Monday, July 30, 2012

The Main Driver of GDP Growth: A Strong Rule of Law

The Main Driver of GDP Growth: A Strong Rule of Law
July 30, 2012 | Washingtons Blog

GDP Growth More Strongly Correlated with Rule of Law than Anything Else …

Economist Woody Brock says that a nation’s GDP growth is based mainly on whether or not it follows the rule of law.

Economist and investment adviser John Mauldin notes:
I had dinner with Dr. Woody Brock this evening in Rockport. We were discussing this issue and he mentioned that he had done a study based on analysis by an institution that looks at all sorts of “fuzzy” data, like how easy it is to start a business in a country, corporate taxes and business structures, levels of free trade and free markets, and the legal system. It turned out that the trait that was most positively correlated with GDP growth was strength of the rule of law. It is also one of the major factors that Niall Ferguson cites in his book Civilization as a reason for the ascendency of the West in the last 500 years, and a factor that helps explain why China is rising again as it emerges from chaos.

One of the very real problems we face is the growing feeling that the system is rigged against regular people in favor of “the bankers” or the 1%. And if we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit there is reason for that feeling. Things like LIBOR are structured with a very real potential for manipulation. When the facts come out, there is just one more reason not to trust the system. And if there is no trust, there is no system.
Dr. Brock is not alone.  Economists have thoroughly documented that failure to enforce the rule of law leads to a loss of trust … which destroys economies.

This is true whether it is in the West, in Nigeria or any other country.

We’re Number … What?

Economic historian Niall Ferguson notes:
The World Economic Forum’s annual Global Competitiveness Index and, in particular, the Executive Opinion Survey on which it’s partly based … includes 15 measures of the rule of law, ranging from the protection of private property rights to the policing of corruption and the control of organised crime.

It’s an astonishing yet scarcely acknowledged fact that on no fewer than 15 out of 15, the United States now fares markedly worse than Hong Kong. In the Heritage Foundation’s Freedom Index, too, the U.S. ranks 21st in the world in terms of freedom from corruption, a considerable distance behind Hong Kong and Singapore.  [Transparency International puts the U.S. at 24th.]

Perhaps the most compelling evidence of all comes from the World Bank’s Indicators on World Governance, which suggest that, since 1996, the United States has suffered a decline in the quality of its governance in three different dimensions: government effectiveness, regulatory quality and the control of corruption.
Compared with Germany or Hong Kong, the U.S. is manifestly slipping behind.
Indeed – as we’ve extensively documented – the rule of law is now as weak in the U.S. and UK as many countries which we would consider “rogue nations”.    See this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

This is a sudden change.  As famed Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto notes:
In a few short decades the West undercut 150 years of legal reforms that made the global economy possible.

How Did We Slip So Fast?

Of course, the repeal of the basic laws which enforced the rule of law among financial players is a part of the problem. Virtually everyone – other than those currently working for the big banks or on their payroll – is calling for reinstatement of the separation between banking and speculative gambling.

Free market libertarians – like everyone else – are demanding prosecution of criminal fraud using basic fraud laws.  Yet the government has made it official policy not to prosecute fraud.

People have lost trust in the system, because government corruption is as widespread as Wall Street corruption … and many of those in power in D.C. have the same sociopathic traits as those they supposedly regulate on Wall Street.

And as Professor Ferguson notes, draconian national security laws are one of the main things undermining the rule of law:
We must pose the familiar question about how far our civil liberties have been eroded by the national security state – a process that in fact dates back almost a hundred years to the outbreak of the First World War and the passage of the 1914 Defence of the Realm Act. Recent debates about the protracted detention of terrorist suspects are in no way new. Somehow it’s always a choice between habeas corpus and hundreds of corpses.
Of course, many of this decades’ national security measures have not been taken to keep us safe in the “post-9/11 world”: many of them started before 9/11.

And America has been in a continuous declared state of national emergency since 9/11, and we are in a literally never-ending state of perpetual war. See this, this, this and this.

In fact, government has blown terrorism fears way out of proportion for political purposes, and  “national security” powers have been used in many ways to exempt big Wall Street players from the rule of law rather than to do anything to protect us.

Is it any wonder that we’re still in an economic crisis?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Why We're Screwed

© Justin Ruckman / Flickr
Why We're Screwed
July 24, 2012 | L. Randall Wray

As the Global Financial Crisis rumbles along in its fifth year, we read the latest revelations of bankster fraud, the LIBOR scandal. This follows the muni bond fixing scam detailed a couple of weeks ago, as well as the J.P. Morgan trading fiasco and the Corzine-MF Global collapse and any number of other scandals in recent months. In every case it was traders run amuck, fixing "markets" to make an easy buck at someone's expense. In times like these, I always recall Robert Sherrill's 1990 statement about the S&L crisis that "thievery is what unregulated capitalism is all about."

After 1990 we removed what was left of financial regulations following the flurry of deregulation of the early 1980s that had freed the thrifts so that they could self-destruct. And we are shocked, SHOCKED!, that thieves took over the financial system.

Nay, they took over the whole economy and the political system lock, stock, and barrel. They didn't just blow up finance, they oversaw the swiftest transfer of wealth to the very top the world has ever seen. They screwed workers out of their jobs, they screwed homeowners out of their houses, they screwed retirees out of their pensions, and they screwed municipalities out of their revenues and assets.

Financiers are forcing schools, parks, pools, fire departments, senior citizen centers, and libraries to shut down. They are forcing national governments to auction off their cultural heritage to the highest bidder. Everything must go in firesales at prices rigged by twenty-something traders at the biggest and most corrupt institutions the world has ever known.

And since they've bought the politicians, the policy-makers, and the courts, no one will stop it. Few will even discuss it, since most university administrations have similarly been bought off - in many cases, the universities are even headed by corporate "leaders" - and their professors are on Wall Street's payrolls.

We're screwed.

Bill Black joined our department in 2006. At UMKC (and the Levy Institute) we had long been discussing and analyzing the GFC that we knew was going to hit, using the approaches of Hyman Minsky and Wynne Godley. Bill insisted we were overlooking the most important factor, fraud. To be more specific, Bill called it control fraud, where top corporate management runs an institution as a weapon to loot shareholders and customers to the benefit of top management. Think Bob Rubin, Hank Paulson, Bernie Madoff, Jamie Dimon and Jon Corzine. Long before, I had come across Bill's name when I wrote about the S&L scandal, and I had listed fraud as the second most important cause of that crisis. While I was open to his argument back in 2006, I could never have conceived of the scope of Wall Street's depravity. It is all about fraud. As I've said, this crisis is like Shrek's Onion, with fraud in every layer. There is, quite simply, no part of the financial system that is not riddled with fraud.

