Monday, December 9, 2013

Accident triggers foreign worker riot in Singapore

Singapore's civil defence officers extinguish burning vehicles following a riot in Singapore's Little India district 

Riot policemen watch burning vehicles during a riot in Singapore's Little India district 

Police detain men following a riot in Singapore's Little India district 

Two overturned police cars and several other damaged vehicles are seen following a riot near Singapore's Little India district

Hundreds of South Asian workers rioted in Singapore late Sunday after being enraged by a fatal road accident, leaving 18 people injured and police vehicles burnt in the city-state's worst outbreak of violence in more than 40 years.
A police statement said the disturbance started in the congested Little India district when a 33-year-old Indian man was killed after being hit by a private bus.
Police said about 400 people on the scene began rioting, attacking the bus as well as police vehicles after officers responded to reports of a commotion.
Ten policemen, four civil defence staff and the bus driver and conductor were among the injured, but none were seriously hurt, officials said.
A total of 27 South Asian workers were arrested on charges of rioting, which is punishable by up to seven years in prison plus caning, police said.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a statement that "whatever events may have sparked the rioting, there is no excuse for such violent, destructive, and criminal behaviour."
"We will spare no effort to identify the culprits and deal with them with the full force of the law," he added.
Five vehicles including three police cars and a civil defence ambulance were burnt while pictures and videos posted in social media showed two police cars being overturned by a cheering mob. Several private vehicles were also damaged in the fracas.
The situation was brought under control after the elite Special Operations Command and Gurkhas working for the police arrived on the scene.
The rare outbreak of public disorder in strictly governed Singapore took place in an area normally packed with thousands of workers, mostly from the Indian subcontinent, on their day off.
"Let me say that the incident that happened last night is intolerable. Rioting, destruction of property, it is not the Singapore way," Commissioner of Police Ng Joo Hee said at a news conference in the early hours of Monday morning.
State-linked broadcaster MediaCorp said it was the first riot in Singapore since racial disturbances in 1969.
Singapore depends heavily on guest workers, with labourers from South Asia dominating sectors like construction. Many congregate in Little India on Sundays to shop, dine and drink.
The incident immediately triggered online attacks on foreign workers in Singapore, but officials called for calm and warned against speculation.
Anyone who is found to be armed in a riot or using objects as weapons that can cause death can be jailed up to 10 years with the possibility of caning, a punishment reserved for serious crimes.

If Someone Wanted To Destroy America On Purpose…

RINF Alternative News
Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett, David Axelrod And Other Staff Members Laugh It Up
“Let’s say somebody were [in the White House] and they wanted to destroy this nation. I would create division among the people, encourage a culture of ridicule for basic morality and the principles that made and sustained the country, undermine the financial stability of the nation, and weaken and destroy the military. It appears coincidentally that those are the very things that are happening right now.”
-Dr. Ben Carson on March 16th, 2013
That quote by Dr. Ben Carson does a great job of capturing what is taking place in the United States right now.  If you wanted to destroy the most powerful nation on the planet, the best way to do so would be to destroy it from the inside out.  Right now, America is more divided than it has been at any point in any of our lifetimes.  Anger and frustration are growing to unprecedented levels, and one recent survey discovered that the level of trust that Americans have in one another is at an all-time low.  Our families are falling apart and moral decay is systematically rotting the foundations of our society.  Meanwhile, the U.S. national debt is on pace to more than double during the eight years of the Obama administration and the rest of the world is losing more respect for us with each passing day.
Sadly, at this critical juncture in U.S. history the American people have twice voted to elect a totally unqualified con man to be the President of the United States.  To say that this scandal-ridden administration has been “corrupt” would be a massive understatement.  The following is a political joke that one of my readers recently emailed me, and I think that it does a great job of illustrating the current state of our government…
Bob: “Did you hear about the Obama administration scandal?”
Jim: “You mean the Mexican gun running?” Bob: “No, the other one.”
Jim: “You mean SEAL Team 6?” Bob: “No, the other one.”
Jim: “You mean the State Dept. lying about Benghazi?” Bob: “No, the other one.”
Jim: “You mean voter fraud?” Bob: “No, the other one.”
Jim: “You mean the military not getting their votes counted?” Bob: “No, the other one.”
Jim: “The NSA monitoring our phone calls, emails and everything else?” Bob: “No, the other one.”
Jim: “You mean the use of drones in our own country without the benefit of the law?” Bob: “No, the other one.”
Jim: “Giving 123 Technologies $300 Million and right after it declared bankruptcy and was sold to the Chinese?” Bob: “No, the other one.”
Jim: “You mean the president arming the Muslim Brotherhood?” Bob: “No the other one.”
Jim: “The IRS targeting conservatives?” Bob: “No, the other one.”
Jim: “The DOJ spying on the press?” Bob: “No, the other one.”
Jim: “Sebelius shaking down health insurance executives?” Bob: “No, the other one.”
Jim: “Giving SOLYNDRA $500 MILLION DOLLARS and 3 months later they declared bankruptcy and then the Chinese bought it?” Bob: “No, the other one.”
Jim: “The president’s ordering the release of nearly 10,000 illegal immigrants from jails and prisons, and falsely blaming the sequester?” Bob: “No, the other one.”
Jim: “The president’s threat to impose gun control by Executive Order in order to bypass Congress?” Bob: “No, the other one.”
Jim: “The president’s repeated violation of the law requiring him to submit a budget no later than the first Monday in February?” Bob: “No, the other one.”
Jim: “The 2012 vote where 115% of all registered voters in some counties voted 100% for Obama?” Bob: “No, the other one.”
Jim: “The president’s unconstitutional recess appointments in an attempt to circumvent the Senate’s advise-and-consent role?” Bob: “No, the other one.”
Jim: “The State Department interfering with an Inspector General investigation on departmental sexual misconduct?” Bob: “No, the other one.”
Jim: “Clinton, the IRS, Clapper and Holder all lying to Congress?” Bob: “No, the other one.”
Jim: “You mean that 65 million low-information voters who don’t pay taxes and get free stuff from taxpayers stuck us again with the most pandering, corrupt administration in American history?” Bob: “No, the other one.”
Jim: “You mean the one where he lied and told us we could get better and cheaper healthcare or keep what we had if it was better for us?”
Not only has the Obama administration been extremely corrupt, they have also failed to deliver on almost all of the promises that they have made to us.  In fact, just about every major promise that Barack Obama has uttered has turned out to be a lie.  If you doubt this, just check out this list: “A List Of 23 Famous Obama Quotes That Turned Out To Be Broken Promises Or Cold-Hearted Lies“.
But it isn’t just our government that is falling apart.  The truth is that America as a whole has been declining for a very long time.
For example, American families have never before been in such horrendous condition.  If you doubt this, just read the statistics in my previous article entitled “27 Facts That Prove That The Family In America Is In The Worst Shape Ever“.
And it isn’t just our families that are in trouble.  Everywhere you look these days, you can see the signs of advanced moral decay.  Things have gotten so bad that even the mainstream media is talking about this.  The following is from a Wall Street Journal editorial that was published just a few days ago…
“What’s celebrity sex, Dad?” It was my 7-year-old son, who had been looking over my shoulder at my computer screen. He mispronounced “celebrity” but spoke the word “sex” as if he had been using it all his life. “Celebrity six,” I said, abruptly closing my AOL screen. “It’s a game famous people play in teams of three,” I said, as I ushered him out of my office and downstairs into what I assumed was the safety of the living room.
No such luck. His 3-year-old sister had gotten her precocious little hands on my wife’s iPhone as it was charging on a table next to the sofa. By randomly tapping icons on the screen, she had conjured up an image of Beyoncé barely clad in black leather, caught in a suggestive pose that I hoped would suggest nothing at all to her or her brother.
And so it went on this typical weekend. The eff-word popped out of TV programs we thought were friendly enough to have on while the children played in the next room. Ads depicting all but naked couples beckoned to them from the mainstream magazines scattered around the house. The kids peered over my shoulder as I perused my email inbox, their curiosity piqued by the endless stream of solicitations having to do with one aspect or another of sex, sex, sex!
The reality is that if someone actually wanted to destroy America from the inside on purpose, they could hardly improve on what is already happening.
And we were warned that this would take place.
On April 3rd, 1965 legendary radio host Paul Harvey issued a warning to America.  In this warning, he described what he thought the devil should do if the devil wanted to destroy America.  Sadly, the truth is that most of what Paul Harvey warned us about back then has now come to pass…
If I were the Devil . . . I mean, if I were the Prince of Darkness, I would of course, want to engulf the whole earth in darkness. I would have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree, so I should set about however necessary to take over the United States.
I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: “Do as you please.” “Do as you please.”
To the young, I would whisper, “The Bible is a myth.” I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would confide that what is bad is good, and what is good is “square”.
In the ears of the young marrieds, I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you. I would caution them not to be extreme in religion, in patriotism, in moral conduct.
And the old, I would teach to pray. I would teach them to say after me: “Our Father, which art in Washington” . . .
If I were the devil, I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull an uninteresting. I’d threaten T.V. with dirtier movies and vice versa.
And then, if I were the devil, I’d get organized. I’d infiltrate unions and urge more loafing and less work, because idle hands usually work for me.
I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. And I’d tranquilize the rest with pills.
If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellects but neglect to discipline emotions . . . let those run wild. I would designate an atheist to front for me before the highest courts in the land and I would get preachers to say “she’s right.”
With flattery and promises of power, I could get the courts to rule what I construe as against God and in favor of pornography, and thus, I would evict God from the courthouse, and then from the school house, and then from the houses of Congress and then, in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and I would deify science because that way men would become smart enough to create super weapons, but not wise enough to control them.
If I were Satan, I’d make the symbol of Easter an egg and the symbol of Christmas a bottle. If I were the devil, I would take from those who have and I would give to those who wanted, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. And then, my police state would force everybody back to work. Then, I could separate families, putting children in uniform, women in coal mines, and objectors in slave camps.
In other words, if I were Satan,
I’d just keep on doing what he’s doing.
Paul Harvey, Good Day.
You can find the audio of Paul Harvey delivering this warning right here

