Tag Archives: debt

America’s Student Loan Racket

America’s Student Loan Racket

By Stephen Lendman

The College Conspiracy

This writer’s recent book titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War” includes a chapter on America’s student loan racket. It discusses the issue in detail.

It explains a disturbing government/corporate partnership. Students are exploited for profit. Providers are enriched. For many, rising tuition and fees make higher education unaffordable. Others need large loans to attend. As a result, they become debt entrapped.

Some face burdens up to $100,000 or higher. If unpaid after 30 years, it’s a $500,000 obligation. If default or declare bankruptcy, it’s unforgiven. Bondage is permanent.

Lenders thrive from defaults. Wages can be garnished. So can portions of Social Security and other retirement benefits. A conspiratorial alliance of lenders, guarantors, servicers, and collection companies derive income from debt service and inflated collection fees.

Education today grows more unaffordable. Many students are priced out and can’t attend. Others become debt entrapped. Growing numbers remain there for life. A predatory system fleeces them.

Principle, accrued interest, late payment and collection agency penalties create enormous burdens to repay.

Once entrapped, escape is impossible. Unless repaid, future lives and careers are impaired. Today’s economic crisis exacerbates conditions. Job opportunities are scarce. Ones for higher education grads are even fewer.

Around yearend 2011, student debt exceeded $1 trillion. It’s staggering. It increases nearly $3,000 per second. It exceeds credit card and auto loan obligations. It’s second only to outstanding mortgage debt. It’s rising exponentially. A lost generation threatens.

It’s part of the grand scheme to transfer maximum wealth to America’s super-rich. It’s been ongoing for decades. Under Obama, it accelerated.

On May 12, The New York Times addressed the issue. Titled “A Generation Hobbled by the Soaring Cost of College,” writers Andrew Martin and Andrew Lehren overall did a credible job worth reading.

Ohio Northern University’s Kelsey Griffith was mentioned. “To start paying off her $120,000 in student debt, she is already working two restaurant jobs and will soon give up her apartment here to live with her parents. Her mother, who co-signed on the loans, is taking out a life insurance policy on her daughter.”

Griffith knew college costs were high. She never imagined owing $900 a month after graduating. “No one told me that,” she said.

Nearly every baccalaureate candidate borrows to attend. Most can’t imagine a future “unprecedented financial burden.”

“Ninety-four percent of students who earn a bachelor’s degree borrow to pay for higher education — up from 45 percent in 1993.”

According to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau deputy director Rajeev Date:

“If one is not thinking about where this is headed over the next two or three years, you are just completely missing the warning signs.”

He compares student loans to risky mortgages. Its extraordinary growth surprised many. Its roots, in fact, are deep. Its “cast of characters” includes college marketing officers, state and federal lawmakers, administration officials, and predatory lenders, guarantors, servicers, and collection companies.

Loans are easy to get. They’re tough to service. They’re not forgiven. For many in today’s job market, they’re impossible. Onerous debt escalates to greater amounts. A vicious circle entraps graduates and dropouts, many for life. It is better to be prepared and do research on these situations before jumping in, looking at websites like https://www.purplepayday.loan/  or the likes is a good place to start, but its always better to deal with your financial institution directly when in doubt.

Since crisis conditions erupted, states and cities nationwide slashed budgets. Education paid heavily. Adjusted for inflation, spending per college student reached a 25-year low.

At the same time, tuition and fees keep rising exponentially. If current trends continue “through 2016, the average cost of a public college (education) will have more than doubled” in the last 15 years.

Students and parents are unprepared. So-called experts claim not attending college is worse than graduating with debt. They, of course, have none to repay, and feel secure in well-paid jobs in an unfriendly environment for new grads.

Obama let a bad situation fester. Last October, he offered pathetic relief. Repayment schedules were relaxed slightly. Only federal loans are affected. Students in default don’t qualify. Moreover, for everyone who does, two or more fall behind in payments. A bad situation grows worse.

At most for the few qualifiers, savings are miniscule. At most, they’re about one-half of 1% on interest.

Nearly 10% of borrowers who began repayments in 2009 defaulted in two years. It’s double the 2005 rate. Some worry about the student loan system replicating the housing crisis. Doing so would have enormous economic implications.

Economists say the issue “hangs over the (economy) like a dark cloud for a generation of college graduates and indebted dropouts.”

Major purchases are delayed or abandoned. At issue is repaying student debt forever, according Bowling Green State University dropout Chelsea Grove. She owes $70,000. She’s working three part-time jobs. She’s not going back. She can’t afford it.

Twenty-three-year old Chistina Hagan is an Ohio lawmaker. She also attends Malone University. She’ll graduate shortly with over $65,000 in debt. Despite earning $60,000 a year, she’ll take a waitress job to service her $1,000 a month obligation. For her, it includes credit card debt.

Nationwide from 2001 – 2011, state and local per student financing dropped 24%. Over the same period, state school tuition and fees rose 72%.

Ohio State University gets 7% of its budget from Columbus. A decade ago it was 15%. In 1990, it was 25%. Decades earlier at some state universities, students attended free.

Today’s financial reality creates enormous burdens. At issue is handling costs and repayment obligations. Then it’s about finding decent jobs too few in number.

Few understand what they’ll face. Colleges recruit students aggressively. Financial aid is touted. Fine print language is a “minefield” to understand.

“Some are written in a manner that suggests the student is getting a great deal, by blurring the line between grants and loans or not making clear how much the student may have to pay or borrow.”

What’s portrayed as “doable” and “normal,” in fact, becomes onerous and unmanageable. Annual tuition increases aren’t factored in. Neither is inflation and high interest rates.

College admissions staff don’t explain. “While there are standardized disclosure forms for buying a car or a house or even signing up for a credit card, no such thing exists for colleges.”

College costs are complex. Besides rising tuitions and fees, “a vast array of grants and loans and a financial-aid system that discounts tuition for most students (use hard to understand) opaque formulas.”

Moreover, colleges avoid discussing affordability issues and possible future debt obligations. Growing numbers are like Wanda McGill. She “stopped opening her student loan bills.”

She’s not sure how much she owes but thinks it’s about $100,000. She can’t service it. After exhausting her funds, she dropped out of DeVry University’s Columbus branch. Now she earns $8.50 an hour.

“I was promised the world and was given a garbage dump to clean up,” she said. “Like my life was not already screwed up with welfare and all.”

She’s not alone. Epidemic conditions rage across America. An Occupy Student Debt protest joined other OWS campaigns.

Its web site “What You Need To Know” section says:

“We did what we were told to do and ‘followed our dreams,’ but we are now trapped by what was meant to be an investment in our futures, not a noose.”

“Obama’s recent student loan ‘reform’ has done nothing for those in default, or those of us with private (bank-backed) loans through Sallie Mae, Citibank, and so on.”

“If we default, we cannot rent or buy homes, or even find jobs with the 60% of employers that check credit. Our professional licenses (i.e. nursing/teaching) can be revoked. And with the fees assigned to defaulted loans that double the amount owed, getting back on one’s feet is nearly impossible.”

“Not only would voluntarily defaulting do nothing to solve the underlying problem of out-of-control student loan debt, but defaulting can result in any number of detrimental outcomes, including, but not limited to the consequences listed above.”

Today’s crisis spread from for-profit institutions to others. However, former ones represent the worst problem. Students complain they’re mislead. Lawsuits charge fraud, deception, doctoring attendance records, or offering near-worthless degrees.

As a result, their students are twice as likely to default. Among baccalaureate candidates, only 22% succeed in six years. At non-profit private schools, it’s 65%, and at public ones it’s 55%.

According to American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers associate executive director Barmak Nassirian:

“Mainstream higher ed can really self-righteously look at the big problem out there and say, ‘The problem lies with the other guy.”

“But there are all kinds of unfortunate practices in traditional higher education that are equally as problematic that are reaching the crisis point.”

Political Washington largely ignores the problem. It’s done little to curb abuses. Action belies lip service. A sinkhole of trouble deepens. A lost generation threatens.

Higher education today involves crushing debt burdens too onerous to repay. Rising poverty, unemployment, few job prospects, and a system sucking wealth to America’s super-rich makes today’s crisis unmanageable.

Education beyond secondary school once meant brighter futures. Today it ensures debt entrapment too demanding to repay. Neoliberal harshness polarized American society along class lines. It also affects Europe.

In modern times, it’s harder than ever to cope. For growing numbers of deeply indebted students it’s impossible. Their dreams became no-escape nightmares.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected]

His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

SOURCE

Millionaire Lotto winner on Food Stamps

Lottery winner on food stamps even after $1 million jackpot

By Eric Pfeiffer

People love stories about someone winning the lottery and then giving the money away. They’re less likely to feel fondly about Amanda Clayton, who won $1 million in the Michigan State Lottery but is still collecting food stamps.

“I thought that they would cut me off, but since they didn’t, I thought maybe it was OK because I’m not working,” Clayton, 24, told Local 4 news in Detroit.

Back in December, a woman in Washington State fell under scrutiny when it was revealed she was receiving state economic benefits even though she lives in a $1 million waterfront home on Lake Washington.

Clayton, who says she owns two homes and a new car, receives $200 a month in food assistance from the state-issued Michigan Bridge Card, which is meant to benefit lower-income residents in the nation’s eigth most economically depressed state.

Twenty-five percent of Michigan’s residents receive some form of food assistance from the state. The state’s unemployment rate is 9.3 percent, more than a full point above the national average, but has dropped from a 10.4 percent peak in August.

And Clayton isn’t embarrassed about living off the state even though she now finds herself in the nation’s top tax bracket. “I mean I kinda do,” Clayton told Local 4 when asked if she had a “right” to the government welfare.

She certainly doesn’t the fit the mold of other lottery winners we have told you about here at the Sideshow, including the number of repeat winners of the Georgia State Lottery, many of whom chose to donate their initial winnings to charity or family members in need.

Clayton downplayed her wealth, saying she took the $1 million in a lump sump, which meant about half immediately went to taxes. “I feel that it’s OK because I mean, I have no income and I have bills to pay,” she said. “I have two houses.”

Her story has already caught attention locally, where state Republican Rep. Dale Zorn has sponsored a bill preventing individuals like Clayton from taking state financial assistance.

“Public assistance should be given to those who are in need of public assistance, not those who have found riches,” Zorn told Local 4. The bill, which has already passed the state House and has a sister bill in the Senate, would require the state to cross check the names of lottery winners over $1,000 to see if they are also receiving state financial benefits.

