Monday, November 2, 2015

The Untold History of The US - Bush & Obama Age of Terror

How the Bush administration tried to manipulate terror warnings on Americans to fulfill their political motives.

The Rigging of the American Market

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Much of the national debate about widening inequality focuses on whether and how much to tax the rich and redistribute their income downward.
But this debate ignores the upward redistributions going on every day, from the rest of us to the rich. These redistributions are hidden inside the market.
The only way to stop them is to prevent big corporations and Wall Street banks from rigging the market.
For example, Americans pay more for pharmaceuticals than do the citizens of any other developed nation.
That’s partly because it’s perfectly legal in the U.S. (but not in most other nations) for the makers of branded drugs to pay the makers of generic drugs to delay introducing cheaper unbranded equivalents, after patents on the brands have expired.
This costs you and me an estimated $3.5 billion a year – a hidden upward redistribution of our incomes to Pfizer, Merck, and other big proprietary drug companies, their executives, and major shareholders.  
We also pay more for Internet service than do the inhabitants of any other developed nation.
The average cable bill in the United States rose 5 percent in 2012 (the latest year available), nearly triple the rate of inflation.
Why? Because 80 percent of us have no choice of Internet service provider, which allows them to charge us more.
Internet service here costs 3 and-a-half times more than it does in France, for example, where the typical customer can choose between 7 providers.  
And U.S. cable companies are intent on keeping their monopoly.
It’s another hidden upward distribution – from us to Comcast, Verizon, or another giant cable company, its executives and major shareholders.
Likewise, the interest we pay on home mortgages or college loans is higher than it would be if the big banks that now dominate the financial industry had to work harder to get our business.
As recently as 2000, America’s five largest banks held 25 percent of all U.S. banking assets. Now they hold 44 percent – which gives them a lock on many such loans.
If we can’t repay, forget using bankruptcy. Donald Trump can go bankrupt four times and walk away from his debts, but the bankruptcy code doesn’t allow homeowners or graduates to reorganize unmanageable debts.
So beleaguered homeowners and graduates don’t have any bargaining leverage with creditors – exactly what the financial industry wants.  
The net result: another hidden upward redistribution – this one, from us to the big banks, their executives, and major shareholders.
Some of these upward redistributions seem to defy gravity. Why have average domestic airfares risen 2.5% over the past, and are now at their the highest level since the government began tracking them in 1995 – while fuel prices, the largest single cost for the airlines, have plummeted?
Because America went from nine major carriers ten years ago to just four now. Many airports are now served by one or two.
This makes it easy for airlines to coordinate their fares and keep them high – resulting in another upward redistribution.
Why have food prices been rising faster than inflation, while crop prices are now at a six-year low?
Because the giant corporations that process food have the power to raise prices. Four food companies control 82 percent of beef packing, 85 percent of soybean processing, 63 percent of pork packing, and 53 percent of chicken processing. 
Result: A redistribution from average consumers to Big Agriculture.
Finally, why do you suppose health insurance is costing us more, and co-payments and deductibles are rising?
One reason is big insurers are consolidating into giants with the power to raise prices. They say these combinations make their companies more efficient, but they really just give them power to charge more.
Health insurers are hiking rates 20 to 40 percent next year, and their stock values are skyrocketing (the Standard & Poor’s 500 Managed Health Care Index recently hit its highest level in more than twenty years.)
Add it up – the extra money we’re paying for pharmaceuticals, Internet communications, home mortgages, student loans, airline tickets, food, and health insurance – and you get a hefty portion of the average family’s budget.
Democrats and Republicans spend endless time battling over how much to tax the rich and then redistribute the money downward.
But if we didn’t have so much upward redistribution inside the market, we wouldn’t need as much downward redistribution through taxes and transfer payments.
Yet as long as the big corporations, Wall Street banks, their top executives and wealthy shareholders have the political power to do so, they’ll keep redistributing much of the nation’s income upward to themselves.
Which is why the rest of us must gain political power to stop the collusion, bust up the monopolies, and put an end to the rigging of the American market.

