The American Empire in a Changing World


Saturday, April 30, 2011

'A 'Radical' Plan To Cut Military Spending'

from npr....

"This year the U.S. is expected to spend $700 billion on defense. That's twice what was spent in 2001, and as much as is spent on the rest of the world's militaries combined.
Defense is the U.S. government's biggest discretionary expenditure, but given the level of the national debt — and the drive to reduce government spending — calls are louder than ever to find cost savings.
Ret. Army Col. Douglas Macgregor says there are ways to reap major savings when it comes to defense. He recently wrote about the subject in an article titled "Lean, Mean Fighting Machine" forForeign Policy magazine. He tells Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered, that the U.S. simply cannot afford "wars of choice."
"Emphasis on choice," Macgregor says. "If you look at all of the interventions that we have launched since 1945 — beginning with Vietnam in 1965 and moving forward — none of them have changed the international system at all, and none of them have directly benefited us strategically" more here

'Saudi king intensifies media censorship'

from france 24............

"Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has imposed new media restrictions and threatened hefty fines and closure of news organisations allegedly undermining national security, press reports said on Saturday.

Under a decree issued on Friday, the media will be prohibited from reporting anything that contradicts the strict Islamic sharia law or serves "foreign interests and undermines national security."

The decree requires publishers to stick "to objective and constructive criticism that serves the general interest," media reports said, adding that violators face fines of up to 500,000 riyals ($133,000, 90,000 euros)" more here

Population: 'This heaving planet'

from new statesman............
"The population of the world is now growing by nearly 80 million a year. One and a half million a week. A quarter of a million a day. Ten thousand an hour. In this country it is projected to grow by 10 million in the next 22 years. That is equivalent to ten more Birminghams.
All these people, in this country and worldwide, rich or poor, need and deserve food, water, energy and space. Will they be able to get it? I don't know. I hope so. But the government's chief scientist and the last president of the Royal Society have both referred to the approaching "perfect storm" of population growth, climate change and peak oil production, leading inexorably to more and more insecurity in the supply of food, water and energy" more here

Friday, April 29, 2011

'Debt Saturation & Money Illusion'

from goldseek.......

"We have papered over the realities of "Too Big to Fail" by not allowing the proven tenets of capitalism to work. We have Anti-trust laws under the Sherman act to address 'too big', Control Fraud Laws to address questionable ethical behavior for the sake of profit (like mortgage fraud, liars loans etc) and Bankruptcy laws to liquidate failed enterprises to force debt holders to take haircuts and swap debt for equity. Instead we allow the prevalent game of Regulatory Arbitrage to run without restriction or detection.  Existing laws are not being exercised in an attempt to protect what amounts to the emergence of a crony capitalist system. Benito Mussolini had a somewhat different world for the merging of corporate and government interests that I will leave for readers to recollect who have a historical penchant. It is not a word easily digested in the polite 'cocktail chatter' of today's genteel upper middle class.

You are going to have to work harder and harder, for less and less to survive at a lower and lower standard of living.

This will all be required to support the annual $9T debt bondage we have assumed as our politicos add additional 'stimulus' to a suffocating and debt saturated global economy" it here

'Pakistan tries to outflank US and India in Kabul with China card'

from economic times....

"The diplomatic form book shows that every time Pakistan is hauled up by its longtime patron United States, its leaders hare off to Beijing or Riyadh for solace and stash, comfort and cash. Small change in the script this time. 

Shortly before the top American military official Mike Mullen virtually called Pakistan a terrorist state last week, a charge compounded by Wikileaks cables showing Washington's profound distrust of Islamabad, Pakistan's prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani hotfooted it to Kabul. There, flanked by his military supremo Ashfaq Kiyani and chief spook Shuja Pasha, he is said to have made an audacious pitch to the beleaguered Afghan President Hamid Karzai: Let's both ditch US and hitch our stars to China. 

The development has stunned Washington at a time US appears confused and vulnerable on the geo-political and domestic front, with big personnel changes in the Obama administration, a President seeking re-election, a struggling economy, and rising tensions across the world. There are cries of betrayal and disbelief at perceived Pakistani perfidy in some circles, with calls for re-ordering the relationship"........ read it here

Exxon Mobile Blames Federal Government for their Huge profits

they also blamed a "strong economy"..........ha......what strong economy are they talking about? ....................from cnn.........

