Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Taxpayers Get $50 Billion Spy Bill

Declassified: US spying could top $50 billion in 2007
Jason Rhyne

Published: Tuesday October 30, 2007 del.icio.us

The tab for US non-military spying in 2007 is a whopping $43.5 billion, according to figures released today by National Director of Intelligence Mike McConnell.
Disclosure of that amount marks the first time in nine years that funds budgeted for national intelligence activities have been publicly aired, and comes amid mounting pressure from Congress and the Sept. 11 commission to make the practice routine.
A more complete budget figure for US spying is actually even higher, according to sources cited in the Washington Post, who told the paper that if still-classified totals for military-based programs were factored in, that number would reach $50 billion.
“While the budget figure released by McConnell excludes intelligence programs for the separate military services,” reports the Post, “it includes the budgets of the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the FBI's intelligence programs, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the major Defense Department intelligence collection agencies.”
The last time such figures were announced -- the spying budget including military spending was $26.5 billion in 1998 -- it took a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit from the Project of Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists to force their publication.
That organization’s director, Steven Aftergood, told RAW STORY Tuesday that revealing the cost of spying activities could cause a stir within intelligence circles.
“Disclosure of the intelligence budget figure may have significant repercussions for national security classification policy,” he said, “just because it was so strongly opposed by the intelligence community.”
Even after his group’s successful Freedom of Information Act action, Aftergood said “intelligence officials literally swore that any further disclosures would damage national security.”
He points to statements made by former CIA Director George Tenet, who told a federal court in 2003 that the intelligence budget was “of great interest to nations and non-state groups... wishing to calculate the strengths and weaknesses of the United States,” and went on to say that disclosure of a budget total could cause “serious damage” to the United States.
“Even historical budget information from half a century ago” shouldn’t be released, Aftergood said officials maintained, citing a statement to that effect from former US Deputy Director of Central Intelligence John McLaughlin, who in 2004 wrote that such material “must be withheld from public disclosure... because its release would tend to reveal intelligence methods."
“Now it appears that such information may safely be disclosed after all,” Aftergood said. “Because the new disclosure is so sharply at odds with past practice, it may introduce some positive instability into a recalcitrant classification system. The question implicitly arises, if intelligence officials were wrong to classify this information, what other records are they wrongly withholding?”
A news release from Director McConnell's office disclosing the new numbers, obtained by Aftergood, is available here.

Nicely Said...............

"Clearly the biggest monopolist of all is the U.S. government. No competition is allowed, the quality of output is continually falling, the prices are continually rising, and the consumer is treated shabbily." -Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ol'Billy Gets Called Out By The Past

Newser's book: Ford saw Clinton as a sex 'addict'
Sunday, October 28th 2007, 4:00 AM
Exclusive: Gerald Ford was disturbed by Bill Clinton's skirt-chasing ways - and thought he should check into a sex addiction clinic."

Gerald Ford was disturbed by Bill Clinton's skirt-chasing ways - and thought he should check into a sex addiction clinic.
A new book on the late 38th President reveals he had strong views about the Clintons: He thought Hillary wore the pants and that Bill couldn't keep his zipped.
"He's sick - he's got an addiction. He needs treatment," Ford told Daily News Washington Bureau Chief Thomas M. DeFrank, author of "Write It When I'm Gone: Remarkable Off-the-Record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford."
Ford's wife, Betty, who founded a pioneering treatment center after her battle with alcoholism and drugs, agreed.
"You know, there's treatment for that kind of addiction," she told DeFrank during the same conversation in 1999. "A lot of men have gone through the treatment with a lot of success. But he won't do it, because he's in denial."
The Fords first got to know the Clintons in the summer of 1993, when they invited the new First Family to their home in Colorado.
Gerald Ford's impressions of the Oval Office's latest tenant were mixed. He believed Clinton was charismatic, articulate, a "helluva salesman" and the best politician he'd ever seen - even better than John F. Kennedy.
But he considered Clinton a foreign-policy wimp, and sensed that he hadn't learned from mistakes in his personal life - allegations of womanizing that dogged him during the campaign for the White House.
That opinion was based on behavior Ford witnessed the weekend he hosted the Clintons in Colorado.
"I'll tell you one thing: He didn't miss one good-looking skirt at any of the social occasions," Ford said later.
"He's got a wandering eye, I'll tell you that. Betty had the same impression; he isn't very subtle about his interest."
Nevertheless, when the Monica Lewinsky sex-and-perjury scandal erupted and barreled toward impeachment, Ford was willing to help Clinton - to a point.
After the House voted to impeach Clinton but before the Senate's decision on whether to convict him, the sitting President phoned the ex-President.
"He said he needed my help and wanted to know if I could help," Ford recalled not long after.
Ford had written two Op-Ed pieces in which he called for Clinton to admit he had lied to federal investigators in exchange for censure over impeachment.
He told Clinton that he would help him, if he agreed to such a deal.
"Bill I think you have to admit that you lied. If you do that, I think that will help - and I'll help you. If you'll admit to perjury, I'll do more," he said.
"I won't do that," Clinton told him. "I can't do that."
Ford was stunned by Clinton's lack of contrition. "It's a character flaw," he concluded.
Still, he seemed to feel for Clinton on a personal level.
"I'm convinced that Clinton has a sexual addiction. He needs to get help - for his sake. He's already damaged his presidency beyond repair," he told DeFrank.
In Ford's eyes, Clinton's weaknesses were in sharp contrast to his wife's iron will.
"She's stronger and tougher than he is," he said. "When she takes a point you're gonna have to be damn sure you're well informed because she won't compromise as quickly or as easily as he.
"She's very bright. She's strong, and I think he defers to her. When she gets her dander up, she ain't gonna roll over."
And he had no doubts about her ambitions. "Hillary is gonna be on the ticket in '04 or '08, one or the other, you can write that down," he said in 2002.
Yet he didn't think she would win - "I don't think the country is ready for a lady President," he said - and he didn't live long enough to find out if he was right.
The Clintons, through spokesman Howard Wolfson, declined to comment about the book.

Here's An Interesting Little Story..........

