Thursday, June 25, 2015

New Credit Card Rules for Businesses

If you run a small business, you had better be ready for the new rules for credit card transactions. They begin on October 1.
If you are not up to date, and there is a fraudulent card transaction, you pay, not the credit card company.
I will not go into the details here.

Greek parliament will reject to ratify the current proposal – will the government fall?

by Secular Investor
Greece IMF Never a dull moment in Euro-land! After the Greeks seemed to have caved over the weekend and after they handed in a new proposal to reduce its spending pattern in the 2015 and 2016 budget by a substantial amount, the government is now taking the heat in the Greek parliament.
At the emergency Euro-top in Brussels on Monday, Tsipras and Varoufakis have brought up a ‘final and best’ proposal to be considered by its European ‘partners’ (read: creditors). The country now ‘suddenly’ found 2.7B EUR of savings/income for 2015 and 5.2B EUR for next year. The majority of the gap will be closed by an extensive VAT reform which would result in an additional cash inflow of 1.4B EUR in 2016. The government also wants to reduce the pension payments by 800M EUR, and it’s now specifically including yachts in a ‘luxury tax raise’ which should bring in 47M EUR. The corporate income tax would also be increased again to 29% from next year on (see next image).
Greek measures The European leaders seem to be optimistic about this new proposal and aims to have a binding solution by the normal euro-top which starts on Thursday.
However, not everybody is happy with the new plan, and Prime Minister Tsipras is getting a lot of heat from the Greek parliament and even some hard-liners in his own party have openly declared they will not accept the newest proposal.
Syriza Tsipras Source

Two members of parliament from Tsipras’ own Syriza party have already announced they would probably vote against the deal , and even a vice president of the government said it would be difficult to bring these ‘extreme and antisocial’ measures up for a vote in the parliament. In the same statement, the MP’s also said they thought Europe to be bluffing and that they wouldn’t dare to push Greece out of the currency block and that Europe ‘wants to humiliate Greece’.
Once again the Greeks seem to be playing with fire and don’t seem to realize how severe and urgent the current situation is. They still behave like Calimero’s (‘they are big and we are small and that’s not fair’) and this obviously didn’t please the current government which promptly released a statement saying that if the parliament wouldn’t ratify a deal, the Greek government would resign.
It looks like like even though a deal might be reached on the European level, it could still be derailed in the Greek parliament and the resignation of the government might put the country in an even worse crisis than it’s currently in.


Master Lock To Shut Down NY Plant, Move Some Jobs To Mexico

(Rochester)  The Master Lock Company announced Tuesday it will close the SentrySafe plant in Rochester. All positions at the Rochester plant, along with the Cannelton, Indiana location, will be relocated to Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and Mexico.
A total of 350 employees will lose their jobs. The positions will be reduced starting January 2016 and the plants will be completely closed by June 2016. A statement from Master Lock states the “decision is in no way a reflection of the successes, talents and skills of the SentrySafe team.
We’re incredibly impressed with their commitment to build a great company.” The company said it will provide severance and job placement services. Some employees have already been offered positions and relocation opportunities. Other offers will be made to the most qualified individuals.
A portion of the release reads: “We continue to believe that SentrySafe is a great fit for Master Lock as both companies deliver iconic brands with strong market share, consumer awareness and significant potential to leverage the brands globally.” In a statement, Pittsford Town Supervisor Bill Smith said, “Of course, we are disappointed to be losing a business in town as long-established and as prominent as Sentry Safe. I’ll be reaching out to the company to see what role, if any, we can play in helping to facilitate the re-employment of its employers.”

A New Problem For Greece Emerges: How To Do the Russian "Unpivot" After Capitulating To The Troika

While Greece is collectively scratching its head why Tsipras et al were at loggerheads with Europe for 4 months, during which time the Greek economy entered a recession and saw its banks not only depleted of all cash but become de facto wards of the ECB, just to reach an "agreement" that could have taken place back in February, and attention shifts to just how Tsipras will pass last night's impromptu capitulation through hard-line leftist parliamentarians, Greece now has another problem: how to unpivot the aggressive pivot toward Russia in the past few months, which culminated with the signing of an energy deal last week in St. Petersburg.

It goes without saying that if Greece is scrambling to go back into the Troika's good graces, Belgium will make it very clear that any overtures to Putin are to be "cease and deceased" (sic) immediately. Which opens a can of worms for the Marxists in government: how to slam shut the door to their ideological Plan B, when everyone knows the Grexit fiasco will repeat again in a few months, and Greece will again be knocking on the Kremlin's door.
For now, however, the situation is as follows, courtesy of Kathimerini: a rift appeared to have emerged Monday between Energy Minister Panayiotis Lafazanis (photo) and Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias as regards the country’s energy policy, with the latter declaring that the government is fully in line with European policy in spite of a recent Russian gas deal that has ruffled feathers in Brussels.
The memorandum signed by Lafazanis and Russian officials in Saint Petersburg earlier this week foresees that third parties could be permitted to reserve the full capacity of the pipeline, something that runs counter to EU competition laws.
In comments Monday, Kotzias remarked that Greek energy agreements cannot include terms and conditions that “go beyond the legal framework and agreements of the [European] Union.”
A memorandum of understanding co-signed by Lafazanis last Friday foresees the continuation of the Turkish Stream pipeline which has yet to be built but, according to plans by Gazprom, would carry natural gas from the Black Sea to Western Europe.
According to the initial agreement signed by Lafazanis and his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak, Russia’s VEB development bank will own 50 percent of the 2-billion-euro route and provide all financing, while Greece will own the rest.
Incidentally, as Russian Vzlgiad reported today, an Italian Saipem pipeline driller has just commenced operations as part of digging the Turkish Stream which will cross Greece, now that the Bulgarian passage of the Southern Stream has been put on permanent hiatus.

