| Wall Street journalists stick to story about Prince Bandar “swipe” at Qatar!

Wall Street journalists stick to story about Prince Bandar “swipe” at Qatar ~ MEMO.

An article published in the Wall Street journal last week continues to reverberate in the Gulf States. In its 25 August edition Journalists Adam Entous, Nour Malas and Margaret Coker revealed that Prince Bandar had taken “a swipe” at Qatar when he said that the country was “nothing but 300 people … and a TV channel,” reportedly also saying “that doesn’t make a country.”

Soon after the quote by Prince Bandar was reported, Qatar’s foreign minister, Khalid Al Atiyah, responded via twitter saying that, “one Qatari citizen is worth an entire people and the Qatari people are equal to an entire nation.” He added, “This is what we teach our children, with all due respect to the others.”

Apart from reports of unease among Saudi officials, the prince’s remarks had also provoked outrage and acute embarrassment on a public level. Many Saudis viewed it as highly insulting. Social media activists took to cyberspace to offer apologies for what they perceived as a condescending remark toward a ‘brotherly state’.

Two days after the publication of the Wall Street Journal article, unnamed Saudi officials, in an attempt to diffuse tensions, denied the remarks attributed to the prince.

In the event, MEMO contacted the Wall Street Journal journalists behind the story. They confirmed that although Prince Bandar was himself was unavailable for a comment, their sources were credible and extremely knowledgeable. As such, they maintained that that they were sticking by their story.

MEMO’S analysts believe that in light of this reaffirmation by the Wall Street Journal, it would be difficult to refute the offending remark.

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| “The American Dream” – Best 3 minutes of George Carlin’s career! [3:15]

| “The American Dream” Best 3 minutes of George Carlin’s career! [3:15] ~ Doc Truth, YouTube.

“There’s a reason education SUCKS, and it’s the same reason that 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’ve got the judges in their back pockets, and they own all the big media companies so they control just about all the news and information you get to hear. They gotcha 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 the kitchen table and figure out how badly they’re getting FUCKED by 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 passably accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime, and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it.

And now they’re comin’ 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 — ‘cuz 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 in 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-workin people — white collar, blue collar — doesn’t matter what color shirt you have on.

Good honest hard-workin 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. T HEY DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU — AT ALL. AT ALL. AT ALL. You know? 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 of the big red, white and blue dick that’s being jammed up their assholes every day. Because the owners of this country know the truth — it’s called the American Dream … ‘coz you have to be asleep to believe it.”

George Carlin’s Final Words To The World …
George Carlin on “The American Dream!”

URLhttp://youtu.be/E1OgEG_FSIg

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| Bankster blues: It’s the Interest, Stupid! Why Bankers Rule the World!

It’s the Interest, Stupid! Why Bankers Rule the World ~ Ellen BrownTruthout.

Interest charges are a strongly regressive tax that the poor pay to the rich. A public banking system could realize savings up to 40 percent – allowing taxes to be cut, services increased and market stability created – with banks feeding the economy rather than feeding off it.

Shredded money and percentage

(Image: Jim Larson; Edited: JR / TO)

 

In the 2012 edition of Occupy Money released last week, Professor Margrit Kennedy writes that a stunning 35 percent to 40 percent of everything we buy goes to interest. This interest goes to bankers, financiers, and bondholders, who take a 35 percent to 40 percent cut of our GDP. That helps explain how wealth is systematically transferred from Main Street to Wall Street. The rich get progressively richer at the expense of the poor, not just because of “Wall Street greed,” but because of the inexorable mathematics of our private banking system.

This hidden tribute to the banks will come as a surprise to most people, who think that if they pay their credit card bills on time and don’t take out loans, they aren’t paying interest. This, says Dr. Kennedy, is not true.

Tradesmen, suppliers, wholesalers and retailers all along the chain of production rely on credit to pay their bills. They must pay for labor and materials before they have a product to sell, and before the end-buyer pays for the product 90 days later. Each supplier in the chain adds interest to its production costs, which are passed on to the ultimate consumer. Dr. Kennedy cites interest charges ranging from 12 percent for garbage collection, to 38 percent for drinking water, to 77 percent for rent in public housing in her native Germany.

Her figures are drawn from the research of economist Helmut Creutz, writing in German and interpreting Bundesbank publications. They apply to the expenditures of German households for everyday goods and services in 2006; but similar figures are seen in financial sector profits in the United States, where they composed a whopping 40 percent of US business profits in 2006. That’s more than five times the 7 percent made by the banking sector in 1980. Bank assets, financial profits, interest and debt have all been growing exponentially.

