Thursday, April 4, 2013

Take Your Money Out of the Bank, While You Still Can

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It is now clear, the government of Cyprus was given two options by the IMF and the EU in which they were told that they could steal money from private bank accounts or they could leave the Eurozone all together and face total economic annihilation. This theft involves seizing the funds of all accounts over 100,000 euros, then stealing up to 40% of those funds sometime over the next few weeks, or whenever EU finance ministers decide exactly how much to steal.

However, no accounts containing less than 100,000 euros will be impacted. This amount was not arbitrarily chosen. The 100,000 mark was chosen because all EU bank accounts are insured up to 100,000 euros. Therefore, the criminal banksters believe that they can steal anything over 100,000 euros because it is not insured.

Except for the 132 preferred insiders who got their money out of Cyprus the day before the announcement of the grand banking theft, the Eurogroup finance ministers have subsequently announced that the large Bank of Cyprus depositors’ above the 100,000 level now have their accounts frozen. The 132 preferred insiders reminds me of Goldman Sachs doing a put option for preferred insiders in Transocean stock the morning of the Gulf oil explosion.

Lars Christensen, the CEO of Saxo Bank, in a recent blog post, chastised the thievery of the IMF and the EU with the following statement.
This is a breach of fundamental property rights, dictated to a small country by foreign powers and it must make every bank depositor in Europe shiver. Although the representatives at the bailout press conference tried to present this as a one-off, they were not willing to rule out similar measures elsewhere – not that it would have mattered much as the trust is gone anyway. It is now difficult to expect any kind of limitation to what measures the Troika and EU might take when the crisis really starts to bite.

If you can do this once, you can do it again. if you can confiscate 10 percent of a bank customer’s money, you can confiscate 25, 50 or even 100 percent. I now believe we will see worse as the panic increases, with politicians desperately trying to keep the EUR alive.
Depositors in other prospective bailout countries must be running scared – is it safe to keep money in an Italian, Spanish or Greek bank anymore? I don’t know, must be the answer. Is it prudent to take the risk? You decide. I fear this will lead to massive capital outflows from weak Eurozone countries, just about the last thing they need right now.
Plain and simple, the Cyprus fiasco is a bankster beta test which is being used to test the intestinal fortitude of bank depositors. If there is no uprising in Cyprus, the banksters will move on to Greece, then to Italy, and on to Spain. Even New Zealand is rumored to be in the cross-hairs of the banksters. In short, these tactics will spread like wildfire to every G20 nation on the planet including the United States.

Helicopter Ben Bernanke refuses to address the possibility of this grand theft spreading to the United States. However, recent DHS actions have spoken volumes to that end, as they have declared that, under the PATRIOT Act, they can enter any safe deposit box and seize any bank account. Further, any bank employee caught leaking DHS memos to the public can and will be prosecuted under the same act. Subsequently, the US will not need a Cyprus-like Deposit Tax since they can take whatever is deemed as contraband by an inspecting DHS agent -- and they will not likely stop with seizing safe deposit boxes.

Now America should know why the DHS has purchased 2.2 billion rounds of ammunition and 2700 armored vehicles, as they know that this planned theft will be met with resistance by American account holders. And DHS will not stop with the theft of our bank accounts. My sources tell me that Obama is going after every investment including our pensions and 401(k)’s. The banksters on Wall Street are also acquiring firearms, ammunition and control over private mercenary corporations like DynCorp and Blackwater, as authorized by Department of Defense (DOD) directive 3025.18. It is interesting to note that this is the same DynCorp that was caught trafficking in child sex rings and got off with only a small fine. The bankers have revealed themselves for who they really are.

With all the discourse covering this volatile situation in which nobody’s money is safe, the “legal precedent” has already been set in stone courtesy of the United States justice system. Who could ever forget the MF Global (MFG) scandal which stunned American financial centers when Jon “the Don” Corzine, CEO of MF Global, oversaw the disappearance of $6.3 billion dollars, from secured and segregated accounts, which were used as collateral on bad gambling bets placed upon indebted European nations. The subsequent European nation’s credit ratings went down the toilet and JP Morgan, the mastermind behind this theft of secured investment funds, handsomely profited. And where was the Securities and Exchange Commission during this criminal debacle? Well, the agent in charge of the division which would have overseen the MF Global theft by former Goldman Sachs, Jon Corzine, was former Goldman Sachs enforcement agent, Gary Gensler.

