Tuesday, July 17, 2012

25 Signs The Collapse Of America Is Speeding Up As Society Rots From The Inside Out

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The problems that America is experiencing right now are not just confined to the field of economics. The truth is that there are signs of deep decay wherever we look, and without question the United States is rotting from the inside out in thousands of different ways. For a long time our debt-fueled prosperity has masked much of the social decay that has been festering underneath the surface, but now it is becoming increasingly apparent that the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted is beginning to disappear. For many Americans, it is easy to point a finger at a particular group or political party and blame them for all of our problems, but the reality of the matter is that our societal decay cuts across all income levels, all political affiliations and all regions of the country. We are being destroyed from within, and this decay can be seen on the streets of the most dilapidated sections of major U.S. cities and it can also be seen in the halls of power in Washington D.C. and on Wall Street. It is undeniable that something has fundamentally changed. The American people do not seem to possess the same level of character that they once had. So where do we go from here?

The following are 25 signs the collapse of America is speeding up as society rots from the inside out....

1. Homicides in Chicago are 38 percent ahead of where they were last year at this time. In fact, the Daily says that "homicide victims in the Windy City outnumber U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan this year". Things are taking a turn for the worse in other major U.S. cities as well. Just check out the carnage that happened in New York City this past Friday night....

Across barely eight hours, at least seven New Yorkers were murdered and another 21 shot, stabbed or slashed across the city — with only three suspects arrested before the blood stopped flowing

2. Speaking of New York City, a teacher there recently posted the following on her Facebook page....

“Crupi and I survived a shootout today…Thank God we are ok…To all the wanna be gangstas of Staten Island (who say they are from Brooklyn but really aren’t), be grateful you have what you have and stop trying to live a lifestyle you will never understand.”

About a week later, her husband discovered her dead in a pool of her own blood in their apartment. She had been stabbed numerous times.

3. Reporter James Carlini recently discussed the growing problems that roaming gangs of youths are causing along the Magnificent Mile in Chicago....

There is an increase in problems at night with small gangs roaming around looking for the right prey.

Don't bother looking for any cops, they are far and few between. Little perfume-size pepper spray canisters may be in vogue, politically correct and fit in a purse, but they are not practical. Forget about pepper spray, you'd need a gallon jug of it to stop five or six assailants.

Do you now need a .357 Magnum to walk down the Mag Mile? Maybe a compact .45 or a high-capacity 9MM “just to be on the safe side” is more what you should have. Even the police are telling each other that they better “carry large caliber” off-duty and not be caught unarmed.

4. Down in Florida, a lifeguard named Tomas Lopez was recently fired for attempting to saving a man that was drowning "outside his patrol zone"....

Lopez, 21, was hired by Jeff Ellis Management to monitor a portion of a public beach in Hallandale Beach, Fla. The company allegedly gave Lopez strict instructions to stay inside his patrol zone, ABC News reports.

But when Lopez spotted a man in distress outside his patrol zone Monday afternoon, he ignored those instructions and leapt into action.

By the time lifeguard Tomas Lopez got to the man, other bystanders had already pulled him to shore, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports. Lopez stayed with the man until paramedics arrived.

That valiant act was Lopez's last as a lifeguard, as his employer fired him for straying 1,500 feet outside his patrol zone.

5. Authorities say that thieves are stealing identities and filing fraudulent tax returns on a scale never seen before....

With nothing more than ledgers of stolen identity information — Social Security numbers and their corresponding names and birth dates — criminals have electronically filed thousands of false tax returns with made-up incomes and withholding information and have received hundreds of millions of dollars in wrongful refunds, law enforcement officials say.

The criminals, some of them former drug dealers, outwit the Internal Revenue Service by filing a return before the legitimate taxpayer files. Then the criminals receive the refund, sometimes by check but more often though a convenient but hard-to-trace prepaid debit card.

In all, the IRS says that there were approximately 940,000 fake tax returns filed for 2010.

6. U.S. Secret Service agents are supposed to be "the best of the best" and are charged with guarding our top public officials. But even they have exhibited a consistent pattern of moral decay for many years according to one recent report....

Secret Service agents and officers have been accused of leaking sensitive information, publishing porn, sexual assaults, illegal wiretaps, embezzlement and drunkenness on duty, according to a 229-page log released yesterday.

After a prostitution scandal in April, when agents consorted with hookers while preparing for President Obama’s arrival in Colombia, Service Director Mark Sullivan apologized. But he said it was an isolated case, not a “systemic issue.”

However, the log, which the Service Service released yesterday after news organizations requested it under the Freedom of Information Act, shows a pattern of misdeeds dating back to 2003.

7. These days thieves will steal just about anything that is not bolted down and that they can sell for money. For example, three thieves recently broke into a Chicago beauty supply store and took off with hair extensions that were worth a total of $230,000.

8. Up in Minnesota, thieves are stealing Bronze Stars from hundreds of military graves, and down in Fresno, California thieves have actually been stealing metal crosses from churches.

9. According to one shocking new report, one out of every 10 Wall Street employees is a "clinical psychopath". That is a rate about 10 times higher than the general population.

10. Even many police are going crazy these days. Over in Seattle, police zapped a pregnant woman with a taser three times just because she refused to sign a ticket.

11. Down in California, one man recently sliced off the ear of another man with a knife over an unpaid debt.

12. These days we are seeing senseless crimes being committed even in small towns in the heartland of America. Just check out what happened in Helena, Montana about a week ago....

Helena Police are working to identify two young men after what they call a random act of violence over the weekend. Helena Police found a 40-year-old homeless man badly beaten in an alley behind the Gold Bar around 2 a.m. Sunday morning.

Helena Police Detective Sergeant Richard Drysdale states,” The video shows two white males surrounding the victim as he was entering the walkway yelling at him and then knocking him down to the ground where they beat and kicked him until he was unconscious.”

You can find a video report about this incident right here.

13. One town in Connecticut was forced to shut down a beautiful new public fountain because too many people were using it as a toilet.

14. According to one very shocking study, the percentage of U.S. households that contain a married couple with children has fallen from 44.3% in 1960 to 20.2% today.

