The American Empire in a Changing World


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

'The New Fiscal Nightmare: 2012 State Budgets Cuts'....'630,000 job losses at state/local level'

you aint seen nuttin yet.........from business insider..........

"After nearly three years of economic recovery, the crisis in state and local budgets continues to worsen.
Even though state tax revenues are picking up, mandated spending obligations and the loss of federal stimulus money still put heavy pressure on state finances.

For fiscal 2012, 44 states and the District of Columbia, project budget shortfalls totaling $112 billion, says the CBPP. These gaps come at a time when rainy-day reserves are essentially depleted and federal assistance under the Recovery Act, which had played a big role in closing earlier shortfalls, is set to drop by more than $50 billion.

"The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimates that each $1 of spending cuts at the state and local level results in $1.41 of lost economic activity and more than 18,000 lost jobs. Using EPI estimates, economists at UBS say that $50 billion in budget cuts in the coming year would result in around 630,000 job losses at state and local governments—on top of nearly 500,000 already lost since August 2008—plus another 270,000 in the private sector"..................LINK

'Asia Times Online journalist feared dead'

rest in peace............from asia times online....

"Syed Saleem Shahzad, the Pakistan Bureau Chief for Asia Times Online who went missing on Sunday evening, has been killed, according to police.

Shahzad, 40, had on several occasions been warned by officials of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) over articles they deemed to be detrimental to Pakistan's national interests or image. He leaves a wife, two sons aged 14 and seven, and a daughter aged 12. 

Human Rights Watch researcher Ali Dayan Hasan earlier said he suspected ISI officials abducted Shahzad, possibly because of a recent story he wrote on al-Qaeda infiltration in the Pakistani navy. Authorities haven't commented. (Al-Qaeda had warned of Pakistan strike.)" ..........LINK

for more information, see this from times of india...........LINK

'S.Africa approves Wal-Mart with token conditions'

big mistake....say goodbye to your economy...........from reuters africa....

"South Africa approved Wal-Mart's $2.4 billion bid for control of retailer Massmart with minimal conditions on Tuesday, giving the world's top retailer a big boost in its plan to expand in fast-growing Africa.
South Africa's Competition Tribunal told Wal-Mart not to cut jobs and work to develop local suppliers, concessions the U.S. firm had earlier proposed itself.
The decision could upset South Africa's influential labour unions, some of whom have threatened the "mother of all boycotts" if the deal were approved.
The government and unions have said Wal-Mart's global supply network could lead to a flood of cheap imports, sparking job losses and squeezing local companies"............LINK

'European drought raises fears of food riots'

from theaustralian......

"With northern Europe facing its worst drought since 1976, politicians in the West are expecting protests from farmers, consumer discontent and a strain on budgets. Third World nations are braced for riots as Europe's heatwave creates a rise in food prices and drives millions deeper into poverty.
"We are in a situation of crisis and of crisis management," French Ecology Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said. Meteorologists say that northern Europe has had 50 per cent less rain than normal over the past two months, while temperatures have been 4C higher than usual.
In France, water restrictions have been implemented across more than half the country and the drought is already comparable to 1976, when a heatwave wrecked the annual harvest"......LINK

India and China and the 'Scramble for Africa'

from gulftoday.......

"As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh flew into Addis Ababa last week for a meeting with leaders of 15 nations, the Western media proclaimed that India and China were engaged in a scramble for Africa. A section of the Indian media echoed the sentiment. “India now rivals China for top honours in the new Great Game in Africa,” wrote one newspaper.

It is not surprising that those fed on history texts that chronicle the European competition for acquiring colonies should view the Indian and Chinese efforts to expand their contacts with Africa, which are in keeping with their status as fast growing economics, in terms of 18th and 19th century imperial endeavours.

If there is a conflict in Africa today it is not between the two emergent Asian powers but between them and the Western nations which brought the continent under their heel in the colonial era and continue to benefit from the gains of that period"..............LINK

"At The IMF, there is one set of ethical guidelines for the rank-and-file staff and another for the 24 elite executive directors who oversee the powerful organisation''


"Over the past four years, the fund has tightened internal systems for catching ethical misconduct among its 2400 staff members, establishing a telephone hotline for complaints like harassment, publishing details of complaints in an annual report and empowering an ethics adviser to pursue allegations, which last year led to at least one dismissal.

