Friday, October 17, 2008

5 anti-sealing activists found not guilty

October 17 2008
Seal hunters approach their vessel off Prince Edward Island in February 2008.

A judge has found five animal-rights activists not guilty of getting too close to seal hunters during the 2006 hunt off Canada's east coast.

The five were charged with coming within 10 metres of seal hunters on March 26, 2006, while filming the annual slaughter in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, not far from Cape Breton.

"It is extremely difficult on the seas ... to figure out the distance [between boats]," Quebec Judge Jean-Paul Décoste said in handing down the decision Friday.

There are "few or no reference points on which to rely," he said.

The five defendants are representatives of Humane Society International and Humane Society of the United States. Canadians Rebecca Aldworth and Andrew Plumbly; Americans Chad Sisneros and Pierre Grzybowski; and British citizen Mark Glover all pleaded not guilty.

The charge of violating terms of an observer permit under the Marine Mammal Regulations carries a maximum fine of $100,000.

The trial was held on Îles de la Madeleine and Décoste's decision was broadcast in Toronto via teleconference.

Clayton Ruby, one of Canada's best-known defence lawyers, represented the five.

Earlier, federal prosecutors had dropped a charge of obstructing the hunt.

High-profile protest

The 2006 hunt was marked by high-profile protests by pop music superstar Paul McCartney and retired French actress Brigitte Bardot.

On the ice floes, there were frequent clashes between sealers and protesters opposed to the hunt, which the federal government insists is a humane enterprise that brings much-needed cash to families that supplement their meagre incomes during the winter.

Animal welfare activists say the annual commercial hunt is cruel and provides little economic benefit once government costs associated with policing and supporting the hunt are factored in.



Myth #1: The Canadian government allows sealers to kill whitecoat seals.

Reality: The image of the whitecoat harp seal is used prominently by seal hunt opponents. This image gives the false impression that vulnerable whitecoat pups are targeted by sealers during the commercial hunt.

The hunting of harp seal pups (whitecoats) and hooded seal pups (bluebacks) is illegal – and has been since 1987. The Marine Mammal Regulations prohibit the trade, sale or barter of the fur of these pups. The seals that are hunted are self-reliant, independent animals.

Myth #2: Seals are being skinned alive.

Reality: A 2002 independent veterinarians’ report published in the Canadian Veterinary Journal

Sometimes a seal may appear to be moving after it has been killed; however seals have a swimming reflex that is active – even after death. This reflex gives the false impression that the animal is still alive when it is clearly dead – similar to the reflex in chickens.
and numerous reports mentioned by the Malouf Commission (1987) indicate that this is not true.

Myth #3: The club – or hakapik – is a barbaric and inhumane tool that has no place in today’s world.

Reality: Hunting methods were studied by the Royal Commission on Seals and Sealing in Canada and it found that the clubbing of seals, when properly performed, is at least as humane as, and often more humane than, the killing methods used in commercial slaughterhouses, which are accepted by the majority of the public.

A 2002 report published in the Canadian Veterinary Journal found that the club or hakapik is an efficient tool designed to kill the animal quickly and humanely.

Myth #4: The Canadian government is allowing sealers to kill thousands of seals to help with the recovery of cod stocks.

Reality: Several factors have contributed to the lack of recovery of Atlantic cod stocks, such as fishing effort, poor growth and physical condition of the fish, and environmental changes.

In addition, there are many uncertainties in the estimates of the amount of fish consumed by seals. The commercial quota is established on sound conservation principles, not an attempt to assist in the recovery of groundfish stocks.

Myth #5: The hunt is unsustainable and is endangering the harp seal population.

Reality: Since the 1960s, environmental groups have been saying the seal hunt is unsustainable. In fact, the harp seal population is healthy and abundant. The Northwest Atlantic harp seal population is currently estimated at 5.5 million animals, nearly triple what it was in the 1970s.

DFO sets quotas at levels that ensure the health and abundance of seal herds. In no way are seals - and harp seals in particular – an “endangered species”.

Myth #6: The seal hunt provides such low economic return for sealers that it is not an economically viable industry.

Reality: Seals are a significant source of income. For some individual sealers and for thousands of families in Eastern Canada at a time of year when other fishing options are limited at best, sealing can represent as much as 35 per cent of a sealer’s annual income in some coastal communities. Sealing also creates employment opportunities for buying and processing plants.

Myth #7: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) provides subsidies for the seal hunt.

Reality: DFO does not subsidize the seal hunt. Sealing is an economically viable industry. All subsidies ceased in 2001. Even before that time, any subsidies provided were for market and product development, including a meat subsidy, to encourage full use of the seal. In fact, government has provided much less subsidization to the sealing industry than recommended by the Royal Commission on Seals and Sealing.

Myth #8: The seal hunt is loosely monitored and DFO doesn’t punish illegal hunting activity or practices.

