider profits. It will crash on its own and it will pull everyone else who had nothing to do with the rigging of their game down together with the perpetrators. This surpasses any stupidity ever seen by humanity causing unnecessary chaos and suffering.

Maybe money will have to disappear altogether. Maybe basic needs will have to be declared human rights and distributed to all. People need to eat and live somewhere, but without jobs, there will be chaos. Our old belief system and economic model has to be questioned at large if we want to continue to function as society as a whole. We are applying an economic model in a time when this model is outdated and cannot work with all the technological advances today.
We can volunteer to realize this now and put our minds together to come up with solutions ot we can continue to be passive, to suffer because we all can feel that something is very wrong here and wait till it all breaks down to suffer more.
The first option seems smarter and more viable as the second option means overwhelming stress and destruction completely unnecessary. We have the means and brains to change directions and keep the ship from sinking now.

It’s not the typical cycle this time. It’s now peak doom crash and then something else so extensive and never seen before. It will not be possible to go back to the old boom, peak, doom cycle.

–Jobless claims drop to 332,000 last week
–Four-week moving average of claims drops to its lowest since March 2008
–Producer prices rise 0.7% in February on energy costs
WASHINGTON–A measure of jobless claims widely followed by economists slid to five-year low, the latest sign that the labor market is slowly improving.
In the last 5 years:
The Civilian Institutional Population rose 9.9 Million
The Labor Force rose 0.9 Million
Those Not in the Labor Force rose 9.8 Million
Employment fell by 2.3 Million
Full-Time Employment fell by 5.3 Million
Part-Time Employment rose by 0.9 Million
Unemployment rose by 4.5 Million
Food Stamp usage rose by 20.3 Million
Non-Workers to Workers
Let’s consider the ratio of workers to non-workers. Workers are those employed, non-workers are everyone else (the unemployed + those not in the labor force).
In the last five years, the number of non-workers rose by 14.3 million while the number of workers fell by 5.3 million.
In 2008, there were 144.6 million workers supporting 88.3 million not working.
There are now roughly 142.2 million workers supporting 102.6 million not working.
… In the year 2000, there were 1.78 workers for every non-worker. Now there are only 1.39 workers for every non-worker. Meanwhile, food stamp usage is up from 17.2 million to 46.6 million, and medical costs are soaring…
LIES, LIES, and more Lies. We all now how they get their numbers.
U.S. Stocks Climb on Jobless Data as S&P 500 Approaches Record
U.S. stocks climbed, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index toward a record high, as jobless claims unexpectedly dropped last week.
Could it be that it’s just more people giving up and dropping out of the work force….?
“It’s a little bit more fuel on the fire,” Jeffrey Davis, chief investment officer at Lee Munder Capital Group, said in a phone interview. The Boston-based firm oversees $5 billion. “It’s been a long time since you’ve seen momentum both on the market and technical front being supported by economic fundamentals. In spite of the fact the market’s not as cheap as it once was, it’s looking like the rally should continue.”
Sure. It will go through the roof. Party on while you can…
What they fail to blast around in MSM is that personal income is down significantly, borrowing is up significantly (student loans, etc.), personal debt is increasing.

