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‘Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley made national news last year when he fought to pass and signed a tax bill that levied a tax on Marylanders, businesses and churches for the amount of “impervious surface” they have on their property.

Though the O’Malley administration calls it a “fee,” it is commonly called the “rain tax” throughout the state. It is wildly unpopular and the promise to fight to repeal the tax was a large factor in Maryland electing Republican Larry Hogan governor this month.

Now Prince George’s County is offering a way for churches to avoid paying the tax, which is estimated to be an average of $744 per year for them — preach “green” to their parishioners.’

Read more: Churches Won’t Be Charged ‘Rain Tax’ if they Preach Global Warming

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Do What We Say


From Jim Kirwan
11-20-14

… Not As We Do!

 

In Hong Kong the United States Inc. is advancing the policies they created for Libya and now Syria: Patterned on their policies in Ukraine and to a lesser extent with their Sanctions-Polices against Russia.

The U.S. congress in USI is now targeting the domestic situation in Hong Kong which they have just decided to use to insert themselves into a Chinese domestic issue.

This illegal insertion of USI into essentially domestic Chinese relationships between Hong Kong, a special financial district with special-status inside China, has no relationship with any part of American Foreign policy, in any way.

The money backing those in Hong Kong to rebel against the Chinese Government of both Hong Kong and China is coming from the same people who engineered the collapse of Libya and the three plus years of scorched earth policies inside Syria. This is being “committed” with an eye to greater-democracy for the people in both places—supposedly. The same was also true of every other place where Amerikan brute force was used to overthrow elected governments—supposedly to rid the people in those places of their local “tyrants” so that their people could magically have both “freedom and democracy”.

What people everywhere experienced from USI & Israeli invasions was the total devastation of their nations, coupled with massive crimes against the peoples of those countries who suffer through USI, NATO and Israel illegal invasions, overseen in silence by the UN that absolutely destroyed every nation that was invaded: And now the USI congress wants to add China to that list.

Getting Involved

http://rt.com/bulletin-board/207179-rtnews-november-20-12msk/

This article has the story beginning @ 22minutes 44 sec.
What has allowed this situation to go forward, unchallenged, has been the fact that most people seldom if ever look at the results of USI or Israeli actions, given the stated reasons for their unwelcomed wars upon the people that instantly become enemies of these same so-called “liberating forces” worldwide.

If the people of the world were to clearly understand current events in every country: As those events were forced upon them by USI, NATO and Israel: They would understand that every event has been perpetrated for private corporate interests and against the individual factions and nations who resist USI and Israel’s pursuit of ROI and the profit-share. This is about Western driven War upon the World which has always been about creating Full Spectrum Dominance ­ everywhere.

The true irony beneath all of this is that in America the Corporate government of USI has never allowed Americans to have any of the “Freedom or the Democracy” which they and NATO have been routinely going to war to supposedly achieve

since 12-12-2000.

T he world has been living through the New Millennium under a totally contrived concept: One which even their own people have no access to. No nation has become so insular as is the United States today: We have no freedom, no free will, and no choice in anything our people are allowed to do. USI continues to preach Freedom & Democracy to the rest of the planet as a basic human right which can never be violated. There is no word that encompasses the hypocrisy of this global travesty that has been going on uninterrupted since December 12, 2000.

If all these former nations who have been involved in the “Regional Regime Change”, which has destroyed so many national and international borders thus far, supposedly to obtain their own

“Freedom & Democracy: Then what about the ordinary people who are now prisoners in the United States who have been denied every basic right on earth?

Nation after Nation has had its state and the rights of its people smashed in these continuing Regional Regime Changes: Invasions that have only succeeded in removing their nations from the roster of the Community of Nations: Just to improve the private corporate bottom line across the planet and hasten the totally criminal one world government which is currently falling apart. Look at the EU, at Eastern Europe, there is no policy being discussed about creating a future for those nations; or even any method for getting through the coming winter for which their gas supplies are now in jeopardy thanks to the sanctions they called for to break up their relationships with Russia.

It’s the same everywhere that ISIS has gone or is planning to go. The only goals now are short term, total destruction and massive criminal piracy over those former nations’ natural resources. Now USI’s congress seems determined to add China to the list!

