Saturday, January 14, 2012

Stop the School-to-Prison Pipeline

At Last One Has Spoken Out

Americans can Choose Between Being American Or Human but Not Both Presently

Americans can Choose Between Being American Or Human but Not Both Presently

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Many parents who wouldn't think of letting their children see the above-named movie wouldn't think twice if their children joined the Marines.

Oh, but this is just a few bad apples in the military [as Sec. of State Hillary Clinton said]. This has been said so often and for so long that it's getting to the point where so many apples are bad it is hard to find a good one. You know, the good ones who just kill for the US government without killing civilians for sport, bombing wedding parties, carrying out battlefield executions, killing hundreds with cluster bombs, covering up botched raids, posing for pictures with their victims, murdering civilians, and keeping body parts of their victims "

Some day in the perhaps not so distant future, after Americans are humiliated by the defeat of their government's attempt to control and exploit every bit of the planet and its inhabitants, they will be finally free to rehabilitate themselves as the Germans did after suffering through their Nazi era.

US military history includes invading, occupying and usually bombing and often torturing (in chronological order), the nations of Native Americans, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Samoa, Japan (Commodore Perry) China, Nicaragua, China, Fiji, Uruguay, China, Panama, China, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Turkey, Paraguay, Angola, Columbia, Japan, Panama, Mexico, China, Colombia, Hawaiian Islands, Nicaragua, Formosa, Chile, Hawaii, Brazil, Nicaragua, China, Korea, Colombia, Nicaragua, Cuba, Nicaragua, Samoa, Philippines, China, Panama, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Honduras, Nicaragua, Honduras, China, Honduras, Nicaragua, China, Mexico, Haiti (for 19 years), China, Dominican Republic (for 8 years), Cuba (for 3 years), Mexico, Panama, Soviet Union (for 2 years), Panama, Nicaragua, China, Korea (3 years in the north 60 years troops garrisoned in the South), Thailand, Laos (23 years), Congo, Vietnam (30 years), Dominican Republic, Congo, Cambodia (5 years), Cambodia, Lebanon, Iran (8 year collaboration with Iraq invasion), Zaire, Iran, El Salvador, Libya, Lebanon, Honduras, Chad, Grenada, Libya, Bolivia, Libya, Panama, Colombia, Philippines, Panama, Iraq, Zaire, Kuwait, Iraq, Somalia, Iraq, Macedonia (all listed DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND) and going on from 1993, Serbia, Kosovo, Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Libya. [This list does not include a number twice as great of US military incursions solely to protect Americans and their property, nor laudable protective occupations of nations threatened with Nazi invasion.]

But, more importantly, sadly and unfortunately for a clear picture of a consistently inhumane US foreign policy, this official list does not include CIA sponsored violence fomenting the overthrow of governments all around the world unfavorable to unjust and manipulative private US investments, and nefarious activity within almost every single nation on earth arranging the marginalization of uncooperative patriot leaders.

With the now overwhelming control of news and information right down into primary schools by a Western, largely white, consensus of investors, even when horrific facts of US crimes against humanity come to light, such desperately needed info is media managed into insignificance for a psyop bombarded TV watching America public as well as for the great population watching via satellite transmission in all industrialized commercialized and materialist programed societies abroad.

Deeply buried in the tangle of distracting spectacular entertainment is the fact that most of America's wealthy families backed, invested in and collaborated with Adolph Hitler, almost every major corporation functioning right up to, and some even during, the German war in Europe; that during the US participation in WW II, a million German and Japanese homes were targeted with fire-bombs, atom bombs dropped on women and children, and since the war threats to nuclear bomb again elsewhere made on fourteen occasions. Rationalized or just shrugged off are its genocidal slave trade and slavery, its Wounded Knee, No Gun Ri, Sinchon, My Lai, Fallujah style masscres over America's two-hundred and twelve years short history; its Guantanamo, its Abu Ghraib, its frantic terrorism by its military and now unmanned drones in the poor former colonial world, its super in size, unequaled in history, investment in production and distribution of weapons of mass distruction; its placement of US military bases to cover the globe into protect those, what Martin Luther King Jr. called, "unjust predatory investments" creating and sustaining wars for their maintenance; its preparations for a world war of incrementally greater profits than the previous ones; its threat through further 'development' and mindless material progress to the very physical survival of the planet and its species.

