Thursday, December 18, 2014

Any American who has his or her money in the stock market should read – several times if necessary – Paul Craig Roberts’ seminal essay below. In short, the U.S. government and the too-big-to jail banks are playing games with our nest eggs such that when their house of cards finally falls – as it must – they will walk away with much of our savings …unless we (1) understand their casino games and (2) take advantage of the places where we can safely place our money. For the past 9 months I have been subscribing to various investment advisors, most of whom I’ve found to actually believe the government lie that the unemployment rate is 5.8% – a number that is largely due to not counting people who have tried to find a job for more than a year and finally gave up. In fact, when this and other factors were considered by John Williams (of Shadow Government Statistics) he found that the true unemployment rate is currently about 23% …and that most new jobs pay little more than Walmart. So those advisors who believe the big lie are doomed to lose their shirts together with their clients. Many of these same advisors are now making a big deal about Russia’s extreme devaluation of the ruble, whereas PCR points out below that “Unlike the US, which has a massive trade deficit, Russia has a trade surplus”! (emphasis added). According to the advisors who know the crash is coming, the best advice for American investors comes from a 40-year advisor to large corporations, Wall Street, and the CIA and author of the book The Death of Money, Jim Rickards (some of whose picks can be found in my immediately preceding post).


Financial Market Manipulation Is The New Trend: Can It Continue?

December 18, 2014 | Original Here                                            Go here to sign up to receive email notice of this news letter

Financial Market Manipulation Is The New Trend: Can It Continue?

Financial Imperialists Attack Russia

Paul Craig Roberts

A dangerous new trend is the successful manipulation of the financial markets by the Federal Reserve, other central banks, private banks, and the US Treasury. The Federal Reserve reduced real interest rates on US government debt obligations first to zero and then pushed real interest rates into negative territory. Today the government charges you for the privilege of purchasing its bonds.

People pay to park their money in Treasury debt obligations, because they do not trust the banks and they know that the government can print the money to pay off the bonds. Today Treasury bond investors pay a fee in order to guarantee that they will receive the nominal face value (minus the fee) of their investment in government debt instruments.

The fee is paid in a premium, which raises the cost of the debt instrument above its face value and is paid again in accepting a negative rate of return, as the interest rate is less than the inflation rate.

Think about this for a minute. Allegedly the US is experiencing economic recovery. Normally with rising economic activity interest rates rise as consumers and investors bid for credit. But not in this “recovery.”

Normally an economic recovery produces rising consumer spending, rising profits, and more investment. But what we experience is flat and declining consumer spending as jobs are offshored and retail stores close. Profits result from labor cost savings from employee layoffs.

The stock market is high because corporations are the biggest purchases of stock. Buying back their own stock supports or raises the share price, enabling executives and boards to sell their shares or cash in their options at a profitable price. The cash that Quantitative Easing has given to the mega-banks leaves ample room for speculating in stocks, thus pushing up the price despite the absence of fundamentals that would support a rising stock market.

In other words, in America today there are no free financial markets. The markets are rigged by the Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing, by gold price manipulation, by the Treasury’s Plunge Protection Team and Exchange Stabilization Fund, and by the big private banks.

Allegedly, QE is over, but it is not. The Fed intends to roll over the interest and principle from its bloated $4.5 trillion bond portfolio into purchases of more bonds, and the banks intend to fill in the gaps by using the $2.6 trillion in their cash on deposit with the Fed to purchase bonds. QE has morphed, not ended. The money the Fed paid the banks for bonds will now be used by the banks to support the bond price by purchasing bonds.

Normally when massive amounts of debt and money are created the currency collapses, but the dollar has been strengthening. The dollar gains strength from the rigging of the gold price in the futures market. The Federal Reserve’s agents, the bullion banks, print paper futures contracts representing many tonnes of gold and dump them them into the market during periods of light or nonexistent trading. This drives down the gold price despite rising demand for the physical metal. This manipulation is done in order to counteract the effect of the expansion of money and debt on the dollar’s exchange value. A declining dollar price of gold makes the dollar look strong.

The dollar also gains the appearance of strength from debt monetization by the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank. The Bank of Japan’s Quantitative Easing program is even larger than the Fed’s. Even Switzerland is rigging the price of the Swiss franc. Since all currencies are inflating, the dollar does not decline in exchange value.

As Japan is Washington’s vassal, it is conceivable that some of the money being printed by the Bank of Japan will be used to purchase US Treasuries, thus taking the place along with purchases by the large US banks of the Fed’s QE.

The large private US and UK banks are also manipulating markets hand over fist. Remember the scandal over the banks fixing the LIBOR rate (the London Interbank Borrowing Rate) and the opening gold price on the London exchange. Now the banks have been caught rigging currency markets with algorithms developed to manipulate foreign exchange markets.

When the banks get caught in felonies, they avoid prosecution by paying a fine. You try doing that.

The government even manipulates economic statistics in order to paint a rosy economic picture that sustains economic confidence. GDP growth is exaggerated by understating inflation. High unemployment is swept under the table by not counting discouraged workers as unemployed. We are told we are enjoying economic recovery and have an improving housing market. Yet the facts are that almost half of 25 year old Americans have been forced to return to live with their parents, and 30% of 30 year olds are back with their parents. Since 2006 the home ownership rate of 30 year old Americans has collapsed.

The repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act during the Clinton regime allowed the big banks to gamble with their depositors’ money. The Dodd-Frank Act tried to stop some of this by requiring the banks-turned-gambling-casinos to carry on their gambling in subsidiaries with no access to deposits in the depository institution. If the banks gamble with depositors money, the banks’ losses are covered by FDIC, and in the case of bank failure, bail-in provisions could give the banks access to depositors’ funds. With the banks still protected by being “too big to fail,” whether Dodd-Frank would succeed in protecting depositors when a subsidiary’s failure pulls down the entire bank is unclear.


The sharp practices in which banks engage today are risky. Why gamble with their own money if they can gamble with depositors’ money. The banks led by Citigroup have lobbied hard to overturn the provision in Dodd-Frank that puts depositors’ money out of their reach as backup for certain types of troubled financial instruments, with apparently only Senator Elizabeth Warren and a few others opposing them. Senator Warren is outgunned as Citigroup controls the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve.

The falling oil price has brought concern that oil derivatives are in jeopardy. Citigroup has a provision in the omnibus appropriations bill that shifts the liability for Citigroup’s credit default swaps to depositors and taxpayers. It was only six years ago that Citigroup was bailed out to the tune of a half trillion dollars. Already Citigroup is back for more while nothing whatsoever is done to bail the American people out of their hardships caused by Citigroup and the other financial gangsters.

What we are experiencing is not a repeat of the past. The ability or, rather, the audacity of the US government itself to manipulate the major financial markets is new. Can this new trend continue? The government is supposed to be the enforcer of laws against market manipulation but is itself manipulating the markets.

Governments and economists take their hats off to free markets. Yet, the markets are rigged, not free. How long can stocks stay up in a lackluster or declining economy? How long can bonds pay negative real interest rates when debt and money are rising. How long can bullion prices be manipulated down when the world’s demand for gold exceeds the annual production?

For as long as governments and banks can rig the markets.
The manipulations are dangerous. Manipulations blow a bigger bubble economy, and manipulations are now being used by Washington as an act of war by driving down the exchange value of the Russian ruble.

If every time the stock market tries to correct and adjust to the real economic situation, the plunge protection team or some government “stabilization” entity stops the correction by purchasing S&P futures, unrealistic values are perpetuated.

