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Tuesday, 23 June 2015

One-Third Of All Americans Are On The Edge Of Financial Ruin

Contrary to all of the misleading propaganda spewing from the media, Wall Street and DC about a robust job market and an improving economy, the average American is living hand to mouth.  Of course, if they can’t find one of those make-believe jobs created by the Government statisticians, the taxpayer helps the average American live hand to mouth.


A study released today by Bankrate.com showed that 70 million American adults do not have any emergency savings.  It’s the highest percentage in the 5-year history of the survey.

Here’s how Marketwatch characterizes the situation.  You’ll note that the Marketwatch spinmeisters are reporting that “job market has vastly improved.”  But they don’t ask why, if that’s the case, one-third of the country is on the brink of disaster:

In the past few years, the job market has vastly improved and home prices have rebounded — yet Americans are becoming even more irresponsible when it comes to saving for emergencies.

According to a survey of 1,000 adults released by Bankrate.com on Tuesday, nearly one in three (29%) American adults (that’s roughly 70 million) have no emergency savings at all — the highest percentage since Bankrate began doing this survey five years ago. What’s more, only 22% of Americans have at least six months of emergency savings (that’s what advisers recommend) — the lowest level since Bankrate began doing the survey.

These findings mirror others — all of which paint an abysmal picture of Americans’ ability to withstand an emergency. For example, a survey released in March by national nonprofit NeighborWorks America also found that roughly one third (34%) of Americans don’t have emergency savings.

Greg McBride, the chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com, says these low savings reflect that households haven’t seen their incomes ramp up and thus “household budgets are tight.” Plus, he adds “people don’t pay themselves first — they wait until the end of the month to save what’s left over and then nothing is left over.”

You can read this rest of the story here:   Americans On The Brink Of Disaster

My favorite part of the article is the brain dead financial “adviser” at the end – Scott Cole – who advises people to put their savings in a “high yield” savings account.  Oh boy, I can’t wait to take my $10/month leftover after paying for food, gas and housing and put it in a bank where I can earn 1%.

The fact of the matter is that the U.S. economy is in tatters.  The negative economic reports continue to pile up.  The only people who have benefited from 6 years of ZIRP and $3.6 trillion in printed money are the ones closest to the spigot:  Wall Street, Wall Street’s bought politicians and the wealthy individual and corporate plutocrats.

There’s no telling how much longer the Fed/Government can delay the coming reset, but when it occurs this country will be quickly reset to Third World economic status. 

Blacks are 13% of US population 37.6% of prisoners and 71% of shooters in Chicago

Over the last couple of years, one of the dinner discussions our family has had relates to the observation that many, if not most, of the alleged perpetrators of violent crimes whose photographs appear in the mugshot section of our local newspaper's crime report are black.  We live in a very white area of what used to be rural farms and ranches, but is now being quickly developed with multi-family housing and strip malls.  A large metropolitan city is a short drive.

Brandon Smith (left) and Tyfine Hamilton (right) have been charged with the murder of James Stuhlman in a botched robbery

The kids and wife have asked me, "Why do you think it is, dad, that the murderers and robbers are usually black?"   How is a dad supposed to answer this?

First, I wanted to look at more data than just the police report of our local paper.  What I found is that blacks are 13% of the US population, 37.6% of the US prisoner population, and 71.5% of the shooters in Chicago.

Race of US Population

White alone, percent, 2013 (a)
Black or African American alone, percent, 2013 (a)
American Indian and Alaska Native alone, percent, 2013 (a)
Asian alone, percent, 2013 (a)
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone, percent, 2013 (a)
Two or More Races, percent, 2013
Hispanic or Latino, percent, 2013 (b)
White alone, not Hispanic or Latino, percent, 2013

Inmate Race in US Prisons



  Race # of Inmates % of Inmates
  Asian 3,182 1.5%
  Black 78,112 37.6%
  Native American 3,945 1.9%
  White 122,771 59.0%

From http://bit.ly/1N72XW5

Race Victim Assailant
Black 154 35
Hispanic 37 8
White/Other 10 5
Police - 1
    As of 6/19/15

Next, I started to watch and read some popular news reports and articles on the internet about black violence.  I challenge each reader to make it through just the following five:

9 Year Black Boy Old Punches, Kicks, and Chokes Toddlers at Daycare

10 Year Old Black Girl Attacks Teacher

Two 15-year-old black boys charged with murder

Three black teenagers charged with murder in the death of 16 year-old.

