Lee Rogers: The Internal Revenue Service is a domestic terrorist organization. They have terrorized millions of Americans as part of an effort to scare them into paying an unlawful and unethical tax on their labor called the Federal Income Tax. The recent scandal involving the IRS specifically targeting various patriot and tea party groups who applied for 501(c)(4) tax exempt status is outrageous but really only represents a small portion of their criminal activity. For anyone not familiar with the nature of the scandal, the IRS has admitted that it made it difficult if not impossible for specific organizations related to tea party and patriot causes to achieve 501(c)(4) status. The IRS was actually requiring these groups to provide them with all sorts of ridiculous information including social media postings, donor lists and even reading lists as part of the application process. Some of these groups have reported that the IRS took years to process their applications. Other groups gave up seeking tax exempt status when faced with the absurd requirements and lengthy application times.
Income inequality increased by more in the first three years of the crisis to the end of 2010 than it had in the previous twelve years, before factoring in the effect of taxes and transfers on income, according to new OECD report and data. - The analysis says that the welfare state has cushioned the blow for many but warns that further social spending cuts in OECD countries risk causing greater inequality and poverty in the years ahead. After taxes and transfers, the richest 10 per cent of the population in OECD countries earned 9.5 times the income of the poorest 10 per cent in 2010, up from 9 times in 2007. The gap is largest in Chile, Mexico, Turkey, the United States and Israel, and lowest in Iceland, Slovenia, Norway and Denmark.
After US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks showed that the State Department was lobbying worldwide for Monsanto and other similar corporations, a new report based on the cables shows Washington's shilling for the biotech industry in distinct detail. - The August 2011 WikiLeaks revelations showed that American diplomats had requested funding to send lobbyists for the biotech industry to hold talks with politicians and agricultural officials in "target countries" in areas like Africa and Latin America, where genetically-modified crops were not yet a mainstay, as well as some European countries that have resisted the controversial agricultural practice. After a concerted effort to "closely examine five years of State Department diplomatic cables from 2005 to 2009 to provide the first comprehensive analysis of the strategy, tactics and U.S. foreign policy objectives to foist pro-agricultural biotechnology policies worldwide," nonprofit consumer protection group Food & Water Watch published on Tuesday a report showing in plain detail the depth of the partnership between the federal government and a number of controversial biotech companies that have slowly but surely pushed their GMO products on a number of new countries in recent years.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been taken over by an outside organization. RootsAction has launched a campaign demanding a Congressional investigation. The organization is called Monsanto. - Monsanto is, of course, the world's largest biotech corporation. These are the people who brought us Roundup weed killer and the resulting superweeds and superbugs, along with growth hormones for cows, genetically engineered and patented seeds, PCBs, and Agent Orange -- which Monsanto now wants us to use as herbicide on genetically engineered corn and soybeans. This chemical company -- responsible for environmental disasters that have destroyed entire towns, and a driving force behind the international waves of suicides among farmers whose lives it has helped ruin -- has monopolized our food system largely by taking over regulatory agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) held a special session on April 25 to discuss the economy, amid mounting concern about the stability of the country’s financial system and the latest GDP figures showing an unexpected slowdown to 7.7 percent in the first quarter. A Politburo statement expressed particular concern about “potential risks in financial sectors”. A promise to establish a standardised local government financing mechanism underscores fears that local governments have accumulated huge levels of bad debt as a result of speculative activity, especially in real estate ventures. The Politburo special session followed the April announcement by global crediting rating agency, Fitch, that it was downgrading China’s sovereign credit rating from AA minus to A plus. The rating cut was China’s first since 1999, when the Asian financial crisis forced Beijing to vastly accelerate the privatisation of state enterprises. Tens of millions of workers were made redundant. Fitch warned that “risks over China’s financial stability have grown” as the domestic credit supply has ballooned from 125 percent of GDP in 2008 to 198 percent at the end of 2012, as a result of the government’s huge stimulus package following the 2008 global financial meltdown. Both corporate and local government debt in China has grown exponentially, much of it in the loosely-regulated underground banking markets.
Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke is a Reverse Robin Hood, robbing from the lower 95% and giving to the financier class. The Real Reverse Robin Hood: Ben Bernanke and his Merry Band of Thieves. It's worth understanding the mechanisms of this wealth transfer: in essence, the Fed extends low-cost credit (i.e. "free money") to the financier class which then uses this free money to buy rentier assets, that is, assets that generate economic rents for the owners, who add no value and create no wealth. This is of course the neofeudal model: the financial aristocracy in the manor house own the rentier assets and the debt-serfs toil away to pay the rents and taxes. The financier class (i.e. those that benefit from the financialization of the economy) are as unproductive as feudal lords; they skim the profits generated by the debt-serfs while adding no productive value to the economy.