Reality: The seal hunt is closely monitored and tightly regulated. Fishery Officers conduct surveillance of the hunt by means of aerial patrols, surface (vessel) patrols, dockside inspections of vessels at landing sites and inspections at buying and processing facilities.

Infractions are taken seriously and sealers who fail to comply with Canada’s Marine Mammal Regulations are penalized. The consequences of such illegal actions could include court-imposed fines and the forfeiting of catches, fishing gear, vessels and licences.

Myth #9: The majority of Canadians are opposed to the seal hunt.

Reality: Animal rights groups currently campaigning against the seal hunt cite a 2004 Ipsos Reid poll stating that the majority of Canadians are opposed to the hunt. In fact, Canadians support federal policies regarding the seal hunt. An Ipsos-Reid survey conducted in February 2005 concluded that 60 per cent of Canadians are in favour of a responsible hunt.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nato airstrike blamed for deaths of 18 civilians in Afghanistan

A Nato airstrike in Helmand this afternoon may have killed as many as 18 women and children, according to local officials in the province.

Angry local people brought the bodies of at least six women and children, some of them badly disfigured, to the provincial capital Lashkargar and placed the bodies outside the house of the provincial governor, according to witnesses who spoke to The Times in Lashkargar.

There were protests in the city during the afternoon by crowds condemning British forces and the Afghan Government.

A spokesman for the British forces, Lieutenant-Colonel Woody Page, confirmed that Nato forces were deployed in an operation in Nad Ali, close to Lashkargar, today and that an airstrike took place at 12.40pm. “We are unable to confirm whether there were any civilian casualties,” he said.

An investigation into the incident was under way.

A spokesman for the Helmand Governor told The Times that the state of the bodies did not prove whether they had died as a result of an airstrike and he suggested that they might have died when a house accidentally collapsed.

“We have investigated this incident,” said Daoud Ahmadi. “We haven’t seen any bullet holes in the house and no explosive material in the house. The belief is that it collapsed itself and that the enemies of Afghanistan [the Taleban] are trying to take advantage of this.”

The Provincial Police Chief, Assadullah Sherzad, told the Associated Press that he believed an airstrike had killed several women and children in the area. He was not able to name a figure for the dead.

Civilian casualties in airstrikes have been a source of repeated friction between the Karzai Government and its Western backers and have sparked violent anti-Western protests in the past.

In the most recent such incident, separate investigations by the Afghan Government, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and the United Nations all concluded that more than 90 civilians died when US Special Forces raided a village in the western province of Herat on August 22.

US forces initially reported five civilian deaths, a figure amended to 33 deaths after mobile phone camera footage of the aftermath showing rows of dead including many women and children came to light.

89 Afghan civilians die in coalition airstrike

25 Civilans killed as US bombs village in Afghanistan

McCain War Hero or War Criminal?

By Robert Richter

October 16, 2008

As character assassination attacks on Sen. Barack Obama have now taken over Sen. John McCain's campaign, and because McCain cites his military experience as of prime importance, now is the time to focus closer attention on a facet of the Arizona Senator's own character. This is related to his 23 combat missions for Operation Rolling Thunder - the Pentagon's name for U.S. bombing of North Vietnam.

I will never forget how stunned I was when Gen. Telford Taylor, a chief U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials after World War Two, told me that he strongly supported the idea of trying the U.S. pilots captured in North Vietnam as war criminals - and that he would be proud to lead in their prosecution.

An ardent opponent of the Vietnam conflict, Taylor spoke with me in the fall of 1966 when I was looking into producing a documentary on this controversy for CBS News, where I was their National Political Editor. While he did not mention any pilot's name, then U.S. Navy Lieut. Commander John McCain who was captured a year later, would have been among the group Taylor wanted to prosecute.

Why would anyone have wanted to prosecute McCain and the other captured pilots? Taylor's argument was that their actions were in violation of the Geneva conventions that specifically forbid indiscriminate bombing that could cause incidental loss of civilian life or damage to civilian objects. Adding to the Geneva code, he noted, was the decision at the Nuremberg trials after World War Two: military personnel cannot defend themselves against such a charge with a claim that they were simply following orders.

There were questions raised about whether the Geneva conventions applied to the pilots, since there had been no formal declaration of war by the U.S. against the Hanoi regime - and the Geneva rules presumably are only in force in a “declared” war.

Anti-war critics at the time claimed that despite the Pentagon's assertion that only military targets were bombed, U.S. pilots also had bombed hospitals and other civilian targets, a charge that turned out to be correct and was confirmed by the New York Times' chief foreign correspondent, Harrison Salisbury.

In late 1966 Salisbury described the widespread devastation of civilian neighborhoods around Hanoi by American bombs: "Bomb damage...extends over an area of probably a mile or so on both sides of the highway...small villages and hamlets along the route [were] almost obliterated." U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara conceded some years later that more than a million deaths and injuries occurred in northern Vietnam each year from 1965 to 1968, as a result of the 800 tons of bombs a day dropped by our pilots.