And she wasn’t the only one.

SOURCE

Germany Warns of War

Merkel wants ‘permanent’ supervision of Greece, warns of war

By Valentina Pop

Brussels – Peace should not be taken for granted if the euro fails, German chancellor Merkel told MPs ahead of the eurozone summit where an increase of the bail-out fund firepower may lead to Germany’s own state assets being taken as collateral.

In a dark blue jacket reflecting the mood in and about the eurozone, Merkel abandoned her usual cautious rhetoric warned outright of a war.

“Nobody should take for granted another 50 years of peace and prosperity in Europe. They are not for granted. That’s why I say: If the euro fails, Europe fails,” Merkel said, followed by a long applause from all political groups.

“We have a historical obligation: To protect by all means Europe’s unification process begun by our forefathers after centuries of hatred and blood spill. None of us can foresee what the consequences would be if we were to fail.”


“It cannot be that sometime in the future they say the political generation responsible for Europe in the second decade of the 21 century has failed in the face of history,
” the chancellor continued.

She was asking for the parliament’s “political” green light on a negotiation mandate for the EU summit, beginning later today in Brussels. The summit is seeking to increase the firepower of the €440 billion-strong European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) to stop the sovereign debt crisis spreading to countries like Italy and ultimately, France.

The Bundestag approved the measure by a large majority, with 503 members in favour, 89 opposing and four abstaining.

German ‘risks’

While stressing that Germany’s contribution to the EFSF loan guarantees would continue to be capped at €211 billion, she said she could not exclude there may be “risks” for Germany linked to the EFSF increase of firepower. Her own party colleagues had demanded that she clearly excludes German state assets, such as the central bank’s gold reserves, to be put as collateral for the EFSF lending power.

“Nobody can clearly estimate if there will be such risks. What I can say is that we cannot exclude it,”
she said, insisting that the current situation is pushing European leaders into “uncharted territories”.

“Not to take these risks would be irresponsible. There is no better and more sensible alternative. Europe and the world are looking at Germany,” the chancellor said.

Looking ahead to the summit, the chancellor repeated her long-standing stance that “there is no silver bullet, no simple solutions. We will still deal with these topics for years from now.”

She repeated her insistence that the EU treaty had to be changed, in the medium term, to be more strict on countries breaching the euro deficit rules.

“Where does it say that any treaty change has to take 10 years or that there should be no more changes after the Lisbon Treaty,” she asked.

EU leaders last Sunday agreed to have an evaluation presented to them in December by council chief Herman Van Rompuy about the possibility for a “limited” treaty change.

‘Permanent supervision’ for Greece

On the three euro-countries currently propped by EU-IMF loans, Merkel said Ireland was on “the right path”, Portugal showed it could implement the promised reforms, while Greece was still “at the beginning of a long road.”

For the first time, as opposition MPs noted later on in the debate, Merkel had words of praise for the ordinary Greek citizens feeling the brunt of the austerity measures demanded by international lenders. “People in Greece have to stomach a lot of sacrifices. They deserve our respect and also a sustainable growth perspective in the eurozone.”

According to the latest report of the so-called troika, consisting of experts sent from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Greece will need even higher debt restructuring and losses for private lenders compared to what EU leaders had agreed upon on 21 July.

“But debt restructuring alone does not solve the problem. Painful structural reforms have to be made, otherwise even after debt restructuring we’re back to where we are today,” Merkel warned.

That’s why, she said, Greece would have to be “assisted” for quite some time. “It’s not enough that the troika comes and goes every three months. It would be desirable to have a permanent supervision in Greece,” she said, adding that this issue would be brought up at the summit.

In return for what seems to be an unprecedented sovereignty loss in an old EU member state, Merkel promised German investments and mentioned a meeting of local representatives from Germany and Greece in the coming weeks.

“We want Greece to be back on its feet again as soon as possible and will do everything we can to this end,” she concluded.

Her junior coalition party, the Liberal Free Democrats (FDP), had less sympathy for Greece, however. Rainer Bruederle, leader of the FDP group, said that the troika had given Athens a “D” and that “nobody expects Greece to turn into an A student over night,” as it was now just like eastern-European transition countries 20 years ago.

Sticking to the teacher-pupil metaphor, Bruederle urged Greeks to “do their homework” and said the country could not be funded endlessly like a “bottomless pit”.

The leftist opposition was outraged, with Die Linke leader Gregor Gysi pointing out that austerity has forced 27,000 small and medium enterprises to go bankrupt in Greece and that teachers earn as little as €1,000 a month. “What more do you want from them? Do you want them to starve to death?” he said.

SOURCE

Obama Has Now Increased Debt More than All Presidents from George Washington Through George H.W. Bush……Combined

Obama Has Now Increased Debt More than All Presidents from George Washington Through George H.W. Bush Combined

By Terence P. Jeffrey

(CNSNews.com) – The Obama administration passed another fiscal milestone this week, according to new data released by the Treasury Department. As of the close of business on Oct. 3, the total national debt was $14,837,099,271,196.71—up about $44.8 billion from Sept. 30.

That means that in the less-than-three-years Obama has been in office, the federal debt has increased by $4.212 trillion–more than the total national debt of about $4.1672 trillion accumulated by all 41 U.S. presidents from George Washington through George H.W. Bush combined.

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National Debt

This $4.212-trillion increase in the national debt means that during Obama’s term the federal government has already borrowed about an additional $35,835 for every American household–or $44,980 for every full-time private-sector worker. (According to the Census Bureau there were about 117,538,000 households in the country in 2010, and, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 93,641,000 full-time private-sector workers.)

When Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009, according to the Treasury Department, the total national debt stood at $10,626,877,048,913.08.

At the end of January 1993, the month that President George H. W. Bush left office, the total national debt was $4.1672 trillion, according to the Treasury. Thus, the total national debt accumulated by the first 41 presidents combined was about $44.8 billion less than the approximately $4.212 trillion in new debt added during Obama’s term.

As of Monday, Obama had been in office 986 days—or about 32 and a half months. During that time, the debt increased at an average pace of $4.27 billion per day. Were that rate to continue until Obama’s term ends on Jan. 20, 2013, the debt would then stand at about $16.86534 trillion—an increase of more than $6.2 trillion for Obama’s four years.

That would equal nearly $53,000 for each American household or more than $66,00 for each full-time private-sector worker.

That total national debt did not exceed $6.2 trillion until 2002, when George W. Bush was president.

SOURCE

No Jobs, No Peace……*#$% the Police?


Bloomberg: Jobs crisis could spark riots here

By Aaron Smith @CNNMoney

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is worried that high U.S. unemployment could lead to the same kind of riots here that have swept through Europe and North Africa.

“You have a lot of kids graduating college, [who] can’t find jobs,
” said Bloomberg, during his weekly radio show on Friday. “That’s what happened in Cairo. That’s what happened in Madrid. You don’t want those kinds of riots here.

That was the mayor’s response when asked about the poverty rate, which rose to 15.1% in 2010, its highest level since 1993, according to census data released Tuesday. About 46.2 million people are now living in poverty, 2.6 million more than last year.

“The public is not happy,”
he said. “The public knows there is something wrong in this country, and there is. The bottom line is that they’re upset.”

Riots have gripped various countries in European cities, including Athens and London, fueled by young people infuriated by high unemployment and austerity measures, which in some cases has led to looting. High unemployment among youth is also one of the driving forces behind the Arab Spring, as impoverished protestors in North Africa and the Middle East rose up against their heavy-handed governments.

“The damage to a generation that can’t find jobs will go on for many, many years,” said Bloomberg.

The mayor, an independent, criticized the partisan politics that have stymied progress in Congress, and the inability of Republicans and Democrats to compromise on ways to fix the economy.

“There is no overnight solution,”
he said.”You look at the president’s proposals. At least he’s got some ideas on the table, whether you like those or not.”

“The only way you solve this problems is that everybody pays a little more and everybody gets a little less,” he added.

The economy added no jobs in August, according to the Labor Department, for the first time since February, 1945.

The unemployment rate is 9.1%, but many experts say that figure is misleading. They prefer to use the so-called underemployment rate, which includes people who have given up their search for jobs as well as people who want to work full-time but are forced to work part-time.

The underemployment rate is 16.2%.

SOURCE

Beware the U.S. ‘day of rage’ September 17

In 1969 Leftwing domestic terrorist William ‘Bill’ Ayers, head of the group known as ‘the Weathermen,’ staged the ‘days of rage’ in Chicago during which acts of violence, mayhem, and destruction of property were conducted as a means by which Progressive extremists would not only protest American capitalism and the Viet Nam War but so disrupt the country that its economic and social system would crumble and be replaced by a Marxist and pacifistic model.

The fact that by definition an anti-war movement along with its promotion of pacifism disavows all violence for any purpose, good or bad, was totally lost on this gang of extremist militants who were more interested in pushing a Marxist, anti-Capitalist agenda than portraying a pacifistic mindset. Despite their many claims of ‘peaceful protest and non-violent civil disobedience,’ the Weathermen went on a rampage during which they ran wild in the streets wearing helmets, military gear, and wielding baseball bats and other weapons. All symbols of wealth and power were attacked, including parked cars, the apartments and property of the affluent, police officers, and ‘rich’ innocent bystanders.

Ayers called on the Marxist minions to kill their parents. By the end of the melee 400 militants were arrested and 60 victims were injured, some seriously. The group had also caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to property.

By 1970 the Weathermen turned even more violent as they began to blow up buildings with bombs. Bombs were detonated in the U.S. Capitol Building, the Pentagon, and the New York City Police Headquarters, among others. The violence resulted in several deaths, including that of at least 2 police officers. To this day, neither Bill Ayers, nor his wife and co-domestic terrorist Bernadine Dohrn, have ever expressed the slightest hint of remorse for their actions. To the contrary, they have stated more than once that they would do it all over again and are sorry that they did not do even more.

On September 17 of this year yet another ‘day of rage’ is scheduled to occur in New York City on Wall Street, as once again the militant Marxist Progressives attempt to shut down the stock market and bring to ruin several large firms. The major difference between the days of rage of 1969 and the day of rage this September 17 is that today the Leftwing extremists have friends in very high places within the government. And the key players in this year’s display of mayhem have a direct connection with those who staged the first event in 1969.

