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Will A Greece Default On Debt Trigger A World Recession? — Bubbles Bursting? — Greek Odious Debt Default On The Brink — Jump! — Greece Defaults! — Videos

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Story 1: Will A Greece Default On Debt Trigger A World Recession? — Bubbles Bursting? — Greek Odious Debt Default On The Brink — Jump! — Greece Defaults! — Videos

burst-bubble-animated-gif

euro zone EU-Unemployment-Comparison  Greekbanks  greek_debt_infographicpull out

Greece misses 1.5 billion euro IMF payment 01:12

Greece officially defaults 02:28

Greece defaults on $1.7 billion payment

Laura Branigan – Self Control

last chance

Donna Summer Last Dance

The History of Odious Debt

Not Much Difference Between U.S. and Greece

How Will Greece’s Default to the IMF Impact Europe?

Analysis: Who is to blame for Greece’s debt crisis?

Nightly Business Report — June 29, 2015

Greece’s Economic Disaster May Spread To Other Countries – Episode 704

SR381 – Why Greece Will Default

Keiser Report: Greece! Start Fresh (E777)

Keiser Report: IMF failed Greece long before bailout (E776)

Why Does Greece Have So Much Debt?

Greece Makes The First Move, Debt Is Illegal And Odious – Episode 694

Should Greece Answer The Debt Crisis By Pulling A Trump?

Greece and the Euro Breakup; Why the US Dollar Is Facing an Even Bigger Crisis

Ep. 89: Greece is a sideshow. U.S. is the Main Event.

Greek Economic Crisis: Three Things to Know

Parsons: Greece default will be ‘big time’ problem for U.S. banks

Greece on the Brink – Documentary [HD]

DONNA SUMMER – I feel love (1977) HD and HQ

Laura Branigan – Gloria [1982]

Forever Young Laura Branigan

Greece’s bailout expires, country defaults on IMF payment

By ELENA BECATOROS and DEREK GATOPOULOS

y to fall into arrears on payments to the fund. The last country to do so was Zimbabwe in 2001.

After Greece made a last-ditch effort to extend its bailout, eurozone finance ministers decided in a teleconference late Tuesday that there was no way they could reach a deal before the deadline.

“It would be crazy to extend the program,” said Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbleom, who heads the eurozone finance ministers’ body known as the eurogroup. “So that cannot happen and will not happen.”

(AP) An elderly man passes a graffiti outside an old bank in Athens, Tuesday, June 30,…
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“The program expires tonight,” Dijsselbleom said.The brinkmanship that has characterized Greece’s bailout negotiations with its European creditors and the IMF rose several notches over the weekend, when Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced he would put a deal proposal by creditors to a referendum on Sunday and urged a “No” vote.

The move increased fears the country could soon fall out of the euro currency bloc and Greeks rushed to pull money out of ATMs, leading the government to shutter its banks and impose restrictions on banking transactions on Monday for at least a week.

But in a surprise move Tuesday night, Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis hinted that the government might be open to calling off the popular vote, saying it was a political decision.

The government decided on the referendum, he said on state television, “and it can make a decision on something else.”

(AP) A demonstrator waves a Greek flag during a rally organized by supporters of the YES…
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It was unclear, however, how that would be possible legally as Parliament has already voted for it to go ahead.Greece’s international bailout expires at midnight central European time, after which the country loses access to billions of euros in funds. At the same time, Greece has said it will not be able to make a payment of 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) to the IMF.

With its economy teetering on the brink, Greece suffered its second sovereign downgrade in as many days when the Fitch ratings agency lowered it further into junk status, to just one notch above the level where it considers default inevitable.

The agency said the breakdown of negotiations “has significantly increased the risk that Greece will not be able to honor its debt obligations in the coming months, including bonds held by the private sector.”

Fitch said it now considered a default on privately-held debt “probable.”

(AP) People stand in a queue to use an ATM outside a closed bank, next to a sign on the…
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Hopes for an 11th-hour deal were raised when the Greek side announced it had submitted a new proposal Tuesday afternoon, and the eurozone’s 19 finance ministers held a teleconference to discuss it.But those hopes were quickly dashed.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she ruled out further negotiations with Greece before Sunday’s popular vote on whether to accept creditors’ demands for budget reforms.

“Before the planned referendum is carried out, we will not negotiate over anything new,” the dpa news agency quoted Merkel as saying.

Greece’s latest offer involves a proposal to tap Europe’s bailout fund — the so-called European Stability Mechanism, a pot of money set up after Greece’s rescue programs to help countries in need.

(AP) The word “NO”, referring to the upcoming referendum, is written in red paint outside…
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Tsipras’ office said the proposal was “for the full coverage of (Greece’s) financing needs with the simultaneous restructuring of the debt.”Dijsselbloem said the finance ministers would “study that request as we should” and that they would hold another conference call Wednesday, as they had also received a second letter from Athens that they had not had time to read.

Dragasakis said the new letter “narrows the differences further.”

“We are making an additional effort. There are six points where this effort can be made. I don’t want to get into specifics. But it includes pensions and labor issues,” he said.

European officials and Greek opposition parties have been adamant that a “No” vote on Sunday will mean Greece will leave the euro and possibly even the EU.

(AP) Demonstrators shout slogans during a rally organized by supporters of the YES vote…
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The government says this is scaremongering, and that a rejection of creditor demands will mean the country is in a better negotiating position.In Athens, more than 10,000 “Yes” vote supporters gathered outside parliament despite a thunderstorm, chanting “Europe! Europe!”

Most huddled under umbrellas, including Athens resident Sofia Matthaiou.

“I don’t know if we’ll get a deal. But we have to press them to see reason,” she said, referring to the government. “The creditors need to water down their positions, too.”

The protest came a day after thousands of government supporters advocating a “No” vote held a similar demonstration.

(AP) Demonstrators gather under the rain during a rally organized by supporters of the…
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On Monday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker made a new offer to Greece. Under that proposal, Tsipras would need to accept the creditors’ proposal that was on the table last weekend. He would also have to change his position on Sunday’s referendum.Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said the offer would also involve unspecified discussions on Athens’s massive debt load of over 300 billion euros, or around 180 percent of GDP. The Greek side has long called for debt relief, saying its mountainous debt is unsustainable.

A Greek government official said Tsipras had spoken earlier in the day with Juncker, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi and European Parliament president Martin Schulz.

Meanwhile, missing the IMF payment will cut Greece off from new loans from the organization.

And with its bailout program expiring, Greece will lose access to more than 16 billion euros ($18 billion) in financial support it has not yet tapped, officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because talks about the program were still ongoing.

On the streets of Athens, long lines formed again at ATM machines as Greeks struggled with the new restrictions on banking transactions. Under credit controls imposed Monday, Greeks are now limited to ATM withdrawals of 60 euros ($67) a day and cannot send money abroad or make international payments without special permission.

The elderly have been hit particularly hard, with tens of thousands of pensions unpaid as of Tuesday afternoon. Many also found themselves completely cut off from any cash as they do not have bank cards.

The finance ministry said it would open about 1,000 bank branches across the country for three days beginning Wednesday to allow pensioners without bank cards to make withdrawals. But the limit would be set at 120 euros for the whole week.

 http://apnews.myway.com/article/20150630/eu–greece-bailout-26fc170deb.html

What happens if Greece defaults on its International Monetary Fund loans?

Cash-starved Athens has resorted to extraordinary measures to avoid defaulting to the IMF. But what would be the fall-out of a disorderly default?

No county has ever defaulted to the Fund in its 70-year history

The Greek government faces the prospect of becoming the first developed nation to ever default on its international obligations.

After a harrowing five months, and in a drama of soft deadlines, the cash-strapped government now faces a €1.55bn payment to the International Monetary Fund due at 11pm tonight.

With negotiations have broken off in dramatic fashion last week, a cacophony of voices on Syriza’s Left have vowed to prioritise domestic obligations unless creditors finally unlock the remainder of its €240bn bail-out programme. Greece only avoided going bust earlier this month after the government has asked for a Zambia-style debt bundling which will now be due on June 30.

The rhetoric is a far cry from February, when Greece’s finance minister pledged his government would “squeeze blood out of a stone” to meet its obligations to the Fund.

Greece owes €9.7bn to the IMF this year. Missing any instalment to the IMF would see the country fall into an arrears process, unprecedented for a developed world debtor.

Although no nation has ever officially defaulted on its obligations in the post-Bretton Woods era, Greece would join an ignominious list of war-torn nations and international pariahs who have failed to pay back the Fund on time.

What happens after a default?

In choosing to bundle up four separate June repayments, Greece avoided triggering an immediate default.

But in the event of a delayed repayment, according to IMF protocol, Greece could be afforded a 30-day grace period, during which it would be urged to pay back the money as soon as possible, and before Ms Lagarde notifies her executive board of the late payment.

However, with talks have broken down in acrimonious fashion between the country and its creditors, Ms Lagarde has said she will renege on this and notify her board “immediately”.

Having spooked creditors and the markets of the possibility of a fatal breach of the sanctity of monetary union, Greece may well stump up the cash if an agreement to release the country more emergency aid is reached (that’s looking increasingly unlikely however).

But should no money be forthcoming however, the arrears process may well extend indefinitely.

Greece’s other creditor burden would also start piling up, with the government due to pay another €6.6bn to the European Central Bank in July and August.

Stopping the cash

Although the exact process is uncertain, falling into a protracted arrears procedure could have major consequences for continued financial assistance from Greece’s other creditors – the European Central Bank and European Commission.

“If Greece defaults to the IMF, then they are considered to be in default to the rest of the eurozone,” says Raoul Ruparel, head of economic research at Open Europe.

The terms of Greece’s existing bail-out programme stipulate that a default to the IMF would automatically constitute a default on the country’s European rescue loans.

“Such a scenario would risk the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) cancelling all or part of its facility or even declaring the principal amount of the loan to be due immediately,” say analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Should the EFSF take such a decisive move, it could activate a range of cross default clauses on Greek government bonds held by private investors and the ECB. These clauses state a default to one creditor institution applies to all.

The political and market damage that may ensue would be substantial. Popular sentiment in creditor nations would turn against the errant Greeks, while the position of the ECB in particular could quickly come under the spotlight.

The central bank has kept Greek banks on a tight leash, maintaining that it would only restore normal lending operations to the country once “conditions for a successful completion of the programme are in place”.

A wave of defaults may force the ECB into finally pulling the plug on the emergency assistance it has been providing in ever larger doses since February.

What would happen if Greece left the euro? In 60 seconds

Scrambling for funds

Whatever the outcome, Greece on many measures, is all but bankrupt.

In addition to the half a billion euros plus it owes the Fund this month, the Leftist government will still be paying back the IMF until 2030. In total, its repayment schedule stretches out over the next 42 years to 2057.

Greece makes new aid proposal, seeks debt restructuring

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece has submitted to creditors a new two-year aid proposal calling for parallel debt restructuring, the office of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday, in what seemed like a last-ditch effort by Athens to resolve an impasse with lenders.

The statement came hours before Athens was set to default on a loan to the International Monetary Fund. It was unclear how creditors would respond.

“The Greek government proposed today a two-year deal with the ESM (European Stability Mechanism) to fully cover its financial needs and with parallel debt restructuring,” the government said in a statement.

“Greece remains at the negotiating table,” the statement said, adding that Athens would always seek a “viable solution to stay in the euro.”

http://news.yahoo.com/greece-makes-aid-proposal-seeks-debt-restructuring-134508038–business.html

If Greece defaults on its debt, it will be the biggest default by a country in history.
Greece is expected to miss a €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion) debt payment on Tuesday. That won’t be enough to put it in the record books yet, but it could eventually make Greece default on its entire debt load: €323 billion ($360 billion).

This isn’t the first time Greece has been on the brink. Greece already holds the record for the biggest default ever by a country from 2012 when it went into technical default and had to restructure about $138 billion of its debt. Back then, Greece was quickly bailed out by its European peers. That’s unlikely to happen now.
The Greek government pulled its negotiators from talks with European officials Friday after little progress was made on a debt payment plan and economic reforms. Greece has called for a referendum vote on July 5 on the latest proposal from Europe and the International Monetary Fund.

Greece already holds the record: Greece’s 2012 technical default shattered the previous record set by Argentina in 2001, when the South American nation defaulted on $95 billion in debt. While there are parallels between the two countries, experts say this potential Greek default could be much worse.
“Things are incredibly dire,” says Anna Gelpern, a Georgetown University professor. “For political reasons and market-confidence reasons, they need to deal with the debt…It’s not clear to me how they deal with it without defaulting on anyone.”

Greece won’t officially be in default right away. The International Monetary Fund generally gives countries a month after missing a debt payment before it declares a country in defaulted. However, the markets will most likely judge Greece to be in default by July 1.
Greece’s debt is spread out across the board. Greece owes money to the International Monetary Fund, Germany, France, Greek banks and several others.
But consider this: Whatever happens to Greece, it’s likely to be a long process. Argentina is still in default. But a key difference is that Greece has four times the debt load of Argentina — the next worst default — but Greece’s economy is only half the size of Argentina’s.
While Greece would be the biggest sovereign default, Lehman Brothers had over $600 billion in assets when it filed for bankruptcy in 2008. A Greek default would be smaller and unlikely to rattle the global financial system like Lehman, but it would have a long-lasting impact on the Greek people.
Here are some of the worst sovereign defaults since 2000.

1. Greece — $138 billion, March 2012. Despite going into a technical default, the Greek government is propped up by bailout funds from its European peers. Those bailout funds eventually lead to the current dilemma.
2. Argentina — $95 billion, November 2001. Argentina’s currency was “pegged” or equal to one U.S. dollar for years — a currency exchange that eventually proved to be completely inaccurate. Like Greece is doing this week, Argentina also clamped down on Argentines trying to take money out of the banks. It didn’t help. The country’s economy was nearly three times smaller just one year later, according to IMF data. In July 2014, Argentina went into a technical default after it missed a debt payment to its hold out creditors.
3. Jamaica — $7.9 billion, February 2010. Massive government overspending for years and rapid inflation pushed Jamaica into default five years ago. At the time, over 40% of the government’s budget went to paying debts. Its economy, which depends on tourism, suffered when the U.S. recession began in late 2008.
4. Ecuador — $3.2 billion, December 2008. Ecuador pulled a fast one on its creditors. With a debt payment looming, the Ecuardor’s government, led by President Rafael Correa, just said no to its creditors. He claimed the debt, some which was owned by American hedge funds, was “immoral.” Rich in resources, Ecuardor could have made debt payments, but intentionally chose not to.

http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/29/investing/greece-default-bigger-than-argentina/

Despite Lagarde’s initial reluctance, IMF on the hook for Greece

By Anna Yukhananov

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As French Finance Minister in 2010, Christine Lagarde opposed the involvement of the International Monetary Fund in Greece.

Now as the country stands on the edge of defaulting on a 1.6 billion euro ($1.8 billion) payment to the Fund, Lagarde’s tenure at the head of the IMF since 2011 will be shaped by Greece, which holds a referendum on Sunday that could pave the way to its exit from the euro.

By its own admission the Washington-based institution broke many of its rules in lending to Greece. It ended up endorsing austerity measures proposed by the European Commission and European Central Bank, its partners in the troika of Greece’s lenders, instead of leading talks as it had done with other countries such as Russia and in the Asian financial crisis.

“I think the IMF has missed the opportunity (on Greece), because it has not fully leveraged the lessons it learned from the previous crises it was involved in, due to this asymmetric relationship within the troika,” said Domenico Lombardi, a former IMF board member.

That the IMF lent to Greece at the behest of Europe, which has nominated every IMF Managing Director since the inception of the Fund in 1946, may expose the institution to greater scrutiny, especially as it has $24 billion in loans outstanding to Greece in its largest-ever program.

“When it was clear that the Greek program was underperforming, they did not push back sufficiently against the euro zone, which had at the time a misguided policy emphasis on only austerity,” said Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, a fellow at the Peterson Institute in Washington.

The involvement of the Fund in Greece and its continued support for decisions driven by eurozone governments caused a deep split in the institution.

Some IMF economists had misgivings about lending to Greece in 2010 within the constraints of the so-called “troika” of lenders, where the Fund would be the junior partner to the European Central Bank and the European Commission.

IMF board members also protested the “exceptional” size of the program, as Athens did not meet the Fund’s criteria for debt sustainability, meaning it would have trouble repaying.

Yet swayed by the fear that contagion in Athens could spread to French and German banks, the IMF agreed to participate in a joint 110-billion-euro bailout of Greece with the Europeans.

“The Europeans have a third of the voting rights (at the IMF), and they have appointed the managing director since the beginning, so essentially it is the governance that has driven the Greek program,” said Lombardi who is now with the Canada-based Center for International Governance Innovation.

Later, the Fund admitted that its projections for the Greek economy had been overly optimistic. Instead of growing after a year of austerity, Greece’s economy plunged into one of the worst recessions to ever hit a country in peacetime, with output falling 22 percent from 2008 to 2012.

While the euro zone’s insistence on drawing a direct link between euro membership and Greece’s debt sustainability and the negotiating tactics of the Greek government have exposed both to questions of credibility, the Fund stands charged as well.

“The IMF’s reputation, too, has been shaken from widespread criticism of the Greek program, including its own admission of its failures,” said Lombard Street Research economist Konstantinos Venetis.

TEMPTATION TO GO BIG

If Greece does default on all $24 billion it owes to the Fund, that will dwarf previous delinquencies from countries like Sudan, Zimbabwe and Somalia.

While the IMF was worried about contagion when it made the loans, it also had institutional incentives for wanting to bail out troubled countries, said Andrea Montanino, a former IMF board member who left the Fund in 2014 after participating in reviews of Greece’s second bailout in 2012.

