Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Studies: Autism More Widespread Than Realized

Studies: Autism More Widespread Than Realized

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Two new government studies indicate about 1 in 100 children have autism disorders — higher than a previous U.S. estimate of 1 in 150.

Greater awareness, broader definitions and spotting autism in younger children may explain some of the increase, federal health officials said.

"The concern here is that buried in these numbers is a true increase," said Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health. "We're going to have to think very hard about what we're going to do for the 1 in 100."

Figuring out how many children have autism is extremely difficult because diagnosis is based on a child's behavior, said Dr. Susan E. Levy of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics subcommittee on autism.

"With diabetes you can get a blood test," said Levy. "As of yet, there's no consistent biologic marker we can use to make the diagnosis of autism."

The new estimate would mean about 673,000 American children have autism. Previous estimates put the number at about 560,000.

One of the studies stems from the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health. The results were released Monday, and published in October's Pediatrics.

In that study, based on telephone surveys, parents reported about 1 in 91 children, ages 3 to 17, had autism, including milder forms such as Asperger's syndrome.

The other government estimate has not been formally released yet. But because of the new published findings, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided to announce Friday during an embargoed press briefing that their preliminary findings also show about 1 in 100 children have the disorders.

The CDC uses an in-depth method for its estimate, said CDC researcher Catherine Rice. An agency network reviews the education and health records of 8-year-old children in selected cities and determines whether the children meet the diagnosis. Autism experts generally consider this method more rigorous than a telephone survey.

President Barack Obama has made autism a priority for research, Insel said. Federal stimulus money has been earmarked for autism, and a 2006 law pumped millions of dollars of new federal money into autism research, screening and treatment.

The published findings, which include state-level data, will help the government plan new services, said Michael Kogan, a researcher with the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, who led the new study, which lists authors from several government agencies, including CDC.

The findings are based on the results of a national telephone survey of more than 78,000 parents of children ages 3 to 17. The survey dealt with many health issues and included two questions on autism.

Parents were asked whether they'd ever been told by a doctor or other health care provider that their child had autism, Asperger's syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder or other autism spectrum disorder.

If the parent said yes, they were asked if their child currently has autism or an autism spectrum disorder. "Yes" to both questions was counted as a child with an autism disorder.

The survey questions were flawed, said autism researcher Irva Hertz-Picciotto of the University of California, Davis. A broad definition, read to some parents who asked for clarification, didn't include "repetitive behaviors," Hertz-Picciotto said. And parents weren't asked about a professional diagnosis in the second question.

Children with autism can have trouble communicating and interacting socially. They may have poor eye contact and engage in repetitive behavior such as rocking or hand-flapping.

"The wording and definition invited much broader interpretation," Hertz-Picciotto said, and researchers didn't check what parents said against medical records.

In another finding, nearly 40 percent of the children ever diagnosed with autism disorders didn't currently have autism, the parents reported. That rate is much higher than ever found by autism recovery researchers. Outside experts said they doubt it reflects a true rate of recoveries. Autism could have been suspected and later ruled out for some of the children, the authors wrote.

One of the new study's authors was supported in part by a grant from Autism Speaks. The others work for federal agencies.

"Autism is a highly prevalent disorder," said Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer of the advocacy group Autism Speaks. "We're looking at a major public health challenge."

Afghanistan sitting on a gold mine

Afghanistan sitting on a gold mine

The USGS estimates there are about 700 billion cubic metres of gas and 300 million tonnes of oil across several northern provinces.

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Afghanistan is sitting on a wealth of mineral reserves -- perhaps the richest in the region -- that offer hope for a country mired in poverty after decades of war, the mining minister says.

Significant deposits of copper, iron, gold, oil and gas, and coal -- as well as precious gems such as emeralds and rubies -- are largely untapped and still being mapped, Mohammad Ibrahim Adel told AFP.

And they promise prosperity for one of the world's poorest countries, the minister said, dismissing concerns that a Taliban-led insurgency may thwart efforts to unearth this treasure.

Already in the pipeline is the exploitation of a massive copper deposit -- one of the biggest in the world -- about 30 kilometres (20 miles) east of Kabul.

"There has not been such a big project in the history of Afghanistan," Adel said.

A 30-year lease for the Aynak copper mine was in November offered to the China Metallurgical Group Corporation and the contract is being finalised.

"It is estimated that the Aynak deposit has more than 11 million tonnes (of copper)," he said, citing 1960s surveys by the Soviet Union and a new study by the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

"With today's prices, it contains an 88-billion-dollar deposit," he said.

The mine is expected to bring the government 400 million dollars annually in fees and taxes, Adel said.

That is on top of an 800-million-dollar downpayment from the developer who has also committed to build a railway line, a power plant and a village for workers, complete with schools, clinics and roads.

About 5,000 jobs will be created and mining is expected to start in five years. "Up to 40 percent of the income will pour into our pockets," Adel said.

The colossal Aynak project represents, however, only a fraction of Afghanistan's unexploited resources, he said. The scale of the deposits is still being charted.

The USGS is carrying out a nationwide survey of mineral wealth and oil and gas deposits that is expected to be completed in a year, Adel said.

Studies of only 10 percent of the country have discovered abundant deposits of copper, iron, zinc, lead, gold, silver, gems, salt, marble and coal, the ministry says.

The USGS estimates there are about 700 billion cubic metres of gas and 300 million tonnes of oil across several northern provinces.

A Soviet survey estimated there are more than two billion tonnes of iron reserves, the ministry says.

One of the best known iron deposits is at Haji Gak, 90 kilometres west of Kabul.

"If everything goes as we desire, Haji Gak requires two to three billion dollars' investment," said the minister.

"Another 100 million to 1.5 billion dollars is needed to explore the gas and oil mines."

The government plans to offer more projects for private sector tender next year, Adel said.

There is already some mining underway such as ad hoc emerald extraction in the Panjshir valley region northeast of Kabul, where dynamite is used to blow gems out of the ground.

And the ministry has handed two coal mines to private Afghan companies, although they lack standard equipment.

The Aynak contract will be a model for others, with developers expected to put in basic infrastructure as Afghanistan's power grid is weak and its transport network limited.

There is also the challenge of the insurgency, which overshadows development and has made many areas off-limits to foreign companies.

Writer and analyst Waheed Mujda warned there could be no mining in Taliban-held areas, which are mostly in the south, without the permission of the Islamic extremists.

"Any kind of agreement with Taliban will have to involve money and that money obviously would finance the insurgency in part," Mujda told AFP.

But Adel is not concerned. "We can provide security for mining sites simply by hiring a private security company," he said.

Most of the deposits that have been discovered are in the relatively stable north. There are, however, uranium reserves in the southern province of Helmand, one of the worst for Taliban attacks, the minister said.

The minister's sights are firmly set on mining bringing his impoverished country a brighter future.

"In five years' time Afghanistan will not need the world's aid money," he said. "In 10 years Afghanistan will be the richest country in the region."

