Category Archives: America – North

America Is the Richest, and Most Unequal, Nation

The world is awash in personal wealth: $153.2 trillion in total, according to Allianz’s new Global Wealth Report 2015. That’s enough to pay three times the world’s sovereign debt, the debts of each nation. The report, which measured 2014 wealth, found 2014 was the third consecutive year in which global wealth grew more than 7%.

The jump was largely the result of households pumping up their personal savings efforts. The U.S.—with $63.5 trillion in total private wealth—holds the largest amount of any country in the world. But that wealth is unevenly distributed, and nowhere is that more evident than in the U.S., which also has the largest wealth inequality gap of 55 countries studied, according to the report.

via America Is the Richest, and Most Unequal, Nation

Advertisements

Ποιος κυβερνά τις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες;

«Υπήρχαν πάντα δύο CIA. Η κανονική, που αναλύει την πραγματικότητα για να ενημερώσει την ηγεσία των ΗΠΑ και η … άλλη, που φτιάχνει την πραγματικότητα που χρειάζεται για να δικαιολογηθεί μια πολιτική».

Ο άνθρωπος που μας τα λέει αυτά δεν είναι τυχαίος. Πρώην ανώτερος αναλυτής της CIA, ο Ray McGovern ήταν ο άνθρωπος που ενημέρωνε πέντε διαδοχικούς Αμερικανούς Προέδρους για αυτά που έπρεπε να γνωρίζουν για το τι έκανε και τι σχεδίαζε η Μόσχα.

Οι ΗΠΑ είναι μια παγκόσμια υπερδύναμη, με τη δυνατότητα να καταστρέψει τον πλανήτη σε μερικές ώρες. Το ποιος ελέγχει πραγματικά το κράτος αυτό, το πως και από ποιόν παίρνονται για παράδειγμα αποφάσεις όπως η επίθεση κατά της Συρίας του Άσαντ ή οι απειλές πολέμου κατά της Βορείου Κορέας τον περασμένο Απρίλιο, είναι ένα θέμα ζωτικής, παγκόσμιας σημασίας.

via Ποιος κυβερνά τις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες;

Έγγραφα αποκαλύπτουν πώς το Χόλιγουντ προωθεί τον πόλεμο για λογαριασμό του Πενταγώνου, της CIA και της NSA

Το βιβλίο Σινεμά Εθνικής Ασφάλειας αποκαλύπτει επίσης το πώς υποστηρίχθηκαν και επηρεάστηκαν δεκάδες ταινίες και τηλεοπτικές εκπομπές από τη CIA, συμπεριλαμβανομένης της περιπέτειας Τζέιμς Μποντ: Επιχείρηση Κεραυνός (Thunderball), το θρίλερ του Τομ Κλάνσι, Παιχνίδια Ολέθρου (Patriot Games) και πιο πρόσφατων ταινιών, όπως την Γαμπρός της Συμφοράς (Meet The Parents) και Salt.

Η CIA μάλιστα βοήθησε να γίνει ένα επεισόδιο του Τοπ Σεφ (Top Chef) που φιλοξενήθηκε στο Λάνγκλεϊ, με ειδικό συμμετέχοντα τον τότε διευθυντή της CIA Λεόν Πανέτα, τον οποίον έδειξαν ότι έπρεπε να παραλείψει το επιδόρπιο για να παραβρεθεί σε μια ζωτικής σημασίας επιχείρηση. Ήταν αυτή η σκηνή πραγματική ή ήταν μια δραματική δήλωση για τις κάμερες;

via Έγγραφα αποκαλύπτουν πώς το Χόλιγουντ προωθεί τον πόλεμο για λογαριασμό του Πενταγώνου, της CIA και της NSA –

All the Plenary’s Men – The case against Banksters

The King can do no wrong.”

—William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England

“When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

—Ex-President Richard Nixon, interview with David Frost

The question at bar is why the U.S. Department of Justice has failed to prosecute any too-big-to-fail banks or—more importantly—their bankers, even for admitted crimes.

It’s a crucial question, because after eight straight years of unremitting prosecutorial failure, it looks very much as if a select group of top banks can, in fact, do no wrong. If that’s the case, then our constitutional republic isn’t merely in trouble. It’s dead.

via All the Plenary’s Men – YouTube

US government influence on films and television

The book National Security Cinema: The Shocking New Evidence of Government Control in Hollywood draws on documents acquired by Tom Secker of Spyculture.com and Dr Alford under the Freedom of Information Act which show that US security has worked on over 800 films and 1,000 television shows through bodies such as the Pentagon Entertainment Liaison Office.