Exposed: Secret Government Collusion with GM Firm
Jonathan OwenLondon Independent Monday October 29, 2007
Ministers are funding genetically modified crop projects with scores of millions of pounds every year and are colluding with a biotech company to ease its GM tests, the IoS can reveal. Geoffrey Lean on a murky tale that Whitehall tried to hide
Ministers are secretly easing the way for GM crops in Britain, while professing to be impartial on the technology, startling internal documents reveal.
The documents, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, show that the Government colluded with a biotech company in setting conditions for testing GM potatoes, and gives tens of millions of pounds a year to boost research into modified crops and foods.
(Article continues below)
The information on funding proved extraordinarily difficult to get, requiring three months of investigation by an environmental pressure group, a series of parliamentary questions, and three applications for the information.
Friends of the Earth finally obtained still partial information last week which shows that the Government provides at least £50m a year for research into agricultural biotechnology, largely GM crops and food. This generosity contrasts with the £1.6m given last year for research into organic agriculture, in spite of repeated promises to promote environmentally friendly, “sustainable” farming.
Publicly ministers claim to be neutral over GM. Four years ago, at the height of controversy about plans to introduce modified crops to Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair insisted that the Government was “neither for nor against” them. The then Environment minister, Elliot Morley, added: “There is an open and transparent process for their assessment and all relevant material will be put in the public domain.” Last month the Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, reiterated: “There is no change in the Government’s position.”
But the documents show that ministers have been far from even-handed. One set, obtained by the campaigning group GM Freeze, clearly demonstrate that the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) allowed the biotech giant BASF to help to set the conditions for field trials it has conducted on modified potatoes. On 1 December last year the company was given permission to plant 450,000 modified potatoes in British fields over the next five years, in a series of 10 trials. The set of emails and letters between Defra and the company reveal that officials repeatedly went to remarkable lengths to make sure the trial conditions, supposed to protect the environment and farmers, were “agreeable” to BASF.
On 29 September a department official emailed BASF to inform it of a recommendation by the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (Acre), its official advisers on risks to health and the environment from GM, that “the land should be left fallow for two years following each trial” and added “I would like to know whether you think that this is workable for you”. The official pointed out that other EU countries had specified that “berries/true seed should be removed from the trial” but that Acre had “not specified this because the committee believes that this would be a very big job”. The email went on: “If you think this is completely unworkable, I think the committee may be prepared to accommodate a reduction of this fallow period to one year but there may be other conditions (eg removal of flowers/berries).”
The writer added: “In addition to this, Acre has recommended a particular tillage regime, hopefully you are able to accommodate this.”
On 6 October Defra sent BASF a draft of the consent to the trials, adding: “Please let me know whether or not the conditions as they stand would be agreeable to BASF or whether there are any conditions that would be difficult to meet.”
BASF replied on 26 October that it believed that the “probable conditions” were “very agreeable to us”, adding: “We hope that the final conditions will not change too much.”
On 9 November Defra again emailed BASF to check that one of the conditions “does not affect your plans”, and five days later was in touch again to say that it had “redrafted” another “in response to your concerns”.
Yet the department insisted in a written statement last week: “There is no truth in any allegation that Defra was in any way influenced by BASF in relation to the terms under which BASF could conduct trials on GM potatoes in the UK.”
Pete Riley, the campaign director of GM Freeze, said: “That is simply not correct. The documents clearly show that Defra colluded with BASF to ensure that Acre’s conditions for growing their GM crop were to their liking. Its role is to protect the environment and public health. It is supposed to be a watchdog, but the documents reveal it to be the industry’s lapdog.”
Peter Ainsworth, the Conservative environment spokesman, added: “This is a government department that claims to be objective and science-based in its approach to biotechnology, but clearly it has bent over backwards to model its conditions on the requirements of BASF.”
A spokesman for BASF said: “I do not think that they granted us any concessions that would not normally have been granted.”
The funding disclosure came when the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) – which is funded by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills – revealed that it gave £39.3m to its seven sponsored institutes for research on “agricultural biotechnology” in 2006-07.
The sum has more than doubled, from £15.5m, since 1997, even though the prospects for GM crops in Britain have been declining in this period, with ministers admitting three years ago that none would be grown commercially “for the foreseeable future”.
Besides this “core strategic grant”, the BBSRC also gives tens of millions of pounds a year for similar research to universities and other institutes.
In 2003-04 this sum totalled £27.1m. The BBSRC told Friends of the Earth that it could not provide it with up-to-date information until January, unless it paid a fee of £750, because this “would take considerable effort, beyond the appropriate limit” to assemble. But the figure is believed not to have fallen over the past three years. On top of the BBSRC funding, Defra provided £12.6m for agricultural biotechnology research in 2005-06, the last year for which figures are available.
Nor is it clear how much money goes to genetic modification, since the BBSRC defines agricultural biotechnology as “the application of molecular genetic and other modern biological techniques to crops, livestock and disease-causing organisms”.
It says it is not yet able to provide information on the proportion that has recently been devoted to GM, as opposed to other techniques. But figures on its website show that in 2000-01 about half of its core strategic grant to the seven institutes was spent on the technology.
In contrast, Defra spent £1.6m on research “relating to organic farming”, while BBSRC refuses to provide any funds at all, saying it “does not fund applied work on entire farming systems”.
It justifies spending so much taxpayers’ money on GM before, as it admits, “there is any clear evidence that the public wants them” by saying that research must retain “the flexibility to remain competitive and to respond to changing global situations and changes in consumer demand”.
Yet when the Government officially asked the public, four years ago, about their preferences, 86 per cent said they would not be happy to eat GM foods. By contrast, sales of organic produce rose by 22 per cent last year to break through the £2bn barrier. More than half of Britons now buy it, at least from time to time.
The BBSRC says that its funding for the research on GM crops would continue even if there was “a Europe-wide ban” on growing them commercially.
Kirtana Chandrasekaran, Friends of the Earth’s food campaigner, said: “The Government’s support for GM crops and foods is out of all proportion to its non-existent benefits, let alone the public’s non-existent desire to consume them.
“Despite continually promising to support sustainable agriculture, it is spending tens of millions on a technology that has fallen flat on its face while starving organic farming, which is producing food that people want to buy.
“It is also staggering that there is no clear information in the public domain on exactly how much money is going into GM research, and that it has proved so hard to get even partial figures out into the light of day.”
A farmer’s story: ‘It’s all about control of food production’
The spectre of GM contamination has cost John Turner dear. A succession of trials near his 250 acre farm in Little Bytham, south Lincolnshire, between 2000 and 2002 forced him to stop growing certain crops – suffering heavy financial losses as a result.
“It was a nightmare and we just felt absolutely powerless to do anything over it at all,” he recalled. “Without any real protection against contamination, we were forced to stop growing crops like maize that could be vulnerable to cross-pollination. It wasn’t easy but it was preferable to the damage that could have been done if our crops were no longer GM-free. We feel that we are in remission at the moment, but every few months there seems to be a new PR push from the GM lobby.”
The facts are being twisted to fit a commercial agenda, according to Mr Turner: “There is no sound science behind the push for GM crops. It’s all about money and control of not only the seeds but also food production from one end to the other. The more I find out about it the less I understand why there has been this impetus to force this technology on farming. It has been hugely over-hyped by those trying to promote it. There are plenty of ways of improving crops that don’t involve swapping genes around.
“But farmers could sleepwalk into using GM crops and by the time they realise the proposed benefits just aren’t there they will not be in a position to go back to a GM-free style of agriculture – that’s the danger and that’s been the experience of farmers in other parts of the world.”

The Ever Increasing Tendency Of Elected Officials To Use "Name-Calling" To Decry Opponents

Texas Toll Opponents “Crazy,” “Dangerous”
Jim ForsythWOAI News RadioOctober 25, 2007
Bexar County Judge Nelson W. Wolff used his State of the County address today to tear into opponents of toll roads in Bexar County, saying they are ‘crazy’ and ‘dangerous’ and suggesting once that if he ‘named the other members of Commissioner’s Court who support toll roads it might endanger their lives.’
Wolff said toll roads are ‘the right way,’ and he urged the Chamber of Commerce audience to cheer Metropolitan Planning Organization Chair Sheila McNeil, who was sued along with the MPO this week by toll road opponents who claim that the organization is illegally pushing for toll roads.
“We have some people who have had to take a lot of heat,” Wolff said. “One of them is Sheila McNeil who is the head of the MPO. Sheila, stand up. We owe you a round of applause for taking the heat from these crazy people who are jamming it down your throat every day!”
Wolff has been a long time supporter of toll roads, and he has mentioned the importance of building toll roads in his previous two State of the County speeches. But the vehemence of his denunciation of toll road opponents surprised some in his generally pro toll audience. Wolff didn’t mention by name which toll road opponents he thinks are ‘crazy’ or ‘dangerous’ but he did cite an incident following a meeting to discuss toll roads.
“We had an incident not too long ago, where the anti toll road people were here and sort of jumped (Regional Mobility Authority Chairman) Bill Thornton and I in the parking lot. I tried to get away from him and he kept following me. I finally turned around and asked him to get away from me, and he said ‘give me your best shot.’ I called the deputy across the street, and he came over and kept him away from me. Let me tell you, they are dangerous people.”
“We’re barely holding on with a three two vote on Commissioners Court supporting this project,” Wolff said. “I won’t tell you who the other two commissioners are, I don’t want to endanger their lives.”
Lyle Larson and Tommy Adkisson are toll road opponents on Bexar County Commissioner’s Court.
Then, Wolff suggested that Bexar County residents should be grateful that toll roads are being built.
“The roads on the side will be free, the toll lanes will be in the middle, you don’t have to get onto the toll lane, you should be happy we’re building it, because there will be less traffic on the free lanes.”
Wolff said he opposes any concessions agreement which would allow “a company from Spain” to build the toll roads, a reference to the Cintra-Zachry partnership which has the contract to build 40 miles of the State Highway 130 toll road.
“TexDOT wants to give it (the US 281 toll lane construction contract) to a company from Spain,” Wolff said. “We prefer that the public be involved. We need to stick with the public sector, we need to keep the tolls as low as possible, and allow that money to stay right here and not go someplace else, whether it be Spain or someplace else in Texas.”
Terri Hall, founder of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom, the leading anti toll group, agrees there is a lot that is crazy about toll roads, but toll road opponents aren’t among them.
“What’s crazy is charging us over and over again for what’s already paid for,” Hall said. “What’s crazy is claiming that they’re not tolling existing roads, when that’s exactly what they’re doing. And what’s dangerous is TexDOT failing to construct overpasses on 281 where deaths have occurred, so they can build ‘cash cow’ toll roads.”
Hall says she’s ‘amazed’ that a Chamber of Commerce audience cheered Wolff’s pro toll remarks, when toll roads will hurt local businesses and harm the county’s tax base.
“People are not going to go to the store, or buy that pair of shoes, when they have to pay all that money on tolls. That is going to hurt the tax base of Bexar County, and that’s the bottom line.”
Elsewhere in his State of the County speech, Wolff said he anticipates suggestions on an estimated $300 million dollar venue tax renewal proposal to be submitted to Commissioners Court by December, and a vote could be called on the issue next spring. He says officials are considering four potential uses for the venue tax money. Sports complexes, including facilities at UTSA, a Performing Arts Center, which could be built inside the existing Municipal Auditorium, expansion of the Riverwalk south and north, and improvements to the AT&T Center.