The Coalfield Uprising

The Coalfield Uprising

A mountaintop removal coal-mining site at Kayford Mountain, West Virginia AP PHOTO/JEFF GENTNER

AP PHOTO/JEFF GENTNER
A mountaintop removal coal-mining site at Kayford Mountain, West Virginia

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When the Environmental Protection Agency declared this year on September 11 that all pending mountaintop removal mining permits in four Appalachian states stood in violation of the Clean Water Act and required further review, Lora Webb didn't have time to join in any celebrations. As she and her husband, Steve, a coal miner, packed up their possessions and left his family's ancestral property outside Lindytown, West Virginia, Lora was more concerned about finding a place to sleep that night.

For the past few years, ever since a massive twenty-story dragline landed on a ridge near their home, the Webbs had endured twice-daily, bone-rattling explosions and the quasi-apocalyptic storms of coal dust and fly rock that blanketed their home and garden. Lindytown's creeks and mountain hollows no longer exist, and a once-thriving community has been reduced to a ghost town. "It's unreal. It's like we're living in a war zone," Lora Webb told a local newspaper last fall.

By the spring of this year, the Webbs were one of the last holdouts in the area. Hoping to avoid displacement, they pleaded with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) and various federal agencies to enforce mining laws. Lora Webb even toted a jar of coal dust to Capitol Hill. In the end, though, they threw up their hands in bewilderment at the government's inaction and sold their beloved home to Massey Energy, the Richmond-based corporation that runs the nearby Twilight mountaintop removal site. Then they were issued a sixty-day order to evacuate.

The temporarily homeless Webbs are a stark example that mountaintop removal does more than "likely cause water quality impacts," as the EPA has determined. More than 3.5 million pounds of explosives rip daily across the ridges and historic mountain communities in West Virginia; a similar amount of explosives are employed in eastern Kentucky, southwestern Virginia and eastern Tennessee. Mountaintop removal operations have destroyed more than 500 mountains and 1.2 million acres of forest in our nation's oldest and most diverse range, and jammed more than 1,200 miles of streams with mining waste.

In cautious but no uncertain terms, the Obama administration has finally acknowledged these hazards, and has taken some important steps toward mitigating the damage. On June 11 the Council on Environmental Quality chief, Nancy Sutley, declared that the administration "has serious concerns about the impacts of mountaintop coal mining on our natural resources and on the health and welfare of the Appalachian communities."

Yet, while officials are framing the issue as a manageable environmental problem, mountaintop removal has also caused considerable human suffering and one of the largest displacements of US citizens since the nineteenth century, a fact the government has not adequately addressed. The Webbs are just one family among an untold number of Americans over the past four decades who have been forced by the coal industry to relocate. And the death of 22-year-old Joshua McCormick--who succumbed to kidney cancer on September 23 in the Prenter Hollow area in West Virginia, one of the most notorious coal slurry-contaminated and Clean Water Act-violated places in the nation--was a reminder to area residents of the growing death toll in the coalfields.

While the EPA's September announcement clearly signaled a return of science and law to the Appalachian coalfields after a Bush-era hiatus, the festering criminal implications of environmental and human rights violations from mountaintop removal remain a test for the well-meaning but Beltway-bound environmentalists in the Obama administration. Will they muster the political wherewithal to break King Coal's stranglehold on the region's fate?

Coalfield residents are not waiting for the Obama administration to come to their rescue. In fact, in the past year a surging activist and citizen lobbyist campaign has emerged as a fierce counterforce to the Big Coal lobby. The leaders of this growing and increasingly powerful movement are not content with a new era of stricter regulations in the coalfields. Their aim is to abolish mountaintop removal once and for all.

According to Stephanie Pistello, national field coordinator of Appalachian Voices and legislative associate for the Alliance for Appalachia (a coalition of thirteen citizens' groups from five states, including the Sierra Club's Central Appalachian Environmental Justice Program), more than 200 coalfield residents have traveled to Washington this year to tell Congress and the Obama administration about the true costs of mountaintop removal. In May a group of residents sent an urgent letter to the EPA and the Interior Department citing numerous examples of the WVDEP's lack of enforcement and negligence, and calling for federal action "to take primacy from a failed agency." Over the past year, residents have launched more than a dozen civil disobedience actions throughout the region: in August a group of coalfield activists chained themselves to the doors of the WVDEP office, and two tree-sitters halted a week of blasting at a Massey Energy mountaintop removal site in the Coal River Valley.

If anything, the EPA's surprising move in September only strengthened the activists' resolve. Three days after the announcement, the Alliance for Appalachia returned to Washington with a group of residents to meet with the EPA, the Council on Environmental Quality, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Interior Department and members of Congress.

"While we appreciate the EPA making this step to bring back enforcement of the Clean Water Act," says Lorelei Scarbro, an organizer with Coal River Mountain Watch and a coal miner's widow whose garden and hillside orchards border a proposed mountaintop removal site in West Virginia, "we will continue to come to Washington, DC, until mountaintop removal's irreversible devastation to our communities and waterways is halted."

No one understands the limits of regulation better than Bo Webb (unrelated to Lora and Steve Webb), a coal miner's son and Vietnam veteran who lives under a mountaintop removal operation in Naoma, West Virginia, on land that has been in his family since 1830. "Nearly four decades of mountaintop removal regulatory history have taught me one thing," he says. "The devastation from mountaintop removal can never be regulated but must be abolished."

In an open letter to President Obama written this past spring, Webb spelled out the looming situation: "My family and I, like many American citizens in Appalachia, are living in a state of terror. Like sitting ducks waiting to be buried in an avalanche of mountain waste, or crushed by a falling boulder, we are trapped in a war zone within our own country."

Webb's hollow has become a base for numerous organizations, including Coal River Mountain Watch, direct-action groups like Mountain Justice and Climate Ground Zero, and national environmental groups like Rainforest Action Network (RAN). "I've seen oil spills in the Amazon, walked in clear-cuts so large they can be seen from outer space and have toured some of the nastiest toxic waste dumps imaginable," says RAN executive director Michael Brune, whose national organization plays a full-time role in the coalfields movement. "But when it comes to complete and hopeless environmental devastation, nothing compares to a mountaintop removal site."

On June 23 Webb helped to organize a high-profile rally and nonviolent sit-in in the Coal River Valley of West Virginia, where 94-year-old former Congressman Ken Hechler, NASA climatologist James Hansen, actress Daryl Hannah, Brune and thirty-one coalfield residents were arrested at a coal prep plant. "Mountaintop removal is a crime against local people, nature, our children and our planet," Hansen declared.

A day later, Webb was informed that the blasting above his home, temporarily halted after federal regulators cited it for violations, would resume. "I received a call that the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, which determines the permits, gave the green light to renew the blasting closer to the coal seam, in an area that is even closer to our homes," he said.

This blatant circumvention of regulatory measures came as no surprise to Webb, who has seen the coal industry's influence penetrate not only the WVDEP but also the state judiciary. Earlier in June, the state Supreme Court upheld a decision to construct a second toxic coal silo near a school playground in Sundial, which sits down-slope of a 2.8 billion-gallon coal-slurry impoundment close to a mountaintop removal blasting site. A week before the decision, the US Supreme Court issued a 5-to-4 ruling that a Big Coal-financed justice on the West Virginia Supreme Court had engaged in an unconstitutional conflict-of-interest vote.

