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Critics: EPA’s Negligent Policies Are Causing Honeybees to Die – Susanne Posel | Susanne Posel

Critics: EPA’s Negligent Policies Are Causing Honeybees to Die – Susanne Posel | Susanne Posel.

Susanne Posel 
Occupy Corporatism
December 23, 2013

Honeybees are dying and it looks like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible because of a system called “conditional registration” that expedites the process of getting pesticides to market.

Experts maintain that this lackadaisical formula has allowed dangerous chemicals to be sold to the public and used in commercial operations that have caused massive deaths of honeybee colonies and placed agriculture as a whole under constant threat.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) states : “Insecticides conditionally registered in the early 2000s have been blamed for impairing honeybees’ immune systems; in the past five years, the honeybee population has declined 20 to 30 percent each year.”

The Government Accountability Office (GOA) found that the EPA has confused a “record-keeping system for tracking pesticides” that has contributed to the dangers to our ecosystem and the health of millions of Americans.

Problems with missing data while programs pushed through deadly chemicals to be purchased by the public under the guse of being safe has become normal at the EPA.

Although the EPA claims to have begun taking steps to correct these loopholes, they still assert that as long as the manufacturer of the pesticide follows the rules, there is not “unreasonable risk to the environment” and “the use of pesticide[s] is in the public interest” – not to mention the financial interest of producers of pesticides.

An estimated 16,000 pesticides are currently registered with the EPA.

No centralization of power and a lack of monitoring have resulted in handwritten notes and decisions based on memory being entered into files as legitimate documentation.

Earlier this year, researchers at Emory University and the University of California have studied bumblebees in Colorado and discovered that the most devastated impact is felt in the plants that are dying because of lack of pollination.

At a laboratory in Crested Butte, Colorado, Berry Brosi and Heather Briggs were assisted by numerous assistants who analyzed how species of bumblebees and utilized algorithms to assert that if other surviving species of bumblebees were to “pick up the slack”. Plant life would be able to recover.

It appears that bumblebees discriminated against a specific species of flower; the purple wildflower called Delphinium barbeyi (a type of larkspur).

Species of plant life have been in decline because of the sudden lack of bees worldwide.

In 2011, the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) released a report thatidentified an estimated “dozen factors, ranging from declines in flowering plants and the use of memory-damaging insecticides to the world-wide spread of pests and air pollution, may be behind the emerging decline of bee colonies across many parts of the globe.”

In the report, several key issues were mentioned:

• Viral fungal pathogens were destroying the bee colonies
• Migration of bees globally was observed
• Globalization of trade impacted bees
• Speices of plants are dying
• “Systemic insecticides” were causing toxicity in bees
• Climate change is disturbing flowering times
• Climate change is causing less quality pollen to be produced by flowers

A team of researchers at the Washington State University (WSU) have imported bee sperm from the European honeybee for storage and future fertilization.

Scientists want to fertilize American queen bees with European bee sperm to genetically engineer bees that are more resilient to a mysterious condition that coerces worker bees to abandon their hives to die.

The theory is that with this genetic manipulation, stronger bees can be created that will lead to healthier American insects.

The sperm that is not used in these experiments will be frozen for future use.

 

Canada economy grows more than expected, boosting recovery hopes | Business | Reuters

Canada economy grows more than expected, boosting recovery hopes | Business | Reuters.

A woman carries shopping bags during the Christmas shopping season in Toronto, December 7, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
1 of 1Full Size

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) – The Canadian economy showed unexpected strength in October, growing for the fourth month in a row and boosting market hopes that the country might finally be shaking off the worst of the great recession.

Statistics Canada said on Monday the economy had grown by 0.3 percent from September. Analysts had forecast a 0.2 percent advance after September’s 0.3 percent increase.

Although Canada regained most of the jobs it lost since 2008 and 2009, growth has been largely sluggish, prompting the Bank of Canada to make clear it will not raise its key interest rate until it sees signs of a firm recovery.

The economy has posted growth every month this year apart from June.

The output of goods-producing industries grew by 0.4 percent in October on higher manufacturing while service industries output climbed by 0.3 percent as almost all major industrial sectors registered growth.

“Canada’s economy is showing sustained strength for the first time since the early days of the recovery,” said BMO Capital Markets economist Sal Guatieri.

The Bank of Canada has said annualized GDP growth in the fourth quarter will be 2.3 percent, down from 2.7 percent in the third. Guatieri, though, said October’s data suggested fourth quarter growth could be around 2.6 percent.

“Importantly, this would mark the first quarter since early 2011 that GDP has posted successive increases above two percent – that is, above potential,” he said in a note to clients.

Manufacturing output grew by 1.3 percent in October while wholesale trade and retail trade advanced by 1.4 percent and 0.3 percent respectively. Construction, as well as mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction, were unchanged.

The economy grew by 2.7 percent from October 2012, up from September’s 2.4 percent year-on-year advance.

Peter Buchanan of CIBC World Markets said the 0.3 percent increases in both October and September “suggest a fairly decent start for the economy to the fourth quarter.”

The data helped push the Canadian dollar higher and by 9.40 am (1440 GMT) it was at C$1.0601 to the U.S. dollar, or 94.33 U.S. cents, up from Friday’s close of C$1.0648 to the greenback, or 93.91 U.S. cents.

The Bank of Canada is worried about the risks posed by the persistently low inflation, which in November was just 0.9 percent, well below the central bank’s target of 2 percent.

The Bank has kept its key overnight interest rate unchanged at 1 percent since September 2010, citing in part the inflation rate and the underperforming economy.

A Reuters poll of primary dealers late last month showed that most did not expect the bank to raise rates until the second quarter of 2015.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

 

The Year at the End of the World | Motherboard

The Year at the End of the World | Motherboard.

By Brian Merchant

Zombies were huge again this year. Via The Walking Dead, AMC

I’ve never remembered much of my dreams, and, as far as I know, I’ve never dreamt of the End. But this was an overtly apocalyptic year, and by December, I’d absorbed more than my subconscious could manage. It spat out that first vision of how I might flail while it all falls apart.

New York City was smoldering red and black. Rows of familiar brick apartments were ablaze, and some crumbled in the dichromatic glow. A mountain of jagged city rose up without warning, shuffling concrete like a deck of cards. I was there, somewhere, on the other side of where I needed to be. The sky was pitch dark with smoke, fires tore through the block pixelated and medieval. My girlfriend was beyond that ruin, I had to find her, no choice but through the middle.

By all rights, 2013 should have been a gauzy hangover from all things apocalypse. A year we awkwardly and painfully came to grips with still being here-ness. We were fresh off the heels of dire old 2012, when the Mayans’ supposed doomsday, that campy apotheosis of pop cultural end times, failed to doom us. Post-apocalyptic films were starting to drag like a legless undead corpse. 2012 saw the worst drought in decades; the New York Times declared it the US’s hottest year ever. An East Coast-swallowing super storm looked apocalyptic, but instead left a country reeling—and a slew of humanitarian, civic, and environmental concerns in its wake.

If ever there was a time to sober up, get humanity’s house in order, and stop wishing disaster on ourselves, 2013 was it. Instead we doubled down on apocalyptic fantasy. Armageddon was everywhere: It was a banner year for films, music, books, television, sci-fi, and cultural obsession about the end of the world. The most-watched cable TV drama of all time aired this year, and it was about the zombie apocalypse. The highest-charting rock song of the year—and third best-selling single, period—is explicitly apocalypse-themed. And I can’t think of a year where our cinematic world was so thoroughly destroyed, overrun, ruined, or obliterated than it was in 2013.

I watched the destruction in multiplexes and at home, on pay-per-view apps like Vudu and iTunes. So many two-dimensional earthlike environs exploded on so many screens. Thank Hollywood for greenlighting so many towering epic films to titillate we apocalypse-hungry masses. I for one wanted to watch as earth was overrun and obliterated not just by zombies, but social strife, alien-controlled drones, and Satan himself. I was so tired this year, and there was something disarmingly easy about seeing the switch get flipped. I doubted I was alone.

World War Z, the year’s token star-powered zombie movie, reiterated for the umpteenth time our fear of a modern mutant plague, our latent desire to empty our rage into dull-eyed semi-humans with blunt weapons. Elysium raised a futuristic dystopian world, ruined by avarice and inequality. The super rich, safely cloistered on a toroidal pleasure barge, lived it up. The poor toiled in earthbound factories, got radiation poisoning from the blighted environment, and biohacked each other in dusty labs.

