The Money Changers Serenade: A New Plot Hatches

Paul Craig Roberts

Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, a protege of Treasury Secretaries Rubin and Summers, has received his reward for continuing the Rubin-Summers-Paulson policy of supporting the “banks too big to fail” at the expense of the economy and American people. For his service to the handful of gigantic banks, whose existence attests to the fact that the Anti-Trust Act is a dead-letter law, Geithner has been appointed president and managing director of the private equity firm, Warburg Pincus and is on his way to his fortune.

A Warburg in-law financed Woodrow Wilson’s presidential campaign. Part of the reward was Wilson’s appointment of Paul Warburg to the first Federal Reserve Board. The symbiotic relationship between presidents and bankers has continued ever since. The same small clique continues to wield financial power.

Geithner’s career is illustrative. In the 1980s, Geithner worked for Kissinger Associates. In the mid to late 1990s, Geithner served as a deputy assistant Treasury secretary. Under Rubin and Summers he moved up to undersecretary of the Treasury.

From the Treasury he went to the Council on Foreign Relations and from there to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). From there he was appointed president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where he worked to make banks more profitable by allowing higher ratios of debt to capital, thus contributing to the financial crisis.

Geithner arranged the sale of the failed Wall Street firm of Bear Stearns, helped with the taxpayer bailout of AIG, and rejected saving Lehman Brothers from bankruptcy in order to create the crisis atmosphere needed to more fully subordinate US economic policy to the needs of the few large banks.

Rubin, a 26-year veteran of Goldman Sachs, was rewarded by Citibank for his service to the banks while Treasury Secretary with a $50 million compensation package in 2008 and $126,000,000 between 1999 and 2009.

When a person becomes a Treasury official it is made clear that the choice is between serving the banks and becoming rich or trying to serve the public and becoming poor. Few make the latter choice.

Adjunct professor dies penniless after teaching for 25 years

Phyllis Scherrer

Vojtko in the cafeteria of UPMC Mercy, November 2012.

At her funeral, the beloved professor was so poor that she was “laid out in a simple, cardboard casket devoid of any handles for pallbearers.”

The September 1 death of Margaret Mary Vojtko, 83, an adjunct professor who taught French for 25 years at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, shines a spotlight on the deplorable conditions faced by adjunct professors nationwide and the crisis in higher education as a whole.

As an adjunct professor, Ms. Vojtko was paid $3,000 to $3,500 per three-credit course she taught. When she could teach a full load, three courses in the fall and spring and two over the summer, she was not even clearing $25,000 a year. She had no job security, no medical benefits and no pension from the university.

In contrast, the university charges more than $30,000 per year for their least expensive Liberal Arts degree, and the salary of Duquesne’s president is more than $700,000 a year plus full benefits.

Over the past year, the university had reduced her teaching load to one class per semester, meaning that she was earning less than $10,000 a year, which was consumed by out-of-pocket expenses associated with cancer treatment she was receiving. Penniless, she was not able to keep her home in repair, and the utilities were cut off.

Hunger in America

Stephen Lendman

It's hard giving thanks when you're hungry. It's harder living in the world's richest country. It's harder still knowing government officials don't care. It's hardest of all wondering how you'll get by. It's increasing in America at a time trillions of dollars go for warmaking, corporate handouts, and other benefits for rich elites. More below on growing hunger and deprivation.

Giving thanks predated the republic. In 1621, Plymouth Pilgrims did so. They had nothing to do with originating the idea. Native Americans did. They gave thanks for annual fall harvests. They did it centuries before settlers arrived.

On November 26, 1789, George Washington proclaimed the first national thanksgiving day. He called it "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God."

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln used the occasion to boost Union Army morale and patriotic fervor. He "invite(d) (his) fellow citizens to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens." He "fervently implore(d) the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of he nation and to restore it to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union." He didn't live long enough to see it.

Government officials today exploit Thanksgiving. They promote the illusion of US exceptionalism, moral and cultural superiority. Social inequality, moral degeneration, and police state lawlessness reflect today's reality. Constitutional rights don't matter. War on humanity persists. Corporate crooks go unpunished. Democracy is a convenient illusion. Powerful monied interests run things. Ordinary people are hugely deprived. Growing needs go unaddressed. Government officials able to make a difference don't care.