And let’s not forget about the stunning decision made in August of 2012, in which the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, from Illinois, ruled that once a person deposits their personal money in the bank, the bank is free to do whatever it wants to do with the depositor funds including covering their bank losses, engaging in risky investments and, presumably, even stealing the funds. Is it clear why Jesus chased the money changers from the Temple?

Get your money out of the bank immediately. Leave just enough in the bank to pay bills. Buy a fireproof safe and install it in a secure and hidden location within your home. Do not keep anything in a safety deposit box because very soon it will become the property of DHS.

Could this be the beginning of the trigger event which will ultimately lead to revolution in this country, complete with roundups and mass exterminations of dissidents? Time will tell. Meanwhile, get your money out of the banks, now, while you still can.

Visions: America after Hegemony

With the Iraq war fading into memory even as the country still simmers, the U.S. peace movement faces the need to reframe its message.
We have spent the last 10 years resisting the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – tragedies that have not only devastated those two countries and taken tens of thousands of lives, but have left thousands of returning veterans with lifelong disabilities and taken a huge toll on our national economy.
We’ve exposed nuclear weapons’ threat to human survival, organized against sanctions and war on Iran and the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and built alliances with labor and community groups to cut the military budget.
We’ve opposed lawless torture and drone killings, cyber-warfare attacks, and the U.S. “pivot,” which seeks to encircle China with military bases.
These campaigns are important, but they primarily arouse internationals, longtime activists, and leftists, not the indignation of millions. To get out of the echo chamber, we need to present a vision of a democratic foreign and security policy that would tie our many campaigns together into a coherent whole, from the local to the global.
Such a platform would provide hope to the many who sense that something is wrong with corporate capitalism, with U.S. foreign policy, and with the military-industrial complex. It would set the basis for a principled alliance between the peace movement and the labor, immigrant rights, women’s, economic, social, and racial justice movements that are its natural allies. 
In short, the peace movement needs to make it clear not only what we are against, but what we are for.
A Hegemonic Foreign Policy in a Unipolar World 
The organizing principle of U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Cold War has been to ensure that every nation in the world stays within a security structure managed and controlled by Washington. Nations, regardless of their ideological orientation, that refuse to follow U.S. wishes find themselves demonized and pressured to conform, while nations whose states are not centralized enough to control their territory are called “failed states” and are subjected to often counterproductive “nation building.”
In colloquial terms, Washington seeks to act as the world’s policeman. Defenders of U.S. hegemony often darkly warn of the disorder that might result if the United States did not shoulder this difficult task. They offer the 9/11 attacks as the ultimate darkness to spring from an unpoliced world, limiting the national security debate between Democrats and Republicans to what MIT scholar Barry Posen calls “the modalities of hegemony.”
But when it comes to any meaningful discussion of whether the United States has any business running the rest of the world, the silence is deafening. Congress and the mainstream media almost never discuss why the United States should maintain a global force structure, why it needs to station an estimated 1,000 bases in over 100 countries, why it requires exorbitantly expensive weapons systems, or why it has a “vital interest” in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, or in the region surrounding China. These questions are never asked because of the ruling elite’s consensus on the need for hegemony.
It is true that most Americans still fear terrorism and, more generally. foreign threats to their security.  Opinion makers have cultivated these fears in every possible way since 9/11, with terrorism replacing Communism as a bogey-man justifying the policy of hegemony, or what Stephen Walt calls “deep engagement.”
Yet polls also consistently show that majorities of Americans support cutting the military budget instead of Social Security, Medicare, or other essential programs. That tells us that while people think the military might keep them safe, they are absolutely sure that Social Security does.
In other words, support for the hegemonic foreign policy is soft. But to crack the hegemonic consensus, the peace movement must offer an alternative to hegemony that offers real security to the American people — a new democratic foreign policy that does a better job than hegemony of providing human security.
Hegemony and Empire
Hegemony is not just a transitory policy of U.S. elites trying to secure the homeland in the most effective way possible. On the contrary, the United States’ hegemonic foreign policy is tied to its leadership of the global economic system that has been in place since at least 1945. 
With the world as a single market, capitalist firms can reap profits from worldwide production. They can produce wherever the cost of production is least, paying workers in underdeveloped countries a pittance. They can build global production and distribution chains, integrating capitalist firms in various countries into a single network. They can sell their products to a market of at least 3 billion people throughout the world with disposable income, creating world-wide monopoly corporations of unprecedented scale. Monopoly, not the so-called “free market,” is the most advantageous arrangement for capital, because it allows for relatively stable, profitable production untroubled by competitors. 
U.S. hegemonic military power has provided the framework for that single market. As globalization enthusiast Tom Friedman explained in 1999, “[S]ustainable globalization still requires a stable, geopolitical power structure, which simply cannot be maintained without the active involvement of the United States. ...The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist — McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the builder of the F-15.” 
“Empire” is really a better name than “hegemony” for the current international system, because global U.S. control is not a political choice that can be changed by new domestic political alignments, but rather a system with deep economic roots that transcends partisan control of Washington. Indeed,  elite interest in a U.S. “empire” goes back long before the postwar period, back to the 1890s and to the framers of the Constitution. 
Yet the 2008 economic crash was an unmistakable reminder that worldwide monopoly production is no longer stable. Rivalry between banks and hedge funds over investment in the most profitable companies destabilized the financial system, as one bubble after another burst.  In the coming years, as Chinese economic growth and south-south economic ties begin to overtake U.S. leadership, the role of U.S. military might will also come into question internationally as an increasing number of countries and movements seek to arrange matters differently. 