15. A huge brawl between parents erupted during one recent preschool graduation ceremony down in the Los Angeles area.

16. We continue to see "mob robberies" at retail establishments all over the nation. During one recent mob robbery in Detroit, thugs beat the living daylights out of one very unfortunate stock clerk.

17. Speaking of Detroit, nobody is immune to the spreading violence in that city. For example, just check out what happened recently to a 22-year-old pregnant woman....

A 22-year-old pregnant woman survived after being bound, driven to Detroit, set on fire and shot early Saturday morning.

The woman, who was nine-months pregnant, had returned from a movie with her boyfriend and dropped him off at his house in Warren when she was approached from behind, Warren police Sgt. Dave Geffert said.

The woman's hands, feet and eyes were bound with duct tape. She was then forced into her car and driven to an unknown place in Detroit where she was doused with lighter fluid, set on fire and shot once in the upper back, he said.

18. Many families returned to their homes following the recent wildfires in Colorado only to discover that their houses had been robbed and looted.

19. One 33-year-old art teacher in Arizona was not satisfied with only having sex with one of her students. In fact, police have charged her with having sex with four of her male students.

20. Down in Florida, one man has actually been charged with biting the lips off of a kitten.

21. Over in Waco, Texas a 22-year-old man recently strangled and ate the family dog while he was high on drugs.

22. Of course most of us have heard of the recent outbreak of "zombie attacks" around the nation where criminals have actually been biting their victims and chewing their flesh. The following is another example of this phenomenon from a recent case in central New York....

A synthetic drug known as “bath salts” is blamed for some bizarre behavior in central New York.

The Utica Observer-Dispatch reports that police officers were called to Stanley’s Bar Saturday night to check out a woman described as emotionally disturbed. When an officer approached her, she lunged at him and tried to bite his face. Police say she screamed that she wanted to “kill someone and eat them.”

The woman was taken to St. Luke’s Memorial Hospital for a mental health evaluation.

Another very disturbing "zombie incident" took place down in Georgia recently....

Karl Laventure, 21, was believed to be high on bath salts when he tried to attack the officers in Lilburn, Georgia.

And after they had managed to subdue him he began threatening to eat them.

Laventure appeared out of some woods and was seen running naked around a golf range near Atlanta, swinging a club around his head and screaming.

Police said that it took several officers to subdue the man who had 'super-human strength'.

23. All over America, people seem to be losing their minds. Just check out what one man in New Jersey did recently when police arrived at his home....

Officers got a call that morning when a witness said Carter was threatening to harm himself with a knife. Two cops responded, kicked in the door and found Carter in the corner, the station reported.

Carter allegedly ignored officers' orders to put down the knife, and instead began stabbing himself in the abdomen, neck and legs.

An attempt to pepper spray the bleeding man had no effect, the Associated Press reported.

That's when Carter -- disemboweled but responsive -- reportedly threw bits of his skin and intestines at the officers.

24. One woman in the St. Louis area was recently caught cooking meth in her purse inside a Wal-Mart store.

25. Anyone that believes that slavery has been abolished in America does not know what they are talking about. Every single night sex slaves are being horribly abused all over the United States. The following is from a recent Daily Mail article....

The FBI has rescued 79 teens held against their will and forced into prostitution from hotels, truck stops and stores during a three-day swoop on sex-trafficking rings across the country.

The sex slaves were aged between 13 and 17, although one said she had been involved in prostitution since she was just 11, authorities said.

During the sting operations across 57 U.S. cities - including Atlanta, Sacramento and Toledo, Ohio - 104 alleged pimps were arrested.

It is estimated that "100,000 children are victims of prostitution and trafficking each year" in the United States.

Are you starting to get the picture?

Sadly, there are dozens and dozens more examples like these. If you want to see more examples of how the collapse of America is speeding up, check out these articles that I recently published....

"70 Reasons To Mourn For America"

"20 Signs That Society Is Breaking Down And That America Has Been Overrun By Psychos"

The frightening thing is that this breakdown of our society is happening at the same time that our economy is completely falling to pieces.

This economic decline that we are experiencing is shredding the middle class and it is plunging millions of Americans into very desperate circumstances. The following is a brief excerpt from a recent Rolling Stone article....

Every night around nine, Janis Adkins falls asleep in the back of her Toyota Sienna van in a church parking lot at the edge of Santa Barbara, California. On the van’s roof is a black Yakima SpaceBooster, full of previous-life belongings like a snorkel and fins and camping gear. Adkins, who is 56 years old, parks the van at the lot’s remotest corner, aligning its side with a row of dense, shading avocado trees. The trees provide privacy, but they are also useful because she can pick their fallen fruit, and she doesn’t always­ have enough to eat. Despite a continuous, two-year job search, she remains without dependable work. She says she doesn’t need to eat much – if she gets a decent hot meal in the morning, she can get by for the rest of the day on a piece of fruit or bulk-purchased almonds – but food stamps supply only a fraction of her nutritional needs, so foraging opportunities are welcome.

Prior to the Great Recession, Adkins owned and ran a successful plant nursery in Moab, Utah. At its peak, it was grossing $300,000 a year. She had never before been unemployed – she’d worked for 40 years, through three major recessions.

You can read the rest of the article right here.

What would you do if you were in a similar situation?

Sadly, many more Americans will end up just like her. As I wrote about the other day, the U.S. economy is not going to be able to produce enough jobs for everyone anymore. In fact, the overall employment picture is going to keep getting worse for working Americans.

Things have gotten so bad that even many very highly educated scientists cannot find jobs in America right now. Almost everybody is hurting, and we haven't even gotten to the next wave of the economic collapse yet.

The next time that there is a major spike in the unemployment rate, millions of Americans will lose all hope and will become very desperate.

And desperate people do desperate things.

The rot and decay that we are witnessing right now is just the beginning.

Things are going to get a lot worse.

So let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.

Electric Eye On America: US Set To Deploy Drones For Home Use

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The US Army has completed a two-week demonstration of a new ground-based sensor system for its drones. It now hopes to get the drones certified for domestic flights, but critics are concerned that their use could breach privacy rights.

­The demonstrations took place at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, and involved testing the Ground Based Sense and Avoid (GBSAA) system for the MQ-1C Gray Eagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). The drone has been on duty in Afghanistan, but the Army now hopes to deploy it at home.