The fraud cannot be reduced much less eliminated. First, there are no regulators to stop it, and no prosecutors to punish it. But, far more importantly, fraud is the business model.

Further, even if a financial institution tried to buck the trend it would fail. As Bill says, fraud is always the most profitable game in town. So Gresham's Law dynamics ensure that fraud is the only game in town.

As Sherrill said, without regulation, capitalism is thievery. We stopped regulating the financial system, so thieves took over.

Free Solar Book
A century ago Veblen analyzed religion as the quintessential capitalist undertaking. It sells an inherently ephemeral product that cannot be quality tested. Most of the value of that product exists only in the minds of the purchasers, and most of that value cannot be realized until death. Dissatisfied customers cannot return the purchased wares to the undertakers who sold them - there is no explicit money back guarantee and in any event, most of the dissatisfied have already been undertaken. The value of the undertaker's institution is similarly ephemeral, mostly determined by "goodwill". Aside from a fancy building, very little in the way of productive facilities is actually required by the religious undertaker.

But modern finance has replaced religion as the supreme capitalistic undertaking. Again, it has no need for production facilities - a fancy building, a few Bloomberg screens, greasy snake-oil salesmen, and some rapacious traders is all that is required to separate widows and orphans from their lifesavings and homes. Religious institutions only want 10%; Wall Street currently gets 20% of all the nation's output (and 40% of profits), but won't stop until it gets everything.

There is rarely any recourse for dissatisfied customers of financial institutions. Few customers understand what it is they are buying from Wall Street's undertakers. The product sold is infinitely more complicated than the Theory of the Trinity advanced by Theophilus of Antioch in 170 A.D., let alone the Temple Garments (often called Magic Underwear by nonbelievers) marketed today. That makes it so easy to screw customers and to hide fraud behind complex instruments and deceptive accounting.

A handful of thieves running a modern Wall Street firm can easily run up $2 trillion in ephemeral assets whose worth is mostly determined by whatever value the thieves assign to them.

And that is just the start. They also place tens of trillions of dollars of bets on derivatives whose value is purely "notional". The thieves get paid when something goes wrong - the death of a homeowner, worker, firm, or country triggers payments on Death Settlements, Peasant Insurance, or Credit Default Swaps. To ensure that death comes sooner rather than later, the undertaker works with the likes of John Paulson to handpick the most sickly households, firms and governments to stand behind the derivative bets.

And the value of the Wall Street undertaker's firm is almost wholly determined by euphemistically named "goodwill" - as if there is any good will in betting on death.

With these undertakers running the show, it is no wonder that we are buried under mountains of crushing debt - underwater mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans, healthcare debts, and auto-related finance. Simply listing the kinds of debts we owe makes it clear how far along the path of financialization we have come: everything is financialized as Wall Street has its hand in every pot.

Thirty years ago we could still write of a dichotomy - industry versus finance - and categorize GE and GM as industrial firms, with Goldman Sachs as a financial firm. Those days are gone, with GM requiring a bail-out because of its financial misdealings (auto production was just a sideline business used to burden households with debt owed to GMAC, the main business line), and Goldman Sachs buying up all the grain silos to run up food prices in a speculative bubble. Obamacare simply fortifies the Vampire Squid's control of the healthcare industry as it inserts its strangling tentacles into every facet of life.

Food? Financialized. Energy? Financialized. Healthcare? Financialized. Homes? Financialized. Government? Financialized. Death? Financialized. There no longer is a separation of the FIRE (finance, insurance, and real estate) and the nonFIRE sectors of the economy. It is all FIRE.

Everything is complexly financed. In the old days a municipal government would sell a twenty year fixed rate bond to finance a sewage system project. Now they hire Goldman to create complex interest rate swaps (or even more complex constant maturity swaps, swaptions, and snowballs) in which they issue a variable rate municipal bond and promise to pay the Squid a fixed rate while the Squid pays them a floating rate linked to LIBOR - which is rigged by the Squid to ensure the municipality gets screwed. Oh, and the municipal government pays upfront fees to Goldman for the sheer joy of getting screwed by Wall Street's finest.

The top four US Banks hold $171 Trillion worth of derivative deals like this. Derivatives are really just bets by Wall Street that we will get screwed - it is all "insurance" that pays off when we fail. Everything is insured - by them against us.

What is healthcare "insurance", really? You turn over your salary to Wall Street in the hope that should you need healthcare, they will allow your "service provider" to provide it. But when you need the service, Wall Street will decide whether it can be provided.

Oh, and Wall Street's undertakers have also placed a bet that you will die sooner than you expect, so it wins twice by denying the coverage.

Finally, US real estate - the RE of the FIRE - underlies the whole kit and caboodle. That is the real story behind the GFC: given President Clinton's budget surpluses and the simultaneous explosion of private finance, there simply was not enough safe federal government debt to collateralize all the risky debt issued by financial institutions to one another back in the mid 1990s. Wall Street needed another source of collateral.

You see, all the top financial institutions are dens of thieves, and thieves know better than to trust one another. So lending to fellow thieves has to be collateralized by safe financial assets - which is the traditional role played by Treasuries. But there were not enough of those to go around so Wall Street securitized home mortgages that were sliced and diced to get tranches that were supposedly as safe as Uncle Sam's bonds. And there were not enough quality mortgages, so Wall Street foisted mortgages and home equity loans onto riskier borrowers to create more product.

Never content, in order to suck more profit out of mortgages, Wall Street created "affordability" products - mortgages with high fees and exploding interest rates - that it knew would go bad. Even that was not enough, so the Squids created derivatives of the securities (collateralized debt obligations - CDOs) and then derivatives squared and cubed - and then we were off and running straight toward the GFC.

Wall Street bet your house would burn, then lit a firebomb in the basement.

Mortgages that were designed to go bad would go bad. CDOs that were designed to fail would fail.

Suddenly there was no collateral behind the loans Wall Street's thieves had made to one another. Each Wall Street thief looked in the mirror and realized everything he was holding was crap, because he knew all of his own debt was crap.

Hello Uncle Sam, Uncle Timmy, and Uncle Ben, we've got a problem. Can you spare $29 Trillion to bail us out?

And that is why we are screwed.

I see two scenarios playing out. In the first, we allow Wall Street to carry on its merry way, as the foreclosure crisis continues and Wall Street steals all homes, packaging them into bundles to be sold for pennies on the dollar to hedge funds. All wealth will be redistributed to the top 1% who will become modern day feudal lords with the other 99% living at their pleasure on huge feudal estates.