110812brown 1(Source: Adapted from Of Two Minds)

Exponential growth in financial sector profits has occurred at the expense of the non-financial sectors, where incomes have at best grown linearly.

110812brown 2(Source: Consider the Evidence)

By 2010, 1 percent of the population owned 42 percent of financial wealth, while 80 percent of the population owned only 5 percent of financial wealth. Dr. Kennedy observes that the bottom 80 percent pay the hidden interest charges that the top 10 percent collect, making interest a strongly regressive tax that the poor pay to the rich.

110812brown 3(Source: Who Rules America?)

Exponential growth is unsustainable. In nature, sustainable growth progresses in a logarithmic curve that grows increasingly more slowly until it levels off (the red line in the first chart above). Exponential growth does the reverse: It begins slowly and increases over time, until the curve shoots up vertically (the chart below). Exponential growth is seen in parasites, cancers – and compound interest. When the parasite runs out of its food source, the growth curve suddenly collapses.

People generally assume that if they pay their bills on time, they aren’t paying compound interest; but again, this isn’t true. Compound interest is baked into the formula for most mortgages, which comprises 80 percent of US loans.

If credit cards aren’t paid within the one-month grace period, interest charges are compounded daily; and even if you pay within the grace period, you are paying 2 percent to 3 percent for the use of the card, since merchants pass their merchant fees on to the consumer. Debit cards, which are the equivalent of writing checks, also involve fees. Visa-MasterCard and the banks at both ends of these interchange transactions charge an average fee of 44 cents per transaction – though the cost to them is about 4 cents.

Even if you pay cash, you are liable to be paying an additional 2 percent to 3 percent, since, until recently, merchants were not allowed to give discounts for cash payments. A July 2012 settlement with Visa and MasterCard, however, allowed merchants in the settlement to add a surcharge for credit card use.

How to Recapture the Interest: Own the Bank

The implications of all this are stunning. If we had a financial system that returned the interest collected from the public directly to the public, 35 percent could be lopped off the price of everything we buy. That means we could buy three items for the current price of two, and that our paychecks could go 50 percent farther than they go today.

Direct reimbursement to the people is a hard system to work out, but there is a way we could collectively recover the interest paid to banks. We could do it by turning the banks into public utilities and their profits into public assets. Profits would return to the public, either reducing taxes or increasing the availability of public services and infrastructure.

By borrowing from their own publicly-owned banks, governments could eliminate their interest burden altogether. This has been demonstrated elsewhere with stellar results, including in CanadaAustralia, and Argentina, among other countries.

In 2011, the US federal government paid $454 billion in interest on the federal debt – nearly one-third the total $1.1 trillion ($1,100 billion) paid in personal income taxes that year. If the government had been borrowing directly from the Federal Reserve – which has the power to create credit on its books and now rebates its profits directly to the government – personal income taxes could have been cut by a third.

Borrowing from its own central bank interest-free might allow a government to eliminate its national debt altogether. In Money and Sustainability: The Missing Link, Bernard Lietaer and Christian Asperger, et al., cite the example of France. The treasury borrowed interest-free from the nationalized Banque de France from 1946 to 1973. The law then changed to forbid this practice, requiring the treasury to borrow instead from the private sector. The authors include a chart showing what would have happened if the French government had continued to borrow interest-free, versus what did happen. Rather than dropping from 21 percent to 8.6 percent of GDP, the debt shot up from 21 percent to 78 percent of GDP.

“No ‘spendthrift government’ can be blamed in this case,” write the authors. “Compound interest explains it all!”

More than Just a Federal Solution

It is not just federal governments that could eliminate their interest charges in this way. State and local governments could do it too.

Consider California. At the end of 2010, it had general obligation and revenue bond debt of $158 billion. Of this, $70 billion, or 44 percent, was owed for interest. If the state had incurred that debt to its own bank – which then returned the profits to the state – California could be $70 billion richer today. Instead of slashing services, selling off public assets, and laying off employees, it could be adding services and repairing its decaying infrastructure.

The only US state to own its own depository bank today is North Dakota. North Dakota is also the only state to have escaped the 2008 banking crisis, sporting a sizable budget surplus every year since then. It has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, the lowest foreclosure rate, and the lowest default rate on credit card debt.