So what do you think?
Is someone trying to destroy America on purpose?
Do you believe that there is still any hope for the future of this nation?
Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…
About the author: Michael T. Snyder is a former Washington D.C. attorney who now publishes The Truth.  His new thriller entitled “The Beginning Of The End” is now available on

Obama Faces Backlash Over New Corporate Powers In Secret Trade Deal

tpp trade agreement

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration appears to have almost no international support for controversial new trade standards that would grant radical new political powers to corporations, increase the cost of prescription medications and restrict bank regulation, according to two internal memos obtained by The Huffington Post.
The memos, which come from a government involved in the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations, detail continued disputes in the talks over the deal. The documents reveal broad disagreement over a host of key positions, and general skepticism that an agreement can be reached by year-end. The Obama administration has urged countries to reach a deal by New Year's Day, though there is no technical deadline.
One memo, which was heavily redacted before being provided to HuffPost, was written ahead of a new round of talks in Singapore this week. Read the full text of what HuffPost received here. (Note: Ellipses indicate redacted text. Text in brackets has been added by a third party.) Another document, a chart outlining different country positions on the text, dates from early November, before the round of negotiations in Salt Lake City, Utah. View the chart here. HuffPost was unable to determine which of the 11 non-U.S. nations involved in the talks was responsible for the memo.
"These are not U.S. documents and we have no idea of their authorship or authenticity," a spokesman for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said. "Some elements in them are outdated, others totally inaccurate." The spokesman declined to specify which parts were outdated or inaccurate.
The Obama administration has been leading negotiations on the international trade accord since 2010. The countries involved in the talks include Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
One of the most controversial provisions in the talks includes new corporate empowerment language insisted upon by the U.S. government, which would allow foreign companies to challenge laws or regulations in a privately run international court. Under World Trade Organization treaties, this political power to contest government law is reserved for sovereign nations. The U.S. has endorsed some corporate political powers in prior trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, but the scope of what laws can be challenged appears to be much broader in TPP negotiations.
"The United States, as in previous rounds, has shown no flexibility on its proposal, being one of the most significant barriers to closing the chapter, since under the concept of Investment Agreement nearly all significant contracts that can be made between a state and a foreign investor are included," the memo reads. "Only the U.S. and Japan support the proposal."
Under NAFTA, companies including Exxon Mobil, Dow Chemical and Eli Lilly have attempted to overrule Canadian regulations on offshore oil drilling, fracking, pesticides, drug patents and other issues. Companies could challenge an even broader array of rules under the TPP language.
New standards concerning access to key medicines appear to be equally problematic for many nations. The Obama administration is insisting on mandating new intellectual property rules in the treaty that would grant pharmaceutical companies long-term monopolies on new medications. As a result, companies can charge high prices without regard to competition from generic providers. The result, public health experts have warned, would be higher prices around the world, and lack of access to life-saving drugs in poor countries. Nearly every intellectual property issue in the November chart is opposed by a broad majority of the 12 nations. The December memo describes 119 "outstanding issues" that remain unresolved between the nations on intellectual property matters. The deal would obligate nations to develop many standards similar to those in the United States, where domestic prescription drug prices are much higher than levels in other nations.
Also according to the December memo, the U.S. has reintroduced a proposal that would hamper government health services from negotiating lower drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. The proposal appears to have been universally rejected earlier in the talks, according to the memo.
Australia and New Zealand have medical boards that allow the government to reject expensive new drugs for the public health system, or negotiate lower prices with drug companies that own patents on them. If a new drug does not offer sufficient benefits over existing generic drugs, the boards can reject spending taxpayer money on the new medicines. They can also refuse to pay high prices for new drugs. The Obama administration has been pushing to ban these activities by national boards, which would lock in big profits for U.S. drug companies. Obamacare sought to mimic the behavior of these boards to lower domestic health care costs by granting new flexibilities to U.S. state agencies for determining drug prices.
The U.S. is also facing major resistance on bank regulation standards. The Obama administration is seeking to curtail the use of "capital controls" by foreign governments. These can include an extremely broad variety of financial tools, from restricting lending in overheated markets to denying mass international outflows of currency during a financial panic. The loss of these tools would dramatically limit the ability of governments to prevent and stem banking crises.
"The positions are still paralyzed," the December memo reads, referring to the Financial Services Chapter. "The United States shows zero flexibility."
Previously leaked TPP documents have sparked alarm among global health experts, Internet freedom activists, environmentalists and organized labor, but are adamantly supported by American corporations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Obama administration has deemed negotiations to be classified information -- banning members of Congress from discussing the American negotiating position with the press or the public. Congressional staffers have been restricted from viewing the documents.
This story has been updated with a comment from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and to specify that prescription drug flexibilities under Obamacare are provided to state boards.