The price of gold is not determined in the physical market but in the futures market where contracts are settled in cash. If every time the demand for gold pushes up the price, the Federal Reserve or its bullion bank agents dump massive amounts of uncovered futures contracts in the futures market and drive down the price of gold, the result is to subsidize the gold purchases of Russia, China, and India. The artificially low gold price also artificially inflates the value of the US dollar.

The Federal Reserve’s manipulation of the bond market has driven bond prices so high that purchasers receive a zero or negative return on their investment. At the present time fear of the safety of bank deposits makes people willing to pay a fee in order to have the protection of the government’s ability to print money in order to redeem its bonds. A number of events could end the tolerance of zero or negative real interest rates. The Federal Reserve’s policy has the bond market positioned for collapse.

The US government, perhaps surprised at the ease at which all financial markets can be rigged, is now rigging, or permitting large hedge funds and perhaps George Soros, to drive down the exchange value of the Russian ruble by massive short-selling in the currency market. On December 15 the ruble was driven down 19%.

Just as there is no economic reason for the price of gold to decline in the futures market when the demand for physical gold is rising, there is no economic reason for the ruble to suddenly loose much of its exchange value. Unlike the US, which has a massive trade deficit, Russia has a trade surplus. Unlike the US economy, the Russian economy has not been offshored. Russia has just completed large energy and trade deals with China, Turkey, and India.

If economic forces were determining outcomes, it would be the dollar that is losing exchange value, not the ruble.

The illegal economic sanctions that Washington has decreed on Russia appear to be doing more harm to Europe and US energy companies than to Russia. The impact on Russia of the American attack on the ruble is unclear, as the suppression of the ruble’s value is artificial.

There is a difference between economic factors causing foreign investors to withdraw their capital from a country, thereby causing the currency to lose value, and manipulation of a currency’s value by heavy short-selling in the currency market. The latter can cause the former also to occur. But the outcome for Russia can be positive.

No country dependent on foreign capital is sovereign. A country dependent on foreign capital, especially from enemies seeking to subvert the economy, is subject to destabilizing currency and economic swings. Russia should self-finance. If Russia needs foreign capital, Russia should turn to its ally China. China has a stake in Russia’s strength as part of China’s protection from US aggression, whether economic or military.

The American attack on the ruble is also teaching sovereign governments that are not US vassals the extreme cost of allowing their currencies to trade in currency markets dominated by the US. China should think twice before it allows full convertibility of its currency. Of course, the Chinese have a lot of dollar assets with which to defend their currency from attack, and the sale of the assets and use of the dollar proceeds to support the yuan could knock down the dollar’s exchange value and US bond prices and cause US interest rates and inflation to rise. Still, considering the gangster nature of financial markets in which the US is the heavy player, a country that permits free trading of its currency sets itself up for trouble.

The greatest harm that is being done to the Russian economy is not due to sanctions and the US attack on the ruble. The greatest harm is being done by Russia’s neoliberal economists.

Neoliberal economics is not merely incorrect. It is an ideology that fosters US economic imperialism. By following neoliberal prescriptions, Russian economists are helping Washington’s attack on the Russian economy.

Apparently, Putin has been sold, along with his internal enemies, the Atlanticist integrationists, on “free trade globalism.” Globalism destroys the sovereignty of every country except the world reserve currency country that controls the system.

As Michael Hudson has shown [1], neoliberal economics is “junk economics.” But it is also a tool of American financial imperialism, and this makes neoliberal Russian economists tools of American imperialism.

The remaining sovereign countries, which excludes all of Europe, are slowly learning that Western economic institutions are deceptive and that placing trust in them is a threat to national sovereignty.

Washington intends to subvert Russia and to turn Russia into a vassal state like Germany, France, Japan, Canada, Australia, the UK and Ukraine. If Russia is to survive, Putin must protect Russia from Western economic institutions and Western trained economists.

It is too risky for the US to take on Russia militarily. Instead, Washington is using its unique symbiotic relationship with Western financial institutions to attack an incautious Russia that foolishly opened herself to Western financial predation.

Note: The winter issue of Gerald Celente’s Trends Journal identifies financial market manipulation as a Top Trend for 2015.[2]

Blogger's Note: I'm providing below the pink footnotes that I've inserted above.
[1] http://impactglassman.blogspot.mx/2014/12/michael-hudson-is-believed-by-many-to.html
[2] http://www.trendsresearch.com/forecasts/index.html



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Paul Craig Roberts frequently refers to the American people as insouciant. The dictionary meaning of this word is “lighthearted and unconcerned,” which given the current nature of the U.S. government has been “out of sight, out of mind,” particularly given that neocon Washington is getting ready to force a nuclear war with Russia …which would result in the death of the entire human race. However, in this article PCR believes that a world-wide economic collapse is on the horizon and that this crash would be the only way to save us and our descendants. In this event, our insouciance would endanger only our life’s savings. By that I mean that our investment portfolios should be adjusted to not only survive the dollar crash, but profit from it. The first thing to do is to get rid of all of your high-dividend “junk bonds” instantly! The second thing would be to buy PHYSICAL (not paper) commodities, for example gold (which if not for the present naked short selling of paper gold would be equal to 2 or 3 times its current value), silver, palladium, and uranium. You might start with Royal Gold, Inc. (RCLD) Nasdaq GS NMS, which owns no gold mines at all; rather it has staked many gold miners in return for royalties representing a certain percentage of their sales, a system far more lucrative than actually mining). For palladium, “…the only pure-play on the metal – ETF Securities Physical Palladium Shares (PALL) – has clearly outperformed the rest of the precious metal ETFs in the space…” (quote from Zacks, Dec 4 2014). For the much despised, but soon to be needed in huge amounts, uranium, try the currently very cheap Global X Uranium ETF (URA) – NYSE Arca. Finally some oil companies plan to profit during the present price crash, e.g., Synergy Resources Corp (SYRG) NYSE MKT “…the company’s lean cost structure should help protect margins in the face of weaker commodity prices…” (quote from Barron’s Five Energy Stocks for 2015, Dec. 17, 2014).


On the Brink of War and Economic Collapse — Paul Craig Roberts

December 12, 2014 | Original Here                                            Go here to sign up to receive email notice of this news letter

On the Brink of War and Economic Collapse

Paul Craig Roberts

On occasion a reader will ask if I can give readers some good news. The answer is: not unless I lie to you like “your” government and the mainstream media do. If you want faked “good news,” you need to retreat into The Matrix. In exchange for less stress and worry, you will be led unknowingly into financial ruin and nuclear armageddon.

If you want to be forewarned, and possibly prepared, for what “your” government is bringing you, and have some small chance of redirecting the course of events, read and support this site. It is your site. I already know these things. I write for you.

The neoconservatives, a small group of warmongers strongly allied with the military/industrial complex and Israel, gave us Granada and the Contras affair in Nicaragua. President Reagan fired them, and they were prosecuted, but subsequently pardoned by Reagan’s successor, George H.W. Bush.

Ensconced in think tanks and protected by Israeli and military/security complex money, the neoconservatives reemerged in the Clinton administration and engineered the breakup of Yugoslavia, the war against Serbia, and the expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders.

