$8.5 trillion in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996, the first year it was supposed to be audited, has never been accounted for. That sum exceeds the value of China’s economic output last year.
The People Want Peace, But D.C. Wants War
For the first time, a majority of Americans think that we should never have started the war in Afghanistan. As the Washington Post reports:
Americans express near-record discontent and regret over the 13-year war in Afghanistan, during which 2,289 U.S. troops have died and more than 19,000 have been wounded, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Fully 66 percent of Americans say the battle, which began with nearly unanimous support, has not been worth fighting
In a separate Associated Press-GfK poll released Wednesday, 57 percent of Americans said the United States did “the wrong thing” in going to war with Afghanistan, with mixed feelings toward keeping troops in the country past 2014.
A top financial advisor, worried that Obamacare, the NSA spying scandal and spiraling national debt is increasing the chances for a fiscal and social disaster, is recommending that Americans prepare a “bug-out bag” that includes food, a gun and ammo to help them stay alive.
David John Marotta, a Wall Street expert and financial advisor andForbes contributor, said in a note to investors, “Firearms are the last item on the list, but they are on the list. There are some terrible people in this world. And you are safer when your trusted neighbors have firearms.”
His memo is part of a series addressing the potential for a “financial apocalypse.” His view, however, is that the problems plaguing the country won't result in armageddon. “There is the possibility of a precipitous decline, although a long and drawn out malaise is much more likely,” said the Charlottesville, Va.-based president of Marotta Wealth Management.
Marotta said that many clients fear an end-of-the-world scenario. He doesn’t agree with that outcome, but does with much of what has people worried.
“I, along with many other economists, agree with many of the concerns expressed in these dire warnings. The growing debt and deficit spending is a tax on those holding dollars. The devaluation in the U.S. dollar risks the dollar's status as the reserve currency of the world. Obamacare was the worst legislation in the past 75 years. Socialism is on the rise and the NSA really is abrogating vast portions of the Constitution. I don't disagree with their concerns,” he wrote.
In his latest note, he said that Americans should have a survival kit to take in case of a financial or natural disaster. It should be filled with items that will help them stay alive for the first 72-hours of a crisis, including firearms.
“A bug-out bag is a good idea depending on where you live even if the emergency is just power outages, earthquakes and hurricanes. And with your preparedness you will be equipped to help others who might be in need,” he wrote. “Be prepared. Especially because it keeps you from being scared.”
He provided a list of items and even a link to bug-out bags on Amazon.
For Denise Acosta, it was being laid off for the first time. For Diana Martinez, it was the death of her mother, leaving her as the sole carer for her severely disabled younger brother. For Johnny Hill, it was having to take responsibility, a year away from retirement, for her two young granddaughters.
Each of these hard-working women from San Antonio, Texas, have fallen victim to circumstances that turned their lives upside down, robbing them of their full-time jobs, the paychecks they once enjoyed and, in Acosta’s case, her home. Their stories vary, but they all belong to a growing group, America’s working poor, for whom the journey from getting by to hunger can be brutally short.
Deep cuts to the US food stamps programme, designed to keep low-income Americans out of hunger in the aftermath of the economic recession, have forced increasing numbers of families such as theirs to rely on food banks and community organisations to stave off hunger. Read the entire article
We noted yesterday that the American case against Syria’s Assad as the culprit of chemical weapons attacks has fallen apart.
Former Newsweek and AP reporter Robert Parry has an update today:
Ake Sellstrom, the head of the United Nations mission investigating chemical weapons use in Syria, agrees that the vector analysis – at the heart of the New York Times’ indictment of the Syrian government for the deadly Aug. 21 Sarin gas attack –doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
In a little-noticed comment at a UN press conference on Dec. 13, Sellstrom disputed claims that the launching point for the two missiles, which were recovered after the Aug. 21 attack, could be traced back following the angles of their final descent until they intersected at a Syrian military base about 9.5 kilometers away.
Instead, Sellstrom said he accepted as accurate other analyses that estimated the range of the rockets at about two kilometers. “Two kilometers could be a fair guess,” he said, noting that the UN team had consulted its own missile experts on the subject. “If you simulate the flight path, it seems not to meet as may be indicated in the report.”