The crash also raised questions in the minds of millions about the ability of the world capitalist economic system to deliver jobs, life, and prosperity to them. People are scrutinizing the desirability of capitalism and globalization as never before. Among the more than 99 percent of Americans who don’t own global companies, the question is there, waiting to be asked, of whether U.S. foreign policy actually serves their interests. The time is therefore ripe for the peace movement to offer a new foreign policy which serves the interests of the domestic and global 99 percent better than the hegemonic order.
Five proposals for a new foreign policy
Peace Action’s Kevin Martin has called for the peace movement to propose “a new vision for our country’s role in the world—to create a new foreign policy for the 99 percent.” Such a foreign policy, he says, should be based on the “widely shared ideals of democracy, justice, human rights, international cooperation, and sustainability.” 
I think Martin is absolutely right — but we still need to explain what that policy would be and how it would work, applying it to each region of the world and each type of international problem. We also have to identify the interests that would favor and those that would oppose the new policy. As such, Martin has pointed towards the policy that we need, but has not articulated it in detail.
So what would a foreign policy for the 99 percent actually look like?
The Coalition for a Strong United Nations, a Boston-based grassroots group, issued a “Peace Platform” in 2003 which, although a decade old, is consistent with Martin’s ideas. “[T]he world is no longer a collection of sovereign nations, but a single homeland, and each member of the human family is a citizen of that homeland,” it proclaimed. “No nation’s people can be secure when so many people around the world are denied a decent standard of living or deprived of basic rights. No peace can be achieved unless the society of nations begins to function more as a real community, with each nation abiding by a commonly accepted code of international law.”
The CSUN platform offers specific proposals in the areas of human rights, development, the environment, security, governance, education, and health. In the security arena it calls for the United States to “commit to a phased disarmament program,” “renounce universal military intervention,” “stop funding other nations’ military arsenals,” “strengthen the authority and resources of the UN,” “abide by the decisions of the World Court,” “support the development and training of a Non-Violent Peace Force,” and “create a Department of Peace.”
CSUN’s proposal outlines a better foreign and security policy, but it doesn’t explain how to implement it, or identify whose interests would be helped and hurt. Without an answer to that question, it is likely to remain on the shelf as an idealistic exercise.
At a Korean solidarity conference in November 2012, Joseph Gerson presented “common security” as a framework that, while not an ultimate foundation for human security, could meaningfully relieve international tensions. Common security, an idea first promulgated by the late Swedish prime minister Olaf Palme, “recognizes that nations as well as individuals respond to fear, that when one side augments its military arsenal and actions to respond to perceived threats from the other, that this will be seen as a threat by the other side, resulting in the enemy augmenting its arsenal and actions in a defensive but frightening response. This leads to a mutually reinforcing and spiraling arms race, not unlike what we now have in Asia and the Pacific.” A response based on common security, said Gerson, would involve “hard-headed negotiations in which each side names its fears and arrives at diplomatic solutions which address the anxieties of all involved. ... Common security is inconsistent with the pursuit of empire, which ultimately can be overcome only by people's will and as a result of contradictions including, in the case of the United States' misplaced priorities, imperial over-reach.” 
Given its emphasis on established diplomatic and security structures, common security is a more modest and less idealistic proposal compared to the Martin and CSUN visions. But can a common security paradigm guide the U.S. peace movement in helping the United States move away from hegemony to a democratic foreign policy? Tyler Cullis of the Boston University Antiwar Coalition took such an approach recently when he addressed the Iran sanctions issue at a January debate, outlining a negotiating platform for the United States that addresses real fears on both sides and proposes constructive steps. Yet it remains unclear if “common security” can move from preventing catastrophic wars to serve as an intermediary step away from empire that movements for greater justice and peace can build upon. 
Speaking from a “realist” rather than a “peacemaking” perspective, Barry Posen made his own proposals for a change in foreign policy in a January 2013 article inForeign Affairs. After a decade of war, he now says that hegemony is too expensive for the United States to sustain and that it “makes enemies almost as fast as it slays them.” Posen therefore proposes to end hegemony and adopt in its place a “strategy of restraint,” which means “removing large numbers of U.S. troops from forward bases” and “transforming the military into a smaller force that goes to war only when it truly must.”
Posen makes clear that the military budget cuts consistent with a “strategy of restraint” should release more funds to “preserve the country's prosperity and security over the long run.” These goals fit with much of President Obama’s early second-term rhetoric, though Obama has not at all embraced the strategy changes Posen calls for. And importantly, they draw a link from conflict resolution abroad to “nation-building at home.” 
Posen does not address the globalized commerce that has required the global security regime. He assumes that there is really no U.S. interest that requires the degree of “activism” that it has displayed in the past 20 years, nor does he propose any increase in international cooperation that might provide for stability in the absence of hegemonic power. His proposal therefore does not qualify as a new democratic foreign policy, but rather as a less imperial, less hegemonic policy, which if realized could create space for democratic interests to assert themselves in the future.
In a similar vein, Stephen Kinzer recently outlined a “Wacko Birds” manifesto for U.S. foreign policy, taking the name from an epithet hurled by the militarist John McCain. Like Posen, Kinzer emphasizes that the United States has overreached, but calls only for a more moderate pursuit of “U.S. vital interests.” Kinzer does not consider the possibility that the true interests of most Americans lie in cooperation with people in other countries rather than in solidarity with U.S. corporations.
Towards a Democratic and Peaceful Foreign Policy
Thus the problem remains ripe for more solutions. The peace movement needs a comprehensive, positive framework to present, one which is compelling enough to be taken up and implemented by a progressive majority consisting of an alliance of social movements. I thank the authors I have mentioned for their thought provoking contributions. Yet while each of the proposals examined has positive aspects, none seems to be adequate by itself to point the way forward. We have more work to do! 
As Martin writes, “It’s about the entrenched power of the U.S. war machine, and about how we the peoples of this country and around the world can work together to create more peaceful, just, and sustainable policies. We can do it; in fact we have no choice but to do it.” 
So, let us work to create those policies so that our movements can advocate for a positive vision of security and cooperation.