“The IMF is in a preferred creditor status; the more you lend, the more you earn,” said Montanino, now with the Atlantic Council.

The IMF’s heavy involvement in large bailouts for euro zone countries, which included Ireland and Portugal, have enabled it to build up its reserve buffers in recent years. It is now aiming to store away some $28 billion by 2018.

From interest and charges on the Greek program alone, the IMF has earned some $3.9 billion since 2010, according to figures on the IMF’s website.

“I think the Greek lesson is in the future, the IMF will be much more careful,” said Montanino.

https://ca.news.yahoo.com/despite-lagardes-initial-reluctance-imf-hook-greece-223005193–business.html

Greece lifelines run out as IMF payment looms

Greece is widely expected to miss a crucial payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday—hours before its bailout officially ends at midnight and the country is left with few, if any, financial lifelines.

Greek officials have already warned the country is unable to pay the 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) due to the IMF by 6 p.m. ET, after reforms-for-aid talks with creditors broke down at the weekend.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the president of the Eurogroup, subsequently tweeted on Tuesday that there would be a teleconference to discuss an “official request” from the Greek government “received this afternoon” at 1 p.m. ET.
The Greek government on Tuesday proposed a new, two-year bailout deal with the European Stability Mechanism. This would be to “fully cover its financing needs and the simultaneous restructuring of debt,” according to a translated press release from the office of the Greek Prime Minister.

A protester waves a Greek flag in front of the parliament building during a rally in Athens, Greece, June 22, 2015.

Yannis Behrakis | Reuters
A protester waves a Greek flag in front of the parliament building during a rally in Athens, Greece, June 22, 2015.

This comes at a time when Greece’s financial future is in jeopardy. The country will potentially have no access to external sources of cash, once its funding from the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) expires at midnight.

Read MoreEFSF: CNBC Explains

Meanwhile, Greece’s banking system is being kept afloat by emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) from the European Central Bank, which is up for review on Wednesday.

Against a backdrop of uncertainty, Tsipras has called a referendum on July 5 of the Greek people on whether to accept the bailout proposals—and accompanying austerity measures—proposed by creditors.

Tsipras has urged the public to vote “no” to more austerity.

“The Greek government will claim a sustainable agreement within the euro. This is the message of NO to a bad deal at the referendum on Sunday,” the translated statement from the prime minister’s office said on Tuesday.

‘Running out of notches’

Meanwhile, credit ratings agencies are increasingly nervous about the country’s solvency.

Fitch Ratings downgraded Greek banks on Monday to “Restricted Default,” after Athens imposed capital controls to prevent an exodus of deposits from Greece.

In addition, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) lowered Greece’s credit rating to CCC- from CCC, saying the probability of the country exiting the euro zone was now 50 percent.

Moritz Kraemer, chief rating officer of sovereign ratings at S&P, told CNBC on Tuesday that the group was “actually running out of notches” for Greece.

“We have the rating at CCC- and that’s pretty much the lowest rung that we have on our scale,” he told CNBC Europe’s “Squawk Box.”

Default?

If Greece misses its payment on Tuesday, then the IMF will consider it in “arrears” – a technical term used by the IMF, which is similar to default.

If a country is in arrears to the IMF, it means it won’t get any future aid until the bill is repaid.

Read MoreIMF’s Lagarde on Greece: Next few days are crucial

Although the IMF payment is dominating headlines, S&P’s Kraemer said that Greece’s bailout program ending at midnight was just as significant.

“Basically after that we’re back to square one,” he said. “So even if there was to be a change of heart in Athens and they did decide to take the creditors’ offer, that’s legally no longer possible as the program would have elapsed.”

Greece’s debt crisis: It all started in 2001…

Yannis Behrakis | Reuters

Odious debt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In international law, odious debt, also known as illegitimate debt, is a legal theory that holds that the national debt incurred by a regime for purposes that do not serve the best interests of the nation, should not be enforceable. Such debts are, thus, considered by this doctrine to be personal debts of the regime that incurred them and not debts of the state. In some respects, the concept is analogous to the invalidity of contracts signed under coercion.[1]

History

The doctrine of odious debt was formalized in a 1927 treatise by Alexander Nahum Sack, a Russian émigré legal theorist. It was based on two 19th century precedents—Mexico‘s repudiation of debts incurred by Emperor Maximilian, and the denial by the United States of Cuban liability for debts incurred by the Spanish colonial regime.[2]

Sack wrote:

When a despotic regime contracts a debt, not for the needs or in the interests of the state, but rather to strengthen itself, to suppress a popular insurrection, etc, this debt is odious for the people of the entire state. This debt does not bind the nation; it is a debt of the regime, a personal debt contracted by the ruler, and consequently it falls with the demise of the regime. The reason why these odious debts cannot attach to the territory of the state is that they do not fulfil one of the conditions determining the lawfulness of State debts, namely that State debts must be incurred, and the proceeds used, for the needs and in the interests of the State. Odious debts, contracted and utilised for purposes which, to the lenders’ knowledge, are contrary to the needs and the interests of the nation, are not binding on the nation – when it succeeds in overthrowing the government that contracted them – unless the debt is within the limits of real advantages that these debts might have afforded. The lenders have committed a hostile act against the people, they cannot expect a nation which has freed itself of a despotic regime to assume these odious debts, which are the personal debts of the ruler.[3]

There are many examples of similar debt repudiation.[4]

Reception

Patricia Adams, executive director of Probe International, a Canadian environmental and public policy advocacy organisation and author of Odious Debts: Loose Lending, Corruption, and the Third World’s Environmental Legacy, stated: “by giving creditors an incentive to lend only for purposes that are transparent and of public benefit, future tyrants will lose their ability to finance their armies, and thus the war on terror and the cause of world peace will be better served.”[5] In a Cato Institute policy analysis, Adams suggested that debts incurred by Iraq during Saddam Hussein‘s reign were odious because the money was spent on weapons, instruments of repression, and palaces.[6]

A 2002 article by economists Seema Jayachandran and Michael Kremer renewed interest in this topic.[7] They propose that the idea can be used to create a new type of economic sanction to block further borrowing by dictators.[8] Jayachandran proposed new recommendations in November 2010 at the 10th anniversary of the Jubilee movement at the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C.[9]

Application

In December 2008, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa attempted to default on Ecuador’s national debt, calling it illegitimate odious debt, because it was contracted by corrupt and despotic prior regimes.[10] He succeeded in reducing the price of the debt letters before continuing paying the debt.[11]

After the overthrow of Haiti‘s Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1986, there were calls to cancel Haiti’s debt owed to multilateral institutions, calling it unjust odious debt, and Haiti could better use the funds for education, health care, and basic infrastructure.[12] As of February 2008, the Haiti Debt Cancellation Resolution had 66 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives.[13] Several organizations in the United States issued action alerts around the Haiti Debt Cancellation Resolution, and a Congressional letter to the U.S. Treasury,[14] including Jubilee USA, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti and Pax Christi USA.

See also

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odious_debt

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Another Republican Party Sellout of American People — Trade Partnerships and Agreements Will Be Used To Change Immigration and Visa Policies Through Trade In Service Agreement (TISA) and Pacific Union — Videos

Posted on June 24, 2015. Filed under: Articles, Banking, Blogroll, Business, Comedy, Communications, Constitution, Corruption, Crime, Crisis, Economics, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Fraud, History of Economic Thought, Illegal, Immigration, Investments, Legal, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Monetary Policy, Money, Radio, Tax Policy, Trade Policiy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 1: Another Republican Party Sellout of American People — Trade Partnerships and Agreements Will Be Used To Change Immigration and Visa Policies Through Trade In Service Agreement (TISA) and Pacific Union — Videos

Unholy-Trinity-TISA-TPP-TTIP

Fast-Track-AuthorityTrans-Pacific-Trade-Agreement_issuebannerUS_visaUSA_Visa

U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions: Trade Promotion Authority Legislation Is Not Good For Americans

.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, R., Alabama, on June 18, 2015, spoke on the senate floor to address his concerns on the Trade Promotion Authority legislation. He spoke at length and in a round about way said the legislation is seditious and treasonous.

Today, June 23, 2015, Sessions released the following statement after the passing of the TPA:

“Americans increasingly believe that their country isn’t serving its own citizens. They need look no further than a bipartisan vote of Congress that will transfer congressional power to the Executive Branch and, in turn, to a transnational Pacific Union and the global interests who will help write its rules.

The same routine plays out over and again. We are told a massive bill must be passed, all the business lobbyists and leaders tell us how grand it will be, but that it must be rushed through before the voters spoil the plan. As with Obamacare and the Gang of Eight, the politicians meet with the consultants to craft the talking points—not based on what the bill actually does, but what they hope people will believe it does. And when ordinary Americans who never asked for the plan, who don’t want the plan, who want no part of the plan, resist, they are scorned, mocked, and heaped with condescension.

Washington broke arms and heads to get that 60th vote—not one to spare—to impose on the American people a plan which imperils their jobs, wages, and control over their own affairs. It is remarkable that so much energy has been expended on advancing the things Americans oppose, and preventing the things Americans want.

For instance: thousands of loyal Americans have been laid off and forced to train the foreign workers brought in to fill their jobs—at Disney, at Southern California Edison, across the country. Does Washington rush to their defense? No, the politicians and the lobbyists rush to move legislation that would double or triple the very program responsible for replacing them.

This ‘econometarian’ ideology holds that if a company can increase its bottom line —whether by insourcing foreign workers or outsourcing production—then it’s always a win, never a downside.

President Obama, and allies in Congress, have won this fast-track vote. But, in exchange, they may find that they are losing something far greater: the trust of the American people. Americans have a fundamental, decent, and just demand: that the people they elect defend their interests. And every issue to come before us in the coming months will have to pass this test: does it strengthen, or weaken, the position of the everyday, loyal American citizen?”

TPA passes senate! (Traitors)

Victory for Obama as the Senate gives him the go ahead to negotiate Pacific Rim trade deal

ALERT: Senator Jeff Sessions Issues Dire Warning on TPP

McConnell Lauds the Advancement of Trade Promotion Authority

U.S. Senate Sells Out America!

Republican Senators Sell Out America!

Trade Promotion Authority

Senate advances fast-track trade bill for Obama

he Senate on Tuesday voted to advance President Obama’s trade agenda, approving a measure to end debate on fast-track authority.

The 60-37 motion sets up a vote on final passage on Wednesday. If the Senate approves fast-track or trade promotion authority (TPA), it would then be sent to Obama’s desk to become law.

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Fast-track authority would allow Obama to send trade deals to Congress for up-or-down votes. The White House wants the authority to conclude negotiations on a sweeping trans-Pacific trade deal.
Thirteen Democrats backed fast-track in Tuesday’s vote, handing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a major legislative victory. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) voted against the procedural motion.

The Democrats cast “yes” votes even though the trade package did not include a workers assistance program for people displaced by increased trade. The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program was a part of the last fast-track package approved by the Senate in May, but became a key part of opposition to the package among Democrats in the House.

To move fast-track forward, the White House and GOP leaders in both chambers decided to break TAA away from fast-track and to try to approve both in separate votes.

After the Senate votes Wednesday on final passage for fast-track, it will take a procedural vote on a package that includes TAA and trade preferences for African countries known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

McConnell has promised both bills, as well as a customs and enforcement bill favored by Democrats, will reach Obama’s desk by the end of the week.

“If we all keep working together and trusting each other, then by the end of the week the President will have TPA, TAA and AGOA and Preferences on his desk — with Customs in the process of heading his way too,” he said on the floor.

The House has already passed fast-track but it must still vote on the package including TAA, which faces opposition from conservatives.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) reiterated on Tuesday his pledge to vote again on TAA as soon as it clears the upper chamber.

“The House will consider TAA once it passes the Senate as part of a new trade preferences bill. And we are ready to go to conference on the customs bill. Our goal is to get TPA and TAA to the president’s desk this week and deliver this win for the American people,” he said in a statement.

The Senate vote to end a filibuster against fast-track appeared in doubt until the final moment as a group of pro-trade Democrats balked at McConnell’s decision to split it off from TAA, a move made necessary to circumvent opposition in the House.

Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Chris Coons (Del.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Patty Murray (Wash.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) refused to say publicly how they would vote.

McConnell’s margin for error shrank further when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who is running for president, announced he would vote to block the bill, declaring in a Breitbart.com op-ed that it had “become enmeshed in corrupt Washington backroom dealmaking.”

Other Republican White House hopefuls, including Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, oppose fast-track.

Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the senior Democrat on the Finance Committee, held talks with other pro-trade Democrats late into the evening Monday to address their concerns.

He delivered an impassioned speech in favor of the bill shortly before the vote, arguing that it would allow the United States to keep pace with China in the competition for Asian markets.

“This is our chance to set a new course. This is our chance to put in place higher standards in global trade on matters like labor rights and environmental protection, shine some real sunlight on trade agreements and ensure that our country writes the rules of the road,” he said.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who co-wrote the trade bill with Wyden, argued the vast majority of global economic growth will take place outside of the United States over the next decade.

“If our workers, farmers, ranchers and service providers are going to be able to compete in these growing markets, we must have open access to these markets and fair trade rules to boot,” he said on the floor.

Opponents led by Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) warned fast-track would cost thousands of American jobs and allow multi-national companies to evade U.S. law.

Brown reproached his colleagues for voting to give Obama fast-track authority while having little idea of the shape of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade accord that will receive expedited consideration in Congress as a result.

“We’ve gotten the worst of both worlds because we’re voting on TPA and we haven’t been able to see what’s in TPP,” Brown said before the vote.

The AFL-CIO waged a fierce lobbying campaign against fast-track for months.

“It will do nothing to prevent repeating the mistakes of failed trade policies that have contributed to stagnating wages, increasing inequality and the closure of more than 60,000 factories since 2000,” the union wrote in a letter dated Monday.

Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other business leaders applauded the development.
“Today’s vote is an important step towards revitalizing our economy, creating more good American jobs, and reasserting our country’s global economic leadership,” Donohue said in a statement.

Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) missed the vote. McConnell said Corker would have voted “yes” if he had been present, while Brown noted that Lee and Menendez would have voted “no.”

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/245827-senate-advances-fast-track-trade-bill-for-obama

SESSIONS WARNS TPA WOULD CREATE ‘PACIFIC UNION’ AKIN TO EUROPEAN UNION

In a joint appearance on Sean Hannity’s radio show on Wednesday,

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
80%

and

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)

67%

warned against the passage of the so-called Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) currently being considered by the Congress.Sessions argued it was more than just a framework for a process for the president of the United States to use in negotiating trade agreements, but instead was creating an economic union with wide-ranging powers.

“I’ve been there three times and I can tell you it is far more than a trade agreement,” he said. “It is a creating of an economic union. The congressional resource said it is a wide-ranging political and economic partnership that is created where the Sultan of Brunei gets one vote. The president of the United States gets one vote. Twelve countries – they have the ability to add other treaties and pass them. They have the ability to deal with climate issues, wage issues and environmental issues. There’s just no doubt about that.”

The junior Alabama senator went on to explain that he felt it was being kept secret because if the public were aware of this union, which he likened to the European Union, it would be stopped dead in its tracks.

“I think it’s because if the trade commission – if the international commission, the Pacific union that is being created here – were made public, it wouldn’t go anywhere. I just don’t think it has any chance – look, England found out after they joined the EU they can’t fox hunt anymore.”

http://www.breitbart.com/video/2015/06/10/sessions-warns-tpa-would-create-pacific-union-akin-to-european-union/

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Is Pope Francis The First Watermelon Pope? – Green On The Outside, Red On The Inside — Trying To Convert Catholics To The Religion of Anti-Scientists Alarmist Socialists — Skeptical Capitalist Heretics Unite — Pope Francis Wrong On Science, Wrong On Economics, Not An Authority — Good Intentions Are Not Enough — Videos

Posted on June 24, 2015. Filed under: American History, Articles, Babies, Banking, Blogroll, British History, Business, Catholic Church, Climate, Comedy, Communications, Computers, Corruption, Crime, Crisis, Culture, Documentary, Economics, Education, European History, Faith, Family, Fiscal Policy, Food, Foreign Policy, Fraud, Freedom, Friends, Geology, government, government spending, history, History of Economic Thought, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Macroeconomics, media, Microeconomics, Monetary Policy, Money, Money, People, Philosophy, Photos, Physics, Politics, Press, Radio, Radio, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Religion, Religious, Religious, Reviews, Science, Space, Speech, Strategy, Talk Radio, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Television, Television, Transportation, Unemployment, Video, Water, Wealth, Weather, Welfare, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Pronk Pops Show 490 June 22, 2015

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Pronk Pops Show 486 June 16, 2015

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Pronk Pops Show 470 May 22, 2015

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Pronk Pops Show 436: March 27, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 435: March 26, 2015

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Pronk Pops Show 427: March 16, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 426: March 6, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 425: March 4, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 424: March 2, 2015

Story 1: Is Pope Francis The First Watermelon Pope? – Green On The Outside, Red On The Inside — Trying To Convert Catholics To The Religion of Anti-Scientists Alarmist Socialists — Skeptical Capitalist Heretics Unite — Pope Francis Wrong On Science, Wrong On Economics, Not An Authority — Good Intentions Are Not Enough — Videos

Galileo – “Faith can never conflict with reason” –

~Pope John Paul II – November 4, 1992

climatefactorsCO2andTemp600millionyrstopresentgeocraftDansgaard-Temperature2hansen-1988-a-b-c-scenariosclimate change failco2_800kclimate-reconstructions-1-million-yearsicecore_recordsgreenlandice_fig5

Pope Francis: “Bold Cultural Revolution” Needed to Save Planet from Climate Change & Consumerism

Did Pope Francis go too far on global warming?