In other words, the lead author of the UN report on the Aug. 21 incident has contradicted the much-touted “vectoring” claims of a New York Times front-page story and Human Rights Watch, which has been pushing for a U.S. military intervention in Syria. Their “vector analysis” of the two flight paths implicated an elite Syrian military unit, the 104th Brigade of the Republican Guard, based northwest of Damascus, near the Presidential Palace.
Since the two short-range rockets had a maximum range much less than 9.5 kilometers – and one of the rockets clipped a building during its descent making any assumptions about its flight path unreliable – the Times’ and the HRW’s “vector analysis” has essentially been debunked, although the Times and other major U.S. news outlets have been hiding that revelation from the American public.
…. Most of the mainstream U.S. media have simply reprised their propaganda roles played so disastrously a decade ago in the run-up to the Iraq War.
The UN inspectors have voiced uncertainty about who carried out the attack. At the press conference, Sellstrom admitted, “I don’t have information that would stand in court.” He also told Wall Street Journal writer Joe Lauria that both sides in the conflict had the “opportunity” and the “capability” to carry out chemical weapons attacks. [See WSJ, Dec. 16, 2013]
The Times’ front-page “vectoring” article of Sept. 17, thus, is reminiscent of its infamous “aluminum tube” story in September 2002, a highly misleading article that neatly dovetailed with President George W. Bush’s public relations strategy for manipulating the American people into supporting an unprovoked invasion of Iraq. Now, the Times is playing a similar propaganda role in connection with Syria.
To meet even minimal standards of journalistic ethics, the Times should publish a new article incorporating the emerging consensus – now including the head of the UN investigative team – that the “vectoring” story was nonsense. But the Times has simply continued to present one-sided articles blaming the Assad regime for the Aug. 21 attack.
As we’ve previously documented, Obama’s “case” for war against Syria was Iraq 2.0 … and even though Obama has pulled back from the brink of an imminent war, the lies are still being perpetuated by his administration and the mainstream media, which could conceivably set up a future attack.
The New York Times has finally conceded what critics of Obamacare have been claiming–the so-called “Affordable Care Act” devastates the country’s middle class families who “are caught in the uncomfortable middle: not poor enough for help, but not rich enough to be indifferent to cost.”
The Times profiles a family of four in New Hampshire with an annual income of around $100,000. Right now, “the cheapest insurance plan” they can find on the exchanges is about $1,000 a month. But if “they made just a few thousand dollars less a year — below $94,200 — their costs would be cut in half, because a family like theirs could qualify for federal subsidies.”
“Many of the biggest provisions of the Affordable Care Act are aimed squarely at the poorest of Americans,” the Times writes. “Under the law, states have the option of expanding Medicaid to a larger pool of people with the lowest incomes. To those earning more, the law provides subsidies to people earning up to four times the federal poverty level, or $45,960 for an individual and $62,040 for a couple.”
Negotiators in Washington, D.C. are working on a trade pact this week, and it isn’t the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Representatives from the United States and the European Union are hammering out the details of a purported trade pact called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Despite its name, this bundle of commercial compromises has little to do with trade and a lot to do with the slow transfer of sovereignty to bodies of globalists outside the United States.
Notably, the men and women chosen to enforce the myriad TTIP provisions will be unelected by the American people and consequently unaccountable to them. This is in direct violation of the Constitution’s grant of sole legislative power to the Congress of the United States.
On December 16, The New Americanwas invited to participate in a telephone press conference discussing troubling details of the TTIP agreement.
To begin the conference, it was admitted that in the official document outlining the deal, the Obama administration has made clear that an agreement will not be chiefly focused on matters related to international trade, but rather “behind-the-border” (read: domestic) policies such as health, environmental, and monetary policy. As with so many of the other panoply of recent trade deals, multinational corporations operating within the United States and the EU are achieving quasi-governmental power and using that authority to limit the ability of U.S. and EU courts to enforce domestic laws, particularly those that the corporate interests deem detrimental to their bottom line.
During the press conference, several civil society groups from the United States and Europe briefed reporters on significant threats to individual liberty lurking within the TTIP.
