Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Shock Doctrine of the Oligarchy Cannot Be Allowed to Debilitate Us

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Naomi Klein's brilliant 2008 book, "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism," was a visionary breakthrough in understanding how the oligarchy uses catastrophic circumstances to seize economic control of nations. Taking advantage of natural, political and financial upheaval, Klein cogently argues, the apostles of Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand use disaster as an opportunity to implement extremist free-market economic policies while reducing government spending for the common good.
The mainstream media and political narrative that we have lived with for years - of lurching from one sensationalist crisis to another - has evolved into a continuous "shock doctrine." The neoliberal forces of unfettered capitalism and the global consolidation of wealth advance as we are distracted by lurid coverage that stimulates our fears but not our brains. Akira Watts eloquently addressed this ceaseless barrage of "fourth-estate" terror in a BuzzFlash commentary yesterday, "ISIS, Ebola, and Why Fear of the Unknown Makes Us Stupid."
The never-ending fusillade of frightening images and news evoke the fear of monsters from our childhood. It is news that both attracts and repulses us because of its titillating appeal to out primal phobias.
We cannot afford, however, to become so dismayed by the onslaught of unrelenting gruesome images and stories that we become paralyzed from taking action to reduce long-term grave threats and inequities, while also working to create a future that turns promising possibilities into realities.
The neoliberal corporate plutocracy owns the dominant media in the United States, and it couldn't be happier with the combination of high revenue and a numbed public. People who live in a permanent state of consternation and dismay do not rise up in revolt and demand systemic change. It's not difficult to pick the pocket of someone who is gaping at another person being mugged.
Grassroots activism has not disappeared. In recent years, we have seen a surge of protest in Wisconsin; the Occupy Movement; the New York climate march; the massive resistance in Ferguson, Missouri - and many more actions and movements. However, each time flames start to lick at the feet of the established order, there are massive attempts to smother them out, through a combination of police force, media distraction and the political power of the plutocracy.
The ongoing passage of trade agreements that provide global corporations with unprecedented powers - the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) is pending, as well as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) - have been implemented for more than two decades now. Although there has been active opposition to many of them - particularly the Trans-Pacific Partnership - they generally sale through Congress and are signed by whatever president is in power, regardless of party.
The global trade agreements are allowing neoliberal economics to supersede sovereignty, and empowering corporations with rights that vitiate local regulations. This is what happens when the "shock doctrine" becomes a permanent part of our lives as a result of opportunistic media coverage.
If we continue to be transfixed by media-instilled fear about issues over which we have little control, we will ignore those over which we should be most concerned. That would indeed lead to a real catastrophe, one that we could prevent - if we avoid the paralysis of ongoing dread induced by corporate television news.

