Friday, February 7, 2014

I met my husband on Facebook

I joined an app to help a friend. Little did I know it would change my life.

We met by chance, and it was a lucky one! Photo by Rene Gaviola

I once came across a random graphic on social media that said:

Ego says: ‘Once everything falls into place, I will find peace.’
Spirit says: ‘Find peace and everything will fall into place.’

I used to be that person who believed in what the Ego says, but recent and not-so-recent events in my life have made me realize the truth and wisdom in what the Spirit says.

This statement is supported by many blessings that have come my way, including my second chance at marriage.

I was a founding editor-in-chief of a teen magazine in one of the biggest publishing companies in the country. I was also a single mom to a then-six-year-old boy, whom I raised hands-on. My presence in his life was (and still is) more important to me than anything else. From the time he was born in 2002, I did all types of work I could to support him yet be able to stay home with him and raise him myself.

The magazine — called SugarSugar — gave me new purpose in life. I created it for young people with substance, for outcasts, for those who thought that volunteering at an animal shelter was more important that reading about crushes.

I had just come from a long-term relationship that didn’t work. So one sleepless night, I decided that my son and my work would be the center of my life. Love will have to wait until Basti had graduated from college and had a business of his own. By then, I would just be a little over 40 years old and will finally fulfill my dream of backpacking around the world.

Piece of cake, I thought.

I was on Facebook because of the magazine. I remember it was Ping Medina who encouraged me to open an account after a shoot. A friend had joined an app called Zoosk that is comparable to today’s Tinder, and a requirement for his membership to be completed was for him to invite at least five friends. He invited me and I joined to help him out.

Naturally, I started receiving messages from different people. But being paranoid about my privacy made me ignore them. That time, I was also taking my Masters in Family Life and Child Development in UP. Between work and school, I would stay up and online for as long as three (yes, three) days straight, but not have time to check the messages, much more reply to them.

One night, though, I was not feeling good about everything in my life. I checked Zoosk and randomly chose a message to reply to. It was a guy named Roopak R from India. Aha, I thought. Someone I would NEVER meet.

And so Roopak R was in luck: I started typing out all my frustrations about my industry. I knew fully well there was no one around me I could trust and talk to, and this stranger was the perfect “live journal.” I could share with him evil thoughts and not care if he liked me anymore after that.

Each time I was not feeling good, I wrote to him. He would reply, and strangely understood. He was in IT, but he was interested in my industry. He had contacts in India who also belonged in lifestyle and fashion, so he could vaguely imagine what I was going through.

We received an assignment in our MFLCD class to trace our family pedigree as far back as we could. I grew up being told, “Mukha kang Bumbay (You look Indian),” and also thought that some of my relatives on my father’s side looked more exotic than the typical Filipino.

At the same time, from a size XL, I shrunk to a size XS because of my work. My publisher was worried about my health and asked me to take a break. He encouraged me to travel. That was when I decided to go to India. I researched about the safest places in India for solo female travel, and Bangalore came up. It was regarded as the Silicon Valley of India (there’s a Yahoo office there) so there would be a lot of foreigners.

I booked my ticket. My gut told me to inform Roopak R, so that if I needed help, I would have someone to turn to. Besides, I was going on a solo trip for the first time in my life and had a son that would need me to come back. If I faced danger, it was better to know a local.

That September, I flew to Bangalore. Roopak R met me at the airport. He did not "kill" me that night. He did not turn out to be a scary guy. In fact, he made sure I found a place that was safe. He turned out to be nicer than he was in Zoosk — gentle and mild-mannered. It was not hard to trust him. We became friends.

Roopak R and I became close, but we were aware that we would not end up together. He was from Trivandrum, Kerala, where arranged marriages were still customary. When our friendship started, Roopak R already knew that was going to be his path. I was fine with that. I had my mid-40s backpacking-around-the-world to look forward to.

I stayed in Bangalore for a month, and travelled to Goa for a week. When I left India, Roopak and I said goodbye.