Pope Francis’ stand on climate change

Cardinal Suggests Rush Limbaugh Doesn’t Understand What Pope Is Saying On Environment

60 Minutes on Pope Francis (Why the Pope is unlike any pontiff of modern times)

Socialism vs Capitalism: Milton Friedman

Milton Friedman – Is Capitalism Humane? (Lecture)

Murray Rothbard: Free Markets Again?

Pope Francis Gets Owned by Alex Jones

Pope Francis Now The New Face of Climate Change

Rush Limbaugh, Fox Host Attack The Pope

Global Warming: A Religion of Anti-Science – Journalist James Delingpole

ManBearPig, Climategate and Watermelons: A conversation with author James Delingpole

Climate Change in 12 Minutes The Skeptic s Case By Dr. David M.W. Evans

Freeman Dyson

Freeman Dyson on the Global Warming Hysteria April, 2015

Freeman Dyson: A Global Warming Heretic & Denier

“…Professor Fred Singer presents the Report “Nature, not Human Activity, Rules the Climate by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change”‘(NIPCC) at CFACT’s International Climate Eco-Summit (I.C.E.), held on December 11, 2009 at the Center for Political Studies, Copenhagen, Denmark. …”

Richard Lindzen

Interview with Professor Richard Lindzen

The experts explain the global warming myth: Richard Lindzen

Richard Lindzen at International Conference on Climate Change

Richard Lindzen, Ph.D. Lecture Deconstructs Global Warming Hysteria (High Quality Version)

Roy Spencer

Global Warming / Climate Change Hoax – Dr. Roy Spencer (1)

Why Climate Models Are Wrong

Dr Roy Spencer on Global Warming Part 1 of 6

Dr Roy Spencer on Global Warming Part 2 of 6

Dr Roy Spencer on Global Warming Part 3 of 6

Dr Roy Spencer on Global Warming Part 4 of 6

Dr Roy Spencer on Global Warming Part 5 of 6

Dr Roy Spencer on Global Warming Part 6 of 6

Fred Singer

Global Warming Debate – Dr. Fred Singer (1 of 2)

Global Warming Debate – Dr. Fred Singer (2 of 2)

Professor Fred Singer on Climate Change pt 1

Professor Fred Singer on Climate Change pt 2

Unstoppable Solar Cycles

Prof. Fred Singer on Climate Change – CFACT (1 of 5)

Prof. Fred Singer on Climate Change – CFACT (2 of 5)

Prof. Fred Singer on Climate Change – CFACT (3 of 5)

Prof. Fred Singer on Climate Change – CFACT (4 of 5)

Prof. Fred Singer on Climate Change – CFACT (5 of 5)

MAJOR REDUCTIONS IN CARBON EMISSIONS ARE NOT WORTH THE MONEY 4 /14- Intelligence Squared U.S.

Climategate: What They Aren’t Telling You!

The 97% Consensus? Global Warming Unmasked!

And yet it moves.

~Galileo Galilei

Galileo’s Battle for the Heavens 1

Galileo’s Battle for the Heavens 2

Galileo’s Battle for the Heavens 12

Nova Galileo’s Battle For The Heavens

The Current Pope’s Advisor On Climate Change (Really?)

Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Climate change: state of play

UC San Diego Professor Advises Pope on Climate Change

How climate-change doubters lost a papal fight

By Anthony Faiola and Chris Mooney

Pope Francis was about to take a major step backing the science behind ­human-driven global warming, and Philippe de Larminat was determined to change his mind.

A French doubter who authored a book arguing that solar activity — not greenhouse gases — was driving global warming, de Larminat sought a spot at a climate summit in April sponsored by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Nobel laureates would be there. So would U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, U.S. economist Jeffrey Sachs and others calling for dramatic steps to curb carbon emissions.

After securing a high-level meeting at the Vatican, he was told that, space permitting, he could join. He bought a plane ticket from Paris to Rome. But five days before the April 28 summit, de Larminat said, he received an e-mail saying there was no space left. It came after other scientists — as well as the powerful Vatican bureaucrat in charge of the academy — insisted he had no business being there.

“They did not want to hear an off note,” de Larminat said.

The incident highlights how climate-change doubters tried and failed to alter the landmark papal document unveiled last week — one that saw the leader of 1 billion Catholics fuse faith and reason and come to the conclusion that “denial” is wrong.

It marked the latest blow for those seeking to stop the reform-minded train that has become Francis’s papacy. It is one that has reinvigorated liberal Catholics even as it has sowed the seeds of resentment and dissent inside and outside the Vatican’s ancient walls.

Yet the battle lost over climate change also suggests how hard it may be for critics to blunt the power of a man who has become something of a juggernaut in an institution where change tends to unfold over decades, even centuries. More than anything, to those who doubt the human impact of global warming, the position staked out by Francis in his papal document, known as an encyclical, means a major defeat.

“This was their Waterloo,” said Kert Davies, executive director of the Climate Investigations Center, who has been tracking ­climate-change deniers for years. “They wanted the encyclical not to happen. And it happened.”

Growth in the Internet of Things promises to transform life, work and industry.READ MORE

Papal advisers say Francis signaled his intent to draft a major document on the environment soon after assuming the throne of St. Peter in March 2013. His interest in the topic dates to his days as a bishop in Buenos Aires, where Francis, officials say, was struck by the effects of floods and unsanitary conditions on Argentine shantytowns known as “misery villages.”

In January, Francis officially announced his goal of drafting the encyclical — saying after an official visit to the Philippines that he wanted to make a “contribution” to the debate ahead of a major U.N. summit on climate change in Paris in December.

But several efforts by those skeptical of the scientific consensus on climate change to influence the document appear to have come considerably later — in April — and, maybe, too late.

In late April, the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, a free-market group that serves as a hub of skepticism regarding the science of human-caused global warming, sent a delegation to the Vatican. As a Heartland news release put it, they hoped “to inform Pope Francis of the truth about climate science: There is no global warming crisis!”

It was meant to coincide with the same April meeting that de Larminat was trying to attend. Heartland’s activists were not part of the invited contingent, either, Heartland communications director Jim Lakely said.

“It was a side event,” he said. “We were outside the walls of the Vatican. We were at a hotel — literally, I could throw a football into St. Peter’s Square.”

Seven scientists and other experts gave speeches at the Heartland event, raising doubts about various aspects of the scientific consensus on climate change, even as several also urged the pope not to take sides in the debate. It’s impossible to know how that influenced those in the Vatican working on the pope’s document — which one Vatican official said was at “an advanced stage.” But Lakely said his group did not see much of its argument reflected in the final document.

“We all want the poor to live better lives, but we just don’t think the solution to that is to restrict the use of fossil fuels, because we don’t think CO2 is causing a climate crisis,” Lakely said. “So if that’s our message in a sentence, that message was not reflected in the encyclical, so there you go.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/how-climate-change-doubters-lost-a-papal-fight/2015/06/20/86af3182-15ce-11e5-8457-4b431bf7ed4c_story.html

Read Pope Francis’s full document on Climate Change

n the 192-page paper released Thursday, the pope lays out the argument for a new partnership between science and religion to combat human-driven climate change — a position bringing him immediately into conflict with skeptics, whom he chides for their “denial.” And you can also read 10 key excerpts from Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/06/18/read-pope-franciss-full-document-on-climate-change/

Pope Francis, in Sweeping Encyclical, Calls for Swift Action on Climate Change

In his encyclical, read by a nun at the Vatican on Thursday, Francis focused on the harm climate change poses to the poor. CreditMax Rossi/Reuters

Francis has made it clear that he hopes the encyclical will influence energy and economic policy and stir a global movement. He calls on ordinary people to press politicians for change. Catholic bishops and priests around the world are expected to discuss the encyclical in services on Sunday. But Francis is also reaching for a wider audience, asking in the document “to address every person living on this planet.”

Even before the encyclical, the pope’s stance against environmental destruction and his demand for global action had already thrilled many scientists. Advocates of policies to combat climate change have said they hoped that Francis could lend a “moral dimension” to the debate.

“Within the scientific community, there is almost a code of honor that you will never transgress the red line between pure analysis and moral issues,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder and chairman of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “But we are now in a situation where we have to think about the consequences of our insight for society.”

Francis has been sharply criticized by those who question or deny the established science of human-caused climate change, and also by some conservative Roman Catholics, who see the encyclical as an attack on capitalism and as political meddling.

Graphic: On Planet in Distress, a Papal Call to Action

Governments are now developing domestic climate-change plans to prepare for aUnited Nations summit meeting on the issue in Paris in December. The meeting’s goal is to achieve a sweeping accord in which every nation would commit to new policies to limit greenhouse-gas emissions. Many governments have yet to present plans, including major emitters like Brazil, which has a large Catholic population. The encyclical is seen as an unsubtle nudge for action.

“It gives a lot of cover to political and economic leaders in those countries, as they make decisions on climate change policy,” said Timothy Wirth, vice chairman of the United Nations Foundation.

Catholic theologians say the overarching theme of the encyclical is “integral ecology,” which links care for the environment with a notion already well developed in Catholic teaching: that economic development, to be morally good and just, must take into account people’s need for things like freedom, education and meaningful work.

“The basic idea is, in order to love God, you have to love your fellow human beings, and you have to love and care for the rest of creation,” said Vincent Miller, who holds a chair in Catholic theology and culture at the University of Dayton, a Catholic college in Ohio. “It gives Francis a very traditional basis to argue for the inclusion of environmental concern at the center of Christian faith.”

Photo

Metropolitan of Pergamon John Zizioulas, left, and Cardinal Peter Turkson presented the 184-page papal encyclical on Thursday.CreditAndrew Medichini/Associated Press

He added: “Critics will say the church can’t teach policy, the church can’t teach politics. And Francis is saying, ‘No, these things are at the core of the church’s teaching.’ ”

Francis tapped a wide variety of sources in his encyclical, partly to underscore the universality of his message. He cites passages from his two papal predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and draws prominently from a religious ally, Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church. He also cites a ninth-century Sufi mystic, Ali al-Khawas.

“This is not a correct interpretation of the Bible as understood by the Church,” Francis writes. The Bible teaches human beings to “till and keep” the garden of the world, he says. “ ‘Tilling’ refers to cultivating, plowing or working, while ‘keeping’ means caring, protecting, overseeing and preserving.”

His most stinging rebuke is a broad critique of profit-seeking and the undue influence of technology on society. He praises achievements in medicine, science and engineering, but says that “our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience.”

Central to Francis’ theme is the link between poverty and the planet’s fragility. The pope rejects the belief that technology and “current economics” will solve environmental problems, or “that the problems of global hunger and poverty will be resolved simply by market growth.”

“A huge indictment I see in this encyclical is that people have lost their sense of ultimate and proper goals of technology and economics,” said Christiana Z. Peppard, an assistant professor of theology, science and ethics at Fordham University in New York. “We are focused on short-term, consumerist patterns.”

Encyclicals are letters to the clergy and laity of the church that are considered authoritative. Catholics are expected to try to sincerely embrace their teachings. But more specific assertions in them can be categorized as “prudential judgments,” a phrase that some critics have invoked to reject Francis’ positions on issues like climate change or economic inequality.

Many conservatives will be pleased with the encyclical’s strong criticism of abortion, and its dismissal of arguments that population control can be an answer to poverty. However, Francis sharply criticizes the trading of carbon credits — a market-based system central to the European Union’s climate policy — and says it “may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.”

Above all, Francis frames the encyclical as a call to action. He praises young people for being ready for change, and said “enforceable international agreements are urgently needed.” He cites Benedict in saying that advanced societies “must be prepared to encourage more sober lifestyles, while reducing their energy consumption and improving its efficiency.”

“All is not lost,” he writes. “Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/19/world/europe/pope-francis-in-sweeping-encyclical-calls-for-swift-action-on-climate-change.html?_r=0

The Scientific Pantheist Who Advises Pope Francis

The scientist who influenced Laudato Si, and who serves at the Vatican’s science office, seems to believe in Gaia, but not in God.

By ILLIAM M BRIGGS Published on June 22, 2015

1.4K432641
William M Briggs

St. Francis of Assisi’s hymn Laudato Si’ spoke of “Brothers” Sun and Fire and “Sisters” Moon and Water, using these colorful phrases figuratively, as a way of praising God’s creation. These sentimental words so touched Pope Francis that he named his encyclical after this canticle (repeated in paragraph 87 of the Holy Father’s letter).

Neither Pope Francis nor St. Francis took the words literally, of course. Neither believed that fire was alive and could be talked to or reasoned with or, worse, worshiped. Strange, then, that a self-professed atheist and scientific advisor to the Vatican named Hans Schellnhuber appears to believe in a Mother Earth.

Gaia

The Gaia Principle, first advanced by chemist James Lovelock (who has lately had second thoughts) and microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s, says that all life interacts with the Earth, and the Earth with all life, to form a giant self-regulating, living system.

This goes far beyond the fact that the Earth’s climate system has feedbacks, which are at the very center of the debate over climate change. In the Gaia Principle, Mother Earth is alive, and even, some think, aware in some ill-defined, mystical way. The Earth knows man and his activities and, frankly, isn’t too happy with him.

This is what we might call “scientific pantheism,” a kind that appeals to atheistic scientists. It is an updated version of the pagan belief that the universe itself is God, that the Earth is at least semi-divine — a real Brother Sun and Sister Water! Mother Earth is immanent in creation and not transcendent, like the Christian God.

What’s this have to do with Schellnhuber? In the 1999 Nature paper “‘Earth system’ analysis and the second Copernican revolution,” he said:

Ecosphere science is therefore coming of age, lending respectability to its romantic companion, Gaia theory, as pioneered by Lovelock and Margulis. This hotly debated ‘geophysiological’ approach to Earth-system analysis argues that the biosphere contributes in an almost cognizant way to self-regulating feedback mechanisms that have kept the Earth’s surface environment stable and habitable for life.

Geo-physiological, in case you missed it. Cognizant, in black and white. So dedicated is Schellnhuber to this belief that he says “the Gaia approach may even include the influence of biospheric activities on the Earth’s plate-tectonic processes.”  Not the other way around, mind you, where continental drift and earthquakes effects life, but where life effects earthquakes.

He elaborates:

Although effects such as the glaciations may still be interpreted as over-reactions to small disturbances — a kind of cathartic geophysiological fever — the main events, resulting in accelerated maturation by shock treatment, indicate that Gaia faces a powerful antagonist. Rampino has proposed personifying this opposition as Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction.

Mother Earth gets the flu and instead of white blood cells and a rise in temperature to fend off the infection, it sends white ice and a decrease in temperatures. How? Geophysiologically! I remind the reader that our author, writing in one of the world’s most prominent science journals, does not use these propositions metaphorically. He proposes them as actual mechanisms.

Schellnhuber echoes the theme of a cognizant, i.e. self-aware, planet in another (co-authored) 2004 paper in Nature 2004, “Climbing the co-evolution ladder,” suggesting again that mankind is an infection, saying that mankind “perturbs … the global ‘metabolism’” of the planet.

Tipping Points

Schellnhuber, a one-time quantum physicist who turned his attention to Mother Earth late in his career, was also co-author of a 2009 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper “Imprecise probability assessment of tipping points in the climate system,” which asked select scientists their gut assessment about the arrival of various “tipping points.” Tipping points are a theme of Schellnhuber’s research (see inter alia this and this).

Tipping points are supposed moments when some doom which might have been avoided if some action had been taken, is no longer possible to avoid and will arrive no matter what. Tipping points have come and gone in climate forecasts for decades now. The promised dooms never arrive but the false prophets never quit.  Their intent is less to forecast than to induce something short of panic in order to plead for political intervention. When the old tipping point is past, theorists just change the date, issue new warnings and hope no one will notice.

One of the tipping points Schellnhuber asked about was the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, depending on what the temperature did. All of the selected experts (who answered the questions in 2004 and 2005) gave moderate (~15-25%) to quite high probabilities (50-80%) for this event to have occurred by 2015. The ice did not melt.

Schellnhuber Michelangelo Gaia

Schellnhuber presented more tipping points to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 2014 in the co-authored paper, “Climate-System Tipping Points and Extreme Weather Events.” In that paper, Schellnhuber has a “scientific” graph with Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Adam “flicking” a planet earth over a methane tipping point, such that the earth would roll down into a fiery pit labeled the “Warming Abyss.” Hell on earth.

The Problem of People

Schellnhuber is most famous for predicting that the “carrying capacity” of the earth is “below” 1 billion people. When confronted with this, he called those who quoted him “liars.” But he then repeated the same claim, saying, “All I said was that if we had unlimited global warming of eight degrees warming, maybe the carrying capacity of the earth would go down to just 1 billion, and then the discussion would be settled.”  And he has often said that this temperature tipping point would be reached — unless “actions” were taken.

The man is suspicious of people. In that same interview he said, “If you want to reduce human population, there are wonderful means: Improve the education of girls and young women.” Since young women already know where babies come from, and since this knowledge tends neither to increase nor decrease population, the “education” he has in mind must be facts about how to avoid the consequences of sex. Austin Ruse discovered a 2009 talk in which Schellnhuber said the earth “will explode” due to resource depletion once the population reaches 9 billion, a number that the UN projects in 2050. Presumably he wants earth to avoid that fate, so he mustsupport the population control that Pope Francis so clearly repudiated in his encyclical.

Bad Religion

Confirmation bias happens when a scientist manipulates an experiment so that he gets the outcome he hoped he would get. When Schellnhuber invites only believers in tipping-points-of-doom to characterize their guesses of this doom, his view that the doom is real will be confirmed. And when he publishes a paper that says, “Scientists say world is doomed” the public and politicians believe it. Scientists skeptical of the doom are dismissed because they are skeptics. This isn’t good science. It’s really bad religion, and a pagan one at that.