The Pentagon hopes to send the Gray Eagles to five bases throughout the country: Fort Hood (TX), Fort Riley (KS), Fort Stewart (GA), Fort Campbell (KY) and Fort Bragg (NC). However, it first needs to get the drones certified with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

In February, Congress tasked the FAA with coming up with a plan to integrate rules for drones into domestic aircraft regulations. Under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, the aviation authority was to produce rules for the certification of the first UAVs to be used by law enforcement and emergency response agencies in May. Licenses for these drones are to be issued in August.

While UAVs are actively deployed by the US military for operations in hot spots like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, it appears that the government and private companies are now eying their potential uses in the civilian sector.

UAVs, commonly known as drones, offer real promise for an array of domestic applications,” John Villasenor, a nonresident senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, wrote in an opinion piece in The Washington Post. “In an era of ever-tighter budgets, they could dramatically reduce the cost to law enforcement agencies and private companies involved in gathering vital — in some cases, lifesaving — information.”

Potential applications for drones by various government and state agencies include monitoring traffic, inspecting pollution and supervising borders.

In Texas, the Montgomery County Sheriffs Office got hold of a pilotless Shadowhawk chopper. The county police had hoped that eventually the unmanned helicopter could be equipped with weapons like flares, smoke grenades, tasers and rubber bullets to subdue a crowd. However, much to their dismay, a prototype Shadowhawk crashed into a SWAT van during a photo op. This raised the important issue of safety – especially when operating a UAV in a crowded urban area.

Drones also have an ample variety of commercial uses. In fact, this has already been shown by real estate agents in Los Angeles, who deployed a chopper drone to photograph their clients' homes. However, it turned out that they were breaching current FAA regulations, which state that unmanned aerial vehicles can only be operating within the line of sight and at altitudes bellow 400 feet.

The deployment of drones at home carries a covey of issues, most importantly privacy and safety. Current regulations, as stipulated by Supreme Court cases such as California v. Ciraolo and Florida v. Riley, do not prohibit the government from spying without a warrant on individuals and their property from “public navigable space.” Extending the same regulations to drones could mean that it would be legal to perpetually hover over somebody’s backyard and conduct 24-hour surveillance of their property.

There have already been reports of drones being used by the US government to spy on citizens at home. Journalist Joseph Farah, a known Obama critic, said he recently spotted a drone hovering over his residence in rural Virginia.

Organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union have already expressed their concern over the domestic deployment of drones, saying privacy could be jeopardized by drone use for widespread public surveillance.

In response to this concern, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) published a “Code of Conduct” for drone manufacturers and operators. The guidelines stipulate the importance of safety, and underscore the importance of preserving the right to privacy.

We will respect the rights of other users of the airspace,” the rules read. “We will respect the privacy of individuals.

However, the “Code of Conduct” is merely a set of non-binding guidelines, with no guarantees that they would be heeded by the government or private drone operators.

This paves way for a future in which an “eye in the sky” will always be “looking at you.” Lets just hope it won’t be able to read your mind.

X-ray vans to hit the streets of America?

The New American Century

McChrystal: Time To Bring Back The Draft

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Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former top commander of international forces in Afghanistan, said this week that the United States should bring back the draft if it ever goes to war again.

"I think we ought to have a draft. I think if a nation goes to war, it shouldn't be solely be represented by a professional force, because it gets to be unrepresentative of the population," McChrystal said at a late-night event June 29 at the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival. "I think if a nation goes to war, every town, every city needs to be at risk. You make that decision and everybody has skin in the game."

He argued that the burdens of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan haven't been properly shared across the U.S. population, and emphasized that the U.S. military could train draftees so that there wouldn't be a loss of effectiveness in the war effort.

"I've enjoyed the benefits of a professional service, but I think we'd be better if we actually went to a draft these days," he said. "There would some loss of professionalism, but for the nation it would be a better course."

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq placed unfair and extreme burdens on the professional military, especially reservists, and their families, McChrystal said.

"We've never done that in the United State before; we've never fought an extended war with an all- volunteer military. So what it means is you've got a very small population that you're going to and you're going to it over and over again," he said. "Because it's less than one percent of the population... people are very supportive but they don't have the same connection to it."

Reservists following multiple deployments have trouble maintaining careers and families and have a "frighteningly high" rate of suicide, he said.

"The reserve structure is designed for major war, you fight and then you stop, but what we've done instead is gone back over and over to the same people," he said. "We're going to have to relook the whole model because I don't think we can do this again."

McChrystal was speaking at a panel focused on how to manage marriage in the military. He was joined by Annie, his wife of 35 years, and the discussion was moderated by CNN's Suzanne Malveaux.

Multiple deployments often result in divorces and split families, he said.

"The marriages I see most strained are the senior NCOs and officers who have four or five tours... you're apart so much that it's hard to have a marriage if you're not together at least a critical mass of time, and that's tough," McChrystal said.

Malveaux asked McChrystal how he has managed to get through 35 years of marriage.

"One day at a time," he responded.

The Collapsing US Economy And The End Of The World

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In a recent column, “Can The World Survive Washington’s Hubris,” I promised to examine whether the US economy will collapse before Washington in its pursuit of world hegemony brings us into military confrontation with Russia and China. This is likely to be an ongoing subject on this site, so this column will not be the final word.

Washington has been at war since October, 2001, when President George W. Bush concocted an excuse to order the US invasion of Afghanistan. This war took a back seat when Bush concocted another excuse to order the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a war that went on without significant success for 8 years and has left Iraq in chaos with dozens more killed and wounded every day, a new strong man in place of the illegally executed former strongman, and the likelihood of the ongoing violence becoming civil war.

Upon his election, President Obama foolishly sent more troops to Afghanistan and renewed the intensity of that war, now in its eleventh year, to no successful effect.

These two wars have been expensive. According to estimates by Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, when all costs are counted the Iraq invasion cost US taxpayers $3 trillion dollars. Ditto for the Afghan war. In other words, the two gratuitous wars doubled the US public debt. This is the reason there is no money for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, the environment, and the social safety net.