"Shortly after posting first-quarterearnings of nearly $11 billion Thursday, Exxon Mobil (XOMFortune 500) issued a defensive statement arguing that it's not to blame for $4 gas. The company put part of the blame for soaring oil and gas prices on the U.S. government.
"For every gallon of gasoline and other products we refined and sold in the United States, we earned about 7 cents," said a statement from Exxon vice president Ken Cohen. "Compare that to the 40 to 60 cents per cents per gallon that went to the government (state and federal) in gasoline taxes."
The industry's top lobbyist also went on the offensive, saying the earnings that these companies reported this week reflect a strong economy and are a boon for investors, including many pension funds" it here

'Lenders Who Lobbied Hardest for Deregulation Took Most Risks'

put them in jail...........from wsj blogs.........

"Three International Monetary Fund researchers said the mortgage lenders who lobbied most aggressively in Washington for less regulation took more risks and exposed themselves to worse outcomes during the financial crisis than more conservative firms that didn’t lobby.
Deniz IganPrachi Mishra and Thierry Tressel said these same lenders were more likely to receive money under the federal government’s bank bailout, possibly because these firms were hit harder during the crisis and had relationships with key lawmakers. (Read the full paper)
The researchers noted that Citigroup Inc., for instance, which nearly collapsed during the crisis and which required $45 billion in government support to stay alive, lobbied intensely against a 2001 bill that aimed to put tighter restrictions on lenders. A Citigroup spokesman declined to comment" it here

'Administration proposes possible steep cuts for nursing home Medicare reimbursement, providers warn of 'dramatic impact'

from mcknights.........

"The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services late Thursday announced a rule that could cut certain Medicare reimbursements to skilled nursing facility operators by as much as 11.3% in fiscal 2012. Provider lobbyists immediately issued a statement warning such a move would create “dramatic impact on the lives of nursing home residents and patients.”
An 11.3% cut in the SNF prospective payment system would amount to about $3.94 billion less going to providers than in the current fiscal year" it here

Goldman Sachs Creating Worldwide Hunger

those bastards.........from foriegn policy......

"Demand and supply certainly matter. But there's another reason why food across the world has become so expensive: Wall Street greed.
It took the brilliant minds of Goldman Sachs to realize the simple truth that nothing is more valuable than our daily bread. And where there's value, there's money to be made. In 1991, Goldman bankers, led by their prescient president Gary Cohn, came up with a new kind of investment product, a derivative that tracked 24 raw materials, from precious metals and energy to coffee, cocoa, cattle, corn, hogs, soy, and wheat. They weighted the investment value of each element, blended and commingled the parts into sums, then reduced what had been a complicated collection of real things into a mathematical formula that could be expressed as a single manifestation, to be known henceforth as the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI).

...For just under a decade, the GSCI remained a relatively static investment vehicle, as bankers remained more interested in risk and collateralized debt than in anything that could be literally sowed or reaped. Then, in 1999, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission deregulated futures markets. All of a sudden, bankers could take as large a position in grains as they liked, an opportunity that had, since the Great Depression, only been available to those who actually had something to do with the production of our food" it here

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

'Libya: It's Not About Oil, It's About Currency and Loans'

from john perkins and  myauburnjournal..........

"According to the IMF, Libya’s Central Bank is 100% state owned. The IMF estimates that the bank has nearly 144 tons of gold in its vaults. It is significant that in the months running up to the UN resolution that allowed the US and its allies to send troops into Libya, Muammar al-Qaddafi was openly advocating the creation of a new currency that would rival the dollar and the euro. In fact, he called upon African and Muslim nations to join an alliance that would make this new currency, the gold dinar, their primary form of money and foreign exchange. They would sell oil and other resources to the US and the rest of the world only for gold dinars.

The US, the other G-8 countries, the World Bank, IMF, BIS, and multinational corporations do not look kindly on leaders who threaten their dominance over world currency markets or who appear to be moving away from the international banking system that favors the corporatocracy. Saddam Hussein had advocated policies similar to those expressed by Qaddafi shortly before the US sent troops into Iraq" it here

'The great Afghan carve-up'

from asia times online........ 

"China's booming economy and need for commodities constitute one of the principal dynamics in world affairs today.

It has already skillfully, and with little notice, placed itself ahead of the other powers in the new Afghan game. It is operating an immense copper mine in eastern Afghanistan, developing iron mines in the central region, and building a railroad connecting the promising oil and gas wealth of Kunduz province in the north to the Khyber Pass and Pakistan in the south. 

China shares Pakistan's wish to limit the presence of a mutual rival, India. It is bolstering its military partnership with Pakistan by sending in thousands of "flood relief" workers and by building a naval facility on the Arabian Sea, which in conjunction with its presence in Afghanistan and naval bases in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, poses a formidable problem for New Delhi. 

These bases will also take China a long way on its quest to become a global military power - one whose navy operates near the Persian Gulf and one that can challenge the US in a growing portion of the globe. Not for nothing is the navalist thought of American geostrategist and historian Alfred Thayer Mahan avidly read in Beijing today" it here 

Pepe Escobar: 'The Syrian chessboard'

from asia times online.........

