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American Corporate Executives Cash In as Austerity arrives for the Rest

By ANDRE DAMON | WSW | MARCH 22, 2013

As the US government prepares to furlough 1 million federal workers and slash hundreds of billions in social spending, corporate executives in the United States are receiving among the highest payouts in history. USA Today reported Thursday that at least ten CEOs took in $50 million apiece in 2012, largely as a result of cashing in stocks that have soared in value with the rising market. According to the newspaper, “Early 2013 proxy filings detailing 2012 compensation show a growing number of CEOs reaping $50 million or more, gains that could prove unmatched in breadth and size since the Internet IPO craze enriched tech company executives more than a decade ago.”

In its own analysis, the Wall Street Journal observed that executive pay has become ever more directly tied to stock values, noting that last year, more than half of compensation at major companies was tied to “stock or financial performance,” compared to 35 percent in 2009.

Among the top pay packages according to preliminary calculation is that of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, which included stock options valued at $103.3 million this year, on top of $30 million in other compensation and stock, as well as $10.2 million in vested shares, according to USA Today.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally likewise took home $61 million by cashing in shares that vested last year, added to his compensation of $21 million. This payout was based on a sharp rise in the company’s profitability that has been made possible by downsizing and the slashing of wages for newly hired workers to $15 per hour. Mulally’s pay is more than 2,500 times that of a new auto worker.

Apple’s Tim Cook got $139.7 million from restricted shares that vested last year, while Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was granted $90 million in stock.

These payouts are only a sampling of the huge sums that the ruling class is handing itself. The stock market, inflated through $85 billion a month handed to the banks by the US Federal Reserve, is the central transmission belt for this enrichment.

The engorgement of the ruling class has been facilitated by the actions of the state, and in particular the Obama administration. After the financial collapse of 2008, facing widespread public outrage at executive compensation, the administration explicitly opposed any constraints on pay. “We don’t disparage wealth,” Obama said repeatedly. Proposals for CEO pay centered on encouraging companies to tie this pay more directly to “performance”—i.e., share values.

Even while the corporate CEOs and other members of the financial oligarchy rake in astronomical payouts, the constant refrain from the media and big business parties is that there is no money to pay for social spending, and that health care and retirement programs must be cut and workers’ incomes slashed.

Next month, as a result of $85 billion in “sequester” spending cuts, over 1 million federal government employees will begin scheduled furloughs, resulting in effective pay cuts of 20 to 35 percent. These furloughs come together with tens of billions in cuts to public education, anti-poverty programs, and unemployment insurance.

With both Democrats and Republicans acknowledging that the cuts will be permanent, the turn now is toward working out an agreement to slash hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The ultimate aim of the ruling elite is to dismantle everything that remains of the social safety net, plunging the working class into Dickensian poverty and social misery.

The argument that there is no money to pay for these programs is rendered absurd by the vast amounts of cash being handed out to executives or simply sitting around on corporate balance sheets. In 2012, the amount of cash held by US non-financial corporations rose by 10 percent, to $1.45 trillion, according to Moody’s. This figure is enough to pay for the sequester cuts 17 times over.

In fact, Apple, whose cash hoard rose to $137 billion, could itself pay for this year’s sequester cuts, with $50 billion to spare.

Loaded with cash and unwilling to invest, corporations have dramatically increased dividend payments to investors. The New York Times reported earlier this month that S&P 500 companies are expected to hand investors $300 billion in dividends this year, an increase over last year’s payout of $282 billion. American corporations bought back $117.8 billion in their own stock last month, the highest total on records going back to 1985.

The relationship of the American ruling class to the rest of society is a fundamentally parasitic one. Over the course of three decades, under conditions of economic decline, stock market speculation, rather than production, has become the central mechanism of wealth accumulation.

The 2008 crisis, far from reversing this process, has strengthened it. The ruling elite seized on the crisis to escalate the transfer of wealth. The soaring CEO pay and investor payouts on one hand, and vast social misery on the other, are in reality two sides of the same process.