I was back in Manila. Roopak was in Glasgow, Scotland, working on a project for Scottishpower. We continued to communicate. One night, he told me that, after I left India, he realized that he had fallen in love with me. I realized the same but was not as expressive as he. I was a single mom. With the differences in our culture, I was sure it was never going to work out.

Months passed. Roopak and I continued to communicate. Since he knew about my love for travel and castles, he asked me to visit him in Glasgow so we could figure out if we had a future together. By this time, I was actively styling for the biggest retail company in the country, and it was helping me earn more than enough for Basti and myself. To help me make a decision, Roopak got me a stint as fashion show director and stylist for The Prince’s Trust, Prince Charles’ biggest charity for young people in the UK.

So I went to Glasgow. We travelled around Scotland, drove to England and visited relatives and friends in London. My volunteer work for The Prince’s Trust raised thousands of pounds for the charity, and I got to work with Marks & Spencer and female leaders of every county. I also did a fashion apprenticeship with Che Camille, a Scottish designers’ hub.

I was in Scotland for four months. On January 1, 2010, as soon as the clock struck 12, Roopak went on his knee and proposed. I said yes.

Roopak went home with me to Manila so he could meet my family. He was here for a week, then returned to Glasgow to finish his project. Then he returned to India.

We were engaged, but did not know when — or how — we were going to get married. For all I knew, we were just going to stay engaged forever.

Roopak tried his luck at finding a job in Manila. He came here for a month and literally knocked on doors of IT companies to pass his resume. On his last week, when we had almost lost hope, an agency called and got him a job in a multi-national bank. From then on, Roopak has been working in the country.

Roopak was the one who arranged our wedding in his hometown in Trivandrum, Kerala, with much help from his older brother Deepak, Deepak’s wife Annita, and their parents Amma and Achan. That time I was working in Rappler, and was lost in the crush of the daily grind.

The week before our wedding were the senatorial elections, so Roopak had to go ahead to Trivandrum and fix everything. My family and I followed on the week of our wedding and worked on the loose ends.
After a very long engagement, it finally happened. Photo by Rene Gaviola
Three years after our engagement, Roopak and I were finally husband and wife. It wasn’t something we overly planned or worried about. We flowed with what life brought our way — work, distance, cultural differences, ups, downs, more downs — but had that peace within us that made us confident things would work out.

And they did. It all started with a Facebook app, a decision to trust and an openness to accept each other for everything we were. Love does move in mysterious ways.


18.2 Feet! One of Biggest Burmese Pythons Caught in Florida

Florida officials say they've bagged one of the biggest Burmese pythons ever found in the state: an 18.2-foot-long (5.5 meters) female weighing some 150 pounds (68 kilograms).
The snake, which was shot and killed in the Everglades on Tuesday (Feb. 4), could set a record for the largest Burmese python ever seen on state-owned lands, said Randy Smith, a spokesperson for the South Florida Water Management District.
The animal, however, measures a few inches shorter than the longest-ever Burmese python found in Florida: a snake that stretched 18 feet, 8 inches (5.6 meters) long and was wrangled by a man on the side of the road in a rural part of Miami-Dade County in May 2013.
It's alarming to find Burmese pythons with such robust physique in the wilds of Florida, because the snake is considered an invasive species. Native to Southeast Asia, the nonvenomous constrictors are popular as exotic pets, and pet Burmese pythons that were released or escaped are likely responsible for establishing the breeding population that's taken hold in Florida in the past two decades. With no natural predators in the state, the snakes' numbers have exploded, and they're wiping out native wildlife like bobcats, foxes and raccoons. [See Photos of Giant Burmese Pythons in the Florida Everglades]
"You'd be hard pressed to find a rabbit or squirrel down there in the Everglades now," Smith told Live Science. "These snakes eat alligators — or they try to. They don't have any enemies and they eat anything they can get their teeth on."
The 18-foot snake was discovered on a levee about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Miami near the Tamiami Trail as field station workers with the Water Management District were conducting a routine levee inspection, Smith said. There's over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of levees in the area, he added, providing perfect hiding spots for the pythons as they stalk their prey.
"They're ambush hunters, and they like to hide down at the toe of the levee where there's plenty of bush and foliage," Smith told Live Science.
The snake's body has been turned over to researchers at the University of Florida for a post-mortem exam, Smith said. The necropsy (animal autopsy) could reveal what the snake was eating before it died and whether it was carrying any viable eggs.
When researchers cut open a previous record-setting female Burmese python (which was 17 feet, 7 inches, or 5.3 meters, in length), they found an astonishing 87 eggs inside.
Follow Megan Gannon on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescienceFacebook Google+. Original article on Live Science.
Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Ringgit jatuh RM2.624 berbanding dolar Singapura