Global warming research is characterized by an insider’s club. If you believe, you’re in. If you doubt, you’re out. This is also so at the Pontifical Academies of Science where Schellnhuber was appointed by Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo. The bishop locked scientists with contrary views out of the process, scientists he has repeatedly dismissed as “funded by the oil industry.” Given this, how likely is it that the Holy Father was fully aware of the views of the chief scientist who advised him?

https://stream.org/scientific-pantheist-who-advises-pope-francis/

Background Articles and Videos

An Honest IPCC Scientist Tackles ‘ClimateGate’

Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change

“…On June 2, as Congress debated global warming legislation that would raise energy costs to consumers by hundreds of billions of dollars, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) released an 880-page book challenging the scientific basis of concerns that global warming is either man-made or would have harmful effects.

In “Climate Change Reconsidered: The 2009 Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC),” coauthors Dr. S. Fred Singer and Dr. Craig Idso and 35 contributors and reviewers present an authoritative and detailed rebuttal of the findings of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), on which the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress rely for their regulatory proposals.

The scholarship in this book demonstrates overwhelming scientific support for the position that the warming of the twentieth century was moderate and not unprecedented, that its impact on human health and wildlife was positive, and that carbon dioxide probably is not the driving factor behind climate change.

The authors cite thousands of peer-reviewed research papers and books that were ignored by the IPCC, plus additional scientific research that became available after the IPCC’s self-imposed deadline of May 2006.

The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) is an international panel of nongovernment scientists and scholars who have come together to understand the causes and consequences of climate change. Because it is not a government agency, and because its members are not predisposed to believe climate change is caused by human greenhouse gas emissions, NIPCC is able to offer an independent “second opinion” of the evidence reviewed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). …”

http://www.climatechangereconsidered.org/

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Remember The 20-30 Million American Citizens Searching For A Full Time Permanent Job and The Professional Soldiers Who Made The Ultimate Sacrifice — D-Day June 6, 1944 — Videos

Posted on June 12, 2015. Filed under: American History, Articles, Banking, Blogroll, College, Communications, Documentary, Economics, Education, Employment, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Freedom, Heroes, history, Macroeconomics, media, Monetary Policy, People, Philosophy, Politics, Rants, Raves, Strategy, Talk Radio, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Unemployment, Video, War, Wealth, Weather, Welfare, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 1: Remember The 20-30 Million American Citizens Searching For A Full Time Permanent Job and The Professional Soldiers Who Made The Ultimate Sacrifice — D-Day June 6, 1944 — Videos

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D-Day Remembered

Operation Overlord & Neptune (D-Day documentary)

Normandy-Surviving D-Day(full )HD Documentary

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Normandy Speech: Ceremony Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Normandy Invasion, D-Day 6/6/84

Is Jobs Data Truly Good News About U.S. Economy?

El-Erian: Jobs Report Points to a Healing Labor Market

Rep. Cole on BLS Jobs Report: “Still have underutilization of the labor force”

Rep. Cole: “We have unique fiscal challenges that transcend our predecessors”

Weekly Market Wrap Up – June 5th, 21015

Nonfarm payrolls total 280,000; unemployment rate at 5.5%

Jeff Cox |

 

The U.S. economy created 280,000 jobs in May, better than expected and likely confirming hopes that growth is back on track after a slow start to the year.

The headline unemployment rate increased slightly to 5.5 percent as the labor force participation rate ticked higher to 62.9 percent. ( Tweet This ) A separate measure that counts those working part time for economic reasons and the unemployed who have not looked for work in the past month held steady at 10.8 percent.

Wages also showed growth, rising 8 cents an hour, equating to an annualized increase of 2.3 percent.

Economists had been expecting a gain of 225,000 positions and the unemployment rate holding steady at 5.4 percent.

“Today’s report showed the U.S. labor market has tremendous momentum. All those factors that parked a weak jobs number in March were short-term,” said Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at job search site Glassdoor. “All those factors are looking more like a late-winter sniffle than a lingering illness.”

The jobs numbers are critical in that they will go a long way toward determining policy from the Federal Reserve. The hot jobs report sent U.S. government bond yields surging as the wage increase indicates inflation is pushing toward the Fed’s target. Stock futures also indicated a lower open for Wall Street, though the move in the equity market was far less pronounced than in bonds.

Get the market reaction here

After keeping short-term interest rates near zero for 6½ years, the U.S. central bank is looking for a liftoff point that would be confirmed not only by job creation but also by wage growth, which would indicate inflation is on a positive trajectory.

“I think (the jobs number) puts September more firmly on track” for a rate hike, said Jim Caron, portfolio manager of global fixed income at Morgan Stanley Investment Management. “As of yesterday it was probably closer to a 50-50 bet. Today, I think it’s more in lines of a 75 percent probability. It moves the needle in terms of expectations and gives air cover to the Fed.”

Trader bets on the date for a rate hike pushed it forward this week, with the latest trends showing a 33 percent chance of a September hike (up from 26 percent earlier in the week), a 52 percent chance in October (from 44 percent) and a 70 percent likelihood for December (from 61 percent).

While many market participants expect a rate increase this year, the Fed got a stunning jolt Thursday from the International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, who took the unprecedented step of advising the Fed to wait until 2016 until the inflation picture is clearer.

“This number effectively flies in the face of what the IMF recommended yesterday that the Fed take a pause,” Caron said.

Service industries led the way for May, adding 63,000 positions, while leisure and hospitality grew by 57,000. Health care increased by 47,000, retail added 31,000 and construction moved higher by 17,000. Mining was a dark spot on the report, contracting by 17,000, bringing the decline to 68,000 in 2015.

The average work week was unchanged at 34.5 hours.

The number of full-time workers grew by 630,000, while the part-time rolls fell by 232,000.

Previous months showed minor changes, with March’s disappointing count getting pushed higher to 119,000 from 85,000 and April edging lower from 223,000 to 221,000.

“Overall, at this stage this evident strength in the labor market probably isn’t enough to persuade the Fed to hike rates by July, but it definitely makes a rate cut by September probable,” said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics. “Only 24 hours later, the IMF’s suggestion that the Fed should wait until 2016 looks very dated.”

http://www.cnbc.com/id/102736075

Employment Situation Summary

Transmission of material in this release is embargoed until			USDL-15-1057
8:30 a.m. (EDT) Friday, June 5, 2015

Technical information: 
 Household data:	(202) 691-6378  •  cpsinfo@bls.gov  •  www.bls.gov/cps
 Establishment data:	(202) 691-6555  •  cesinfo@bls.gov  •  www.bls.gov/ces

Media contact:	        (202) 691-5902  •  PressOffice@bls.gov


			THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- MAY 2015


Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 280,000 in May, and the
unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 5.5 percent, the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in
professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and health
care. Mining employment continued to decline.

Household Survey Data

In May, both the unemployment rate (5.5 percent) and the number of
unemployed persons (8.7 million) were essentially unchanged. Both
measures have shown little movement since February. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men
(5.0 percent), adult women (5.0 percent), teenagers (17.9 percent),
whites (4.7 percent), blacks (10.2 percent), Asians (4.1 percent),
and Hispanics (6.7 percent) showed little or no change in May. (See
tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

The number of unemployed new entrants edged up by 103,000 in May but
is about unchanged over the year. Unemployed new entrants are those
who never previously worked. (See table A-11.)

The number of persons unemployed for less than 5 weeks decreased by
311,000 to 2.4 million in May, following an increase in April. The
number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more)
held at 2.5 million in May and accounted for 28.6 percent of the
unemployed. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term
unemployed is down by 849,000. (See table A-12.)

In May, the civilian labor force rose by 397,000, and the labor force
participation rate was little changed at 62.9 percent. Since April
2014, the participation rate has remained within a narrow range of
62.7 percent to 62.9 percent. The employment-population ratio, at
59.4 percent, was essentially unchanged in May. (See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes
referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was about unchanged at
6.7 million in May and has shown little movement in recent months.
These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were
working part time because their hours had been cut back or because
they were unable to find a full-time job. (See table A-8.)

In May, 1.9 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force,
down by 268,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally
adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and
were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the 
prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they
had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See
table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 563,000 discouraged workers
in May, down by 134,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally
adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work
because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.3
million persons marginally attached to the labor force in May had not
searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family
responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 280,000 in May, compared with
an average monthly gain of 251,000 over the prior 12 months. In May,
job gains occurred in professional and business services, leisure
and hospitality, and health care. Employment in mining continued to
decline. (See table B-1.)

Professional and business services added 63,000 jobs in May and
671,000 jobs over the year. In May, employment increased in computer
systems design and related services (+10,000). Employment continued
to trend up in temporary help services (+20,000), in management and
technical consulting services (+7,000), and in architectural and
engineering services (+5,000).

Employment in leisure and hospitality increased by 57,000 in May,
following little change in the prior 2 months. In May, employment
edged up in arts, entertainment, and recreation (+29,000). Employment
in food services and drinking places has shown little net change over
the past 3 months.

Health care added 47,000 jobs in May. Within the industry, employment
in ambulatory care services (which includes home health care services
and outpatient care centers) rose by 28,000. Hospitals added 16,000
jobs over the month. Over the past year, health care has added 408,000
jobs.

Employment in retail trade edged up in May (+31,000). Over the prior
12 months, the industry had added an average of 24,000 jobs per month.
Within retail trade, automobile dealers added 8,000 jobs in May. 

Construction employment continued to trend up over the month (+17,000)
and has increased by 273,000 over the past year.

In May, employment continued on an upward trend in transportation and
warehousing (+13,000). Truck transportation added 9,000 jobs over the
month.

In May, employment continued to trend up in financial activities (+13,000).
Over the past 12 months, the industry has added 160,000 jobs, with
about half of the gain in insurance carriers and related activities.

Employment in mining fell for the fifth month in a row, with a decline
of 17,000 in May. The loss was in support activities for mining.
Employment in mining has decreased by 68,000 thus far this year, after
increasing by 41,000 in 2014.

Employment in other major industries, including manufacturing, wholesale
trade, information, and government, showed little change over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls
remained at 34.5 hours in May. The manufacturing workweek was unchanged
at 40.7 hours, and factory overtime remained at 3.3 hours. The average
workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm
payrolls edged up by 0.1 hour to 33.7 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

In May, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm
payrolls rose by 8 cents to $24.96. Over the year, average hourly
earnings have risen by 2.3 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-
sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose by 6 cents to $20.97
in May. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for March was revised
from +85,000 to +119,000, and the change for April was revised from
+223,000 to +221,000. With these revisions, employment gains in March
and April combined were 32,000 more than previously reported. Over the
past 3 months, job gains have averaged 207,000 per month.

_____________
The Employment Situation for June is scheduled to be released on
Thursday, July 2, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).



Employment Situation Summary Table A. Household data, seasonally adjusted

HOUSEHOLD DATA
Summary table A. Household data, seasonally adjusted

[Numbers in thousands]
Category May
2014
Mar.
2015
Apr.
2015
May
2015
Change from:
Apr.
2015-
May
2015

Employment status

Civilian noninstitutional population

247,622 250,080 250,266 250,455 189

Civilian labor force

155,629 156,906 157,072 157,469 397

Participation rate

62.8 62.7 62.8 62.9 0.1

Employed

145,868 148,331 148,523 148,795 272

Employment-population ratio

58.9 59.3 59.3 59.4 0.1

Unemployed

9,761 8,575 8,549 8,674 125

Unemployment rate

6.3 5.5 5.4 5.5 0.1

Not in labor force

91,993 93,175 93,194 92,986 -208

Unemployment rates

Total, 16 years and over

6.3 5.5 5.4 5.5 0.1

Adult men (20 years and over)

5.9 5.1 5.0 5.0 0.0

Adult women (20 years and over)

5.7 4.9 4.9 5.0 0.1

Teenagers (16 to 19 years)

19.2 17.5 17.1 17.9 0.8

White

5.4 4.7 4.7 4.7 0.0

Black or African American

11.4 10.1 9.6 10.2 0.6

Asian

5.6 3.2 4.4 4.1 -0.3

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

7.7 6.8 6.9 6.7 -0.2

Total, 25 years and over

5.2 4.4 4.5 4.5 0.0

Less than a high school diploma

9.2 8.6 8.6 8.6 0.0

High school graduates, no college

6.5 5.3 5.4 5.8 0.4

Some college or associate degree

5.5 4.8 4.7 4.4 -0.3

Bachelor’s degree and higher

3.2 2.5 2.7 2.7 0.0

Reason for unemployment

Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs

4,959 4,189 4,136 4,267 131

Job leavers

872 875 828 829 1

Reentrants

2,869 2,689 2,685 2,615 -70

New entrants

1,063 815 868 971 103

Duration of unemployment

Less than 5 weeks

2,553 2,488 2,729 2,418 -311

5 to 14 weeks

2,401 2,312 2,307 2,532 225

15 to 26 weeks

1,451 1,253 1,139 1,293 154

27 weeks and over

3,351 2,563 2,525 2,502 -23

Employed persons at work part time

Part time for economic reasons

7,268 6,705 6,580 6,652 72

Slack work or business conditions

4,404 4,069 3,885 3,891 6

Could only find part-time work

2,558 2,337 2,374 2,390 16

Part time for noneconomic reasons

19,149 19,733 20,056 19,961 -95

Persons not in the labor force (not seasonally adjusted)

Marginally attached to the labor force

2,130 2,055 2,115 1,862

Discouraged workers

697 738 756 563

– Over-the-month changes are not displayed for not seasonally adjusted data.
NOTE: Persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race. Detail for the seasonally adjusted data shown in this table will not necessarily add to totals because of the independent seasonal adjustment of the various series. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.

Employment Situation Summary Table B. Establishment data, seasonally adjusted

ESTABLISHMENT DATA
Summary table B. Establishment data, seasonally adjusted
Category May
2014
Mar.
2015
Apr.
2015(p)
May
2015(p)

EMPLOYMENT BY SELECTED INDUSTRY
(Over-the-month change, in thousands)

Total nonfarm

236 119 221 280

Total private

238 117 206 262

Goods-producing

25 -20 21 6

Mining and logging

2 -14 -15 -18

Construction

11 -12 35 17

Manufacturing

12 6 1 7

Durable goods(1)

19 6 0 1

Motor vehicles and parts

7.3 5.8 4.1 6.6

Nondurable goods

-7 0 1 6

Private service-providing

213 137 185 256

Wholesale trade

6.5 5.4 -2.3 4.1

Retail trade

10.6 31.6 13.3 31.4

Transportation and warehousing

20.2 1.9 10.8 13.1

Utilities

0.2 0.8 0.8 1.1

Information

-5 -2 8 -3

Financial activities

9 13 8 13

Professional and business services(1)

54 39 66 63

Temporary help services

13.4 15.8 16.1 20.1

Education and health services(1)

56 42 64 74

Health care and social assistance

54.2 36.3 59.6 57.7

Leisure and hospitality

57 6 10 57

Other services

5 0 6 2

Government

-2 2 15 18

(3-month average change, in thousands)

Total nonfarm

264 195 202 207

Total private

258 193 195 195

WOMEN AND PRODUCTION AND NONSUPERVISORY EMPLOYEES
AS A PERCENT OF ALL EMPLOYEES(2)

Total nonfarm women employees

49.4 49.3 49.3 49.4

Total private women employees

47.9 47.9 47.9 47.9

Total private production and nonsupervisory employees

82.6 82.5 82.4 82.5

HOURS AND EARNINGS
ALL EMPLOYEES

Total private

Average weekly hours

34.5 34.5 34.5 34.5

Average hourly earnings

$24.40 $24.85 $24.88 $24.96

Average weekly earnings

$841.80 $857.33 $858.36 $861.12

Index of aggregate weekly hours (2007=100)(3)

100.7 102.9 103.0 103.3

Over-the-month percent change

0.2 -0.2 0.1 0.3

Index of aggregate weekly payrolls (2007=100)(4)

117.3 122.0 122.4 123.0

Over-the-month percent change

0.4 0.1 0.3 0.5

DIFFUSION INDEX
(Over 1-month span)(5)

Total private (263 industries)

67.5 59.3 58.4 61.6

Manufacturing (80 industries)

63.1 46.9 51.9 48.8

Footnotes
(1) Includes other industries, not shown separately.
(2) Data relate to production employees in mining and logging and manufacturing, construction employees in construction, and nonsupervisory employees in the service-providing industries.
(3) The indexes of aggregate weekly hours are calculated by dividing the current month’s estimates of aggregate hours by the corresponding annual average aggregate hours.
(4) The indexes of aggregate weekly payrolls are calculated by dividing the current month’s estimates of aggregate weekly payrolls by the corresponding annual average aggregate weekly payrolls.
(5) Figures are the percent of industries with employment increasing plus one-half of the industries with unchanged employment, where 50 percent indicates an equal balance between industries with increasing and decreasing employment.
(p) Preliminary

NOTE: Data have been revised to reflect March 2014 benchmark levels and updated seasonal adjustment factors.

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Thomas P.M. Barnett — Rethinking America’s military strategy — The World According to Tom Barnett — Videos

Posted on June 11, 2015. Filed under: American History, Babies, Blogroll, Books, Business, College, Communications, Corruption, Culture, Data, Demographics, Documentary, Economics, Education, Employment, Energy, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Food, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Friends, Genocide, government, government spending, history, Illegal, Immigration, Inflation, Investments, Law, Legal, liberty, Life, Links, Macroeconomics, media, Microeconomics, Money, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, Non-Fiction, Nuclear Power, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Psychology, Radio, Radio, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Religion, Resources, Strategy, Talk Radio, Tax Policy, Taxation, Technology, Television, Terrorism, Unemployment, Video, War, Water, Wealth, Weather | Tags: , , , , , , |

barnett1

Thomas Barnett: Rethinking America’s military strategy

In this bracingly honest and funny talk, international security strategist Thomas P.M. Barnett outlines a post-Cold War solution for the foundering US military: Break it in two. He suggests the military re-form into two groups: a Leviathan force, a small group of young and fierce soldiers capable of swift and immediate victories; and an internationally supported network of System Administrators, an older, wiser, more diverse organization that actually has the diplomacy and power it takes to build and maintain peace.