Clearly, as part of all future (if not the current) Greek bailouts, Europe will prohibit any Russian pipelines crossing Greece and entering Europe in expectations that the Syrian operation will finally succeed and the Qatar gas pipeline will supplant Gazprom as Europe's primary provider of offshore energy.
So as Tsirpras scrambles to explain to his fellow countrymen why he did what he did, very soon he will have a much more difficult explanation: either telling Putin that Greece can no longer permit the Turkish Stream (and with it lose billions in direct energy investment with no Troika repayment strings attached), or tell the Troika that Greece is actually more independent than assumed by Belgium, which in turn would force even tougher bailout terms on the Athens government and the usual threats of cutting of Greek bank liquidity overnight if Greece deviates from Europe's anti-Russia course.
In both cases more drama is assured.

BRICS: Union of Reformers and National Interests

The BRICS Forum is a difficult subject of analysis within the narrow framework of studying international integration associations. BRICS does not have a structure, a development strategy or mechanisms for implementing decisions. There is much debate about the role and viability of such an association. There is no doubt that BRICS has the opportunity to transform itself into an alternative pole of the global and political architecture. The question is whether the member countries can bring their national interests in line with those of the group as a whole.

The Causes and Effects of Developing Monetary and Financial Cooperation among the BRICS Countries

Experts are divided as to whether or not the BRICS countries have common interests. But most agree that the member nations view the existing model of the global financial and economic architecture as being inequitable. The main unifying goal of the BRICS organization is to bring about reform of the international financial system so that it is more in its favour. There are different views about what the BRICS members are looking to gain from developing cooperation within the organization:
1) To destroy the dominance of the United States and its allies in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over the global financial system (the political version):
The idea of challenging the hegemony of the United States was originally attributed to Russia. Moscow became the catalyst for the formation of the BRIC community towards the end of the 2000s. But now it is China that is leading the way. Beijing’s efforts to reform the IMF are complimented by attempts to internationalise the yuan.
2) To protect itself from the adverse effects of the economic slowdown in the G7 countries (the economic version):
The main unifying goal of the BRICS organization is to bring about reform of the international financial system so that it is more in its favour.
The U.S. mortgage crisis and the EU budget crisis convinced the BRICS countries that these processes posed real danger to their national economies. This is why the BRICS states are placing their stock on diversifying economic ties outside the United States–Japan–Western Europe triad.
3) To replace the hegemonic stability of the Washington Consensus with the new values of the Beijing Consensus (the politico-economic version):
The existing liberal model of the global economy functions as a result of the hegemony of one country. The United States provides access to its market in return for countries carrying out liberal reforms and opening up their own national markets. The economic model of the Washington Consensus is in crisis. The Beijing crisis offers the world new ideals: inclusive economic growth, economic development with the guarantee of the inviolability of sovereignty, a commitment to innovation and experimentation (special economic zones), and the accumulation of instruments of asymmetric power (trillions of dollars of foreign currency reserves).
Foreign currencies are the concentrated expression of accumulated state power. This is why the negative effects of unipolarity are valid for the world of finance as well. Establishing economic multi-polarity should be accompanied by a more complicated monetary and financial architecture by reducing the weight of the U.S. dollar in international finance. The global economy will become more balanced if it starts to rely upon a number of power centres.
Government of South Africa
In its Annual Report 2011, the World Bank predicted that the yuan would be among the currencies that would achieve equal status with the U.S. dollar by 2025. This would lead to the BRIC countries, Indonesia and South Korea occupying a 45 per cent share of the global economy within the next 14 years, up from its 2011 level of 36 per cent. An autumn 2014 report by the United Nations Statistical Commission and the World Bank officially acknowledged that China had become the largest economy in the world.
The strength of any economic centre directly depends on the liquidity of that centre’s currency in the global system. BRICS is a new centre of power, although it is unlikely that a single BRICS currency is going to appear within the next quarter of a century. It is more likely that strong regional centres will be formed around the currencies of all five BRICS countries.

Reforming the IMF and Transitioning to Payments in National Currencies

The priorities of BRICS are focused on the fundamental structures of the global financial system – the IMF and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). Joint initiatives of the BRICS countries to revise the quota in these structures in favour of developing countries have encountered opposition. Washington seeks to keep a firm grip on the IMF; the United States remains the only global power that has not ratified the 2010 IMF quota reform. This is why the most important area of the work of BRICS is to form alternative foreign currency and financial instruments. The general financial structures of the BRICS countries guarantee stability against the background of increasing instability. The emergence of major financial institutions such as the New Development Bank (the BRICS Bank) must certainly affect the activities of the IMF. Under the control of the BRICS countries, the bank carries out the same functions as the IMF and the IBRD, but for developing countries. However, when faced with opposition from these structures, the BRICS format acquires a distinctive “anti-Western” character. Such a scenario is not in the interests of most of the group’s members. Accordingly, the leaders of the BRICS countries quite deliberately stress that the New Development Bank is not at odds with the IMF and the IBRD. The very appearance of the BRICS Bank is another way of putting pressure on the United States to speed up reform of the IMF.
As for implementing the framework agreement on the creation of a Foreign Currency Reserve Fund, the G20 Summit in Brisbane in November 2014 saw the BRICS leaders step up the process of developing the mechanisms for cooperation. At the same time, the BRICS countries strengthened their position within the G20 thanks to such countries as Indonesia, Mexico and Argentina.
The priorities of BRICS are focused on the fundamental structures of the global financial system – the IMF and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).
The idea to use national currencies in mutual settlements was supported by the BRIC countries at its first summit in Yekaterinburg back in 2009. However, abandoning the U.S. dollar in mutual settlements is not an easy task. Currently, the transition to payments in national currencies between BRICS countries is poorly implemented. The BRICS Bank intends to carry out operations in U.S. dollars. Right now, payments in national currencies only apply to bilateral trade in energy products between Russia and China. At the same time, however, the sanctions levied against Russia have accelerated the process of developing such mechanisms within the BRICS framework.

