January 31, 2015

Gun Rights Advocates Fear U.N. Treaty Will Lead to U.S. Registry

UN Gun Ban: 5 Articles You Must Read to Better Understand UN Arms Treaty Debate

January 30, 2015

NewsMax - Complicated international policies, legal terms, and passionate arguments on both sides of the U.N. gun ban debate make it challenging to grasp the true purpose and potential impact of the Arms Trade Treaty, which took effect on Christmas Eve 2014.

The United Nations treaty is aimed at regulating the international trade of weapons, from small firearms to missile launchers, in hopes of keeping them away from terrorists.

January 30, 2015

The Ruling Elite Will Never Support Scott Walker for President

Asked about Democrat Hillary Clinton's possible presidential run, Scott Walker said she represents the past: "I think people want to look to the future. They don't want to go back in time, they don't want to repeat what we've had in the past. We need a candidate not of the 20th century, but of the 21st century." Walker said Clinton is a Washington insider: "She lives here, she's worked here, she's been part of the Washington structure for years. Not just as a Democrat, but across the spectrum. I think Washington represents the top-down, government knows best, go along to get along mentality. I think Americans overwhelmingly want fresh new ideas that build the economy from the ground, that put the power back in the hands of the people, not only at the state and local level, but of individual Americans. I don't think they want government telling them what to do, and that's what I've been advocating for a long time."

New Left-wing Greek Prime Minister Vows to Reverse Austerity Programs and Speak Outs in Support of Palestinians

Greek radical left wins election, threatening market turmoil

January 25, 2015

AP- A radical left-wing party vowing to end Greece's painful austerity program won a historic victory in Sunday's parliamentary elections, setting the stage for a showdown with the country's international creditors that could shake the eurozone.

Gorbachev: The U.S. and Russia are Already in a New Cold War

Putin Just Sent Nuclear Bombers Over the English Channel, Seriously

January 30, 2015

Fiscal Times - It’s no secret Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to turn back the clock to a time when the Soviet Union strutted on the world’s stage, the only superpower offering a true counterweight to the U.S. On Thursday, though, Russia took steps – some alarming, some weird – that seemed aimed at reigniting the Cold War.

Plan C: The Top Secret Cold War Countermeasure Which Would Have Brought the United States Under Martial Law

The FBI made a secret plan in case nuclear war broke out

January 30, 2015

International Business Times - The United States government made extreme, top-secret plans for preserving national security in the event of a nuclear attack during the Cold War, according to documents recently released to transparency journalism organization MuckRock.

The FBI created "Plan C" in 1956, the same year the Red Army shut down the Hungarian Revolution, and if activated, Plan C would have put the nation under martial law and allowed for nearly 13,000 people to be detained for having links to "subversive organizations."

The FBI held a briefing with three top officials from every department to distribute papers outlining Plan C, which was later given to FBI field offices. The plan was ordered to be destroyed in July 1957.

Although the plan was never released, MuckRock's memos from closed meetings with high-ranking officials give readers an idea of what could have happened. Plan C would have gone into effect "after a war has begun in which the U.S. is involved or may become involved and prior to an actual attack on the U.S. itself," according to the documents.

Government organizations would decide which of their employees were essential and have them hide out in backup offices. Soviet embassies would be searched for weapons, radios and explosives. Up to 900 Soviet diplomats and couriers would be taken into custody.

In an emergency, the government would also have activated a detention program that would have led to arrests for "individuals whose affiliations with subversive organizations are so pronounced that their continued liberty in the event of national emergency would present a serious threat," according to the documents. The exact number of people who would be affected was set at 12,949.

FBI workers were allowed to tell their families about Plan C in vague terms only but were also encouraged to make preparations.
"The stressing to all employees that it is the employee's moral responsibility to plan for survival and for the care of his family, to see that his family is aware of such planning, and to go into such planning, in detail, with his family," one memo reads.
MuckRock has requested about 150 additional pages regarding Plan C under the Freedom of Information Act. The FBI is consulting with other agencies before releasing the documents. Plans A and B did not exist.

Plan C: The top secret Cold War countermeasure which would have brought the United States under martial law

12,949 individuals would immediately be detained as a likely threat to national security for their ties to "subversive organizations."

Hezbollah Says It Does Not Fear War and is Ready If Israel Provokes Further Violence

Hezbollah warns Israel it won't tolerate more attacks

January 30, 2015

AP - The leader of the militant Hezbollah group said Friday that this week's deadly cross-border attack on Israeli soldiers was a message that it will no longer tolerate any Israeli attacks against its members.

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah told thousands of supporters in south Beirut that Hezbollah does not fear war and is ready if Israel provokes further violence.

National Security Agency Using Unreliable Tactic to Locate Targets for Lethal Drone Strikes

Creepy-Cool Video: Tiny UAVs Flying in Formation

The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program

The Intercept - The National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes – an unreliable tactic that results in the deaths of innocent or unidentified people.

January 29, 2015

McCain Calls Protesters at Senate Armed Services Hearing “Low-life Scum”

Right or wrong, they exercised their right to express their opinion, and that is spot on.
"Today, America would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order [referring to the 1991 LA Riot]. Tomorrow they will be grateful! This is especially true if they were told that there were an outside threat from beyond [i.e., an "extraterrestrial" invasion], whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will plead to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well-being granted to them by the World Government." - Dr. Henry Kissinger, Bilderberger Conference, Evians, France 

Cop Arrests Elderly Veteran for Walking with Golf Club as a Cane and Falsely Accuses Him of Swinging It at Her; Cop Randomly Pepper Sprays Pedestrians in Seattle [Video]

On Jan. 17, 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower gave the nation a dire warning about what he described as a threat to democratic government. He called it the military-industrial complex, a formidable union of defense contractors and the armed forces. President Eisenhower warned us. Now here it is. The Military Industrial Complex. TheWAR MACHINE has taken over the U.S. streets too now in the form of POLICE.

January 28, 2015

Threat of All-Out War in Middle East as Lebanese Hezbollah Hits Israeli Convoy, Killing 2 Soldiers

Hezbollah will pay 'full price' for deadly attack: Israel

January 28, 2015

AFP - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Lebanon's Hezbollah it will pay the "full price" after missiles killed two Israeli soldiers Wednesday in an attack that raised fears of another all-out war.

January 27, 2015

ICC Backers Defy Israeli Call to Cut Funding to War Crimes Court

Exclusive: ICC backers defy Israeli call to cut funding to war crimes court

January 27, 2015

Reuters - Many leading backers of the International Criminal Court will ignore Israel's call for them to cut funding in response to an inquiry into possible war crimes in the Palestinian territories, officials told Reuters.