How the National Endowment for Democracy Manufactures Regime Change Around the World

“A lot of what we do was done 25 years ago covertly by the CIA.”
Alan Weinstein, one of the founders of the National Endowment for Democracy
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When we think about non governmental organizations we tend to focus on heroic groups like Doctors Without Borders, whose members travel into war zones treating the wounded without regard to the political affiliations of their patients. It’s dangerous work, as shown by a recent air-strike on a hospital run by the group in the Afghan city of Kunduz in which 13 staff and 10 patients died (7 other bodies have yet to be identified).

So, when we hear about Russia crafting a law in 2012 to make certain NGOs register as “foreign agents”, we naturally think this shows growing repression in that country. Offered as further proof of this is the fact that Putin’s government has created even stronger rules this year, seeking to ban “undesirable” groups. The first to be thrown out of the country in this way was the National Endowment for Democracy(NED). How could Russian law-makers ban an organization whose motto is: “Supporting freedom around the world’?
Many notable people, including Carl Gershman, Chairman of the Endowment since its creation in 1983, have been vocal in criticizing this Russian legislation. They invariably fail to mention that the original 2012 law was based on a an American one enacted in 1938, the Foreign Agent Registration Act. This law, “also requires individuals and entities working for foreign interests and seeking to influence U.S. policies to disclose those relationships with the U.S. Justice Department or face prison.”
Although it promotes itself as a “non-governmental organization”,NED receives at least 90% of its funding from the US Congress, earmarked to USAID; the balance is provided by right leaning non-profits like the Olin and Bradley Foundations. To most people, the Endowment probably looks like a pretty innocuous organization. After all, who’s against more democracy? But when you examine the records of those who control it and its affiliates, it starts to look like they’re running a shadow foreign policy, not only in Eurasia but throughout the world, sometimes acting in ways that are contrary to the wishes of the powers that be in Washington.
To bolster its credibility as “non-partisan” in the American context, NED distributes more than half of its money to four organizations: the Free Trade Union Institute of the AFL-CIO (FTUI), the Center for International Private Enterprise of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI). Chairing the latter is Senator John McCain (R-AZ), probably the most well known hawk in the US Senate.
In fact, for an organization with the aim of “peaceful democracy promotion” it’s riddled with Neoconservatives and their Liberal Hawk counterparts, including such luminaries as Elliot Abrams (of Iran-Contra fame), Zalmay Khalilzad (Former Ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan).and former Secretary of State Madeline Albright (Chairwoman of the NDI), to name just a few.
The presence of reliably pro-war Washington insiders like these points to the real roots of the organization during the Reagan Era when it was created with the input of then CIA Chief William Casey. At that time, the actions of the US intelligence community were being scrutinized in light of the Church Committee hearings and other revelations of the 1960s and 1970s. Thus, some of the functions that the CIA once performed were farmed out to the newly created Endowment. One has to concede that NED is a PR savvy version of what these agencies used to do covertly and it also helps to keep the hawks in the foreign policy conversation, whatever disasters they leave in their wake when they hold the reins of power.
Disturbing Patterns
Looking critically at the so-called “Color Revolutions” that NED has funded, one begins to see similarities that couldn’t be coincidental. One example is the symbol of a clenched fist, probably expropriated from the Black Panthers and first used by OTPOR, a Serbian youth group that became something of a template for successful regime change operations from the end of the 90s until today. Now called CANVAS (Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies), remnants of the group train civil society and student groups in many countries.