The usual suspects are involved–the union SEIU, former directors of ACORN, and other Leftist organizations that have come to the forefront of attention since the Presidential election of 2008. But as a special report published in 2003 in the Boston Globe indicates, the Weathermen are still active and do most of their work underground, well out of the public eye. Many believe that Ayers, Dohrn, Kathy Boudin, and other key players in the Weathermen are helping fuel the tensions leading to the various days of rage around the world.

For example, it is known that Ayers, Dohrn, and Jodi Evans of Code Pink form the driving force behind the so-called ‘Peace Flotilla’ that is aimed at breaching Israel’s blockade of Gaza and provoking attacks. It is also curious to note that the flotilla’s activities closely preceded the so-called Arab Spring and days of rage throughout the Middle East as extremists used the ruse of ‘democratic protests’ to oust dictators and usher in their own form of totalitarianism called ‘Sharia Law.’ Ayers is the original purveyor of the ‘days of rage’–the originator and guru of the movement. The fact that these types of events are being staged all over the world, using the same name, is no coincidence.

Further, in spite of the claim that the gathering on Wall Street is to be ‘peaceful,’ one of the event’s organizers stated in a memo to volunteers that they intend to make the event the ‘U.S. Tahrir Square’–referring to the weeks of protests involving hundreds of thousands in Cairo, Egypt:

On September 17, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months. Once there, we shall incessantly repeat our one simple demand until Barack Obama capitulates.

…there is a very real danger that if we naively put our cards on the table and rally around the “overthrow of capitalism” or some equally outworn utopian slogan, then our Tahrir moment will quickly fizzle into another inconsequential ultra-lefty spectacle soon forgotten. But if we have the cunning to come up with a deceptively simple Trojan Horse demand…

See you on Wall St. Sept 17. Bring Tent.

Thus, as in 1968 the group intends to be deceptive in hiding its stated goals and tactics.

And that is not all.

Not only do the militants plan to converge on Wall Street but they intend to conduct similar disruptive and potentially violent events on the same day in multiple cities around the world, including Tokyo, London, Frankfurt, Madrid, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Sidney, and Toronto.

How will the Obama Administration respond to the coordinated, protracted ‘sit ins’ to be staged by Progressives in the nation’s most important financial hub? No one can know for sure. But we do know that Barack Obama and those closest to him have long-standing, close relationships with the key players–SEIU, ACORN, Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Jodi Evans, and other Leftwing extremist activists and groups.


SOURCE

Hospital California? You can check-in any time you like. But, you can never leave.

The Hospital Gestapo: You May Never See Home Again

PPJ/Contributor

Angela V. Woodhull, Ph.D./licensed private investigator

___________________________________________________________

Thinking of checking into a hospital? Think again. You may never see home again.

Ginger Franklin, Hendersonville, Tennessee, fell down the stairs in her condo and suffered a bump on her head. She was declared “temporarily mentally incapacitated” and a guardian was appointed through the courts. Within six weeks, the Guardian had sold Franklin’s home, car, furniture, and drained her bank account. Today,Franklin has her freedom back, but she is having to start all over.

Michael Kidd, 72, of Richardson, Texas, fell in his yard and broke a hip. Now, he is living in Countryside Nursing Home with his wife. Both were removed from their home when the state of Texas petitioned the courts claiming that the Kidds were mentally incompetent. Their house sits vacant and neglected, with rotting food still remaining in the refrigerator. The Kidds have been confined to a single room in the nursing home, while the state appointed guardian burns through their money an gives them a mere $60 a month spending allowance which they have been using to buy “real” food.

Robert Milton (not his real name) was taken to the hospital because he fell “one time too many” at his home, and although his stepson had been given power of attorney to make all of his health care decisions, a court-appointed corporate guardian placed Milton against his will in a nursing home where he is now isolated from his family and friends. Meanwhile, his money is being spent as quickly as possible by the Orlando-based guardian and her attorneys.

How It Commences

Joseph Niedesky (not his real name) was air lifted to a hospital in Orlando from Ocalaby helicopter after he was the victim of a motorcycle crash. But something went terribly wrong during Niedesky’s surgery and he aspirated on his own vomit, causing some brain injury. That’s when a corporate guardian was contacted by the hospital and appointed by the court as Niedesky’s full plenary, permanent guardian.

What Happens Next

The corporate guardian who petitioned the court stated in the court papers that Niedesky had no family. In reality, Niedesky had been married for more than 20 years and had four teenage children. It took more than two months for Niedesky’s wife to discover what had happened to her husband and where he was located.

The Family is Always Portrayed as the “Devil Incarnate”

What happened to Niedesky is becoming a commonplace occurrence in America. A family member is rushed to the hospital. Surgery occurs and something sometimes goes terribly wrong. However, by quickly petitioning the courts for guardianship, the hospital avoids any kind of lawsuit for negligence or wrongful death. Niedesky’s wife wanted to bring him home and get him out of the guardianship. The guardian, however, kept moving Niedesky from location to location, city to city, until the statute of limitations for suing the hospital had expired. Shortly after the statute of limitations ended, Niedsky just happened to die.

“The hospital saved itself millions in a lawsuit. It is typical that shortly after the statute of limitations runs out, the ward just happens to suddenly die,”
stated David Newman, Gainesville, Florida, a civil rights guardianship reform advocate.

Niedesky’s wife was portrayed in the court record as uncaring, incompetent, over-meddling, and negligent, and although these descriptors seem to be a contraction of terms, you will typically find the most cynical descriptions of family members in most court files where an involuntary guardianship has been granted by the courts to a total stranger.

For example, in Milton’s case, Milton’s stepson had been named long ago as his power of attorney and health care surrogate. That designation, however, was destroyed by the court and the corporate guardian even accused the stepson of stealing several thousands over the years from his stepfather. Today, Milton’s stepson, a 65 year old retired veteran, finds himself in a legal nightmare gathering bank records and hiring attorneys and forensic accountants to prove his innocence. Meanwhile, the corporate guardian is spending Milton’s money like water.

The Other Scenario

Tom Griffith (not his real name) wonders why an Orlando-based corporate guardian would be interested in his father at all.

“He has no money. All he gets is a small monthly check from Social Security of about $800.00.”

I explained to Griffith that his father has been marked for destruction and will mostly likely not be among the living in a very short period of time. “We live in a country that is ruled by corporations, not the U.S. Constitution. If there is not enough money for the nursing home to cover its expenses, there is ‘no reason’ to keep your father alive.” I explained to Milton how Thomas Chada’s father was sent to him as a box of ashes and how other wards seem to always turn up “expired” shortly after a corporate guardian and her attorneys have burned through all of an elderly person’s money.

But in this case, Griffith said there was no reason to destroy his father. “There is no money to gain.”

“Yes, but that is the point. The corporate guardians have a symbiotic relationship with the nursing homes. Sometimes, the nursing home gives them a wealthy resident that they can bilk. At other times, the corporate guardian does them a favor by making premature end-of-life decisions when there is not enough finances to cover the elderly person’s day-to-day expenses.”

In the case of Griffith’s father, who just received quadruple open heart bypass surgery, it was determined that the ward, age 74, now needed dialysis, a very costly ongoing treatment.

“The doctors said my father does not want dialysis,”Milton stated. “But I know my father wishes to live; he is only 74.”

They probably got your father to sign such a statement without him even knowing what he was signing,” I explained.

Milton wanted to know what he could do to rescue his father out of this dangerous and life-threatening situation.

“You can hire an attorney, but you might end up spending more than $500,000.00 of your own money to become your father’s guardian.”


“I don’t have that kind of money,
”Griffithdeclared, shocked.

It was obvious that the scenario I was describing was greatly upsetting Griffith. Those of us who have already lived this scenario remember going through the predictable stage of “mental shock” followed by the overwhelming urge to seek justice—at any cost. I explained to Griffith that he may find himself bankrupt as a result of trying to help his father out of this doomed guardianship situation.

My phone continues to ring as victims, desperate to find a solution, want to know what they can do.

In a country that is ruled by corporations and corporate greed, there will be no solution to The Guardianship Nightmare until a public uprising is so severe that these kinds of abominable– yet commonplace situations– will no longer be able to occur.

Angela V. Woodhull, Ph.D.

licensed private investigator

(352) 327-3665

[email protected]

SOURCE

Israel under Siege – Psalm 83 to be fulfilled?

Beyond Cairo, Israel Sensing a Wider Siege

Isaiah 17:12-14 — 12 Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! 13 The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind. 14 And behold at eveningtide trouble; and before the morning he is not. This is the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us.

Amel Pain/European Pressphoto Agency

By ETHAN BRONNER

JERUSALEM — With its Cairo embassy ransacked, its ambassador to Turkey expelled and the Palestinians seeking statehood recognition at the United Nations, Israel found itself on Saturday increasingly isolated and grappling with a radically transformed Middle East where it believes its options are limited and poor.

The diplomatic crisis, in which winds unleashed by the Arab Spring are now casting a chill over the region, was crystallized by the scene of Israeli military jets sweeping into Cairo at dawn on Saturday to evacuate diplomats after the Israeli Embassy had been besieged by thousands of protesters.

It was an image that reminded some Israelis of Iran in 1979, when Israel evacuated its embassy in Tehran after the revolution there replaced an ally with an implacable foe.

“Seven months after the downfall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime, Egyptian protesters tore to shreds the Israeli flag, a symbol of peace between Egypt and its eastern neighbor, after 31 years,” Aluf Benn, the editor in chief of the left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz, wrote Saturday. “It seems that the flag will not return to the flagstaff anytime soon.”

Egypt and Israel both issued statements on Saturday reaffirming their commitments to their peace treaty, but in a televised address on Saturday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel warned that Egypt “cannot ignore the heavy damage done to the fabric of peace.”

Facing crises in relations with Egypt and Turkey, its two most important regional allies, Israel turned to the United States. Throughout the night on Friday, desperate Israeli officials called their American counterparts seeking help to pressure the Egyptians to protect the embassy.

President Obama “expressed his great concern” in a telephone call with Mr. Netanyahu, the White House said in a statement, and he called on Egypt “to honor its international obligations to safeguard the security of the Israeli Embassy.”

Washington — for whom Israel, Turkey and Egypt are all critical allies — has watched tensions along the eastern Mediterranean with growing unease and increasing alarm. And though the diplomatic breaches were not entirely unexpected, they prompted a flurry of diplomatic activity in Washington.

The mayhem in Cairo also exacted consequences for Egypt, raising questions about whether its military-led transitional government would be able to maintain law and order and meet its international obligations. The failure to prevent an invasion of a foreign embassy raised security concerns at other embassies as well.