"The House of Saud agenda is essentially to split the Tehran-Damascus-Hezbollah alliance - and thus progressively debilitate Hezbollah's resistance to US/Israel. Thus, in Syria, we find the US, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia once again sharing the same agenda. The stakes are extremely high. What you see is not necessarily what you get. 

Hezbollah TV in Lebanon is spinning that the Syrian protests are part of an "American revolution". That may be so in part - as Washington has been investing in counter-regime types for decades. But as it stands, this is more like a House of Saud operation mixed with genuine rage against decades of Ba'athist police state"........... read it here

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

'US risks war with China and Russia'

an interview with Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former assistant secretary to US Treasury......  from press tv.....

"It's not just the oil, it's the fact of China's penetration of Africa and China lining up oil supplies for its energy needs. You may be aware that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has released a report that says that the 'Age of America' is over and that the American economy will be bypassed by China in five years and then the US will become the second largest economy rather than first. So one of the things Washington is trying to do is to block; to use its superior military and strategic capabilities at this time to block China's acquisition of resources in order to make the development of the Chinese economy slow down. 

This is a major reason why the CIA has been active in eastern Libya and it's the reason protests broke out in the east not in the capital like in the other Arab countries and it's the reasons it's armed. 

And I think the Russians are beginning to perceive that the whole Syrian thing is a move against them and their base it here

Monday, April 25, 2011

'Bipartisan Commission Cracks Down On Wasteful Spending In Iraq, Afghanistan'


"The Commission on Wartime Contracting estimates that the U.S. has wasted roughly $177 billion in fraudulent and wasteful spending over the 10 years it’s spent in Iraq and Afghanistan. A former Defense Department official suggested to the commission Monday that there be less focus on punishing contractors that demonstrate fraudulent activities and greater emphasis on incentives to encourage contractors to exceed expectations" it here

shouldn't someone be in jail for this?????????????

Pentagon Plans $50 Million Dollar Military Gym in San Diego....

While 20,000 california teachers face layoff........from uprisingradio.......

"When President Obama recently gave a speech on deficit reduction, he announced $400 billion in cuts to current and future military spending. While that certainly sounds like a lot of money, analysts scrutinizing the numbers are having a hard time finding evidence to back it up. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had announced spending cuts to specific programs several times over the past year, including canceling certain weapons programs. In 2010 for example, he announced a savings of $100 billion through “efficiency.” However, he was clear about reinvesting those savings right back into the Pentagon budget. Earlier this year he announced $78 billion in cuts over 5 years. But that still leaves $322 billion of unaccounted for cuts as per President Obama’s recent savings claim. Secretary Gates has made no announcement of that level of cuts in spending, simply replacing several military programs with new ones. In fact, under President Obama, the U.S. military budget has seen a huge overall increase of nearly 50% compared to the 1992-2001 decade, and a significantly larger budget than under President Bush. Part of the $550 billion budget – which does not even include the $118 billion budget for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – are a planned $50 million military gym to be built in San Diego, and a $5 million “working dog” center. Every American tax payer pays an average of $2700 in taxes each year toward the defense department budget. On a global scale, the U.S. spends as much on its military as the rest of the world combined. The good news is that in this time of fiscal crisis, even members of Congress are finally beginning to address the sacred cow of federal spending on defense" it here

Australia: 'Signs point to economic risks in relying on China'


"The political unrest rippling through Libya, Egypt and Bahrain is a timely reminder of the economic risks Australia could face if it becomes too reliant upon authoritarian and economically unstable regimes.

While those three nations represent only 0.3 per cent of our total exports and imports ($950 million), we do have one trading partner that shows the signs of becoming a major economic risk to us in the future – China.

As Australia's most important trading partner ($83 billion), China represents our largest and riskiest trade relationship. Representing 20 per cent of our total exports and imports, much of Australia's current and future prosperity is predicated upon the ongoing stability of this ravenous giant.

Underneath the polished veneer of its one-party edifice, China's internal situation is best described as perpetually unstable. Notwithstanding 30 years of breathtaking economic expansion, China remains one of the poorest nations in the world. According to the World Bank, there are 270 million Chinese who live on less than $US2 a day, and a further 210 million who live on less than $US1.25.

..........................In terms of standard of living averages, annual GDP (PPP) per capita measurements, the Internationa Monetary Fund ranks China 93rd in the world, well behind violently unstable nations such as Libya and Bahrain, and commensurate with revolutionary nations such as Egypt. As the old saying goes, ''a society is only three meals away from anarchy''. If that is true, how stable can China be when more than one-third of its people live on the edge of starvation?" more here

Ireland: 'Average house prices could still be overvalued by up to 30%'

from irishtimes......

