Saturday, June 1, 2013

What Is Wrong With The Economy Today

Nobody ever got successful by “getting a job”
People don’t get successful, by being employees, and therefore having the system be against them collecting money..
People only get successful by starting businesses or franchising them, and therefore having the system be in FAVOR, of them collecting money.
That’s a difference between being a businessman, and being a worker looking for “jobs”
You know whats wrong with the economy ?
We became a nation of employees who rely on 1 man for their pay, instead of customers.
That’s what is ultimately wrong with the economy.
People are not taking advantage of capitalism..
Capitalism can only help you, if you take advantage of it..
I have a phrase I like to use…
You can’t be successful, by having the system of money and profits and productivity be AGAINST YOU..
This is an employee… “do you like me?”
This is a businessman “how may I help you today?”
The day you ask somebody else, if they like you, that’s the day you are going to be a failure.
You can only be successful by asking people “how may I help you today”


“New Currency Order”: US Dollar Losing Reserve Status And The Japanese Yen, Swiss Franc and Yuan Are Gaining

The Dying Dollar and the Rise of a New Currency Order
For years now, the collapse of the dollar has been in the cards. Recent developments show mounting pressure on the dollar’s reserve currency status. With a major international deflation going on, the threat of inflation through money printing is unreal. However, should the dollar’s reserve currency status end, the repatriation of trillions of petro- and eurodollars could lead to a strongly inflationary scenario.
The roles of a reserve currency are to finance international trade and to function as a store of value for Governments. Until the second world war it used to be the British pound, but with the demise of the British Empire, the pound lost its international relevance and was overtaken by the dollar. This was formalized in the 1944 Bretton Woods system. All other currencies were fiat currencies, but pegged to the dollar, which in turn was pegged to Gold at 40 dollars an ounce and redeemable for international trading partners.

We are seeing the advent of the new currency order. There will be a number of more or less equal blocks: a dollar zone, a Yuan/BRICS zone and the euro, with the Yen and the Pound as lesser entities. These will later be able to converge to even more ‘cooperation’, in the Money Power’s relentless march towards World Currency.
These units will be at least partially Gold backed, implying long term deflationary pressures. Central Banks are buying Gold in major quantities, creating the interesting question why Gold prices have not risen in the last 18 months.

The hyperinflation scare that the Austrians have been promoting because of ‘money printing’ is ridiculous: we are in a stagflationary depression and prices are rising because of speculation, not because of excess money. But when the dollar loses its current status, long term price rises will become the norm.
The Greatest Depression has only just started.
CNBC: US Dollar Losing Reserve Status
The U.S dollar is shrinking as a percentage of the world’s currency supply, raising concerns that the greenback is about to see its long run as the world’s premier denomination come to an end.
When compared to its peers, the dollar has drifted to a 15-year low, according to theInternational Monetary Fund, indicating that more countries are willing to use other currencies to do business.
While the American currency still reigns supreme — it constitutes $3.72 trillion, or 62 percent, of the $6 trillion in allocated foreign exchange holdings by the world’s central banks — the Japanese yen, Swiss franc and what the IMF classifies as “other currencies” such as the Chinese yuan are gaining.

“If the dollar loses status as the world’s most reliable currency the United States will lose the right to print money to pay its debt. It will be forced to pay this debt,” Bove said. “The ratings agencies are already arguing that the government’s debt may be too highly rated. Plus, the United States Congress, in both its houses, as well as the president are demonstrating a total lack of fiscal credibility.”
Bove is not the only one sounding the reserve currency alarm, though the issue has fallen off the front pages as hopes for a sustained U.S. recovery have taken hold and the stock market has surged to near-record highs.
Kyle Bass, who knows a thing or two about economics and finance, recently spoke to a senior member of the Obama administration about their planned solutions for fixing the U.S. economy and trade deficit.
When I asked a senior member of the Obama administration last week, ‘How are we going to grow exports if we won’t allow nominal wage deflation?’
He says, ‘we’re just going to kill the dollar.’

U.S. Meat Processor in $4.7 Billion Sale to Chinese Company.

Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd., China’s biggest pork producer, agreed to acquireSmithfield Foods Inc. (SFD) for about $4.72 billion to boost supplies for the nation that’s the biggest consumer of the meat.
Closely held Shuanghui, parent of Henan Shuanghui Investment & Development Co. (000895), will pay $34 a share for the Smithfield, Virginia-based producer, both companies said today in a statement. The offer is 31 percent more than yesterday’s closing share price.
China’s consumption of pork is rising with the expansion of its middle class while there are questions being asked about the safety of the country’s food supply. Smithfield’s livestock unit is the world’s largest hog producer, bringing about 15.8 million of the animals to market a year, according to the company’swebsite. It owns 460 farms and has contracts with 2,100 others across 12 U.S. states.

DANGER! DANGER! DANGER! We Are Obviously In The Final Euphoric Parabolic Phase of A Third Stock Market Bubble

This could be the No. 1 reason to expect a stock market correction

From Gold Scents: “The market is now stretched further than any other time in the last three decades…”
I’m going to start off today and show you what Fed policy has given us over the last decade and a half. What the Fed has accomplished has been one bubble after another.

CITI: The Stock Market Is Getting Dangerously Close To ‘Euphoria’ Territory

A “meaningful spike.”
Complacency and euphoria are the types of things that will exacerbate market volatility should a sell-off come.
Here’s Levkovich’s chart of the Panic/Euphoria model:

citi panic euphoria
Citi Research

What you should know about the surge in stock buybacks - ”Is this another case of ‘here we go again?’”

From Global Economic Trend Analysis: Factset Buyback Quarterly has an interesting series of charts and facts on corporate share buybacks.
Here is my favorite chart in the series.
Aggregate Buybacks: Dollar-value share repurchases amounted to $93.8 billion over the fourth quarter and $384.3 billion for 2012. The fourth quarter total is in-line with that of Q3, but represented year-over-year growth of 9.6%.
Sector Trends: The Information Technology and Health Care sectors spent the most on quarterly repurchases ($19.8 billion and $14.4 billion, respectively) in Q4 2012. However, of the sectors that averaged $2 billion or more in quarterly share repurchases since 2005, the Industrials sector showed the largest sequential and year-over-year growth (30.6% and 59.4%) in dollar-value buybacks.
Buyback Conviction: Dollar-value buybacks amounted to 79.1% of free cash flow on a trailing twelve month basis, which is the largest value since Q3 2008. The Consumer Discretionary and Consumer  Staples sectors both spent more than 100% of their free cash flow (116.7% and 114.2%, respectively). The Energy and Utilities sectors spent $35.8 billion and $1.4 billion, respectively, on buybacks, despite generating negative free cash flow (-$25.7 billion and -$23.5 billion). The Consumer Discretionary sector also led all sectors in repurchasing the most shares relative to its size. Over the trailing twelve months, the sector repurchased shares that amounted to 4.5% of the sector’s average shares outstanding over the year.
Timing Suspect at Best 
One look at the above chart is all it takes to see most shares are bought back at high prices rather than low prices….