The Egyptian government responded to those questions Saturday night, pledging a new crackdown on disruptive protests and reactivating the emergency law allowing indefinite detentions without trial, one of the most reviled measures enacted under former President Hosni Mubarak.

Since the start of the Arab uprisings, internal critics and foreign friends, including the United States, have urged Israel to take bold conciliatory steps toward the Palestinians, and after confrontations in which Israeli forces killed Egyptian and Turkish citizens, to reach accommodations with both countries.

Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador a week ago over Israel’s refusal to apologize for a deadly raid last year on a Turkish ship bound for Gaza in which nine Turks were killed. The storming of the embassy in Cairo on Saturday was precipitated by the killing of three Egyptian soldiers along the border by Israeli military forces pursuing terrorism suspects.

Israel has expressed regret for the deaths in both cases, but has not apologized for actions that it considers defensive.

The overriding assessment of the government of Mr. Netanyahu is that such steps will only make matters worse because what is shaking the region is not about Israel, even if Israel is increasingly its target, and Israel can do almost nothing to affect it.

“Egypt is not going toward democracy but toward Islamicization,” said Eli Shaked, a former Israeli ambassador to Cairo who reflected the government’s view. “It is the same in Turkey and in Gaza. It is just like what happened in Iran in 1979.

A senior official said Israel had few options other than to pursue what he called a “porcupine policy” to defend itself against aggression. Another official, asked about Turkey, said, “There is little that we can do.”

Critics of the government take a very different view.

Mr. Benn, the Haaretz editor, acknowledged that Mr. Netanyahu could not be faulted for the events in Egypt, the rise of an Islamic-inspired party in Turkey or Iran’s nuclear program. But echoing criticism by the Obama administration, he said that Mr. Netanyahu “has not done a thing to mitigate the fallout from the aforementioned developments.”

Daniel Ben-Simon, a member of Parliament from the left-leaning Labor Party, said the Netanyahu government was on a path “not just to diplomatic isolation but to actually putting Israelis in danger,” he said. “It all comes down to his obsession against a Palestinian state, his total paralysis toward the Palestinian issue. We are facing an international tide at the United Nations. If he joined the vote for a Palestinian state instead of fighting it, that would be the best thing he could do for us in the Arab world.”

The Palestinians have given up on talks with Israel, and within the next two weeks they plan to ask the United Nations to grant them membership and statehood recognition within the 1967 lines, including East Jerusalem as a capital.

Potential side effects of the diplomatic disputes have already emerged.

The growing hostility from Egypt could require a radical rethinking of Israel’s defense doctrine which, for the past three decades, counted on peace on its southern border. As chaos in the Sinai has increased and anti-Israel sentiment in Egypt has grown, military strategists here are examining how to beef up protection of the south, including by the building of an anti-infiltration wall in the Sinai.

A threat by Turkey last week to challenge Israel’s plans for gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean could threaten Israel’s agreement with Cyprus on gas drilling and could worsen tensions with Lebanon on drilling rights.

Initial Israeli fears about the Arab Spring uprisings have begun to materialize in concrete ways. When the uprisings began in Tunisia and Egypt at the start of the year, little attention was directed toward Israel because so much focus was on throwing off dictatorial rule and creating a new political order.

Traditionally, many Arab leaders have used Israel as a convenient scapegoat, turning public wrath against it and blaming it for their problems. The faint hope here was that a freer Middle East might move away from such anti-Israel hostility because the overthrow of dictators would open up debate.

But as the months of Arab Spring have turned autumnal, Israel has increasingly become a target of public outrage. Some here say Israel is again being made a scapegoat, this time for unfulfilled revolutionary promises.

But there is another interpretation, and it is the predominant one abroad — Muslims, Arabs and indeed many around the globe believe Israel is unjustly occupying Palestinian territories, and they are furious at Israel for it. And although some Israelis pointed fingers at Islamicization as the cause of the violence, Egyptians noted Saturday that Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, distanced themselves from Friday’s protests and did not attend, while legions of secular-minded soccer fans were at the forefront of the embassy attacks.

“The world is tired of this conflict and angry at us because we are viewed as conquerors, ruling over another people,” said Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a Labor Party member of Parliament and a former defense minister. “If I were Bibi Netanyahu, I would recognize a Palestinian state. We would then negotiate borders and security. Instead nothing is happening. We are left with one ally, America, and that relationship is strained, too.”


David D. Kirkpatrick contributed reporting from Cairo, and Steven Lee Myers from Washington.

SOURCE

Million Dead, $1.8 Trillion Spent: The Cost Of The Decade-Long U.S. “War On Terror”

Million Dead, $1.8 Trillion Spent On Decade-Long U.S. “War On Terror”

by Tom Clonan

Global Research

US pays price in blood and treasure for war on terror

By Tom Clonan

-In January 2002, the US began the lesser publicised Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines…In October 2002, the US military started African military operations from Djibouti, establishing Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa…within Ethiopia, Somalia, Chad and Niger….This operation was subsequently broadened to include Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara, widening the scope of its operations to Central Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. This little-known war on terror in Africa has been fought in the main by thousands of US special forces and has been overshadowed by US military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan…[T]he US continues to wage its war on terror on several continents – from the Horn of Africa and Yemen to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In the decade since 9/11 about a million people worldwide have lost their lives in what is now known as the global war on terror.

The term “War on Terror”, was first used by President George Bush on September 16th, 2001, at Camp David as the US began to configure its military response to Osama bin Laden’s attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

In the weeks and months following 9/11, the Bush administration launched a series of robust military and intelligence interventions worldwide. The first phase started with the invasion of Afghanistan, or Operation Enduring Freedom, which began in October 2001.

The war aims were simple – to remove the Taliban leadership in Kabul and deny al-Qaeda physical sanctuary within the country. The US aimed to destroy al-Qaeda and disrupt its capacity to mount international operations from Afghan soil. It also sought to capture or kill bin Laden.

In January 2002, the US began the lesser publicised Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines, to destroy the Islamist terror groups Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayaf group who had been co-ordinating terrorist operations throughout the Philippines and Indonesia from the island of Besilan…

In October 2002, the US military started African military operations from Djibouti, establishing Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa, designed to identify and destroy al-Qaeda affiliated Islamist terror cells within Ethiopia, Somalia, Chad and Niger.

This operation was subsequently broadened to include Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara, widening the scope of its operations to Central Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. This little-known war on terror in Africa has been fought in the main by thousands of US special forces and has been overshadowed by US military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

In March 2003, the US invaded Iraq in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The war aims of the US in Iraq were less clear than in its other interventions. Faulty and false intelligence reports on so-called weapons of mass destruction were mobilised as a motivation to attack Iraq.

The initial invasion phase, involving approximately 200,000 coalition troops, managed to topple Saddam Hussein’s regime. Saddam was subsequently captured, tried and hanged in Iraq. But no weapons of mass destruction were discovered and the invasion had the unintended consequence of strengthening Iran’s influence in the region.

A decade after the Twin Towers attacks, the US continues to wage its war on terror on several continents – from the Horn of Africa and Yemen to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The term “war on terror” has entered the language as a catch-all phrase for everything from the inconvenience of security checks at airports to drone attacks in Pakistan. Officially, however, the global war on terror is now over. The Obama administration has rebranded and renamed the Global War on Terror, the Overseas Contingency Operation.

Since March 2009, the Pentagon and US Department of Defense have been requested to refrain from using the term, Global War on Terror.

In terms of blood and treasure, the wars have been costly for the US and Nato. In Iraq, the US and its allies lost almost 5,000 troops. More than 32,000 were wounded. In Afghanistan, where casualty rates have increased five-fold in five years, the US and its allies have lost almost 3,000 killed in action with a further 13,000 wounded.

More than 10,000 US and foreign mercenaries – euphemistically termed security contractors – have also been killed and injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The strain of a decade of war on America’s volunteer army has been heavy. According to the US Army Surgeon General 66,935 US troops suffer from acute combat stress reaction. In addition, the US Congressional Research Service has reported that a staggering 178,876 US veterans have suffered traumatic brain injuries. Almost 2,000 of these veterans are amputees and hundreds have also died of self-inflicted wounds or suicide while on active service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The rate of suicide among US troops has more than doubled since 9/11. For civilians, the cost of war has been especially high. While estimates vary, British medical journal The Lancet suggests that a minimum of 655,000 Iraqi civilians were killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Similar studies suggest that approximately 4,000 Afghan civilians have died during Operation Enduring Freedom. These figures represent those killed by both coalition troops and belligerent forces within Iraq and Afghanistan. The majority of civilian casualties, in both countries, were inflicted by insurgents.

The US Congressional Research Service, in its March 2011 report, states that the Overseas Contingency Operation has cost the US taxpayer $1.3 trillion – $130 billion per annum since 9/11. At present, US military operations worldwide cost $386 million per day, or $4,000 dollars per second. According to US Congressional estimates, the final bill will total $1.8 trillion.

Stop NATO e-mail list home page with archives and search engine:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/messages

Stop NATO website and articles:
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com

SOURCE

China To US: Any Attack on Pakistan Would be Construed as an Attack on China

China To US: Any Attack on Pakistan Would be Construed as an Attack on China

Posted on Pakalert

China has officially put the United States on notice that Washington’s planned attack on Pakistan will be interpreted as an act of aggression against Beijing. This blunt warning represents the first known strategic ultimatum received by the United States in half a century, going back to Soviet warnings during the Berlin crisis of 1958-1961, and indicates the grave danger of general war growing out of the US-Pakistan confrontation.


“Any Attack on Pakistan Would be Construed as an Attack on China”

Responding to reports that China has asked the US to respect Pakistan’s sovereignty in the aftermath of the Bin Laden operation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu used a May 19 press briefing to state Beijing’s categorical demand that the “sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan must be respected.” According to Pakistani diplomatic sources cited by the Times of India, China has “warned in unequivocal terms that any attack on Pakistan would be construed as an attack on China.” This ultimatum was reportedly delivered at the May 9 China-US strategic dialogue and economic talks in Washington, where the Chinese delegation was led by Vice Prime Minister Wang Qishan and State Councilor Dai Bingguo.1 Chinese warnings are implicitly backed up by that nation’s nuclear missiles, including an estimated 66 ICBMs, some capable of striking the United States, plus 118 intermediate-range missiles, 36 submarine-launched missiles, and numerous shorter-range systems.