Economist: The World Is At Risk Of Recession In 2014

Mia Shanley and Ilze Filks
Dr. Fama is with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
One of the three Americans who won this year’s Nobel prize for economics said bloated public deficits on both sides of the Atlantic meant that recession remained a real risk for 2014.
Eugene Fama, who shares this year’s 8 million crown ($1.2 million) prize with Robert Shiller and Lars Peter Hansen, said on Saturday that highly indebted governments in the United States and Europe posed a constant threat to the global economy.
“There may come a point where the financial markets say none of their debt is credible anymore and they can’t finance themselves,” he told Reuters in the snow-covered Swedish capital, where he will receive his prize on Tuesday.
Read more

100 million Americans below poverty line

The inequality has put 100 million Americans below the poverty line.
The “Inequality Boom” is what social scientist Sheldon Danziger, President of the Russell Sage Foundation here in New York, uses to describe the current condition of 100 million Americans – if the cost of housing, transportation and healthcare were subtracted from the median income of full-time workers. It’s a boom because under Danziger’s hypothesis, 100 million Americans is a whopping 33 percent of the total population; the Census Bureau figures only 15 percent of Americans, or 45 million, are below the $24,000 annual income level for poverty in a family of four.
Danziger has been on the poverty solution academic beat almost since Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty 50 years ago, and is now ensconced at one of the oldest foundations in the nation, established in 1907 for “the improvement of social and living conditions in the United States.” Danziger’s work is cut out for him since there is growing income inequality in the US as the political controversy over reducing the level of government transfers promises to increase poverty and widen income disparity.
For example, there is the growing threat that the food stamp program, now being used by 47 million people, is scheduled to be reduced. Plus, the extension of unemployment benefits, which stabilized many of those hurt by the Great Recession, is to be substantially limited in availability. At the same time, 70 percent of the new jobs created by the slow economic recovery are part-time, less than 29 hours a week, without health insurance, and cannot be sufficient to support a family of four.
Against this downward trend comes President Obama, trying to increase the minimum hourly wage from $7.00 an hour or $280 per week (or $14,560 a year), just enough to raise a single person above poverty. If Obama is successful in hiking the minimum wage to $10.00 an hour or $400 a week, that would provide $20,000 annual income, which is below the poverty line of $24,000 for a family of four.
Danziger can wax enthusiastic about the theme of what he calls “the golden age in America”, when between 1947 and 1975 family income adjusted for inflation showed more than 90 percent increases in family income for the 20 percent segment of America. In fact the 60th percentile group in the middle had their income increase by the largest degree, 99.2 percent. That amounts to a near double in family income from 1947 to 1975.
By comparison, the period from 1975 through 2010 has created substantial differentials in family income. The top 5 percent of families saw their income rise by 56.7 percent while the lowest gained only 3.7 percent over 35 years. Here’s the most crushing: a statistic that shows the misfortune suffered by the middle class. See below chart.
From 1960 until 1975 the median earnings for a full time male worker rose from $36,420 to $51,670, but then slowly declined to $49,398 in 2012, when adjusted for inflation, according to the US Census Bureau. And that $49,000 is before taxes.
As well, the mean monthly Social Security Benefit for Retired Workers has climbed from $400 in 1950 to $1200 a month in 2010. That’s $14,400 just above the $12,000 poverty cutoff for a single man, and just slightly over 50 percent of the poverty line for a family of four. In short, there’s no way the Republican opposition to Obama can attest to those helped by government programs to be having anything but a poor bottom level standard of living. The “Inequality Boom” is booming.
With permission
Source: Press TV

The Bitcoin Derivatives Market Has Arrived

Source: Zero Hedge

Having discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the crypto-currency and noted the extreme volatility of the last few weeks, it seemed only a matter of time before some ambitious entrepreneur tried to monetize the volatility. What better way to "manage the risk" of your virtual currency horde than buying (or selling) options (in a more levered way). Predictious, the Dublin-based prediction market, this week unveiled Bitcoin Option Spreads enabling both long- and short-positions to be constructed on the already extremely volatile 'asset'. Regulatory clamp-down in 3..2..1...
The basic mechanism is the same as every option spread market - a fixed payoff for getting the "bet" correct, in this case 10.
In the case below, the bet was that Bitcoin will (or will not) close at $1400 on Wednesday January 1st at 12:00am,
if you believe it will (close at or above $1400) you "buy" the contract at 3.49 (and should you be proven correct you are paid 10 - thus gaining 6.51, similar to buying a call option)...
if you believe it will not reach $1400, you "sell" the contract at 0.55 (and should you be proven correct you pocket the 0.55 and pay out 0.00 - just like writing a call option)

Quite a skew has developed already...
As Predictious notes,
Predictious is now bringing this to the next level by offering a new type of derivative contract: option spreads on the price of Bitcoin. In the past couple of weeks, Bitcoin has been extremely volatile, and it is important for traders to be able to reduce risk, and hedge their Bitcoin position. They can now do so in an easy and cost efficient way by using option spreads.
Option spreads are very versatile, while still offering limited risks. A bullish investor can use a vertical spread to benefit from Bitcoin gains, while limiting risks if the price crashes.
On the other hand, bearish investors can use them to short Bitcoin. Predictious is currently one of the most reliable way to do so. Since losses are limited with option spreads, investors are not exposed to counterparty risks, like they would be when trading futures on competing services.
Aside from Bitcoin traders, miners can also use spreads on the Bitcoin difficulty to reduce risks associated with investing in mining hardware.
To date, Predictious users have deposited over $300,000 in Bitcoin on the website.
Traders are obviously very interested in Bitcoin derivatives, but the number of businesses accepting payments in Bitcoin has surged in the past few months”, said Flavien Charlon, Founder of Pixode, “those businesses have expenses in US Dollar, or Euro, and need to hedge their Bitcoin position. The type of derivatives we are offering will be very useful to them as well”.
The bottom-line is that while we can see the 'use' of such a market to enabling some lower cost hedging of any wealth one might have gathered in Bitcoin, we suspect - just as in the case of many other assets - that the underlying asset will see its volatility rise as the derivative (and levered) markets becomes the tail that wags the dog.

Many US families struggle financially

Far too many American families are still struggling financially and the American dream of getting ahead with hard work is in jeopardy, despite broad-based job growth last month, US Labor Secretary Tom Perez has said.
In a statement about the nation’s November jobs report, Perez echoed President Barack Obama‘s call for a federal minimum-wage increase to help narrow the vast income inequality in the US.
“When I worked for Sen. [Edward] Kennedy in 1996 when the minimum wage was increased, the economy didn’t really go into the tank,” he said. “It’s a simple matter of fairness. Nobody who works a full-time job should have to live in poverty,” he said. “Congressional support for increasing the minimum wage has historically been bipartisan.”
The official US unemployment rate fell three-tenths of a percentage point to 7 percent, the lowest level in five years, the Labor Department said Friday.
However, Perez said the numbers served a reminder “that far too many American families are still struggling to get by.”
“As the president underscored earlier this week, growing inequality and a lack of upward mobility has jeopardized middle-class America‘s basic bargain – that if you work hard, you have a chance to get ahead,” said Mr. Perez, referring to President Obama‘s Wednesday speech about income inequality.
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama pointed to the issue of income inequality and economic mobility during an economic speech in Washington.
Obama said income inequality “pose a fundamental threat” to the American society and the “challenge of our time” and vowed to focus on the matter during his final three years in office.
On Thursday, thousands of fast-food workers took to the streets to demand higher minimum wages in hundreds of US cities, saying the pay is too low to feed a family and forced most to accept public assistance.
With permission
Source: Press TV

Millions of families living in poverty despite being in employment says new study

More families than ever before are classified as poor despite adults having a job

 There are more working families living in poverty in the UK than non-working families for the first time since the birth of the welfare state, according to a new study.

