Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Debt load of PIIGS countries far heavier now than four years ago

As the euro zone's weakest members crawl out of their longest recession in modern history, their prospects of recovery are weighed down by a crushing mountain of debt far heavier than before four years of financial crisis.
Italy, Greece, Ireland and Portugal all have public debt well in excess of annual economic output and risk a Japanese-style "lost decade" of grindingly low growth and high unemployment as they slowly repay their way out of trouble.
The average ratio of debt to gross domestic product in the 17-nation single currency area stands at 95 percent - lower than in the United States and far less than Japan but dangerously high for ageing societies that cannot individually print money or devalue
Source and full story: Reuters, 28 October 2013

Fed Will Do The Opposite Of Tapering - More Money Printing

This could be the largest Fed stimulus yet

fed stimulus program

QE3 is on track to be its largest bond-buying program yet, if it follows the path predicted by Wall Street.

The Fed was expected to wind down its third round of quantitative easing, known as QE3, at the end of this year. But most predictions are now well into 2014, with some as far out as June.

Economists largely believe the government shutdown and debt ceiling debate have forced the Fed's hand, creating a weaker economic outlook and muddying the data the central bank relies on to make decisions.
Given this environment and the leadership transition as Ben Bernanke's term ends in January, the Fed will likely continue its current stimulus program at full blast -- buying $85 billion in bonds each month -- until at least March 2014.
That means QE3 could total around $1.6 trillion, calculates Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics. That's more than either of its two predecessors. In contrast, QE1 totaled $1.5 trillion and the second round of stimulus added up to about $600 billion.
Related: 3 reasons why Fed may not taper until 2014
"There is a danger that the Fed has missed its window of opportunity," Ashworth said in a note. "If it's waiting for some degree of fiscal certainty, this really could turn into QEternity."
With bond purchases of this magnitude, the risks to financial stability are rising.
Most of the money created by the Fed is gathering dust in bank reserves and has not been making its way out to Main Street. Since the Fed launched its latest bond-buying program in September 2012, bank reserves have increased by about $800 billion, whereas the currency circulating in the economy has increased by only $80 billion.
Meanwhile, repeated rounds of quantitative easing have fueled stock gains to the point where some economists say prices may no longer be reasonable.

Bernanke's no-taper presser in 2 mins
"Asset prices are higher than they should be based on fundamentals. Companies are making profits, but they're not making profits off of higher sales -- they're making profits off of constraining costs and particularly labor," said Catherine Mann, a finance professor at Brandeis University and a former Fed economist.
The longer QE continues, the more dramatic stocks could fall once the end of stimulus is in sight.
Real estate:
Perhaps the most noticeable impact on Main Street has been on the real estate market. Amid the Fed's ongoing stimulus efforts, new homebuyers with pristine credit scores have been able to lock in 30-year mortgages at the lowest rates in history, and homeowners with existing mortgages were able to trim their monthly payments by refinancing.
Once the Fed decides to slow and then end QE3, rates could quickly shoot up. Such was the situation this summer, when investors thought the central bank was ready to begin tapering its asset purchases in July or September.
The average rate on a 30-year mortgage spiked from 3.35% the first week in May, to 4.5% just eight weeks later.
When the Fed decided not to begin tapering in September, rates slowly started falling again.
The same thing could happen in 2014, and the rise in rates could be even more dramatic, which could put the reins on the housing recovery.
"Eventually the housing market is going to have to fly on its own in an environment of higher interest rates," said Zach Pandl, senior interest rates strategist at Columbia Management. "The Fed would like that process to be very gradual, but we learned earlier this year that they cannot guarantee a gradual rise in interest rates."
Related: Fed warned of global risks to tapering
Emerging markets:
There are global risks as well. Low interest rates in the U.S. had sent investors flocking to emerging markets for higher gains abroad. Continued stimulus could fuel this trend further, but once the Fed starts unwinding the stimulus, investors may be quick to pull their money out of these countries.
This summer, the mere hint of a so-called "taper" was enough to spark fears of a financial crisis in places like India, Brazil and Indonesia. What will happen if stimulus is even larger, and the taper eventually does become a reality?
The Fed meets this week to re-evaluate its policies, but little news is expected out of that meeting when it ends Wednesday. To top of page