The fist symbol, originally black but often using the “colors” associated with each individual “movement”, has been seen with some variation in Georgia, Ukraine and Venezuela, places where NED or its affiliates spent big to produce regime change.
And it isn’t just student groups being trained and funded by the Endowment. As a 2013 report by Al Jazeera showed, in the weeks and months leading up to the ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, NED and some of its affiliates were funding individuals and organizations calling for the overthrow of the elected government in the country.
The reporter on the story, Emad Mekay, made some interesting discoveries about the role that the organization played in the ouster of the Egypt’s first democratically elected president, including tracking down where some of the organization’s money was going: “A main conduit for channeling the State Department’s democracy funds to Egypt has been the National Endowment for Democracy. Federal documents show NED, which in 2011 was authorized an annual budget of $118m by Congress, funneled at least $120,000 over several years to an exiled Egyptian police officer who has for years incited violence in his native country.”
This charming man, Colonel Omar Afifi Soliman, the recipient of a “human rights fellowship” at NED, used social media to call for some pretty heinous things. One Facebook post, featured in the report, had Soliman calling on his Egyptian followers to “Make a road bump with a broken palm tree to stop the buses going into Cairo, and drench the road around it with gas and diesel. When the bus slows down for the bump, set it all ablaze so it will burn down with all the passengers inside… God bless.”
Although the press and politicians quickly forgot, it needs to be emphasized that Morsi was the elected leader of Egypt and, before he was ousted, he tried to negotiate an end to the crisis he helped to instigate, admitting that he “made many mistakes”. The word coup was rarely uttered in the aftermath of his removal and military aid to the tune of a billion and a half a year soon started flowing back into the country.
What’s going on in Egypt is an overlooked humanitarian disaster, it isn’t just members of the Muslim Brotherhood who are being rounded up by President al-Sisi’s thugs and given death sentences in mass trials. Many of the young people and progressive forces who so bravely faced off against Mubarak at Tahrir Square to create a more progressive Egypt are facing similar persecution. Ironically, some of them received aid from NED or affiliated groups and this could be used as evidence against them in court as Egypt has its own version of the “Foreign Agent Registration Act”discussed earlier.
A Danger to Democracy
There’s also the glaring hypocrisy revealed by where most of NED’s money gets spent. The cases of Haiti, Venezuela and most recently Honduras show that those governments deemed “Anti-American” (often a euphemism for not laying down for multi-national business interests) will be targeted for regime change regardless of their citizens’ democratic choices. It doesn’t matter how many elections deemed free and fair you win if you are seen as acting against American interests there is a good chance NED or one of its affiliates will put you in their cross-hairs.
It’s pretty obvious that foreign policy programs run by groups like NED risk de-legitimizing protest. If an increasing number of governments (or corporations for that matter) start engaging in these activities as we’re just beginning to see, paying protesters and the like, they could essentially professionalize protest, at the same time putting genuine aid workers at risk. As an interesting side-note, a convincing argument has been made that this kind of “Astro-turfing” helps explain the rise of the Tea Party movement in the US.
What’s most dangerous about NED is that it gives voice and a measure of power to some of America’s biggest hawks whether they’re in government or not. In this way and many others, NED is not only not promoting democracy, it’s often doing the exact opposite at US taxpayer expense.