A report by a development charity attributes the figures to a sustained and “unprecedented” fall in living standards that has hit UK households, in which average incomes have fallen by 8% since a peak in 2008.
As a result, around 2 million people have an income that would have been considered below the poverty line in 2008.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) found that according to the current definition, the figure is increasing as 500,000 more working families live below the poverty line than last year.
6.7 million families with adults in employment meet the worrying criteria compared with a combined 6.3 million of retired and unemployed families.
There is also a smaller but growing number of people living on incomes below the value of out-of-work benefits in very deep poverty.
The JRF said 400,000 families have suffered from a combination of benefit cuts from the bedroom tax, and council tax benefit. Two thirds of these families were already classified as living in poverty.
The JRF also found positive changes, including an improvement in the labour market with falling unemployment and underemployment and, improvements in health and education outcomes forecast for the future.
There have also been major shifts in which groups are experiencing poverty, with the number of pensioners in poverty at a 30-year low.
Julia Unwin, chief executive of the charity, said efforts to reduce poverty must be “strengthen[ed]” and that for the poorest families “improving pay and prospects remain a mirage”.
She added:"Recent economic improvements do not outweigh the damage inflicted during the downturn to the incomes of the poorest people across the country.
"Our report demonstrates there has been progress in some areas and the tide has turned on employment, but this not been matched by improvements in wages.
The largest group in poverty are working age adults without dependent children - 4.7 million people are in this situation, the highest on record. Half of working families in poverty have an adult paid below the living wage.
It also found that job insecurity is increasingly common, with one in six members of the workforce claiming Jobseekers' Allowance at some point in the last two years.
Median incomes in the UK recorded in the 2011 tax year are now, in real terms, just below what they were in 2001 - £367 a week compared with £368 - the Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion report showed.
Plummeting incomes over the last two years has wiped out all the gains of the previous decade, the JRF said.
Families living in poverty are defined as those with income below 60% of median income for that year.
Peter Kenway, director at NPI and an author of the report, said: "Poorer members of society are under more pressure than at any time since the birth of the welfare state.
"The value of the safety net for working age adults is now sinking steadily. The support on offer to people who fall on hard times is increasingly threadbare, with benefit levels on a downward spiral.
"A strong safety net to catch those who fall is vital for social mobility - millions are saved by it every year even now - yet no leading politician will defend it."

Food poverty 'now a health emergency'

Food bank  
The use of food banks has been rising, according to reports

Food poverty in the UK has now become such a big problem that it should be seen as a "public health emergency", a group of health experts says.
In a letter to the British Medical Journal, six leading public health figures warned poor nutrition could lead to a host of problems.
It comes amid reports that people are struggling to feed themselves.
The UK Red Cross has started asking for food donations for the first time since World War Two.
And in October the Trussell Trust, which runs 400 food banks, said the numbers of people it was helping had tripled to 350,000 in the past year.
The letter also cited research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies that indicated the amount of money being spent on food by households had fallen by over 8% in real terms over the past five years.
Families with young children have been hit the hardest.
The study also suggested that much of the savings had been made by people buying cheaper, processed food.
'Alarming developments' The BMJ letter, signed by academics and pubic health directors, said this had "all the signs of a public health emergency".
It warned malnutrition, particularly during childhood, could have lifelong effects including increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic illness.
David Taylor-Robinson, a population health scientists at the Medical Research Council and one of the authors of the letter, added: "It is clear people are increasingly struggling with their food bills.
"We need to start monitoring this and treating it as a public health problem."
Chris Mould, the executive chairman of Trussell Trust, said he wanted the government to set up an official inquiry because "these alarming developments point towards serious trouble for the nation in the years ahead unless urgent action is taken now".
But a government spokesman said action had been taken to help people with the cost of living, including increasing the tax-free personal allowance and freezing council tax and fuel duty.
He added: "The benefits system supports millions of people who are on low incomes or unemployed and there is no robust evidence that welfare reforms are linked to increased use of food banks."


New Yorkers braved the wet and cold yesterday to once again protest the occupation of Palestinian lands, this time at Target, one of the outlets selling SodaStream products …. Our roving photographer was there and sent the following photos.

Photos © by Bud Korotzer

Icelanders Overthrow Government and Rewrite Constitution After Banking Fraud-No Word From US Media

Can you imagine participating in a protest outside the White House and forcing the entire U.S. to government to resign? Can you imagine a group of randomly chosen private citizens rewriting the U.S. constitution to include measures banning corporate fraud? It seems incomprehensible in the U.S., but Icelanders did just that.  Icelanders forced their entire government to resign after a banking fraud scandal, overthrowing the ruling party and creating a citizen’s group tasked with writing a new constitution that offered a solution to prevent corporate greed from destroying the country. The constitution of Iceland was scrapped and is being rewritten by private citizens; using a crowd-sourcing technique via social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. These events have been going on since 2008, yet there’s been no word from the U.S. mainstream media about any of them. In fact, all of the events that unfolded were recorded by international journalists, overseas news bureaus, citizen journalists and bloggers. This has created current accusations of an intentional cover up of the story by mainstream U.S. news sources.
An “iReport” on CNN, written by a private citizen in May 2012, has questioned the reasons why this revolution has not been widely covered in the U.S., suggesting that perhaps the mainstream media is controlled by large corporate interests and thus has been unwilling to report on Iceland’s activities. That report is currently making its way around social media. CNN today placed a statement on its website saying: “We’ve noticed this iReport is being shared widely on Facebook and Twitter. Please note that this article was posted in May 2012. CNN has not yet verified the claims and we’re working to track down the original writer.” It is interesting to note that CNN’s European version, CNN Europe, already covered the story of the protests and the government’s resignation, leading many to question why CNN would now need to “look into” the claims.
Besides CNN Europe’s own coverage of the scandal, the events in Iceland were widely covered by international media and are easily verified by a simple search on Google which leads to a variety of reputable international news sources that ran numerous stories on the Icelandic revolution. A whole documentary has been made on the governmental overthrow called Pots, Pans and Other Solutions, and now, the conversation is focused on whether or not the citizens’ actions actually worked to make Iceland a more equitable nation.
To understand the enormity of what happened in Iceland, it’s best to draw parallels between the initial banking fraud that caused Iceland’s economy to collapse and the banking fraud in the U.S. that caused the mortgage crisis six years ago. In Iceland, unscrupulous bankers had inflated the value of Iceland’s banks internationally which in turn caused the “bubble” to eventually burst in 2008 and saw most of Iceland’s banks going bankrupt.
A similar situation happened in the U.S. just one year before the collapse in Iceland, with the mortgage crisis of 2007. Mortgage lenders in the U.S. knowingly lent money to prospective homeowners who could not afford to purchase a home. This, in turn, led to falsely inflated home values and a vicious cycle of too much lending. Just as in Iceland, the bubble burst and many U.S. banks were about to declare bankruptcy. In Iceland, the citizens took to the streets by the thousands, banging pots and pans in what is known as the “pots and pans revolution,” leading to the arrest and prosecution of many unscrupulous bankers responsible for the economic collapse. Icelandic citizens also refused to pay for the sins of the bankers and rejected any measures of taxation to bail them out. In the U.S., the government bailed out the banks and arrested no one.
The pots and pans revolution in Iceland was not covered by mainstream U.S. media. In fact, any information about this revolution is found only on international newspapers, blogs and online documentaries, not on mainstream front-page articles as would be expected from news organizations covering a story of this magnitude. The New York Times published a small handful of piecemeal stories, blogs and opinion pieces, but mostly glossed over the main narrative by saying the 2008 financial collapse in Iceland caused “mayhem far beyond the country’s borders” rather than pointing out that Icelanders took to the streets with pots and pans and forced their entire government to resign.
As the saying goes, “there are two sides to every story,” but a more accurate articulation of this phrase would be “in any story, there are multiple sides, viewpoints, opinions and perspectives.” The story in Iceland is no exception. Socialist and Marxist blogs here in the U.S. say that there’s been a massive U.S. news conspiracy and cover up about the revolution in Iceland because the U.S. media is controlled by corporations, including banks, and the “powers that be” don’t want U.S. citizens getting any ideas to stage a revolution of their own. Some conservative Icelandic bloggers claim that while there was, indeed, a revolution, it did not lead to a successful or widely accepted new constitution. They say the situation in Iceland is worse than ever, and that international news reports of an effective democratic uprising leading to a better government are simply myths. Social media commenters are scratching their heads over why they were robbed of the story of Iceland’s pots and pans revolution.
As with most narratives, the truth may lie somewhere in the middle of all of these varying perspectives. One thing is clear, though: it’s nearly impossible to find one mainstream U.S. news report of the pots and pans revolution in Iceland, the resignation of Iceland’s entire government, and the jailing of the bankers responsible for the economic collapse there. Whether or not the revolution led to a more fair government or a workable and effective constitution is irrelevant to the fact that the U.S. media has essentially skipped over this story for the past five years.
Is it possible that mainstream media sources purposely covered up the Iceland story to appease their corporate sponsors? It doesn’t seem likely, and yet, what explanation could be given as to why this news never made it to the front pages of our most trusted media organizations here in the U.S.?
As Iceland struggles to regain its footing with a new government, U.S. citizens may or may not be able to look to Iceland as an example of perfect democracy in action. The real question, though, is why weren’t U.S. citizens given the information about the ousting of the Icelandic government and the jailing of the unscrupulous bankers? Are journalists in control of the mainstream media or is there some truth to accusations that big business may, in fact, be strong-arming reporters to keep quiet about world events that could inspire similar actions here in the U.S.?