In Elysium, the world ended because humans let it; we couldn’t figure out how to restrain corporations or protect the environment or distribute resources evenly or be kind to each other—pressing real-world pre-apocalypse themes, of course—so it all failed. The film was supposed to be part social critique, like director Neill Blomkamp’s previous effort, District 9, and it made no attempt to conceal its bleeding-heart allegiance to the 99 percent. In fact it was mostly filmed inthat fateful fall of 2011. In reality, however, the film couldn’t get its act together: it was mostly a grating gunblazer. But it was one of the few movies to put forward a solution to impending planetary doom: universal health care. In Elysium, the rich have heal-all tech—we just need to get them to share it with the poor.

Oblivion was more interesting, as far as total destruction scenarios go. An alien nemesis attacked earth, but not with ray guns—its giant motherships somehow dragged the moon out of orbit, loosing the tides and flooding our cities. The unseen drone-steering aliens had the gall to stick around, drawing fusion power from our oceans and using an army of cloned humans to harass the subterranean survivors.

What began as an effort to trade in on the growing cultural import of drones—the new zombies, maybe—and our fears of them, ended as pure Hollywood sci-fi; action-obsessed and metaphorically confused. Still, there’s a palpable fear here; that technology will enslave us under our noses, while we let the earth go to ruin and become mindless clones.

The world wasn’t exactly over in Pacific Rim, a cheery robo-gladiator flick, but rampaging aliens had thrashed much of it, and doom was immanent—if not for a pan-military effort to bash their skulls in with the steely fists of giant DARPA bots. The Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire, is dystopian fiction for young adults—the world has gone to hell, reality TV is out of control, and wealthy elites oppress the poor, forcing them to provide their resources with backbreaking manual labor. After Earth was a Scientology-infused far-future despoiled Earth story, and it was terrible, so nobody saw it.

None of that mass death was overtly serious, but this year’s apocalypse was built for laughs, too. In the summer comedy This Is The End A-list comedian hipster bros mined the biblical end of days for jokes; Satan’s army, road warriors, and copious amounts of fire set the backdrop for gags about exorcisms, strained friendships, and demon penises. Demon penises mostly.

The year’s best apocalyptic film was marketed as comedy, too: The World’s End, the final installment of the so-called Cornetto trilogy that began with another stab at apocalyptica, Shaun of the Dead. I watched the comedies with my girlfriend on the weekends; one in bed in Brooklyn, one on the couch in Philadelphia. New jobs had forced us into a long distance relationship after years of living together, we had the weekends. We’d seen Oblivion together too, the soundtrack’s synths washing over us in a cheap Philadelphia theater with sticky floors. I got into the Walking Dead and watched it on the bus rides through the gloaming to Philly.

The World’s End was a surprisingly potent film. It cannily wielded its apocalypse on multiple narrative dimensions: there was the actual apocalypse, yes, where small towns around the world have been infiltrated and destroyed by robots, but all that flair was sneakily deployed in service of a more personal apocalypse.

Gary King, our pathetic leather jacket-clad protagonist hasn’t, can’t, won’t grow up and join dull, ordered society; he’d actually rather embrace the end than evolve beyond his high school glory days. In the film’s postscript, this pointed absurdity is laid bare as our hero relishes a new life of wandering the a post-apocalyptic wasteland with robo-copies of his childhood friends, beating up naysayers. It was a poignant moment that accomplished what most apocalyptic cinema fails to do: raise the question of why it is we want to see the world crumbling around us.

Why indeed. There’s got to be a reason it’s fun for us to watch the bodies pile up and for a band of survivors—stand-ins for ourselves—struggle to make good with what’s left. Part of this is also that we rarely consider the bodies.

“All of this uncertainty and all of this fear comes together and people think maybe life would be better” after a society-annihilating disaster, the child psychologist and zombie fiction author Steven Schlozman told Scientific American.

Mass disaster offers a shot at a clean slate, maybe, both for a societal reboot and, more importantly, a personal one. We might have flocked to the theaters this year to watch the world unravel, vicariously—subconsciously even—imagining what we’d do with that fresh start amidst the rubble.

Schlozman notes that we don’t ever fantasize about rebuilding infrastructure, or living without access to clean water; we romanticize the freedom from obligation but fail to process the misery inherent in the ending world. The narrative inevitably abets this tendency—aside from establishing ‘world-is-dead’ shots of fallen monuments and errant corpses, we’re given little chance to empathize with what was lost. Which is the point: These are action movie playgrounds, abstractions—apocalyptic in an aesthetic sense only. Few of us actually relate to the dead in these films, or the zombies, the impostor aliens, the image of death incarnate. In 2013, I did, mostly against my will.

Image: Flickr

Last year, as in the year before the apocalypse, I administered CPR to a man in the middle of the highway who was almost certainly already dead. He’d crashed his motorcycle, and we were the first ones on the scene, there seconds later. One wheel was still spinning.

My friend is a doctor, and he yelled out some imperatives I don’t remember now; I just remember trying to move a fat purple tongue out of the way of an airway, blowing in, while my friend gave chest compressions. The inner-mouth smell where there was no breath was fetid, his skin was sallow. That was the face of death, the real face of death pressed close up to mine.

The face would show up when I didn’t want it to, but not until months, a year after the fact. Out of nowhere, briefly, in a stray thought or a daydream. No joke, sometimes it would populate whatever apocalypse porn I was watching, against my will, shuffling among the corpse-painted actors like a phantasmic extra. I was reminding myself, maybe, that while I was so gleefully participating in this carnival of fabricated death, buying tickets to films where billions of humans are dispatched without a thought, using it as a perverse source of comfort—that there is feeling to real death that must be remembered, that doesn’t translate to this spectacle, because it doesn’t look all that different than the death on the screen.

That seems important to consider, because mass death was incredibly popular this year.The Walking Dead is probably the best example. The zombie drama is currently the highest-rated program on television. Period. As in, higher rated than Monday Night Football, higher rated than the top network show, The Big Bang Theory. Twenty million people watched its season 4 premiere in October, and ratings continue to climb. Entertainment Weekly crunched the numbers, and found that you have to go back five years to find another program with a higher rating: a cresting American Idol. It’s officially the most-watched cable series in history.

But it doesn’t stop there; 2013’s music was also plenty apocalyptic. Imagine Dragon’s “Radioactive,” a ham-fisted song about the end days, was, according to Billboard, “the biggest rock hit of the year.” Its YouTube video has over 109 million views. Only “Blurred Lines” and Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” charted higher—”Radioactive” beat out anything Miley Cyrus did by a mile. The song is about breathing in radiated air, my apocalypse, and a new age, ostensibly of revolution. Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires in the City, the winner of the coveted #1 slot on Pitchfork’s best album of the year list, is just as universally bleak, if more subtly so. The album cover shows a dystopian New York covered in a thick shroud of pollution.

“The image looks old, but also seems like it might be a rendering of some kind of future,” Rostam Batmanglij, the band’s “musical architect and de-facto aesthetic director,” said in an interview. The record itself is full of moments that reflect that prognosis; much of it plays like Ivy Leaguers meeting The Road. I listened to plenty of it.

There were books, both fiction, 100 Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses, and nonfiction, Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive Mass ExtinctionThere were video games, too, though I didn’t play many of them. But State of Decay had players manage not just their own survival in the face of a zombie apocalypse, but an entire community’s. Gameplay focused on providing resources, finding survivors, as well as battling off the undead hordes. It sold over a million copies, and landed itself on the New Yorker‘s Best Video Games of 2013 list. A new installment in the critically acclaimed and wildly popular The Walking Dead game series debuted too, and was downloaded millions of times. It was all pretty overwhelming.

Rarely has the End been so casual, so serialized, so mediated as it was this year. Everything dying is officially not just a genre, but a wide cartoonish palette. So much is highly experimental, and nothing resonates. I sat in a hot tub and watched a 3D printer create and destroy a city made of salt; the artist who built it was eager for nature to wipe us out. He figured he’d survive. You can’t drive motorcycles through tiny salt cities. Neither of us knew what we were talking about, we can’t begin to imagine.

Maybe we’re trying. Maybe all of this apocalypse culture is a totem, a proactive tool and a hedge against real-life calamity.

“Apocalyptic beliefs make existential threats—the fear of our mortality—predictable,” the neuroscientist Shmuel Lissek told Scientific American. There is science to back that up.According to SciAm, Lissek “has found that when an unpleasant or painful experience, such as an electric shock, is predictable, we relax. The anxiety produced by uncertainty is gone. Knowing when the end will come doesn’t appeal equally to everyone, of course—but for many of us it’s paradoxically a reason to stop worrying.”