Americans got nothing out of the wars, but as the war debt will never be paid off, US citizens and their descendants will have to pay interest on $6,000 billion of war debt in perpetuity.

Not content with these wars, the Bush/Obama regime is conducting military operations in violation of international law in Pakistan, Yemen, and Africa, organized the overthrow by armed conflict of the government in Libya, is currently working to overthrow the Syrian government, and continues to marshall military forces against Iran.

Finding the Muslim adversaries Washington created insufficient for its energies and budget, Washington has encircled Russia with military bases and has begun the encirclement of China. Washington has announced that the bulk of its naval forces will be shifted to the Pacific over the next few years, and Washington is working to re-establish its naval base in the Philippines, construct a new one on a South Korean island, acquire a naval base in Viet Nam, and air and troop bases elsewhere in Asia.

In Thailand Washington is attempting to purchase with the usual bribes an air base used in the Vietnam war. There is opposition as the country does not wish to be drawn into Washington’s orchestrated conflict with China. Downplaying the real reason for the airbase, Washington, according to Thai newspapers, told the Thai government that the base was needed for “humanitarian missions.” This didn’t fly, so Washington had NASA ask for the air base in order to conduct “weather experiments.” Whether this ruse is sufficient cover remains to be seen.

US Marines have been sent to Australia and elsewhere in Asia.

To corral China and Russia (and Iran) is a massive undertaking for a country that is financially busted. With wars and bankster bailouts, Bush and Obama have doubled the US national debt while failing to address the disintegration of the US economy and rising hardships of US citizens.

The charts below are courtesy of www.shadowstats.com

The annual US budget deficit is adding to the accumulated debt at about $1.5 trillion per
year with no prospect of declining. The financial system is broken and requires ongoing bailouts. The economy is busted and has been unable to create high-paying jobs, indeed any jobs. Despite years of population growth, payroll employment as of mid-2012 is the same as in 2005 and substantially below 2008. Yet, the government and financial presstitute media tell us that we have a recovery.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in 2011 was only 1 million more than in 2002. As it takes about 150,000 new jobs each month to stay even with population growth, that leaves a decade long job deficit of 15 million jobs.

The US unemployment and inflation rates are far higher than reported. In previous columns I have explained, based on statistician John Williams’ work (shadowstats.com), the reasons that the government’s headline numbers are serious understatements. The headline (U3) unemployment rate of 8.2% counts no discouraged workers who have given up on finding a job. The government has a second unemployment rate (U6), seldom reported, which includes short-term discouraged workers. That rate is 15%. When the long-term discouraged workers are added in, the current US unemployment rate is 22%, a number closer to the unemployment rate of the Great Depression than to the unemployment rates of postwar recessions.

Changes in the way inflation is measured have destroyed the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as a measure of the cost of living. The new methodology is substitution based. If the price of an item in the index rises, a lower priced alternative takes its place. In addition, some price rises are labeled quality improvements whether they are or not and thus do not show up in the CPI. People still have to pay the higher price, but it is not counted as inflation.

Currently, the substitution-based rate of inflation is about 2%. However, when inflation is measured as the actual cost of living, the rate of inflation is 5%.

The Misery Index is the sum of the inflation and unemployment rates. The level of the current Misery Index depends on whether the new rigged measures are used, which understate the misery, or the former methodology that accurately measures it.

Prior to the November 1980 election, the Misery Index hit 22%, which was one reason for Reagan’s victory over President Carter. Today if we use previous methodology, the Misery Index stands at 27%. But if we use the new rigged methodology, the Misery Index is 10%.

The understatement of inflation serves to boost Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP is calculated in current dollars. To be able to determine whether GDP rose because of price rises or because of increases in real output, GDP is deflated by the CPI. The higher the inflation rate, the less the growth in real output and vice versa. When the substitution based methodology is used to measure inflation, the US economy experienced real growth in the 21st century except for the sharp dip during 2008-2010. However, if the cost-of-living based methodology is used, except for a short period during 2004, the US economy has experienced no real growth since 2000.

In the chart above,the lower measure (blue) of real GDP is deflated with the inflation methodology that measured cost-of-living. The higher GDP measure (red) deflates GDP with the new substitution based methodology.

The lack of employment and real GDP growth go together with the decline in real household median income. The growth in consumer debt substituted for the lack of

income growth and kept the economy going until consumers exhausted their ability to take on more debt. With the consumer dead in the water, the outlook for economic recovery is poor.

Politicians and the Federal Reserve are making the outlook even worse. At a time of high unemployment and debt-stressed households, politicians at local, state, and federal levels are cutting back on government provision of health care, pensions, food stamps, housing subsidies and every other element of the social safety net. These cutbacks, of course, further reduce aggregate demand and the ability of income-stressed Americans to survive.

The Federal Reserve has interest rates so low that retirees and others living on their savings can earn nothing on their money. The interest rates paid on bank CDs and government and corporate bonds are lower than the rate of inflation. To live on interest income, a person has to purchase Greek, Spanish, or Italian bonds and run the risk of capital loss. The Federal Reserve’s policy of negative interest rates forces retirees to spend down their capital in order to live. In other words, the Fed’s policy is destroying personal savings as people are forced to spend their capital in order to cover living expenses.

In June the Federal Reserve announced that it was going to continue its policy of driving nominal interest rates even lower, this time focusing on long-term Treasury bonds. The Fed said it would be purchasing $400 billion of the Treasury’s 30-year bonds.

Driving interest rates down means driving bond prices up. With 5-year Treasury bonds paying only seven-tenths of one percent and 10-year Treasuries paying only 1.6%, below even the official rate of inflation, Americans desperate for yield move into 30-year bonds currently paying 2.7%. However, the the high bond prices mean that the risk of capital loss is very high.

The Fed’s debt monetization, or a drop in the exchange value of the dollar as other countries move away from its use to settle their balance of payments, could set off inflation that would take interest rates out of the Fed’s control. As interest rates rise, bond prices fall.

In other words, bonds are now the bubble that real estate, stocks, and derivatives were. When this bubble pops, Americans will take another big hit to their remaining wealth.