9/11: Illegitimacy of US government

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More than 11 years after the catastrophic destruction of the World Trade Center, New York City’s government is finally asking: What in the world could have happened to the missing 1,116 victims? 

In every building collapse in history, all of the victims’ bodies have been recovered more or less intact. That is because falling buildings crush human bodies. They do not shred them into tiny pieces, or cause them to vanish into thin air. 

Yet on September 11th, 2001, the most famous “building collapses” in history somehow caused the bodies of more than 1,000 victims to magically disappear. Not even a shred of skin, a fragment of fingernail, or a shard of bone from any of these bodies was ever recovered, despite meticulous “sifting and bucketing” efforts. 

But that’s not the only mystery. Hardly anything was left of the 1,634 WTC occupants who did not completely vanish. Most of the human remains discovered and DNA-identified were in the form of tiny, shredded pieces, not intact bodies. 

What happened to the nearly 3,000 human bodies that were annihilated during the ten-second disappearances of the 110-story Towers? Answer: The same thing that happened to the office furniture, filing cabinets, telephones, computers, and other contents of the Towers. Virtually no remains of these objects were ever recovered, either. They - like the human bodies - were somehow transformed into a mixture of tiny shards and sub-100-micron dust, which floated out to sea and slowly settled into the Atlantic. As one of the sifters-and-bucketers remarked, the biggest piece of office furniture recovered from Ground Zero was a tiny fragment of a telephone keypad. 