Wikistrat’s “The World According to Tom Barnett” 2011 brief, Pt 1 (Pentagon’s new map)

Wikistrat’s “The World According to Tom Barnett” 2011 brief, Pt 2 (Flow of People)

Wikistrat’s “The World According to Tom Barnett” 2011 brief, Pt 3 (Flow of Money)

Wikistrat’s “The World According to Tom Barnett” 2011 brief, Pt 4 (Flow of Energy)

Wikistrat’s “The World According to Tom Barnett” 2011 brief, Pt 5 (Flow of Food)

Wikistrat’s “The World According to Tom Barnett” 2011 brief, Pt 6 (Flow of Security)

Wikistrat’s “The World According to Tom Barnett” 2011 brief, Pt 7 (Q&A – Religion )

Wikistrat’s “The World According to Tom Barnett” 2011 brief, Pt 8 (Q&A – Global Economic Crisis)

Wikistrat’s “The World According to Tom Barnett” 2011 brief, Pt 9 – Final (Q&A – U.S. Allies)

Conversations with History: Thomas P.M. Barnett

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Part 3 of 3: An American Renaissance, The Road To Peace and Prosperity: Faith, Family, Friends, and Freedom ~ First — Videos

Posted on June 11, 2015. Filed under: Agriculture, American History, Babies, Banking, Blogroll, Books, Business, College, Communications, Constitution, Corruption, Economics, Education, Employment, Energy, Faith, Family, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Food, Foreign Policy, Freedom, government, government spending, history, Inflation, Investments, IRS, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Macroeconomics, media, Microeconomics, Monetary Policy, Money, Music, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, Non-Fiction, Nuclear Power, Oil, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Police, Politics, Press, Psychology, Radio, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Resources, Talk Radio, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Unemployment, Video, War, Wealth, Weather, Welfare, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

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Pronk Pops Show 458 May 1, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 457 April 30, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 456: April 29, 2015 

Pronk Pops Show 455: April 28, 2015

Pronk Pops Show 454: April 27, 2015

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Pronk Pops Show 424: March 2, 2015

 Story 1, Part 3 of 3: An American Renaissance, The Road To Peace and Prosperity: Faith, Family, Friends, and Freedom ~ First — Videos

Part 3

Controlling Leviathan: The Battle for Limited Government

Question and Answer Session: The Fight Against Big Government

Free Markets and Small Government Produce Prosperity

Visualizing the growth of federal regulation since 1950

Eight Reasons Why Big Government Hurts Economic Growth

Milton Friedman On John Maynard Keynes

Keynesian Economics Is Wrong: Bigger Gov’t Is Not Stimulus

Keynes the Man: Hero or Villain? | Murray N. Rothbard

There Are too Many Bureaucrats and They Are Paid too Much

government-employees-by-level-by-year2All-Employees-of-U.S.-GovernmentFederal-of-Workforce-1939-2013101207-federal-employees-chart

TAKE IT TO THE LIMITS: Milton Friedman on Libertarianism

Can We Eliminate the Department of Education? (Charles Murray)

Downsizing the Federal Government

Agriculture: Downsizing The Federal Government

Downsize the Department of Agriculture

Downsize the Department of Education

Downsize the Department of Energy

Downsize the Department of Health and Human Services

Downsize the Department of Labor

Ron Paul Lecture – “The Great Enabler: The Rise of the Federal Reserve and the Growth of Government”

“How the Federal Bureaucracy Undermines American Liberty”

Want Less Corruption? Shrink the Size of Government

Big Government Is Stifling The American Spirit- Intelligence Squared U.S.

Richard Epstein, The Classical Liberal Constitution

Milton Friedman – Whats wrong with welfare?

The Classical Liberal Constitution by Richard Epstein: Book Discussion

The Classical Liberal Constitution: The Uncertain Quest for Limited Government
by Richard Epstein

The Classical Liberal Constitution: Panel 1: Constitutional Structure

The Classical Liberal Constitution: Panel 2: Individual Rights

The Classical Liberal Constitution: Panel 3: Constitutional Methodology

United States federal executive departments

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The United States federal executive departments are among the oldest primary units of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States—the Departments of State, War, and the Treasury all having been established within a few weeks of each other in 1789.

Federal executive departments are analogous to ministries common in parliamentary or semi-presidential systems but, with the United States being a presidential system, their heads otherwise equivalent to ministers, do not form a government (in a parliamentary sense) nor are they led by a head of government separate from the head of state. The heads of the federal executive departments, known as secretaries of their respective department, form the traditional Cabinet of the United States, an executive organ that serves at the disposal of the president and normally act as an advisory body to the presidency.

Since 1792, by statutory specification, the cabinet constituted a line of succession to the presidency, after the Speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the Senate, in the event of a vacancy in both the presidency and the vice presidency. The Constitution refers to these officials when it authorizes the President, in Article II, section 2, to “require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices.” In brief, they and their organizations are the administrative arms of the President.

Executive Departments of the present

All departments are listed by their present-day name and only departments with past or present cabinet-level status are listed. Order of succession has always included the Vice President (1) as the first in line; at times – including presently – the Speaker of the House (2) and the President pro tempore of the Senate (3) have also been included.

Department Creation Order of
succession
Notes 2009 Outlays
in billions
of dollars
Employees
State 1789[1] 4 Initially named “Department of Foreign Affairs”. 16.39 18,900
Treasury 1789[2] 5 19.56 115,897
Justice 1870[3] 7 Position of Attorney General created in 1789, but had no department until 1870 46.20 112,557
Interior 1849[4] 8 90.00 71,436
Agriculture 1862[5] 9 134.12 109,832
Commerce 1903[6] 10 Originally named Commerce and Labor; Labor later separated 15.77 43,880[7]
Labor 1913[8] 11 137.97 17,347
Defense 1947[9] 6 Initially named “National Military Establishment” 1947-49. Created as a subsuming—from executive to sub-executive status—of the Departments of The Navy and War (which split into the Departments of the Army and Air Force). 651.16 3,000,000
Health and Human Services 1953[8] 12 Originally named Health, Education, and Welfare; Education later separated 879.20 67,000
Housing and Urban Development 1965[10] 13 40.53 10,600
Transportation 1966[11] 14 73.20 58,622
Energy 1977[12] 15 24.10 109,094
Education 1980[13] 16 45.40 4,487
Veterans Affairs 1989[14] 17 Formerly an independent agency as the Veterans Administration 97.70 235,000
Homeland Security 2002[15] 18 40.00 208,000
Total outlays, employees:         $2,311.30B 4,193,144

Seals

Executive Departments of the past

Department Dates of Operation Notes
Department of War 1789–1947 Renamed Department of the Army in 1947
Post Office Department 1792–1971 Reorganized as quasi-independent agency, United States Postal Service
Department of Commerce and Labor 1903–1913 Divided between Department of Commerce and Department of Labor
Department of the Army 1947–1949 From 1947-1949, these departments were executive departments with non-cabinet level secretaries who reported to the civilian Secretary of Defense with cabinet rank but no department. From 1949 on, they were Military Departments within the Department of Defense[16]
Department of the Navy 1798–1949
Department of the Air Force 1947–1949
Department of Health, Education, and Welfare 1953–1979 Divided between Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education

See also

Notes

  1. Jump up^ “Office of the Historian – Milestones – 1776-1783 – Articles of Confederation”. History.state.gov. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
  2. Jump up^ “History”. Treasury.gov. 2012-10-22. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
  3. Jump up^ “USDOJ: About DOJ”. Justice.gov. 2009-09-30. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
  4. Jump up^ “History of Interior”. Doi.gov. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
  5. Jump up^ http://www.usda.gov/documents/timeline.pdf
  6. Jump up^ “Secretaries | Department of Commerce”. Commerce.gov. Retrieved2012-12-29.
  7. Jump up^ “Department of Commerce FY 2009 Budget in Brief”. Osec.doc.gov. Retrieved2012-12-29.
  8. ^ Jump up to:a b “The U.S. Department of Labor Historical Timeline – U.S. Department of Labor”. Dol.gov. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
  9. Jump up^ “About The Department of Defense (DOD)”. Defense.gov. Retrieved2012-12-29.
  10. Jump up^ “HUD History/U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)”. Portal.hud.gov. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
  11. Jump up^ [1][dead link]
  12. Jump up^ “Department of Energy Organization Act” (PDF). U.S. Department of the Interior. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Retrieved August 4, 1977. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  13. Jump up^ “Overview and Mission Statement | U.S. Department of Education”. .ed.gov. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
  14. Jump up^ Department of Veterans Affairs. “History – VA History – About VA”. Va.gov. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
  15. Jump up^ “Creation of the Department of Homeland Security | Homeland Security”. Dhs.gov. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
  16. Jump up^ Stewart, Richard W., ed. (2005). “Chapter 24: Peace Becomes Cold War, 1945-1950″. American Military History. Army Historical Series II. United States Army. pp. 531–533. Retrieved 2011-03-23.

References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_executive_departments

Part 2

US Debt Clock.org

http://www.usdebtclock.org/

Ep. 12: AN ANIMATED FILM ON THE DEBT & THE DEFICIT | Marshall Curry

US Debt Crisis – Perfectly Explained

The Collapse of The American Dream Explained in Animation

George Carlin on the American Dream

chart

The bar chart comes directly from the Monthly Treasury Statement published by the U. S. Treasury Department..The “Debt Total” bar chart is generated from the Treasury Department’s “Debt Report” found on the Treasury Direct web site. It has links to search the debt for any given date range, and access to debt interest information. It is a direct source to government provided budget information.

“Deficit” vs. “Debt”—Suppose you spend more money this month than your income. This situation is called a “budget deficit”. So you borrow (ie; use your credit card). The amount you borrowed (and now owe) is called your debt. You have to pay interest on your debt. If next month you spend more than your income, another deficit, you must borrow some more, and you’ll still have to pay the interest on your debt (now larger). If you have a deficit every month, you keep borrowing and your debt grows. Soon the interest payment on your loan is bigger than any other item in your budget. Eventually, all you can do is pay the interest payment, and you don’t have any money left over for anything else. This situation is known as bankruptcy.

“Reducing the deficit” is a meaningless soundbite. If theDEFICIT is any amount more than ZERO, we have to borrow more and the DEBT grows.

Each year since 1969, Congress has spent more money than its income. The Treasury Department has to borrow money to meet Congress’s appropriations. Here is a direct link to the Congressional Budget Office web site’s deficit analysis. We have to pay interest* on that huge, growing debt; and it dramatically cuts into our budget.

2016-budget-chart-spending-revenue-percent-of-gdp

 federal-government-spending-problem-680

where-did-your-tax-dollar-go-680budget-entitlement-programs-680 spending-cuts-680federal-spending-per-household-680 national-defense-spending-680 americas-deficit-federal-spending-680senate_budget_deficits social-security-benefit-payments-680

Sen Rand Paul on Baseline Budgeting

Ending Baseline Budgeting | House GOP Twitter Response

2014 U.S. Federal Budget: Taxes & Revenue

2014 U.S. Federal Budget: Budget Process

2014 U.S. Federal Budget: Social Insurance, Earned Benefits, & Entitlements

2014 U.S. Federal Budget: Debt and Deficit

US Congress has raised the debt ceiling 78 times since 1960

Baseline Budgeting

Rep. Louie Gohmert Applauds The Baseline Reform Act

Baseline Budgeting Explained

Underwhelming Spending Cuts from Congress and Obama

Understanding the National Debt and Budget Deficit

Part 1

fairtax

fair_tax_factst

FairTax: Fire Up Our Economic Engine (Official HD)

The FairTax: It’s Time

Flat Tax vs. National Sales Tax

Dan Mitchell Discussing Federal Tax Burden on CNBC

Eight Reasons Why Big Government Hurts Economic Growth

Dan Mitchell Explaining How Government Screws Up Everything

What is the FairTax legislation?

Cato Institute Senior Fellow Daniel J. Mitchell

How does the FairTax rate compare to today’s?

What assumptions does the FairTax make about government spending?

How does the FairTax rate compare to today’s?

Is the FairTax truly progressive?

How does the “prebate” work?

Will the prebate create a massive new entitlement system?

Wouldn’t it be more fair to exempt food and medicine from the FairTax?

Is it fair for rich people to get the same prebate as poor people?

If people bring home their whole paychecks how can prices fall?

How does the FairTax impact the middle class?

Why is the FairTax better than a flat income tax?

Is the FairTax rate really 23%?

Is consumption a reliable source of revenue?

How does the FairTax affect compliance costs?

Isn’t it a stretch to say the IRS will go away?

Can I pretend to be a business to avoid the sales tax?

How does the FairTax affect tax preparers and CPAs?

Are any significant economies funded by a sales tax?

How will the FairTax affect state sales tax systems?

Can’t Americans just cross the border to avoid the FairTax

How will Social Security payments be calculated under the FairTax?

Will the FairTax impact tax deferred retirement accounts like 401(k)s?

How will the FairTax® make the tax system fair for everyone?

What’s the difference between the FairTax® and the income tax?

How will the FairTax® help me save money?

Why Should Grandparents support FairTax®?

Congressman Woodall Discusses the FairTax

“The Case for the Fair Tax”

Freedom from the IRS! – FairTax Explained in Detail

John Stossel speaks to the Fair Tax Rally

Sen. Moran Discusses FairTax Legislation on U.S. Senate Floor

Mind blowing speech by Robert Welch in 1958

Robert Welch Speaks: In One Generation (1974)

comparison

GOP Taxonomy: The Flat Taxers and the Fair Taxers

by Aman Batheja

During his last run for president, Rick Perry often pulled a postcard out of his jacket pocket.

“The best representation of my plan is this postcard, which taxpayers will be able to fill out to file their taxes,” Perry said.

While Perry proposed an optional 20 percent flat tax on all income levels, the other Texan running that cycle, Ron Paul, wanted to get rid of the income tax altogether. The former Surfside congressman sometimes suggested replacing it and other federal taxes with a sales tax, a concept often described as the Fair Tax.

As the 2016 landscape begins taking shape, potential Republican candidates are suggesting an interest in being both flat and fair, embracing some version of Perry’s 2012 proposal as the first step toward reaching Paul’s ideal.

Take U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, whose talk on taxes has sounded strikingly similar to Perry’s at times.
“We should let taxes become so simple that they could be filled out on a postcard,” Cruz wrote in a column for USA Today in October.

Yet while Cruz has called for converting the country’s progressive income tax system to a flat tax, his office confirmed that the Fair Tax is his long-term goal.

“The senator supports a Fair Tax, ultimately,” spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said. “However, the most immediate, effective way to implement comprehensive tax reform is to pass a simple flat tax — so simple that Americans can file on a postcard. This should be the starting point for reform, and once it’s in place we should pursue a Fair Tax.”

Another presidential contender, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has also voiced support for a flat tax, but still prefers the vision of his libertarian father, Ron Paul.

“I’ve never said I don’t support a sales tax,” Rand Paul told The Texas Tribune recently while in Dallas. He explained that he viewed moving the federal tax system to a flat tax as “an easier concept to get through a legislature because you’re modifying the existing code.”

More broadly, Rand Paul said he was interested in stimulating economic growth by reducing the federal taxes overall.

“We’ve kind of lost that argument in recent years because many Republicans, including many in Washington, now simply argue for revenue neutral tax reform, which stimulates nothing,” Paul said.

For former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, those talking about the flat tax as a bridge to the Fair Tax are missing the point.
“Gov. Huckabee has said many times the Fair Tax is a flat tax, but it’s based on consumption rather than on punishing our productivity,” spokeswoman Alice Stewart said.

Another potential presidential contender, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, delivered a speech on taxes and income inequality this week in Detroit that reportedly included support for simplifying the tax code, but did not include specific policy proposals.

Critics of both flat tax and Fair Tax proposals dismiss them as regressive plans that would amount to tax cuts for higher-income households while increasing the tax burden on middle-class households. But conservatives argue that dramatically simplifying the tax code, or moving to a tax system focused more on consumption than earnings, would be more transparent, simpler and better for the economy in the long run.

Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, said discussion of flat taxes and consumption taxes works well politically with Republican voters, but described them as “pie-in-the-sky, no-way-in-hell” proposals that won’t ever muster enough support in Congress.

“When you talk about tax reform in an environment that is politically polarized as ours, it’s hard to see how you get majority support, let alone a bipartisan package that could be taken to the public by both parties,” Jillson said. “It’s a way of saying, ‘I have no sense of doing anything practical.’ ”

While Cruz and Rand Paul have already signaled their positions, Perry, who has been meeting with dozens of policy experts to prepare for a second White House run, may end up tweaking his earlier flat tax plan.

“He supports simplifying the tax code, lowering rates for working families, and closing loopholes,” spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said. “Gov. Perry is continuing to work on policy proposals and will announce specific ideas at the appropriate time.”

http://www.texastribune.org/2015/02/08/flat-tax-fair-tax/

National Review: The FairTax Makes a Comeback

by: Ryan Lovelace

Republican senator David Perdue of Georgia sounds an awful lot like President Obama when he describes his plan to overhaul the tax code, which would repeal federal taxes and replace them with a consumption tax known as the “FairTax.”

“[The FairTax] really levels the playing field in that regardless of who you are, where you are, you’ll pay your fair share, and it will be the same amount,” Perdue tells NRO. “It will be equitable.”