But the board members remain largely above these controls. The ethics adviser, for example, is not able to investigate any of them.

The board is responsible for policing its own directors as well as the managing director. It has a five-person ethics committee, whose work is confidential. And the only way the board can discipline its members is to write a warning letter to them or to their home countries, or the group of countries that appointed them"............LINK

Pepe Escobar: 'The counter-revolution club'

from asia times online....

"They are a shish kebab of hereditary monarchies, emirates and outright theocracies. Most sit on oceans of oil (45% of the world's reserves). They are addicted to the West's glitter and glamour - from London to Monte Carlo, from the delicacies of Paris to the weaponized delicacies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO. They abhor democracy like they abhor poverty. Some would be glad to topple their own people - as indeed they do. And they view Shi'ite Iran as worse than the anti-Christ. 

Welcome to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), formed in 1981 by top dog Saudi Arabia plus the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman. A more appropriate denomination would be Gulf Counter-Revolutionary Council - or club; a Gulf club to end all golf clubs. As far as the GCC is concerned, the great 2011 Arab revolt will triumph over their (wealthy) dead bodies"..............LINK 

'99ers HR 589 Supporters Henry Uses Super Computer to Solve U.S Financial Problems'

lots of ideas out is another one.........from
"Today, in this article, I am going to give the American people the solution to keeping Social Security andMedicare solvent, even past the current deadlines.  Everybody get ready.  I’m going to run the problem through the super computer that sits between my ears and give you the answer, and here it is.
  1. End CAFTA, NAFTA, and GATT.
  2. End the Federal Reserve.
  3. Throw all illegals from other countries out.
  4. Seal our borders.
  5. Tax the monies American corporations have sitting in foreign banks.
  6. Put a 90% tax on all monies leaving the United States destined for foreign investments.
  7. Stop all exports of our natural resources except in the form of manufactured goods; tables not boards.
  8. Put a 70% tariff on all imports.
  9. Retrieve the $26 trillion stolen by the international corporate mafia through fraud.
  10. Use those retrieved monies to establish a fund to make interest free loans to American entrepreneurs, regardless of their credit score.
  11. Nationalize the oil fields.
Do all of these things and with the playing field leveled, 30 million people will return to work at a living wage that would equate to about $100 per hour in today’s currency.  The Social Security Trust Fund will become so gluttonously fat that it will be sending out refunds up until the day we shut it down because we no longer need it anymore"..............LINK

'New book explains housing meltdown as Financial Origami'

from usatoday........

"In Financial Origami: How the Wall Street Model Broke,Brendan Moynihan argues that origami is what Wall Street does in creating financial products. Bankers take stocks, bonds and insurance contracts and fold them into new, complex financial instruments.

The ultimate act of Financial Origami came as a result of Main Street's inability to supply enough mortgages to feed the ravenous appetite of CDO managers, Moynihan says.Moynihan demystifies a complex subject, giving the uninitiated a tool of understanding how too much debt and leverage destroyed a time-tested business model.
New rules are on their way, and it will be interesting to see how Wall Street will find ways to skirt them"..................LINK

Communist China: "Fear of Arabian ‘flu’'

from chinaworker.......

"China is in the midst of a ferocious clampdown on dissent, most clearly shown by the brutal extra-legal kidnapping of artist Ai Weiwei along with some of China’s most high profile public interest lawyers. This display of state thuggery is taking place in broad daylight, with only minimal protests from ‘democratic’ governments who long ago placed business with the Chinese dictatorship before wishy-washy talk about ‘human rights’. 

The ‘disappearance’ and intermittent release of human rights lawyers – who have reappeared miraculously without their ability to speak – is another form of systematic terror against a profession that the regime wants to subdue and control. Similar selective terror is directed against campaigning journalists and bloggers. In this sense, China has ‘developed’ since the wholesale butchery of June 1989. A more sophisticated but no less sinister police state has emerged, armed with the latest hi-tech gadgetry often developed by US and other ‘democratic’ capitalist countries, who are bound by a thick web of economic interests to the Chinese regime"..........LINK 

Is Communist China set to build a naval base in Pakistan?

