October 20, 2011
The Ulsterman Report
Our latest interview with a longtime Wall Street Insider reveals details of a troubling Obama White House stance against Wall Street executives voicing concern over the now daily violence permeating the Occupy Wall Street movement – and a belief the Obama administration may be actively engaged in helping create that conflict.
Ulsterman: This is the first time you contacted me instead of me contacting you to speak – why the change?
WSI: Things have become much more…serious. This occupy thing…it’s getting…I have never considered myself one for conspiracy, but what I am being told is happening with these protests has left me quite stunned and quite concerned. Even more than just a week prior.
Ulsterman: And what is that? What have you heard?
WSI: A number of calls were made. Direct to the White House. People with considerable influence…people who supported the president in 2008. People who don’t wish to see events spiral out of control here.
Ulsterman: Did they speak to the Obama? President Obama?
WSI: I don’t believe so – not directly. I am told the president no longer engages in direct communication with most of us anymore. His advisers have declared war on Wall Street. Open war. That is what much of what you see going on down there represents. And the Obama White House…sadly…they are behind much of it. They and their union associates.
Ulsterman: Who did they speak to? At the White House?
WSI: I don’t know. What I do know is the message that came back to them was…unfavorable. Certainly very inconsiderate to the concerns of these events unfolding into something terribly violent and increasingly dangerous to a lot of people working and living in this city. And it could very well spread across the country. It’s already started in other parts of the world of course – the violence. The instability to the system. The Obama White House wants us gone. All of us. Anyone of us not fully supportive of his policies.
Ulsterman: What do you mean “gone”?
WSI: Just what I stated. Gone. Out of the way. Our ability to make a living eliminated. The system as we know it…the foundational freedoms of the free market…they consider it a burden. A problem. Something that needs to be redefined where government controls every critical component of the system. In essence, they want the end of capitalism. I know that has been said before, and I was among those who would roll their eyes at such an accusation against President Obama. Call me a believer now. What is being told to me…to others whose livelihood had been working within the current system – the situation is growing very dire. Very dangerous. I am not saying I fear for my life necessarily…it’s not that. It’s that I fear for this country’s way of life. I have never felt it to have been in so much danger as I do so right now. And it’s moving quickly – very quickly in a direction I think very few wish to comprehend.
Ulsterman: When we spoke last time you sounded so confident. You said you were going to pick up a broom – I believe that’s how you put it. Pick up a broom and sweep the protesters out of the park. Why the change in tone? And so quickly.
WSI: To my credit, that is exactly what was about to happen within days of my telling you that, correct? The protesters were given notice. The park was in fact scheduled to be cleaned. I knew of that intention. Then…the cleaning was delayed. That was followed by an immediate response from protesters toward more violent actions. Do you know there was an employee – a person working for one of the firms, injured by a group of protesters a short time ago? They were accosted. Made the mistake of trying to intellectually challenge the protesters – ask them why they were doing what they were doing. They were pushed, shoved down, scraped up. The firm…the firm decided to not make the altercation public for fear of reprisal by the mob. No charges. No media reporting on the incident. No consequences to those who attacked the individual. The space between that event and all out chaos is a very-very narrow one indeed. The message is going out to these people – these so called protesters…go ahead and attack. There will be no consequence. Attack.
Ulsterman: Who is giving them those – not sure what you would call it…those orders?
WSI: Officially it starts at the administration, who in turn have been told by the union leadership to not only stand down, but to lend support to the protests. That to not lend support to the movement would prove politically…uncomfortable to them. To the Obama White House.
Ulsterman: You still believe the unions are the primary force behind this Occupy Wall Street thing?
WSI: Absolutely. There are other groups…fringe groups, who have attached themselves to it of course, but in the end, it is Big Labor who are calling the shots, funding, providing pressure to the media, to the administration, to law enforcement…they are the ones pulling the strings on these events.
Ulsterman: You really believe unions have become that powerful?
WSI: When you have the full backing of the Executive Branch of the United States government…yes I do. And I don’t believe it – I know it to be so. We spoke of what happened with the auto industry. The bailout that went to the unions at the expense of the bond holders. A long history of financial precedence simply turned away by this administration. We have spoken of – you have reported on, the fraud inherent in the stimulus funding. Billions upon billions that went to organized labor. Unions are holding a gun to the head of America’s free market system and they appear increasingly willing to pull the trigger. These protests are an extension of that willingness. When Wall Street – some of us, began to indicate we would not be supporting the president’s re-election in 2012…some in the White House took that as an act of war against them. This started well over a year ago you know. What you see happening down there…those silly people being used as pawns…it is a form of punishment and intimidation against Wall Street for speaking to concerns surrounding the administration. But I now fear the punishment initially intended has grown far beyond the borders of that intent. The monster is overcoming its master, as is so often the case. And this White House is ok with that. They have been told…this is my own speculation here…they have been told to let it happen.
Ulsterman: What? Let what happen?
WSI: The violence that is coming. What some want to see happen. As I told you, the tone that came back from those calls made to the White House – it was…oddly indifferent. That indifference tells me they have decided to push these protests to the brink. I don’t entirely understand why…why they would be willing to do so – and that frightens me.
Ulsterman: You are saying the Obama White House wants violence to break out in New York? Throughout the country?
