U.S. Drones violate Pakistan’s Sovereignty

By SEBASTIAN ABBOT | AP | MARCH 15, 2013

The head of a U.N. team investigating casualties from U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan declared after a secret research trip to the country that the attacks violate Pakistan’s sovereignty.

Ben Emmerson, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, said the Pakistani government made clear to him that it does not consent to the strikes – a position that has been disputed by U.S. officials.

President Barack Obama has stepped up covert CIA drone strikes targeting al-Qaida and Taliban militants in Pakistan’s tribal region along the Afghan border since he took office in 2009.

The strikes have caused growing controversy because of the secrecy surrounding them and claims that they have caused significant civilian casualties – allegations denied by the United States.

According to a U.N. statement that Emmerson emailed to The Associated Press on Friday, the Pakistani government told him it has confirmed at least 400 civilian deaths by U.S. drones on its territory. The statement was initially released on Thursday, following the investigator’s three-day visit to Pakistan, which ended Wednesday. The visit was kept secret until Emmerson left.

Imtiaz Gul, an expert on Pakistani militancy who is helping Emmerson’s team, said Friday that the organization he runs, the Centre for Research and Security Studies, gave the U.N. investigator during his visit case studies on 25 strikes that allegedly killed around 200 civilians.

The U.N. investigation into civilian casualties from drone strikes and other targeted killings in Pakistan and several other countries was launched in January and is expected to deliver its conclusions in October.

The U.S. rarely discusses the strikes in public because of their covert nature. But a few senior officials, including CIA chief John Brennan, have publicly defended the strikes, saying precision weapons help avoid significant civilian casualties.

A 2012 investigation by the AP into 10 of the recent deadliest drone strikes in Pakistan over the previous two years found that a significant majority of the casualties were militants, but civilians were also killed.

Villagers told the AP that of at least 194 people killed in the attacks, about 70 percent – at least 138 – were militants. The remaining 56 were either civilians or tribal police, and 38 of them were killed in a single attack on March 17, 2011.

Pakistani officials regularly criticize the attacks in public as a violation of the country’s sovereignty, a popular position in a country where anti-American sentiment runs high.

But the reality has been more complicated in the past.

For many years, Pakistan allowed U.S. drones to take off from bases within the country. Documents released by WikiLeaks in 2010 showed that senior Pakistani officials consented to the strikes in private to U.S. diplomats, while at the same time condemning them in public.

Cooperation has certainly waned since then as the relationship between Pakistan and the U.S. has deteriorated. In 2011, Pakistan kicked the U.S. out of an air base used by American drones in the country’s southwest, in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

But U.S. officials have insisted that cooperation has not ended altogether and key Pakistani military officers and civilian politicians continue to consent to the strikes. The officials have spoken on condition of anonymity because of the covert nature of the drone program.

However, Emmerson, the U.N. investigator, came away with a black and white view after his meetings with Pakistani officials.

“The position of the government of Pakistan is quite clear,” said Emmerson. “It does not consent to the use of drones by the United States on its territory and it considers this to be a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The drone campaign “involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent and is therefore a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty,” he said.

Pakistan claimed the drone strikes were radicalizing a new generation of militants and said it was capable of fighting the war against Islamist extremism in the country by itself, said Emmerson.

A major reason why the U.S. has stepped up drone attacks in Pakistan is because it has failed to convince the government to target Taliban militants using its territory to launch cross-border attacks against American troops in Afghanistan.

Emmerson met with a variety of Pakistani officials during his visit, as well as tribal leaders from the North Waziristan tribal area – the main target for U.S. drones in the country – and locals who claimed they were injured by the attacks or had lost loved ones.

The tribal leaders said innocent tribesmen were often mistakenly targeted by drones because they were indistinguishable from Taliban militants, said Emmerson. Both groups wear the same traditional tribal clothing and normally carry a gun at all times, he said.

“It is time for the international community to heed the concerns of Pakistan, and give the next democratically elected government of Pakistan the space, support and assistance it needs to deliver a lasting peace on its own territory without forcible military interference by other states,” said Emmerson.