For the first time the book shows the political script changes on blockbusting franchises including Iron Man, Transformers and Meet the Parents.

Dr Alford says: “When we first began investigating, there was next to nothing in available scholarship to indicate that the US government had ever interfered with the political direction of movies and television shows, and to suggest this would have been dismissed as a paranoid exaggeration. This work shows that such dismissals are no longer appropriate.”

via US government influence on films and television | University of Bath

Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee held a hearing on Thursday May 18 2017 to evaluate lessons from the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) bailout of Greece in 2010 and 2012.

Congressman Andy Barr, chairman of Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee in the US Congress urged the International Monetary Fund to disengage from the Greek program. The United States are the biggest contributor to the IMF.

The Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee held a hearing on Thursday May 18 2017 to evaluate lessons from the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) bailout of Greece in 2010 and 2012.

“With Greece’s economy again officially in recession and discussions underway for a third IMF bailout, it is clear from today’s hearing that the IMF’s past efforts to save Greece from insolvency have been unsuccessful and that it needs to learn from those failures,” said Subcommittee Chairman Andy Barr.

“The IMF must focus on its core mission, not provide political cover for Eurozone politicians who refuse to take responsibility for Greece’s debt crisis.”

Key Takeaways from the Hearing:

  • The IMF’s bailout of Greece has politicized the Fund and left the Greek economy in tatters, tarnishing the IMF’s reputation and putting taxpayer dollars at risk.
  • Eurozone officials are using the IMF as a fig leaf to avoid electoral consequences, even though Europe’s own bailout fund possesses ample resources to resolve the Greek crisis on its own.

Congressman Andy Barr  opened a hearing on lessons from the IMF’s bailout of Greece as Chairman of the Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee. The purpose of the hearing is to evaluate the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) financial rescue of Greece, including large “exceptional access” programs approved in 2010 and 2012.

Key Takeaways from the Hearing: The IMF’s bailout of Greece has politicized the Fund and left the Greek economy in tatters, tarnishing the IMF’s reputation and putting taxpayer dollars at risk. Eurozone officials are using the IMF as a fig leaf to avoid electoral consequences, even though Europe’s own bailout fund possesses ample resources to resolve the Greek crisis on its own.

via US Congressman Barr urges IMF to disengage from the Greek program – Keep Talking Greece

Inside Alabama’s Auto Jobs Boom: Cheap Wages, Little Training, Crushed Limbs

Alabama has been trying on the nickname “New Detroit.” Its burgeoning auto parts industry employs 26,000 workers, who last year earned $1.3 billion in wages. Georgia and Mississippi have similar, though smaller, auto parts sectors. This factory growth, after the long, painful demise of the region’s textile industry, would seem to be just the kind of manufacturing renaissance President Donald Trump and his supporters are looking for.

Except that it also epitomizes the global economy’s race to the bottom. Parts suppliers in the American South compete for low-margin orders against suppliers in Mexico and Asia. They promise delivery schedules they can’t possibly meet and face ruinous penalties if they fall short. Employees work ungodly hours, six or seven days a week, for months on end. Pay is low, turnover is high, training is scant, and safety is an afterthought, usually after someone is badly hurt. Many of the same woes that typify work conditions at contract manufacturers across Asia now bedevil parts plants in the South.

via Inside Alabama’s Auto Jobs Boom: Cheap Wages, Little Training, Crushed Limbs – Bloomberg

The Student Loan Crisis Of Older Americans

The vast majority of the older borrowers (73%) took out student loans to finance their children’s and grandchildren’s education. About 210,000 of the 867,000 borrowers who are 65+ owe loans under the Parent PLUS Loan program (current rate: 6.31%), the only federal program that lets parents borrow for the undergraduate education of their kids.

via The Student Loan Crisis Of Older Americans

The Data That Turned the World Upside Down

Trump’s striking inconsistencies, his much-criticized fickleness, and the resulting array of contradictory messages, suddenly turned out to be his great asset: a different message for every voter. The notion that Trump acted like a perfectly opportunistic algorithm following audience reactions is something the mathematician Cathy O’Neil observed in August 2016.

