Friday, December 13, 2013

House passes bipartisan budget deal

John Boehner (left) and Paul Ryan are pictured. | AP Photo
Boehner says the deal isn't perfect, but it advances conservative policy. | AP Photo

After a tumultuous and politically divisive year, the House ended 2013 on a rare bipartisan note by passing a budget deal supported by a nearly equal number of Republicans and Democrats.
The chamber voted 332-94 to approve the two-year budget deal crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). The legislation won the support of 169 Republicans and 163 Democrats. It now heads to the Senate, where it will likely pass next week. President Barack Obama signaled he would sign the bill into law.

In an interview after the vote, Ryan said the vote total was “much higher than I expected,” and that “we’re getting a little bit of integrity back into the system.”
(Also on POLITICO: Inside the budget agreement)
“I think people are hungry to get things done around here,” Ryan said. “That’s what I got, I got so many of my colleagues saying thank you for bringing some normalcy back to this place. So I’m very pleased about that.”
The deal sets discretionary spending at $1.012 trillion for the current fiscal year — a level that will rise to $1.014 trillion in fiscal 2015 — and replaces sequester cuts slated to take effect in January with more targeted spending cuts. Absent the agreement, discretionary spending would decline to $967 billion early next year with a large proportion of the cuts hitting the Pentagon.
The agreement, which includes $23 billion in net deficit reduction, doesn’t extend expanded unemployment benefits that expire at the end of December. It also does nothing about the debt ceiling, which must be addressed sometime in the spring.
Still, the budget is a breakthrough for a Congress frozen by partisan fiscal fights for the past few years. In a practical sense, the budget will help lessen the chance of a government shutdown in mid January and again in October, just before the 2014 midterm elections.
(Also on POLITICO: Budget deal rolls back spending)
Neither party appears to be jumping for joy over the agreement. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told Democrats in a closed meeting to “embrace the suck” of this bill, adding that Congress needs “to get this off the table so we can go forward.”
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters Thursday morning that the agreement is “not everything that we wanted, but it advances conservative policy and moves us in the right direction.”
Both parties believe that the budget helps them politically. With the threat of a government shutdown mostly removed, Republicans think they can keep focus on the Affordable Care Act, which has had a troubled roll out. Democrats are already laying the groundwork to use January to pressure Republicans to extend emergency jobless benefits, which expire near the end of December. And Democrats are sure to pressure Republicans in 2014 to vote on immigration reform, which has been long stalled in the House.
(WATCH: Budget deal by the numbers)
The bill marks a new stage in Ryan’s career on Capitol Hill. Long a partisan warrior who wrote budgets that made conservatives’ mouth water, Ryan has now cut a bipartisan deal that will shave the deficit by $23 billion.
The House was scheduled to wrap up its legislative year Friday, but finished its work Thursday instead. The chamber also passed a one-month extension of current farm policy, and cleared the National Defense Authorization Act.

Farm Bill “Compromise” Deadline Friday 12/13/2013 Will FoodStamps Get Cut?

word is folks….that CONgress is tryn to pass a 5 yr ‘compromise deal’ & but the problems cuttn the foodstamp program – house GOP wants a 40bil cut but senate wants 4bil cut - the dem housetards wanna propose just a trimmer to match senate proposal…not enuff boehner says. the two sides’re supposed to have a final compromise bill on the house floor by tomorrow/dec 13 but the deadline could be pushed into next year as its already + a year behind schedule. ***summa the dems have been considering voting against any compromise farm bill in order to kill the bill. if that happens, FS would continue to be funded at current benefit. and boehner could very well play the “haserts card” on any ‘rejected compromise’.
House Speaker Boehner blames Democrats for tardy U.S. farm bill
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday accused Senate Democrats of blocking the path to a new U.S. farm bill that would cut food stamp benefits for the poor and boost crop insurance coverage for farmers.
Published: December 11, 2013
WASHINGTON — Prospects for passage of a new farm bill before the end of the year appear dim, with just a week left before Congress adjourns for the holidays, although lawmakers insisted they were close to a deal. The current measure expires at the end of the month. Members of the House and Senate have been meeting to reconcile their different versions of a new bill, and they agree on many things, including expanding crop insurance for farmers. But they remain far apart on issues like cuts to the food stamp program. A House proposal would cut about $40 billion from the program, while a Senate version would trim roughly $4.5 billion, mainly by making administrative changes.
more here
Published: December 10, 2013
Political Fight on Farm Aid and Food Stamps Hits Home in the Delta
BELZONI, Miss. — Thomas Bond, a cotton grower whose onetime 8,500-acre partnership of farms received $4 million in federal subsidies in the last seven years, thinks that many residents in the surrounding Mississippi Delta need food stamps. But he says the program is too big and rife with fraud. “There are a lot of people on food stamps who shouldn’t be,” Mr. Bond said in a recent interview at the Yazoo Country Club. “They could be working, but don’t.”
more here
Published: December 3, 2013
WASHINGTON — Congress could enact a new U.S. farm law that cuts food stamps for the poor and expands federally subsidized crop insurance in January if negotiators soon break a deadlock, the lawmaker overseeing the negotiations said on Tuesday. Cuts in food stamps are the paramount issue for the farm bill, which is more than a year overdue. Conservative Republicans want the largest cuts in a generation, $40 billion over 10 years. House Democrats solidly oppose any cuts. The sides continue to struggle for a compromise.
The food stamp fight has repeatedly slowed work on the five-year, $500 billion bill, which has also endured the first-ever defeat of a farm bill in the House of Representatives. Deep divisions also remain over crop subsidies and dairy reform, other lines of dispute that must be resolved. With time running out in 2013, Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, who chairs the House-Senate negotiations, admitted for the first time that the farm bill may not be ready for a vote before year-end, even though a broad framework might be hammered out this month.
more here
Farm Bill 2013 Senate Conferees

Dent, Faber, Celente, Maloney, Rogers – What Do They Say Is Coming In 2014?