Now, more than 11 years later, the New York City government is finally acknowledging the mystery. In a memo to the 9/11 victims’ families, NYC official Casey Holloway announced that this Monday, April 1st, the city’s Chief Medical Examiner will begin sifting through 60 truckloads of World Trade Center construction debris at Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island. The city says it hopes to find remains of at least some of the 1,116 missing victims. 

Unfortunately, the chances of finding remains of more than a few additional victims seem remote. After all, the Twin Towers debris - which amounted to less than 50% of the mass of the Towers (what happened to the rest of the mass?) - was already meticulously sifted and bucketed more than a decade ago. The city’s decision to sift through recent construction debris beginning April 1st bears more than a passing resemblance to George W. Bush’s decision to get down on his hands and knees to look under his desk for the missing Iraqi WMD. Is this some kind of cruel April Fools’ Day joke? 

The absence of crushed-but-intact human bodies, office furniture and equipment, and 50% of the Towers’ mass suggests that the Twin Towers did not collapse - they exploded. (See the Youtube film “North Tower Exploding.”) This would explain why tiny human bone fragments were discovered scattered all over the roof of the neighboring Deutsche Bank building in 2006. No simple gravitational collapse, like the one posited by US government’s official NIST Report, could possibly blast human skeletons to smithereens and deposit those smithereens all over the roof of a neighboring building. 

Were the Twin Towers, and the thousands of people inside them, blown to bits by explosives? That is what many of the 9/11 victims’ family members believe. Robert McIlvaine, whose son Bobby was murdered in the Twin Towers on 9/11, has stated that roughly half the family members share his suspicion that the Towers were explosively demolished in a false-flag attack. William Rodriguez, the famous 9/11 hero who has spoken to hundreds of thousands of people around the world, is another representative of the 9/11 survivors who asserts that the evidence for “controlled demolition” is an open secret. 

Scientist Carl Sagan once pointed out that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” But sometimes absence of evidence IS a smoking gun. The absence of intact bodies, office contents, and half of the mass of the Twin Towers is a smoking gun proving that the Towers were explosively demolished. 

The missing contents and mass of the Twin Towers are not the only mysterious “absence” connected with 9/11. Other notable “missing evidence” includes: 

* The absence of the US government’s 80-plus videos of the attack on the Pentagon, some of which were confiscated by FBI agents just moments after the attack. Only a few frames have been released, and those frames show an explosion at the Pentagon but no big airliner. 

* The absence of the 100,000 kilos of Boeing 757 airliner that supposedly entered the Pentagon. No record exists of those 100,000 kilos of airliner debris, or the plane’s luggage and passenger remains, ever being removed from any of the three widely-separated damaged areas of the Pentagon. 

* The absence of the 100,000 kilos of Boeing 757 airliner that supposedly buried itself in the soft earth beneath a shallow fifteen-foot-diameter crater in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. There is no evidence of 100,000 kilos of airliner debris, along with passenger remains and luggage, being recovered from beneath the ground at the alleged crash site. 

* The absence of the official airline passenger lists, security video footage, ticket stubs, testimony from airline employees, or any other actual evidence that the 19 young Arabs blamed for 9/11 were even on the planes. 

* The absence of the audio recordings of FAA personnel debriefing each other about what they experienced on 9/11. These recordings were confiscated by an FAA supervisor and shredded into tiny pieces, which were discarded into many widely-separated trash receptacles so they could never be collected and reconstructed. 

* The absence of the indestructible “black boxes” of the planes that hit the Twin Towers. The US government claims these flight data recorders were never recovered, but first responders say they were present when they were found and taken away by FBI agents. 

* The absence of the government’s most important cited evidence: The audio and video recordings of the lengthy torture sessions and scripted false confessions of mentally-retarded “9/11 mastermind” Abu Zubaydah and his fellow “mastermind” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The CIA admits that it illegally destroyed these recordings, anonymous second-hand reports of which are cited in the 9/11 Commission Report as its only evidence for the 19-hijackers scenario. 

* The absence of any plausible innocent explanation for the BBC’s premature report of the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7, Larry Silverstein’s confession that he demolished WTC-7, and (of course) the obvious controlled demolition of that building. 

In every one of these cases - as in the case of the 1,116 missing victims - the absence of evidence is a smoking gun. 

The US government now faces a complete absence of legitimacy.