The general trend is negative. The economic growth trend is down month over month on average for several months now. Shipping companies have mostly been forecasting lower margins and lower profits, and less activity, indicating less economic activity to drive their businesses, indicating less capital investment. Durable goods have generally been trending down, or going nowhere, consumer spending is down, consumer confidence in economy is down in spite of the propaganda.
Our jobs are trending HEAVILY part time instead of full time, and down in manufacturing. This shows a lack of confidence, bad forecasts in the longer term, etc.
Our economy is slowly decaying, and pretty much only the Fed is keeping us from being in a functional recession today by dumping Billions each month into the mix.
Here is a reality check for everyone who can put 2 and 2 together. MSM won’t put it in context for you of course…Census: Record 1 In 3 Counties Now Dying Off, Hit By Aging Population, Weakened Local EconomiesWASHINGTON — A record number of U.S. counties – more than 1 in 3 – are now dying off, hit by an aging population and weakened local economiesNew 2012 census estimates released Thursday highlight the population shifts as the U.S. encounters its most sluggish growth levels since the Great Depression.The findings also reflect the increasing economic importance of foreign-born residents as the U.S. ponders an overhaul of a major 1965 federal immigration law. Without new immigrants, many metropolitan areas such as New York, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh and St. Louis would have posted flat or negative population growth in the last year.Our baby-boomers are retiring. They won’t save the economy. They need to get paid now for their retirement.
Good article (by Jon Talton):How high can the Dow go?If the Dow Jones Industrial Average closes higher today, it will mark the longest winning streak since November 1996. We’ve discussed before why the Dow is a highly flawed measure of the overall economy and even the stock market, but it still gets attention. What could possibly go wrong?1. It’s not a November 1996 economy, when unemployment was low, average American were seeing improved wages compared to the declines experienced since the late 1970s and the economy was highly dynamic. If you lost your job one day, you likely had another the next day. NAFTA had not begun its giant sucking sound. China was not in the World Trade Organization, playing by its own rules. The economy was not as financialized as today and banks were still relatively highly regulated. Americans were not nearly as in debt. 2. The market has been seized by lemming mentality and valuations are starting to detach from reality. Sure, some stocks are undervalued, but others are not. Bonds are producing little return, hence the allure of stocks — that could change.
3. Shocks will sink this market in a Wall Street minute. Among the potential black swans: North Korea really does it this time; China’s property bubble pops; growing dissatisfaction with Beijing’s response to pollution and inequality leads to civil unrest; a miscalculation in Asia leads to a hot confrontation between China and Japan (or Vietnam or the Philippines); the eurozone crisis heats up again; the Middle East blows up; Pakistan spins out of control; a terrorist attack.
4. The sequester starts to bite as government budget cuts lead to layoffs and cut into the profits of defense contractors….
Even MSM now starting to warn…Bear Market to Take Hold in 2013: ExpertA long term bear market is around the corner and will last until 2018with the Dow losing up to 30 percent of its current value, Kerry Balenthiran, author of “The 17.6 Years Stock Market Cycle”, told CNBC. “My research identified long term 17.6 year secular bull and bear markets. We’re in a long term bear market. [But] there is a flip-side which is the commodities cycle. When they decline you get a strong bull market in stocks because input stocks go down. Butthis bear market will continue until 2018 with the Dow at around 10,000,” Balenthiran said.
He added that the rally currently taking place would continue for at least the next three months, but said stocks would start falling in October to November.
Will be sooner than that…
This applies to all MSM news turned propaganda machine:What you’re seeing from the media isn’t happy talk, and it’s not bias; it’s shamelessly dishonest propaganda — it’s the media nakedly saying, “The chocolate ration has been increased from 30 to 25 grams per week.” How do you like these chocolate rations:
- Poverty’s increasing.
- Gas prices have almost doubled.
- The price of health care premiums has exploded and will only explode more (but-but-but Obama said…!)
- Poor and middle class incomes are falling.
- One-in-five Americans are on food stamps.
- The non-partisan GAO says Obama’s exploding deficit is unsustainable.
- Eight million people are looking for work.
- Our labor force has shrunk to thirty-year levels
Chronic unemployment hasn’t been this bad since World War II.
The long-term unemployment rate is over 14%.
When’s the last time the media talked about any of that? But what Economic Narrative does the media obsess over? Naturally, the only news that can be spun into wonderfulness for Lightbringer: Wall Street, baby!
Oh my, it’s a whole new world. Suddenly the media loves the idea of the rich getting richer. But why are the rich getting richer? It’s not the economy, stupid — it’s The Fed — pumpity, pumpity, pumpity pump. It’s nothing more than an ongoing boob job.
Welcome to 1984! War is peace, slavery is freedom, recession is recovery, debt is prosperity.
It’s Going To End Badly
Jim Cramer from CNBC: “We all know it’s going to end badly, but in the meantime we can make some money.” Thank you Mr. Cramer for telling us the truth about QE and our economy.
Stan Druckenmiller, Legendary Hedge Fund Manager, on CNBC 03/05/2013: “I don’t know when it’s going to end. But my guess is it’s going to end very badly.”
The media encourages us to believe that practically everything in our economy is either good or getting better. Another way of stating the media hype is “all of our problems will be solved through the combined efforts of our capable politicians coupled with the wisdom and competent management of The Federal Reserve.”
Seriously? Congress has a miserably low approval rating, for good reason, and the Fed is busy creating and pumping money into banks and the bottomless pit of government spending. Neither has much interest in small businesses or the average American.