First-round NBA pick shot and killed 22-year-old mother of four.

Finally, I asked a black sheriff if the notion that most murderers and robbers are black fits with his observations and experience.  He responded, "You gotta judge people individually." 

I told him that I agree, and that I am not judging anyone.  I asked him, again, "Does the notion that a majority of murders and robberies in your jurisdiction are committed by blacks fit with your observations and experience?"  He paused, stared at me, and said, "Yes." 

I asked him if he had an opinion as to why this might be the case, since blacks make up a small minority of the population.  I told him that my wife and kids have been asking me these questions. 

He said, "You need to watch yourself.  You need to be real careful."  Then the black sheriff's deputy put his hand on his sidearm, stared at me for a moment, turned around, and walked away.

So, this is where I find myself as an American trying to ask one hard question about race and violence in America.

Why do you think it is that the murderers and robbers are usually black?  Is it the case where you live?  How is a dad supposed to answer this question?  Are your wife and kids even able to ask it?  Are we as a nation even able to ask it?


Bionic Lens Will Give You Superhuman Vision (3 x 20/20)

Imagine being able to see three times better than 20/20 vision without wearing glasses or contacts — even at age 100 or more — with the help of bionic lenses implanted in your eyes.

Green mascara.jpg

Photo: Chilledsunshine (CC)

Dr. Garth Webb, an optometrist in British Columbia who invented the Ocumetics Bionic Lens, says patients would have perfect vision and that driving glasses, progressive lenses and contact lenses would become a dim memory as the eye-care industry is transformed.

Webb says people who have the specialized lenses surgically inserted would never get cataracts because their natural lenses, which decay over time, would have been replaced.

Perfect eyesight would result “no matter how crummy your eyes are,” Webb says, adding the Bionic Lens would be an option for someone who depends on corrective lenses and is over about age 25, when the eye structures are fully developed.

“This is vision enhancement that the world has never seen before,” he says, showing a Bionic Lens, which looks like a tiny button.

“If you can just barely see the clock at 10 feet, when you get the Bionic Lens you can see the clock at 30 feet away,” says Webb, demonstrating how a custom-made lens that folded like a taco in a saline-filled syringe would be placed in an eye, where it would unravel itself within 10 seconds.

8-minute surgery

He says the painless procedure, identical to cataract surgery, would take about eight minutes and a patient’s sight would be immediately corrected…

Lamb Genetically Modified with Jellyfish Sold as Meat by Paris Butcher

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 11.20.34 AM

The following article takes the concept of Frankenfood to a whole other level.

From the Guardian:

French authorities are looking into how a lamb genetically modified with jellyfish protein was sold as meat to an unknown customer, a judicial source told AFP on Tuesday.

The jellyfish-lamb, called “Rubis”, was sent to an abattoir from the National Institute for Agricultural Research in Paris late last year and somehow ended up on a butcher’s slab.


“A female lamb born to a sheep that was genetically modified as part of a medical research program was sold to a person in the Parisian region in October 2014,” said the National Institute for Agricultural Research in a statement, confirming a story first reported by Le Parisien newspaper.

The case has been taken up by a public health court in Paris, a judicial source told AFP. 

Rubis “found itself on a plate! Who ate it? No one knows,” exclaimed Le Parisien on Tuesday.

France remains one of the staunchest opponents of GM research, ever since environmental protesters pressured the government into banning GM crops in the 2000s.

The European Union authorised the import and sale of 19 GM crops in April, but is likely to pass legislation allowing individual countries to block their use – in part thanks to demands from France.

Don’t worry my fellow Americans, that is France, something like this could never happen here. After all, Congress is hard at work making sure future Americans will have as difficult a time as possible identifying the source of their meat.

For example, let’s revisit last month’s post, Congress Moves to Eliminate Labels Showing Consumers Where Meat Comes from Following WTO Ruling, where we learned that:

A House committee has voted to get rid of labels on packages of meat that say where the animals were born, raised and slaughtered.

The House Agriculture Committee voted 38-6 to repeal a “country-of-origin” labeling law for beef, pork and poultry Wednesday — just two days after the World Trade Organization ruled against parts of the law. The labels tell consumers what countries the meat is from: for example, “born in Canada, raised and slaughtered in the United States” or “born, raised and slaughtered in the United States.”