First Question: WHY?

Construction of 'Trans-Pacific Express' to Start
Central News Agency Monday October 29, 2007
TAIPEI—On October 22, a ground-breaking ceremony marking the beginning of the construction of the Trans-Pacific Express (TPE) was held in Qingdao City, Shandong Province in China. This is the first multi-terabit undersea fiber optic cable system to connect mainland China and the United States.
The TPE is funded by a consortium of six telecoms operators: China Telecom, China Netcom, China Unicom, Chunghwa Telecom, Korea Telecom, and Verizon of the United States, with a total investment of US$500 million. The TPE, with a total length of 26,000 kilometer (16,000 miles), will land in Qingdao, Shanghai's Chongming Island, Danshuei in Taiwan, Keoje in Korea, and Nedonna Beach in Oregon of the U.S.
The design bandwidth capacity of this construction is 5.12 Tbps (Tbps = trillion bits per second). It is the most advanced undersea cable system with greater capacity and higher speeds in China. Upon completion, this project will provide increased cable capacity to better meet the growing needs of Internet, data and voice communications between Asia and the U.S., while avoiding possible Internet breakdowns caused by frequent earthquakes off Taiwan.
The two-stage project will initially provide capacity of up to 800 Gbps and deliver a cable capacity of 400 Gbps in Asia. The project is estimated to be completed and put into operation in July 2008.
Even more important, completion of the TPE will help satisfy the broadband needs on Internet networks for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
In addition, running the TPE through Qingdao means that this coastal city will be the only one in northern China with a landing station of a fiber-optic undersea cable system. Thus, China Netcom, which is betting on the TPE to transmit Olympic TV programs in 2008, will significantly change how communication is routed through the country. As a result, China Netcom can effectively improve Internet communication services.

Jim Rogers Endorses America's Last & Best Hope, Ron Paul

Jim Rogers Endorses Ron Paul!
Posted October 29th, 2007 by manystrom
Investors around the world know and respect Jim Rogers as a smart, successful, maverick investor. He was an original partner with George Soros - they founded the Quantum fund together. In the late 1990's, he turned bullish on commodities - notably gold, and predicted the beginning of a great bull market in commodities in his best selling, Hot Commodities.
Jim recently endorsed Ron Paul in a video interview with the Financial Times. In this excellent interview on the Financial Times website, he says that Ron Paul "is the only one I've seen in American politics that seems to have a clue with what's going on in the world..."
The whole interview is well worth your time - he begins by talking about the future direction of the US dollar - but his endorsement of Ron Paul comes at around the 4:45 mark. Unfortunately, emphasizing his reputation as an early adopter / maverick / contrarian, Jim goes on to say, "If I'm supporting him, there is no way he is going to win..." :-( This is not as bad as it sounds, since he has a reputation in the investment community of being unconventional and also right! So having Rogers put Ron Paul's name out there is huge!

$2.9 Trillion Missing?

The mystery of the missing $2.9 trillion
David R. Francis CS MonitorMonday October 29, 2007
Like most people, economists love a mystery – especially if it involves not a missing person but a missing $2.9 trillion in United States debt.
That's $2.9 with 11 zeros after it.
Some words of explanation: Every quarter the Department of Commerce comes up with the US "International Investment Position." At the end of 2006, for instance, the US had a net negative position – by this measurement of international assets and liabilities – of $2.6 trillion. In other words, the country is by far the world's biggest debtor nation.
A quarter century ago, the US was the world's largest creditor nation.
(Article continues below)
The economists at Commerce count American-owned private assets in foreign nations (plants, equipment, retail outfits, property, corporate stocks and bonds, etc.), US official international reserves (gold, special drawing rights, foreign currencies), and other US assets abroad. The measurements get complicated. Then these economists count what foreigners own of American assets, looking at the same list of assets.
Subtracting the value of American international assets from what foreigners own of American assets, they come up with how much Americans are in debt to other nations and their peoples.
But if you look at the current account of the US balance of payments, which measures primarily the balance of trade, and also flows of interest and dividends, foreign aid, and other international transfers, the US should be far deeper in hock – $2.9 trillion more over the years from 1990 through 2006 than the official $2.6 trillion. Every month, the Commerce Department has reported huge deficits in trade and the broader current account. These deficits have to be financed somehow by foreigners, and so the US should be piling up its international debts in grand style.
Last year the US international deficit was running at a level equivalent to 6.5 percent of our gross domestic product, the nation's total output of goods and services. In a sense, Americans were living 6.5 percent better than they would if they weren't putting on the national tab, in effect, so many toys, shirts, computers, etc.
"Why aren't we more indebted?" asks Barry Bosworth, an economist at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
One related mystery is that American investments in foreign nations earn a much higher rate of return than do the investments by foreigners in the US.
"Why?" asks Mr. Bosworth in a working paper written with Susan Collins of the Gerald Ford School of Public Policy in Ann Arbor, Mich., and a graduate student, Gabriel Chodorow-Reich.
One-third of the gap in the return on investments can be attributed to US corporations reporting "extra" income in low tax jurisdictions of their foreign affiliates, the National Bureau of Economic Research paper finds. For example, Microsoft sells its software in foreign countries from an affiliate in Ireland – after making some changes in the software, says Bosworth. There, it pays only a 10 percent tax on its corporate profits, rather than the 38 percent corporate rate in the US. Other US firms set up affiliates in such tax havens as Barbados, the Bahamas, and Bermuda.
US firms are "quite aggres­sive" in taking advantage of such tax havens, notes Bosworth. It probably means that these companies avoid billions of dollars in taxes that otherwise would go to Uncle Sam. It also distorts the official balance-of-payments figures. "The data are very bad," says Bosworth.
Another economist intrigued by this international investment mystery is Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas of the University of California, Berkeley. He finds that the reason the US is earning so much more on its foreign assets than it is paying on its foreign liabilities is partly because US investors often take more risk and thus get a higher return. The American money goes into foreign direct investment (plant and equipment, etc.) and into foreign stock, for example. Many foreigners, especially central banks, tend to be more cautious in choosing American investments. They buy ultrasafe US Treasuries or relatively safe bonds issued by US corporations, for instance. "The US offers nice, liquid, safe investments," says Professor Gourinchas. The risk of default can be low.
The US is an entrepĂ´t, says Jane D'Arista, of the Financial Markets Center, Philomont, Va. That is, it takes in savings from the world at relatively low cost and invests some of that money abroad at a higher return.
There's more to the mystery than that, however. One advantage for the US is that the dollar is the primary currency used in international reserves of other nations and for invoicing international trade and investment, such as for oil and other commodities.
So when the dollar loses value, foreign holders of dollar assets lose on their dollar investments. Almost all US foreign liabilities are in dollars and about 70 percent of US foreign assets are in foreign currencies.In what Gourinchas calls an "eye-catching, back-of-the-envelope calculation," a 10 percent depreciation of the dollar represents a transfer of 5.3 percent of US GDP from the rest of the world to the US. America's GDP is currently $13.7 trillion, and the dollar is down 20.6 percent since 2002. So foreigners have – in effect – given the US about $1.3 trillion.
It's not really that simple, emphasizes Gourinchas. Nonetheless, the US has had a free lunch.

NAFTA SuperHighway News

Victory: TX Superhighway Officials to be Deposed?