Debt In America courtesy of

China Just Sounded a Warning Bell For What’s Coming Our Way

by Phoenix Capital Research

Let’s wind the clock back to 2008.
The world was thought to be ending. Lehman went bust. Markets were plunging. Everyone was scared that growth was over. It was as though the global economy was grinding to a halt.
But then China’s stock market bottomed. The Chinese Government announced a massive stimulus plan to turn its economy around. And sure enough the Chinese economy took off again.
A few months later, the US markets bottomed courtesy of extraordinary stimulus from the US Federal Reserve. Three months after that, the US economy was showing what everyone claimed were “green shoots.”
And the world began to gradually shift towards growth and increased confidence.
Why do I bring all of this up? Because it was China’s stimulus and China’s economy that supposedly lead the world back towards growth again. China is the proverbial canary in the coalmine, the economy that most quickly reveals what’s coming and where we’re all heading…
Well, China’s heading for inflation.
China should be on “high alert” over inflation after February’s figures exceeded forecasts, central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said, signaling a heightened focus on controlling prices.
Monetary policy is “no longer relaxed” and is “relatively neutral” as demonstrated by a 13 percent target for money-supply growth that’s tighter than expansion in the last two years, Zhou, head of the People’s Bank of China, said at a press conference today during the annual gathering of China’s National People’s Congress…
The central bank has always attached great importance to consumer prices,” Zhou said. “Therefore we will use monetary policy and other measures to hopefully stabilize prices and inflation expectations.”
China’s new leaders including Li Keqiang, set to become premier this week, inherit the task of sustaining a recovery from the slowest growth in 13 years while reining in asset prices and credit. February inflation, distorted by the weeklong Lunar New Year holiday, accelerated to a 10-month-high of 3.2 percent.

Source: Bloomberg

Bear in mind, the above story is greatly downplaying the REAL increase in inflation in China. A recent study from shows that prices in some Chinese cities are in fact higher than in NEW YORK. And China’s per capita is income is less than 25% of the US’s!
A South China Morning Post survey of some commonly bought grocery items found that a 500 gram loaf of bread that sells for HK$8.60 in Hong Kong and the equivalent of HK$9.93 in London, cost the equivalent of HK$13.52 in Beijing.
The latest annual cost of living survey by the compensation-consulting firm Mercer found Beijing and Shanghai to be pricier than New York and London. Shanghai was ranked 16th followed by Beijing at 17th, ahead of London (25th) and New York (32nd).
Source: SCMP
This is a MAJOR warning sign to investors worldwide. Indeed, inflation is so out of control in China, that the country suffered 71 strikes in January 2013 alone.
The cause of these strikes?
Workers were demanding higher wages because prices had risen to the point that their old paychecks weren’t cutting it anymore.
China has sounded a warning bell, inflation is coming. And it’s going to be spreading throughout the globe in the coming months.
History has shown us countless times that you cannot print money without prices soaring. There is not one single instance in which currency devaluation has not done this. And the US Federal Reserve is now printing $84 billion every single month.
I’m sure you’ve noticed prices have begun rising already. This is only going to be getting worse going forward. Which is why now is the time to be preparing ourselves and our portfolios for this. Inflation can take its time to arrive. But once it does… things move very very quickly.
If you’re concerned about inflation… and want to learn more about simple bit highly effective ways you can shield yourself from it…

Best Regards,
Graham Summers

The Dow Jones Is Lying

By Sheldon Richman
The Future of Freedom Foundation

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is at a record high, and the unemployment rate has ticked down to 7.7 percent, but this is no time to celebrate. The economy is still in the doldrums.
A little perspective: The news media trumpet changes in the Dow as though it tells us almost all we need to know about the economic fate of the American people. That’s nonsense. Not everyone thinks the arbitrary index of 30 busily traded blue-chip stocks is terribly relevant to gauging the condition of the economy. Moreover, the average, which reflects the daily change in the companies’ stock prices, is not adjusted for inflation. In nominal terms the Dow hit a record high of 14,447.29 this month. But in real adjusted terms, the average is only at the level reached in the year 2000. In other words, if you invested in the companies that year, you’re no richer now, because the dollar has depreciated thanks to the Federal Reserve. That doesn’t sound so remarkable.
Fixation on the Dow might encourage neglect of other, less upbeat economic indicators. While the DJIA soared, the unemployment rate dropped to only 7.7 percent last month, which is disturbingly high, especially when you consider that the Great Recession officially ended more than three and a half years ago. Even better light is shed on the employment picture by looking at the civil employment-population ratio. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, before the recession the rate was over 63 percent. During the recession it hit a low of slightly over 58 percent and has barely recovered since. (In the late 1990s it was close to 65 percent.)
In light of such dismal signs, how are we to account for the stock market? The Federal Reserve is working hard to keep key interest rates close to zero. The Fed has bought hundreds of billions of dollars in long-term government securities (“Operation Twist”) in order to lower the return from such investments. This drives money seeking a bigger return into the stock market and commodities. If this explains the run-up in stock prices, it sounds more like a bubble than a marker of returning economic growth.
The government and its central bank, in fact, have done virtually everything wrong if their intention was to put the economy on a sustainable path to prosperity. The recession was caused by distortions created by government housing and monetary policies. Instead of backing off and letting the economy realign with real economic factors, the Obama administration and the Bernanke Fed seem intent on reinflating the pre-recession housing bubble as well as inflating a new stock-market bubble. (The Fed has also been buying up mortgage bonds from banks to help stimulate housing sales.)
This is a dangerous path. By definition, such artificially induced frenzies cannot be sustained. When officials get nervous and pull back, the bubbles will burst and the economy will be back in recession. Even if employment gains are made during the apparent recovery, they will be short-lived, and the unemployment rate will turn up again. This government policy, therefore, is a cruel hoax on workers who were harmed by the earlier recession, who have struggled to get back on track, and who are now being set up for a reprise of their misery.
The architects of this shameful program are would-be social engineers who think they can design something as complex as a modern industrial economy. Such conceit should be obvious to all. Simply put, it is impossible for politicians, bureaucrats, and economic advisers to acquire the knowledge they would need to possess in order to accomplish what they say they want to accomplish. The knowledge most vital for smooth-running markets is not aggregate statistical data available to government agencies. Rather, it consists in the subjective preferences of consumers, the expectations of producers, and the radically decentralized and dispersed information about resources, technologies, and techniques. The market’s price system captures and conveys this information in a way that government operatives could never dream of. In fact, compared to the collective wisdom of the market process, politicians, bureaucrats, and economic advisers are dismal ignoramuses.
It’s time they learned some humility and let us alone.