WSI: I am saying that such violence is going to likely happen – the foundation has now been laid out for that kind of thing, and the administration appears…disinterested in the preventions of that violence. If anything, they are promoting it to some degree. They are being clever about it of course – but there has been absolutely no denouncement from the White House of what is going on down there. Nothing. Only support. Only encouragement. Even as they are receiving word of the dangers, of the altercations, of the potential for greater violence – the Obama White House only offers its support of these events. Why is that? What is their purpose? ZuccottiPark should have been cleared last week. To have backed down only lent more courage to these protesters. It made them increasingly volatile. Now if there is a move by law enforcement against the protesters, the dangers will be greatly increased than just a week ago. The violence will be much-much worse. Police will be harmed. Citizens will be harmed. Businesses harmed. Why would the White House appear intent on seeing that happen?
Ulsterman: You were rattled when the order to clean the park was delayed. Some powerful people were ignored on that, weren’t they? You discovered Wall Street was no longer in control here. Isn’t that right?
WSI: (Long pause) I suppose that is part of it, yes. We were told this thing was going to be resolved. Local figures…people whose livelihood requires at least in part our support and approval…they indicated it would be cleaned up soon.
Ulsterman: But that didn’t happen. Somebody with more authority, more influence than you intervened…
WSI: It would appear so, yes.
Ulsterman: The White House?
WSI: Quite possible – perhaps likely… though I am more certain they received their orders from union leadership figures. And the concern now is beyond just here. Beyond Wall Street. I have associates in London – the situation there has the potential to prove even more unstable. I was, until very recently, unaware things had gone so far wrong.
Ulsterman: So what now? How do you fight back?
WSI: I don’t. Not directly. Not now. What I spoke of before will happen. Perhaps even more so. Perhaps not. People are frightened. Increasingly so. The Obama administration is burning bridges. They are willing to do so. That is the situation. They appear to believe they don’t need some who supported them in 2008. That the unions and some in the media will be enough to overcome the GOP opponent.
Ulsterman: Do you agree with that? Can they win re-election?
WSI: Certainly there is that possibility. As to probability – I don’t know. The actual politics of it all – that is not my world. Our acquaintance would have much more to tell you on that. You asked me what I plan to do now? I’m leaving the city. I am getting out until whatever is going to happen – and I believe it will take place soon…I don’t wish to be here when it does. And I’m not the only one. People need to wait and see – and then regroup.
Ulsterman: You’re running away?
WSI: Sure – feel free to call it that if you wish. I am removing myself from the immediate threat that is this situation down there. I am removing my family from it. Those I care for. That is the responsible thing to do. And I would suggest you not return here as well – not until this thing…however it intends to resolve itself. Stay away from it for now.
Ulsterman: What do you fear is going to happen down there? What is coming?
WSI: I don’t wish to be overly dramatic here…but violence. Injury. Perhaps death. Most certainly destruction of property. It’s getting dangerous. I can sense it. It’s palpable. And you feel it too, don’t you?
Ulsterman: It reminds me of growing up in Northern Ireland, yes. It does remind me of that…uneasy feeling that something terrible could happen just around the turn…
WSI: That’s it exactly. Just around the turn. Something terrible is coming just around the turn. So for now, I’m getting out. I’m blessed to have the means to do so. I fear for those who do not.
Ulsterman: If violence does break out down there – what then? Where does all of this go?
WSI: If that happens – and I pray it does not…but if that happens, my instinct tells me it’s just the start. It’s the fuse meant to light the fire. And I don’t wish to be anywhere near this place when that happens. We can continue to communicate, but not in person. There are things I may wish to share with you at some point. This is not yet that time. For now let’s simply hope violence does not break out. That these protests resolve themselves peacefully. Perhaps the colder weather will send them home. That is my hope – but my instincts tell me that will not be the reality down there. Far from it.
I’ll leave you with this…the mayor – Mayor Bloomberg, must now decide whose bidding he will do regarding this situation. Will he comply with the demands of the Obama White House and the labor unions, or the needs of the people of New York? I am confident we are to know the answer to that in short order. To this point, Mayor Bloomberg has been less than adequate – and I say that as one who has long admired him. I very much hope he redeems himself and proves his worth to this city. So watch Bloomberg closely. He is likely to show his true inclination in this matter one way or the other very soon now.
October 20, 2011
The Economic Collapse Blog
Most people have no idea that Wall Street has become a gigantic financial casino. The big Wall Street banks are making tens of billions of dollars a year in the derivatives market, and nobody in the financial community wants the party to end. The word “derivatives” sounds complicated and technical, but understanding them is really not that hard. A derivative is essentially a fancy way of saying that a bet has been made. Originally, these bets were designed to hedge risk, but today the derivatives market has mushroomed into a mountain of speculation unlike anything the world has ever seen before. Estimates of the notional value of the worldwide derivatives market go from $600 trillion all the way up to $1.5 quadrillion. Keep in mind that the GDP of the entire world is only somewhere in the neighborhood of $65 trillion. The danger to the global financial system posed by derivatives is so great that Warren Buffet once called them “financial weapons of mass destruction”. For now, the financial powers that be are trying to keep the casino rolling, but it is inevitable that at some point this entire mess is going to come crashing down. When it does, we are going to be facing a derivatives crisis that really could destroy the entire global financial system.
Most people don’t talk much about derivatives because they simply do not understand them.
Perhaps a couple of definitions would be helpful.
The following is how a recent Bloomberg article defined derivatives….
Derivatives are financial instruments used to hedge risks or for speculation. They’re derived from stocks, bonds, loans, currencies and commodities, or linked to specific events such as changes in the weather or interest rates.
The key word there is “speculation”. Today the folks down on Wall Street are speculating on just about anything that you can imagine.
The following is how Investopedia defines derivatives….
A security whose price is dependent upon or derived from one or more underlying assets. The derivative itself is merely a contract between two or more parties. Its value is determined by fluctuations in the underlying asset. The most common underlying assets include stocks, bonds, commodities, currencies, interest rates and market indexes. Most derivatives are characterized by high leverage.