The Trade-Off between Uniting Interests and Existing Differences

picture alliance / Klaus Ohlenschläger / Vostock
Gleb Ivashentsov:
Global East on the Rise
The creation of the BRICS Bank revealed a number of differences between the partners. At the BRICS Summit in Durban, South Africa, in 2013, the Chinese side put forward the idea that the share capital of each country in the bank should be proportionate to their GDP. China’s GDP far exceeds that of all the other BRICS countries. There were fears among the remaining four countries that China was attempting to bring the new bank under its control. In the end, the issue was postponed. If the countries had failed to come to a consensus on the issue a year later, then we could have started about the failure of the BRICS’ economic strategy. The parties only reached an agreement in principle on the eve of the 2014 summit in Fortaleza, Brazil. The impact of the existing disagreements on the dynamics of cooperation are particularly evident if you compare the speed with which this BRICS project was implemented with the analogous Chinese project to set up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
The presence of common currency and financial goals does not yet shape the conflux of national interests and geopolitical strategies of the BRICS countries. At the same time, national interests are for the most part different from the general interests of the group, and rarely coincide. Two disagreements hamper the development of the BRICS group at the global and national levels.
1) Reform of the UN Security Council (the global level) :
The general financial structures of the BRICS countries guarantee stability against the background of increasing instability.
Given their political and economic positions, India and Brazil do not feel that the current structure of the UN Security Council adequately reflects contemporary reality. Their concern stems from the fact that they must rely on Russia and China to represent the interests of the BRICS countries at the Security Council. China does not want to grant India equal status and has suggested alternative methods for expanding the Security Council without giving new members the right to veto. For New Delhi, this option is unacceptable, as it sees the right to veto as a key element of permanent Security Council membership. Russia continues to support India’s position in its official statements, but acknowledges that it is a complicated process. It would be difficult to expand the Security Council without also accepting applications from Japan and Germany. Japan’s candidacy, however, is unacceptable to China. And increasing the number of permanent members by accepting another Western country would serve no practical purpose for Russia. As a result, no positive developments are on the horizon.
During his speech at Fortaleza, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi emphasised the need to reform the United Nations, pushing the matter of reforming the IMF onto the back burner. In their final declarations, the BRICS countries continue to emphasize the dominant role of the United Nations in resolving international crises. Similar views on the structure of international security are an integral part of the foundation for political cooperation within BRICS. This is why the topic of UN reform is essential for strengthening the partnerships between the countries that make up the group. By recognizing India’s special position, Russia can influence China. However, increased interaction between New Delhi and Washington, as well as the “Nuclear Deal” signed between the two, are preventing Moscow from taking the appropriate decisions.
2) Disagreements between India and China (the national level) :
India and Brazil do not feel that the current structure of the UN Security Council adequately reflects contemporary reality. Their concern stems from the fact that they must rely on Russia and China to represent the interests of the BRICS countries at the Security Council.
The range of disagreements between the People’s Republic of China and India are not restricted to territorial disputes over the Aksai Chin and Ladakh regions and the legitimacy of Arunachal Pradesh’s becoming an Indian state. However, it is impossible to talk about strategic relations between the two countries while these border disputes remain. Geopolitical tensions stem from the increased activity of China in its relations with Pakistan and Afghanistan. There is perhaps an economic explanation behind Beijing’s readiness to form partner relations with India’s western neighbours (logistical access to Central Asia, infrastructure projects and mining operations). Nevertheless, India is seriously concerned about the rapprochement between China and Pakistan, and especially between China and Afghanistan, as it upsets the balance of powers in the region and puts China’s strategy in South Asia under the microscope.
The healthiest aspect of mutual relations between New Delhi and Beijing is in the trade and economic sphere. However, the growing trade imbalance increasingly affects these relations. Indian manufacturers fear competition from Chinese-made made products on the domestic market. The dynamics of import and export between the two countries has led towards a steady increase in the trade balance in China’s favour. In 2014, India’s trade deficit grew from $36 billion to $48 billion, with total trade standing at $72.4 billion. The New Silk Road concept only further increases China’s penetration into South-East and Central Asia, and India could be forced out of the traditional regional markets.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the BRICS Format and the Question of Institutionalization

REUTERS / Wu Hong / Pixstream
Vyacheslav Belokrenitskiy:
Russia-India-China: An Intricate Love Triangle to
Counter the United States?
From the legal point of view, BRICS is not an inter-governmental organization. The informal negotiation-style format of BRICS is in essence a geopolitical discussion club. At the group’s summits, the leaders of the BRICS countries make decisions that require their governments to work closely together. As such, the BRICS format is very similar to that of the G7. But there are differences. In the G7, the position and strategy of the White House dominates. The United States is the core around which the remaining countries unite in terms of ideology and economics. From the very outset, the BRICS format has ruled out the possibility of such a leader emerging. In keeping with their national interests, neither Russia not India recognize China as the leader of the group when defining its development strategy. This is why the BRICS format has more contradictions and inconsistencies now than ever.
One of the drawbacks of BRICS is the fact that it is an international club with an unclear legal foundation. Because there is no leader, interaction between the member countries is largely dependent on the nature of bilateral relations. Due to the contradictions and differences in the national interests of the parties mentioned earlier, the level of foreign policy cooperation between the countries is low. On the whole, we can say that the views of the BRICS countries converge only on the matter of the international security architecture. At the same time, decisions made at summits have failed to provide any specific joint actions on consolidating multi-polarity in the world. It should be emphasized that none of the other BRICS countries are interested in Russia using the BRICS platform to give the forum an anti-Western character. They have thus far maintained neutrality in their assessment of the situation in Ukraine. Any initiative aimed at politicizing the BRICS agenda at the upcoming summit in Ufa will be met with scepticism.
In its current format, BRICS allows a number of problematic issues between its countries to be swept under the carpet. However, the institutionalization of BRICS can help to build a more effective international relations architecture. Some Russian experts believe that establishing a system of bureaucracy within BRICS will pave the way for ongoing cooperation and give BRICS a more clearly defined structure. The question is whether the other BRICS members are prepared to do this. In particular, the initiative to set up a BRICS Parliamentary Assembly was shot down by India, which opposes the “excessive formalization” of the group.