"WHEN BUBBLES burst it takes time for society to recover its financial nerve. Before this can start, there must be some degree of certainty that all losses have been accounted for.
There are persuasive arguments for believing that this point has not yet been reached in Ireland. A key priority for the State must be to get house prices back in line with their long-term value, and consequently with incomes, and keep them there in order to underpin competitiveness.
There are other issues to be dealt with such as the parallels in the commercial and retail property sectors.
As last week’s report by Finnish banker Peter Nyberg showed, Ireland got carried away with the availability of easy money. The result was we blew much of the gains made earlier in the Celtic Tiger period. Irish house prices increased between 1996 to 2007 by around 330 per cent – a bubble extreme in scale and duration but a classic nonetheless, matching the criteria in the extensive literature on bubbles" it here

Book Review: 'The Face of Imperialism'

from speroforum........

"Michael Parenti's The Face of Imperialism is a powerful, frightening, and honest book. It will be hated by those who run the Empire, and it will be loved by people who are searching for truth amidst the piles of garbage of Western propaganda.  Above all, this book will be like a bright spark of hope for billions of men, women, and children who are fighting this very moment for survival, defending themselves against the Empire and against all monstrous faces and masks of imperialism."   

In the last half-century we have witnessed a dramatic expansion of American corporate power into every corner of the world, accompanied by an equally awesome growth in U.S. military power. These phenomena are often treated as independent developments. Here, Michael Parenti brings them together in a sharp critique aimed as much at errant liberals and former fellow Marxists as at the dominant political actors who have perpetrated the imperial lie.

Parenti adds shocking new evidence to the litany of injustices  visited upon victims of U.S. imperialism: expropriation of their communal wealth and natural resources, complete privatization and  deregulation of their economies, loss of local markets, deterioration of their living standards, growing debt burdens, and the bloodstained suppression of their democratic movements" it here

Video: David Stockman on "Crony Capitalism"

from yahoo finance.......

"I believe we no longer have free market capitalism and we no longer have a democracy," says David Stockman, the blunt-talking former Michigan Congressman and Director of the OMB during the Reagan administration.
What now exists at the heart of the U.S. economy, Stockman argues, is "crony capitalism" - a system that benefits and even rigs the system in favor of America's banks and bankers at the cost of average Americans. It's a system built on the back of government-issued bailouts and free money. "The Fed is the great enabler" through its free money policies, which "generate results the market wouldn't otherwise provide for," he says.
For example, banks - which caused the 2008 economic and financial crisis - are enjoying profits once again as so-called "risk assets" reflate. Meanwhile, well-meaning members of the middle class intent on saving cash continue to get "savaged" (Stockman's word) when they keep money in low-yielding savings accounts and rely on a dollar that continues to lose value"............see video here

"Citibank, Wall Street are destroying the country"

nakedempire agrees..............put these bankers in jail, FINES DONT WORK.......from nytimes via yahoo...........

"TWO individual investors just scored a remarkable win against Citigroup.
A few weeks ago, the pair was awarded a total of $54.1 million in a securities arbitration case against the Smith Barney unit of the company — the largest amount ever awarded to individuals in such a case, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
This legal dust-up involved supposedly conservative municipal bond investments that Smith Barney had peddled to its wealthiest clients. The investments, which were big money-makers for Smith Barney, turned out to be anything but safe for the firm’s clients: various portfolios lost between half and three-quarters of their value during the financial crisis".
“Instead of the financial world being the lubricant for business, they are out there manufacturing products with no utility whatsoever except for generating fees,” he said. “Somebody’s got to do something about Wall Street. It is destroying the country.” it here

'Africans are asking whether China is making their lunch or eating it'

from the economist..............

"China is Africa’s biggest trading partner and buys more than one-third of its oil from the continent. Its money has paid for countless new schools and hospitals. Locals proudly told Mr Zhu that China had done more to end poverty than any other country.
He still finds business is good, perhaps even better than last time. But African attitudes have changed. His partners say he is ripping them off. Chinese goods are held up as examples of shoddy work. Politics has crept into encounters. The word “colonial” is bandied about. Children jeer and their parents whisper about street dogs disappearing into cooking pots.
Once feted as saviours in much of Africa, Chinese have come to be viewed with mixed feelings—especially in smaller countries where China’s weight is felt all the more. To blame, in part, are poor business practices imported alongside goods and services. Chinese construction work can be slapdash and buildings erected by mainland firms have on occasion fallen apart. A hospital in Luanda, the capital of Angola, was opened with great fanfare but cracks appeared in the walls within a few months and it soon closed. The Chinese-built road from Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, to Chirundu, 130km (81 miles) to the south-east, was quickly swept away by rains" it here


'ElBaradei suggests war crimes probe of Bush team'

from thedailynewsegypt............

