Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Stock Market Bonanza

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Tuesday, four days after President Barack Obama signed the budget sequestration order unleashing brutal cuts in social programs, there was general jubilation in the media as the Dow Jones Industrial Average crashed through its previous high, dating from 2007.
The intervening period has been an unmitigated disaster for the vast bulk of humanity, including the broad mass of working people in the United States. The signs of social decay and suffering are everywhere. Unemployment remains at near-Depression levels. Poverty, hunger and homelessness continue to rise. Those workers with a job are working harder and longer than ever for lower wages and fewer benefits. The buying power of the wages of newly hired autoworkers is at or below the levels that prevailed in the 1930s.
Thousands of schools have been closed, hundreds of thousands of teachers laid off, and the public education system gutted to make way for for-profit charter schools.
Detroit, once a thriving metropolis and center of the world auto industry, has been turned into an impoverished and desolate city whose inhabitants face Third World conditions. It is about to be placed under a bankers’ dictatorship and very likely thrown into bankruptcy.
On Tuesday, as the New York Stock Exchange was hitting new heights, New York’s Coalition for the Homeless was reporting a different record. In January, an average of more than 50,000 people slept each night at a homeless shelter in the city, including over 21,000 children--more than 1 percent of the city’s youth.
Now the US government, with the sequester cuts as the down payment, is preparing to dismantle the core social programs remaining from the reforms of the 1930s and 1960s—Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
This social counterrevolution was inaugurated by the Wall Street crash of September 2008—the result of financial fraud and criminality on a colossal scale. Yet, amidst the still steaming rubble of the social tsunami they unleashed, the lords of finance are today able to celebrate their biggest heist ever.
How is this to be explained?
The media offers no explanation. The network commentators, in line with their six- and seven-figure salaries and their bulging portfolios, hail the new record on the stock market as though it were a national achievement. Rejoice, one and all!
In reality, the record highs on Wall Street are a measure of the scale of the theft of social resources carried out since the financial crash by the very parasites who were responsible for the collapse.
The obscene profits that are being made by the corporations and banks, the gargantuan pay packages that the CEOs are awarding themselves, the shameless fortunes that are being made through the manipulation of financial assets—in the midst of mass unemployment and austerity—none of this is seriously raised or questioned. The obvious contradiction between the official claims of “no money” for social needs and the vast sums sloshing around Wall Street is not even hinted at.
It is a fact that not a single leading banker or hedge fund speculator has been criminally prosecuted, let alone jailed, for crimes that have caused a level of misery, destruction and death that is incalculable. Instead, the Obama administration, both political parties and the entire panoply of official institutions—including the trade unions—have made it their business to ensure that every dollar lost by the financial aristocracy in the crash was paid back many times over.
Paid back by whom? By the working class in the US and the world, through the greatest assault on its living standards in history.
The latest surge in the stock market—which has soared almost without a hitch since the start of the year—is bound up with the fact that those in the know had been assured the White House and Congress would push through the sequester cuts. As a leading Bank of America executive told the New York Times this week, “The market wants more austerity.”
More broadly, since day one of the crisis the government has provided the banks with unlimited funds. Besides the trillions in cash injections, virtually interest-free loans and credit guarantees handed out by the Bush and Obama administrations and the Federal Reserve in the immediate aftermath of the September 2008 crash, the Fed has pumped trillions more into the financial markets through the dollar-printing operation knows as “quantitative easing.” This is currently running at $85 billion a month, or over $1 trillion a year—enough to cover the current budget deficit of the federal government.
Notwithstanding the pious disavowals of the Fed, it is financing the biggest financial bubble in history—with stocks, bonds and other financial assets at vastly inflated prices. With the White House and Congress refusing to impose any real bank reforms, the Fed has a green light to underwrite the same types of frenzied speculation that triggered the last financial meltdown, but on an even more vast scale.
The conditions are being created for another, more disastrous crash, but the financial plutocrats continue to plunder the country secure in the knowledge that they will, once again, be bailed out.
The events of 2008 definitively exposed the complete subordination of the government to the financial aristocracy. The developments since then have only confirmed this fact.
The record highs on Wall Street underscore the irreconcilable antagonism between the social needs of the people and the existing economic and political system. There are ample resources to guarantee every worker and young person a job at decent pay, a high quality education, decent housing and nutrition, access to culture, and a secure retirement—the basic social rights which every person should enjoy.
But they cannot be secured except through the mass struggle of the working class. The ill-gotten fortunes of the financial parasites must be expropriated and used to provide jobs, schools and housing. A revolutionary struggle is required to break the stranglehold of the financial oligarchy over the productive forces and place them under the democratic control of working people

Wealth Inequality Is MUCH Worse Than You Realize

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A YouTube video that went viral this weekend shows that Americans radically underestimate income disparity in the U.S.

The video, created by user politizane, displays graphics made from data in a Harvard Business School survey that asked more than 5,000 Americans how they thought wealth is distributed in the U.S. and what the ideal distribution is, then compared those answers to what it actually looks like.