Ringgit jatuh RM2.624 berbanding dolar Singapura

Ringgit Malaysia mencecah rekod paling rendah berbanding dolar Singapura awal minggu ini, dengan matawang lain di rantau ini masih lemah.
Penganalisis berkata, ini disebabkan oleh aliran modal daripada pasaran membangun ke pasaran maju.
Akhbar Straits Times Singapura melaporkan rekod terendah ini dipecahkan hanya tiga hari selepas Malaysia mencapai rekod terendah RM2.622 Khamis lalu dan berada pada RM2.6207 semalam.
Ringgit semakin jatuh bukan disebabkan dolar Singapura semakin kuat, tetapi kerana aliran modal yang tinggi daripada pasaran yang masih membangun ke pasaran maju, kata pakar yang dipetik daripada akhbar aliran perdana itu.
"Keseluruhannya, daripada segi kekukuhan kewangan, Singapura dilihat sebagai lebih kukuh. Oleh itu mata wang kita dilihat semakin rendah berbanding dolar Singapura," kata Pengurus Besar Fundsupermart, Wong Sui Jau.
Penganalisis mata wang daripada Oanda, Wu Mingze, berkata:"Daripada segi dasarnya, Malaysia kelihatan tidak hebat. Tetapi ia tetap lebih baik berbanding Thailand, Filipina dan Vietnam."
Beliau berkata, walaupun Malaysia semakin menghampiri defisit akaun pertengahan tahun lalu, lebihan daripada dagangan Malaysia sedang meningkat dan boleh membantu negara.
Baht Thailand dan Rupiah Indonesia paling terkesan dengan aliran modal besar ini.
Terkini, Sedolar Singapura dibeli dengan 26.86 Baht iaitu 9,611 rupiah Indonesia.
Penganalisis berkata, setakat ini mereka masih belum dapat memastikan berapa lama lagi tempoh matawang itu akan kekal lemah.
Bagaimanapun, Wu berkata, melihat kepada beberapa pusingan pasaran lalu, bank pusat Malaysia perlu campur tangan jika ringgit terus jatuh sehingga serendah RM3.80 berbanding dolar Amerika.
Hari ini, USD1 dibeli pada nilai RM3.33.
Wong berkata, matawang Asia terpaksa menempuhi ketidakstabilan itu sehingga keyakinan muncul semula.
“Sukar untuk menjangkakan bila kita akan jatuh hingga ke bawah. Tetapi, keyakinan akan kembali dan matawang boleh naik semula dengan cepat,” katanya.
Beberapa syarikat berpendapat ringgit yang lemah tidak akan menjejaskan perniagaan mereka.
Mike Lim, pengarah eksekutif syarikat pembotolan, Dr Who yang mengimport bahan daripada Singapura berkata, ringgit yang lemah boleh dilihat sebagai pelindung terhadap kenaikan kos kehidupan di Malaysia.
"Tetapi kita tidak meramalkan ia akan kekal lemah untuk masa yang lama," katanya. – 7 Februari, 2014.