Friday, October 19, 2007 - FreeMarketNews.com
In Travis County Texas District Court, Judge Orlinda Naranjo has granted Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) a continuance allowing TURF to force the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to move to the discovery phase and depose top TxDOT officials, including Transportation Commission Chairman Ric Williamson himself. Allowing discovery is vital for TURF to force TxDOT to hand over key documents that they’ve been withholding via Open Records requests. TURF is seeking to immediately halt the illegal advertising campaign and lobbying by TxDOT (http://texasturf.org/images/stories/pdf/POP-and-App-for-TRO.pdf).The State was attempting to throw us out of court with their favorite “get out of jail free” card (called the plea to the jurisdiction), but TURF’s attorneys, Charlie Riley, David Van Os, and Andrew Hawkins outmaneuvered Attorney General counsel Kristina Silcocks to file a motion for a continuance to allow TURF to move to the discovery phase to gather evidence to show TxDOT’s top brass broke the law with the Keep Texas Moving (KTM) ad campaign and lobbying Congress to buyback interstates.“This is a great victory for Texas taxpayers!” an elated Terri Hall, TURF’s Founder and Executive Director proclaimed. “This egregious misuse of $9 million of taxpayer money by a rogue government agency is one MAJOR step closer to being stopped.”The tide seemed to turn when Riley showed the affidavit by TxDOT’s Helen Havelka was false. TURF uncovered this August 13, 2007 memo by Coby Chase (http://texasturf.org/images/stories/pdf/KTM-memo.pdf) through an Open Records request showing the Keep Texas Moving campaign was not over and in fact it has multiple phases planned with the next one fashioned to influence the upcoming Trans Texas Corridor TTC-69 NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) hearings planned for early 2008.With a clear attempt to mislead the court by causing Judge Naranjo and the public to believe the KTM Campaign was over when in fact it isn’t, the State’s credibility and case went downhill from there.“I wonder what TxDOT’s top brass is saying tonight as they’re being informed they’ve now been added as defendants and may be deposed under oath about their lobbying and ad campaign activities,” pondered Hall. “My guess is the phones are ringing and the paper shredders may just get fired-up."This lawsuit is brought pursuant to § 37, Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. TxDOT’s expenditure of public funds for the Keep Texas Moving campaign is illegal, and an injunction prohibiting any further illegal expenditures in this regard.TxDOT has violated § 556.004 of the Texas Government Code by directing the expenditure of public funds for political advocacy in support of toll roads and the Trans Texas Corridor, and have directly lobbied the United States Congress in favor of additional toll road programs as evidenced in its report, Forward Momentum.On Monday, September 24, Judge Orlinda Naranjo did not initially grant a temporary restraining order (TRO). TxDOT unearthed a law that says they can advertise toll roads (Sec 228.004 of Transportation Code) and the citizens invoked another that says they can’t (Chapter 556, Texas Government Code). The burden to obtain a TRO is higher than for an injunction.“TxDOT is waging a one-sided political ad campaign designed to sway public opinion in favor of the policy that puts money in TxDOT’s own coffers. School Boards cannot lobby in favor of their own bond elections, and yet TxDOT cites its own special law to line their own pockets at taxpayers’ expense,” says an incredulous Terri Hall, Founder/Director of TURF.Hall also notes that TxDOT’s campaign goes beyond mere advertising, “It’s propaganda and in some cases, the ads blatantly lie to the public! In one radio ad(http://www.keeptexasmoving.com/index.php/stay_informed, scroll down to radio ad “continuing maintenance”),it claims it’s not signing contracts with non-compete agreements in them and yet last March TxDOT inked a deal with Cintra-Zachry for SH 130 (read about it here: http://satollparty.com/post/?p=605) that had a non-compete clause (which either prohibits or financially punishes the State for building competing infrastructure with a toll road).”On August 22, 2007, TURF filed a formal complaint with Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle to investigate TxDOT’s illegal lobbying and asked him to prosecute TxDOT for criminal wrongdoing. See the formal complaint here http://texasturf.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=178&Itemid=26. The petition seeks immediate injunctive relief in a civil proceeding.Updates to TURF’s petition and supplemental affidavits will be posted soon.Contact info for TURF's attorneys:IMMEDIATE RELEASEContact: Terri Hall,Founder/Executive DirectorTexans Uniting for Reform & Freedom (TURF)WEB: http://www.TexasTURF.orgWhat is TURF?Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public on our government’s new shift to tolling using controversial financing methods called public-private partnerships (called Comprehensive Development Agreements or CDAs in Texas), the tolling of existing corridors, and the eminent domain abuse inherent in these plans (confiscating private land to give to a private company for commercial gain). TURF also educates the public about the Trans Texas Corridor (TTC), the first of the planned NAFTA Superhighways connected to the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) and coming merger with Mexico and Canada through a North American Union (NAU). TURF is a grassroots group of Texans who are asking for reforms that require accountability and good public policy as well as promoting non-toll, sensible transportation solutions.

Chinese Relocating 4 MILLION People?

Four million more Chinese will be forced to relocate to make way for the Three Gorges Dam, the Chinese government announced on Friday.
Heralded as a showcase of Chinese engineering, the $23 billion dam has already displaced 1.4 million people since construction began in 1994. Nearing completion, the world’s largest dam -- and perhaps the biggest civil engineering feat ever -- will push millions of Chinese out of rural life and into Chongqing, a city on the western end of the dam’s 400-mile-long reservoir.
“All told, China intends to relocate 400 million people to newly developed urban centers between 2000-2030,” says our international investing adviser Christopher Hancock.
Criminy, this thing is big. The Three Gorges Dam
“Think about that… 400 million! That means China plans to move a population 33% larger than the total population of the United States into urban centers over the next 23 years.
“That's going to require a construction project like nothing the world has ever seen. The United States needs $1.5 trillion just to maintain its existing infrastructure. We suspect the Chinese plan to spend much, much more.”
Chris’ play on the trend? In a word: steel… pretty tough to build much of anything without it. China will need to build hundreds, if not thousands, of steel-supported high-rises in the coming years to support this demand.

Addendum To Previous Article.......Government InAccountability

The Government Accountability Office (GAO), which David Walker heads up, estimates that the current liabilities of the U.S. federal government -- owing mostly to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- exceed $50 trillion.

Governmental Discretionary Spending

In a speech at the Des Moines, Iowa, Rotary Club that we captured for our documentary on the subject, David Walker, the U.S. comptroller general, pointed out that “38% percent of the federal budget today is deemed to be ‘discretionary spending.’ And it’s getting squeezed and going down every year.”
What is “discretionary spending”? It’s:
National DefenseHomeland SecurityForeign PolicyThe Treasury DepartmentThe Judicial SystemThe Executive Office of the President
“In fact,” says David, “all of the basic functions of government at the end of George Washington’s second term are now deemed to be discretionary.
“Sixty-two percent of government spending is either on interest on the debt or ‘mandatory spending’ like entitlement programs and other things that, quite frankly… did not exist at the founding of this republic.”

And We're Off! Social InSecurity Already On The Rails.......

The first “official” baby boomer filed for Social Security today.
Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, who was born on Jan. 1, 1946, at 12:00:01 a.m. -- literally the first child “on the books” of the baby boom generation -- filed for benefits this afternoon. Social Security requires all early retirement applicants to file no more than four months before their eligibility date, which allows Casey-Kirschling to file today, before her 62nd birthday. Casey-Kirschling will be the first of some 80 million “official” baby boomers to start taking advantage of our utterly doomed entitlement programs. Approximately 3.2 million will turn 62 next year -- about 365 per hour -- and will potentially begin requesting the 75% benefits share associated with early retirement. In 2011, Casey-Kirschling and her 3 million friends will become eligible for Medicare. In 2012, the same group will qualify for full retirement benefits.
Oh boy, here we go…

Would The Last Free Man Leaving America Turn Out The Lights?