Russian Breakthrough in Missile Technology Means U.S. Can No Longer Intercept Their Nuclear Missiles

The chief of Russia's General Staff says the military will receive 50 intercontinental ballistic missiles this year, maintaining a high tempo of modernization despite the nation's economic downturn. Gen. Valery Gerasimov's statement Friday comes amid spiraling Russia-West tensions over Ukraine, where fighting between pro-Russia rebels and government forces flared up anew this month after a period of relative calm. Gerasimov said weapons modernization should prevent the U.S. and NATO from achieving military superiority over Russia. He said the development of strategic nuclear forces is the top priority, adding that Russia will counter NATO's U.S.-led missile defense system by deploying weapons capable of penetrating the shield. Gerasimov said that Russia is also developing long-range precision conventional weapons in response to the U.S. Prompt Global Strike program. [Associated Press]

McCain and Other Republicans Call for U.S. Troops on the Ground in Iraq and Syria

McCain: Get Ready for U.S. Troops on the Ground in Iraq and Syria

January 27, 2015

The Fiscal Times - House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) did not mince words during their joint- appearance on “60 Minutes” Sunday night in berating President Obama’s strategy for defeating ISIS and other terrorist threats in the Middle East.

Iran Warns Israel That 'The Zionist Regime has Crossed Our Red Lines' and 'Should Await the Consequences of Their Act'

Iran sends warning to Israel via US officials

January 27, 2015

AP - Iran said Tuesday it has sent a warning to Israel through the United States over the recent killing of an Iranian general in an alleged Israeli airstrike, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The report quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian as saying:
"We told the Americans that the leaders of the Zionist regime should await the consequences of their act."

He added, "The Zionist regime has crossed our red lines."

Two Rockets Fired from Syria Hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Israel Retaliates by Firing 20 Shells

Rockets fired from Syria hit Israeli-held Golan

January 27, 2015

AFP - At least two rockets fired from Syria hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Tuesday prompting Israeli forces to return fire, the army said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties on the Israeli side.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later warned that Israel was "ready to respond with force" to any attack.

Arab Lawmakers and Obama Operatives Hope to Unseat Netanyahu in March Elections

Arab lawmakers shake up Israeli politics with historic union

January 27, 2015

AP - Israel's Arab political parties are banding together under one ticket for the first time ever ahead of national elections in March, hoping to boost turnout and help unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The result is an awkward political marriage of communists, Palestinian nationalists, religious Muslims, feminists and even one Jew. But Arab politicians say it will improve chronically low Arab voter turnout and help block Netanyahu from forming the next government.
"We will be a central player in politics like never before," said Ayman Odeh, a first-time parliamentary candidate and the leader of the combined Arab list.

Iran is Ditching the Dollar

Iran Is Ditching The Dollar In Foreign Trade

REUTERS/Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti/Kremlin Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani in 2014. Iran is ditching the dollar.

January 27, 2015

Business Insider - Iran is no longer using the US dollar in foreign-trade transactions and is replacing it with other currencies, t he deputy governor at the Iranian Central Bank Gholami Kamyab said, according to  Sputnik News .
"In trade exchanges with the foreign countries, Iran uses other currencies including Chinese yuan, euro, Turkish lira, Russian ruble, and South Korean won,"  Kamyab reportedly said.

American-Arab Organization Says Muslims are Facing Increased Threats in the United States After the Release of the Movie 'American Sniper'

US Muslims threatened after 'American Sniper'

January 24, 2015

AFP - Muslims are facing increased threats in the United States after the release of the movie "American Sniper," an American-Arab organization said in letters to director Clint Eastwood and star Bradley Cooper.

In the open letters released earlier this week, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) said there has been a spike in violent threats against Muslims due to the film that portrays the story of an American sniper during the Iraq war.
"A majority of the violent threats we have seen over the past few days are (a) result of how Arab and Muslims are depicted in American Sniper," the ADC said.

62% of Germans Have Unfavorable Opinion of Israeli Government

A Friday Chicago Sun-Times editorial argues that President Obama must continue to work with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and support Israel. Quote: “It is in the U.S.’ interest.” Can you please explain why it is in our best interest? What exactly does the country of Israel do for the U.S.? Trade oil or other natural resource? Technology? Money for protection? I am not extremely well versed in foreign policy, and to be honest, I only know what I read in your pages every day at work. It has always been a grey, unclear area to me. - Rob Ogan, Forest Glen

Study: Germans have skeptical view of Israel

January 26, 2015

AP - Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz, some 58 percent of Germans say the past should be consigned to history, while three-quarters of Israelis reject the idea of putting the past behind them.

Some 48 percent of Germans also say their opinion of today's Israel is poor and the Germans' view of the Israeli government is even worse, with 62 percent expressing a negative opinion.

January 25, 2015

Insects with Modified DNA Close to Being Set Loose in Residential Neighborhood in Florida Keys

Millions of GMO insects could be released in Florida Keys

January 26, 2015

AP - Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could be released in the Florida Keys if British researchers win approval to use the bugs against two extremely painful viral diseases.

Never before have insects with modified DNA come so close to being set loose in a residential U.S. neighborhood.
"This is essentially using a mosquito as a drug to cure disease," said Michael Doyle, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, which is waiting to hear if the Food and Drug Administration will allow the experiment.

January 24, 2015

Foreigners Account for 7 Percent of All Existing U.S. Home Sales, But Can't Overcome What Ails the U.S. Housing Market

With interest rates heading back down to their historic low, potential home buyers who missed out on the ultralow rates of 2012-13 have an opportunity to remedy their mistake. [Source]

Nothing Is Going to Save the Housing Market

January 23, 2015

Bloomberg - U.S. housing activity remains weak despite six years of federal government aid, strong interest from overseas buyers, rock-bottom interest rates and massive purchases of mortgage bonds by the Federal Reserve.

Does this mean housing may never spring back to its pre-recession levels? Many signs point to yes.

January 23, 2015

Department of Homeland Security is Becoming America’s Domestic Standing Army

Confessions of a former TSA officer

January 1, 2015

The Week - My pained relationship with government security started in 2007. I needed a job to help pay my way through college in Chicago, and the Transportation Security Administration's callback, for a job as a security officer at O'Hare International Airport, was the first one I received. It was just a temporary thing, I told myself — side income for a year or two as I worked toward a degree in creative writing. It wasn't like a recession would come along and lock me into the job or anything.

I hated it from the beginning. It was a job that had me patting down the crotches of children, the elderly, and even infants as part of the post-9/11 airport security show. I confiscated jars of homemade apple butter on the pretense that they could pose threats to national security. I was even required to confiscate nail clippers from airline pilots — the implied logic being that pilots could use the nail clippers to hijack the very planes they were flying.

January 22, 2015

Carbon Tax (or Cap-and-Trade) is Coming to Us All

Our planet is dynamic and climate change is real; however, blaming CO2 is a political agenda not based on science.

Carbon taxes will raise a bunch of revenue for the government; i.e., take a bunch of money out of the economy, without actual benefit.