The Demobilization of the American People

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You may not know it, but you’re living in a futuristic science fiction novel. And that’s a fact.  If you were to read about our American world in such a novel, you would be amazed by its strangeness.  Since you exist right smack in the middle of it, it seems like normal life (Donald Trump and Ben Carson aside).  But make no bones about it, so far this has been a bizarre American century.

Let me start with one of the odder moments we’ve lived through and give it the attention it’s always deserved.  If you follow my train of thought and the history it leads us into, I guarantee you that you’ll end up back exactly where we are -- in the midst of the strangest presidential campaign in our history.

To get a full frontal sense of what that means, however, let’s return to late September 2001.  I’m sure you remember that moment, just over two weeks after those World Trade Center towers came down and part of the Pentagon was destroyed, leaving a jangled secretary of defense instructing his aides, “Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.”

I couldn’t resist sticking in that classic Donald Rumsfeld line, but I leave it to others to deal with Saddam Hussein, those fictional weapons of mass destruction, the invasion of Iraq, and everything that’s happened since, including the establishment of a terror “caliphate” by a crew of Islamic extremists brought together in American military prison camps -- all of which you wouldn’t believe if it were part of a sci-fi novel. The damn thing would make Planet of the Apeslook like outright realism.

Instead, try to recall the screaming headlines that labeled the 9/11 attacks “the Pearl Harbor of the twenty-first century” or “a new Day of Infamy,” and the attackers “the kamikazes of the twenty-first century.”  Remember the moment when President George W. Bush, bullhorn in hand, stepped onto the rubble at "Ground Zero" in New York, draped his arm around a fireman, and swore payback in the name of the American people, as members of an impromptu crowd shouted out things like “Go get ‘em, George!” 

“I can hear you! I can hear you!” he responded. “The rest of the world hears you! And the people -- and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!” 

“USA!  USA!  USA!” chanted the crowd.

Then, on September 20th, addressing Congress, Bush added, “Americans have known wars, but for the past 136 years they have been wars on foreign soil, except for one Sunday in 1941.”  By then, he was already talking about "our war on terror."

Now, hop ahead to that long-forgotten moment when he would finally reveal just how a twenty-first-century American president should rally and mobilize the American people in the name of the ultimate in collective danger.  As CNN put it at the time, “President Bush... urged Americans to travel, spend, and enjoy life.” His actual words were:

“And one of the great goals of this nation's war is to restore public confidence in the airline industry and to tell the traveling public, get on board, do your business around the country, fly and enjoy America's great destination spots. Go down to Disney World in Florida, take your families and enjoy life the way we want it to be enjoyed.”
So we went to war in Afghanistan and later Iraq to rebuild faith in flying.  Though that got little attention at the time, tell me it isn’t a detail out of some sci-fi novel.  Or put another way, as far as the Bush administration was then concerned, Rosie the Riveter was moldering in her grave and the model American for mobilizing a democratic nation in time of war was Rosie the Frequent Flyer.  It turned out not to be winter in Valley Forge, but eternal summer in Orlando.  From then on, as the Bush administration planned its version of revenge-cum-global-domination, the message it sent to the citizenry was: go about your business and leave the dirty work to us.

Disney World opened in 1971, but for a moment imagine that it had been in existence in 1863 and that, more than seven score years ago, facing a country in the midst of a terrible civil war, Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg had said this:

“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom at Disney World -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish for lack of vacations in Florida.”
Or imagine that, in response to that “day of infamy,” the Pearl Harbor of the twentieth century, Franklin Roosevelt had gone before Congress and, in an address to the nation, had said:

“Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our airlines, with the unbounding determination of our people to visit Disney World, we will gain the inevitable triumph -- so help us God.”
If those are absurdities, then so is twenty-first-century America.  By late September 2001, though no one would have put it that way, the demobilization of the American people had become a crucial aspect of Washington’s way of life.  The thought that Americans might be called upon to sacrifice in any way in a time of peril had gone with the wind.  Any newly minted version of the classic“don’t tread on me” flag of the revolutionary war era would have had to read: “don’t bother them.”

The Spectacle of War

The desire to take the American public out of the “of the people, by the people, for the people” business can minimally be traced back to the Vietnam War, to the moment when a citizen’s army began voting with its feet and antiwar sentiment grew to startling proportions not just on the home front, but inside a military in the field.  It was then that the high command began to fear the actualdisintegration of the U.S. Army. 

Not surprisingly, there was a deep desire never to repeat such an experience.  (No more Vietnams!  No more antiwar movements!)  As a result, on January 27, 1973, with a stroke of the pen, President Richard Nixon abolished the draft, and so the citizen’s army.  With it went the sense that Americans had an obligation to serve their country in time of war (and peace).  