The systematic development of the BRICS group should begin with the gradual formation of a long-term economic strategy. As the driving force behind the process, Russia needs to focus on making this a reality during the BRICS summit to be held on its soil. Our recommendations concern possible Russian initiatives at the upcoming BRICS summit in Ufa on July 9–10, 2015:
  1. Step up the process of developing a long-term economic strategy for BRICS countries;
  2. Focus on agreeing mechanisms for transitioning to a system of mutual settlements in national currencies between BRICS countries and on the establishment of the Foreign Currency Reserve Fund;
  3. Submit for discussion a possible model for the institutionalization of BRICS as part of the group’s economic strategy;
  4. Discuss mutually acceptable options for the reform of the United Nations Security Council, taking the interests of India and Brazil into account.
1. Global Development Horizons 2011. Multipolarity: The New Global Economy. World Bank, Washington, D.C. May 2011, p. 38.
2. Legacies, Clouds, Uncertainties. World Economic Outlook. IMF: Washington, D.C. October 2014.
3. Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The Need to Create a BRICS Banks was Prompted by the U.S. Delaying IMF Reforms // ITAR-TASS, August 28, 2014. URL: (in Russian).
4. BRICS Countries Agree to Appoint New Development Bank Head before Summit in Russia // RIA Novosti, November 15, 2014. URL: (in Russian).
5. Lavrov: Russia Will Look For Ways to Ratify BRICS Decisions on Reforming the Financial System // ITAR-TASS, October 20, 2014. URL: (in Russian).
6. Joint Statement by the Leaders of the BRIC Countries. June 16, 2009. URL: (in Russian).
7. Gabuyev, A. A Fund of Obstacles // Kommersant. Vlast. URL: (in Russian).
8. A World Bank Group Flagship Report. Global Economic Prospects. January 2015, p. 4.
9. BRICS Summit: What Narendra Modi said // India Today, July 16, 2014.
10. Factbox: The U.S.–India Nuclear Deal // REUTERS, February 3, 2015. URL:
11. India–China Trade Deficit Swells 34% to $48 billion // The Hindu, May 13, 2015.
12. BRICS Neutrality on Ukraine a Diplomatic Win for Putin // REUTERS, July 15, 2014. URL:
13. Russia Supports Turning BRICS into a Full-Format Cooperation Mechanism // ITAR-TASS, April 1, 2015. URL: (in Russian).
14. India Puts Brakes on Russian Project to BTICS Create Parliamentary Assembly // RBC, June 8, 2015. URL: (in Russian).

Top Economist: Americans Have "Contempt for Liberty"

Famed economist and columnist Walter Williams says America has embraced the government thievery of personal property to benefit others, and he says the politicians are only doing what the voters want them to do.
Williams is a distinguished professor of economics at George Mason University. He is a syndicated columnist and has substituted for talk-show host Rush Limbaugh. His new book, a collection of his conservative-to-libertarian columns, is titled “American Contempt for Liberty.”
The title may sound a bit harsh, but Williams insists that’s exactly what’s happening in this country.
“The average American thinks that it is indeed moral for the Congress to forcibly use one American to serve the purposes of another American,” Williams told WND and Radio America. “It will forcefully use one American to serve the purposes of farmers in term of farm subsidies or bank bailouts or welfare or food stamps.”
He added: “I think that the forcible use of one person to serve the purposes of another is immoral. As a matter of fact, that’s the working definition of slavery.”
Williams is quick to point out that he has no problem helping his neighbor in need. It’s how that help is structured that he rejects out of hand.
“I believe that helping one’s fellow man in need by reaching into one’s own pockets is praiseworthy and laudable,” he said. “Helping one’s fellow man by reaching in someone else’s pockets is worthy of condemnation. For the Christians among us, when God gave Moses the commandment ‘thou shall not steal.’ He did not mean that thou shall not steal unless you got a majority vote in Congress.”
To see how far and how quickly the American system has drifted from its constitutional moorings, Williams cites an impassioned speech that James Madison delivered on the House floor just a few years after the Constitution was ratified.
“In 1794, Congress appropriated $15,000 to help some French refugees. James Madison stood on the floor of the House, and he said, ‘I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article in the Constitution that authorizes Congress to spend the money of their constituents for the purposes of benevolence,’” said Williams, who argues that the U.S. government is now drowning in forced charity.
“If you look at the federal budget today, two-thirds or three-quarters is for the purpose of benevolence, or it can be described as the government taking the property of one American and giving it to another to whom it does not belong,” he said. “If a politician is running for office today, making the same statement that James Madison made, the American people would run him out of town on a rail because they’d have contempt for that sentiment.”
Williams said both parties engage in this “contempt for liberty” on a regular basis.
“Conservatives and Republicans believe in taking your money and my money and giving it to farmers and banks. Liberals and Democrats believe in taking your money and my money and giving it to poor people and cities. They both agree on taking our money, but they disagree on what to use it for,” Williams explained.