The advice of the flower children of the 60s, to "just drop out" of US imperialism, was similar to that of Jack Keroac of the Dharma bums of the earlier 'Beat Generation', so influenced by black jazz musician greats, seemed to echo Jack London and Walt Whitman's call to an reappreciation of nature and humanity 'on the road' in true individual freedom to avoid spiritual death in stifling conformity to an inculcated ideal of desperate greed.

Of course a similar case can me made for citizens of European empires having to choose to be on the side of humanity or on the side of an empire persecuting humanity for plunder, such as, especially, the British and French so recently challenged witnessing their empires bomb wealthy Libya into submission to their proxy armed insurgents, who were also those of the US, the EU and the international community of nations, (read international community of predatory investors), currently focused on destroying the intolerable independence of Syria.

Americans like Tom Pain, Eugene Debs, W.E.B. Debois, Helen Keller, Paul Robeson, and to a great extent Thomas Jefferson refused to choose and sought to fight with an intense aim to change their US into something more intelligent, more sane, more moral and acceptable. They fought surrounding corruption, amorality and misanthropic materialism in the tradition of the anarchist heroes of Europe: Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Tolstoy, Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, E. F. Schumacher and Ivan Illich in the Americas, just as those rebels of the ancient world, Zeno, Lao Tzu, Mo Ti, Sidhartha Gautama (Buddha), and Jesus fought against stultifying and imprisoning imperial dictatorships of body and mind.

Shall Americans choose between sanity or empire, or choose not to choose but to change America? Or remain bent out of shape, their backs twisted.

Jay Janson, 80, is an archival research peoples historian activist, musician and writer, who has lived and worked on all the continents and whose articles on media have been published in China, Italy, England, India and the US, and now resides in New York City. Howard Zinn lent his name to various projects of his.

22 Signs That We Are On The Verge Of A Devastating Global Recession

22 Signs That We Are On The Verge Of A Devastating Global Recession

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2012 is shaping up to be a very tough year for the global economy. All over the world there are signs that economic activity is significantly slowing down. Many of these signs are detailed later on in this article. But most people don't understand what is happening because they don't put all of the pieces together. If you just look at one or two pieces of data, it may not seem that impressive. But when you examine all of the pieces of evidence that we are on the verge of a devastating global recession all at once, it paints a very frightening picture. Asia is slowing down, Europe is slowing down and there are lots of trouble signs for the U.S. economy. It has gotten to a point where the global debt crisis is almost ready to boil over, and nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next. The last global recession was absolutely nightmarish, and we should all hope that we don't see another one like that any time soon. Unfortunately, things do not look good at this point.

The following are 22 signs that we are on the verge of a devastating global recession....

#1 On Thursday it was announced that U.S. jobless claims had soared to a six-week high.

#2 Hostess Brands, the maker of Twinkies and Wonder Bread, has filed for bankruptcy protection.

#3 Sears recently announced that somewhere between 100 and 120 Sears and Kmart stores will be closing, and Sears stock has fallen nearly 60% in just the past year.

#4 Over the past 12 months, dozens of prominent retailers have closed stores all over America, and one consulting firm is projecting that there will bemore than 5,000 more store closings in 2012.

#5 Richard Bove, an analyst at Rochdale Securities, is projecting that the global financial industry will lose approximately 150,000 jobs over the next 12 to 18 months.