Serious Financial Trouble Is Erupting In Germany And Japan

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There are some who believe that the next great financial crash will not begin in the United States.  Instead, they are convinced that a financial crisis that begins in Europe or in Japan (or both) will end up spreading across the globe and take down the U.S. too.  Time will tell if they are ultimately correct, but even now there are signs that financial trouble is already starting to erupt in both Germany and Japan.  German stocks have declined 10 percent since July, and that puts them in "correction" territory.  In Japan, the economy is a total mess right now.  According to figures that were just released, Japanese GDP contracted at a 7.1 percent annualized rate during the second quarter and private consumption contracted at a 19 percent annualized rate.  Could a financial collapse in either of those nations be the catalyst that sets off financial dominoes all over the planet?
This week, the worst German industrial production figure since 2009 rattled global financial markets.  Germany is supposed to be the economic "rock" of Europe, but at this point that "rock" is starting to show cracks.
And certainly the civil war in Ukraine and the growing Ebola crisis are not helping things either.  German investors are becoming increasingly jittery, and as I mentioned above the German stock market has already declined 10 percent since July...
German stocks, weighed down by the economic fallout spawned by the Ukraine-Russia crisis and the eurzone’s weak economy, are now down more than 10% from their July peak and officially in correction territory.
The DAX, Germany’s benchmark stock index, has succumbed to recent data points that show the German economy has ground to a halt, hurt in large part by the economic sanctions levied at its major trading partner, Russia, by the U.S. and European Union as a way to get Moscow to butt out of Ukraine’s affairs. The economic slowdown in the rest of the debt-hobbled eurozone has also hurt the German economy, considered the economic locomotive of Europe.
In trading today, the DAX fell as low as 8960.43, which put it down 10.7% from its July 3 closing high of 10,029.43 and off nearly 11% from its June 20 intraday peak of 10,050.98.
And when you look at some of the biggest corporate names in Germany, things look even more dramatic.
Just check out some of these numbers...
The hardest hit sectors have been retailers, industrials and leisure stocks with sports clothing giant Adidas down 37.7pc for the year, airline Lufthansa down27pc, car group Volkswagen sliding 23.6pc and Deutchse Bank falling 20.2pc so far this year.
Meanwhile, things in Japan appear to be going from bad to worse.
The government of Japan is more than a quadrillion yen in debt, and it has been furiously printing money and debasing the yen in a desperate attempt to get the Japanese economy going again.
Unfortunately for them, it is simply not working.  The revised economic numbers for the second quarter were absolutely disastrous.  The following comes from a Japanese news source...
On an annualized basis, the GDP contraction was 7.1 percent, compared with 6.8 percent in the preliminary estimate. That makes it the worst performance since early 2009, at the height of the global financial crisis.
The blow from the first stage of the sales tax hike in April extended into this quarter, with retail sales and household spending falling in July. The administration signaled last week that it is prepared to boost stimulus to help weather a second stage of the levy scheduled for October 2015.
Corporate capital investment dropped 5.1 percent from the previous quarter, more than double the initial estimate of 2.5 percent.
Private consumption was meanwhile revised to a 5.1 percent drop from the initial reading of 5 percent, meaning it sank 19 percent on an annualized basis from the previous quarter, rather than the initial estimate of 18.7 percent, Monday’s report said.
For the moment, things are looking pretty good in the United States.
But as I have written about so many times, our financial markets are perfectly primed for a fall.
Other experts see things the same way.  Just consider what John Hussman wrote recently...
As I did in 2000 and 2007, I feel obligated to state an expectation that only seems like a bizarre assertion because the financial memory is just as short as the popular understanding of valuation is superficial: I view the stock market as likely to lose more than half of its value from its recent high to its ultimate low in this market cycle.
At present, however, market conditions couple valuations that are more than double pre-bubble norms (on historically reliable measures) with clear deterioration in market internals and our measures of trend uniformity. None of these factors provide support for the market here. In my view, speculators are dancing without a floor.
And it isn't just stocks that could potentially be on the verge of a massive decline.  The bond market is also experiencing an unprecedented bubble right now.  And when that bubble bursts, the carnage will be unbelievable.  This has become so obvious that even CNBC is talking about it...
Picture this: The bond market gets spooked by a sudden interest rate scare, sending a throng of buyers streaming toward the exits, only to find a dearth of buyers on the other side.
As a result, liquidity evaporates, yields soar, and the U.S. finds itself smack in the middle of another debt crisis no one saw coming.
It's a scenario that TABB Group fixed income head Anthony J. Perrotta believes is not all that far-fetched, considering the market had what could be considered a sneak preview in May 2013. That was the "taper tantrum," which saw yields spike and stocks sell off after then-Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made remarks that the market construed as indicating rates would rise sooner than expected.
If the strength of our financial markets reflected overall strength in the U.S. economy there would not be nearly as much cause for concern.
But at this point our financial markets have become completely and totally divorced from economic reality.
The truth is that our economic fundamentals continue to decay.  In fact, the IMF says that China now has the largest economy on the planeton a purchasing power basis.  The era of American economic dominance is ending.  It is just that the financial markets have not gotten the memo yet.
Hopefully we still have at least a few more months before stock markets all over the world start crashing.  But remember, we are entering the seventh year of the seven year cycle of economic crashes that so many people are talking about these days.  And we are definitely primed for a global financial collapse.
Sadly, most people did not see the crash of 2008 coming, and most people will not see the next one coming either.

The Collapse Of The American Economy Has Begun

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Susan Duclos  and Stefan Stanford recently interviewed “V” the Guerrilla Economist and the following information was revealed in this landmark interview:
The process of undermining the US dollar is well on schedule as well; more than 105 countries have decided that the dollar no longer works for them, joining Russia, China and other BRICS nations in leaving the dollar as the entire world comes to the realization that America’s leaders are insane. Their recklessness and evil ways have left tremendous shame upon our nation. Though there has been much manipulation and propping up, but that is only setting us up for the inevitable massive crash.
“V” begins by updating us on recent information that he has received from his 4-Star General source and warns that events are still on schedule, a schedule that he previously warned would leave the US dollar ‘undermined’ by 2015 and the US ceasing to exist as a nation by 2017“.
The interview can be accessed through the following link. I highly recommend listening to this interview.