Support from China is seen by regional observers as critically important for Pakistan, which is otherwise caught in a pincers between the US and India: “If US and Indian pressure continues, Pakistan can say ‘China is behind us. Don’t think we are isolated, we have a potential superpower with us,’” Talat Masood, a political analyst and retired Pakistani general, told AFP.2

The Chinese ultimatum came during the visit of Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani in Beijing, during which the host government announced the transfer of 50 state-of-the-art JF-17 fighter jets to Pakistan, immediately and without cost.3 Before his departure, Gilani had stressed the importance of the Pakistan-China alliance, proclaiming: “We are proud to have China as our best and most trusted friend. And China will always find Pakistan standing beside it at all times….When we speak of this friendship as being taller than the Himalayas and deeper than the oceans it truly captures the essence of our relationship.”4 These remarks were greeted by whining from US spokesmen, including Idaho Republican Senator Risch.

The simmering strategic crisis between the United States and Pakistan exploded with full force on May 1, with the unilateral and unauthorized US commando raid alleged to have killed the phantomatic Osama bin Laden in a compound at Abottabad, a flagrant violation of Pakistan’s national sovereignty. The timing of this military stunt designed to inflame tensions between the two countries had nothing to do with any alleged Global War on Terror, and everything to do with the late March visit to Pakistan of Prince Bandar, the Saudi Arabian National Security Council chief. This visit had resulted in a de factoalliance between Islamabad and Riyadh, with Pakistan promising troops to put down any US-backed color revolution in the kingdom, while extending nuclear protection to the Saudis, thus making them less vulnerable to US extortion threats to abandon the oil-rich monarchy to the tender mercies of Tehran. A joint move by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to break out of the US empire, whatever one may think of these regimes, would represent a fatal blow for the fading US empire in South Asia.

As for the US claims concerning the supposed Bin Laden raid of May 1, they are a mass of hopeless contradictions which changes from day to day. An analysis of this story is best left to literary critics and writers of theatrical reviews. The only solid and uncontestable fact which emerges is that Pakistan is the leading US target — thus intensifying the anti-Pakistan US policy which has been in place since Obama’s infamous December 2009 West Point speech.

Gilani: Full Force Retaliation to Defend Pakistan’s Strategic Assets

The Chinese warning to Washington came on the heels of Gilani’s statement to the Pakistan Parliament declaring: “Let no one draw any wrong conclusions. Any attack against Pakistan’s strategic assets, whether overt or covert, will find a matching response…. Pakistan reserves the right to retaliate with full force. No one should underestimate the resolve and capability of our nation and armed forces to defend our sacred homeland.”5 A warning of full force retaliation from a nuclear power such as Pakistan needs to be taken seriously, even by the hardened aggressors of the Obama regime.

The strategic assets Gilani is talking about are the Pakistani nuclear forces, the key to the country’s deterrent strategy against possible aggression by India, egged on by Washington in the framework of the US-India nuclear cooperation accord. The US forces in Afghanistan have not been able to conceal their extensive planning for attempts to seize or destroy Pakistan’s nuclear bombs and warheads. According to a 2009 Fox News report, “The United States has a detailed plan for infiltrating Pakistan and securing its mobile arsenal of nuclear warheads if it appears the country is about to fall under the control of the Taliban, Al Qaeda or other Islamic extremists.” This plan was developed by General Stanley McChrystal when he headed the US Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. JSOC, the force reportedly involved in the Bin Laden operation. is composed of Army Delta Force, Navy SEALs and “a high-tech special intelligence unit known as Task Force Orange.” “Small units could seize [Pakistan’s nukes], disable them, and then centralize them in a secure location,” claimed a source quoted by Fox.


Obama Has Already Approved Sneak Attack on Pakistan’s Nukes

According to the London Sunday Express, Obama has already approved an aggressive move along these lines: “US troops will be deployed in Pakistan if the nation’s nuclear installations come under threat from terrorists out to avenge the killing of Osama Bin Laden… The plan, which would be activated without President Zardari’s consent, provoked an angry reaction from Pakistan officials… Barack Obama would order troops to parachute in to protect key nuclear missile sites. These include the air force’s central Sargodha HQ, home base for nuclear-capable F-16 combat aircraft and at least 80 ballistic missiles.” According to a US official, “The plan is green lit and the President has already shown he is willing to deploy troops in Pakistan if he feels it is important for national security.”7

Extreme tension over this issue highlights the brinksmanship and incalculable folly of Obama’s May 1 unilateral raid, which might easily have been interpreted by the Pakistanis as the long-awaited attack on their nuclear forces. According to the New York Times, Obama knew very well he was courting immediate shooting war with Pakistan, and “insisted that the assault force hunting down Osama bin Laden last week be large enough to fight its way out of Pakistan if confronted by hostile local police officers and troops.”

The Shooting Has Already Started

The shooting between US and Pakistani forces escalated on Tuesday May 17, when a US NATO helicopter violated Pakistani airspace in Waziristan. Pakistani forces showed heightened alert status, and opened fire immediately, with the US helicopter shooting back. Two soldiers at a Pakistani check post on the border in the Datta Khel area were wounded.8

Possible Pakistani retaliation for this border incursion came in Peshawar on Friday, May 20, when a car bomb apparently targeted a 2-car US consulate convoy, but caused no American deaths or injuries. One Pakistani bystander was killed, and several wounded. In other intelligence warfare, Ary One television reported the name of the CIA station chief in Islamabad, the second top US resident spook there to have his cover blown in six months.

US Envoy Grossman Rejects Pakistani Calls To Stop Border Violations

US Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman, the replacement for the late Richard Holbrooke, on May 19 arrogantly rejected Pakistani calls for guarantees that no more Abottabad-style unilateral operations would be mounted in Pakistan.9 In refusing to offer such assurances, Grossman claimed that Pakistani officials had never demanded respect for their border in recent years.

In the midst of this strategic crisis, India has gone ahead with inherently provocative scheduled military maneuvers targeting Pakistan. This is the “Vijayee Bhava” (Be Victorious) drill, held in the Thar desert of north Rajastan,. This atomic-biological-chemical Blitzkrieg drill involves the Second Armored Corps, “considered to be the most crucial of the Indian Army’s three principal strike formations tasked with virtually cutting Pakistan in two during a full-fledged war.”

The Nation: A CIA-RAW-Mossad Pseudo-Taliban Countergang

One way to provide the provocation needed to justify a US-Indian attack on Pakistan would be through an increase in terrorist actions attributable to the so-called Taliban. According to the mainstream Pakistani media, the CIA, the Israeli Mossad, and the Indian RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) have created their own version of the Taliban in the form of a terrorist countergang which they control and direct. According to one account, “Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives have infiltrated the Taliban and Al-Qaeda networks, and have created their own Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) force in order to destabilize Pakistan.” The former Punjab Regional Commander of the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), retired Brigadier General Aslam Ghuman, commented: “During my visit to the US, I learned that the Israeli spy agency Mossad, in connivance with Indian agency RAW, under the direct supervision of CIA, planned to destabilize Pakistan at any cost.”12 Was this countergang responsible for last week’s double bombing in Waziristan, which killed 80 paramilitary police?

According to the same account, Russian intelligence “disclosed that CIA contractor Raymond Davis and his network had provided Al-Qaeda operatives with chemical, nuclear and biological weapons, so that US installations may be targeted and Pakistan be blamed….” Davis, a JSOC veteran himself, was arrested for the murder of two ISI agents, but then released by the Pakistani government after a suspicious hue and cry by the State Department.

CIA Claims The New Al Qaeda Boss Lives in Waziristan

If the US needs a further pretext for additional raids, it will also be easy to cite the alleged presence in Waziristan of Saif al-Adel, now touted by the CIA as bin Laden’s likely successor as boss of al Qaeda.13It is doubtless convenient for Obama’s aggressive intentions that Saif al-Adel can be claimed to reside so close to what is now the hottest border in the world, and not in Finsbury or Flatbush.

In the wake of the unauthorized May 1 US raid, the Pakistani military chief General Kayani had issued his own warning that similar “misadventures” could not be repeated, while announcing that US personnel inside Pakistan would be sharply reduced. In the estimate of one ISI source, there are currently about 7,000 CIA operatives in country, many of them unknown to the Pakistani government. US-Pakistan intelligence sharing has reportedly been downgraded. In response to Kayani’s moves, the CIA limited hangout operation known as Wikileaks once again showed its real nature by attempting to discredit the Pakistan commander with dubious US cable reports that he had demanded more Predator drone attacks, not fewer, in recent years.

Especially since Obama’s West Point speech, the CIA has used Predator drone attacks to slaughter civilians with the goal of fomenting civil war inside Pakistan, leading to a breakup of the country along the ethnic lines of Punjab, Sind, Baluchistan, and Pushtunistan. The geopolitical goal is to destroy Pakistan’s potential to be the energy corridor between Iran and China. Selig Harrison has emerged as a top US advocate for Baluchistan succession.

Since May 1, six reported US Predator drones attacks have slain some 42 Pakistani civilians, goading public opinion into a frenzy of anti-US hatred. In response, a joint session of the Pakistani parliament voted unanimously on May 14 to demand an end to American missile strikes, calling on the government to cut NATO’s supply line to Afghanistan if the attacks should continue.14 Since the Karachi to Khyber Pass supply line carries as much as two thirds of the supplies needed by the Afghanistan invaders, such a cutoff would cause chaos among the NATO forces. All of this points to the inherent insanity of provoking war with the country your supply line runs through.

US Wants to Use Taliban Boss Mullah Omar Against Pakistan

The State Department dropped all preconditions for negotiating with the Taliban back in February, and the US is now reported by the Washington Post to be talking with envoys of Mullah Omar, the legendary one-eyed leader of the Quetta Shura or Taliban ruling council. It is apparent that the US is offering the Taliban an alliance against Pakistan. US regional envoy Grossman is hostile to the Pakistanis, but when it comes to the Taliban he has been nicknamed “Mr. Reconciliation.”15 By contrast, the US is said to be determined to assassinate the head of the Haqqani network using a Bin Laden-type raid. The Pakistanis are equally determined to keep the Haqqani as an ally.

If China stands behind Pakistan, then Russia might be said to stand behind China. Looking forward to the upcoming June 15 meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Chinese President Hu praised Sino-Russian relations as being “at an unprecedented high point,” with an “obvious strategic ingredient.” In a press conference this week, Russian President Medvedev was obliged indirectly to acknowledge that the much-hyped Obama “reset” with Russia had amounted to very little, since the US ABM missile program in Romania and the rest of eastern Europe, so obviously directed against Russia, means that the START treaty is of dubious value, thus raising the specter of a “new Cold War.” Given the NATO assault on Libya, there would be no UN resolution against Syria, said Medvedev. Putin has been right all along, and Medvedev is trying to imitate Putin to salvage some chance of remaining in power.