That’s a problem, though. It’s why the media critic Douglas Rushkoff laments our obsession with the apocalypse: by convincing ourselves that it’s hopeless, we’re removing the burden of action. There’s plenty to be worried about, little of it having to do with the planet dying tomorrow, but we’re less likely to participate in political systems, engage in activism, or stay engaged with current events if we think it is. “How do you get the good of a zombie apocalypse without the zombies?” he wondered at the time of Occupy. Starting over, really changing things, requires action on the part of the walking living. That goes for all sorts of anti-apocalyptic things, things we really want to fix instead of end.

Image: Flickr

It doesn’t exactly explain the government shutdown, an event couched in apocalyptic terminology and imagery in its own right, but it helps. The apocalypse isn’t just total death, it isn’t just stillborn teenage dreaming or a gritty aesthetic, it’s a collective exasperated white flag; it’s us giving up. It’s tempting to consider it, and easy to see why we’d want to. The challenges that confront us seem insurmountable, our bandwith is limited.

But real-world apocalypse seeds are being sewn. Climate change is scorching the planet—scientists think it may have fueled the typhoon that devastated the Philippines last month, and the hurricane that slammed New York the year before. Many are still recovering, many are ruined. The planet again suffered through one of the top ten hottest years ever recorded. Income inequality is fueling malcontent and insurrection the world over—this year the gap between rich and poor compelled protesters in Turkey, Brazil, and the Ukraine, among others, to rise up. Pollution is swallowing the skies in China. War is ceaseless in Syria, everywhere. Drones drop bombs on foreign lands, on wedding processions.

No wonder we’re dreaming of the apocalypse, no wonder we turn to fiction to simplify it all, to end it once and for all, no wonder my memory of the real dead doesn’t really let me.

In my dream, I didn’t give up. I waded through the tongues of flame and the molten brownstones and found her on the other side. There, plants were already starting to grow out of the cracked cement. There was hope. A few days later, in real life, we figured out a plan—where and how we’d meet up in the event of a disaster. Who would wait for who.

 

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly Joins Council On Foreign Relations | Zero Hedge

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly Joins Council On Foreign Relations | Zero Hedge.

A month ago, the press was aflutter with rumors that NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly, spurned by mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, would join JPMorgan in a “top security” position. The rumor was since denied and the fate of Kelly was unclear, until today, when the Council on Foreign Relations announced that the NYPD top man would join the CFR as a “distinguished visiting fellow” in turn opening the doors wide for a world of financial opportunities to Kelly. Considering his tenure, where Kelly served as senior managing director of global corporate security at Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. from 2000 to 2001, he seems like a perfect fit for the CFR.

From CFR:

NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly to Join CFR as Distinguished Visiting Fellow

Raymond W. Kelly, commissioner for the New York Police Department (NYPD), will join the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) as a distinguished visiting fellow. Kelly will be joining CFR in early January and will be based at the organization’s headquarters in New York. He will focus on counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and other national security issues.

“Ray Kelly spearheaded the modernization of the New York Police Department. The result is that crime is down and the NYPD’s counterterrorism capabilities are second to none. We are excited and proud to have his experience, expertise, and judgment at the Council,” said CFR President Richard N. Haass.

As the first and only police commissioner to serve under New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, from 2002 to 2014, Kelly presided over the country’s largest municipal police force, seeing violent crime decrease from 2001 levels by 40 percent. He created the first counterterrorism bureau of any municipal police department in the country, as well as a global intelligence program that operates in eleven foreign cities.

Kelly will leave the NYPD as the longest-serving police commissioner in the city’s history. He also served as New York City police commissioner from 1992 to 1994, under then mayor David N. Dinkins, and is the first person to serve in two nonconsecutive mayoral administrations. Kelly served in twenty-five different commands before being named commissioner, spanning a forty-three–year career with the NYPD.

Previously, Kelly served as senior managing director of global corporate security at Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. from 2000 to 2001. From 1998 to 2001, he was commissioner of the U.S. Customs Service. He also served as undersecretary for enforcement at the U.S. Treasury Department, the third–highest ranking position in Treasury at the time. From 1996 to 2001, Kelly was vice president on the board of the international police organization Interpol.

In 1995, President Clinton appointed Kelly director of the State Department’s International Police Monitors mission, tasked to restore order in Haiti following the return of then president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Kelly received his undergraduate degree from Manhattan College. He is also a lawyer and holds a law degree from St. John’s University School of Law and a masters of laws from New York University School of Law. Kelly also holds a masters of public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Kelly served in the U.S. Marine Corps and Reserve for thirty years and is a combat veteran of Vietnam. He retired with the rank of colonel.

 

Russia Sends Over 75 Armored Trucks To Syria | Zero Hedge

Russia Sends Over 75 Armored Trucks To Syria | Zero Hedge.

While the US is debating which set of Al Qaeda “rebels” in Syria is the best local partner for the State Department to provide military support to, once Qatar’s demands for a trans-Syria pipeline return some time in 2014, Vladimir Putin – fresh from his diplomatic oup in the Ukraine – is reinforcing his other major victory in 2013: the preservation of the Assad state, this time however with more than words. As Reuters reports, Russia has sent 25 armored trucks and 50 other vehicles to Syria to help transport toxins that are to be destroyed under an international agreement to rid the nation of its chemical arsenal, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Monday. Or in other words, Russia just sent Syria more than 75 military vehicles.

From Reuters:

In a report to President Vladimir Putin, Shoigu said Russian aircraft delivered 50 Kamaz trucks and 25 Ural armored trucks to the Syrian port city of Latakia on December 18-20 along with other equipment, state-run news agency RIA reported.

“The Defence Ministry has very swiftly implemented actions to deliver to Syria equipment and materiel to provide for the removal of Syrian chemical weapons and their destruction,” Shoigu was quoted as saying.

Unlike Obamacare’s scheduling issues, Syria is expected to honor its commitment to transfer its chemcial weapons to external control by the deadline.

Damascus agreed to transport the “most critical” chemicals, including around 20 tons of mustard nerve agent, out of the northern port of Latakia by December 31 to be safely destroyed abroad away from the war zone.

“The Defence Ministry has very swiftly implemented actions to deliver to Syria equipment and materiel to provide for the removal of Syrian chemical weapons and their destruction,” Shoigu was quoted as saying.

And while the west may have bungled both the Syrian escalation and the more recent return of the Ukraine to the Russian sphere of influence, they were at least smart enough to realize that Russia adding more weapons in Syria will hardly allow the EU to benefit from Qatari gas in the near future.

Western powers has baulked at Syria’s request for military transport equipment to transport chemical weapons material to Latakia because of concerns it could be used to fight Assad’s opponents in the conflict or kill civilians.

Russia has been a major seller of conventional weapons to Syria and has given Assad crucial support during the conflict, blocking attempts to punish with sanctions and saying his exit must not be a precondition for a peace process.

Syrian government forces took control of a key highway connecting Damascus to the coast earlier this month, but the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has voiced concern the deadline could be missed.

But for all intents and purposes, Syria and the Middle East may be yesterday’s news. The one “asset” that Putin is certainly focued on next, as is China, as is the US, is Africa: it is here that the geopolitical hotspots of 2014 are far more likely to generate significant headaches for the superpowers (unless of course Israel decides it needs the GDP boost and launches the Iranian attack on its own).

 

Chinese Investments In US Commercial Property Soar By 500% | Zero Hedge

Chinese Investments In US Commercial Property Soar By 500% | Zero Hedge.

Investors from multi-billion dollar hedge funds to individuals buying as few as 10 properties have acquired more than 1 million homes across the U.S. in the past three years, transforming a mom-and-pop business into one of Wall Street’s hottest investments. As we noted here, Blackstone Group LP alone has acquired more than 40,000 properties in 14 cities to become the largest single-family landlord in the country. As Bloomberg notes, the new landlords are transforming the way Americans live and accumulate wealth. But while Wall Street is becoming America’s largest residential landlord, it appears China wants to get paid for commercial properties… and Detroit.

Via Reuters,

Chinese investors, the second-biggest overseas buyers of U.S. residential real estate, are building up portfolios of U.S. commercial property as they look for new avenues of diversification.

Chinese entities announced more than $5.89 billion in projects in January-October, nearly six times the $996 million for all of 2011 and 2012 combined, showed data from New York-based consultancy Rhodium Group.

“There is a lot of upside,” said Thilo Hanemann, Rhodium’s research director. “We are at the beginning of a structural increase of Chinese investment in U.S. commercial real estate.”

China’s push into U.S. property is underpinned by declining investment returns at home, a growing desire by wealthy individuals and developers to diversify their holdings overseas, and property companies looking to capitalize on offshore migration.

Chinese nationals bought more than $8.1 billion worth of real estate in the year ended March 31, representing 12 percent of the estimated $68.2 billion of domestic property purchased by overseas nationals

Not everyone is convinced that Chinese investment in the U.S. property market will continue uninterrupted. Other options for expansion include Europe, Australia and Singapore, which account for about two-thirds of offshore Chinese real estate investment, according to Jones Lang Lasalle.