#6 Investors are pulling money out of the stock market at a rapid pace right now. In fact, as an article posted on CNBC recently noted, investors pulled more money out of mutual funds than they put into mutual funds for 9 weeks in a row. Are there some people out there that are quietly repositioning their money for tough times ahead?....

Investors yanked money out of U.S. equity mutual funds for a ninth-consecutive week despite a bullish 2012 outlook from Wall Street and a December rally that’s carried over into the New Year.

#7 There are signs that the Chinese economy is seriously slowing down. The following comes from a recent article in the Guardian....

Growth had slowed to an annual rate of 1.5% in the second and third quarters of 2011, below the "stall speed" that historically led to recession.

#8 The Bank of Japan says that the economic recovery in that country "has paused".

#9 Manufacturing activity in the euro zone has fallen for five months in a row.

#10 Germany's economy actually contracted during the 4th quarter of 2011. At this point many economists believe that Germany is already experiencing a recession.

#11 According to a recent article by Bloomberg, it is being projected that the French economy is heading into a recession....

The French economy will shrink this quarter and next, suggesting the nation is in a recession as investment and consumer spending stagnate, national statistics office Insee said.

#12 There are a multitude of statistics that indicate that the UK economy is definitely slowing down.

#13 The credit ratings of Italy, Spain, Portugal, France and Austria all just got downgraded.

#14 It is being reported that the Spanish economy contracted during the 4th quarter of 2011.

#15 Bad loans in Spain recently hit a 17-year high and the unemployment rate is at a 15-year high.

#16 According to a recent article in the Telegraph, the Italian government is forecasting that there will be a recession for the Italian economy in 2012....

The Italian government predicts GDP will contract 0.4pc next year, but many economists fear the figure is optimistic.

"We can say without mincing words that we have already slipped into recession," said Intesa Sanpaolo analyst Paolo Mameli. "We expect GDP to keep contracting for the next 3-4 quarters."

#17 Italy's youth unemployment rate has hit the highest level ever.

#18 The unemployment rate in Greece for those under the age of 24 is now at39 percent.

#19 Greece is already experiencing a full-blown economic depression. About a third of the country is now living in poverty and extreme medicine shortages are being reported. Things have gotten so bad that entire families are being ripped apart. According to the Daily Mail, hundreds of Greek children are being abandoned because the economy has gotten so bad that their parents simply cannot afford to take care of them anymore. The note that one mother left with her child was absolutely heartbreaking....

One mother, it said, ran away after handing over her two-year-old daughter Natasha.

Four-year-old Anna was found by a teacher clutching a note that read: 'I will not be coming to pick up Anna today because I cannot afford to look after her. Please take good care of her. Sorry.'

#20 In Greece, large numbers of people are simply giving up on life. Sadly, the number of suicides in Greece has increased by 40 percent in just the past year.

#21 In many European countries, the money supply continues to contract rapidly. The following comes from a recent article in the Telegraph....

Simon Ward from Henderson Global Investors said "narrow" M1 money – which includes cash and overnight deposits, and signals short-term spending plans – shows an alarming split between North and South.

While real M1 deposits are still holding up in the German bloc, the rate of fall over the last six months (annualised) has been 20.7pc in Greece, 16.3pc in Portugal, 11.8pc in Ireland, and 8.1pc in Spain, and 6.7pc in Italy. The pace of decline in Italy has been accelerating, partly due to capital flight. "This rate of contraction is greater than in early 2008 and implies an even deeper recession, both for Italy and the whole periphery," said Mr Ward.

#22 The major industrialized nations of the world must roll over trillions upon trillions of dollars in debt during 2012. At a time when credit is becoming much tighter, this is going to be quite a challenge. The following list compiled by Bloomberg shows the amount of debt that some large nations must roll over in 2012....

Japan: 3,000 billion
U.S.: 2,783 billion
Italy: 428 billion
France: 367 billion
Germany: 285 billion
Canada: 221 billion
Brazil: 169 billion
U.K.: 165 billion
China: 121 billion
India: 57 billion
Russia: 13 billion

Keep in mind that those numbers do not include any new borrowing. Those are just old debts that must be refinanced.