They tried to crush Russia and have totally failed in that effort. If USI thinks that China will be any easier to smash that Russia was, then they are in for a massive surprise because there are now more than a handful of nations who oppose everything the criminal West is still attempting to do.

In brief there are now alternatives to the West and their filthy bankers, almost anywhere that anyone chooses to look. When will people around the globe begin to call the corporately owned USI on all their garbage and their Double-Speak which they’re still clinging to as if it were “real”?

Bring Back the American Republic!
kirwanstudios@sbcglobal.net

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The US led war against  the Islamic State is a big lie.

Going after ” Islamic terrorists”, carrying out a worldwide pre-emptive war to “Protect the American Homeland” are used to justify a military agenda.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is a creation of US intelligence. Washington’s “Counter-terrorism Agenda” in Iraq and Syria consists in Supporting the Terrorists.  

The incursion of the Islamic State (IS) brigades into Iraq starting in June 2014 was part of a carefully planned military-intelligence operation supported covertly by the US, NATO and Israel.

The counter-terrorism mandate is a fiction. America is the Number One “State Sponsor of Terrorism” 

The Islamic State is protected by the US and its allies. If they had wanted to eliminate the Islamic State brigades, they could have “carpet” bombed their convoys of Toyota pickup trucks when they crossed the desert from Syria into Iraq in June. 

\

The  Syro-Arabian Desert is open territory (see map below). With state of the art jet fighter aircraft (F15, F22 Raptor, CF-18) it would have been  -from a military standpoint-  a rapid and expedient surgical operation  

In this article, we address 26 concepts which refute the big lie.  Portrayed by the media as a humanitarian undertaking, this large scale military operation directed against Syria and Iraq has resulted in countless civilian deaths.

It could not have been undertaken without the unbending support of  the Western media which has upheld Obama’s initiative as a counter-terrorism operation.  

THE HISTORICAL ORIGINS OF AL QAEDA

1. The US has supported Al Qaeda and its affiliated organizations for almost half a century since the heyday of the Soviet Afghan war. 

2. CIA training camps were set up in Pakistan.  In the ten year period from 1982 to 1992, some 35,000 jihadists from 43 Islamic countries were recruited by the CIA to fight in the Afghan jihad.

“Advertisements, paid for from CIA funds, were placed in newspapers and newsletters around the world offering inducements and motivations to join the Jihad.”

3. Since the Reagan Administration, Washington has supported the Islamic terror network.

Ronald Reagan called the terrorists “freedom fighters”. The US supplied weapons to the Islamic brigades.  It was all for “a good cause”: fighting the Soviet Union and regime change, leading to the demise of a secular government in Afghanistan.

Ronald Reagan meets Afghan Mujahideen Commanders at the White House in 1985 (Reagan Archives)

4. Jihadist textbooks  were  published by the University of Nebraska. “. “The United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings”

5. Osama bin Laden, America’s bogyman and founder of Al Qaeda was recruited by the CIA in 1979 at the very outset of the US sponsored jihadist war against Afghanistan . He was 22 years old and was trained in a CIA sponsored guerilla training camp.

Al Qaeda was not behind the 9/11 Attacks. September 11, 2001 provided a justification for waging a war against Afghanistan on the grounds that Afghanistan was a state sponsor of terrorism, supportive of Al Qaeda. The 9/11 attacks were instrumental in the formulation of the “Global War on Terrorism”.

THE ISLAMIC STATE (ISIL)

6. The Islamic State (ISIL) was originally an Al Qaeda affiliated entity created by US intelligence with the support of Britain’s MI6, Israel’s Mossad, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Presidency (GIP), Ri’āsat Al-Istikhbārāt Al-’Āmah ( رئاسة الاستخبارات العامة‎).

China unlikely to join Obama's anti-ISIS coalition: Report

7. The ISIL brigades were involved in the US-NATO supported insurgency in Syria directed against the government of  Bashar al Assad.