Are We in July 1914?

The crisis leading to World War I began with the Sarajevo assassinations of June 28, 1914, but the first major declaration of war did not occur until August 1. In the interim month of July 1914, large parts of European public opinion retreated into a dreamlike trance, an idyllic la-la land of elegiac illusion, even as the deadly crisis gathered momentum. Something similar can be seen today. Many Americans fondly imagine that the alleged death of Bin Laden marks the end of the war on terror and the Afghan War. Instead, the Bin Laden operation has clearly ushered in a new strategic emergency. Forces which had opposed the Iraq war, from MSNBC to many left liberals of the peace movement, are variously supporting Obama’s bloody aggression in Libya, or even celebrating him as a more effective warmonger than Bush-Cheney because of his supposed success at the expense of Bin Laden. In reality, if there were ever a time to mobilize to stop a new and wider war, this is it.


This post first appeared on Webster Tarpley’s website.
References

1 economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/china-asks-us-to-respect-paks-sovereignty-independence/articleshow/8454577.cms

2 “China-Pakistan alliance strengthened post bin Laden,” AFP, May 15, 2011,www.sundaytimes.lk/index.php/analysis/7546-china-pakistan-alliance-strengthened-post-bin-laden

3 www.nytimes.com/2011/05/20/world/asia/20pakistan.html?_r=3

4 www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2011/05/08/Gilani-China-best-most-trusted-friend/UPI-96101304911435/

5www.nypost.com/p/news/international/pakistani_pm_regrets_unilateral_GAOWNTpBXGJaJtwzWaZu0K?CMP=OTC-rss&FEEDNAME=

6 Rowan Scarborough,”U.S. Has Plan to Secure Pakistan Nukes if Country Falls to Taliban, Fox News, May 14, 2009.

7 “US ‘To Protect Pakistan,” London Sunday Express, May 15, 2011,www.express.co.uk/posts/view/246717/US-to-protect-Pakistan-

8 www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/17/us-pakistan-nato-idUSTRE74G0PS20110517

9 “US refuses to assure it will not act unilaterally,” thenews.jang.com.pk/NewsDetail.aspx?ID=15758

10 “No US assurance on unilateral ops,” nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Politics/20-May-2011/No-US-assurance-on-unilateral-ops

11 “Getting leaner and meaner? Army practices blitzkrieg to strike hard at enemy,” Times of India, May 10, 2011, articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-05-10/india/29527731_1_three-strike-corps-army-and-iaf-transformational

12 “CIA has created own Taliban to wreak terror havoc on Pakistan, claims Pak paper,” ANI, May 12,my.news.yahoo.com/cia-created-own-taliban-wreak-terror-havoc-pakistan-091621821.html

13 “New al-Qaeda chief in North Waziristan,” May 19, 2011

14 www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43033985/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia/

15 www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/8519535/US-steps-up-face-to-face-peace-talks-with-Taliban.html

SOURCE

Student-Loan Delinquencies Rise Sharply! Welcome to Bankruptcy 101

While the job market remains sluggish, student loan debt continues to rise, fueling fears that a higher-education spending bubble may be underway.

Outstanding student debt has climbed 25 percent since the start of the financial crisis in 2008, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York — an increase from $440 billion then to $550 billion now. By contrast, every other major category of consumer debt, including mortgage debt, credit card debt, auto loans and home equity loans, is lower today than it was in the fall of 2008.

Not only has student debt risen precipitously, but more and more of those loans aren’t getting paid off on time. In the second quarter of 2011, the rate of student loans that were more than 90 days past due rose from 10.6 percent to 11.2 percent, according to the New York Fed.

Looking at other major types of debt — again, including home loans, auto loans and mortgage and credit card debt — those delinquency rates either declined or stayed flat for the quarter. But delinquency rates for student loans rose and continue to rise.

Experts have warned for years that a bubble may be developing in higher education, as students take out loans to pay for tuition and then find themselves hamstrung by debt and unable to find a job once out of school.

The problems of student-loan delinquency and default are only expected to get worse. Salaries and employment rates for recent college graduates have dropped: The median starting salary for a member of the class of 2009 or 2010 is only $27,000, down from $30,000 a couple of years ago. A recent report from Moody’s Analytics predicted that over the next few years, “many students will be unable to service their loans as income growth falls short of borrowers’ expectations.”

And the debt-ceiling deal that lawmakers reached in Washington earlier this month contains additional provisions that will make life harder for students taking out loans. One section of the deal changes the way interest is collected on a certain kind of federal loan for graduate students, meaning that those borrowers will start accruing interest on their loans before they’ve finished school.

The Moody’s report found that student lending grew by at least 10 percent each year between 2000 and 2010, including during the financial crisis and the Great Recession.

Over the past several decades the expense in the cost of education has grown dramatically along with an upsurge in attendance. Some have referred to this as the College Conspiracy

“Fears of a bubble in educational spending are not without merit,” the report warned.

Last month, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that one out of every five government student loans that entered repayment in 1995 has since gone into default.

Yet a college degree still appears to be a significant advantage when it comes to the job market. A recent report from the Labor Department shows that for workers 25 and over with at least a bachelor’s degree, the unemployment rate in July was 4.3 percent — compared with 8.3 percent for workers with “some college,” and 9.3 percent for workers with just a high school diploma.

In other words, while unemployment for high school graduates slightly exceeds the national rate of 9.1 percent, the jobless rate for college graduates is less than half that.

SOURCE

China Calls For International Oversight Of The US Dollar

China Calls For International Oversight Of The US Dollar, Suggests Single Global Currency Replace It

Alexander Higgins

China is demanding “international supervision over the U.S. dollar” and says they are looking at the option of creating a new single global currency to replace the dollar altogether.

China has published an article in its stated owned Xinhua news agency that rails against the United States for losing its AAA credit rating and has issued a series of demands to U.S. policy makers and the international community.

China begins by railing against the “arrogance and cynicism from some Western commentators” in regard to the credit rating downgrade of U.S. debt that was issued by China’s Dagong Global credit rating agency last year and goes on to state that they have the right to demand the U.S. address its debt problem to protect the Chinese dollar.

In concluding the article China is calling upon the international community to intervene with a program of “international supervision over the U.S dollar” while indicating they are looking at the option of creating a global currency to replace the dollar altogether.

China has released a scathing op-ed in Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, in which the authors waste no time to humiliate a “debt-ridden Uncle Sam” following the S&P downgrade, in the most violent surge in the recent war of words between the ascendent and descendent superpowers. Some choice selections: “Dagong Global, a fledgling Chinese rating agency, degraded the U.S. treasury bonds late last year, yet its move was met then with a sense of arrogance and cynicism from some Western commentators. Now S&P has proved what its Chinese counterpart has done is nothing but telling the global investors the ugly truth”, “China, the largest creditor of the world’s sole superpower, has every right now to demand the United States to address its structural debt problems and ensure the safety of China’s dollar assets.” It doesnt stop there, “[the US] should also stop its old practice of letting its domestic electoral politics take the global economy hostage and rely on the deep pockets of major surplus countries to make up for its perennial deficits.” China takes the opportunity to give the US a little lecture on a broken way of life: “All Americans, both beltway politicians and those on Main Street, have to do some serious soul-searching to bring their country back from a potential financial abyss.” And lastly, China once again gets back to its pissing contest about whose reserve currency is bigger: “International supervision over the issue of U.S. dollars should be introduced and a new, stable and secured global reserve currency may also be an option to avert a catastrophe caused by any single country.” Just wild fun.

There is alleged evidence the United States has no Gold left at Fort Knox. Rumors that the government is providing American land as collateral to China. It is true China has alreadydivested 97% of their US bond holdings. The US government is preparing for the inevitable and even the USDA is on record as predicting food riots in the US later this year. If the US does default. What would stop China, Russia or other debt holders from simply attacking. The answer is very little. The fact is, the collapse of the World’s lone superpower is contrived. It has been planned perfectly and executed flawlessly. Today, the World is on the road to unification. Tony Blair is spearheading the effort to create a One World Church. It is coming folks. The END truly is near. Very soon we will see One number to rule all of us. What will YOU do? – PECAN


From Xinhua:

After historic downgrade, U.S. must address its chronic debt problems

The days when the debt-ridden Uncle Sam could leisurely squander unlimited overseas borrowing appeared to be numbered as its triple A-credit rating was slashed by Standard & Poor’s (S&P) for the first time on Friday.

Though the U.S. Treasury promptly challenged the unprecedented downgrade, many outside the United States believe the credit rating cut is an overdue bill that America has to pay for its own debt addition and the short-sighted political wrangling in Washington.

Dagong Global, a fledgling Chinese rating agency, degraded the U.S. treasury bonds late last year, yet its move was met then with a sense of arrogance and cynicism from some Western commentators. Now S&P has proved what its Chinese counterpart has done is nothing but telling the global investors the ugly truth.

China, the largest creditor of the world’s sole superpower, has every right now to demand the United States to address its structural debt problems and ensure the safety of China’s dollar assets.

To cure its addiction to debts, the United States has to reestablish the common sense principle that one should live within its means.

S&P has already indicated that more credit downgrades may still follow. Thus, if no substantial cuts were made to the U.S. gigantic military expenditure and bloated social welfare costs, the downgrade would prove to be only a prelude to more devastating credit rating cuts, which will further roil the global financial markets all along the way.

Moreover, the spluttering world economic recovery would be very likely to be undermined and fresh rounds of financial turmoil could come back to haunt us all.

The U.S. government has to come to terms with the painful fact that the good old days when it could just borrow its way out of messes of its own making are finally gone.

It should also stop its old practice of letting its domestic electoral politics take the global economy hostage and rely on the deep pockets of major surplus countries to make up for its perennial deficits.

A little self-discipline would not be too uncomfortable for the United States, the world’s largest economy and issuer of international reserve currency, to bear.

Though chances for a full-blown U.S. default are still slim now, the S&P downgrade serves as another warning shot about the long-term sustainability of the U.S. government finances.

International supervision over the issue of U.S. dollars should be introduced and a new, stable and secured global reserve currency may also be an option to avert a catastrophe caused by any single country.