Thanks in large part to the work of coalfield activists, such state-level failures have earned notice at the federal level. On June 11 the Obama administration released an interagency plan for "unprecedented steps to reduce the environmental impacts of mountaintop coal mining."

"The steps we are taking today are a firm departure from the previous administration's approach to mountaintop coal mining, which failed to protect our communities, water and wildlife in Appalachia," said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

While carefully crafted rhetoric from government officials made for good headlines, it reminded coalfield residents and environmentalists of the regulatory compromise that granted federal approval for mountaintop removal in the first place. Webb worried that the Obama administration had been lured into a familiar trap.

On August 3, 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act with an air of concern. Admitting it was "a disappointing effort" and a "watered-down" bill, Carter recognized that the historic legislation contained loopholes, allowing mountaintop removal while cracking down on other mining abuses.

For many coalfield activists, no one was more responsible for those loopholes than West Virginia Democratic Representative Nick Rahall. On the thirtieth anniversary of the signing of the bill, Rahall proudly recounted taking the House Natural Resources Committee chair, Morris Udall, to the Appalachian coalfields, where Rahall pushed the Arizona Congressman to insert language permitting mountaintop removal operations.

Rahall, who is now serving his seventeenth term in Congress, remains a fierce proponent of the practice. He still touts putting golf courses and shopping centers on flattened ranges for "higher uses," even though a 2002 EPA study pointed out that less than 3 percent of all mountaintop removal sites had been returned to any post-mining uses. In July he jumped out of a plane with the US Army Parachute Team at a "Friends of Coal" auto show in Beckley, West Virginia.

When the EPA announced its intention to bring greater scrutiny to mountaintop removal permits this past spring, Rahall made the rounds with top-level environmental officials and members of Obama's staff to fight against any reviews. The EPA clearly listened to his pitch. Reflecting on the sign-off on forty-two out of forty-eight surface-mining permits, many of which were for mountaintop removal, acting assistant administrator Michael Shapiro curiously fell back on misconstrued economic arguments. Even though mountaintop removal operations account for less than 8 percent of US coal consumption and rely mainly on nonunion and mechanized labor in areas of entrenched poverty, in May Shapiro told Rahall in a letter, "I understand the importance of coal mining in Appalachia for jobs, the economy and meeting the nation's energy needs."

A month later, as Ken Ward reported in the Charleston Gazette, a breakthrough study by West Virginia University researcher Michael Hendryx found that "coal mining costs Appalachians five times more in early deaths as the industry provides to the region in jobs." According to the study, "The coal industry generates a little more than $8 billion a year in economic benefits for the Appalachian region," but the researchers also estimated the cost of premature mining-related deaths across the Appalachian coalfields at a yearly average of $42 billion.

The Obama administration remained indecisive throughout the summer, publicly announcing its intentions to bolster regulatory oversight while quietly allowing the Army Corps of Engineers to continue issuing Clean Water Act permits for mountaintop removal. As Ward reported on August 11, the EPA privately approved eight valley fill waste piles proposed by CONSOL Energy. "Copies of key permit documents were not yet being made public, despite a promise from the Obama White House of increased transparency in the permit review process," Ward wrote.

A day later, when a federal court struck down an earlier move by the Interior Department to reverse a Bush-era manipulation of the 1983 "stream buffer" rule--a rule designed to restrict the dumping of mine waste into streams--the Obama administration could only manage a weak commitment to "improve mining practices" within the context of the court's ruling. In essence, a kinder, gentler mountaintop removal would blast on.

Appearing on Diane Rehm's National Public Radio talk-show on September 3, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson openly agreed with a caller, Ohio Citizen Action organizer Kate Russell. Russell cited University of Maryland scientist Dr. Margaret Palmer's Senate hearing testimony that "the impacts of mountaintop removal with valley fills are immense and irreversible, and there are no scientifically credible plans for mitigating these impacts."

"Let me first start by acknowledging that Kate's right," Jackson responded. "Much of the science shows that when you have a lot of, when you start to see a preponderance of stream miles filled in, you start to see higher conductivity levels, which is indicative of higher suspended solids, which starts to affect the aquatic ecosystems sort of from the bottom up."

An internal memo in June by WVDEP biologist Doug Wood provided even more startling conclusions: "We now have clear evidence that in some streams that drain mountaintop coal quarry valley fills, the entire order Ephemeroptera (mayflies) has been extirpated, not just certain genera of this order," Wood wrote. "The loss of an order of insects from a stream is taxonomically equivalent to the loss of all primates (including humans) from a given area. The loss of two insect orders is taxonomically equivalent to killing all primates and all rodents through toxic chemicals."

One thing was certain: the reckoning on mountaintop removal had come due for the Obama administration.

As the regulatory games stretch on, coalfield residents and their national allies have redoubled their efforts to hold the EPA and the Obama administration accountable for enforcing the Clean Water Act, and for bringing the thirty-eight-year terror of mountaintop removal mining to an end.

Activists like Chuck Nelson, a retired coal miner from Sylvester, West Virginia, and a volunteer with the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, are planning an action in October to call attention to the Webbs' devastated homeland. "In six months, one will never know Lindytown was ever there, that a community once served as home to many families," Nelson says. "We plan to hold a vigil for Lindytown. I guess you could call it a funeral, for all the families that used to love this land and considered it as home."

Invoking the image of the legendary Mary "Mother" Jones and her campaign as an octogenarian on behalf of West Virginia coal miners and their children in the 1920s, 81-year-old military veteran Roland Micklem recently announced a twenty-five-mile march and nonviolent sit-in, to be led by senior citizens on October 8 at a Massey Energy mountaintop removal site in Kanawha County.

Along with encouraging investment in the region for green jobs and renewable energy sources, the Alliance for Appalachia plans to mount an even more aggressive citizens' lobby campaign to pass the Clean Water Protection Act, which would in effect end mountaintop removal by halting the creation of valley fills and polluted waterways from mine waste.

"In order to counter the Goliath-like, multimillion-dollar coal industry lobby, the Alliance for Appalachia has organized monthly citizen lobby weeks," says Stephanie Pistello. "As a result, the Clean Water Protection Act has a record 157 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House, and for the first time in history, we have legislation before the Senate, the Appalachia Restoration Act, which has eight co-sponsors."

"The EPA has the authority to veto the permits," Jackson reminded NPR listeners in September. "The permits themselves are issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers. So EPA plays sort of an oversight role there." By the end of November, after receiving the Army Corps revisions of the permits, Jackson and the EPA should let the coalfield residents--and the nation--know how far that oversight extends.

"It looks like EPA is prepared to do everything it can, within the existing regulatory framework, to protect the mountains and people of Appalachia," says Teri Blanton of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, a citizens' organization in the state where more than half the designated permits are located. "This is great news, but it will take more than regulations to end the destruction. Mountaintop removal and valley fills should be banned."

Back in Washington, planning the next lobby week of coalfield residents and pinning their hopes on Congress to move forward on the Clean Water Protection Act, Pistello concludes: "The people of Appalachia are asking for mountaintop removal to be abolished, not regulated. We will continue to bring residents to DC as long as mountains are being bombed and water runs black."