Earth From Space
Some of the most respected prognosticators in the financial world are warning that what is coming in 2014 and beyond is going to shake America to the core.  Many of the quotes that you are about to read are from individuals that actually predicted the subprime mortgage meltdown and the financial crisis of 2008 ahead of time.  So they have a track record of being right.  Does that guarantee that they will be right about what is coming in 2014?  Of course not.  In fact, as you will see below, not all of them agree about exactly what is coming next.  But without a doubt, all of their forecasts are quite ominous.  The following are quotes from Harry Dent, Marc Faber, Gerald Celente, Mike Maloney, Jim Rogers and nine other respected economic experts about what they believe is coming in 2014 and beyond…
-Harry Dent, author of The Great Depression Ahead: “Our best long-term and intermediate cycles suggest another slowdown and stock crash accelerating between very early 2014 and early 2015, and possibly lasting well into 2015 or even 2016. The worst economic trends due to demographics will hit between 2014 and 2019. The U.S. economy is likely to suffer a minor or major crash by early 2015 and another between late 2017 and late 2019 or early 2020 at the latest.”
-Marc Faber, editor and publisher of the Gloom, Boom & Doom Report: “You have to say that we are again in a massive financial bubble in bonds, in equities, in [other] asset prices that have gone up dramatically.”
-Gerald Celente: “Any self-respecting adult that hears McConnell, Reid, Boehner, Ryan, one after another, and buys this baloney… they deserve what they get.
And as for the international scene… the whole thing is collapsing.
That’s our forecast.
We are saying that by the second quarter of 2014, we expect the bottom to fall out… or something to divert our attention as it falls out.”
-Mike Maloney, host of Hidden Secrets of Money: “I think the crash of 2008 was just a speed bump on the way to the main event… the consequences are gonna be horrific… the rest of the decade will bring us the greatest financial calamity in history.”
-Jim Rogers: “You saw what happened in 2008-2009, which was worse than the previous economic setback because the debt was so much higher. Well now the debt is staggeringly much higher, and so the next economic problem, whenever it happens and whatever causes it, is going to be worse than in the past, because we have these unbelievable levels of debt, and unbelievable levels of money printing all over the world. Be worried and get prepared. Now it [a collapse] may not happen until 2016 or something, I have no idea when it’s going to happen, but when it comes, be careful.”
-Lindsey Williams: “There is going to be a global currency reset.”
-CLSA’s Russell Napier: “We are on the eve of a deflationary shock which will likely reduce equity valuations from very high to very low levels.”
-Oaktree Capital’s Howard Marks: “Certainly risk tolerance has been increasing of late; high returns on risky assets have encouraged more of the same; and the markets are becoming more heated. The bottom line varies from sector to sector, but I have no doubt that markets are riskier than at any other time since the depths of the crisis in late 2008 (for credit) or early 2009 (for equities), and they are becoming more so.”
-Financial editor Jeff Berwick: “If they allow interest rates to rise, it will effectively make the U.S. government bankrupt and insolvent, and it would make the U.S. government collapse. . . . They are preparing for a major societal collapse.  It is obvious and it will happen, and it will be very scary and very dangerous.”
-Michael Pento, founder of Pento Portfolio Strategies: “Disappointingly, it is much more probable that the government has brought us out of the Great Recession, only to set us up for the Greater Depression, which lies just on the other side of interest rate normalization.”
-Boston University Economics Professor Laurence Kotlikoff:”Eventually somebody recognizes this and starts dumping the bonds, and interest rates go up, and inflation takes off, and were off to the races.”
-Mexican Billionaire Hugo Salinas Price: “I think we are going to see a series of bankruptcies.  I think the rise in interest rates is the fatal sign which is going to ignite a derivatives crisis.   This is going to bring down the derivatives system (and the financial system).
There are (over) one quadrillion dollars of derivatives and most of them are related to interest rates.  The spiking of interest rates in the United States may set that off.  What is going to happen in the world is eventually we are going to come to a moment where there is going to be massive bankruptcies around the globe.”
-Robert Shiller, one of the winners of the 2013 Nobel prize for economics: “I’m not sounding the alarm yet.  But in many countries the stock price levels are high, and in many real estate markets prices have risen sharply…that could end badly.”
-David Stockman, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan: “We have a massive bubble everywhere, from Japan, to China, Europe, to the UK.  As a result of this, I think world financial markets are extremely dangerous, unstable, and subject to serious trouble and dislocation in the future.”
And certainly there are already signs that the U.S. economy is slowing down as we head into the final weeks of 2013.  For example, on Thursday we learned that the number of initial claims for unemployment benefits increased by 68,000 last week to a disturbingly high total of 368,000.  That was the largest increase that we have seen in more than a year.
In addition, as I wrote about the other day, rail traffic is way down right now.  In fact, for the week ending November 30th, U.S. rail traffic wasdown 16.3 percent from the same week one year earlier.  That is a very important indicator that economic activity is getting slower.
And we continue to get more evidence that the middle class is being steadily eroded and that poverty in America is rapidly growing.  For example, a survey that was just released found that requests for food assistance and the level of homelessness have both risen significantly in major U.S. cities over the past year…
A survey of 25 American cities, including many of the nation’s largest, showed yearly increases in food aid and homelessness.
The cities, located throughout 18 states, saw requests for emergency food aid rise by an average of seven percent compared with the previous period a year earlier, according to the US Conference of Mayors study, published Wednesday.
All but four cities reported an increase in demand for assistance between the period of September 2012 through August 2013.
Unfortunately, if the economic experts quoted above are correct, this is just the beginning of our problems.
The next wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching, and things are going to get much worse than this.
So what do you think?
Which of the individuals quoted above do you think are right on the money and which ones do you think are way off base?
Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

