Edward Snowden

Open Letter To Obama

July 26, 2013 President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20500 Re: Civil Disobedience, Edward J. Snowden, and the Constitution Dear Mr. President: You are acutely aware More »

greed3

U.S. Companies Pay Just One-Third Of The Legal Tax Rate: GAO Study

Huffington Post July 1, 2013 By Mark Gongloff Big, profitable U.S. companies paid an average federal tax rate of less than 13 percent in 2010, according to a new study — or More »

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Man Tried for Chalk Drawings Found Not Guilty

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Washington’s Blog/Global Research May 20, 2012 By George Washington Attack on the Press You know that the Department of Justice tapped scores of phone lines at the Associated Press. You might have More »

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‘Anonymous’ Hacker Explains Why He Fled The US

Business Insider Mar. 2, 2012 By Michael Kelley Anonymous is front and center these days: the amorphous hacktivist group has been publishing internal data of U.S. banks while prominent members are prosecuted More »

Monthly Archives: February 2010

VIDEO: Economic Recovery? Not So Fast

Decade’s deadly earthquakes

Over the last decade hundreds of earthquakes have left hundreds of thousands dead, and millions homeless.

Telegraph
By Rebecca Lefort
Published: 10:56AM GMT 27 Feb 2010
devastation in Port-au-Prince
Aerial view of the devastation in Port-au-Prince, released by the Spanish Red Cross. Photo: REX

The largest ever recorded earthquake struck Chile on May 22, 1960. It measured 9.5 on the Richter scale and triggered a tsunami that swept across the Pacific Ocean, killing scores of people in Hawaii, Japan and elsewhere.
Since 2000 among the strongest and most deadly quakes have been:

  • February 27, 2010: Chile, Concepcíon. Earthquake magnitude: 8.8. Death toll: Unknown
  • January 12, 2010: Haiti, Port-au-Prince. Earthquake magnitude: 7.0. Death toll: 220,000
  • April 6, 2009: Italy, L’Aquila. Earthquake magnitude: 6.3. Death toll: 300
  • October 29, 2008: Pakistan, Balochistan. Earthquake magnitude: 6.4. Death toll: 166
  • May 12, 2008: China, near Chengdu. Earthquake magnitude: 7.9. Death toll: 87,000
  • July 17, 2006: Indonesia, Java. Earthquake magnitude: 7.7. Death toll: 400
  • May 26, 2006: Indonesia, Java. Earthquake magnitude: 6.3. Death toll: 5,700
  • October 8, 2005: Pakistan, Kashmir region. Earthquake magnitude: 7.6. Death toll: 80,000
  • March 28, 2005: Indonesia, Nias. Earthquake magnitude: 8.7. Death toll: 1,300
  • December 26, 2004: Indonesia, Sumatra. Earthquake magnitude: 9.1. Death toll: 230,000
  • May 21, 2003: Algeria, Thénia. Earthquake magnitude: 6.8. Death toll: 2,200
  • May 1, 2003: Turkey. Earthquake magnitude: 6.4. Death toll: 150
  • February 24, 2003: China, Xinjiang region. Earthquake magnitude: 6.3. Death toll: 260
  • October 31, 2002: Italy, San Giuliano di Puglia. Earthquake magnitude: 5.9. Death toll: 22
  • March 25, 2002. Afghanistan. Earthquake magnitude: 6.1. Death toll: 1,000
  • January 26, 2001: India, Gujarat. Earthquake magnitude: 7.7. Death toll: 20,000

link – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/chile/7330577/Decades-deadly-earthquakes.html

Decade’s deadly earthquakes

Over the last decade hundreds of earthquakes have left hundreds of thousands dead, and millions homeless.

By Rebecca Lefort

Published: 10:56AM GMT 27 Feb 2010

devastation in Port-au-Prince
Aerial view of the devastation in Port-au-Prince, released by the Spanish Red Cross. Photo: REX

The largest ever recorded earthquake struck Chile on May 22, 1960. It measured 9.5 on the Richter scale and triggered a tsunami that swept across the Pacific Ocean, killing scores of people in Hawaii, Japan and elsewhere.