A Nixonian approach to Climate Change

U.S. President, Barack Obama is about to bring a blast from the past to deal with the supposed threats posed by climate change. In doing so, he and his environmental team has already made sure that the Federal Government is exempted from all regulations.

By MARK DRAJEM | BLOOMBERG | MARCH 15, 2013

President Barack Obama is preparing to tell all federal agencies for the first time that they have to consider the impact on global warming before approving major projects, from pipelines to highways.

The result could be significant delays for natural gas- export facilities, ports for coal sales to Asia, and even new forest roads, industry lobbyists warn.

“It’s got us very freaked out,” said Ross Eisenberg, vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers, a Washington-based group that represents 11,000 companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and Southern Co. (SO) The standards, which constitute guidance for agencies and not new regulations, are set to be issued in the coming weeks, according to lawyers briefed by administration officials.

In taking the step, Obama would be fulfilling a vow to act alone in the face of a Republican-run House of Representatives unwilling to pass measures limiting greenhouse gases. He’d expand a Nixon-era law that was intended to force agencies to assess the effect of projects on air, water and soil pollution.

“If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will,” Obama said last month during his State of the Union address. He pledged executive actions “to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”

The president is scheduled to deliver a speech on energy today outside Chicago.

Long Delays

While some U.S. agencies already take climate change into account when assessing projects, the new guidelines would apply across-the-board to all federal reviews. Industry lobbyists say they worry that projects could be tied up in lawsuits or administrative delays.

For example, Ambre Energy Ltd. is seeking a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to build a coal-export facility at the Port of Morrow in Oregon. Under existing rules, officials weighing approval would consider whether ships in the port would foul the water or generate air pollution locally. The Environmental Protection Agency and activist groups say that review should be broadened to account for the greenhouse gases emitted when exported coal is burned in power plants in Asia.

Similar analyses could be made for the oil sands that would be transported in TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL pipeline, and leases to drill for oil, gas and coal on federal lands, such as those for Arch Coal Inc. (ACI) and Peabody Energy Corp. (BTU)

Targeting Keystone

If the new White House guidance is structured correctly, it will require just those kinds of lifecycle reviews, said Bill Snape, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity in Washington. The environmental group has sued to press for this approach, and Snape says lawsuits along this line are certain if the administration approves the Keystone pipeline, which would transport oil from Canada’s tar sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

“The real danger is the delays,” said Eisenberg of the manufacturers’ group. “I don’t think the answer is ever going to be ‘no,’ but it can confound things.”

Lawyers and lobbyists are now waiting for the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality to issue the long bottled-up standards for how agencies should address climate change under the National Environmental Policy Act, signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970.

NEPA requires federal agencies to consider and publish the environmental impact of their actions before making decisions. Those reviews don’t mandate a specific course of action. They do provide a chance for citizens and environmentalists to weigh in before regulators decide on an action — and to challenge those reviews in court if it’s cleared.

FULL ARTICLE…

Republicans, Democrats and the NRA secretly working on full gun control legislation?

AMMONLAND | MARCH 12, 2013

One of the 250 United States Founding Fathers, Thomas Paine, said “I love peace but if there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may live in peace” and “These are the days that try men’s souls”.

Please keep those words in the back of your mind as I give you the shocking report and facts surrounding the Obama/Cantor back room deal.

The Republican Establishment Sellout to Obama may be more imminent than we think – – unless you and I can get all our family and friends to act swiftly and decisively to STOP THE REPUBLICAN LED SELL OUT to Barack Hussein Obama.

That’s right!

And Republican Majority Leader is leading the charge to cut a deal with President Obama.

The following are just some of the threats to innocent school children and our God-given 2nd Amendment liberties that Republicans are about to shove down our throats:

1.The NRA is cutting backroom deals to centralize gun owner data collection into the Obama/Holder massive government data base.

A centralized system is less costly to fight and far more lucrative for the NRA to appear to be “fixing“.

Like all establishment political lobbies the key to their job security is assisting in making problems they end up being called upon to “fix“.

2. Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor is leading the charge to give Obama and Holder what they want in exchange for appearing to be “fixing” the problem of innocent children being butchered in our public and private schools.