Why the Well-to-Do Are Escaping America {2nd Posting~It All Bears Repeating}
In spite of the many disturbing trends I often write about in America, I still maintain a small glimmer of hope that our nation will endure and prosper.
But that won't happen if we don’t clearly recognize our problems and address them. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem likely with the current crop of American presidential wannabes.
While many Americans are still willing to stay and fight the good fight, many Americans have had enough. And they’re leaving.
Millions of Americans Say “I’ve Had Enough!”
A 1999 U.S. State Department survey suggested 4.1 million Americans lived overseas. Every year, about 250,000 U.S. citizens and resident aliens leave America to make a new home in some other nation.
In 2005, the U.S. Bureau of the Census upped this estimate. They guessed that over 350,000 U.S. citizens and resident aliens would leave the United States permanently.
Many of these emigrants are wealthy people who want to escape what they see as the excessive taxes and political tyranny of the United States government.
John Gaver of Action America.org notes: "The problem is that increasingly, the wealthy perceive that they are under attack by their own government and they are taking the only rational option left open to them. They're taking their wealth and leaving."
Figures Don't Lie
The well-known pollster, Zogby International, recently conducted in-depth surveys on this subject. They asked adult Americans if they had ever considered moving outside the United States.
With more than 115,000 respondents, the remarkable survey excluded anyone relocating offshore for less than two years. They also excluded anyone who relocated because of government requirements, the military or their jobs.
The Zogby results are shocking – especially compared to the entire U.S. population (now about 303,116,000). The numbers below are for households, not individuals.
1.6 million U.S. households already decided to move offshore and are headed in that direction.
Another 1.8 million households are seriously considering moving and are likely to do it. Many have taken preliminary steps.
7.7 million households are "somewhat seriously" considering moving and "may" do it.
Nearly 3 million households are seriously considering buying a vacation home or other property outside the United States. Another 10 million are "somewhat" seriously considering it.
This means that almost 10% of U.S. households are considering leaving the country. Another 10% are considering living outside the country part-time. Most analysts are ignoring this silent massive emigration.
These would-be emigrant households plan to spend an average of US$260,000 on buying or building a house. They’re also planning to spend at least US$36,000 annually on living expenses outside the United States.
In total, they represent hundreds of billions of dollars leaving the U.S. economy each year.
One eye-opening fact: These emigrants include younger Americans. In fact, the single largest group that already made the decision to relocate offshore is households where the adults are 25 to 34 years old.
The Soaked Rich
The severe tax burden is just one of reasons why wealthy Americans want to live offshore.
Yet, U.S. politicians and their allies in the news media continue the constant false drumbeat of class warfare that "rich" Americans do not pay their fair share of taxes.
Only last week, would-be president Hillary Clinton proposed increasing estate and other taxes on wealthy Americans. She wants to transfer money to individuals who earn less by setting up government sponsored retirement accounts.
The late U.S. Senator Huey P. Long of Louisiana used to call this type of calculated “robbing the rich to pay the poor” his plan to "redistribute the wealth."
You often hear the myth that the rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes. In reality, the IRS’s latest figures reveal that the top-earning 1% of U.S. taxpayers earned 21.20% of the income, but they still managed to pay 39.38% of the taxes collected. In other words, the rich paid almost double their share, based upon the income they earned.
In addition to paying double their share of taxes, there are other good reasons for this offshore exodus of the wealthy.
Well-to-do Americans face frivolous lawsuits by the greedy, in ever growing numbers. They, like all Americans, have lost any semblance of privacy in their personal and business transactions.
Their business dealings are saddled with onerous PATRIOT Act and Sarbanes-Oxley Act requirements that consume time and money. And they have little defense against having their property confiscated under civil forfeiture by the government money police.

Some Seldom Heard, But Spot-On Criticism Of The "Greatest Generation."

The ‘greatest generation’ is not so great -- they are the ones responsible for the horrific situation(s) we find ourselves in today. The real greatest generation will be the future generation that has to clean up after them. “Let me reveal my bias. I am 44 years old. My wife and I have calculated that over the life of our oldest daughter, 10 years, we together have sent the S.S. Administration $150,000. Yes. The wage base only keeps increasing! Over 10 years, it would be fair to say, including dividends, interest, capital gains and compounding, the amount paid to S.S. is far greater! Maybe it’s really $300,000-350,000? “This is $350,000 stolen from my children. They will have far higher tax rates as workers, they will have not nearly the employment opportunities of the so-called ‘greatest generation,’ they will have to endure the GREATER DEPRESSION on our doorstep and generally a much lower standard of living. So to the blowhards protesting your observations regarding baby boomers, I say f- you!”

Yeah, But They're Fun Lov'in Criminals

Yes, You Are a Criminal
If you live or do business in the United States, you're almost certainly a criminal. You may not realize it yet, but considering the ever-expanding list of ridiculous laws out there, you could be a lot closer than you think.
For example, in New Jersey, you can be arrested for driving by your own home. In Florida, the local courts sentenced a man to six years in prison for carrying cash. In Pennsylvania, a woman faces prison for yelling obscenities at her clogged toilet. And under federal law, you can be imprisoned for withdrawing lawfully-earned money from your own bank account.
So what's the common thread that links all these stories? It's called criminalization - it means converting once socially stigmatized actions or other civil sanctions into criminal offenses.
Are you abusive, or does your spouse or partner say that you are? Domestic violence laws in New Jersey and numerous other states mandate you can arrest a man based on recommendations from a social worker. The social worker may recommend a man's detention for spousal abuse based on a woman's testimony alone. Driving by your own home can be grounds for a criminal complaint.
Who hasn't ever carried cash in their wallet? In Florida, it's a criminal offense to do so! A court sentenced a man to six years in jail for possessing a cocaine-contaminated dollar bill. An appellate court ordered the man released only after local newspapers revealed that the overwhelming majority of currency circulating in Florida is tainted with narcotics residues.
Do you become frustrated because your appliances at home don't work properly? In Pennsylvania, a woman who allegedly shouted profanities at her overflowing toilet within earshot of a neighbor faces up to 90 days in jail.
Have you ever withdrawn cash from a U.S. bank account? Better be careful, because if you withdraw more than US$10,000 in a series of "related" transactions, you may be guilty of a federal crime called structuring. If so, you face a five-year prison sentence and a US$250,000 fine. Authorities can also confiscate your entire bank account under civil forfeiture laws.
Are you a terrorist? You may not think that you are, but under the USA PATRIOT Act and other federal laws, practically all forms of domestic protest could be considered "terrorism." Once the government classifies you as a terrorist, authorities can seize everything you own, whether or not those assets are connected to your alleged terrorist acts. Then, under the Military Commissions Act, authorities can detain you indefinitely, without ever charging you with a crime.
These examples merely scratch the surface of the overwhelming trend of criminalization. The trend won't be reversed until we convince lawmakers that more criminal sanctions aren't necessarily the best way to deal with moral, social or political problems.
In the meantime, the only way to protect yourself is to continually ask: "Is there any way I might get arrested for this?"
The answer may not always be obvious, but a little research online or at a law library may at least shed light on the potential for criminal liability.

Yeah, But We're Fun Lov'in Criminals

Yes, You Are a Criminal
If you live or do business in the United States, you're almost certainly a criminal. You may not realize it yet, but considering the ever-expanding list of ridiculous laws out there, you could be a lot closer than you think.
For example, in New Jersey, you can be arrested for driving by your own home. In Florida, the local courts sentenced a man to six years in prison for carrying cash. In Pennsylvania, a woman faces prison for yelling obscenities at her clogged toilet. And under federal law, you can be imprisoned for withdrawing lawfully-earned money from your own bank account.
So what's the common thread that links all these stories? It's called criminalization - it means converting once socially stigmatized actions or other civil sanctions into criminal offenses.
Are you abusive, or does your spouse or partner say that you are? Domestic violence laws in New Jersey and numerous other states mandate you can arrest a man based on recommendations from a social worker. The social worker may recommend a man's detention for spousal abuse based on a woman's testimony alone. Driving by your own home can be grounds for a criminal complaint.
Who hasn't ever carried cash in their wallet? In Florida, it's a criminal offense to do so! A court sentenced a man to six years in jail for possessing a cocaine-contaminated dollar bill. An appellate court ordered the man released only after local newspapers revealed that the overwhelming majority of currency circulating in Florida is tainted with narcotics residues.
Do you become frustrated because your appliances at home don't work properly? In Pennsylvania, a woman who allegedly shouted profanities at her overflowing toilet within earshot of a neighbor faces up to 90 days in jail.
Have you ever withdrawn cash from a U.S. bank account? Better be careful, because if you withdraw more than US$10,000 in a series of "related" transactions, you may be guilty of a federal crime called structuring. If so, you face a five-year prison sentence and a US$250,000 fine. Authorities can also confiscate your entire bank account under civil forfeiture laws.
Are you a terrorist? You may not think that you are, but under the USA PATRIOT Act and other federal laws, practically all forms of domestic protest could be considered "terrorism." Once the government classifies you as a terrorist, authorities can seize everything you own, whether or not those assets are connected to your alleged terrorist acts. Then, under the Military Commissions Act, authorities can detain you indefinitely, without ever charging you with a crime.
These examples merely scratch the surface of the overwhelming trend of criminalization. The trend won't be reversed until we convince lawmakers that more criminal sanctions aren't necessarily the best way to deal with moral, social or political problems.
In the meantime, the only way to protect yourself is to continually ask: "Is there any way I might get arrested for this?"
The answer may not always be obvious, but a little research online or at a law library may at least shed light on the potential for criminal liability.