Five Ways Student Debt Resistance Is Taking Off

On September 9, Sallie Mae became the 50th corporation to cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council—and the first to do so under pressure from students.
As a member of the controversial legislative advocacy group, commonly known as ALEC, Sallie Mae had drafted model legislation to limit higher education funding. And why not? The more students have to pay out of pocket, the more Sallie Mae, a student loan company, can rake in—including tens of millions in Department of Education contracts to service federal loans.
Students took notice. In October 2011, members of Occupy DC marched from their base at McPherson Square to Sallie Mae’s lobbying headquarters. “The conversation at [that] moment was going after those profiting off student debt,” says Chris Hicks, the student debt campaign organizer for Jobs With Justice-American Rights at Work, a national worker advocacy group. Sallie Mae was selected because it had the most lucrative student loan business, “starting a ball rolling that has only gained momentum since then.”
In March 2012, 36 protesters were arrested for blocking the street outside Sallie Mae’s offices. A year later, students introduced a shareholder resolution calling for the company to disclose its executive bonus structure, its lobbying practices, and its connections with ALEC. Now, more than a month after leaving ALEC, the company still languishes under federal investigation for charging higher interest rates and fees to students of color, evidence that it failed to reduce interest rates for military service-members, and calls for the Department of Education to cut its contract. As company spokesperson Martha Holler described the decision to sever the ALEC connection, “The noise level was distracting from the original business purpose.”
Meanwhile, Sallie Mae’s business, student debt, is exploding. Last year, the national total topped $1 trillion, outscoring credit card debt and auto debt. From 2005 to 2012, the average burden went from $16,651 to $24,803, upping student debtors’ chances of losing credit, having their wages garnished, and accruing more interest—and debt.
It’s a crisis of uncharted proportions. It’s also, as the groundswell against Sallie Mae suggests, a spark.
From national-level organizing, which unites student, worker and progressive groups, to levying local pressure on administrators and elected officials, student debtors are flipping the script on student debt, moving it from individual responsibility to systemic crisis. Here are five forms of student debt resistance taking hold nationwide.
1. Targeting the Feds
Within the Beltway, student debt reform is moving in fits and starts. In 2010, President Obama signed the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which ended federal subsidies to banks offering private loans. Last year, the Department of Education implemented the “Pay As You Earn” plan, which caps federal loan payments at 10 percent of discretionary income and relieves outstanding payments after 20 years (which is less generous than Representative Karen Bass’ 10-10 proposal).
This year, interest rates have carried the debate. In July, Congress opted to let payments double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, before reducing the hike a month later. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Student Loan Fairness Act, which cuts interest rates to the same 0.75 percent rate that banks receive from the Federal Reserve, still sits on the table.
Student and progressive groups have played a role in each of these proposals while offering a range of others, including reforming bankruptcy laws to cover student debtors and unifying different sources of federal financial aid. For its part, Sallie Mae spent $16 million in federal lobbying between 2008 and 2012, joining industry allies to plug up reform.
The organizing around Sallie Mae goes hand-in-hand with efforts to pressure the federal government, Hicks says. “If Sallie Mae came out and said we’re going to forgive 10 percent of everyone’s debt, I think there would be an expectation that the Department of Education would respond in a similar way, and vice versa.” Whatever happens to Sallie Mae on the legal front, he adds, will be a signal to the entire industry. When the company moved to offer fixed-interest loans last year, for example, Wells Fargo and Discover followed.
To up the ante, Hicks says, “What we’re looking at is trying to target a lot of different actors at once.” While continuing to pressure the Department of Education to cut Sallie Mae’s contract, Jobs With Justice-American Rights at Work and its allies are organizing retirees to explore the risks of investing pension funds in Sallie Mae, students to pressure their universities to cut their contracts with the company, and legislatures to crack down on predatory lending and fund higher education.
2. Bringing Down Tuition
Student debt could be abolished if there were nothing to pay for in the first place—tuition, room and board, textbooks, and any number of other costs that students shoulder in the name of higher education. Like debt itself, these costs are skyrocketing. Between 2007 and 2012, 48 states reduced funding for higher education. Over the past three decades, the average price of attending college has more than doubled at four-year schools and increased more than 50 percent at two-year schools. Meanwhile, the maximum federal Pell Grant went from covering roughly two thirds of the cost of a four-year college to covering only one third.
While policies on debt and tuition can look different on paper, tackling one often explicitly means tackling the other. This is clearest at 1,000-strong street protests, occupations, sit-ins, strikes, and speakouts, where the imperative of comprehensive free education sets the stage for particular education policies.
As a member of the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) and a staffer for the University of Massachusetts-based Center for Educational Policy and Advocacy (CEPA), Annie Mombourquette has her hand in both jars. Mombourquette’s personal story is increasingly typical: in addition to being a student, she works for CEPA, a nursing home, an after-school program, and her residence hall. “As far as that’s concerned, I did everything right, and education is still unaffordable,” she says. “The calculation is, I’m paying this much money for education, I’m taking on this much debt.”
While SLAP (a subgroup of Jobs With Justice-American Rights at Work) pushes UMass to knock Sallie Mae off its list of recommended loan providers, CEPA is targeting UMass’ tuition and fees. This spring, CEPA joined students from throughout the UMass system to push the state to appropriate enough higher education funding to cover half of UMass’s operating costs. In turn, UMass opted not to raise tuition and fees for the first time in a decade. Now, UMass students are pushing to reduce these costs while teaming up with community college students to strengthen affordability and access.
In Oregon, tuition policy has taken an inventive turn. In July, the state legislature voted unanimously to instruct the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Committee to put together a pilot plan for “Pay It Forward,” which replaces tuition with an income-based fee that students pay after they graduate. Since then, other states have moved forward with similar legislation.
While Pay It Forward was designed by students at Portland State University and pushed through the legislature with the support of the Working Families Party, support from progressive advocates is less than unanimous. A slate of groups, including some of the party’s allies from the Sallie Mae campaign, cite concerns that the plan will end up costing students more in the long term and incentivize colleges to peg student recruitment and program funding to post-graduate earning prospects. In defense, the party notes the importance of writing safeguards into the legislation and reasserts its commitment to fighting for increased higher education funding.
3. Organizing (Indebted) Workers
By definition, debt hits students after they’re students. Organized labor, which covers a swath of the post-student population, is in a unique position to tackle it.
In the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the under-35 membership of the Millennial Program is working to strengthen rank-and-file participation by focusing on issues that are relevant to younger workers. In addition to participating in the Sallie Mae campaign, members have taken aim at Comcast for soaking money from public education in Pennsylvania.
“The biggest challenge right now is that tackling student debt requires unions to think outside of the box,” says Austin Thompson, the founder and lead organizer of the Millennials program. “Leveraging our member power at the Department of Education to strengthen public service loan forgiveness programs and income-based repayment will put more money in the pockets of members than any single negotiation would.”
He adds, “Union leaders are less likely to have experienced the same level of indebtedness as the upcoming generation of emerging leaders, so the urgency about focusing on this issue is not yet there. It will be over time.”
In limited cases, unions have negotiated debt relief into collective bargaining agreements. Graduate student employees, who often pay tuition at the same place that gives them a paycheck, have won tuition waivers. Workers have also won loan forgiveness for coursework pertaining to their jobs.
For unions with direct ties to higher education, like teachers unions, strengthening education funding is a win-win for would-be debtors and university employees. In addition to pushing for funding, unions have taken on for-profit colleges, which generate more debt per student than non-profits, and have joined students to organize around Sallie Mae.
4. Building Debtors’ Unions
While debtors don’t have the sort of legal protections to strike or negotiate that workers have, they share the ability to form collectives and throw their weight around. In this vein, Strike Debt, a major offshoot of Occupy Wall Street, is working to build bases with enough power to bargain debt away. At the highest level, debtors would kill off debts by defaulting en masse.
Last September, Strike Debt published the Debt Resistors’ Operations Manual, a 122-page pamphlet outlining how debt works and how to resist it. Two months later, the group hosted its inaugural fundraiser for the “Rolling Jubilee,” an initiative to pay off individual debts—medical debt, housing debt, student debt, and more—at fire sale prices. In a single night of calling donors, it raised $500,000. This November, the group will announce its latest round of purchases; early next year, it plans to release a new edition of the manual, incorporating fresh expertise and insights from across the country.
“The difficult next step is thinking about how to actually organize a national debtors’ movement,” says Ann Larson, an adjunct professor who joined the group in its early stages. “How can we strategize and collaborate with people across the country while maintaining our commitment to democratic organizational models and to non-oppressive ways of working together?”
Alongside its advances, Strike Debt has garnered its share of criticism. Someargue that debtors are too spread out, and financial institutions too powerful, for debt-based organizing to have the sort of strategic leverage that workplace activism has. Larson replies, “The work of SD is connected to anti-austerity and anti-capitalist movements going on around the globe…. This is a long-term fight and those of us in SD understand as well as anyone the challenges we face.”
5. Talking About It
In the face of shame and denial, shared consciousness among debtors is a central axis of debt resistance. The Debt Resistor’s Operations Manual reads, “We are told all of this is our own fault, that we got ourselves into this and that we should feel guilty or ashamed. But think about the numbers: 76% of Americans are debtors. How is it possible that three-quarters of us could all have just somehow failed to figure out how to properly manage our money, all at the same time? And why is it no one is asking, ‘Who do we all owe this money to, anyway?’ and ‘Where did they get the money they lent?’”
What gets shared reflects a vast and uneven terrain of struggles. As such, debt resistance has the standard tensions of a big tent. On the one hand, the pervasiveness of debt is grounds to unite people from all ideologies and all segments of the population. But, if handled bluntly, debt can bury people’s identities, limiting the possibilities of resistance.
Not only is student debt a class issue, it’s a race issue: black and Latino graduates owe more, and discrimination in loan servicing runs rampant. It’s also a women’s issue: student loans are more likely to cut into women’s salaries than men’s. And, as New York University’s Queer Union suggested at an October 3 “Coming Out of the (Debt) Closet” speakout, it’s a queer issue, too.
As Doug Keeler wrote of NYU, which boasts a reputation as a queer-friendly campus and a chart-topping price tag, “[This] safe space should not cost me…potentially lifelong debt.” Here, sexuality cuts across class: “LGBT youth are homeless at disproportionately higher rates, and often face uniquely homophobic/ transphobic encounters with shelters and police…. For those of us that do make it here, or who come out while in college, our own unsupportive households may continue to sharpen the difficulty of dealing with the high price of an NYU education.”
Like race, sex and sexuality, debt is something you’re not supposed to talk about. To strike it down, resistors will have to break more than one form of silence.
Source: Truth Out