Gold On Track For First Annual Decline After 12 Straight Years Of Gains

  • First Decline in 12 Years. Gold has dropped 25% over the past year and is on track for its first annual decline after 12 years of gains. Meanwhile, silver is down 33% YTD.
  • Sprott Hedge Fund Down 50% YTD. The flagship fund of prominent Canadian hedge-fund manager Eric Sprott has fallen more than 50% this year in what will likely be the third consecutive year of double-digit percentage losses. According to the WSJ: assets managed by Mr. Sprott have collapsed from nearly $3 billion in 2008 to just $350 million today. About half of the money left in the firm’s main hedge funds comes from Mr. Sprott and his employees.
  • Sprott Ousted From Investment Decisions. Since last fall, Sprott’s mutual-fund, private-equity and wealth-management arms have lost 30% of assets under management. Last month, Sprott Inc. announced that it is phasing Mr. Sprott out of major investment decisions at the firm and relegating him to a new role of “chief cheerleader duties.”
  • John Paulson Gold Fund Also Down Big. The PFR Gold fund, managed by billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson, has lost 63% for the year through the end of October.
  • Hedge Funds = Gold Bears. Hedge funds are the least bullish on gold since 2007 and the most negative on silver since data began being collected in 2006.
  • Billionaire Jim Rogers Weighs in on Gold/Silver. In a recent interview, the investment legend says he is hedging gold, not silver, and will buy even more if prices fall further… Why? “Because gold is going to go to huge numbers before this is all over.”
  • Read More @ WSJ

Four Bankers in Iceland Sentenced to Jail for the FRAUD they committed. Including the Chairman of the Bank.

If this would happen all over the world, we would be in much better shape!

Iceland's court sentenced four bankers to jail, including the Chairman of Kaupthing Bank. 

Obviously Iceland's courts are not as corrupt as the rest of the world's courts.  The U.S. has never considered jailing Corzine (MF Global), besides all the other top Wall Street bankers.  But the fact that Iceland has jailed bankers, shows all is not lost.  It is up to all of us to continue trying to get people to wake up.    


In a landmark ruling, Reykjavík District Court sentenced four former executives of Kaupthing Bank to between 3 and 5 1/2 years in prison for financial crimes dating back to 2008.

Vísir reports that former Kaupthing director Hreiðar Már Sigurðsson received the heaviest sentence: five and a half years, minus time already spent in custody. He was also sentenced to pay 33.4 million ISK in legal fees.

Former Kaupthing chairperson - and former Interpol fugitive - Sigurður Einarsson was sentenced to five years, and a total of 14.3 million ISK in legal fees.

Investor Ólafur Ólafsson was sentenced to three and a half years, and 20.6 million ISK in legal fees.

Former director of the Luxemborg branch of Kaupthing Magnús Guðmundsson was sentenced to three years in prison.

In the court's opinion, the four conspired to conceal the fact that one of the investors in Kaupthing, Mohammad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, owned his 5.01% stake in the bank thanks to money lent to him by the bank itself.

Investigations into the four go back to the Icelandic bank crash of autumn 2008. In the wake of a report on the contributing causes of the crash from the Special Investigative Commission, the Special Prosecutor’s Office was created. The office targeted many top bank officials from Glitnir and Kaupthing.

Eva Joly, who at one point served as an assistant to the Special Prosecutor, told the Grapevine last year that Iceland should "be proud you invested in these investigations", while cautioning to have patience - investigations were three years along at the time.

The four are expected to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. All of their prison sentences are non-probationary.

Google’s ‘misunderstanding’ saves its execs millions on private jet flights at taxpayers’ expense

A “misunderstanding” between Google and NASA resulted in deeply discounted fuel rates for the search giant’s private corporate jets, costing California taxpayers between $3.3 and $5.3 million.
According to a report by NASA Inspector General Paul Martin, Google’s three top executives – Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt – used a holdings company they established, called H211, to secure airplane fuel below market rates, without paying state and local taxes.
Martin stated that NASA should explore whether or not it could recoup the costs from H211.
“While we concluded that the fuel arrangement between Ames and H211 did not result in an economic loss … H211 nevertheless received a monetary benefit to which it was not entitled,” the report reads.“Accordingly, we recommend that NASA explore with the company possible options to remedy this situation.”
Martin also said that in addition to saving Google and H211 millions of dollars, the situation“engendered a sense of unfairness and a perception of favoritism toward H211 and its owners.”
Google’s executives have been renting hangar space at the Ames Research Center at Moffett Federal Airfield for $1.4 million a year since 2007. Although commercial aircraft isn’t usually permitted to use the airfield, Google struck a deal on the condition that it would allow NASA to use its aircraft to fly scientists out on research missions.
Read more

Now Australia Wants Its Gold Back

Gold repatriation has been a hot topic in the last 2 years. After Germany, Venezuela, the Netherlands, Finland, Poland, Ecuador, Switzerland, it could be Australia’s turn.he latest campaign baseline is “Return Aussie Gold” initiated by an Australian volunteer. On his campaign site he writes the following:here is unprecedented structural change underway in the international gold market due to growing uncertainty around the global financial system. There are also substantial reasons for concern associated with storing Australia’s Gold Reserves in is Australia’s gold and how much room is needed to store it on Australian soil?ustralia has 80 tonnes of gold which is managed by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) as part of its foreign reserves assets. The RBA’s PR department has stated that Australia’s 80 tonnes of Gold Reserves is stored at the Bank of England, in London for cost efficiency and security reasons. However, Australia has international standard bullion storage facilities with capacity to store Australia’s gold at cost competitive rates. Also the cost to build a new Federal Government owned facility is negligible when compared to the current value of Australia’s gold ($3.3 billion).

Global Economy’s Recovery Is A Sheep In Wolf’s Clothing, Financial Markets And Prices Will Have To Adjust, Perhaps Sharply — The Feared “Crash.”