New Air Force bomber costs seen reaching $81 billion — 47 percent more than planned

WASHINGTON — The Air Force's new long-range bomber may cost as much as $81 billion for the 100 planes planned, 47 percent more than the $55 billion sticker price the service has listed.
The Air Force based its estimate of $550 million per plane on the value of the dollar in 2010, and it represents only the production costs for an aircraft that won't be deployed for at least 10 years. Including research and development, the bomber would cost as much as $810 million apiece in this year's dollars, according to calculations by three defense analysts.
The cost of the new bomber will draw close scrutiny in an era of declining defense budgets, as the Pentagon faces $500 billion in reductions over nine years under the budget process called sequestration. The Air Force's track record also is being questioned after soaring costs for the aging B-2 stealth bomber the new plane would replace and the F-35 fighter jet, the most expensive U.S. weapons system, that's now being built.
"The Air Force has zero credibility on start-of-program cost estimates unless and until it ponies up real details about the bomber and its acquisition plan," Winslow Wheeler, a former Government Accountability Office defense analyst now with the Project on Government Oversight in Washington, said in an email. "It is a fool's errand, or worse, to pretend the cost stated now is anything but a bait-and-switch buy-in gambit."
The B-2 was planned as 132 planes for about $571 million each in 1991 dollars before the first Bush administration cut the fleet to 20 planes in the early 1990s. That resulted in a price of about $2.2 billion per bomber, a fourfold increase, in a program that remained highly classified during its development.
The F-35 program has a current price tag of $391.2 billion for 2,443 aircraft, a 68 percent increase from the projection in 2001, as measured in current dollars, for 409 fewer planes than originally planned.
Whatever its ultimate cost, the new bomber would mean billions for the defense contractor chosen to build it. Lockheed Martin Corp. of Bethesda, Md., and Chicago-based Boeing, the No. 1 and No. 2 U.S. defense contractors, said in October that they'll bid for the project as a team. They may end up competing against Northrop Grumman Corp. of Falls Church, Va., the prime contractor for the B-2, which hasn't yet announced an intention to bid.
The Air Force has requested $379 million in funding for development this year, increasing to more than $1 billion in fiscal 2015 and $2.8 billion in fiscal 2018, according to data released by the service.
The Air Force hasn't provided its rationale for the increased spending. The Congressional Budget Office said the Air Force plans to request $32.1 billion through 2023.
The $550 million per plane projection for the new bomber is "the only cost estimate approved for public release at this time," Air Force spokesman Ed Gulick said in a statement.
Gulick said the estimate is a "target that helps balance capabilities and cost" and is being used in "rigidly containing the design" of the bomber.
The more complete "program acquisition unit cost" will be derived later by adding research and development, as well as estimating "inflation up to the year you purchase aircraft," Gulick said.
The Air Force's cost estimate "seems rather ambitious," said Todd Harrison, a defense budget analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a Washington-based policy group. He calculated a price of $810 million a plane in fiscal 2014 dollars, or $81 billion for 100, based on $20 billion in projected research and development costs.
"Aircraft programs, and stealth aircraft in particular, have gone far over their initial cost estimates," Harrison said. "If you factor in historical cost growth, the total program cost could easily top $100 billion."
Russell Rumbaugh, a defense analyst with the Stimson Center, also a policy group in Washington, said his comparable estimate is $682 million per plane. Kevin Brancato, a defense analyst with Bloomberg Government, projected $784 million per plane in this year's dollars.
"The incentives in the budget system almost force the services to low-ball their cost estimates," said Gordon Adams, a professor at American University in Washington who oversaw the national security budget for the White House under President Bill Clinton. "Otherwise they do not get the program in the budget. It grows later."
The Air Force now operates a fleet of 159 long-range bombers, including 63 swing-wing B-1Bs developed in the 1980s by Rockwell International, which is now part of Boeing, and the 20 B-2s from the 1990s.
The new bomber is needed because the "B-2 is an older airplane that's getting expensive" to maintain and "it's not as stealthy as we're now capable of making aircraft," Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said in an interview before he left office Dec. 4.
As the Air Force anticipates its needs 10 or 20 years from now, "expecting those aircraft to perform reliably at such advanced ages may prove to be overly optimistic," said Mark Gunzinger, an airpower analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
The Air Force is still flying 76 B-52 bombers from the H series that entered service in May 1961. They remain capable of launching conventional and nuclear bombs and cruise missiles.
The Air Force has identified the new long-range bomber as one of its top three weapons projects, along with the F-35 from Lockheed and the KC-46 aerial refueling tanker made by Boeing.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said the bomber will support the U.S. strategy of rebalancing toward Asia. Pentagon officials have said they'll do as much as they can to shelter such priority weapons systems from the automatic budget cuts.
An Air Force summary of the bomber describes a stealth aircraft able to deliver both nuclear and conventional weapons. While the "baseline aircraft" would be piloted, the bomber would be designed to "enable future unmanned capability," according to the service.
Beyond that, the Air Force, which has said the bomber would incorporate "proven technologies," has said little about its classified plans for the new plane.
"It would be a mistake to view this aircraft as simply another bomber," said Retired Lieutenant General David Deptula, the Air Force's former chief of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
It may take off on a bombing run, using intelligence and surveillance sensors provided from other platforms and on-board jammers to degrade ground radar, he said in an e-mail. The bomber crew also could use its radar and sensors to direct land- and sea-based strikes, as well as collect intelligence on the return flight, according to Deptula, who helped plan the air campaign in the 1991 Gulf War.
"The operational characteristics are going to be cloaked in secrecy for a while, and I think that makes perfect sense," Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh told reporters in November.
Welsh said capabilities would be carefully weighed against the $550 million-a-plane target.
"What we don't want to do is try to reach into some level of technology that's impractical." That's when "prices start to get out of control and your requirements start to drift," Welsh said. "We are not going to go there."
Adams cited the B-2's cost escalation, as well as plans for a medium-range bomber that Defense Secretary Robert Gates canceled as too costly in 2009. Gates supports the new bomber.
"How many times are we going to go down this overpriced bomber road?" Adams said. "It's like Lucy with the football. We never get to kick an affordable aircraft through the goalpost."