Greece says can't take any more austerity, will not be 'blackmailed'

Greece's president used an annual commemoration of the country's stand against fascism in World War Two on Monday to warn that Athens would not yield to pressure from foreign lenders to impose more austerity.
The blunt comments by President Karolos Papoulias - a former World War II resistance fighter who holds a ceremonial but revered post - come as Athens finds itself at odds with its EU/IMF lenders over budget savings to hit targets under its second bailout.
At an annual military parade in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, marking the rejection of Italy's ultimatum to Greece to surrender in 1940 - one of the most symbolic events in Greece's political calendar - Papoulias said Greeks today were as firm in the face of crisis as they were then and would not give in to what he called foreign "blackmail".
"We are honouring today the dead of this great battle against the cholera of fascism, the Italian fascism of 1940," Papoulias told reporters after the parade.
"Greeks gave their blood and whatever they could (in 1940) and today have given what they could to overcome the crisis. This must be appreciated by Europe. Greek people cannot give anything more," he said.
Source and full story: The West Australian/Reuters, 28 October 2013

Senator Rand Paul Threatens To Block Obama Nomination To Head Federal Reserve

Gathering, Ominously Darkening The Horizon

Doing more of what failed spectacularly will not save the day a second time, as the scale required to create yet more phantom collateral and more asset bubbles will collapse the system.
The financial storm clouds are gathering, ominously darkening the horizon. Though the financial media and the organs of state propaganda continue forecasting blue skies of recovery and rising corporate profits, the factual evidence belies this rosy forecast: internal measures of financial and economic activity are weakening across the globe as the state-central bank solutions to all ills–massive increases in credit creation, leverage and deficit spending–have failed to address any of the structural causes of the 2008 Global Financial Meltdown.
This failure to address the causes of 2008 Global Financial Meltdown is disastrous in and of itself–but the status quo has magnified the coming disaster by scaling up the very causes of the 2008 Global Financial Meltdown: excessive credit expansion, misallocation of capital on a grand scale, an opaque shadow banking system constructed of excessive leverage and a dependence on phantom collateral, i.e. risks and assets that are systemically mispriced to skim stupendous profits for financiers, bankers and their political enablers.
This is what I have called doing more of what has failed spectacularly.
Extremes inevitably lead to collapse, but even the most distorted system has some feedback mechanisms that attempt to counter the momentum toward disaster. Just as the body will try to mitigate the negative consequences of a diet of greasy fast food, our grossly distorted financial and political systems still retain some modest feedback loops that attempt to mitigate rising risks.
These interactive forces make it impossible to predict the moment of collapse, even as systemic failure remains inevitable. Precisely when the heart of an obese, unfit person who eats nothing but fast food will give out cannot be predicted, but what can be predicted is the odds of systemic failure rise with every passing day.
Doing more of what has failed spectacularly–inflating new asset bubbles in housing, stocks and bonds via quantitative easing, obfuscating financial skimming operations with thousands of pages of new regulations, and so on–is the equivalent of pushing an obese, unfit person to run uphill. Rather than repair the system, doing more of what has failed further stresses the system.
But even if the financial system were cleansed of bad debt and phantom collateral, the status quo would remain only partially repaired. For it’s not just the financial system that has reached the point of negative return: the entire economic foundation of the developed world–credit-dependent consumerism–is as bankrupt and broken as the financial system that fuels it.
The state’s response to this economic endgame is depersonalized welfare, both corporate and individual. When favored sectors can’t succeed in the open market, the state enforces cartel-capitalism that enriches the corporations at the expense of the citizenry. When the cartel-state economy no longer creates paying work for the citizenry, the state issues social welfare benefits, in effect paying people to stay home and amuse themselves.
This destroys both free enterprise on the corporate level and the source of individual and social meaning, i.e. the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way to one’s community, family and trade/skill.
The status quo is thus not just financially bankrupt–it is morally bankrupt as well.
The status quo is as intellectually bankrupt as it is financially bankrupt. Our leadership cannot conceive of any course of action other than central bank credit creation and expanding state control of the economy and social benefits, paid for with money borrowed from future generations.
Let’s take a wild guess that the obese, unfit person won’t make it up the second hill, never mind the third or fourth one. The status quo responded to the financial heart attack of 2008 by doing more of what had failed spectacularly. That injection of trillions of dollars, euros, yen, renminbi, quatloos, etc. revived the global financial system in the same way a shot of nitroglycerin resolves a life-threatening crisis: it doesn’t fix the causes of the crisis, it simply gives the system some additional time.
The next global financial storm is already gathering on the horizon. Doing more of what failed spectacularly will not save the day a second time, as the scale required to create yet more phantom collateral and more asset bubbles will collapse the system.
Intellectual, moral and financial bankruptcy all go hand in hand. There isn’t just one storm gathering on the horizon–there are three, each adding force and fury to the other two.
Posts and email responses will be sporadic in October due to family commitments. Thank you for your understanding.

Inside the hidden world of thefts, scams and phantom purchases at the nation’s nonprofits

For 14 years, the American Legacy Foundation has managed hundreds of millions of dollars drawn from a government settlement with big tobacco companies, priding itself on funding vital health research and telling the unadorned truth about the deadly effects of smoking.
Yet the foundation, located just blocks from the White House, was restrained when asked on a federal disclosure form whether it had experienced an embezzlement or other “diversion” of its assets.
SEE ALSO: Read about how a trusted bookkeeper was embezzling money from a nonprofit rowing club in Virginia, plus how this story was reported.
Legacy officials typed “yes” on Page 6 of their 2011 form and provided a six-line explanation 32 pages later, disclosing that they “became aware” of a diversion “in excess of $250,000 committed by a former employee.” They wrote that the diversion was due to fraud and now say they believe they fulfilled their disclosure requirement.