From that moment on, the urge to demobilize the American people and send them to Disney World would only grow.  First, they were to be removed from all imaginable aspects of war making.  Later, the same principle would be applied to the processes of government and to democracy itself.  In this context, for instance, you could write a history of the monstrous growth of secrecyand surveillance as twin deities of the American state: the urge to keep ever more information from the citizenry and to see ever more of what those citizens were doing in their own private time.  Both should be considered demobilizing trends. 

This twin process certainly has a long history in the U.S., as any biography of former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover would indicate.  Still, the expansion of secrecy and surveillance in this century has been a stunning development, as ever-larger parts of the national security state and the military (especially its 70,000-strong Special Operations forces) fell into the shadows.  In these years, American “safety” and “security” were redefined in terms of a citizen’s need not to know.  Only bathed in ignorance, were we safest from the danger that mattered most (Islamic terrorism -- a threat of microscopic proportions in the continental United States).

As the American people were demobilized from war and left, in the post-9/11 era, with the single duty of eternally thanking and praising our "warriors” (or our "wounded warriors”), war itself was being transformed into a new kind of American entertainment spectacle.  In the 1980s, in response to the Vietnam experience, the Pentagon began to take responsibility not just for making war but for producing it.  Initially, in the invasions of Grenada and Panama, this largely meant sidelining the media, which many U.S. commanders still blamed for defeat in Vietnam.

By the First Gulf War of 1991, however, the Pentagon was prepared to produce a weeks-longtelevised extravaganza, which would enter the living rooms of increasingly demobilized Americans as a riveting show.  It would have its own snazzy graphics, logos, background music, and special effects (including nose-cone shots of targets obliterated).  In addition, retired military men were brought in to do Monday Night Football-style play-by-play and color commentary on the fighting in progress.  In this new version of war, there were to be no rebellious troops, no body bags, no body counts, no rogue reporters, and above all no antiwar movement.  In other words, the Gulf War was to be the anti-Vietnam. And it seemed to work... briefly.

Unfortunately for the first Bush administration, Saddam Hussein remained in power in Baghdad, the carefully staged post-war “victory” parades faded fast, the major networks lost ad money on the Pentagon’s show, and the ratings for war as entertainment sank.  More than a decade later, the second Bush administration, again eager not to repeat Vietnam and intent on sidelining the American public while it invaded and occupied Iraq, did it all over again.

This time, the Pentagon sent reporters to “boot camp,” “embedded” them with advancing units,built a quarter-million-dollar movie-style set for planned briefings in Doha, Qatar, and launched its invasion with “decapitation strikes” over Baghdad that lit the televised skies of the Iraqi capital an eerie green on TVs across America.  This spectacle of war, American-style, turned out to have a distinctly Disney-esque aura to it.  (Typically, however, those strikes produced scores of dead Iraqis, but managed to “decapitate” not a single targeted Iraqi leader from Saddam Hussein on down.)  That spectacle, replete with the usual music, logos, special effects, and those retired generals-cum-commentators -- this time even more tightly organized by the Pentagon -- turned out again to have a remarkably brief half-life.

The Spectacle of Democracy

War as the first demobilizing spectacle of our era is now largely forgotten because, as entertainment, it was reliant on ratings, and in the end, it lost the battle for viewers.  As a result, America's wars became ever more an activity to be conducted in the shadows beyond the view of most Americans. 

If war was the first experimental subject for the demobilizing spectacle, democracy and elections turned out to be remarkably ripe for the plucking as well.  As a result, we now have the never-ending presidential campaign season.  In the past, elections did not necessarily lack either drama or spectacle.  In the nineteenth century, for instance, there were campaign torchlight parades, but those were always spectacles of mobilization.  No longer.  Our new 1% elections call for something different.