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

"China promptly issued a denial - about building the naval base, at least - that made the whole episode look like another spasm of incompetence by President Asif Ali Zardari's administration. [2] 

It also forced China's quasi-official nationalistic mouthpiece, Global Times - which had uncritically picked up on the Associated Press of Pakistan report - to do some backtracking, backfilling and blustering:
Beijing recently denied a rumor that the Pakistani government has invited it to build a naval base at the port of Gwadar. But this doesn't stop some of the Western countries and India, China's regional competitor, playing with the so-called China threat theory.

[I]f the world really wants China to take more responsibilities in Asia-Pacific region and around the world, it should allow China to participate in international military co-operations and understand the need of China to set up overseas military bases.
Peace is China's only military interest and the international community should keep this in mind. [3]".............LINK

Monday, May 30, 2011

'Inviting Chaos: The Perils of Toying with the Debt Ceiling'

from dissidentvoice and ellen brown...

"A game of Russian roulette is being played with the national debt ceiling. Fire the wrong chamber of the gun, and the result could be the second Great Depression. 
The first Great Depression led to totalitarian dictatorships, war to consolidate power and concentrations of capital in the hands of a financial elite. The trigger was a default on the global reserve currency, in that case the pound sterling. The US dollar is now the global reserve currency. The concern is that default could create the same sort of global panic today. Dark visions are evoked of the president declaring a national emergency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) plans locking into place, camps being readied for protesters and the secret government taking over.
This may all just be political theater, but do we really want to get close enough to the economic precipice to find out? The conservative ideologues toying with the debt ceiling are doing it to force cuts in the budget, a budget that was already approved by Congress. Congress is being held hostage by a radical minority pushing a risky agenda, one that is based on an economic model that is obsolete"....................LINK  

"America must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex."

no truer words have ever been spoken..........happy memorial day........lets end our wars.......From nakedempire.......

'US military with 800 military bases worldwide with US military personnel in 156 countries and US Military bases in 63 countries'

time to bring our boys home........from gold seek..........

"Anyone aware of the US Government's real financial situation knows that time is running out.  The Government has $15.5 trillion in admitted debts but those debts, when calculated under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), or 'honest accounting', is over $70 trillion.  $70 trillion divided by 300 million+ Americans works out to $233,000 per person in US Federal Government debt and obligations.  Or nearly $1 million per family of four.

That does not included personal debt, state debt or municipal debt"........LINK

'The latest plan for perpetual war'

end the wars and bring our boys home.....from

"The wise men and women of the US Congress are in the midst of deciding that the perpetual war desired by the military-industrial-congressional complex (Eisenhower’s original formulation before it was edited) will soon become the law of the land. A defense authorization bill recently passed by the House Armed Services Committee includes a provision that recognizes that we are at war “with al Queda, the Taliban, and associated forces” and gives the President war powers until “the termination of hostilities,” which could mean forever.

From these comments, it is clear that Madison did not anticipate that we would have a huge standing military, always available to be sent throughout the world to protect perceived American interests. He would have been sickened to contemplate 820 US military bases located in 135 countries imposing US hegemony throughout the world"..............................LINK

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dancers arrested...........Police brutality at Jefferson Memorial

America, it was nice to know ya

thanks to a zerohedge comment for the video

'The unstoppable march of the tobacco giants'

"How the industry ruthlessly exploits the developing world - its young, poor and uneducated"

from the indepenent....

"More than half a century after scientists uncovered the link between smoking and cancer – triggering a war between health campaigners and the cigarette industry – big tobacco is thriving.
Despite the known catastrophic effects on health of smoking, profits from tobacco continue to soar and sales of cigarettes have increased: they have risen from 5,000 billion sticks a year in the 1990s to 5,900 billion a year in 2009. They now kill more people annually than alcohol, Aids, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined.
On Tuesday, people around the globe will mark World No Tobacco Day – a distant hope"........LINK

"Short-range nukes show Pakistan targeting Indian forces"

from times of india..