Records and interviews reveal the full story: an estimated $3.4 million loss, linked to purchases from a business described sometimes as a computer supply firm and at others as a barbershop, and to an assistant vice president who now runs a video game emporium in Ni­ger­ia.
Also not included in the disclosure report: details about how Legacy officials waited nearly three years after an initial warning before they called in investigators.
“We’re not innocent in this,” said Legacy chief executive Cheryl Healton. “We are horrified it happened on our watch. . . . The truth hurts — we screwed up.”
A Washington Post analysis of filings from 2008 to 2012 found that Legacy is one of more than 1,000 nonprofit organizations that checked the box indicating that they had discovered a “significant diversion” of assets, disclosing losses attributed to theft, investment fraud, embezzlement and other unauthorized uses of funds.
The diversions drained hundreds of millions of dollars from institutions that are underwritten by public donations and government funds. Just 10 of the largest disclosures identified by The Post cited combined losses to nonprofit groups and their affiliates that potentially totaled more than a half-billion dollars.
While some of the diversions have come to public attention, many others — such as the one at the American Legacy Foundation — have not been reported in the news media. And The Post found that nonprofits routinely omitted important details from their public filings, leaving the public to guess what had happened — even though federal disclosure instructions direct nonprofit groups to explain the circumstances. About half the organizations did not disclose the total amount lost.
The findings are striking because organizations are required to report only diversions of more than $250,000 or those identified as having exceeded 5 percent of an organization’s annual gross receipts or total assets. Of those, filing instructions direct nonprofits to disclose “any unauthorized conversion or use of the organization’s assets other than for the organization’s authorized purposes, including but not limited to embezzlement or theft.”
send a tip: Has your nonprofit experienced a significant diversion of assets? Contact the reporter.
As part of its analysis, The Post assembled the first public, searchable database of nonprofits that have disclosed diversions, available at ­wapo.st/
. Groups on the list were identified with the assistance of GuideStar, an organization that gathers and disseminates federal filings by nonprofits.
Examples of financial skullduggery abound in the District, throughout the Washington region and across the United States.
A few blocks from Legacy’s offices on Massachusetts Avenue, the nonprofit Youth Service America reported two years ago that it discovered a diversion in 2009 of about $2 million that had been “misappropriated” by a former employee. After The Post asked about the incident, he was charged in federal court and in June was sentenced to four years in prison for theft.
A few blocks in the other direction is the Alliance for Excellent Education, which disclosed four years ago that investment manager Bernard L. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme had wiped nearly $7 million from its balance sheets. In a statement to The Post, officials there called the figure a “paper” loss.
A few blocks farther is AARP, the national charity that advocates for older Americans. In 2011, it disclosed two incidents with losses totaling more than $230,000, attributed to embezzlement and billing irregularities. An organization spokesman said no one has been charged in those incidents.
And just outside the Beltway, the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau, with offices throughout the state, disclosed two years ago that a former finance director and an accomplice had been convicted of making off with $1.1 million; officials there said in interviews they now think the total loss was closer to $2.5 million.
Investment fraud was blamed for some of the largest losses identified. Funds linked to Madoff’s scheme, which bilked investors across the country for decades, reportedly drained $106 million from Yeshiva University and its affiliates, $38.8 million from the Upstate New York Engineers Health Fund and $26 million from New York University, according to the disclosures they filed.
But hefty sums disappeared in many other ways, too:
●The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, based in Geneva but registered and largely financed in the United States, reported in 2012 that it had found evidence of misuse or unsubstantiated spending of $43 million in grant funds.
●The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, a New York-based charity for Holocaust survivors, reported in 2010 that it had been bilked out of $42 million in an elaborate, decade-long conspiracy by swindlers who created thousands of fake identities. A spokesman said the estimate has since been raised to $60 million.
●The Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in 2011 reported a loss of $8.6 million through the “theft of certain medical devices.” A medical center spokeswoman said a confidentiality agreement prohibited her from explaining further.
●The Miami Beach Community Health Center in 2012 reported losing $7 million to alleged embezzlement by its former chief executive, later convicted of theft.
Columbia University disclosed in 2011 that it had been defrauded of $5.2 million in “electronic payments.” A university spokesman confirmed that the disclosure referred to an incident involving a former university accounting clerk and three associates, later convicted of redirecting $5.7 million meant for a New York hospital.
●And the 140-year-old Woodcock Foundation of Kentucky, which awards scholarships to students in need, disclosed that alleged fraud by a former chairman drained more than $1 million from its accounts, leaving the charity with assets totaling just $8.
“You go out of your way to trust a nonprofit. People give their money and expect integrity. And when the integrity goes out the window, it just hurts everybody. It hurts the community, it hurts the organization, everything. It’s just tragic.” The Rev. Raymond Moreland, Maryland Bible Society
Each year, larger registered nonprofits file a form with the federal government that lays out their mission, leadership, revenue and expenses. The question about diversions was added to the forms with little fanfare in 2008, one of several changes meant to make it easier for the public to gauge how well nonprofit organizations manage money.
While the losses identified in The Post’s study total hundreds of millions of dollars, they represent only a fraction of the total. The new question was phased in over three years and appears only on forms submitted by larger nonprofit groups. Private foundations and many smaller groups fill out alternative forms or no forms at all.
The Internal Revenue Service has said little about what information it has gathered from the responses, beyond reporting last year that 285 diversions totaling $170 million had been disclosed in one year alone, 2009.
Chicago lawyer and governance consultant Jack B. Siegel, an early proponent of adding the diversions question to the disclosure forms, said he had hoped it would allow the public to discover for the first time just how much theft was taking place and would discourage organizations from covering up problems.
“People should follow up and ask, ‘Are you properly monitoring the money I’ve given you?’ ” Siegel said. “If I’m giving you my money and you’re wasting it by allowing people to steal it, why should you be allowed to hush that up? Why shouldn’t I know that?”
More than 1.6 million nonprofit groups are registered with the federal government, and they control more than $4.5 trillion in assets. An additional 700,000 organizations, such as churches and smaller groups, need not register.
From 2000 to 2010, the number of registered nonprofits increased by 24 percent, according to an Urban Institute study. Annual revenue at such organizations, adjusted for inflation, grew by 41 percent.
Those nonprofits perform vital work in the community and depend on public goodwill, volunteers and donations. But the public’s stake in the organizations is even greater. Tax benefits extended to nonprofit organizations and their donors cost the U.S. Treasury about $100 billion a year in foregone revenue, according to the Congressional Research Service — a form of subsidy meant to further the organizations’ good works.
As it has grown, the nonprofit sector has repeatedly run into accountability problems, prompting congressional inquiries over the past decade into groups as varied as the Nature Conservancy and the Smithsonian Institution.
“We need to seek out and stop those who are hiding behind tax-exempt status for their own gain,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said in 2007 after a string of high-profile financial scandals.