It’s no secret that our presidential campaigns have morphed into a “billionaire’s playground,” even as the right to vote has become more constrained.  These days, it could be said that the only group of citizens that automatically mobilizes for such events is “the billionaire class” (as Bernie Sanderscalls it).  Increasingly, many of the rest of us catch the now year-round spectacle demobilized in our living rooms, watching journalists play... gasp!... journalists on TV and give American democracy that good old Gotcha!

In 2001, George W. Bush wanted to send us all to Disney World (on our own dollar, of course).  In 2015, Disney World is increasingly coming directly to us.

After all, at the center of election 2016 is Donald Trump.  For a historical equivalent, you would have to imagine P.T. Barnum, who could sell any “curiosity” to the American public, running for president.  (In fact, he did serve two terms in the Connecticut legislature and was, improbably enough, the mayor of Bridgeport.)  Meanwhile, the TV “debates” that Trump and the rest of the candidates are now taking part in months before the first primary have left the League of Women Voters and the Commission on Presidential Debates in the dust.  These are the ratings-driven equivalent of food fights encased in ads, with the “questions” clearly based on what will glue eyeballs.

Here, for instance, was CNN host Jake Tapper’s first question of the second Republican debate: “Mrs. Fiorina, I want to start with you. Fellow Republican candidate, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, has suggested that your party’s frontrunner, Mr. Donald Trump, would be dangerous as president. He said he wouldn’t want, quote, ‘such a hot head with his finger on the nuclear codes.’ You, as well, have raised concerns about Mr. Trump’s temperament. You’ve dismissed him as an entertainer. Would you feel comfortable with Donald Trump’s finger on the nuclear codes?”

And the event only went downhill from there as responses ranged from non-answers to (no kidding!) a discussion of the looks of the candidates and yet the event proved such a ratings smash that its 23 million viewers were compared favorably to viewership of National Football League games.

In sum, a citizen’s duty, whether in time of war or elections, is now, at best, to watch the show, or at worst, to see nothing at all.

This reality has been highlighted by the whistleblowers of this generation, including Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and John Kiriakou.  Whenever they have revealed something of what our government is doing beyond our sight, they have been prosecuted with a fierceness unique in our history and for a simple enough reason.  Those who watch us believe themselves exempt from being watched by us.  That’s their definition of “democracy.”  When “spies” appear in their midst, even if those whistleblowers are “spies” for us, they are horrified at a visceral level and promptly haul out the World War I-era Espionage Act.  They now expect a demobilized response to whatever they do and when anything else is forthcoming, they strike back in outrage.

A Largely Demobilized Land
 


A report on a demobilized America shouldn’t end without some mention of at least one counter-impulse.  All systems assumedly have their opposites lurking somewhere inside them, which brings us to Bernie Sanders.  He’s the figure who doesn’t seem to compute in this story so far. 

All you had to do was watch the first Democratic debate to sense what an anomaly he is, or you could have noted that, until almost the moment he went on stage that night, few involved in the election 2016 media spectacle had the time of day for him. And stranger yet, that lack of attentionin the mainstream proved no impediment to the expansion of his campaign and his supporters, who, via social media and in person in the form of gigantic crowds, seem to exist in some parallel universe.

In this election cycle, Sanders alone uses the words “mobilize” and “mobilization” regularly, while calling for a “political revolution.” (“We need to mobilize tens of millions of people to begin to stand up and fight back and to reclaim the government, which is now owned by big money.”) And there is no question that he has indeed mobilized significant numbers of young people, many of whom are undoubtedly unplugged from the TV set, even if glued to other screens, and so may hardly be noticing the mainstream spectacle at all.

Whether the Sanders phenomenon represents our past or our future, his age or the age of his followers, is impossible to know. We do, of course, have one recent example of a mobilization in an election season. In the 2008 election, the charismatic Barack Obama created a youthful, grassroots movement, a kind of cult of personality that helped sweep him to victory, only to demobilize it as soon as he entered the Oval Office. Sanders himself puts little emphasis on personality or a cult of the same and undoubtedly represents something different, though what exactly remains open to question.