Perdue couches his description of the FairTax in rhetorical terms — “levels the playing field,” “pay your fair share,” “equitable” — that could’ve come straight out of Obama’s State of the Union address, and that’s no accident. Whatever the political prospects of the proposal — it has failed over and over again when proposed in the past, and it is expected to meet a similar fate this time around — it could allow the GOP to seize the mantle of economic populism from the Democrats, and, in so doing, to “win” tax reform in the eyes of voters. That’s important, because tax-reform legislation is one of the few big, ostensibly bipartisan efforts the new Congress is expected to undertake, and the scramble to take credit for it ahead of the 2016 presidential election will be fierce.
The FairTax legislation put forward in the Senate by Perdue, his fellow Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson, and their colleague Jerry Moran (R., Kan.), was written with 2016 in mind. Perdue says that on Tuesday, before listening to Obama announce his desire to raise taxes once again, he and Isakson discussed the importance of their work in influencing the debate on tax reform. Perdue — the successful manager known for his ability to turn around businesses and revive brands – says he hopes to help move 2016 GOP presidential candidates in the direction of the FairTax.

The proposal itself is relatively simple: It would eliminate all federal income, payroll, gift, and estate taxes, and replace them with a 23 percent national sales tax. In addition to making the U.S. economy more competitive on a global scale and putting people back to work, the plan would strip the IRS of its ability to interfere in the lives of ordinary Americans, according to the conservative freshman from Georgia. Other longtime proponents of the idea agree, and argue that by replacing a system that taxes an individual’s earnings with one that exclusively taxes that same individual’s spending, it would allow each citizen the freedom to determine his own tax burden.

Perdue’s hopes for 2016 notwithstanding, the FairTax has not been a winning issue in past Republican presidential primaries. A number of GOP primary candidates, from Mike Huckabee in 2008 to Herman Cain in 2012, have failed to win the nomination while championing the proposal. And it will still be a loser come 2016, says Ryan Ellis, the  tax-policy director at Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. “If this thing [the FairTax] was going to catch on as the next great hot thing, it would have,” Ellis says. “It’s not a practical tax-reform plan for governing, it’s something that people wish, aspirationally, they could put out there.”

The tax-reform proposals with the best chance of succeeding in Congress — and helping Republican candidates win in 2016 — are those that move incrementally toward the FairTax’s goals without overhauling the system in one fell swoop, Ellis says. Such proposals would likely combine some of the FairTax’s reforms — such as repealing the death tax and capital-gains taxes — with measures aimed at broadening the tax base of higher-income individuals. The winning formula to achieve fundamental tax reform, according to Ellis, is a plan that is pro-growth, pro-family, and “paid for by, as much as you can, rich guys.”

But those who warn that the FairTax lacks political viability only give more motivation to Rob Woodall (R., Ga.), the lead sponsor of FairTax legislation in the House of Representatives.

“That’s what I love about this bill: Washington hates this bill,” Woodall says. “There are all sorts of forces in town that discourage this kind of giant reform, but it’s being marketed at a grassroots level.”

Woodall’s Georgia district has a history of electing FairTax proponents to Congress. Woodall’s seat was previously occupied by John Linder, a tireless champion who first introduced the FairTax bill in 1999, and reintroduced it in each new Congress until he retired in 2011. He never succeeded in changing the law, but he did quite a bit to build support in his home state.

As Americans for Fair Taxation president Steve Hayes tells it, Atlanta-based radio talk-show host Neal Boortz is largely responsible for getting the idea off the ground. Boortz wrote The FairTax Book with Linder and trumpeted his support for the reform to a southeastern audience who readily took to the idea. Hayes’s organization works to garner more support for the idea across the United States.

The “power base” of the FairTax proposal has moved out of the Southeast and into the Midwest, Woodall says. Moran’s support as a lead co-sponsor has helped the idea gain traction in Kansas. A top Moran aide who worked on the FairTax bill tells NRO that Moran began laying the groundwork to lead on this issue last year, as former Georgia senator Saxby Chambliss was preparing to retire. Chambliss was a staunch supporter of the FairTax, and the aide says the two offices worked behind the scenes to ensure that the push for tax reform would live on. Woodall thinks the geographical shift in support will help the idea flourish in California and the Northwest. Moreover, he wants to gather supporters in key 2016 Republican-primary states and grow grassroots support in order to influence the GOP’s agenda.

But the effort to sell the FairTax primarily to devoted conservatives has left others in the dark as to its possible benefits. Laurence Kotlikoff, an economics professor at Boston University, has studied the FairTax and thinks it is a more progressive proposal than people realize. Kotlikoff says lawmakers’ lack of experience in public finance has led to a misunderstanding of the FairTax. He adds that he thinks Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi might even come around to the idea, if she realized that it would help some of the people she purports to care about most: workers.

After years toiling under former Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), some conservatives have grown excited by the Senate’s movement on this issue. The Moran staffer thinks a total of 10 or 11 senators may ultimately support the proposal, including new members and others who have changed their minds. The number of original co-sponsors of the FairTax in the House has increased during each of the last three Congresses, peaking this year with 57 total supporters.

Barring an unforeseen shift in Congress’s priorities, though, the FairTax appears doomed to fail yet again. Woodall knows the effort is ill-fated, and says he won’t look someone in the eye and tell them that a GOP-led Congress will put the FairTax on the president’s desk — or that the president would ever sign it. For the time being, his goal is more modest: He hopes to harness the relatively small but growing support for the proposal, and to take its message to voters across the country, showing his fellow Republicans that populist economic policies can win back the White House in 2016.

“This is a mission to change the way people think about the tax code,” he says. “It’s kind of a crazy idea until you look at it and you say, ‘Golly, why haven’t we done that already?’ Because we know that we can’t win Washington until we win the American voter across the country.” –

https://fairtax.org/articles/the-fairtax-makes-a-comeback

The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts Portfolio

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 473-475

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 464-472

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 455-463

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Part 3 of 3: American People Leaving Both Democratic and Republican Parties In Search of A Party With Principles and Leaders With Integrity and Defenders of The United States Constitution — A New Direction For America — Videos

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Pronk Pops Show 472 May 27, 2015

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Pronk Pops Show 458 May 1, 2015 

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Pronk Pops Show 456: April 29, 2015 

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Story 1: Part  3 of 3: American People Leaving Both Democratic and Republican Parties In Search of A Party With Principles and Leaders With Integrity and Defenders of The United States Constitution — A New Direction For America — Videos

Ageing population in U.S. skyrockets as baby boomers retire

Demographic Winter – the decline of the human family

Demographic Winter: Decline of the Human Family

One of the most ominous events of modern history is quietly unfolding.  Social scientists and economists agree – we are headed toward a demographic winter which threatens to have catastrophic social and economic consequences.  The effects will be severe and long lasting and are already becoming manifest in much of Europe.

A groundbreaking film, Demographic Winter: Decline of the Human Family, reveals in chilling soberness how societies with diminished family influence are now grimly seen as being in social and economic jeopardy.

Demographic Winter draws upon experts from all around the world – demographers, economists, sociologists, psychologists, civic and religious leaders, parliamentarians and diplomats.  Together, they reveal the dangers facing society and the worlds economies, dangers far more imminent than global warming and at least as severe.  These experts will discuss how:

The population bomb not only did not have the predicted consequences, but almost all of the developed countries of the world are now experiencing fertility rates far below replacement levels.  Birthrates have fallen so low that even immigration cannot replace declining populations, and this migration is sapping strength from developing countries, the fertility rates for many of which are now falling at a faster pace than did those of the developed countries.

The economies of the world will continue to contract as the human capital spoken of by Nobel Prize winning economist Gary Becker, diminishes.   The engines of commerce will be strained as the workers of today fail to replace themselves and are burdened by the responsibility to support an aging population.

View the entire documentary below

The New Economic Reality Demographic Winter Part 1

The New Economic Reality Demographic Winter Part 2

Ageing population in U.S. skyrockets as baby boomers retire

New Study: Many Americans Will Not Be Able to Retire Until Their 80s

Laziness, Greed, Entitlement – Baby Boomers Defined

The End of the World as We Know It, with Mark Steyn

Gallup: Partisan split at historic level

Gallup Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Want GOP Congress to Set Country’s Agenda, Not Obama

Most Political Independents Ever In USA

How Are Conservative And Liberal Brains Different?

Poll Record High 42 Percent Americans Identify As Independents

Against the USA, Naked Communist Conspiracy Is Unfolding, NWO

1.U.S. acceptance of coexistence as the only alternative to atomic war.
2.U.S. willingness to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war.
3.Develop the illusion that total disarmament by the United States would be a demonstration of moral strength.
4.Permit free trade between all nations regardless of Communist affiliation
5.Extension of long-term loans to Russia & satellites.
6.Provide American aid to all nations regardless
7.Grant recognition of Red China. Admission of Red China to the U.N.
8.Set up East and West Germany as separate states under supervision of the U.N.
9.Prolong the conferences to ban atomic tests because the U.S. has agreed to suspend tests as long as negotiations are in progress.
10.Allow all Soviet satellites individual representation in the U.N.
11.Promote the U.N. as the only hope for mankind. Demand that it be set up as a one-world government with its own independent armed forces.
12.Resist any attempt to outlaw the Communist Party.
13.Do away with all loyalty oaths.
14.Continue giving Russia access to the U.S. Patent Office.
15.Capture one or both of the political parties.
16.Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken by claiming their activities violate civil rights.
17.Get control of the schools. Promote Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers’ associations.
18.Gain control of all student newspapers.
19.Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations which are under Communist attack.
20.Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, policymaking positions.
21.Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.
22.Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. “eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms.”
23.Control art critics and directors of art museums.
24.Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech.
25.Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity 26.Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as “normal, natural, healthy.”
27.Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion. Discredit the Bible as a “religious crutch.”
28.Eliminate prayer or religious expression in the schools
29.Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.
30.Discredit the American Founding Fathers.
31.Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history
32.Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture; education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.
33.Eliminate all laws or procedures which interfere with the operation of communism
34.Eliminate the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
35.Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI.
36.Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.
37.Infiltrate and gain control of big business.
38.Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand or treat.
39.Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.
40.Discredit the family. Encourage promiscuity, masturbation, easy divorce.
41.Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding to suppressive influence of parents.
42.Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special-interest groups should rise up and use “united force” to solve economic, political or social problems.
43.Overthrow all colonial governments before natives are ready for self-government.
44.Internationalize the Panama Canal.
45.Repeal the Connally reservation so the United States cannot prevent the World Court from seizing jurisdiction over domestic problems and individuals alike.

Mind Control, Psychology of Brainwashing, Sex & Hypnosis

Fit vs. UnFit, Eugenics, Planned Parenthood & Psychology, Mind Control Report

Yuri Bezmenov: Psychological Warfare Subversion & Control of Western Society

The Subversion Factor, Part 1: Moles In High Places

The Subversion Factor, Part 2: The Open Gates of Troy

G. Edward Griffin – The Collectivist Conspiracy

youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAdu0N1-tvU]

The Quigley Formula – G. Edward Griffin lecture

Robert Welch in 1974 reveals NWO

Robert Welch Speaks: A Touch of Sanity (1965)

Robert Welch Speaks: In One Generation (1974)

CORPORATE FASCISM: The Destruction of America’s Middle Class

CULTURAL MARXISM: The Corruption of America

Countdown to Financial Collapse – A Conversation with G. Edward Griffin

WRCFresnoTV — G. Edward Griffin — The Federal Reserve, Taxes, The I.R.S. & Solutions

Rammstein “We’re all living in America” (HD) English Subtitle

Five Finger Death Punch – Wrong Side Of Heaven

Just How Many Baby Boomers Are There?

(April 2014) Data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that there are 76.4 million baby boomers.

There were actually a total of 76 million births in the United States from 1946 to 1964, the 19 years usually called the “baby boom.” Of the 76 million baby boomers born, nearly 11 million had died by 2012, leaving some 65.2 million survivors. However, when immigrants are included (the number of people coming into the United States from other countries, minus those moving the other way), the number grows to an estimated 76.4 million because immigrants outweighed the number of baby-boomer deaths. The flow of immigrants greatly increased after passage of the Immigration Act of 1965, just as the baby boom was ending.

So one can use the figure 76.4 million (or round it down to 76 million) to approximate the number of baby boomers living in the U.S. today. But keep in mind that of the 76 million babies were born in the United States during the baby-boom years (1946 to 1964), only 65.2 million of those babies were still alive in 2012, and the baby-boom age group (ages 50 to 68 in 2014) stood at 76.4 million in 2012 with immigrants included in the count.

These 76.4 million baby boomers represent close to one-quarter of the estimated 2012 U.S. population of 314 million. The choices they make about whether to retire or continue to work will have profound implications for job openings and Social Security spending. According to American Community Survey data, about 68 percent of baby boomers were still in the labor force (including Armed Forces) in 2012.

The Census Bureau currently projects that the baby-boom population will total 61.3 million in 2029, when the youngest boomers reach age 65. By 2031, when the youngest baby boomers reach age 67 (the age at which persons born in 1964 can receive full Social Security benefits), the baby-boom population is projected to be even lower, at 58.2 million.

The aging of the baby boomers is creating a dramatic shift in the age composition of the U.S. population. Projections of the entire older population (which includes the pre-baby-boom cohorts born before 1946) suggest that 71.4 million people will be age 65 or older in 2029. This means that the elderly ages 65 and older will make up about 20 percent of the U.S. population by 2029, up from almost 14 percent in 2012.

http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2002/JustHowManyBabyBoomersAreThere.aspx

Series Id:           LNS14000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Unemployment Rate
Labor force status:  Unemployment rate
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over

Series Id:           LNS13327709
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (seas) Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of all civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers
Labor force status:  Aggregated totals unemployed
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over
Percent/rates:       Unemployed and mrg attached and pt for econ reas as percent of labor force plus marg attached

Series Id:           LNS11300000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Labor Force Participation Rate
Labor force status:  Civilian labor force participation rate
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over

Series Id:           LNS12000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Employment Level
Labor force status:  Employed
Type of data:        Number in thousands
Age:                 16 years and over

Series Id:           LNS13000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Unemployment Level
Labor force status:  Unemployed
Type of data:        Number in thousands
Age:                 16 years and over

Series Id:           LNS15000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Not in Labor Force
Labor force status:  Not in labor force
Type of data:        Number in thousands
Age:                 16 years and over

World-Fertility-Rate-Map65 and olderbig-population-age-groupKeeping_Track_Age_Distributionslide_25 aging_chart1PG_14.01.29_agingFacts_4_youngOldUS800px-Uspop.svg   shrinking-families

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After reaching a more than two-year high in early 2015, Americans’ satisfaction with the direction of the U.S. continues to fall. Twenty-six percent of Americans say they are satisfied with the way things are going in the nation in May, down slightly from 32% in January and February.

Satisfaction With the Direction of the U.S.

The latest data are from Gallup’s May 6-10 poll.

Satisfaction jumped nine points in January to 32%, a promising sign that Americans’ moods were improving after a year of lower figures throughout 2014, ranging between 20% and 27%. Since February, though, satisfaction has dipped only slightly each month, but these small drops have resulted in a six-point decline since the beginning of the year. Satisfaction remains below the 36% historical average for Gallup’s trend dating back to 1979.

The drop in Americans’ satisfaction with the way things are going parallels the recent decline in economic confidence. Americans had a more positive outlook on the economy at the dawn of 2015, but these views, like satisfaction, have edged down in recent months.

Satisfaction With the Direction of the U.S. vs. Economic Confidence

Views of the nation’s direction have certainly been brighter in the past. Majorities of Americans were typically satisfied with the direction of the U.S. between 1998 and mid-2002 — including a record high of 71% in February 1999. But satisfaction declined steadily in the latter half of President George W. Bush’s presidency as the public grew disillusioned with the war in Iraq and the national economy suffered. This dip in satisfaction culminated in 7% of Americans, a record low, saying they were satisfied with the direction of the nation in October 2008 as the global economy collapsed and the U.S. stock market plummeted.

Satisfaction improved significantly during the first year of President Barack Obama’s term — reaching 36% in August 2009. It has not returned to that level since, ranging between 11% and 33% throughout Obama’s time in office.

Americans Still List Economy, Gov’t and Unemployment as Top Problems

Though the 14% of Americans who name dissatisfaction with government, Congress and politicians as the top problem facing the U.S. has fallen five points since April, it still remains the most commonly mentioned problem — a distinction it has held for six months.

The economy in general (12%) and unemployment (10%) have remained at the top of the list for several years. But mentions of these issues are down significantly from their recent peaks — the economy reached a high of 37% in 2012, and unemployment reached a high of 39% in 2011.

Trends in Top

Race relations and racism (8%), immigration (6%), a decline in moral, religious and family ethics (6%), the state of the healthcare system (5%) and terrorism (5%) were also among the most frequently cited problems facing the nation.

Most Commonly Named Problems in April 2015 vs. May 2015

Bottom Line

After years of dysfunctional government, the economy and unemployment dominating Americans’ mentions of the top problem facing the nation, fewer mention these problems now than in recent years. Still, these three problems remain at the forefront of Americans’ concerns, and may be driving Americans’ high level of dissatisfaction with the nation’s direction.

Although Americans’ confidence in the economy is higher this year than in recent years, it is still negative. And while fewer mention dysfunctional government as the nation’s top problem, Americans still strongly disapprove of Congress’ performance and remain divided on Obama’s.

Meanwhile, mentions of unemployment as a top problem have dipped as more U.S. workers report their workplaces are hiring and the unemployment rate as reported by the BLS declines. But unemployment still remains one of the most frequently cited problems.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted May 6-10, 2015, with a random sample of 1,024 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/183248/americans-satisfaction-direction-wanes.aspx?utm_source=Politics&utm_medium=newsfeed&utm_campaign=tiles

Trend: Party affiliation in U.S. plus leaners

Story Highlights

  • Congressional job approval at 19%, essentially unchanged
  • Approval of GOP Congress similar among Republicans and Democrats

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressional job approval, currently at 19%, remains stuck near historical lows, despite a number of recent high-profile legislative achievements.