You can imagine for yourselves just what you're going to have to do to pleasure the lords.

This will take years, maybe even a decade or more, but it is the long march Wall Street has formulated for us. To be sure, "formulated" should not be misinterpreted as intention. No one sat down and planned the creation of Western European feudalism when Rome collapsed. To be sure, the modern day feudal lords on Wall Street certainly conspire - to rig LIBOR and muni bond markets, for example - and each one individually wants to take as much as possible from customers and creditors and stockholders. But they are not planning and conspiring for the restoration of feudalism. Still, that is the default scenario - the outcome that will emerge in the absence of action.

In the second, the 99% occupy, shut down, and obliterate Wall Street. Honestly, I have no idea how that can happen. I am waiting for suggestions.

Professor L. Randall Wray is Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Research Director with the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability and Senior Research Scholar at The Levy Economics Institute.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Pro-fracking study’s author linked to gas industry

Shale gas drilling tower (AFP Photo)
Pro-fracking study’s author linked to gas industry
July 27, 2012 |

A recent report that alleges no connection exists between fracking and water contamination is being called into question after it’s been discovered that the study’s primary author has millions invested in the natural gas industry.

Dr. Charles “Chip” Groat of the University of Texas is coming under attack after its been revealed that he’s received over $1.5 million in cash and stock awards from the Plains Exploration and Production Company, a major player in the gas industry. Dr. Groat currently sits on the Plains board of directors, but failed to disclose that information earlier this year while touting a controversial study on fracking.

Dr. Groat’s recent paper, "Fact-based Regulation for Environmental Protection in Shale Gas Development," was described by the professor as necessary to "separate fact from fiction" in the still infant fracking industry and outline future plans for policy makers. "We found no direct evidence that hydraulic fracturing itself – the practice of fracturing the rocks – had contaminated shallow groundwater,” he testified in his paper. Critics say direct industry influence could have caused him to blur the lines between what’s good for the Earth and what’s good for his wallet, though.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has garnered a fair amount of opposition from critics who insist that the long term effects and safety hazards associated with the practice have not been fully discovered. The procedure itself involves drilling deep into the Earth and injecting chemicals to collect natural gas, and is quickly being adopted by more and more utility companies as a way of procuring resources. As it enters the mainstream though, questions are arising in record numbers about what implications fracking can have on the environment.

According to Dr. Groat’s 400-page review of fracking operations in Texas, Louisiana, and Marcellus Shale area throughout the northeastern US, drilling into the Earth and dumping chemicals into the crust has never been proven to cause water contamination. Some skeptics are now questioning his analysis though since a hefty stake in the industry could have influenced his findings. Dr. Groat insists that his study was independent of environmental interests and was “completely funded by the university,” but others say a conflict of interest could have affected his work.

In addition to the $1.5 million the doctor has already made from the Plains Exploration and Production Company, he reportedly holds over $1.6 million in company stock; last year he was paid $400,000 for just sitting on the company’s board, which Scientific American notes is double his salary at the University of Texas

Calls are now being made to force the University of Texas to pull Dr. Groat’s study from their website. In a statement to AFP, the school’s provost and executive vice president pleads that the institute is sorry if they’ve misled readers.

"The most important asset we have as an institution is the public's trust. If that is in question, then that is something we need to address,” the memo from U of T’s Steven Leslie reads. "We believe that the research meets our standards, but it is important to let an outside group of experts take an independent look.”

"Dr. Groat has been reminded of his obligations to report all outside employment per university policy. If the university had known about Dr. Groat's board involvement, the Energy Institute would have included that information in the report."

Thousands of fracking critics are expected to rally in Washington, D.C. this weekend as part of a massive “Stop the Frack Attack” anti-hydraulic fracturing protest.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Anti-Fracking Groups Prepare for National Convergence in Washington D.C.

Anti-Fracking Groups Prepare for National Convergence in Washington D.C.
July 26, 2012 | Mike Sandmil

Opponents of the natural gas-drilling practice known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, will take another major step in building their movement this weekend when they gather in Washington D.C. for a national convergence called Stop The Frack Attack. There will be two days of trainings and workshops, a day of citizen lobbying on Capital Hill and then a rally and march that will deliver toxic fracking waste water to the headquarters of the American Petroleum Institute and the American Natural Gas Alliance. Organizers are expecting upwards of 3,000 people to participate — an impressive number, considering that just a few years ago fracking was something few Americans knew about.

In those few years, however, “fracktavists” have managed to elevate concerns over the air, water and climate impacts of unconventional natural gas drilling from rural kitchen tables to the national stage. They’ve fought tireless state and regional campaigns using a combination of savvy media strategies and good old-fashioned community organizing and they’ve won some significant victories.

More than 200 municipalities, as well as the state of Vermont, have passed ordinances to ban fracking. In New Jersey, conservative Governor Chris Christie has been pressured into signing a one-year moratorium on the practice. Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has also signed a moratorium, but looks poised to lift it selectively to allow drilling in the state’s gas-rich southern tier. He is already facing heavy criticism and significant political mobilization.

The issue has become so salient in New York that Late Show host David Letterman, known for his reliably light and inoffensive material, went on a strikingly unfunny minute long rant against fracking last week, decrying:
Greedy oil and gas companies of this country have decided that they can squeeze every last little ounce of oil and gas out of previously pumped wells by injecting the substrata of our planet with highly toxic carcinogenic chemicals … they’re poisoning our drinking water … ladies and gentlemen, we’re screwed.
Why did Letterman make this statement now? Maybe fracking just really touches a nerve for Dave, or perhaps he’s trying to keep from being outdone by the likes of Jimmy Fallon, who also recently criticized the controversial gas-drilling practice on his show. Whatever the combination of reasons, it seems pretty unlikely that Letterman would have taken on the power of the fossil fuel industry if he didn’t recognize that he’d have the support of an enormous and rapidly growing grassroots movement.

Up to this point, anti-fracking activism has largely occurred at the state and local level but organizers are hoping that this weekend’s events will help elevate their concerns within the broader national debate about energy and the environment.