In the meantime, the national security state’s power is largely uncontested; the airlines still fly; Disney World continues to be a destination of choice; and the United States remains a largely demobilized land.

Blatant Gold/Silver Manipulation Reflects The Complete Corruption Of The U.S. System

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The morning of the FOMC announcement on Wednesday (Oct 28) gold was up $14 overnight, close to $1080 and the cartel’s dreaded 200 day moving average.  The “premise” was that the market was expecting another rate hike deferral.

I friend called me that morning and I told him to not get excited because when the FOMC policy decision hits the tape, they will annihilate gold and push the S&P 500 up toward 2100.   I was only 10 pts off on the S&P call, as the S&P 500 closed at 2090, up an absurd 24 points.  Gold was taken to the cleaners:

ComexGold

SPX

What’s incredible is not one mainstream media analyst or reporter questions this market action. If the premise behind the gold sell-off was a “hawkish” FOMC statement and the threat of a rate hike in December (yawn), then the exact same premise should have cause a big sell-off in stocks. Since when does the threat of tighter monetary policy not hit the stock market?

Just to recount the play-by-play in gold, the moment the FOMC announcement hit the tape, the Comex computer system was bombarded with sell orders. At this point in the trading day, the ONLY gold/silver market open is the Comex computer Globex system. In the first 30 minutes 29.6k contracts were unloaded – 2.6 million paper ounces. In the entire hour after the announcement 50.5k contracts were unloaded – 5.1 million ounces. Note that the Comex is showing around 200k ounces to be available for delivery.

The blatant, unfettered manipulation and intervention in the gold and silver market is sponsored by the Fed and the U.S. Treasury, executed by the big bullion banks and fully endorsed by the CFTC.

Dan Norcini vomited up a theory that the hit on Wednesday was a product of long side (hedge fund) liquidation.  That view proved to be utter scatological regurgitation from an analyst who’s analysis and views have gone completely off the rails.  As it turns out, open interest increased by over 4,000 contracts on Wednesday.  So much for that “long liquidation” idiocy.

The manipulation of the gold and silver market is a nothing but a product of complete systemic corruption.  The only way that the Fed and the politicians can claim that the economy is “fine” and QE “worked” is to make sure that the one piece of obvious evidence which would say otherwise is kept highly restrained.

I’ve told colleagues for years that the only way the elitists will let the Comex default, causing gold and silver to launch in price toward Pluto, is when they know they can no longer support their fraud.

If I’m wrong, how else to do you explain the fact that the front-running candidate to be the next President of the United States is openly a criminal and traitor who should be devoting her entire resource base toward defending herself from being throw in jail forever?  This person, by the way, issues a statement today giving the U.S. economy an “A.”

On a positive note, I do believe that this country is in its 9th inning and there will be no extra innings in this game.   Gold and silver do appear to be back in an uptrend, with a lot of pressure from the part of the world that demands physical delivery.