Greek Democracy Is Failing


Paul Craig Roberts
(RINF) – The Greek debt is unpayable. It is simply too large to be repaid. The austerity that the EU and IMF have imposed on Greece has worsened the problem by driving down the Greek economy, thus making the burden of the debt even heavier. Despite the obvious fact that the EU’s austerity policy is a failure and cannot succeed, the Greek “debt crisis” drama continues.
A solution was possible at the beginning of the “crisis” prior to the economy being driven down by austerity. The debt should have been written down to the amount that the Greek economy could service or pay. This traditional solution was unacceptable to creditors, to the EU, and to the European Central Bank. As I explained in my book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism (Clarity Press, 2013), Greece’s creditors, the EU and the European Central Bank have agendas unrelated to Greece’s ability to pay. The creditors are determined to establish the principle that they can over-lend to a country and force the country to pay by selling public assets and cutting pensions and social services of citizens. The creditor banks then profit by financing the privatization of public assets to favored customers. The agenda of the EU and the central bank is to terminate the fiscal independence of EU member states by turning tax and budget policy over to the EU itself.
In other words, the Greek “sovereign debt crisis” is being used to create a precedent that will apply to every EU member government. The member states will cease to exist as sovereign states. Sovereignty will rest in the EU. The measures that Germany and France are supporting will in the end terminate their own sovereignty, very little of which actually remains as they do not have their own currency and their foreign policy is subservient to Washington.
Default and a turn to Russia is the only possible way out for Greece. The entire world would benefit from this course of action as Greece’s departure from the EU and NATO would begin the unraveling of NATO, Washington’s principal mechanism for creating conflict with Russia. In the end, all of Europe and the rest of the world would thank Greece for derailing the violence that will result from Washington’s effort to assert hegemony over Russia.
As a Greek default and a turn to the East is the only workable solution for Greece, the EU’s agents inside Greece have launched a huge campaign against a Greek turn to the East.
I fear that the Greek people are too brainwashed to be able to avail themselves of the opportunity to rescue themselves from the clutches of the One Percent, who will drive the Greek population into the ground. The Greek voters did not have sufficient judgment to give their current government a large enough percentage of the vote for the government to have any credibility with the EU and Greece’s creditors. What we are witnessing in Greece is the failure of democracy due to the people themselves.
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books areThe Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West and How America Was Lost.

Major banks plead guilty to felony charges of currency fraud, but are allowed to continue scam after paying fine - and nobody's in jail!

(NaturalNews) Several top kingpins behind the global financial collapse of 2008 have reportedly agreed to plead guilty for their sinister crimes, but under one major condition: that they won't actually be held legally culpable. Five of the world's largest banks -- Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays PLC, the Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS -- have all confessed to deliberately manipulating the global foreign exchange markets for illicit gain, but all of them are getting off the hook with petty fines rather than jail time and tangible operations penalties.

The collective sum of these fines clocks in at around $9 billion, a sizable amount in the eyes of the average person. But for the international banking cartel, this is just a drop in the bucket -- a proverbial slap on the wrist when a heavy "whoopin'" would have been a far more appropriate penalty. These are the same corrupt banks, of course, that ripped off the public for trillions of dollars by rigging the financial markets and peddling bad loans and fake foreclosure papers.

Nevertheless, not a single guilty bank is really being penalized in any substantial way that will actually affect business as usual. According to Fox Business, the $9 billion worth of settlements reached between these banks and the U.S. Justice Department represents a mere fraction of the trillions of dollars that they stole from average folks like you and I who, if we did anything even remotely close to what these banks did, would probably face life in prison.

"The effect of the guilty pleas will be essentially zero, beyond the immediate costs of the fines levied on the institutions," wrote Andre Damon for "As the Times put it, 'life will go on, probably without much of a hiccup.'"

Obama Administration: We can't punish criminal banking cartel because it's "too big to jail"

Besides the fact that none of the banking executives involved in the racket face any criminal penalties, the banking entities themselves made sure to establish special "deferred-prosecution agreements" with the federal government allowing them to continue operating as they normally would. In other words, the actual impact of these fines, which are petty to large banks like JPMorgan Chase, is next to nil.

"In exchange for pleading guilty and paying these hefty fines, the banks demanded that regulators not ban them from certain business practices," said Andrew Stoltmann, a Chicago securities attorney, about the corruption behind these "penalties."

"These accommodations render the plea deals effectively useless. The pain of an indictment comes from banks not being able to, as a felon, engage in certain lucrative business practices. By getting the SEC and Labor department to OK the continuation of these business practices, the pleas are not very meaningful."

It's similar to what the vaccine industry achieved when it convinced the American Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court to shield it from all liability for harm caused by vaccines. Vaccine corporations are now free to poison and kill children with deadly jabs, and there's absolutely nothing the public can do to attain justice, aside from submitting a claim to kangaroo vaccine "courts" that pay out taxpayer dollars to some vaccine-injured families.

"The guiding principle of the Obama administration, in the words of former Attorney General Eric Holder, is that the giant banks are 'too big to jail,'" added Damon. "As the Times article explained, prosecutors are 'mindful that too harsh a penalty could imperil banks that are at the heart of the global economy.'"

Sources for this article include:

Ron Paul: Repeal, Don't Reform the IMF!

A responsible financial institution would not extend a new loan of between $17 and $40 billion to a borrower already struggling to pay back an existing multi-billion dollar loan. Yet that is just what the International Monetary Fund (IMF) did last month when it extended a new loan to the government of Ukraine. This new loan may not make much economic sense, but propping up the existing Ukrainian government serves the foreign policy agenda of the U.S. government.
Since the IMF receives most of its funding from the United States, it is hardly surprising that it would tailor its actions to advance the U.S. government's foreign policy goals. The IMF also has a history of using the funds provided to it by the American taxpayer to prop up dictatorial regimes and support unsound economic policies.
Some may claim the IMF does promote free markets by requiring that countries receiving IMF loans implement some positive economic reforms, such as reducing government spending. However, other conditions imposed by the IMF, such as that the country receiving the loan deflate its currency and implement an industrial policy promoting exports, do not seem designed to promote a true free market, much less improve the people's living standards by giving them greater economic opportunities.
The problem with the IMF cannot be fixed by changing the conditions attached to IMF loans. The fundamental problem with the IMF is that it is funded by resources taken forcibly from the private sector. By taking resources out of private hands and giving them to IMF bureaucrats, government distorts the marketplace, harming both American taxpayers and the citizens of the countries receiving the IMF loans. The idea that the IMF is somehow better able to allocate capital than are private investors is just as flawed as every other form of central planning. The IMF must be repealed, not reformed.
Read more:

Here’s who is most exposed to a Greek default

Two of Greece’s biggest creditors.