It makes no sense to invest in long-term bonds at negative interest rates when the federal government is piling up debt that the Federal Reserve is monetizing and when other countries are moving away from the flood of dollars. The potential for a rising rate of inflation is high from debt monetization and from a drop in the dollar’s exchange value. Yet, bond fund portfolio managers have to follow the herd into longer term maturities or see their performance relative to their peers drop to the bottom of the rankings.

Some individual investors and foreign central banks, anticipating the dollar’s loss of value, are accumulating gold and silver bullion. Realizing the danger to the dollar and its policy from the rapid rise in the price of bullion during 2011, the Federal Reserve has arranged offsetting action. When the demand for physical bullion drives up the price, short sales of bullion in the paper market are used to drive the price back down.

Similarly, when investors begin to flee Treasuries, thus causing interest rates to rise, J.P. Morgan and other dependencies of the Federal Reserve sell interest-rate swaps, thus offsetting the effect on interest rates of the bond sales. (Keep in mind that interest rates rise when bond prices fall and vice versa.)

The point of all this information is to establish that except for the 1 percent, the incomes and wealth of Americans are being cut back across the board. From 2002 through 2011 the economy lost 3.5 million manufacturing jobs. These jobs were replaced with lower-paying waitress and bartender jobs (1,189,000), ambulatory health care service jobs (1,512,000) and social assistance jobs (578,000).

These replacement jobs in domestic services mean that on a net basis US consumer income was moved out of the country. Potential aggregate demand in the US dropped by the differences in pay in the job categories. Clearly and unambiguously, jobs offshoring lowered US disposable income and US GDP and, thereby, employment.

Despite the lack of an economic base, Washington’s hegemonic aspirations continue unabated. Other countries are amused at Washington’s unawareness. Russia, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa are forming an agreement to abandon the US dollar as the currency for international settlement between themselves.

On July 4 the China Daily reported: “Japanese politicians and prominent academics from China and Japan urged Tokyo on Tuesday to abandon its outdated foreign policy of leaning on the West and accept China as a key partner as important as the United States. The Tokyo Consensus, a joint statement issued at the end of the Beijing-Tokyo Forum, also called on both countries to expand trade and promote a free-trade agreement for China, Japan and South Korea.”

This means that Japan is in play.

The Chinese government, more intelligent than Washington, is responding to Washington’s military threats by enticing away Washington’s two key Asian allies. As the Chinese economy is now as large as the US and on far firmer footing, and as Japan now has more trade with China than with the US, the enticement is appealing. Moreover, China is next door, and Washington is distant and drowning in its hubris.

Washington, which flicked its middle finger to international law and to its own law and Constitution with its arrogance and gratuitous and illegal wars and with its assertion of the right to murder its own citizens and those of its allies, such as Pakistan, has made the United States a pariah state.

Washington still controls its bought-and-paid-for NATO puppets, but these puppet states are overwhelmed with derivative debt problems brought to them by Wall Street and by sovereign debt problems, some of which were covered up by Wall Street’s Goldman Sachs.

Europe is on the ropes and has no money with which to subsidize Washington’s wars of hegemony.

Washington is becoming an isolated and despised element of the world community. Washington has purchased Europe, Canada, Australia, the former Soviet state of Georgia (and almost Ukraine), and Colombia, and continues its effort to purchase the entire world, but sentiment is turning against the rising Gestapo state that has shown itself to be lawless, ruthless, and indifferent, even hostile, to human life and human rights.

A government, whose military was unable with the help of the UK to occupy Iraq after eight years and was forced to end the conflict by putting the “insurgents” on the US military payroll and to pay them to stop killing American troops, and a government whose military has been unable to subdue a few thousand lightly armed Taliban after 11 years, is over the top when it organizes war against Iran, Russia, and China.

The only prospect Washington has of prevailing in such an undertaking is first use of nuclear weapons, of catching its demonized opponents off guard by nuking them out of the blue. In other words, by the elimination of life on earth.

Is this Washington’s program revealed by the neoconservative warmonger, Bill Kristol, who had no shame to ask publicly: “What’s the good of nuclear weapons if you can’t use them?”

The Paraguayan Coup: Agribusiness, Landowners, Media Elite, and the US Lead to Destabilization

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It has been nearly two weeks since the parliament of Paraguay orchestrated an institutional coup that removed President Fernando Lugo from power and installed vice president Fernando Franco in his place, a mere 9 months before the next presidential elections.

Reading articles coming out of South America, I have been trying to wrap my head around not just what happened in Paraguay but what it could mean for the region. And I'm afraid it's not good. When one connects the dots – many of which require further investigation–it suddenly feels as though the gains that countries in the region have made toward multi-lateral cooperation in order to guarantee economic and political sovereignty and are dangerously vulnerable.

I have always been skeptical of claims by Hugo Chavez or even anti-militarist voices here in the region that believe that the U.S. has not let go of its plans for the region in its fulfillment of "Full Spectrum Dominance"—controlling natural resources indirectly through elite puppet governments and directly through the threat of military force. Between the U.S' refocus on the Middle East and the rise of left-leaning governments in Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, and Uruguay, the idea of the region falling victim to the kinds of imperial/neoliberal bullying of the 70s, 80s, and 90s seemed both politically overblown and strategically unfeasible.

I am no longer so sure.

Because when looking at the powers at play in Paraguay it becomes clear that the past is not so far behind. They are the powers behind this unbelievably sordid coup, an event that appears to have been merely a step toward fulfilling longstanding agreements made between the Paraguayan oligarchy, multinational agribusiness interests, and the United States. By no means was Lugo an obstacle, but he wasn't serving their interests quickly enough. Moreover, his willingness toward regional cooperation in bodies such as UNASUR and Mercosur — from which Paraguay has now been expelled— was also endangering the security of these moneyed and military interests.

Why Paraguay?

One of the poorest countries in South America, land-locked Paraguay is often overlooked. This is a big reason why a parliamentary coup was possible here and not somewhere with greater global and regional influence like Brazil. Paraguay is not however overlooked by the biggest multinationals in agriculture nor the U.S. military. In many ways the country is a metaphorical petri dish for the region: the political, economic, and ethnic issues can be seen in the extreme. Sixty percent of the 6.5 million Paraguayans live in poverty. Much of the poverty has to do with the fact that while the economy is entirely based on agriculture Paraguay has some of the hugest concentrations of land in the region: 85% of the land is in the hands of 2% of the population. It is in essence a deeply feudal country. Small campesino famers and indigenous Paraguayans who are subsistence farmers have been systematically and forcibly removed from their land to make way for large scale soy and cotton plantations. Violent repression of campesino movements—like the events in Curuguaty that became Parliament's excuse for removing Lugo –have been occurring in Paraguay for over a decade now as the land conflicts have grown more acute with the expansion of agribusiness.