Rangel? What Does This Chump Know About Money?

Congressional leaders read opinion polls, saw they had the lowest approval ratings of any in history and came to this conclusion: We must raise taxes!
Cut spending, you say?! Huh?
A moribund plan, proposed yesterday by Rep. Charles Rangel, “would dramatically raise taxes in ways that, in my judgment, would hinder U.S.’s ability to compete in the global economy,” said Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. Paulson was perhaps the kindest voice of dissent.
As if declining wages, house prices and an impending recession weren’t enough…
Congressman Barney Frank also co-sponsored a bill that would penalize financial institutions that securitize subprime-backed mortgages. Frank’s bill would hold firms liable for selling mortgage-backed securities and allow hurt borrowers to sue to recover their losses.
Yeah, more taxes and more regulation… that’ll help. Good thinking. They should pass a few tariffs on Chinese goods while they’re at it and give the whole package a simple name everyone will love: The Clueless Congressman’s Guide to Wrecking Your Economy in 3 Easy Steps.

Nicely Said..................

"I believe that if we had and would keep our dirty, bloody, dollar-crooked fingers out of the business of these nations so full of depressed, exploited people, they will arrive at a solution of their own. One that they design and want, one that they fight and work for. And if, unfortunately, their revolution must be of the violent type because the "haves" refused to share with the "have nots" by any peaceful method, at least what they get will be their own, and not the American style, which they don’t want and above all don’t want crammed down their throats by Americans."
-United States Marine Commandant General David Shoup 1966

China - US Growling At Eachother

Shifting Trends Lead to China-Bashing and Rising Global Trade Tensions
The winds of change are blowing across the Pacific.
In a dramatic shift of trade flows this decade, Pacific economies now export more to Europe and other markets across Asia than to America.
This dynamic trend is not a recent phenomenon. Intercontinental trade between the U.S. and Asia has been slipping since 1990. U.S. trade has suffered at the expense of booming interregional trade in Asia.
For the first time in history, the U.S. was not Asia's largest export partner last month. Instead, the European Union overtook the United States as Asia's primary destination for exports. And China and other regional markets logged record trade surpluses with the European Union (EU).
Congressional Bashing: Japan in the 1980s, China in the 2000s
In the 1980s and 1990s, Congress targeted Japan with their rising protectionist sentiment as imports flooded the United States. For years, Japan continued to record massive trade surpluses with America while Japanese imports declined.
Today, the winds of protectionist sentiment have changed. But unlike 20 years ago when Japan was the hot target, the United States is now directing their protectionist sentiment toward China. The U.S. government vehemently accuses China of unfair trade practices to maintain a cheap and undervalued yuan currency.
Last week, Japan confirmed this rising trend. Japan authorities announced that despite a record trade surplus in September, Japan's exports to the United States tumbled. This underscores the growing importance of regional trade and rising exports to Europe. In 1990, Japan was the United States' dominant trading partner in the Pacific. Asia accounted for 38% of all American imports. Since 1990, Japan's trade with the United States has risen 1,200%. But the Asian share of American imports slipped to 36%. Japan's trade surplus with the United States shrank by a hefty 13% last month. U.S. exports fell 9.2% - the first decline in five months. But Japan's exports to the rest of Asia surged 59% while Europe's exports climbed 26%.
Indeed, as the Pacific continues to accumulate wealth this decade, the region is relying less on the United States for its exports. This is a marked shift based on historical trends in the post-WWII period.
China Rules with Cheap and Abundant LaborFrom 1990 to 2005, a manufacturing revolution swept through Asia. China led the revolution as China transformed into an export powerhouse, mainly to the world's developed economies. Since 2005, China has been U.S.'s major trading partner.Asian wages are only a fraction compared to those in the expensive developed economies. China and other Asian exporters increasingly commanded a greater share of the world's business. The United States, Germany and Italy, for example, still manufacture excellent high-end goods, namely machinery. But China can produce virtually every low-end item for just pennies on the dollar.
Trade Envy and the War of WordsLike the 1980s, the threat of trade sanctions continues to simmer. The United States and the European Union continue to increase pressure on China to revalue the yuan and make her currency fully convertible. The U.S. dollar has been in a virtual freefall since 2002. Meanwhile China's currency - still semi-pegged to the dollar since 2005 - has benefited enormously from their cheap currency. The problem is this war of words to pressure China to revalue her currency is a vain and flawed effort. In reality, a sharply revalued Chinese yuan won't cure chronic and irreversible trade imbalances. Global multinationals (MNCs) continue to build major manufacturing presences in China because unit production costs are simply much cheaper compared to factories in the West. This secular event will last for decades to come until China and other regional manufacturing centers eventually lose their export competitiveness.
Currency Revaluations not the CureInstead of targeting and relentlessly blaming China, the United States and the EU should focus the blame on multinationals earning gargantuan profits in Mainland China. Governments have distorted the facts. Revaluing currencies is not the cure. Rather, the problem lies with major American, European and Japanese MNCs. These powerhouses have established major manufacturing operations in China. And they've also created the distortion in trade imbalances. But can you really blame them? Companies exist for one reason: profits. Any CEO worth his salt will continue to manufacture their goods where labor costs are competitive. That means China. Until China becomes a mature and expensive manufacturing hub later this century - similar to the United States and Germany, capital will continue to flow into Asian countries - where big companies can find a high return on equity and low input costs. Trade should remain free. Currencies should float. And big business should seek the highest return on equity regardless of trade imbalances.

Those IMF Guys Are On Top Of Things

IMF Dir Predicts Rapid Dollar fall

Monday, October 29, 2007 - FreeMarketNews.com
IMF (International Monetary Fund) director, Rodrigo Rato, forecast that the dollar is due for a disorganized and pronounced fall. In declarations to the press, Rato said that the greenback may continue to fall rapidly, which, he added, would complicate the credit crisis in the United States. Rato said there was a possibility of a worldwide recession in 2008 but this would not be his most important forecast. -Political Affairs

14% Increase In M3: Seriously, Who's Worried About That?