Since 2000 among the strongest and most deadly quakes have been:

  • February 27, 2010: Chile, Concepcíon. Earthquake magnitude: 8.8. Death toll: Unknown
  • January 12, 2010: Haiti, Port-au-Prince. Earthquake magnitude: 7.0. Death toll: 220,000
  • April 6, 2009: Italy, L’Aquila. Earthquake magnitude: 6.3. Death toll: 300
  • October 29, 2008: Pakistan, Balochistan. Earthquake magnitude: 6.4. Death toll: 166
  • May 12, 2008: China, near Chengdu. Earthquake magnitude: 7.9. Death toll: 87,000
  • July 17, 2006: Indonesia, Java. Earthquake magnitude: 7.7. Death toll: 400
  • May 26, 2006: Indonesia, Java. Earthquake magnitude: 6.3. Death toll: 5,700
  • October 8, 2005: Pakistan, Kashmir region. Earthquake magnitude: 7.6. Death toll: 80,000
  • March 28, 2005: Indonesia, Nias. Earthquake magnitude: 8.7. Death toll: 1,300
  • December 26, 2004: Indonesia, Sumatra. Earthquake magnitude: 9.1. Death toll: 230,000
  • May 21, 2003: Algeria, Thénia. Earthquake magnitude: 6.8. Death toll: 2,200
  • May 1, 2003: Turkey. Earthquake magnitude: 6.4. Death toll: 150
  • February 24, 2003: China, Xinjiang region. Earthquake magnitude: 6.3. Death toll: 260
  • October 31, 2002: Italy, San Giuliano di Puglia. Earthquake magnitude: 5.9. Death toll: 22
  • March 25, 2002. Afghanistan. Earthquake magnitude: 6.1. Death toll: 1,000
  • January 26, 2001: India, Gujarat. Earthquake magnitude: 7.7. Death toll: 20,000

Congress Reauthorizes Patriot Act, Sidesteps Privacy Concerns

Friday 26 February 2010

by: Kyle Berlin, t r u t h o u t | Report

photo
(Photo: Thomas Hawk; Edited: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t)

Under pressure from the White House and Republicans, a bill to extend three key provisions of the Patriot Act was passed by the House Thursday with little discussion or debate and sent to President Obama, who is expected to immediately sign it into law.

The bill passed with an overwhelming majority, 315-97, and will allow law enforcement and intelligence officials to continue to compel private businesses to turn over records; track non-government entities, such as terrorist organizations; and use so-called “roving wiretaps,” which can be set up regardless of whether the line being tapped is sometimes used for legitimate purposes. The provisions in the bill would be extended until February 28, 2011, and are set to expire this Sunday.

Both chambers passed the measure swiftly—the Senate voted for it on Wednesday—after Democrats agreed to drop greater restrictions and oversight on domestic spying programs.

“I would have preferred to add oversight and judicial review improvements to any extension of expiring provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) in a statement.

The Democrats, facing a looming deadline and a potential filibuster in the Senate, backed away from many key provisions concerning congressional oversight in what is seen by critics as a blow to both the party and civil liberties.

In the House, only a few Congressmen, including Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) came out in public opposition to the bill.

“As Members of Congress sworn to protect the rights and civil liberties afforded to us by the Constitution, we have a responsibility to exercise our oversight powers fully, and significantly reform the PATRIOT Act, ensuring that the privacy and civil liberties of all Americans are fully protected,” Kucinich said in a statement. “More than eight years after the passage of the PATRIOT Act, we have failed to do so.”

Republicans have been hammering Democrats on issues of national security for months, including the decision to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad in federal court, as well as the moving of the remaining inmates in Guantanamo Bay Prison to a prison in the US.