Tensions escalate over Chinese air defence zone

John Chan

The global crisis of capitalism is greatly exacerbating the tensions between the rival powers that erupted in the barbarism of World War I.

Tensions continued to rise in the East China Sea yesterday after Japan and South Korea dispatched military aircraft into China’s newly demarcated “air defence identification zone” (ADIZ). Both the Japanese and South Korean governments, following the lead of the US administration, declared that their aircraft would ignore Chinese instructions to submit flight plans, identify their nationality and maintain radio contact.

Having provocatively declared the ADIZ last weekend, China is now confronting continuing challenges from the US and its allies. On Tuesday, the US flew two B-52 bombers into the zone from its air base in Guam without following Chinese procedures. US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel publicly declared that the US would back Japan in any conflict with China over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, which Beijing included in its ADIZ.

Facing nationalist criticism at home for failing to enforce the ADIZ, the Chinese government sent an early warning aircraft and several advanced Su-30 and J-11 fighter jets to patrol the air zone. A Chinese air force spokesman insisted the move was “a defensive measure and in line with international common practice.”

On the Wisdom of Duration

Vincent Di Stefano

Every artist, musician and scientist worth their salt knows that the only way to make anything of worth truly their own is through repetition. Archers, footballers, sabreurs and chess players also know this to be axiomatic. Meditators, dancers, surgeons and healers all understand that without constant repetition, one’s level of focus, attention and skill inevitably drop away.

Yet the present time conspires to have us all believe that transience is the new value by which we are to live. This is reflected in the acceptance of inevitable obsolescence in virtually all the fruits of technology; in the seamless daily media reports of crisis after crisis with little or no reflection, reconsideration or remembrance of the waves of influence that both create and reverberate from such crises; and in the obsession with speed and curtness of delivery that characterises our newly developed forms of electronic communication.

Mobile phone texting is creating new lexicons and grammars, while email has reduced textual communication to verbal transactions phrased in minimalist vocabularies. We have become travellers on an ocean of information that endlessly washes and occasionally storms through our lives. And if we are to accept conventional wisdom, it is all relevant. For today, at least. Tomorrow will bring its own new waves of relevance, and today’s relevancies will be forgotten.

One of the consequences of this popular enshrinement of transience and ephemerality is a deepening loss of connectedness with our own origins and even with the definitive experiences of our age. Some school teachers still take it upon themselves to transmit a remembrance of the profound calamity that befell Europe during the Second World War in the hope that their students will come to realise the undermining and overturning of all values that occurred under Hitler’s Third Reich. Yet for so many young people, Vietnam, Cambodia, Timor and Lebanon are simply names of distant places. Something happened in Gaza five years ago, and something else happened there around this time last year, but that was way back then.

Without consciously cultivating a sense of memory and duration, we too easily fall into a soporific drifting through time. We shrug our shoulders at the hopelessness of it all, disconnect ourselves from the lived realities that assail others and are benumbed to the images of pain and calamity that daily irrupt into the popular media.

Monsanto, the TPP, and Global Food Dominance

Ellen Brown

Control oil and you control nations. Control food and you control the people.” - US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger

Global food control has nearly been achieved, by reducing seed diversity with GMO (genetically modified) seeds that are distributed by only a few transnational corporations. But this agenda has been implemented at grave cost to our health; and if the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) passes, control over not just our food but our health, our environment and our financial system will be in the hands of transnational corporations.

Profits Before Populations

According to an Acres USA interview of plant pathologist Don Huber, Professor Emeritus at Purdue University, two modified traits account for practically all of the genetically modified crops grown in the world today. One involves insect resistance. The other, more disturbing modification involves insensitivity to glyphosate-based herbicides (plant-killing chemicals). Often known as Roundup after the best-selling Monsanto product of that name, glyphosate poisons everything in its path except plants genetically modified to resist it.

Glyphosate-based herbicides are now the most commonly used herbicides in the world. Glyphosate is an essential partner to the GMOs that are the principal business of the burgeoning biotech industry. Glyphosate is a “broad-spectrum” herbicide that destroys indiscriminately, not by killing unwanted plants directly but by tying up access to critical nutrients.