Globally, 40 percent of banks are publicly owned, and they are concentrated in countries that also escaped the 2008 banking crisis. These are the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India, and China – which are home to 40 percent of the global population. The BRICs grew economically by 92 percent in the last decade, while Western economies were floundering.

Cities and counties could also set up their own banks; but in the US, this model has yet to be developed. In North Dakota, meanwhile, the Bank of North Dakota underwrites the bond issues of municipal governments, saving them from the vagaries of the “bond vigilantes” and speculators, as well as from the high fees of Wall Street underwriters and the risk of coming out on the wrong side of interest rate swaps required by the underwriters as “insurance.”

One of many cities crushed by this Wall Street “insurance” scheme is Philadelphia, which has lost $500 million on interest swaps alone. The complicated way in which the swaps work was explained in an earlier article here. Last week, the Philadelphia City Council held hearings on what to do about these lost revenues, which have gone directly into the coffers of Wall Street banks. In an October 30 article titled “Can Public Banks End Wall Street Hegemony?” Willie Osterweil discussed a solution presented at the hearings in a fiery speech by Mike Krauss, a director of the Public Banking Institute.

Krauss’ solution was to do as Iceland did: Just walk away. He proposed “a strategic default until the bank negotiates at better terms.” Osterweil called it “radical,” since the city would lose it favorable credit rating. But Krauss had a solution to that problem: the city could form its own bank, and use it to generate credit from public revenues just as Wall Street banks do now.

“The crux of Krauss’ argument, and most radical of all, is for the creation of a public bank,” wrote Osterweil, which “will keep the taxes and other financial assets of the people … circulating in the city, by leveraging them to provide the sustainable and affordable credit required in a modern economy to power locally directed economic development and jobs creation.” It is a radical solution whose time has come.

Public banking may be a radical solution, but it is also an obvious one. This is not rocket science. By developing a public banking system, governments can keep the interest and reinvest it locally. According to Kennedy and Creutz, that means public savings of 35 percent to 40 percent. Costs can be reduced across the board; taxes can be cut or services can be increased; and market stability can be created for governments, borrowers and consumers. Banking and credit can become public utilities, feeding the economy rather than feeding off it.

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| ‘Why I’m Voting Green: Those who rebel are our only hope!’

Why I’m Voting Green

Those who rebel are our only hope ~ Chris Hedges, Truthdig.

The November election is not a battle between Republicans and Democrats. It is not a battle between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. It is a battle between the corporate state and us. And if we do not immediately engage in this battle we are finished, as climate scientists have made clear. I will defy corporate power in small and large ways. I will invest my energy now solely in acts of resistance, in civil disobedience and in defiance. Those who rebel are our only hope. And for this reason I will vote next month for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, although I could as easily vote for Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party. I will step outside the system. Voting for the “lesser evil”—or failing to vote at all—is part of the corporate agenda to crush what is left of our anemic democracy. And those who continue to participate in the vaudeville of a two-party process, who refuse to confront in every way possible the structures of corporate power, assure our mutual destruction.

All the major correctives to American democracy have come through movements and third parties that have operated outside the mainstream. Few achieved formal positions of power. These movements built enough momentum and popular support, always in the face of fierce opposition, to force the power elite to respond to their concerns. Such developments, along with the courage to defy the political charade in the voting booth, offer the only hope of saving us from Wall Street predators, the assault on the ecosystem by the fossil fuel industry, the rise of the security and surveillance state and the dramatic erosion of our civil liberties.

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any,” Alice Walker writes.

It was the Liberty Party that first fought slavery. It was the Prohibition and Socialist parties, along with the Suffragists, that began the fight for the vote for women and made possible the 19th Amendment. It was the Socialist Party, along with radical labor unions, that first battled against child labor and made possible the 40-hour workweek. It was the organizing of the Populist Party that gave us the Immigration Act of 1924 along with a “progressive” tax system. And it was the Socialists who battled for unemployment benefits, leading the way to the Social Security Act of 1935. No one in the ruling elite, including Franklin Roosevelt, would have passed this legislation without pressure from the outside.

“It is the combination of a social movement on the ground with an independent political party that has always made history together, whether during abolition, women’s suffrage or the labor movement,” Stein said when I reached her by phone as she campaigned in Chicago. “We need courage in our politics that matches the courage of the social movements—of Occupy, eviction blockades, Keystone pipeline civil disobedience, student strikes, the Chicago teachers union and more. If public opinion really mattered in this race, we [her presidential ticket] would win. We have majority support in poll after poll on nearly all of the key issues, from downsizing the military budget and bringing the troops home, to taxing the rich, to stopping the Wall Street bailouts, to breaking up the banks, to ending the offshoring of jobs, to supporting workers’ rights, to increasing the minimum wage, to health care as a human right, through Medicare for all. These are the solutions a majority of Americans are clamoring for.”

