Did you know that there are more than 102 million working age Americans that do not have a job? Yes, I know that number sounds absolutely crazy, but it is true. Right now, there are more than 11 million Americans that are considered to be "officially unemployed", and there are more than 91 million Americans that are not employed and that are considered to be "not in the labor force". When you add those two numbers together, the total is more than 102 million.
The Leader of Iran's Islamic Revolution says the United States has lost its political and military power and turned into a country grappling with its biggest economic and financial problems. He was addressing a group of school and university students on the occasion of Student Day in Iran.
Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said the U-S is suffering from political problems and divisions which led to the recent shutdown of the federal government. The leader noted that Iran's current economic hardships pale in comparison with those of the US administration. He said US officials made projections some 11 years ago about having 14-thousand billion dollars in extra revenues by 2011 or 2012, and that now, in practice, they are suffering from a huge 17-thousand billion dollar deficit. He added that this alone shows America's true economic situation and the inaccuracy of their official calculations. Ayatollah Khamenei also made mention of deep divisions among Washington's allies, saying that the U-S has failed to convince even its closest partners like France or Britain to back its decision on launching a strike against Syria.
For more on this issue, PressTV speaks with political analyst Paul Craig Roberts.
Matt Taibbi: The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia ■ Stripped of all the camouflaging financial verbiage, the crimes the defendants and their co-conspirators committed were virtually indistinguishable from the kind of thuggery practiced for decades by the Mafia, which has long made manipulation of public bids for things like garbage collection and construction contracts a cornerstone of its business. What's more, in the manner of old mob trials, Wall Street's secret machinations were revealed during the Carollo trial through crackling wiretap recordings and the lurid testimony of cooperating witnesses, who came into court with bowed heads, pointing fingers at their accomplices. The new-age gangsters even invented an elaborate code to hide their crimes. Like Elizabethan highway robbers who spoke in thieves' cant, or Italian mobsters who talked about "getting a button man to clip the capo," on tape after tape these Wall Street crooks coughed up phrases like "pull a nickel out" or "get to the right level" or "you're hanging out there" – all code words used to manipulate the interest rates on municipal bonds. The only thing that made this trial different from a typical mob trial was the scale of the crime.
A large reserve may lie under Israel and the occupied territories, but Palestinians are unlikely to reap the benefits. ● Israeli investors had reason to celebrate last month with the news that Israel may soon be joining the club of oil-producing states, in addition to its recent finds of large natural gas deposits off the coast. Shares in Givot Olam, an Israeli oil exploration company, rallied on reports that it had located much larger oil reserves at its Meged 5 site than previously estimated. The company, which says it has already sold $40m worth of oil since the Meged field went operational in 2011, now believes that the well is sitting on exploitable reserves of as much as 3.53 billion barrels - about a seventh of Qatar's proven oil reserves. Only one cloud looms on the horizon. It is unclear how much of this new-found oil wealth actually belongs to Israel. The well sits on the so-called Green Line, the armistice line of 1948 that formally separates "Israel" from occupied Palestine.
Kate Randall: Obama administration knew insurance companies would drop millions of customers ■ The insurance companies’ cancellation of these individual policies is not the result of a technical anomaly of the ACA, but goes to the very heart of Obamacare. From the beginning, the legislation has been crafted with the main aim of cutting health care spending while boosting the profits of the private insurers and corporations. Aside from Obama’s cynical political considerations in defending his main domestic initiative, at its most fundamental level, the health care overhaul is driven by a bipartisan agenda to slash health care spending and impose a greater share of the burden onto the backs of ordinary Americans, while boosting the bottom line of the health care industry and corporations.
Paul Krugman: A War on the Poor ■ John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio, has done some surprising things lately. First, he did an end run around his state’s Legislature — controlled by his own party — to proceed with the federally funded expansion of Medicaid that is an important piece of Obamacare. Then, defending his action, he let loose on his political allies, declaring, “I’m concerned about the fact there seems to be a war on the poor. That, if you’re poor, somehow you’re shiftless and lazy.” bviously Mr. Kasich isn’t the first to make this observation. But the fact that it’s coming from a Republican in good standing (although maybe not anymore), indeed someone who used to be known as a conservative firebrand, is telling. Republican hostility toward the poor and unfortunate has now reached such a fever pitch that the party doesn’t really stand for anything else — and only willfully blind observers can fail to see that reality. The big question is why. But, first, let’s talk a bit more about what’s eating the right.