"Former chief UN nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei suggests in a new memoir that Bush administration officials should face international criminal investigation for the "shame of a needless war" in Iraq.

Freer to speak now than he was as an international civil servant, the Nobel-winning Egyptian accuses US leaders of "grotesque distortion" in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, when then-President George W. Bush and his lieutenants claimed Iraq possessed doomsday weapons despite contrary evidence collected by ElBaradei's and other arms inspectors inside the country.

The Iraq war taught him that "deliberate deception was not limited to small countries ruled by ruthless dictators," ElBaradei writes in "The Age of Deception," being published Tuesday by Henry Holt and Company.

The 68-year-old legal scholar, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from 1997 to 2009 and recently a rallying figure in Egypt's revolution, concludes his 321-page account of two decades of "tedious, wrenching" nuclear diplomacy with a plea for more of it, particularly in the efforts to rein in North Korean and Iranian nuclear ambitions" more here

Sunday, April 24, 2011

'Nuclear waste: Keep out – for 100,000 years'

 a must read from the guardian................

"Current opinion is that the best thing to do with nuclear waste is put it underground in what is known as a "deep geological repository". At present, there are no such repositories in operation anywhere. In Britain, all the nuclear waste produced since the 1940s is stored above ground in Sellafield. Preliminary moves have been made towards finding a site in Cumbria but there's a powerful local resistance to such schemes, and no long-term solution is expected before 2040. In the US, a site was earmarked decades ago at Nevada's Yucca Mountain, 100 miles from Las Vegas, but the Obama administration finally abandoned the scheme last year.
Some countries are further ahead, though. Sweden's nuclear operation presents itself as a model for the rest of the world, and shows how much effort a fully joined-up operation requires. After cooling on site for a year, spent fuel from Sweden's three coastal nuclear sites is transported in purpose-built casks, on a specially designed ship, to a central interim storage facility. There, robotic arms transfer the fuel into storage cassettes underwater. These cassettes are then sent to another storage pool 25 metres beneath the facility to cool for at least another 30 years. Then the waste is moved to another plant to seal in copper canisters before it arrives at its final resting place in the geological repository" it here

'Nuclear storage options all come with drawbacks' (71,862 tons of nuclear Waste)


"Currently 126 temporary facilities scattered across 39 states are keeping 71,862 tons of nuclear waste in cooling ponds and in storage buildings near nuclear reactors.

Storing high-level nuclear waste above ground for a century allows observers to detect and manage problems as radioactive decay reduces the level of radioactivity and associated harmful effects to the container material.

The U.S. nuclear industry says the power-plant sites are storing waste safely, although it has long pushed for a long-term storage facility.

Meanwhile, the pile of waste is growing by 2,200 tons a year, even as some of the sites already have in storage four times the amount of spent fuel that they were designed to handle.

In 1987 Congress selected Yucca Mountain in Nevada as the only site to be investigated as the potential geologic repository for U.S. spent nuclear fuel and high-level nuclear waste. It condemned the United States to pursue a policy that had no backup if Yucca Mountain failed politically or technically.

And politically fail it did. Recent action to shelve Yucca Mountain leaves no specific site in the plans and reconvenes the need for exploring alternatives.

Even if a facility had been built there, the U.S. already has more waste than it could have handled" it here

David Stockman: 'The Bipartisan March to Fiscal Madness'

from nytimes........

"for decades now, the central banks of the world have been giving policymakers a false signal that sovereign debt is cheap and limitless. Functioning like monetary roach motels, central banks have become a place where Treasury bonds go in but never come out — thereby causing bond prices to be far higher and interest yields much lower than would obtain in a market that wasn’t rigged.
Indeed, the Fed and currency-pegging central banks in East Asia and the Persian Gulf have absorbed nearly all of Uncle Sam’s multitrillion-dollar spree of debt issuance. Moreover, about $4.6 trillion, or more than half of all debt held by the public, is now sequestered in central banks — paid for with printing-press money.
Even central banks cannot defy the canons of sound finance indefinitely, however. Japan will buy less Treasury paper as it turns inward to recover from the wrath of nature. Likewise, China will drastically curtail its currency pegging and related Treasury bond purchases in order to suppress the rip-roaring imported inflation and speculative bubbles now engulfing its domestic economy. And unless the Fed wants to ruin the value of the dollar, it will need to keep its promise to get out of the bond-buying business, too, when its second round of quantitative easing ends in June" it here

'Both parties helped run up US $14 trillion debt'

from ap and mercury news.......