Economic Collapse Ahead
An inevitable economic collapse has been warned about since this website began over four years ago. This forecast never pretended to be able to predict its timing.
Over its existence, the website has dealt with many topics non-economic. Let me remind readers of the three key economic points that have been consistent since its beginning:
  • There is no recovery nor can there be a recovery without a massive economic reset, a collapse.
  • Government interventions over the last several decades have put us into this position.
  • Government is now trapped and, like a wounded animal, will do anything to survive including harming the economy and those dependent on it.
The bias that we all carry is that assuming people who agree with us are smart. That is an indirect form of reinforcement and self-aggrandizement that can be very dangerous. It is a version, albeit a distant one, of Mark Twain’s warning that it is what you know that ain’t true that is most damaging. At the risk of committing this very dangerous error, I recommend an article by Captain Hook whose thinking is perilously close to mine. Here are some excerpts which coincide precisely or are perilously close to what I have expressed:
  • We are getting close to the day of reckoning this fiat currency economy suicide mission the Fed(s) has engineered for us. So you better get ready, because they will not ring a bell at the top of the stock market to warn the party is over ?
Global recovery is a sheep in wolf’s clothing 
Investors assume that the global financial crisis over. But while financial markets are buoyant, the real economy remains moribund, writes Satyajit Das.
Commentary: Officials promote government of the debt, by the debt, and for the debt
SYDNEY (MarketWatch) — Many global stock markets are making new highs almost daily. Even the Nasdaq has risen to levels not seen since the 2000 tech bubble, as technology stocks are back in fashion with everybody looking for the new Google, Facebook or Twitter.
Such is the bubble environment that a reader of the Financial Times commented that even an alien invasion would result in stock prices rising. Equity analysts would argue that companies could look forward to the prospect of gaining new non-human customers.
Investors assume that the global financial crisis is now ancient history and normality has returned. But while financial markets are buoyant, the real economy remains moribund, stuck in a “secular stagnation” of low, volatile growth, high and rising debt, slow investment, overcapacity, high unemployment, low income growth and negative realinterest rates.
Yet despite talk of recoveries and reforms, little has actually changed.
The global financial crisis (GFC) was the result of high debt levels, global imbalances, excessive financialization of economies and an entitlement society, based around borrowing-driven consumption and unfunded social entitlement programs in developed countries. These root causes remain substantially unaddressed.
Since 2007, total debt levels in most economies have increased. Higher public borrowings have offset debt reductions by businesses and households. If unfunded entitlement obligations for pensions, health care and aged care are included, the level of indebtedness increases dramatically.
Most importantly, as a result of attempts to boost economic activity following the 2008/ 2009 downturn, emerging markets, such as China, have increased debt levels substantially from those prevailing before the crisis.
There is a growing gap between financial markets and real economic activity, between the 1% who continue to gain in the current environment and the 99% whose economic fortunes have declined, and between the promises of policy makers and the economic reality. This gap will have to close.
The gap can close with a significant increase in economic activity. Alternatively, financial markets and prices will have to adjust, perhaps sharply — the feared “crash.”
The Bloodletting Continues In The Stock Market
Stocks are having a rough go of it in North American trading today.
The S&P 500 is down 0.5%, trading near 1773, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 0.8%, trading near 15,710. Both are at their lows of the day.
Barring an afternoon comeback, this will be the third day in a row that stocks close in the red, and the eighth down day in the last ten sessions.
U.S. long-term unemployed about to lose extended benefits
More than a quarter of 4.1 million long-term unemployed people — 718,000 fewer than in November 2012 — will lose their extended unemployment benefits Dec. 28 with 3.6 million more set to see their benefits end at the close of 2014 unless Congress a…
Moody’s Puts Puerto Rico on Downgrade to Junk Review Citing Very High Debt, Pension Obligations, Chronic Deficits; Exodus Underway
MARKETS START TO TANK FOR THE SECOND DAY… 10Y RATES ALL RISE!!! Gold And Silver Slammed! Initial Claims Spike Most Since Sandy To Worst In 9 Months!!!
Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI)
HARRY DENT: America Is Headed Off The ‘Demographic Cliff’ And Another Crisis Is Near
As Boomers retire, it’s not an unfamiliar argument. Dent writes that an aging U.S. will cause deflation that will weaken the economy from 2014-2019.
Here are some of his main points:
  • Young people cause inflation because they “cost everything and produce nothing.” But young people eventually “begin to pay off when they enter the workforce and become productive new workers (supply) and higher-spending consumers (demand).”
  • Unfortunately, the U.S. reached its demographic “peak spending” from 2003-2007 and is headed for the “demographic cliff.” Germany, England, Switzerland are all headed there too. Then China will be the first emerging market to fall off the cliff, albeit in a few decades. The world is getting older.
  • The U.S. stock market will crash. “Our best long-term and intermediate cycles suggest another slowdown and stock crash accelerating between very early 2014 and early 2015, and possibly lasting well into 2015 or even 2016. The worst economic trends due to demographics will hit between 2014 and 2019. The U.S. economy is likely to suffer a minor or major crash by early 2015 and another between late 2017 and late 2019 or early 2020 at the latest.”
  • “The everyday consumer never came out of the last recession.” The rich are the ones feeling great and spending money, as asset prices (not wages) are aided by monetary stimulus.
  • The U.S. and Europe are headed in the same direction as Japan, a country still in a “coma economy precisely because it never let its debt bubble deleverage,” Dent argues. “The only way we will not follow in Japan’s footsteps is if the Federal Reserve stops printing new money.”
  • “The reality is stark, when dyers start to outweigh buyers, the market changes.” It all comes down to an aging population, Dent writes. “Fewer spenders, borrowers, and investors will be around to participate in the next boom.”
  • The U.S. has a crazy amount of debt and “economists and politicians have acted like we can just wave a magic wand of endless monetary injections and bailouts and get over what they see as a short-term crisis.” But the problem, Dent says, is long-term and structural — demographics.
  • Businesses can “dominate the years to come” by focusing on cash and cash flow, being “lean and mean,” deferring major capital expenditures, selling nonstrategic real estate, and firing weak employees now.
  • The big four challenges in the years ahead will be 1) private and public debt 2) health care and retirement entitlements 3) authoritarian governance around the globe and 4) environmental pollution that threatens the global economy.
“You need to prepare for that crisis, which will occur between 2014 and 2023, with the worst likely starting in 2014 and continuing off and on into late 2019,” Dent concludes. “You can contribute to the solution by conserving your financial assets and reinvesting them after the crisis.” Cheery stuff.
Read more:

Milk for $7 a gallon? Farm bill impasse could send US off 'dairy cliff.'