As I mentioned at the top of this article, things do not look good.

The last thing that we need is another devastating global recession.

As I wrote about yesterday, the U.S. economy is in the midst of a nightmarish long-term decline. The last major global recession helped to significantly accelerate that decline.

So what will happen if this next global recession is worse than the last one?

Sadly, the people that will get hurt the most by another recession will not be the wealthy.

The people that will get hurt the most will be the poor and the middle class.

So what should all of us be doing about this?

We should use the time during this "calm before the storm" to prepare for the hard times that are coming.

As always, let us hope for the best and let us prepare for the worst.

But things certainly do not look promising for the global economy in 2012.

24 Statistics To Show To Anyone Who Believes That America Has A Bright Economic Future

24 Statistics To Show To Anyone Who Believes That America Has A Bright Economic Future

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Beware of bubbles of false hope. Right now there is a lot of talk about how the U.S. economy is improving, but it is all a lie. The mainstream media can be very seductive. When you sit down to watch television your brain tends to go into a very relaxed mode. In such a state, it becomes easy to slip thoughts and ideas past your defenses. Sometimes when I am watching television I realize what the media is trying to do and yet I can still feel it happening to me. In this day and age, it is absolutely critical that we all think for ourselves. When you look at the long-term trends and the long-term numbers, a much different picture of the U.S economy emerges than the one that is painted for us on television. Over the long-term, the number of good jobs in America has been steadily going down. Over the long-term, the number of Americans living in poverty and living on food stamps has been steadily going up. Over the past couple of decades, tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of our national wealth have gone out of the country. Our debt is nearly 15 times larger than it was 30 years ago, and U.S. consumer debt has soared by 1700% over the past 40 years. Year after year the rate of inflation goes up faster than our incomes do, and this is absolutely devastating the middle class. Anyone who believes that we can keep doing the same things that we have been doing and yet America will still have a bright economic future is delusional. Until the long-term trends which are taking the U.S. economy straight into the toilet are reversed, any talk of a bright economic future is absolute nonsense.

In America today, we have such a short-term focus. We are all so caught up with what is happening right now. Our attention spans seem to get shorter every single year. At this point it would not be hard to argue that kittens have longer attention spans than most of us do. (If you have ever owned a kitten you know how short their attention spans can be.) Things have gotten so bad that most of our high school students cannot even answer the most basic questions about our history. If people are not talking about it on Facebook or Twitter it is almost as if it does not even matter.

But any serious student of history knows that is is absolutely crucial to examine long-term trends. And when you look at the long-term trends, it rapidly becomes apparent that the U.S. economy is in the midst of a nightmarish long-term decline.

The following are 24 statistics to show to anyone who believes that America has a bright economic future....

#1 Inflation is a silent tax that steals wealth from all of us. We continue to shell out increasing amounts of money for the basic things that we need, and yet our incomes are not keeping pace. Just check out the following example. Gasoline prices have been trending higher for several years in a row as one bloggerrecently noted....

January 2009 $1.65

January 2010 $2.57

January 2011 $3.04

January 2012 $3.29

#2 If you can believe it, the average American household spent approximately$4,155 on gasoline during 2011.

#3 Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.

#4 Health care costs continue to rise at a very alarming pace. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, health care costs accounted for just 9.5% of all personal consumption back in 1980. Today they account for approximately16.3%.

#5 Getting a college education has also become insanely expensive in America. After adjusting for inflation, U.S. college students are borrowing about twice as much money as they did a decade ago.

#6 To get the same purchasing power that you got out of $20.00 back in 1970 you would have to have more than $116 today.

#7 To get the same purchasing power that you got out of $20.00 back in 1913 you would have to have more than $457 today.

#8 There are fewer payroll jobs in the United States today than there were back in 2000 even though we have added more than 30 million extra people to the population since then.