The mergers boom, the financial oligarchy and imperialism

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According to press reports Thursday, the drug makers Allergan and Pfizer are in the advanced stages of talks to merge and form the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, a $330 billion giant that will be based in Ireland and pay next to no income tax.
The merger, which would be the largest so far this year, is only the latest in a wave of corporate mergers and acquisitions that is expected to make 2015 a record year for takeovers, eclipsing the $3.4 trillion in deals made in 2007, the year before the Wall Street crash.
The Allergan-Pfizer announcement came the day after the Walgreens pharmacy chain announced plans to buy competitor Rite Aid in a deal valued at $17.2 billion. The resulting company would control 41 percent of the US pharmacy market, with competitor CVS controlling another 58 percent. All other companies combined would account for a mere 0.6 percent.
This is only the latest in a record year for health care mergers, including the $54.2 billion purchase of health insurer Cigna by its rival Anthem, and the $37 billion takeover of Humana by Aetna. As a result of these mergers, the five largest health insurers in the US were consolidated into three in a matter of weeks.
A central motive in the Walgreens/Rite Aid and Allergan/Pfizer mergers was increasing pricing power by further monopolizing the market. The transformation of the US pharmacy market into a duopoly will have a dramatic upward impact on drug prices paid by consumers.
The growing monopolization of the health care field has contributed to soaring costs in the United States. In 2013, the last year for which data is available, the price of top brand name prescription drugs increased by 12.9 percent, eight times faster than the rate of inflation.
These mergers, far from expressing economic health and “dynamism,” reflect the economic rot at the heart of global capitalism. Record merger activity in 2015 goes hand in hand with the lowest level of global economic growth since 2008-2009.
In the most immediate sense, these mergers are the response of corporations, driven on by the demands of Wall Street for ever-bigger payouts, to conditions of reduced demand amid a global slump and the collapse of workers’ incomes.
The wave of mergers, along with record stock buybacks and other completely parasitic activities, are facilitated by the policies of the world’s central banks, led by the Federal Reserve, which have kept interest rates near zero and injected trillions of dollars into the financial markets through bond purchases, dubbed “quantitative easing.”
Far from using the funds pumped into the financial system for productive investment, major corporations are sitting on a record cash hoard of $1.4 trillion, which they are using to buy back shares (further inflating stock prices and the portfolios of the rich and the super-rich), boost executive pay, and carry out mergers and acquisitions.
The mergers, while generating bumper profits for investors and huge payouts to corporate executives, generally lead to layoffs, wage cuts, speedups and the shutdown of plants and retail outlets. Such financial parasitism is the process by which finance capital boosts profits by cannibalizing the productive forces of society.
While these processes have accelerated in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash, they have been ongoing for decades, resulting in a social disaster for ever-broader sections of the working class. Millions of American workers have been reduced to a state of semi-penury, with 40 percent making less than $20,000 per year.
Abject social misery is coupled with fantastic levels of wealth. To cite just one example, the hedge fund mogul Kenneth Griffin of Chicago-based Citadel LLC, who made $1.3 billion last year, has gone on a real estate spending spree, lavishing some $300 million on properties in three cities, including three full floors at the condo tower under construction at 220 Central Park South, which he purchased for $200 million, a record for New York City real estate.
Economic and political life in the United States and indeed the whole world is dominated by the parasitic and money-mad financial oligarchy that Griffin embodies. The policies of global central banks and major capitalist governments have had as their sole aim to protect and increase the wealth of this financial elite and to subsidize their plunder of man’s resources all over the world for their own personal fortunes.
These are characteristics that the Russian revolutionary and theoretician Vladimir Lenin identified at a much earlier stage of their development. In his 1917 masterwork, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Lenin explained that the tendency toward financial parasitism, monopoly, dictatorship and war are not simply the result of subjective policies chosen by political leaders, but an expression of the fundamental tendencies of capitalism in its period of decay and morbidity.
Lenin wrote, “Political reaction all along the line is a characteristic feature of imperialism,” defined by “corruption, bribery on a huge scale and all kinds of fraud.” The domination of the banks over all aspects of social life finds political expression in the erosion of democratic rights at home. “Finance capital strives for domination, not freedom.”
There is a connection between the criminal character of this financial aristocracy and the criminal character of foreign policy. The war at home against US workers mirrors the predatory wars launched by the US against the people of the Middle East and Africa. Used to speculative gambling to make its billions, the financial elite turns to geopolitical “risk-taking” and homicidal recklessness in its international policy.
But the corollary of Lenin’s theory, proven in the subsequent history of the 20th and 21st centuries, is that imperialism is the epoch of not only reaction and war, but also of revolution. Now, as the fundamental characteristics of capitalism express themselves in the most naked form, the consequent sharpening of class antagonisms will lead inevitably to revolutionary upheavals.