"Pakistan's recent testing of NASR or Hatf-9 short range missile, coupled with its rapidly growing stockpile of low-intensity nuclear weapons, suggests that it is actually preparing to cross the nuclear threshold in case of a conflict with India. 

One of world's most authoritative voices on Pakistan's nuclear strength and American nuclear expert Hans Kristensen told TOI that a nuclear-tipped NASR seemed more like a weapon intended for use against Indian forces advancing into Pakistani territory. 

"While that wouldn't threaten Indian survival in itself, it would of course mean crossing the nuclear threshold early in a conflict, which is one of the particular concerns of a short-range nuclear weapon,'' said Kristensen, who is also Federation of American Scientists' Nuclear Information Project director"............LINK

A Single Currency for the Persian Gulf States?

from bna.........

"Major international and political developments, like the global crisis, the European sovereign debts crisis and political developments in some Arab countries, represent an impetus to speed up the GCC Monetary Union," he affirmed.

"The main lesson to draw from all of this is the need to accelerate the setting up of a strong political and economic entity through the establishment of the Customs Union, the GCC Market and the Monetary Union," he stressed pointing out that the GCC countries have already embarked on setting up the monetary council and choosing a place for the Central Bank.

Concerning pegging the GCC currency to the dollar, he described this connection as historical and justified by many reasons. However, many local economies in the Gulf have suffered as the dollar has lost more than 46% of its value since 1986"...........LINK

also........A Case For A Single Currency.............from gulf news.........LINK

'The Bank of England's astonishing escape from the financial crisis'

from the telegraph.......

Unreported outside the business pages, a remarkable hearing took place last week – one which may well culminate in the Commons Treasury Select Committee demanding a full independent inquiry into the Bank of England's handling of the financial crisis.
The reason such an inquiry might seem appropriate is that over the next few years the Bank acquires new powers and responsibilities that will make this 317-year-old institution arguably the most powerful authority in the land – more powerful in terms of its influence over the economy than the Chancellor himself"..........LINK

Saturday, May 28, 2011

'Why More Student Loan Borrowers Are Finding Themselves in Court'

how about taking bankers to court. Is that too much to ask of our leaders?............from gobankingrates........

"DOE Filing More Lawsuits than Ever Before"

"Going to court for failing to pay back student loans is not something that most college students consider as they apply for financial aid, but new reports show the Department of Education (DOE) is filing more civil lawsuits against those in student loan default than ever before.
The number of delinquent borrowers has already increased by more than five times since 2006 and is expected to continue rising due to the tough economy. So how can borrowers avoid going to court over their student loans?"..........................LINK

'Fed Wrist-slap for Wachovia Shows Drug War Farce'

from op-ed news....

"Meet Wachovia -- once the nation's sixth largest bank by assets" a too-big-to-fail bank that for the feds is apparently too-big-to jail.

Wachovia recently completed what amounted to a year-long probation arising from a March 2010 settlement deal with federal prosecutors who were pursuing criminal proceedings against Wachovia for its facilitating illegal money transfers from Mexico totaling $378-billion"a staggering sum that included billions traced directly to violent Mexican drug cartels.
The record $160-million fine slapped on Wachovia under terms of that settlement deal included a $50-million assessment for failing to monitor cash used to ship 22 tons of cocaine.(That fine amounted to less than two percent of the profits Wachovia made the prior year.)".............................LINK

'In Latin America, prices are jumping'

from latimes.........

Although economists see little danger of a recurrence of the hyperinflation that undermined the region in the past, Latin America's rapidly rising prices could undercut its remarkable economic growth and even hurt U.S. hopes for an export-led recovery.

At food stalls in Caracas, Venezuela, gas pumps in Santiago, Chile, and newly minted subdivisions in Sao Paulo, Brazil, prices are rising. In one sense, it's a sign of good times. Global demand is strong for the region's oil, coffee, soybeans, copper and other commodities. Latin Americans have money in their pockets and want to spend it"................LINK

'Supreme Court declines to settle 20-year battle over canceled A-12'

dont these companies get enough taxpayer money?...........from star-telegram.....