Politicians propose to stop climate change by "developing the undeveloped nations," which would be financed by imposing carbon trading schemes on developed nations; aka, redistribution of wealth on a global scale. Of course, development on such a scale will increase overall CO2 emissions....but don't pay any attention to the man behind the curtain.

The world elites are forcing this upon us to jack the rest of the money from our cold, dead hands. We're already taxed cradle to grave in the US. We resemble 16th century England these days. Oligarchy and all.

A carbon tax would correspond to a lump-sum transfer that also affects the poor, so we would have to compensate them with higher social benefits or something for their otherwise reduced purchasing power; in general, nullifying the overall impact for government revenues. So the tax not is also about control. The ones to benefit financially will be the investors running the climate exchanges.

January 21, 2015

Palestinian Workers Left Broke After Israel Suspends Millions of Dollars in Tax Revenues as Punishment for Joining the International Criminal Court

Palestinian workers left broke as Israel freezes funds

January 21, 2015

AFP - Palestinian head teacher Abdelhakim Abu Jamus has just given his last shekels to his daughter for school and has nothing left to feed his family of eight.

Like tens of thousands of Palestinian public sector workers, he has not been paid since December after Israel suspended millions of dollars in tax revenues which should have been transferred to the Palestinian Authority, as punishment for joining the International Criminal Court.
"I gave my daughter the last money I had and now I don't know how we're going to manage tomorrow," said Abu Jamus who runs a school in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
On January 2, the Palestinians formally presented a request to join the Hague-based ICC in a first step towards suing Israel for war crimes.

January 19, 2015

UN Peacekeepers Observed Drones Coming from Israel to Syria in Violation of the 1974 Ceasefire Agreement

U.N. saw drones over Syria before Israel strike in breach of truce

January 19, 2015

Reuters - U.N. peacekeepers stationed in the Golan Heights along the Syrian-Israeli border observed drones coming from the Israeli side before and after an airstrike that killed top several Hezbollah figures, the United Nations said on Monday.

The flight of the drones in the airspace over the Golan Heights was a violation of the 1974 ceasefire agreement between Syria and Israel, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters.

Lebanon's Hezbollah said on Sunday that an Israeli helicopter strike in Syria killed one of its commanders and the son of the group's late military leader Imad Moughniyah. It was a major blow that could lead to reprisal attacks.

Haq was asked if the U.N. observer mission deployed in the so-called area of separation in the Golan Heights, known as UNDOF, had seen anything. He said UNDOF had "observed two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) flying from the Alpha side and crossing the ceasefire line."

The Alpha side refers to the Israeli-occupied part of the Golan. Haq said UNDOF saw the drones moving towards U.N. position 30, after which the U.N. observers lost track of them.

An hour later, he said, they saw smoke coming from position 30, though they were unable to identify the source of the smoke.
"Subsequently, UNDOF observed UAVs flying from the general area of position 30 and over Jabbata crossing the ceasefire line," Haq said. "This incident is a violation of the 1974 Agreement on Disengagement between Israeli and Syrian forces."

"We criticize all violations," he added, noting that the U.N. called on all sides to refrain from actions that could exacerbate already existing tensions.
Asked to react, Syrian U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari told Reuters:
"Thank God. Finally the spokesperson woke up from his self-imposed lethargy."
Haq offered no details on whether the drones were for surveillance or armed. He also did not say they were Israeli.

Sunday's strike hit a convoy carrying Jihad Moughniyah and commander Mohamad Issa, known as Abu Issa, in the province of Quneitra, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, killing six Hezbollah members in all, a Hezbollah statement said.

Shi'ite Muslim Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran and fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006, has been fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad's forces in Syria's four-year civil war.

Israel has struck Syria several times since the start of the war, mostly destroying weaponry such as missiles that Israeli officials said were destined for Hezbollah, Israel's long-time foe in neighboring Lebanon.

Israel's U.N. mission did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Posse Comitatus, Habeas Corpus and the Government's Hunt for Terrorists

Two suspects killed in Belgian anti-terror raid

After the January 7, 2015 shootings at Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical weekly magazine, France is "waging war" against terrorism. France has put the country on high alert and deployed 122,000 police and troops to "protect citizens." And the Belgian government decided to start using its army for some "public security tasks." Across Europe, anxiety has grown as the "hunt" continues for terrorists.

The 130-year-old Posse Comitatus Act in the United States restricts the military’s role in domestic law enforcement, but a 1994 Defense Department Directive allows military commanders to take emergency actions in domestic situations to "save lives, prevent suffering, or mitigate great property damage." [Source]

January 18, 2015

Mortgage Insurance Companies Seek Money from Former Homeowners to Recover Their Loses from Foreclosures

Homeowners billed for houses lost in foreclosure

New England Center for Investigative Reporting - When Guillermo Galindo lost his two-family Revere home to foreclosure in 2009, the soft-spoken Colombian thought he had finally freed himself from the flood of threatening collection letters from his lender and a ballooning, untenable debt.

All of his savings, scraped together over years delivering medicine for local pharmacies, were gone, along with the home he bought in 2005 for $410,000. Devastated, the 54-year-old immigrant, along with his wife and 3-year-old daughter, packed their belongings and moved into a small apartment, hoping to rebuild.

But that hope evaporated in a matter of months, when Galindo received a letter from a lawyer saying he owed $136,547 on the family home he’d left behind.

The lawyer represented a mortgage insurance company that Galindo had paid premiums to for years. He’d never given his insurance policy much thought — it was just something he needed to buy to qualify for a mortgage, since he couldn’t afford a big down payment. He thought it would help him if he got in a bind.

Too late, Galindo realized that the policy protected only the bank, and nothing prevented the insurer from coming after him for losses related to the foreclosure on his former home in Revere.

U.S. Navy's New Laser System Burns Up Its Targets

Here's How The US Navy's New Laser System Burns Up Its Targets

January 17, 2015

The Laser Weapon System, or LaWS, is the first weaponized laser on a US warship.

The 100-kilowatt turret was installed aboard the USS Ponce this summer as part of a $40 million research-and-development project to explore the potential of a weapons system that doesn't require expensive traditional projectiles.

Missiles, along with the military systems and vehicles they are launched from, come at an exorbitant price.

Click here to see what the laser-system operator views when selecting the target.

As the graphic from Stratfor below shows, a single SM-2 missile costs $400,000.

That's an awful lot of taxpayer money to spend on destroying modest targets like small enemy vessels or drones, which LaWS successfully brought down in tests done in November.

New Snowden Documents Show NSA Creating Sophisticated Digital Weapons

New Snowden documents show that the NSA and its allies are laughing at the rest of the world

January 17, 2015

The Verge - A team of nine journalists including Jacob Appelbaum and Laura Poitras have just published another massive collection of classified records obtained by Edward Snowden.