Food stamps and subsidies for farmers are two of the sticking points as Congress negotiates the farm bill. If something isn’t done by next week, it will revert to the original 1930s 'farm law' on New Year’s Day.

By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer / December 6, 2013

Congress is at another impasse. This time, America is facing a countdown to the “dairy cliff.”

The farm bill, which since the Depression has offered risk-taking farmers price supports and guarantees while helping the poor by providing free basic foods, has become the latest victim of a divided Washington desperate to put the brakes on spending while tweaking social welfare policies.

“This is a historic breakdown,” writes the editorial board of The Des Moines (Iowa) Register newspaper.

While the main issue is the extent of cuts to food stamps, now called SNAP (or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), the stakes are high enough to potentially touch just about every American family – namely by doubling milk prices to as much as $7 a gallon.

If the $80 billion farm bill isn’t hammered out by next week, it will revert to the original 1930s “farm law” on New Year’s Day.

House Republicans put things in motion this summer by demanding a $4 billion cut from SNAP payments, while allowing states to attach work requirements to the benefit. Senate Democrats, backed by President Obama, have offered a far more modest $400 million cut, with no new work requirements.

Also on the table are direct payments paid to farmers regardless of actual prices or yields.

Move To Put The Country Back On The US Dollar

The US-Iran Deal Has Now Been Exposed — Episode 236

The people of Spain are now leaving to find work elsewhere. There are no jobs in Spain and the unemployment numbers are increasing. EU is making their move and trying to get the Ukraine to take a loan and if they don’t the US Government / central bankers will impose sanctions. The Iran — US deal has been exposed. The central bankers have made a deal with the new president to work with the central banks. The central banks are making their move to put the country back on the US dollar. Iranian Generals are warning the President of Iran to watch himself. The US/central bankers have given Iran 6 months to make their decision.

Four Kaupthing Executives Sentenced To Prison

In a landmark ruling, Reykjavík District Court sentenced four former executives of Kaupthing Bank to between 3 and 5 1/2 years in prison for financial crimes dating back to 2008.

Vísir reports that former Kaupthing director Hreiðar Már Sigurðsson received the heaviest sentence: five and a half years, minus time already spent in custody. He was also sentenced to pay 33.4 million ISK in legal fees.

Former Kaupthing chairperson - and former Interpol fugitive - Sigurður Einarsson was sentenced to five years, and a total of 14.3 million ISK in legal fees.

Investor Ólafur Ólafsson was sentenced to three and a half years, and 20.6 million ISK in legal fees.

Former director of the Luxemborg branch of Kaupthing Magnús Guðmundsson was sentenced to three years in prison.

In the court's opinion, the four conspired to conceal the fact that one of the investors in Kaupthing, Mohammad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, owned his 5.01% stake in the bank thanks to money lent to him by the bank itself.

Investigations into the four go back to the Icelandic bank crash of autumn 2008. In the wake of a report on the contributing causes of the crash from the Special Investigative Commission, the Special Prosecutor’s Office was created. The office targeted many top bank officials from Glitnir and Kaupthing.

Eva Joly, who at one point served as an assistant to the Special Prosecutor, told the Grapevine last year that Iceland should "be proud you invested in these investigations", while cautioning to have patience - investigations were three years along at the time.

The four are expected to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. All of their prison sentences are non-probationary.

Zio Claws and the Imperial War Bank Machine.

Dog Poet Transmitting.......

May your noses always be cold and wet.

Any doubts that anyone had about Israel controlling the American economy can now be put to rest. This inarguably confirms that the present abysmal condition that economy is in can be laid at the same doorstep and I don't know if this is an example of 'birds of a feather flock together', or whether this might be a warning shot across the bow but one does wonder. Meanwhile, if you are wondering about the ineffable's sense of humor, wonder no more. Also meanwhile, the fruits of privileged status continue to blossom across the otherwise blasted landscape.

One of the things this writer likes to do is to gather seemingly disparate bits of information from the same day on which they all appear and look for parallels. Sometimes this leads to a humorous result as when you take the last sentence in this article and relate it to this article. Further irony in this regard is that the core of opposition to gay marriage, politically speaking, comes from the conservative wing. This is due to the fact that the vast preponderance of their supporters are Christian fundie-bots. Here's where the irony comes in. They oppose gay marriage but they are full barrel in support of mass murder and genocide, via the Imperial War Bank Machine. Okay then, no same sex sex under legal covenant but plenty legal sex and death under Central Banker dictate, which brings us back to the twin lizards from the Occupy American Money movement, newly ensconced- or soon to be- upon the Federal Reserve Board.

I know there are people who've grown tired of my drawing the public's attention to the death grip the Zio-Claws (their version of Santa Claws) have on many things western but look at how they progress in their infernal plans and keep in mind, they did 9/11, with the assistance of political and intelligence forces that were compromised due to the control of the money supply by these same people. Everything following 9/11 has been by design, according to their plans for world domination and the subjugation of the inferior gentile kind. What that means is that this perpetuating calamity we call this present moment was put into place by them. All those inconveniences you are going through? All the bizarre police actions, the falling job market, the housing crisis, you name it, they're all connected to this. If you can't see it, you don't want to see it. It's too inconvenient amidst all of the other pressing inconveniences caused by this inconvenience.