3. Newly appointed Republican Judiciary Chairman, Bob Goodlatte R-VA 6th District, is providing political cover for the sneaky back room gun control deals and gun grabbing sell outs that his political masters – – John Boehner and Eric Cantor – – are cutting with Obama and his corrupt Attorney General, Eric Holder.

Political insiders have confirmed to me,  that Goodlatte earned his brand new chairmanship by ignoring the constitutional demands and grievances of every Republican Unit Chairman in his own 6th district.

These demands and grievances were approved and unanimously voted on by the GOP 6th district, published in prominent newspapers and sent to other Republican Chairmen around the country.

Goodlatte’s response was to ignore his unit chairs and when pressed by the media to publicly insult them.

Goodlatte is also fulfilling his promise to be a spokesman for NRA “A” rated Virginia Republican Congressman Scott Rigell’s House version of anti-gun Vermont Senator Pat Leahy’s S. 443 – – The Forced Gun Owner Registration Act.

4. Virginia Congressman Scott Rigell, R-VA 2nd district, has snuggled up to the Obama campaign by making a generous donation to the Obama campaign.

With “Republicans” like Rigell can anyone say “Benedict Arnold“?

5. Virginia’s very own gun grabbing Governor – – Gun Ban Bob McDonnell – – has ignored Virginia gun owner pleas to stop the slaughter of innocent Virginia school children.

That’s right Gun Ban Bob refuses to do anything practical that will save the lives of teachers and students.

Why Gun Ban Bob would want to anger and alienate gun owners in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina when he wants to be president or vice-president in 2016 is a mystery – – unless he has a secret political desire to leave politics when his term as Governor expires.

Actually, given Gun Ban Bob’s decade long record of flip flopping back and forth on gun rights it may be that Mr. McDonnell is tired of his political duplicity.

That is my best guess having met Mr. McDonnell on several occasions because he is a VERY likeable family man.

Before I explain our hope of stopping these betrayals of trust by the cowardly Republicans let me give you the facts regarding the weak-sister of the gun rights movement – – the National Rifle Association.

Please click THE NRA LIKES TO MAKE MONEY by SELLING GUN CONTROL AND CALLING IT “PUBLIC SAFTEY”

If you have not read the link above, please do. It is the key to understanding what I am about to tell you.

Over the years I have warned gun owners in Virginia that crafty phrases like “expanded background checks” and “beefing up the database” were simply code words for a national gun registration scheme.

These empty and deceptive words have are the tools of the trade for the sons of gun-control.

These gun grabbing politicians, lobbyists and activists love to use deceptive language to manipulate voters and pull the wool over the eyes of their victims.

In fact, right now the newest threat that has emerged is being sold under the guise of the code word “gun trafficking.”

Seriously, doesn’t “gun trafficking” sound like something bad that you and I should join the gun grabbers in trying to stop?

Better yet, we could then appear “REASONABLE” – – whatever that is when little kids are being butchered like pigs in our schools.

You see, the word smiths for the anti-life and liberty movement know that gun control will never sell unless it is carefully and craftily packaged and then sold to the public.

I’m talking about anti-gun Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy’s S. 443, the so-called Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2013.

You see, the gun grabbers know how to deceptively name their anti-life and liberty bills.

So please, never use the bill names chosen by the sons-of-gun-control.

In reality, S. 443 is a Forced Gun Owner Registration Scheme. S. 443 imposes harsh sentences – up to 15 years in prison – for minor offenses.

The U.S. Senate committee that voted on this gun registration scheme approved it by an 11-7 vote.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, voted in favor of the Democrat Chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy’s, S. 443.

Incredibly, this dangerous legislation imposes a 15-year prison sentence on anyone who purchases a firearm with the intent of giving or selling it to a “prohibited person.”

And just who is considered a “prohibited person?”

Unfortunately, more and more individuals are being labeled a “prohibited person” for non-violent reasons.

I myself almost became a “prohibited” person in 1990 for leading a peaceful non-violent prayer vigil.

It took me almost 4 years and lots of pro-bono attorney hours to defeat it at the Vermont Supreme Court.

McHugh v. Vermont belongs in the constitutions museum of 1st Amendment absurdities.

But that is beside the point because it simply illustrates how ruthless power hungry liberals can be.