The trove of documents, published on Der Spiegel, show that the National Security Agency and its allies are methodically preparing for future wars carried out over the internet. Der Spiegel reports that the intelligence agencies are working towards the ability to infiltrate and disable computer networks — potentially giving them the ability to disrupt critical utilities and other infrastructure. And the NSA and GCHQ think they're so far ahead of everyone else, they're laughing about it.

We already know that the US is already capable of launching complex digital attacks that can cause physical damage to its enemies. A computer virus known as Stuxnet, discovered in 2010, was deployed as part of a joint operation between the US and Israel that ravaged Iran's Natanz nuclear facility, destroying many of the country's nuclear centrifuges. Since then, the NSA's top brass has boasted of newer and more powerful digital weapons.

Israel Warns Syria Not to Strike Back: Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Some Palestinian Factions Consider Themselves an 'Axis of Resistance' Against Israel

An Israeli strike on Syria on January 18, 2015 killed an Iranian general. Thousands of supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah gathered to bury one of six fighters killed in the same raid. The attack near Quneitra on the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights enraged Hezbollah's supporters, but analysts said the group would avoid a major escalation with Israel. Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards confirmed the death of one of their generals in a statement on their website. "General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi and a number of fighters and Islamic Resistance (Hezbollah) forces were attacked by the Zionist regime's helicopters," it said. "This brave general and some members of Hezbollah were martyred." A source close to Hezbollah said six Iranians had been killed in the attack. Hezbollah told AFP that it was not the source of that toll.

Israel warned Lebanon and Syria on January 23, 2015 not to allow any attacks on Israel from their soil, hoping to avoid reprisals for an Israeli air strike in Syria that killed an Iranian general and senior Hezbollah fighters. "Israel will see the governments, regimes and organizations beyond its northern border as responsible for what emanates from their territory," Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said in a statement. "(Israel) will exact a price for any harm inflicted on Israeli sovereignty, civilians and soldiers." Fears of retaliation by Lebanon's Hezbollah or other groups have risen since Sunday's attack, prompting Israel to move troops and equipments towards its northern borders with Lebanon and Syria. [Reuters]

January 17, 2015

Sao Paulo, Brazil, Home of the Rebuilt Solomon's Temple, is Running Out of Water

Biggest reservoir for Brazil's largest city is running dry

FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2014 file photo, the frame of a car sits on the cracked earth at the bottom of the Atibainha dam, part of the Cantareira System responsible for providing water to the Sao Paulo metropolitan area, in Nazare Paulista, Brazil. Halfway through the rainy season, the key reservoir for the hemisphere's largest city, the Cantareira water system, holds just 6 percent of its capacity, and experts warned Friday, Jan. 16, 2015 that authorities must take urgent steps to prevent the worst drought here in more than 80 years from drying it out. (AP Photo/Andre Penner, File)

In this Oct. 10, 2014 file photo, the frame of a car sits on the cracked earth at the bottom of the Atibainha dam, part of the Cantareira System responsible for providing water to the Sao Paulo metropolitan area, in Nazare Paulista, Brazil. Halfway through the rainy season, the key reservoir for the hemisphere's largest city, the Cantareira water system, holds just 6 percent of its capacity, and experts warned Friday, Jan. 16, 2015 that authorities must take urgent steps to prevent the worst drought here in more than 80 years from drying it out. (AP Photo/Andre Penner, File)

SEC Charges Kansas, New Jersey and Illinois for Understating Municipal Bond Exposure to Unfunded Pension Liability

Comprehensive research into the funded status of state level defined benefit public pension plans reveals that public employee retirement promises are underfunded by $4.1 trillion. Combined, state public pension plans are just 39 percent funded. Figures were drawn from state Fiscal Year 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports, as well as the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports and actuarial valuations published by individual plans. In each case, figures were from the most up-to-date valuation available at the time of research. Plans were compiled based on the United States Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Public Pensions and state-level financial reports. Therefore this includes municipal pension funds that are administered by the state. States facing a particularly large unfunded liability at a per capita level and as a percentage of their annual gross state product include Illinois, Ohio, New Jersey, Oregon, Connecticut, Nevada, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska. As this report demonstrates, unfunded public pension liabilities present a unique threat to state government finances. While many have tried to turn a blind eye to the pension crisis, the problem is simply too big to ignore. [Source]

January 16, 2015

UN International Criminal Court Opens Investigation into Allegations of War Crimes by Israel; Senator Graham Threatens to Cut Aid to Palestinians Over ICC Move

U.S. senator threatens aid cut to Palestinians over ICC move

January 19, 2015

Reuters - The Palestinians could lose annual U.S. aid if they file a lawsuit against Israel at the International Criminal Court which they joined this month over American and Israeli protests, a senior U.S. Republican senator said on Monday.

Lindsey Graham, part of a seven-member delegation of senators visiting Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, said existing U.S. legislation "would cut off aid to the Palestinians if they filed a complaint" against Israel.

New Jersey's Revenue Crisis Trumps Public Workers' Contractual Rights to Pensions

New Jersey says it does not have to make pension contributions

January 16, 2015

Reuters - An attorney for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's administration argued in court on Thursday that the state cannot be forced to make its contributions into the public pension system.

The state's 2011 pension reforms violated the New Jersey constitution when they made state pension contributions a contractual right, forcing future legislatures to pay for something they themselves did not approve, Assistant Attorney General Jean Reilly argued.

Public sector unions sued the state last year after Christie said he would not pay for the "sins of the past" and cut nearly $900 million from the state's fiscal 2014 pension contribution and directed the legislature to slash $1.57 billion from the 2015 payment as well.

They argued that with those cuts, Christie violated the 2011 law that he has touted as a hard-fought partisan victory achieved through cooperation with the Democrat-led legislature.

Christie's handling of the state's underfunded retirement system could be used as ammunition by critics if Christie decides to seek the Republican presidential nomination for 2016, a decision he could make by the end of the month.

Air Force to Offer Larger Retention Bonuses, Much Like the Maximum $25,000 Stipend, and Double the Monthly Incentive Pay for Drone Operators — from $600 to $1,500 — to Persuade Them to Stay in the Air Force

Air Force to tap Guard, Reserve to fill drone pilot shortage

Air Force taps National Guard pilots for drone operations

January 16, 2015

AP - The Air Force is taking several steps to fill a significant shortfall in drone pilots, laying out plans to increase incentive pay, bring more National Guard and Reserve pilots onto active duty, and seek volunteers to fill needed slots, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said Thursday.

Calling them interim measures, James told reporters they may seek larger retention bonuses for drone pilots, much like the maximum $25,000 stipend that manned aircraft pilots can receive. While the Air Force has long struggled with a shortage of drone operators, the demands of ongoing operations around the world, including persistent airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, have exacerbated the problem.