In one of his autobiographies McCain wrote that he was going to bomb a power station in “a heavily populated part of Hanoi” when he was shot down.

If Gen. Taylor tried McCain, would he have defended himself as “just following orders” despite the Geneva conventions barring that kind of bombing and the Nuremberg principles negating “just following orders?“

The targets McCain and his fellow pilots actually bombed in Vietnam and his justification then or now for the actions that led to his capture, are no longer simply old news. They are part of what must be taken into account today, as voters weigh support for him or Obama to be the next President of the United States.

This is not about the hugely unpopular war in Vietnam. It is about the character of a man who seeks to be U.S. President, who perhaps was not simply a brave warrior, but a warrior who by his own admission, bombed and was ready to bomb targets in violation of the Geneva conventions and Nuremberg principles.

When I passed along Gen. Taylor's comments to my network superiors the program was scrapped: too hot to handle. Instead Air War Over the North was telecast, about “precision bombing” North Vietnam military targets by U.S. pilots. A few years after that broadcast, a Pentagon public information executive gleefully told Roger Mudd in The Selling of the Pentagon that he, the Pentagon official, not only had persuaded CBS to produce Air War Over the North, he even chose those to be interviewed and coached them about what they should say. This unethical collaboration and intercession by the Pentagon in the news media is sadly all too familiar a tactic repeated in the Bush-Cheney years.

The American Way of Life is Dead

By Stanislav Mishin

October 10, 2008

The American way of life is dead and like a beheaded corpse, still stumbling around, it has yet to come to that realization that should be obvious to anyone.

The American way of life, a system unsustainable by any stretch of the imagination, was facilitated on two facts: cheap gas and a valuable currency, the currency then morphing into cheap credit.

Since the US signed a deal with Saudi Arabia to value oil only in US dollar, something that happened in 1948, the US dollar has been a powerful currency, quickly rising to the level of the world reserve currency. As soon as all nations needed the dollar to purchase oil, there seemed to be no end as to how many dollars could be printed and what first the US government and than the ever down sized taxpayer, could afford...just add the cheap credit.

Godless consumerism never really took off the way it did until Nixon took the US off the gold standard in 1973. From then to now, there was no stopping it. Add to this, the cheap gas, partially guaranteed by that God forsaken deal between America and the worst of the worst of the Islamic jihadists, and the far flung suburban life style, with houses packed full of cheap priced and even cheaper quality Chinese goods, was born.

Of course, anyone with half an understanding of reality and economics knew it could not go on forever and so it has come to an end. However, the elite oligarchies of America, must be congratulated that they were able to keep it going for so long. Of course the estimated $500 Billion in plundered Russian wealth, from the early and mid 1990s, sure did help.

However, the era of the dollar is over and with it US power. The dollar has been in a steady free fall for the better of the past 6 years, faster than the steady decline of the preceding 30 years. How is it, that with a prolonged war, costing close to $1 trillion, no new taxes have been raised? Well, that's what printing presses are for and why since 2004, the Fed has stopped issuing the M3 report.

Due partially to this dieing dollar, the falling US power that has stopped being able to pressure Arabs into pumping more, increase in demand world wide and the resurgence of Russian industry drinking up their own oil, the price of oil has skyrocketed. It sure does not hurt that the US idiocy of having cake and eating too is still fully in the swing: that would be the plan to be foreign oil independent while not drilling your own oil or to build nuclear power plants.

The era of big spending, large houses, long commutes and giant SUVs and trucks are over. Sure, the contraction back into tightly packed cities and small modest houses, budgeted spending and compact cars will not come over night and it is equally sure that the indebted and breaking US consumer will fight it every step of the way, but it is over.

The first thing to already go is the big trucks and SUVs. Sure there are plenty still on the roads, but sales of new ones are falling fast, actually collapsing out right would be a more proper term. Next, considering the absolute lack of public transportation in most US urban and suburban areas and for that matter the very city centers, next will come the car pooling fad, as smaller cars still eat gas, a commodity still climbing in price.

Sooner or later this will reach a tipping point as well, where even car pooling will no longer work, as incomes will never keep up with inflation. Incomes will further degrade as the cycle of cut backs by suppliers followed by cut backs and layoffs by businesses continues. Fewer hours and less real pay will make the expense of far flung large yards, expensive to heat and cool large houses and high gasoline bills, seem rather infuriating and pointless to support.

A final hit upon the suburbanite will be the high increase in the cost of goods around him. Since rail head are limited and diesel is sailing far ahead of gasoline, the best prices on goods will be those around the inner city, closest to the rail heads. Goods that have to be trucked out to the various far flung stores will bare the price of the fuel that delivers them. Many stores will close driving not only jobs away from the suburbs but also the ability to live comfortably.