Now you know why I am very sensitive to how rogue governments and would-be-political-dictators abuse and manipulate words and ideas to further their dangerous agenda of destroying liberty.

But this isn’t about my experience.

My experience is simply a modern day illustration that history repeats itself.

The fact is that it was Adolf Hitler who motivated good-willed German’s to hate our Jewish friends by referring to them as “international serpents”.

Hitler was a master deceiver. He actually begged German people to protect their beautiful young German school girls from young Jewish males.

Really?

Did German school girls need protecting like American school children need protecting?

Yes, of course they did – – but not from young Jewish boys but from Hitler and those whom he misled.

Hitler went on to say that “With Satanic joy in his face, the black-haired Jewish youth lurks in wait for the unsuspecting girl whom he defiles with his blood, thus stealing her from her people.” -Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)

Now you know why you and I must stand up and be counted in this fight to protect innocent little American boys and girls in our day and our time.

Please don’t let history repeat itself.

And above all let’s fight the lies of the gun grabbing socialists with words of truth because it is only truth that can set us truly free.

We must not be duped into supporting or standing idle while the opponents of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness eat out the foundations of our system of government like maggots and termites.

AM I EXAGGERTING?

Decide for yourself.

Right now, 150,000 of our nation’s hero veterans are considered “prohibited” just because they acknowledged PTSD – – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – – on returning from war.

And since Barack Hussein Obama just issued an Executive Order calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to “review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun,” the definition of “prohibited” could change any day depending on the Attorney General’s whims.

Remember, these are the “saviors of mankind” that refuse to promise that drone strikes will never be used on American soil to assassinate Americans who have not yet been convicted in a court of law or even charged with a capital offense.

But it gets worse, because under the NRA drafted Forced Gun Owner Registration Act, it doesn’t matter if you knew whether someone is a “prohibited person” or not – you’re going to prison either way – – if it was your intent to sell a firearm to a prohibited person.

And who defines and decides the intent of man’s mind?

In reality, this effort at mind reading could also be called the NRA drafted Obama/Cantor Gun Owner Thought Control Act of 2013.

The truth is, if the Forced Gun Owner Registration Act passes, the only way to comply will be through a national gun registration scheme – – much like the German law requiring Jews to wear the Star of David on their sleeves for identification and registration purposes.

And you and I both know what registration of Jews produced.

And you and I both know gun owner registration is the first step toward . . .

. . . TOTAL GUN CONFISCATION!

Gun confiscation was also another one of Hitler’s first laws passed – – all in the name of public safety of course.

Is all this sounding eerily familiar? The gun grabbers understand what is happening so must we.

That is why the real purpose of the Obama/Holder scheme and their well-meaning but badly deceived and misled allies at the NRA is to effectively force gun owners to accept a national gun registry in order to protect themselves from Barack Obama’s ATF goon sting operations.

So the NRA gets to make money while unwittingly supporting a law meant to save us but that will eventually enslave us.

Worse yet, the Forced Gun Owner Registration Act is supported by members of both political parties – many who claim to be “pro-gun.”

Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins and Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk joined Leahy as cosponsors of this anti-gun scheme in the Senate.

THAT’s RIGHT! CO-SPONSORS OF FORCED GUN REGISTRATION

Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley – the top Republican on the Democrat-controlled Judicial Committee – just voted for the bill in Committee.

And over in the U.S. House, Virginia Congressman Scott Rigell – given an “A” rating from the NRA – is sponsoring a House version of this dangerous scheme.

Supposed “pro-gun Republicans” are dropping like flies.

In fact, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham just introduced a bill – along with Republican Senator Jeff Flake – to massively expand the so-called “background check” system to include mental health records.

Mental health” is a code word used to dupe us into handing bureaucrats the power to STRIP Americans of their God-given rights without a trial or conviction by a jury of peers.

Multiple news sources report that this anti-gun legislation is supported by the NRA.

The institutional gun lobby is more concerned with making friends with the press and making money from their sell outs than defending gun rights.

The sad truth is, the sons-of-gun-control guru’s and their gun grabbing political buddies in the House and Senate could care less about so-called “gun trafficking.