January 12, 2015

FBI is Developing a Biometric Identification Database Program Called 'Next Generation Identification' (NGI), Which Will Be the Largest Biometric Database in the World

Biometric technology is the science of identifying or verifying a person based on physiological or behavioral characteristics through automated analysis of the unique traits of an individual. Identification involves determining who a person is. Verification is determining if a person is who they say they are based on comparison to previously measured biometric data. Examples of the most commonly used physiological biometrics technology are facial recognition, fingerprint, hand geometry and iris recognition. Behavioral biometrics includes voice recognition and signature.

Next Generation Identification - FBI

  • DHS Open Government Report Reveals Increased Backlog and Use of Law Enforcement Exemptions: The Department of Homeland Security has released the 2013 Freedom of Information Act Report detailing the agencies attempts to comply with the federal open government law. The FOIA requires each agency to provide the numbers of requests received and processed, the time taken to respond, the outcome of each request, and other statistics. In 2013, the DHS reported a significant increase in its FOIA backlog, which rose from 28,553 unanswered requests in 2012 to 53,598 unanswered requests in 2013. Of the nine exemptions that an agency can invoke to withhold documents, DHS relied most heavily on exemption 7(C) (law enforcement records that if released would constitute an invasion of personal privacy) and 7(E) (law enforcement records that if released would disclose law enforcement techniques or procedures, which is significant because the DHS is not a law enforcement agency. DHS reported granting about 7% of requests for expedited processing. EPIC has prevailed in several FOIA lawsuits against DHS, and has also worked to reform the agency's FOIA processing practices for other requesters. For more information, see EPIC v. DHS - Body Scanner FOIA Appeal, EPIC v. DHS - Social Media Monitoring, and EPIC v. DHS - SOP 303. (Feb. 21, 2014)

In Public Schools Data is Being Gathered and Transmitted on Your Child Without Your Knowledge and Consent

Tracking Your Child’s Data: Who Has it, Why is it Being Gathered, Where is it Going?

crossing the data threshhold

November 6, 2014

Missouri Education Watchdog - As you read the article below from techdirt.com on police departments data mining information on citizens, you can get a good idea on how data mining and transmission is occurring with your child’s data from public school.   Data is being gathered and transmitted on your child without your knowledge and probably without your consent.  Substitute the phrase ‘educational agencies’ for ‘law enforcement agencies’ and you will understand how the data grabbing and tracking game is played.

The article details:
  • how the police department is inviting other departments to access this data (akin to Arne Duncan granting access to third party researchers/organizations with the rewriting of FERPA)
  • how police data is gathered (how is YOUR child’s data gathered…active vs passive permission and expressed permission)
  • the police database has no oversight regarding its use (who controls the access on your child’s data and do you even know what data is being gathered and why)
  • how this information is being stored (ask your local school board questions about data gathering, usage and retention)

Flashback: UN and IMF Push for Global Financial Transaction Tax and Carbon Tax to Finance World Government

Globalists Push World Transaction Tax At UN Summit

Final move for world government and destruction of middle class begins

September 19, 2010

Prison Planet.com - Globalists representing 60 nations will meet at the UN this coming week to push a tax on world financial transactions in the name of solving poverty and climate change, formally launching a massive program to bankrupt the middle class and enrich the coffers of global government.
“Spearheaded by European Union countries, the so-called “innovative financing” proposal envisages a tax of 0.005 percent (five cents per $1,000), which experts estimate could produce more than $30 billion a year worldwide for priority causes,” reports CNS News.
As Ira Stoll, editor of FutureCapitalism.com, points out, new taxes always start off small so as to not be resisted by the people forced to pay them, and are then always gradually increased.
“When people suggest taxes, they always start out ‘small,” said Stoll.
“But once the door is opened to the idea of ‘global taxes,’ you can bet they won’t end small. Never mind all the issues about whether development aid actually helps poor countries or just winds up empowering corrupt local dictators and their cronies.”
The call for a global transaction tax arrives in the aftermath of a leaked UN blueprint which outlined how elitists plan to re-brand global warming in an effort to dismantle the middle class by instituting a “global redistribution of wealth” via carbon taxes.

Local Law Enforcement Implementing Iris Scans as 'Another Tool for Public Safety'

Police departments across the United States are preparing to implement a controversial technology that scans the iris of the eye and the face in order to more effectively identify an individual or suspects. The device simply slides on over the screen of an iPhone in order to scan a person’s face or iris. It is being referred to as biometric technology and is being used in the hopes that it will improve the accuracy and speed that is necessary for police officers to do their jobs while they’re in the field. Though it may have significant benefits, this technology is also raising concerns among individuals who are worried over issues of privacy and civil liberties, which could potentially be violated through its use. They fear that officers may unnecessarily scan individuals, which can be intrusive to innocent people when it is intended for finding criminals. The manufacturer of the devices argues that this is unlikely as it would be difficult for police officers to accomplish. The scanner is called a Mobile Offender Recognition and Information System (MORIS), and was designed and manufactured by a Plymouth, Massachusetts-based company called BI2 Technologies, in order to be used with smartphones for use by police officers working in the field or at the station. Iris scans function by identifying a person’s unique eye patterns, similar to a fingerprint, and can minimize the time required for a suspect’s identification. In fact, this technology is considered to be more accurate than today’s fingerprinting abilities, which are one of the identification standards across the country. [Source]

January 11, 2015

Why Your Mortgage Interest Isn't Actually Tax Deductible

Why Your Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction Doesn't Really Help Much

The Motley Fool - No tax deduction is more misunderstood than the mortgage interest tax deduction. By law, taxpayers can deduct interest paid on their mortgage, but most middle-class taxpayers save little or nothing at all from the mortgage interest tax deduction.

In fact, the mortgage interest tax deduction is more for the benefit of millionaires than it is the average American.

How the mortgage interest deduction works

January 10, 2015

Charlie Hebdo: Signs of False Flags


Paris Shooters Just Returned from NATO’s Proxy War in Syria

January 10, 2015

Land Destroyer - Shooters were radicalized in Europe, sent to Syria, returned, have been previously arrested by Western security agencies for terrorism and long on the watch-list of French and other Western intelligence agencies. Yet “somehow” they still managed to execute a highly organized attack in the heart of Europe.

Cold War 2.0: The U.S. to Renew Nuclear Arsenal

US to spend $1 trillion to revitalize its aging nuclear arsenal: Report

September 22, 2014

PressTV - The United States plans to spend more than $1 trillion to revitalize its antiquated nuclear arsenal over the next three decades, according to a new report.

The Obama administration has dedicated a “sprawling new plant” in Kansas City, Mo.--bigger than the Pentagon-- to modernize “the aging weapons that the United States can fire from missiles, bombers and submarines,” The New York Times reports.

The Mega Wealthy Occupy Positions of Control and Influence, and the Rest are Reduced to Commoner or Peasant Status (We Call Them 'Consumers')

The real student loan crisis

August 5, 2013

paintcan, Reuters blog - So many people use college as a road to what they think will be entry to the “elite” and that is still the case in spite of the fact that there is no elite entry for most of them. The elite is still a matter of having enormous family wealth, and those kids don’t really have to study at all. They have to know how to socially dominate and control. Bush II was a perfect example. Social networking is the stuff of college that never gets into the college literature. Whatever one thinks about Obama or Clinton – they were both po-boys who had to study and were good students. So was Gore.