On the surface, these claims appear to border on hysteria. However, as history has proven, time and time again, that Susan Duclos, Stefan Stanford and “V” are to always be taken seriously when revealing controversial information.
Subsequently, I proceeded to find confirming, or disconfirming evidence, that these claims are accurate and should taken seriously by all Americans. Both the direct and ancillary evidence serves as overwhelming in support of V’s claims and Susan’s reporting.

Halfway to Economic Armageddon

“V’s” claims notwithstanding, the American economy is already in severe danger as we consider the following facts.
There are 35 states in this country in which it is better to accept welfare than work at an entry level job. Much like crack cocaine or heroin addicts, much of our nation is hopelessly addicted to living in the welfare state or on unsustainable levels of credit.
welfare-by-state
From a micro perspective, the personal economic health of America is abysmal. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 146 million Americans are either “poor” or “low income”. Stunningly, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government, not including the massive entitlement programs of Social Security or Medicare. The number of people on food stamps has grown to 47.79 million Americans. In 2008, when Obama first took office, only 32 million Americans were on food stamps. Approximately, 20.2 million Americans spend more than half of their incomes on housing, which represents a 46% increase from 2001. Parents under the age of 30 experience poverty rates consisting of 37 percent. The number of Americans living in poverty has grown to one out of every six US citizens.
The above information could be considered to be the good news. What follows is grim.

Watch the Credit Swap Derivatives

In the United States, credit swap derivatives created national debt totals of over one quadrillion dollars. That is one thousand trillion dollars! The entire GDP of the planet is estimated at $66 trillion dollars. And somehow, in the infinite wisdom of Congress in 2008, we falsely and naively believed that a $750 billion transfer of wealth (i.e., Bailout #1) was magically going to save the economy and the collective futures of the American middle class. Please let me repeat that the most conservative estimate is that the derivatives debt is 10 times greater than theGDP of the entire world. Most economists estimate the number to be 16 times greater that the GDP of the planet!    
In short, the debt created by futures speculation is approximately 10-16 times greater than the sum total of the entire wealth on the planet! It would not matter if the debt was only two times the GDP of the planet, we do not have the capacity to pay down this debt. The interest on the debt is growing faster than the rise in national revenue. And we think we are going to climb out of this? Let’s take a moment and discuss the derivatives debt. 
Five of the “too big to fail” banks in the United States that have more than 40 trillion dollars in exposure to derivatives. The national debt is sitting at a grand total of almost 18 trillion dollars. The sum of 40 trillion dollars is almost unfathomable.
Credit swap derivatives trading is not too different from betting on baseball or football games. It is gambling, it is a Ponzi scheme and Wall Street bankers should be in jail. However, this is the new economic landscape of America. The name of the game is the “Last American Garage Sale” where these bankers are positioning to steal all the assets possible before the collapse.
credit-swaps
Please note that under the category, in the above illustration, “Widgets “R” US Corp“, the banks loan the money. In other words, if this Ponzi scheme fails, the banks which underwrite and guarantee the entire process, will eventually fail!
The credit swap derivatives are bad enough, but when we carry over the economic implications to the health of the banking system, the banks are bordering on total collapse along with all of your saved earnings.

Most Americans Think That Their Deposits Are Safe

Some readers have written to me and have dutifully reminded me that the FDIC is at their bank standing guard over their deposits. How woefully and depressingly ignorant is that statement?
The FDIC does not have the money to cover your deposits as it has only $25 billion in its deposit insurance fund. By law, the FDIC is required to keep a balance equivalent to only 1.15% of insured deposits on hand. Yes, America, that means that less than 2% of your deposits are covered.
Others have pointed out to me that the Dodd-Frank Act (Section 716) now bans taxpayer bailouts of most speculative derivatives activities. You remember the derivatives don’t you? They were the imaginary wealth that was built upon more imaginary wealth but were guaranteed with hard assets backed by the banks. When this house of cards collapsed, it pulled the banks down and led to the series of bailouts which has devastated our economy.