NYSE Margin Debt Rises To New All Time High As Net Worth Slides To Record Low

From zerohedge: With everything else in uncharted territory: central bank balance sheets, the stock market, global debt, it was only a matter of time before that old-school indicator of exuberance - margin debt - also joined the ranks of things that are “off the charts.” Never one to disappoint (except when Waddell and Reed dumps a “massive” 75,000 ES trade which promptly kills its liquidity replenishment points of course), the NYSE has reported that April margin debt, as expected, hit all time records, just in time for the S&P’s own all time high fireworks spectacular.  Rising from the just shy of summer of 2007 levels posted in March, or $380 billion, April margin debt not surprisingly rose to a record high of $384 billion. Additionally, even when netting out account credit metrics, such as Free Credit Cash and Credit Balances in margin accounts, total investor net worth just hit an all time record low of ($106) billion.
In short: investors have never been more levered.

Warning: A “bond vortex” could be just around the corner

From Bruce Krasting: I got an email from a friend who runs money for a hedge fund that got my interest:
“May want to take a look at convexity vortex in mbs market and implications…” 
“Convexity vortex”? What’s that about? A bit more from this fellow, I’ll call him “MP”:
Some familiar with it say the vortex is 19 bps away… 2.2% on ten year treasury, 3% on the CMM… if breaks, MBS holders subject to extension and duration risk. Would now have to increase convexity hedging. Would lead to price gaps and significant selling. With shortage of treasuries due to bernank and co. and low liquidity, could be very disruptive.
That got me interested. A layman’s explanation of convexity:
When mortgage interest rates fall, the probability that an individual will re-finance a mortgage increases. When mortgage interest rates increase, the likelihood of a re-financing of the mortgage goes down. Therefore, in a rising rate environment, the average life of a pool of mortgages increases.
For example, if a bond fund held Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) with an assumed 10-year average life, AND interest rates rose, the average life of the MBS portfolio would be extended for a few years. This is convexity.
The last thing that a bond manager wants in a rising rate environment is to have the average maturity of the portfolio extended, as this adds to the losses. As a result, MBS players hedge their portfolios against “duration risk” by shorting Treasuries (ten-year paper).
The higher rates go (and the speed that rates are increasing) forces more and more of the convexity selling.
MP believes that there is a magic number of around 2.2% on the ten-year bond that will bring out an avalanche of convexity selling. The 2.2% tipping point is very close to where the T-bond sits today.
The fellow who brought this to my attention is a perm-bear on bonds. Given that, I sought out a confirmation from another guy (call him JH) who has been bullish on bonds for many years. JH sits on the bond desk of a big international bank. When I posed the question to the Bond Bull I got a surprising response…

Peak Gold: Demand Will Soar As Global Supplies Dwindle *Video*

Mac Slavo
May 31st, 2013

It’s been said that all of the gold mined throughout the history of mankind could fit into just three Olympic-sized swimming pools.
With rising fuel and labor costs, successful mining operations have been few and far between, simply because there’s very little, if any, easily accessible gold, as well as its close cousin silver, left in the ground. According to Peak Resources, the supply of gold is now so limited that just 1 in 1600 new gold projects ever get off the ground. One of the key reasons for this is because mine operators have to dig deeper and spend much more money than ever before – often times just to break even.
When you consider the supply fundamentals, and couple them with the high levels of demand experienced in recent months, you can see that regardless of what is listed as the official ‘paper market’ price, gold is likely going much higher. And that’s before we even get into the monetary expansion aspect of the discussion.
While economists like Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke vehemently deny gold’s value as a mechanism of exchange, and leading market analysts take to writing obituaries for gold’s demise amid recent price swings, the fact is that all signs point to a continuation of the long-term trend.
Gold is going higher.
Michael Wittmeyer, the President of leading online gold and silver dealer JM Bullion, shares the sentiment of many precious metals investors regarding recent price movements:
There seems to be a segregation between paper and physical metals at the moment, as physical demand has never been so strong, yet metals continue to slide in the paper markets and fail to find support at any of the historical key levels thus far.
My personal recommendation is to stay the course, try to lock in the lower prices to average in a lower overall cost-basis on your metals portfolio, and stay focused on the big picture, where the fundamental reasons to own physical metals are as strong as ever.
If you’ve been paying attention, then you’ve no doubt realized that the fundamentals Mr. Wittmeyer speaks of are pretty clear cut.
The big picture is that the fundamentals for gold, despite a massive hit to its price in recent months, have not changed.
The following micro-documentary explains why we may well be on the cusp of Peak Gold, a turning point in the precious metals market that will continue to strain supply while demand across the world explodes to unprecedented levels:
Gold has no flag or allegiance… as the fiat currencies get devalued to deal with the sovereign debt crisis, gold demand will soar.
The problem and opportunity we see is that the supply is already maxed out. So, if a wave of demand comes, we can see the gold price move rapidly on supply and demand fundamentals.
The inflation will simply be icing on the cake.
Via Peak Resources:

So, the question is, do we follow the direction of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who suggests gold is simply a relic, and focus our investments on his preferred asset class – the US dollar denominated Treasury Bond?
Or, do we side with over 5,000 years of history, which has shown precious metals to be the go-to store of wealth during times of uncertainty and upheaval?

Top 1% Own 39% Of All Global Wealth: Hoarding Soars As We Hurtle Toward Economic Oblivion

By Michael
Little Boy - Poverty In Africa - Photo by Herman Pieters
According to a study that was just released by Boston Consulting Group, the wealthiest one percent now own39 percent of all the wealth in the world.  Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent only own1 percent of all the wealth in the world combined.  The global financial system has been designed to funnel wealth to the very top, and the gap between the wealthy and the poor continues to expand at a frightening pace.  The global elite continue to hoard wealth and heap together enormous mountains of treasure in these troubled days even though the economic suffering around the planet continues to grow.  So exactly how have the global elite accumulated so much wealth?  Well, one of the primary ways is through the use of debt.  As I have written about previously, there is about 190 trillion dollars of debt in the world but global GDP is only about 70 trillion dollars.  Our debt-based global financial system systematically transfers wealth from us and our governments into the hands of the global elite.  And of course the gigantic banks and corporations that the elite control are constantly gobbling up everything of value that they can find: natural resources, profitable small businesses, real estate, politicians, etc.  Money, power, ownership and control are becoming very, very tightly concentrated at the top of the food chain, and that is a very dangerous thing for humanity.  When too much money and power gets into too few hands, it almost always results in tyranny.
What will eventually happen when the global elite have ALL the wealth?
Will the rest of us work as serfs in a system that they have iron-fisted control over?
And what if they decide that they don’t really need billions of people working for them?  Will they decide to implement population control measures in order to reduce the number of “useless eaters”?  It is already happening in China and other highly centralized societies.
When all of the economic rewards of a society go to a very small handful of people, it tends to be very destabilizing.  We have seen this again and again throughout history.
When people have everything taken away from them and they have nothing left to lose, they tend to become very desperate.  And right now we are rapidly hurtling toward a time of great global instability.  Anger and frustration are growing all over the globe, and the rate at which the gap between the wealthy and the poor is widening seems to be accelerating.  Just check out these numbers…
-The wealthiest 1 percent of the global population now owns 39 percentof all the wealth on the planet.
-According to a report that was released last summer, the global elite have up to 32 TRILLION dollars stashed in offshore banks around the planet.
-According to a study conducted by Credit Suisse, the bottom two-thirds of the global population owns just 3.3% of all the wealth.
-A study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research discovered that the bottom half of the world population ownsapproximately 1 percent of all global wealth.
-It is estimated that the entire continent of Africa only ownsapproximately 1 percent of the total wealth of the world.
-Approximately 1 billion people throughout the world go to bed hungry each night.
-If you can believe it, more than 3 billion people currently live on less than 2 dollar a day.
In the world that we live in, money equals power.  And the more money that the top one percent accumulate, the more power they will accumulate as well.
So exactly who are the top one percent?  I discussed this at length in my previous article entitled “Who Runs The World? Solid Proof That A Core Group Of Wealthy Elitists Is Pulling The Strings“.  The global elite are absolutely obsessed with power and control and they have been working to implement their agenda for a very long time.  In the end, they hope to unite the entire planet under a monolithic global system that they control.  They are actually quite open about this – it is just that most people do not want to believe it.