Things look eerily similar to 1936: From devaluations lifting stocks to inflationary side-effects of money flow and from short-covering, money-on-the-sidelines, Jobs, Europe, low-volume ramps…

1936 Redux – It’s Really Never Different This Time

While chart analogs provide optically pleasing (and often far too shockingly correct) indications of the human herd tendencies towards fear and greed, a glance through the headlines and reporting of prior periods can provide just as much of a concerning ‘analog’ as any chart. In this case, while a picture can paint a thousand words; a thousand words may also paint the biggest picture of all. It seems, socially and empirically, it is never different this time as these 1936 Wall Street Journal archives read only too well… from devaluations lifting stocks to inflationary side-effects of money flow and from short-covering, money-on-the-sidelines, Jobs, Europe, low-volume ramps, BTFD, and profit-taking, to brokers advising stocks for the long-run before a 40% decline.
Things look eerily similar eh?

But when we look at the headlines in the Wall Street Journal from mid 1936 to mid 1937 as the market topped out (orange oval), dipped, was bought back, then collapsed 40% in 3 months, nothing ever changes…

Government Bailouts Repaid – Bullish Implications…
N.Y. Central Has Repaid All Government Loans
The Wall Street Journal, 978 words
Dec 1, 1936
WASHINGTON Numerous railroad developments here yesterday were climaxed by the announcement of RFC Chairman Jesse H. Jones that New York Central had repaid all of its government loans, totaling $16,858,950, most of which was not due until 1941.
For a wonderful comparison of this Fiscal Cliff with the one in 1937 see Steve Keen’s presentation before congress in Dec of 2012:


WASHINGTON (AP) — A record number of U.S. counties – more than 1 in 3 – are now dying off, hit by an aging population and weakened local economies that are spurring young adults to seek jobs and build families elsewhere.
New 2012 census estimates released Thursday highlight the population shifts as the U.S. encounters its most sluggish growth levels since the Great Depression.

Major US CEOs’ Outlook On Rising Jobs, CapEx Worst Since Early 2010

Despite the plethora of propagandist panderings, the reality of the Business Roundtable (BRT – an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies) findings are far less enthralling than the headlines might suggest. In fact, despite the protestation that their economic outlook ticked up – which as the chart below shows so evidently – is merely a reversion to the lows of 2011; the sad ‘fact’ is that expectations for higher Sales, CapEx, and Employment are as bad as they have been since early 2010. CapEx, the much-vaunted miracle driver of revenues this year, is below Q4 2009 levels of expectation. Even the BRT itself offers up the words ‘moderate’ when describing the changes and yet the mainstream media pounce on an uptick like cardinals to the new Pope. It appears that we will have to wait another quarter to see what the CEOs of the nations largest companies are really doing as their stocks soar to record highs.
The BRT CEO Economic Outlook in context… back at the lows of the pre-crisis and post-crisis 2010 lows – and as is very clear, the hope in the blue lines continues to be dragged back to reality of the economy (green line)…


European Employment Drops To 2006 Levels

If anyone is confused why European stocks just hit their highest levels in nearly 5 years (if not all time highs – there America with its 48 million foodstamp recipients has it beat), the chart below should provide some lack of color. According to Eurostat, in Q4 the number of persons employed in Europe compared to Q4 declined by 0.3% in the Euroarea, and 0.2% in the Eu27. The decline was -0.8% and -0.4% for the EA17 and EU27 compared to a year ago. Of course, if the Fed and ECB keeps pushing stocks higher, monetary illogic dictates that eventually this number will rise because somehow having more diluted claims on money floating around is good for jobs. Just not yet.