Leahy introduced the legislation in November, and it follows further revelations of domestic wiretapping that took place during the Bush Administration, including a January report from the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General on the FBI’s use of “exigent letters” to obtain phone records without judicial oversight or a subpoena.

After high-level officials in the FBI and White House discovered the practice in 2006, they issued 11 National Security Letters – an administrative subpoena demanding that an organization turn over data about an individual – in an attempt to “try to ‘cover’ or validate the improperly obtained records,” according to the report.

Attorney General Eric Holder, in a letter to Leahy expressing his “strong support” of the Patriot Act Extension, wrote that NSLs, “remain a critical tool of national security investigations.”

They were a topic of heated debate in both the House and the Senate.

“These letters, issued with no court oversight, have been used to obtain all sorts of material, and have been joined with gag orders on the recipients that were recently struck down by the courts,” Nadler said. “I hope that this vote today will not stop my colleagues from continuing to improve our intelligence gathering laws.”

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) attempted to add an amendment to the bill that would have reformed the way NSLs can be used. Senators Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) and Arlen Specter (D-Pennsylvania) were unsuccessful in adding an amendment to not reauthorize the so-called “lone wolf” power, which permits surveillance of targets with no ties to foreign powers.

read more at - http://www.truthout.org/congress-reauthorizes-patriot-act-sidesteps-privacy-concerns57244

China will be prudent in buying gold: official

Zhou Xin and Simon Rabinovitch
(Reuters) – China will be prudent in adding gold to its official reserves, wary that any move to buy the precious metal would only serve to drive its price higher, the country’s top foreign exchange manager said on Tuesday.
Yi Gang, head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, said that while gold was “not a bad asset,” it would never become a big part of China’s overall investment portfolio.
“The international gold market is very limited. If I purchase gold on a massive scale, it will definitely push up global gold prices,” Yi said at a news conference on the sidelines of China’s annual parliament.
(Additional reporting by Langi Chiang and Tom Miles)
(Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
link – http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6280XR20100309

Obama’s Monsanto Man, GMO Alfalfa, & Toxic Sludge

#214, February 25, 2010

Health, Justice and Sustainability News
from the Organic Consumers Association

Edited by Alexis Baden-Mayer and Ronnie Cummins

In this issue:

  • Quote of the Week: Erich Fromm
  • Take Action:
  • Action Update: Thank You From the Cornucopia Institute
  • Little Bytes

    Quote of the Week

    “Nationalism is our form of incest, is our idolatry, is our insanity.

    ‘Patriotism’ is its cult. It should hardly be necessary to say that by ‘patriotism’, I mean that attitude which puts the own nation above humanity, above the principles of truth and justice; not the loving interest in one’s own nation, which is the concern with the nation’s spiritual as much as with its material welfare – never with its power over other nations.

    Just as love for one individual which excludes the love for others is not love, love for one’s country which is not part of one’s love for humanity is not love, but idolatrous worship.”

    -Erich Fromm (1900-1980), U.S. psychologist. Posted on Information Clearing House Newsletter Feb. 19, 2010

    PLEASE DONATE!

    OCA Needs Your Help to Spread the Organic Revolution

    OCA and our international network of organic consumers and farmers understand that we have a positive life-affirming solution for the global food, health, and climate crisis: organic food, farming, and ranching. But to get out our all-important message we need your support. Please send us a tax-deductible donation today.

    Take Action: OCA and National Coalition Oppose Obama’s Monsanto Man

    Oppose Islam Siddiqui for US Agricultural Trade Negotiator!

    Organic Consumers Association is part of a 98-organization coalition formed by the Pesticide Action Network and the National Family Farm Coalition to block the Senate confirmation of President Obama’s nominee for US Agricultural Trade Negotiator, CropLife pesticide lobbyist Islam Siddiqui.

    We’re sending a letter signed by all 98 groups to the Senate. The letter outlines our opposition to Siddiqui based on his support for pesticides and genetically modified foods and his opposition to organic practices.