Because of the insidious way in which it works, it has been sold as a relatively benign replacement for the devastating earlier dioxin-based herbicides. But a barrage of experimental data has now shown glyphosate and the GMO foods incorporating it to pose serious dangers to health.

What We Should Not Be Thankful for This Thanksgiving

John W. Whitehead

Hold on, my friends, to the Constitution and to the Republic for which it stands. Miracles do not cluster, and what has happened once in 6000 years, may not happen again. Hold on to the Constitution, for if the American Constitution should fail, there will be anarchy throughout the world.” — Daniel Webster

I will be the first to acknowledge that there is much to be thankful for about life in America, especially when compared to those beyond our borders whose daily lives are marked by war, hunger and disease. Despite our kvetching, grumbling and complaining, most Americans have it pretty good compared to less fortunates the world over.

Still, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that all of our so-called blessings will amount to little more than gilding on a cage if we don’t safeguard the freedoms on which this nation was founded, freedoms which have historically made this nation a sanctuary for the oppressed and persecuted. And if there is one freedom in particular need of protecting right now, it is the Fourth Amendment, which has been on life support for quite some time.

It used to be that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which enshrines the rights to free speech, free press, assembly, religious exercise and petitioning one’s government for a redress of grievances, was considered the most critical of the amendments in the Bill of Rights. Since writing my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, however, I have come to believe that the Fourth Amendment, which demands that we be “secure” in our persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government and, consequently, stands as a bulwark against the police state, is, in fact, the most critical.

Israel’s threat to us all becomes obvious

Jim W. Dean

The recent breakthrough in the Iran-Sextet nuclear talks, a geopolitical earthquake in itself, has also brought on many interesting aftershocks which could usher in a New World Order much different than the one normally associated with the term.

The fight leading up to the Sunday night success has revealed the battle lines more clearly than ever before who the real threat has been all along.

Israel deployed a full scale assault on America and the world, attempting to strangle the peace baby in its bed. Sure, we had the usual Congressional shills shaming America as they went through their sock puppet talking points recitations. Americans are used to having this humiliation.

But this time the Zionist lobby lead with their A-team, the senior senators who have long worked hand in glove with Israeli intelligence operatives to perpetrate a long running psychological operation on the American people. This is a treasonous act but they unfortunately have immunity for it.

The Israelis, especially Netanyahu, have been running the ‘Iran is about to have the bomb’ scam for twenty years. In the early years they were wrong, the middle years wrong, and in what I call the current ‘red line’ years even more so. Why did they keep spouting this garbage out when it was proven wrong time after time?

The answer is that their intelligence operations have so infiltrated American media, government and the think tank pundits, they have bullet proofed Israel from any loss of credibility consequences whatsoever. Promoting Israeli lies and deceptions became just another day at the office for their American 5th column. They even turned the deception game around to falsely accuse the Iranians.

US ultimatum on permanent occupation of Afghanistan

Bill Van Auken

This will continue: Villagers look at the bodies of three children
after they were killed in an airstrike by U.S. troops in Arghandab
district of Kandahar, south of Kabul, on Wednesday. Four local
civilians including three children were killed. (Photo: B. Nadim)

Now Washington is embarked on permanent occupation and for much the same motives that it attributed to the Soviets.

Susan Rice, the Obama administration’s national security adviser, issued an ultimatum Monday to Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai: either sign a bilateral security agreement with Washington immediately, or face the withdrawal of all US military forces and a cutoff of Western funding by the end of 2014.

The exercise in mutual brinksmanship by US imperialism and its Afghan puppet continued to unfold during Rice’s secretly organized visit to Kabul. In his late-night meeting with Rice, Karzai not only insisted that he would not sign any deal until after elections next April to choose his successor, but also conditioned any agreement on demands that the US not interfere in these elections, act to further peace talks with the Taliban, and release 17 Afghan prisoners held at the Guantanamo detention camp. He also reiterated his demand that the US military halt all raids on Afghan homes.

The written response issued by the White House was blunt: “Without a prompt signature, the US would have no choice but to initiate planning for a post-2014 future in which there would be no US or NATO troop presence in Afghanistan.” Rice, the statement continued, “stressed that we have concluded negotiations”—meaning Washington will not consider any new demands from Karzai—and warned that delaying the signing of the accord until next April “is not viable.”