For centuries, it was the exuberant energy and innovation that has sustained America’s role in the world and maintained investors’ confidence in dollar assets. But now, mounting debts and ridiculous political wrestling in Washington have damaged America’s image abroad.

All Americans, both beltway politicians and those on Main Street, have to do some serious soul-searching to bring their country back from a potential financial abyss.

The events in this video look more and more likely every day.

Reuters also reported on the Xinhua article and added that China will now be forced to dump the U.S. dollar.

The downgrade of U.S. credit rating is expect to take a major toll on China’s over $2 trillion in investments in the U.S. dollar.

With no where else to put all of that money China will be forced to invest it into a one world currency.

Reuters reports:

China blasts U.S. over debt problems, calls for dollar oversight

SHANGHAI | Sat Aug 6, 2011 2:35am EDT

(Reuters) – China roundly condemned the United States for its “debt addiction” and “short sighted” political wrangling and said the world needed a new stable global reserve currency.

In a harshly-worded commentary by the official Xinhua news agency on Saturday, China gave its first official comments on the United States losing its gilded AAA long-term credit rating from Standard & Poor’s.

[…]

Chinese economists said the U.S. credit rating downgrade posed a great risk to financial markets and they expected it to prompt China, the world’s biggest holder of U.S. Treasuries, to accelerate the diversification of its holdings.

[…]

“China will be forced to consider other investments for its reserves. U.S. Treasuries aren’t as safe anymore. There is a class of assets out there that are more risky than AAA, but less risky than AA+. China didn’t consider these investments before, but now it would be forced to do so,
” Li said.

[…]

Source: Reuters

infowars.com

Tiny town is Oregon’s No. 1 hub for pot growers

Tiny town is Oregon’s No. 1 hub for pot growers

WILLIAMS, Ore. – Medical marijuana has taken root in this idyllic town like nowhere else in Oregon.

Nearly 20 percent of the population is registered to grow pot legally, and an untold number deals it illegally, creating stark contrasts in a bucolic burg where children still ring the bell to start the school day and pancake breakfasts draw a crowd at the local community center.

The Associated Press analyzed the locations of registered pot growers in Oregon based on their ZIP codes and found that Williams by far has the heaviest concentration. More than 400 of the town’s 2000 residents are authorized by the state to grow up to six plants each.

CBSNews.com Special Report: Marijuana Nation

The proliferation of pot became the talk of the town last summer when new Google Earth satellite images showed little green circles in neat rows all over the valley.

My daughter showed me on her iPhone,” said Neil Sinnott, owner of a local cafe. “She said, `Dad, look what your neighbors are doing.”‘


Six-foot-tall fences that screen marijuana gardens from public view have become so common that a local pastor uses them as landmarks for giving directions. One resident is trying to capitalize on the growing popularity of medical marijuana by starting a testing lab. A variety of marijuana grown here, called Williams Wonder, is cherished among pot connoisseurs.

Though big-city Portland has cafes where medical marijuana users smoke pot while singing karaoke, it is the rural communities of southwestern Oregon like Williams that have the highest percentages of folks smoking it, growing it and caring for others who use the drug.

Neighboring towns in Josephine County have high rates of pot growers similar to the 19.5 percent in Williams: O’Brien was at 15.2 percent; Selma at 10.5 percent; and Cave Junction at 9.9 percent, according to the AP analysis.

One ZIP code covering mostly rural residences shows 60 out of 80 residents with permits. The Oregon Health Authority will not provide any identifying information of pot growers and patients beyond their ZIP codes for patient confidentiality reasons. It will not provide information on ZIP codes with fewer than 50 cardholders, also for confidentiality reasons.

Medical marijuana has been growing in popularity statewide since becoming legal in 1999. The number of residents registered as patients, caregivers and growers this year hit 120,945, nearly four times the number five years ago. Few who ask to register are turned down. Only 950 applications — less than 1 percent — were terminated, denied or suspended.

The number of people authorized to grow for others has also mushroomed, from 12,274 in 2006 to 26,734 in 2010. In Williams, the number jumped from 122 to 301 in the same period.

Why has pot become so big in Williams? The reasons seem to be a combination of an ideal climate, remote and rural location and a willingness to live and let live.

Southwestern Oregon sits at the northern tip of the Emerald Triangle, one of the nation’s best marijuana growing regions, which stretches into Northern California. Pot has been grown here since California hippies started moving in during the 1970s. When Oregon’s medical marijuana law took effect in 1999, “a lot of those guys got their cards and came out of the woods and started doing it legally,” said Keith Mansur, editor of the Oregon Cannabis Connection, a newspaper devoted to marijuana issues based in nearby Medford.

Laird Funk is a longtime activist who lost his job running the sewage treatment plant in nearby Grants Pass several years ago after testing positive for marijuana. Funk, now the chairman of the state medical marijuana advisory committee, says the weather is conducive to growing pot, but securing the crop can become complicated.

“It’s not hard to do out here in the sunshine,” he said. “Everybody does some variation of security. Some people use chain link. Some solid wood. Some people dress up like Vietnam and walk around with guns. But you could kill people like that, so I don’t.”

Williams took its name from an Indian fighter during the Gold Rush of the 1850s. After the gold played out, logging and dairy farms also waned. Now the valley is a mix of organic farmers, people cobbling together a living from odd jobs, mushroom picking, and California retirees and commuters.

Williams Community Church Pastor Rob Culton said he can feel community tensions rise at harvest time in the fall, when the threat increases of someone stealing a crop. But he does not condemn anyone. His wife took doctor-prescribed pills with a cannabis extract while having chemotherapy for cancer in the 1980s.

“I wouldn’t want that to be something where a person would say, `I can’t go to that church because I have a medical marijuana permit,”‘ he said.

A few long-time residents like Ben Watts remember when as many as four sawmills were running in Williams before they all shut down in the 1980s. A logger all his life, at 83 he still cuts firewood from the gold claim his grandfather worked. He is no fan of police, he says, but he would like for them to crack down on growers, particularly those selling pot illegally.

In 2009, a Williams couple growing for 11 patients was busted for having 220 pounds, far in excess of the 16.5 pounds allowed by law. Police said they learned of the site from a man stopped on Interstate 5, who said he was taking $9,100 there to buy marijuana. Because it was a first offense, the couple served just a month in jail after pleading no contest to delivery of drugs.

Just how much marijuana is being sold illegally by medical marijuana growers in Willliams, or anywhere in Oregon, is impossible to say. Police keep no statistics.

Mansur said marijuana growing is adding “big time” to the local economy through sales of potting soil, fertilizer, special pots that won’t constrict the roots — even vacuum sealing machines to package the dried buds.

The prevalence of medical marijuana led Richard Reams, who teaches the art of growing trees into living sculptures, to open OregonGreen Lab. For $120 he will test a gram of marijuana and tell you the potency and active ingredients. One large grower has already signed up.

“I believe that in a short amount of time we will have legalized marijuana,” Reams said. “The economic opportunities in that field could be large.

John Rickert worked for a health insurance company in San Diego before retiring to Williams. He regularly writes grants to fund programs for the elementary school.

Rickert said many people are just getting by economically, with most kids qualifying for free school lunches, but he sees a lot of people paying cash for dinners out and vacations when a credit card would be more convenient.

Still, Rickert said he’s not bothered about the shift in the local economy from timber to pot.

“Everybody wants to cut the trees”
to increase revenues for the county and schools, he said. “Forget cutting the trees. Let’s legalize marijuana.”

SOURCE

10 Banks Own 77 Percent Of All U.S. Banking Assets: Too Big To Fail?

Too Big To Fail?: 10 Banks Own 77 Percent Of All U.S. Banking Assets

Courtesy of The Economic Collapse Blog

Back during the financial crisis of 2008, the American people were told that the largest banks in the United States were “too big to fail” and that was why it was necessary for the federal government to step in and bail them out. The idea was that if several of our biggest banks collapsed at the same time the financial system would not be strong enough to keep things going and economic activity all across America would simply come to a standstill. Congress was told that if the “too big to fail” banks did not receive bailouts that there would be chaos in the streets and this country would plunge into another Great Depression. Since that time, however, essentially no efforts have been made to decentralize the U.S. banking system. Instead, the “too big to fail” banks just keep getting larger and larger and larger. Back in 2002, the top 10 banks controlled 55 percent of all U.S. banking assets. Today, the top 10 banks control 77 percent of all U.S. banking assets. Unfortunately, these giant banks are also colossal mountains of risk, debt and leverage. They are incredibly unstable and they could start coming apart again at any time. None of the major problems that caused the crash of 2008 have been fixed. In fact, the U.S. banking system is more centralized and more vulnerable today than it ever has been before.

It really is difficult for ordinary Americans to get a handle on just how large these financial institutions are. For example, the “big six” U.S. banks (Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo) now possess assets equivalent to approximately 60 percent of America’s gross national product.

These huge banks are giant financial vacuum cleaners. Over the past couple of decades we have witnessed a financial consolidation in this country that is absolutely unprecedented.

This trend accelerated during the recent financial crisis. While the big boys were receiving massive bailouts, the hundreds of small banks that were failing were either allowed to collapse or they were told that they should find a big bank that was willing to buy them.

As a group, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo held approximately 22 percent of all banking deposits in FDIC-insured institutions back in 2000.

By the middle of 2009 that figure was up to 39 percent.

That is not just a trend – that is a landslide.

Sadly, smaller banks continue to fail in large numbers and the big banks just keep growing and getting more power.

The world is dangerous. Are you prepared? Get a Safety Kit and Stay Safe Today!

Today, there are more than 1,000 U.S. banks that are on the “unofficial list” of problem banking institutions.

In the absence of fundamental changes, the consolidation of the banking industry is going to continue.

Meanwhile, the “too big to fail” banks are flush with cash and they are getting serious about expanding. The Federal Reserve has been extremely good to the big boys and they are eager to grow.

For example, Citigroup is becoming extremely aggressive about expanding….

Citigroup has been hiring dozens of investment bankers, dialing up advertising and drawing up plans to add several hundred branches worldwide, including more than 200 in major cities across the United States.

Hopefully the big banks will start lending again. The whole idea behind the bailouts and all of the “quantitative easing” that the Federal Reserve did was to get money into the hands of the big banks so that they would lend it out to ordinary Americans and get the economy rolling again.

Well, a funny thing happened. The big banks just sat on a lot of that money.

In particular, what they did was they deposited much of it at the Fed and drew interest on it.