Little comparative data are available about the prevalence of fraud across business sectors. But a 2012 study by Marquet International, a Boston-based security firm that conducts an annual study of white-collar fraud, concluded that nonprofits and religious organizations accounted for one-sixth of major embezzlements, placing second only to the financial-services industry.
John D. White, president of the Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association, says his group is  trusting of no one after its longtime treasurer embezzled money that has prevented the association from making needed improvements. John D. White, president of the Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association, says his group is trusting of no one after its longtime treasurer embezzled money that has prevented the association from making needed improvements. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
“I come across these cases all the time,” said Christopher T. Marquet, who heads the firm. He said oversight at nonprofits is often thinner and supervisors more trusting. “The control structures in these organizations are much weaker,” he said.
In Legacy’s case, its report not only failed to disclose the total of its estimated loss but also did not reveal that multiple diversions had occurred over seven years and that they were not discovered until more than a decade after they began.
Roughly half the organizations examined in the Post study did not appear to have revealed the full amount lost, even though federal filing instructions direct charities to disclose the amounts or property involved.
Some organization officials said in documents and interviews that they chose not to alert police, instead settling for restitution, which often meant they also avoided public attention.
In interviews, some organizations said estimates of their losses had changed since their filings. The Post also found that a small percentage of groups chose to disclose financial restructurings, mergers and other types of financial losses, even though they involved no apparent wrongdoing.
The groups filing the reports were as varied as the nonprofit sector itself.
Locally, Georgetown University reported in 2012 that an unidentified administrator paid himself $390,000 in “unapproved compensation” over four years from a bank account the university did not know existed. No one was charged.
The Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association in Alexandria said it lost as much as $223,000 — an estimate the association president now has raised to $500,000 — to a longtime bookkeeper, later convicted of embezzlement.
“People are going to say, ‘You stupid people,’ ” said the group’s president, John D. White. “They’re exactly right. You have to pay attention.”
Rowing club oblivious, teen athletes get fleeced
The Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association says it had no idea the “queen” of regattas was quietly spending tens of thousands of dollars on things such as NFL tickets, vacations and cable TV. The Post’s Lee Powell explains how a nonprofit group got taken. (The Fold/The Washington Post)
And the 200-year-old Maryland Bible Society of Baltimore disclosed that it had been defrauded of an undetermined amount by an unnamed former employee.
“It’s sadder when it happens to a nonprofit,” said the Rev. Raymond More­land, a Bible Society official who said in an interview that a former secretary took $86,000 by falsifying checks and misusing credit cards, then concocted fake audit reports to cover her trail. “You go out of your way to trust a nonprofit. People give their money and expect integrity,” he said. “And when the integrity goes out the window, it just hurts everybody. It hurts the community, it hurts the organization, everything. It’s just tragic.”
The former secretary was convicted of theft, Moreland said, but “the scar is still there.”
Legacy’s big loss
The American Legacy Foundation is a revealing case study. While some challenges it faced were uncommon, fraud examiners said many resemble those they see time and again.
Legacy was founded as a nonprofit organization in 1999 out of the Master Settlement Agreement that resolved health claims brought against cigarette companies on behalf of the public by authorities in 46 states and the District.
With $50 million in annual expenditures and $1 billion in assets, Legacy is perhaps best known for its edgy anti-tobacco advertising campaign known as “Truth.’’ In one high-profile stunt, Legacy filmed young people piling hundreds of body bags outside a cigarette company’s headquarters in Manhattan, graphically depicting the daily toll of tobacco-related illness.
“Being an honest and dependable source of information is our bread and butter, because the minute we start bending and manipulating the truth, we’re no better than the tobacco industry,” the organization says on its “Truth” Web site.
Its board includes Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden (R), its chairman; Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D); Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert (R); and Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller (D). Janet Napolitano, the recently departed U.S. secretary of homeland security, served on the board, and Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) was Legacy’s founding vice chairman.
When first asked by The Post about gaps in their disclosure report, Legacy officials declined to provide full details. But they said they had a change of heart when they later learned that authorities did not plan to seek charges against the man they thought was responsible for the group’s loss.
After discussions with The Post, Legacy officials supplied copies of some documents and financial data related to what they allege was a fraud committed by one of their most beloved former employees.
Deen Sanwoola, they said, was a charismatic computer specialist who was Legacy’s sixth hire. He was tasked with building the organization’s information technology department.
No one realized, during Legacy’s frenetic early days, that the department had been formed without adequate financial controls, Legacy officials said. Or that Sanwoola had been placed in charge of both ordering electronic equipment and logging it as having been received — a mix of responsibilities that an outside auditor later described as a classic error that placed Legacy at risk.
“He had the keys to the kingdom of IT,” said Healton, who as Legacy’s president and chief executive received a compensation package worth $729,000 in fiscal 2012.
Reached by phone recently, Sanwoola, 43, told The Post he has had no contact with Legacy for six years and had no idea that anyone had raised questions about his department’s operations. “You’re kidding, right?” Sanwoola asked.
Sanwoola promised to call back with additional information. He did not and did not respond to numerous subsequent attempts to contact him by telephone and e-mail about Legacy’s allegations that he defrauded the organization.
After Sanwoola’s arrival in October 1999, Legacy’s IT department began spending freely on computers, monitors and software, much of it purchased from a single company in suburban Maryland, Healton said. Thanks to the court settlement, Legacy enjoyed a tremendous flow of cash, with revenue exceeding $320 million.
The first questionable purchase came in December 1999, according to a forensic audit conducted years later. “The fraudulent billing started almost immediately on his arrival,” said Wasden, the board chairman.
In that first transaction, the foundation paid more than $18,000 for a computer processor and related equipment that auditors concluded should have retailed for less than $7,000.
Data, documents and a summary of findings that Wasden provided to The Post show that questionable purchases of printers, software and servers steadily increased in size and frequency, peaking with 49 charges in 2006. In some instances, Legacy appeared to have paid many times an item’s worth, auditors said. In others, auditors said Legacy paid an inflated price for “phantom purchases” of equipment that apparently never arrived.
Anthony T. O'Toole, executive vice president and chief financial officer for Legacy. Anthony T. O'Toole, executive vice president and chief financial officer for Legacy.
Over years, Sanwoola is thought to have generated as many as 255 invoices for computer equipment sold to the foundation, Legacy officials said; 75 percent of them later were deemed by the foundation to have been fraudulent. During that period, the officials said, Sanwoola developed close personal ties to Legacy’s chief financial officer, Anthony T. O’Toole.
“Everybody loved Deen,” O’Toole acknowledged.