There is something afoot with all these police murders from parakeets to people. This recent shooting of an honors student, with no history of any criminality, shows something that is manifesting across the country and their excuse for why there is no video evidence from the patrol car is that due to the weather, the camera fell off of the windshield where it had been glued. Now... of course that's possible but the incredible coincidence is a bit much. My growing belief is that there is a nationwide program of calculated abuse being directed at the public for the purpose of creating an atmosphere of dread and fear among the populace. This explains what was formerly inexplicable and one must remember the presence of Israeli military and police personnel at police stations around the United States, dispensing training to the officers. Keep in mind their presence as security at so many airports, including ALL of the 9/11 airports and their presence guarding nuclear power stations. They got quite a grip on things don't they; the money, the media, the entertainment conglomerates, publishing, Academia and the teaching instruments of earlier grades, a whole lotta things. This is why it bears repetitive mention. As a great mind once said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”. If you're not paying attention someone else certainly is and as I've stated ad nauseum, you only become a slave when you cease to be your own master and that is the purpose of materialism and its excesses.

Not to be too discouraged because there are a lot of movements coming from the ground up now. The truth about the governments is surfacing and the tide of public opinion is turning. Unfortunately, people's main concern is mostly for themselves and their comfort line. It is a sad testimony of the human race that they just get after their basic interests exclusive of anything else, until their basic interests get curtailed or challenged. Then it's a matter of timing. Is it too little too late? Is it in the nick of time? Is it neck and neck? Are we talking about a horse race or Madame Le Guillotine?

“Lean not upon thine own understanding”. So, perspicacious souls know about life being a test and a trial, meticulously designed to counterpart with their Karma, which is what leads to “trust in all things” where it all gets managed for you. Some go to brokers and estate planners to tighten up their investments and get them the highest yield. Of course, these days we have only to look at the recent past where all those toxic mortgages were packaged up and sold to unsuspecting clients. There's a film called “Margin Call” that lays it out pretty well. Of course, what it is, the reality of it all, is all around you, there to be seen... once the intensity of appetite has been dialed down. You must think of a flame burning in your belly. Maybe it's red and yellow and flickering all about? You have to tune it down until it's a steady blue flame. Go to your gas stove, if you have one and check out the variants.

Everything trends back to self control or the lack of it, everything ...and if you are short on self control, those already mentioned have got a market for whatever it is that you use to keep yourself off balance. If you've got self control, you can walk through that marketplace amused. That's the meaning of, 'in the world but not of it'. The world is a lot like those sirens on the rocks with Ulysses chained to the mast. All those tales of elder times had serious meaning. All those fables were intending to teach something. The lessons haven't changed. Conditions change. The environment constantly shifts into different appearances because that's all part of the drama. One of the constants about appearances is that they are always changing, another is that they are a lie. On the rare occasion that I come across videos and pictorials of a fashion show, they never fail to make me smile when I see those vacuous, expressionless faces and the weird walks. Of course the shots of the crowd in attendance entertains me as well. There's a whole world out there and 99% of it provokes no interest whatsoever in me. This fills me with gratitude. It's like running unencumbered toward some kind of finish line with nothing on my mind but the focus needed to attend to the continuance. I'm already where I want to be and who I want to be, recognition is the only thing in absence and that comes apace with continuance.

There are so many analogies to draw from, should anyone ever need them, to affirm their continuance, should they encounter doubt or indecision; am I wasting my time? A simple remembrance of a very simple truth should serve in any circumstance whenever uncertainty shows up for dinner. If you walk out your door with the intention of going to a specific location, as long as you are headed in the right direction toward that location and you don't deviate from your course, you'll get where you're going. Most anyone, presented with the logic of that will automatically agree, “Yes, that's true” but when it comes to applying the same considerations to their own life they've got a million excuses and reasons for why they didn't get to some particular location, or why they settled for something else. No matter what temporary accommodations you may come to along your way, you don't have to give up on your dream. We would hope that dream was one that would not lead to further disappointment. Most dreams in this life do because all satisfaction is temporary. The desire burns with great importance prior to acquisition. Following acquisition you find you are still where you were. There has been no significant change. This is why there is such a diversity of attractions so that one can remain intrigued by a spinning wheel of possibilities. Life sums up as what you spent your time in the pursuit and development of. It's what you'll be left with at the end.

There are many dangers in the world. There are many people who paid a supreme price for a momentary indiscretion. The prisons are full of people who can't remember how it is they got there. Karma is something else. It is going to run it's course no matter what unless certain not commonly known steps are taken. You can head Karma off at the pass. You can neutralize karma by continuous acts of good and there are many shapes this can take. You could have your Karma lifted by grace, should someone with the power to do so choose to. It has happened.

There is such an agonizing pull to be like everyone else while trying to appear different. Long ago, there were few souls upon that certain road and today, with many, many times the population, there are few souls upon that road. The reason for that is the intensification of materialism. Most everyone is flowing along in the pull of invisible magnetic fields, unaware that such fields are even in existence. They are. The percentage of people full time engaged in self inquiry is very small. This field is not so small as one might think; self inquiry? That's just me. No, it is not. It is everything.

End Transmission.......