The gap between the wealthy and the poor is rapidly growing in the United States as well.  Sadly, this means that the middle class is steadily disappearing as the ranks of those that are living in povertycontinues to increase.
But of course not everyone is doing badly in the U.S. right now.  In fact, those that own stocks have had lots of reasons to celebrate in recent months.
So who owns stocks?
Well, the wealthy do of course.  In fact, approximately 60 percent of all individually held stocks are owned by the top 5 percent of all Americans.
During the last recession, Americans lost 16 trillion dollars of wealth.  Since then, about 45 percent of that wealth has been “recovered”, but the vast majority of that “recovery” has been due to rising stock prices.  The following comes from a recent Washington Post article
From the peak of the boom to the bottom of the bust, households watched a total of $16 trillion in wealth disappear amid sinking stock prices and the rubble of the real estate market. Since then, Americans have only been able to recapture 45 percent of that amount on average, after adjusting for inflation and population growth, according to the report from the St. Louis Fed released Thursday.
In addition, the report showed most of the improvement was due to gains in the stock market, which primarily benefit wealthy families. That means the recovery for other households has been even weaker.
“A conclusion that the financial damage of the crisis and recession largely has been repaired is not justified,” the report stated.
Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most thriving middle class in the history of the world.  That was a great thing.  But now the middle class is being destroyed and government dependence has surged to an all-time high.
The following are some of the incredible statistics that show how wide the gap between the wealthy and the poor in America is becoming…
-The wealthiest 1 percent of all Americans now own more than a thirdof all the wealth in the United States.
-In the United States today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.
-According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined.
-The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have as much wealth as the bottom one-third of all Americans combined.
-On average, households in the top 7 percent have 24 times as much wealth as households in the bottom 93 percent.
-Between 2009 and 2011, the wealth of the bottom 93 percent of all Americans declined by 4 percent, while the wealth of the top 7 percent of all Americans increased by 28 percent.
-The poorest 50 percent of all Americans collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.
-The top 0.01% of all Americans make an average of $27,342,212.  The bottom 90% make an average of $31,244.
For much more on how poverty is rising and the middle class is being destroyed, please see my recent article entitled “22 Facts That Prove That The Bottom 90 Percent Of America Is Systematically Getting Poorer“.
Obviously we have a huge problem here.
With each passing day, poverty is rising and more people are becomingdependent on the government.
So what is the solution to this mess?
Please feel free to voice your opinion by posting a comment below…

EU Diminishes Austerity: Is It a Trend Yet?

European countries to be allowed to ease austerity... The European Commission has said it will allow some EU member states to slow their pace of austerity cuts, amid concerns over growth. France, Spain, Poland, Portugal, the Netherlands and Slovenia are all being given more time to complete their austerity plans. France will get two more years to bring its budget deficit below 3% of GDP. Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said the extra time must be "used wisely" to lift competitiveness. − BBC
Dominant Social Theme: Everything is just fine in the EU. We are making some minor adjustments.
Free-Market Analysis: Again we note a shifting of the EU conversation. The implacable authoritarian rigor of the Eurocrats is moderating, and we believe it is because the EU economy is in such wretched shape that its leaders fear outright rebellion.
This was mentioned by German officials the other day and we wrote an article about it, commenting on the sudden concern that such individuals were evincing.
In fact, this is a new phase for the EU. If we are correct, those at the top fear they have gone too far. It is one thing to create an economic disaster in order to deepen a political union; it is another to live with it for a number of years.
Desperation inures people to risk and alienates them from the civil systems that have been built up around them. If the Eurocrats are raising a generation that simply does not believe in regulatory democracy because they have seen it doesn't work, then where does that leave the great federal experiment?
It is an uneasy balancing act, as we have long pointed out, and we think we see in these anti-austerity policies the beginning of an unfreezing of Brussels's severity. Maybe the Southern PIGS are not so lazy after all.
Or perhaps the Eurocrats are simply frightened, finally, that the entire authoritarian edifice they've erected is about to come crashing down. Either way, their attitude seems to be shifting.
The measures came as part of the European Commission's country-specific recommendations. Spain, Poland and Slovenia will also get two more years to bring down their budget deficits though spending cuts and tax increases. The Netherlands and Portugal are having their timetables extended by one year.
Even Europe's stronger economies, including Germany, are being urged to allow wage increases and increase flexibility in the jobs market to improve competitiveness. With regard to the UK, the commission's report includes recommendations for action on the housing supply and rental market, more affordable and better quality childcare, and improving youth training.
It also says that there is not enough transport spending. 'Demanding' timetable Europe remains broadly in recession. The 17-member eurozone shrank by 0.2% in the first three months of the year, and is expected to register negative growth for 2013 as a whole. There has been concern that the focus on fiscal consolidation in many EU states has worsened the economic situation.
This month, the central bank in Frankfurt cut interest rates to a record low of 0.5% and said it was "ready to act if needed". In an official statement, the Commission said the extra time should be used to enact reforms. "Giving more time for certain member states to meet their agreed objectives is designed to enable them to accelerate efforts to put their public finances into order and carry out overdue reforms," it said.
"Reform efforts must be stepped up to credibly produce the required outcomes within the new deadlines and excessive deficits must be corrected." Mr Barroso stressed that the decision to allow some member states to slow the pace of austerity was made on purely economic and financial grounds, rather than for political reasons.
The article also makes mention of increased stimulation by the European Central Bank, a significant and illegal act. But this brings up the issue of what seems to be the Eurocrats ultimate plan, which is to deepen the controlling federal elements of the EU while fighting a rearguard action against public fatigue and rage.
It is a very important issue, this balancing act, though little reported on. As the EU unwinds economically, the fate of the union and certainly the euro hangs in the balance. That's why we may be seeing these slight signs of retreat.
Conclusion: The import is significant from a political, economic and investment standpoint. We shall need more evidence to consider whether this is becoming a dominant or subdominant social theme. But if the Eurocrats begin to back away from austerity in full cry, we shall be more confident in asserting that their plans have shifted and their agenda delayed by what they have themselves wrought out of arrogance and hubris.

Bilderberg 2013: Attendees Scared as Protestors Accumulate

The Bilderberg Group’s meeting in Britain this year could prove to be a spectacle, as protesters and journalists aaccumulate over security budget concerns.