8.  NATO and the Turkish High Command were responsible for the recruitment of ISIL and Al Nusrah mercenaries from the outset of the Syrian insurgency in March 2011. According to Israeli intelligence sources, this initiative consisted in:

“a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish army would house these volunteers, train them and secure their passage into Syria. (DEBKAfile, NATO to give rebels anti-tank weapons, August 14, 2011.)

9.There are Western Special Forces and Western intelligence operatives within the ranks of the ISIL. British Special Forces and MI6 have been involved in training jihadist rebels in Syria.

10. Western military specialists on contract to the Pentagon have trained the terrorists in the use of chemical weapons.

“The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday. ( CNN Report, December 9, 2012)

11. The ISIL’s practice of beheadings is part of the US sponsored terrorist training programs implemented in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

12. Recruited by America’s ally, a large number of ISIL mercenaries are convicted criminals released from Saudi prisons on condition they join the ISIL. Saudi death row inmates were recruited to join the terror brigades. 

13. Israel  has supported  the ISIL and Al Nusrah brigades out of the Golan Heights.

Jihadist fighters have met Israeli IDF officers as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu. The IDF top brass tacitly acknowledges that “global jihad elements inside Syria” [ISIL and Al Nusrah] are supported by Israel. See  image below:

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon next to a wounded mercenary, Israeli military field hospital at the occupied Golan Heights’ border with Syria, 18 February 2014″

Inline images 1

SYRIA AND IRAQ

14 The ISIL are the foot soldiers  of the Western military alliance. Their unspoken mandate is to wreck havoc and destruction in Syria and Iraq, acting on behalf of their US sponsors.

15. US Senator John McCain has met up with jihadist terrorist leaders in Syria. (see picture right)

16  The Islamic State (IS) militia, which is currently the alleged target of  a US-NATO bombing campaign under a “counter-terrorism” mandate, continues to be supported covertly by the US.  Washington and its allies continue to provide military aid to the Islamic State.

17. US and allied bombings are not targeting the ISIL, they are bombing the economic infrastructure of Iraq and Syria including factories and oil refineries.

18.  The IS caliphate project is part of a longstanding US foreign policy agenda to carve up Iraq and Syria into separate territories: A Sunni Islamist Caliphate, an Arab Shia Republic, a Republic of Kurdistan.

THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM (GWOT)

19. “The Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) is presented as a “Clash of Civilizations”, a war between competing values and religions, when in reality it is an outright war of conquest, guided by strategic and economic objectives.

20 U.S. sponsored Al Qaeda terror brigades (covertly supported by Western intelligence) have been deployed in Mali, Niger, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Somalia and Yemen.

original

America’s “War on Terrorism” By Mchel Chossudovsky

These various affiliated Al Qaeda entities in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa  and Asia are CIA sponsored “intelligence assets”. They are used by Washington to wreck havoc,  create internal conflicts and destabilize sovereign countries.

21 Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Shabab in Somalia, the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) (supported by NATO in 2011),  Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM),  Jemaah Islamiah (JI) in Indonesia,  among other Al Qaeda affiliated groups are supported covertly by Western intelligence.

22. The US is also supporting Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist organizations in the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region of China. The underlying objective is to trigger political instability in Western China.

Chinese jihadists are reported to have received “terrorist training” from the Islamic State “in order to conduct attacks in China”. The declared objective of these Chinese-based jihadist entities (which serves the interests of the US)  is to establish a Islamic caliphate extending into Western China.  (Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism, Global Research, Montreal, 2005, Chapter 2).

HOMEGROWN TERRORISTS

23 The Terrorists R Us:  While the US is the unspoken architect of the Islamic State,  Obama’s holy mandate is to protect America against ISIL attacks.

24 The homegrown terrorist threat is a fabrication.  It is promoted by Western governments and the media with a view to repealing civil liberties and installing a police state. The terror attacks by alleged jihadists and terror warnings are invariably staged events. They are used to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

In turn, the arrests, trials and sentences of “Islamic terrorists” sustain the legitimacy of America’s Homeland Security State and law enforcement apparatus, which has become increasingly militarized.

The ultimate objective is to instill in the minds of millions of Americans that the enemy is real and the U.S. Administration will protect the lives of its citizens.