A derivative has no underlying value of its own. A derivative is essentially a side bet. Usually these side bets are highly leveraged.
At this point, making side bets has totally gotten out of control in the financial world. Side bets are being made on just about anything you can possibly imagine, and the major Wall Street banks are making a ton of money from it. This system is almost entirely unregulated and it is totally dominated by the big international banks.
Over the past couple of decades, the derivatives market has multiplied in size. Everything is going to be fine as long as the system stays in balance. But once it gets out of balance we could witness a string of financial crashes that no government on earth will be able to fix.
The amount of money that we are talking about is absolutely staggering. Graham Summers of Phoenix Capital Research estimates that the notional value of the global derivatives market is $1.4 quadrillion, and in an article for Seeking Alpha he tried to put that number into perspective….
If you add up the value of every stock on the planet, the entire market capitalization would be about $36 trillion. If you do the same process for bonds, you’d get a market capitalization of roughly $72 trillion.
The notional value of the derivative market is roughly $1.4 QUADRILLION.
I realize that number sounds like something out of Looney tunes, so I’ll try to put it into perspective.
$1.4 Quadrillion is roughly:
-40 TIMES THE WORLD’S STOCK MARKET.
-10 TIMES the value of EVERY STOCK & EVERY BOND ON THE PLANET.
-23 TIMES WORLD GDP.
It is hard to fathom how much money a quadrillion is.
If you started counting right now at one dollar per second, it would take 32 million years to count to one quadrillion dollars.
Yes, the boys and girls down on Wall Street have gotten completely and totally out of control.
In an excellent article that he did on derivatives, Webster Tarpley described the pivotal role that derivatives now play in the global financial system….
Far from being some arcane or marginal activity, financial derivatives have come to represent the principal business of the financier oligarchy in Wall Street, the City of London, Frankfurt, and other money centers. A concerted effort has been made by politicians and the news media to hide and camouflage the central role played by derivative speculation in the economic disasters of recent years. Journalists and public relations types have done everything possible to avoid even mentioning derivatives, coining phrases like “toxic assets,” “exotic instruments,” and – most notably – “troubled assets,” as in Troubled Assets Relief Program or TARP, aka the monstrous $800 billion bailout of Wall Street speculators which was enacted in October 2008 with the support of Bush, Henry Paulson, John McCain, Sarah Palin, and the Obama Democrats.
Most people do not realize this, but derivatives were at the center of the financial crisis of 2008.
They will almost certainly be at the center of the next financial crisis as well.
For many, alarm bells went off the other day when it was revealed that Bank of America has moved a big chunk of derivatives from its failing Merrill Lynch investment banking unit to its depository arm.
So what does that mean?
An article posted on The Daily Bail the other day explained that it means that U.S. taxpayers could end up holding the bag….
This means that the investment bank’s European derivatives exposure is now backstopped by U.S. taxpayers. Bank of America didn’t get regulatory approval to do this, they just did it at the request of frightened counterparties. Now the Fed and the FDIC are fighting as to whether this was sound. The Fed wants to “give relief” to the bank holding company, which is under heavy pressure.
This is a direct transfer of risk to the taxpayer done by the bank without approval by regulators and without public input.
So did you hear about this on the news?
Today, the notional value of all the derivatives held by Bank of America comes to approximately $75 trillion.
JPMorgan Chase is holding derivatives with a notional value of about $79 trillion.
It is hard to even conceive of such figures.
Right now, the banks with the most exposure to derivatives are JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and HSBC Bank USA.
Morgan Stanley also has tremendous exposure to derivatives.
You may have noticed that these are some of the “too big to fail” banks.
The biggest U.S. banks continue to grow and they continue to get even more power.
Back in 2002, the top 10 U.S. banks controlled 55 percent of all U.S. banking assets. Today, the top 10 U.S. banks control 77 percent of all U.S. banking assets.
These banks have gotten so big and so powerful that if they collapsed our entire financial system would implode.
You would have thought that we would have learned our lesson back in 2008 and would have done something about this, but instead we have allowed the “too big to bail” banks to become bigger than ever.
And they pretty much do whatever they want.
A while back, the New York Times published an article entitled “A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives”. That article exposed the steel-fisted control that the “too big to fail” banks exert over the trading of derivatives. Just consider the following excerpt from the article….
On the third Wednesday of every month, the nine members of an elite Wall Street society gather in Midtown Manhattan.
The men share a common goal: to protect the interests of big banks in the vast market for derivatives, one of the most profitable — and controversial — fields in finance. They also share a common secret: The details of their meetings, even their identities, have been strictly confidential.
So what institutions are represented at these meetings?
Well, according to the New York Times, the following banks are involved: JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Citigroup.
Why do those same five names seem to keep popping up time after time?
Sadly, these five banks keep pouring money into the campaigns of politicians that supported the bailouts in 2008 and that they know will bail them out again when the next financial crisis strikes.
Those that defend the wild derivatives trading that is going on today claim that Wall Street has accounted for all of the risks and they assume that the issuing banks will always be able to cover all of the derivative contracts that they write.
But that is a faulty assumption. Just look at AIG back in 2008. When the housing market collapsed AIG was on the wrong end of a massive number of derivative contracts and it would have gone “bust” without gigantic bailouts from the federal government. If the bailouts of AIG had not happened, Goldman Sachs and a whole lot of other people would have been left standing there with a whole bunch of worthless paper.
It is inevitable that the same thing is going to happen again. Except next time it may be on a much grander scale.