Politically, rule over Paraguay had been in the hands of the Colorado Party for 61 years until the 2008 election of former Catholic bishop Fernando Lugo, a supporter of indigenous rights, land reform, and social welfare programs. But though his party, The Alianza Patriotico para el Cambio (Patriotic Alliance for Change) initially had the support of a grassroots popular front, it never had support of a majority of seats in Congress. And vice president Fernando Franco of the Liberal Party never hid his dissent with Lugo nor his ambitions for the presidency.

Contrary to his pre-presidential track record, Lugo as president did very little to further campesino cause and actually push through land reform. Violent evictions and the criminalization of protest continued and ultimately Lugo both demobilized and alienated the movements that had initially supported him. Without a broad base of support neither inside nor outside Congress, his removal was an easy maneuver led by the two major parties, Colorado and Liberal.

The curious and critical fact in all of this is that the land in Curuguaty from which the group of campesinos was brutally evicted by more than 300 police on June 19 belongs to a former and long-time Colorado Party senator, Blas Riquleme. It's therefore not hard to believe what many have called the impetus for Lugo's impeachment: a trap. But the underhandedness goes on.

Foreign interests, local friends

Beyond simply the old ruling parties wanting to keep their grasp over the country, there are deeper interests at work in the coup against Lugo.

First and foremost is agribusiness. None other than the infamous Monsanto is a major player in Paraguay. The company collects royalties on the transgenic soy and cotton seeds planted throughout Paraguay, and in 2011 it collected $30 billion tax-free. And 40% of the production and refining of Paraguayan soy is owned by private U.S.-based giant Cargill ($100 billion annual profits a year). Again, agribusiness giants in Paraguay enjoy broad protections from Congress and pay no taxes.

These agro-giants among others have denied involvement in any violent evictions in Paraguay. And of course they aren't involved. It's the thugs hired by landowners who are looking to expand and turn a higher profit on their Monsanto seeds that do the dirty work. More on those landowners later.

To protect themselves, these companies have their national alliances. One is to the major agricultural producers unions in Paraguay and the other is to the media. Cargill, Syngenta, and Agrosan are all apart of the business group, Grupo Zuciollio (Zuciollio Group), which gets its name from Aldo Zuciollio, the owner of one of the major Paraguayan newspapers ABC Color.

According to Paraguayan investigative journalist Idilio Mendez Grimaldi, one of the reasons behind Lugo's removal was his cabinet's unfavorable stance toward the release of Monsanto's transgenic cotton seed into the country. After the head of the National Service for the Quality of Seeds, the Minister of Health, and the Minister of Environment did not green light the seed's release into the market, ABC Color led a smear campaign against accusing them of corruption.

Washington's Role: Southern Command & USAID

Though countries like Ecuador have put stops on U.S. military personnel by refusing to send Ecuadorian troops to the School of the Americas and not renewing their contract for a U.S. military base, U.S. military presence in the region is unfazed. When one base shuts down another opens, usually in Colombia (11 sites with U.S. access), Peru (8 sites with U.S. access), or Paraguay.

Paraguay is home to two U.S. bases: the Mariscal Estigarribia that is located merely 155 miles from Bolivia and boasts a 10,000 foot-long airstrip built for large aircraft, and the DEA base Pedro Juan Caballero on the border with Brazil at which U.S. Southern Command runs regular military exercises. Though in 2009 Lugo stated his rejected the expansion of U.S. Southern Command operations in the country, it has had broader access to Paraguay since 2005, when former president Nicanor Duarte Frutos granted an 18-month stay and immunity to the over 400 U.S. soldiers that entered the country. As far as anyone knows, those Southern Command forces are still active and may have expanded.

Much of the U.S. military influence in the country stems from the signing of the Northern Zone Initiative (IZN) that many refer to as Paraguay's equivalent of Plan Colombia in its allowance of "humanitarian assistance". It was signed with the U.S in 1961, during the military dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessener. Since the "fall" of the dictatorship in 1989 (in quotes because it was an agreed upon transition to democracy without removing military generals from power) the IZN agreement has never been debated in the Paraguayan Congress.

Another important piece of the mystery behind the massacre at Curuguaty is that the special Paraguayan operation forces (Grupo Especial de Operaciones, GEO) that led the raid on the campesinos were trained by U.S. Southern Command in Colombia as apart of the Plan Colombia framework. Six police officers including the head of the GEO also died in the incident, which the campesino group Coordinadora por la RecuperaciĆ³n de Tierras Malhabidas (Coordinator for the Recuperation of Ilegal Land) says was escalated by the presence of armed infiltrators. More than a trap, perhaps Curuguaty was a set up.

A key piece to U.S. involvement in Paraguay is USAID, which works closely with the Paraguayan Supreme Court, the Hacienda Ministry, and security organisms. USAID's role in the region has been well documented as a force of destabilization hiding behind humanitarian aid. As investigators Jeremy Bigwood and Eva Golinger revealed in 2009 after obtaining declassified documents, USAID has poured over a billion dollars into "decentralization" efforts in Bolivia and $60 million in Venezuela. By setting up various Offices for Transition Initiatives (OTIs) and funding anti-government non-profits, USAID has promoted separatist and opposition movements in both countries to further a pro-Washington agenda.

In December of last year, the Colorado Party signed an agreement with the Resource Information Center (CIRD), the local arm of USAID, which proposed greater inter-party "dialogue." The head of the CIRD is Alavaro Carrizosa, relative of former presidential candidate and senator Manuel Carrizosa of the party Patria Querida that joined with the Colorado and Liberal parties in voting to oust Lugo.