These “dark posts”—sponsored Facebook posts that can only be seen by users with specific profiles—included videos aimed at African-Americans in which Hillary Clinton refers to black men as predators, for example.

“Pretty much every message that Trump put out was data-driven,” Alexander Nix remembers. On the day of the third presidential debate between Trump and Clinton, Trump’s team tested 175,000 different ad variations for his arguments, in order to find the right versions above all via Facebook. The messages differed for the most part only in microscopic details, in order to target the recipients in the optimal psychological way: different headings, colors, captions, with a photo or video. This fine-tuning reaches all the way down to the smallest groups, Nix explained in an interview with us. “We can address villages or apartment blocks in a targeted way. Even individuals.”

In the Miami district of Little Haiti, for instance, Trump’s campaign provided inhabitants with news about the failure of the Clinton Foundation following the earthquake in Haiti, in order to keep them from voting for Hillary Clinton. This was one of the goals: to keep potential Clinton voters (which include wavering left-wingers, African-Americans, and young women) away from the ballot box, to “suppress” their vote, as one senior campaign official told Bloomberg in the weeks before the election. These “dark posts”—sponsored news-feed-style ads in Facebook timelines that can only be seen by users with specific profiles—included videos aimed at African-Americans in which Hillary Clinton refers to black men as predators, for example.

via The Data That Turned the World Upside Down – Motherboard

Meet the weaponized propaganda AI that knows you better than you know yourself

One way they get the information they have is by using a thing called a conversion pixel. You know that stupid social network widget that’s on every web page these days, including this one? It’s designed to let you like and share a page without having to navigate back to Facebook. It also affords incredible mass surveillance opportunities. Every time you visit a web page with a Facebook share widget, you query one of Facebook’s servers for a conversion pixel. Facebook then promptly attempts to phone home with what link you visited, how long you lingered on the page, whether you scrolled down or signed up or bought anything, and whether you chose to Like or share the page, plus the text of whatever comment you might post at the bottom using your Facebook profile. Even if you delete the text and don’t publish the post. Likes already have enough predictive power; between likes and activity, that widget can produce a comprehensive set of metadata on a person’s personality.

via Meet the weaponized propaganda AI that knows you better than you know yourself – ExtremeTech

Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media

Another couple of clicks and I discover that it receives a large bulk of its funding – more than $10m in the past decade – from a single source, the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer. If you follow US politics you may recognise the name. Robert Mercer is the money behind Donald Trump. But then, I will come to learn, Robert Mercer is the money behind an awful lot of things. He was Trump’s single biggest donor. Mercer started backing Ted Cruz, but when he fell out of the presidential race he threw his money – $13.5m of it – behind the Trump campaign.

It’s money he’s made as a result of his career as a brilliant but reclusive computer scientist. He started his career at IBM, where he made what the Association for Computational Linguistics called “revolutionary” breakthroughs in language processing – a science that went on to be key in developing today’s AI – and later became joint CEO of Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund that makes its money by using algorithms to model and trade on the financial markets.

via Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media | Politics | The Guardian

Public Banking Policy Project

Public Banking Policy Project

via Commonomics, Growing Our Common Wealth™ – Public Banking Policy Project

Commonomics USA

Commonomics USA
Commonomics USA envisions a world where a Commons-based economy creates economic and ecological security for all.

via Commonomics, Growing Our Common Wealth™ – Home

Σε ιστορικό ρεκόρ το χρέος των αμερικανικών νοικοκυριών

Μετά την κρίση που προκάλεσαν τα ενυπόθηκα δάνεια, οι υποθήκες αντιστοιχούν σε μικρότερο μερίδιο του συνόλου του τραπεζικού δανεισμού, όπως καταγράφεται .