As more and more suburbanites return to live in the city, the property they sell will have massive downward pressure on their neighbors' property values. This in turn will force more of their neighbors to equally move out. Would be farmers should take note, perfectly good farm land will be rather cheap to come by...just have to burn off the ply wood massive shacks on it.

Crime will also initially sky rocket, especially in the far flung neighborhoods. The satellite cities that grew up around the big cities will be hardest hit and many will bankrupt as their tax base continues to erode. With bankruptcy will come cut backs in services, to include the police force. Gun rights advocates should take heart as more and more Americans will quickly come to depend on self protection for their sole source of protection.

Large quantities of second hand goods will also come on the market, as people move away from large stuffed houses in the suburbs to smaller, some times much smaller, apartments and houses in the cities. Craig's List, Ebay and garage sale hunters will greatly benefit, at least in the short term.

But there will be massive problems in the cities. Over crowding is the most obvious one. But with little industry, little money and only the service economy to rely on, the cities will be poor, angry and dangerous, as well as over crowded. The country side will become once again lonely and manageable and small towns and villages a lot more inviting. A return to America cira 1920s is more likely.

Illegal aliens take note: not only will American workers compete more directly with you over jobs than any time in the past 50 years, but they will fully view you, and correctly to boot, as the usurpers you are of their livelihood. Illegals' lives are going to get very dangerous and violent.

Tourism will of course suffer, so all those far flung, well developed tourist hot spots, that also happen to be in hurricane paths, will become lonely and decayed. It will become harder and harder for the government to pay for their almost annual rebuilding or even to justify it. Nature will be a big winner in all this.

But one final issue must be faced, the one issue that could easily launch those over packed cities into full scale revolt: veterans. Yes, with bankruptcy of the great big world wide empire, some one million well trained and often enough, well armed, veterans will be returning to the cities where their chances of jobs are slim at best. If they take arms, things in the America of the 2010s will be rather interesting and lively indeed.

Additional Thoughts on the Bailout

By Paul Craig Roberts
October 16, 2008

Just as the Bush regime’s wars have been used to pour billions of dollars into the pockets of its military-security donor base, the Paulson bailout looks like a Bush regime scheme to incur $700 billion in new public debt in order to transfer the money into the coffers of its financial donor base. The US taxpayers will be left with the interest payments in perpetuity (or inflation if the Fed monetizes the debt), and the number of Wall Street billionaires will grow. As for the US and European governments’ purchases of bank shares, that is just a cover for funneling public money into private hands.

The explanations that have been given for the crisis and its bailout are opaque. The US Treasury estimates that as few as 7% of the mortgages are bad. Why then do the US, UK, Germany, and France need to pour more than $2.1 trillion of public money into private financial institutions?
If, as the government tells us, the crisis stems from subprime mortgage defaults reducing the interest payments to the holders of mortgage backed securities, thus driving down their values and threatening the solvency of the institutions that hold them, why isn’t the bailout money used to address the problem at its source? If the bailout money was used to refinance troubled mortgages and to pay off foreclosed mortgages, the mortgage backed securities would be made whole, and it would be unnecessary to pour huge sums of public money into banks. Instead, the bailout money is being used to inject capital into financial institutions and to purchase from them troubled financial instruments.

It is a strange solution that does not address the problem. As the US economy sinks deeper into recession, the mortgage defaults will rise. Thus, the problem will intensify, necessitating the purchase of yet more troubled instruments.

If credit card debt has also been securitized and sold as investments, as the economy worsens defaults on credit card debt will be a replay of the mortgage defaults. How much debt can the Treasury bail out before its own credit rating sinks?

The contribution of credit default swaps to the financial crisis has not been made clear. These swaps are bets that a designated financial instrument will fail. In exchange for “premium” payments, the seller of a swap protects the buyer of the swap from default by, for example, a company’s bond that the swap buyer might not even own. If these swaps are also securitized and sold as investments, more nebulous assets appear on balance sheets.

Normally, if you and I make a bet, and I welsh on the bet, it doesn’t threaten your solvency. If we place bets with a bookie and the odds go against the bookie, the bookie will fail, as apparently happened to AIG, necessitating an $85 billion bailout of the insurance company, and to Bear Stearns resulting in the demise of the investment bank.

Credit default swaps are a form of unregulated insurance. One danger of the swaps is that they allow speculators to purchase protection against a company defaulting on its bonds, without the speculators having to own the company’s bonds. Speculators can then short the company’s stock, driving down its price and raising questions about the viability of the company’s bonds. This raises the value of the speculators’ swaps which can be sold to holders of the company’s bonds. By ruining a company’s prospects, the speculators make money.
Another danger is that swaps encourage investors to purchase riskier, higher-yielding instruments in the belief that the instruments are insured, but the sellers of swaps have not reserved against them.