When “the house” goes “bust”, everybody loses. The governments of the world could step in and try to bail everyone out, but the reality is that when the derivatives market comes totally crashing down there won’t be any government on earth with enough money to put it back together again.
A horrible derivatives crisis is coming.
It is only a matter of time.
Stay alert for any mention of the word “derivatives” or the term “derivatives crisis” in the news. When the derivatives crisis arrives, things will start falling apart very rapidly.
October 20, 2011
Real Clear Markets
By Diana Furchtgott-Roth
Yet another resumé arrived in my email box this week, from a young man who graduated with a BA in economics and a minor in math last May, and has yet to find a job. He’s a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania, with summer job experience as an engineering technician at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland.
Unable to find a job in an economy with persistently high unemployment because of weak job growth, Anthony Lewis is now looking for an unpaid internship. As a new entrant to the labor force he doesn’t get unemployment insurance. He’s just looking for a job.
Anthony is not alone. The unemployment rate in 2010 for newly graduated men and women with bachelor degrees was 9.2 percent, far higher than the 5.1 percent rate such adults experienced in 2005.
This is Generation O: the age cohort that contributed, registered, volunteered and voted for Barack Obama with greater intensity than we have seen since at least the 1960 presidential election. Since then, the effect of President Obama’s failed economic policies has fallen most disproportionately on them.
The unemployment rates among Generation O not only suggest personal disappointment, but also large and lasting implications for them and for society.
A paper forthcoming in the American Economic Journal Applied Economics found that graduating in a recession leads to earnings losses that last for 10 years after graduation.
The authors, University of Toronto economics professor Philip Oreopoulos, Columbia University professor Till von Wachter, and economist Andrew Heisz of Statistics Canada, found that earnings losses are greater for new entrants to the labor force than for existing workers, who might see smaller raises, but who have jobs. In addition, recessions lead workers to accept employment in small firms that pay lower salaries.
That, in turn, may help to explain why there is in our country a creeping fear of downward mobility, a prospect that Generation O will not do as well as their parents.
Young male graduates have been particularly adversely affected, with an unemployment rate of 11 percent, compared to 7.9 percent for women. Five years ago male graduates had an unemployment rate of 5.8 percent, and the rate for females was 4.5 percent.
This divergence in male and female unemployment rates was a product of the last decade. In 2000 young men and women graduates had similar unemployment rates.
October 20, 2011
By Associated Press
A traffic stop in northeastern Kansas yielded a big payoff.
Geary County Undersheriff Tony Wolf tells WIBW-TV that a deputy stopped a car for speeding in a construction zone Wednesday morning on Interstate 70.
The deputy thought the car was suspicious and brought in a K-9 drug-detecting unit, which led to a search of the vehicle. No drugs were found, but Wolf says deputies discovered nearly $180,000 in cash inside a duffel bag.
The car was traveling from Columbia, Mo., to somewhere in Colorado. Geary County authorities released the driver but seized the cash. Wolf says they believe the money was related to a drug operation.
October 20, 2011
NewsChannel 5 WTVF
By Adam Ghassemi
You’re probably used to seeing TSA’s signature blue uniforms at the airport, but now agents are hitting the interstates to fight terrorism with Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR).
“Where is a terrorist more apt to be found? Not these days on an airplane more likely on the interstate,” said Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons.
Tuesday Tennessee was first to deploy VIPR simultaneously at five weigh stations and two bus stations across the state.
Agents are recruiting truck drivers, like Rudy Gonzales, into the First Observer Highway Security Program to say something if they see something.
“Not only truck drivers, but cars, everybody should be aware of what’s going on, on the road,” said Gonzales.
It’s all meant to urge every driver to call authorities if they see something suspicious.
“Somebody sees something somewhere and we want them to be responsible citizens, report that and let us work it through our processes to abet the concern that they had when they saw something suspicious,” said Paul Armes, TSA Federal Security Director for Nashville International Airport.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol checked trucks with drug and bomb sniffing dogs during random inspections.
“The bottom line is this: if you see something suspicious say something about it,” Gibbons said Tuesday.
The random inspections really aren’t any more thorough normal, according to Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott who says paying attention to details can make a difference. Trott pointed out it was an Oklahoma state trooper who stopped Timothy McVeigh for not having a license plate after the Oklahoma City bombing in the early 1990s.
Tuesday’s statewide “VIPR” operation isn’t in response to any particular threat, according to officials.
Armes said intelligence indicates law enforcement should focus on the highways as well as the airports.
October 20, 2011
The Rutherford Institute
By John W. Whitehead
“On July 29, 2008, my family and I were terrorized by an errant Prince George’s County SWAT team. This unit forced entry into my home without a proper warrant, executed our beloved black Labradors, Payton and Chase, and bound and interrogated my mother-in-law and me for hours as they ransacked our belongings… As I was forced to kneel, bound at gun point on my living room floor, I recall thinking that there had been a terrible mistake. However, as I have learned more, I have to understand that what my family and I experience is part of a growing and troubling trend where law enforcement is relying on SWAT teams to perform duties once handled by ordinary police officers.”—Maryland Mayor Cheye Calvo in testimony before the Maryland Senate
Insisting that the “damage done by drugs is felt far beyond the millions of Americans with diagnosable substance abuse or dependence problems,” President Obama has declared October 2011 to be National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. However, while drug abuse and drug-related crimes have unquestionably taken a toll on American families and communities, the government’s own War on Drugs has left indelible scars on the population.