25.  The “counter-terrorism” campaign against the Islamic State has contributed to the demonization of Muslims, who in the eyes of Western public opinion are increasingly  associated with the jihadists.

26  Anybody who dares to question the validity of the “Global War on Terrorism” is branded a terrorist and subjected to the anti-terrorist laws.

The ultimate objective of the “Global War on Terrorism” is to subdue the citizens, totally depoliticize social life in America, prevent people from thinking and conceptualizing, from analyzing facts and challenging the legitimacy of the inquisitorial social order which rules America.

The Obama Administration has imposed a diabolical consensus with the support of its allies, not to mention the complicit role of the United Nations Security Council.  The Western media has embraced the consensus; it has described the Islamic State as an independent entity, an outside enemy which threatens the Western World.

The Big Lie has become the Truth. 

Say no to the “Big Lie”. Spread the message.

The truth is ultimately a powerful weapon.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/twenty-six-things-about-the-islamic-state-isil-that-obama-does-not-want-you-to-know-about/5414735

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‘The US Senate blocked action Tuesday on a bill that would have imposed only minor limitations on a National Security Agency program that collects records of the phone calls of every American. The vote was 58 to 42 to take up the measure for consideration, with supporters falling two votes short of the 60 required to force action.

The vote was nearly by party lines in the outgoing lame duck Senate, with 52 Democrats, two independents who generally vote with the Democrats and four Republicans supporting consideration of the bill. The 41 Republican opponents were joined by one Democrat, Bill Nelson of Florida.

The effect of the vote is to delay consideration of any legislation on NSA spying until the next session of Congress, when Republicans will be in the majority and will control key committees like Intelligence and Judiciary, which originate and write legislation.’

Read more: US Senate Blocks any Limit to NSA Spying on Phone Calls

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Abby Martin speaks with Rolling Stone journalist, Matt Taibbi, about a JP Morgan Chase whistleblower that has come forward to expose how the company knowingly sold toxic mortgages to investors and how the Justice Department used her as a pawn in its settlement negotiations with the financial giant.

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‘During Putin’s visit to Australia for the G20 meeting former Australian PM Paul Keating gave an interview to Australian TV starkly critical of NATO.

He heavily criticized the West for making a serious error in extending NATO at the end of the Cold War. He thinks that current events are a result of that flawed decision.’

Read more: Former Australian PM: Expanding NATO Was A Big Mistake

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‘Ukraine’s President, Petro Poroshenko, in an Odessa TV address to the nation, on November 13th, said:

“We will have our jobs. They will not. We will have our pensions. They will not. We will have care for children, for people, and retirees. They will not. Our children will go to schools and kindergartens. Theirs will hole up in basements [from our bombs]. Because they are not able to do anything. This is exactly how we will win this war! [I.e., we will starve and terrorize them into submission.]”’

Read more: Ukraine’s President, to the People He’s Bombing: Go to Hell!

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‘A torrent of “foiled” terror plots have recently dominated headlines across the Western World. In Rochester New York, the FBI netted a man they claimed was plotting a shooting spree targeting US service members. In Australia, over 800 security agents swooped in on 15 ISIS suspects whom the Australian government claimed were plotting to randomly behead a member of the public. In the UK, 4 suspects allegedly linked to ISIS were arrested before carrying out a plot Scotland Yards claims was aimed at the Queen of England herself.

According to Western security agencies, in addition to ISIS’ regional campaign of brutality stretching from Lebanon, across Syria, and into Iraq, it is also working ceaselessly to carry out attacks against targets within the US, across Europe, and even in the Pacific.’

Read more: US Never Intended to Defeat ISIS

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State OKs Additional $5M for New Sandy Hook Elementary School

20 Nov 2014 The State Bond Commission on Wednesday approved another $5 million for the planning and design of a new Sandy Hook Elementary School. The grant is part of the state’s commitment to spend up to $50 million to build a new educational facility for the children of Newtown. The old Sandy Hook Elementary School was demolished after a[n alleged] gunman killed six educators and 20 children in December 2012.

[Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy (D) is making cuts as the state is running a projected deficit of $99 million, but $50 million is being wasted on a new school to replace a school that was just used for the big drill-gone-live in December 2012.]