    Siddiqui was instrumental in drafting the first proposed organic standards in 1997-98 that would have allowed toxic sewage sludge, Genetically Modified Organism (GMOs), and irradiated food to be labeled “Organic.”

    As Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at President Clinton’s USDA, Siddiqui oversaw the release of the first-ever proposed federal standards for organics, an accomplishment the Obama White House has cited in support of his nomination. However, these rules created an uproar when USDA overruled recommendations of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and recommended the use of GMOs, irradiation and toxic sludge under the organic label. After a nationwide campaign spearheaded by the OCA, in which the USDA was deluged with 280,000 irate letters and emails, Siddiqui, Monsanto, and the USDA backed off. This Organic Consumers Rebellion remains one of the most passionate outpourings of public sentiment on any government regulation in modern U.S. history.

    Read More and Take Action

    March 3 Deadline: Genetic Pollution from Monsanto’s GMO Alfalfa Threatens Our Right to Organic and GMO-Free Food

    Organic and genetically modified “Frankencrops” cannot coexist. Any open-pollinated crop that is genetically modified will inevitably contaminate non-GMO and organic varieties.

    President Obama’s USDA, like all administrations since GMOs were first patented in the 1990s, wants to help agribusiness force-feed new genetically modified crops on consumers. Currently, the USDA is working on getting Monsanto’s Roundup Ready (pesticide-resistant) alfalfa to market.

    Alfalfa is the fourth most widely grown crop in the US and it is the first perennial crop to be genetically engineered. GMO-contamination of organic alfalfa fields and organic alfalfa seed production would happen very quickly. Once Monsanto’s GMO alfalfa is widely cultivated, it will inevitably contaminate organic alfalfa sprouts and alfalfa hay grown for organic dairy cows.

    Genetically modified DNA sequences have been found in the milk of dairy cows fed GMO corn and soybeans. If Monsanto gets its way, conventional milk and dairy products will be similarly contaminated.

    Organic consumers have fought hard to keep GMOs out of national and international organic standards, but if we allow Monsanto’s genetically modified alfalfa to be widely grown in the US, organic integrity will be jeopardized.

    Take action



    Support OCA and San Francisco Garden Activists Giving Toxic Sludge Back to the City that Has Been Distributing It as “Organic Compost”

    If you think human waste is the worst thing that enters the sewage system, think again. All across the country, factories using toxic chemicals, meat-packing plants slaughtering animals from factory farms, hospitals treating sick people with heavy duty antibiotics, anti-microbials, pharmaceuticals and radiation therapy, nuclear power plants using cool water to stave off melt-downs, and farms spreading dangerous pesticides and fertilizers, all have access to the sewer systems.

    The sewage system is supposed to take all this tainted waste water, separate out the solids and toxins and produce water clean enough to return to the environment. Well, you may have heard that our oceans, lakes and rivers aren’t as clean as they should be, but what about all the toxic stuff that’s been removed from the water? Where does that go?

    Ever heard of toxic sludge? That’s the product of wastewater treatment and, up until the 1990s, it was dumped in the oceans. Now, it’s spread on farmland.

    A lot of it is even sold at garden stores as “organic compost.” Please, if you ever see something called “organic compost” make sure it’s certified organic by OMRI or an accredited organic certifier.

    San Francisco, home to Gavin Newsom, who some have called the World’s Greenest Mayor, is actually giving the stuff away to unsuspecting organic gardeners, calling it “organic biosolids compost.”

    On March 4th at 12 noon, OCA National Director Ronnie Cummins will join garden activists at San Francisco City Hall to give this toxic sludge back to the city. If you’re in the Bay Area, please join us! (Link directs to a Facebook event)

    Join Us



    Action Update: A Special Thank You to the Organic Consumers Association and Its Members

    The organic community has something to be proud of – the recent victory in Washington with the publication of new regulations that will crack down on factory farms scofflaws producing “organic” milk.