Billions for the Pentagon, Spare Change for the Unemployed

n Black Friday, Walmart workers went on strike protesting one of the world's richest companies in history paying their employees so little that they have to depend on public assistance. Shortly after, fast food and retail workers in over 100 cities went on strike, demanding a fair wage from companies who have more than enough to share their record profits with the workers who make those profits possible, and instead choose not to. Good jobs are on everyone's wish list this Christmas, but all the working class (because let's be honest - there's basically no middle class in this country) is getting from the beltway elite and the two corporate-owned parties is more coal in our stockings.
The latest budget agreement between Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), which President Obama has already agreed to sign, is being lauded by the beltway media as a long-overdue compromise that will finally result in a definitive spending plan. And predictably, all the focus has been on the deal, rather than who was screwed by the deal, and who screwed them.
A Bipartisan Skewering of the Jobless
It's been an obvious fact for a long while now that today's Republican Party has become merely the political arm of the plutocracy. They have steadfastly refused to support anything that would get in the way of the richest Americans to become richer, even if it means the most vulnerable have to suffer that much more. This is true at all levels, from their views on energy policy, to tax loopholes, and even to extending unemployment benefits and food stamps. Democrats, however, have managed to get away with pretending to represent the interests of those vulnerable Americans. But just as they did with food stamps in the farm bill, this latest budget agreement leaves the unemployed to fend for themselves.
At least 12.2 million Americans were unemployed in 2012, and even those with jobs are often working minimum-wage jobs in the food service and retail sectors, which qualifies them for food stamps. Data from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that social safety net programs like unemployment insurance and food stamps kept 41 million people, including 9 million children, out of poverty last year alone. All on its own, unemployment benefits kept 2.2 million people, including 600,000 children, out of poverty in 2012. Congressional Democrats may want to pat themselves on the back and bolster their re-election efforts for making a budget deal, but leaving unemployment benefits entirely out of the equation is callous and cruel, especially two weeks before Christmas.
Ignoring the Real Problems
Robert Borosage posted a sage analysis of this deal on his blog, pointing out that the agreement reinforces all the falsehoods propagated about the federal government. Most Americans who don't pay member dues to Koch-funded political organizations could give a shit about the deficit - the whole reason we pay taxes is so the government will do something good with those taxes, not sit on their thumbs and do nothing while collecting a six-figure paycheck. What's really on everyone's mind is the need for more good jobs that pay a living wage.
The much-maligned budget sequester was rolled back, but really only for the Pentagon. Programs like Head Start and food assistance for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Meals on Wheels, and Section 8 housing are still hanging by a thread. Essentially, programs that already get a razor-thin share of federal tax dollars have to evenly split $63 billion in sequester relief with the Pentagon, which has made a name for itself in cooking its own books hotter than a Louisiana gumbo.
Reuters found that since 1996, the Pentagon has inexplicably evaded annual audits, which are normally routine for federal agencies. In the 17 years since their last audit, the Department of Defense has been unable to account for $8.5 TRILLION dollars. Divide that by 310 million Americans, and that's a whopping $27,419.35 for every man, woman and child in America, all of whom are owed an explanation by the accountants at the Pentagon. The Pentagon's budget is already huge in comparison to other agencies: compare the almost $700 billion they were given last year to NASA's paltry $19 billion budget. The Pentagon spent $20 billion just for air conditioning units in TENTS in 2011. Imagine if NASA got just half of the Pentagon's budget. We could probably live on Mars.
The Murray-Ryan budget agreement does nothing for those in need of good-paying work, and likewise spites hard-working federal employees who have already had to endure a shutdown and live in constant fear of losing their job to budget cuts. Under this new deal, federal employees will have to pay more out of their paychecks into their pensions, and military retirees will have their pensions cut. This reinforces the false frame that federal employees are too privileged, when the fact is that one-tenth of US corporations don't pay a dime in federal taxes, and great wealth is concentrating into the hands of a few, who largely evade paying their fair share of taxes.
An Out-of-Touch Beltway Elite
Just as Democrats have done since Obama took office, Patty Murray readily gave up on winning important provisions for ordinary folks in the budget deal before negotiations even begun. The blame lies equally with Paul Ryan and House Republicans for likely even refusing to even start budget negotiations until all social safety net programs were left out of the equation and the notion of corporations and billionaires making any inkling of sacrifice was thrown to the winds. This budget deal is being praised by the beltway elite, because the only people who care about Democrats and Republicans making a symbolic budget deal are beltway politicians and the careerists whose jobs ride on those politicians being re-elected. Sweeping the unemployed under the rug won't make them go away, nor will it alleviate the problems of poverty. All it helps is the lazy political class who doesn't want to stop the gravy train by rocking the boat too hard.
If the DC political class really cared about saving taxpayers' money, they'd fight hard for a living wage for America's fast food and retail workers. In California alone, Walmart's poverty wages cost the state's taxpayers $86 billion in food stamps and Medicaid. We shouldn't blame workers for being poor, but rather their employer, a global billion-dollar company whose 6 heirs make as much in 3 minutes of dividends as one of their hourly workers makes in an entire year. If Congress fought hard for doubling the minimum wage, the effects of that would ripple throughout the economy. In a consumer economy, the economy can't grow if people can't afford to consume. Likewise, if these low-wage workers had enough money to spend, they could help businesses expand in their own communities and hire new workers to accommodate the increased demand, and also save billions for taxpayers as less money is needed to accommodate low-wage workers depending on the safety net. That's real budget reform that would benefit working families and businesses alike.
This bad budget deal is just one more example of how badly we need a serious new political party that's in tune with what people actually want from government. This party has to be comprised of a diverse base of engaged young activists who have everything at stake in the future, and supporters within their community. By focusing our efforts on ballot access in 2014, wins at the local level in 2016, and at the statewide level by the end of the decade, we can launch a serious threat to the two corporate parties, and eventually the people can win actual representation in government.

Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at, and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

Merry Christmas: Millions to lose jobless benefits

Alicia Nesbitt has just two more unemployment checks—for a total amount of $348—coming to her before the end of the year.
The 56-year-old college financial aid administrator, who lives in Connecticut, has been out of work since being laid off last New Year's Eve. She has been receiving long-term unemployment benefits since June, when her state benefit checks ran out.
"If anyone had told me I would be unemployed and uncertain as to my future at my age, I would not have believed it," said Nesbitt, who is divorced and lives with her boyfriend to help with expenses.
Nesbitt is one of the 1.3 million people likely to be left with no unemployment benefits just three days after Christmas.