Therefore, when your bank defaults, and it will, the depositors as well as the banks will turn to the FDIC for relief. The FDIC will have no choice but to draw upon its credit line in order to cover a BofA, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan derivatives bust which has been co-mingled with savings account funds. The resulting effect is that this will require a taxpayer bailout to cover the credit line. This will negate the safety from the bailouts that the public thought that they were receiving under the Dodd-Franks bill of no more bailouts.
What very few people are talking about, and as is the case with all credit lines, this money will have to be paid back. Therefore, the coming default of the FDIC, used to cover the derivatives debt, will become the excuse for another taxpayer bailout. And on and on it goes.
BANKSTERS-A
When the last instrument has been looted and then deflated, where do you think that will leave you and your computerized digits that represent the bulk of your self-built financial empire? All of your life, most of you have worked for banker backed interest in some capacity and now, these banksters are stealing back the pittance they paid you in the first place. Where’s Karl Marx when you need him? Bank depositors of the world, unite!

More Bad News

With the banks in debt to the tune of $40 trillion dollars, the pension system is also at risk because the banks and their related financial investment firms underwrote the Credit Swap Derivatives. Moody’s warns in its latest report on the state of public pension systems. As Bloomberg reports, “The 25 biggest systems by assets averaged a 7.45% return from 2004 to 2013, but liabilities tripled over the same period leaving them facing a $2 trillion shortfall as investment returns can’t keep up with ballooning obligations”. The top 25 funds account for 40% of the entire US public pension system. Bloomberg further reports that “The 25 largest U.S. public pensions face about $2 trillion in unfunded liabilities, showing that investment returns can’t keep up with ballooning obligations”, according to Moody’s Investors Service. Americans will be working until they drop dead because, very soon, there will be no such thing as a pension. Very soon, most of these Americans will not have any job to go to.
When this house of cards comes crashing down, how do you think the government will deal with the situation? If you have not listened to V’s interview, I would suggest you do so now.

When Will the Economic Collapse Happen?

The collapse has already started. With 105 nations running from the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency, there is nothing left to back up the dollar. Our currency will hyper-inflate and America’s economy will make the crash of the Weimar Republic look like a picnic.
A German woman in the 1923 Weimar Republic purchasing a loaf of bread. This time is almost upon the American people.
A German woman in the 1923 Weimar Republic purchasing a loaf of bread. This time is almost upon the American people.
Certainly, even the most ardent sheep understand what the economic collapse of the Weimar Republic led to. What makes us think things are going to be any different?
The crash of the Weimar Republic led to this. Can America’s eventual outcome be any different?
The crash of the Weimar Republic led to this. Can America’s eventual outcome be any different?

Conclusion

Why did George H.W. Bush build a 100,000 acre ranch in Paraguay? Why is NORTHCOM, a combat organization, engaging in continuing the nonstop urban riot control training? Why are UN military vehicles on our soil? Why did FEMA and DHS schedule 10 disaster drills between September 25th and November 13th? Why are formerFEMA and DHS agents, as well as many bankers going into hiding in prepared communities?
Are we to believe that all of these factors are unrelated? It is looking more and more like the bail-out money, which was no more than the private theft of public money, is actually doing what the name implies, it is bailing out corporate executives in advance of the coming crash. America is being forced to fund the getaway gifts for those that have stolen so much from the American people!
Factor in the coming Ebola outbreak and the possibility of an EMP attack, the misery factor immediately and exponentially compounds. The American economy is on fire and the only remnants of what once was is a few hollowed out and charred structures.
Once they have our hard assets,the absolute and final crash and burn of the economy will occur and it will be anarchy in the streets. And more of V’s dire predictions, regarding a post-collapse America will undoubtedly come to pass.

Argentina Dares to Call a Spade a Spade Naming Western Greed Economy As “Economic Terrorism”

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“Today you pretend making a coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), but in fact you’re their allies,” Those are the frank words by Cristina Fernandez Kirchner, the Argentinian President, spoken in a calm and secure voice at the UN General Assembly last Friday, 3 October 2014.

Similarly, she referred to the western financial system as economic terrorism, as in vultures – the vulture funds that thanks to New York judge Griesa have put Argentina – a solvent country, willing and capable of paying their debt, in default. He ruled that the vulture funds, Griesa’s clients and paymasters, needed to be paid in full, i.e. 100%, equal to US$ 1.5 billion, when close to 93% of all creditors agreed on a restructured reimbursement rate of about 20%.