According to Lauren Pagel, policy coordinator for Earthworks, Stop the Frack Attack “emerged through conversations with impacted communities, grassroots groups and national environmental organizations … we want to push members of Congress to pass laws that make fracking less dangerous, and make sure the Obama administration is doing the same with their policies. But, we also know that the majority of the regulation of fracking goes on at the state level, so we want to support state efforts as much as possible. ”

There’s reason to believe that organizing at all levels can be synergistic. Russell Mendell, an organizer for Water Defense in New York City expressed:
My hope is that our success at stopping fracking in New York will give strength to other fights in other states, but it goes both ways. It’s been widely speculated that Governmer Cuomo will run for president in 2016 and we know he’s keeping an eye on the national conversation. We also know that other states may follow New York’s lead. A big national presence is important for the fight in New York and vice versa.
This recognition that there is strength in a network has allowed the Stop The Frack Attack coalition to grow to include 136 environmental, labor and religious groups of varying sizes. Of course, the diversity of this coalition poses some challenges. There are significant rifts in the movement between those calling for tighter regulation of fracking and those who will not be satisfied with anything less than a complete ban. Pagel recognizes this challenge, but points to the benefits of a “big tent” strategy to advance the common agenda of all of the groups involved.

This sentiment is echoed by Kari Matsko, a 40-year-old project manager for a software-consulting firm who discovered in 2006 that her Lake County, Ohio home was smack in the middle of oil and gas fields leased by her distant neighbors. As Matsko explained:
I was introduced to the risks of oil and gas when I was sickened by fumes from the drilling, my neighbors were a little bit closer to the drill site and they had to evacuate their house. Their children were in the hospital at 3 a.m. It was terrible. … I felt like it was my civic duty to act. I wanted to get the word out there in terms of the risk. No one was conveying the risks. We want to raise awareness and to get information out there and empower people to make informed decisions in the face of all the ads that the industry has been running on TV. … It’s going to be helpful to Ohio … to get attention on the issue and build awareness.
But for Matsko, who now serves on the coalition’s advisory committee, the networking and capacity-building components of the convergence are just as important as the public demonstrations. For her, a successful outcome is one in which “folks are able to walk away with new relationships and new information that may aide in work with their governments. If we can prevent just one case of what happened to me and my neighbors that’s a victory … this mission is ongoing and never ending and these kind of efforts help keep your spirits up and remind you that you’re not alone even if you lose one battle.”

This article originally appeared at, an inspirational source of ideas on non-violent solutions to political issues.  Click here to support their noble efforts

Biodiversity declining in tropical forests, protected areas

Biodiversity declining in tropical forests, protected areas
July 26, 2012 | Press TV

An international team of researchers has found that biodiversity is still continuing to decline in many tropical forests despite having protected status.

According to new findings published online by Nature, babitat disruption, hunting and timber exploitation will cause more biodiversity decline in areas that are supposed to be the final refuge for some threatened species.

"The rapid disruption of tropical forests probably imperils global biodiversity more than any other contemporary phenomenon," the report said.

"Many protected areas in the tropics are themselves vulnerable to human encroachment and other environmental stresses."
Led by Prof. William Laurance of James Cook University, Australia, the team studied data from 60 areas to assess the state of the world's protected areas.
The study covered regions in 36 nations across the tropics in Africa, Asia and South America, and the results were based on "262 detailed interviews, focusing on veteran field biologists and environmental scientists, who averaged more than two decades of experience".

"Our study was motivated by three broad issues: whether tropical reserves will function as 'arks' for biodiversity and natural ecosystem processes," they said.

"Whether observed changes are mainly concordant or idiosyncratic among different protect areas; and what are the principal predictors of reserve success or failure."

Findings suggest that "protecting biodiversity involved more than just safeguarding the reserves themselves".

"In many cases, the landscapes and habitats surrounding the reserves are under imminent threat."

Researchers found that forest disruption, over-exploitation of wildlife and forest resources had the greatest "direct negative impact".

"Air and water pollution, increase in human population densities and climatic change" were found to have had a weaker or more indirect impact.

The team also blamed the activities outside the protected areas for the changes in biodiversity inside the protected areas.

"It is not enough to [protect] interiors while ignoring surrounding landscapes, which are being rapidly deforested, degraded and over-hunted," they said.

"A failure to limit inter-related internal and external threats could predispose reserves to ecological decay, including taxonomically and functionally array in species communities and an erosion of fundamental ecosystem processes."

Tropical forests are the world’s richest areas in terms of biodiversity.


America's Internal Colonialism

© n/a
America's Internal Colonialism
July 26, 2012 | Devon DB

Colonialism is a word associated with the 19th and 20th centuries, with an outside force (usually European) coming into a country, destroying and uprooting the culture and people, with the main goal being the extraction of resources for the gain of the ‘mother’ country. It is defined as “the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically.” [1] Yet this definition of colonialism can be expanded from examining the external to examining the internal. For what may be the first time in US history, internal colonialism is occurring as the very facades of democracy and the economic system begin to fall apart and the elites begin to colonize internally.

The internal colonization of America by elites can be seen most starkly in the financial sector, specifically in the 2007-2009 economic crisis, the effects of which are still being felt. There was mass panic about the near global economic collapse which allowed financial corporations to convince the government to bail them out to the tune of $12.8 trillion [2], yet, once the dust cleared, the very banks that caused the crisis in the first place only grew larger. Bloomberg noted in April of this year that Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Citigroup had combined assets that “amounted to 43 percent of US output” in 2007 but after the crisis those same banks now “held $8.5 trillion in assets at the end of 2011, equal to 56 percent of the U.S. economy,” [3] meaning that their combined percentage of the economy had increased by thirteen percent.

While the near collapse of the economy led to large amounts of growth for the banks and therefore the banksters getting massive bonuses, it had a devastating impact on average Americans. While one can go and generalize about the number of jobs and houses lost, it is much more telling to go and look at the actual numbers. After the crisis ended, it was stated that the entire fiasco “cost the U.S. an estimated $648 billion due to slower economic growth” which translated into “an average of approximately $5,800 in lost income for each U.S. household.” [4] It was also found that 5.5 million more jobs were lost than were predicted in the Congressional Budget Office forecast of 2008.

The effects of this recession has not only resulted in droves of Americans being left destitute and unemployed to the point where just last year one million of them applied to McDonalds [5], but has also left towns and cities on almost utterly destroyed.. A 2011 IHS reported revealed that there were “37 metropolitan areas which are not expected to return to peak employment until after 2021” and that

Many of these metropolitan areas are part of the “Rust Belt,” an area covering portions of the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest that was once an international center for heavy manufacturing. Cities such as Canton and Youngstown, Ohio were once hubs of the steel industry. Detroit and Flint, of course, were at the heart of the US automobile industry. [6]
This is a prime example of internal colonialism where the banks and automobile companies have sucked the economic life out of towns and cities, exploiting them to the fullest extent possible, and then when they are done and no more can be used, the banks and companies leave these areas and move elsewhere in the world to exploit other people, leaving in their wake only destruction and devastation. This combination of greedy banksters and companies that offshore jobs has created not only a global economic crisis, but also a situation where half of the US population is now either impoverished or low-income. [7]

Yet, this internal colonization happens on an even more horrendous scale environmentally. Mining companies such as Massey Energy, now owned by Alpha Natural, engage in a horrid practice called mountaintop mining which is defined as “a surface mining practice involving the removal of mountaintops to expose coal seams, and disposing of the associated mining overburden in adjacent valleys -- ‘valley fills.’” [8] Mining practices such as these allow corporations to get at the resource faster and thus extract more easily and cheaply as well as it allows miners more safety since they do not have to actually go down into the mines. While this may be good for the corporations, it is nothing but horrible for the environment. A 2007 Wired article stated that
In just two decades, hundreds of mountaintops, more than a thousand miles of stream, and hundreds of square miles of forests have been obliterated.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, MTR destroyed more than 1,200 miles of Appalachia's streams and 7 percent of its forests between 1985 and 2001. Approximately 800 square miles of mountains were leveled.