28 Signs That The Middle Class Is Heading Toward Extinction

Source: Michael Snyder, Guest Post

Dilapidated House In Indiana

The death of the middle class in America has become so painfully obvious that now even the New York Times is doing stories about it.  Millions of middle class jobs have disappeared, incomes are steadily decreasing, the rate of homeownership has declined for eight years in a row and U.S. consumers have accumulated record-setting levels of debt.  Being independent is at the heart of what it means to be "middle class", and unfortunately the percentage of Americans that are able to take care of themselves without government assistance continues to decline.  In fact, the percentage of Americans that are receiving government assistance is now at an all-time record high.  This is not a good thing.  Sadly, the number of people on food stamps has increased by nearly 50 percent while Barack Obama has been in the White House, and at this point nearly half the entire country gets money from the government each month.  Anyone that tries to tell you that the middle class is going to be "okay" simply has no idea what they are talking about.  The following are 28 signs that the middle class is heading toward extinction...
#1 You don't have to ask major U.S. corporations if the middle class is dying.  This fact is showing up plain as day in their sales numbers.  The following is from a recent New York Times article entitled "The Middle Class Is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World"...
In Manhattan, the upscale clothing retailer Barneys will replace the bankrupt discounter Loehmann’s, whose Chelsea store closes in a few weeks. Across the country, Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants are struggling, while fine-dining chains like Capital Grille are thriving. And at General Electric, the increase in demand for high-end dishwashers and refrigerators dwarfs sales growth of mass-market models.
As politicians and pundits in Washington continue to spar over whether economic inequality is in fact deepening, in corporate America there really is no debate at all. The post-recession reality is that the customer base for businesses that appeal to the middle class is shrinking as the top tier pulls even further away.
#2 Some of the largest retailers in the United States that once thrived by serving the middle class are now steadily dying.  Sears and J.C. Penney are both on the verge of bankruptcy, and now we have learned that Radio Shack may be shutting down another 500 stores this year.
#3 Real disposable income in the United States just experienced the largest year over year drop that we have seen since 1974.
#4 Median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row.
#5 The rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen for eight years in a row.
#6 In 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be "middle class".  In 2014, only 44 percent of all Americans consider themselves to be "middle class".
#7 In 2008, 25 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket considered themselves to be "lower class".  In 2014, an astounding 49 percent of them do.
#8 Incredibly, 56 percent of all Americans now have "subprime credit".
#9 Total consumer credit has risen by a whopping 22 percent over the past three years.
#10 The average credit card debt in the United States is $15,279.
#11 The average student loan debt in the United States is $32,250.
#12 The average mortgage debt in the United States is $149,925.
#13 Overall, U.S. consumers are $11,360,000,000,000 in debt.
#14 The U.S. national debt is currently sitting at $17,263,040,455,036.20, and it is being reported that is has grown by$6.666 trillion during the Obama years so far.  Most of the burden of servicing that debt is going to fall on the middle class (if the middle class is able to survive that long).
#15 According to the Congressional Budget Office, interest payments on the national debt will nearly quadruple over the next ten years.
#16 Back in 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 54.9 percent of all Americans are covered by employment-based health insurance.
#17 More Americans than ever find themselves forced to turn to the government for help with health care.  At this point,82.4 million Americans live in a home where at least one person is enrolled in the Medicaid program.
#18 There are 46.5 million Americans that are living in poverty, and the poverty rate in America has been at 15 percent or above for 3 consecutive years.  That is the first time that has happened since 1965.