As usual, Congress is hard at work on behalf of their corporate sponsors.

Warren Buffett: Derivatives Are Still Weapons Of Mass Destruction And ‘Are Likely To Cause Big Trouble’

After all these years, the most famous investor in the world still believes that derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction

Warren Buffett: Derivatives Are Still Weapons Of Mass Destruction And ‘Are Likely To Cause Big Trouble’

After all these years, the most famous investor in the world still believes that derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction.  And you know what? He is exactly right. 

The next great global financial collapse that so many are warning about is nearly upon us, and when it arrives derivatives are going to play a starring role.  When many people hear the word “derivatives”, they tend to tune out because it is a word that sounds very complicated.  And without a doubt, derivatives can be enormously complex.  But what I try to do is to take complex subjects and break them down into simple terms.  At their core, derivatives represent nothing more than a legalized form of gambling.  A derivative is essentially a bet that something either will or will not happen in the future.  Ultimately, someone will win money and someone will lose money.  There are hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of these bets floating around out there, and one of these days this gigantic time bomb is going to go off and absolutely cripple the entire global financial system.

Back in 2002, legendary investor Warren Buffett shared the following thoughts about derivatives with shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway

The derivatives genie is now well out of the bottle, and these instruments will almost certainly multiply in variety and number until some event makes their toxicity clear. Central banks and governments have so
far found no effective way to control, or even monitor, the risks posed by these contracts. In my view, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal.

Those words turned out to be quite prophetic.  Derivatives have definitely multiplied in variety and number since that time, and it has become abundantly clear how toxic they are.  Derivatives played a substantial role in the financial meltdown of 2008, but we still haven’t learned our lessons.  Today, the derivatives bubble is even larger than it was just before the last financial crisis, and it could absolutely devastate the global financial system at any time.

During one recent interview, Buffett was asked if he is still convinced that derivatives are “weapons of mass destruction”.  He told the interviewer that he believes that they are, and that “at some point they are likely to cause big trouble”

Thirteen years after describing derivatives as “weapons of mass destruction” Warren Buffett has reaffirmed his view that they pose a threat to the global economy and financial markets.

In an interview with Chanticleer this week, Buffett said that “at some point they are likely to cause big trouble“.

“Derivatives, lend themselves to huge amounts of speculation,” he said.

Most of the time, the big banks that do most of the trading in these derivatives do very well.  They use extremely sophisticated computer algorithms that help them come out on the winning end of these bets most of the time.

But when there is some sort of unforeseen event that suddenly causes a massive shift in the marketplace, that can cause tremendous problems.  This is something that Buffett discussed during his recent interview

“The problem arises when there is a discontinuity in the market for some reason or another.

“When the markets closed like it was for a few days after 9/11 or in World War I the market was closed for four or five months – anything that disrupts the continuity of the market when you have trillions of dollars of nominal amounts outstanding and no ability to settle up and who knows what happens when the market reopens,” he said.

So if the markets behave fairly calmly and predictably, the derivatives bubble probably will not burst.

But no balancing act of this nature ever lasts forever.  Just remember what happened in 2008.  Lehman Brothers collapsed and then the financial system virtually froze up.  According to Forbes, at that time almost everyone was afraid to deal with the big banks because nobody was quite sure how much exposure they had to these risky derivatives…

Fast forward to the financial meltdown of 2008 and what do we see? America again was celebrating. The economy was booming. Everyone seemed to be getting wealthier, even though the warning signs were everywhere: too much borrowing, foolish investments, greedy banks, regulators asleep at the wheel, politicians eager to promote home-ownership for those who couldn’t afford it, and distinguished analysts openly predicting this could only end badly. And then, when Lehman Bros fell, the financial system froze and world economy almost collapsed. Why?

The root cause wasn’t just the reckless lending and the excessive risk taking. The problem at the core was a lack of transparency. After Lehman’s collapse, no one could understand any particular bank’s risks from derivative trading and so no bank wanted to lend to or trade with any other bank. Because all the big banks’ had been involved to an unknown degree in risky derivative trading, no one could tell whether any particular financial institution might suddenly implode.

After the crisis, we were promised that something would be done about the “too big to fail” problem.