Neoconservatives dominated the George W. Bush regime. They controlled the Pentagon, the National Security Council, the Office of the Vice President, and much else. Neoconservatives gave us 9/11 and its coverup, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the beginning of the destabilizations of Pakistan and Yemen, the U.S. Africa Command, the invasion of South Ossetia by Georgia, the demise of the anti-ABM Treaty, unconstitutional and illegal spying on American citizens without warrants, loss of constitutional protections, torture, and the unaccountability of the executive branch to law, Congress, and the judiciary. In short, the neoconservatives laid the foundation for dictatorship and for WW III.

The Obama regime held no one accountable for the crimes of the Bush regime, thus creating the precedent that the executive branch is above the law. Instead, the Obama regime prosecuted whistleblowers who told the truth about government crimes.

Neoconservatives remain very influential in the Obama regime. As examples, Obama appointed neoconservative Susan Rice as his National Security Advisor. Obama appointed neoconservative Samantha Power as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Obama appointed neoconservative Victoria Nuland as Assistant Secretary of State. Nuland’s office, working with the CIA and Washington-financed NGOs, organized the U.S. coup in Ukraine.

Neoconservatism is the only extant political ideology. The ideology is “America uber alles.” Neoconservatives believe that History has chosen the United States to exercise hegemony over the world, thereby making the U.S. “exceptional” and “indispensable.” Obama himself has declared as much. This ideology gives neoconservatives tremendous confidence and drive, just as Karl Marx’s conclusion that history had chosen the workers to be the ruling class gave early communists confidence and drive.

This confidence and drive makes the neoconservatives reckless.

To advance their agenda neoconservatives propagandize the populations of the U.S. and Washington’s vassal states. The presstitutes deliver the neoconservatives’ lies to the unsuspecting public: Russia has invaded and annexed Ukrainian provinces; Putin intends to reconstitute the Soviet Empire; Russia is a gangster state without democracy; Russia is a threat to the Baltics, Poland, and all of Europe, necessitating a U.S./NATO military buildup on Russia’s borders; China, a Russian ally, must be militarily contained with new U.S. naval and air bases surrounding China and controlling Chinese sea lanes.

The neoconservatives and President Obama have made it completely clear that the U.S. will not accept Russia and China as sovereign countries with economic and foreign policies independent of the interests of Washington. Russia and China are acceptable only as vassal states, like the UK, Europe, Japan, Canada, and Australia.

Clearly, the neoconservative formula is a formula for the final war.

All of humanity is endangered by a handful of evil men and women ensconced in positions of power in Washington.

Anti-Russia propaganda has gone into high gear. Putin is the “new Hitler.”
Daniel Zubov reports on a joint conference held by three U.S. think tanks.

The conference blamed Russia for the failures of Washington’s foreign policy. Read this article: http://sputniknews.com/columnists/20141205/1015538604.html to see how neoconservatives operate in order to control the explanations. Even Henry Kissinger is under attack for stating the obvious truth that Russia has a legitimate interest in Ukraine, a land long part of Russia and located in Russia’s legitimate sphere of influence.


Since the Clinton regime, Washington has been acting against Russian interests. In his forthcoming book, The Globalization of War: America’s Long War against Humanity, Professor Michel Chossudovsky presents a realistic appraisal of how close Washington has brought the world to its demise in nuclear war. This passage is from the Preface:

“The ‘globalization of war’ is a hegemonic project. Major military
and covert intelligence operations are being undertaken
simultaneously in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan
Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The US military agenda
combines both major theater operations as well as covert actions
geared towards destabilizing sovereign states.


“Under a global military agenda, the actions undertaken by the
Western military alliance (US-NATO-Israel) in Afghanistan, Pakistan,
Palestine, Ukraine, Syria and Iraq are coordinated at the highest
levels of the military hierarchy. We are not dealing with
piecemeal military and intelligence operations. The July-August
2014 attack on Gaza by Israeli forces was undertaken in close consultation
with the United States and NATO. In turn, the actions in
Ukraine and their timing coincided with the onslaught of the attack
on Gaza.


“In turn, military undertakings are closely coordinated with a
process of economic warfare which consists not only in imposing
sanctions on sovereign countries but also in deliberate acts of destabilization
of financial and currency markets, with a view to undermining
the enemies’ national economies.


“The United States and its allies have launched a military adventure
which threatens the future of humanity. As we go to press, US
and NATO forces have been deployed in Eastern Europe. US military
intervention under a humanitarian mandate is proceeding in sub-Saharan
Africa. The US and its allies are threatening China under President Obama’s
‘Pivot to Asia’.


“In turn, military maneuvers are being conducted at Russia’s
doorstep which could lead to escalation.


“The US airstrikes initiated in September 2014 directed against
Iraq and Syria under the pretext of going after the Islamic State are
part of a scenario of military escalation extending from North Africa
and the Eastern Mediterranean to Central and South Asia.
The Western military alliance is in an advanced state of readiness.


“And so is Russia.”
As I have often remarked, Americans are an insouciant people. They are simply unaware. Suppose they were aware, suppose that the entire population understood the peril, could anything be done, or have the insouciant Americans fallen under the control of the police state that Washington has created?

I don’t think there is much hope from the American people. The American people cannot tell genuine from fake leadership, and the ruling private elites will not permit real leaders to emerge. Moreover, there is no organized movement in opposition to the neoconservatives.

The hope comes from outside the political system. The hope is that the House of Cards and rigged markets erected by policymakers for the benefit of the One Percent collapses. David Stockman regards this outcome as a highly likely one. The collapse that Stockman sees as being on its way is the same collapse about which I have warned. Moreover, the number of Black Swans which can originate collapse are even more numerous than the ones Stockman correctly identifies. Some financial organizations are worried about a lack of liquidity in the fixed income (bonds) and derivatives markets. Barbara Novack, co-chair of Black Rock, is lobbying hard for a derivatives bailout mechanism.

David Stockman’s article is important. Read it until you understand it, and you will know more than most everyone. http://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/12/david-stockman/duck-and-cover%E2%80%A8/

Many will ask: If the wealth of the One Percent is vulnerable to economic collapse, will war be initiated to protect this wealth and to blame the Russians or Chinese for the hardships that engulf the American population? My answer is that the kind of collapse that I expect, and that David Stockman and no doubt others expect, presents government with such social, political, and economic insecurity that organizing for a major war becomes impossible.

Whereas the political impotence of the American people and the vassalage of the Western World impose no constraints on Washington, economic collapse brings revolutions and the demise of the existing order.

As hard as collapse would make it for people to survive, the chances for survival are higher than in the event of nuclear war.



Sunday, December 14, 2014

Michael Hudson is believed by many to be the wisests of the U.S. economists who have not "gone over to the dark side of the force," i.e., the government in Washington. Washington has eradicated journalism in the U.S. as we used to know it, replacing the news with 100% government lies-cum-propaganda. So if you get your news from the "mainstream media", you are likely to believe that Russia attacked Ukraine and is suddenly threatening the western world, whereas the truth is the reverse of that. As Professor Hudson explains, the sanctions imposed upon Russia are (1) undeserved because Russia has attacked no one, (2) gravely damaging the economies of Washington's vassals in Europe, (3) driving Russia to make economic alliances with China, India, Iran, and Turkey and (4) not a problem because the ruble, though devalued against the dollar, is accepted without discount by the countries listed in (3).


Russia Rejects South Steam Pipeline Through Europe

Hudson Report: Europe effort to join the US in isolating Russia has backfired, it makes no sense build an oil and gas pipeline for Russian exports that would be owned and leased to them by US and Europe - December 14, 14

http://youtu.be/nflZSjiofr8                                                                                           Original Here

Bio                                                                                          .