Leaders with Public Citizen, Sierra Club, Consumer Federation of America, and Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue voiced concerns about the effects of the TTIP on consumer rights, privacy, communities, and the environment.
“U.S. and EU negotiators are clear that their purpose in negotiating [the TTIP] is to remove ‘regulatory barriers’ to trade,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Big Business is clear about what this means; giant corporations hope to use [the TTIP] as a way to roll back or stall a vast swath of consumer and environmental regulatory protections in the United States and Europe — involving everything from food safety to privacy, consumer finance to chemical safety.”
Money is only as useful as to what it can purchase. The Fed has created a system where debt is now equal to money. This is why big purchases like cars, housing, and even going to college are only feasible by mortgaging your future for many decades. Since the payments are broken down into tiny monthly installments many people pay little attention to the true cost of things over their lifetime. Yet over this time, the U.S. dollar has lost a tremendous amount of purchasing power due to inflation. Inflation slowly eats away at your purchasing power yet having access to debt has given the middle class the false impression that they are still protected from the unraveling impacts of inflation. Someone sent over a photo posted over on the popular Reddit website that shows the cost of living for people back in 1938. You would think that people in 2013 would have more purchasing power than those living through the Great Depression. Adjusting for inflation you would be surprised what has happened in the last 75 years.
The cost of living between 1938 and 2013
The picture in question has prices for living from 1938. It includes important items like a new home, income, new car, rent, and extreme purchasing examples like tuition for Harvard:
You can normalize costs over time through adjusting for inflation. Back in 1938 a new home cost about two times the annual average income. A new car was only about one-third the cost of the annual average income. These figures are important because back in 1938, using credit was only a small factor in purchasing goods. The middle class didn’t start blossoming until after World War II so you would expect that things were still tough for regular households. What we find though is that compared to the typical income, buying a new home or buying a car was relatively doable for most households.
Now adjusting all these figures for inflation shows how much more expensive things have become and how dependent we now are to financing purchases with debt (created by the banking system):
This chart shows the impact of inflation and the declining purchasing power of the US dollar. For example, a new home adjusting for inflation (using the BLS calculator) should cost around $64,597 per year. The current cost of a new home? $245,800. The average income has stayed about the same normalizing for inflation (doesn’t say much since we are going back to the Great Depression here). A new home today costs nearly 10 times the annual average income of a worker. The two income trap has largely hidden this inflation since it now takes two households to accomplish what one income was able to do 75 years ago. On top of that, people now need to go into massive debt just to purchase a home.
Take a look at the cost of a new car as well. In 1938 a worker was able to purchase a new car with one-third of their annual income. Today a new car is more expensive than the annual average income. This is why in 2013 one of the top growing consumer debt sectors was with automobile loans. If things stayed the same, the cost of attending Harvard for one year in 2013 would be closer to $7,000 per year (the current tuition is $54,496 per year). It isn’t only Harvard charging incredibly high tuition around the country. Of course the higher education bubble is one of the most pressing issues around creating a $1.2 trillion student debt market.
Rent, movie tickets, and even gasoline are much more expensive today adjusting for inflation. This puts a heavier strain on the pocketbook of most Americans. It also has created a dependency on debt. We do have stronger safety nets so we don’t have the “in your face” poverty of the Great Depression. Yet we still have close to 48 million Americans on food stamps. The area that has seen prices become more affordable is with food. This however is largely derived from better access to food and products and the mass production of this commodity. Yet the bigger costs of living in housing, cars, rent, and going to college are all much more expensive today. It may feel cheaper to some if they only look at their monthly debt payment but the true costs have increased.
The impact of a falling dollar
The trend of the US dollar is pretty clear since the Federal Reserve took the helm of the ship:
Without a doubt, life has gotten better since 1938 in terms of healthcare, technology, cars, sanitation, and overall quality of life. Yet this may be a false comparison argument assuming that this only came about because of the Fed. Quality of life had already started improving before this as well via the Industrial Revolution and these things were happening regardless of the money system. What this current debt based system has created is a massive increase in the price of goods through long-term financing. Should people only have the ability to go to college if they assume mountains of debt? For the average worker this may be the only road.