If this weren't enough, the current U.S. ambassador to the country is Liliana Ayala, none other than the former director of USAID in Bolivia. Her predecessor was James Cason, who before being ambassador directed the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, essentially the anti-Castro propaganda/Cuba destabilization wing of the State Department. In 2010, Deputy Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemispheric Affairs and author of Paraguay and the United States: Distant Allies, Frank Mora, was received by then vice president Fernando Franco. In their meeting, Mora spoke of continued and greater U.S. military cooperation in the country and interest in furthering the IZN.

Fragility and importance of regional solidarity

Following last Friday's coup, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the economic body Mercosur expelled Paraguay as a member. But in many ways, this is perhaps what the Paraguayan political oligarchy and the U.S. wanted. UNASUR and Mercosur represent regional agree

ments of cooperation, democracy, national sovereignty, border security, biosecurity, militarycoordination and defense, and the limiting of U.S. intervention—commitments that essentially limit the power of multinationals and Washington.

Paraguay was the last country to join UNASUR, and when Lugo signed the Mercosur's democracy clause that outlawed national destabilization, newspaper ABC Color accused the former president of handing over national sovereignty. The paper also reported on how the border security agreements would negatively affect the soy plantations on the border of Brazil. Ninety percent of Paraguayan soy is produced by landowners commonly referred to as 'Brasiguayos' along the lush and lawless no mans' land that is the Brazil-Paraguay border. Much of the violence against campesinos and indigenous discussed above has been perpetrated by these Brasiguayos.

Immediately after the coup, a Paraguayan delegation/lobby flew to Brazil to try and meet with president Dilma Rouseff. Though she declined, the lobby did meet with the Agricultural Parliamentary Front that represents 230 Brazilian legislators. At the meeting, Homerio Periera, president of the front and congressman of the Matto Grosso –the Brazilian province that has come to be a global emblem of deforestation in the name of soy profits –expressed his support for the new government.

The Paraguayan Congress had also been the sole body preventing Venezuela's entrance into Mercosur. Now that the country is banned from the body until the country's next eletions, Mercosur will welcome Venezuela into its midst as of July 31st.

What it all means

This coup is a test of whether or not Mercosur and UNASUR have any bite to their bark, or if their agreements for regional independence live only on paper. Though too early to be sure, it seems that both will allow Paraguay's re-entrance after the country's elections in April 2013. It is a decision that should no be taken lightly, as the powers behind the Paraguayan coup reveal that national economic growth—in a large part from the sale of natural resources –comes tied to the political obligation to protect multinational, landowning, and U.S. interests. Despite their talk against neoliberalism, center-left governments such as Brazil and Argentina thrive off of and cater to the same sectors that both temper their politics and could potentially threaten their country's stability. In countries like Bolivia and Venezuela that have more openly defied their national elite by taking bolder steps toward things like land reform and nationalization, the response has been coup attempts and as described above and overall destabilization. But unlike in Paraguay, these attempts have so far been unsuccessful.

Interestingly, Grimaldi believes that it was precisely Lugo's belief that he could "govern with imperialism, with the feudal oligarchy and with the right-wing parties" that led to his defeat. It is a danger that Argentine political scientist Atilio Boron refers to as a "timidly progressive" government that is unable to convoke a broad social movement support and left parties to its side.

Without concrete regional efforts to reign in the power of the U.S. military, USAID, multinationals, and local political oligarchies, what happened in Paraguay becomes a loud and clear warning to the region that the phantoms of Latin America's past are haunting once again.

The "Monsanto Rider": Are Biotech Companies About to Gain Immunity from Federal Law?

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While many Americans were firing up barbecues and breaking out the sparklers to celebrate Independence Day, biotech industry executives were more likely chilling champagne to celebrate another kind of independence: immunity from federal law.

A so-called "Monsanto rider," quietly slipped into the multi-billion dollar FY 2013 Agricultural Appropriations bill, would require – not just allow, but require - the Secretary of Agriculture to grant a temporary permit for the planting or cultivation of a genetically engineered crop, even if a federal court has ordered the planting be halted until an Environmental Impact Statement is completed. All the farmer or the biotech producer has to do is ask, and the questionable crops could be released into the environment where they could potentially contaminate conventional or organic crops and, ultimately, the nation's food supply.

Unless the Senate or a citizen's army of farmers and consumers can stop them, the House of Representatives is likely to ram this dangerous rider through any day now.

In a statement issued last month, the Center For Food Safety had this to say about the biotech industry's latest attempt to circumvent legal and regulatory safeguards:

Ceding broad and unprecedented powers to industry, the rider poses a direct threat to the authority of U.S. courts, jettisons the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) established oversight powers on key agriculture issues and puts the nation's farmers and food supply at risk.

In other words, if this single line in the 90-page Agricultural Appropriations bill slips through, it's Independence Day for the biotech industry.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) has sponsored an amendment to kill the rider, whose official name is "the farmers assurance" provision. But even if DeFazio's amendment makes it through the House vote, it still has to survive the Senate. Meanwhile, organizations like the Organic Consumers Association, Center for Food Safety, FoodDemocracyNow!, the Alliance for Natural Health USA and many others are gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures in protest of the rider, and in support of DeFazio's amendment.

Will Congress do the right thing and keep what are arguably already-weak safeguards in place, to protect farmers and the environment? Or will industry win yet another fight in the battle to exert total control over our farms and food supply?

Biotech's 'Legislator of the Year' behind the latest sneak attack

Whom do we have to thank for this sneak attack on USDA safeguards? The agricultural sub-committee chair Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) – who not coincidentally was voted "legislator of the year for 2011-2012" by none other than the Biotechnology Industry Organization, whose members include Monsanto and DuPont. As reported by Mother Jones, the Biotechnology Industry Organization declared Kingston a "champion of America's biotechnology industry" who has "helped to protect funding for programs essential to the survival of biotechnology companies across the United States."

Kingston clearly isn't interested in the survival of America's farmers.

Aiding and abetting Kingston is John C. Greenwood, former US Congressman from Pennsylvania and now president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization. No stranger to the inner workings of Congress, Greenwood lobbied for the "farmers assurance provision" in a June 13 letter to Congress, according to Mother Jones and Bloomberg, claiming that "a stream of lawsuits" have slowed approvals and "created uncertainties" for companies developing GE crops.