Zhang Xin, the chief executive of SOHO China Ltd, who paid $700 million through her family trust to buy a stake in the General Motors Building in Manhattan, said that while the U.S. regulatory and legal environment remained attractive, valuations were getting expensive.

I would not feel as comfortable today putting in money as I did a few years ago,” Zhang said.

So reform and liberalization in China sees hot money flowing not just into Bitcoin but now commercial property in America.

While Wall Street becoming America’s largest residential landlord, it appears China wants to get paid for commercial properties… and Detroit.

 

The Arc of Justice and the Long Run Hope, History, and Unpredictability

The Arc of Justice and the Long Run Hope, History, and Unpredictability.

by Rebecca Solnit, originally published by TomDispatch  | TODAY

North American cicada nymphs live underground for 17 years before they emerge as adults. Many seeds stay dormant far longer than that before some disturbance makes them germinate. Some trees bear fruit long after the people who have planted them have died, and one Massachusetts pear tree, planted by a Puritan in 1630, is still bearing fruit far sweeter than most of what those fundamentalists brought to this continent. Sometimes cause and effect are centuries apart; sometimes Martin Luther King’s arc of the moral universe that bends toward justice is so long few see its curve; sometimes hope lies not in looking forward but backward to study the line of that arc.

Three years ago at this time, after a young Tunisian set himself on fire to protest injustice, the Arab Spring was on the cusp of erupting. An even younger man, a rapper who went by the name El Général, was on the verge of being arrested for “Rais Lebled” (a tweaked version of the phrase “head of state”), a song that would help launch the revolution in Tunisia.
Weeks before either the Tunisian or Egyptian revolutions erupted, no one imagined they were going to happen. No one foresaw them. No one was talking about the Arab world or northern Africa as places with a fierce appetite for justice and democracy. No one was saying much about unarmed popular power as a force in that corner of the world. No one knew that the seeds were germinating.
A small but striking aspect of the Arab Spring was the role of hip-hop in it. Though the U.S. government often exports repression — its billions in aid to the Egyptian military over the decades, for example — American culture can be something else altogether, and often has been.
Henry David Thoreau wrote books that not many people read when they were published. He famously said of his unsold copies, “I have now a library of nearly 900 volumes over 700 of which I wrote myself.” But a South African lawyer of Indian descent named Mohandas Gandhi read Thoreau on civil disobedience and found ideas that helped him fight discrimination in Africa and then liberate his own country from British rule. Martin Luther King studied Thoreau and Gandhi and put their ideas to work in the United States, while in 1952 the African National Congress and the young Nelson Mandela were collaborating with the South African Indian Congress on civil disobedience campaigns. You wish you could write Thoreau a letter about all this. He had no way of knowing that what he planted would still be bearing fruit 151 years after his death. But the past doesn’t need us. The past guides us; the future needs us.
An influential comic book on civil disobedience and Martin Luther King published by the Fellowship of Reconciliation in the U.S. in 1957 was translated into Arabic and distributed in Egypt in 2009, four decades after King’s death. What its impact was cannot be measured, but it seems to have had one in the Egyptian uprising which was a dizzying mix of social media, outside pressure, street fighting, and huge demonstrations.
The past explodes from time to time, and many events that once seemed to have achieved nothing turn out to do their work slowly. Much of what has been most beautifully transformative in recent years has also been branded a failure by people who want instant results guaranteed or your money back. The Arab Spring has just begun, and if some of the participant nations are going through their equivalent of the French Revolution, it’s worth remembering that France, despite the Terror and the Napoleonic era, never went back either to absolutist monarchy or the belief that such a condition could be legitimate. It was a mess, it was an improvement, it’s still not finished.
The same might be said of the South African upheaval Mandela catalyzed. It made things better; it has not made them good enough. It’s worth pointing out as well that what was liberated by the end of apartheid was not only the nonwhite population of one country, but a sense of power and possibility for so many globally who had participated in the boycotts and other campaigns to end apartheid in that miraculous era from 1989 to 1991 that also saw the collapse of the Soviet Union, successful revolutions across Eastern Europe, the student uprising in Beijing, and the beginning of the end of many authoritarian regimes in Latin America.
In the hopeful aftermath of that transformation, Mandela wrote, “The titanic effort that has brought liberation to South Africa and ensured the total liberation of Africa constitutes an act of redemption for the black people of the world. It is a gift of emancipation also to those who, because they were white, imposed on themselves the heavy burden of assuming the mantle of rulers of all humanity. It says to all who will listen and understand that, by ending the apartheid barbarity that was the offspring of European colonization, Africa has, once more, contributed to the advance of human civilization and further expanded the frontiers of liberty everywhere.”
Congo Square
The arc of justice is long. It travels through New Orleans, the city I’ve returned to again and again since Hurricane Katrina.  It’s been my way of trying to understand not just disaster, but community, culture, and continuity, three things that city possesses as no place else in the nation. Hip-hop comes most directly from the South Bronx, but if you look at the 1970s founders of that genre of popular music, you see that some of the key figures were Caribbean, and if you look at their formative music, it included the ska and reggae that were infused with the influence of New Orleans. (In addition, that city’s native son and major jazz figure, Donald Harrison, Jr., was a mentor to seminal New York City rapper Notorious B.I.G.)
If you look at New Orleans, what you see is an astonishing example of the survival of culture — and of the culture of survival.
Maybe you’d have to do what I was doing in early 2011 — poke around in the origins of American music in New Orleans — to be struck by the way so many essential parts of it came from Africa in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and some of it returned to that continent again in recent years. I was looking at maps, making maps, thinking about how to chart the unexpected ways immaterial things move through time and space.
The saddest map I have ever seen is the oft-published one of the triangle trade, a vicious circle that isn’t even a circle. It depicts the routes of the eighteenth and nineteenth century European traders who brought manufactured goods from their continent to West Africa to exchange for human beings who were then transported to the United States and the Caribbean to be exchanged for raw materials, especially sugar, rum, and tobacco. It’s a map that tells of people made into tools and commodities, but it tells us nothing of what the enslaved brought with them.
Stripped bare of all possessions and rights, they carried memory, culture, and resistance in their heads. New Orleans let those things flourish as nowhere else in the United States during the long, obscene era of slavery, while the biggest slave uprising in U.S. history took place nearby in 1811 (its participants including two young Asante warriors who had arrived in New Orleans on slave ships five years earlier). From the mid-eighteenth century to the 1840s, the enslaved of New Orleans were permitted to gather on Sundays in the plaza on the edge of the old city known then and now as Congo Square.
“On sabbath evening,” the visitor H.C. Knight famously wrote in 1819, “the African slaves meet on the green, by the swamp, and rock the city with their Congo dances.” The great music historian Ned Sublette observes that this is the first use of rock as a verb about music, and in his marvelous book The World That Made New Orleans notes that what is arguably the first rock and roll record, Roy Brown’s 1947 “Good Rocking Tonight,” was recorded a block away.
In between, what Africans had brought with them continued its metamorphosis in the city: jazz famously arose from black culture near Congo Square, as did important rhythm and blues strains and influences, as well as performers, then funk, and eventually hip-hop. Funk arose in part from Afro-Cuban influences and from the African-American tradition of the Mardi Gras Indians — not Native Americans, but working-class African Americans. Their elaborate outfits and rites officially pay homage to the Native Americans who sheltered runaway slaves (and sometimes intermarried with them), but have a startling resemblance to African beaded costumes. The Mardi Gras Indians still parade on that day and other days, chanting and singing, challenging each other through song. One of the recurrent chantsdeclares, “We won’t bow down.”
Though New Orleans is mainly famous for other things, it has also been a city of resistance — from the slave revolts of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to late nineteenth century segregation-breaker Homer Plessy to Ruby Bridges, the six-year-old who in 1960 was the first Black child to integrate a white school in the South. The span of time is not as long as you might think: Fats Domino, one of the founding fathers of rock and roll, is still alive and has a home in the Lower Ninth Ward. The midwife at his birth a few blocks away was his grandmother, who had been born into slavery.
New Orleanian Herreast Harrison, a woman in her seventies, mother of jazzman Donald Harrison Jr., widow of a Mardi Gras Indian chief, cultural preserver, and a dynamic force in the city, said to me of Mardi Gras Indian culture:
“But those groups remembered their cultural heritage and practiced it there, that memory, they had this overarching memory of their pasts. And when they were there, they were free. And their spirits soared to the high heavens. They were themselves. In spite of limitations in every aspect of their lives. Where they should have felt like, ‘we are nothing,’ because you get brainwashed constantly about the fact that you’re a nobody… but they didn’t, they brought back. And now it’s part of the world, that music.”
And her son, Donald Harrison, Jr., added:
“One other very important thing that Congo Square represented in the culture was that no matter what’s going on in life you transcend the culture and Congo Square helps you. It transcends and puts you into a transcendental state so that you are free at that moment. Even today, that’s the power of the music and that’s why it brings us together. You have a moment of freedom where you transcend everything that’s going on around you. Berthold Auerbach said it so eloquently: ‘Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.’  At that moment you become free, which is why the music is part of the world now. Everybody wants a moment to transcend. It goes inside of you and you know where you can go to be free. No matter if you’re in Norway, South American, or Beijing, you know, ‘this music sets me free.’ So Congo Square set the world free, basically. It gives freedom to everyone around it.”
In my latest project, Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas, I tried to convey what New Orleans music gave the world in a map labeled “Repercussions: Rhythm and Resistance Across the Atlantic.” Those involuntary émigrés brought by slave ship were said to have nothing, but what they had still reaches and spreads and liberates.
Click here to see a larger version