Without any international right to interfere in the affairs of a sovereign country, Griesa would allow the vultures reaping in a profit margin well in excess of 1,000%. --- Paul Singer, king of the ‘vulture capitalists’, knows no merci. He is in bed with Wall Street and Griesa – and with whomever other financial hooligans who share his greedy endeavors. Greed is their prayer. It’s knocked around the world. Exploits poor nations, makes them poorer, and keeps them dependent on the powers of money, being well aware that the poor are too weak to defend themselves.

Except for Argentina. Her able President Christina Fernandez, speaks not only for her country, when she talks about victims of economic and financial terrorism, but for all those African, Latin American and Asian countries which are oppressed by the killing boots of Wall Street and the IMF. It cannot be said often enough – the IMF is a mere extended arm of the US Treasury and the FED.
Vulture capitalism exerted by these usual villains and the European Central Bank, a mere puppet of Wall Street and led by a former Wall Street banker, are responsible for the economic collapse of the western economy. They have driven countries like Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain – and lately also Ukraine – into misery.
They have stolen their social safety nets, pensions, employment, housing, education, health care, water supply and other public infrastructure – by privatizing public capital for their private benefits. They could do so thanks to the connivance of corrupt leaders they first put in place with sham elections – or no elections at all.

Case in point is Greece, where the Parliament decided to dismiss the socialist Prime Minister George Papandreou, who attempted to launch a referendum in December 2011, asking the people whether they wanted the troika’s (IMF, ECB, European Commission) imposed second ‘rescue’ package of € 130 billion (after a first one on € 110 billion) that would drastically increase Greece’s sovereign debt and force literally a killer austerity program upon its people.  At the onset of the manufactured crisis, in May 2008, Greece’s debt to GDP ratio was a manageable 105%. In 2014 the ratio is 175%.

Under the structural adjustment program social health care was basically abolished. Many cancer and other chronically ill patients were deprived of their free medical attendance, unemployed and destitute could not afford to pay full price for their medication and treatment – and quietly died.

Under extreme pressure from Germany and France – the infamous tandem Sarkozy / Merkel called Papandreou to meeting in Nice at the beginning of November 2011, literally ordering him to withdraw the referendum – or else. Papandreou went home, canceled the referendum on 3 November and resigned. He was promptly replaced by Parliament – without a public vote – by the neoliberal Lucas Papademos, former deputy head of the ECB and – a former Goldman Sachs executive, who allowed the dance of debt and destruction to continue.

Argentina would not allow such financial terrorism on its shores – not since they dared to counter the economically suffocating peso-dollar parity in 2001, allowing the country to start breathing and growing again; a highly distributive GDP growth allowing to cut poverty from above 60% in 2001to below 10% today.

The same escape from the western kleptomania was – and still is – open to Greece and all those southern European countries in the fangs of greed capitalism. But their leaders and finance ministers are goose stepping to the financial marching orders of Washington’s money masters, Wall Street, FED and IMF.

Ms. Fernandez did not mince her words. She also talked openly about the western military terrorism, “You killed many innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan under the name of war against terrorism,” or as the new refrain goes – “Making war for Peace”. She referred to the West in general and to Washington in particular, for whom war and conflicts, weapons sales, is a means of economic survival, as the US economy depends to more than 50% on the military / security industrial complex and related industries and services.

Shamefully, many western leaders and representatives left the assembly hall when Ms. Fernandez spoke, of fear they may be associated with her views if they listened to her calling a spade a spade. Perhaps they feared the ridiculous western sanctions, if they don’t behave. It is sad to see spineless world leaders; so-called leaders (sic), who bend over backwards to please the powers that utterly exploit them, stealing their natural resources, putting their people and the environment in peril.

A terrorist is whoever does not conform to the western doctrine, whoever insists on national sovereignty – whoever defends their national interests over the voracious interference of Washington and its European puppets – and their killing bulldozer, NATO.
The UN should make it an obligation and expression of mutual respect that every country leader and representative attending the UN General Assembly must listen to all the speeches. Each country has a message to give – a message that in one way or another concerns all of us, as we are all connected as humans in a solidary union, regardless of political alliances.