The Greek Unemployment Nightmare Continues To Get Worse

Italy’s Worst-Case Scenario Has Become The Most Likely Scenario

Ever since Italian elections yielded inconclusive results a few weeks ago, everyone has been wondering what happens next and how markets will digest the process.
Center-left candidate for prime minister Pier Luigi Bersani was expected to come out on top. While he managed to do that, center-right rival Silvio Berlusconi and anti-establishment candidate Beppe Grillo took a bigger share of the vote than anyone expected. Now, Bersani has to form a coalition with one or the other in order to form a government, and both routes could be problematic. (For more on that, click here.)
That means Italy could be headed straight back to elections, introducing further uncertainties that could result in unfriendly scenarios for markets.
Luca Jellinek, head of European Rates Strategy at French investment bank Crédit Agricole, suggests that the worst case scenario going forward is also most likely.

NYSE Matched Volume Drops To New Decade Low In February

Someone is obviously not complying with the central-planner script and rotating fast enough into equities.
In February, total NYSE matched volume (defined as the number of shares of equity securities and exchange-traded products executed on the NYSE Group’s exchanges), dropped 13.6% from a year ago, 9.4% from January, and at 20.5 billion shares in the 19 trading days of February, represents a fresh decade low for the exchange (source).

For some odd reason every 13th year since the 1974 stock market low, a historical event/year has taken place….13 years later.

from kimblechartingsolutions:

Is the number “13″ Lucky/important to the stock market?
For some odd reason every 13th year since the 1974 stock market low, a historical event/year has taken place….13 years later.
1974….Stock Market low

1987… Stock Market Crash

2000…Tech Bubble Peak

2013…Another important historical year at hand?

Stay tuned!

China's "Drone Swarms" Highlight Global Robotic Warfare Arms Race

image source
Nicholas West
Activist Post

Update on the global drone arms race.

It has been predicted that the development of drone surveillance by the U.S. would spark a global race to develop new drone capabilities, leading to a potentially dystopian future of drone wars where combat and even assassinations can be performed by fleets of insect-like microbots. The Washington Post reported in July, 2011:
More than 50 countries have purchased surveillance drones, and many have started in-country development programs for armed versions because no nation is exporting weaponized drones beyond a handful of sales between the United States and its closest allies. (Source)
We are already seeing this take place in both air and sea, as myriad unmanned drones are taking flight from research laboratories across the world.  Drones have even taken to the high-seas, as navies begin to "build fleets of crewless boats capable of missions on and under the water, according to maritime experts," as discussed at

Much like nuclear weapons, it seems as though this genie is not likely to find its way back into the bottle. A new report released by Project 2049 Institute reveals that China has taken the rise of the American drone quite seriously and has been investing just as heavily in drone surveillance and weapons capabilities. All indications are that they are quickly catching up to the world's leader.

According to the report entitled, "The Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s 
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Project: Organizational Capacities and Operational Capabilities,"
China has developed a wide range of unmanned aerial vehicles across all military branches.

 Domestic competition for military contracts appear to mirror U.S. capabilities:

  • Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance:  electro-optical, synthetic aperture radar (SAR), and signal intelligence (SIGINT) sensors. UAV SIGINT sensors include both communications intelligence and electronic intelligence sensors with a strong emphasis on developing UAVs for locating, tracking and targeting U.S. aircraft carriers in support of long range anti-ship cruise and ballistic missile strikes.
  • Precision strike missions. Design concepts include numerous antiradiation and combat type UAVs. During operations they would theoretically be supported by decoy drones whose roles would be to aid in defense penetration by helping to overwhelm and confuse enemy air and missile defenders.28 According to Chinese writings, they would also be supported by electronic warfare UAVs.
  • Electronic Warfare Missions: UAVs for jamming satellites, airborne early warning plane communications and radar systems, and ship based early warning, communications, and air and missile defense systems. 
  • Data Relay Missions.  In particular, Chinese researchers note that UAVs could provide a critical link between landbased command and control facilities and anti-ship missiles engaged in long range over-the-horizon attacks. One study also posited that high altitude UAVs equipped with data link payloads could substitute for communications satellites in the event of enemy antisatellite attacks. (Abridged from original report, which can be read in full with citations at the article title link above).
The report further indicates that China already has 280 UAVs in service, and that number is from mid-2011, making it one of the world's largest fleets. Furthermore, technology "in development" includes autonomous drones swarms:
Chinese strategists have also discussed using swarms of drones to overwhelm the U.S. Navy's carrier groups in the unlikely possibility of a shooting war. The drones could act as decoys, use electronic warfare to jam communications and radar, guide missile strikes on carriers, fire missiles at U.S. Navy ships or dive into ships like kamikaze robots. (Source)
This capability is very likely to already exist in China, as the "kamikaze robots" have been used successfully by The United States in Afghanistan for at least a couple of years; it's known as the Switchblade drone.