Double-counting of assets is also possible if a bank purchases a company’s bonds, for example, then purchases credit default swaps on the bonds, and lists both as assets on its balance sheet.
The $85 billion Treasury bailout of AIG is small compared to the $700 billion for the banks, and the emphasis has been on banks, not insurance companies. According to news reports, the sums associated with credit default swaps are far larger than the subprime mortgage derivatives. Have the swaps yet to become major players in the crisis?

The behavior of the stock market does not necessarily tell us anything about the bailout. The financial crisis disrupted lending and thus comprised a threat to non-financial firms. This threat would reflect in the stock market. However, the stock market is also predicting a recession and declining earnings. Thus, people sell stocks hoping to get out before share prices adjust to the new lower earnings.

The bailout package is a result of panic and threats, not of analysis and understanding. Neither Congress nor the public knows the full story. If the problem is the mortgages, why does the bailout leave the mortgages unaddressed and focus instead on pouring vast amount of public money into private financial institutions?

The purpose of regulation is to restrain greed and to prevent leveraged speculation from threatening the wider society. Congress needs to restore financial regulation, not reward those who caused the crisis.

Infant Deaths Drop in U.S., but Rate Is Still High

By Gardiner Harris

October 16, 2008

WASHINGTON — Infant deaths in the United States declined 2 percent in 2006, government researchers reported Wednesday, but the rate still remains well above that of most other industrialized countries and is one of many indicators suggesting that Americans pay more but get less from their health care system.

Infant mortality has long been considered one of the most important indicators of the health of a nation and the quality of its medical system. In 1960, the United States ranked 12th lowest in the world, but by 2004, the latest year for which comparisons were issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that ranking had dropped to 29th lowest.

This international gap has widened even though the United States devotes a far greater share of its national wealth to health care than other countries. In 2006, Americans spent $6,714 per capita on health — more than twice the average of other industrialized countries.

Some blame cultural issues like obesity and drug use. Others say that the nation’s decentralized health care system is failing, and some researchers point to troubling trends in preterm births and Caesarean deliveries.

Many agree, however, that the data are a major national concern. More than 28,000 infants under the age of 1 die each year in the United States.

“Infant mortality and our comparison with the rest of the world continue to be an embarrassment to the United States,” said Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, a conservative research organization. “How can we get better outcomes?”

The data, collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, indicate that the nation’s infant mortality rate has been static for years despite enormous advances in the care given to preterm infants. Two-thirds of the infant deaths are in preterm babies.

In 2006, 6.71 infants died in the United States for every 1,000 live births, a rate little different from the 6.89 rate reported in 2000 or the 6.86 rate of 2005. Twenty-two countries had infant mortality rates in 2004 below 5.0 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, with many Scandinavian and East Asian countries posting rates below 3.5. While there are some differences in the way countries collect these data, those differences cannot explain the relatively low international ranking of the United States, according to researchers at the disease control agency.

Preterm birth is a significant risk factor for infant death. From 2000 to 2005, the percentage of preterm births in the United States jumped 9 percent, to 12.7 percent of all births. The most rapid increase has been among late preterm births, or babies born at 34 to 36 weeks of gestation. Some 92 percent of these increased premature births are by Caesarean section, according to a recent study.

Dr. Alan Fleischman, medical director of the March of Dimes Foundation, said that a growing number of these late preterm births might be induced for reasons of convenience. “Women have always been concerned about the last few weeks of pregnancy as being onerous,” Dr. Fleischman said, “but what we hadn’t realized before is that the risks to the babies of early induction are quite substantial.”

Dr. Mary D’Alton, chairwoman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University, said doctors should not induce labor before 39 weeks of gestation unless there was an urgent medical or obstetrical need. For unknown reasons, the number of preterm births is far higher among African-American women even when those women have access to good medical care, Dr. D’Alton said.

There is some evidence, she said, that steroids given to mothers at risk of giving birth early may help. A trial to test this theory is about to start.

Some economists argue that the disappointing infant mortality figure is one of many health indicators demonstrating that the health care system in the United States, despite its enormous cost, is failing.

Although the United States has relatively good numbers for cancer screening and survival, the nation compares poorly with other countries in many other statistical categories, including life expectancy and preventable deaths from diseases like diabetes, circulatory problems and respiratory issues like asthma.

Ms. Turner blamed socioeconomic factors like obesity, high drug use, violence with guns and car accidents — factors that she said could not be addressed by health reform. Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit research organization, agreed that socioeconomic factors played a role but said that the nation’s heavy reliance on the private delivery of care was also to blame.

“We’re spending twice what other countries do,” Ms. Davis said, “and we’re falling further and further behind them in important measures like infant mortality.”

Nearly 30% of US Families Subsist on Poverty Wages

By Tom Eley

October 16, 2008
A report released Tuesday by the Working Poor Families Project reveals that more than 28 percent of American families with one or both parents employed are living in poverty.

The report, “Still Working Hard, Still Falling Short,” is based on data for the period from 2004 through 2006 gathered from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.