So If 30,000 People within 50 Miles Of Your House Starve To Death

I decided to call the next Depression the Greatest Starvation, because I want to shock people from their slumbers. I tell people that according to the demographer Borisov between 3 and 7 million Americans died from starvation in the Great Depression. American record keeping was so poor in the 1930s that he can only prove at least 3 million died from starvation. But it could have easily been a lot more than that. The United States only had 125 million people at that time and Americans lived closer to farms 80 years ago. I think I am being honest when I estimate 10 million Americans could die from starvation in the next Depression. That is assuming there is no Debt Cancellation and no Monetary Reform to prevent a worldwide mass die off.
I am not including any of the millions nationwide who will prefer to commit suicide in the 10 million.
I do not know what is really happening on the ground in foreign countries but I read recently that malnutrition has doubled in Great Britain. This is according to a British Medical journal.
A man in his late 50s who was a small boy when President Kennedy was assassinated explained the official theory of the Warren Commission and the Mainstream press to a teenager. He then showed the young man the Zapruder film. He realized that the teenager had suddenly understood that he was living in a dictatorship. It really shocked him at a deep level. If you want a job or to have any success at all, you must believe what your are told to believe. The Department of Homeland Security wants Americans to apply to them for a license to practice their profession. Even truck drivers will need a license from DHS saying they were Good Boys. School teachers, administrators and nurses will need DHS licenses proving their Obedience. It is as if we were all being sent to Doggie Obedience school. But wait. Isn’t that they are teaching us at airports when they grope our genitals?
America has 39 counties with a population of at least a million people. There are 52 metropolitan areas with more than a million people. So if you live in an American city or suburb, there is a good chance that there are a million people living within 50 miles (80.5 Kilometers) of your house. Think what this means for your town. If 10 million Americans die of starvation nationwide, then at least 30,000 people living near you could starve to death. To roughly estimate the number of deaths in your neighborhood just divide the total population by thirty.
Some people live in large urban areas in California, Illinois, Texas, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York-New-Jersey. Those people could lose anywhere from 150,000 to 300,000 from starvation within 50 miles of their homes and more than that within 100 miles.
I currently live in a small town. I could expect 2,000 of the local 60,000 residents within 6 miles of my house to drop dead from starvation. There are more than a million people living in a rather dangerous city less than 100 miles from me. So what happens to us if 600,000 people flee the big city looking for food? If they head out in the 4 directions of the major highways leaving their city, people like me in small towns on major highways could get wiped out rather quickly.
That is the problem I have not yet addressed. If mass starvation causes Nationwide Food Riots, will the dying stop at 10 million? What happens if the economy is ruined by a protracted Racial Civil war? I believe Wall Street wants a Race War so we cannot march on Wall Street and demand the return of the tens of trillions of dollars they stole from us.
Suppose 2 million blacks die from starvation? What will the surviving blacks do? Suppose 2 million Hispanics die from starvation. What will their friends and families do? What will the 1.4 million members of gangs do? White Americans have 300 million guns. What will they do if 5 million or more whites starve to death? Will there be a country left?
Getting people to think about 10 million Americans dying from starvation will force them to focus on survival. Let’s kick into gear the survival instincts of those people the Bankers need to do their bidding. At the top of the list are the military, the police, state and local officials and hopefully some federal workers in key positions to just say No.
Remember this: At some level we all have the right to disobey the insanity that comes our way from those above us in the government. We have the right to say NO. Joining together to refuse to obey will stop any dictatorship.
Prepare yourself. Look up the population in your area. What will happen if one in thirty of the people living within 50 miles of you dies from starvation? Calculate that number before you begin the conversation. If you are 80 or 90 miles from the city center, then change the argument. Ask them what they think will happen when 50,000 or 100,000 or more people within 100 miles starve to death.  Confront them reality.
I might remind you that the government allows the CIA to bring in plane loads of cocaine and heroin which they sell to drug gangs. These gangs have 1.4 million members in the US. The federal government sells them guns. The Mexican drug gangs have killed 80,000 people in their country. These are the people who employ 12 year-old boys to chop off the heads and genitals of people they do not like. They have 250,000 members in their American affiliated gangs. That’s enough people to destroy several major cities.
There will be way too many refugees for the federal government to handle. They can’t even manage small hurricanes like Katrina and Sandy. They have over 800 FEMA and National Guard camps where they can house a few million people for a few weeks.
I would expect the Bankers to use their employees at the CIA, DHS and FBI to stir up riots in the cities and in the camps so they can start the killing process. The other problem is that I expect the Bankers to release a series of plagues to kill people.
I have had enough of the Federal Reserve, Wall Street and the City of London. All of our wars were started by them and done for their benefit. They have bled us dry by charging us interest on the money they created out of nothing. They stole 8.35 trillion dollars from US Department of Defense spending. They stole hundreds of billions from other Departments. And now they want to kill six billion people using starvation and lab engineered plagues.
The next few months might be your last chance to resist.
Related Articles:
I also use humor to communicate. I wrote a new set of rules for the board game Monopoly. Let me quote from the new ‘You’ve been burgled card:’
There is a totally new You’ve Been Burgled card. It says, “The banks launder more than a trillion dollars a year in illegal drugs and weapons. The CIA is owned by the banks. It flies heroin and cocaine into your country and sells them to drug gangs. Addicts pay for the drugs by breaking into homes and stealing things. You were just burgled. Pay the Banker $200.”
You can find that article here:
I have written in depth about a Racial Civil War as Wall Street’s preferred Exit Strategy. Try this:
The Uber Rich Want Us To Have A Racial Civil War.
Please remember this litmus test when you see new leaders popping up all over the place as soon as the dollar collapses and wages are cut 50% overnight.
A Litmus Test: Will You Arrest The Bankers?