The American ruling class proceeds with an almost shameless disregard for the consequences of its own actions. Amidst mass poverty and unemployment, as it dictates the most brutal austerity measures all around the world, the financial aristocracy engages in an uncontrollable orgy, propelled by its own social being.

Such actions, however, do not go unnoticed. They are producing within the United States an immense wellspring of social opposition that will take the form of working class struggle.

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Even Climate Alarmists Reject Planetary Geo-engineering

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | NOVEMBER 4, 2012

As The Real Agenda reported recently, Geo-engineering is far ahead of being a mere project or vision of the kinds of ways that mad scientists intend to affect global climate. As exposed on our November article Climate Change spurred by Planetary Geo-engineering, the use of chemicals to change weather patterns, cause floods, droughts and other natural phenomena has been going on since the 1950s. Despite the vast documentation that proves that Geo-engineering is very real, the main stream media continues to present it as something that may be attempted to save us all from global warming. Heck, bets are now being placed on weather events and how disastrous they may be.

The latest example of media disinformation on Geo-engineering, comes from Alister Doyle, an environmental writer from Reuters, whose article was re-published by Scientific American Magazine. In it, Doyle puts out a list of examples of supposed Geo-engineering techniques which are meant to distract readers about the significance of artificially affecting climate through man-made techniques. Doyle presents Geo-engineering as a possible, future tool to stave off the effects of global warming.

She cites CO2 sequestration, putting gigantic mirrors up on the sky to reflect sunlight and the well-known spraying of chemicals as ways to reduce the effects of anthropogenic warming. But the real news in the article comes from statements from some of the most popular climate alarmists who not only do not support Geo-engineering, but also say its effects on the planet are at the very least questionable.

First in the list is current United Nations Climate Change Secretariat, Cristiana Figueres, the sister of former Costa Rican president Jose Maria Figueres Olsen. According to her, “there are so many proven technologies we know exist that are tried and true that have not been used to their maximum potential.” Figueres is talking about energy efficiency, which has many positive and negative aspects. For example, no one can argue with the benefits of using energy efficiently, but that is far from what the UN and other globalist organizations and NGOs, for example, want to introduce as forms of efficient use of energy. (compact fluorescent ligh bulbs, smart meters, appliances that are remotely controlled by energy companies or government agencies, etc.)

Another climate alarmist who opposes Geo-engineering as a way to “save us” from climate doom is Ragendra Pachauri, the same guy who is the chairman of the U.N.’s panel of climate scientists. He told Reuters that “geo-engineering has a lot of unknowns.”  He then questioned the science of climate modification: “How can you go into an area where you don’t know anything?” In this case, may be it is Pachauri the person who needs to do some reading, because the dire consequences of artificially manipulating the weather have been known for a while now. Pachauri and his team are now looking into Geo-engineering as a tool to carry out weather modification. The group is scheduled to issue a report about Geo-engineering in 2013.

But we need not to wait for their assessment. Uncountable articles and documents have already documented the negative effects that Geo-engineering has on the planet and everything that lives in it. See a short list of articles below:

Climate Change spurred by Planetary Geo-engineering

Government Study: Geo-engineering Too Dangerous

Geo-engineering Could Backfire, Make Climate Change Worse

Why Geo-engineering Doesn’t Make Economic Sense

Geo-engineering To Mitigate Global Warming May Cause Other Environmental Harm

The only positive feedback regarding Geo-engineering comes from the mad, power thirsty scientists who seek to advance their careers by imposing a systematic program of global weather modification, even though they claim to ignore the full-scale of the negative consequences that such program will have on all of us. Most pro Geo-engineering articles and alleged studies generally focus on the money aspect of the matter — it is the cheapest way to stave off global warming — although its effects on the planet, advocates say, are unknown.