Michael Hudson is a Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. His two newest books are The Bubble and Beyond and Finance Capitalism and its Discontents. His upcoming book is titled Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Our government has decided that the too-big-to-jail banks are also too big the bail OUT. Therefore, it is a given that the next banks to crash will refinance themselves by bailing IN, which means conficating their depositors' money. Theoretically, we are all protected by deposit insurance up to $250,000, but the FDIC doesn't have enough to remburse one bank's loss, much less if they all collapse at once. Moral: If you have money deposited in one of the big banks, get out PRONTO and put it in a credit union.


USAWatchDog interview on new bail-in rules 12-9-14


http://youtu.be/Ey20x-VlDYQ

Thursday, December 11, 2014

According to distinguished economist Laura Tyson, "The disposable (after tax and transfer) incomes of poor families in the US have trailed those of their counterparts in other developed countries for decades. Now the US middle class is also falling behind." and "The main culprit behind the languishing fortunes of America’s middle class is slow wage growth." Read details below.


 ECONOMICS + CULTURE AND SOCIETY

LAURA TYSON

Laura Tyson, a former chair of the US President's Council of Economic Advisers, is a professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, a senior adviser at the Rock Creek Group, and a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Gender Parity. READ MORE
|

NOV 30, 2014
The Rising Costs of US Income Inequality

BERKELEY – During the last several decades, income inequality in the United States has increased significantly – and the trend shows no sign of reversing. The last time inequality was as high as it is now was just before the Great Depression. Such a high level of inequality is not only incompatible with widely held norms of social justice and equality of opportunity; it poses a serious threat to America’s economy and democracy.

Underlying the country’s soaring inequality is income stagnation for the majority of Americans. With an expanding share of the gains from economic growth flowing to a tiny fraction of high-income US households, average family income for the bottom 90% has been flat since 1980. According to a recent report by the Council of Economic Advisers, if the share of income going to the bottom 90% was the same in 2013 as it was in 1973, median annual household income (adjusted for family size) would be 18%, or about $9,000, higher than it is now.

The disposable (after tax and transfer) incomes of poor families in the US have trailed those of their counterparts in other developed countries for decades. Now the US middle class is also falling behind.

During the last three decades, middle-income households in most developed countries enjoyed larger increases in disposable income than comparable US households. This year, the US lost the distinction of having the “most affluent” middle class to Canada, with several European countries not far behind. Once the generous public benefits in education, health care, and retirement are added to estimates of disposable family income in these countries, the relative position of the US middle class slips even further.

The main culprit behind the languishing fortunes of America’s middle class is slow wage growth. After peaking in the early 1970s, real (inflation-adjusted) median earnings of full-time workers aged 25-64 stagnated, partly owing to a slowdown in productivity growth and partly because of a yawning gap between productivity and wage growth.

Since 1980, average real hourly compensation has increased at an annual rate of 1%, or half the rate of productivity growth. Wage gains have also become considerably more unequal, with the biggest increases claimed by the top 10% of earners.

Moreover, technological change and globalization have reduced the share of middle-skill jobs in overall employment, while the share of lower-skill jobs has increased. These trends, along with a falling labor-force participation rate during the last decade, explain the stagnation of middle-class incomes.

For most Americans, wages are the primary source of disposable income, which in turn drives personal consumption spending – by far the largest component of aggregate demand. Over the past several decades, as growth in disposable income slowed, middle- and lower-income households turned to debt to sustain consumption.

Personal savings rates collapsed, and credit and mortgage debt soared, as households attempted to keep pace with the consumption norms of the wealthy. For quite some time, growing income inequality did not slow consumption growth; indeed, “trickle-down consumption” pressures fostered more consumer spending, more debt, more bankruptcy, and more financial stress among middle- and lower-income households.

The moment of reckoning arrived with the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Since then, aggregate consumption growth has been lackluster, as middle- and lower-income families have been forced to reduce their borrowing and pay down their debt, often through painful defaults on their homes – their primary (and often their only) asset.

As these families have tightened their belts, the pace of consumption spending and economic growth has become more dependent on earners at the top of the income distribution. Since the recession ended in 2009, real consumption spending by the top 5% has increased by 17%, compared to just 1% for the bottom 95%.

The recovery’s pattern has reinforced longer-run trends. In 2012, the top 5% of earners accounted for 38% of personal-consumption expenditure, compared to 27% in 1995. During that period, the consumption share for the bottom 80% of earners dropped from 47% to 39%.

Looking to the future, growing income inequality and stagnant incomes for the majority of Americans mean weaker aggregate demand and slower growth. Even more important, income inequality constrains economic growth on the supply side through its adverse effects on educational opportunity and human-capital development.

Children born into low- and high-income families are born with similar abilities. But they have very different educational opportunities, with children in low-income families less likely to have access to early childhood education, more likely to attend under-resourced schools that deliver inferior K-12 education, and less likely to attend or complete college.

The resulting educational-attainment gap between children born into low and high-income families emerges at an early age and grows over time. By some estimates, the gap today is twice as large as it was two decades ago. So the US is caught in a vicious circle: rising income inequality breeds more inequality in educational opportunity, which generates greater inequality in educational attainment. That, in turn, translates into a waste of human talent, a less educated workforce, slower economic growth, and even greater income inequality.

Although the economic costs of income inequality are substantial, the political costs may prove to be the most damaging and dangerous. The rich have both the incentives and the ability to promote policies that maintain or enhance their position.

Given the US Supreme Court’s evisceration of campaign-finance restrictions, it has become easier than ever for concentrated economic power to exercise concentrated political power. Though campaign contributions do not guarantee victory, they give the economic elite greater access to legislators, regulators, and other public officials, enabling them to shape the political debate in favor of their interests.

As a result, the US political system is increasingly dominated by money. This is a clear sign that income inequality in the US has risen to levels that threaten not only the economy’s growth, but also the health of its democracy.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Vladimir Putin after many months of trying to make peace with the war-mongering U.S. and its European vassals: "We will protect the diversity of the world. We will tell the truth to people abroad, so that everyone can see the real and not distorted and false image of Russia. We will actively promote business and humanitarian relations, as well as scientific, education and cultural relations. We will do this even if some governments attempt to create a new iron curtain around Russia. We will never enter the path of self-isolation, xenophobia, suspicion and the search for enemies. All this is evidence of weakness, while we are strong and confident. "


http://www.vineyardsaker.it/
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2014

Disgusted, Russia officially gives up any pretense of "dialog" with the AngloZionist Empire

Dear friends,

The full address of President Putin to the Federal Assembly is now available online and, since this is a very long text, I will not re-post it here.   What I propose to do here is to bring to your attention four verbatim excerpts from his speech with some key segments bolded out.

Most of the speech was on economic and internal matters, but I think that these four points and, especially, the expressions chosen by Putin really "tell the story" of what the Kremlin's position vis-à-vis the West is nowadays.  See for yourself: 

1) Crimea is Russian forever:

It was an event of special significance for the country and the people, because Crimea is where our people live, and the peninsula is of strategic importance for Russia as the spiritual source of the development of a multifaceted but solid Russian nation and a centralised Russian state. It was in Crimea, in the ancient city of Chersonesus or Korsun, as ancient Russian chroniclers called it, that Grand Prince Vladimir was baptised before bringing Christianity to Rus.