#19 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the number of Americans on food stamps has gone from 32 million to 47 million.
#20 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the percentage of working age Americans that are actually working has declined from 60.6 percent to 58.6 percent.
#21 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the average duration of unemployment in the United States has risen from 19.8 weeks to 37.1 weeks.
#22 Middle-wage jobs accounted for 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession, but they have accounted for only 22 percent of the jobs created since then.
#23 It is hard to believe, but an astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year in wages.
#24 Approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.
#25 According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49.2 percent of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program each month.
#26 The U.S. government has spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.
#27 Only 35 percent of all Americans say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago.
#28 Only 19 percent of all Americans believe that the job market is better than it was a year ago.
As if the middle class didn't have enough to deal with, now here comes Obamacare.
As I have written about previously, Obamacare is going to mean higher taxes and much higher health insurance premiums for middle class Americans.
Not only that, but millions of hard working Americans are going to end up losing their jobs or having their hours cut back thanks to Obamacare.  For example, a fry cook named Darnell Summers recently told Barack Obama directly that he and his fellow workers "were broken down to part time to avoid paying health insurance"...
And the Congressional Budget Office now says that Obamacare could result in the loss of 2.3 million full-time jobs by 2021.
Several million people will reduce their hours on the job or leave the workforce entirely because of incentives built into President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.
That would mean job losses equal to 2.3 million full-time jobs by 2021, in large part because people would opt to keep their income low to stay eligible for federal health care subsidies or Medicaid, the agency said. It had estimated previously that the law would lead to 800,000 fewer jobs by that year.
But even if we got rid of Obamacare tomorrow that would not solve the problems of the middle class.
The middle class has been shrinking for a very long time, and something dramatic desperately needs to be done.
The numbers that I shared above simply cannot convey the level of suffering that is going on out there on the streets of America today.  That is why I also like to share personal stories when I can.  Below, I have posted an excerpt from an open letter to Barack Obama that a woman with a Master's degree and 30 years of work experience recently submitted to the Huffington Post.  What this formerly middle class lady is having to endure because of this horrible economy is absolutely tragic...
Dear Mr. President,
I write to you today because I have nowhere else to turn. I lost my full time job in September 2012. I have only been able to find part-time employment -- 16 hours each week at $12 per hour -- but I don't work that every week. For the month of December, my net pay was $365. My husband and I now live in an RV at a campground because of my job loss. Our monthly rent is $455 and that doesn't include utilities. We were given this 27-ft. 1983 RV when I lost my job.
This is America today. We have no running water; we use a hose to fill jugs. We have no shower but the campground does. We have a toilet but it only works when the sewer line doesn't freeze -- if it freezes, we use the campground's restrooms. At night, in my bed, when it's cold out, my blanket can freeze to the wall of the RV. We don't have a stove or an oven, just a microwave, so regular-food cooking is out. Recently we found a small toaster oven on sale so we can bake a little now because eating only microwaved food just wasn't working for us. We don't have a refrigerator, just an icebox (a block of ice cost about $1.89). It keeps things relatively cold. If it's freezing outside, we just put things on the picnic table.
You can read the rest of her incredibly heartbreaking letter right here.
This is not the America that I remember.
What in the world is happening to us?