The report finds that 9.6 million households can be described as low-income or “working poor”—defined as families that earn less than 200 percent of the official poverty level. There were 350,000 more such families in 2006 than in 2002. More than 21 million children now live in low-income working families—an increase of 800,000 in four years.

In 2006 there were more than 29 million jobs in the US that paid below the official poverty level—defined as $9.91 an hour for full-time labor—an increase of nearly 5 million poverty-wage jobs from 2002.

Family income inequality also increased rapidly between 2002 and 2006, the report says. In 2006, the top 20 percent of US households earned on average 9.2 times as much as the bottom quintile.

The report notes that working poor families “lack the earnings necessary to meet their basic needs—a struggle exacerbated by soaring prices for food, gas, health and education.” About 60 percent of low-income working families are forced to spend more than one-third of their income on housing, and nearly 40 percent lack health insurance for one or both parents.

These families struggle under poverty conditions despite parents working long hours. According to the report, “Adults in low-income working families worked on average 2,552 hours per year in 2006, the equivalent of almost one-and-a-quarter full-time workers.”

This total is about one third of all the hours that pass in a year. It is nearly twice the total yearly work hours of the average German worker, who works 1,362 hours per week, and 162 hours more per year than the average South Korean worker, according to statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The report documents the sharp decline in living standards for wide layers of the working class, the result of decades of corporate downsizing and wage-cutting presided over by Democratic and well as Republican administrations. It shows that poverty-level jobs are increasingly common and are held by broad sections of the population. Contrary to certain stereotypes promoted by the media, the majority of families living on poverty wages are neither immigrants, minorities or families with a single parent.

Some 72 percent of poor families, according to the report, hold jobs. More than half are headed by married couples, 69 percent have only American-born parents, 89 percent have a parent between the ages of 25 and 54, and 43 percent have white non-Hispanic parents. Only 25 percent receive food stamp assistance.

The study breaks its statistics down to the state level. In general, the conditions of working families are worst in the South and the non-Pacific West. Texas, for example, has the fourth highest number of working families defined as low-income, the second lowest percentage of low-income families who have a high school diploma or its equivalent, the second highest number with no post-secondary school experience, the fewest with health insurance, and the third highest family income inequality.

New York has the highest family income inequality in the nation, California the fourth highest.

The impoverishment of ever-larger sections of the working class population is the outcome of a number of processes: the dismantling of large sections of basic industry, the wave of union-busting and strike-breaking in the 1980s, the gutting of social welfare programs, the betrayal of the working class by the trade union organizations.

The other side of this process is the vast enrichment of the top 10 percent of the US population and the ever-greater concentration of wealth in the hands of the financial elite.

A survey carried out in March by Equilar and reported by the New York Times revealed that the CEOs of the 200 largest publicly traded companies earned an average of $11.7 million in 2007.

In 2005, the top 1 percent of US households accounted for 21.8 percent of all pre-tax income, twice the figure in 1970s. This represented the greatest concentration of income since the year before the onset of the Great Depression, 1928, when about 24 percent of national income went to the top percentile.

It should be noted that the “Still Working Hard, Still Falling Short” report reflects conditions that existed prior to the eruption of the financial crisis in August of 2007 and the subsequent slide into recession.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

President John F.Kennedy, The Federal Reserve And Executive Order 11110

by Cedric X

From The Final Call, Vol. 15, No.6, On January 17, 1996

On June 4, 1963, a little known attempt was made to strip the Federal Reserve Bank of its power to loan money to the government at interest. On that day President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order No. 11110 that returned to the U.S. government the power to issue currency, without going through the Federal Reserve. Mr. Kennedy's order gave the Treasury the power "to issue silver certificates against any silver bullion, silver, or standard silver dollars in the Treasury." This meant that for every ounce of silver in the U.S. Treasury's vault, the government could introduce new money into circulation. In all, Kennedy brought nearly $4.3 billion in U.S. notes into circulation. The ramifications of this bill are enormous.

With the stroke of a pen, Mr. Kennedy was on his way to putting the Federal Reserve Bank of New York out of business. If enough of these silver certificates were to come into circulation they would have eliminated the demand for Federal Reserve notes. This is because the silver certificates are backed by silver and the Federal Reserve notes are not backed by anything. Executive Order 11110 could have prevented the national debt from reaching its current level, because it would have given the government the ability to repay its debt without going to the Federal Reserve and being charged interest in order to create the new money. Executive Order 11110 gave the U.S. the ability to create its own money backed by silver.