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What has been occurring over the past several years is not a recovery, rather, it’s a painful transition of the U.S. into a neo-feudal society. Earlier this week in the post, Welcome to the Recovery – U.S. Child Homelessness Hits Record as Poverty in Mass. is Highest Since 1960, I wrote:

While the general population is aware something is seriously wrong, people remain extremely confused about the root of the problem. This is because what’s happening all around us isn’t socialism and it isn’t free market capitalism. It is actually a return to something much more ancient and much more oppressive. It is a return to serfdom, neo-feudalism and oligarchy.

Well now we have definitive proof. It can’t get any more in your face than this.

From MarketWatch:

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch)—Faced with an increasing number of White House intrusions that led to the resignation of a Secret Service director, a congressman on Wednesday suggested that maybe a moat should be erected around the president’s home.

 

The suggestion was made by Rep. Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat, at a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

 

With hand gestures, Cohen suggested a moat roughly six-feet wide may be “attractive” and “effective.”

 

Joseph Clancy, the acting director of the Secret Service, didn’t dismiss the suggestion out of hand.

 

“Sir, it may be,” he said. Clancy said the Secret Service and the National Park Service were discussing ways to ensure security along with access to the White House for the American people.

In case you aren’t familiar with Steve Cohen, I covered his fascist tendencies in the past. Recall the post: Rep. Steve Cohen Calls Tea Party Republicans “Domestic Enemies” on MSNBC.

Here’s the moat clip:

Tennessee Representative Steve Cohen asks Acting Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy if a moat would help prevent trespassers getting into the White House.
Democratic Congressman suggests moat to…

We wonder where he got that idea from?

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-11-20/neo-feudalism-has-officially-arrived-%E2%80%93-congressman-suggests-building-moat-around-whi

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‘Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper took the lead in the hostile reception accorded to Russian President Vladimir Putin at last weekend’s G-20 summit in Brisbane, Australia.

In an incident widely reported in the Canadian and international media, Harper grudgingly accepted Putin’s offer of a handshake and declared, “You need to get out of Ukraine.” Harper’s aggressive pose set the tone for the conference, where the western powers worked to further isolate Russia, including discussing plans to step up economic sanctions over Ukraine.’

Read more: Canada’s Prime Minister Spearheads Attack on Russia at G-20 Summit

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SIGAR: Pentagon’s $700M – $800M economic development in Afghanistan ‘accomplished nothing’

18 Nov 2014 The US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) says he is investigating the Pentagon’s efforts to spark that country’s economic development, which cost between $700 million and $800 million and “accomplished nothing.” SIGAR’s chief, John Sopko, told reporters Tuesday, that the agency has opened an “in-depth review” into the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO), a Defense Department unit aimed at developing war zone mining, industrial development and fostering private investments…More broadly, Sopko faulted the US government’s economic development efforts in Afghanistan as “an abysmal failure,” saying it lacked a single leader, a clear strategy or accountability.

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The head of the Ukraine Central Bank just announced on Ukrainian TV: “in the vaults of the Central Bank there is almost no gold left.”

  • 20 tons unaccounted for
  • Likely didn’t just disappear, but has been quietly depleted over the past year
  • Or has been spirited away to the US
  • Historically this is a trend preceding failed states i.e. USSR
  • Serious reason to believe US has possession
Tyler Durden (Zerohedge)

7 hours ago | 2006 6

Was it a heist?
This article originally appeared at Zero Hedge

Back in March, at a time when the IMF reported that Ukraine’s official gold holdings as of the end of February, so just as the State Department-facilitated coup against former president Victor Yanukovich was concluding, amounted to 42.3 tonnes or 8% of reserves…

… and notably under the previous “hated” president, Ukraine gold’s reserves had constantly increased hitting a record high just before the presidential coup…

… we reported of a strange incident that took place just after the Ukraine presidential coup, namely that according to at least one source, “in a mysterious operation under the cover of night, Ukraine’s gold reserves were promptly loaded onboard an unmarked plane, which subsequently took the gold to the US.” To wit:

Tonight, around at 2:00 am, an unregistered transport plane took off took off from Boryspil airport. According to Boryspil staff, prior to the plane’s appearance, four trucks and two cargo minibuses arrived at the airport all with their license plates missing. Fifteen people in black uniforms, masks and body armor stepped out, some armed with machine guns. These people loaded the plane with more than forty heavy boxes.