Indigenous groups claim they have not consented to oil projects, as politicians visit Beijing to publicise bidding process.
Ecuador plans to auction off more than three million hectares of pristine Amazonian rainforest to Chinese oil companies, angering indigenous groups and underlining the global environmental toll of China's insatiable thirst for energy. On Monday morning a group of Ecuadorean politicians pitched bidding contracts to representatives of Chinese oil companies at a Hilton hotel in central Beijing, on the fourth leg of a roadshow to publicise the bidding process. Previous meetings in Ecuador's capital, Quito, and in Houston and Paris were each confronted with protests by indigenous groups. Attending the roadshow were black-suited representatives from oil companies including China Petrochemical and China National Offshore Oil. "Ecuador is willing to establish a relationship of mutual benefit – a win-win relationship," said Ecuador's ambassador to China in opening remarks. According to the California-based NGO Amazon Watch, seven indigenous groups who inhabit the land claim that they have not consented to oil projects, which would devastate the area's environment and threaten their traditional way of life.
Britain and its European allies help Zionist regime’s settlements in the occupied West Bank sustain and flourish through buying products produced by settlers. The UK government - on the one hand - condemns settlements as illegal as a majority of EU nations do and on the other they continue to buy products made in the occupied Palestinian territories and thus help sustain those illegal settlements.
■ “Settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace, and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible”, said EU High Representative Catherine Ashton in one of many statements made by the EU and its spokespeople over the years on Sept. 27, 2010 in connection with Middle East peace talks. This position is clear and has been consistently upheld. The West Bank colonies were established in violation of Article 49 of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, intended to protect civilians in time of war, including when they fall under foreign occupation. The EU maintains that the Geneva Convention provisions continue to apply to the territories Israel occupied in 1967, despite the long duration of the continuing occupation. Opposition to the Israeli settlements should, at the very least, mean doing everything possible to discourage the creation of new settlements, and doing nothing that might serve to legitimize and entrench those that already exist.
■ Yet a recent report indicates that the EU states are importing goods from the settlements, and thereby reinforcing them economically. Moreover, these imports far exceed those from the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip-by 15 times. For Israeli settlers living in the occupied territory, this means the EU imports over 100 times more per settler than per Palestinian.”
Israel has granted oil exploration rights inside Syria, in the occupied Golan Heights, to Genie Energy. Major shareholders of Genie Energy – which also has interests in shale gas in the United States and shale oil in Israel – include Rupert Murdoch and Lord Jacob Rothschild. This from a 2010 Genie Energy press release:
Claude Pupkin, CEO of Genie Oil and Gas, commented, “Genie’s success will ultimately depend, in part, on access to the expertise of the oil and gas industry and to the financial markets. Jacob Rothschild and Rupert Murdoch are extremely well regarded by and connected to leaders in these sectors. Their guidance and participation will prove invaluable.”
For Israel to seek to exploit mineral reserves in the occupied Golan Heights is plainly illegal in international law. The argument has been made in international law that an occupying power is entitled to opeate oil wells which were previously functioning and operated by the sovereign power, in whose position the occupying power now stands. But there is absolutely no disagreement in the authorities and case law that the drilling of new wells – let alone fracking – by an occupying power is illegal.
OilPrice.com: Cheney-Linked Company to Drill in Occupied Golan Heights
Obama turns to Chicago again and picks another Jew for commerce job. - Nomination of Hyatt heiress and Democratic fundraiser likely to upset unions who oppose hotel giant's treatment of workers. Barack Obama made a controversial choice as commerce secretary Thursday when he nominated top fundraiser and Hyatt hotel heiress Penny Pritzker, in spite of her long-running dispute with unions over workplace conditions and school closures. Pritzker is the latest in a long line of friends and supporters from the president's hometown of Chicago that he has rewarded since taking office in 2009, among them former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, now Chicago's mayor. The appointments have led to accusations of cronyism. Obama, urging speedy confirmation of the appointment by the Senate, portrayed Pritzker as pro-worker. Pritzker was by his side along with long-time aide Mike Froman, the deputy national security adviser on international economics whom he nominated as a US trade representative.
The mainstream media is not telling you this, but the truth is that most Americans are steadily getting poorer. The middle class is being absolutely eviscerated, and poverty is soaring to unprecedented heights. The fact that 90 percent of the population is constantly sliding downhill is not good for our society. The United States is supposed to be a land of opportunity with a vibrant free market system that enables average people to make better lives for themselves. Unfortunately, free enterprise is being strangled to death in the United States today.