After Mr. Kennedy was assassinated just five months later, no more silver certificates were issued. The Final Call has learned that the Executive Order was never repealed by any U.S. President through an Executive Order and is still valid. Why then has no president utilized it? Virtually all of the nearly $6 trillion in debt has been created since 1963, and if a U.S. president had utilized Executive Order 11110 the debt would be nowhere near the current level. Perhaps the assassination of JFK was a warning to future presidents who would think to eliminate the U.S. debt by eliminating the Federal Reserve's control over the creation of money. Mr. Kennedy challenged the government of money by challenging the two most successful vehicles that have ever been used to drive up debt - war and the creation of money by a privately-owned central bank. His efforts to have all troops out of Vietnam by 1965 and Executive Order 11110 would have severely cut into the profits and control of the New York banking establishment. As America's debt reaches unbearable levels and a conflict emerges in Bosnia that will further increase America's debt, one is force to ask, will President Clinton have the courage to consider utilizing Executive Order 11110 and, if so, is he willing to pay the ultimate price for doing so?

Executive Order 11110 AMENDMENT OF EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 10289


By virtue of the authority vested in me by section 301 of title 3 of the United States Code, it is ordered as follows:

Section 1. Executive Order No. 10289 of September 19, 1951, as amended, is hereby further amended-

By adding at the end of paragraph 1 thereof the following subparagraph (j):

(j) The authority vested in the President by paragraph (b) of section 43 of the Act of May 12,1933, as amended (31 U.S.C.821(b)), to issue silver certificates against any silver bullion, silver, or standard silver dollars in the Treasury not then held for redemption of any outstanding silver certificates, to prescribe the denomination of such silver certificates, and to coin standard silver dollars and subsidiary silver currency for their redemption

and --

By revoking subparagraphs (b) and (c) of paragraph 2 thereof.

Sec. 2. The amendments made by this Order shall not affect any act done, or any right accruing or accrued or any suit or proceeding had or commenced in any civil or criminal cause prior to the date of this Order but all such liabilities shall continue and may be enforced as if said amendments had not been made.

John F. Kennedy The White House, June 4, 1963.

Of course, the fact that both JFK and Lincoln met the the same end is a mere coincidence.

Abraham Lincoln's Monetary Policy, 1865 (Page 91 of Senate document 23.)

Money is the creature of law and the creation of the original issue of money should be maintained as the exclusive monopoly of national Government.

Money possesses no value to the State other than that given to it by circulation.

Capital has its proper place and is entitled to every protection. The wages of men should be recognised in the structure of and in the social order as more important than the wages of money.

No duty is more imperative for the Government than the duty it owes the People to furnish them with a sound and uniform currency, and of regulating the circulation of the medium of exchange so that labour will be protected from a vicious currency, and commerce will be facilitated by cheap and safe exchanges.

The available supply of Gold and Silver being wholly inadequate to permit the issuance of coins of intrinsic value or paper currency convertible into coin in the volume required to serve the needs of the People, some other basis for the issue of currency must be developed, and some means other than that of convertibility into coin must be developed to prevent undue fluctuation in the value of paper currency or any other substitute for money of intrinsic value that may come into use.

The monetary needs of increasing numbers of People advancing towards higher standards of living can and should be met by the Government. Such needs can be served by the issue of National Currency and Credit through the operation of a National Banking system .The circulation of a medium of exchange issued and backed by the Government can be properly regulated and redundancy of issue avoided by withdrawing from circulation such amounts as may be necessary by Taxation, Redeposit, and otherwise. Government has the power to regulate the currency and creditof the Nation.

Government should stand behind its currency and credit and the Bank deposits of the Nation. No individual should suffer a loss of money through depreciation or inflated currency or Bank bankruptcy.

Government possessing the power to create and issue currency and creditas money and enjoying the right to withdraw both currency and credit from circulation by Taxation and otherwise need not and should not borrow capital at interest as a means of financing Governmental work and public enterprise. The Government should create, issue, and circulate all the currency and credit needed to satisfy the spending power of the Government and the buying power of the consumers. The privilege of creating and issuing money is not only the supreme prerogative of Government, but it is the Governments greatest creative opportunity.

By the adoption of these principles the long felt want for a uniform medium will be satisfied. The taxpayers will be saved immense sums of interest, discounts, and exchanges. The financing of all public enterprise, the maintenance of stable Government and ordered progress, and the conduct of the Treasury will become matters of practical administration. The people can and will be furnished with a currency as safe as their own Government. Money will cease to be master and become the servant of humanity. Democracy will rise superior to the money power.

Some information on the Federal Reserve The Federal Reserve, a Private Corporation One of the most common concerns among people who engage in any effort to reduce their taxes is, "Will keeping my money hurt the government's ability to pay it's bills?" As explained in the first article in this series, the modern withholding tax does not, and wasn't designed to, pay for government services. What it does do, is pay for the privately-owned Federal Reserve System.

Black's Law Dictionary defines the "Federal Reserve System" as, "Network of twelve central banks to which most national banks belong and to which state chartered banks may belong. Membership rules require investment of stock and minimum reserves."

Privately-owned banks own the stock of the Fed. This was explained in more detail in the case of Lewis v. United States, Federal Reporter, 2nd Series, Vol. 680, Pages 1239, 1241 (1982), where the court said:

Each Federal Reserve Bank is a separate corporation owned by commercial banks in its region. The stock-holding commercial banks elect two thirds of each Bank's nine member board of directors.