Indeed, although the Obama administration has shied away from using the phrase “War on Drugs,” its efforts to crack down on illicit drug use—especially marijuana use—have not abated. Just consider—every 19 seconds, someone in the U.S. is arrested for violating a drug law. Every 30 seconds, someone in the U.S. is arrested for violating a marijuana law, making it the fourth most common cause of arrest in the United States.
So far this year, approximately 1,313,673 individuals have been arrested for drug-related offenses. Police arrested an estimated 858,408 persons for marijuana violations in 2009. Of those charged with marijuana violations, approximately 89 percent were charged with possession only. Moreover, since December 31, 1995, the U.S. prison population has grown an average of 43,266 inmates per year, with about 25 percent sentenced for drug law violations.
The foot soldiers in the government’s increasingly fanatical war on drugs, particularly marijuana, are state and local police officers dressed in SWAT gear and armed to the hilt. These SWAT teams carry out roughly 50,000 no-knock raids every year in search of illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia. As author and journalist Radley Balko reports, “The vast majority of these raids are to serve routine drug warrants, many times for crimes no more serious than possession of marijuana… Police have broken down doors, screamed obscenities, and held innocent people at gunpoint only to discover that what they thought were marijuana plants were really sunflowers, hibiscus, ragweed, tomatoes, or elderberry bushes. (It’s happened with all five.)”
Take the case of Philip Cobbs, an unassuming 53-year-old African-American man who cares for his blind, deaf 90-year-old mother and lives on a 39-acre tract of land that’s been in his family since the 1860s. Cobbs is the latest in a long line of Americans to find themselves swept up in the government’s zealous pursuit of marijuana. On July 26, 2011, while spraying the blueberry bushes near his Virginia house, Cobbs noticed a black helicopter circling overhead. After watching the helicopter for several moments, Cobbs went inside to check on his mother. By the time he returned outside, several unmarked police SUVs had driven onto his property, and police in flak jackets, carrying rifles and shouting unintelligibly, had exited the vehicles and were moving toward him.
Although the officers insisted they had sighted marijuana plants growing on Cobbs’ property (they claimed to find two spindly plants growing in the wreckage of a fallen oak tree), their real objective was clear—to search Cobbs’ little greenhouse, which he had used that spring to start tomato plants, cantaloupes, and watermelons, as well as asters and hollyhocks. The search of the greenhouse turned up nothing more than used tomato seedling containers. Incredibly, police had not even bothered to secure a warrant before embarking on their raid of Cobbs’ property—part of a routine sweep of the countryside in search of pot-growing operations that had to cost taxpayers upwards of $25,000, at the very least.
Thankfully for Cobbs, no one was hurt during the warrantless raid on his property. However, that is not the case for many Americans who find themselves on the wrong end of a SWAT team raid in search of marijuana. For example, on May 5, 2011, a SWAT team kicked open the door of ex-Marine Jose Guerena’s home during a drug raid and opened fire. Thinking his home was being invaded by criminals, Guerena told his wife and child to hide in a closet, grabbed a gun and waited in the hallway to confront the intruders. He never fired his weapon. In fact, the safety was still on his gun when he was killed. The SWAT officers, however, not as restrained, fired 70 rounds of ammunition at Guerena—23 of those bullets made contact. Guerena had had no prior criminal record, and the police found nothing illegal in his home.
Tragically, Jose Guerena is far from the only innocent casualty in the government’s War on Drugs. Botched SWAT team raids have resulted in the loss of countless lives, including children and the elderly. Usually, however, the first to be shot are the family dogs. As Balko reports:
When police in Fremont, California, raided the home of medical marijuana patient Robert Filgo, they shot his pet Akita nine times. Filgo himself was never charged. Last October  police in Alabama raided a home on suspicion of marijuana possession, shot and killed both family dogs, then joked about the kill in front of the family. They seized eight grams of marijuana, equal in weight to a ketchup packet. In January  a cop en route to a drug raid in Tampa, Florida, took a short cut across a neighboring lawn and shot the neighbor’s two pooches on his way. And last May , an officer in Syracuse, New York, squeezed off several shots at a family dog during a drug raid, one of which ricocheted and struck a 13-year-old boy in the leg. The boy was handcuffed at gunpoint at the time.
Clearly, something must be done. There was a time when communities would have been up in arms over a botched SWAT team raid resulting in the loss of innocent lives. Unfortunately, today, we are increasingly coming to accept the use of SWAT teams by law enforcement agencies for routine drug policing and the high incidence of error-related casualties that accompanies these raids.
What’s more, the government is providing incentives to the SWAT teams carrying out these raids through federal grants such as the Edward Byrne memorial grants and the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants. As David Borden, the Executive Director of Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet), pointed out, “The exact details on how Byrne and COPS grants are distributed has not been studied, at least not to my knowledge, but an examination of grant applications by one of my colleagues found that they overwhelmingly focus on the number of arrests made, particularly drug arrests. Byrne grants also fund the purchase of equipment for SWAT teams.”
Unfortunately, while few of these raids even make the news, they are happening more and more frequently. As Borden notes, “In 1980 there were fewer than 3,000 reported SWAT raids. Now, the number is believed to be over 50,000 per year…About 3/4 of these are drug raids, perhaps more by now, the vast majority of them low-level.” Balko’s research reinforces this phenomenon. Based on more than a year’s worth of research and culled only from documented SWAT team incidents, Balko cites “40 cases in which a completely innocent person was killed. There are dozens more in which nonviolent offenders (recreational pot smokers, for example…) or police officers were needlessly killed. There are nearly 150 cases in which innocent families, sometimes with children, were roused from their beds at gunpoint, and subjected to the fright of being apprehended and thoroughly searched at gunpoint. There are other cases in which a SWAT team seems wholly inappropriate, such as the apprehension of medical marijuana patients, many of whom are bedridden.”