    As an organic farming watchdog, on behalf of our farmer-members, we want to sincerely thank Ronnie Cummins and the rest of the staff at OCA for their decade of hard work that has helped lead to this victory.

    For years OCA has been an invaluable partner in the efforts to rein-in abuses by Dean Foods’ Horizon brand and Aurora Dairy (producer of private-label milk labeled organic for the likes of Wal-Mart, Costco and many grocery chains).

    For years, during the Bush administration, the USDA looked the other way while giant corporations overtly cheated. But the potent partnership between organic farmers and consumers has proven that people power still can still trump corporate money and clout.

    Less than 2% of our citizens farm today, both conventional and organic. Farmers have no clout in Washington or the marketplace. But when the leading organic farming group partners with the most powerful representative of organic consumers, OCA, we are all potent force to be reckoned with.

    To all of you who have, over the years, contacted your elected officials, written the USDA and, most importantly, carefully continued to buy organic dairy products – but only from the true heroes in this industry – we want to sincerely thank you.

    -Mark A. Kastel, Co-director
    The Cornucopia Institute

    Read More

An In-Depth Look at Microsoft’s Spy Guide

Written by Jolie O’Dell / February 24, 2010 8:15 PM /

microsoft spy guideWe recently reported that a watchdog site, Cryptome, was removed from the Web for refusing to take down a copy of a Microsoft document.

This document, called the Microsoft Online Services Global Criminal Compliance Handbook, or “spy guide,” gives details on how law enforcement can grab user data from a wide range of Microsoft services, from Windows Live ID to Xbox Live to Hotmail. Microsoft holds and can reveal a huge amount of data on individuals through their social networking and file-sharing services, too. These data include IP addresses, credit cards, chat logs and much more.

How does a large corporation balance end user privacy balance with the need to cooperate and comply with law enforcement? Read on to see how Microsoft handles this issue.

On the Surface

After a quick read-through of Microsoft’s guide, everything initially made sense. They’ve got a lot of data – IM logs that can help find missing kids, gaming records that can help return a stolen Xbox, emails that can help track down terrorists.

There’s an emergency hotline for urgent or life-threatening incidents, “situations like kidnapping, murder threats, bomb threats, terrorism threats, etc.”

The full list of services includes email, authentication (Windows Live ID), IM, social networking (Windows Live Spaces and MSN Groups), custom domains, online file storage and gaming (Xbox Live). For each service, data is accessible through a series of web interface that allow law enforcement to browse through relevant data in tables or forms.

And there are procedures for accessing all this information, too. Law enforcement can’t simply ask for the information, according to the document. They have to have a subpoena, a court order or a warrant to gain access to data such as usernames, linked accounts and email address books.

Digging Deeper

But after talking to a few sources who have worked in law enforcement (LE) and government agencies – none of whom wanted to be quoted, for obvious reasons – these procedures are a far cry from the day-to-day realities of data access.

In other words, there’s a reason it’s called a “spy guide.”

For one thing, federal and LE officers tend to have a much easier time getting access to user data than their corporate conspirators might let on, our sources told us. In ticking time bomb scenarios, this can be a good thing, as quick and unobstructed access to data can save people from imminent harm.

Where Are All Those Warrants?

However, we’ve been told by people who have handled such issues that government and LE often request and are given data without having to go through the proper procedures, often because of corporations’ fear of government retribution.

For example, not too long ago, Sprint was revealed to have complied with 8 million LA requests for GPS data in 2009. This figure doesn’t include any other type of data from anyone other than LE for any network other than Sprint – this is just for LE GPS data requests from Sprint.

The implications of this are staggering, but the most confounding of them all is that there could not possibly be enough warrants to justify the sum total of requests that digital companies are handed by law enforcement seeking user data. Our sources all confirmed that without question, LE and government officials are often given user data by companies such as Microsoft without having to provide any kind of justification – not legal documents, not proof of criminal activity and not evidence of guilt.

What About the Fourth Amendment?