No one really knows the full level of drone development across the world, due to the obvious secrecy surrounding military technology. The London Guardian has compiled reports of all known drone stocks in the world and offered maps and graphs that illustrate an indication that a drone arms race is fully under way. There are a minimum of 56 drone models used in 11 different countries, with the U.S. leading the pack at 678 operational drones.

A new U.S. study by the Association For Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) shows why drone proliferation continues to ramp up at a nearly exponential rate: it has become one of the fastest growing areas of the U.S. economy. A report entitled, "The Economic Impact of Unmanned Aircraft Integration Systems in the United States" is clear in its conclusion that competition for jobs and tax dollars created by drone tech development is likely to provide the impetus to loosen state regulations on drone use. The AUVSI is projecting 70,000 new jobs in the first three years of full integration.
While we project more than 100,000 new jobs by 2025, states that create favorable regulatory and business environments for the industry and the technology will likely siphon jobs away from states that do not.
The full study can be found at the title link above, but the bullet points as noted by the Association are as follows:
  • In the first three years following integration into the NAS, more than 70,000 new jobs will be created. 
  • In the first three years following integration, the total economic impact stemming from the integration is projected to surpass $13.6 billion and will grow sustainably for the foreseeable future, cumulating in more than $82.1 billion in impact between 2015 and 2025. Economic impact includes the monies that flow to manufacturers and suppliers from the sale of new products as well as the taxes and monies that flow into communities and support the local businesses.
  • The study projects integration will lead to 103,776 new jobs nationally by 2025. Many of these jobs are portable and will gravitate toward states with favorable regulatory structures and infrastructure. Future events – such as the establishment of FAA Test Sites – will ultimately determine where many of these new jobs will flow.
  • Additional economic benefit will be seen through tax revenue to the states, which will total more than $482 million in the first decade following the integration. 
  • Every year that integration is delayed, the United States loses more than $10 billion in potential economic impact. This translates to a loss of $27.6 million per day that UAS are not integrated into the NAS. (Source)
Naturally the AUVSI has a vested interest in promoting drone use despite their "non-profit" status. From their About Us page on their website, they don't hide their goals and connections:
The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International is the world's largest non-profit organization devoted exclusively to advancing the unmanned systems and robotics community. Serving more than 7,500 members from government organizations, industry and academia, AUVSI is committed to fostering, developing, and promoting unmanned systems and robotic technologies. AUVSI members support defense, civil and commercial sectors. 
Mission Statement 
Advancing the unmanned systems and robotics community through education, advocacy and leadership. 
Vision Statement 
To improve humanity by enabling the global use of robotic technology in everyday lives. 
AUVSI's Strategic Goals 
  • Inclusive Community – AUVSI will be an inclusive and accessible global organization encompassing the robotics/unmanned systems community. 
  • Global Focus – AUVSI will be the essential partner in the growth and reach of the global robotics/unmanned systems community. 
  • Education and Outreach - AUVSI will facilitate the expansion of robotics/unmanned systems knowledge and will promote educational opportunities. 
  • Knowledge Source – AUVSI will be the preferred robotics/unmanned systems knowledge source. 
  • Advocacy and Influence – There will be recognition of AUVSI by governments, industry and academia as a powerful advocate for robotics/unmanned systems. 
  • Member Services – AUVSI will provide value-added services to its current and potential membership. (Source)
Despite their stated concern for humanity and desire to foster global economic opportunity, drones and robots are already eliminating many jobs, including military personnel and affiliated tech work. Autonomous intercommunicating systems are being developed by the U.S. and now apparently the Chinese with the capability for unilateral threat assessment and war theater decision making. It is often cited that robotic warfare lessens the dangers to humans, but at some level it becomes an outright replacement, such as DARPA's amazingly human PETMAN and other warbots. Next generation drones have the stated goal of reducing or eliminating the human element altogether as the promotional video from General Atomics below highlights for 2017.

Similar to the machines in a factory, robots don't have human frailties such as sickness, tiredness, mental health issues, clouded judgement based on emotions ... or conscience. Where do the human resources of war go when they have been outsourced?

It is possible that during the initial phases, it will appear as a boon to the economy, but the cascading effect of a global robotic arms race is likely to reach a tipping point and get out of hand very quickly.