A record-equalling 188 countries on Tuesday condemned the five-decade-old US embargo against communist Cuba in an annual UN General Assembly vote that signalled hardening opposition to US sanctions. Only Israel joined the United States in opposing resolution, the smallest number ever. Last year two allies voted with the US government. Three Pacific island states normally close to the United States -- Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau -- abstained as the barrage of criticism of the embargo reached a new peak in the 22nd annual vote at the UN Assembly. China, Iran, which has launched a bid to thaw relations with the US administration, Latin American and African nations all publicly condemned the United States. "The US policy against Cuba is suffering from an absolute international isolation and discredit and lacks every ethical or legal ground," Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla said.
Michael Snyder: 29 Incredible Facts Which Prove That Poverty In America Is Absolutely Exploding ■ Did you know that the number of Americans on welfare is higher than the number of Americans that have full-time jobs? Did you know that 1.2 million public school students in the U.S. are currently homeless? Anyone that uses the term "economic recovery" to describe what is happening in the United States today is being deeply insulting to the nearly 150 million Americans that are considered to be either "poor" or "low income" at this point. Yes, things are great in New York City, Washington D.C. and San Francisco, but almost everywhere else economic conditions continue to steadily get worse. The gap between the wealthy and the poor is at a level that America has never seen before, and this is beginning to create a "Robin Hood mentality" that could cause a tremendous amount of social chaos in the years ahead. Anger at the "haves" in America continues to rise at a very alarming pace, and the "have nots" are becoming increasingly desperate. At some point all of this anger is going to boil over, and you won't want to be anywhere around major population centers when that happens.
Activist Post: Local Departments Fortify Police State With Armored Personnel Carriers ● All across the country, preparations are being made for a massive assault on an enemy that has yet to be publicly defined. The preparations involve the procurement of Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) or Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPs), military equipment, and tactical training. These preparations, however, are not being undertaken by the US military in response to a potential outside invasion but, instead, by local police departments towards what one must logically assume is a domestic threat. But who, exactly, is the enemy that American police must feel the need to become so battle-hardened against? American police are not being trained to defend the American public – they are being trained to oppress them. In other words, the enemy for which local police departments all across the country are preparing to engage in outright combat against is the American people themselves.
Pay gaps within companies widen as top two earners, led by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, earn billion-dollar paychecks. ● Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's co-founder, was America's highest-paid boss in 2012, according to GMI Ratings annual poll of executive compensation, released on Tuesday. Zuckerberg's total compensation topped $2.27bn – more than $6m a day. His base salary was $503,205 but the vast majority of his enormous pay package came from exercising 60m Facebook share options when the company went public last year. ● Richard Kinder, the CEO and chairman of energy firm Kinder Morgan, had a base salary of just $1 in 2012 and received no other bonuses. But he made $1.1bn selling restricted stock. The payout follows a nearly $60m profit from stock in 2011. ● Half of the top 10 are company founders. The rest are appointed executives. The no 3 slot really belongs to Gregory Maffei, who appears twice in the list as CEO of Liberty Media and Liberty Interactive. He reaped a combined $391m from the two posts.
Andre Damon: Top ten American CEOs take home over $100 million each ■ Even as the wages of working people sink, the incomes of the super-rich continue to soar, buttressed by a surging stock market driven by massive cash infusions from the Federal Reserve. ● The widening chasm separating the rich and the super-rich from everyone else is bound up with the decay of the productive infrastructure of American capitalism and the growing role of financial speculation. A recent study published in the American Economic Review found that between 1982 and 2011, the portion of the Forbes 400 who received their wealth from finance rose dramatically—from 4.4 percent to 20 percent. The income of a typical household in the United States has fallen to the lowest level since 1989, while poverty is at the highest level in decades, according to a report issued by the US Census Bureau last month. Since 1999, the median household income has fallen by nearly ten percent, adjusted for inflation. Poverty and social misery are reaching epidemic levels.
JPMorgan agrees deal to settle probes into bad loans sold before the 2007 crisis, but criminal proceedings to continue. ● JPMorgan has agreed a provisional deal with the US government to pay $13bn to settle investigations into bad mortgage loans the bank sold to investors before the financial crisis. Under the agreement, the bank will pay $9bn in fines to the US government and $4bn for relief for struggling homeowners, sources told the AP news agency on Saturday. ● The tentative deal does not release the bank from criminal liability, a factor that had been a major sticking point in the discussions, the source said. If the agreement is finalised it would be the US government's highest-profile enforcement action related to the financial meltdown that plunged the economy into the deepest recession since the 1930s. ● As part of the deal, the Justice Department expects JPMorgan to co-operate with the continuing criminal probe of the bank's issuance of mortgage-backed securities between 2005 and 2007, the person said. When the housing bubble burst in 2007, bundles of mortgages sold as securities soured and the investors who bought them lost billions.