"Two centuries after America's birth, the national debt was a bit under $1 trillion when Ronald Reagan took office in 1981. Just three decades later, it has soared above $14 trillion, and accusations of blame are flying. Both Republicans and Democrats played major roles in driving the figure sky high.
If the tab were divided up now, it would come to roughly $47,000 for each man, woman and child in the United States.
In what is shaping up as the next bruising economic battle, Congress is being asked by President Barack Obama to authorize fresh borrowing once the nation's fast-growing debt slams into the current debt ceiling of $14.3 trillion—something the Treasury Department says will happen no later than May 16.
According to Obama administration figures, just over $3 trillion of the $14.27 trillion debt can be attributed to Bush-era tax cuts, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Medicare prescription drug program. Stimulus spending by Obama and tax cuts he signed into law accounted for about $600 billion through last Sept. 30.
If there are no changes in government policies, the debt will soar to $18.76 trillion by 2014 and $20.8 trillion by 2016, according to administration projections" it here

Video: David Vs Monsanto: Part 1


"Imagine that a storm blows across your garden and that now, genetically manipulated seeds are in your crops. A multi-national corporation pay you a visit, demand that you surrender your crops – and then sue you for $200 000 for the illegal use of patented, GM seeds. In this definitive David and Goliath battle, one farmer stands up against a massive multinational, and their right to claim ownership to a living organism.
“We knew by checking license plates that Monsanto or people hired by Monsanto were watching us constantly,” says Percy Schmeiser. When the court ruled in Monsanto’s favour, Percy counter-sued Monsanto for environmental pollution, seed destruction and slander. With the crop he had worked on for 50 years officially “owned” by Monsanto, Percy launched a nationwide campaign defending farmer’s rights. Monsanto did everything they could to stand in his way.“Monsanto is big,” came a voice down the telephone one night. “You can’t win. We will get you. You will pay.”...........view the movie here

Part 2............view part 2 here

America's Debt Bomb


"All we have been hearing this week is Shutdown-Shutdown. I just wish this was our biggest problem. I wonder if there is anyone in Washington that realizes how much trouble we are actually in? I had a ray of hope when Ryan announced he had a budget with six trillion (over 10 yrs) dollars in cuts. Then I saw the numbers. His 10-year budget calls for expenditures of $39.96 trillion over 10 years. That averages out $3.996 trillion per year. Our current budget is $3.6 trillion per year. Ten years $36 trillion. My calculator says that that is an increase. He is basing this on Obama’s budget of $45.9 trillion over 10 years. Granted, it is a cut from Obama’s budget, but it is NOT a cut. Our revenue is about $2.4 trillion. Ten years equals $24 trillion. 

...............Even Ryan’s budget would add 12 trillion to our debt of 14 trillion bringing it to 26 trillion. There are many countries that have been brought to their knees by spending and debt. Research the Weimar Republic in Germany. We are following in their footsteps. There are only three ways to get out of our debt situation. One is impossible (but does point out the extent of our problem) The other two are hard and painful. Lets take a look at them" it here

'Can BRICS soften dollar crisis?'

from rionovosti.....

"On April 10, in an interview with a CNN host and political observer Fareed Zakaria, the former secretary of state James Baker, when he was speaking about the current global changes, said the following: “The biggest challenge facing the U.S. isn’t turmoil in the Arab world. It’s our debt bomb”.  He said that without a strong dollar the US will turn into the United States of Greece. I think we could go on with the list of the problems the US is not interested in such as human rights, democracy, freedom and other “fundamental” things. It also concerns terrorism to some extend. 
Lowering of US state treasury bills’ rating by S&P on Tuesday was a logical though a very belated decision. The additional issue of state treasury bills in autumn 2010 was a desperate measure of the Federal Reserve System following the lack of interest to the treasury bonds among investors.  At the same time it might be a good advertisement for the agency and it will keep some influence in future considering that the changes in the entire system of estimates in the rapidly changing financial world are inevitable" it here

'The Saudi Complex: Power vs Rights'

from isn.......

"Saudi Arabia's rulers are deploying a mix of force and largess to contain the threat of democratic protest. But an emerging civic movement is determined to persist".

"In the era of oil, voluntary servitude may become the only option for a people deprived of basic human and civil rights. But behind the scenes and prison-bars there is hope in Saudi Arabia: most of all in an emerging civil-rights movement that is attracting Saudis of different ideological, regional and sectarian backgrounds. The Saudi regime is responding with attempts to suffocate this young movement via two classic strategies - sectarian politics and heavy policing. There are growing questions over the effectiveness of each.
The government in Riyadh continues to devote huge resources to sustaining a vast religious bureaucracy, promoting its upkeep of the holy sites, and sponsoring transnational Islamic institutions. In fact, however, the Saudi regime has lost most of its religious legitimacy. Its intimate alliance with the United States, and failure to defend Islamic symbols when they are or appear to be under assault - from Jerusalem to the incident of the Danish cartoons and Pope Benedict XVI's retrieval of disparaging medieval sources - leave the royal elite looking incapable of living up to its religious narrative" it here

Saturday, April 23, 2011

South Korea: Debt Bomb...........

sounds like america.......from the korean herald..........