Unfortunately, on the main stream cloud of ideas, the other solution to “save us” from global warming is reducing emissions, which intrinsically means taking us all back to the stone age, as United Nations globalists have proposed: To de-industrialize the developed world while keeping the poor nations poor (@ 7 min 40 sec). In fact, the current emissions reduction scheme is just a way to fund the United Nations’ global climate executive branch while helping front-men like Al Gore get richer. It is also about allowing big polluter nations such as China, India and large corporations a license to pollute at will through the payment of carbon offset credits while ignoring what seems to be the real cause of global warming: Geo-engineering itself.

As Joe Romn said, “Geo-engineering is a dangerous course just as chemotherapy and radiation are when treating a condition curable through diet and exercise.”

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25 Questions Society needs to answer before getting out of the Scum Hole

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | NOVEMBER 16, 2012

As if there is a need to prove that big government and excessive government action in any scope of life is a direct result of social immorality, or that government intervention has created the mess where most of the world is into right now, there are a series of questions that need to be asked, so that the public gets to answer them individually in a conscious effort to recognize that government, as it stands today, is the origin of the problems, not the solution.

Let’s review a few examples of the consequences of what I called government intervention, before asking those tough but necessary questions. Although each country suffers from different degrees of financial and economic pain, the appearance of the consequences of government interventions are pretty much the same.

For starters, government has grown exponentially. That alone should be an indicator of the problem. With such an excessive growth, government has had to increase taxes, so it can finance its debt. Along with the out of control increase in the tax burden, governments have also enhanced their power to regulate, mandate and impose its own rules, which are different from the ones already in existence before it was created.

War has been made a primary tool to promote government control of everything, especially those that seek to ‘save us’ from unknown threats. Those wars are waged without any authorization from The People, or their representatives, because such wars, the psychopathic leaders say, are too important to let the people decide whether they should be fought or not.

Government spending to finance the wars skyrocketed as a consequence of the numerous conflicts it is involved in. As a result, less money is invested in improving infrastructure, keeping the peace at home, promoting real economic growth or embracing policies that allow individuals to become successful in their own right. It has been quite the oppossite, in fact. Globally, poverty is at its highest level in history and the gap between the poor and the rich is wider that ever before. The middle class is a species threatened with extinction, while government dependency is at its highest level.

Even though the deficit spending recipe has not worked since it was adopted at the start of the 20th  century, governments not only continue to use it, but encourage uncontrollable levels of debt to finance their bribery programs intended to keep the ignorant masses calm, cool and collected. Politicians in government found a way to use consensus as tool to reinforce deficit spending as the base of any and all ‘development’ models, setting government as the creator, manager and judge of everything — even private business  and private life.

Even though the economic and fiscal policies of the past resulted in the bankruptcy of many governments worldwide, politicians in all political parties lied to the public about such state of affairs, advocating for more deficit spending. Despite the supposed major disagreements in Congress, corrupt politicians were able to agree on one thing: spending is the way to go! Meanwhile, the masses of ignorant people accepted and agreed on spending more as a way to guarantee their piece of the pie even though such spending will mean their continues slavery to a central almighty government. The immoral people embraced authoritarianism as a mechanism of survival.

It is through this mechanism that the immoral people managed to accept illegal wars, government bribery also known as entitlement programs, overregulation of the economy, flawed monetary policy, undeclared economic and military wars, illegal arrests for speaking against the government, sanctions, currency manipulation, bailouts of corrupt banks and so on.

Now that authoritarianism has failed, and after many people — still a minority — realized they have been swindled all along by different management teams that work for the same interests, there is a list of questions The People need to ask themselves to start affecting real change. The answers to those questions will show all the options and the way forward.

So, here is the list. (From Ron Paul’s Congressional Farewell Speech)

1. Why are sick people who use medical marihuana sent to prison?

2. Why do governments restrict and in some places ban the drinking of raw milk?

3. Why do governments limit or ban the production of finished goods from hemp?

4. Why aren’t people allowed to use gold and silver as legal tender?

5. Is the supremacy of the Dollar as the reserve currency beginning to end?

6. Why are political leaders opposed to auditing central banks?

7. Why can’t people decide what kind of light bulbs they can buy?

8. Why are thugs at airport security checkpoints allowed to abuse passengers?

9. Why do governments continue to fight the war on drugs, when all it’s achieved is perpetuate the circulation of massive amounts of laundered money through the corrupt banking system, the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent people and given the government the monopoly of production and sale of such drugs?