#9 The U.S. economy is bleeding millions of good jobs. Greedy CEOs are systematically shipping them overseas and our politicians are standing around and doing nothing about it. This has gone on year after year after year. The following is from a recent article by Paul Craig Roberts....

In the first decade of the 21st century, Americans lost 5,500,000 manufacturing jobs. US employment in the manufacture of computer and electronic products fell by 40%; in the production of machinery by 30%, in motor vehicles and and parts by 44%, and in the manufacture of clothing by 66%.

#10 Our economic infrastructure is being torn apart right in front of our eyes. In 2010, an average of 23 manufacturing facilities a day shut down in the United States. Overall, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have shut down since 2001.

We have made it legal for big corporations to send millions of jobs to countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages, where the tax burden is much lighter and where there are barely any regulations. The following is a brief excerpt from a recent article posted on Economy in Crisis....

Back in the ‘80s, I called my friend Walter in California and asked: “On your next expansion we need a plant in South Carolina.” Walter replied: “We don’t produce anything in the United States. It’s all in China. China furnishes you the plant on a year-to-year basis. If your investment works out, you don’t have to pay any corporate tax; just reinvest it for another plant and more profit. If it doesn’t work out, you can walk away with no legacy costs. I send a quality controller to watch production. I check on it every day. I don’t have any labor, health, safety, or environmental concerns, and have time to play a round of golf.” The bleeding of jobs off-shore started in the ‘80s — now hemorrhages under Bush and Obama. Waiting for the economy to bounce back; calling this “the worst recession” is a bum rap. The reason the economy hasn’t bounced back since 2008 is because the economy is being off-shored.

#11 As a result of our insane economic policies, our trade balances are absolutely exploding. For example, the U.S. trade deficit with China in 2010was 27 times larger than it was back in 1990.

#12 As you read this, there are millions of Americans out there wondering why they can't find any jobs. According to Reuters, 23.7 million American workers are either unemployed or underemployed right now.

#13 The number of good jobs has been steadily shrinking in America. Since the year 2000, the United States has lost 10% of its middle class jobs. In the year 2000 there were about 72 million middle class jobs in the United States but today there are only about 65 million middle class jobs.

#14 Over the last three decades, the percentage of low income jobs has consistently risen. Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs. Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

#15 The number of middle class neighborhoods also continues to decline. In 1970, 65 percent of all Americans lived in "middle class neighborhoods". By 2007, only 44 percent of all Americans lived in "middle class neighborhoods".

#16 A decade ago, the United States was ranked number one in average wealth per adult. By 2010, the United States had fallen to seventh.

#17 Our incomes continue to go down. Since December 2007, median household income in the United States has declined by a total of 6.8% once you account for inflation.

#18 Unfortunately, middle class Americans have been seeing their incomes decline for a very long time. According to one study, between 1969 and 2009 the median wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 dropped by 27 percent after you account for inflation.

#19 Since 1971, consumer debt in the United States has increased by a whopping 1700%. Unfortunately, U.S. consumers have still not learned how to stay out of debt. According to a recent article posted on Financial Armageddon, the rate of personal savings in the United States is rapidly falling right now at the same time that the total amount of consumer credit is absolutely skyrocketing.

#20 The number of children living in poverty in America keeps rising year after year. The percentage of children living in poverty in the United States increased from 16.9 percent in 2006 to nearly 22 percent in 2010.

#21 The number of Americans on food stamps continues to set new all-time records. Just check out the following progression....

October 2008: 30.8 million Americans on food stamps

October 2009: 37.6 million Americans on food stamps

October 2010: 43.2 million Americans on food stamps

October 2011: 46.2 million Americans on food stamps

#22 The U.S. debt problem has gotten completely and totally out of control. Recently, the debt of the federal government surpassed 100% of GDP for the first time ever.

#23 During the Obama administration, the U.S. government has accumulated more debt than it did from the time that George Washington took office to the time that Bill Clinton took office.