The US dollar even in the past few decades has taken a big hit:
Why does it feel like things are more expensive? Because they are. You may not feel the impact of inflation in one year but over time, it has a dramatic and obvious effect. The fact that the Fed now has $4 trillion on their balance sheet and continues this QE experiment reflects an addiction to easy debt. The addiction now truly benefits a very small segment of our society and that is why inequality is worse today than it was in 1938. It should tell you something where regular purchases from 1938 are now only feasible by going into massive debt.
A war of words has broken out over police force in California getting a new armored vehicle built more for a state of war than patrolling in the Golden State.
The Salinas Police Department recently issued a news release proudly announcing the arrival of the armored truck built to survive minefield explosions, which it got compliments of federal taxpayers as part of a program to convert military equipment to law-enforcement use.
Critics took to the police department’s Facebook page to ask exactly why a city of 150,000 on the northern California coast really needs a vehicle designed for battlefield use. It’s more likely to be used against its own citizens, they said..
“That vehicle is made for war. Do not use my safety to justify that vehicle,” one wrote. “The Salinas Police Department is just a bunch of cowards that want to use that vehicle as intimidation and to terrorize the citizens of this city.”
‘To stop gang members?” another wrote. “Hmmm gang members don’t riot in mass numbers. It’s right in front of our faces and we don’t see it. Why would the ARMY!!! give something like that for FREE!!! Let’s think for once people.”
Police Chief Kelly McMillin said he doesn’t understand the problem.
He said it’s not what the department has, it’s what it does that’s the point.
“An allegation that we are militarizing has to be that we were patrolling the streets in platoons in greater numbers, that we were setting up checkpoints and searching people in and out of neighborhoods,” he told the interviewer.
The Salinas PD isn’t doing any of that, he said.
Maybe not. And maybe it never will under Kelly McMillin. But that’s not the point, and it’s hard to believe McMillin and the reporter from the Salinas Californian don’t know that.
This country only two months ago saw rangers for the National Park Service – National Park rangers, for God’s sake – turn into a bunch of storm troopers keeping World War II vets out of their own monument, and visitors from “recreating” at Yosemite.
And Chief McMillin doesn’t understand why citizens don’t trust the government with ever-greater weaponry in the hands of a “civilian” police force?
Just ask the commenters on the Salinas Californian article.
“It could be used to deliver a whole bunch of shut the hell up to the citizens of this fair town,” one wrote.
“And Obama said we don’t need military weapons in hands of citizens”
SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS!!! Mark Matheny December 22, 2013 I have discussed in the past just how similar the U.S. Capital Building and the Vatican are in appearance. I have shown how the U.S. (The Second Beast, Revelation 13:11-17) makes an image of the first Beast (The Revived Roman Empire, Revelation 13:1-8).
Here are some links to past videos and articles where I have discussed this:
The Two Beasts of Revelation and the Coming New World Order:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's healthcare law could have a "meltdown" and make it difficult for his Democratic Party to keep control of the U.S. Senate next year if ongoing problems with the program are not resolved, a Democratic senator said on Sunday.
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has urged delaying a penalty for people who do not enroll for health insurance in 2014 under the law, told CNN that a transitional year was needed for the complex healthcare program, commonly known as Obamacare, to work.
"If it's so much more expensive than what we anticipated and if the coverage is not as good as what we had, you've got a complete meltdown at that time," Manchin told CNN's "State of the Union" program.
"It falls of its own weight, if basically the cost becomes more than we can absorb, absolutely."
The White House has been scrambling for months to control the damage from the botched October 1 launch of the law, formally called the Affordable Care Act, which aimed at making sure that millions of Americans without health insurance are able to receive medical coverage.
Huffington Post December 22, 2013 Matheny's Note: Before you are ready give your support to Duck Dynasty, you should read this article.... Why isn't Glenn Beck or Alex Jones reporting on this part of the interview? Why are they backing Phil Robertson when he believes Blacks were "happy" during pre-civil Rights time? Do you believe blacks were happy when they were without dignity as a human being? Phil Robertson is full of crap, and I do not support racism.....
"Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson made headlines this week for his anti-gay sentiments in a GQ interview. Now another statement from the interview -- this time about the black community during the pre-civil rights era -- is stirring more controversy.
“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person," Robertson is quoted in GQ. "Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field.... They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!... Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”