Greenwood was no doubt referring to several past lawsuits, including one brought in 2007 by the Center for Food safety challenging the legality of the USDA's approval of Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa. In that case, a federal court ruled that the USDA's approval of GMO alfalfa violated environmental laws by failing to analyze risks such as the contamination of conventional and organic alfalfa, the evolution of glyphosate-resistant weeds, and increased use of Roundup. The USDA was forced to undertake a four-year study of GMO alfalfa's impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). During the four-year study, farmers were banned from planting or selling the crop – creating that 'uncertainty" that Greenwood is so worried about.

The USDA study slowed down the release of GMO alfalfa, but ultimately couldn't stop it. As Mother Jones reports, in 2011, the USDA deregulated the crop, even though according to its own study, the USDA said that "gene flow" between GM and non-GM alfalfa is "probable," and threatens organic dairy producers and other users of non-GMO alfalfa, and that there is strong potential for the creation of Roundup-resistant "superweeds" that require ever-higher doses of Roundup and application of ever-more toxic herbicides. The report noted that two million acres of US farmland already harbor Roundup-resistant weeds caused by other Roundup Ready crops.

In another case – which perhaps paved the way for this latest provision now before the House - the USDA in 2011 outright defied a federal judge's order to halt the planting of Monsanto's controversial Roundup-Ready GMO sugar beets until it completed an Environmental Impact Statement. The USDA allowed farmers to continue planting the crop even while it was being assessed for safety on the grounds that there were no longer enough non-GMO seeds available to plant.

Who loses if Monsanto wins this one?

Among the biggest losers if Congress ignores the DeFazio amendment and passes the "farmers assurance provision" are thousands of farmers of conventional and organic crops, including those who rely on the export market for their livelihoods. An increasing number of global markets are requiring GMO-free agricultural products or, at the very least, enforcing strict GMO labeling laws. If this provision passes, it will allow unrestricted planting of potentially dangerous crops, exposing other safe and non-GMO crops to risk of contamination.

As we've seen in the past, farmers who grow crops that have been inadequately tested and later found dangerous, or whose safe crops become contaminated by nearby unsafe crops, risk huge losses and potentially, lawsuits from their customers. Ultimately, the entire US agriculture market and US economy suffers.

We have only to look back to the StarLink corn and LibertyLink rice contamination episodes for evidence of how misguided this provision is. In October 2000, traces of an Aventis GM corn called StarLink showed up in taco shells in the U.S. even though the corn had not been approved for human consumption because leading allergists were concerned it would cause food allergies. The contamination led to a massive billion dollar recall of over 300 food brands. The 'StarLink' gene also turned up unexpectedly in a second company's corn and in US corn exports, causing a costly disruption to the nation's grain-handling system, and spurring lawsuits by farmers whose crops were damaged.

A similar disaster occurred for US rice farmers in 2006. In august of that year the USDA announced that mutant DNA of Liberty Link, a genetically modified variety of rice developed by Bayer CropScience, a then-German agri-business giant, were found in commercially-grown long-grain rice in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Missouri. LibertyLink rice, named for Bayer's broad-spectrum herbicide glufosinate-ammonium, was never intended for human consumption. Following the announcement of contamination, Japan banned all long-grain rice imports from the U.S., and U.S. trade with the EU and other countries ground to a halt. Rice farmers and cooperatives were forced to engage in five long years of litigation against Bayer

CropScience in an attempt to recoup some of their losses.

All the other ways this provision is just plain bad

There's a reason we have laws like the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Plant Protection Act of 2000, which was specifically designed "to strengthen the safety net for agricultural producers by providing greater access to more affordable risk management tools and improved protection from production and income loss . . .". The 'farmers assurance provision" is a thinly disguised attempt by the biotech industry to undermine these protections. Worse yet, it's an affront to everyone who believes the US judicial system exists to protect US citizens and public health.

Why should you be outraged about this provision? For all these reasons:

· The Monsanto Rider is an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers. Judicial review is an essential element of U.S. law, providing a critical and impartial check on government decisions that may negatively impact human health, the environment or livelihoods. Maintaining the clear-cut boundary of a Constitutionally-guaranteed separation of powers is essential to our government. This provision will blur that line.

· Judicial review is a gateway, not a roadblock. Congress should be fully supportive of our nation's independent judiciary. The ability of courts to review, evaluate and judge an issue that impacts public and environmental health is a strength, not a weakness, of our system. The loss of this fundamental safeguard could leave public health, the environment and livelihoods at risk.

· It removes the "legal brakes" that prevent fraud and abuse. In recent years, federal courts have ruled that several USDA GE crop approvals violated the law and required further study of their health and environmental impact. These judgments indicated that continued planting would cause harm to the environment and/or farmers and ordered interim planting restrictions pending further USDA analysis and consideration. The Monsanto rider would prevent a federal court from putting in place court-ordered restrictions, even if the approval were fraudulent or involved bribery.

· It's unnecessary and duplicative. Every court dealing with these issues is supposed to carefully weigh the interests of all affected farmers and consumers, as is already required by law. No farmer has ever had his or her crops destroyed as a result. USDA already has working mechanisms in place to allow partial approvals, and the Department has used them, making this provision completely unnecessary.

· It shuts out the USDA. The rider would not merely allow, it would compel the Secretary of Agriculture to immediately grant any requests for permits to allow continued planting and commercialization of an unlawfully approved GE crop. With this provision in place, USDA may not be able to prevent costly contamination episodes like Starlink or Liberty Link rice, which have already cost farmers hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. The rider would also make a mockery of USDA's legally mandated review, transforming it into a 'rubber stamp' approval process.

· It's a back-door amendment of a statute. This rider, quietly tacked onto an appropriations bill, is in effect a substantial amendment to USDA's governing statute for GE crops, the Plant Protection Act. If Congress feels the law needs to be changed, it should be done in a transparent manner by holding hearings, soliciting expert testimony and including full opportunity for public debate.

If we allow this "Monsanto Rider" to be slipped into the FY 2013 Agricultural Appropriations bill, consumers and farmers will lose what little control we have now over what we plant and what we eat.

If you would like to join the hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens who have already written to Congress in support of the DeFazio amendment, please sign our petition here.