#24 Barack Obama's proposed 2012 budget projects that the national debt will rise to 26 trillion dollars a decade from now. And his budget numbers are ridiculously optimistic.

Are you starting to get the picture?

All of the long-term economic numbers are progressively getting worse.

As the economy continues to crumble, large numbers of Americans are becoming really desperate. For example, a recent Mother Jones article detailed how large numbers of formerly middle class Americans are now actually growing marijuana in an effort to make ends meet.

As things continue to get worse, people will become even more desperate. There are millions of people out there that find themselves unable to pay the mortgage and put food on the table for their families. When people hit rock bottom, they often find themselves doing things that they never dreamed that they would do.

Meanwhile, the big Wall Street banks just keep getting larger and more powerful. We have allowed the "too big to fail" banks to become much bigger than they have ever been before. The total assets of the six largest U.S. banks increased by 39 percent between September 30, 2006 and September 30, 2011.

Wealth is becoming increasingly concentrated at the very top even as the overall economic pie in America continues to get smaller.

As our economic problems become worse, more Americans than ever are trying to find ways to "escape".

For example, according to one new government report one out of every six adults in America is a binge drinker.

Other Americans "tune out" by watching endless hours of television, by playing endless hours of video games or by indulging in endless hours of other forms of entertainment.

There are even some Americans that are giving up completely. For example, one elderly man actually robbed a bank just so that he could get arrested and be taken to prison where he would get free health care.

But as I have written about previously, now is not the time to give up. Instead, now is the time to prepare for the great challenges that are ahead.

Almost every generation in history has been faced with great challenges and great hardships at some point.

Yes, there will be some incredibly hard times ahead, but that also means that there will be a need for some great heroes.

Just because the U.S. economy is falling apart does not mean that life is over.

We are living during one of the most exciting times in all of human history. Instead of cowering in fear, let us embrace these times and focus on becoming the people that we were created to be.

The Perils of 2012

The Perils of 2012

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The year 2011 will be remembered as the time when many ever-optimistic Americans began to give up hope. President John F. Kennedy once said that a rising tide lifts all boats. But now, in the receding tide, Americans are beginning to see not only that those with taller masts had been lifted far higher, but also that many of the smaller boats had been dashed to pieces in their wake.

In that brief moment when the rising tide was indeed rising, millions of people believed that they might have a fair chance of realizing the “American Dream.” Now those dreams, too, are receding. By 2011, the savings of those who had lost their jobs in 2008 or 2009 had been spent. Unemployment checks had run out. Headlines announcing new hiring – still not enough to keep pace with the number of those who would normally have entered the labor force – meant little to the 50 year olds with little hope of ever holding a job again.

Indeed, middle-aged people who thought that they would be unemployed for a few months have now realized that they were, in fact, forcibly retired. Young people who graduated from college with tens of thousands of dollars of education debt cannot find any jobs at all. People who moved in with friends and relatives have become homeless. Houses bought during the property boom are still on the market or have been sold at a loss. More than seven million American families have lost their homes.

The dark underbelly of the previous decade’s financial boom has been fully exposed in Europe as well. Dithering over Greece and key national governments’ devotion to austerity began to exact a heavy toll last year. Contagion spread to Italy. Spain’s unemployment, which had been near 20% since the beginning of the recession, crept even higher. The unthinkable – the end of the euro – began to seem like a real possibility.

This year is set to be even worse. It is possible, of course, that the United States will solve its political problems and finally adopt the stimulus measures that it needs to bring down unemployment to 6% or 7% (the pre-crisis level of 4% or 5% is too much to hope for). But this is as unlikely as it is that Europe will figure out that austerity alone will not solve its problems. On the contrary, austerity will only exacerbate the economic slowdown. Without growth, the debt crisis – and the euro crisis – will only worsen. And the long crisis that began with the collapse of the housing bubble in 2007 and the subsequent recession will continue.