In early 2007, Sanwoola, by then an assistant vice president with a $180,000 compensation package, announced he was leaving. It jolted Healton, who said she “begged” him to stay. O’Toole recalled Sanwoola saying that his wife wanted to raise their children in Nigeria and that the move would allow him to help his ailing mother.
And that appeared to be the end of it.
Until six months later, when an executive at Legacy approached O’Toole and told him he was unable to locate computer equipment listed in the inventory. O’Toole said he waved away the complaint without bothering to investigate.
“He just pooh-poohed it,” Healton said of O’Toole, who received current and deferred compensation totaling $568,000 in fiscal 2012.
Three years later, the same employee — Legacy officials describe him as a whistleblower — again raised an alarm. This time, he bypassed O’Toole and took his concerns to a staffer close to Healton.
The response this time was different. Within days, Legacy hired forensic examiners to investigate and Healton notified the board.
One of the outside auditors’ first reactions, Healton recalled, was, “There’s no way an organization like yours could spend this much on IT.”
Auditors interviewed employees, reviewed invoices and recovered deleted files from a backup computer server in Chicago. Auditors found a template for invoices from the outside supply company, Legacy officials said, as well as computer code that showed the template had been designed and generated by someone using Sanwoola’s log-in.
Officials concluded that of $4.5 million in checks and credit card charges associated with the Maryland IT supply company, $3.4 million had been fraudulent.
Explanation from Legacy’s disclosure form
Legacy officials and their auditors did not provide The Post with any documentation showing how Sanwoola, who is not named as a director on the supply company’s incorporation records, personally benefited from the sales. In a written statement, Legacy officials said, “we have no information or opinion regarding whether anyone other than Sanwoola had any involvement in any fraud or other improper activity.”
“We stumbled,” Wasden said. “There are kids out there we could have touched that we didn’t, because this money was taken from our coffers.”
In late 2010 or early 2011, foundation executives asked Miller, the Iowa attorney general on Legacy’s board, to call the office of the U.S. attorney.
From Legacy to Fun City
Legacy officials said they had made no attempt to contact Sanwoola, based on a request from federal prosecutors. In a statement for this article, the U.S. Attorney’s Office responded that they had made no such request.
The Post located Sanwoola in Lagos, Nigeria, where he said he continued to work in IT and owned a business — he is “mayor” of Fun City, a brightly painted children’s amusement center featuring refreshments and a variety of video games. “I love games,” he said in a brief telephone conversation.
Sanwoola said that there were no problems during his tenure at Legacy and that he had heard no complaints since his departure. He initially questioned whether a reporter’s call was a trick orchestrated by tobacco companies.
“Are you serious?” he asked when told of the investigations. “Wow. . . . I’m kind of bothered and concerned. Why couldn’t they just call me up and say, ‘Hey, we’re doing an audit. This is what we found out. What’s going on?’ ”
American Legacy Foundation board member Tom Miller, center left, who is Iowa’s attorney general, and Legacy Chairman Lawrence Wasden, the attorney general of Idaho, sit on a panel discussing the 1998 tobacco settlement Wednesday at the National Press Club. American Legacy Foundation board member Tom Miller, center left, who is Iowa’s attorney general, and Legacy Chairman Lawrence Wasden, the attorney general of Idaho, sit on a panel discussing the 1998 tobacco settlement Wednesday at the National Press Club. (Mary F. Calvert/For The Washington Post)
“It’s way more than a shock to me, coming to me after more than six years,” Sanwoola said. “If they are putting it on me — I don’t get it. . . . Using the word ‘defrauded’ is just frustrating my head. I need to sit down and get my head together.”
The invoices that auditors identified as questionable purported to have come from Xclusiv, a Maryland company that appears to no longer be in business. Some invoices used the slightly different spelling of Xclusive.
Contacted by The Post, neither of the men listed as corporate directors said he knew Sanwoola. One of them, Mack Adedokun, said he had never heard of Legacy and that Xclusiv had been a barbershop, not an electronics supply company. The other, Abdul R. Yusuf, said that the company had sold computers to Legacy but that he was unsure how many or who had arranged it. He declined to say who controlled Xclusiv.
Yusuf said he did not know how personal papers bearing his name and Social Security number had ended up on documents that Legacy said were recovered from Sanwoola’s computer, but Yusuf speculated that he may have been the victim of identity theft.
Told that property records showed Sanwoola had once bought a home in Greenbelt from a man bearing Yusuf’s name, Yusuf said that probably was his brother, who had the same name, shared the same address and has since died. “I’m just hearing all of this for the first time,” Yusuf said of details about Legacy’s claims. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s so scary.”
Word that millions of dollars were thought to be missing remained largely within Legacy until it came time in 2011 to file its annual disclosure, a public document signed under penalty of perjury.
The disclosure said that the “fraud” of more than $250,000 did not “meet other materiality tests for financial reporting” and that the organization had told its board and law enforcement. It also said Legacy had filed an insurance claim that had been “successfully settled.” The document did not reveal that the settlement fell far short of the loss.
When first approached by The Post, Legacy general counsel Ellen Vargyas said the organization had no obligation to identify the full estimate of the loss and stressed that more information was in the foundation’s 2012 filing. That filing included a reference to $1.3 million in miscellaneous revenue from an insurance settlement, without saying what it was for.
“I do think it was a full and appropriate disclosure,” Vargyas said.
Legal specialists consulted by The Post disagreed. “Those suffering a diversion are obligated to report the dollar amount,” said Gary R. Snyder, a charity consultant who tracks fraud.
Legacy’s board has included prominent public officials such as former U.S. homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano. Legacy’s board has included prominent public officials such as former U.S. homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano.
Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr. also has served on Legacy’s board. Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr. also has served on Legacy’s board.
Federal filing instructions direct nonprofits to “explain the nature of the diversion, amounts or property involved . . . and pertinent circumstances.” Charity specialists said there is no established penalty for a nonprofit that fails to follow the instructions.
A day after declining to disclose the amount to The Post, Vargyas reconsidered. “Our best estimate of the full loss comes to this: $3,391,648,” she wrote in an e-mail. She said her initial reluctance to disclose an amount was because Legacy’s number was based on estimates that had “never been tested in a court of law.”
Wasden added that the absence of a total dollar figure in its public filing was the foundation’s way of being restrained in describing its loss, in deference to the then-continuing federal investigation. The U.S. Attorney’s Office stressed, however, that it did not suggest that Legacy play down the size of the loss in its disclosure.
Legacy officials said they were told in March, for the first time, that there would be no charges. The U.S. Attorney’s Office disputed that, saying the FBI informed Legacy in February 2012 that the investigation had been closed because, despite warnings, Legacy had taken more than three years to report the missing computers and lacked reliable records of what it owned.
Healton said she had expected the criminal case to clear the way to recover its money. But now there also will be no civil lawsuit seeking repayment, Legacy officials said; as with the criminal case, the statute of limitations has passed.
“No excuses. It’s a terrible loss, and it shouldn’t have happened,” Healton said. “If we lost $3.4 million, that’s $3.4 million that did not go to save lives.”
Vargyas said officials had taken the discovery “enormously seriously” and are dedicated to avoiding a recurrence.
“Obviously, we have to do better,” Vargyas said. “We do view ourselves as holding a public trust.”
Dan Keating and Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.