Repercussions: Rhythm and Resistance Across the Atlantic. Map concept and research: Rebecca Solnit. Cartography: Shizue Seigel. Design: Lia Tjandra. c Univ. of CA Press, 2013.
What we call the Arab Spring was first of all the North African Spring — in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya — and hip-hop was already there. It has, in fact, become a global means of dissent, from indigenous Oaxaca, Mexico, to Cairo, Egypt. Which does not mean that everything is fine (or that hip-hop can’t also be used for consumerism or misogyny). It’s a reminder, however, that even in the most horrific of circumstances, something remarkable more than survived; it throve and grew and eventually reached around the Earth.
Nearly three years after the first sparks of the Arab Spring began, it’s wiser to consider it, too, barely begun rather than ended in failure. More than two years after the first members of Occupy Wall Street began decamping in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, that movement is not over either, though almost all the encampments have subsided and the engagement has new names: Occupy Sandy,Strike Debt, and more. That everything continues to metamorphose seems a better way to think of social upheavals than obituaries and epitaphs.
Maps of the Unpredictable
Whenever I look around me, I wonder what old things are about to bear fruit, what seemingly solid institutions might soon rupture, and what seeds we might now be planting whose harvest will come at some unpredictable moment in the future. The most magnificent person I met in 2013 quoted a line from Michel Foucault to me: “People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don’t know is what what they do does.” Someone saves a life or educates a person or tells her a story that upends everything she assumed. The transformation may be subtle or crucial or world changing, next year or in 100 years, or maybe in a millennium. You can’t always trace it but everything, everyone has a genealogy.
In her forthcoming book The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery, Sarah Lewis tells how a white teenager in Austin, Texas, named Charles Black heard a black trumpet player in the 1930s who changed his thinking — and so our lives. He was riveted and transformed by the beauty of New Orleans jazzman Louis Armstrong’s music, so much so that he began to reconsider the segregated world he had grown up in. “It is impossible to overstate the significance of a 16-year-old Southern boy’s seeing genius, for the first time, in a black,” he recalled decades later. As a lawyer dedicated to racial equality and civil rights, he would in 1954 help overturn segregation nationwide, aiding the plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court case ending segregation (and overturning Plessy v. Ferguson, the failed anti-segregation lawsuit launched in New Orleans 60 years earlier).
How do you explain what Louis Armstrong’s music does? Can you draw a map of the United States in which the sound of a trumpeter in 1930s Texas reaches back to moments of liberation created by slaves in Congo Square and forward to the Supreme Court of 1954?
Or how do you chart the way in which the capture of three young American hikers by Iranian border guards on the Iraq-Iran border in 2009 and their imprisonment — the men for 781 days — became the occasion for secret talks between the U.S. and Iran that led to the interim nuclear agreement signed last month? Can you draw a map of the world in which three idealistic young people out on a walk become prisoners and then catalysts?
Looking back, one of those three prisoners, Shane Bauer, wrote, “One of my fears in prison was that our detention was only going to fuel hostility between Iran and the U.S. It feels good to know that those two miserable years led to something, that could lead to something better than what was before.”
Bauer later added:
“The reason our tragedy led to an opening between the United States and Iran was that many people were actively working to end our suffering. To do so, our friends and families had to strive to build a bridge between the U.S. and Iran when the two governments were refusing to do it themselves. Sarah [Shourd, the third prisoner] is not a politician and she has no desire to be, but when she was released a year before Josh and me, she made herself into a skilled and unrelenting diplomat, strengthening connections between Oman and the U.S. that ultimately led to these talks.”
decade ago I began writing about hope, an orientation that has nothing to do with optimism. Optimism says that everything will be fine no matter what, just as pessimism says that it will be dismal no matter what. Hope is a sense of the grand mystery of it all, the knowledge that we don’t know how it will turn out, that anything is possible. It means recognizing that the sound of a trumpet at a school dance in Austin, Texas, may resound in the Supreme Court 20 years later; that an unfortunate hike in the borderlands might help turn two countries away from war; that Edward Snowden, a young NSA contractor and the biggest surprise of this year, might revolt against that agency’s sinister invasions of privacy and be surprised himself by the vehemence of the global reaction to his leaked data; that culture which left Africa more than 200 years ago might return to that continent as a tool for liberation — that we don’t know what we do does.
That Massachusetts pear tree is still bearing fruit almost 400 years after it was planted. The planter of that tree also helped instigate the war against the Pequots, who were massacred in 1637. “The survivors were sold into slavery or given over to neighboring tribes. The colonists even barred the use of the Pequot name, ‘in order to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth,’ as the leader of the raiding party later wrote,” according to the New York Times.
For centuries thereafter, that Native American nation was described as extinct, erased, gone. It was written about in the past tense when mentioned at all. In the 1970s, however, the Pequots achieved federal recognition, entitling them to the rights that Native American tribes have as “subject sovereign nations”; in the 1980s, they opened a bingo hall on their reservation in Connecticut; in the 1990s, it became the biggest casino in the western world. (Just for the record, I’m not a fan of the gambling industry, but I am of unpredictable narratives.)
With the enormous income from that project, the tribe funded a Native American history museum that opened in 1998, also the biggest of its kind. The new empire of the Pequots has been on rocky ground since the financial meltdown of 2008, but the fact that it arose at all is astonishing more than 150 years after Herman Melville stuck a ship called the Pequod in the middle of his novel Moby Dick and mentioned that it was named after a people “now extinct as the ancient Medes.” Are there are longer odds in New England than that a people long pronounced gone would end up profiting from the bad-math optimism of their neighbors?
Meanwhile, that pear tree continues to bear fruit; meanwhile, hip-hop continues to be a vehicle for political dissent from the Inuit far north to Latin America; meanwhile, diplomatic relations with Iran have had some surprising twists and turns, most recently away from war.
I see the fabric of my country’s rights and justices fraying and I see climate change advancing. There are terrible things about this moment and it’s clear that the consequences of climate change will get worse (though how much worse still depends on us). I also see that we never actually know how things will play out in the end, that the most unlikely events often occur, that we are a very innovative and resilient species, and that far more of us are idealists than is good for business and the status quo to acknowledge.
What I learned first in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was how calm, how resourceful, and how generous people could be in the worst times: the “Cajun Navy” that came in to rescue people by boat, the stranded themselves who formed communities of mutual aid, the hundreds of thousands of volunteers, from middle-aged Mennonites to young anarchists, who arrived afterward to help salvage a city that could have been left for dead.
I don’t know what’s coming. I do know that, whatever it is, some of it will be terrible, but some of it will be miraculous, that term we reserve for the utterly unanticipated, the seeds we didn’t know the soil held. And I know that we don’t know what we do does. As Shane Bauer points out, the doing is the crucial thing.
Rebecca Solnit co-directed Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlasthe sequel to her 2010 Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas.  A TomDispatch regular, she has written the final article of the year for that site for the last nine years.

 

On The 100th Anniversary Of The Federal Reserve Here Are 100 Reasons To Shut It Down Forever

On The 100th Anniversary Of The Federal Reserve Here Are 100 Reasons To Shut It Down Forever.