Despite the government’s current fanaticism about marijuana, America has not always been at war over the cannabis plant. In fact, in 1619, all farmers of the Jamestown colony were required to grow cannabis for rope and other military purposes. Over the next 200 years, a variety of laws required hemp harvesting. In some cases, landowners could be imprisoned for neglecting their duty to grow hemp. Oftentimes, a surplus of hemp could be used as legal tender, even for paying taxes. In 1850, there were 8,327 hemp plantations in the U.S.
It was only later, during the early 20th century, that the government embarked on an all-out assault on marijuana, largely due to corporate business considerations that favored the production of cotton over hemp and racist policies that tied Hispanics and blacks to marijuana use. For example, even though blacks only account for 15% of the drug using population (with whites making up a growing part of the market), the vast majority of drug arrests and convictions affect black drug users. Incredibly, more than 70% of prisoners convicted of nonviolent drug offenses are black or Latino.
The time has come to put an end to the government’s racially-weighted, militant war on marijuana. It is a failed, costly and misguided program that has cost the country billions. As critics rightly point out, the war on marijuana has also resulted in a massive increase in incarceration rates. According to Joe Klein, writing for Time, “We spend $68 billion per year on corrections, and one-third of those being corrected are serving time for nonviolent drug crimes. We spend about $150 billion on policing and courts, and 47.5% of all drug arrests are marijuana-related.”
Worse, the government’s War on Drugs seems to have actually exacerbated the drug problems in this country, funding criminal syndicates and failing to restrict its availability or discourage its use. Indeed, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that as recently as 2005, 58% of the public found marijuana readily available, with 50% of 12 to 17 year olds declaring it easy to get.
A growing number of legal scholars, including Bruce Fein, who served as a high-ranking Justice Department official during the Reagan administration, are calling to end the prohibition on marijuana and treat it like alcohol by regulating and taxing it at the state level. Their rationale is that instead of allowing marijuana to flourish as a profitable black market crop, it should be taxed and regulated in a manner similar to tobacco and alcohol, which many in the medical community believe to be far more harmful than marijuana. Not only would that lessen violent criminal activity associated with the manufacture and sale of marijuana, but it would also provide an economic boost to ailing state and federal coffers. As it now stands, marijuana is the United States’ largest cash crop (it brought in an estimated $35 billion in 2005), with a third of this production coming from California where it is the state’s largest cash crop.
Recently, over 500 economists led by Nobel Laureate George Akerlof, Daron Acemoglu of MIT, and Howard Margolis of the University of Chicago, signed an open letter to the President, Congress, State Governors, and State Legislatures expounding the immense economic benefits of legalization. They pointed out that if marijuana sales were taxed at the same level as cigarettes and alcohol, the government would make up to $6.2 billion annually. Additionally, a repeal of the prohibition of marijuana would save federal, state, and local governments an estimated $7.7 billion annually by ending the need for enforcement of drug laws.
Acknowledging the medical benefits of marijuana, especially for those who suffer from Alzheimer’s, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis, 16 states as well as the District of Columbia have also legalized it for medicinal purposes. Most recently, the California Medical Association, which represents more than 35,000 physicians statewide, called for the legalization and regulation of the plant.
As always, the special interests have a lot to say in these matters, and it’s particularly telling that those lobbying hard to keep the prohibition on marijuana include law enforcement officials and alcoholic beverage producers. However, when the war on drugs—a.k.a. the war on the American people—becomes little more than a thinly veiled attempt to keep SWAT teams employed and special interests appeased, it’s time to revisit our drug policies and laws. As Professors Eric Blumenson and Eva Nilson recognize:
During the 25 years of its existence, the “War on Drugs” has transformed the criminal justice system, to the point where the imperatives of drug law enforcement now drive many of the broader legislative, law enforcement, and corrections policies in counterproductive ways. One significant impetus for this transformation has been the enactment of forfeiture laws which allow law enforcement agencies to keep the lion’s share of the drug-related assets they seize. Another has been the federal law enforcement aid program, revised a decade ago to focus on assisting state anti-drug efforts. Collectively these financial incentives have left many law enforcement agencies dependent on drug law enforcement to meet their budgetary requirements, at the expense of alternative goals such as the investigation and prosecution of non-drug crimes, crime prevention strategies, and drug education and treatment.
October 20, 2011
By Pete Kasperowicz
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday indicated Congress needs to worry about government jobs more than private-sector jobs, and that this is why Senate Democrats are pushing a bill aimed at shoring up teachers and first-responders.
“It’s very clear that private-sector jobs have been doing just fine; it’s the public-sector jobs where we’ve lost huge numbers, and that’s what this legislation is all about,” Reid said on the Senate floor.
Reid was responding to recent comments from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who accused Democrats of purposefully pursuing higher taxes as part of the teacher/first-responder bill, S. 1723, so that Republicans would oppose it. McConnell said the bill was meant to fail in order to give Democrats an issue to run on in the 2012 election, but Reid said the Republicans are simply trying to defeat President Obama any way they can.
The legislation Reid is defending is part of Obama’s jobs package. Vice President Biden was in Pennsylvania, an important election state, on Tuesday to push for the administration’s plan on increasing the number of teachers.
Reid reiterated his emphasis on creating government jobs by saying Democrats are looking to “put hundreds of thousands of people back to work teaching children, have more police patrolling our streets, firefighters fighting our fires, doing the rescue work that they do so well … that’s our priority.” He said Republicans are calling the bill a “failure” because they are “using a different benchmark for success than we are.”