Obama: Hole U.S. ‘digging out of’ requires billions more in unemployment benefits

Obamacare has caused many Americans to lose their jobs. Credit: borman818 via Flickr
Although the jobless rate in November fell to its lowest level since he took office, President Obama called on Republican lawmakers Saturday to spend tens of billions on unemployment benefits that are set to expire this month.
“It shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” Mr. Obama said in his weekly address. But he said the “economic lifeline” is in jeopardy.
“All because Republicans in this Congress — which is on track to be the most unproductive in history — have so far refused to extend it” Mr. Obama said.
If Congress doesn’t act before lawmakers leave on their holiday break, about 1.3 million unemployed Americans will see their benefits run out. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated it would cost taxpayers about $26 billion to extend the benefits through next year.
Read more

'Rank Hypocrisy': WTO Deal Bows to Wealth, Squashes the Poor

Source: Common Dreams

Food sovereignty campaigners protest against the WTO in Bali, Indonesia this week. (Twitpic / @JHilary)
In announcing a final agreement in Bali, Indonesia on Saturday morning, head of the World Trade Organization Roberto Azevedo, said: "For the first time in our history, the WTO has truly delivered."
"There is a rank hypocrisy at the heart of the WTO that cannot be glossed over. The USA and EU continue to channel billions in subsidies to their richest farmers, yet seek to destroy other countries’ right to protect their poorest citizens from starvation. The WTO is an institution that has lost any claim to legitimacy. No amount of spin from Bali can disguise that fact." –John Hilary, War on Want
Unfortunately, say critics, what the deal is certain to "deliver" is more pain and suffering for the world's poorest people and farmers at the expense of the world's largest and most powerful nations and corporations.
Anti-poverty groups and food sovereignty advocates across the world were pushing off pronouncements like Azevedo's, saying that the agreement is a failure when it comes to fairness, poverty reduction, environmental protections, and the alleviation of hunger across the globe.
Among those slamming the final deal, director of the World Development Movement (WDM) Nick Dearden said the Bali agreement is designed to serve the interests of "transnational corporations not the world's poor."
"Here in Bali," he continued, "social movements, trade unions and campaign groups have supported the efforts of developing countries to get a deal which moves the agenda away from a pro-corporate charter and towards something that asserts the rights and needs of the majority of the world's population."
And John Hilary, executive director of the UK-based War on Want, slammed the deal:
Any suggestion that there is a deal to celebrate from the WTO talks in Bali is absurd. The negotiations have failed to secure permanent protection for countries to safeguard the food rights of their peoples, exposing hundreds of millions to the prospect of hunger and starvation simply in order to satisfy the dogma of free trade. It is time to end the WTO charade once and for all, and focus instead on undoing the harm it has already caused across the world.
There is a rank hypocrisy at the heart of the WTO that cannot be glossed over. The USA and EU continue to channel billions in subsidies to their richest farmers, yet seek to destroy other countries’ right to protect their poorest citizens from starvation. The WTO is an institution that has lost any claim to legitimacy. No amount of spin from Bali can disguise that fact.
Maude Barlow, speaking on behalf of the Council of Canadians, expressed equal outrage:
This was not a historic win for developing countries at the WTO. They scrape by with modest and temporary protections for food security policies that should be completely excluded from corporate trade rules, which are still biased in the interests of corporations and rich countries. The bargain, if you can call it that, also came at the high price of agreeing to a trade facilitation agreement that further locks in a neo-colonial trading system that has condemned much of the world to poverty.
It is unfortunate that some countries will leave Bali with a vain hope that further negotiations will conclude the WTO’s so-called development agenda over the next year. The reality is rich countries like Canada, the United States and Europe have abandoned the idea completely and are focused on moving their corporate agenda as far as it can go in transatlantic and transpacific free trade deals, as well as a highly secretive international services agreement being negotiated on the outskirts of the WTO in Geneva by a small cabal of developed countries.
Though the so-called "peace clause" was agreed to, as previous Common Dreamsreporting indicated, the compromise does almost nothing to protect the world's poor over the long-term. In fact, critics warn, the so-called "compromise" sets up a ticking clock by which the poorest nations will be forced to throw their small farmers under the bus in the name of global capitalism.

A street market in the old quarters of Delhi. India sought safeguards, at the WTO, from US agricultural surpluses. (Photograph: Ahmad Masood/Reuters)

As French economist and food sovereignty campaigner Maxim Combes tweeted:
And Dearden added, "The aggressive stance of the US and EU means that we have moved only a little, and shows again that the WTO can never be a forum for creating a just and equal global economic system."
Dearden and Hilary were not alone in indicating that the WTO should be thrown overboard entirely if trade policies are ever to serve humanity and not just the bottom lines of transnational corporations (TNCs). As Pablo Solon, Executive Director of Focus on the Global South, tweeted:
And Mary Ann Manahan, Solon's colleague at FGS, added:

A Norwegian Carpenter Thanks America for Metals Price Manipulation

Guest Post: A Norwegian Carpenter Thanks American Officials for PM Manipulation

Source: The Doc from
gold & silver sold outAverage Americans have debt over their ears they never can repay – and now your government wants to borrow more money, or print more worthless paper dollars? QE1, QE2, QE3, QE4, QE-Bankrupt! Are all of the American officials retards?

And now your leaders manipulate the gold and silver prices (Comex) to keep this stupid scam going a few more weeks or months. Meanwhile, the Wise Man from the East – the Chinese, the Indies, The Russians and the Arabs buy your gold and silver on sale, paying you with worthless dollar bills you have been printing unrestrained. Have you Americans completely lost your mind? Have you become a country of retards? The whole world is laughing of you! We can all see that the former mighty America is bankrupt, and we do not understand that the people let your leaders continue this obvious scam.

Before you had Gangsters, now America is governed by Banksters supported by Washington that scams all its citizens.

I would like to thank your politicians which made it possible for me to purchase 10,000 physical Silver Eagles and 100 Gold Eagles very, very, very cheaply – I even paid with your (very soon) worthless paper dollars – and secured my and my children’s future.
Silver Buffalo As Low As 84 Cents Over Spot at SDBullion!
I was born in Brooklyn in the beginning of the 1950′s, and I grew up in the countryside in Norway. I always have been proud to be an American citizen, but now I am just worried.
Earlier everybody in Europa dreamed about American cars as, Chevrolet Corvette, Camaro, Cougar, Pontiac Firebird , Mustang, Plymouth, Cadillac, Continental etc. etc.
It was the Europeans’ and Norwegians dreams. Many still do.
From 1973 to 1976 I was a carpenter in Norwalk, Connecticut, and to my astonishment European cars were rich people’s prestige cars such as Porsche, Mercedes, BMW and Volvo. Even greater was my astonishment when I saw Americans buy Japanese cars.  I – a simple carpenter from the Norwegian countryside realized that if the Americans continued on this path you would destroy your own proud car industry. I told the Americans that it was like sawing off the branch you are sitting on. But nobody listened to a simple carpenter from Norway. The result we all can see now – America’s pride – Detroit is bankrupt!
I also witnessed President Nixon’s trip to China where he signed the fatal trade agreement with the Chinese. As a result, U.S. companies moved their factories to China – American workers were unemployed – and the idiots started to import American products – manufactured in China – back to the USA?!?! To finance this stupidity they began to borrow money – a lot of money. The result we all can see now – average Americans have debt over your ears you never can repay – and now your government wants to borrow more money, or print more worthless paper dollars? QE1, QE2, QE3, QE4, QE-Bankrupt! Are all of the American officials retards?
And now your leaders manipulate the gold and silver prices (Comex) to keep this stupid scam going a few more weeks or months. Meanwhile, the Wise Man from the East – the Chinese, the Indies, The Russians and the Arabs buy your gold and silver on sale, paying you with worthless dollar bills you unrestrained have been printing. Have you Americans completely lost your mind? Have you become a country of retards? The whole world is laughing of you! We can all see that the former mighty America is bankrupt, and we do not understand that the people let your leaders continue this obvious scam.
Before you had Gangsters, now America is governed by Bangsters supported by Washington that scams all its citizens.
Finally, I would like to thank your politicians which made it possible for me to purchase 10,000 physical Silver Eagles and 100 Gold Eagles very, very, very cheaply – I even paid with your (very soon) worthless paper dollars – and secured my and my children’s future.
Regards an astonished SilverBug in Norway

How to commit fraud and get away with it: A Guide for CEOs

Shorter Version

A strategy to maximise bonuses and avoid personal culpability:
  • Don’t commit the fraud yourself.
  • Minimise information received about the actions of your employees.
  • Control employees through automated, algorithmic systems based on plausible metrics like Value at Risk.
  • Pay high bonuses to employees linked to “stretch” revenue/profit targets.
  • Fire employees when targets are not met.
  • …..Wait.