VIRGINIA: June 2012 - Bilderberg attendee Heather Reisman (born August 28, 1948) is a Canadian businesswoman. Reisman is the founder and chief executive of the Canadian retail chain Indigo Books and Music. (Photo: Shepard Ambellas,
VIRGINIA: June 2012 – Bilderberg attendee Heather Reisman (born August 28, 1948) is a Canadian businesswoman. Reisman is the founder and chief executive of the Canadian retail chain Indigo Books and Music. (Photo: Shepard Ambellas,
May 30, 2013
BRITAIN — For the first time in fifteen years the secretive Bilderberg Group will be meeting on British soil at the Watford Hotel, starting June 6th. Amongst the attendees will be some of the most diabolic, powerful, wealthy, royalty, politicians, head’s of state, and white collar criminals from all corners of the globe.
However, the pressure has intensified for the secretive Bilderburg Group in recent times, as thousands of protestors attended last years meeting which took place in Chantilly Virginia. This event was documented by’s founder and director, Shepard Ambellas, and his crew as a historical ‘turning point’.
This year protestors and citizens alike are catching on, that their ‘tax dollars’ are being used to protect this private cabal. In fact, the Telegraph reports, “Hertfordshire police have refused to release the cost of security for the event, which has previously drawn anti-capitalist demonstrators in other locations around the world.
However, they are in talks with the Home Office about a grant for “unexpected or exceptional costs” that is only given out if it threatens the stability of the force’s policing budget. The final bill would have to total more than one per cent of the police force’s overall spend – or about £1.8 million – for the grant to be successful.”
Locals are not happy with the expenditures.
Henry De Castries, Chairman of AXA, and Peter Thiel are set to attend in 2013

Please Comment below!



Facebook Begins Charging to Delete Photos

jpeglongdrunk-facebook-girls-257x168Faced with continued investor skepticism over its long-term business model, Facebook has quietly started testing a new way of generating additional revenue - charging money to delete old photos.
The new settings, which are currently in beta, ask users to pay $5.00 to delete any photo more than 1 year old from their own Facebook profiles, and up to $20.00 to delete photos of themselves on other people's profiles.
Analysts say that Facebook could generate huge revenues from the new photo settings because many users are desperate to hide embarrassing pictures of themselves from family and potential employers.
Topher Anderson, an technology equities analyst at Citigroup says the new charges could single-handedly help Facebook's sagging stock price recover to its IPO level of $40 a share.
"This new photo fee is a stroke of genius," claims Anderson, "We estimate that over 50 million users will use the feature, spending on average $35 a year to delete the most embarrassing pics. The annual boost to Facebook's top line will be well over $1 billion."
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A new dialog box will ask users for their credit card information.
A new dialog box will ask users for their credit card information.
Be Undiscovered
UBS investment banker Stephen Todd agrees that the photo fee will add revenue, and also notes that it won't add significantly to Facebook's cost structure.
"They don't have to hire new engineers," Todd explains, "They don't have to develop new features. All they have to do is change one small setting and watch the money roll in. Its pure profit."
Online privacy groups have predictably expressed outrage over the plans, but their objections are expected to be ignored. There is also some concern that the changes could prompt a user backlash, but Todd dismisses that idea outright.
"The brilliance of this charge is that it leverages Facebook's high switching costs and lack of competition," he says, "I mean come on. What are people gonna do about it? Move to Myspace?"
Facebook defends the new charge as a vital component of its new revenue model. One top executive explains that since the IPO and subsequent stock slide, the company now has a new set of priorities:
"We have to monetize where the value is. And there's a lot of value in hiding the mistakes of your past. It would be a violation of our shareholders' trust if we didn't try to squeeze revenue from our users any way we can."
"And if you don't want your grandfather thinking you're a sloppy, drunken slut, then maybe you shouldn't post pictures of yourself deep-throating a beer tap or passed out in a football player's crotch in the first place."
The new photo settings are expected to be introduced to all Facebook users sometime in March.

Thousands blockade European Central Bank in Frankfurt (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

The entrance of the ECB is blocked by over 3,000 'Blockupy' protesters in a march against austerity. 'Blockupy' has announced the coalition has “reached its first goal” of the day.
Anti-capitalist protesters have taken to the streets of the financial heart of Frankfurt a day ahead of Europe-wide gatherings planned for June 1 to protest leaders handling of the three-year euro debt crisis.
"We call up everyone to join our protests."

German riot police scuffle with protestors in front of the European Central Bank (ECB) head quarters during a anti-capitalism "Blockupy" demonstration in Frankfurt, May 31, 2013. (Reuters / Kai Pfaffenbach)
German riot police scuffle with protestors in front of the European Central Bank (ECB) head quarters during a anti-capitalism "Blockupy" demonstration in Frankfurt, May 31, 2013. (Reuters / Kai Pfaffenbach)
The ECB spokesman told The Guardian that the Blockupy protests have not disturbed day to day operations at the bank, but would not specify how many bankers managed to come to work.
Apart from those who amassed outside the ECB, a smaller demonstration took place at the nearby Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) headquarters, where around 50 police vehicles had been deployed. The protesters set off by midday.
The crowd, estimated at 2,500 by local authorities, clutched signs demanding ‘humanity before profit’.
Rain-soaked and dressed in ponchos, the crowd is equipped with a wide array of protest props- vuvuzelas, yellow wigs, pots and pans, and mattresses with the spray-painted slogan 'War Starts Here'. 

Image from twitter user@Migs_Bru
Image from twitter user@Migs_Bru
Blockupy’ has become a top-ten Twitter trend in Frankfurt, and at 10:09am (08:09 GMT), user Enough14 tweeted, “Strong Powerful blockade at Kaiserstr. Not one banker will come through here," in reference to the ECB headquarters. 
Police reported some protesters had thrown stones and there were some clashes at the barricades, but so far the protests are being conducted peacefully. 

Police stand guard during an anti-capitalist "Blockupy" demonstration near the European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters in Frankfurt, May 31, 2013. (Reuters / Kai Pfaffenbach)
Police stand guard during an anti-capitalist "Blockupy" demonstration near the European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters in Frankfurt, May 31, 2013. (Reuters / Kai Pfaffenbach)
The mass of protesters first gathered early Friday morning in the rainy financial center of Frankfurt, in an effort to block roads leading to the ECB and Deutsche Bank headquarters.

The crowd was met by police decked out in riot gear accompanied by large Alsatian dogs. Helicopters hovered above and water cannon trucks were on standby.

Many of Frankfurt’s banks have urged staff to take Friday as a holiday, following a state holiday on Thursday.
Spokesman Martin Sommer said Frankfurt’s financial district could be occupied by as many as 20,000 who believe the Troika – the ECB, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund – is imposing an “austerity dictate" on financially troubled countries they have bailed out.
Cyprus, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, have received bailout loans and Spain has received loans for its banks.
Blockupy spokeswoman Frauke Distelrath said the protest was not aimed at bank employees, but at its role "as an important participant in the policies that are impoverishing people in Europe, in the cutbacks that are costing people their ability to make a living."