According to a rough estimate by West Virginia University bio-geochemist William Peterjohn, the deforestation could add as much as 138 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere -- and that's not even counting the even-larger CO2 emissions from burning the coal. [9]
There is also a human factor involved as well as removal of the mountaintops in such a manner causes water resources to become contaminated which can lead to “Balkan endemic nephropathy (BEN), an irreversible kidney disease has been related to the leaching of toxic organic compounds in groundwater.” Contaminated drinking water can affects children quite negatively as “An Eastern Kentucky University study found that children in Letcher County, Kentucky, suffer from an alarmingly high rate of nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and shortness of breath, symptoms related to blue babe syndrome,” [10] which was found to be caused by contaminated minerals find their way into nearby streams.

This is yet another prime example of internal colonialism. As the corporations abuse the planet and push the environment to its breaking point, their careless exploitation and sole concern for profits results in a decimated, uninhabitable environment and people who become sickly and weak. As with the bankers, once there is no one and nothing left to exploit, they flock to the next location and start the process anew. 

This internal colonialism is not only destroying people, but also the very environment that everyone- including the bankers and industrialists- live on. While we may be suffering currently, the colonizers may be in for a surprise as they destroy the environment and with it, themselves.


1: Oxford Dictionaries, Colonialism,
2: PBS, The true cost of the bank bailout, (September 3, 2010)
3: David J. Lynch, “
Banks Seen Dangerous Defying Obama’s Too-Big-To-Fail Move,” Bloomberg, April, 16, 2012 (
4: Pew Charitable Trusts, The Impact of the 2008 Economic Collapse, (April 28, 2010)
5: Andy Kroll, “How the McEconomy Bombed the American Worker,” Truthout, May 9, 2011 (
6: 24/7 Wall St, Ten Cities That Will Take A Decade To Recover From The Recession, (June 22, 2011)
7: ABC News, Census date: Half of US poor or low income, (December 15, 2011)
8: U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, Mid-Atlantic Mountaintop Mining,
9: Brandon Keim, “Blowing The Top Off Mountaintop Mining,” Wired, September 10, 2007 (
10: University of South Carolina, Mountaintop Removal: Effects on Human Health and the Environment,

Devon DB is a 20 year old independent researcher and writer. He is studying political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Global Research Articles by Devon DB

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Induced Mass Hypocrisy: The Nauseating Selective Grief of Diseased America

Induced Mass Hypocrisy: The Nauseating Selective Grief of Diseased America
July 24, 2012 | Arthur Sibler

Many Americans hurl themselves with fundamentally false, deeply disturbed enthusiasm into public demonstrations of grief over the needless deaths of some human beings -- those human beings they see as being much like themselves, when the deaths happen in what could be their own neighborhood. As for all the murders committed by their government with a systematic dedication as insane as that of any serial killer: silence.

Some years ago, I saw a man in profound emotional distress. The sobs which wracked his body had caused him to collapse to the ground, so weak did they make him. Every few minutes, he emitted a howl of pain, a sound so piercing and unnerving that I hope never to hear its like again. People passed the man in the street. A few of them would pause for a moment, looking awkwardly in his general direction, as if they thought that perhaps they should offer aid in some manner. Then they all walked on. The man remained on the ground, helpless in his immense pain.

After approaching him very slowly, taking care not to move too quickly or unexpectedly, I gently took him in my arms. "I'm here," I kept repeating. "I'll help you in any way I can. I'm here." I held him for many long minutes, softly murmuring the phrases over and over. He eventually began to breathe somewhat more normally. "I'll help you if I can. Please tell me what I can do."

"It's just..." He offered the words so tentatively that I could barely hear them. "It's just...?" I quietly asked. After a few more minutes had passed, he managed to tell me what had upset him so deeply.

A bus had been taking a class of 30 children from a local elementary school, together with three teachers, on a school outing. The bus had veered off a mountain road -- no one had been able to determine why exactly -- and plunged into a ravine. Everyone on board was killed. I had heard the story, of course; everyone had.

"It's just so terrible," the man said. "So, so terrible. All those lives ended so needlessly. All those families torn apart, some of them never to recover. So many possibilities for happiness and joy ended." He was slowly gathering his strength again. "It's monstrous," he said with great emphasis. "How is it possible that such monstrous things can happen?"

I consoled him as best I could, but I took care not to offer empty words of comfort. I told him I recognized that nothing could ever make such events acceptable, that many of the wounds caused by the tragedy would never heal. He seemed grateful that I didn't try to deny or avoid the horror of what had happened.

We talked for several more minutes. Finally, I had to tell him that I needed to go on to a meeting I was expected to attend; I couldn't miss it. But I gave him my card, and I wrote my personal cell phone number on the back, telling him to call me if he wanted to talk about this further, or about anything else at all. As we were parting, I asked him his name, and he told me. I paused for a moment, and looked at him more carefully. Yes, it was the face that went with the name I had been reading about. I somehow managed to mask my realization -- although there was a moment that gave me a bad fright, when I thought he had noticed the change in me that I hoped I had disguised, but it mercifully passed -- and we offered our final goodbyes. I turned away and began walking down the street.

Fortunately, a police car was parked at the corner. I took a deep breath and slowly turned around just enough so that I could glance behind me: the man was slowly walking in the opposite direction. I walked over to the police car and told the officers the name of the man I had just been talking to, and pointed him out to them. They caught him a few minutes later; he was arrested without incident, and without any attendant violence. Later that day, I explained to the police how it was that the man had told me his name. I never made it to the meeting; given the circumstances, everyone understood why.