My father and I have had a long, not so subtle, argument about whether it was better to go to school for solid courses – something I thought I was doing – or whether it was better to go to a more expensive “finishing school” as he calls the small and almost unknown college my sister went to where she barely made any kind of grade but made some wealthy friends and has been bound and determined to emulate in consumption and lifestyle choices ever since. It worked for her – she makes big money (but spends it like water) and the girl writes like a high school student and very little of that. She knows how to use the social system and social status symbols, to “dress for success” and to “kiss the right a–es”.

One could also examine the quality of the courses – something that was never obvious when I attended undergraduate school. The brochures and visits don’t say what they don’t want to admit until you are there and it’s too late. But a kid out of High School can’t be a cynical post middle-aged person with that kind of world knowledge and a young student, with little lifetime experience, at the same time.

The standard of living will probably shrink here but not in terms of consumption. It is a society destined to imitate the pattern of historic world cultures where the mega wealthy occupy all the positions of control and influence and the rest are reduced to commoner or peasant status, we call them “consumers”. Most historic societies tended not to educate more that the upper tier and those who occupied support positions like clergy, attorneys and judges, physicians and teachers.

If you consider how often “icons and pictograms” are used on the computer it is possible that the future of this country could easily start to look like a more hi-tech version of the past when fewer people were literate.

The icons and symbols are easily understood by anyone regardless of their native language. It’s almost a subliminal language and might someday take the place of more advanced literacy for a severely stratified society.

The upper strata will have the old language skills and understand the subtleties of their culture while the rest, lower down the social pecking order, will be living on a diet of inexpensive consumer goods, popular entertainment, and mass political spectacles designed to keep the illusion of voter participation alive.

Health and fitness have always been a sign of class distinctions in Europe and even in this country. Wealthier people of the “elite” don’t tend to be as over weight or have many obvious signs of ill health. I live in a town that is stratified by income and education and those at the bottom tend to show it. I see people walking around with visible tumors and bad teeth or no teeth. They can’t afford to be too fussy or squeamish about their appearance and I tend to follow them now. They can’t get the best care so they wait and get what they can. Money still means access and being first in line. And the lower down the social economic scale one falls the harder it is to live and the greater and more numerous are the shooks that having money tends to cushion or make less traumatic.

This country is heavily armed, both in the private and public sector, has wall-to-wall surveillance and is paranoid about what the population is doing because it is a class dominated society and they are afraid for their own welfare and safety. They know that social turmoil can strike like madness and wipe everything away in its path. It’s happened repeatedly throughout recorded history.

BTW – I lost my lower false teeth last summer while working around the yard. I took them out because the gums always shrink and they never fit well after a few months and have to be relined and I may have mistakenly thrown them out with a wad of paper towels I was using to wipe my hands of glue to make repairs around here and than stuffed in the same pants pocket. I’m not going to replace them because they were never comfortable and I now understand how it is that some of the people I know who don’t have teeth, or many of them and they can be decades younger than I am – can continue to eat at all. The gums toughen up. I also understand now how cooking food was the greatest boon to extending man’s life expectancy. The hardest things to eat without teeth are uncooked vegetables. Cooked meats are actually the easiest things to eat. But potato chips and hard bread crusts are the foods that bring tears to my eyes and I just can’t eat them. Cooked food means one doesn’t really need strong teeth and old people can live longer.

But not having teeth means I look old and not at all affluent. That’s death for any job prospects in a world that likes new finishes and hates anything that looks like it is old, frail, worn or poor. The finishing school type says “OOOH poverty”!

OOTS – you really don’t understand the modern world and talk like an affluent person how dresses down, somewhat like me. The less affluent don’t have to chase after anything. That is the game of the upper income groups. The less affluent can never catch up. Your comfy nostrums don’t mean squat until you say how big a house, how much acreage you own, how old or expensive a car you drive, your income and family wealth and how much education you were able to acquire. You are also an idiot if you think people have kids as a “hobby”. But I forget, Alzheimer’s patients can be happy in your world too.

This country needs conspicuous consumption or its economy seizes up and starts to die. That is the trap it built but also the only aspect of its life that is truly democratic, or at least looks like it is. Debt sees no class distinctions.

What is Public Service? It's a Sacrifice. It is Supposed to be a Short Term Sacrifice Before You Go into the Private Sector and Produce Real Economic Growth

While some federal, state and local employees have paid into Social Security, others have not (today, most federal employees pay into, and are covered by, Social Security). Given how much we pay into Social Security and how little we get back, that is an exceptional deal.

Traditionally, retirement for all Americans was based on the three-legged stool of Social Security, pensions and private retirement savings (401ks, IRAs). The pension leg has mostly withered away for private sector workers, but they still have the other two legs. Most government workers still have traditional pensions, which are supposed to be deferred compensation, meaning you pay someone lower in the immediate but make up for it by continuing to pay them after they have finished working. It isn’t some extra benefit: it is simply a different form of payment for the services already rendered.

Private citizens watch public employees retire at 55 while the rest of us common people have to wait until 67 (the plan is to move the retirement age to 70) to retire on Social Security that might not even be there. The rest of us must figure out how to retire with our 401k's. Why can't government workers do the same? We are being scammed. We have to figure out how to make SS and our 401k's add up to enough money for us to live in retirement. And to pull it off, a lot of us will need to work past 70. At the same time we're telling government workers this: "Don't worry cupcake, I got your back. You go ahead and retire at 52. Sit there and look pretty for 30 years while I work to assure that your ass is covered. I may not know how to fund my own retirement, but I am happy knowing than I can fund yours. I have no problem working past 70 for you." When the government talks of raising the retirement age, they are talking for us, not them. They are not offering to give up a thing. Sacrifice is only meant for the commoner.  That's why some cities are going broke. How do you pay thousands of people 90% of their salary to do nothing for 30 years or more? Let these people plan their own retirement as the rest of America must. Time to ween them from the government teat. [altair1013]

Readers say state worker entitlement promises have been too generous and that concessions need to be made. Interesting that municipalities across the country continue to file for bankruptcy protection after over-promising to their retirees. This is despite taxing our middle class to death. Middle income in the US is not keeping pace with growth in Canada, Britain and Sweden. The WHOLE story would also include admitting that entitlement promises have been too generous and that concessions need to be made to taxpayers going forward. There have been at least 54 Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy filings just since 2006, with the largest being Detroit, followed by Stockton, San Bernardino, and Jefferson County, AL, Central Falls, RI and Westfall, PA are some others. Harrisburg, PA filed for bankruptcy in 2011 but the judge denied their petition. NYC-ased hedge fund Bridgewater did a study suggesting that roughly 85% of public pensions will go bankrupt within three decades. US public pensions have $3 trillion of assets with which they are expected to make $10 trillion of retirement payments over the next 30 years. This implies a required annual return of roughly 9%, vs. the current 30 year US Treasury yield of 3.44%. [Source]

Members of Congress ARE workers in the public sector. Government employees in the United States — especially when one includes contractors, lobbyists, and others who qualify as well-heeled and powerful elites — have profited quite well at the expense of the people. It is no coincidence that Washington DC and its surrounding counties are among the wealthiest in the U.S.. And elsewhere, Chicago public school teachers make nearly triple the median income of Chicago.