"The Supreme Court refused Monday to take sides in a long-running billion-dollar dispute between two defense contractors and the government over the canceled contract for the A-12, which triggered mass layoffs in Fort Worth 20 years ago.

The high court unanimously threw out court decisions that would have helped both the federal government and Boeing Co. and General Dynamics, the companies that were supposed to build 850 A-12 Avenger attack planes for the military.

"Neither side will be entirely happy with the resolution," said Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the opinion for the court.

The A-12 was canceled by then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney in 1991 based on claims that the companies failed to meet the terms of the contract. General Dynamics and McDonnell Douglas had signed a contract to build eight planes for the Navy in 1988 at a target price of $4.4 billion. By 1991, the A-12 was more than 18 months behind schedule and at least $1 billion over budget.

About 3,400 workers at the General Dynamics plant in west Fort Worth, now operated by Lockheed Martin, lost their jobs, as well as 4,000 McDonnell Douglas workers in St. Louis. Chicago-based Boeing acquired McDonnell Douglas in 1997 and inherited the litigation.

For 20 years, the government has demanded repayment and the companies have resisted, suing in federal court to block the Pentagon from collecting. But the government asked for the lawsuit to be thrown out because classified data were being leaked during the discovery process.

The Supreme Court was asked to settle the issue of whether the government's refusal to turn over classified information, thus preventing the companies from defending themselves, should bar the government from recovering the money.

The court agreed that the litigation could not go forward if state secrets were going to be spilled, but also that the government could not use a defense that included classified information. The high court sent the case back to the lower courts.

This article includes material from Star-Telegram archives"...........LINK

'Central banks in 'uncharted waters', Lamfalussy tells ACI Congress'

from fxweek......

“Whether they like it or not, central banks are in the front line when it comes to keeping price manifestations under control. But what is new in our current experience is that most central banks have had to carry out their liquidity boosting operations in an environment where the liquidity shortage turned rather quickly into solvency problems of frightening dimensions, for which there has been no precedent since the 1930s,” said Lamfalussy.

Speaking at the ACI World Congress in Budapest today, Lamfalussy recognised central banks have had to resort to an “increasing variety of non-standard central banking interventions”, ranging from quantitative easing to an increased length of maturity of liquidity support, which has put pressure both on their operational capacity and their relations with governments.
Lamfalussy expressed little optimism that the pressures on central banks would fade away. “Our globalised, competitive and highly innovative markets have an unlimited capacity to breed financial disturbances of a size and nature that could lead to systemic meltdown. We badly need a co-ordinated action at the global level to extricate ourselves from the moral hazard trap implied by the prevailing expectation that systemically significant banks will always be bailed out,” he said"..............LINK

'UN warns of food riots in developing world as drought pushes up prices'

"European dry spell and commodities speculation combine to push up average cereal costs by 71% to record levels"

from the guardian....

"Food prices are expected to hit new highs in the coming weeks, tightening the squeeze on UK households and potentially triggering further unrest in developing countries unless there is heavy rainfall across drought-affected Europe, the United Nations has warned.
The average global price of cereals jumped by 71% to a new record in the year to April, more than three times higher than a decade ago, according to latest UN figures, prompting its Food and Agriculture Organisation to warn that Europe faces a pivotal few weeks"...............LINK

Friday, May 27, 2011

'Connecticut AG Criticizes Bank of America’s Foreclosure Mitigation Efforts'

from totalmortgage........

"Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen ripped Bank of America’s foreclosure/mortgage modification practices in Connecticut in a letterto BofA CEO Brian Moynihan.  Jepsen claimed that Connecticut residents “continue to experience significant difficulties due to Bank of America’s failure to devote adequate resources to loss mitigation”.
Bank of America had imposed a moratorium on Connecticut foreclosures as a result of the robo-signing scandal.  This moratorium is about to be lifted, and Jepsen said that the bank has no “credible plan” to deal with the increase in foreclosure volume and mortgage modification requests.  Further, Jepsen said that “Despite having had  more than two years to ‘right-size’ your staff and establish effective procedures and systems, Bank of America has so far not prevented even the most common consumer complaints”...........LINK

Book Finds Out-of-Control Government Spending and Complex Tax Laws Spur Growth in Underground Economy and Tax Evasion'

from businesswire..........