Since 2008, excess reserves parked at the Fed have grown by nearly 1.7 trillion dollars. Just check out the chart posted below….

The American people were promised that TARP and all of the other bailouts would enable the big banks to lend out lots of money which would help get the economy going for ordinary Americans again.

Well, it turns out that in 2009 (the first full year after Congress passed the bailout legislation) U.S. banks posted their sharpest decline in lending since 1942.

Lending has never fully recovered since the crash of 2008. The big financial institutions like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase have been able to get all the cash that they need, but they have not passed that generosity along to ordinary Americans.

In fact, the biggest U.S. banks have actually reduced small business lending by about 50 percent since the crash of 2008.

That doesn’t sound like what we were promised.

These “too big to fail” banks have been able to borrow gigantic amounts of money from the Fed for next to nothing and yet they still refuse to let credit flow to local communities. Instead, the big banks have found other purposes for all of the super cheap money that they have been getting from the Fed as Ellen Brown recently explained….

It can be very profitable indeed for the big Wall Street banks, but the purpose of the near-zero interest rates was supposed to be to get banks to lend again. Instead, they are, indeed, paying “outrageous bonuses to their top executives;” using the money to engage in the same sort of unregulated speculation that nearly brought down the economy in 2008; buying up smaller banks; or investing this virtually interest-free money in risk-free government bonds, on which taxpayers are paying 2.5 percent interest (more for longer-term securities).

What makes things even worse is that these big banks often pay next to nothing in taxes.

For example, between 2008 and 2010, Wells Fargo made a total profit of 49.37 billion dollars.

Over that same time period, their tax bill was negative 681 million dollars.

Do you understand what that means? Over that 3 year time period, Wells Fargo actually got 681 million dollars back from the U.S. government.

Isn’t that just peachy?

Meanwhile, the big financial giants have not learned their lessons and they continue to do business pretty much as they did it prior to 2008.

The big banks continue to roll up massive amounts of risk, debt and leverage.

Today, Wall Street has become one giant financial casino. More money is made on Wall Street by making side bets (commonly referred to as “derivatives”) than on the investments themselves.

If the bets pay off for the big financial institutions, mind blowing profits can be made. But if the bets go against the big financial institutions (as we saw in 2008), firms can collapse almost overnight.

In fact, it was derivatives that almost brought down AIG. The biggest insurance company in the world almost folded in 2008 because of a whole bunch of really bad bets.

The danger from derivatives is so great that Warren Buffet once called them “financial weapons of mass destruction”. It has been estimated that the notional value of the worldwide derivatives market is somewhere in the neighborhood of a quadrillion dollars.

The largest banks have tens of trillions of dollars of exposure to derivatives. When the next great financial collapse happens, derivatives will almost certainly be at the center of it once again. These side bets do not create anything real for the economy – they just make and lose huge amounts of money. We never know when the next great derivatives crisis will strike. Derivatives are essentially like a “sword of Damocles” that perpetually hangs over the U.S. financial system.

When I start talking about derivatives I get a lot of people in the financial community mad at me. On Wall Street today you can bet on just about anything you can imagine. Almost everyone in the financial world has gotten so used to making wild bets that they couldn’t even imagine a world without them. If anyone even tried to put significant limits on futures, options and swaps it would cause Wall Street to throw a hissy fit.

But someday the dominoes are going to start to fall and the house of cards is going to come crashing down. It is an open secret that our financial system is fundamentally unsound. Even a lot of people working on Wall Street will admit that. It is just that people are so busy making such big piles of money that nobody wants the party to stop.

The world is dangerous. Are you prepared? Get a Safety Kit and Stay Safe Today!

It is only a matter of time until some of these big banks get into a huge amount of trouble again. When that happens, we might really find out whether they are “too big to fail” or whether we could get along just fine without them.

SOURCE

U.S Loss of AAA Rating Could Unleash Financial Hell Across America

If The U.S. Government Loses Its AAA Rating It Could Potentially Unleash Financial Hell Across The United States

Courtesy of The Economic Collapse Blog
For decades, the U.S. government has had a AAA rating. On the scales used by the big three credit rating agencies, that is the highest credit rating that a government can get. Moody’s scale actually uses lettering that is a little different from the other two big agencies (“Aaa” instead of “AAA”), but you get the point. Right now, the U.S. government is closer than ever to losing its AAA rating. The threat of a rating downgrade is going to continue to grow regardless of how the political theater that we are watching unfold in Washington D.C. plays out. The truth is that the federal government has accumulated a debt that is so vast that it will never be paid back. In fact, we are rapidly approaching the point when this debt will no longer be serviceable. If the credit rating of the U.S. government is not slashed right now, it will be soon enough. In fact, the truth is that the U.S. government is such a financial mess that it should have been done long ago. But whenever the United States does lose its AAA rating, we could potentially see financial hell unleashed because it will also mean that there will almost certainly be a wave of credit rating downgrades from coast to coast.

As I have written about previously, government debt becomes more painful the higher that interest rates go. When the big credit agencies downgrade the credit rating of a government, that is a signal to investors that they should ask for higher interest rates on debt issued by that government.

This does not always play out in practice (just look at Japan), but nations such as Greece, Portugal and Ireland sure are going through financial hell right now as they deal with reduced credit ratings and soaring interest rates.

Right now, the U.S. government is able to borrow gigantic quantities of money at ridiculously low interest rates. This is the primary reason why the debt disaster predicted by so many in the past has not arrived yet.

The world is dangerous. Are you prepared? Get a Safety Kit and Stay Safe Today!

If the credit rating of the U.S. government is downgraded, it could finally get investors all over the world to realize that the game is over and that they should be demanding much higher returns on debt issued by the U.S. government. The truth, as U.S. Representative Ron Paul put it recently, is that the U.S. government is already “insolvent” and at some point we are all going to have to face reality….

“Ultimately, the fundamentals show this country is bankrupt.”

So whether or not it happens right now, the truth is that at some point the credit rating of the U.S. government is going to go down and interest rates are going to go up.

Unfortunately, it appears that this might happen sooner rather than later.

Earlier this week, Moody’s Investors Service publicly announced that it would be reviewing our Aaa bond rating for a possible downgrade.

On Thursday, S&P actually went so far as to announce that there is a “50 percent chance” that it will downgrade the credit rating of the U.S. government within the next three months.

S&P has been warning of trouble for some time now. Back on April 18th, Standard & Poor’s altered its outlook on U.S. government debt from “stable” to “negative” and warned that a downgrade was likely at some point soon if nothing changed.

If the credit rating of the U.S. government gets slashed and if that results in higher interest costs on the national debt, that is going to make it much harder to balance the budget.

The U.S. government will take in somewhere around 2.2 or 2.3 trillion dollars this year. It will spend somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.5 or 3.6 trillion dollars this year.

Included in that spending is about 400 billion dollars that goes for interest on the national debt.

As I explained in a previous article, if our interest costs double or triple it is going to make it basically impossible to balance the budget under our current system.

If interest rates on U.S. government debt were to rise to moderate levels, we could soon be easily paying a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.

If interest rates on U.S. government debt were to rise to the levels that Greece, Portugal and Ireland are now facing, it would be beyond catastrophic.

But a reduced credit rating and higher interest rates would not just hurt the finances of the U.S. government.

Any financial institution that is linked to the U.S. government in any way would also probably be downgraded.

This fact was noted in the announcement put out by Moody’s this week….

In conjunction with this action, Moody’s has placed on review for possible downgrade the Aaa ratings of financial institutions directly linked to the government: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Home Loan Banks, and the Federal Farm Credit Banks.

We have also placed on review for possible downgrade securities either guaranteed by, backed by collateral securities issued by, or otherwise directly linked to the government or the affected financial institutions.

Just think of the financial carnage that would cause.

Also, check out what one Bloomberg article had to say about the potential cascading effects of a credit rating downgrade for the U.S. government….

At least 7,000 top-rated municipal credits would have their ratings cut if the U.S. government loses its Aaa grade, Moody’s Investors Service said.

An “automatic” downgrade affecting $130 billion in municipal debt directly linked to the U.S. would occur if the federal level is reduced, Moody’s said yesterday in a report. Additionally, top-rated securities with no direct links to the national government will be reviewed for similar action.

But the nightmare would not end there. The truth is that the credit ratings of large numbers of state and local governments from coast to coast would likely be reviewed and downgraded as well. Right now, many state and local governments are scratching and clawing in a desperate attempt to survive financially, and a significant rise in interest costs would be enough to wipe many of them out.

The ripple effects of a U.S. government credit downgrade would be endless.

A lot of people argue that if the federal government ran a balanced budget from now on none of this would matter.

Unfortunately, that is not true.

At this point, a very high percentage of U.S. government debt is short-term debt. That means that gigantic amounts of debt must be “rolled over” each year in addition to any new debt that we take on. So even if interest rates rise significantly on just the existing debt that we have it is going to be a total nightmare.

And make no mistake, whether it happens now or later a collapse of U.S. government finances is coming.

David Murrin, the chief investment officer at Emergent Asset Management, recently told CNBC the following….

“It’s inevitable that the U.S. will default—it’s essentially an empire which is overextended and in decline—and that its financial system will go with it”

Right now it is being projected that the U.S. national debt will hit 344% of GDP by the year 2050 if we continue on our current course. We are on a runaway train that is heading straight for a brick wall.

Europe is also a complete financial wreck. The sovereign debt crisis over in the EU continues to grow worse by the day and there is no end in sight.

If the U.S. collapses, Europe is not strong enough to save it. If Europe collapses, the U.S. is not strong enough to save it.

We really are entering an unprecedented time in world history. We are on the verge of the first truly global financial disaster.

It is going to be interesting to see which major currency crashes and burns first. Some think that it will be the euro. Others think that it will be the dollar.

In any event, the reality is that the current global financial system is not sustainable. The folks that are in charge can try to keep things together for as long as possible, but at some point the dominoes are going to start to fall and the house of cards is going to crash.

We have entered a time when there is going to be financial crisis after financial crisis. Even if the EU and the U.S. government can somehow fix things for the moment, more problems are going to be just around the corner.

The world is dangerous. Are you prepared? Get a Safety Kit and Stay Safe Today!

The world has become incredibly unstable and the entire globe is going to be shaken. Most people cannot even conceive of the kind of financial hell that is coming our way as a nation.

Yes, it can be a bit sad to think about what is happening, but it is much better to be armed with the truth than to be totally clueless and totally unprepared.

SOURCE