The Federal ReserveDecember 23rd, 1913 is a date which will live in infamy.  That was the day when the Federal Reserve Act was pushed through Congress.  Many members of Congress were absent that day, and the general public was distracted with holiday preparations.  Now we have reached the 100th anniversary of the Federal Reserve, and most Americans still don’t know what it actually is or how it functions.  But understanding the Federal Reserve is absolutely critical, because the Fed is at the very heart of our economic problems.  Since the Federal Reserve was created, there have been 18 recessions or depressions, the value of the U.S. dollar has declined by 98 percent, and the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger.  This insidious debt-based financial system has literally made debt slaves out of all of us, and it is systematically destroying the bright future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have.  If nothing is done, we are inevitably heading for a massive amount of economic pain as a nation.  So please share this article with as many people as you can.  The following are 100 reasons why the Federal Reserve should be shut down forever…

#1 We like to think that we have a government “of the people, by the people, for the people”, but the truth is that an unelected, unaccountable group of central planners has far more power over our economy than anyone else in our society does.

#2 The Federal Reserve is actually “independent” of the government.  In fact, the Federal Reserve has argued vehemently in federal court that it is “not an agency” of the federal government and therefore not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

#3 The Federal Reserve openly admits that the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks are organized “much like private corporations“.

#4 The regional Federal Reserve banks issue shares of stock to the “member banks” that own them.

#5 100% of the shareholders of the Federal Reserve are private banks.  The U.S. government owns zero shares.

#6 The Federal Reserve is not an agency of the federal government, but it has been given power to regulate our banks and financial institutions.  This should not be happening.

#7 According to Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Congress is the one that is supposed to have the authority to “coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures”.  So why is the Federal Reserve doing it?

#8 If you look at a “U.S. dollar”, it actually says “Federal Reserve note” at the top.  In the financial world, a “note” is an instrument of debt.

#9 In 1963, President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 11110 which authorized the U.S. Treasury to issue “United States notes” which were created by the U.S. government directly and not by the Federal Reserve.  He was assassinated shortly thereafter.

#10 Many of the debt-free United States notes issued under President Kennedy are still in circulation today.

#11 The Federal Reserve determines what levels some of the most important interest rates in our system are going to be set at.  In a free market system, the free market would determine those interest rates.

#12 The Federal Reserve has become so powerful that it is now known as “the fourth branch of government“.

#13 The greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history was whenthere was no central bank.

#14 The Federal Reserve was designed to be a perpetual debt machine.  The bankers that designed it intended to trap the U.S. government in a perpetual debt spiral from which it could never possibly escape.  Since the Federal Reserve was established 100 years ago, the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger.

#15 A permanent federal income tax was established the exact same year that the Federal Reserve was created.  This was not a coincidence.  In order to pay for all of the government debt that the Federal Reserve would create, a federal income tax was necessary.  The whole idea was to transfer wealth from our pockets to the federal government and from the federal government to the bankers.

#16 The period prior to 1913 (when there was no income tax) was the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history.

#17 Today, the U.S. tax code is about 13 miles long.

#18 From the time that the Federal Reserve was created until now, the U.S. dollar has lost 98 percent of its value.

#19 From the time that President Nixon took us off the gold standard until now, the U.S. dollar has lost 83 percent of its value.

#20 During the 100 years before the Federal Reserve was created, the U.S. economy rarely had any problems with inflation.  But since the Federal Reserve was established, the U.S. economy has experienced constant and never ending inflation.

#21 In the century before the Federal Reserve was created, the average annual rate of inflation was about half a percent.  In the century since the Federal Reserve was created, the average annual rate of inflation has been about 3.5 percent.

#22 The Federal Reserve has stripped the middle class of trillions of dollars of wealth through the hidden tax of inflation.

#23 The size of M1 has nearly doubled since 2008 thanks to the reckless money printing that the Federal Reserve has been doing.

#24 The Federal Reserve has been starting to behave like the Weimar Republic, and we all remember how that ended.

#25 The Federal Reserve has been consistently lying to us about the level of inflation in our economy.  If the inflation rate was still calculated the same way that it was back when Jimmy Carter was president, the official rate of inflation would be somewhere between 8 and 10 percent today.

#26 Since the Federal Reserve was created, there have been 18 distinct recessions or depressions: 1918, 1920, 1923, 1926, 1929, 1937, 1945, 1949, 1953, 1958, 1960, 1969, 1973, 1980, 1981, 1990, 2001, 2008.

#27 Within 20 years of the creation of the Federal Reserve, the U.S. economy was plunged into the Great Depression.

#28 The Federal Reserve created the conditions that caused the stock market crash of 1929, and even Ben Bernanke admits that the response by the Fed to that crisis made the Great Depression even worse than it should have been.

#29 The “easy money” policies of former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan set the stage for the great financial crisis of 2008.

#30 Without the Federal Reserve, the “subprime mortgage meltdown” would probably never have happened.

#31 If you can believe it, there have been 10 different economic recessions since 1950.  The Federal Reserve created the “dotcom bubble”, the Federal Reserve created the “housing bubble” and now it has created the largest bond bubble in the history of the planet.

#32 According to an official government report, the Federal Reserve made 16.1 trillion dollars in secret loans to the big banks during the last financial crisis.  The following is a list of loan recipients that was taken directly from page 131 of the report…

Citigroup – $2.513 trillion
Morgan Stanley – $2.041 trillion
Merrill Lynch – $1.949 trillion
Bank of America – $1.344 trillion
Barclays PLC – $868 billion
Bear Sterns – $853 billion
Goldman Sachs – $814 billion
Royal Bank of Scotland – $541 billion
JP Morgan Chase – $391 billion
Deutsche Bank – $354 billion
UBS – $287 billion
Credit Suisse – $262 billion
Lehman Brothers – $183 billion
Bank of Scotland – $181 billion
BNP Paribas – $175 billion
Wells Fargo – $159 billion
Dexia – $159 billion
Wachovia – $142 billion
Dresdner Bank – $135 billion
Societe Generale – $124 billion
“All Other Borrowers” – $2.639 trillion

#33 The Federal Reserve also paid those big banks $659.4 million in “fees” to help “administer” those secret loans.

#34 During the last financial crisis, big European banks were allowed to borrow an “unlimited” amount of money from the Federal Reserve at ultra-low interest rates.

#35 The “easy money” policies of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have created the largest financial bubble this nation has ever seen, and this has set the stage for the great financial crisis that we are rapidly approaching.

#36 Since late 2008, the size of the Federal Reserve balance sheet has grown from less than a trillion dollars to more than 4 trillion dollars.  This is complete and utter insanity.

#37 During the quantitative easing era, the value of the financial securities that the Fed has accumulated is greater than the total amount of publicly held debt that the U.S. government accumulated from the presidency of George Washington through the end of the presidency of Bill Clinton.

#38 Overall, the Federal Reserve now holds more than 32 percent of all 10 year equivalents, and that percentage is rising by about 0.3 percent each week.

#39 Quantitative easing creates financial bubbles, and when quantitative easing ends those bubbles tend to deflate rapidly.

#40 Most of the new money created by quantitative easing has ended up in the hands of the very wealthy.

#41 According to a prominent Federal Reserve insider, quantitative easing has been one giant “subsidy” for Wall Street banks.

#42 As one CNBC article recently stated, we are seeing absolutely rampant inflation in “stocks and bonds and art and Ferraris“.

#43 Donald Trump once made the following statement about quantitative easing: “People like me will benefit from this.

#44 Most people have never heard about this, but a very interesting study conducted for the Bank of England shows that quantitative easing actually increases the gap between the wealthy and the poor.

#45 The gap between the top one percent and the rest of the country is now the greatest that it has been since the 1920s.

#46 The mainstream media has sold quantitative easing to the American public as an “economic stimulus program”, but the truth is that the percentage of Americans that have a job has actually gone downsince quantitative easing first began.

#47 The Federal Reserve is supposed to be able to guide the nation toward “full employment”, but the reality of the matter is that an all-time record 102 million working age Americans do not have a job right now.  That number has risen by about 27 million since the year 2000.

#48 For years, the projections of economic growth by the Federal Reserve have consistently overstated the strength of the U.S. economy.  But every single time, the mainstream media continues to report that these numbers are “reliable” even though all they actually represent is wishful thinking.

#49 The Federal Reserve system fuels the growth of government, and the growth of government fuels the growth of the Federal Reserve system.  Since 1970, federal spending has grown nearly 12 times as rapidly as median household income has.

#50 The Federal Reserve is supposed to look out for the health of all U.S. banks, but the truth is that they only seem to be concerned about the big ones.  In 1985, there were more than 18,000 banks in the United States.  Today, there are only 6,891 left.

#51 The six largest banks in the United States (JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley) have collectively gotten 37 percent larger over the past five years.

#52 The U.S. banking system has 14.4 trillion dollars in total assets.  The six largest banks now account for 67 percent of those assets and all of the other banks account for only 33 percent of those assets.

#53 The five largest banks now account for 42 percent of all loans in the United States.

#54 We were told that the purpose of quantitative easing is to help “stimulate the economy”, but today the Federal Reserve is actually paying the big banks not to lend out 1.8 trillion dollars in “excess reserves” that they have parked at the Fed.