The study found that the top 1 percent (of Occupy Wall Street infamy) "has more of the country's wealth than nine out of ten Americans believe the entire top 20 percent should have."

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Politizane presents the distribution in a way that makes the study's findings astoundingly clear.

The video takes America's $54 trillion in wealth (as of 2009) and distributes it to the entire U.S. population, represented as 100 people in a line.

For example, this is what socialism would look like:

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 Here's what most Americans believe is ideal:

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What Americans think the reality is:

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And what distribution actually is (Note: the 97-99 percentiles didn't even fit on this chart, while the top 1 percent had to be divided into ten columns): 

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Politizane points out that the top 1 percent own 40 percent of U.S. wealth, takes home nearly a quarter (24 percent) of the national income, and owns half of the country's stocks bonds and mutual funds.

Meanwhile the bottom 80 percent own just 7 percent of America's wealth, while the average worker has to work for a month to earn what the CEO makes in an hour.

The video concludes that "all we need to do is wake up and realize that the reality in this country is not at all what we think it is."

Check it out:

Why Is Obama Taking Orders From A Secretive Billionaire?

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Move over Koch brothers. Get out of the way Shelly Adelson. There’s another billionaire in town, and he’s doing all he can to privatize Social Security and Medicare programs.
Say hello to Pete Peterson.
Petersen is a Wall Street billionaire, who, according to The Center for Media and Democracy’s SourceWatch.Org, almost exclusively uses his wealth to back numerous organizations and public relations campaigns whose primary goals are to slash government funding to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
According to SourceWatch’s PetersonPyramid.org, in 2007, after making a fortune off of the public offering of a Wall Street private equity firm, Peterson pledged to spend a staggering $1 billion of his personal wealth to “fix America’s key fiscal-sustainability problems.”
A vast portion of that $1 billion is going to a shadowy astroturf supergroup campaign known as “The Campaign to Fix the Debt”. But don’t let the fairly innocuous title fool you.
As SourceWatch’s PetersonPyramid.org points out, in reality, the “Campaign to Fix the Debt” is just the latest effort by Peterson and a bunch of his billionaire friends and corporate cronies to cut away at Social Security and Medicare, all in the name of fixing America’s “debt problem”.
While “Fix the Debt” was started in the summer of 2012, before its launch Peterson was already funding organizations like the “Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget” and the “New America Foundation.” As PetersonPyramid.org notes, both of these organizations have the same goals of ultimately privatizing the Social Security and Medicare programs that millions of Americans rely on to survive.
Peterson also gave millions to support the Simpson-Bowles commission according to PetersonPyramid.org, a commission who’s proposed “solution” to fixing our debt includes massive austerity-type cuts to this nation’s social-safety-net programs. In fact, Erskine Bowles is a co-founder of the “Fix The Debt” program Peterson is funding, so it’s no surprise that the recent Simpson-Bowles Catfood Commission 2.0 plan included even more devastating cuts to Social Security and Medicaid.
Much like the many tentacles of the Kochtopus, “Fix the Debt” is more than just one campaign. As SourceWatch’s PetersonPyramid,org brilliantly points out, “Fix the Debt” is like a well-organized machine, made up of PR firms, corporate CEO’s, partner organizations, and so-called “state chapters.” Progressives argue that if the so-called “Fix the Debt” goals are reached, it will worsen the gap between the wealthy elite in America and everyone else.
But here’s the real kicker. Peterson and his “Fix the Debt” campaign have made it into the halls of The White House.
Many of the CEO’s involved with the “Fix the Debt” campaign are the heads of some of America’s largest corporations, and many have testified on Capitol Hill and met with President Obama directly during discussions on the economy and the national debt.
And then there are the corporations themselves that are involved in the campaign. The list of backers is a virtual Who’s Who of corporate greed and corruption, including big banks like Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase.
Besides defunding Social Security and Medicare, PetersonPyramid.org shows how “Fix the Debt” may also be a front for exploiting a corporate tax loophole to its fullest potential. Many of the corporations involved with “Fix the Debt” pay a negative tax rate – instead of paying taxes, they get government money back – which is a major reason why we have such a large federal deficit right now.
These corporations are pushing for a “globally competitive” tax structure that Citizens for Tax Justice says would increase the US debt by $1 trillion over the next decade, and would also encourage the offshoring of U.S jobs. While exploiting a corporate tax loophole isn’t a direct goal of “Fix the Debt,” the proposed “globally competitive” tax structure would bring in $134 billion for at least 63 corporations involved with “Fix the Debt,” according to a report by the Institute for Policy Studies.
And, of course, if Social Security is privatized, guess who takes over? Wall Street takes over. The same Wall Street where Peterson made his money, and where his buddies are salivating over the $2.7 trillion Social Security trust fund.
So what’s the bottom line to all of this?
Pete Peterson and his strong efforts to privatize Social Security and Medicare are working. Average Americans have no idea that Social Security is just fine, and has a $2.7 trillion surplus. Instead, in part because of all the PR and advertising and hired talking heads from Peterson's various front groups, Americans – particularly young Americans – are more likely than not to doubt Social Security will survive as long as they will.
This perception that the social safety net in this country is failing is helping turn America into a feudalistic state. Like in Dickens' 19thCentury England, the wealthy elite increasingly control everything, and the working class is forced to live off of billionaire scraps.
Every day that the “Fix the Debt” and other Pete Peterson efforts succeed at destroying Americans' faith in our own government, We The People lose.
To learn more about Peterson and his campaign, and his millionaire CEO buddies, go to www.petersonPyramid.org. And spread the word. Our national wealth, our national retirement and social safety net programs, should not be handed off to Wall Street.