The latest economic terrorism inflicted on Russia by the US supported Wall Street et al financial cabal is the down manipulation of the ruble vs the US dollar and other ‘western’ currencies. The ruble has lost 22% of its value since the beginning of 2014 and 15% in the last quarter alone. Call it ‘sanctions’ – if you will - for not bending to the political demands of Washington on Ukraine. The western MSM would like you to believe it has to do with the chaos and continuous murderous atrocities in Ukraine’s Donbass area, for which – of course – Russia is made the culprit, not Kiev’s gang of thugs, a Nazi government, created and funded by Obama and his western puppets.

Russia is now forced to buy dollars and Euros – what they least want and need – to stabilize her currency, the ruble. Buying dollars – playing even more into the sledgehammer of the empire – is certainly the last thing Russia wants to do.  

Currency manipulation is only possible due to the predatory US dollar system, where all international transactions have to be channeled through Wall Street and cleared through the privately owned BIS – Bank for International Settlements, whose owners are a similar lot of financial shenanigans as are those owning the FED. The expected outcome is a devalued ruble, shunned by investors.
Little do they know that this usual western shortsightedness is but accelerating the process of Russia and China issuing a new combined currency, delinked form the dollar-euro fiat money and its SWIFT exchange system. In fact, it has already begun. The Central Bank of China has recently offered a hand to the EU, inviting the Euro as one of several currencies that will no longer need the western clearing system for transactions with China.
President Fernandez puts the finger right on the wound when she refers to the entire western monetary system as vulture economics. She knows that such an economy is bound to falter and be replaced – gradually as may be – by one that is based on fairness, integrity and that respects nations’ sovereignty.

The Return of the Corporate Court

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Jesse Busk has almost no chance of winning his lawsuit when it comes before the Supreme Court for oral argument Wednesday during the opening week of the new 2014-15 term. His dismal prospects stem not from any legal weaknesses in his case but from one overriding fatal flaw—he’s an ordinary working person challenging the prerogatives of corporate power. Cases like his seldom succeed before the panel led by Chief Justice John Roberts, rated by many observers and scholars as the most pro-business iteration of the high tribunal since the early 1930s.

Busk used to work as an Amazon.com “warehouse associate” in Las Vegas, filling orders placed by customers of the online retail behemoth, earning between $11.65 and $12.35 an hour without health care or paid leave for shifts that typically lasted 12 hours. Technically, he wasn’t employed by Amazon but by Delaware-based Integrity Staffing Solutions Inc., a high-powered nationwide agency that provides temporary workers to Amazon as well as other big-name companies such as Walmart, JPMorgan Chase and Zappos.com.

As depicted in the CNBC documentary “Amazon Rising” that aired in June, the services that warehouse associates perform hoisting commodities large and small off shelves and onto giant conveyor belts for packing and mailing are grueling and unrelenting, relieved only by 30-minute meal breaks and brief trips to the bathroom that are discouraged by supervisors. One former employee interviewed in the film described her stint at the massive complexes that Amazon euphemistically labels “fulfillment centers” as akin to time served “in a prison.” 

In 2010, Busk and Laurie Castro, a warehouse associate from the fulfillment center in Fernley, Nev., filed a federal class-action lawsuit against Integrity, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the New Deal-era statute designed to protect the rights of hourly workers to minimum wages, prompt paychecks and overtime. Among other grievances, they contended they were owed back pay for uncompensated time spent checking out of work each day, standing in airport-like security lines for up to 25 minutes. Together with hundreds of other workers, they were required to remove their wallets, keys and belts, and made to pass through metal detectors and sometimes had their bodies passed over with hand-held wands to prevent employee theft and what Amazon calls “inventory shrinkage.”

In 2011, a federal District Court judge dismissed their complaint, holding that end-of-day security checkouts are not subject to FLSA as they aren’t part of an employee’s actual work activities but merely “postliminary” to those activities. Two years later, however, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals—still the country’s most liberal appellate body—reversed and reinstated the FLSA-based security checkout claim, creating a split in authority among the federal circuits on the proper interpretation of the act. 

Integrity responded by retaining the services of conservative super lawyer Paul Clement, and in March the Supreme Court granted Integrity’s petition to review the 9th Circuit’s ruling. Since then, Clement, who teaches law at Georgetown University and once served as solicitor general and acting attorney general under President George W. Bush, has been joined by an array of powerful business lobbies, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, which have filed amicus (friend-of-the-court) briefs in support of Integrity. The Obama administration also has filed an amicus pleading backing Integrity’s narrow reading of the FLSA.