The Korean economy is sitting on a ticking time bomb ― household debt that has topped 800 trillion won. To figure out the risks that this huge debt bomb poses to the national economy, one has only to remember that one percentage point hike in interest rates would increase the interest payment burden on households by 8 trillion won a year. No wonder the Bank of Korea has been hesitant to raise the key rate despite growing inflationary pressure.

To prevent the debt bomb from detonating, officials at the Financial Supervisory Commission have been racking their brains since January. They said they would come up with a comprehensive package in May. But prior to that, they disclosed part of the package on Monday, which was aimed at protecting low-income earners, the most vulnerable group to any attempt to curb debt it here

The People's Budget.......

from firedoglake...........

Predictably, the budget framework that Barack Obama outlined quickly became used as the leftward pole in the debate. After all, Obama gave a partisan speech! He criticized Paul Ryan! So with the Obama plan on the left and the Ryan plan on the right, the range of debate had been narrowed artificially.

But there is an actual budget plan on the left; several, to be precise. But one has legislative language and got 77 votes in the House. That would be the People’s Budget from the Congressional Progressive Caucus. This plan brings the budget into balance by 2021, with primary balance by 2014, without any cuts to social programs and even a modest but sustained stimulus package to create US jobs. It does so through progressive taxation, an end to two unnecessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and further cuts to the defense budget.

More specifically, it ends most of the Bush tax cuts and adds millionaire’s brackets. It taxes capital gains and dividends as ordinary income. It adds additional brackets to the estate tax to progressively tax the largest estates. It limits itemized deductions for high earners. It eliminates corporate welfare and adds a financial speculation tax on derivatives and foreign currency swaps. It includes the financial crisis responsibility fee proposed by the Obama Administration in early 2010. It adds a public option and institutes negotiation of prescription drug prices in Medicare and Medicaid. It increases the payroll tax cap to collect 90% of earnings on the employee side and eliminates it on the employer side. It ends the wars, producing a savings of $1.8 trillion in the process. It makes deeper cuts in defense by reducing procurement and conventional forces. This provides all the money needed to institute a 10-year doc fix, patch the Alternative Minimum Tax so it doesn’t dip into the middle class, increase Social Security benefits, and invest $1.45 trillion in job creation through education, infrastructure and R&D.

If we’re going to have this talk about budgets, then, this is a pretty good place to start. It reflects the priorities of job creation and peace with a heavy dose of tax fairness. Whether or not official Washington calls it “responsible” or “courageous” is really besides the point, but at least some observers are, including no less than The more here

'Why is China spending billions in the Caribbean?'

from global post.......

"After the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 2005, it received a token of appreciation from the mainland Chinese government: a $55 million cricket stadium.
It was part of $132 million China doled out to Caribbean countries in aid and soft loans in the years leading up to the 2007 Cricket World Cup. At the time, the investment was seen as a not-so-subtle reward to countries that had broken off formal relations with Taipei in favor of Beijing.
Ever since, China has made that sum look like pittance.
The Beijing government and private Chinese corporations are spending billions in the Caribbean, building major tourism projects, financing roads and ports and buying companies — all of which are helping open new markets for Chinese products. The onslaught has cash-strapped Caribbean governments simultaneously praising China as a welcome benefactor and questioning what the country wants in exchange" it here

'Pentagon braces for more spending cuts as lawmakers scrutinize contracts, projects'

from st louis beacon.....

"As Congress and President Barack Obama's administration confront difficult decisions this spring about slashing federal spending -- and Americans face possible cuts to popular programs such as Medicare and Social Security -- a growing number of lawmakers is focusing on potential savings in the Pentagon budget.

At $550 billion, that Defense Department budget is now about 50 percent higher than it was a decade ago. (That sum doesn't count the additional $118 billion requested this year to pay for the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.) In 1998, defense expenditures amounted to about $1,500 per American; now it is $2,700 a person. That's more than 50 cents for every dollar of discretionary federal spending. The nation now spends about as much on the U.S. military as do the world's other 194 countries combined, according to Time magazine.
While other lawmakers tend to focus on weapons programs for the biggest Pentagon budget cuts, McCaskill has been targeting the growth in the Defense Department's outside contracting, the quality of the auditing of those contracts, as well as on questionable military construction projects.
As the chair of the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on readiness and management, theMissouri senator vowed at a recent hearing to expose "gold-plated" military construction projects. Her initial targets: a proposed $50 million gym in San Diego, a $5 million "working dog" center, and a $1.2 billion military hospital in Germany.
"At a time when our nation is facing a fiscal crisis, I have trouble seeing how we can justify spending $50 million on a single fitness center," McCaskill lectured a Navy budget expert at the hearding. That expert, Jackalune Pfannenstiel, defended the planned center as an important recreational facility for thousands of Navy and Marine personnel in San Diego" it here

'An alternative to Panama Canal is on the cards'

from voice of russia.....