The IMF to Play Role of Global Central Bank?

The IMF to Play Role of Global Central Bank?

The Dollar Needs to be Devalued by Half?

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“A year ago,” said law professor Ross Buckley on Australia’s ABC News on September 22, “nobody wanted to know the International Monetary Fund. Now it’s the organiser for the international stimulus package which has been sold as a stimulus package for poor countries.”

The IMF may have catapulted to a more exalted status than that. According to Jim Rickards, director of market intelligence for scientific consulting firm Omnis, the unannounced purpose of the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh on September 24 was that “the IMF is being anointed as the global central bank.” Rickards said in a CNBC interview on September 25 that the plan is for the IMF to issue a global reserve currency that can replace the dollar.

“They’ve issued debt for the first time in history,” said Rickards. “They’re issuing SDRs. The last SDRs came out around 1980 or ’81, $30 billion. Now they’re issuing $300 billion. When I say issuing, it’s printing money; there’s nothing behind these SDRs.”

SDRs, or Special Drawing Rights, are a synthetic currency originally created by the IMF to replace gold and silver in large international transactions. But they have been little used until now. Why does the world suddenly need a new global fiat currency and global central bank? Rickards says it because of “Triffin’s Dilemma,” a problem first noted by economist Robert Triffin in the 1960s. When the world went off the gold standard, a reserve currency had to be provided by some large-currency country to service global trade. But leaving its currency out there for international purposes meant that the country would have to continually buy more than it sold, running large deficits until it eventually went broke. The U.S. has fueled the world economy for the last 50 years, but now it is going broke. The U.S. can settle its debts and get its own house in order, but that would cause world trade to contract. A substitute global reserve currency is needed to fuel the global economy while the U.S. solves its debt problems, and that new currency is to be the IMF’s SDRs.

That’s the solution to Triffin’s dilemma, says Rickards, but it leaves the U.S. in a vulnerable position. If we face a war or other global catastrophe, we no longer have the privilege of printing money. We will have to borrow the global reserve currency like everyone else, putting us at the mercy of global lenders.

To avoid that, the Federal Reserve has hinted that it is prepared to raise interest rates, even though that would further squeeze the real economy. Rickards pointed to an oped piece by Fed governor Kevin Warsh, published in The Wall Street Journal on the same day the G20 met. Warsh said the Fed would need to raise interest rates if asset prices rose – which Rickards interpreted to mean gold, the traditional go-to investment of investors fleeing the dollar. “Central banks hate gold because it limits their ability to print money,” said Rickards. If gold were to suddenly go to $1,500 an ounce, it would mean the dollar was collapsing. Warsh was giving the market a heads up that the Fed wasn’t going to let that happen. The Fed would raise interest rates to attract dollars back into the country. As Rickards put it, “Warsh is saying, ‘We sort of have to trash the dollar, but we’re going to do it gradually.’ . . . Warsh is trying to preempt an unstable decline in the dollar. What they want, of course, is a stable, steady decline.”

What about the Fed’s traditional role of maintaining price stability? It’s nonsense, said Rickards. “What they do is inflate the dollar to prop up the banks.” The dollar has to be inflated because there is more debt outstanding than money to pay it with. The government currently has contingent liabilities of $60 trillion. “There’s no feasible combination of growth and taxes that can fund that liability,” Rickards said. The government could fund about half that in the next 14 years, which means the dollar needs to be devalued by half.

The Dollar Needs to be Devalued by Half?

Reducing the value of the dollar means that our hard-earned dollars are going to go only half as far, which is not a good thing for Main Street. In fact, the move is designed not to serve us but the banks. The dollar needs to be devalued to compensate for a dilemma in the current monetary scheme that is even more intractable than Triffin’s, one that might be called a fraud. There is never enough money to cover the outstanding debt, because all money today except coins is created by banks in the form of loans, and more money is always owed back to the banks than they advance when they create their loans. Banks create the principal but not the interest necessary to pay their loans back.

The Fed, which is owned by a consortium of banks and was set up to serve their interests, is tasked with seeing that the banks are paid back; and the only way to do that is to inflate the money supply, in order to create the dollars to cover the missing interest. But that means diluting the value of the dollar, which imposes a stealth tax on the citizenry; and the money supply is inflated by making more loans, which adds to the debt and interest burden the inflated money supply was supposed to relieve. The banking system is basically a pyramid scheme, which can be kept going only by continually creating more debt.

The IMF’s $500 Billion Stimulus Package: Designed to Help Developing Countries or the Banks?

And that brings us back to the IMF’s stimulus package discussed by Professor Buckley. It was billed as helping emerging nations hard hit by the global credit crisis, but Buckley doubts that is what is really going on. Rather, he says, the $500 billion pledged by the G20 nations is “a stimulus package for the rich countries’ banks.” He notes that stimulus packages are usually grants. The money coming from the IMF will be extended in the form of loans.

“These are loans that are made by the G20 countries through the IMF to poor countries. They have to be repaid and what they’re going to be used for is to repay the international banks now. . . . [T]he money won’t really touch down in the poor countries. It will go straight through them to repay their creditors. . . . But the poor countries will spend the next 30 years repaying the IMF.”

Basically, said Professor Buckley, the loans extended by the IMF represent an increase in seniority of the debt. That means developing nations will be even more firmly locked in debt than they are now.

“At the moment the debt is owed by poor countries to banks, and if the poor countries had to, they could default on that. The bank debt is going to be replaced by debt that’s owed to the IMF, which for very good strategic reasons the poor countries will always service. . . . The rich countries have made this $500 billion available to stimulate their own banks, and the IMF is a wonderful party to put in between the countries and the debtors and the banks.”

Not long ago, the IMF was being called obsolete. Now it is back in business with a vengeance; but it’s the old unseemly business of serving as the collection agency for the international banking industry. As long as third world debtors can service their loans by paying the interest on them, the banks can count the loans as “assets” on their books, allowing them to keep their pyramid scheme going by inflating the global money supply with yet more loans. It is all for the greater good of the banks and their affiliated multinational corporations; but the $500 billion in funding is coming from the taxpayers of the G20 nations, and the foreseeable outcome will be that the United States will join the ranks of debtor nations subservient to a global empire of central bankers.

Report on Bailouts Says Treasury Misled Public

Report on Bailouts Says Treasury Misled Public

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The inspector general who oversees the government’s bailout of the banking system is criticizing the Treasury Department for some misleading public statements last fall and raising the possibility that it had unfairly disbursed money to the biggest banks.

A Treasury official made incorrect statements about the health of the nation’s biggest banks even as the government was doling out billions of dollars in aid, according to a report on the Troubled Asset Relief Program to be released on Monday by the special inspector general, Neil M. Barofsky.

The report also provides new insight into the way the Treasury allocated billions of dollars to nine of Wall Street’s largest players. The report says that Bank of America appeared to qualify for more aid earlier, under the government plan. That assertion adds another element of intrigue to continuing investigations of the bank’s merger with Merrill Lynch and the role that regulators played in the deal, even as Merrill’s condition deteriorated.