#55 The Federal Reserve has allowed an absolutely gigantic derivatives bubble to inflate which could destroy our financial system at any moment.  Right now, four of the “too big to fail” banks each have total exposure to derivatives that is well in excess of 40 trillion dollars.

#56 The total exposure that Goldman Sachs has to derivatives contracts is more than 381 times greater than their total assets.

#57 Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has a track record of failure that would make the Chicago Cubs look good.

#58 The secret November 1910 gathering at Jekyll Island, Georgia during which the plan for the Federal Reserve was hatched was attended by U.S. Senator Nelson W. Aldrich, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Department A.P. Andrews and a whole host of representatives from the upper crust of the Wall Street banking establishment.

#59 The Federal Reserve was created by the big Wall Street banks and for the benefit of the big Wall Street banks.

#60 In 1913, Congress was promised that if the Federal Reserve Act was passed that it would eliminate the business cycle.

#61 There has never been a true comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve since it was created back in 1913.

#62 The Federal Reserve system has been described as “the biggest Ponzi scheme in the history of the world“.

#63 The following comes directly from the Fed’s official mission statement: “To provide the nation with a safer, more flexible, and more stable monetary and financial system.”  Without a doubt, the Federal Reserve has failed in those tasks dramatically.

#64 The Fed decides what the target rate of inflation should be, what the target rate of unemployment should be and what the size of the money supply is going to be.  This is quite similar to the “central planning” that goes on in communist nations, but very few people in our government seem upset by this.

#65 A couple of years ago, Federal Reserve officials walked into one bank in Oklahoma and demanded that they take down all the Bible verses and all the Christmas buttons that the bank had been displaying.

#66 The Federal Reserve has taken some other very frightening steps in recent years.  For example, back in 2011 the Federal Reserveannounced plans to identify “key bloggers” and to monitor “billions of conversations” about the Fed on Facebook, Twitter, forums and blogs.  Someone at the Fed will almost certainly end up reading this article.

#67 Thanks to this endless debt spiral that we are trapped in, a massive amount of money is transferred out of our pockets and into the pockets of the ultra-wealthy each year.  Incredibly, the U.S. government spent more than 415 billion dollars just on interest on the national debt in 2013.

#68 In September, the average rate of interest on the government’s marketable debt was 1.981 percent.  In January 2000, the average rate of interest on the government’s marketable debt was 6.620 percent.  If we got back to that level today, we would be paying more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt and it would collapse our entire financial system.

#69 The American people are being killed by compound interest but most of them don’t even understand what it is.  Albert Einstein once made the following statement about compound interest…

Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”

#70 Most Americans have absolutely no idea where money comes from.  The truth is that the Federal Reserve just creates it out of thin air.  The following is how I have previously described how money is normally created by the Fed in our system…

When the U.S. government decides that it wants to spend another billion dollars that it does not have, it does not print up a billion dollars.

Rather, the U.S. government creates a bunch of U.S. Treasury bonds (debt) and takes them over to the Federal Reserve.

The Federal Reserve creates a billion dollars out of thin air and exchanges them for the U.S. Treasury bonds.

#71 What does the Federal Reserve do with those U.S. Treasury bonds?  They end up getting auctioned off to the highest bidder.  But this entire process actually creates more debt than it does money…

The U.S. Treasury bonds that the Federal Reserve receives in exchange for the money it has created out of nothing are auctioned off through the Federal Reserve system.

But wait.

There is a problem.

Because the U.S. government must pay interest on the Treasury bonds, the amount of debt that has been created by this transaction is greater than the amount of money that has been created.

So where will the U.S. government get the money to pay that debt?

Well, the theory is that we can get money to circulate through the economy really, really fast and tax it at a high enough rate that the government will be able to collect enough taxes to pay the debt.

But that never actually happens, does it?

And the creators of the Federal Reserve understood this as well.  They understood that the U.S. government would not have enough money to both run the government and service the national debt.  They knew that the U.S. government would have to keep borrowing even more money in an attempt to keep up with the game.

#72 Of course the U.S. government could actually create money and spend it directly into the economy without the Federal Reserve being involved at all.  But then we wouldn’t be 17 trillion dollars in debt and that wouldn’t serve the interests of the bankers at all.

#73 The following is what Thomas Edison once had to say about our absolutely insane debt-based financial system…

That is to say, under the old way any time we wish to add to the national wealth we are compelled to add to the national debt.

Now, that is what Henry Ford wants to prevent. He thinks it is stupid, and so do I, that for the loan of $30,000,000 of their own money the people of the United States should be compelled to pay $66,000,000 — that is what it amounts to, with interest. People who will not turn a shovelful of dirt nor contribute a pound of material will collect more money from the United States than will the people who supply the material and do the work. That is the terrible thing about interest. In all our great bond issues the interest is always greater than the principal. All of the great public works cost more than twice the actual cost, on that account. Under the present system of doing business we simply add 120 to 150 per cent, to the stated cost.

But here is the point: If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good.

#74 The United States now has the largest national debt in the history of the world, and we are stealing more than 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day in a desperate attempt to keep the debt spiral going.

#75 Thomas Jefferson once stated that if he could add just one more amendment to the U.S. Constitution it would be a ban on all government borrowing….

I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.

#76 At this moment, the U.S. national debt is sitting at$17,251,528,475,994.19.  If we had followed the advice of Thomas Jefferson, it would be sitting at zero.

#77 When the Federal Reserve was first established, the U.S. national debt was sitting at about 2.9 billion dollars.  On average, we have been adding more than that to the national debt every single day since Obama has been in the White House.

#78 We are on pace to accumulate more new debt under the 8 years of the Obama administration than we did under all of the other presidents in all of U.S. history combined.

#79 If all of the new debt that has been accumulated since John Boehner became Speaker of the House had been given directly to the American people instead, every household in America would have been able to buy a new truck.

#80 Between 2008 and 2012, U.S. government debt grew by 60.7 percent, but U.S. GDP only grew by a total of about 8.5 percentduring that entire time period.

#81 Since 2007, the U.S. debt to GDP ratio has increased from 66.6 percent to 101.6 percent.

#82 According to the U.S. Treasury, foreigners hold approximately 5.6 trillion dollars of our debt.

#83 The amount of U.S. government debt held by foreigners is about 5 times larger than it was just a decade ago.

#84 As I have written about previously, if the U.S. national debt was reduced to a stack of one dollar bills it would circle the earth at the equator 45 times.

#85 If Bill Gates gave every single penny of his entire fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days.

#86 Sometimes we forget just how much money a trillion dollars is.  If you were alive when Jesus Christ was born and you spent one million dollars every single day since that point, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.

#87 If right this moment you went out and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.

#88 In addition to all of our debt, the U.S. government has also accumulated more than 200 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities.  So where in the world will all of that money come from?

#89 The greatest damage that quantitative easing has been causing to our economy is the fact that it is destroying worldwide faith in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. debt.  If the rest of the world stops using our dollars and stops buying our debt, we are going to be in a massive amount of trouble.

#90 Over the past several years, the Federal Reserve has been monetizing a staggering amount of U.S. government debt even though Ben Bernanke once promised that he would never do this.

#91 China recently announced that they are going to quit stockpiling more U.S. dollars.  If the Federal Reserve was not recklessly printing money, this would probably not have happened.

#92 Most Americans have no idea that one of our most famous presidents was absolutely obsessed with getting rid of central banking in the United States.  The following is a February 1834 quote by President Andrew Jackson about the evils of central banking….

I too have been a close observer of the doings of the Bank of the United States. I have had men watching you for a long time, and am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the Bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the Bank and annul its charter I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I have determined to rout you out and, by the Eternal, (bringing his fist down on the table) I will rout you out.

#93 There are plenty of possible alternative financial systems, but at this point all 187 nations that belong to the IMF have a central bank.  Are we supposed to believe that this is just some sort of a bizarre coincidence?

#94 The capstone of the global central banking system is an organization known as the Bank for International Settlements.  The following is how I described this organization in a previous article

An immensely powerful international organization that most people have never even heard of secretly controls the money supply of the entire globe.  It is called the Bank for International Settlements, and it is the central bank of central banks.  It is located in Basel, Switzerland, but it also has branches in Hong Kong and Mexico City.  It is essentially an unelected, unaccountable central bank of the world that has complete immunity from taxation and from national laws.  Even Wikipedia admits that “it is not accountable to any single national government.”  The Bank for International Settlements was used to launder money for the Nazis during World War II, but these days the main purpose of the BIS is to guide and direct the centrally-planned global financial system.  Today, 58 global central banks belong to the BIS, and it has far more power over how the U.S. economy (or any other economy for that matter) will perform over the course of the next year than any politician does.  Every two months, the central bankers of the world gather in Basel for another “Global Economy Meeting”.  During those meetings, decisions are made which affect every man, woman and child on the planet, and yet none of us have any say in what goes on.  The Bank for International Settlements is an organization that was founded by the global elite and it operates for the benefit of the global elite, and it is intended to be one of the key cornerstones of the emerging one world economic system.