If they did, they’d be outraged at Eric Holder’s “Fast and Furious” scandal where the U.S. government funneled illegal weapons to Mexican drug cartels.

Instead, Attorney General Eric Holder was granted the authority to determine who should and shouldn’t be “prohibited” from owning a firearm.

Apparently, anti-gun Republicans like Chuck Grassley, Susan Collins and Mark Kirk would rather empower Barack Obama’s ATF goons to harass YOU rather than bring Eric Holder to justice for his crimes.

That’s why I’m counting on you to help defeat this back-door attempt to impose a national gun registration scheme on America’s most law-abiding citizens.

While your Virginia Gun Owners Coalition and other gun groups are sounding the alarm over the Forced Gun Owner Registration Act, the NRA has been quietly writing the bill and trying to minimize press coverage.

The inside-the-beltway gun lobby is more afraid of losing money to VGOC and the National Association for Gun Rights (www.nagr.org) – the loyal opposition – – than they are of losing more gun rights.

That’s why you and I must stop these dangerous schemes that are coming at us faster than I can write.

But the solution is simple and there is real hope.

You and I must let the politicians know that their political careers and futures are on the line.

VGOC members did it in 2004 when we joined several other state level gun lobbies to kill the NRA drafted bill renewing the Hated Clinton Gun Ban.

Those of you who have been members since 2004 will remember that VGOC members turned Senator George Allen around after he publicly promised to renew the Clinton Gun Ban for the NRA.

The NRA cut a back room deal with anti-gun Democrats to renew the Clinton Gun Ban in exchange for a Gun Manufactures’ Liability Bill.

VGOC worked with other gun groups across America to expose the NRA sell out.

I will never forget when the morning of the vote, Mike Thomas, Allen’s chief of staff, called and asked me “Mr. McHugh would you be willing to tell your members that the Senator has changed his mind based on new information and will vote against the renewal of the hated Clinton Gun Ban”.

Allen did!

We won then and we can do it again.

Let that be our motto.

“We won then and we can do it again”.

LET’s ROLL!

Here is what VGOC staff and volunteers will do:

  1. We will send you action items as often as possible so that you can act quickly and swiftly to confront the politicians and inject the fear of gun owner wrath into their pathetic political career plans.
  2. I will continue to publicly and personally confront and expose the politicians who are willing to stand on the dead bodies of murdered school children to further their political careers as often as possible.

Here’s what you can do to help:

*** Call your U.S. Senators and Congressmen in the House of Representatives and INSIST they oppose S. 443 the Forced Gun Owner Registration Act of 2013.

If they play dumb just give them the bill number. Let them know you will not be fooled by their political games and deceptive code words.

Below are the key politicians who need to receive a phone call from you once a day until they hold a press conference promising to vote against ANY and ALL gun control bills.

  • Sen. Tim Kaine: (202) 224- 4024
  • Sen. Mark Warner: (202)224-2023
  • Rep. Bob Goodlatte (202)225 5431
  • Rep. Eric Cantor (202) 225 2815
  • Rep. Scott Rigell (202) 225 4215

Time is of the essence because this dangerous bill could be on the floor of the Senate starting any day.

So there’s not a moment to waste if we want to STOP this deceptive and insidious assault on life and liberty.

By killing Scott Rigell’s House version of S. 443 or just slowing it down, we can buy time to mobilize the fight in the Senate.

So please ACT TODAY to STOP these anti-life and liberty schemes.

And if you can, please chip in $10, $20 – or even $50 – to help alert thousands more Virginians to this imminent threat.

I won’t quit!

You can take that to the bank.

Please let me know that you aren’t quitting by making phone calls and asking all your family and friends to sign up for free email alerts at VGOC, Virginia’s Only State Level No-More-Excuses Gun Lobby – – Representing Gun Owners to Politicians NOT Politicians to Gun Owners. (www.vgoc.org)

For Liberty,

PS The Republicans just helped the Democrats in a U.S. Senate committee approve S. 443, the Forced Gun Owners Registration Act, by an 11-7 vote. Republicans helped pass this measure, whose chief sponsor was the panel’s chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

S. 443 bill is designed to force gun owners to accept a national gun registry since that will end up being the ONLY WAY many gun owners will think they can protect themselves from Barack Obama’s ATF goons’ and their sting operations.