After this, several mysterious men arrived and also entered the plane. The loading was carried out in a hurry. After unloading, the plateless cars immediately left the runway, and the plane took off on an emergency basis.

Airport officials who saw this mysterious “special operation” immediately notified the administration of the airport, which however strongly advised them “not to meddle in other people’s business.”

Later, the editors were called by one of the senior officials of the former Ministry of Income and Fees, who reported that, according to him, tonight on the orders of one of the “new leaders” of Ukraine, all the gold reserves of the Ukraine were taken to the United States.

Needless to say there was no official confirmation of any of this taking place, and in fact our report, in which we mused if the “price of Ukraine’s liberation” was the handover of its gold to the Fed at a time when Germany was actively seeking to repatriate its own physical gold located at the bedrock of the NY Fed, led to the usual mainstream media mockery.

Until now.

In an interview on Ukraine TV, none other than the head of the Ukraine Central Bank made the stunning admission that “in the vaults of the central bank there is almost no gold left. There is a small amount of gold bullion left, but it’s just 1% of reserves.”

As Ukraina further reports, this stunning revelation means that not only has Ukraine been quietly depleting its gold throughout the year, but that the latest official number, according to which Ukraine gold was 8 times greater than the reported 1%, was fabricated, and that the real number is about 90% lower.

According to official statistics the NBU, the amount of gold in the vaults should be eight times more than is actually in stock. At the beginning of this month, the volume of gold was about $ 1 billion, or 8% of the total gold reserves. Now this is just one percent.

Of course, considering the official reserve data at the Central Bank has been clearly fabricated, one wonders just how long ago the actual gold “dmsplacement” took place.

We can get some additional information from Rusila

According to recent data, the value of Ukraine gold should be $988.7 million. That is the value of gold proportion of gold in gold reserves is 8%. If you believe Gontareva, it turns out there is a mere $123.6 million in gold remaining.

The figure is fantastic, considering that the amount of gold at the end of February (when the new authorities have already taken key positions) was $1.8 billion or 12% of the reserves.

In other words, since the beginning of the year gold reserves dropped almost 16 times. Gold stock in February were approximately 21 tons of gold, the presence of which was once proudly reported by Sergei Arbuzov, who led the NBU in 2010-2012. So what happened to 20.8 tons of gold?

Explaining the dramatic reduction in the context of the hryvnia devaluation through gold sales is impossible. After all, 92% of the reserves of the National Bank is in the form of a foreign currency that is much easier to use to maintain hryvnia levels and cover current liabilities. Besides since March the international price of gold has plummeted. Selling ??gold under such circumstances is a crime. In fact it would be more expedient to increase gold reserves through currency conversion in precious metals.

But apparently the result is not due to someone’s negligence or carelessness. The gold reserve has been actively carted out of the country, as a result of the very vague economic and political prospects of Ukraine. Something similar happened to the gold reserves of the USSR – when the Gorbachev elite realized that perestroika is leading the country to the abyss, gold simply disappeared in an unknown direction.

The article’s conclusion:

As history shows, the reduction of the gold reserves in the context of an acute political crisis is usually preceded by the collapse of the state.

Oddly enough there was no official gold reduction just prior to the time when Victoria “Fuck the EU” Nuland was planning Yanukovich’s ouster, and as shown above, quite the contrary. It is a little more odd that it was during the period when Ukraine was “supported” by its western allies that several billion dollars worth of physical gold - the people’s gold - just “vaporized.”

In any event, now that the disappearance of Ukraine’s gold has been confirmed, perhaps it is time to refresh the “unconfirmed” story that a little after the current Ukraine regime took power the bulk of Ukraine’s gold was taken to the United States.