#95 The borrower is the servant of the lender, and the Federal Reserve has turned all of us into debt slaves.

#96 Debt is a form of social control, and the global elite use all of this debt to dominate all the rest of us.  40 years ago, the total amount of debt in our system (all government debt, all business debt, all consumer debt, etc.) was sitting at about 2 trillion dollars.  Today, the grand total exceeds 56 trillion dollars.

#97 Unless something dramatic is done, our children and our grandchildren will be debt slaves for their entire lives as they service our debts and pay for our mistakes.

#98 Now that you know this information, you are responsible for doing something about it.

#99 Congress has the power to shut down the Federal Reserve any time that they would like.  But right now most of our politicians fully endorse the current system, and nothing is ever going to happen until the American people start demanding change.

#100 The design of the Federal Reserve system was flawed from the very beginning.  If something is not done very rapidly, it is inevitable that our entire financial system is going to suffer an absolutely nightmarish collapse.

The truth is that we do not have to have a Federal Reserve.  The greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history was when we did not have a central bank.  If we are ever going to turn this nation around economically, we are going to have to get rid of this debt-based financial system that is centered around the Federal Reserve.  On the path that we are on now, there is no hope.  Please share this article with as many people as you can.  It is imperative that we try to wake the American people up while we still have time.

 

Israeli PM condemns US and UK spying on predecessor as ‘unacceptable’ | World news | theguardian.com

Israeli PM condemns US and UK spying on predecessor as ‘unacceptable’ | World news | theguardian.com.

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu chairs a weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on Sunday. Photograph: Gali Tibbon/AP

The Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has broken his silence over revelations that British and US spy agencies had targeted one of his predecessors, condemning the activities as “unacceptable”.

Papers leaked by Edward Snowden, and published by the Guardian on Friday, revealed that GCHQ in association with the National Security Agency had targeted an email address used by the Israeli prime minister when Ehud Olmert was in office.

Three further Israeli targets appeared on GCHQ documents, including another email address understood to have been used to send messages between the then Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, and his chief of staff, Yoni Koren.

“I have asked for an examination of the matter,” Netanyahu told members of his ruling Likud Party at a meeting of the parliamentary faction in the Knesset on Monday. “In the close relationship between Israel and the United States, there are things that are prohibited and that are unacceptable to us.”

Netanyahu had pointedly avoided addressing the growing storm at a meeting of the Israeli cabinet the previous day, prompting widespread media comment in Israel that he was attempting to stifle discussion on the embarrassing revelations about the behaviour of Israel’s closest strategic ally.

Israel has given undertakings not to spy on the United States since the arrest and life imprisonment of US naval intelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard in 1987 for spying on behalf of Israel.

Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders across the political spectrum, as well as senior retired US security officials, have unsuccessfully petitioned successive presidents to release Pollard, who has served a longer sentence than any other spy in the US. Although Netanyahu repeated his claim on Monday that the two matters should not be connected, he pointedly met with Pollard’s wife Esther in Jerusalem and posted a video of their handshake on his YouTube channel in response to a new groundswell of protest demanding Pollard’s immediate release in light of the latest revelations.

“I have met with Esther Pollard and updated her on our ceaseless efforts to liberate Jonathan. He should have been released long ago. I think that’s understood by everyone here, and also understood by large and growing sectors in the United States,” said Netanyahu.

Israel and the US are locked in sensitive diplomatic manoeuvring around the peace talks with the Palestinians. This new issue could not have arisen at a worse time.

Several Israeli ministers had already broken ranks and protested publicly about NSA surveillance. Israeli anger at the US was exacerbated by a report in Yedioth Ahronoth, the country’s largest-selling newspaper, that a US marine rented an apartment in June 2009 directly opposite the private home of Ehud Barak, a former prime minister and military chief of staff who was then Israel’s defence minister.

“Israeli intelligence detected sizeable amounts of electronic equipment delivered to the US-rented apartment,” Yedioth reported, together with diagrams of the sophisticated laser spying devices that might have been used to eavesdrop on Barak’s private conversations via the vibrations of the windows of his home.

Strategic affairs minister Yuval Steinitz and other officials said the NSA and GCHQ would have learned little of value from the email addresses and phone lines they apparently intercepted, which were publicly listed contact points and not used for the transmission of sensitive information.

Oved Yehezkel, a former military intelligence officer who was cabinet secretary to then prime minister Olmert, said it was assumed that communications between Israeli leaders were being monitored by their closest friends in Washington. “Of course we knew. Anyone who thinks that friends and allies don’t spy on each other should re-read John le Carré,” Yehezkel said.

 

The Taper, The Inflation, And The American People’s Matrix Of Lies | Zero Hedge

The Taper, The Inflation, And The American People’s Matrix Of Lies | Zero Hedge.

And so in his valedictory, Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke pulls one last dead rabbit out of his hat — it suffocated while the head-fake taper percolated in Ben’s brain lo these many months of jive talkin’. As the year turns, the central bank will supposedly monetize $10 billion less debt per month — $75 billion down from $85 billion — with $5 billion each deducted from the US Treasury stream and the rotten mortgage barrel. Was there a catch?

You could say that. For instance, what to make of the curious report out of the American Enterprise Institute by John H. Makin saying that the Fed’s actual purchase of debt paper amounted to an average $94 billion a month through the year 2013, not $85 billion? I have averred often in this space to the Fed’s ability to conduct back-door buying operations of all kinds of janky financial crapola — and in a world where claims on promises to pay hugely exceed anyone’s ability to pay or re-pay, there’s as much of it out there as there are plastic grocery bags floating in the horse latitudes of the Pacific Ocean. The Fed can hose up bad paper all the live-long day and apparently get away with mis-reporting what it is doing, and is the country any the worse for it?

At the end of that live-long day the American people are left in a matrix of lies so thick and sticky that all the de-greasing agents supposedly vested in freedom of the press will not avail to liberate them, and they are suspended like little morsels of winged prey to be sucked dry by the descending spiders of crony capital.

Bottom line: the taper so far is just  $1 billion shy of being completely fake (so far as anyone knows), a magician’s mis-direction from the real action of the gag, which was removing the previous “threshold” of a 6.5 percent unemployment figure for raising interest rates — in other words, promising ZIRP (zero interest rate policy) forever! That would green light a never-ending continued carry trade (i.e. looting operation) of Too-Big-To-Fail-or-Jail primary dealer banks extracting “free” money from the Fed window for conversion, abracadabra, into, say, student loans at 5 percent, guaranteed to enslave the generation now coming into adult flower. (The catch there being that they might flower into revolutionaries eager to string up such bankers from every lamp post in the Hamptons.)

I know there is a lot of confusion “out there” about what constitutes inflation — is it a so-called “monetary phenomenon” or just shit costing more? — but that’s probably too fine a distinction for “folks” (to use the president’s favorite term) who can’t pay five bucks for a jar of peanut butter. The price of everything except the yellow junk called gold, seems to be shooting up. Pretty soon, they’ll be using that worthless gold to solder the drain pipes on bathroom fixtures out where the housing starts roam.

Which brings us to the interesting question: exactly what mysterious entities have been systematically pounding the price of the yellow stuff down in the PM markets like Tony Soprano’s crew “tuning up” some pathetic vic with thirty-inch lengths of re-bar and a fungo bat? And, per corollary, who are the anonymous agents yanking the equity indexes such as we saw on Wednesday, December 18, when a holy host of stock shorts was magically deployed in anticipation of Ben Bernanke’s taper announcement so as to inspire a short-covering mega-rally when he opened the hole in his beard? What I wonder: if we have so much fabulous surveillance technology, why doesn’t some enterprising nerd team find out who’s behind all these pushing-pullings, yanking-and-crankings? Where is the Snowden of the financial markets who will unmask these actors?

Let’s cut to the chase. You heard it here: not only will the Fed eventually (i.e. soon) fail to taper in any meaningful sense; before this is over they will ramp up the purchases of worthless securities beyond $100 billion a month through every back door and trap door in the infamous Eccles Building, including perhaps Janet Yellen’s dainty fundament. The inflation — whatever that is — will sitting out there waiting behind the Hoover Dam of the Fed’s balance sheet. I wouldn’t want to be in Las Vegas when the first cracks appear on it. Merry Christmas everyone.

 

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