Obama Administration Says President Can Use Lethal Force Against Americans on US Soil

DHS Purchases Armored Vehicles That Can Withstand Ballistic Arms Fire

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The Department of Homeland Security hassolicited for 2,717 Mine Resistant Protected vehicles from Navistar Defense.The MaxxPro Dash DXM “is built to withstand ballistic arms fire, mine blasts, IEDs, and other emerging threats.”

This vehicle can “deflect IED blasts away from the vehicle” and is recommended for combat conditions such as seen in Afghanistan.

Navistar Defense designs “a new military vehicle” that is developed to protect the lives of service men and women.


Interestingly DHS is commissioning vehicles that can withstand the blast from and improvised explosive device (IED).

In September of last year, DHS placed a solicitation by way of the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) for 700 pounds of High Density Ammonium Nitrate and 700 pounds of A-5 Flake RDX. With the delivery date scheduled for August 31, 2012, could DHS be planning a false flag attack involving a planted home-made bomb?

In the solicitation, the DHS did not specify information that a corporation seeking to reply with a bid would need. In addition, DHS is requesting that high density ammonium nitrate and RDX (the required booster) be delivered to an undisclosed government facility in downtown Atlantic City, NJ.

When creating a “makeshift terrorist bomb” ammonium nitrate is an integral ingredient. The DHS was given oversight of procurement of ammonium nitrate after Congress requested they “regulate the sale and transfer of ammonium nitrate by an ammonium nitrate facility…to prevent the misappropriation or use of ammonium nitrate in an act of terrorism.”

In May of 2012, the Global Campaign Against Improvised Explosive Devices (GCAIED) wrote a letter to Obama with the signatures of 23 members of Capitol Hill to bring “consensus” against the threat of IEDs. With intelligence gathered by the National Counterterrorism Center’s Worldwide Incident Tracking System, there is a doubling of IEDs being manufactured annually by civilians. The GCAIED claimed that IEDs will be used to attack civilian populations with the intention to disrupt daily routines, healthcare and the November elections (which never happened).

The most recent solicitation DHS made for 240,000 hollow point bullets has made quite a stir in the alternative media.1263461377w4oF70

Last August, The Pacific Southwest Region of the US Forest Service has solicitedammunition that is supposedly needed for target practice. In this instance, the amounts of hollow point bullets, 12 gauge rifle slugs, and other accessories are smaller than DHS has requested through other federal agencies.

DHS previously ordered more than 63,000,000 rounds of .40 S&W jacketed hollow point bullets (JHP).

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published a solicitation for 16,000 rounds of .40 S&W JHP.

The Social Security Office has also made a solicitation for 174,000 rounds of .357 hollow point bullets.

Is the DHS arming a private army with hollow point bullets with the intent to shoot at US Armed Forces, US veterans and civilians?

Major General Jerry Curry, who is a decorated combat veteran, Army Aviator, paratrooper and Ranger, has asked the question: “Who does the government intend to shoot?” In an op-ed piece, Curry brings up the strange purchases of hollow point bullets the Department of Homeland security has made recently. Through other federal agencies like the Social Security Office (SSO) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the DHS have ordered several thousand hollow point bullets as well.

Curry states: “No one has yet said what the purpose of these purchases is, though we are led to believe that they will be used only in an emergency to counteract and control civil unrest. Those against whom the hollow point bullets are to be used — those causing the civil unrest — must be American citizens; since the SSA has never been used overseas to help foreign countries maintain control of their citizens.”

The Geneva Convention outlaws hollow point bullets on the battle field because of their deadly nature. Curry asks if DHS intends to shoot “nation’s military and replace them with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) special security forces, forces loyal to the Administration, not to the Constitution?”

Last October, the US House of Representatives introduced HR 6566 which is an amendment of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 that imbues the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) “to provide guidance and coordination for mass fatality planning, and for other purposes.”

In the anticipated event of a “mass fatality”, coordination and planning must be forefront of FEMA with the assistance of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as referred by the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (CTI). In the event that the Executive Branch or Congress declares a mass disaster caused by nature, a domestic terrorist attack, or any other man-made catastrophe, there must be a national plan to prepare for and respond to the incident.

Elected officials assume that in such an event, funeral homes, cemeteries and mortuaries would be overwhelmed should millions of Americans suddenly die in a tragic event. There must also be allowances for survivors of such an event.

Representatives from local and state governments must coordinate with federal agencies, private sector businesses, non-profit organizations and appropriate individuals to prepare and respond to an incident wherein mass casualties occur.