The bailout formula called for banks to get an amount equal to as much as 3 percent of their risk-weighted assets, with aid capped at $25 billion for each institution, according to the report. By size, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America could have qualified for more, and the first two received $25 billion.

But Bank of America was given only $15 billion in October, since Merrill Lynch was earmarked for $10 billion. The two companies agreed to a merger, though their deal had not yet been approved by regulators or shareholders.

Bank of America ultimately received Merrill’s $10 billion in January — as well as $20 billion in additional bailout funds — but if the bank had not been involved in the Merrill deal, it would probably have received $25 billion at the outset, as did Citigroup and JPMorgan.

Another company in the process of a merger was not treated the same. Wells Fargo was acquiring Wachovia, and it received both companies’ money at the start, according to the inspector general.

Mr. Barofsky’s office also says that regulators were wrong to tell the public last year that the earliest bailout recipients were all healthy.

Former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., for instance, said on Oct. 14 that the banks were “healthy,” and that they accepted the money for “the good of the U.S. economy.” The banks, he said, would be better able to increase their lending to consumers and businesses.

In truth, regulators were concerned about the health of several banks that received that first bailout, the inspector general writes.

The inspector general said government officials need to be more careful when describing their actions and rationale. In a letter included with the report, the Federal Reserve concurred with Mr. Barofsky’s concern about the statements made last year, but the Treasury Department said that any review of announcements last year “must be considered in light of the unprecedented circumstances in which they were made.”

New York pair accused of directing protesters during G-20 in Pittsburgh

New York pair accused of directing protesters during G-20 in Pittsburgh

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State police have accused two anarchists from New York of using cell phones and the Internet messaging service Twitter to direct the movements of protesters during the Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh.

Police arrested Elliot M. Madison, 41, and Michael Wallschlaeger, 46, both of Jackson Heights, N.Y., after they found them Sept. 24 in a Kennedy Township hotel room full of computers, police scanners and Pittsburgh-area maps, according to a state police criminal complaint.

FBI agents spent 16 hours Friday raiding the home of Madison and his wife, Elena, according to a federal court motion filed in Brooklyn, N.Y., by Madison's attorney Martin R. Stolar seeking the return of Madison's possessions that were seized in the raid.

Stolar did not return a message seeking comment Saturday. No one answered the phone at a number listed for Madison.

Wallschlaeger and Madison wore headphones and microphones as they sat in front of computers they used to send Twitter messages to protesters in Pittsburgh to help them move about the city "and to inform the protesters and groups of the movements and actions of law enforcement," the state police complaint states.

State police in Findlay obtained a warrant to search the second-floor room at the Carefree Inn on Kisow Drive based on a tip they received about criminal activity related to the G-20 protests.

Police arrested 190 protesters of an estimated 5,000 people who participated in marches and demonstrations in Oakland, Lawrenceville, the Strip District and Downtown during the summit Sept. 24 and 25.

Madison and Wallschlaeger face charges in Allegheny County of hindering apprehension or prosecution, criminal use of a communication facility and possessing instruments of crime.

A manager at the Carefree Inn said he was not permitted to discuss the matter.

Madison posted $30,000 straight bail and was released Sept. 25. Wallschlaeger posted $5,000 and was released the same day, court records show. Both face preliminary hearings Oct. 13.

Among the items seized by the FBI were: computers; cell phones; MP3 players; anarchist literature and books, including some authored by Madison; business records connected to Wallschlaeger's radio talk show "This Week in Radical History"; and pictures of Vladimir Lenin and Karl Marx.

Records show they seized 11 gas masks, five pairs of goggles, a slingshot, four arm pads, eight face masks and a collection of test tubes, droppers, mortar and pestle and beakers.

Stolar said the FBI violated the terms of its search warrant and Madison's First Amendment rights by taking "a number of documents and other properties having nothing to do with the government's investigation."

According to Stolar's motion, Elliott and Elena Madison are political activists who deal with social justice issues and provide legal support for protesters. Elliott Madison is a social worker employed for the past 10 years by Fountain House, a psychiatric-social program with a principal office in Manhattan. Elena Madison is an urban planner and is assistant vice president of the Project for Public Spaces.

The Madisons describe themselves as anarchists affiliated with a confederation known as "The Peoples' Law Collective."

U.S. District Court Judge Dora Irizarry of Brooklyn ruled Friday that FBI agents can't analyze the seized property until Stolar's motion for its return is resolved, court records show.

Private Corp. Takes Over Policing, Incarcerating in Montana Town

PRIVATE CORPORATION TAKES OVER POLICING, INCARCERATING IN MONTANA TOWN

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In a news story that gained little attention, CBS News' web site reported that a private security firm --American Police Force Corporation -- has been contracted by the town of Hardin, Montana to provide all police services and to manage the operation of that town's jail.

According to its web site, APF, a California firm, specializes in training military and security forces overseas and provides security services such as armed bodyguards in the United States.

The CBS News story also reported that APF utilizes three Sports Utility Vehicles complete with the town's own police logo. Besides police patrols, law enforcement and criminal investigation, the firm will operate a jail with a capacity for 464 prisoners.

Hardin's political leaders are quoted as saying the town's deal for private police and corrections "remained on track," despite some opposition to privatizing the police function.

Private security companies exercising police powers are becoming more commonplace especially with tight government budgets. However, in certain locations, private security officers have always mirrored public police. In many locations, private security guards are armed with firearms, batons, tasers and other weapons. This paradigm is quite common in so-called gated-communities, housing complexes, nuclear power plants and other locations,

According to the American Society for Industrial Security, the nations leading organization for security managers, directors and consultants, there are more than one million contract security guards, with perhaps another million guards who are "proprietary security officers who are hired directly by businesses and institutions. On the other hand, there are about 700,000 sworn law enforcement officers working for towns, cities, counties, states and the federal government.

While some police and many security officials say using the vast resources of the nation's "private police" to protect the public is a positive development, others believe that the public will suffer due to inadequate training and screening of rent-a-cops. For the most part, public police recruits are tested and undergo psychological evaluation before entering the academy. In addition, background investigations are conducted including the interviewing of former employers, neighbors, and others.

There are many police and law enforcement officials who are concerned with the growing trend of using military-experienced mercenaries to train and work with local police officers in the United States, but there are many who believe the events of September 11, 2001 dictate the need for this new paradigm.

For example, Kentucky’s Lexington Police Department contracted Blackwater Security International to provide what’s described as homeland security training. Meanwhile that city’s Mayor Jim Newberry and its chief of police Anthony Beatty refused free training provided by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement federal program that prepares police officers to enforce immigration and border security as part of their duties.

Lexington is on the nation’s list of so-called Sanctuary Cities in which police officers are prohibited from working with ICE or Border Patrol agents in the United States. Critics are angry over the use of local tax dollars to hire Blackwater personnel to train the police, while not taking advantage of training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Georgia.

But Lexington isn’t the only city using hired guns to help local police officers. In New Orleans, heavily armed operatives from a private security firm, known for their security work in Iraq, are openly patrolling the streets of that beleaguered city. It became necessary after Hurricane Katrina to use the security firm since many members of the New Orleans Police Department deserted their posts leaving many citizens to fend for themselves.