In addition to ethnic similarity, a common language, common elements of their material culture, a common territory, even though its borders were not marked then, and a nascent common economy and government, Christianity was a powerful spiritual unifying force that helped involve various tribes and tribal unions of the vast Eastern Slavic world in the creation of a Russian nation and Russian state. It was thanks to this spiritual unity that our forefathers for the first time and forevermore saw themselves as a united nation. All of this allows us to say that Crimea, the ancient Korsun or Chersonesus, and Sevastopol have invaluable civilisational and even sacral importance for Russia, like the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for the followers of Islam and Judaism.   And this is how we will always consider it.
 

2) Russia will never become an EU colony: 

By the way, Russia has already made a major contribution to helping Ukraine. Let me reiterate that Russian banks already invested some $25 billion in Ukraine. Last year, Russia’s Finance Ministry extended a loan worth another $3 billion. Gazprom provided another $5.5 billion to Ukraine and even offered a discount that no one promised, requiring the country to pay $4.5 billion. Add it all up and you get as much as $ 32.5-33.5 billion that were provided only recently.

Of course, we have the right to ask questions. What was this Ukrainian tragedy for? Wasn’t it possible to settle all the issues, even disputed issues, through dialogue, within a legal framework and legitimately?   But now we are being told that this was actually competent, balanced politics that we should comply with unquestionably and blindfolded.

This will never happen.   If for some European countries national pride is a long-forgotten concept and sovereignty is too much of a luxury, true sovereignty for Russia is absolutely necessary for survival.
 


3)  The Empire was Russia's mortal enemy long before Crimea

We remember well how and who, almost openly, supported separatism back then and even outright terrorism in Russia, referred to murderers, whose hands were stained with blood, none other than rebels and organised high-level receptions for them. These “rebels” showed up in Chechnya again. I'm sure the local guys, the local law enforcement authorities, will take proper care of them. They are now working to eliminate another terrorist raid. Let’s support them.

Let me reiterate, we remember high-level receptions for terrorists dubbed as fighters for freedom and democracy. Back then, we realised that the more ground we give and the more excuses we make, the more our opponents become brazen and the more cynical and aggressive their demeanor becomes.

Despite our unprecedented openness back then and our willingness to cooperate in all, even the most sensitive issues, despite the fact that we considered – and all of you are aware of this and remember it – our former adversaries as close friends and even allies, the support for separatism in Russia from across the pond, including information, political and financial support and support provided by the special services – was absolutely obvious and left no doubt that they would gladly let Russia follow the Yugoslav scenario of disintegration and dismemberment. With all the tragic fallout for the people of Russia.

It didn’t work. We didn’t allow that to happen.


Just as it did not work for Hitler with his people-hating ideas, who set out to destroy Russia and push us back beyond the Urals. Everyone should remember how it ended.


4) Russia will not be bullied

No one will ever attain military superiority over Russia. We have a modern and combat ready army. As they now put it, a polite, but formidable army. We have the strength, will and courage to protect our freedom.

We will protect the diversity of the world. We will tell the truth to people abroad, so that everyone can see the real and not distorted and false image of Russia
. We will actively promote business and humanitarian relations, as well as scientific, education and cultural relations. We will do this even if some governments attempt to create a new iron curtain around Russia.

We will never enter the path of self-isolation, xenophobia, suspicion and the search for enemies.   All this is evidence of weakness, while we are strong and confident


In my opinion what we are seeing a a big "coming out".  For a variety of reasons, Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov chose not to say this kind of things in the past, but for several months already we have seen a sense of utter disgust manifest itself more and more openly from the Russian.   Today, it finally truly came out in the open.

It is painfully clear that Russia considers the USA as an arrogant bully which Russia can stop and that Russia considers the regimes in power in the EU as voiceless colonies.  Equally clear is the fact that the Russians are fed up with trying to plead or reason with anybody in the West.  The Americans are too arrogant, the Europeans too spineless.

Unlike the Americans, Russians always talk to their enemies and some form of "talking" with the West will continue.  But it is rather obvious that the Kremlin has given up any hope of achieving anything through any kind of dialog.  From now on, Russia will mostly rely on unilateral actions.  And since Russians never threaten, these actions will always come as a shock and a surprise to the Western plutocracies.

I have said this many times: the AngloZionist Empire has launched a real war against Russia, one in which military forces are less important than the informational war, but a real war nonetheless.  What the Empire probably did not realize, is that this would not be a short war, but a long one.  And while the Empire has already used most of its weapons, the Russians have just begun their defensive operations.  This will be a long war and it will only end when one of the two sides basically breaks down and collapses.

On March 1st of this year I wrote a piece entitled "Obama just made things much, much worse in the Ukraine - now Russia is ready for war". Russia did not want that war, it was imposed on her at a time when Russia was not ready.  Nevertheless, today Putin informed us all that Russia refuses to submit, that she accepts the challenge and that she will prevail.


The Saker

Note first that THE CRUX is a western businessman's journal. It is not political. Thus, it does not take a position as to whether Russia deserves the sanctions hung on it, or whether the allegations are all lies originated by the U.S. (the actual truth). Rather, it provides strong data showing that the EU is severely, and irrevesibly, damaging their economies solely to please Washington. It is one thing for the EU countries to be vassals of Washington but quite another to sacrifice the well being of their citizens by acquiscing to Washinton's crushing demands without the slightest protest.


You might not believe who’s benefiting from the sanctions on Russia

From Mike “Mish” Shedlock at Global Economic Trend Analysis:
  

Image from bob via Flickr
 European sanctions on Russia have hurt the EU far more than Russia. Moreover, Europe has lost key machinery contracts to China, and those contracts will likely stay with China even after sanctions are lifted.

Please consider Europe Feels Sting in the Tail of Russia Sanctions.

At a technology fair in Moscow last month, European executives faced the new reality of doing business in Russia since the West imposed sanctions: the number of companies at the international showcase had shrunk by half from a year ago.

“The impact on business couldn’t be clearer. Fewer stands, fewer companies,” said Mark Bultinck, a sales executive for Belgian digital screen maker Barco, which had a booth at the annual expo for the audiovisual industry.

The impact of the sanctions was already clear to Barco.

The company lost Russia’s biggest shipbuilder as a client when the United States and the European Union blacklisted United Shipbuilding Corporation in July, meaning Barco could no longer sell screens to the company for its vessel training simulators.

Barco’s experience shows how sanctions are having a broad impact not just on Russian companies but on European ones too and at a time when Europe’s weak economy can ill afford it.

Companies are at risk of losing contracts to competitors from China and elsewhere, according to Frank Schauff, chief executive office at the Association of European Businesses in Russia.

“Countries that have not imposed sanctions are able to jump in where the EU has left a gap,” said Schauff. “The economic position that the European Union has in Russia is at risk and it is very difficult to gain that back if it is lost.”