The terrible cost of Washington’s wars

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Harvard University’s new report estimating that the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will end up costing as much as $6 trillion is another indication of the terrible price paid by working people the world over for the crimes of imperialism.
This is the latest in a series of studies done by Harvard’s senior lecturer on public policy, Linda Bilmes, together with economist Joseph Stiglitz. Each successive study has raised the estimate of the wars’ long-term costs, due in large measure to the rising and sustained costs of caring for and compensating hundreds of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who have returned home suffering grievous physical and psychological trauma.
Concealed behind the raw numbers are lives forever altered, not only for the 50,000 American troops “wounded in action,” but also for hundreds of thousands more suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health problems—fully one third of those deployed—and traumatic brain injuries (inflicted on over a quarter of a million troops).
The Pentagon has attributed the unprecedented number of soldiers and Marines diagnosed with PTSD, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues to a changed culture within the armed forces dispelling some of the stigma associated with reporting such problems in previous wars.
While no doubt this is a factor, the nature of the wars themselves plays a decisive role. Launched on the basis of lies about terrorism and “weapons of mass destruction,” the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq initiated protracted dirty colonial-style occupations aimed at subjugating whole peoples and laying hold of strategic resources, most critically oil.
Soldiers told they were being sent to avenge 9/11 and fight Al Qaeda found themselves engaged in an entirely different enterprise, which involved terrible crimes against civilians and the turning of entire populations into the “enemy.”
Of course, the $6 trillion figure included in the Harvard report does not begin to make a full accounting for these wars. It assesses only the impact on the US economy. What of the cost of rebuilding countries shattered by wars in which more than 1 million Iraqis and Afghans lost their lives? What about the cost of helping millions more who have been maimed or turned into refugees in their own countries?
As for the measurable costs of the wholesale destruction of social infrastructure—water, electricity, education, health care, employment—the study only includes the amount spent by the US government in reconstruction schemes riddled with corruption and incompetence, in which tens of billions of dollars were wasted or disappeared into the pockets of shady contractors and crooked politicians.
Then there was the financing of the wars. Bush administration officials such as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed at the outset that the cost of the Iraq war would be “something under $50 billion”—less than one one-hundredth of the current estimate.
The wars were funded through “supplemental appropriations,” a practice begun under Bush and continued under Obama, including to finance his Afghanistan surge. Paid for “off the books” of the normal budgetary process, the true costs to the American people—now estimated at $75,000 per household—were kept hidden. Instead of raising revenues to pay for military operations, the government cut taxes for the rich and borrowed some $2 trillion, largely from abroad.
These methods of financing the wars, supported by both Democrats and Republicans, were of a piece with the fraud, parasitism and socially destructive forms of speculation that pervade the workings of the US financial system and American capitalism as a whole.
While officials of both parties join the refrain that there is no money for jobs, decent wages, education, quality health care and other vital social necessities, they were prepared to raise immense resources for Washington’s war machine—leaving them to be paid for through intensified austerity measures against working people.
Bilmes, who correctly dismisses any prospect of the ending of full-scale wars in Iraq and Afghanistan producing a “peace dividend,” predicts that another long-term impact of war costs will be “a much smaller amount of an already-shrinking defense budget available for core military functions.” She suggests that the spiraling medical and compensation costs will likely produce a reduction in troop levels and a “greater investment in unmanned weaponry,” such as armed drones.
The Obama administration has dramatically expanded drone warfare, conducting murderous remote-controlled bombing campaigns against defenseless populations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere and proclaiming the presidential right to order drone assassinations of American citizens. However, this tactical shift by no means precludes the launching of wars that are far more costly in lives and resources than those waged in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Indeed, the impunity enjoyed by those who launched the wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan, the failure to hold anyone accountable for patent war crimes—in the first instance George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and George Tenet—makes more such wars all the more likely.
The Obama administration has already carried out war for regime change in Libya and is backing a similar war in Syria, while threatening Iran with military aggression, deploying troops to Africa and carrying out a “pivot” toward Asia accompanied by continuous ratcheting up of military tensions with China.
While the working class had no say in the decision to launch wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan and will be offered none in the new wars already being prepared, it will bear their full cost in the form of redoubled attacks on jobs, wages and essential social services, as well as in the killing and maiming of young workers sent to fight them.
The vast resources wasted and the incalculable human suffering inflicted by the bloated US military and intelligence apparatus pose the urgency of building a genuine mass movement against militarism and war. This can develop only as an independent social and political movement of the working class directed against the capitalist system.