The man I had talked to and consoled -- the man so overcome with grief that he had been rendered utterly helpless -- was a serial killer who had been sought by law enforcement for over five years. They were certain he was responsible for at least 40 deaths, although the actual number was undoubtedly higher. They were never certain they identified all his victims; he refused to help them in that effort. But he did explain how he chose his victims: he knew, he stated very simply, that the people he killed were bad. How did he know? What was his standard for judgment? He never answered those questions; he seemed to assume the answers should be as self-evident to others as they were to him. But his own victims included children -- yet he regarded them as guilty in the same manner as the adults he killed. And all the people he had killed were completely ordinary. They were no better, and no worse, than you, or me, or tens of millions of other people. His victims weren't famous or prominent in any way, not before he murdered them.

I keep remembering the man as I first met him: collapsed on the ground, sobbing in pain that seemed entirely genuine. Perhaps it was genuine in some way I cannot grasp. He considered the victims of the bus crash to be innocent, as opposed to those he murdered, whom he regarded as guilty beyond all doubt. I came to realize that the mind has an infinite capacity for rationalization and compartmentalization. He apparently recognized no connection whatsoever between the victims of the bus crash and the victims of his crimes. Grief was the appropriate reaction to the bus tragedy, in his view; for his own victims, he never expressed any regret or pity, in even the smallest degree.

But I wonder now. I wonder if I will ever believe someone who tells me he feels immense grief for a tragedy that has befallen another human being. How many cruelties has he himself delivered or excused, cruelties that were undeserved and needless? Does he feel grief about them? I wonder if I will ever trust anyone again. For it seems to me that most people have splintered their minds and their consciences in the same way the killer had. Most people have chosen to shatter their souls so completely that they can never be made whole again. Can such people ever be believed about a matter of great moment?

That is fiction. The awful tragedy in Colorado is not. I do not wonder about the terrible, life-altering grief felt by those individuals immediately affected by these ghastly events: the families and friends of those who were killed and injured, as well as those who were trapped in the theater during those terrifying and endless minutes, together with those who live in Aurora.

But I do wonder about the national paroxysm of grief, the generalized scream of pain offered by every politician and public official from president to trash collector, the public lamentation and wailing, the sickening enthusiasm shown by political tribalists from every point in the spectrum for scoring disgustingly cheap points off the blood-spattered corpses of the victims. Yet that isn't honest of me: I don't wonder about such public displays at all. I view them with deep loathing and contempt. I consider them, without exception, to be the symptoms of irretrievably damaged, narcissistic psychologies. Those who engage in such public displays and political positioning are vile and despicable in a manner that is close to impossible to capture in words. I emphasize again that I am speaking here not of those immediately affected by this tragedy, but of those people who have no direct connection of any kind to the victims and their families.

Out of a multitude of facts that I could offer to explain my judgment, I offer this, from an article in the Asian Tribune about civilian deaths in drone strikes ordered by the United States:
CIA Drone Strikes in Pakistan 2004 - 2012

Total US strikes: 321

Obama strikes: 269

Total reported killed: 2,429 - 3,097

Civilians reported killed: 479 - 811

Children reported killed: 174

Total reported injured: 1,169-1,281
US Covert Action in Yemen 2002 - 2012

Total US strikes: 41 - 128

Total US drone strikes: 31 - 67

Total reported killed: 294 - 651

Civilians reported killed: 55 - 105

Children reported killed: 24
US Covert Action in Somalia 2007 - 2012

Total US strikes: 10 - 21

Total US drone strikes: 3 - 9

Total reported killed: 58 - 169

Civilians reported killed: 11 - 57

Children reported killed: 1 - 3
We know that these figures are far from complete, just as we know that the numbers of innocent human beings murdered by the United States government are far, far higher, even if we restrict ourselves to murders in recent years. This is true not only because the U.S. government carries out operations in more than 75 countries around the world. Do not forget the genocide in Iraq.

I say, "Do not forget..." -- but the truth is far worse. The U.S. government -- and most Americans -- have never recognized the genocide at all.

Consider the staggering number of murders of innocent human beings committed by the United States government -- and ask yourselves how many Auroras those murders represent. I have tried to make calculations of this kind before: using conservative estimates of the deaths in Iraq, the murders in that country alone represent a 9/11 every day for five years. An equivalent number of Auroras would be much higher.

Listen for the public lamentations about even a small fraction of these deaths. Listen as carefully as you can. What do you hear? Why, nothing at all. These murders of entirely innocent human beings don't matter at all to most Americans. They most certainly don't matter to anyone in the U.S. government.

Can anything be worse than this loathsome silence? Perhaps one thing can be: the assertion by President Obama, and by the U.S. government, that he and they have the "right" to murder anyone at all anywhere in the world, for any reason they choose -- and that they need never disclose any details of their murders, including the fact that they have ordered them. This is the assertion of absolute, unanswerable power. It is the same claim made by every slaughtering monster in history.

This monstrous crime, what is in fact an ongoing, systematic series of monstrous crimes, is greeted by near universal silence in America. The U.S. government orders an unending series of Auroras: it ordered an Aurora last week, it will order an Aurora this week, it will order an Aurora next week. Almost no one cares. Almost no one even notices.

With these facts fixed firmly in our minds, consider these words spoken by Obama after the events in Colorado:
Now, even as we learn how this happened and who's responsible, we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this. Such violence, such evil is senseless. It's beyond reason. But while we will never know fully what causes somebody to take the life of another, we do know what makes life worth living. The people we lost in Aurora loved and they were loved. They were mothers and fathers; they were husbands and wives; sisters and brothers; sons and daughters, friends and neighbors. They had hopes for the future and they had dreams that were not yet fulfilled.

And if there's anything to take away from this tragedy it's the reminder that life is very fragile. Our time here is limited and it is precious. And what matters at the end of the day is not the small things, it's not the trivial things, which so often consume us and our daily lives. Ultimately, it's how we choose to treat one another and how we love one another.
Keeping in mind the murders regularly committed by the U.S. government, and the murders of innocent human beings regularly ordered by Obama himself, we must recognize that these remarks are the equivalent of the expressions of grief offered by the serial killer in my fictional exercise. These are the remarks of a man who has suffered an irreparable break with reality, a man who who has rendered himself unable to connect obviously related facts. If Obama genuinely meant these comments -- if he understood how these remarks apply with far greater force to him ("we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this") -- his realization of the monster he has allowed himself to become would reduce him to gibbering incoherence for the remainder of his life. In varying degrees, the same is true of any individual who remains in the national government at this point.

More generally, this is American culture today. Like the killer in my story, many Americans hurl themselves with fundamentally false, deeply disturbed enthusiasm into public demonstrations of grief over the needless deaths of some human beings -- those human beings they see as being much like themselves, when the deaths happen in what could be their own neighborhood. As for all the murders committed by their government with a systematic dedication as insane as that of any serial killer: silence.