Moreover, the major emerging-market countries, which steered successfully through the storms of 2008 and 2009, may not cope as well with the problems looming on the horizon. Brazil’s growth has already stalled, fueling anxiety among its neighbors in Latin America.

Meanwhile, long-term problems – including climate change and other environmental threats, and increasing inequality in most countries around the world – have not gone away. Some have grown more severe. For example, high unemployment has depressed wages and increased poverty.

The good news is that addressing these long-term problems would actually help to solve the short-term problems. Increased investment to retrofit the economy for global warming would help to stimulate economic activity, growth, and job creation. More progressive taxation, in effect redistributing income from the top to the middle and bottom, would simultaneously reduce inequality and increase employment by boosting total demand. Higher taxes at the top could generate revenues to finance needed public investment, and to provide some social protection for those at the bottom, including the unemployed.

Even without widening the fiscal deficit, such “balanced budget” increases in taxes and spending would lower unemployment and increase output. The worry, however, is that politics and ideology on both sides of the Atlantic, but especially in the US, will not allow any of this to occur. Fixation on the deficit will induce cutbacks in social spending, worsening inequality. Likewise, the enduring attraction of supply-side economics, despite all of the evidence against it (especially in a period in which there is high unemployment), will prevent raising taxes at the top.

Even before the crisis, there was a rebalancing of economic power – in fact, a correction of a 200-year historical anomaly, in which Asia’s share of global GDP fell from nearly 50% to, at one point, below 10%. The pragmatic commitment to growth that one sees in Asia and other emerging markets today stands in contrast to the West’s misguided policies, which, driven by a combination of ideology and vested interests, almost seem to reflect a commitment not to grow.

As a result, global economic rebalancing is likely to accelerate, almost inevitably giving rise to political tensions. With all of the problems confronting the global economy, we will be lucky if these strains do not begin to manifest themselves within the next twelve months.

Huge Financial Bombs Just Got Dropped All Over Europe

Huge Financial Bombs Just Got Dropped All Over Europe

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The European debt crisis has just gone to an entirely new level. Just when it seemed like things may be stabilizing somewhat, we get news of huge financial bombs being dropped all over Europe. Very shortly after U.S. financial markets closed on Friday, S&P announced credit downgrades for nine European nations. This included both France and Austria losing their cherished AAA credit ratings. When the credit rating of a country gets slashed, that is a signal to investors that they should start demanding higher interest rates when they invest in the debt of that nation. Over the past year it has become significantly more expensive for many European nations to borrow money, and these new credit downgrades certainly are certainly not going to help matters. Quite a few financially troubled nations in Europe are very dependent on the ability to borrow huge piles of cheap money, and as debt becomes more expensive that is going to push many of them over the edge. Yesterday I wrote about 22 signs that we are on the verge of a devastating global recession, and unfortunately that list just got a whole lot longer.

Over the past several months we have seen quite a few credit downgrades all over Europe, but we have never seen anything quite like what S&P just did. Standard & Poor’s unleashed a barrage of credit downgrades on Friday....

-France was downgraded from AAA to AA+

-Austria was downgraded from AAA to AA+

-Italy was downgraded two more levels from A to BBB+

-Spain was downgraded two more levels

-Portugal was downgraded two more levels

-Cyprus was downgraded two more levels

-Malta was downgraded one level

-Slovakia was downgraded one level

-Slovenia was downgraded one level

This is really bad news for anyone that was hoping that things in Europe would start to get better. Borrowing costs for many of these financially troubled nations are going to go even higher.

In addition, there was another really, really troubling piece of news that came out of Europe on Friday.

It was announced that negotiations between the Greek government and private holders of Greek debt have broken down.

The Institute of International Finance has been representing private bondholders in negotiations with the Greek government about the terms of a "voluntary haircut" that is supposed to be a key component of the "rescue plan" for Greece.