And then, there are the less widely known reasons that LE or federal agencies would gain access to user data – programs such as government data mining or Project Carnivore (which is essentially the wiretapping scandal of the digital sphere). Again, our sources confirmed that LE’s desire to see user data is often the only reason a digital company would need to turn over information – warrantless wiretapping all over again.

In conclusion, Microsoft’s spy guide does state that certain steps much be taken for law enforcement to access data – steps that require law enforcement to prove that their searches and seizures in the digital world are legally justifiable. Whether or not anecdotal evidence supports this claim we will leave to our readers to judge.

What the document does show us, however, is the extraordinary breadth and depth of information that Microsoft has and is willing to give to government and law enforcement agencies. And that alone is enough to make us put on our tin foil hats.

Note: We have contacted Microsoft’s Rapid Response media team with several questions and are awaiting a response.

article – http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/an_in-depth_look_at_microsofts_spy_guide.php

Targeting Toyota: US Economic War Directed Against Japan

by Mike Whitney
Global Research, February 25, 2010

Does anyone really believe that Toyota is being pilloried in the media for a few highway fatalities?

Nonsense. If Congress is so worried about innocent people getting killed, then why haven’t they indicted US commander Stanley McChrystal for blowing up another 27 Afghan civilians on Sunday?

But this isn’t about bloodshed and it’s certainly not “safety regulations”. It’s about politics–bare-knuckle Machiavellian politics. An attack on Toyota is an attack on Japan’s leading export. It is an act of war. Here’s a excerpt from the New York Times which explains what is really going on:

“The Japanese economy has emerged from its worst recession since World War II, but is still reeling. Japan must do more to lift its economy out of deflation and boost long-term growth”, S.&P. said.

“The outlook change reflects our view that the Japanese government’s diminishing economic policy flexibility may lead to a downgrade unless measures can be taken to stem fiscal and deflationary pressures,” S.&P. said. “The policies of the new Democratic Party of Japan government point to a slower pace of fiscal consolidation than we had previously expected.”

President Barack Obama is expected to address similar worries in the Untied States on Wednesday, with a call for a freeze in spending on many domestic programs, a move he hopes will quell perceptions that government spending is out of control. Fiscal problems in Greece and Ireland have also helped put the spotlight on the issue of national debt.” (“Japan’s High Debt Prompts Credit Rating Warning”, HIROKO TABUCHI AND BETTINA WASSENER, NY Times)

Japan’s new liberal government is fighting deflation using the traditional methodology, by lowering interest rates and increasing fiscal stimulus. But that’s not what Washington wants. Neoliberal policymakers and their buddies in the right-wing think tanks want “fiscal consolidation” which means harsh austerity measures that will deepen the recession, increase unemployment, and trigger a wave of defaults and bankruptcies. This is how western corporatists and bank tycoons keep their thumb on the developing world and thrust their economies into perennial crisis. It’s the “shock doctrine” and it’s been the IMF’s modus operandi for over 20 years. Japan is being stuffed into a fiscal straight-jacket by supporters of the Washington consensus whose goal is to weaken government and accelerate the privatization of public assets and services.

The ratings agencies are being used in the same way as the media; to wage an economic/guerrilla war on Japan and force the administration to rethink their economic policies. (Note: There is no chance that Japan will default on its debt because it pays its debts in its own currency and has large foreign exchange reserves of over $1 trillion) The attacks on Toyota are a way of showing Tokyo what happens to countries that fail to obey Washington’s orders.