That's because a budget deal proposal in Congress fails to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program, which provides federal funds for those who have run out of state unemployment benefits.
The program ends Dec. 28, and it will take a separate move by Congress to extend it.
(Read more: Cramer: 'Something up' with DC budget deal)

"It's frustrating Congress didn't include the extension," said Claire McKenna, a policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project.
"The White House is in favor of it and so are some in Congress, so we're hoping for a separate measure to get passed," she said. "But it's hard to predict what will happen."
Without an extension, the number of people in Nesbitt's shoes would only increase.

Besides those in December, 850,000 people will run out of state unemployment benefits in the first quarter of 2014. If they are still out of work, they will have no access to federal benefits. About 1 million more without work will lose state benefits by June.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.1 million people are counted as long-term unemployed (those who have been out of a job for six months or more). They make up 36.1 percent of the total unemployed, which is at a national overall rate of 7 percent, the lowest in five years.
That number of long-term unemployed is higher than in any month of the Great Recession, which economists say ended in 2009. And it's more than three times the percentage of long-term unemployed in 2007, which was 17.5 percent.
Some of the improvement in the employment picture results from people dropping out of or not entering the workforce because of weak job opportunities, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a think tank that studies the issues of low- and middle-income workers.

The better numbers have actually hurt the long-term jobless: Because the jobless rate is part of the formula used to calculate unemployment benefits, states cut those benefits and their duration when the rate is lower.
The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program (EUC) began in June 2008, when the national unemployment rate was 5.6 percent.
The EUC extends federal benefits to people still out of work when their state benefits—averaging about $300 a week for 26 weeks—are exhausted.

The program has been expanded or reauthorized 11 times, most recently on Jan. 2 as part of the overall budget deal between the White House and Congress that avoided the "fiscal cliff."
(Read more: Job openings rise slightly in October)
But even with the current EUC program, the unemployed saw their benefits slashed this summer because of the forced sequester cuts. All federal unemployment benefits were trimmed by about $42 a week, to $256.

The length of EUC benefits has also been reduced. In May 2012, all 50 states and the District of Columbia offered up to 34 weeks of federal benefits, with 40 states offering 47 weeks of EUC funds.
Now, 49 states and the District of Columbia offer up to 14 weeks, with 36 states offering up to 28 weeks. Only two states, Nevada and Illinois, offer the maximum 47 weeks.
The cost to extend the EUC for one year would not be low. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the price tag at $25.7 billion.
But the CBO also said that extending the program would increase direct spending by consumers by the same amount—$25.7 billion over 2014-15. An extension also would increase government revenues modestly, about $500 million, over the 2014-23 period, office said.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, a benefits extension creates spending that supports 310,000 jobs—jobs that will be lost if the program is discontinued.
Critics often cite long-term benefits as a deterrent to people who should be looking for work, but many who depend on them challenge that assertion.
"Who wants to live on unemployment checks?" asked Nesbitt, who is taking part in state-sponsored job search programs.

"I'm looking for work and have been ever since I was let go," she said. "I know people who are lawyers and accountants who can't find work. It's just not easy."
Several top Democrats say they support extending the EUC, while some Republicans have been vocal about opposing any attempt to extend it.
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said that the GOP would look at extension plans but that it would "be better if the president would provide more jobs."
(Read more: US Congress budget talks could produce Tuesday deal, aides say)

Nesbitt said she's preparing for the worst—and a bleak holiday season.
"I know if Congress decides to eat Christmas goose without extending benefits," she said, "2014's outlook is not what we asked Santa for under our tree."
—By CNBC's Mark Koba. Follow him on Twitter

Retired GM workers just lost $450 million in benefits

A federal judge said General Motors is not required to pay $450 million to cover medical benefits for retirees, in a defeat for the United Auto Workers union.
In a 36-page decision, U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn in Detroit said on Tuesday that the post-bankruptcy GM did not assume any obligation for the payment, which the automaker had contracted to make two years before its June 2009 Chapter 11 filing.
The payment had been part of a June 2007 contract between the old GM, its former Delphi Corp affiliate and the UAW.
(Read more: Barra broke glass ceiling, but real challenge is ahead)
It was not, however, included in a different contract over medical benefits signed in July 2009 by GM after it emerged from Chapter 11.
The UAW claimed that the new GM owed the money by virtue of Delphi's own emergence from bankruptcy in October 2009.
Cohn, nonetheless, said the language of the 2009 contract made clear that GM did not owe the payment.
GM's new CEO a great choice: G1 Auto CEO
Group 1 Automotive CEO Earl Hesterberg maps out General Motors' road ahead under new CEO Mary Barra.
He added that U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber in New York, who oversaw GM's bankruptcy, found the contract fair, reasonable and in retirees' best interests.
"Whether New GM has a moral obligation regarding the payment is another matter and not relevant," he wrote. "The UAW's efforts to turn the absence of language into language is reminiscent of the efforts to capture a 'will o' the wisp."'
Andrew Roth, a partner at Bredhoff & Kaiser in Washington, representing the UAW, did not immediately respond to requests on Wednesday for comment.
(Read more: Biggest companies run by women)
The UAW was also not immediately available for comment.
GM spokesman Dave Roman declined to comment.
Chapter 11 reorganizations can allow debtors to reject obligations that predate their bankruptcies.
(Read more: As Uncle Sam unloads GM, shares at an all-time high)
On Monday, the federal bailout of GM ended when the U.S. Department of the Treasury said it had sold the last of its shares of the Detroit-based automaker.
The case is United Auto Workers v. General Motors LLC, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, No. 10-11366.
—By Reuters.