The corporate state has successfully waged a campaign of fear to disempower voters and citizens. By intimidating voters through a barrage of propaganda with the message that Americans have to vote for the lesser evil and that making a defiant stand for justice and democracy is counterproductive, it cements into place the agenda of corporate domination we seek to thwart. This fear campaign, skillfully disseminated by the $2.5 billion spent on political propaganda, has silenced real political opposition. It has turned those few politicians and leaders who have the courage to resist, such as Stein and Ralph Nader, into pariahs, denied a voice in the debates and the national discourse. Capitulation, silence and fear, however, are not a strategy. They will guarantee everything we seek to avoid.

“The Obama administration has embraced the policies of George W. Bush, and then gone much further,” Stein said. “Wall Street bailouts went ballistic under Obama—$700 billion under Bush, but $4.5 trillion under Obama, plus another $16 trillion in zero-interest loans for Wall Street. Obama continues offshoring our jobs. Bill Clinton brought us NAFTA, which was carried out under George W. Bush. It was vastly expanded under Obama to labor abusers in Colombia, and to Panama and South Korea. The Transpacific Partnership, being negotiated behind closed doors by the Obama White House, is NAFTA on steroids. It continues to send our jobs overseas. It undermines wages at home. It overrides American sovereignty by establishing an international corporate board that can overrule American legislation and regulations that protect workers as well as our air, our water, our climate and our food supply.”

Obama, who has claimed the power of assassinating U.S. citizens without charge or trial, increased the drone war and has vastly expanded the wars in the Middle East. He is waging proxy wars in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia. His assault on civil liberties—from his use of the Espionage Act to silence whistle-blowers to Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act to the FISA Amendment Act—is worse than Bush’s. His attack on immigrant rights has also outpaced that of Bush. Obama has deported more undocumented workers in four years than his Republican predecessor did in eight years. There is negligible difference between Obama and Romney on the issue of student debt, which has turned a generation of college students into indentured servants. But the most important convergence between the Republicans and the Democrats is their utter failure to address the perilous assault by the fossil fuel industry on the ecosystem. It was Obama who undercut the international climate accord reached last year at Durban, South Africa, saying the world could wait until 2020 for an agreement.

“Obama is promoting oil drilling in the Arctic, where the ice cap has already collapsed to one-quarter of its size from a couple decades ago, and he’s opened up our national parks for drilling,” Stein said. “He has given the green light tofracking. He has permitted the exhaust from shale oil [extraction] to go into the atmosphere. He is building the southern pass of the Keystone pipeline. He brags that he has built more miles of pipeline than any other president.

“There is a protracted drought in 60 percent of the continental U.S.,” Stein said. “There are record forest fires and rising food prices. We have just now seen the 12 hottest months on record. Storms are growing in destructiveness. All this is happening with less than 1-degree Celsius temperature rise. Yet we are now on track for a 6-degree Celsius warming in this century alone. This is not survivable. The most pessimistic science on climate change has underpredicted the rate at which climate change is advancing.”

The flimsy excuses used by liberals and progressives to support Obama, including the argument that we can’t let Romney appoint the next Supreme Court justices, ignore the imperative of building a movement as fast and as radical as possible as a counterweight to corporate power. The Supreme Court, no matter what its composition, will not save us from financial implosion and climate collapse. And Obama, whatever his proclivity on social issues, has provided ample evidence that he will not alter his servitude to the corporate state. For example, he has refused to provide assurance that he will not make cuts in basic social infrastructures. He has proposed raising the eligibility age for Medicare, a move that would leave millions without adequate health care in retirement. He has said he will reduce the cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security, thrusting vast numbers of seniors into poverty. Progressives’ call to vote for independents in “safe” states where it is certain the Democrats will win will do nothing to mitigate fossil fuel’s ravaging of the ecosystem, regulate and prosecute Wall Street or return to us our civil liberties.

“There is no state out there where either Obama or Romney offers a way out of here alive,” Stein said. “It’s up to us to create truly safe states, a safe nation, and a safe planet. Neither Obama nor Romney has a single exit strategy from the deadly crises we face.”

Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

Copyright © 2012 Truthdig

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