If Greece were to default, who would be left holding the bag?
Investors are almost giddy over signs Greece and its international creditors are moving toward a last-minute deal that would allow the country to avoid a default that many fear could otherwise propel the country toward a eurozone exit.
But even when things looked bleak, markets remained relatively calm—unlike at the height of the eurozone debt crisis in 2011 and 2012. Part of that might simply be down to Greek fatigue, but it also reflects the fact that eurozone banks and other private-sector participants are much less exposed to Greece than in the past. Here’s a look at some figures and charts that show who is now exposed to Greek debt.
Danske Bank
As the chart above from Copenhagen-based Danske Bank shows, as of March Greece’s outstanding debt stood at 312.7 billion euros ($349.6 billion). Of that, €231.2 billion is in the form of loans, with €205 billion belonging to the institutions, or the “official” sector (as opposed to the private sector). The institutions include the International Monetary Fund, the eurozone’s European Financial Stability Facility and bilateral loans from eurozone countries.
The fact that so much of Greece’s debt is seen in the hands of official creditors is one reason analysts say investors have remained relatively sanguine throughout the latest chapter of the drama.
“The private sector “has almost no direct exposure to Greece anymore,” wrote strategists at J.P. Morgan Cazenove, in a Monday note urging clients to get back into German stocks.
Meanwhile, eurozone banks have cut their exposure and their leverage levels, they noted.
“Eurozone banks show total €5b billion leverage, which contrasts with the system’s €32 billion balance sheet. Regional activity momentum, credit backdrop and the level of the euro are significantly more constructive now versus the ’11 & ’12 episodes,” they wrote.
Here’s Danske Bank with a graphic showing how European banks have cut their exposure to Greece (though exposure has ticked up since bottoming in 2012), with an accompanying chart showing how contagion from Greece to other peripheral bond markets has been much more limited this time around:
Indeed, it is a far cry from 2012 when fears over relatively tiny Greece sparked contagion across the periphery of the eurozone. That drove borrowing costs for Spain, the eurozone’s fourth -largest economy, and Italy, its third-largest, to dangerous levels. Bailouts for one or both of those countries would likely have strained Europe’s resources to the breaking point, potentially bringing the entire euro project to a humiliating end.
That is what prompted ECB President Mario Draghi in the summer of 2012 to pledge to do “whatever it takes” within the bank’s mandate to preserve the euro, eventually setting up the Outright Monetary Transaction, or OMT, program. Though never-used, the existence of the backstop helped calm contagion fears.
Now, the ECB is engaged in outright bond-buying via its quantitative easing program in an effort to fend off deflation in the eurozone.
As long as QE remains in place “concerns over debt sustainability for key euro sovereigns will be limited,” said Antonio Roldan Mones, London-based analyst at Eurasia Group, a risk consulting firm.
So no worries then? Not so fast. Skeptics still fear the potential for unforeseen consequences in the event of a Greek default or a Greek exit.
See: Investors risk complacency over Greece.
The euro EURUSD, -0.1428%  fell versus the dollar Tuesday but is up 1.7 % since the beginning of the month.
Financial markets “appear to have become more relaxed—we would say complacent—about the potential fallout” from a Greek default or exit, said Julian Jessop, economist at Capital Economics, in a note dated Tuesday.

How Much Does Israel Cost The Average American?

While so many Americans are subsisting on food stamps, losing their homes, and accumulating credit card debt they will never be able to pay off, the US is giving Israel $3 billion in direct foreign aid every year and, according to Congressman James Traficant, another $12-17 billion in indirect aid such as valuable military equipment deemed “scrapped,” loan guarantees, and preferential contracts. Israel is an affluent country with more than 10,000 millionaires and, according to the International Monetary Fund, was one of the few economies that weathered the 2008 financial storm nearly unscathed.
It’s hard to calculate the exact amount of foreign aid America gives Israel every year because the Israeli lobby in America secretly campaigns to give the tiny desert nation as much under-the-table aid as they can secure. In 1992, AIPAC President David Steiner was caught on tape bragging about his organization’s incredible power in America. Steiner first admitted to manipulating the US Secretary of State into giving Israel more foreign aid. Steiner said he, ”met with [Secretary of State] Jim Baker and I cut a deal with him. I got, besides the $3 billion, you know they’re looking for the Jewish votes, and I’ll tell him whatever he wants to hear … Besides the $10 billion in loan guarantees which was a fabulous thing, $3 billion in foreign, in military aid, and I got almost a billion dollars in other goodies that people don’t even know about.”
According to the General Accounting Office (GAO), Israel operates the largest spying operation on America of any of our allies, and they use some of their intelligence gathering to steal American business secrets, which costs the US jobs and money. The two largest and most powerful Israeli lobbies in America, AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation League, have both been caught red-handed spying for Israel (see the 2005 AIPAC Scandal and 1993 ADL Spying scandal). Shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the FBI rounded up more than a hundred Israeli spies who were caught infiltrating dozens of federal agencies. It was one of the largest spy rings in American history.

If the American government took the $15-$20 billion it gives Israel every year and put it into a savings account for the 4.5 million babies born p/yr, every American would receive $8,000-$10,500 upon turning 18 years old. In another option, the US government could give the money away in a lottery and make 15k-20k Americans millionaires every year. Either of these options would provide an incredible boost to the US economy. But the truth is that $15-$20 billion per year is probably just scratching the surface when we look at the cost of America’s relationship with Israel.
Dr. Thomas R. Stauffer, a world renowned economist who taught economics and Middle East studies at Harvard as well as serving twice in the Executive Office of the President on a task force for oil imports and controls, estimated that as of 2002 (in 2002 dollars) Israel has cost the US $3 trillion. His estimate took into account direct military aid, political support, oil price increases as a result of conflicts, and peripheral/hidden foreign aid. It should be noted that this figure would be a gross understatement today because much of the cost of supporting Israel has been accrued since 2002 in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and the Iran war mongering, which has led to a dramatic increase in oil costs. In addition, inflation has increased considerably since 2002 and would therefore make the figure significantly larger today.
In Stauffer’s estimation, US aid to Israel costs 275,000 American jobs per year due to unfair trade imbalances and sanctions on Israel’s enemies. In one example of under the table aid, Stauffer pointed out that the US actually gave Russia and Romania billions of dollars in undeclared aid to facilitate Jews moving to Israel. The US has also spent hundreds of billions in the region to secure friendly relationships with Israel. John McCain admitted in an interview that US aid to Egypt is really just a bribe so the Egyptians will maintain friendly relations with Israel. The US has also given Turkey and Greece billions for the same purpose. The cost of America’s relationship to Israel today adjusted for inflation and including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is likely to be in excess of $5 trillion, or $16k per American.
A summary of Stauffer’s breakdown can be found here: 
First, we have to identify what Israel brings to the relationship, which as former CIA Chief Michael Scheuer points out in the video below–amounts to absolutely nothing. Not only is Israel a terrible ally, attacking America in at least two separate false flag attacks (See the lavon affair and the USS Liberty) and actively spying on America, but it it isn’t really the “only democracy in the Middle East” as the Israelis like to claim. Many Arabs in Israel can’t vote or even live with their spouses. Israel is a racist apartheid state that separates Arabs and Jews in separate and totally unequal schools and facilities, as the following article Jewish Israelis are the worst Anti-Semites On The Planet details: As such, America’s support of Israel causes great damage to America’s relations with oil producing states in the region.