Private-sector jobs have increased over the last 19 months, while government jobs have lagged. They’ve also seen cuts in several states that are struggling to balanced their books.
Despite these comments, a spokesman for Reid pointed out that Senate Democrats have tried to pass several bills aimed at spurring private sector job growth, but have been blocked by Republicans. Among other things, Democrats have proposed tax cuts to help companies hire workers and write off expenses, as well as infrastructure jobs that would add to private construction payrolls.
“Senator Reid believes that Congress must work to spur job-creation in the private sector, which is why he’s working to pass tax cuts for small businesses to hire new workers, tax cuts for small businesses to write off business expenses, and investments to create private-sector construction jobs,” Spokesman Adam Jentleson said. “Republicans are blocking all of these proposals to create jobs in the private sector because they care more about defeating President Obama than putting Americans back to work.”
Reid also said a majority of people polled support the bill, and that the tax hike needed to fund the $35 billion spending program is minimal.
“My friend, the Republican leader … is complaining about a tax of one-half of 1 percent … on people who make more than $1 million a year to pay for a program that would stop teachers from being laid off and rehire some of the teachers that have been laid off,” Reid said.
Democrats who support the bill have said it would help save 400,000 teacher jobs and thousands of first-responder jobs that have either been cut or could soon be cut. Reid said Wednesday that these layoffs are “rooted in the last administration,” but did not explain further.
Senate Democrats are hoping to pass S. 1723 as early as this week, although votes could be delayed until early November, depending on the progress made on passing a 2012 spending bill.
Reid also dismissed efforts by the Republican House to ease environmental regulations as a way to create jobs.
“The Republican response has been cutting back environmental health safeguards, I guess hoping that a sicker, more polluted country is a better place to create jobs, and it’s not,” Reid said.
October 20, 2011
The Daily Mail
By Daniel Bates
It is a huge hole in one of the world’s most famous gardens – but nobody knows what it is for.
Workmen have torn up an enormous section of the lawn in front of the White House for a mysterious, top secret project.
The hole by the West Wing is roughly 100ft by 100ft in size and has for the first time in living memory left the ground and pipes beneath the Oval office exposed to the elements.
Official explanations have ranged from an update of the air conditioning system to something ‘security’ related.
But that has not stopped speculation that the President is installing something else entirely – from a swimming pool to a spa.
Others have guessed it could be an expansion of the presidential bunker, which was originally built in the time of Franklin D Roosevelt.
What is known is that every day for the past 17 months workmen have come and gone with nobody revealing what the project it.
The funds were allocated after 9/11 and apparently it will eventually link up with the Presidential Operations Center.
That room was featured in former vice President Dick Cheney’s memoir as the place he took shelter after the September 11 attacks whilst former President George W Bush was on Air Force One.
A White House official quote by by the New York Times could only say that the general idea was an expansion of the emergency base of operations.
‘It is security-related construction. Even we don’t know exactly what,’ he said.
Built between 1792 and 1800, the White House has seen a string of amendments and additions to its main building and the grounds over the years.
During World War II a bomb shelter was constructed under the East Wing, although this was later converted into an operations room.
In 1969 President Richard Nixon added an underground bowling alley whilst the sub basement was later put in, along with an incinerator, laundry and changing rooms for White House performers.
First Lady Michelle Obama has also made a feature out of the White House garden and has often spoken of how she likes to grow fruit and vegetables there.
White House improvements are overseen by the General Services Administration which claimed the construction was to update the air conditioning and electrical systems.
Spokeswoman Sara Merriam told the New York Times that it would later continue on the other side of the White House’s grounds.
She said: ‘As part of this project G.S.A. has been excavating and installing replacement utilities in front of the West Wing and once this phase is complete will sequentially upgrade utilities moving to the North Lawn over to the East Wing.
‘The type, size and complexities of work associated with the replacement of the utility infrastructure systems necessitates that extensive excavation and support structures are erected to effectively and safely conduct this work’.
October 20, 2011
By: Mike Adams
The admitted goal of the pharmaceutical industry is to have every man, woman and child in America taking at least two prescription medications every day of their lives (whether they’re sick or not). Through Big Pharma’s corruption of the FDA, medical journals, med schools and the mainstream media, it creeps ever closer to accomplishing that goal, and today it has been revealed that one in ten Americans are now on SSRI antidepressant drugs.
This is the conclusion of a survey conducted by the CDC. It also revealed that antidepressant use jumped 400% from 2005 – 2008, while women are 2.5 times more likely to use antidepressants than men. (And whites are far more likely to use them than blacks, the CDC found.) (http://www.reuters.com/article/2011…)
I could write thousands of words about the dangerous side effects of prolonged antidepressant use (diabetes, psychosis, detachment from reality, etc.), but for this article, I’d rather approach things from a solutions angle and share what I know about getting OFF antidepressant drugs using nutrition and holistic health principles.
How to get off the SSRI meds and save your brain
First, realize that the fictions being sold you by the false advertising of the pharmaceutical industry must be abandoned. Depression is not caused by a “chemical imbalance in the brain” that can be resolved by paying monopoly prices for a patented synthetic chemical sold by a local pharmacy. That’s just a fabrication which was engineered to sell you more overpriced pills.
In reality, “depression” is the red flag warning that multiple areas of your life are out of balance and need to be brought back into balance before you’ll really feel better. After talking with probably hundreds of people about their experiences with so-called “mental disorders” over the past eight years, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are at least four powerful strategies for permanently reversing depression without using any drugs whatsoever. They are:
#1) Spend more time in nature.