Obama IRS to Share Private Financial Data With Russia’s Putin


Obama IRS to Share Private Financial Data With Russia’s Putin

As uncertainty grows surrounding a radical and deeply controversial addition to the sprawling U.S. tax regime, the Obama administration is now reportedly in negotiations with Moscow to share financial information with Vladimir Putin’s Russian government. The U.S. Treasury’s effort to secure a pseudo-treaty on data exchange with the Kremlin is part of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA, a scheme passed in 2010 aiming to obliterate privacy worldwide under the guise of collecting about an extra billion dollars per year in revenue.

If approved, the unconstitutional bilateral agreement would represent a major victory for Putin, a KGB man widely criticized around the world for operating what opponents refer to as a “gangster” regime. Among other benefits, the Russian strongman would gain access to vast troves of U.S. financial information — including sensitive data on critics of his government who may have assets, accounts, or business interests in the United States.

A spokesperson for the Treasury refused to comment on what information would be shared with Putin’s government, or what purported authority justified the creation of the pseudo-treaty with Moscow in the first place. However, as awareness of the looming deal spreads, legal, ethical, constitutional, and pragmatic concerns are escalating quickly.

The Obama administration and its global tax regime-supporting allies also have plenty to gain with FATCA. In essence, the widely criticized law — the Republican National Committee just overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling for its repeal — purports to force banks and governments all around the world to become agents of the IRS.

Already being seized on by tax-funded globalist outfits such as the OECD and the G-20 as the foundation for a planetary tax regime, FATCA will punish any entities that fail to report information on their clients to Washington with a massive “withholding tax.” In many cases, the companies will be forced to violate their own national laws to comply. The alternative, however, is to simply be shut out of U.S. markets entirely, the administration claims. Eventually, the admitted goal is to create a global tax regime, sometimes referred to by analysts as GATCA.

Of course, for now, foreign governments want something in return for allowing themselves to become extensions of the U.S. Treasury and the IRS. To deal with that problem, the Obama administration unilaterally created — without any statutory authority whatsoever — a system whereby cooperative foreign powers that do FATCA’s bidding are supposed to receive some benefits: financial information on accounts and assets held in American institutions. Because the administration did not have the power to force U.S. banks and companies to report such data, it simply passed executive “regulations” decreeing mandatory compliance.

According to news reports, Russian officials originally balked at the notion of forcing domestic banks and financial institutions to comply with the draconian new U.S. tax regime — proposed by the Obama administration and passed by mostly Democrats in 2010 as part of an unrelated “jobs” bill. In November, though, Putin’s Foreign Ministry said it supported the idea of a “mutual and balanced” information-sharing agreement between the two governments. In other words, Putin and the Kremlin want access to data, too, and will not cooperate with the Obama administration’s demands unless they get it.

That Russian Foreign Ministry statement appears to have been the turning point in getting Russian authorities on board with the FATCA scheme. Late last month, news reports and Russian officials formally announced that negotiations on an unconstitutional “intergovernmental agreement” to share data between the Obama administration and Moscow would begin soon in Paris. Few details have emerged so far, but Russian officials have indicated satisfaction with the plan.

When contacted by The New American about the pseudo-treaty with Russia, a spokesperson for the U.S. Treasury said the department “cannot comment on the status of FATCA negotiations with specific countries if an intergovernmental agreement has not yet been signed.” More than a dozen governments have already signed “IGAs” — the so-called “intergovernmental agreements” — with the Obama administration.

Details of the bilateral scheme with the Kremlin have not yet been finalized. However, it appears that, in exchange for Russian cooperation on data sharing, the Obama administration plans to unlawfully share information with Putin’s government, too. It remains unclear how much data the Kremlin will have access to, but privacy advocates have expressed serious concerns.

“We have a few reservations on the Russian side,” Russian Finance Minister Alton Siluanov was quoted as saying in domestic media reports in late January. “There are still some points to agree on with our American counterparts.”

By January 27, Finance boss Siluanov told Russian state media that the preparation of a draft agreement on FATCA had been “completed” by Moscow. He also said the Kremlin’s representative would travel to Paris and “hold final negotiations on the strength of our proposals, which have been fixed with the Central Bank and the Foreign Ministry, on the text of the agreement.”

All that remained by last week, Siluanov said, was “to fix several aspects with the American counterparts.” Russian central bank boss Alexei Simanovsky, contradicting earlier reports, also indicated that the pseudo-treaty with Washington, D.C. — the U.S. Senate will not have an opportunity to provide its constitutionally required consent — was expected to come into force this year.

As The New American has reported previously as part of this ongoing series, owing to repeated unilateral delays in the implementation of FATCA by the Obama administration, which critics argue are unlawful, the new tax regime is now set to go into effect this summer. There may still be another delay as officials scramble to issue regulations and create the systems while financial institutions struggle to understand and comply.

Numerous members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have demanded that the Treasury and the IRS explain under what purported authority it was promising to coerce American banks and institutions into sharing financial information with foreign governments — and that was before Moscow was brought into the fold. Business groups have sued in an effort to stop the plot, too.