Lost Business
  • EU exports to Russia fell 19 percent to 7.9 billion euros ($9.91 billion) compared to July.
  • EU exports down 18 percent compared to August 2013.
  • Total EU exports fell 12 percent in the first eight months of this year compared to a year ago.
  • EU exports of machinery and transport equipment such as cars and tractors fell 23 percent compared to July.
  • Machinery and transport exports fell 21 percent from a year ago.
  • Manufactured exports fell 16 percent across the 28-nation bloc in August.
  • Italy’s manufactured exports tumbled by almost half.
None of this should be surprising. It’s exactly what one could have and should have expected at the outset. The only beneficiary of the inane sanctions has been China.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

The most essential story of our time (an absolute must read) is related here by reporter John Pilger. Among his quotes is that by distinguished American investigative journalist Charles Lewis: "...if we journalists had done our job 'there is a very, very good chance we would have not gone to war in Iraq'.” Pilger notes that Dan Rather of CBS and David Rose of the Observer gave the same answer: "...had journalists done their job, had they questioned and investigated the propaganda instead of amplifying it, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children might be alive today; and millions might not have fled their homes; and the infamous Islamic State might not now exist." "The most effective propaganda is found not in the Sun or on Fox News – but beneath a liberal halo. When the New York Times published claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, its fake evidence was believed, because it wasn’t Fox News; it was the New York Times." "The same is true of the Washington Post and the Guardian, both of which have played a critical role in conditioning their readers to accept a new and dangerous cold war. All three liberal newspapers have misrepresented events in Ukraine as a malign act by Russia – when, in fact, the fascist led coup in Ukraine was the work of the United States, aided by Germany and Nato." "The suppression of the truth about Ukraine is one of the most complete news blackouts I can remember." "As I write this, the US Congress votes on Resolution 758 which, in a nutshell, says: 'Let’s get ready for war with Russia'.” Blogger's remark: A nuclear war with Russia could kill us all ...thanks to our despicable mainstream media.



AlterNet / By John Pilger                                                                                                               Original Here

Propaganda Has Triumphed over Journalism, and the Consequences Are Enormous

We need a press that teaches the young to be agents of people, not power.

December 5, 2014  |  Why has so much journalism succumbed to propaganda? Why are censorship and distortion standard practice? Why is the BBC so often a mouthpiece of rapacious power? Why do the New York Times and the Washington Post deceive their readers?

Why are young journalists not taught to understand media agendas and to challenge the high claims and low purpose of fake objectivity?  And why are they not taught that the essence of so much of what’s called the mainstream media is not information, but power?

These are urgent questions. The world is facing the prospect of major war, perhaps nuclear war – with the United States clearly determined to isolate and provoke Russia and eventually China. This truth is being turned upside down and inside out by journalists, including those who promoted the lies that led to the bloodbath in Iraq in 2003.

The times we live in are so dangerous and so distorted in public perception that propaganda is no longer, as Edward Bernays called it, an “invisible government”. It is the government. It rules directly without fear of contradiction and its principal aim is the conquest of us: our sense of the world, our ability to separate truth from lies.

The information age is actually a media age. We have war by media; censorship by media; demonology by media; retribution by media; diversion by media – a surreal assembly line of obedient clichés and false assumptions.

This power to create a new “reality” has been building for a long time. Forty-five years ago, a book entitled The Greening of America caused a sensation. On the cover were these words: “There is a revolution coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past. It will originate with the individual.”

I was a correspondent in the United States at the time and recall the overnight elevation to guru status of the author, a young Yale academic, Charles Reich. His message was that truth-telling and political action had failed and only “culture” and introspection could change the world.

Within a few years, driven by the forces of profit, the cult of “me-ism” had all but overwhelmed our sense of acting together, our sense of social justice and internationalism. Class, gender and race were separated. The personal was the political, and the media was the message.

In the wake of the cold war, the fabrication of new “threats” completed the political disorientation of those who, 20 years earlier, would have formed a vehement opposition.

In 2003, I filmed an interview in Washington with Charles Lewis, the distinguished American investigative journalist.  We discussed the invasion of Iraq a few months earlier.  I asked him, “What if the freest media in the world had seriously challenged George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld and investigated their claims, instead of channeling what turned out to be crude propaganda?”

He replied that if we journalists had done our job “there is a very, very good chance we would have not gone to war in Iraq.”

That’s a shocking statement, and one supported by other famous journalists to whom I put the same question. Dan Rather, formerly of CBS, gave me the same answer.  David Rose of the Observer and senior journalists and producers in the BBC, who wished to remain anonymous, gave me the same answer.

In other words, had journalists done their job, had they questioned and investigated the propaganda instead of amplifying it, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children might be alive today; and millions might not have fled their homes; the sectarian war between Sunni and Shia might not have ignited, and the infamous Islamic State might not now exist.

Even now, despite the millions who took to the streets in protest, most of the public in western countries have little idea of the sheer scale of the crime committed by our governments in Iraq. Even fewer are aware that, in the 12 years before the invasion, the US and British governments set in motion a holocaust by denying the civilian population of Iraq a means to live.

Those are the words of the senior British official responsible for sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s – a medieval siege that caused the deaths of half a million children under the age of five, reported Unicef.  The official’s name is Carne Ross. In the Foreign Office in London, he was known as “Mr. Iraq”.  Today, he is a truth-teller of how governments deceive and how journalists willingly spread the deception.  “We would feed journalists factoids of sanitised intelligence,” he told me, “or we’d freeze them out.”

The main whistleblower  during this terrible, silent period was Denis Halliday. Then Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and the senior UN official in Iraq, Halliday resigned rather than implement policies he described as genocidal.  He estimates that sanctions killed more than a million Iraqis.

What then happened to Halliday was instructive. He was airbrushed. Or he was vilified. On the BBC’s Newsnight programme, the presenter Jeremy Paxman shouted at him: “Aren’t you just an apologist for Saddam Hussein?” The Guardian recently described this as one of Paxman’s “memorable moments”. Last week, Paxman signed a £1 million book deal.

The handmaidens of suppression have done their job well.  Consider the effects.  In 2013, a ComRes poll found that a majority of the British public believed the casualty toll in Iraq was less than 10,000 – a tiny fraction of the truth. A trail of blood that goes from Iraq to London has been scrubbed almost clean.

Rupert Murdoch is said to be the godfather of the media mob, and no one should doubt the augmented power of his newspapers – all 127 of them, with a combined circulation of 40 million, and his Fox network. But the influence of Murdoch’s empire is no greater than its reflection of the wider media.

The most effective propaganda is found not in the Sun or on Fox News – but beneath a liberal halo. When the New York Times published claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, its fake evidence was believed, because it wasn’t Fox News; it was the New York Times.

The same is true of the Washington Post and the Guardian, both of which have played a critical role in conditioning their readers to accept a new and dangerous cold war. All three liberal newspapers have misrepresented events in Ukraine as a malign act by Russia – when, in fact, the fascist led coup in Ukraine was the work of the United States, aided by Germany and Nato.

This inversion of reality is so pervasive that Washington’s military encirclement and intimidation of Russia is not contentious. It’s not even news, but suppressed behind a smear and scare campaign of the kind I grew up with during the first cold war.

Once again, the evil empire is coming to get us, led by another Stalin or, perversely, a new Hitler. Name your demon and let rip.

The suppression of the truth about Ukraine is one of the most complete news blackouts I can remember. The biggest Western military build-up in the Caucasus and eastern Europe since world war two is blacked out. Washington’s secret aid to Kiev and its neo-Nazi brigades responsible for war crimes against the population of eastern Ukraine is blacked out. Evidence that contradicts propaganda that Russia was responsible for the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner is blacked out.

And again, supposedly liberal media are the censors. Citing no facts, no evidence, one journalist identified a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine as the man who shot down the airliner. This man, he wrote, was known as The Demon.  He was a scary man who frightened the journalist. That was the evidence.

Many in the western media haves worked hard to present the ethnic Russian population of Ukraine as outsiders in their own country, almost never as Ukrainians seeking a federation within Ukraine and as Ukrainian citizens resisting a foreign-orchestrated coup against their elected government.

What the Russian president has to say is of no consequence; he is a pantomime villain who can be abused with impunity. An American general who heads Nato and is straight out of Dr. Strangelove — one General Breedlove – routinely claims Russian invasions without a shred of visual evidence. His impersonation of Stanley Kubrick’s General Jack D. Ripper is pitch perfect.