Αναλυτικότερα, τα χρέη ιδιωτών για υποθήκες ανερχόταν το τελευταίο τρίμηνο της περασμένης χρονιάς σε 8,48 τρισεκατομμύρια δολάρια, το χρέος για φοιτητικά δάνεια ανερχόταν σε 1,31 τρισεκ. δολάρια και το ιδιωτικό χρέος για δάνεια και χρηματοδότηση για την αγορά αυτοκινήτων ανήλθε σε 1,16 τρισεκατομμύριο δολάρια.

via Σε ιστορικό ρεκόρ το χρέος των αμερικανικών νοικοκυριών

Clueless in Europe

Schaeuble’s intemperate language illustrates a mindset that is blocking debate of European policy priorities and the economic myths that sustain them. The groupthink was evident as early as 2008, when the financial crisis rendered banks on both sides of the Atlantic desperately in need of capital and short-term loans. Joaquin Almunia, the European commissioner for monetary affairs, portrayed it as a U.S. problem, saying, “We are well-prepared to weather this situation.” Jean-Claude Juncker, who headed the group of euro-area finance ministers, was more belligerent: “We have to be concerned, but a lot less than the Americans, on whom the deficiencies against which we have warned repeatedly are taking bitter revenge.”

The European thinking proved disastrously wrong. In generously restrained words, Bernanke points out that U.S. gross domestic product is 8.9 percent above its pre-crisis level, while euro-area GDP remains 0.8 percent below. He could have added that Schaeuble also warned that the Fed would stoke runaway inflation. The Fed’s preferred measure of inflation remains below its target. The central bank recognized that the real danger was deflation.

via Clueless in Europe – Bloomberg View

Frightened by Donald Trump? You don’t know the half of it – George Monbiot

For years, Ebell and the CEI have attacked efforts to limit climate change, through lobbying, lawsuits and campaigns. An advertisement released by the institute had the punchline “Carbon dioxide: they call it pollution. We call it life.”

It has sought to eliminate funding for environmental education, lobbied against the Endangered Species Act, harried climate scientists and campaigned in favour of mountaintop removal by coal companies. In 2004, Ebell sent a memo to one of George W Bush’s staffers calling for the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to be sacked. Where is Ebell now? Oh – leading Trump’s transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Charles and David Koch – who for years have funded extreme pro-corporate politics – might not have been enthusiasts for Trump’s candidacy, but their people were all over his campaign. Until June, Trump’s campaign manager was Corey Lewandowski, who like other members of Trump’s team came from a group called Americans for Prosperity (AFP).

via Frightened by Donald Trump? You don’t know the half of it | George Monbiot | Opinion | The Guardian

Why Has The White Working Class Abandoned The Left?

And, as has been forcefully argued by Mark Lilla, much of the politics from the liberal left in the US, including Hillary Clinton, has been focused on what is known as “identity politics”. In practice, this has resulted in targeted policies to women and various minority groups such as affirmative action and quotas to jobs and education. Instead of focusing on universal programs for all or very broad segments of the population, the Democrats and Clinton came to represent policies seen as favouritism (“corruption”) towards minority groups by the white male working class. Targeted programs are also very vulnerable to suspicion about malpractice in implementation processes because decisions about individual cases are often very complicated (who is eligible and how much preferential treatment is justified). Universal programs, once the hallmark of successful leftist policies, do not suffer from this problem usually.

“Identity politics” being perceived as favouritism may thus be the explanation for why Trump’s “corruption strategy” paid off among the white working class.

via Why Has The White Working Class Abandoned The Left?

Wages have fallen 43% for Millennials. No wonder they’ve lost hope

Let us be direct with the question that faces us today. Why are US, UK, and Japanese Millennials failing to realize their potential at just the moment we need fresh leadership on the global stage?

Millennials in these three countries, whose combined economies account for approximately one third of global GDP, are struggling to fulfill their potential due to structural economic constraints and a broadly shared perception that “the game is rigged.” They are also victims of circumstance. This is the generation that has come of age in the long shadow of the global financial crisis — a historically significant loss of global wealth and opportunity — and their problems have been compounded by the automation of many tasks.

via Wages have fallen 43% for Millennials. No wonder they’ve lost hope | World Economic Forum

Older Americans Over 60 now Drowning in Student Loan Debt

Older Americans Over 60 now Drowning in Student Loan Debt
A new report shows older Americans are drowning in student loan debt as they try to help their children and grandchildren pay for school. Sean Dowling (@seandowlingtv) has more.

via Older Americans Over 60 now Drowning in Student Loan Debt – AOL UK Video

After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans.

The numbers, based on surveys conducted over the past 35 years, offer some of the most detailed publicly available comparisons for different income groups in different countries over time. They suggest that most American families are paying a steep price for high and rising income inequality.

via The American Middle Class Is No Longer the World’s Richest – The New York Times