Greece desperately needs private bondholders to agree to accept a "voluntary haircut" of 50% or more. Without some sort of an agreement, the finances of the Greek government will collapse very quickly.

For now, negotiations have failed. There is hope that negotiations will resume soon, but Greece is rapidly running out of time.

The Institute of International Finance issued a statement on Friday which said the following....

"Unfortunately, despite the efforts of Greece's leadership, the proposal put forward … which involves an unprecedented 50% nominal reduction of Greece's sovereign bonds in private investors' hands and up to €100 billion of debt forgiveness — has not produced a constructive consolidated response by all parties, consistent with a voluntary exchange of Greek sovereign debt"

The IIF says that negotiations are "paused for reflection" right now, but they are hoping that they will be able to resume before too long....

"Under the circumstances, discussions with Greece and the official sector are paused for reflection on the benefits of a voluntary approach"

Something needs to be done, because Greece is experiencing a complete and total financial meltdown.

Back at the end of July, the yield on one year Greek bonds was sitting at about 40 percent. Today, the yield on one year Greek bonds is up to an astounding396 percent.

That is how fast these things can move when confidence disappears.

Those living in the United States should keep that in mind.

Unfortunately, Greece is not the only European nation that is completely falling apart financially.

We aren't hearing much about it in the U.S. media, but Hungary is a total basket case right now. The credit rating of Hungary was reduced to junk status some time ago, and now the IMF and the EU are threatening to withhold financial aid from Hungary if the Hungarians do not run their country exactly as they are being told to do.

In particular, the IMF and the EU are absolutely furious that Hungary is trying to take more political control over the central bank in Hungary. The following is from an article in the Daily Mail....

The European Union has stepped up pressure on Hungary over the country's refusal to implement austerity policies and threatened legal action over its new constitution.

The warnings escalated the standoff between Budapest and the EU, as Hungary negotiates fresh financial aid from Europe and the International Monetary Fund.

Over the past months, the country's credit rating has been cut to junk by all three major rating agencies, unemployment is 10.6 percent and the country may be facing a recession.

But bailout negotiations broke down after Budapest refused to cut public spending and implemented a new constitution reasserting political control over its central bank.

Slovenia is a total mess right now as well. The following comes from a recent article posted on EUObserver.com....

Slovenia's borrowing costs have reached 'bail-out territory' after lawmakers rejected the premier-designate, putting the euro-country on the line for further downgrades by ratings agencies.

Zoran Jankovic, the mayor of Slovenia's capital Ljubljana, fell four votes short of the 46 needed to be approved as prime minister by the parliament, with the country's president set to re-cast his name or propose someone new within two weeks.

Some time ago, I warned that 2012 was going to be a more difficult year for the global economy than 2011 was.

Well, things are certainly starting to shape up that way.

Europe is heading for some really hard times. What is about to happen in Europe is going to shake the entire global financial system.

Those that live in the United States should take notice, because the U.S. financial system is far more fragile than most people believe.

Our banking system is a gigantic mountain of debt, leverage and risk and it could fall again at any time.

In addition, the U.S. debt problem is bigger than it has ever been before.

For example, did you know that the federal government is on a pace to borrow6.2 trillion dollars by the end of Obama's first term in office?

That is more debt than the U.S. government accumulated from the time that George Washington became president to the time that George W. Bush became president.

For now the U.S. government is still able to borrow giant piles of super cheap money, but such a situation does not last forever.

Just ask Greece.

Already there are indications that foreigners are starting to dump large amounts of U.S. debt. If this trickle becomes a flood things could become very bad for the United States very quickly.

We are on the verge of some very bad things. The kinds of "financial bombs" that we saw dropped today are going to become much more frequent. As governments, banks and investors scramble to survive, we are going to see extreme amounts of volatility in the financial marketplace.

Things are not going to be "normal" again for a really, really long time.

Hold on tight, because 2012 is going to be a very interesting year.