10. How can converting society into a prison solve crimes such as drug smuggling, murder and corruption, when the government is the most significant perpetrator of these and other crimes?

11. Why do politicians around the world continue to surrender all power to the executive branch?

12. Why has changing the political party in power never changed the policies supported by government?

13. Why did large banks and corporations get bailed out in 2008 while the middle class and poor people around the world lost their jobs, homes and lives?

14. Why do bureaucrats believe that creating money out of thin air creates wealth?

15. Why do so many people believe the government bureaucrats can protect us all without harming our liberty?

16. Why can’t people understand that war always destroys wealth and liberty?

17. Why do people throw their arms up and accept executive orders that allow a president to compile a kill list, to detain indefinitely and to murder citizens if he deems them enemies of the state?

18. Why do people believe that patriotism is equal to blindly believing and supporting anything that comes from government?

19. Why don’t people understand that real patriotism is all about challenging government when it is wrong?

20. Why did people give government a safe heaven to initiate violence against them and to hold the monopoly of force?

21. Why does the use of religion to oppress those with a different belief system go unchallenged?

22. Why is Democracy held in such a high esteem, when it is the enemy of the minority and the tyranny of the majority?

23. What is the explanation for the growing discontent with politicians and the political system?

24. Why do people have so much trust in government and little or not trust in themselves?

25. Why do people choose to believe in utopian outcomes such as the American Dream and the immoral use of force in their search for peace and liberty?

Only moral and honest answers to these questions can help society pick itself up from the scum hole it is in right now. Only the correct identification of the real causes of today’s generalized state of crisis will bring true solutions to help us solve the problems that immoral people and their government have so successfully created for the rest of society.

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Brazilian Court convicts 12 politicians in Mensalão Scandal

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | OCTOBER 2, 2012

The time has come for Jose Dirceu to face justice in the Mensalão corruption scandal.

The Brazilian Supreme Court convicted Monday afternoon 12 individuals from four different political parties which were government allies during the Lula administration. These convictions are part of the process known as Mensalão, a corruption case where 38 people were brought to trial charged with seven crimes including active and passive corruption, money laundering and gang formation.

So far the Supreme Court issued 22 convictions and four acquittals. The acquittals were issued due to what the court said was lack of evidence. Monday’s convictions relate to 12 politicians from the political parties known as PP, PR, PTB and PMDB, which up until today are close to the Brazilian government and members of the Executive power.

According to the judges from the Supreme Court these politicians, which include MPs and party chairmen, such as Roberto Jefferson, president of the PTB and informer in the corruption case since 2005, had created a corruption scheme that brought former President Lula da Silva to the brink of losing his mandate. Despite multiple accusations against Lula himself, the Court has refused to hear testimony from those who accuse him of knowing about the corruption scheme that paid political groups in exchange for political support.

These 12 politicians have been convicted of having bribed with money taken from public coffers, to amass support for the Lula government and sell their votes in favor of the bills introduced by the Government, including the reform of the Social Security System.

The dean of the Supreme, Celso de Mello, who sentenced the 12 politicians for the three crimes charged by the Attorney General, made a harsh reflection on the serious consequences of corruption by politicians who should be the guarantors of democratic ethics. Mello defined them as “empowered criminals.” He said that “no one lives with dignity in a state taken by corruption”.

Mello had question the very same projects approved by people being accused of bribery today. He remembered that, for example, the judgments issued by a corrupt judge is invalid. The Chief Justice Ayres Britto, quoted Ulysses Guimarães, while explaining that “political corruption is the cancer of democracy.”