Bob Adelmann: JP Morgan Buying Its Way Out of Legal Troubles ■ Considering JPM's total assets of $2.5 trillion, annual revenues of $100 billion, and net earnings of $21 billion a year, the fine it has agreed to pay can be put into proper perspective: It’s “chump change,” as Michael Hiltzik put it, writing in the Los Angeles Times. The bank will be getting off easy if the Justice Department goes along with the deal. JPM, aware that the day of reckoning was near, had set aside $28 billion of shareholders’ capital in reserve, just in case. Even though the bank is hoping to get off at half of those projected losses, the agreement offered comes with strings: Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan's CEO (shown), not only wants the settlement to include all the other pending lawsuits (including the interest-rate manipulations known as Libor and the trading losses incurred by Bruno Iksil, better known in the trade as the “London Whale,” who cost the bank more than $6 billion when his excessively large trades went south), he wants all criminal investigations to go away as well.
Barry Grey: Blanket settlement with JPMorgan: A $13 billion cover-up ■ The $9 billion fine, the largest penalty ever imposed on a US corporation, is less than half the $21 billion profit JPMorgan recorded in 2012. The bank is pulling in enormous profits despite having set aside $28 billion since 2010 to cover legal costs. It is necessary to place the size of the fine in the context of the economic damage resulting from the bank's practices. Reportedly, $4 billion will go to settle a suit by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) charging JPMorgan with knowingly making false statements and omitting material facts in selling $33 billion in worthless mortgage bonds to the government-sponsored mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at the height of the subprime mortgage bubble (2005-2007). That is about 2 percent of the $188 billion in taxpayer money the government has spent thus far to prop up the firms.
The first case of a child being trafficked to Britain in order to have their organs harvested has been uncovered. ● The unnamed girl was brought to the UK from Somalia with the intention of removing her organs and selling them on to those desperate for a transplant. ● Child protection charities warned that the case was unlikely to be an isolated incident as traffickers were likely to have smuggled a group of children into the country. The case emerged in a government report which showed that the number of human trafficking victims in the UK has risen by more than 50 per cent last year and reached record levels. A total of 371 children were exploited, with the majority of them being used as slaves or sexually abused. They included 95 children from Vietnam, 67 from Nigeria and 25 from China. Others hailed from Romania and Bangladesh. The figures also detail how 20 British girls have been victims of human trafficking. It comes after a series of court cases in which British girls were raped and exploited by gangs of Asian men.
Just one day after President Barack Obama signed into law a bipartisan deal to end the government shutdown and avoid default, the US debt surged a record $328 billion, the first day the government was able to borrow money. ● Fasten your seatbelt, because the US debt rate is racing out of control and nobody seems to know where or when the spending will end: The US debt now equals $17.075 trillion, according to figures the Treasury Department posted online on Friday. The one-day increase of $328 billion to the US debt load smashed the previous record of $238 billion set two years ago. The huge leap toward what some economists fear will be eventual insolvency was blamed on the government replenishing its supply of "extraordinary measures," that is, the federal funds it borrowed from over the last five months in a desperate effort to avoid hitting the debt ceiling.
The budget brinkmanship has cost the world's largest economy billions of dollars - as well as the trust of investors around the globe. And it also sparked calls to de-americanize the world economy. For more, RT talks to Pepe Escobar, Asia Times Online roving correspondent.
President Barack Obama early on Thursday signed legislation that ends a US government shutdown and raises the US debt ceiling, the White House said. ● The US Congress has passed a bill to reopen the government and raise the federal debt limit, with hours to spare before the nation risked default. The Democratic-controlled Senate's bipartisan compromise won approval by 81 votes to 18. The deal was then passed by 285-144 in the House of Representatives, whose Republican leadership begrudgingly agreed to support the measure. It came hours before the deadline to raise the $16.7tn (£10.5tn) limit.