But every murder committed by the United States government, every murder ordered by Obama, represents a tragedy exactly like Aurora to someone. But it is not someone most Americans happen to know or recognize -- even if only to recognize the person as a fellow human being -- and it is therefore as if it never occurred.

So I wonder. I wonder if I will ever trust anyone again.

Five years ago, after the Virginia Tech murders, I wrote about many of the issues raised by these recent events in: The United States as Cho Seung-Hui: How the State Sanctifies Murder. Tragically, that earlier discussion has lost none of its relevance. I therefore commend it to your attention, perhaps especially with regard to the excerpts from Albert Jay Nock's Our Enemy, the State.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Why Smart Meters May Be Bad For Your Health

Why Smart Meters May Be Bad For Your Health
July 22, 2012 |

PBS Newshour reports that an unlikely coalition of California environmentalists, liberals, Tea Party supporters and other activists want “smart” electric meters banned, claiming that they’re bad for your health:

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LIBOR lies defraud billions, yes; but essential ‘bank’ fraud costs 99% trillions

© n/a
LIBOR lies defraud billions, yes; but essential ‘bank’ fraud costs 99% trillions
July 21, 2012 | Washingtons Blog

Here are three stories to understand about criminal US economics:
  1. LIBOR criminal fraud that costs US local government agencies billions.
  2. Essential bank fraud that private corporations have authority to issue credit/loans to maximize their own profit rather than debt-free money and public at-cost credit. This annually costs trillions to the 99%.
  3. Essential fraud in government Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs) cost trillions to the 99% each year
1. What is the LIBOR scandal regarding local US government agencies?

Ellen Brown is the US leading voice for credit and banking reform; in articles from March and July, 2012 she explains how the lies of private banks’ reports of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) defrauded US local governments of billions (Washington’s Blog also has excellent explanation and for manipulation in other markets, and I recommend Paul Craig Roberts’ analysis).

Criminal fraud with LIBOR works this way:
  • Local US government agencies were encouraged by investment and loan managers to enter into interest rate swap agreements to “save money.” This is buying insurance against rising interest rates for local government debt securities.
  • The terms of the swap cost billions more than falling interest rates: collective tens of billions were transferred from US local governments to almost exclusively JP Morgan, BofA, Citi, and Goldman Sachs.
  • Because the interest rates are now acknowledged as contrived, the swaps become fraudulent because these four banks sold a product without disclosing their own manipulation over interest rates.
2. What is essential bank fraud, and how does it cost us trillions?

The essential fraud of banks is they don’t lend money; they create credit (loans) out of nothing and then demand repayment with interest. These private businesses exist to maximize their own profit and create debt, not “banks” keeping people’s money safe and lending excess cash. Creating what we use for money as a debt with interest means US aggregate debt can never be repaid because this is what we use for money.
The essential fraud is to call a national debt system a “monetary” system, and that unpayable debt is somehow “good” for the 99%.

Money that is debt-free could be created by government for direct payment of public goods and services. This eliminates national debt and almost all local debts (the gross interest cost of the national debt that is never reduced but only increased is currently ~$450 billion/year). Debt-free money has three game-changing benefits: full-employment as government can be employer of last resort for infrastructure investment, optimal infrastructure, and falling overall prices because infrastructure contributes more to economic output than cost of inputs (documentation in my paper on monetary reform for the Claremont Colleges’ conference).

The annual benefits of money rather than debt are quickly calculated in the trillions with elimination of the source of all local, state, and national debt, having full employment, ever-improving infrastructure, falling prices, and far less crime. If credit became public rather than private, a state-owned bank could offer 2% mortgages and credit cards that would abundantly cover all state taxes.

3. What is CAFR fraud, and how can we reclaim trillions there?

Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs) disclose taxpayer surpluses in the trillions. For example, the state of California claims austerity from a $16 billion budget deficit while the state has $600 billion in surplus taxpayer assets the public doesn’t know about, “leaders” never discuss, corporate media never mention, and that could easily be restructured for financial success.

Hiding 35 times the deficit in a document the public doesn’t know about while saying we have “no choice” but austerity is “emperor has no clothes” obvious fraud. The collective state totals of CAFR taxpayer surpluses has been data-sampled at $8 trillion.

I summarize reforms in money, credit and CAFR here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Major Physicians Group Implores Exemption From Smart Meters - Are You On the List?

Dees Illustration
Major Physicians Group Implores Exemption From Smart Meters - Are You On the List?
July 19, 2012 | Heather Callaghan

Are you on the doctors' list of people who should be exempt from Smart Meters?

 In the last couple years, paying electricity residents have witnessed a startling use of force regarding installation of Smart Meters. This is after complaining to Public Utility Commissions about legitimate and serious health problems that were absent before the installations.

More alarming, is that doctors' notices on behalf of their patients are completely dismissed. One doctor implored help from a commission that the situation wouldn't be so urgent if patients had the ability to choose another company or have the ability to opt-out (of something they never asked for or actually protested in the first place).

But, tables are turning as awareness grows and doctors, researchers, and activists are joining forces to resist the Smart Meter invasion.

The prestigious American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has just issued a report emphasizing that patients with any of myriad health issues be accommodated to avoid not only having Smart Meters installed on their own properties, but to be accommodated also for their neighbors' Smart Meters.

The report asks for doctors to recognize EMF/RF exposure in their patients, the cumulative effects, and especially the effects of Smart Grid technology.

 Are you on the list of people who should not be near a Smart Meter? I don't know . . . do you ever have an upset stomach or headaches for no discernible reason? Ever have anxiety? (Anxiety is now considered epidemic!)

The other many symptoms include those relating to neurological impairment (including anything from dizziness to Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, ALS, and much more), pulmonary (including chest tightness), muscular (including spasms), gastrointestinal, pain, skin issues, sinuses, lungs (even shortness of breath), dental, sleep, ADHD, tremors, visual disruption, liver, genetic defects, fetal abnormalities, depression, cancer, and more. Pregnant women and the elderly are also indicated as those who should avoid EMF/RF exposure.

order family medicine herb seed pack Chances are - you should be exempt from being anywhere near Smart Meters! And your electric company should remove your neighbors' meters to accommodate you. This report is adding more weight to the side of those fighting for their health.