The Red Herring of Dollar Decline

By: Richard Daughty, The Mogambo Guru - The Daily Reckoning
-- Posted Tuesday, 23 October 2007 Digg This Article Source: GoldSeek.com
The spooky, chilling news is that M3 is going up at an annual rate of over 14%, which is made worse by the fact that the rate of growth is getting faster and faster!
Naturally, the dollar went down in value, and now the dollar index has dropped to less than 78, which is about as low as it has ever gotten in modern history.
James Turk in his Freemarket Gold & Money Report asks, "Will the mismanagement of the dollar end in deflation as the mountain of dollar denominated debt collapses reducing the money supply, or will it end in inflation as the Federal Reserve pumps up the money supply in order to bail-out debtors - and in particular, the U.S. government - with an endless quantity of newly created dollars?"
Well, I was bravely gearing up to try and answer that question, hoping to impress that cute little reporter from the World Sun Times Herald newspaper with how smart I was, perhaps overcoming being handicapped in the romantic vein by her strong antipathy to my disgusting appearance, manners, odor, hateful attitude, vicious streak or old age, and I was really sweating bullets since I had no idea what in the hell he was talking about, making my odor problem even worse.
Fortunately, I was suddenly relieved to discover that I did not even have to try, as Mr. Turk went on to explain that, "The reality is that this debate is a red herring. Only half the question is being addressed, namely the supply of money. In other words, the debate centers on whether the supply of dollars will increase or decrease. What about demand? The antagonists to this debate ignore demand by assuming that the demand for dollars will continue to grow. But what if it doesn't? What if it drops?" In fact, he says, "In the end, demand is more important than supply."
When he said, "demand is more important than supply", it really hit home with me, as a recent analysis of my business records revealed that while I offer an unlimited supply of stupid economic and investment advice ("Go to hell and leave me alone!"), there is no demand! This instantly explains why my income is literally zero and I have no money, and his point is thus proved. Secretly, I have to laugh, because all this time I thought it was because my wife and kids were stealing me blind, and I have been making their lives into a living hell for it! Hahaha! I guess the joke's on me!
So I was naturally disappointed that he did not actually answer that question about what happens if demand for dollars does not grow, either, and I was raising my hand to tell him about how it is getting close to lunchtime, and if he needed someone to sum it all up, I was prepared to say, "We're freaking doomed!" and be done with it.
Well, I could see the blood drain from his face as he noticed that I wanted to interject a comment. Thus motivated, he quickly got to the point and answered by saying, "I expect that the demand for the dollar will eventually plummet as years of overspending, under-saving and over-borrowing in the United States eventually take their toll on an over-valued currency."
He explains, "Because the dollar is a liability (i.e., someone's promise), the quality of the dollar is only as good as the assets on the monetary balance sheet. It is these assets that give the dollar its value, a recognition based upon the most fundamental accounting premise that liabilities are only as good as the assets supporting them. If the assets did not have value, then the liabilities we call dollars would not have any value either and would not circulate as currency. Are these IOU's on the monetary balance sheet really worth $12,006.7 billion? That is the single question of paramount importance."
Perhaps this "what is it worth?" question that prompted the astonishing activity in the banks that FT.com announces with the headline, "Banks agree $75bn mortgage debt fund". The laughable details are that Citigroup (NYSE:C), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and JP Morgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) "announced plans for a fund to buy mortgage-linked securities in an attempt to allay fears of a downward price-spiral that would hit the balance sheets of big banks." Hahaha!
The New York Times helpfully explains that "the effort is intended to help SIVs [structured investment vehicles] that need to sell securities do so in an orderly manner."
What these banks are proposing to do is to collectively put up credit guarantees worth about $75 billion to $100 billion (or whatever it takes!) for this new fund, which will be named the Master Liquidity Enhancement Conduit (MLEC).
The Executive Intelligence Review News Service characterizes it as "Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, of Goldman Sachs, and his sidekick, Treasury Undersecretary for Domestic Finance ('Plunge Protection'), Robert Steel, also of Goldman Sachs, are trying to orchestrate a crazy $100 billion bailout scheme, which dwarfs the $3-4 billion bailout arranged for hedge fund LTCM by the Federal Reserve in 1998."
Obviously, the purpose of the bailout is simplicity itself; nobody trusts the mortgage derivatives that the banks have created, which have now imploded and revealed as being toxic crap that may not be worth anything, since the financial instruments do not have any demonstrated market value simply by virtue of the fact that they have never traded on the open market, and so nobody wants to buy them. Now everybody is sitting on trillions of dollar's worth of these stupid, mysterious things. What to do?
And time is of the essence, too, as Reuters quotes Robert Arnott of Research Affiliates as saying, "We are coming off the greatest lending bubble in U.S. history. We will feel its impact for a very long time."
So, the Fed and the Treasury have all decided that they are going to set up a huge special fund, with untold billions of pretend dollars, drawing in more investors to which the banks will sell short-term paper to finance the bailout, so that the banks can trade derivatives around amongst themselves, thus establishing their "market price"! Hahaha!
Suddenly, I realize that I may be too hasty in dismissing this scheme! This remarkable idea has given me a terrific business idea! You are going to love this! You and I will go into business, see, and each of us will (believe it or not) sell dog turds back and forth to each other, priced at the same per-ounce price as gold! Hour after hour, we will busily sell them back and forth between us, you buying mine and me buying yours, thus proving that there really IS a market for dog turds, and they are provably worth their weight in gold! We, like these banks, will both make a fortune! Whee! Hahahaha!
Reuters decided not to report on my fabulous new Mogambo business venture (MBV) or my new Mogambo Dog Turd ETF, but they did report essentially the same thing when they wrote, "The fund that is being contemplated would bail out funds known as 'structured investment vehicles,' or SIVs".
This comes at a time (as just a coincidence I am sure! Hahaha!), when "Banks including Citigroup, Merrill Lynch & Co, and UBS have in recent weeks announced billions of dollars in asset write-offs and are still struggling to sell off billions of dollars in loans that financed acquisitions globally."
Ooops! If banks can't get rid of their own turds, then perhaps my own dog turd business may struggle, too! Damn!

Nicely Said................

"A national identity card would not only permit ev en greater government snooping into people's private lives, the information gathered would almost inevitably lead to more laws forcing more people to do more things the way the politicians want them done. It is a down payment on totalitarianism." -Thomas Sowell

Nicely Said.................

"Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong." -Ayn Rand

Halloween Hillary

It's Illegal To Think Now...........

House Passes Thought Crime Prevention Bill

10-25-2007http://www.roguegovernment.com/Lee Rogers
The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed HR 1955 titled the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. This bill is one of the most blatant attacks against the Constitution yet and actually defines thought crimes as homegrown terrorism. If passed into law, it will also establish a commission and a Center of Excellence to study and defeat so called thought criminals. Unlike previous anti-terror legislation, this bill specifically targets the civilian population of the United States and uses vague language to define homegrown terrorism. Amazingly, 404 of our elected representatives from both the Democrat and Republican parties voted in favor of this bill. There is little doubt that this bill is specifically targeting the growing patriot community that is demanding the restoration of the Constitution.
First let’s take a look at the definitions of violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism as defined in Section 899A of the bill.
The definition of violent radicalization uses vague language to define this term of promoting any belief system that the government considers to be an extremist agenda. Since the bill doesn’t specifically define what an extremist belief system is, it is entirely up to the interpretation of the government. Considering how much the government has done to destroy the Constitution they could even define Ron Paul supporters as promoting an extremist belief system. Literally, the government according to this definition can define whatever they want as an extremist belief system. Essentially they have defined violent radicalization as thought crime. The definition as defined in the bill is shown below.
`(2) VIOLENT RADICALIZATION- The term `violent radicalization' means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.
The definition of homegrown terrorism uses equally vague language to further define thought crime. The bill includes the planned use of force or violence as homegrown terrorism which could be interpreted as thinking about using force or violence. Not only that but the definition is so vaguely defined, that petty crimes could even fall into the category of homegrown terrorism. The definition as defined in the bill is shown below.
`(3) HOMEGROWN TERRORISM- The term `homegrown terrorism' means the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.
Section 899B of the bill goes over the findings of Congress as it pertains to homegrown terrorism. Particularly alarming is that the bill mentions the Internet as a main source for terrorist propaganda. The bill even mentions streams in obvious reference to many of the patriot and pro-constitution Internet radio networks that have been formed. It also mentions that homegrown terrorists span all ages and races indicating that the Congress is stating that everyone is a potential terrorist. Even worse is that Congress states in their findings that they should look at draconian police states like Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom as models to defeat homegrown terrorists. Literally, these findings of Congress fall right in line with the growing patriot community.
The biggest joke of all is that this section also says that any measure to prevent violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism should not violate the constitutional rights of citizens. However, the definition of violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism as they are defined in section 899A are themselves unconstitutional. The Constitution does not allow the government to arrest people for thought crimes, so any promises not to violate the constitutional rights of citizens are already broken by their own definitions.
`The Congress finds the following:
`(1) The development and implementation of methods and processes that can be utilized to prevent violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence in the United States is critical to combating domestic terrorism.
`(2) The promotion of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence exists in the United States and poses a threat to homeland security.
`(3) The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.
`(4) While the United States must continue its vigilant efforts to combat international terrorism, it must also strengthen efforts to combat the threat posed by homegrown terrorists based and operating within the United States.
`(5) Understanding the motivational factors that lead to violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence is a vital step toward eradicating these threats in the United States.
`(6) The potential rise of self radicalized, unaffiliated terrorists domestically cannot be easily prevented through traditional Federal intelligence or law enforcement efforts, and requires the incorporation of State and local solutions.
`(7) Individuals prone to violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence span all races, ethnicities, and religious beliefs, and individuals should not be targeted based solely on race, ethnicity, or religion.
`(8) Any measure taken to prevent violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence and homegrown terrorism in the United States should not violate the constitutional rights, civil rights and civil liberties of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents.
`(9) Certain governments, including the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia have significant experience with homegrown terrorism and the United States can benefit from lessons learned by those nations.
Section 899C calls for a commission on the prevention of violent radicalization and ideologically based violence. The commission will consist of ten members appointed by various individuals that hold different positions in government. Essentially, this is a commission that will examine and report on how they are going to deal with violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism. So basically, the commission is being formed specifically on how to deal with thought criminals in the United States. The bill requires that the commission submit their final report 18 months following the commission’s first meeting as well as submit interim reports every 6 months leading up to the final report. Below is the bill’s defined purpose of the commission. Amazingly they even define one of the purposes of the commission to determine the causes of lone wolf violent radicalization.
(b) Purpose- The purposes of the Commission are the following:
`(1) Examine and report upon the facts and causes of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence in the United States, including United States connections to non-United States persons and networks, violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence in prison, individual or `lone wolf' violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence, and other faces of the phenomena of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence that the Commission considers important.
`(2) Build upon and bring together the work of other entities and avoid unnecessary duplication, by reviewing the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of--
`(A) the Center of Excellence established or designated under section 899D, and other academic work, as appropriate;
`(B) Federal, State, local, or tribal studies of, reviews of, and experiences with violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence; and
`(C) foreign government studies of, reviews of, and experiences with violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence.
Section 899D of the bill establishes a Center of Excellence for the Study of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism in the United States. Essentially, this will be a Department of Homeland Security affiliated institution that will study and determine how to defeat thought criminals.
Section 899E of the bill discusses how the government is going to defeat violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism through international cooperation. As stated in the findings section earlier in the legislation, they will unquestionably seek the advice of countries with draconian police states like the United Kingdom to determine how to deal with this growing threat of thought crime.
Possibly the most ridiculous section of the bill is Section 899F which states how they plan on protecting civil rights and civil liberties while preventing ideologically based violence and homegrown terrorism. Here is what the section says.
`(a) In General- The Department of Homeland Security's efforts to prevent ideologically-based violence and homegrown terrorism as described herein shall not violate the constitutional rights, civil rights, and civil liberties of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents.
`(b) Commitment to Racial Neutrality- The Secretary shall ensure that the activities and operations of the entities created by this subtitle are in compliance with the Department of Homeland Security's commitment to racial neutrality.
`(c) Auditing Mechanism- The Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Officer of the Department of Homeland Security will develop and implement an auditing mechanism to ensure that compliance with this subtitle does not result in a disproportionate impact, without a rational basis, on any particular race, ethnicity, or religion and include the results of its audit in its annual report to Congress required under section 705.'.
(b) Clerical Amendment- The table of contents in section 1(b) of such Act is amended by inserting at the end of the items relating to title VIII the following:
It states in the first subsection that in general the efforts to defeat thought crime shall not violate the constitutional rights, civil rights and civil liberties of the United States citizens and lawful permanent residents. How does this protect constitutional rights if they use vague language such as in general that prefaces the statement? This means that the Department of Homeland Security does not have to abide by the Constitution in their attempts to prevent so called homegrown terrorism.
This bill is completely insane. It literally allows the government to define any and all crimes including thought crime as violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism. Obviously, this legislation is unconstitutional on a number of levels and it is clear that all 404 representatives who voted in favor of this bill are traitors and should be removed from office immediately. The treason spans both political parties and it shows us all that there is no difference between them. The bill will go on to the Senate and will likely be passed and signed into the law by George W. Bush. Considering that draconian legislation like the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act have already been passed, there seems little question that this one will get passed as well. This is more proof that our country has been completely sold out by a group of traitors at all levels of government.