The downside of microcredit - Bangladeshi poor selling organs to pay debts

Microcredit, hailed as a saviour for millions, aims to break the cycle of poverty by stimulating income-generating activities through providing collateral-free loans.
But its repayment structure and the apparent inability of microfinance institutions to determine whether borrowers have multiple loans with other institutions rarely come under scrutiny.
Consequently, it can create a vicious cycle in which borrowers borrow money from other NGOs to repay existing loans, leaving many unable to repay and some to take extreme measures such as selling organs to make repayments
Professor Monir Moniruzzaman from the Department of Anthropology at Michigan State University has been researching the organ trade in Bangladesh for 12 years and says some people feel they are left with no choice but to sell a body part.
"A lot of people's debt from NGOs has spiralled out of control. Because they cannot repay the loans, there is only one way for people to get out and that is to sell their kidney," he says.
Source and full story: BBC News, 28 October 2013

Urge to “Dump Gold” Finished as US Fed “Turns Dovish”, Diwali Begins

London Gold Market Report
from Adrian Ash
Mon 28 Oct 08:25 EST
Urge to “Dump Gold” Finished as US Fed “Turns Dovish”, Diwali Begins
WHOLESALE London prices of gold sat tight Monday morning, holding onto Friday’s 6-week closing high as European stockmarkets failed to continue a rise in Asian shares.
Silver was unchanged with commodities, major government bonds and gold, sitting at $22.58 per ounce by lunchtime.
The US Dollar rallied after hitting a new 9-month low on its trade-weighted index against major competitor currencies.
Gold last week enjoyed its strongest rise in almost 3 months, adding 2.6% as silver rose 2.9%.
“Gold’s ascent above $1350, to one-month highs, has been driven by investor interest,” says a note from Barclays Capital, pointing to the “largest daily increase” in exchange-traded gold funds, which give investors exposure to the metal’s price without them taking physical ownership, since January.
Over the week as a whole, however, the largest gold ETF – the SPDR Gold Trust listed in New York (ticker: GLD), as well as in Hong Kong and other financial centers – saw its holdings drop 10 tonnes, hitting new 54-month lows of 871.
The GLD started 2013 with near-record holdings of 1,350 tonnes, before shedding 380 tonnes as prices crashed in the first half of the year.
“There’s not much reason anymore to dump gold further,” says one London trading desk in a note, “[not] while the US Fed renews its dovish stance after a miserable attempt at the medium-rare hawk side of things.
“In truth, the USA are cornered by a sluggish growth.”
The US central bank begins a two-day meeting on Tuesday, announcing its monetary policy on Wednesday. Many analysts now expect it to stick with $85 billion of monthly quantitative easing.
Looking at short-term interest rates, now held at zero for almost four years, “the implied yield on the Fed funds futures contract for December 2015 has fallen from a recent peak of 1.45% percent to 0.65%,” says Reuters, “highlighting that investors have scaled back rate hikes expectations in 2015 and beyond.”
“There’s no real indication,” said Thomas Capalbo at New York brokers Newedge, speaking after Friday’s weaker-than-expected US data, “that things are getting much better, and no indication saying that we are going to see tapering soon.
“So that’s going to be beneficial for gold and probably silver too.”
US regulator the CFTC is currently three weeks behind with its Commitment of Traders data for gold and silver futures, owing to this month’s debt-ceiling shutdown.
Gold in India – the world’s heaviest consumer nation – meantime held near record highs above international benchmarks on Monday, with the premium in Mumbai at $120 per ounce.
The peak gold-buying festival of Diwali begins on Saturday. After surprising market analysts with a small interest-rate rise in September, Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan will announce the latest policy move on Tuesday.
“Impact of high gold premiums will be there on prices on the [start of Diwali] Dhanteras day,” says Haresh Soni, chairman of the All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation, “because supplies have dried up in the absence of imports in the last three months due to government curbs.”
Jewelry sales are stable from Diwali last year, says Soni, but sales of investment gold bars and coins are running at half 2012 levels.
Former president of the Bombay Bullion Association Suresh Hundia disagrees, says MoneyControl, putting India’s jewelry sales down by 60%, with coin and gold bar sales 70% lower.
“Government has banned import of bars and coins,” says Hundia. “So, there is no supply to meet the demand for such items on the festival day.”
The Times of India today reports what it calls a “treasure trove” of mineral resources discovered in Uttar Pradesh, including up to 0.25 tonnes of gold.
India last year imported some 845 tonnes of gold to meet domestic demand.
Smuggling may have increased by 50% so far in 2013, reports the New Indian Express.
The number of Indian customs gold seizures is little changed from 2012, the Business Standard says, but the value of those hauls has jumped by well over 300%.
Over in China, meantime premiums on the Shanghai Gold Exchange briefly went negative overnight, recovering to $1.50 per ounce above London spot gold prices but down from this spring’s record levels of $30.
Next month’s planning meeting for Beijing’s politburo will see “unprecedented” reforms, according to Yu Zhengsheng, the fourth-highest member of the Communist Party’s Standing Committee.
Interbank interest rates rose again in Shanghai today, taking the annualized cost of 1-month money to 6.48%, the highest level since June’s spike to double digits.
Adrian Ash

Soulless Corporate Whores, doing the Inverse Cowpie in the Pig Sty

Dog Poet Transmitting.......

May your noses always be cold and wet.

As well as being a time of material darkness, this is also the age where you do whatever you hope you can get away with because... it may not be seen and then you are good to gone (grin). It is the zenith of self interest. Just as Jamie Diamond has done, all those stuffed suits take as much latitude as they can and hope the pervasive and ubiquitous corruption (in a nation that conferred personhood on corporations; this is a capital crime on the part of the Supreme Zio-Court) will give them good cover. If most of these soulless corporate whores are doing the inverse cowpie in the pig sty, they've acquired the taste for it. The pig sty is Wall Street, where monster hogs tear up and destroy the root system of the entire culture, in a frenzied fever for self gain. When one of them pulls off some hideous act against another of their fellows, it's a back patting festival of, "you go goblin."

There are various reasons for why evil destroys itself. We might get into some of that today. One of the reasons is that evil likes to push the river. It is similar to the nature of goats, who piss all over themselves in the excitement preceding copulation. As the potential bucks they don't need, mount up, they get all flushed and feverish, kinda like the Nightstalker going out for a little late night R and R in Hollywood. The more money that is in play and the more likely it is that they will never even be able to spend it, the more insane the frenzy toward acquisition.

In the backrooms where the acolytes of material darkness plot their moves, someone came up with the idea of foreclosing on mortgages they didn't even hold. Someone came up with the idea of trashing the economy, with the collaboration of The Tribe-Central Bankers, in order to steal the homes of the American middle class and the poor. As soon as the policy went into play, the talking points of justification were released into the block-headed sector of the right wing, saying that "no one should have given mortgages to these people in the first place." They feel, have been told and programmed to feel, that no matter what happens in the economy, regardless of whether you lose your job, you deserve to live in a cardboard box beneath the underpass. I have seen the comments in the hundreds, at various upchuck sectors in the Crass Media. Few collectives have less mercy than Christian Zionist fundies, once they've been given their marching orders from the pit vipers who manipulate them.