But instead, the problem of “too big to fail” is now larger than ever.

Since the last financial crisis, the four largest banks in the country have gottenapproximately 40 percent larger.  Today, the five largest banks account for approximately 42 percent of all loans in the United States, and the six largest banks account for approximately 67 percent of all assets in our financial system.  Without those banks, we would not have much of an economy left at all.

Meanwhile, smaller banks have been going out of business or have been swallowed up by the big banks at a staggering rate.  Incredibly, there are 1,400 fewer small banks in operation today than there were when the last financial crisis erupted.

So we cannot afford for these “too big to fail” banks to actually fail.  Even the failure of a single one would cause a national financial nightmare.  The “too big to fail” banks that I am talking about are JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo.  When you total up the exposure to derivatives that all of them currently have, it comes to a grand total of more than 278 trillion dollars.  But when you total up all of the assets of all six banks combined, it only comes to a grand total of about 9.8 trillion dollars.  In other words, the “too big to fail” banks have exposure to derivatives that ismore than 28 times the size of their total assets.

I have shared the following numbers with my readers before, but it is absolutely crucial that we all understand how exceedingly vulnerable our financial system really is.  These numbers come directly from the OCC’s most recent quarterly report (see Table 2), and they reveal a recklessness that is almost beyond words…

JPMorgan Chase

Total Assets: $2,573,126,000,000 (about 2.6 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $63,600,246,000,000 (more than 63 trillion dollars)


Total Assets: $1,842,530,000,000 (more than 1.8 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $59,951,603,000,000 (more than 59 trillion dollars)

Goldman Sachs

Total Assets: $856,301,000,000 (less than a trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $57,312,558,000,000 (more than 57 trillion dollars)

Bank Of America

Total Assets: $2,106,796,000,000 (a little bit more than 2.1 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $54,224,084,000,000 (more than 54 trillion dollars)

Morgan Stanley

Total Assets: $801,382,000,000 (less than a trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $38,546,879,000,000 (more than 38 trillion dollars)

Wells Fargo

Total Assets: $1,687,155,000,000 (about 1.7 trillion dollars)

Total Exposure To Derivatives: $5,302,422,000,000 (more than 5 trillion dollars)

Since the United States was first established, the U.S. government has run up a total debt of a bit more than 18 trillion dollars.  It is the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the planet, and it has grown so large that it is literally impossible for us to pay it off at this point.

But the top five banks in the list above each have exposure to derivatives that is more than twice the size of the national debt, and several of them have exposure to derivatives that is more than three times the size of the national debt.

That is why I keep saying that there will not be enough money in the entire world to bail everyone out when this derivatives bubble finally implodes.

Warren Buffett is entirely correct about derivatives – they truly are weapons of mass destruction that could destroy the entire global financial system at any time.

So as we move into the second half of this year and beyond, you will want to watch for terms like “derivatives crisis” or “derivatives crash” in news reports.  When derivatives start making front page news, that will be a really, really bad sign.

Our financial system has been transformed into the largest casino in the history of the planet.  For the moment, the roulette wheels are still spinning and everyone is happy.  But sooner or later, a “black swan event” will happen that nobody expected, and then all hell will break loose. 

Spy Agency's Secret Plans to Foster Online "Conformity" and "Obedience" Exposed

With never-before-seen documents accompanied by new reporting on Monday, The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman are offering a more in-depth look than ever into how a secretive unit of the UK's GCHQ surveillance agency used a host of psychological methods and online subterfuge in order to manipulate the behavior of individuals and groups through the internet and other digital forms of communication.

According to the reporting, the latest documents, which were leaked to journalists by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden,

demonstrate how the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), a unit of the signals intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), is involved in efforts against political groups it considers “extremist,” Islamist activity in schools, the drug trade, online fraud, and financial scams.

Though its existence was secret until last year, JTRIG quickly developed a distinctive profile in the public understanding, after documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that the unit had engaged in “dirty tricks” like deploying sexual “honey traps” designed to discredit targets, launching denial-of-service attacks to shut down internet chat rooms, pushing veiled propaganda onto social networks, and generally warping discourse online.

Among the most troubling revelations is a 42-page internal JTRIG memo that describes in detail how the elite unit developed, maintained, and apparently sought to expand its "scientific and psychological research into how human thinking and behavior can be influenced" in order to increase its ability to "manipulate public opinion" via online tools like email, social media, video, discussion forums, and other platforms.