Congressional Job Approval Ratings: 2001-2015

Over the past month, Congress has confirmed the stalled nomination of Attorney General Loretta Lynch and both chambers passed a bill that was signed into law regarding Medicare. Bills that would authorize limited congressional oversight on any international agreement with Iran and help victims of human trafficking passed the Senate with little or no opposition. The uptick in activity, though hardly historic, is notable compared with the past two Congresses. Those Congresses, marked by divided control of the two chambers, were known for their entrenched partisan gridlock and few legislative accomplishments. And Americans didn’t care for their inability to agree — they gave Congress its lowest approval ever over this time period. Gallup found in June 2013, six months into the previous Congress, that gridlock and ineffectiveness were the most frequently cited reason for Americans’ disapproval of Congress.

Several months into this new Congress, the accomplishments that have been realized could give one the impression that the gridlock is softening, particularly over the past month. But these achievements have had virtually no impact on Congress’s job approval compared with early April (15%).

And, of course, Congress is far from working perfectly now, even if the pace of work appears to have increased. Most dramatically, the Senate failed to overcome a Democratic filibuster Tuesday afternoon that would give the president enhanced authority in negotiating trade bills, though the May survey was conducted before this occurrence. Legislation authorizing the use of military force in Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS, proposed by the administration and which many members of Congress support, remains stalled.

GOP Congress Has Low Approval Among Republicans

A key reason the current 114th Congress appears to be having more legislative success than the two Congresses before it is that the House and Senate are now under one party’s control. Unified GOP control of Capitol Hill should, at least in theory, boost Republicans’ overall approval of Congress. But the expected “Republican rally” for Congress has yet to materialize — 21% of Republicans and Republican leaners approve of Congress, not much different from the 18% of independents and of Democrats who approve. Nor is Republican support notably higher than the 15% it reached in 2014, despite the decided Republican tilt of this year’s legislature.

Congressional Job Approval, by Party Identification, May 2015

Bottom Line

After years of dysfunction, Congress is moving forward on key pieces of legislation. No longer shackled by split control — though still facing a president of the opposite party — the legislative branch is suddenly finding some areas of agreement. But even if it appears that the gridlock is easing, the overwhelming majority of Americans still disapprove of Congress. If Congress continues passing bipartisan legislation, more Americans might soften their stance. Still, it may be that Americans are largely not aware of or impressed by Congress’ recent legislative successes. Or it may be that the hit to Congress’ reputation over the last several years — evident not only in dismal job approval ratings, but also fallinglevels of trust and confidence — will take a long time to reverse.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted May 6-10, 2015, with a random sample of 1,024 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/183128/five-months-gop-congress-approval-remains-low.aspx?utm_source=Politics&utm_medium=newsfeed&utm_campaign=tiles

Story Highlights

  • 31% say they are socially liberal, 31% socially conservative
  • This is the first time conservatives have not outnumbered liberals
  • Conservatives maintain edge on economic issues

PRINCETON, N.J. — Thirty-one percent of Americans describe their views on social issues as generally liberal, matching the percentage who identify as social conservatives for the first time in Gallup records dating back to 1999.

Trend: Americans' Self-Description of Views on Social Issues

Gallup first asked Americans to describe their views on social issues in 1999, and has repeated the question at least annually since 2001. The broad trend has been toward a shrinking conservative advantage, although that was temporarily interrupted during the first two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. Since then, the conservative advantage continued to diminish until it was wiped out this year.

The newfound parity on social ideology is a result of changes in the way both Democrats and Republicans describe their social views. The May 6-10 Gallup poll finds a new high of 53% of Democrats, including Democratic-leaning independents, describing their views on social issues as liberal.

Trend: Ideological Identification on Social Issues, Democrats and Democratic Leaners, 2001-2015

Democrats were more likely to describe their views on social issues as moderate rather than liberal from 2001 to 2005. Since then, socially liberal Democrats have outnumbered socially moderate Democrats in all but one year.

Meanwhile, the 53% of Republicans and Republican leaners saying their views on social issues are conservative is the lowest in Gallup’s trend. The drop in Republicans’ self-identified social conservatism has been accompanied by an increase in moderate identification, to 34%, while the percentage identifying as socially liberal has been static near 10%.

Trend: Ideological Identification on Social Issues, Republicans and Republican Leaners, 2001-2015

These trends echo the pattern in Gallup’s overall ideology measure, which dates back to 1992 and shows increasing liberal identification in recent years. As with the social ideology measure, the longer-term shifts are mainly a result of increasing numbers of Democrats describing their views as liberal rather than moderate. That may reflect Democrats feeling more comfortable in describing themselves as liberal than they were in the past, as much as a more leftward shift in Democrats’ attitudes on political, economic and social issues.

Conservatives Still Lead Liberals on Economic Issues

In contrast to the way Americans describe their views on social issues, they still by a wide margin, 39% to 19%, describe their views on economic issues as conservative rather than liberal. However, as on social ideology, the gap between conservatives and liberals has been shrinking and is lower today than at any point since 1999, with the 39% saying they are economically conservative the lowest to date.

Trend: Americans' Self-Description of Views on Economic Issues

Currently, 64% of Republicans identify as conservative economically, which is down from 70% the previous two years and roughly 75% in the early years of the Obama presidency. During George W. Bush’s administration, Republicans were less likely to say they were economic conservatives, with as few as 58% doing so in 2004 and 2005. The trends suggest Republicans’ willingness to identify as economic conservatives, or economic moderates, is influenced by the party of the president in office, and perhaps the types of financial policies the presidential administration is pursuing at the time.

Trend: Ideological Identification on Economic Issues, Republicans and Republican Leaners, 2001-2015

Democrats are also contributing to the trend in lower economic conservative identification. While the plurality of Democrats have consistently said they are economically moderate, Democrats have been more likely to identify as economic liberals than as economic conservatives since 2007. The last two years, there has been a 15-percentage-point gap in liberal versus conservative identification among Democrats on economic matters.

Trend: Ideological Identification on Economic Issues, Democrats and Democratic Leaners, 2001-2015

Implications

Americans’ growing social liberalism is evident not only in how they describe their views on social issues but also in changes in specific attitudes, such as increased support for same-sex marriage and legalizing marijuana. These longer-term trends may be attributable to changing attitudes among Americans of all ages, but they also may be a result of population changes, with younger, more liberal Americans entering adulthood while older, more conservative adults pass on. Gallup found evidence that population replacement is a factor in explaining changes in overall ideology using an analysis of birth cohorts over time.

The 2016 presidential election will thus be contested in a more socially liberal electorate — and a less economically conservative one — than was true of prior elections. Economically and socially conservative candidates may still appeal to the Republican Party base in the primaries, but it may be more important now than in the past for the GOP nominee to be a bit less conservative on social issues in order to appeal to the broader general electorate.

And while Americans are less economically conservative than in the past, economic conservatives still outnumber economic liberals by about 2-to-1. As a result, Democrats must be careful not to nominate a candidate who is viewed as too liberal on economic matters if their party hopes to hold the White House beyond 2016.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted May 6-10, 2015, with a random sample of 1,024 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/183386/social-ideology-left-catches-right.aspx?utm_source=Politics&utm_medium=newsfeed&utm_campaign=tiles

AGAINST THE GRAIN
Democrats’ Vanishing Future

Hillary Clinton is not the only Democratic comeback candidate on the 2016 ticket. Senate Democrats are betting on the past to rebuild their party for the future.

BY JOSH KRAUSHAAR

One of the most underappreciated stories in recent years is the deterioration of the Democratic bench under President Obama’s tenure in office. The party has become much more ideologically homogenous, losing most of its moderate wing as a result of the last two disastrous midterm elections. By one new catch-all measure, a party-strength index introduced by RealClearPolitics analysts Sean Trende and David Byler, Democrats are in their worst position since 1928. That dynamic has manifested itself in the Democratic presidential contest, where the bench is so barren that a flawed Hillary Clinton is barreling to an uncontested nomination.

But less attention has been paid to how the shrinking number of Democratic officeholders in the House and in statewide offices is affecting the party’s Senate races. It’s awfully unusual to see how dependent Democrats are in relying on former losing candidates as their standard-bearers in 2016. Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold, Pennsylvania’s Joe Sestak, Indiana’s Baron Hill, and Ohio’s Ted Strickland all ran underwhelming campaigns in losing office in 2010—and are looking to return to politics six years later. Party officials are courting former Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina to make a comeback bid, despite mediocre favorability ratings and the fact that she lost a race just months ago that most had expected her to win. All told, more than half of the Democrats’ Senate challengers in 2016 are comeback candidates.

On one hand, most of these candidates are the best choices Democrats have. Feingold and Strickland are running ahead of GOP Sens. Ron Johnson and Rob Portman in recent polls. Hill and Hagan boast proven crossover appeal in GOP-leaning states that would be challenging pickups. Their presence in the race gives the party a fighting chance to retake the Senate.

(RELATED: What’s Next In the House Benghazi Committee’s Hillary Clinton Investigation)

But look more closely, and the reliance on former failures is a direct result of the party having no one else to turn to. If the brand-name challengers didn’t run, the roster of up-and-coming prospects in the respective states is short. They’re also facing an ominous historical reality that only two defeated senators have successfully returned to the upper chamber in the last six decades. As political analyst Stu Rothenberg put it, they’re asking “voters to rehire them for a job from which they were fired.” Senate Democrats are relying on these repeat candidates for the exact same reason that Democrats are comfortable with anointing Hillary Clinton for their presidential nomination: There aren’t any better alternatives.

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For a portrait of the Democrats’ slim pickings, just look at the political breakdown in three of the most consequential battleground states. Republicans hold 12 of Ohio’s 16 House seats, and all six of their statewide offices. In Wisconsin, Republicans hold a majority of the state’s eight House seats and four of five statewide partisan offices. In Pennsylvania, 13 of the 18 representatives are Republicans, though Democrats hold all the statewide offices. (One major caveat: Kathleen Kane, the Democrats’ once-hyped attorney general in the state, is under criminal investigation and has become a political punchline.) These are all Democratic-friendly states that Obama carried twice.

If Strickland didn’t run, the party’s hopes against Portman would lie in the hands of 30-year-old Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, who would make unexpected history as one of the nation’s youngest senators with a victory. (Sittenfeld is still mounting a long-shot primary campaign against Strickland.) Without Feingold in Wisconsin, the party’s only logical option would be Rep. Ron Kind, who has regularly passed up opportunities for a promotion. Former Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett already lost to Gov. Scott Walker twice, and businesswoman Mary Burke disappointed as a first-time gubernatorial candidate last year. And despite the Democratic establishment’s publicized carping over Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania, the list of alternatives is equally underwhelming: His only current intra-party opposition is from the mayor of Allentown.

(RELATED: Hillary Clinton to Launch Her Campaign, Again)

In the more conservative states, the drop-off between favored recruits and alternatives is even more stark. Hagan would be a flawed nominee in North Carolina, but there’s no one else waiting in the wings. The strongest Democratic politician, Attorney General Roy Cooper, is running for governor instead. And in Indiana, the bench is so thin that even the GOP’s embattled governor, Mike Pence, isn’t facing formidable opposition. Hill, who lost congressional reelection campaigns in both 2004 and 2010, is not expected to face serious primary competition in the race to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Dan Coats.

Even in the two swing states where the party landed young, up-and-coming recruits to run, their options were awfully limited. In Florida, 32-year-old Rep. Patrick Murphy is one of only five House Democrats to represent a district that Mitt Romney carried in 2012—and his centrism has made him one of the most compelling candidates for higher office. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee quickly rallied behind his campaign (in part to squelch potential opposition from firebrand congressman Alan Grayson). But if Murphy didn’t run, the alternatives would have been limited: freshman Rep. Gwen Graham and polarizing Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz being the most logical alternatives.

In Nevada, Democrats boast one of their strongest challengers in former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, vying to become the first Latina ever elected to the Senate. But her ascension is due, in part, to the fact that other talented officeholders lost in the 2014 statewide wipeout. Democratic lieutenant-governor nominee Lucy Flores, hyped by MSNBC as a “potential superstar,” lost by 26 points to her GOP opponent. Former Secretary of State Ross Miller, another fast-rising pol, badly lost his bid for attorney general against a nondescript Republican. By simply taking a break from politics, Cortez Masto avoided the wave and kept her prospects alive for 2016.

(RELATED: Newly Released Clinton Email Detail Benghazi Correspondence)

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This isn’t an assessment of Democratic chances for a Senate majority in 2017; it’s a glaring warning for the party’s longer-term health. If Clinton can’t extend the Democrats’ presidential winning streak—a fundamental challenge, regardless of the political environment—the party’s barren bench will cause even more alarm for the next presidential campaign. And if the Democrats’ core constituencies don’t show up for midterm elections—an outlook that’s rapidly becoming conventional wisdom—Democrats have serious challenges in 2018 as well. It’s why The New Yorker’s liberal writer John Cassidy warned that a Clinton loss next year could “assign [Republicans] a position of dominance.”

By focusing on how the electorate’s rapid change would hand Democrats a clear advantage in presidential races, Obama’s advisers overlooked how the base-stroking moves would play in the states. Their optimistic view of the future has been adopted by Clinton, who has been running to the left even without serious primary competition.

But without a future generation of leaders able to compellingly carry the liberal message, there’s little guarantee that changing demographics will secure the party’s destiny. The irony of the 2016 Senate races is that Democrats are betting on the past, running veteran politicians to win them back the majority—with Clinton at the top of the ticket. If that formula doesn’t work, the rebuilding process will be long and arduous.

http://www.nationaljournal.com/against-the-grain/democrats-vanishing-future-20150521

How Many Workers Support One Social Security Retiree?

Veronique de Rugy | May 22, 2012

With the Social Security Trust Fund exhausting faster than expected, another obstacle to the sustainability of the program is rearing its head: Social Security benefits rest on fewer and fewer taxpayers. This week’s chart by Mercatus senior research fellow Veronique de Rugy uses data from the 2012 Social Security Trustees Report to show the number of workers that need to contribute to the system to ensure the benefits for one retiree.

Most of the major shifts in worker-to-beneficiary ratios before the 1960s are attributable to the dynamics of the program’s maturity. In the early stages of the program, many paid in and few received benefits, and the revenue collected greatly exceeded the benefits being paid out. What appeared to be the program’s advantage, however, turned out to be misleading. Between 1945 and 1965, the decline in worker-to-beneficiary ratios went from 41 to 4 workers per beneficiary.

The Social Security program matured in the 1960s, when Americans were consistently having fewer children, living longer, and earning wages at a slower rate than the rate of growth in the number of retirees. As these trends have continued, today there are just 2.9 workers per retiree—and this amount is expected to drop to two workers per retiree by 2030.

The program was stable when there were more than 3 workers per beneficiary. However, future projections indicate that the ratio will continue to fall from two workers to one, at which point the program in its current structure becomes financially unsustainable.

*Note on the data: At the inception of Social Security in 1935, there were few beneficiaries and a lot of workers. (See the number of beneficiaries per 100 covered workers inTable IV.B2 of the Trustees Report). As the post-WWII baby boomers were born, the worker-to-beneficiary ratio increased. As birth rates decline and the baby boomers retire, the worker-to-beneficiary ratio is on the decline. The increased longevity of Americans only further compounds the problem.

http://mercatus.org/publication/how-many-workers-support-one-social-security-retiree

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Part 1 of 3: American People Leaving Both Democratic and Republican Parties In Search of A Party With Principles and Leaders With Integrity and Defenders of The United States Constitution — A New Direction For America — Videos

Posted on May 23, 2015. Filed under: American History, Articles, Babies, Banking, Blogroll, British History, Business, Communications, Constitution, Corruption, Crime, Crisis, Demographics, Documentary, Economics, Education, Employment, European History, Faith, Family, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Fraud, Freedom, Friends, government, government spending, Health Care, history, Inflation, Investments, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, Macroeconomics, media, Monetary Policy, Money, Music, Natural Gas, Obamacare, Oil, People, Philosophy, Politics, Press, Programming, Psychology, Radio, Regulations, Religious, Resources, Science, Security, Speech, Strategy, Talk Radio, Tax Policy, Taxes, Video, War, Wealth, Welfare, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 1: American People Leaving Both Democratic and Republican Parties In Search of A Party With Principles and Leaders With Integrity and Defenders of The United States Constitution — A New Direction For America — Videos

Five Finger Death Punch – Wrong Side Of Heaven

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Gallup: Partisan split at historic level

Gallup Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Want GOP Congress to Set Country’s Agenda, Not Obama

Most Political Independents Ever In USA

How Are Conservative And Liberal Brains Different?