Longer Version

CEOs and senior managers of modern corporations possess the ability to engineer fraud on an organisational scale and capture the upside without running the risk of doing any jail time. In other words, they can reliably commit fraud and get away with it.
Imagine that you are the newly hired CEO of a large bank and by some improbable miracle your bank is squeaky clean and free of fraudulent practises. But you are unhappy about this. Your competitors are making more profits than you are by embracing fraud and coming out ahead of you even after paying tens of billions of dollars in fines to the regulators. And you want a piece of the action. But you’re a risk-averse person and don’t want to risk spending any time in jail for committing fraud. So how can you achieve this outcome?
Obviously you should not commit any fraudulent acts yourself. You want your junior managers to commit fraud in the pursuit of higher profits. One way to incentivise this behaviour is to adopt what are known as ‘high-powered incentives’. Pay your employees high bonuses tied to revenue/profits and maintain hard-to-meet ‘stretch’ targets. Fire ruthlessly if these targets are not met. And finally, ensure that you minimise the flow of information up to you about how exactly how your employees meet these targets.
There is one problem with this approach. As a CEO, this allows you to use the “I knew nothing!” defense and claim ignorance about all the “deplorable” fraud taking place lower down the organisational food chain. But it may fall foul of another legal principle that has been tailored for such situations – the principle of ‘wilful blindness’“if there is information that you could have know, and should have known, but somehow managed not to know, the law treats you as though you did know it”. In a recent essay, Judge Rakoff uses exactly this principle to criticise the failure of regulators in the United States in prosecuting senior bankers.
But wait – all hope is not lost yet. There is one way by which you as a CEO can not only argue that adequate controls and supervision were in place and at the same time make it easier for your employees to commit fraud. Simply perform the monitoring and control function through an automated system and restrict your role to signing off on the risk metrics that are the output of this automated system.
It is hard to explain how this can be done in the abstract so let me take a hypothetical example from the mortgage origination and securitisation industry. As a CEO of a mortgage originator in 2005, you are under a lot of pressure from your shareholders to increase subprime originations. You realise that the task would be a lot easier if your salespeople originated fraudulent loans where ineligible borrowers are given loans they can’t afford. You’ve followed all the steps laid out above but as discussed this is not enough. You may be accused of not having any controls in the organisation. Even if you try hard to ensure that no information regarding fraud filters through to you, you can never be certain. At the first sign of something unusual, a mortgage approval officer may raise an exception to his supervisor. Given that every person in the management hierarchy wants to cover his own back, how can you ensure that nothing filters up to you whilst at the same time providing a plausible argument that you aren’t wilfully blind?
The answer is somewhat counterintuitive – you should codify and automate the mortgage approval process. Have your salespeople input potential borrower details into a system that approves or rejects the loan application based on an algorithm without any human intervention. The algorithm does not have to be naive. In fact it would ideally be a complex algorithm, maybe even ‘learned from data’. Why so? Because the more complex the algorithm, the more opportunities it provides to the salespeople to ‘game’ and arbitrage the system in order to commit fraud. And the more complex the algorithm, the easier it is for you, the CEO, to argue that your control systems were adequate and that you cannot be accused of wilful blindness or even the ‘failure to supervise’.
In complex domains, this argument is impossible to refute. No regulator/prosecutor is going to argue that you should have installed a more manual control system. And no regulator can argue that you, the CEO, should have micro-managed the mortgage approval process.
Let me take another example – the use of Value at Risk (VaR) as a risk measure for control purposes in banks. VaR is not ubiquitous because traders and CEOs are unaware of its flaws. It is ubiquitous because it allows senior managers to project the facade of effective supervision without taking on the trouble or the legal risks of actually monitoring what their traders are up to. It is sophisticated enough to protect against the charge of wilful blindness and it allows ample room for traders to load up on the tail risks that fund the senior managers’ bonuses during the good times. When the risk blows up, the senior manager can simply claim that he was deceived and fire the trader.
What makes this strategy so easy to implement today compared to even a decade ago is the ubiquitousness of fully algorithmic control systems. When the control function is performed by genuine human domain experts, then obvious gaming of the control mechanism is a lot harder to achieve. Let me take another example to illustrate this. One of the positions that lost UBS billions of dollars during the 2008 financial crisis was called ‘AMPS’ where billions of dollars in super-senior tranche bonds were hedged with a tiny sliver of equity tranche bonds so that the portfolio showed a zero VaR and delta-neutral risk position. Even the most novice of controllers could have identified the catastrophic tail risk embedded in hedging a position where one can lose billions, with another position where one could only gain millions.
There is nothing new in what I have laid out in this essay – for example, Kenneth Bamberger has made much the same point on the interaction between technology and regulatory compliance:
automated systems—systems that governed loan originations, measured institutional risk, prompted investment decisions, and calculated capital reserve levels—shielded irresponsible decisions, unreasonably risky speculation, and intentional manipulation, with a façade of regularity….
Invisibility by design, allows engineering of fraudulent outcomes without being held responsible for them – the “I knew nothing!” defense. of course, they are also self-deceived so this is really true.
But although the automation that enables this risk-free fraud is a recent phenomenon, the principle behind this strategy is one that is familiar to managers throughout the modern era – “How do I get things done the way I want to without being held responsible for them?”.
Just as the algorithmic revolution is simply a continuation of the control revolution, the ‘accountability gap’ due to automation is simply an acceleration of trends that have been with us throughout the modern era. Theodore Porter has shown how the rise of objectivity and bureaucracy were as much driven by the desire to avoid responsibility as they were driven by the desire for superior results. Many features of the modern corporate world only make sense when we understand that one of their primary aims is the avoidance of responsibility and culpability. Why are external consulting firms so popular even when the CEO knows exactly what he wants to do? So that the CEO can avoid responsibility if the ‘strategic restructuring’ goes badly. Why do so many firms delegate their critical control processes to a hotpotch of outsourced software contractors? So that they can blame any failures on external counter-parties who have explicitly been granted exemption from any liability1.
Due to my experience in banking, my examples and illustrations are necessarily drawn from the world of finance. But it should be clear that nothing in what I’ve said is limited to banking. ‘Strategic ignorance’ is equally effective in many other domains. My arguments are also not a justification for not prosecuting bankers for fraud. It is an argument that CEOs of modern corporations can reap the benefits of fraud and get away with it. And they can do so very easily. Fraud is embedded within the very fabric of the modern economy.
Note: Venkat makes a similar point in his series on the ‘Gervais Principle’ on how sociopathic managers avoid responsibility for their actions. Much of what I have written above may make more sense if read in conjunction with his essay.