Here’s a clip from the New York Times which sums up the problem in a nutshell:

The government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has “bolstered spending on social programs aimed at helping households……The powerful lower house of parliament approved a supplementary budget for the fiscal year that ends in March worth ¥7.2 trillion, or $80.3 billion, to help shore up the economy…And next year, government spending will grow further with a record trillion-dollar budget including ambitious welfare outlays. (New York Times)

Western elites will not tolerate economic policies which raise the standard of living for the average working slob. “Social programs” or “welfare outlays” are anathema to their trickle down, Voodoo capitalist orthodoxy. What they want is upward redistribution and class warfare. Regrettably, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has put himself at odds with US powerbrokers and is feeling the full measure of their wrath. His public approval ratings have plummeted to 37 percent and are headed downward still. The message is simple: Cross Washington and you’re a goner.

article – http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17804

America Just Declared The Recovery Over So You’d Better Get Ready For The Double Dip

Business Insider
John Carney | Feb. 23, 2010, 12:48 PM

Today’s bleak consumer confidence number is undoubtedly bad news for the economy. The bigger than expected drop suggests that consumers have lost confidence in the recovery, which will drive down home prices and consumer spending.

Consumer confidence is typically our “first look” at the state of the economy. While most government aggregated data come out with a two-month lag, or more, consumer confidence hits with just a one month lag. Studies have shown that consumer confidence is a good predictor of consumer spending numbers. Basically, people surveyed seem to be good at accurately reading their own economic situation, and those surveyed accurately reflect the broader economy. When consumer confidence drops to such deep unexpected levels–today’s were the worst in 27 years–then it is a flashing red-light about the economy.

There wasn’t anything good about today’s numbers. Every part of the survey was awful. On jobs, the optimistic folks who say jobs are plentiful fell to 3.6 percent from 4.4 percent. The pessimistic people who said jobs are hard to get increased to 47.7 percent from 46.5 percent. The gauge of expectations for the next six-months fell to 63.8, from 77.3 the prior month. The share of people who believe their incomes will increase over the next six months fell to 9.5 from 11 percent. The share of those expecting more jobs fell to 12.4 percent from 15.8 percent.

The message: the economy sucks.

The recovery we were supposed to have.
You’ll read a lot about how the consumer confidence numbers are a lagging indicator. Indeed, they are a lagging indicator when measured against the stock market. The real time data conveyed by the stock market is often a better indicator than any survey or government data. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to the consumer confidence number, especially since stocks have declined for most of this year.

Let’s be clear here. The story-book recovery was dependent on a recovery of the consumer and a decline in the saving rate. If consumers lost some of their apprehension about future income prospects and future employment, they might begin to spend more on both retail goods and to purchase homes again. Anticipating this return of the consumer, businesses would increase capital spending and inventory.

We got half of that equation. Business spending on new equipment and software reversed course from the sharp drop recorded during the recession. Exports began to grow, as well. The inventory swing–from liquidation of early 2009 to inventory accumulation at the end of the year–automatically boosted GDP.

The idea was that this would create positive feedback loop, with more production necessitating the hiring of new workers, adding to household income. Consumers would respond to increased household income with higher spending. That’s pretty much the textbook end of a recession.
The expectation that we would have a textbook end to the recession informed many of the expectations that were blown away by today’s drop in consumer confidence. We’ve have a historical record of 31 previous recessions in the United States, most of which indicate that the end of the inventory cycle boosts production and therefore employment and incomes. More importantly, the workers who kept their jobs become more confident about their future job and income prospects and begin to spend a larger fraction of their incomes. Deferred spending during a recession usually creates pent-up demand by consumers and businesses that then boosts spending once the recession ends.
The recovery we actually got.
read more at – http://www.businessinsider.com/america-just-declared-recovery-over-so-youd-better-get-ready-for-the-double-dip-2010-2

Debt Dynamite Dominoes: The Coming Financial Catastrophe

Assessing the Illusion of Recovery

by Andrew Gavin Marshall
Global Research, February 22, 2010


Understanding the Nature of the Global Economic Crisis

The people have been lulled into a false sense of safety under the rouse of a perceived “economic recovery.” Unfortunately, what the majority of people think does not make it so, especially when the people making the key decisions think and act to the contrary. The sovereign debt crises that have been unfolding in the past couple years and more recently in Greece, are canaries in the coal mine for the rest of Western “civilization.” The crisis threatens to spread to Spain, Portugal and Ireland; like dominoes, one country after another will collapse into a debt and currency crisis, all the way to America.