Most Americans view Israel as an ally on the front lines fighting terrorists so Americans don’t have to, but nothing could be further from the truth. The few Islamic terrorist attacks on America in the last 50 years were all a result of America’s support for the Israeli apartheid regime. After September 11, 2001, the media claimed the terrorists attacked because they: “hated our freedom.” The terrorists however stated on record that they attacked America because of its support for Israel. After all, if terrorists were going to attack a country because of its freedom they would have attacked the Netherlands or Switzerland.
The only people arrested on 9-11 were Israeli Mossad agents who were seen filming the attacks and then celebrating afterwards. The Dancing Israelis, as they were late known, were arrested in a van that had contained explosives and a box cutter, which was identical to the ones used in the terrorist attacks. They all failed lie detector tests about their role in the attacks. Before the US government classified all information on Israel’s involvement in 9-11, the FBI officially concluded that Israel had to have known of the attack before 9-11-2001 and didn’t warn the US. After the attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We are benefitting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq.” He also said, “these events have swung American public opinion in our favor.”
America has spent countless treasure and lives invading Afghanistan and Iraq for Israel’s security. It’s amazing that this factual statement is still in debate today, but to clarify, Iraq had no capacity to threaten America’s security. Saddam didn’t have weapons of mass destruction or any connection to Al-Qaeda. Many Americans think their government invaded Iraq for oil, but that is completely false. America gets the vast majority of its oil from Mexico, Canada, Nigeria, and Venezuela rather than the Middle East. If America’s goal was truly to secure further energy resources it would have built a pipeline from Canada or invested in its plentiful natural gas reserves rather than spending a trillion dollars bombing and destroying Iraq’s oil production capacity and then taking no oil for its efforts.
The architects of the Iraq war, Pearl and Wolfowitz, were both closely tied to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which mercilessly campaigned for the war. The book The Israeli Lobby and US Foreign Policy puts the primary blame of the Iraq invasion on AIPAC’s merciless lobbying for war. In January 2003, AIPAC executive director Howard Kohr stated, “quietly lobbying Congress to approve the use of force in Iraq” was one of “AIPAC’s successes over the past year.” Jeffrey Goldberg reported during a profile piece of AIPAC’s policy director Steven J. Rosen that, “AIPAC lobbied Congress in favor of the Iraq war.”  The American media, which happens to have a disproportionate representation of zionist executives (see the video below or this article for proof), censored all those who disagreed with the war and labeled them unsupportive of the troops and traitors.
The Israeli lobby and the Israel-supporting mainstream media are now campaigning for a war in Iran. If Israel and the US strike Iran, gas prices will likely reach $6-7 a gallon, which will have a dramatic impact on the average American. In fact, just the warmongering alone by Israel and the zionist controlled American media has caused nearly a $1 price hike. This costs the average American an extra $123 per month or $1,476 per year. With the current gas prices near $4 a barrel, the average American will spend 9% of their total income on gas. If America or Israel attack Iran, most experts estimate that it will cost the average American an additional $2952-$4428 per year.
Even though Israel takes a great deal of money from the US in direct aid and even charitable donations from Jews and Christians, according to Official Direct Assistance (ODA) Israel is one of the stingiest developed countries in the world. Israel is one of the richest countries on the planet, but gives nearly 10 times less than the world average and gives the 4th least of any developed nation per capita, only barely beating out much poorer countries like Poland, Hungary, and Turkey. So while Israel took in $3 billion from America in direct aid and $12-17 billion in the other aid measures mentioned above, they only gave $141 million in foreign aid to nations in need of assistance in 2010.

AGAIN! This Greek Debt Crisis Is A Set Up To Fleece The People, PERIOD. By Gregory Mannarino

Housing Recovery? Nah, It’s Just Spiking Mortgage Rates

by John Rubino
This morning saw two very strong housing reports:

First-time buyers lift U.S. home sales to 5-1/2-year high

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. home resales surged to a 5-1/2-year high in May as first-time buyers stepped into the market, the latest indication that housing and overall economic activity were gathering steam in the second quarter.
The strengthening economic outlook likely keeps the Federal Reserve on course to raise interest rates later this year.
The National Association of Realtors said on Monday existing home sales increased 5.1 percent to an annual rate of 5.35 million units, the highest level since November 2009. That put sales this year on track for their strongest gain since 2007.
“It suggests that the U.S. housing market recovery is back on track after the missteps earlier this year. We expect this upbeat tone in the housing recovery to continue as the favorable domestic fundamentals begin to reassert themselves,” said Millan Mulraine, deputy chief economist at TD Securities in New York.