About:
Virginia Gun Owners Coalition is Virginia’s only no-compromise, non-partisan gun lobby patterned after Gun Owners of America on Capitol Hill. VGOC is a non-profit tax-exempt organization under 501(c)(4) of the IRS code. Because we lobby politicians to protect and defend the 2nd Amendment, contributions are not tax deductible for IRS purposes. Visit: www.vgoc.org

All the President’s Thugs

By J. CHRISTIAN ADAMS | PJ MEDIA | FEBRUARY 28, 2013

Hey, Bob, you can’t say we didn’t warn you. We knew this White House was capable of attacking even the great Bob Woodward for telling the truth.

You could have listened to Michael Barone. He saw it coming even before Barack Obama was elected. In October 2008, he penned “The Coming Obama Thugocracy.”

I experienced it when DOJ press harpy Tracy Schmaler yelled at a half dozen reporters, as the White House official did to you, about my under-oath testimony involving the New Black Panther dismissal.  Her victims included Pete Williams, Quin Hillyer, and Sharyl Attkisson. After Schmaler’s thug tendencies were well known, she was nurtured and promoted within the Thugocracy instead of being canned, as any administration before this one would have done to her — Republican or Democrat.

Schmaler has since been appointed a Made Man of sorts, entering the rarefied private sector air of David Axelrod’s shop.

Schmaler’s story is typical of this gang. Her shouting, threats, and rants at reporters would have rendered her unqualified to serve in the press shop of a state department of agriculture.

But there is something unique about the Obama White House. It borrows tactics and standards from the darker figures in history — threats, projection, unrepentant dishonesty, towering columns in stadiums, and even bloody mayhem like Fast and Furious hatched for political purposes.

Richard Nixon seems like a fluffy kitten compared to this crowd.

Which brings us back to you, Mr. Woodward. What’s happened when you, of all people, are the bad guy?

Had you ventured into any cocktail party in Silver Spring or Takoma Park just a few years ago, you would have been treated like a hero — liberal Washington’s very own version of Pittsburgh Pirate Bill Mazeroski, who with one swing of a bat brought down the reviled Nixon.  “Maz” never had to pay for a meal in Pittsburgh after that October afternoon in 1960 when he delivered a World Series.

FULL ARTICLE …

More Austerity as a “Solution” to Austerity?

By KEVIN ZEESE and MARGARET FLOWERS | IT’S OUR ECONOMY | FEBRUARY 21, 2013

As the economy shows signs of recession, the leeches return. Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles have issued a new report calling for even deeper austerity. It is not what the economy needs as it stagnates and sputters toward a possible new collapse. Their report combined with President Obama’s State of the Union, the sequestration and Republican dogma are all combining to bring on another round of budget cuts, which will only make recession more likely.

It is important to put the current economic debate in context. Dr. Jack Rasmus, an economist who gets it right more than any other we are aware of, provides the framework with his in-depth analysis of the US GDP over the last 15 months.  He summarizes the present dismal situation:

“Nearly the entire European Union, including its core economies of Germany, France, and the United Kingdom are all now clearly mired in recession. The Euro southern periphery is in a bona fide depression. Japan has entered its third recession since 2008. China, India, and Brazilian growth rates have fallen by half. And the US in the fourth quarter 2012 has come to a virtual economic standstill, the second time in two years in which a quarterly GDP recorded virtually no growth.”

Rasmus predicts “The dual strategy of capitalist politicians across the globe—of QE and money injections into the banks and financial system combined with austerity for the rest—has clearly failed and will continue to fail even more visibly.” Rasmus foresees a double dip recession, with the shrinking US GDP of the last quarter as a harbinger of things to come.

Simpson and Bowles come into this situation recommending the wrong prescription – more cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other social programs, as well as closing corporate tax loopholes.  They want to cut $2.4 trillion from the federal deficit over the next decade, $1.5 trillion more than President Obama has called for and this is on top of the $2.7 trillion in reductions that have already been implemented causing the most rapid fall in deficit to GDP ratio since World War II. All of this means an ‘Obama recession’ becomes more likely.