Clearly, even as resistance to drones in American skies heats up, especially following the Rand Paul / Eric Holder debate about the constitutionality of killing Americans on U.S. soil, the military-industrial complex continues to invest in robotic warfare as though global proliferation is a foregone conclusion. The world's two leading superpowers and the feedback loop they have created ensure it.


The Drone Arms Race Heats Up: World's First "Beach Ball" Surveillance Drone Developed in Japan

Researchers in Japan have provided the latest in all-seeing eye technology: the drone "beach ball".  This might be the clearest evidence yet that we have entered a world which resembles bad science fiction, but, nonetheless, it's true.

Homeland Security Newswire reports that the new Spherical Air Vehicle (SAV) "weighs 350 grams (12.3 ounces) and has a diameter of 42 centimeters (16.8 inches); it can reach a speed of 37 miles per hour."

The developer from the Technical Research and Development Center of the Japan Defense Agency has amazingly constructed this vehicle from parts that can be found at electronics shops for a cost of around $1,400. (Source).

The DIY flying spy camera can bounce, roll, hover and turn corners in any environment using components such as a modified plastic bottle, propeller and control flaps.  All operated by remote control. (Source)

Naturally, this has led the researchers to speculate how it can be used in search-and-rescue missions.  This is the exact same justification we have heard from military and police sources in the United States to justify the use of micro-drone surveillance over the interior U.S. in violation of the Constitution.

Nonetheless, the technology continues to be developed as competition soars between nations to catch up to the United States.  As we wrote about previously, the miniaturization of surveillance and weapons of war is not nearly over.  President Obama (signed off on by John P. Holdren) has issued the comprehensive, 60-page National Nanotechnology Initiative 2011 Strategic Plan, calling for investment in nanotechnology to be used in everything from remote sensors for bioweapons detection, to surveillance and traffic control.

The world of science fiction has indeed become our reality. We would be well advised to put pressure on world leaders and the scientific community to use the greatest caution when racing toward a unmanned future that science fiction warns can end rather unpleasantly for the human race.

Here's the demo (in Japanese)

Swiss banker accused of helping US clients avoid tax accidentally sent details to authorities

A Swiss banker alleged to have helped 60 people hide some $184 million from US taxmen has landed most of his miscreant clients in court after accidentally posting a list of their names and incriminating details to the authorities, state prosecutors have confirmed.
Beda Singenberger, a Swiss financial advisor who ran the Zurich-based Sinco Treuhand AG tax consultants, is accused by US federal prosecutors of helping his 60 American clients hide $184 million in secret offshore accounts over a period of 11 years.
However, New York state prosecutors who are mounting the tax evasion case against him and his clients have admitted that the only reason they were able to bring charges against them was Singenberger’s mailing mistake.
Assistant US Attorney, Dan Levy told the court that Singenberger, “Was sending mail to someone in the United States and apparently in error he included a list of US taxpayers… The government has mined that list to great effect that prosecuted a number of people who were on it.” However, prosecutors did not reveal how the list – which included details of how Singenberger’s clients were hiding their money from the US tax authorities – finally ended up in their hands.
Yet, so far, Singenberger has not appeared in a US court. He has refused to comment on the charges against him and may never have to: Switzerland does not have an extradition agreement with the United States.

17 Signs That A Full-Blown Economic Depression Is Raging In Southern Europe – Is The U.S. Next?

Michael Snyder
Activist Post

When you get into too much debt, eventually really bad things start to happen. This is a very painful lesson that southern Europe is learning right now, and it is a lesson that the United States will soon learn as well. It simply is not possible to live way beyond your means forever. You can do it for a while though, and politicians in the U.S. and in Europe keep trying to kick the can down the road and extend the party, but the truth is that debt is a very cruel master and at some point it inevitably catches up with you. And when it catches up with you, the results can be absolutely devastating.

Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal all tried to just slow down the rate at which their government debts were increasing, and look at what happened to their economies. In each case, GDP is shrinking, unemployment is skyrocketing, credit is freezing up and manufacturing is declining. And you know what? None of those countries has even gotten close to a balanced budget yet. They are all still going into even more debt. Just imagine what would happen if they actually tried to only spend the money that they brought in?

I have always said that the next wave of the economic collapse would start in Europe and that is exactly what is happening. So keep watching Europe. What is happening to them will eventually happen to us.

The following are 17 signs that a full-blown economic depression is raging in southern Europe...

#1 The Italian economy is in the midst of a horrifying "credit crunch" that is causing thousands of companies to go bankrupt...
Confindustria, the business federation, said 29pc of Italian firms cannot meet "operational expenses" and are starved of liquidity. A "third phase of the credit crunch" is underway that matches the shocks in 2008-2009 and again in 2011. 
In a research report the group said the economy was caught in a "vicious circle" where banks are too frightened to lend, driving more companies over the edge. A thousand are going bankrupt every day.
#2 During the 4th quarter of 2012, the unemployment rate in Greece was 26.4 percent. That was 2.6 percent higher than the third quarter of 2012, and it was 5.7 percent higher than the fourth quarter of 2011.