The national security adviser also spelled out that a withdrawal of US troops would lead to a cutoff of hundreds of billions of dollars in US funding upon which the Afghan government and US-organized security forces are wholly dependent. The US political establishment and media refer to this as the “zero option,” which generally is portrayed as unthinkable, while Karzai himself is painted as a madman for even risking such an outcome.

Nuclear Deal With Iran Prelude to War, Not "Breakthrough"

A Short Comment By Tony Cartalucci

"...any military operation against Iran will likely be very unpopular around the world and require the proper international context—both to ensure the logistical support the operation would require and to minimize the blowback from it. The best way to minimize international opprobrium and maximize support (however, grudging or covert) is to strike only when there is a widespread conviction that the Iranians were given but then rejected a superb offer—one so good that only a regime determined to acquire nuclear weapons and acquire them for the wrong reasons would turn it down. Under those circumstances, the United States (or Israel) could portray its operations as taken in sorrow, not anger, and at least some in the international community would conclude that the Iranians “brought it on themselves” by refusing a very good deal." - Brookings Institution's 2009 "Which Path to Persia?" report, page 52.

Written years ago, as the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel were already plotting to overrun Iran's neighbor and ally Syria with Al Qaeda to weaken the Islamic Republic before inevitable war, this quote exposes fully the current charade that is the "Iran nuclear deal."

The West has no intention of striking any lasting deal with Iran, as nuclear capabilities, even the acquirement of nuclear weapons by Iran was never truly an existential threat to Western nations or their regional partners.

The West's issue with Iran is its sovereignty and its ability to project its interests into spheres traditionally monopolized by the US and UK across the Middle East. Unless Iran plans on turning over its sovereignty and regional influence along with its right to develop and use nuclear technology, betrayal of any "nuclear deal" is all but inevitable, as is the war that is to shortly follow.

The Dying Dollar

A Short Comment By Paul Craig Roberts

Federal Reserve and Wall Street Assassinate US Dollar

Since 2006, the US dollar has experienced a one-quarter to one-third drop in value to the Chinese yuan, depending on the choice of base.

Now China is going to let the dollar decline further in value. China also says it is considering undermining the petrodollar by pricing oil futures on the Shanghai Futures Exchange in yuan. This on top of the growing avoidance of the dollar to settle trade imbalances means that the dollar’s role as reserve currency is coming to an end, which means the termination of the US as financial bully and financial imperialist. This blow to the dollar in addition to the blows delivered by jobs offshoring and the uncovered bets in the gambling casino created by financial deregulation means that the US economy as we knew it is coming to an end.

The US economy is already in shambles, with bond and stock markets propped up by massive and historically unprecedented Fed money printing pouring liquidity into financial asset prices. This month at the IMF annual conference, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said that to achieve full employment in the US economy would require negative real interest rates. Negative real interest rates could only be achieved by eliminating cash, moving to digital money that can only be kept in banks, and penalizing people for saving. The future is developing precisely as I have been predicting.

As the dollar enters its death throes, the lawless Federal Reserve and the Wall Street criminals will increase their shorting of gold in the paper futures market, thereby driving the remnants of the West’s gold into Asian hands.

NSA strategy document envisions unrestrained global surveillance

Tom Carter

A top secret National Security Administration (NSA) strategy document leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden envisions spying on “anyone, anytime, anywhere,” free from all legal restraints, and radical expansions in the NSA’s activities in the period of 2012-2016.

The five-page document dated February 23, 2012, which was published by the New York Times on Saturday, is entitled “SIGINT Strategy 2012-2016.” The name of the author does not appear on the document, nor is it clear who was responsible for it.

Among the document’s central themes is that the law has “not kept pace” with the NSA’s “mission.” Translated into plain English, this means that the NSA is knowingly engaged in illegal activity.

The NSA’s strategy is to remedy this situation by campaigning for what amounts to the abolition of basic constitutional rights. Existing law must be “adapted,” the document states, in order to facilitate unlimited spying. “For SIGINT [signals intelligence] to be optimally effective, legal, policy, and process authorities must be as adaptive and dynamic as the technological and operational advances we week to exploit.”