Congressional leaders unveiled a massive $1.01 trillion spending on December 9, 2014. For the first time, Congress also would allow the benefits of current private sector retirees to be severely cut, part of an effort to save some of the nation’s most distressed pension plans. The measure would alter 40 years of federal law and could affect millions of workers, many of them part of a shrinking corps of middle-income employees in businesses such as trucking, construction and supermarkets. The idea is reluctantly supported by some unions and retirement fund managers who see it as the only way to salvage pensions in plans that are in imminent danger of running out of money. But it also has stirred strong opposition from retirees who could face deep pension cuts and from advocates eager to keep retiree pensions sacrosanct, even in cases when funds are in a deep financial hole. The advocates argue that allowing cuts to plans would open the door to trims for other retirees later.

It's the private sector that is paying the salaries of the public sector, ergo public sector salaries must be inline with private sector salaries. It makes no sense for citizens who average $50,000 a year to pay for public sector retirement packages that run in six and seven figures. Furthermore, if someone in the public sector doesn't think he/she is paid enough, he/she can go out into the private sector and try to earn what they think they're worth. Remember, public sector employment falls under the guise of "public servant" not "master over the commoners". Anyone taking a public sector paycheck is technically on the dole, since it's the private sector taxpayers paying for it all. When those on the dole exceed those paying the taxes to fund their government paychecks, the system collapses. It is not sustainable when government pensions and benefits exceed the private sector's working income. It would be apropo if all college graduates would take that truth into consideration when they decide to opt for the cushy government paycheck. [Source]

Public employees simply don't CARE if they are particularly useful or if the taxpayers can afford them. They seem themselves as an untouchable protected class. [Wildmouse]

Our world is faced with significant budget problems, the likes of which have not been seen since the 1930's. Most public employees do not comprehend this fact, because they have been living in a fantasy land where they earn in the top 10 percentile of all workers. It seems there will be some reversion to benefits and the mean of incomes. The citizens are tapped out, and many are not comfortable paying their civil servants approximately twice the national average wage for their services. They would pay if they could, but they have had wage cuts, 401k cuts, benefit cuts, home value cuts, stock price cuts, etc. And they don't want higher taxes. Most of us in the private sector pay five to six times what public workers pay for healthcare, and we don't have retirement pensions. I am on a 5% paycut for the past two years with no pay raise for the past four years, and I pay over $80 a week for a lousy Blue Cross plan. [Source]

If the county is really paying $33,000 in benefits on a $58,000 salary (56%?) they're getting out-negotiated bad, the taxpayers are getting screwed, and the union is making out like a bandit [public workers are hired to serve the public and that's why we shouldn't allow them to be unionized]. That sounds about right given the way our national and state government is run. As a small business owner it cost me about 33% when I could afford to offer full benefits. Wow, that's 23% difference; I think I just solved their budget problem. Sorry I pointed that out, I guess you'll have to raise my taxes or threaten to not supply us with police and fire protection, maybe take away school lunches, stop bus service, cut off grandma's health care or something else that will force us to pay more instead of the government spending less. How many of you will even get pensions? How many of you can get two pensions? Or actually earn more in retirement that you did when you worked? Yes folks, it is possible thanks to the generosity of our government. These problems are going to become more and more frequent until we get our government in line with the private sector. [Source]

The commoners are starting to wake up with regards to the massive trough feeder pensions. The response from the California legislature is to offer the commoners a bite of the poisoned pension apple like you’ve seen in AB1234, etc…. The politicians are playing the ‘come join us’ card, right out of the union playbook. They want to add the private commoners to government-controlled retirement funds to stop their complaints. Naturally, the private commoners pensions would be nothing like the public pensions we see. They would throw the commoners a few crumbs to shut them up!!! HAH! We’ve got certified morons running this country who couldn’t give a damn about the common good of the people. IT’S ALL ABOUT THEM!!! [Beelzebub]

We commoners fight for scraps and feel lucky if we can make our monthly bills without going into debt. We avoid looking at the growing number of homeless in our city parks. We say a prayer thanking God that it's not us, yet feel queasy that it soon could be. We've forgotten what took 100 years to learn -- only by uniting will the working classes stave off hunger, disease and exploitation. You may feel safe today, but if this "Great Recession" hasn't taught you that your life's circumstances could change in a heartbeat, then you haven't been paying attention. But all of this is so much bloviating. Unless we pass an amendment to the constitution reforming campaign finance NOTHING will change. Most of us are distracted by shiny objects -- and I no longer believe that the root cause will ever be addressed: our politicians are ALL bought and therefore refuse to problem solve. I know...how 'bout another war? Rome, anyone...? I will not "invest" it in the crap game known as Wall St. I've watched my parents lose the majority of their savings during the last THREE crashes of this new century. When it comes to my sisters they will receive about $1200 - $1400 from Social Security if that hasn't been raided by the corporate uber class. Either way none of us will be able to fully retire. I'm sure I'll be living with at least one of them in my old age if we live that long. My story isn't unique. It's the norm. [Teaching Tolerance]

Most of the time, when it comes to issues like taxes and benefits, even "sacrifice" can only be prompted by appealing to self-interest. If people of any group can be convinced, somehow, that short-term sacrifice has a chance of leading to long-term gain, they're more likely to do it.  If the upper-classes thought that "sacrificing" to improve the lot of the broad-range of consumers would eventually increase their own bottom line, they'd be more likely to do it.  If middle-class taxpayers could be convinced that paying more would enhance the benefits available to them in the future, they'd be more likely to do it too. But if people are told that they're just giving away more for the benefit of others with little hope of getting anything out of it themselves, whether they're wealthy or not, they'll naturally resist.

George Carlin Was Right (2005)

There's a reason for this, there's a reason education sucks, and it's the same reason it will never ever ever be fixed. It's never going to get any better. Don't look for it. Be happy with what you've got... because the owners of this country don’t want that. I'm talking about the real owners now... the real owners. The big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions.

Forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls. They got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear. They got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying. Lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else.

But I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests. That’s right. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fuckin’ years ago. They don’t want that.

You know what they want? They want obedient workers. Obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime and vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And now they’re coming for your Social Security money. They want your fuckin' retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street.