Multiple lawmakers also told administration officials to cease and desist, citing, among other concerns, the potential for massive capital flight out of U.S. markets. If and when the draconian regime goes into effect, analysts and members of Congress say that American banks and financial institutions could see huge amounts of capital pouring out of the United States and into foreign markets.

“I further note that the IGAs that are being entered into are not authorized, or even mentioned, in FATCA,” wrote Rep. Bill Posey of the House Financial Services Committee in a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. “Despite the absence of any specific legislative authorization, these IGAs are not being submitted to the Senate as treaties or treaty amendments for its advice and consent, nor ... is any request being made to Congress for the statutory authority to implement these IGAs.”

Posey also pointed to a document submitted to Congress by the administration requesting authority for the mandates. “Requiring U.S. financial institutions to report similar information to the IRS with respect to nonresident accounts would facilitate such intergovernmental cooperation by enabling the IRS to reciprocate,” the administration said in a document submitted to Congress for the 2014 budget.

Around the world, as even Obama administration officials admit, FATCA purports to require that companies violate domestic privacy laws, human-rights protections, and anti-discrimination measures. In New Zealand, for example, as The New American reported last month, authorities are preparing to pass “enabling” legislation authorizing the violation of privacy rights and anti-discrimination statutes to allow the government to sign a FATCA IGA with the Obama administration. Opposition is growing there as well, with numerous critics arguing that the U.S. Treasury cannot keep its promises.

However, so far, the Treasury has continued to march onward, issuing a dizzying array of “regulations” purporting to give its bureaucrats whatever authority it wants to impose the Obama administration’s FATCA regime. The New American asked the Treasury what authority it believes it has to force U.S. institutions to share data with foreign governments or to sign pseudo-treaties with foreign governments promising to do provide such information.

A spokesperson declined to answer at first, and did not respond to a follow-up request prior to deadline. (An update will be posted if and when a response is received). Analysts and experts, though, said that despite the administration acknowledging it did not have the statutory authority to do so, it has simply been writing regulations purporting to authorize the schemes.

“Treasury’s decision to implement FATCA through intergovernmental agreements that are respectful of the individual laws and customs of partner jurisdictions has contributed to the significant international interest in participating in FATCA compliance efforts,” a Treasury spokesperson told The New American.

“The two FATCA model IGAs incorporate a two-pronged approach,” the spokesperson said. “Under the first model, [foreign financial institutions] report to their respective governments who then relay that information to the IRS; or, under the second model, they report directly to the IRS to the extent the account holder consents or such reporting is otherwise legally permitted, supplemented by government-to-government cooperation to facilitate reporting on non-consenting accounts.”

Critics of the disastrous FATCA rollout — not to mention the devastating consequences it will have on the U.S. economy and Americans abroad — are now advocating a full repeal. “It's like stopping a burglary with a nuclear bomb,” Center for Freedom and Prosperity President Andrew Quinlan told The New American last month.

With outrage growing across the political spectrum, the Republican Party officially endorsed repeal in January. Even many Democrats are beginning to express concerns as Americans are forced to give up their citizenship in record numbers while foreign banks increasingly shut down the accounts of Americans and U.S. businesses abroad.

More than a few analysts and experts who have spoken with The New American, however, say the issue is much broader than just FATCA or even sharing sensitive private U.S. information with Putin. The real solution to the growing crisis brought about by FATCA and similar schemes, critics argue, is to completely end the U.S. government’s policy of taxing citizens and green card holders regardless of where in the world they live. Only one other government — the gangster regime ruling Eritrea — operates such a bizarre system.

The consequences to the U.S. economy and Americans have been devastating, as even official reports have acknowledged. One option would be to further crush privacy rights and try to coerce the world into becoming unpaid extensions of the IRS — not to mention imposing billions in compliance costs and generating anti-American outrage worldwide while collecting virtually no additional revenue. Supporters of free markets, individual rights, and national sovereignty, though, say it is time for lawmakers to repeal FATCA and the citizenship-based taxation regime that supposedly requires it.