Although the Supreme Court often agrees to hear cases in which, as in this instance, the lower courts are divided on an important question of law, the real reason it has agreed to hear Busk and Castro’s suit, quite simply, is that it represents yet another opportunity for it to come to the rescue of its corporate patrons. Among other rulings since the appointment of Roberts to the chief’s position in 2005, the court has upheld the constitutionality of state right-to-work laws and imposed new burdens on employees seeking to file racial and sex discrimination complaints against their employers and disability claims against workplace insurers. The court has also shielded companies from liability for defective and dangerous products, reduced the financial risks of environmental pollution and opened the door to unlimited corporate political spending with its landmark Citizens United decision. 

Last term, in a heated 5-4 opinion (Harris v. Quinn), the court delivered a near-fatal blow to the right of public-employee unions to collect “fair-share” fees in lieu of formal dues from nonunion members to defray the costs of collective bargaining that benefits all employees. And in a unanimous 9-0 decision (Sandifer v. United States Steel Corp.) joined even by the court’s Democratic appointees that all but dooms Busk and Castro, the panel held that steelworkers are not entitled to compensation under FLSA for time spent donning and doffing bulky protective gear before and after work.
Should Busk and Castro somehow defy the heavy odds and manage to salvage a victory—meaning their case is permitted to proceed to trial on the issue of monetary damages—they plan to add Amazon as a formal defendant along with Integrity. A win before the Supreme Court would also breathe new life into a slew of similar cases brought by workers across the country against Amazon and other businesses such as Apple and Urban Outfitters that also subject their staffs to anti-theft security probes. 

Companies such as Apple and Amazon, which rank as the first and 24th most valuable U.S.-listed corporations, respectively, could easily absorb the added labor costs entailed in fully compensating their workers. But as Busk put it in a 2013 interview with The Huffington Post—and more importantly as the Supreme Court under Roberts sees it—“the mindset” is “just to be grateful you have a job.” 

Could we expect anything less from the most powerful legal body in the land, now known unaffectionately far and wide as the “corporate court”?

Fukushima Fallout in California 1000x Greater than Expected: What You can Do

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A government expert called the Fukushima fallout in California ‘a thousand times greater than we expected’ several days after the Fukushima explosion, but you are likely just now hearing about it.
The estimations of fission products (i.e. carcinogenic and radioactive particles) being leaked into the ocean and carried by currents to the Pacific Coast of the U.S. are staggering. From the start of this crisis, understandably, people have wanted to look the other way. It is a huge issue, and it seems there is little we can do about it, but this is not true.
The following information is meant to enlighten you on the subject, not scare you. I don’t believe in fear-mongering, but rather, education. For this reason, you can skip to the end of the article if you want for suggestions about how to mitigate the effects of radiation with diet and herbs, but obviously we need to make it clear to governments and the nuclear industry that this kind of accident will never be tolerated again, and that nuclear energy, is quite literally, toxic.
The expert stated that:
“Releases at these levels would mean ‘many hundreds of kilograms’ of ‘many other fission products!’”
In this report from July, 2014, conducted by the World Meteorological Society and the Internal Civil Aviation Organization, it is stated that:
Fukushima fully showed reliable source terms for assessing accident severity and consequences in real-time were not readily available in the early phase… The inherent uncertainty involved poses questions in the accuracy of the modeled results which could differ from the observation by orders of magnitude.”
This is corroborated by the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG), by WMO team member Gerhard Wotawa, et al, 14th Conference on Harmonisation within Atmospheric Dispersion Modelling:
“Only minutes after the [Unit 1 explosion] was disclosed, the first model simulation of the emergency response system was initiated…source term was estimated based on experiences from Chernobyl… a continuous release rate of [100 quadrillion Bq/day of Iodine-131], [10 quadrillion Bq/day of Cesium-137and [10 quintillion Bq/day of Xenon-133]… CTBTO [data was used, which has] a very high accuracy…
The plume left Japan and… reached the western coast of North America on March 18… [The] ZAMG… estimate amounted to about [400 quadrillion Bq of I-131and [40 quadrillion Bq of Cs-137]… Indication is found that significant amounts of 131I, 137Cs and 133Xe were already set free during the first days of the accident, exceeding initial estimates by orders of magnitude.
Not only were actual measurements in California thousands of times higher than ZAMG/CTBTO estimates (see chart, Mar. 21, 24-25), the models failed to account for the ‘significant’ amounts of radionuclides initially released — which were ‘orders of magnitude’ beyond predictions. In light of this, it’s worth reviewing the response of nuclear power advocates to Wotawa’s underestimates.”
Of course, there are people who say these claims are alarmist or over-stated, like Jan Zeman of Brookhaven National Lab. In response to Wotowa’s claims, Zeman says:
“Wotawa’s claims are overstatements possibly multiple orders of magnitude higher than the actual reality. This is especially embarrassing as he works for CTBTO… popular “science” journals in USA [have bought] into such ‘ideas’, because the sensationalism is still extremely high there… [These] most probably startlingly incorrect conclusions [were] presumably designed not just to get media attention and scare the traditional Austrian antinuclear activists, but whole the world…
The Cs-137 nuclei… is the most dangerous fission contaminant… it has very high gamma decay energy [and] high affinity to soil [as well as] living organisms… Chernobyl disaster emitted ~36.9 kilograms of Cs-137…Wotawa wants us to believe that almost half of this amount (17.4 kg) of Cs-137, was released into the environment at Fukushima in just one day… Everybody would have problems surviving even just hours in the [plant's] immediate surroundings…
[There'd also be] many hundreds of kilograms of [radionuclides such as] Sr-90… Zr-95, Np-239, Mo-99, Ce-141, Ce-144… and many other fission products!… the overheated but intact reactors [note: all 3 not intact] in the intact containments [note: all 3 containments are not intact] were vented [note: venting was unsuccessfulthrough the pressure suppression chamber water [note: suppression chambers failed]…
Three Mile Island accident [is what to compare this to] – as is done by those, who are not so zonked by their greatness… [T]he water is… not spreading far [note: it’s spreading across entire N. Pacific, and beyond], is relatively contained [note: Tepco:,'It’s not under control'] in the underground trench and can be pumped out [note: 'pumping it out of tunnels will not work']… and then decontaminated [note: 'impossible to remove hundreds of radioactive materials']… Mr. Wotawa’s figures… would be immediately dangerous to life… I think the likely orders of magnitude overstated conclusions of the CTBTO employee can serve as the example of the antinuclear exaggerations.”