And you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all from you sooner or later 'cause they own this fuckin' place. It’s a big club and you ain't in it. You and I are not in the big club. By the way, it’s the same big club they use to beat you over the head with all day long when they tell you what to believe. All day long beating you over the head with their media telling you what to believe, what to think and what to buy.

The table is tilted, folks. The game is rigged and nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. Good, honest, hard-working people: white collar, blue collar, it doesn’t matter what color shirt you have on. Good, honest, hard-working people continue — these are people of modest means — continue to elect these rich cocksuckers who don’t give a fuck about them. They don’t give a fuck about you. They don’t give a fuck about you. They don’t care about you at all! At all! At all! And nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care. That’s what the owners count on. The fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant...

Time to scrap public pensions before they all go bust?

IN FOCUS: New York City and Chicago may have same fate as Detroit after facing pension problems

JOHN TAMNY: Yes, get rid of them. What is public service? It's a sacrifice. It is supposed to be a short term sacrifice before you go into the private sector and produce real economic growth. The problem now with high government pay and big pension plans is that we are creating lifelong government workers that are a burden to those working in the real economy. If you get rid of them, they will have an incentive to get back into the real world and cities will no longer have pension problems.

RICK UNGAR: In New York, 95 percent of every public employee doesn't contribute a nickel into their retirement, which is not ok. We don't need to scrap these programs, we can't forget about people who have worked their whole career and are expecting their pension, but it is time to reform them.

STEVE FORBES: Unless they do file for bankruptcy, cities cannot scrap most of these plans because of state constitutions which say you cannot do that. So you have to negotiate with these unions to do it. What they should start with is having 401k plans for new workers and then try if you get higher interest rates to annuitize what their obligations have been so far and then cap it in the future.

RICH KARLGAARD: Unfortunately our politicians are mathematically ignorant. For example, take CalPERS which manages the California state pension fund, it is assuming a 7.5 percent annual return from now until Armageddon. No one is getting 7.5 percent today without putting their money at risk. 5 percent is a more realistic assumption today. Pensions should be cut by a 1/3 right off the bat to reflect real market returns.

ELIZABETH MACDONALD: We see reform happening already, you can change the structure of government pensions for future hires, meaning into a 401k. They are doing it in places like Alaska and San Diego, Utah is going into reform, so is DC. You can cut unfunded health care benefits, so they can be cut without going to court, that's already happening in Stockton and Viejo. The irony is that healthcare maybe taking care of this problem already. Health reform is weighing whether to hire new workers or cut back on city services. So do you cut back on city services like police and firefighters or reform pension systems?

SABRINA SCHAEFFER: There is another side of the story which is American taxpayers. There are hard working Americans out there that shouldn't have to shoulder for unreasonable compensation packages. The financial landscape is shifting, Gallup recently found that current retirees are relying largely on pensions and social security, but those approaching retirement, future retirees are planning on relying on their 401k and their IRAs. I think it's important to remember that people are accustomed to doing these private, individualized savings plan and we need to start shifting with those younger workers.

The government is trying to close what it calls a "loophole" so government workers won't have to pay all their health care premiums

STEVE FORBES: If the cooking is so great, why don't they eat it? The fact of the matter is that they don't like it. As for the saying, oh we will have a brain drain, that assumes there are brains to drain and if they are, they should be in the private sector. If these people are so essential, give them a pay raise and let the taxpayers decide if they want to spend that extra money.

RICK UNGAR: This is a made-to-order PR thing for people who are against Obamacare, I get it. It's the result of a little number that a GOP senator pulled at the beginning, it all went in a certain direction, and it was ill-planned and silly. Congress is being treated like a small business; they can go to the exchanges, in fact they still have to. They are entitled to pay a portion of the premiums and pay whatever portion they decide to pay off their employees. It's no different than what happens to anyone working here at FOX, who has their insurance covered by their employer.

SABRINA SCHAEFFER: I think Michael Cannon over at the Cato Institute put it perfectly, he said now we have a ruling class versus the rest of us. Obamacare is for the rest of us, the commoners. All of these people up in Congress are getting out of it; it's not just Congress, what about President Obama and his family? What about the justices and their families, the Supreme Court and their families, federal judges and 1,200 corporations and unions? This is picking winners and losers at its worst.

BILL BALDWIN: Obama said if you have a health care plan and you like it, you can keep it. Why not let these slobs keep their plans. If Steve thinks they are overpaid, let them put a bill through his Congress and cut their pay. Private sector people aren't taking pay cuts.

JOHN TAMNY: Government workers are an economy suffocating burden. The last thing you want to do is create an incentive for more people to go to work for government. If anything, they should have a more onerous health plan so they have an incentive to exit the government sector and not be a burden on us.

MIKE OZANIAN: That's the hypocrisy of Obamacare because when a lot of people in the private sector said that's one of the problems with this bill, it's going to cause a brain drain in the private sector, they denied that, they said no, that wouldn't happen. By the way, lots of people have lost their coverage with Obamacare. It's just one more thing about this that the president said that is not true.

[Watch] Riot Police Take Off Their Helmets in Solidarity with Protesters

December 13, 2013

UFP News - In a rare demonstration of solidarity with the common man, Italian riot police are shown in this video removing their helmets and standing with anti-EU demonstrators in Turin, Italy.

Commoners from all walks of life, from truck drivers to students are out in the street, protesting the state of the Italian economy, the single currency and fuel prices.

The protests grew out of the “Pitchfork Movement,” begun by a group of Sicilian farmers demanding government reforms. It has evolved into a national rebellion against banks, the Italian tax collection agency, “Equitalia,” the European Union, and the Socialist-backed minority government.

Euronews reports “Many share the protesters’ anger and at one point police officers in Turin took off their helmets, in a show of solidarity.”

Giorgio Bissoli, spokesman for the Azione Rurale protest group told Canale 5 television,
“We farmers are on the streets to say ‘Enough!’ to the state, the government, the unions. We just can’t manage anymore. Our main priority is that they all have to go!”
Widespread discontent over fuel prices, globalization and the draconian austerity measures of the European Union are also expected to result in a major anti-EU backlash in next year’s European parliamentary elections.

The protesters claim to represent, “the unemployed, casual workers, pensioners, workers in every sector, students, mothers and fathers,” and see it as their duty “to throw out the criminals who hold power.”

The movement appears to be a genuine populist revolt against policies that have devastated Italy’s economy.
The refusal of the police to abuse their fellow citizens and their willingness to demonstrate through their actions that they share some of the same positions as the demonstrators is encouraging. There have been countless examples where they follow instructions as the oppressive arms of their increasingly totalitarian leadership.

A refusal by the enforcement arm of a nation to commit immoral or questionable acts in the name of upholding the status quo and propping up an unpopular government often leads to social change.

All governments across the globe should pay attention to what is now going on in Italy. Those events may be a precursor of things to come as austerity demands made by the banking forces in control of government policy become more than what the public is willing to tolerate and accept.