Voters in Iceland have inflicted a massive defeat on the Social Democrat-Left Green coalition that has ruled the country for the past four years. The two parties lost more than half of their support, as their combined total votes barely surpassed 20 percent. - The Social Democrats, who received 29 percent of the vote in 2009, saw their support fall to just 13 percent. The Left Greens, who obtained 21 percent of the vote in the last election, crashed to 10 percent. After being elected as a supposed alternative to the Progressive and Independence parties, the Social Democrats and Left Greens have handed power back to the former by continuing the same right-wing policies. The Social Democrat and Left Green government sought to place the full burden of the economic crisis of 2008 on the backs of ordinary Icelanders, while recapitalising the discredited financial institutions. Glittnir, Kaupthing and Landsbanki, the banks that collapsed the economy in 2008, have been rebranded and are back to business as usual, an achievement the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last year described as “impressive.” [...] One Icelander who spoke to the British Independent expressed the anger of many at the government, commenting dryly, “Okay, so there’s been a car crash. But then the government has come along and shot dead the survivors.”
The private prison population in the US has rocketed 17-fold over the last two decades mostly on the shoulders of the deep-pocketed prison lobby, and the business continues to thrive.
Try confining yourself to a small room in your home, like a bathroom or a closet, and spend a few hours there. One only cringes to imagine the detrimental psychological effects that kind of solitude creates for individuals who are subjected to solitary confinement for years at a time, knowing only the walls of their cell and the shades of light that creep across them. The abhorrent state of affairs at the Guantanamo facility often makes international headlines and arguably overshadows the calamity that is the US domestic prison system – where over six million people are subject to some form of correctional supervision, an amount exceeding those who toiled in the Soviet gulags during Stalin’s reign. In the United States, some fifty thousand inmates pass their days in solitary confinement. While there is undoubtedly no shortage of violent criminals in America’s jails, millions are dolled out annually by privately owned prison lobbies directly to politicians in an effort to influence harsher ‘zero tolerance’ legislation and mandatory sentencing for many non-violent offenses.
Iceland's Supreme Court has ruled that Valitor (formerly Visa Iceland) must pay WikiLeaks $204,900 per month or $2,494,604 per year in fines if it continues to blockade the whistle-blowing site. - The court upheld the decision that Valitor had unlawfully terminated its contract with WikiLeaks' donation processor, DataCell. "Today's decision marked the most important victory to date against the unlawful and arbitrary economic blockade erected by US companies against WikiLeaks," the organization's press release stated.
WIKILEAKS PRESS RELEASE Wed Apr 24 17:24:44 BST: Milestone Supreme Court Decision for WikiLeaks Case in Iceland - Today's decision marked the most important victory to date against the unlawful and arbitrary economic blockade erected by US companies against WikiLeaks. Iceland's Supreme Court upheld the decision that Valitor (formerly VISA Iceland and current Visa subcontractor) had unlawfully terminated its contract with WikiLeaks donations processor DataCell. This strong judgement is an important milestone for WikiLeaks' legal battle to end the economic blockade that has besieged the organisation since early December 2010. Despite the effects of the blockade having crippled WikiLeaks resources, the organisation is fighting the blockade on many fronts. It is a battle that concerns free speech and the future of the free press; it concerns fundamental civil rights; and it is a struggle for the rights of individuals to vote with their wallet and donate to the cause they believe in. If the gateway to WikiLeaks donations is not re-opened within 15 days Visa's Valitor will be fined 800,000 ISK ($6,830) per day.
European Commission enabling blockade of WikiLeaks by U.S. hard-right Lieberman/King, contrary to European Parliament’s wishes - European Commission documents released today by WikiLeaks show that hard-right U.S. politicians were directly behind the extrajudicial banking blockade against WikiLeaks. In the heavily redacted documents, MasterCard Europe admits that Senator Joseph Lieberman and Congressman Peter T. King both “had conversations” with MasterCard in the United States. Lieberman, the then-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, boasted of instigating Amazon’s cutting of service to WikiLeaks – an action condemned by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers on 7 December 2011. Senator Lieberman tried to introduce the SHIELD Act into the Senate and advocated for prosecuting the New York Times for espionage in connection with WikiLeaks’ releases. Rep. Peter King, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, tried to formally designate WikiLeaks as a foreign terrorist organization, have its staff listed as ’enemy combatants’, and have WikiLeaks put on a U.S. Treasury blacklist. On 13 January 2011 the U.S. Treasury announced it would not do so because there was no evidence that WikiLeaks should be on such a list. While Lieberman and King were unsuccessful in these methods of legally cutting WikiLeaks from its popular donor base, they were successful in doing so extra-legally via VISA and MasterCard, which together hold a monopoly of 97 per cent of the market of EU card payments.
Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game. We found this out in recent months, when a series of related corruption stories spilled out of the financial sector, suggesting the world's largest banks may be fixing the prices of, well, just about everything. You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three – and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around with the prices of upward of $500 trillion (that's trillion, with a "t") worth of financial instruments. When that sprawling con burst into public view last year, it was easily the biggest financial scandal in history. That was bad enough, but now Libor may have a twin brother. Word has leaked out that the London-based firm ICAP, the world's largest broker of interest-rate swaps, is being investigated by American authorities for behavior that sounds eerily reminiscent of the Libor mess. Regulators are looking into whether or not a small group of brokers at ICAP may have worked with up to 15 of the world's largest banks to manipulate ISDAfix, a benchmark number used around the world to calculate the prices of interest-rate swaps.
The Iberian Peninsula has once again been engulfed in protest, as police used brute force to disperse thousands in front of the Spanish Parliament in Madrid while in Portugal citizens climbed on top of a tank to make themselves heard.
Police detained at least 15 in Madrid, including one minor, as they used force to quell an angry mob of protesters near the Spanish parliament, united under a “Besiege Congress” slogan calling for the government to quit. The riots come as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is set to announce a raft of measures on Friday aimed at tackling the country's recession. An estimated 1,400 policemen were deployed around the chamber as politicians cancelled the session for the day. Protesters held signs that read “6.2 million reasons” in a reference to the latest jobless figures and when police charged them they chanted “You have jobs, we do not.” Law enforcement charged the protesters with batons and shot blanks in the air as the demonstrators threw bottles and rocks at the police. The protest coincided with the latest jobless rate announcement that stands at a record high of 27.2 percent in the first quarter of 2013, according to National Statistics Institute. The number of unemployed is now 6.2 million as the Spanish economy finds it impossible to climb out of the burst property bubble of 2008.
Bloomberg: Spain Jobless Rate Breaches 27% on Recession Woes - Spanish unemployment rose more than economists forecast in the first quarter to the highest in at least 37 years as efforts to tackle the European Union’s biggest budget deficit crimped economic growth. - The number of jobless increased to more than 6 million for the first time, climbing to 27.2 percent of the workforce, compared with 26.02 percent in the previous three months, the National Statistics Institute in Madrid said today. That was more than the 26.5 percent median forecast of eight economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will tomorrow unveil measures aimed at halting a six-year economic slump. Spain’s recession dragged into a seventh quarter in the first three months of 2013, leaving the country with more than a fifth of all jobless people in the EU.
As the debate rages on, no other person than the national spiritual leader — the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby — has waded in and used a word no want wants to hear: Depression. Welby has unusual standing in the world of money because in a previous life he served as an oil industry executive and now sits on the parliamentary banking standards committee. He told an audience at the heart of government in Westminster on Monday that there was an issue of confidence and trust — and there is need to rebuild both.
[Associated Press] Workers accused of lying to get unemployment benefits, welfare, food stamps, housing vouchers - Twenty-four current and former Internal Revenue Service employees have been charged with stealing government benefits, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. The IRS employees were indicted on charges that they illegally received more than $250,000 in benefits including unemployment insurance payments, food stamps, welfare and housing vouchers, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Memphis said. Prosecutors say 13 of the IRS employees face federal charges. The remaining 11 face state charges of theft of property over $1,000, a felony.
The Tennessean: Feds charge 24 IRS workers in TN with theft
The Christian Post: 24 IRS Workers' Theft Leaves State Officials Stunned: $126.000 in Benefits Stolen
A PhD economics student has debunked the most influential study which has been used to promote austerity worldwide
Does High Public Debt Stifle Economic Growth? New study refutes Reinhart and Rogoff analysis that underpins austerity policy around the world; shows no relation between debt and lack of growth
In capitals, both political and economic, across Europe, across North America, really, across the world, there's been an assumption based on a study done by two eminent Harvard professors, economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, which presented in 2010 their conclusions that 90 percent debt-to-GDP ratio means a collapse in growth. It's that conclusion that leads to policies like austerity, which says even in times of recession, debt's more dangerous than high unemployment. Now joining us to talk about their conclusions, because they've reached quite different conclusions about the same data, is, from the PERI institute, first of all, Thomas Herndon. He's a doctoral student in economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His research includes political economy and finance. And he coauthored a paper: Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth?, which is a critique of Reinhart and Rogoff. And with him is Michael Ash. Michael is a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His research focuses on inequality and well-being in the United States. And he teaches graduate economics at UMass Amherst.
More than 46 million people, or about 15 percent of the US population, lived below the official poverty level in 2011, according to the US Census Bureau. A new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that the “working poor” account for 10.4 million of this number, or nearly a quarter of all those living in poverty according to government guidelines. The statistics revealed by the BLS report are a stunning indictment of the current state of the US economy and demonstrate how the so-called recovery is playing out in the everyday lives of workers and their families. Corporations, backed by the policies of the Obama administration and both big business parties, have seized on the jobs crisis in the wake of the recession to drive down workers’ wages and boost productivity.
Michael Snyder: The Tunnel People That Live Under The Streets Of America
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