In fact, the NSA’s spying activities—as well as the activities of the numerous other government agencies engaged in domestic spying—are in flagrant violation of the letter and spirit of the Fourth Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights. This amendment protects the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,” and provides that the government must obtain a warrant based on “probable cause” connecting a targeted person with criminal activity before a search or seizure can be carried out.

Are We Becoming What We Once Hated?

Eric S. Margolis

In the late 1980’s, an old friend of mine based in Moscow was calling her husband in the USA late one night. She said it was a “typical dumb husband/wife call,” mostly about a broken garage door.

Around midnight, a gruff voice broke into the call. “This is your KGB listener. This is the most boring, stupid call I’ve ever listened to. Shut up and go to bed!”

Ah, those innocent Cold War days. Today, Big Brother listens to your calls, reads your email, and follows your internet searches on silent cat’s feet.

China’s Taoists warned, “you become what you hate.” They are right: the September 2001 attacks on the US, as John Le Carré wrote, producing a period of temporary psychosis. America was knocked back to the ugly days of Sen. McCarthy’s Red Scare of the 1950’s. The big difference was that today the bogeymen of “terrorists” have replaced menacing Marxists. And today, terrorists were everywhere.

When I enlisted in the US Army during the Vietnam War, we were taught that it was our duty as American soldiers to report all war crimes and violations of the Geneva Convention, and to refuse to obey unlawful orders from superiors as established at post WWII Nuremburg trials At the time, I was proud to serve in America’s armed forces.

Today, the military trial of document leaker PFC Bradley Manning has echoes of the Soviet era: a show trial in which a lonely individual is slowly crushed by the wheels of so-called military justice, an oxymoron.

The dramatic revelations of fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden brings back sharp memories of Soviet-era dissidents, jailed, banished, locked in foul psychiatric hospitals for daring to speak the truth.

The Lobby Is International

Philip Giraldi

Israel is a light that "...burns bright, upheld by the universal
principles of all civilized nations–freedom, democracy justice.
- Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada

It is hard to believe that even though 64% of the American public favors a negotiated settlement with Iran over its nuclear program fully 37% of those polled also believe that the United States actually needs Israel’s permission before coming to any kind of agreement. To paraphrase the late great Mitt Romney, is that a percentage that we will never be able to reach no matter how good the arguments are for "taking responsibility" and restoring American sovereignty in the area of foreign affairs? One has to suspect that the percentage consists mostly of the Christian-Zionists, who lately have been conducting a large scale "action alert" email campaign directed at Congress and the White House to force the cancellation of talks. They are perhaps heeding the demand of Harvard Professor and professional Israel apologist Alan Dershowitz that the "entire pro-Israel community must unite" to stop any agreement.

Tea Party Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas provided his own explanation for why "a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do" to the House of Representatives last Wednesday saying "There are many who have been aware of Scripture, and it has often been a guide in our relations with Israel. Some of us believe that the Bible is accurate. Certainly, so many prophesies have been fulfilled, and if that is true, this administration, unless they can find a verse that accurately says that those who betray Israel will be blessed, then this country is being dug in a deeper hole by this administration, and its betrayals of Israel’s trust and Israel’s friendship."

Gohmert, for all his sublime ignorance, is unfortunately not alone. By virtue of the evangelism and fine example set by the likes of Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin the scripture thumpers have escaped from the Bible Belt and are now to be found everywhere.

Permanent US Afghanistan Occupation

Stephen Lendman

Washington didn't attack, invade and occupy Afghanistan to leave. Permanent occupation is planned.

NBC News headlined "Endless Afghanistan? US-Afghan agreement would keep troops in place and funds flowing, perhaps indefinitely," saying:

"While many Americans have been led to believe the war in Afghanistan will soon be over, a draft of a key US-Afghan security deal obtained by NBC News shows the United States is prepared to maintain military outposts in Afghanistan for many years to come, and pay to support hundreds of thousands of Afghan security forces."

"The agreement reflects an open-ended military commitment. It involves "thousands of American troops (and) billions of US taxpayer dollars."

Draft "Security and Defense Cooperation Agreement Between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan" provisions state in part:

"The Parties acknowledge that continued US military operations to defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates may be appropriate and agree to continue their close cooperation and coordination toward that end."

America's Afghan war has nothing to do with defeating Al Qaeda or other nonexistent terrorist threats.

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