Change is coming. It's coming to Wikipedia (Uh huh and also uh huh), just as it is coming to Jeff  Bezos (you hardly hear about something ugly these days that isn't Made in Israel) over at Amazon. In the meantime, the humor keeps breaking the surface like angry acne, or those Israeli/CIA created conflict hotspots. It's truly amazing what's going on these days. Back to Evil; essentially, evil is wrong and goes counter to the natural course of existence. This means it progresses with inherent flaws. Just as a building, where the build is a quarter of an inch out on the ground floor, it becomes 2 inches on the second floor, or something like that. In the end, Evil has to abide by the rules just like anything else. Depending on the time zone in which you find yourself, on that depends the degree of time extended and the level of egregiousness permitted to Evil. Now... if you are good, or battling and striving to be ...AND you are counterpointed by a much larger aggregate of Evil, the potential for you to gain massive bonus points is very high, due to 'degree of difficulty'. This is cosmic law, believe what you like. There are all kinds of cosmic laws of which we are unfortunately unaware but ignorance has no influence over the existence of laws that affect all of us, whether ignorance knows about it or not. Evil has major partners in it's pursuit of chaos and disorder. One of them is Ignorance. You can guess on your own what some of the other players are.

Comprehending Evil or anything, depends on one's proximity to Truth. Very few, very few can abide 'in' Truth but... you can live and move and breathe in the neighborhood of Truth. You can think of Truth as similar to a beacon of light, perhaps a lighthouse, which makes it possible to see the dangerous areas leading to the shoreline and where Safe Harbor is located. This light makes it possible to distinguish between the false and the real. You can see the disadvantage that Ignorance brings to the table. If you are ignorant, you are in darkness. It's only a matter of time before you walk off a cliff or die in a Tribe owned Central Banker War. The stupid are grown and cultivated. In these days it is hot-housed. I had a very amusing thing happen to me a few years ago. I was on mushrooms and Susanne and I were walking in the woods. We came into an area of the forest when suddenly I felt female, in an unusual way (which I won't detail lest I injure sensitive feelings) and I stopped in my tracks; "WTF?" Then I looked at the forest around me and noticed that all the pine trees were of a uniform shape and height. Susanne told me that these were hybrids planted for quick growth and as a replacement for deforestation and for later harvesting for whatever. They had been genetically manipulated. I had real evidence, by experience; what happens when you mess with Nature. Had I not been on mushrooms, I would have probably not noticed.

A slight digression; as I have earlier stated, every few months or so, I head into Google and run a search on "Les Visible". I came across this by hitting, les visible wiki. I had neither the time, nor the inclination, nor am I that vain, to read what looked to me like a massive amount of speculation and commentary on me from Ouija Board Central. I did motor along for a couple of pages and never fail to become amused by the presumptions of people who know nothing about me and who think I'm living like Samuel Taylor Coleridge's understudy. Despite the historical evidence of psychedelics being used by cultures all over the world. Despite the riveting evidence of Santa Claus and psychedelics, or the list of prominent and noteworthy individuals, along with mystics and teachers of humanity, who have imbibed, this crowd of Scientology sisters has no hesitation about going on and on concerning what they know nothing about. It gets truly ludicrous. I had mentioned that at one point I got a pardon from the government for a crime I was accused and sentenced for (not a crime but, whatever). The uninformed commentator got all 'woo woo' about how surely you have to be 'connected' to get such a pardon. They love to think I'm hooked in with the dark intelligence services. The truth is that I had been sentenced under the Youth Corrections Act (Federal) and anyone who completes their time, one way or another, on the run even (long as you don't commit any further 'crimes') automatically gets a pardon. The other time I got busted, after an agonizing 18 months in between time, I was acquitted. In both cases I was set up and this is backed up by the evidence. They came after me because of my public speaking and performances. So, I don't have a criminal record, surprisingly and like many things presumed about me on very little information, the truth is something other than is here and there reported; much like the daily news.

I know there are readers who like to say, "C'mon Visible' there's no need to bring this up" but... there is; slander is evil. Diabolus translates into 'slanderer'= "[Middle English devel, from Old English dofol, from Latin diabolus, from Late Greek diabolos, from Greek, slanderer, from diaballein, to slander : dia-, dia- + ballein, to hurl; see gwel- in Indo-European roots.]" Then there are those who become disenfranchised with me. I assume it has something to do with their frustrations with their own lives. Those who have been raised Catholic WANT the Catholic church to be the source of all Evil, regardless of what the facts say and regardless of the reality of The Rothschild Satanic Banks having control over The Vatican's finances. I'll agree that both of these entities are in league with The Devil but... that should be obvious. All I ask, and I don't think it's too much to ask is... if you are going to criticize me, please present your argument in a lucid manner that utilizes logic and evidence to support your contention. I'm getting tired of people saying things that make no sense (can anyone figure out what this guy is saying?). It reflects badly on me when I attract critics and opponents without the equipment to come across as savvy and intelligent. Also, I don't learn anything. Believe me, I am always after self improvement and I will take it from anywhere I can get it. I'm not too shy. I'm not too proud. I really am a decent sort, regardless of what certain insecure and uniformed people like to say about me. Sure I'm a little quick off the cuff and I can, metaphorically put a knuckle into the ribs but... that is a constructed persona that is there for a reason. It makes it more interesting if I'm rough and tumble (sort of) than if I am all placid and gazing at everyone with a far away distant look of wisdom in my eyes, like I might, at any moment, start charging hundreds of dollars a seat..

At any rate, the war out there continues. The 'appearance' of the war outside continues. Once we effectively make peace with ourselves, we live in a world of peace, at least in the general perimeters of ourselves. There are exceptions, such as when you're employed by Mr. Apocalypse, or engaged in some form of specialty work. It is a very complex world and a very complex time. There's a lot going on. We are in the middle of extreme information overload. Sudden outbursts of madness abound and 'most of the world' is certifiably crazy. One of my measurements for crazy is when an individual REFUSES to see what is real because it might interfere with their vested interests, or they are fearful of the responsibility that comes with an awareness of truth. Most people, because of their fatal attachment to material things ...and the pursuit of their appetites are unwilling to see things as they are. I look at this as facing death with your eyes closed. The general ignorance, indifference, denial and sensory imprisonment of most is breathtaking. If you're awake, you find yourself swimming in the opposite direction of most everyone else. This means having to pay attention as opposed to having the focus of your attention brought to your attention  by the attentionmeisters; herdsmen, wolves in sheep's clothing, blind leading the blind ...and the immense tidal wave of lies unlike ever before in history.

Are you pursuing life or death? Can you tell the difference? These are questions everyone ought to be asking themselves, along with, "What is real?" "Who am I?" "Where am I headed, based on my intentions and collective objectives?" "Where am I coming from?" "What does it all mean?" Have you asked yourself any of these questions? Did you wait around for an answer? Sometimes the answer has to come a certain distance. The message service shows up at your door eventually and you've moved somewhere else in the meantime. How many people do you know that ask themselves these questions? That's also a good question. Okay then! Over to you

End Transmission.......