What if you are in perfect health? Then, it's not advisable to ruin a perfectly good thing. Let's revisit some of the symptoms that Smart Meters have been known to cause:
The World Health Organization has recently classified the type of radiation emitted from smart meters (non-ionizingradiation) as a Class 2B carcinogen, on par with lead and DDT. [Symptoms]:

Sleep problems (insomnia, difficulty falling asleep, night waking, nightmares)
Stress, agitation, anxiety, irritability
Headaches, sharp pain or pressure in the head
Ringing in the ears, ear pain, high pitched ringing
Concentration, memory or learning problems
Fatigue, muscle or physical weakness
Disorientation, dizziness, or balance problems
Eye problems, including pain and pressure
Cardiac symptoms, palpitations, arrhythmias, chest pain
Leg cramps, or neuropathy
Arthritis, body pain, sharp, stabbing pains
Nausea, flu-like symptoms
Sinus problems, nose bleeds
Respiratory problems, cough, asthma
Skin rashes, facial flushing
Urinary problems
Endocrine disorders, thyroid problems, diabetes
High blood pressure
Changes in menstrual cycle
Hyperactivity or changes in children’s behavior
Recurrence of cancer

Consumers are reporting that smart meters are giving them non-stop headaches, insomnia, heart palpitations and body aches, and making them so sick they are going to have to sell their home and/or move. (Source)
There are also studies on DNA damage caused by low frequency EMFs.

By now it should be official: no one should be subjected to dangerous Smart Meters. Especially if there were ever a shadow of a doubt.
But, if one doctors' group report doesn't finally sway electric companies, the PUCs, and local officials, then maybe some other recent events will:
  • Just last week, renown speaker on EMF and health, Dr. David Carpenter, and 40 other international experts refuted a May 24th letter by some engineers, physicists, and chemists trying to assuage public fears about EMF/RF radiation with "real science." The rebuttal is jammed packed with cited studies regarding health, and schools the engineers on science and the human body. It is a must read and emphasizes the damage Smart Grid exposure can have on children. These doctors wiped the floor with them! 
  • One double-blind study in December concluded: "EMF hypersensitivity can occur as a bona fide environmentally inducible neurological syndrome." 
  • Another notable change of heart: the leader of Canada's Green Party and Parliament Member, Elizabeth May, 180'ed her stance on EMF and health last year and even withstood a lot of flak.
What's more, electric companies like PG&E have been fully aware of the dangerous health effects of EMF for 20 years! Back then the phrase of the day was "childhood leukemia," legitimately traced to overexposure to EMF through power lines. So, PG&E issued a brochure actually warning people to keep their distance from electric appliances to minimize the chance of EMF-related cancer.

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Do you think they warn their patrons today about the same appliances when it comes to RF exposure even after thousands of health complaints roll in? Here is their stance today. Pulling again from the anti-Smart Meter info handout above:  "Keep this in mind… there has NEVER been any studies done by our federal or state governments to look at the health safety aspect of smart meter technology." You may notice PG&E's method of cherry-picking data and words, and using only one report quoting the FCC.
 Coincidentally, just one day before the AAEM report, PBS aired a pro-Smart Grid piece that was more reminiscent of a shameless infomercial for both the Public Utilities Commission and Agenda 21. It focuses on the benefit of centralizing as an essential measure to restore power during storms so people aren't left to melt in the heat like they were during recent Texas storms.

It is only at the very end that PBS NewHour cleverly downplays the opposition, supposedly to get airtime on July 20th:
Not everyone in Texas is sold, of course. A small group of people opposed to smart meters was scheduled to hold a march in Austin today to make that clear. Next week, we will report on some of the objections, including health risks and privacy considerations.
Actually, the march was a sizable gathering of people vying for a hearing regarding health concerns in response to a petition created by popular journalist and activist Devvy Kidd. Just as before, they have been repeatedly ignored and deferred over stupid technicalities. Smart Meters have been installed all over Texas by "silent force" with no one's consent. They are not being taken seriously, and it will be interesting to see if PBS treats activist arguments with respect on the 20th.

There really does appear to be an unbending Technocracy at work, that disregards safety and choice, and yet forces more payment from the grieving peasants.

When private corporations would stomp on their paying customers' wishes, even slowly killing them, one could surmise that the orders are from on high - at this time it would appear that consumer rights are the casualty of the sub-goals of Agenda 21 - initiated with bribe money to the federal government, partially forwarded to the State and PUCs, complete with irresistible payouts to the major utility corporations.

Sample refusal letter:

Take tangible action:

File Small Claims Court Lawsuits - the more the merrier!

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

When the heavens opened over New York: Incredible pictures of torrential rain, lightning, and hail breaking the city's heatwave

When the heavens opened over New York: Incredible pictures of torrential rain, lightning, and hail breaking the city's heatwave
July 18, 2012 |

© Unknown
New Yorkers were hit with a torrential rain storm that
turned the air from a humid summer swelter to a soggy
downpour in a New York minute Wednesday afternoon.
While those on the ground watched in disbelief as a
sunny day turned into a hailstorm with inch-wide
ice chunks hurling down from the sky, the best view was from above.
Manhattanites were hit with a torrential rain storm that turned the air from a humid summer swelter to a soggy downpour in a New York minute. As pedestrians took cover, meteorologists looked for explanations. 'It went out with a bang,' National Weather Service meteorologist Joey Pica said of the triple-digit heat that suffocated the city for the past three days.

While those on the ground watched in disbelief as a sunny day turned into a hailstorm with inch-wide ice chunks hurling down from the sky, the best view was from above. Instagram and Twitter quickly filled with images of the storm from people flying around the city at the time of the late-afternoon storm.

Arguably the best image comes from former NFL player Dhani Jones, who captured a moment when all of the precipitation of the city swirled in one frightful column, harkening something out of a villainous fantasy film. At the time, Jones was flying out of LaGuardia airport, which is in Queens, and was able to see over Queens and into part of Manhattan.

Additional photos

The true warning came at 3.38pm when issued a severe thunderstorm watch and flood advisory for New York City and nearby Long Island City.

At that time, the temperature had reached 94 degrees, which was down from the triple-digit highs reached during the past three days.

To get the word out the the more than 8million people who live and work in Manhattan's five boroughs, city government officials used the mobile phone emergency warning system for the first time since the program was started in May of last year.

Though the bulk of the storms were finished by about 6pm, the repercussions will likely be felt into the evening as flash floods caused transit and road delays.

There was also reports of fallen trees in the suburbs in Westchester and New Jersey which caused damage, though the extent of the destruction is not clear.

NBC News reports that thousands lost power in New York and one injury is being linked to the storm but no details have been released about the nature of that injury or the identity of the victim.

While the majority of the storm may have passed the Big Apple, the National Weather Service has now issued a severe weather warning for Washington D.C., predicting that the capital will be hit by hail up to 1.5-inch in diameter and winds of up to 70 miles per hour to come by 9pm.