In October 2008, the mainstream media and politicians of the Western world were warning of an impending depression if actions were not taken to quickly prevent this. The problem was that this crisis had been a long-time coming, and what’s worse, is that the actions governments took did not address any of the core, systemic issues and problems with the global economy; they merely set out to save the banking industry from collapse. To do this, governments around the world implemented massive “stimulus” and “bailout” packages, plunging their countries deeper into debt to save the banks from themselves, while charging it to people of the world.

Then an uproar of stock market speculation followed, as money was pumped into the stocks, but not the real economy. This recovery has been nothing but a complete and utter illusion, and within the next two years, the illusion will likely come to a complete collapse.

The governments gave the banks a blank check, charged it to the public, and now it’s time to pay; through drastic tax increases, social spending cuts, privatization of state industries and services, dismantling of any protective tariffs and trade regulations, and raising interest rates. The effect that this will have is to rapidly accelerate, both in the speed and volume, the unemployment rate, globally. The stock market would crash to record lows, where governments would be forced to freeze them altogether.

When the crisis is over, the middle classes of the western world will have been liquidated of their economic, political and social status. The global economy will have gone through the greatest consolidation of industry and banking in world history leading to a system in which only a few corporations and banks control the global economy and its resources; governments will have lost that right. The people of the western world will be treated by the financial oligarchs as they have treated the ‘global South’ and in particular, Africa; they will remove our social structures and foundations so that we become entirely subservient to their dominance over the economic and political structures of our society.

This is where we stand today, and is the road on which we travel.

The western world has been plundered into poverty, a process long underway, but with the unfolding of the crisis, will be rapidly accelerated. As our societies collapse in on themselves, the governments will protect the banks and multinationals. When the people go out into the streets, as they invariably do and will, the government will not come to their aid, but will come with police and military forces to crush the protests and oppress the people. The social foundations will collapse with the economy, and the state will clamp down to prevent the people from constructing a new one.

The road to recovery is far from here. When the crisis has come to an end, the world we know will have changed dramatically. No one ever grows up in the world they were born into; everything is always changing. Now is no exception. The only difference is, that we are about to go through the most rapid changes the world has seen thus far.

Assessing the Illusion of Recovery

In August of 2009, I wrote an article, Entering the Greatest Depression in History, in which I analyzed how there is a deep systemic crisis in the Capitalist system in which we have gone through merely one burst bubble thus far, the housing bubble, but there remains a great many others.

There remains as a significantly larger threat than the housing collapse, a commercial real estate bubble. As the Deutsche Bank CEO said in May of 2009, “It’s either the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning.”

Of even greater significance is what has been termed the “bailout bubble” in which governments have superficially inflated the economies through massive debt-inducing bailout packages. As of July of 2009, the government watchdog and investigator of the US bailout program stated that the U.S. may have put itself at risk of up to $23.7 trillion dollars.

[See: Andrew Gavin Marshall, Entering the Greatest Depression in History. Global Research: August 7, 2009]

In October of 2009, approximately one year following the “great panic” of 2008, I wrote an article titled, The Economic Recovery is an Illusion, in which I analyzed what the most prestigious and powerful financial institution in the world, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), had to say about the crisis and “recovery.”

The BIS, as well as its former chief economist, who had both correctly predicted the crisis that unfolded in 2008, were warning of a future crisis in the global economy, citing the fact that none of the key issues and structural problems with the economy had been changed, and that government bailouts may do more harm than good in the long run.

William White, former Chief Economist of the BIS, warned:

The world has not tackled the problems at the heart of the economic downturn and is likely to slip back into recession. [He] warned that government actions to help the economy in the short run may be sowing the seeds for future crises.

[See: Andrew Gavin Marshall, The Economic Recovery is an Illusion. Global Research: October 3, 2009]

read more at - http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17736