Police try to prevent protestors from breaking through barricades near the European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters during an anti-capitalist "Blockupy" demonstration in Frankfurt, May 31, 2013. (Reuters / Kai Pfaffenbach)
Police try to prevent protestors from breaking through barricades near the European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters during an anti-capitalist "Blockupy" demonstration in Frankfurt, May 31, 2013. (Reuters / Kai Pfaffenbach)
The protesters have been granted permission to demonstrate at the airport by a court on Thursday, even after the airport operator requested the group be kept outside of the terminal.
Blockupy assembled outside of the airport at 1 p.m. local time local time to protest against German immigration policies and what activists have decried as an “inhumane deportation system.” Fraport, the airport operator, has advised passengers to arrive early for their flights.
The court said if the number of protestors in the terminal exceeds 200, police can break up the gathering. Felix Gottwald, a pilot, tweeted that security had been stepped up at Frankfurt airport in anticipation of the arrival of Blockupy protesters. Passengers at the airport have noted the heavy security presence, saying that only those who show a valid boarding pass can enter the building.
Activists are tweeting that anywhere between 200-800 protesters are currently blocking Frankfurt Airport Terminal 1, although those number remain unconfirmed.
In last year’s protests police shut down Frankfurt’s city center in anticipation of the demonstration.

Riot police stand near the euro sign in front of the European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters during an anti-capitalist "Blockupy" demonstration in Frankfurt May 31, 2013. (Reuters / Kai Pfaffenbach)
Riot police stand near the euro sign in front of the European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters during an anti-capitalist "Blockupy" demonstration in Frankfurt May 31, 2013. (Reuters / Kai Pfaffenbach)
Eurozone employment hits record high to 12.2 percent in April.
The demonstration is taking place almost exactly a year after police detained hundreds in a four-day march against a temporary ban on protests in Frankfurt last June.
Blockupy protesters are also protesting against other issues, including food price.

Racist School Closings in Washington, DC

Students from Ferebee-Hope Elementary School.Students from Ferebee-Hope Elementary School in Washington, DC rally in front of the courthouse May 10 to save their school from closure. (Photo: Rania Khalek) 
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The District of Columbia's planned public school closings disproportionately affect minority and special needs students and there is no evidence the plan will improve educational outcomes or save the district money.
"I don't want my school to close because they have a lot of fun things that I like there," said 9-year-old McKea, a third-grader at Ferebee-Hope Elementary School in Washington, DC. "If they take that away, I won't have nothing else fun to play with or do.”
Dressed in their Ferebee-Hope cheerleading uniforms, McKea and her teammates were accompanied by Shannon Smith, who has two grandchildren at Ferebee-Hope, one of 15 schools slated for closure by DC School Chancellor Kaya Henderson. Smith led the children to a rally outside the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, where several DC parents, students and activists had gathered to support a lawsuit against the closings.
It turns out that all 15 schools are located east of Rock Creek Park, an unofficial dividing line between poor minority communities on the east side and affluent white neighborhoods west of the park, leading to allegations that school closings are an attempt to privatize public education at the expense of the city's most vulnerable residents.
"They keep taking things away from our kids and expect our kids to achieve," Smith told Truthout. "This is discrimination against our black kids.”
Suit Charges Closings Target Vulnerable
Empower DC, a grassroots organization at the forefront of the movement to halt the closings, has teamed up with civil rights attorney Johnny Barnes to sue the district for discrimination on behalf of Smith and four other plaintiffs. The lawsuit accuses Mayor Vincent Gray, Chancellor Kaya Henderson and the district of violating local and federal civil rights laws by disproportionately targeting poor, minority and disabled students with their school closure plan. And they have some shocking numbers to back their claims.
Of the 2,700 students who will be impacted by the closings, just two (less than 0.01 percent) are white, even though white students account for 9 percent of the overall District of Columbia public school (DCPS) student population, according to calculations made by district budget expert Mary Levy.
In stark contrast, African Americans make up 93 percent of those affected despite comprising just 72 percent of the district's student body. This disparity is mirrored in the economic realm, where poor children account for 96 percent of students impacted by closures, though they make up 77 percent of DCPS students. And despite being just 14 percent of the DCPS population, special education students make up 29 percent of those affected by the closings. To make matters worse, one-third of students who will be displaced by the closings experienced school closures in 2008, when then-DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee closed some two dozen schools in mostly low-income neighborhoods of color.
University of the District of Columbia social sciences professor Amanda Huron created a map to highlight these disparities.
053113-1 chart
Attorney Barnes recently filed for a preliminary injunction to halt the closure plan until the lawsuit is resolved, but the request was denied by US District Judge James Boasberg in mid-May.
Though Boasberg conceded that the closures will disproportionately affect minority and disabled students, but he ruled, "There is no evidence whatsoever of any intent to discriminate on the part of defendants, who are actually transferring children out of weaker, more segregated, and under-enrolled schools" and into "better performing, more integrated schools."
Boasberg’s claim is contradicted by calculations made by DCPS budget expert Mary Levy. Using the district’s own data, Levy found: “Of 11 closing schools, students at nine will attend schools that are almost 100 percent African-American. At the remaining schools, some black students will encounter more Latinos, some fewer. None of the receiving schools has a noticeable number of white students.”
Furthermore, “Virtually all the proficiency levels at receiving schools are below the DCPS average for their level, which is itself below 50 percent,” Levy found.
DCPS Chancellor Henderson and DC Attorney General Irvin Nathan applauded Judge Boasberg's decision, which trumpeted many of the claims made in Henderson's Consolidation and Reorganization Plan.
Under-Enrollment Self-Inflicted
City leaders have said that school closings are necessary because of a decline in student enrollment, which has left behind under-utilized school buildings that are too costly to maintain. But a closer look at the data reveals that "under-enrollment" is largely self-inflicted.
Following 23 school closings in 2008 under then-Chancellor Rhee, DCPS lost 4,299 students, while charter school enrollment increased by 3,957. What officials are labeling a "decline" in enrollment is actually a "shift" from public to charter schools.
Thus, DCPS has created an endless cycle whereby it cites under-enrollment and low test scores to justify closing schools, causing displaced children to flee to charters, creating a further decline in public school enrollment, which is used to justify another round of closings.
When Michelle Rhee was appointed school chancellor in 2007, charter schools enrolled 30 percent of DC public school students. Today, that number has jumped to 43 percent.
"The schools are under-enrolled because they've been replaced by charter schools in the same areas," says Trayon White, state Board of Education representative for Ward 8. "It's by design.”
Indeed, the system is designed to give charter schools first dibs on closed public school buildings, thanks to the District of Columbia School Reform Act of 1995, essentially guaranteeing charter school expansion in the aftermath of mass school closings.
To speed the process along, Mayor Vincent C. Gray recently announced that 16 public school buildings will be leased to charter school companies this year, including eight of the 15 schools slated for closure. This follows a nationwide trend that has seen more than 40 percent of closed public school buildings across the country turned over to charter schools.
Meanwhile, charter schools have not been subject to closure, even though three-quarters of them qualify as "under-enrolled" by the district's own criteria.
White expressed bewilderment at the school system's obsession with school enrollment thresholds. "I'm not in favor of under-enrolled schools; I'm in favor of smaller class sizes," said White. "The emphasis should be put on the student-teacher ratio, not how many kids are in a building."
White also highlighted that school closings do not save money. In fact, closings do just the opposite.
According to a report by the DC auditor's office, Michelle Rhee's decision to close 23 schools in 2008 ended up costing the city around $40 million, four times what DCPS estimated. The Washington Post summarized the findings:
The original $9.7 million price tag should have also included another $8 million that the city spent to move to demolish buildings, remove furnishings and transport displaced students, DC Auditor Yolanda Branche wrote in a recent report. In addition, Branche wrote, the city forfeited $22 million in lost property value at the closed sites, bringing the total cost to about $40 million.
Chancellor Henderson has insisted that this time around will be different, though she has yet to offer any specifics other than vague cost and saving estimates that she said will result in a net savings of $8.5 million.
Students With Disabilities
Two of the 15 schools slated for closure serve children with severe mental and physical disabilities: Sharpe Health School in Ward 4 and Mamie D. Lee School in Ward 5. Both student bodies are made up almost entirely of black students who qualify for reduced price and free lunch.
The district plans to merge Sharpe Health and Mamie D. Lee into one school by fall 2014, at which time River Terrace Elementary School, which was closed last spring due to under-enrollment despite impassioned pleas from the community, will serve as the new school building for Sharpe and Lee. Henderson wants to transform River Terrace into a state-of-the-art learning facility geared toward students with significant disabilities, a move that requires a top-to-bottom renovation of the building.
Two of Andree Harris's six children attend Sharpe Health. Harris's 16-year-old son suffers from Triplegia (paralysis of three limbs) and a traumatic brain injury, and her 4-year-old daughter is developmentally delayed and does not know how to communicate, so instead, she "screams and hollers."
"Sharpe has turned her whole life around," said Harris. "She's more communicative. She claps her hands. She plays and interacts a whole lot. That was not the case for her when she first got there." Harris has no doubt that putting her daughter in an entirely different environment will disrupt her progress.
According to Henderson's proposal, merging the schools will "allow students to attend school at a location closer to their homes," though it's unclear how this is possible, given that River Terraces is located in Ward 7, far from Sharpe and Lee.
The proposal also suggests that consolidation will ensure a more efficient use of resources because both schools have fewer than 100 students enrolled. But the proposal fails to take into account the cost of renovating River Terrace versus revamping Sharpe and Lee, which are already equipped for students with disabilities.
The district has also failed to consider transportation difficulties.
Arthur Williams, a school bus driver who transports Sharpe Health students, is deeply concerned about the impact of school closings on his special needs students. "I'll be taking them to a school that will be unsuitable. It will be more complicated to get them out and get them in. And if something should happen to them, to get them to the hospital, they got a longer distance to go," Williams said.
"[Sharpe Heath] was designed and built for kids who have wheelchairs and special needs. Now you gonna put them in a school that has two floors. You gonna move them all the way over to Northeast River Terrace, near the Pepco plant with the pollution. You gonna move them away from the proximity of the hospitals."
A Transportation Nightmare
The Broader, Bolder Approach to Education - a campaign launched by the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute - released a report in April that found no evidentiary basis for "market-oriented education" in Chicago, New York City and Washington, DC.
The report specifically analyzed the impact of school closures, finding that they did more harm than good, most notably in the nation's capitol.
The report's authors fear that this latest round of DC closures will produce even worse outcomes by creating a transportation nightmare.
In 2008, closed schools were typically within walking distance from their receiving schools. But so many schools have been shuttered since then that the receiving schools this time around are too far away for walking. And since DCPS only provides school buses for special education students, the latest closures will force children to use the city's costly public transportation system, which was designed to get workers downtown, not children to school.
"The combination of distance and cost impedes attendance, particularly for secondary students, who have farther to travel, and teachers report that students sometimes fail to attend for lack of bus fare. For those already disengaged, the added barriers may tip the scales toward dropping out altogether," the authors argue.
Students at closed schools will also be forced to travel across busy highways, intersections, bridges and tunnels, which can be dangerous even for adults to cross.
Students at the soon-to-be-closed Kenilworth Elementary School, located in one of DC's poorest neighborhoods, will have to travel more than a mile and cross an interstate highway to get to Houston Elementary after their school is closed.