The Big Banks Are Recklessly Gambling With Our Money, And It Will Cause The Global Financial System To Collaps

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Have you ever wondered how the big banks make such enormous mountains of money?  Well, the truth is that much of it is made by gambling recklessly.  If they win on their bets, they become fabulously wealthy.  If they lose on their bets, they know that the government will come in and arrange for the banks to be bailed out because they are "too big to fail".  Either they will be bailed out by the government using our tax dollars, or as we just witnessed in Cyprus, they will be allowed to "recapitalize" themselves by stealing money directly from our bank accounts.  So if they win, they win big.  If they lose, someone else will come in and clean up the mess.  This creates a tremendous incentive for the bankers to "go for it", because there is simply not enough pain in this equation for those that are taking the risks.  If the big Wall Street banks had been allowed to collapse back in 2008, that would have caused a massive change of behavior on Wall Street.  But instead, the big banks are still recklessly gambling with our money as if the last financial crisis never even happened.  In the end, the reckless behavior of these big banks is going to cause the entire global financial system to collapse.
Have you noticed how most news reports about Cyprus don't even get into the reasons why the big banks in Cyprus collapsed?
Well, the truth is that they collapsed because they were making incredibly reckless bets with the money that had been entrusted to them.  In a recent article, Ron Paul explained how the situation played out once the bets started to go bad...
The dramatic recent events in Cyprus have highlighted the fundamental weakness in the European banking system and the extreme fragility of fractional reserve banking. Cypriot banks invested heavily in Greek sovereign debt, and last summer's Greek debt restructuring resulted in losses equivalent to more than 25 percent of Cyprus' GDP. These banks then took their bad investments to the government, demanding a bailout from an already beleaguered Cypriot treasury. The government of Cyprus then turned to the European Union (EU) for a bailout.
If those bets had turned out to be profitable, the bankers would have kept all of the profits.  But those bets turned out to be big losers, and private bank accounts in Cyprus are now being raided to pay the bill.  Unfortunately, as Ron Paul noted, what just happened in Cyprus is already being touted as a "template" for future bank bailouts all over the globe...
The elites in the EU and IMF failed to learn their lesson from the popular backlash to these tax proposals, and have openly talked about using Cyprus as a template for future bank bailouts. This raises the prospect of raids on bank accounts, pension funds, and any investments the government can get its hands on. In other words, no one's money is safe in any financial institution in Europe. Bank runs are now a certainty in future crises, as the people realize that they do not really own the money in their accounts. How long before bureaucrat and banker try that here?
Unfortunately, all of this is the predictable result of a fiat paper money system combined with fractional reserve banking. When governments and banks collude to monopolize the monetary system so that they can create money out of thin air, the result is a business cycle that wreaks havoc on the economy. Pyramiding more and more loans on top of a tiny base of money will create an economic house of cards just waiting to collapse. The situation in Cyprus should be both a lesson and a warning to the United States.
This is an example of what can happen when the dominoes start to fall.  The banks of Cyprus failed because Greek debt went bad.  And the Greeks were using derivatives to try to hide the true scope of their debt problems.  The following is what Jim Sinclair recently told King World News...
When people say that the Cypriot banks lost because of being in Greek debt, what was one of the Greeks’ greatest sins? They used over-the-counter derivatives in order to hide the real condition of their balance sheet.
Depositor money, brokerage money, and clearing house money have been tangled up in the mountain of derivatives as the banks have used this cash to speculate in an attempt to make huge bonuses for bank executives.
As I have written about so many times, the global quadrillion dollarderivatives bubble is one of the greatest threats that the global financial system is facing.  As Sinclair explained to King World News, when this derivatives bubble bursts and the losses start soaring, the big banks are going to want to raid private bank accounts just like the banks in Cyprus were able to...
What do you think happens when Buffett reports that he made $10 billion in derivatives? Somebody else lost $10 billion and it was most likely one financial institution. There is no question that what we are seeing right now is not isolated to Cyprus. It has happened everywhere, but is has been camouflaged by making the depositors and the banks whole. What Cyprus will reveal is that losses do not stop with the bank’s capital. Losses roar right through bank capital and take depositors’ money.
This could have all been avoided if we had allowed the big Wall Street banks to collapse back in 2008.  Reckless behavior would have been greatly punished and banks would have chosen to do business differently in the future.