As Common Dreams reported in February of 2014—when the existence of JTRIG was first made public—the GCHQ has used the unit to develop and deploy a complex series of "dirty tricks," "propoganda," and "false flag" operations designed to spy on selected targets who included not only "suspected terrorists" and "criminals" but also diplomats, journalists, and activists.Greenwald and Fishman argue JTRIG's self-documented exploits are most notable because of their "extensive use of propaganda methods and other online tactics of deceit and manipulation" that are not only reserved for "suspected foreign enemies" or criminals, as the agency continues to claim, but have also been used against other groups and individuals that the agency deems threatening or "politically radical."

Included in the new JTRIG memo is this detailed look at the manipulative online tactics developed by the group:

The reporting also highlights the internal memo's focus on "manipulation" and how the GCHQ hoped to foster both "conformity" and "obedience" among those targeted:

Read The Intercept's full reporting here. And links to the new published documents follow:

Bug burger anyone? Insect-based grub could hit Swiss groceries next year

Reuters / Charles Platiau

Next year, insects might be on the shelves of Swiss grocery stores alongside Switzerland’s national sausage, mustard and cheese, after the Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office suggested commercializing crickets, grasshoppers and meal worms.

On Monday, the Swiss Veterinary Service endorsed the sale of the three species as part of a planned revision of law regulating food stuffs, reported the ATS, the country’s national news agency.

In 2014, the Swiss authorities promised to put edible insects on the market following a food-from-bugs tasting organized by Isabelle Chevalley (member of the National Council of Switzerland) for her fellow MPs.

Apéro insecte:Ce fût une super découverte pour beaucoup de mes collègues. Je suis ravie de les avoir sensibilisés à cette cause écologique.Posted by Isabelle Chevalley on 10 Март 2014 г.

The menu included burgers with meat produced from mealworms, rissoles made from crickets, grasshopper chocolate biscuits and meal worm lemon cakes. Believe it or not, these delicacies tickled the MPs’ taste buds.

“It was a great discovery for many of my colleagues. I am delighted they recognized its environmental benefits,” Isabelle wrote in a post on her Facebook page on March 11, 2014.

“It doesn’t differ from a classic burger at all!” said counselor Robert Cramer, biting into a bug-burger.

“It tastes delicious,” said Maya Graf, president of the Swiss National Council, chomping on a cricket-rissole.

Edible insects contain high quality protein, vitamins and amino acids, according to the US Food and Agriculture Organization. “Crickets need six times less feed than cattle, four times less than sheep, and twice less than pigs and broiler chickens to produce the same amount of protein,” itswebsite points out.

As a result, bugs are viewed as a potential source for the production of protein-rich food.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization issued a 200-plus-page report in May, 2013. It gave the first comprehensive assessment of insects' current and potential uses as food for humans and livestock.

"It is widely accepted that by 2050 the world will host 9 billion people. To accommodate this number, current food production will need to almost double," reads the report. "We need to find new ways of growing food."

Within the EU, bugs have not yet been officially approved as a source of food, although stores in some EU countries, such as Holland and Belgium, have been selling bug-enriched grub.

The European Commission “is working on a new proposal on novel foods. At some point it could facilitate placing on the market food from new sources, for instance insects,” said Vytenis Andriukaitis, a health and food safety commissioner, at the EU Food Innovation Summit in February 2015.

DHS 'Charleston Active Shooter Threat Training Drill' 15 - 19 June 2015

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC) conducted an 'active shooter' training drill (an exercise on how to handle a situation with an 'active shooter' on scene) on the *same day* (17 June 2015) and *same city* (Charleston, South Carolina) that an active shooter opened fire at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, killing nine people. Below is a screen shot from the fletc.gov's website, depicting FLETC's 'Advanced Training Schedule By Site. Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers -- FY 2015 (Jan 1st - Sept 30th 2015) Advanced Training Schedule By Site Updated 02-26-2015. This calendar is intended for federal law enforcement.' Charleston ASTITP - Active Shooter Threat Instructor Training Program C_ASTITP-501 Class Start: 06/15/2015 - Class End: 06/19/2015. DHS/FLETC Charleston, SC, Active Shooter Training Drill - 1