"A discussion is going on in the global mass media about the construction of a transport system capable of linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans similar to the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal is no longer in a position to meet the technical and freight demands of the modern world, the argument runs.

The Panama Canal now forces large ships carrying big containers to wait near  the Eastern and Western coasts for a long  time for passage, says Vladimir Sudarev  of the Latin America Institute.
Large vessels carrying big containers of up to 56 meters in length cannot now sail through the Canal because it is only 33 meters in width. There are however plans to reconstruct it, but the work will last four years. The reconstruction work is by China.

In the 19th century, Columbia of which Panama was a part, fought with Nicaragua over the right to build a Canal to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, with American money. Then America rejected the Nicaraguan version because of two  active volcanoes in the country. In 1903, the U.S backed Panama’s demand of secession from Columbia, in exchange for a territory on which to build a canal. The construction lasted for 15 years. The construction of the Canal at a difficult period, caused the loss of many lives. America owned the Canal until 1999 when it transferred the ownership to the government of Panama. The US carried out a regime change in Nicaragua, to prevent the resurrection of the Nicaraguan version of the construction of the Canal, and later, it orchestrated a civil war in the country, recalls Sudarev"............. read more here

Friday, April 22, 2011

'Texas Wildfires Threaten Wheat Crop, Drive Food Prices Higher'


"Some agricultural experts are now predicting that Texas will lose two thirds of this year's wheat crop to drought and fire. And Texas is not the only U.S. state suffering from widespread crop damage this spring; Kansas and Oklahoma are also dealing with serious drought conditions, while Iowa and Minnesota are facing predictions of major floods.

Speculation that U.S. grain production will be unusually low this year drove wheat prices to a two-month high on Tuesday, which may have been good news for certain commodities speculators, but was bad news for pretty much everyone else on the planet.

Food prices worldwide have already been on the climb for several months, alarming international agencies that track the global economy. The World Bank recently reported that prices of basic food staples have risen 36%globally over last year" more here

Libya: 'The Destruction of a Nation'


"NATO's involvement in Libya is a simple case of egotistical self-interest and attempts at control on the part of the Western powers, writes Jenn Jagire: 'One thing is clear: Libya did not attack any of these countries for this mighty alliance to bring out its entire arsenal against this small country and its traumatised people.'

.........What the West did to the rest of Africa before is being repeated in Libya right now. Unfortunately for Libya today, its proximity to Europe and its immense oil wealth has become a curse for it, which should not have been the case. Libya should be free to export its oil to whomever it wants, even to China. The world is now witnessing a new scramble for Africa over oil. There is also this new rivalry over African oil between the West and China" more here

'Sleepwalking into the imperial dark'

a must read from Tom Engelhardt and asia times online.....

"This can't end well.

But then, how often do empires end well, really? They live vampire-like by feeding off others until, sooner or later, they begin to feed on themselves, to suck their own blood, to hollow themselves out. Sooner or later, they find themselves, as in our case, economically stressed and militarily extended in wars they can't afford to win or lose.

Historians have certainly written about the dangers of overextended empires and of endless war as a way of life, but there's something distant and abstract about the patterns of 
history. It's quite another thing to take it in when you're part of it; when, as they used to say in the overheated 1960s, you're in the belly of the beast. 

It's not hard to see why. A loss of faith in the American political system is palpable. For many Americans, it's no longer "our government" but "the bureaucracy". Washington is visibly in gridlock and incapable of doing much of significance, while state governments, facing the "steepest decline in state tax receipts on record", are, along with local governments, staggering under massive deficits and cutting back in areas - education, policing, firefighting - that matter to daily life. (see nakedempires 200+ stories on the states here)

Now that we're so obviously there, the confusion is greater than ever. Theoretically, none of this should necessarily be considered bad news, not if you don't love empires and what they do. A post-imperial US could, of course, be open to all sorts of possibilities for change that might be exciting indeed. 

Right now, though, it doesn't feel that way, does it? It makes me wonder: could this be how it's always felt inside a great imperial power on the downhill slide? Could this be what it's like to watch, paralyzed, as a country on autopilot begins to come apart at the seams while still proclaiming itself "the greatest nation on Earth"?

I don't know. But I do know one thing: this can't end well". the full story here