Similarly, the Federal Reserve Banks, though heavily regulated, are locally controlled by their member banks. Taking another look at Black's Law Dictionary, we find that these privately owned banks actually issue money:

Federal Reserve Act. Law which created Federal Reserve banks which act as agents in maintaining money reserves, issuing money in the form of bank notes, lending money to banks, and supervising banks. Administered by Federal Reserve Board (q.v.).

The FED banks, which are privately owned, actually issue, that is, create, the money we use. In 1964 the House Committee on Banking and Currency, Subcommittee on Domestic Finance, at the second session of the 88th Congress, put out a study entitled Money Facts which contains a good description of what the FED is:

The Federal Reserve is a total money-making machine.It can issue money or checks. And it never has a problem of making its checks good because it can obtain the $5 and $10 bills necessary to cover its check simply by asking the Treasury Department's Bureau of Engraving to print them.

As we all know, anyone who has a lot of money has a lot of power. Now imagine a group of people who have the power to create money. Imagine the power these people would have. This is what the Fed is.

No man did more to expose the power of the Fed than Louis T. McFadden, who was the Chairman of the House Banking Committee back in the 1930s. Constantly pointing out that monetary issues shouldn't be partisan, he criticized both the Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt administrations. In describing the Fed, he remarked in the Congressional Record, House pages 1295 and 1296 on June 10, 1932, that:

Mr. Chairman,we have in this country one of the most corrupt institutions the world has ever known. I refer to the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal reserve banks. The Federal Reserve Board, a Government Board, has cheated the Government of the United States and he people of the United States out of enough money to pay the national debt. The depredations and the iniquities of the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal reserve banks acting together have cost this country enough money to pay the national debt several times over. This evil institution has impoverished and ruined the people of the United States; has bankrupted itself, and has practically bankrupted our Government. It has done this through the maladministration of that law by which the Federal Reserve Board, and through the corrupt practices of the moneyed vultures who control it.

Some people think the Federal reserve banks are United States Government institutions. They are not Government institutions. They are private credit monopolies which prey upon the people of the United States for the benefit of themselves and their foreign customers; foreign and domestic speculators and swindlers; and rich and predatory money lenders. In that dark crew of financial pirates there are those who would cut a man's throat to get a dollar out of his pocket; there are those who send money into States to buy votes to control our legislation; and there are those who maintain an international propaganda for the purpose of deceiving us and of wheedling us into the granting of new concessions which will permit them to cover up their past misdeeds and set again in motion their gigantic train of crime. Those 12 private credit monopolies were deceitfully and disloyally foisted upon this country by bankers who came here from Europe and who repaid us for our hospitality by undermining our American institutions.

The Fed basically works like this: The government granted its power to create money to the Fed banks. They create money, then loan it back to the government charging interest. The government levies income taxes to pay the interest on the debt. On this point, it's interesting to note that the Federal Reserve act and the sixteenth amendment, which gave congress the power to collect income taxes, were both passed in 1913. The incredible power of the Fed over the economy is universally admitted. Some people, especially in the banking and academic communities, even support it. On the other hand, there are those, both in the past and in the present, that speak out against it. One of these men was President John F. Kennedy. His efforts were detailed in Jim Marrs' 1990 book, Crossfire:

Another overlooked aspect of Kennedy's attempt to reform American society involves money. Kennedy apparently reasoned that by returning to the constitution, which states that only Congress shall coin and regulate money, the soaring national debt could be reduced by not paying interest to the bankers of the Federal Reserve System, who print paper money then loan it to the government at interest. He moved in this area on June 4, 1963, by signing Executive Order 11,110 which called for the issuance of $4,292,893,815 in United States Notes through the U.S. Treasury rather than the traditional Federal Reserve System. That same day, Kennedy signed a bill changing the backing of one and two dollar bills from silver to gold, adding strength to the weakened U.S. currency.

Kennedy's comptroller of the currency, James J. Saxon, had been at odds with the powerful Federal Reserve Board for some time, encouraging broader investment and lending powers for banks that were not part of the Federal Reserve system. Saxon also had decided that non-Reserve banks could underwrite state and local general obligation bonds, again weakening the dominant Federal Reserve banks.

A number of "Kennedy bills" were indeed issued - the author has a five dollar bill in his possession with the heading "United States Note" - but were quickly withdrawn after Kennedy's death. According to information from the Library of the Comptroller of the Currency, Executive Order 11,110 remains in effect today, although successive administrations beginning with that of President Lyndon Johnson apparently have simply ignored it and instead returned to the practice of paying interest on Federal Reserve notes. Today we continue to use Federal Reserve Notes, and the deficit is at an all-time high.

The point being made is that the IRS taxes you pay aren't used for government services. It won't hurt you, or the nation, to legally reduce or eliminate your tax liability.

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