Spending time in nature reverses depression at so many levels it’s almost difficult to overstate the benefits. Sunlight exposure beats back depression at the hormonal level. Breathing fresh air that’s filled with negative ions from trees and plants prevents depression at a bioelectric level. Touching the earth with your bare hands, hearing the sounds of nature, feeling the bark of a tree or even just seeing lush green foliage is all vibrational, sensory medicine that also helps reverse diabetes.
If you look at most people who are depressed, they almost all have one thing in common: The LIVE and WORK indoors! They never get out. They never run barefoot in the grass. They are depressed because they are disconnected from the real world. And that’s not what the human body and mind was designed to experience.
#2) Get some regular physical exercise
Did you know that when you exercise, your brain manufactures antidepressant drugs for free? No prescription needed, either. One walk on a treadmill might save you $20 worth of drugs!
Actually, your body’s own brain drugs are better than any synthetic drugs, too. That’s because your biochemistry has no negative side effects. You simply feel good after exercising, and the good feeling may continue for as long as 24 hours.
Your exercise doesn’t have to be crazy to make a world of difference. Just walking 45 minutes a day can have a HUGE impact on your life. Don’t have 45 minutes a day? I bet you do. I bet you watch 45 minutes of TV a day that you could ditch, or you spend 45 minutes a day engaging in pointless activities that don’t contribute to your happiness in any sort of meaningful way. Why not spend those 45 minutes taking a walk instead? You’ll not only feel happier, but your body will get healthier too!
#3) Eat more omega-3 oils and organic plants.
Depression also has a powerful nutritional component. Most “depressed” people are living on processed dead foods. They’re eating way too much sugar, white flour, breads, pasteurized dairy and other depressing foods. No wonder they feel so blue!
To reverse all this, eat more omega-3 oils from dietary supplements, wild-caught salmon, flax seeds, chia seeds and other sources. Boost your mineral intake by consuming (or juicing) lots of fresh organic produce. Make sure it’s organic, because that means it has a higher mineral content. Trace minerals drastically improve cognitive function and moods.
Finally, eat more living foods and less “dead” food. Living foods make you feel alive because they are alive! Dead foods make you feel dead. So get yourself a juicer (the Breville juicers are the best all-around, high-quality juicers), buy some organic carrots, apples, celery and parsley, and start juicing your way to a happier life! (Yes, it really does make you happier.)
#4) Find meaning in your work and in your life.
Many people who are “depressed” also work at a thankless job, or exist in a torturous personal relationship, and they typically live a life with no real purpose or meaning. Having a purpose in life is very inspiring. Pursuing it with daily action can completely reverse any signs of depression and help turn despair into positive, constructive action.
That’s why I say if you feel depressed start searching for your real purpose in life!
I know my purpose. It is to protect the diversity of life on our planet and in our universe. Each day, I diligently work as the editor of NaturalNews toward that fulfilling purpose. This is what allows me to keep moving forward regardless of what happens in the world around me. I know that the universe has granted me the opportunity and the tools to live a life with purpose, in service of what I believe is the most noble cause in the entire universe: The protection of life and truth (against destructive forces, against darkness, against deception, etc.).
I challenge you: What can you find in your own life that is an important purpose serving a higher good? If your work is unfulfilling, can you find a way to transition to a more meaningful line of work that would make you happier? (Yes, it might mean earning less money, but you can’t buy happiness, so it’s priceless!)
Can you find a way to work in the service of others so that the people around you experience an improvement in their own lives? Can you teach others? Can you lead by example? Can you write inspiring books?
This may take some soul searching, but you may find solutions through meditation or yoga or even just taking long hikes in nature and thinking about your life for a change. I’ve never seen a purpose-driven person feeling depressed for very long. Once you find a driving purpose in your life, you’ll be so busy pursuing that mission that you won’t even have time to feel depressed!
October 20, 2011
By: Janice Lloyd
Use of antidepressant drugs has soared nearly 400% since 1988, making the medication the most frequently used by people ages 18-44, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.
Eleven percent of Americans ages 12 years and older took antidepressants during the 2005-08 study period, the authors write. They add that though the majority of antidepressants were taken to treat depression, the drugs also can be used for anxiety disorders and other conditions.
The data are from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, which included information from 12,637 participants about prescription-drug use, antidepressant use, length of use, severity of depressive symptoms and contact with a health professional.
Mental-health professionals not associated with the survey cited several reasons as possible explanations for the spike:
•The struggling economy and the record number of layoffs and home foreclosures. “These drugs can be very helpful for people who need them,” says Elaine Ducharme, a psychologist and public educator in Connecticut for the American Psychological Association. “People should expect to be depressed after a layoff. They should not be put on a drug, though, unless they have an acute problem.”
•Ad campaigns waged by pharmaceutical companies citing benefits of the drugs.
•Families who might be reimbursed by health insurance companies for a prescription but may delay getting therapy from a mental-health professional because of the cost of treatment.
In fact, less than one-third of Americans taking one antidepressant and less than one-half of those taking multiple antidepressants have seen a mental-health professional in the past year, the report shows.
“Unfortunately, some families are looking for a quick fix, but a pill is never going to get to the root of the problem,” says David Palmiter, a psychologist and author of Working Parents, Thriving Families: 10 Strategies That Make a Difference.
Ducharme agrees. “That is the thing that bothers me the most,” she says. “These drugs can be dangerous, and there needs to be follow-up care.”
The survey also found that nearly one in four women ages 40 to 59 are taking antidepressants. Women are more likely to take antidepressants; however, among those taking antidepressants, men were more likely than women to have seen a mental-health professional in the past year.
The survey found that about one in 25 teens take the medication.