As of this writing, The NY Fed has still not answered our March request for a comment whether Ukraine’s gold has been redomiciled at the gold vault located some 80 feet below Liberty 33.

http://russia-insider.com/en/politics_ukraine_society/2014/11/19/04-47-13pm/ukraines_gold_officially_missing

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(Photo: Bob Jagendorf / creative commons)

(Photo: Bob Jagendorf / creative commons)

Out of California’s years-long litigation over reducing the population of prisons deemed unconstitutionally overcrowded by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010, another obstacle to addressing the U.S. epidemic of mass incarceration has emerged: The utility of cheap prison labor.

In recent filings, lawyers for the state have resisted court orders that they expand parole programs, reasoning not that releasing inmates early is logistically impossible or would threaten public safety, but instead that prisons won’t have enough minimum security inmates left to perform inmate jobs.

The dispute culminated Friday, when a three-judge federal panel ordered California to expand an early parole program. California now has no choice but to broaden a program known as 2-for-1 credits that gives inmates who meet certain milestones the opportunity to have their sentences reduced. But California’s objections raise troubling questions about whether prison labor creates perverse incentives to keep inmates in prison even when they don’t need to be there.

The debate centers around an expansive state program to have inmates fight wildfires. California is one of several states that employs prison labor to fight wildfires. And it has the largest such program, as the state’s wildfire problem rapidly expands arguably because of climate change. By employing prison inmates who are paid less than $2 per day, the state saves some $1 billion, according to a recent BuzzFeed feature of the practice. California relies upon that labor source, and only certain classes of nonviolent inmates charged with lower level offenses are eligible for the selective program. They must then meet physical and other criteria.

In exchange, they get the opportunity for early release, by earning twice as many credits toward early release as inmates in other programs would otherwise earn, known as 2-for-1 credits. In February, the federal court overseeing California’s prison litigation ordered the state to expand this 2-for-1 program to some other rehabilitation programs so that other inmates who exhibit good behavior and perform certain work successfully would also be eligible for even earlier release.

As has been California’s practice in this litigation, California didn’t initially take the order that seriously. It continued to work toward reducing its prison population. In fact, the ballot initiative passed by voters in November to reclassify several nonviolent felonies as misdemeanors will go a long way toward achieving that goal. But it insisted that it didn’t have to do it the way the court wanted it to, because doing so could deplete the state’s source of inmate firefighters.

The incentives of this wildfire and other labor programs are seemingly in conflict with the goal of reducing U.S. reliance on mass incarceration. But the federal judges overseeing this litigation were nonetheless sensitive to the state’s need for inmate firefighters. That’s why they ordered the state to offer 2-for-1 credits only to those many inmates who weren’t eligible for the wildfire program. This way, inmates who were eligible would still be incentivized to choose fighting wildfires, while those that weren’t could choose other rehabilitative work programs to reduce their sentence.

The Department of Corrections didn’t like this idea, either. It argued that offering 2-for-1 credits to any inmates who perform other prison labor would mean more minimum security inmates would be released earlier, and they wouldn’t have as large of a labor pool. They would still need to fill those jobs by drawing candidates who could otherwise work fighting wildfires, and would be “forced to draw down its fire camp population to fill these vital MSF [Minimum Support Facility] positions.” In other words, they didn’t want to have to hire full-time employees to perform any of the work that inmates are now performing.

The plaintiffs had this to say in response: “Defendants baldly assert that if the labor pool for their garage, garbage, and city park crews is reduced, then ‘CDCR would be forced to draw-down its fire camp population to fill these vital MSF positions.’ That is a red herring; Defendants would not be ‘forced’ to do anything. They could hire public employees to perform tasks like garbage collection, garage work and recycling … ”

In a short order Friday, the federal court seemingly agreed with this argument, ordering California to expand its 2-for-1 credits program.

California’s resistance to the initial federal court order is not surprising. Despite making some real strides in reducing its prison population relative to other states, the state has fought court orders every step of the way, as Gov. Jerry Brown claimed that the prisons were on the verge of being “gold plated.” But its newest line of argument reveals another obstacle to prison reform that may affect many other states without a court order for reform.

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2014/11/18/california-tells-court-it-cant-release-inmates-early-because-it-would-lose-cheap

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