Forty thousand Ruskies were massing on the border, according to Breedlove. That was good enough for the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Observer — the latter having previously distinguished itself with lies and fabrications that backed Blair’s invasion of Iraq, as its former reporter, David Rose, revealed.

There is almost the joi d’esprit of a class reunion. The drum-beaters of the Washington Post are the very same editorial writers who declared the existence of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction to be “hard facts”.

“If you wonder,” wrote Robert Parry, “how the world could stumble into world war three – much as it did into world war one a century ago – all you need to do is look at the madness that has enveloped virtually the entire US political/media structure over Ukraine where a false narrative of white hats versus black hats took hold early and has proved impervious to facts or reason.”

Parry, the journalist who revealed Iran-Contra, is one of the few who investigate the central role of the media in this “game of chicken”, as the Russian foreign minister called it. But is it a game? As I write this, the US Congress votes on Resolution 758 which, in a nutshell, says: “Let’s get ready for war with Russia.”

In the 19th century, the writer Alexander Herzen described secular liberalism as “the final religion, though its church is not of the other world but of this”. Today, this divine right is far more violent and dangerous than anything the Muslim world throws up, though perhaps its greatest triumph is the illusion of free and open information.

In the news, whole countries are made to disappear.  Saudi Arabia, the source of extremism  and western-backed terror, is not a story, except when it drives down the price of oil. Yemen has endured twelve years of American drone attacks. Who knows? Who cares?

In 2009, the University of the West of England published the results of a ten-year study of the BBC’s coverage of Venezuela. Of 304 broadcast reports, only three mentioned any of the positive policies introduced by the government of Hugo Chavez. The greatest literacy programme in human history received barely a passing reference.

In Europe and the United States, millions of readers and viewers know next to nothing about the remarkable, life-giving changes implemented in Latin America, many of them inspired by Chavez. Like the BBC, the reports of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian and the rest of the respectable western media were notoriously in bad faith. Chavez was mocked even on his deathbed.  How is this explained, I wonder, in schools of journalism?

Why are millions of people in Britain are persuaded that a collective punishment called “austerity” is necessary?

Following the economic crash in 2008, a rotten system was exposed. For a split second the banks were lined up as crooks with obligations to the public they had betrayed.

But within a few months — apart from a few stones lobbed over excessive corporate “bonuses” — the message changed. The mugshots of  guilty bankers vanished from the tabloids and something called “austerity” became the burden of millions of ordinary people. Was there ever a sleight of hand as brazen?

Today, many of the premises of civilised life in Britain are being dismantled in order to pay back a fraudulent debt – the debt of crooks. The “austerity” cuts are said to be £83 billion. That’s almost exactly the amount of tax avoided by the same banks and by corporations like Amazon and Murdoch’s News UK. Moreover, the crooked banks are given an annual subsidy of £100bn in free insurance and guarantees – a figure that would fund the entire National Health Service.

The economic crisis is pure propaganda. Extreme policies now rule Britain, the United States, much of Europe, Canada and Australia. Who is standing up for the majority? Who is telling their story? Who’s keeping record straight? Isn’t that what journalists are meant to do?

In 1977, Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame, revealed that more than 400 journalists and news executives worked for the CIA. They included journalists from the New York Times, Time and the TV networks. In 1991, Richard Norton Taylor of the Guardian revealed something similar in this country.

None of this is necessary today. I doubt that anyone paid theWashington Post and many other media outlets to accuse Edward Snowden of aiding terrorism. I doubt that anyone pays those who  routinely smear Julian Assange – though other rewards can be plentiful.

It’s clear to me that the main reason Assange has attracted such venom, spite and jealously is that WikiLeaks tore down the facade of a corrupt political elite held aloft by journalists. In heralding an extraordinary era of disclosure, Assange made enemies by illuminating and shaming the media’s gatekeepers, not least on the newspaper that published and appropriated his great scoop.  He became not only a target, but a golden goose.

Lucrative book and Hollywood movie deals were struck and media careers launched or kick-started on the back of WikiLeaks and its founder. People have made big money, while WikiLeaks has struggled to survive.

None of this was mentioned in Stockholm on 1 December when the editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, shared with Edward Snowden the Right Livelihood Award, known as the alternative Nobel Peace Prize. What was shocking about this event was that Assange and WikiLeaks were airbrushed. They didn’t exist. They were unpeople.

No one spoke up for the man who pioneered digital whistleblowing and handed the Guardian one of the greatest scoops in history. Moreover, it was Assange and his WikiLeaks team who effectively – and brilliantly – rescued Edward Snowden in Hong Kong and sped him to safety.  Not a word.

What made this censorship by omission so ironic and poignant and disgraceful was that the ceremony was held in the Swedish parliament  — whose craven silence on the Assange case has colluded with a grotesque miscarriage of justice in Stockholm.

“When the truth is replaced by silence,” said the Soviet dissident Yevtushenko, “the silence is a lie.”

It’s this kind of silence we journalists need to break. We need to look in the mirror.  We need to call to account an unaccountable media that services power and a psychosis that threatens world war.

In the 18th century, Edmund Burke described the role of the press as a Fourth Estate checking the powerful. Was that ever true? It certainly doesn’t wash any more. What we need is a Fifth Estate: a journalism that monitors, deconstructs and counters propaganda and teaches the young to be agents of people, not power. We need what the Russians called perestroika – an insurrection of subjugated knowledge. I would call it real journalism.

It’s 100 years since the First World War. Reporters then were rewarded and knighted for their silence and collusion. At the height of the slaughter, British prime minister David Lloyd George confided in C.P. Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian: “If people really knew [the truth] the war would be stopped tomorrow, but of course they don’t know and can’t know.”

It’s time they knew.

This was John Pilger’s address to the Logan Symposium, “Building an Alliance Against Secrecy, Surveillance & Censorship”, organised by the Centre for Investigative Journalism, London, 5-7 December, 2014. Pilger can be reached through his website: www.johnpilger.com

John Pilger's documentaries have won academy awards in both the U.K. and the U.S. His new film, "Utopia," was released in Australia in January. 

Friday, December 05, 2014

Historically, the United States has been admired by the rest of the world because of its “freedom.” When I grew up in the 40s and early 50s there certainly was freedom …and the word “terrorism” was never heard. Nowadays virtually all terrorism in the U.S. is the work of the government. And in place of freedom, the present U.S. government has unleashed sociopath stormtrooper cops with license to terrorize and murder anybody they wish, including children, without punishment. I feel so bad for today’s children. It’s hard for me to picture myself growing up under these conditions. Would I have become a cop instead of a Ph.D. physicist? I certainly hope not. But one thing I’m sure of is that I would never murder anyone, even if ordered to do so and knowing that I wouldn’t be punished if I did..