"The United States has $1 trillion and growing “underground economy” in which no taxes are paid. According to a new book, “Class Tax Mass Tax: America and Its Underground Economy,” unreported income in America is now greater than the total economies of all but fifteen other countries

 In his book, “Class Tax Mass Tax: America and Its Underground Economy,” Rush cites example after example of how congressional tax laws written by the special interests discriminate against hard-working American families. He explains how loopholes for wealthy individuals and corporations and social engineering have combined to create a tax code that is incomprehensible to the common person. He notes that this trend has accelerated in recent years as federal and state spending has ballooned. Further, Rush explains how the recession and the tax burden on the average American has led to an increase in tax avoidance.

According to Rush, tax evasion in the U.S. has boomed in recent years because federal and state spending has skyrocketed and individual taxpayers have come to the conclusion that politicians cannot be trusted to spend money wisely"...................LINK

'Black 9/11: A Walk on the Dark Side'

AIG and the Linkage to the Drug Trade...................from foreignpolicyjournal.......

3 part series...........

"In his important 2006 book, Nemesis, the Last Days of the American Republic, the third and concluding part of a trilogy, the late Chalmers Johnson, who was an expert on Japan and US foreign policy, writes that as much as 40% of the Pentagon budget is “black,” meaning hidden from public scrutiny.[1] If the figure is even approximately correct, and I believe it is, the number is alarming because it suggests that democratic oversight of US military research and development has broken down. In which case our democratic values and way of life are presently at risk; not from without, as there is no foreign enemy that can destroy the US Constitution, but from within".




'Eight US soldiers killed in Afghan blasts'

time to bring our boys home.........from times of india....

"Eight soldiers killed in a bombing in southern Afghanistan were Americans, the Pentagon confirmed, in one of the worst single incidents in recent months.
Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said the soldiers were killed by two successive blasts on Thursday in the same location in Shorabak district in Kandahar province".........LINK

'Clinton exonerates Pakistan over Osama Bin Laden'

ya right............from bbc.......

"US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said there is no evidence senior people in Pakistan knew that Osama Bin Laden lived so close to Islamabad.
But she said that the US and Pakistan needed to do more to battle Islamist militancy and that bilateral relations had reached a turning point.
Mrs Clinton said any peace deal in Afghanistan would not succeed unless Pakistan was part of the process"...........LINK

'U.S. taxpayer is subsidizing the security of our allies and even some countries that otherwise don't like or barely tolerate us'

from minn post....

"The basic point of Preble's dissent (accentuated with charts and graphs) is that the U.S. taxpayer is subsidizing the security of our allies and even some countries that otherwise don't like or barely tolerate us. The U.S. accounts for nearly 48 percent of military spending in the entire world. The rest of the NATO alliance, including Britain, France and Germany, combine for 17 percent. China, the most cited potential national threat to America's world number one standing, is at nine and a half percent, while our Cold War opponent Russia is now way behind at less than four percent of global military spending.
"Cato scholars have been out in front for years making the case for a principled, constitutional view of “defense” that does not include defending others who can and should defend themselves. If we adopted a strategy of restraint, we could responsibly make significant cuts in military spending, deliver the savings to American taxpayers, and remain the safest and most secure country on the planet. Yesterday, Tim Pawlenty took the opposite tack. He argued that the U.S. military should continue to serve as the world’s policeman/armed social worker, allow other countries to free ride, and require U.S. taxpayers to foot the bill"..........LINK

Thursday, May 26, 2011

'Death Derivatives: Wall Street's Latest Ill-Advised Maneuver'

someone, please put these bakers in jail...........from moneymorning........

"After betting trillions on everything from liar loans to mortgages that never should have been issued in the first place, the big banks are back and they're betting on death - yours and mine. 

It seems that Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE: DB) and others now want to help securitize "longevity risk" through a newly created derivatives market.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Here's the deal. The banks want to collect billions in fees from pension funds and other institutions by issuing insurance that will manage the risks associated with living longer than the financial planners planned"..........LINK