Don't You Just Love The Whine Of The Baby Boomers? The "Greatest Generation That Destroyed America By Sitting On It's ASS?

“Now I'm startin' to get riled!” exclaims a reader. “I am one of the baby boomers your namby-pamby writer was so upset with. He proceeded to rant and rave about how he and his wife had paid 150,000 into Social Security already and how I was stealing his children blind.
“Well, my wife and I have been paying into Social Security since your writer was peeing in his diapers. Quite frankly, I don't even want to think about how much we have paid into the system so far. However, with your writer's generous ‘dividends, interest, capital gains and compounding’ I am sure it goes well into seven figures. “Further, with the new ‘means testing’ that I am confident is coming down the pipe, it is quite likely I will never see a stinking penny of it again. “So when your 44-year-old writer wants to bitch and complain about how I am stealing 350,000 from his children, I hope he will think about the $1 million-plus that will most likely be stolen from me. And in the 26 years he has been a voter, I haven't seen him materially address the problem. As for his closing remark, all I can say is, ‘Back at ya, buddy!’"
SOUND OF CANNONS RESPONDS: So… your money has been confiscated and pissed away, too. But you’re pissed because more of yours has been taken than his. And like the rest of us, you don’t expect to see any of it back. Why are you hurling epithets at each other?
We feel a bit like Jerry Springer on the issue of entitlement spending. Like child molestation or cheating spouses, the sooner we get the subject on the mat, the sooner the healing can begin… if there’s such thing as healing for the victims of such self-indulgent and egregious crimes.
The rapscallions we’ve sent to Washington don’t dare discuss the subject publicly. When we approached Nancy Pelosi, for example, to be interviewed for our documentary, she replied: “Who in the hell would make a movie about the federal debt!” She declined the interview. As have all the candidates running for president in 2008… except for Ron Paul.

Prices Controls: Aaahhhhhh Perestroika!

Russian officials introduced some Soviet-style price controls this morning. In an effort to curb rising anti-Putin sentiment, Russia’s biggest food producers have “agreed” to freeze food prices at Oct. 15 levels on staple foods like bread and milk. Most retailers will not be allowed to mark up prices on these goods higher than 10%.
Yeah, history shows what a success price controls have always been. Good thinking, guys.
The Russian economy ministry, according to the Financial Times, is also considering increasing its new 10% wheat export tariff to 30%. Rumors of such a hike have pushed Chicago wheat prices up 6% this week.

Oh Yeah, And Buy Wheat Futures Too

“The number of hectares devoted to wheat farming has been declining for 30 years,” Jim Rogers also said in his Bloomberg interview. “The inventory levels of food are at the lowest level since 1972.
“Suppose we start having droughts again. God knows how high the price of agriculture is going to go, so that's where I'm putting more of my money now than in other things… I think I'm going to make more money in agriculture than I make in precious metals.''

Loonie Fever! Hope You Caught It Here First!

The loonie soared over a cent and a half yesterday. Canadian dollars traded as high as $1.039… a new 33-year high. The loonie managed this massive gain without oil’s help, which fell over $1 during the same period.
The Aussie dollar also made impressive gains overnight. The Aussie rose a solid half a cent on news that inflation was rising in Australia faster than expected… and thus a rate hike would be more likely at the Aussie central bank’s November meeting.
If you’re holding one of EverBank’s World Energy CDs , this is all good news. These unique CDs chart the movement of four energy-reliant currencies -- the loonie, Aussie, pound and krone. And given the dollar’s performance of late, they still look like a good place to park your cash.

For An Unabashed Egomaniac, He's On Top Of Things

“I think the credit situation is worse than anybody realizes,” said Julian Robertson on CNBC.
Robertson’s a bit of a legend. In 1980, he started his Tiger Management fund with $8 million… and grew it 875 fold into $7 billion over the next 16 years. He then closed it when he ceased to understand valuations on Wall Street during the tech boom… and bust.
Now he’s sounding the alarm for the economy at large. “I think we’re going to have a doozy of a recession,” he predicted. “The Federal Reserve and our government will trash the dollar until such times as there is some turnaround in the economy or until they realize that this policy is self-defeating.”
You can watch the whole Robertson interview here.

When Jim Rogers Moves Like This, Press The Panic Button

“I'm in the process of -- I hope in the next few months -- getting all of my assets out of the dollar,” Jim Rogers told Bloomberg yesterday. “I'm that pessimistic about what's happening in the U.S.''
The yuan is “the best currency to buy right now,” Rogers said. “I don't see how one can really lose on the renminbi in the next decade or so. It's gotta go. It's gotta triple. It's gotta quadruple.”
The dollar is just about the worst performing currency this year. Of the 16 actively traded currencies, only the Mexican peso has fared worse in 2007.
“It's the official policy of the central bank and the U.S. to debase the currency,'' said Rogers, “The U.S. dollar is and has been the world's reserve currency, the world's medium of exchange… That's in the process of changing. “The pound sterling, which used to be the world's reserve currency, lost 80% of its value, top to bottom, as it went through the whole period of losing its status as the world's reserve currency.''