Some of the mercenaries were reportedly “deputized” by the Louisiana governor and were issued gold Louisiana State law enforcement badges to wear on their chests and photo identification cards to be worn on their arms.

Blackwater officials also say they are on contract with the Department of Homeland Security and have been given the authority to use lethal force if necessary. Some of the mercenaries assigned to patrol the streets of New Orleans recently returned from Iraq, where they provided personal security details for the former head of the US occupation, L. Paul Bremer, and the former US ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte.

The Economic Recovery is an Illusion

The Economic Recovery is an Illusion

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Warns of Future Crises

War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength, and Debt is Recovery


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In light of the ever-present and unyieldingly persistent exclamations of ‘an end’ to the recession, a ‘solution’ to the crisis, and a ‘recovery’ of the economy; we must remember that we are being told this by the very same people and institutions which told us, in years past, that there was ‘nothing to worry about,’ that ‘the fundamentals are fine,’ and that there was ‘no danger’ of an economic crisis.

Why do we continue to believe the same people that have, in both statements and choices, been nothing but wrong? Who should we believe and turn to for more accurate information and analysis? Perhaps a useful source would be those at the epicenter of the crisis, in the heart of the shadowy world of central banking, at the global banking regulator, and the “most prestigious financial institution in the world,” which accurately predicted the crisis thus far: The Bank for International Settlements (BIS). This would be a good place to start.

The economic crisis is anything but over, the “solutions” have been akin to putting a band-aid on an amputated arm. The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the central bank to the world’s central banks, has warned and continues to warn against such misplaced hopes.

What is the Bank for International Settlements (BIS)?

The BIS emerged from the Young Committee set up in 1929, which was created to handle the settlements of German reparations payments outlined in the Versailles Treaty of 1919. The Committee was headed by Owen D. Young, President and CEO of General Electric, co-author of the 1924 Dawes Plan, member of the Board of Trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation and was Deputy Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. As the main American delegate to the conference on German reparations, he was also accompanied by J.P. Morgan, Jr.[1] What emerged was the Young Plan for German reparations payments.

The Plan went into effect in 1930, following the stock market crash. Part of the Plan entailed the creation of an international settlement organization, which was formed in 1930, and known as the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). It was purportedly designed to facilitate and coordinate the reparations payments of Weimar Germany to the Allied powers. However, its secondary function, which is much more secretive, and much more important, was to act as “a coordinator of the operations of central banks around the world.” Described as “a bank for central banks,” the BIS “is a private institution with shareholders but it does operations for public agencies. Such operations are kept strictly confidential so that the public is usually unaware of most of the BIS operations.”[2]

The BIS was founded by “the central banks of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Japan, and the United Kingdom along with three leading commercial banks from the United States, including J.P. Morgan & Company, First National Bank of New York, and First National Bank of Chicago. Each central bank subscribed to 16,000 shares and the three U.S. banks also subscribed to this same number of shares.” However, “Only central banks have voting power.”[3]

Central bank members have bi-monthly meetings at the BIS where they discuss a variety of issues. It should be noted that most “of the transactions carried out by the BIS on behalf of central banks require the utmost secrecy,”[4] which is likely why most people have not even heard of it. The BIS can offer central banks “confidentiality and secrecy which is higher than a triple-A rated bank.”[5]

The BIS was established “to remedy the decline of London as the world’s financial center by providing a mechanism by which a world with three chief financial centers in London, New York, and Paris could still operate as one.”[6] As Carroll Quigley explained:

[T]he powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basle, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations.[7]

The BIS, is, without a doubt, the most important, powerful, and secretive financial institution in the world. It’s warnings should not be taken lightly, as it would be the one institution in the world that would be privy to such information more than any other.

Derivatives Crisis Ahead

In September of 2009, the BIS reported that, “The global market for derivatives rebounded to $426 trillion in the second quarter as risk appetite returned, but the system remains unstable and prone to crises.” The BIS quarterly report said that derivatives rose 16% “mostly due to a surge in futures and options contracts on three-month interest rates.” The Chief Economist of the BIS warned that the derivatives market poses “major systemic risks” in the international financial sector, and that, “The danger is that regulators will again fail to see that big institutions have taken far more exposure than they can handle in shock conditions.” The economist added that, “The use of derivatives by hedge funds and the like can create large, hidden exposures.”[8]

The day after the report by the BIS was published, the former Chief Economist of the BIS, William White, warned that, “The world has not tackled the problems at the heart of the economic downturn and is likely to slip back into recession,” and he further “warned that government actions to help the economy in the short run may be sowing the seeds for future crises.” He was quoted as warning of entering a double-dip recession, “Are we going into a W[-shaped recession]? Almost certainly. Are we going into an L? I would not be in the slightest bit surprised.” He added, “The only thing that would really surprise me is a rapid and sustainable recovery from the position we’re in.”

An article in the Financial Times explained that White’s comments are not to be taken lightly, as apart from heading the economic department at the BIS from 1995 to 2008, he had, “repeatedly warned of dangerous imbalances in the global financial system as far back as 2003 and – breaking a great taboo in central banking circles at the time – he dared to challenge Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve, over his policy of persistent cheap money.”

The Financial Times continued:

Worldwide, central banks have pumped thousands of billions of dollars of new money into the financial system over the past two years in an effort to prevent a depression. Meanwhile, governments have gone to similar extremes, taking on vast sums of debt to prop up industries from banking to car making.

White warned that, “These measures may already be inflating a bubble in asset prices, from equities to commodities,” and that, “there was a small risk that inflation would get out of control over the medium term.” In a speech given in Hong Kong, White explained that, “the underlying problems in the global economy, such as unsustainable trade imbalances between the US, Europe and Asia, had not been resolved.”[9]

On September 20, 2009, the Financial Times reported that the BIS, “the head of the body that oversees global banking regulation,” while at the G20 meeting, “issued a stern warning that the world cannot afford to slip into a ‘complacent’ assumption that the financial sector has rebounded for good,” and that, “Jaime Caruana, general manager of the Bank for International Settlements and a former governor of Spain’s central bank, said the market rebound should not be misinterpreted.”[10]

This follows warnings from the BIS over the summer of 2009, regarding misplaced hope over the stimulus packages organized by various governments around the world. In late June, the BIS warned that, “fiscal stimulus packages may provide no more than a temporary boost to growth, and be followed by an extended period of economic stagnation.”

An article in the Australian reported that, “The only international body to correctly predict the financial crisis ... has warned the biggest risk is that governments might be forced by world bond investors to abandon their stimulus packages, and instead slash spending while lifting taxes and interest rates,” as the annual report of the BIS “has for the past three years been warning of the dangers of a repeat of the depression.” Further, “Its latest annual report warned that countries such as Australia faced the possibility of a run on the currency, which would force interest rates to rise.” The BIS warned that, “a temporary respite may make it more difficult for authorities to take the actions that are necessary, if unpopular, to restore the health of the financial system, and may thus ultimately prolong the period of slow growth.”