‘NOT for Distribution U.S. Energy Docs’

But in a document labeled “Not for Distribution, Internal Use Only,” the US Energy Department even estimated that the Fukushima release was up to 10,000 times what nuclear regulators predicted. And where exactly did all that nuclear waste go? In the ocean. It doesn’t just wash away, either. If anything, the total fallout is still completely unknown, even as U.S. officials say its ‘all clear.’
In another document compiled by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA, National Weather Service, titled, “Ocean Plume Modeling for the Fukushima Daiichi Event,” these estimates of possible contamination were given:
  • “Coastal releases ignored. According to TEPCO estimates, coastal releases are 1% of atmospheric releases… Not important for far-field estimates (i.e., exposure for US territories)”
  • “Scenarios used [are] NRC source scenario [and] DOE Supercore source scenario”
  • Regarding Cs-137 release estimates, “NRC and DOE differ by three orders of magnitude” [i.e. DOE estimate is 1,000 to 9,999 times more than NRC]
  • “Enormous uncertainty in total amount of contamination released at FDNPP”
  • “Whereas the large differences between the NRC and DOE sources are crippling from a scientific perspective, they proved useful from the perspective of decision making…”
  • “DOE much too high at… JAMSTEC observation line 30km offshore [and] overestimates Cs-137 by order of magnitude [predicting a] maxima of around 100 Bq/L for Cs-137… JAMSTEC realistic contamination levels would be factor 10 smaller (10 Bq/L).”

What we Can Do

I don’t think there are enough experts out there to honestly and accurately determine just how bad the fallout is – and it will likely take years for us to experience the results first hand. Nature responds in cycles, after all, from the smallest creatures, up the food chain to the largest, so here’s what we can do about it in the meantime:
  • Don’t believe the lies spouted by the nuclear industry – it isn’t cheaper, cleaner, or needed to fill ‘energy’ gaps.
  • Eat your greens, exercise, get as much fresh air as possible, bathe in mineralized water, use bentonite clay, add herbs that are heavy metal detoxifiers and chelators including Tulsi (holy basil), cilantro, parsley, and sulfur-foods like garlic, onions, and chives as natural ways of offsetting radiation exposure.