David Stockman, the former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, says that because we bailed out the big banks it was a signal to them that they could go back and freely engage in the same kind of reckless behavior that they were involved in previously...
Essentially there was a cleansing run on the wholesale funding market in the canyons of Wall Street going on. It would have worked its will, just like JP Morgan allowed it to happen in 1907 when we did not have the Fed getting in the way. Because they stopped it in its tracks after the AIG bailout and then all the alphabet soup of different lines that the Fed threw out, and then the enactment of TARP, the last two investment banks standing were rescued, Goldman and Morgan [Stanley], and they should not have been. As a result of being rescued and having the cleansing liquidation of rotten balance sheets stopped, within a few weeks and certainly months they were back to the same old games, such that Goldman Sachs got $10 billion dollars for the fiscal year that started three months later after that check went out, which was October 2008. For the fiscal 2009 year, Goldman Sachs generated what I call a $29 billion surplus – $13 billion of net income after tax, and on top of that$16 billion of salaries and bonuses, 95% of it which was bonuses.
Therefore, the idea that they were on death’s door does not stack up. Even if they had been, it would not make any difference to the health of the financial system. These firms are supposed to come and go, and if people make really bad bets, if they have a trillion dollar balance sheet with six, seven, eight hundred billion dollars worth of hot-money short-term funding, then they ought to take their just reward, because it would create lessons, it would create discipline. So all the new firms that would have been formed out of the remnants of Goldman Sachs where everybody lost their stock values – which for most of these partners is tens of millions, hundreds of millions – when they formed a new firm, I doubt whether they would have gone back to the old game. What happened was the Fed stopped everything in its tracks, kept Goldman Sachs intact, the reckless Goldman Sachs and the reckless Morgan Stanley, everyone quickly recovered their stock value and the game continues. This is one of the evils that comes from this kind of deep intervention in the capital and money markets.
The lessons that we were supposed to learn from the crisis of 2008 have not been learned.
Instead, the lure of huge returns and big bonuses has caused a return to the exact same behavior that caused the crisis of 2008 in the first place.  The following is one example of this phenomenon from a recent articleby Wolf Richter...
The craziness on Wall Street, the reckless for-the-moment-only behavior that led to the Financial Crisis, is back.
This time it’s Citigroup that is once again concocting “synthetic” securities, like those that had wreaked havoc five years ago. And once again, it’s using them to shuffle off risks through the filters of Wall Street to people who might never know.
What bubbled to the surface is that Citigroup is selling synthetic securities that yield 13% to 15% annually—synthetic because they’re based on credit derivatives. Apparently, Citi has a bunch of shipping loans on its books, and it’s trying to protect itself against default. In return for succulent interest payments, investors will take on some of the risks of these loans.
Yes, the Dow hit another new all-time high today.  But the derivatives bubble that hangs over the global economy like a sword of Damocles could burst at literally any moment.  When it does, the damage is going to be incalculable.
In a previous article entitled "Why Is The World Economy Doomed? The Global Financial Pyramid Scheme By The Numbers", I noted a couple of statistics that show why derivatives are such an enormous problem...
-$212,525,587,000,000 - According to the U.S. government, this is the notional value of the derivatives that are being held by the top 25 banks in the United States.  But those banks only have total assets of about 8.9 trillion dollars combined.  In other words, the exposure of our largest banks to derivatives outweighs their total assets by a ratio of about 24 to 1.
-$600,000,000,000,000 to $1,500,000,000,000,000 - The estimates of the total notional value of all global derivatives generally fall within this range.  At the high end of the range, the ratio of derivatives to global GDP is more than 21 to 1.
When the derivatives bubble finally bursts, where are we going to get the trillions upon trillions of dollars that will be needed to "fix" things this time?
And sadly, the reality is that we are quickly running out of time.
It is important to keep watching Europe.  As I noted the other day, the European banking system as a whole is leveraged about 26 to 1 at this point.  When Lehman Brothers finally collapsed, it was leveraged about 30 to 1.
And the economic crisis over in Europe just continues to get worse.  It was announced on Tuesday that the unemployment rate in the eurozone is at an all-time record high of 12 percent, and the latest manufacturing numbers show that manufacturing activity over in Europe is in the process of collapsing.
So don't be fooled by the fact that the Dow keeps setting new all-time record highs.  This bubble of false hope will be very short-lived.
The unfortunate truth is that the global financial system is a complete and total mess, and at this point a collapse appears to be inevitable.