In the next few days, the focus will be on the block of inmates that belong to the Workers Party (PT), who, when the scandal broke out, were the ones responsible for the corruption scheme. They include José Dirceu, Lula’s right hand man and two-time presidents of PT, the former party member José Genuino and the treasurer Delubio Suares.

The three are accused of bribery, and of being the corrupters of political allies and of forming an organized gang as they sought to perpetuate their grasp of power in Brazilian politics and the government.

The possible sentence for Dirceu is the trickiest because, according to political scientists such sentence would also taint former president Lula, who maintains that he did not know anything about the corruption scheme known as the Mensalão.

An acquittal of Dirceu, who still claims he is innocent of the charges, would indirectly absolve Lula who insists that the ongoing process in the Supreme is a way to put in doubt the projects that his government conducted during the eight years he was in power, which he says, helped 30 million Brazilians to get out of poverty.

The PT, one of the most corrupt organizations in the country, has called on its militants and social formations to take to the streets to “defend the attempted coup against Lula”.

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European Union considers defunding Food Bank Programs

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | SEPTEMBER 5, 2012

Food Banks feed two million people in Spain, twice the number of people than they did in 2007, but their future is now uncertain. Although the financial crisis that has ravaged the continent turned them into the people’s pantry, their existence is now being contested by European authorities who question whether these food banks should be funded at all.

Food banks have been funded by the EU since 1987, with twenty members as beneficiaries, but their support for 2014 and beyond will depend on the new European budgetary framework. The stakes are high between supporters of austerity and cohesion while poverty increases as a result of the crisis, 116 million EU citizens were at risk of poverty in 2010, two million more than the previous year.

The debate about funding — or not — the food banks will begin this month. The champions of moderation in spending, led by Germany and seconded by the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Holland, consider that the EU should not provide support to food banks. Last February, the European Commission decided to continue the program for this year and next while “noted the opinion of several Member States not to continue the program beyond 2013,” said a spokesman Commissioner for Social Affairs and Inclusion.

The supporters of so-called cohesion will face the defenders of feeding the people in the EU, a task that the cohesion group believes should rest with each European nation and not the EU. They have a head start: the Commission supports continued funding for food banks for the period 2014-2020, while lowering the total amount of 2,500 million euros. “It is a matter of European solidarity, more important than ever in times of economic crisis,” said the Commission. Another change is that the program should not be directed according to the chapter of the Common Agricultural Policy, which was born in the lee of agricultural surpluses. Instead, it should run according to a new framework based on ‘Social Spending and Cohesion’.

The discussion comes when, due to the crisis, “there are doubts whether the emergency food aid and other social assistance for those most in need could be completely eliminated if the food aid program of the EU is closed,” said the spokesman for the Social Affairs Commissioner.

The favorable position of the Commission is a true relief for Spain, for example, despite the funding cuts being handled. “The proposal is 2,500 million euros compared to 3,500 in the previous period,” said Fernando Miranda, the president of the Spanish Agricultural Guarantee Fund, which works within the Ministry of Agriculture. The fund is responsible for implementing the plan to assist the neediest people in the EU. Spain is the second country that benefits the most from the food bank program, with 80, 4 million euros this year.

“The downgrade would mean a drop in annual funding from 500 to about 350 million euros for all countries,” lamented the president of the Spanish Federation of Food Banks, Jose Antonio Busto. He added that the European funding provides about 40% of the food, and the rest comes from donations from supermarkets and other sources. This reduction would result, predictably, in less funding for Spain. According to his calculations, Spain would receive between “50 and 60 million euros a year, which resembles pre-crisis levels,” estimated Miranda. That is about 34% less than today.

“The drop in funding would be a problem, because demand continues to increase in Spain” warns Busto. Now two million people are fed through the food bank program. In 2007, the number was of about 850,000 people. From the people dependent on food bank programs,  21.8% belonged to the group that lives below the poverty line — 19.5% in 2009 — who have been added to the list due to the increasing unemployment.