New home sales hit 7-year high

(Time Magazine) – New U.S. single-family home sales increased in May to a more than seven-year high, further brightening the outlook for the housing market and the broader economy.
The Commerce Department said on Tuesday sales rose 2.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 546,000 units, the highest level since February 2008. April’s sales pace was revised up to 534,000 units from the previously reported 517,000 units.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales, which account for 9.3% of the market, rising to a 525,000-unit pace last month.
Sounds good, but it’s actually just a response to interest rates looking like they want to spike. The yield on US 10-year Treasuries is up by 75 basis points since January, which inevitably means higher mortgage rates. And this month we got them:
US mortgage rate 2015 Both buyers and sellers are viewing this trend with alarm. Buyers are terrified of being priced out of the market, so they’re stepping up and finally making offers. Sellers, meanwhile, are seeing previously-qualified buyers disappear in droves as higher rates raise the effective cost of home ownership. And realtors, you can bet, are working both sides of the market to fan these fears.
The result: sudden, widespread anxiety and lots of new contracts being signed.
This, of course, is a temporary situation. If rates go up from here, millions of first-time buyers (most of whom have student loans and/or are working as bartenders, waiters, or corporate temps and are therefore not mortgage-worthy at higher interest rates) will disappear. If rates stabilize here, the current sales spike will turn out to have been cannibalized from future demand, and a slowdown will ensue.
So the only way for housing to sustainably take off from here is for rates to plunge back to January levels — which would imply serious trouble elsewhere in the economy.

What we have is government controlled by a few giant corpo - rations, and they got their power by acquiring the power to create the national money supply.

What we have is government
controlled by a few giant corpo
rations, and they got their power
by acquiring the power to create
the national money supply.
“If Congress has the right under the Constitution to issue
currency [paper money], it was given to them to be used
by themselves, not to be delegated to individuals or corpo
rations.” —
President Andrew Jackson
“Whoever controls the volume of money in any coun
try is absolute master of all industry and commerce.”
President James A. Garfield
“All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America
arise, not from defects in the Constitution or confedera
tion, not from want of honor or virtue, so much as from
downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and cir
culation.” —
President John Adams
“The Federal Reserve bank buys government bonds with
out one penny...” —
Congressman Wright Patman,
gressional Record, Sept 30, 1941
“Some people think the Federal Reserve Banks are the
United States government’s institutions. They are not
government institutions.They are private credit monopo
lies which prey upon the people of the United States for
the benefit of themselves and their foreign swindlers.”
Louis T. McFadden,
Chairman of the Committee on
Banking and Currency, 1932
• The power to create money in our nation has been
usurped by a private international banking cartel, which
issues our money as debt and lends it back to us at
• Governments get blamed when things go wrong; but
they are actually just pawns of the cartel.
• We the people can get back our government and our
republic only by reclaiming the power to create our
own money. We can use the same credit system that
private banks use, but administered as a public utility,
monitored and overseen by public servants.
• To be a sustainable system, profits need to be returned
to the community rather than siphoned off into private
• We have faith in the government “of the people, by the
people, and for the people” set out in the Declaration of
Independence and described by Abraham Lincoln. But
what we have is government controlled by a few giant
corporations, and they got their power by acquiring the
monopoly on creating the national money supply.
• “Allow me to issue and control a nation’s currency,”
Amschel Mayer Rothschild allegedly said in the 18th
century, “and I care not who makes its laws.”
That last statement may be apocryphal, but that is how
they did it, and that is the power we have to take back if
we want a just and trustworthy government that repre
sents people rather than wealthy corporations.
Ellen Brown,
attorney, Chairman of the Public Banking
author of
Web of Debt
“The powers of financial capitalism had another far
reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system
of financial control in private hands able to dominate the
political system of each country and the economy of the
world as a whole.”—
Prof. Caroll Quigley,
University, and author of
Hope and Tragedy.
The Public Banking Institute (PBI) is a non-partisan think-
tank, research, and advisory organization dedicated to ex
ploring and disseminating information on the potential utility
of publicly-owned banks, and to facilitate their implementa
tion. Through its consolidated corporate business model, the
actions of a banking industry, dominated by the “money cen
ter” banks of the Federal Reserve, have precipitated the eco
nomic imbalances now witnessed across the US economy.
PBI seeks to explore the possibilities for, and to facilitate the
implementation of, public banking at all levels - local, region
al, state, national, and international. Its approach is informed
by the historic role of public banks, in the U.S. and elsewhere,
in fostering access to cheap and readily available credit for
governments, businesses, and individuals, particularly with
respect to creating productive capacity.
“It is well that the people of the nation do not
understand our banking and monetary system,
for if they did, I believe there would be a
revolution before tomorrow morning.”
—Henry Ford, Ford Motor Co.
“Well, we’re starting to understand and this is
the beginning of the revolution...the banking
—Ellen Brown, Occupy LA Teach-In

Video: More austerity? Default? Grexit? EU talks spawn panic…& new vodka

Home / Breaking News / Video: More austerity? Default? Grexit? EU talks spawn panic…& new vodka

After a day of talks in Brussels, a deal to save Greece’s teetering economy is still not in place …. RT LIVE Subscribe to RT!

Olive Garden’s To Sacrifice Cleanliness In Latest Cost-Cutting Plan

()  Olive Garden’s corporate bosses, who are scrutinizing every expense in an effort to turn around the company, have found a new source of waste: carpet cleaning.
Darden Restaurants Inc., which owns Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and other chains, has dispatched operations teams to the company’s restaurants to pull “every single invoice” for hints at ways to keep costs down. The effort uncovered that many restaurants are washing carpets twice a month.
“There’s a protocol that you clean carpets once a month,” Chief Executive Officer Gene Lee said Tuesday on a conference call to discuss quarterly earnings. “If you do it more than that, you end up actually destroying the carpet — and really not a whole lot of benefit there.”
Lee took the CEO job last October after activist investor Starboard Value replaced Darden’s entire board in a proxy fight. The new management team has cut labor costs and other expenses, aiming to save as much as $100 million a year. Darden also announced plans Tuesday to turn its properties into a real estate investment trust. The REIT proposal would help Darden cut its debt load by $1 billion.
Lee and his team are paring expenses with an approach known as zero-based budgeting. The buyout firm 3G Capital has used a similar strategy with Burger King and HJ Heinz Co., going so far as to restrict the use of office supplies and the number of pages employees can print.
“We’re finding things that have creeped in over the years that we’re able to take out,” Lee said.