It was Obama's Idea
Community groups at the forefront of the school closure issue are well aware [ ] of the role President Obama has played in pushing for school closings in urban areas.
In 2009, just six months into his first term, Obama announced his administration's desire to see 5,000 failing schools closed and "turned around" over the next five years, a policy that would become the hallmark of his Race To The Top (RTTT) agenda.
RTTT requires that school districts with low-performing schools implement one of four "school improvement methods" - Turnaround, Transformation, Restart and Closure - to receive federal grant money. Turnaround and Transformation involve firing key members of the staff; Restart requires turning over the school to a charter operator; and Closure means shutting failing schools and sending their students to higher-achieving schools.
As a result, Obama's education policies have further incentivized the dismantling of public education that began with No Child Left Behind (NCLB) under President George W. Bush, which has led Diane Ravitch to conclude that "The Obama-Duncan plan might as well be called 'NCLB 2.0.' "
Where is the Teachers Union?
The Washington Teachers Union has been largely silent on the issue of school closings, and Truthout's repeated requests for comment from the WTU were unsuccessful. The union's deputy chief of staff, Nadine Evans, told Truthout that WTU bylaws allow only the president, Nathan Saunders, to speak on its behalf and that the president was unable to be reached because he was out of town.
But former WTU Vice President Candi Peterson told Truthout that the WTU bylaws contain no such requirement.
Peterson, a vocal critic of school privatization, was summarily dismissed by Saunders in 2011 in what she believes was an effort to silence her dissent.
"I've been very critical of the former and current chancellor, and [Saunders] wanted me to stop," says Peterson, who blogs about school reform at the Washington Teacher. She suspects that Saunders directed his staff to turn away reporters on contentious issues like school closings to avoid upsetting the chancellor and mayor.
Peterson is currently a social worker at Cardozo High, one of two DCPS schools that Chancellor Henderson recently decided to "reconstitute," which involves firing and replacing the entire staff.
"This climate is so punitive that [teachers] are literally afraid to speak out, to write, to use their real names," says Peterson, who added that the WTU has "become a country club" due to the lack of strong leadership.
That's why Peterson is running once again for WTU vice president, but this time her running mate and presidential candidate is Elizabeth "Liz" Davis, who has been a DCPS teacher for 35 years.
Davis teaches IT essentials at Phelps Architecture, Construction, and Engineering, a relatively new high school in Ward 5, and, like Peterson, is a vocal critic of the school reform agenda.
"[Former Chancellor Michelle] Rhee cultivated a climate of fear," Davis told Truthout, adding that the repressive climate has continued under Chancellor Henderson, whom she described as "Michelle Rhee's protege."
"You have people leading the school system that don't know a damn thing about children," argued Davis, whose activism has gotten her into trouble with DCPS several times throughout her career. She said she has been involuntarily transferred seven times as punishment for her activism, and she is currently under scrutiny for having organized the parents to fight to keep the principal last year.
Davis was transferred to Phelps by Michelle Rhee, following a school consolidation nightmare in 2008.  Back then, Davis worked at Hart Middle School, which merged with a rival middle school under Rhee, despite warnings from the parents, students and even police that the merger would ignite violence.
"After about 3 months, the school went up in smoke," Davis said. "Things were out of control. Students literally took over the school one day and hosed it down with fire extinguishers on all three floors. Hazmat had to come in." Rhee's response was to fire the inexperienced principal, whom she had handpicked against the judgment of Davis and other teachers.
The consolidation of the two middle schools sparked so much violence, that then-DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee was forced to send extra security and administrators to neutralize the tension.
While DCPS insists this time around will be different, the district has yet to reveal a safety plan to assist schools with the transition, though Henderson did remove Johnson Middle School from the school closure list after recognizing that the dispersal of students to two rival middle schools would likely result in violence.
Intentional Disenfranchisement
Henderson originally proposed closing 20 schools, but later removed five schools from the list, including Ward 2's Garrison Elementary and Francis-Stevens Education Campus, located in the city's whiter and more affluent Northwest. She was persuaded to keep the schools open by the mobilization of parents who presented her with detailed alternatives and engaged in recruiting efforts to increase student enrollment.
While Davis expressed support for the community's efforts, she pointed out that parents in more impoverished wards are unable to mount similar campaigns because they are purposely disenfranchised. Seven of the nine DC schools Davis has worked at were located in Wards 7 and 8, which contain the highest population of underserved minority students. "I've learned from observing and working with principals in those schools that everything is done to disengage and disenfranchise parents. I literally had to start a war just to set up a PTA," said Davis. "I find that parents of poor minority children are disengaged as part of a systemic process."
Mayoral Control
It wasn't until 2007 - when the DC City Council voted to dissolve the elected school board and transfer control of DCPS to then-Mayor Adrian Fenty in a system known as Mayoral control - that Michelle Rhee was appointed DC school chancellor and allowed to enforce draconian school reforms, which accelerated the replacement of public schools with charter schools.
Mayoral control is often touted as preferable for districts with underperforming schools, however there is no evidence to suggest that mayors are superior to democratically elected school boards. But without mayoral control over public schools, decision makers in DC, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York City would never be allowed to enact the overwhelmingly unpopular education reforms that have come to the 21st century education landscape.
"The city has failed to evaluate mayoral control, despite enacting legislation calling for annual review," says the group Empower DC. The organization is calling for a moratorium on school closures to allow time for these school reform policies to be properly evaluated.
Meanwhile, the trials and tribulations of school closings in Washington, DC, highlight the need for an authoritarian power structure to enforce what the public would otherwise never allow: the privatization of public education.
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Temelín: Strategic Growth Project for Russian-Czech Relations

Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas arrived in Russia on a four-day working visit late May, 2013. Trade and energy policy are among the topical issues for Prague and Moscow – 6% increase in turnover is good news for both parties. Infrastructure investment projects like Temelín nuclear power plant could be the cornerstone of successful bilateral cooperation. Temelín NPP means not only thousands new jobs, but also affordable energy for the Czech industry. It can truly be a safety net in times of European economic meltdown.

By Igor Alexeev
May 30, 2013
Recent visit of Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas to Russia resulted in signing a number of memorandums and agreements on hydropower, combined-cycle power plants and other large-scale projects of mechanical engineering. Partnership for high-tech development also includes one crucial nuclear energy project in a small village of Temelín in southern Bohemia. The Temelín Nuclear Power Plant, with its 2,000 MW of installed capacity, is the largest power resource in the Czech Republic and a profitable business opportunity. The stakes are high: tender winner will have to double NPP’s energy output building two new reactors by 2017. Both units are to be completed in 2025 and should produce electricity for 60 years. Czech industrial sector is in need of stable and affordable energy source to boost national GDP in the middle of crisis-stricken European Union (now industry accounts for 40% of Czech GDP and employment).
The French company Areva participated in the tender process through last October but had to leave it. ČEZ Group, the policy-maker in the Czech Republic on energy issues, eliminated Areva’s bid citing serious mistakes. The French are currently trying to challenge the decision in the Office for the Protection of Competition (UOHS), but Czech experts believe Areva’s chances to open an antitrust procedure are rather slim. Eventually US-Japanese corporation “Westinghouse-Toshiba” and Russian-Czech engineering consortium of “Skoda JS”, “Atomstroyexport” and “Gidropress” have come through to the tender’s finals.
The Czech financial regulator is now working to bring down the prices. On a more subtle level there is also a political rivalry going on between Prime Minister Nečas (Civic Democrats, “ODS”) and Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek (Conservative “TOP 09”). “I must say that offers of both bidders surprised us very unpleasantly in terms of price,” Kalousek said to the “Hospodarske Noviny” newspaper earlier in May.
“The tender will be transparent and the best bid will win,” Prime Minister Nečas announced in Moscow on May, 28. The Czech Republic “absolutely welcomes the participation of the Russian-Czech MIR.1200 consortium in tender procedures to complete the two Temelín NPP units,” he confirmed. Russia treats Czech Republic as a traditional partner and plays with an open hand. “If we are able to prove the solidity of our position, Czech companies will receive very significant orders worth up to 6 billion euro,” Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said to the press. Considering the volume of Czech business community’s net investments to Russia, this highly pragmatic scenario appears to be the most probable. First, the power core of Temelín NPP that needs an upgrade is the Soviet- designed VVER1000 reactor. Russia can ensure consistency of operations which is extremely important in such technology-intensive project. Second, Russia’s engineering solutions are well-known to be robust and stable – an important feature in densely populated Europe.
However, the US-Japanese nuclear giant Westinghouse-Toshiba does not lose hope despite its shattered public image after the Fukushima tragedy. Westinghouse’s European branch vice-president Mike Kirst said in reaction to Dmitry Medvedev’s words that the corporation would not officially comment on Russia’s move. This strategy of silence could be a part of a cunning PR strategy. The US has a long history of aggressive unofficial lobbying for its transnational corporations[1]. For example, Monsanto’s notorious PR-activity abroad has recently caused global citizen protests.
In December, 2012 Hillary Clinton visited Prague in attempt to save the situation for Westinghouse. “Who reaps the benefits?” – asked Democratic Party activist Tom Gallagher half a year ago following Czech-US talks. Westinghouse-Toshiba spends about $2,000,000 annually lobbying Washington to remind the “right” people on the Hill that it is a loyal American company. The US State Department’s international lobbying for the corporation could be easily explained to the American citizens as “protecting their national interests”. When some see it is right to invest in publicity, inhabitants of small towns and villages in Bohemia, where reactors are planned to being built, would obviously prefer construction companies to put money on modernsafety actuation systems.
The final contract is to be signed by the end of 2013, but the licensing and design phase will run 44 months after the agreement’s signing. It should be a matter of national consensus in the Czech Republic that Temelín NPP is a too serious strategic issue to be a subject of disputes between two ruling parties. Prime Minister Nečas guaranteed the tender transparency, therefore market will decide on the future of Temelín.

Top 10 lies told by McDonald's CEO at annual shareholders' meeting

Ronald McDonald balloon
Cross-posted from Alternet.
Last week at McDonald’s annual shareholder’s meeting, CEO Don Thompson got caught off-guard when a team of 15 advocates, led by Corporate Accountability International, descended upon corporate headquarters to question the fast food leader’s relentless exploitation of children and communities of color.

Leading the way was Tanya Fields, executive director of the BLK ProjeK and mother of four. In her dramatic statement, Fields described her neighborhood in the Bronx as a “food swamp filled with corner stores and fast food,” noting that with three outlets within walking distance of her home, “McDonald’s happens to be the biggest alligator in that swamp.” She concluded: “Sorry, but four apple slices in plastic packaging won’t cut it.”

McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson’s response was to ignore Fields altogether and instead give the usual cheerleading speech about all the great things his company was doing. Then he took questions, and the fun really began.

Here are the top 10 lies told by Don Thompson during the Q&A session:

In response to 9-year-old Hannah Robertson (read her statement):

1) “First off, we don’t sell junk food, Hannah.”