Further, “At the same time, government guarantees and asset insurance have exposed taxpayers to potentially large losses,” and explaining how fiscal packages posed significant risks, it said that, “There is a danger that fiscal policy-makers will exhaust their debt capacity before finishing the costly job of repairing the financial system,” and that, “There is the definite possibility that stimulus programs will drive up real interest rates and inflation expectations.” Inflation “would intensify as the downturn abated,” and the BIS “expressed doubt about the bank rescue package adopted in the US.”[11]

The BIS further warned of inflation, saying that, “The big and justifiable worry is that, before it can be reversed, the dramatic easing in monetary policy will translate into growth in the broader monetary and credit aggregates.” That will “lead to inflation that feeds inflation expectations or it may fuel yet another asset-price bubble, sowing the seeds of the next financial boom-bust cycle.”[12] With the latest report on the derivatives bubble being created, it has become painfully clear that this is exactly what has happened: the creation of another asset-price bubble. The problem with bubbles is that they burst.

The Financial Times reported that William White, former Chief Economist at the BIS, also “argued that after two years of government support for the financial system, we now have a set of banks that are even bigger - and more dangerous - than ever before,” which also, “has been argued by Simon Johnson, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund,” who “says that the finance industry has in effect captured the US government,” and pointedly stated: “recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform.”[13] [Emphasis added].

At the beginning of September 2009, central bankers met at the BIS, and it was reported that, “they had agreed on a package of measures to strengthen the regulation and supervision of the banking industry in the wake of the financial crisis,” and the chief of the European Central Bank was quoted as saying, “The agreements reached today among 27 major countries of the world are essential as they set the new standards for banking regulation and supervision at the global level.”[14]

Among the agreed measures, “lenders should raise the quality of their capital by including more stock,” and “Banks will also have to raise the amount and quality of the assets they keep in reserve and curb leverage.” One of the key decisions made at the Basel conference, which is named after the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, set up under the BIS, was that, “banks will need to raise the quality of their so-called Tier 1 capital base, which measures a bank’s ability to absorb sudden losses,” meaning that, “The majority of such reserves should be common shares and retained earnings and the holdings will be fully disclosed.”[15]

In mid-September, the BIS said that, “Central banks must coordinate global supervision of derivatives clearinghouses and consider offering them access to emergency funds to limit systemic risk.” In other words, “Regulators are pushing for much of the $592 trillion market in over-the-counter derivatives trades to be moved to clearinghouses which act as the buyer to every seller and seller to every buyer, reducing the risk to the financial system from defaults.” The report released by the BIS asked if clearing houses “should have access to central bank credit facilities and, if so, when?”[16]

A Coming Crisis

The derivatives market represents a massive threat to the stability of the global economy. However, it is one among many threats, all of which are related and intertwined; one will set off another. The big elephant in the room is the major financial bubble created from the bailouts and “stimulus” packages worldwide. This money has been used by major banks to consolidate the economy; buying up smaller banks and absorbing the real economy; productive industry. The money has also gone into speculation, feeding the derivatives bubble and leading to a rise in stock markets, a completely illusory and manufactured occurrence. The bailouts have, in effect, fed the derivatives bubble to dangerous new levels as well as inflating the stock market to an unsustainable position.

However, a massive threat looms in the cost of the bailouts and so-called “stimulus” packages. The economic crisis was created as a result of low interest rates and easy money: high-risk loans were being made, money was invested in anything and everything, the housing market inflated, the commercial real estate market inflated, derivatives trade soared to the hundreds of trillions per year, speculation ran rampant and dominated the global financial system. Hedge funds were the willing facilitators of the derivatives trade, and the large banks were the major participants and holders.

At the same time, governments spent money loosely, specifically the United States, paying for multi-trillion dollar wars and defense budgets, printing money out of thin air, courtesy of the global central banking system. All the money that was produced, in turn, produced debt. By 2007, the total debt – domestic, commercial and consumer debt – of the United States stood at a shocking $51 trillion.[17]

As if this debt burden was not enough, considering it would be impossible to ever pay back, the past two years has seen the most expansive and rapid debt expansion ever seen in world history – in the form of stimulus and bailout packages around the world. In July of 2009, it was reported that, “U.S. taxpayers may be on the hook for as much as $23.7 trillion to bolster the economy and bail out financial companies, said Neil Barofsky, special inspector general for the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.”[18]

Bilderberg Plan in Action?

In May of 2009, I wrote an article covering the Bilderberg meeting of 2009, a highly secretive meeting of major elites from Europe and North America, who meet once a year behind closed doors. Bilderberg acts as an informal international think tank, and they do not release any information, so reports from the meetings are leaked and the sources cannot be verified. However, the information provided by Bilderberg trackers and journalists Daniel Estulin and Jim Tucker have proven surprisingly accurate in the past.

In May, the information that leaked from the meetings regarded the main topic of conversation being, unsurprisingly, the economic crisis. The big question was to undertake “Either a prolonged, agonizing depression that dooms the world to decades of stagnation, decline and poverty ... or an intense-but-shorter depression that paves the way for a new sustainable economic world order, with less sovereignty but more efficiency.”

Important to note, was that one major point on the agenda was to “continue to deceive millions of savers and investors who believe the hype about the supposed up-turn in the economy. They are about to be set up for massive losses and searing financial pain in the months ahead.”

Estulin reported on a leaked report he claimed to have received following the meeting, which reported that there were large disagreements among the participants, as “The hardliners are for dramatic decline and a severe, short-term depression, but there are those who think that things have gone too far and that the fallout from the global economic cataclysm cannot be accurately calculated.” However, the consensus view was that the recession would get worse, and that recovery would be “relatively slow and protracted,” and to look for these terms in the press over the next weeks and months. Sure enough, these terms have appeared ad infinitum in the global media.

Estulin further reported, “that some leading European bankers faced with the specter of their own financial mortality are extremely concerned, calling this high wire act ‘unsustainable,’ and saying that US budget and trade deficits could result in the demise of the dollar.” One Bilderberger said that, “the banks themselves don't know the answer to when (the bottom will be hit).” Everyone appeared to agree, “that the level of capital needed for the American banks may be considerably higher than the US government suggested through their recent stress tests.” Further, “someone from the IMF pointed out that its own study on historical recessions suggests that the US is only a third of the way through this current one; therefore economies expecting to recover with resurgence in demand from the US will have a long wait.” One attendee stated that, “Equity losses in 2008 were worse than those of 1929,” and that, “The next phase of the economic decline will also be worse than the '30s, mostly because the US economy carries about $20 trillion of excess debt. Until that debt is eliminated, the idea of a healthy boom is a mirage.”[19]

Could the general perception of an economy in recovery be the manifestation of the Bilderberg plan in action? Well, to provide insight into attempting to answer that question, we must review who some of the key participants at the conference were.

Central Bankers

Many central bankers were present, as per usual. Among them, were the Governor of the National Bank of Greece, Governor of the Bank of Italy, President of the European Investment Bank; James Wolfensohn, former President of the World Bank; Nout Wellink, President of the Central Bank of the Netherlands and is on the board of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS); Jean-Claude Trichet, the President of the European Central Bank was also present; the Vice Governor of the National Bank of Belgium; and a member of the Board of the Executive Directors of the Central Bank of Austria.