Guest Column by John Whitehead — Growing Up in a Police State

December 4, 2014 | Original Here                                            Go here to sign up to receive email notice of this news letter

America’s Children: The Trials of Growing Up in a Police State

By John W. Whitehead

“It’s been three weeks since the flashbang exploded next to my sleeping baby, and he’s still covered in burns. There’s still a hole in his chest that exposes his ribs. After breaking down the door, throwing my husband to the ground, and screaming at my children, the officers – armed with M16s – filed through the house like they were playing war. They searched for drugs and never found any. I heard my baby wailing and asked one of the officers to let me hold him. He screamed at me to sit down and shut up and blocked my view, so I couldn’t see my son. I could see a singed crib. And I could see a pool of blood. The officers yelled at me to calm down and told me my son was fine, that he’d just lost a tooth. It was only hours later when they finally let us drive to the hospital that we found out Bou Bou was in the intensive burn unit and that he’d been placed into a medically induced coma.”—Alecia Phonesavanh, the mother of Baby Bou Bou

After a year dominated with news of police shootings of unarmed citizens (including children), SWAT team raids gone awry, photo ops of militarized police shouldering assault rifles while perched on top of armored vehicles, and reports on how the police are using asset forfeiture laws to pad their pockets with luxury cars, cash and other expensive toys, I find myself wrestling with the question: how do you prepare a child for life in the American police state, especially when it comes to interactions with police?

Do you parrot the government line, as the schools do, that police officers are community helpers who are to be trusted and obeyed at all times? Do you caution them to steer clear of a police officer, warning them that any interactions could have disastrous consequences? Or is there some happy medium between the two that, while being neither fairy tale nor horror story, can serve as a cautionary tale for young people who will encounter police at virtually every turn?

Children are taught from an early age that there are consequences for their actions. Hurt somebody, lie, steal, cheat, etc., and you will get punished. But how do you explain to a child that a police officer can shoot someone who was doing nothing wrong and get away with it? That a cop can lie, steal, cheat, or kill and still not be punished?

Kids understand accidents: sometimes drinks get spilled, dishes get broken, people slip and fall and hurt themselves, or you bump into someone without meaning to, and they get hurt. As long as it wasn’t intentional and done with malice, you forgive them and you move on. Police shootings of unarmed people—of children and old people and disabled people—can’t just be shrugged off as accidents, however.

Aiyana Jones was no accident. The 7-year-old was killed after a Detroit SWAT team launched a flash-bang grenade into her family’s apartment, broke through the door and opened fire, hitting the little girl who was asleep on the living room couch. The cops weren’t even in the right apartment.

Ironically, on the same day that President Obama refused to stop equipping police with the very same kinds of military weapons and gear used to raid Aiyana’s home, it was reported that the police officer who shot and killed the little girl would not face involuntary manslaughter charges.

Obama insists that $263 million to purchase body cameras for police will prevent any further erosions of trust, but a body camera would not have prevented Aiyana from being shot in the head. Indeed, the entire sorry affair was captured on camera: a TV crew was filming the raid for an episode of The First 48, a true-crime reality show in which homicide detectives have 48 hours to crack a case.

While that $263 million will make Taser International, the manufacturer of the body cameras, a whole lot richer, it’s doubtful it would have prevented a SWAT team from shooting 14-month-old Sincere in the shoulder and hand and killing his mother.

No body camera could have stopped a Georgia SWAT team from launching a flash-bang grenade into the house in which Baby Bou Bou, his three sisters and his parents were staying. The grenade landed in the 2-year-old’s crib, burning a hole in his chest and leaving him with scarring that a lifetime of surgeries will not be able to easily undo.

No body camera could have prevented 10-year-old Dakota Corbitt from being shot by a Georgia police officer who tried to shoot an inquisitive dog, missed, and hit the young boy, instead. Alberto Sepulveda, 11, died from one “accidental” shotgun round to the back, after a SWAT team raided his parents’ home.

Cleveland police shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was seen playing on a playground with a toy gun. Surveillance footage shows police shooting the boy after getting out of a moving patrol car. Thirteen-year-old Andy Lopez Cruz was shot 7 times in 10 seconds by a California police officer who mistook the boy’s toy gun for an assault rifle. Christopher Roupe, 17, was shot and killed after opening the door to a police officer. The officer, mistaking the Wii remote control in Roupe’s hand for a gun, shot him in the chest.

These children are more than grim statistics on a police blotter. They are the heartbreaking casualties of the government’s endless, deadly wars on terror, on drugs, and on the American people themselves. Not even the children who survive their encounters with police escape unscathed. Increasingly, their lives are daily lessons in compliance and terror, meted out with every SWAT team raid, roadside strip search, and school drill.

Who is calculating the damage being done to the young people forced to watch as their homes are trashed and their dogs are shot during SWAT team raids? A Minnesota SWAT team actually burst into one family’s house, shot the family’s dog, handcuffed the children and forced them to “sit next to the carcass of their dead and bloody pet for more than an hour.” They later claimed it was the wrong house.

More than 80% of American communities have their own SWAT teams, with more than 80,000 of these paramilitary raids are carried out every year. That translates to more than 200 SWAT team raids every day in which police crash through doors, damage private property, terrorize adults and children alike, kill family pets, assault or shoot anyone that is perceived as threatening—and all in the pursuit of someone merely suspected of a crime, usually some small amount of drugs.

Then there are the hands-on lessons being taught in the schools about the role of police in our lives, ranging from active shooter drills to incidents in which children are suspended, handcuffed, arrested and even tasered for what used to be considered childlike behavior.


Case in point: in Pennsylvania, a ten-year-old boy was suspended for shooting an imaginary “arrow” at a fellow classmate, using nothing more than his hands and his imagination. In Colorado, a six-year-old boy was suspended and accused of sexual harassment for kissing the hand of a girl in his class whom he had a crush on. In Alabama, a diabetic teenager was slammed into a filing cabinet and arrested after falling asleep during an in-school suspension. Seven North Carolina students were arrested for throwing water balloons as part of a school prank.

What is particularly chilling is how effective these lessons in compliance are in indoctrinating young people to accept their role in the police state, either as criminals or prison guards. For example, police officers at a Florida middle school carried out an active shooter drill in an effort to educate students about how to respond in the event of an actual shooting crisis. Two armed officers, guns loaded and drawn, burst into classrooms, terrorizing the students and placing the school into lockdown mode.

If these exercises are intended to instill fear and compliance into young people, they’re working.

Sociologist Alice Goffman understands how far-reaching the impact of such “exercises” can be on young people. For six years, Goffman lived in a low-income urban neighborhood, documenting the impact such an environment—a microcosm of the police state—on its residents. Her account of neighborhood children playing cops and robbers speaks volumes about how constant exposure to pat downs, strip searches, surveillance and arrests can result in a populace that meekly allows itself to be prodded, poked and stripped. As journalist Malcolm Gladwell writing for the New Yorker notes:

Goffman sometimes saw young children playing the age-old game of cops and robbers in the street, only the child acting the part of the robber wouldn’t even bother to run away: I saw children give up running and simply stick their hands behind their back, as if in handcuffs; push their body up against a car without being asked; or lie flat on the ground and put their hands over their head. The children yelled, “I’m going to lock you up! I’m going to lock you up, and you ain’t never coming home!” I once saw a six-year-old pull another child’s pants down to do a “cavity search.”

Clearly, our children are getting the message, but it’s not the message that was intended by those who fomented a revolution and wrote our founding documents. Their philosophy was that the police work for us, and “we the people” are the masters, and they are to be our servants. Now that has been turned on its head. Our so-called “servants” with badges are no longer held accountable to the same laws that we are. In their military gear and assault vehicles, they are allowed to operate above the law. In fact, their word is the law.

It’s getting harder by the day to tell young people that we live in a nation that values freedom and which is governed by the rule of law without feeling like a teller of tall tales. Yet as I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, unless something changes and soon for the young people growing up, there will be nothing left of freedom as we have known it but a fairy tale without a happy ending.

https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/americas_children_the_trials_of_growing_up_in_a_police_state