No doubt Republican dogma of shrinking federal government and low taxes deserve a lot of the blame, but President Obama does as well.  His State of the Union address kept the Grand Bargain of cuts to essential programs along with closing corporate tax loopholes on the table.

Dr. Richard Wolff cuts through the rhetoric of “fiscal cliff,” “austerity” and “market” to pinpoint who benefits from austerity, writing that those who own the “US public debt are easy to list: large banks, insurance companies, large corporations, wealthy individuals and central banks around the world. Austerity justified as satisfying ‘the market’ in fact serves those US creditors first and foremost.”

Multiple  commentators have noted President Obama’s sly language on Medicare cuts and his silence on protecting Social Security. Symptoms of a sick health care system continue to show.  Executive salaries at non-profit hospitals continued to rise despite a frail health care system. And though the US ranks dead last in male life expectancy and near the very bottom in prevention of premature deaths, infant mortality, total health care coverage, number of practicing doctors, and prevention of deaths due to heart disease among developed nations; we may begin to look better in the international rankings soon – not because health care is improving here but because bankers are now demanding privatization of European heath care systems which will bring their outcomes down too.

The more we learn about Obama’s Treasury Secretary appointment, Jacob Lew, the less hopeful we are of decent policies coming from his leadership.  Confirmation hearings have brought out his Romney-like economics: personal investment in the Cayman Islands,  creating foreign tax havens for customers when he was at Citi, and that prior to Citi, when he was an executive at NYU, he steered students to expensive Citigroup loans. Of course, we remember his $950,000 bonus when Citigroup was bailed out. It seems impossible for Americans to trust Lew’s economic ethics and plutocratic economic behavior.

All this talk about austerity comes as we learn that the Federal Reserve continues to bailout the big banks, not only by pumping $85 billion each month into banks through Quantitative Easing, but court documents revealed that the Fed also forgave $7 billion in mortgage security losses by Bank of America. Bailouts continue but outside of the public eye and should lead to more calls for Fed transparency, which is unlikely to come from the two Wall Street parties.

And, austerity comes at a time when new census analysis shows that during the Obama ‘recovery’ only the rich got richer; the poorer got poorer.  According to a new analysis by Emanuel Saez. perhaps the leading economist on incomes in the world, from 2007-2009 the “average  real income for the bottom 99% . . . fell sharply by 11.6%, . . . by far the largest two year decline since the Great Depression.” And new data covering 2009-2011 indicate that “Top 1% incomes grew by 11.2% while bottom 99% incomes shrunk by 0.4%. Hence, the top 1% captured 121% of the income gains in the first two years of the recovery.” [Emphasis added.] We got a glimpse into the rigged system this week when it was reported that Facebook, which made $1 billion in profits, will be paying no income taxes, indeed will receive a $429 million refund. Why? Tax deductions allowed for executive pay in stock options.

And, don’t believe that the rich getting richer will create jobs. The claim that the wealthiest are job creators has been proven to be a myth. Another myth exploded in this week’s news was that it was important to pay CEO’s exorbitant pay to prevent their unique talents from being lured away. Both myths are not consistent with the facts.

What will another economic collapse cost us?  The GAO issued a report this week that indicated the last collapse cost the US economy $22 trillion; that is about 1.5 years of total GDP.  And, most of that came on the back of homeowners suffering from the housing collapse.

What is the alternative? Countries that are breaking from the Washington Consensus are showing the way. This week an analysis by the Center for Economic and Policy Research of Ecuador found “government’s taking control of the Central Bank, implementation of capital controls, increased taxation of the financial sector, and other regulatory reforms. It concludes that these played a major role in bringing about Ecuador’s strong economic growth, increased government revenue, a substantial decline in poverty and unemployment, and other improvements in economic and social indicators.”  Unemployment has fallen to 4.1 percent, the lowest level in 25 years and poverty has been cut 27 percent below its 2006 level.

The report gives us hope finding: “Ecuador’s success shows that a government committed to reform of the financial system, can – with popular support – confront an alliance of powerful, entrenched financial, political, and media interests and win.” By the way, Raphael Correa won re-election on Sunday by a landslide with more than 60% of the vote in a race with 8 candidates.  Is there any US politician that wants to get on the side of the people?