Reuters: U.S. Congress ends default threat, Obama signs debt bill
Russia Today: US avoids default as Congress passes deal to end shutdown
Raw Story: China downgrades U.S. credit rating and accuses lawmakers of holding world hostage
Zero Hedge: Complete House Debt Ceiling Vote Roll Call
CNS News: 150 Straight Days: Treasury Says Debt Stood Still at $16,699,396,000,000
Patrick O’Connor: Australian treasurer pledges austerity during US trip ■ Hockey travelled to the US to participate in meetings of the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors, as well as International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank annual meetings. He met with Congressional Democrat and Republican figures, outgoing US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, and finance ministers from several countries. Hockey also scheduled meetings with the CEOs of Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, before concluding his trip with discussions with leading credit ratings agencies. Hockey’s US visit had the character of a loyal servant of finance capital reporting for duty and receiving orders. It came just a month after credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s stripped Western Australia, previously the centre of the country’s mining investment boom, of its AAA status, on the basis that the state Liberal government had demonstrated “limited political will” in slashing spending.
If the US debt-ceiling debate goes past the eleventh hour, and the default of the world’s largest economy becomes a reality, leading central banks around the world are gearing up to minimize losses and keep the world economy functioning. ● If US lawmakers don’t reach a budget consensus and raise the debt ceiling by Thursday October 17, the US will become the first Western power to default since Nazi Germany in 1933, and will send markets into uncharted territory. The rest of the world is bracing itself for what would happen if the bill is rejected, and the US inches closer to defaulting on its debts, which are largely foreign- held in the form of US Treasury Bonds.
Armed with tens of billions of dollars in investment deals and romantic tales of ancient explorers, Chinese President Xi Jinping has spent much of the past month promoting his vision of two new “Silk Roads” to connect his country to the West and secure its energy supplies — one by land and another by sea. In the process, he has eclipsed an American vision of a New Silk Road that was advanced with much fanfare by then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton two years ago and was supposed to revitalize Afghanistan as the link between Central and South Asia.
John Pilger: Old game, new obsession, new enemy. Now it’s China
Today's middle-class children are on track to be the first in more than a century to be materially less well off in adulthood than their parents, a government commission is expected to warn this week. ● Leaked findings reveal the existence of a national trend not experienced since the early 20th century, with children from families with above-average incomes, as well as the most deprived, set to enjoy a worse standard of living when they grow up than their mothers and fathers. The social mobility and child poverty commission, established by David Cameron, is expected to warn that government initiatives have all too often been aimed at the poorest 10%. Yet the inability to get on in life is a now a major and growing problem for middle-class children and this group is in dire need of attention, it is expected to report.
US default fears prompts China's state-run media call for the world to "de-Americanise" as Christine Lagarde warns of "massive disruption the world over". ● The looming prospect of a US default on debt prompted China to call for the world to “de-Americanise”, amid warnings of a new global recession. In China, Xinhua, the official government news agency, said that as American politicians continued to flounder over a deal to break the impasse, “it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanised world”. The jibe came as Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund chief, raised the spectre of a repeat of the 2008 financial crash as hopes dwindled for a resolution of the crisis over the debt ceiling and partial government shutdown. Harry Reid, the leader of the Democrat-controlled Senate and Mitch McConnell, who heads the Republican minority, met on Sunday for “preliminary” talks following the acrimonious collapse of negotiations between the White House and Republicans in the lower chamber. Jack Lew, the Treasury secretary, has said that the US will run out of money to pay its bills on Thursday if Congress does not authorise an increase in federal borrowing limits.
The reactor building of Iran's Bushehr Nuclear Power
Plant is seen, just outside the port city of Bushehr 750
miles (1245 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran.
As crunch P5+1 talks begin on Tuesday in Geneva, Iran says it will not ship uranium stockpile overseas. ● Iran declared it would not bow to demands to ship its uranium stockpile abroad on Sunday, ahead of key talks over its nuclear programme. Officials involved in the process expect the long-running nuclear diplomacy surrounding Iran to be reinvigorated by a new Iranian negotiating team that has signalled its readiness to seek a breakthrough. Iranian representatives are expected to offer a plan at the latest talks in Geneva, which begin on Tuesday that could result in the mothballing of most of its nuclear facilities and put substantial parts of its uranium stockpile up for negotiation. In return Iran would demand significant easing of sanctions that have shrunk its economy, reduced oil revenues and driven up inflation. "We certainly expect the Iranians to come forward with a new set of measures that create a different environment and different atmosphere," a European official told The Daily Telegraph. "That is certainly the message they have given us. "We are not going to Geneva with anything new but we will be listening carefully and be willing to respond to progress things quickly."