Where to even begin? A quick look at the menu belies that statement, while this “big breakfast” item packs more than 1,000 calories: half a day’s worth.

Thompson tried this spin more than once:

2) “We sell lots of fruits and veggies at McDonald’s and we sell side salads for a dollar on the dollar menu.”

In 2011, McDonald’s made a big deal about how it would automatically include apple slices in Happy Meals. Considering that McDonald’s is now the single largest purchaser of apples in the nation, that may qualify as “lots of fruit.” Then again, the company is also the single largest purchaser of both beef (a billion pounds a year) and potatoes. I suppose Thompson would count fries as a vegetable?

While it’s true McDonald’s sells a side salad on its dollar menu (one of 13 items), if you only have a one dollar to spend, what’s the likelihood you would choose a small salad over the 310-calorie “grilled onion cheddar burger”?

3) Claiming “chicken nugget Happy Meals and fat-free milk” are healthy.

According to the McDonald’s website, Chicken McNuggets contain roughly 30 ingredients, including: sodium phosphates, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate and calcium lactate.

The “fat-free milk” Thompson touted numerous times is actually chocolate milk, containing 10 grams of added sugar, which as registered dietitian Andy Bellatti told me, is more than 75 percent of a day's worth for children ages 4-8 (per the American Heart Association’s guidelines). He added: “As it is, American children are consuming an exorbitant amount of sugar; no one should be encouraging sugary beverages simply because they contain calcium and vitamin D.”

Next, in response to a question from Corporate Accountability International about how McDonald’s is getting kicked out of hospitals over obvious concerns about the conflicting messages, Thompson claimed:

4) “Many hospitals have asked us to come back in or to never leave.”

Thompson must be forgetting about how the CEO of Truman Medical Center in Kansas City kicked McDonald’s out just last year, citing an “inconsistent message.” Perhaps Thompson was also unaware of at least three other hospitals that had ended their contracts with McDonald’s prior to Truman: Lurie Children’s Hospital (formerly Chicago Memorial Hospital), Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Vanderbilt Medical Center and Parkland Health & Hospital System.

Also, Thompson must have missed this memo: more than 3,000 health professionals and institutions from around the world have signed a letter urging McDonald's to stop marketing junk food to children.

Continuing the healthcare theme was a powerful statement by pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Andrew Bremer, who called out the CEO for the company’s marketing to children: “Last year you said, and I quote: ‘Do me the honor… of not associating us with doing something that is damaging to children.’ Well with all due respect, Mr. Thompson, your corporation is doing just that.”

In his response, Thompson seemed to be getting a little desperate, sidestepping the issue of marketing to children altogether, claiming:

5) “We provide high-quality food, we always have. It’s real beef, it’s real chicken, it’s real tomatoes, real lettuce, real fruit, real smoothies, real dairy, real eggs.”

Really? The “real eggs” in an Egg McMuffin are “prepared with” the following:

Liquid Margarine: Liquid Soybean Oil and Hydrogenated Cottonseed and Soybean Oils, Water, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Mono and Diglycerides, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Artificial Flavor, Citric Acid, Vitamin A Palmitate, Beta Carotene (Color).

Even the “real smoothies” contain unpronounceable additives. See for example, the “fruit base” of the McCafe Mango Pineapple Smoothie, which consists of:

Water, Clarified Demineralized Pineapple Juice Concentrate, Mango Puree Concentrate, Pineapple Juice Concentrate, Orange Juice Concentrate, Pineapple Puree, Passion Fruit Juice, Apple Juice Concentrate, Natural (Botanical Source) and Artificial Flavors, Contains less than 1% of the following: Peach Puree, Cellulose Powder, Pear Juice Concentrate, Xanthan Gum, Peach Juice Concentrate, Pectin, Citric Acid, Colored with Fruit and Vegetable Juice and Turmeric Extract, Ascorbic Acid (Preservative).

But wait, there’s more. The Mango Pineapple Smoothie also contains “low fat smoothie yogurt,” consisting of: “Cultured Grade A Reduced Fat Milk, Sugar, Whey Protein Concentrate, Fructose, Corn Starch, Modified Food Starch, Gelatin, Active Yogurt Cultures.” And did I mention the 47 grams of sugar? But I am sure it’s “real sugar,” right Mr. Thompson?

Next, continuing to pound Thompson on marketing to kids was Kia Robertson (parent of Hannah; see Kia’s statement here). Then the CEO trotted out the tired industry defense on exploiting children:

6) Globally, we follow guidelines on responsible marketing to children.

Parents in Brazil would beg to differ. Just last month, McDonald’s was fined $1.6 million by the consumer protection agency in Sao Paolo for violating local laws on targeting children.

Here in the U.S., McDonald’s is far from responsible. A report from Yale University found that McDonald’s targets children as young as age 2 at (This site now redirects to, where children are forewarned at the top of the page: “Hey kids, this is advertising!”)

The Yale report also found: “Although McDonald's pledged to improve food marketing to children, they increased their volume of TV advertising from 2007 to 2009.” Preschoolers saw 21 percent more McDonald's ads and older children viewed 26 percent more ads in 2009 compared to 2007. So much for guidelines.

Then Thompson actually said these words:

7) “And we are not marketing food to kids.”

Two words: Happy Meals.

8) To further this point, he claimed “We are not marketing in schools.”

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, see here, here, and here for Ronald McDonald visits to schools. Corporate Accountability International’s report contains more examples of school sightings of McDonald’s clown ambassador.  The company likes to claim, as CEO Thompson did, that Ronald is “just a clown” and that he doesn’t actually hawk food per se, never mind the branding.

McDonald’s also promotes “McTeacher’s Nights” in which, as the company describes it: “Educators, students, parents, and friends are invited to their local McDonald’s to ‘work’ and raise money for a designated school related cause.” Free labor plus free PR for McDonald’s, how brilliant is that?

In more defensiveness, (you almost had to feel sorry for him) CEO Thompson next tried this line:

9) We are not the cause of obesity.

Did he not see Supersize Me?

OK, McDonald’s is obviously not the only cause of our nation’s health woes, but research has shown a connection between the location of fast-food outlets and adverse health outcomes in communities.

For example, one study found that nearly one-third of U.S. children ages 4 to 19 eat fast food, which increases the risk of obesity due to an increase in daily calories. Another study showed that students with fast-food outlets near their schools were more likely to be overweight, and to consume more soda and fewer fruits and vegetables. And this connection was stronger for African-American children, while a third study found a similar pattern among low-income African-American adults. Speaking of which…

In response to Michelle Dyer (see her statement here), who challenged Thompson on McDonald’s marketing to communities of color, the African-American CEO began by joking, “this hits kind of close to home, wonder why that is?” Then he got very defensive, claiming:

10)  “We do not, have not, will not, try to target people of color… I’ve been here 23 years. I know we don’t do that and we wouldn’t do that. We don’t do that under my leadership.”

These three McDonald’s websites speak for themselves:
According to this Bloomberg article, in 2011 McDonald’s CEO’s salary topped $8.75 million. For that kind of money, Don Thompson should have far better talking points at the ready. Let’s see what happens next year.

Meanwhile, you can take Corporate Accountability International’s action to tell CEO Don Thompson to stop marketing to children here.

Image from Brendan McDermid/Reuters