#3 During the 4th quarter of 2012, the youth unemployment rate in Greece was 57.8 percent.

#4 The unemployment rate in Spain has reached 26 percent.

#5 In Spain there are 107 unemployed workers for every available job.

#6 The unemployment rate in Italy is now 11.7 percent. That is the highest that it has been since Italy joined the euro.

#7 The youth unemployment rate in Italy has risen to a new all-time record high of 38.7 percent.

#8 Unemployment in the eurozone as a whole has reached a new all-time high of 11.9 percent.

#9 Italy's economy is starting to shrink at a frightening pace...
Data from Italy's national statistics institute ISTAT showed that the country's economy shrank by 0.9pc in the fourth quarter of last year and gross domestic product was down a revised 2.8pc year-on-year.
#10 The Greek economy is contracting even faster than the Italian economy is...
Greece also sank further into recession during the fourth quarter of 2012, with figures on Monday showing the economy contracted by 5.7pc year-on-year.
#11 Overall, the Greek economy has contracted by more than 20 percent since 2008.

#12 Manufacturing activity is declining just about everywhere in Europeexcept for Germany...
Research group Markit said its index of activity in UK manufacturing – where 50 is the cut off between growth and decline – sank from 50.5 in January to 47.9 in February. It left Britain on the brink of a third recession in five years after the economy shrank by 0.3 per cent in the final quarter of 2012. 
Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said: ‘This represents a major setback to hopes that the UK economy can return to growth in the first quarter and avoid a triple-dip recession.’ 
The eurozone manufacturing index also read 47.9. Germany scored 50.3 but Spain hit 46.8, Italy 45.8 and France 43.9.
#13 The percentage of bad loans in Italian banks has risen to 12.2 percent. Back in 2007, that number was sitting at just 4.5 percent.

#14 Bank deposits experienced significant declines all over Europeduring the month of January.

#15 Private bond default rates are soaring all over southern Europe...
S&P said the default rate for Italian non-investment grade bonds jumped to 9.5pc last year from 5.7pc in 2012 as local banks shut off funding. It was even worse in Spain, doubling to 14.3pc. 
The default rate in France rocketed from 0.8pc to 8.7pc, the latest in a blizzard of bad news from the country as the delayed effects of tax rises, fiscal tightening, and the strong euro do their worst.
#16 Lars Feld, a key economic adviser to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, recently said the following...
The sustainability of Italian public finances is in jeopardy. The euro crisis will therefore return shortly with a vengeance.
#17 Things have gotten so bad in Greece that the Greek government plans to sell off 28 state-owned buildings - including the main police headquarters in Athens.

One of the few politicians in Europe that actually understands what is happening in Europe is Nigel Farage. A video of one of his recent rants is posted below. Farage believes that "the Eurozone has been a complete economic disaster" and that the worst is yet to come...

Most people believe that the eurozone has been "saved", but that is not even close to the truth.

In fact, it becomes more likely that we will see the eurozone break up with each passing day.

So who would leave first?

Well, recently there have been rumblings among some German politicians that Greece should be the first to leave. The following is from a recent Reuters article...
Greece remains the biggest risk for the euro zone despite a calming of its economic and political crisis and may still have to leave the common currency, a senior conservative ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
But there is also a chance that Germany could eventually be the first nation that decides to leave the euro. In fact, a new political party is forming in Germany that is committed to getting Germany out of the euro. The following is a brief excerpt from a recent article by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard...
A new party led by economists, jurists, and Christian Democrat rebels will kick off this week, calling for the break-up of monetary union before it can do any more damage. 
"An end to this euro," is the first line on the webpage of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). "The introduction of the euro has proved to be a fatal mistake, that threatens the welfare of us all. The old parties are used up. They stubbornly refuse to admit their mistakes." 
They propose German withdrawl from EMU and return to the D-Mark, or a breakaway currency with the Dutch, Austrians, Finns, and like-minded nations. The French are not among them. The borders run along the ancient line of cleavage dividing Latins from Germanic tribes.
However this all plays out, the reality is that things are about to get much more interesting in Europe.

No debt bubble lasts forever. The Europeans are finding that out right now, and the U.S. won't be too far behind.

But for the moment, most Americans assume that everything is going to be okay because the Dow keeps setting new all-time record highs.

Well, enjoy this little bubble of debt-fueled false prosperity while you can, because it won't last for long.

A massive wake-up call is coming, and it will be exceedingly painful for those that are not ready for it.