Finance Ministers and Media

Finance Ministers and officials also attended from many different countries. Among the countries with representatives present from the financial department were Finland, France, Great Britain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, and Spain. There were also many representatives present from major media enterprises around the world. These include the publisher and editor of Der Standard in Austria; the Chairman and CEO of the Washington Post Company; the Editor-in-Chief of the Economist; the Deputy Editor of Die Zeit in Germany; the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Le Nouvel Observateur in France; the Associate Editor and Chief Economics Commentator of the Financial Times; as well as the Business Correspondent and the Business Editor of the Economist. So, these are some of the major financial publications in the world present at this meeting. Naturally, they have a large influence on public perceptions of the economy.

Bankers

Also of importance to note is the attendance of private bankers at the meeting, for it is the major international banks that own the shares of the world’s central banks, which in turn, control the shares of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). Among the banks and financial companies represented at the meeting were Deutsche Bank AG, ING, Lazard Freres & Co., Morgan Stanley International, Goldman Sachs, Royal Bank of Scotland, and of importance to note is David Rockefeller,[20] former Chairman and CEO of Chase Manhattan (now J.P. Morgan Chase), who can arguably be referred to as the current reigning ‘King of Capitalism.’

The Obama Administration

Heavy representation at the Bilderberg meeting also came from members of the Obama administration who are tasked with resolving the economic crisis. Among them were Timothy Geithner, the US Treasury Secretary and former President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Lawrence Summers, Director of the White House's National Economic Council, former Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration, former President of Harvard University, and former Chief Economist of the World Bank; Paul Volcker, former Governor of the Federal Reserve System and Chair of Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board; Robert Zoellick, former Chairman of Goldman Sachs and current President of the World Bank.[21]

Unconfirmed were reports of the Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke being present. However, if the history and precedent of Bilderberg meetings is anything to go by, both the Chairman of the Federal Reserve and the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York are always present, so it would indeed be surprising if they were not present at the 2009 meeting. I contacted the New York Fed to ask if the President attended any organization or group meetings in Greece over the scheduled dates that Bilderberg met, and the response told me to ask the particular organization for a list of attendees. While not confirming his presence, they also did not deny it. However, it is still unverified.

Naturally, all of these key players to wield enough influence to alter public opinion and perception of the economic crisis. They also have the most to gain from it. However, whatever image they construct, it remains just that; an image. The illusion will tear apart soon enough, and the world will come to realize that the crisis we have gone through thus far is merely the introductory chapter to the economic crisis as it will be written in history books.

Conclusion

The warnings from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and its former Chief Economist, William White, must not be taken lightly. Both the warnings of the BIS and William White in the past have gone unheralded and have been proven accurate with time. Do not allow the media-driven hope of ‘economic recovery’ sideline the ‘economic reality.’ Though it can be depressing to acknowledge; it is a far greater thing to be aware of the ground on which you tread, even if it is strewn with dangers; than to be ignorant and run recklessly through a minefield. Ignorance is not bliss; ignorance is delayed catastrophe.

A doctor must first properly identify and diagnose the problem before he can offer any sort of prescription as a solution. If the diagnosis is inaccurate, the prescription won’t work, and could in fact, make things worse. The global economy has a large cancer in it: it has been properly diagnosed by some, yet the prescription it was given was to cure a cough. The economic tumor has been identified; the question is: do we accept this and try to address it, or do we pretend that the cough prescription will cure it? What do you think gives a stronger chance of survival? Now try accepting the idea that ‘ignorance is bliss.’

As Gandhi said, “There is no god higher than truth.”


For an overview of the coming financial crises, see: "Entering the Greatest Depression in History: More Bubbles Waiting to Burst," Global Research, August 7, 2009.


Endnotes

[1] Time, HEROES: Man-of-the-Year. Time Magazine: Jan 6, 1930: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,738364-1,00.html

[2] James Calvin Baker, The Bank for International Settlements: evolution and evaluation. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002: page 2

[3] James Calvin Baker, The Bank for International Settlements: evolution and evaluation. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002: page 6

[4] James Calvin Baker, The Bank for International Settlements: evolution and evaluation. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002: page 148

[5] James Calvin Baker, The Bank for International Settlements: evolution and evaluation. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002: page 149

[6] Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time (New York: Macmillan Company, 1966), 324-325

[7] Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time (New York: Macmillan Company, 1966), 324

[8] Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Derivatives still pose huge risk, says BIS. The Telegraph: September 13, 2009: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/6184496/Derivatives-still-pose-huge-risk-says-BIS.html

[9] Robert Cookson and Sundeep Tucker, Economist warns of double-dip recession. The Financial Times: September 14, 2009: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e6dd31f0-a133-11de-a88d-00144feabdc0.html

[10] Patrick Jenkins, BIS head worried by complacency. The Financial Times: September 20, 2009: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/a7a04972-a60c-11de-8c92-00144feabdc0.html

[11] David Uren. Bank for International Settlements warning over stimulus benefits. The Australian: June 30, 2009:

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,25710566-601,00.html

[12] Simone Meier, BIS Sees Risk Central Banks Will Raise Interest Rates Too Late. Bloomberg: June 29, 2009:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601068&sid=aOnSy9jXFKaY

[13] Robert Cookson and Victor Mallet, Societal soul-searching casts shadow over big banks. The Financial Times: September 18, 2009: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7721033c-a3ea-11de-9fed-00144feabdc0.html

[14] AFP, Top central banks agree to tougher bank regulation: BIS. AFP: September 6, 2009: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h8G0ShkY-AdH3TNzKJEetGuScPiQ

[15] Simon Kennedy, Basel Group Agrees on Bank Standards to Avoid Repeat of Crisis. Bloomberg: September 7, 2009: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aETt8NZiLP38

[16] Abigail Moses, Central Banks Must Agree Global Clearing Supervision, BIS Says. Bloomberg: September 14, 2009: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a5C6ARW_tSW0

[17] FIABIC, US home prices the most vital indicator for turnaround. FIABIC Asia Pacific: January 19, 2009: http://www.fiabci-asiapacific.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=133&Itemid=41

Alexander Green, The National Debt: The Biggest Threat to Your Financial Future. Investment U: August 25, 2008: http://www.investmentu.com/IUEL/2008/August/the-national-debt.html

John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff, Financial Implosion and Stagnation. Global Research: May 20, 2009: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13692

[18] Dawn Kopecki and Catherine Dodge, U.S. Rescue May Reach $23.7 Trillion, Barofsky Says (Update3). Bloomberg: July 20, 2009: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aY0tX8UysIaM

[19] Andrew Gavin Marshall, The Bilderberg Plan for 2009: Remaking the Global Political Economy. Global Research: May 26, 2009: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?aid=13738&context=va

[20] Maja Banck-Polderman, Official List of Participants for the 2009 Bilderberg Meeting. Public Intelligence: July 26, 2009: http://www.publicintelligence.net/official-list-of-participants-for-the-2009-bilderberg-meeting/

[21] Andrew Gavin Marshall, The Bilderberg Plan for 2009: Remaking the Global Political Economy. Global Research: May 26, 2009: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?aid=13738&context=va