Poll Record High 42 Percent Americans Identify As Independents

Against the USA, Naked Communist Conspiracy Is Unfolding, NWO

1.U.S. acceptance of coexistence as the only alternative to atomic war.
2.U.S. willingness to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war.
3.Develop the illusion that total disarmament by the United States would be a demonstration of moral strength.
4.Permit free trade between all nations regardless of Communist affiliation
5.Extension of long-term loans to Russia & satellites.
6.Provide American aid to all nations regardless
7.Grant recognition of Red China. Admission of Red China to the U.N.
8.Set up East and West Germany as separate states under supervision of the U.N.
9.Prolong the conferences to ban atomic tests because the U.S. has agreed to suspend tests as long as negotiations are in progress.
10.Allow all Soviet satellites individual representation in the U.N.
11.Promote the U.N. as the only hope for mankind. Demand that it be set up as a one-world government with its own independent armed forces.
12.Resist any attempt to outlaw the Communist Party.
13.Do away with all loyalty oaths.
14.Continue giving Russia access to the U.S. Patent Office.
15.Capture one or both of the political parties.
16.Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken by claiming their activities violate civil rights.
17.Get control of the schools. Promote Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers’ associations.
18.Gain control of all student newspapers.
19.Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations which are under Communist attack.
20.Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, policymaking positions.
21.Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.
22.Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. “eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms.”
23.Control art critics and directors of art museums.
24.Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech.
25.Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity 26.Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as “normal, natural, healthy.”
27.Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion. Discredit the Bible as a “religious crutch.”
28.Eliminate prayer or religious expression in the schools
29.Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.
30.Discredit the American Founding Fathers.
31.Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history
32.Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture; education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.
33.Eliminate all laws or procedures which interfere with the operation of communism
34.Eliminate the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
35.Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI.
36.Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.
37.Infiltrate and gain control of big business.
38.Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand or treat.
39.Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.
40.Discredit the family. Encourage promiscuity, masturbation, easy divorce.
41.Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding to suppressive influence of parents.
42.Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special-interest groups should rise up and use “united force” to solve economic, political or social problems.
43.Overthrow all colonial governments before natives are ready for self-government.
44.Internationalize the Panama Canal.
45.Repeal the Connally reservation so the United States cannot prevent the World Court from seizing jurisdiction over domestic problems and individuals alike.

Mind Control, Psychology of Brainwashing, Sex & Hypnosis

Fit vs. UnFit, Eugenics, Planned Parenthood & Psychology, Mind Control Report

Yuri Bezmenov: Psychological Warfare Subversion & Control of Western Society

The Subversion Factor, Part 1: Moles In High Places

The Subversion Factor, Part 2: The Open Gates of Troy

G. Edward Griffin – The Collectivist Conspiracy

youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAdu0N1-tvU]

The Quigley Formula – G. Edward Griffin lecture

Robert Welch in 1974 reveals NWO

Robert Welch Speaks: A Touch of Sanity (1965)

Robert Welch Speaks: In One Generation (1974)

CORPORATE FASCISM: The Destruction of America’s Middle Class

CULTURAL MARXISM: The Corruption of America

Countdown to Financial Collapse – A Conversation with G. Edward Griffin

WRCFresnoTV — G. Edward Griffin — The Federal Reserve, Taxes, The I.R.S. & Solutions

Rammstein “We’re all living in America” (HD) English Subtitle

Series Id:           LNS14000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Unemployment Rate
Labor force status:  Unemployment rate
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over

Series Id:           LNS13327709
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (seas) Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of all civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers
Labor force status:  Aggregated totals unemployed
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over
Percent/rates:       Unemployed and mrg attached and pt for econ reas as percent of labor force plus marg attached

Series Id:           LNS11300000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Labor Force Participation Rate
Labor force status:  Civilian labor force participation rate
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over

Series Id:           LNS12000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Employment Level
Labor force status:  Employed
Type of data:        Number in thousands
Age:                 16 years and over

Series Id:           LNS13000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Unemployment Level
Labor force status:  Unemployed
Type of data:        Number in thousands
Age:                 16 years and over

Series Id:           LNS15000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Not in Labor Force
Labor force status:  Not in labor force
Type of data:        Number in thousands
Age:                 16 years and over

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After reaching a more than two-year high in early 2015, Americans’ satisfaction with the direction of the U.S. continues to fall. Twenty-six percent of Americans say they are satisfied with the way things are going in the nation in May, down slightly from 32% in January and February.

Satisfaction With the Direction of the U.S.

The latest data are from Gallup’s May 6-10 poll.

Satisfaction jumped nine points in January to 32%, a promising sign that Americans’ moods were improving after a year of lower figures throughout 2014, ranging between 20% and 27%. Since February, though, satisfaction has dipped only slightly each month, but these small drops have resulted in a six-point decline since the beginning of the year. Satisfaction remains below the 36% historical average for Gallup’s trend dating back to 1979.

The drop in Americans’ satisfaction with the way things are going parallels the recent decline in economic confidence. Americans had a more positive outlook on the economy at the dawn of 2015, but these views, like satisfaction, have edged down in recent months.

Satisfaction With the Direction of the U.S. vs. Economic Confidence

Views of the nation’s direction have certainly been brighter in the past. Majorities of Americans were typically satisfied with the direction of the U.S. between 1998 and mid-2002 — including a record high of 71% in February 1999. But satisfaction declined steadily in the latter half of President George W. Bush’s presidency as the public grew disillusioned with the war in Iraq and the national economy suffered. This dip in satisfaction culminated in 7% of Americans, a record low, saying they were satisfied with the direction of the nation in October 2008 as the global economy collapsed and the U.S. stock market plummeted.

Satisfaction improved significantly during the first year of President Barack Obama’s term — reaching 36% in August 2009. It has not returned to that level since, ranging between 11% and 33% throughout Obama’s time in office.

Americans Still List Economy, Gov’t and Unemployment as Top Problems

Though the 14% of Americans who name dissatisfaction with government, Congress and politicians as the top problem facing the U.S. has fallen five points since April, it still remains the most commonly mentioned problem — a distinction it has held for six months.

The economy in general (12%) and unemployment (10%) have remained at the top of the list for several years. But mentions of these issues are down significantly from their recent peaks — the economy reached a high of 37% in 2012, and unemployment reached a high of 39% in 2011.

Trends in Top

Race relations and racism (8%), immigration (6%), a decline in moral, religious and family ethics (6%), the state of the healthcare system (5%) and terrorism (5%) were also among the most frequently cited problems facing the nation.

Most Commonly Named Problems in April 2015 vs. May 2015

Bottom Line

After years of dysfunctional government, the economy and unemployment dominating Americans’ mentions of the top problem facing the nation, fewer mention these problems now than in recent years. Still, these three problems remain at the forefront of Americans’ concerns, and may be driving Americans’ high level of dissatisfaction with the nation’s direction.

Although Americans’ confidence in the economy is higher this year than in recent years, it is still negative. And while fewer mention dysfunctional government as the nation’s top problem, Americans still strongly disapprove of Congress’ performance and remain divided on Obama’s.

Meanwhile, mentions of unemployment as a top problem have dipped as more U.S. workers report their workplaces are hiring and the unemployment rate as reported by the BLS declines. But unemployment still remains one of the most frequently cited problems.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted May 6-10, 2015, with a random sample of 1,024 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/183248/americans-satisfaction-direction-wanes.aspx?utm_source=Politics&utm_medium=newsfeed&utm_campaign=tiles

Trend: Party affiliation in U.S. plus leaners

Story Highlights

  • Congressional job approval at 19%, essentially unchanged
  • Approval of GOP Congress similar among Republicans and Democrats

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressional job approval, currently at 19%, remains stuck near historical lows, despite a number of recent high-profile legislative achievements.

Congressional Job Approval Ratings: 2001-2015

Over the past month, Congress has confirmed the stalled nomination of Attorney General Loretta Lynch and both chambers passed a bill that was signed into law regarding Medicare. Bills that would authorize limited congressional oversight on any international agreement with Iran and help victims of human trafficking passed the Senate with little or no opposition. The uptick in activity, though hardly historic, is notable compared with the past two Congresses. Those Congresses, marked by divided control of the two chambers, were known for their entrenched partisan gridlock and few legislative accomplishments. And Americans didn’t care for their inability to agree — they gave Congress its lowest approval ever over this time period. Gallup found in June 2013, six months into the previous Congress, that gridlock and ineffectiveness were the most frequently cited reason for Americans’ disapproval of Congress.

Several months into this new Congress, the accomplishments that have been realized could give one the impression that the gridlock is softening, particularly over the past month. But these achievements have had virtually no impact on Congress’s job approval compared with early April (15%).

And, of course, Congress is far from working perfectly now, even if the pace of work appears to have increased. Most dramatically, the Senate failed to overcome a Democratic filibuster Tuesday afternoon that would give the president enhanced authority in negotiating trade bills, though the May survey was conducted before this occurrence. Legislation authorizing the use of military force in Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS, proposed by the administration and which many members of Congress support, remains stalled.

GOP Congress Has Low Approval Among Republicans

A key reason the current 114th Congress appears to be having more legislative success than the two Congresses before it is that the House and Senate are now under one party’s control. Unified GOP control of Capitol Hill should, at least in theory, boost Republicans’ overall approval of Congress. But the expected “Republican rally” for Congress has yet to materialize — 21% of Republicans and Republican leaners approve of Congress, not much different from the 18% of independents and of Democrats who approve. Nor is Republican support notably higher than the 15% it reached in 2014, despite the decided Republican tilt of this year’s legislature.

Congressional Job Approval, by Party Identification, May 2015

Bottom Line

After years of dysfunction, Congress is moving forward on key pieces of legislation. No longer shackled by split control — though still facing a president of the opposite party — the legislative branch is suddenly finding some areas of agreement. But even if it appears that the gridlock is easing, the overwhelming majority of Americans still disapprove of Congress. If Congress continues passing bipartisan legislation, more Americans might soften their stance. Still, it may be that Americans are largely not aware of or impressed by Congress’ recent legislative successes. Or it may be that the hit to Congress’ reputation over the last several years — evident not only in dismal job approval ratings, but also fallinglevels of trust and confidence — will take a long time to reverse.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted May 6-10, 2015, with a random sample of 1,024 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/183128/five-months-gop-congress-approval-remains-low.aspx?utm_source=Politics&utm_medium=newsfeed&utm_campaign=tiles

Story Highlights

  • 31% say they are socially liberal, 31% socially conservative
  • This is the first time conservatives have not outnumbered liberals
  • Conservatives maintain edge on economic issues

PRINCETON, N.J. — Thirty-one percent of Americans describe their views on social issues as generally liberal, matching the percentage who identify as social conservatives for the first time in Gallup records dating back to 1999.

Trend: Americans' Self-Description of Views on Social Issues

Gallup first asked Americans to describe their views on social issues in 1999, and has repeated the question at least annually since 2001. The broad trend has been toward a shrinking conservative advantage, although that was temporarily interrupted during the first two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. Since then, the conservative advantage continued to diminish until it was wiped out this year.

The newfound parity on social ideology is a result of changes in the way both Democrats and Republicans describe their social views. The May 6-10 Gallup poll finds a new high of 53% of Democrats, including Democratic-leaning independents, describing their views on social issues as liberal.

Trend: Ideological Identification on Social Issues, Democrats and Democratic Leaners, 2001-2015

Democrats were more likely to describe their views on social issues as moderate rather than liberal from 2001 to 2005. Since then, socially liberal Democrats have outnumbered socially moderate Democrats in all but one year.

Meanwhile, the 53% of Republicans and Republican leaners saying their views on social issues are conservative is the lowest in Gallup’s trend. The drop in Republicans’ self-identified social conservatism has been accompanied by an increase in moderate identification, to 34%, while the percentage identifying as socially liberal has been static near 10%.

Trend: Ideological Identification on Social Issues, Republicans and Republican Leaners, 2001-2015

These trends echo the pattern in Gallup’s overall ideology measure, which dates back to 1992 and shows increasing liberal identification in recent years. As with the social ideology measure, the longer-term shifts are mainly a result of increasing numbers of Democrats describing their views as liberal rather than moderate. That may reflect Democrats feeling more comfortable in describing themselves as liberal than they were in the past, as much as a more leftward shift in Democrats’ attitudes on political, economic and social issues.

Conservatives Still Lead Liberals on Economic Issues

In contrast to the way Americans describe their views on social issues, they still by a wide margin, 39% to 19%, describe their views on economic issues as conservative rather than liberal. However, as on social ideology, the gap between conservatives and liberals has been shrinking and is lower today than at any point since 1999, with the 39% saying they are economically conservative the lowest to date.

Trend: Americans' Self-Description of Views on Economic Issues

Currently, 64% of Republicans identify as conservative economically, which is down from 70% the previous two years and roughly 75% in the early years of the Obama presidency. During George W. Bush’s administration, Republicans were less likely to say they were economic conservatives, with as few as 58% doing so in 2004 and 2005. The trends suggest Republicans’ willingness to identify as economic conservatives, or economic moderates, is influenced by the party of the president in office, and perhaps the types of financial policies the presidential administration is pursuing at the time.

Trend: Ideological Identification on Economic Issues, Republicans and Republican Leaners, 2001-2015

Democrats are also contributing to the trend in lower economic conservative identification. While the plurality of Democrats have consistently said they are economically moderate, Democrats have been more likely to identify as economic liberals than as economic conservatives since 2007. The last two years, there has been a 15-percentage-point gap in liberal versus conservative identification among Democrats on economic matters.

Trend: Ideological Identification on Economic Issues, Democrats and Democratic Leaners, 2001-2015

Implications

Americans’ growing social liberalism is evident not only in how they describe their views on social issues but also in changes in specific attitudes, such as increased support for same-sex marriage and legalizing marijuana. These longer-term trends may be attributable to changing attitudes among Americans of all ages, but they also may be a result of population changes, with younger, more liberal Americans entering adulthood while older, more conservative adults pass on. Gallup found evidence that population replacement is a factor in explaining changes in overall ideology using an analysis of birth cohorts over time.

The 2016 presidential election will thus be contested in a more socially liberal electorate — and a less economically conservative one — than was true of prior elections. Economically and socially conservative candidates may still appeal to the Republican Party base in the primaries, but it may be more important now than in the past for the GOP nominee to be a bit less conservative on social issues in order to appeal to the broader general electorate.

And while Americans are less economically conservative than in the past, economic conservatives still outnumber economic liberals by about 2-to-1. As a result, Democrats must be careful not to nominate a candidate who is viewed as too liberal on economic matters if their party hopes to hold the White House beyond 2016.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted May 6-10, 2015, with a random sample of 1,024 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/183386/social-ideology-left-catches-right.aspx?utm_source=Politics&utm_medium=newsfeed&utm_campaign=tiles

AGAINST THE GRAIN
Democrats’ Vanishing Future

Hillary Clinton is not the only Democratic comeback candidate on the 2016 ticket. Senate Democrats are betting on the past to rebuild their party for the future.

BY JOSH KRAUSHAAR

One of the most underappreciated stories in recent years is the deterioration of the Democratic bench under President Obama’s tenure in office. The party has become much more ideologically homogenous, losing most of its moderate wing as a result of the last two disastrous midterm elections. By one new catch-all measure, a party-strength index introduced by RealClearPolitics analysts Sean Trende and David Byler, Democrats are in their worst position since 1928. That dynamic has manifested itself in the Democratic presidential contest, where the bench is so barren that a flawed Hillary Clinton is barreling to an uncontested nomination.

But less attention has been paid to how the shrinking number of Democratic officeholders in the House and in statewide offices is affecting the party’s Senate races. It’s awfully unusual to see how dependent Democrats are in relying on former losing candidates as their standard-bearers in 2016. Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold, Pennsylvania’s Joe Sestak, Indiana’s Baron Hill, and Ohio’s Ted Strickland all ran underwhelming campaigns in losing office in 2010—and are looking to return to politics six years later. Party officials are courting former Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina to make a comeback bid, despite mediocre favorability ratings and the fact that she lost a race just months ago that most had expected her to win. All told, more than half of the Democrats’ Senate challengers in 2016 are comeback candidates.

On one hand, most of these candidates are the best choices Democrats have. Feingold and Strickland are running ahead of GOP Sens. Ron Johnson and Rob Portman in recent polls. Hill and Hagan boast proven crossover appeal in GOP-leaning states that would be challenging pickups. Their presence in the race gives the party a fighting chance to retake the Senate.

(RELATED: What’s Next In the House Benghazi Committee’s Hillary Clinton Investigation)

But look more closely, and the reliance on former failures is a direct result of the party having no one else to turn to. If the brand-name challengers didn’t run, the roster of up-and-coming prospects in the respective states is short. They’re also facing an ominous historical reality that only two defeated senators have successfully returned to the upper chamber in the last six decades. As political analyst Stu Rothenberg put it, they’re asking “voters to rehire them for a job from which they were fired.” Senate Democrats are relying on these repeat candidates for the exact same reason that Democrats are comfortable with anointing Hillary Clinton for their presidential nomination: There aren’t any better alternatives.

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For a portrait of the Democrats’ slim pickings, just look at the political breakdown in three of the most consequential battleground states. Republicans hold 12 of Ohio’s 16 House seats, and all six of their statewide offices. In Wisconsin, Republicans hold a majority of the state’s eight House seats and four of five statewide partisan offices. In Pennsylvania, 13 of the 18 representatives are Republicans, though Democrats hold all the statewide offices. (One major caveat: Kathleen Kane, the Democrats’ once-hyped attorney general in the state, is under criminal investigation and has become a political punchline.) These are all Democratic-friendly states that Obama carried twice.

If Strickland didn’t run, the party’s hopes against Portman would lie in the hands of 30-year-old Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, who would make unexpected history as one of the nation’s youngest senators with a victory. (Sittenfeld is still mounting a long-shot primary campaign against Strickland.) Without Feingold in Wisconsin, the party’s only logical option would be Rep. Ron Kind, who has regularly passed up opportunities for a promotion. Former Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett already lost to Gov. Scott Walker twice, and businesswoman Mary Burke disappointed as a first-time gubernatorial candidate last year. And despite the Democratic establishment’s publicized carping over Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania, the list of alternatives is equally underwhelming: His only current intra-party opposition is from the mayor of Allentown.

(RELATED: Hillary Clinton to Launch Her Campaign, Again)

In the more conservative states, the drop-off between favored recruits and alternatives is even more stark. Hagan would be a flawed nominee in North Carolina, but there’s no one else waiting in the wings. The strongest Democratic politician, Attorney General Roy Cooper, is running for governor instead. And in Indiana, the bench is so thin that even the GOP’s embattled governor, Mike Pence, isn’t facing formidable opposition. Hill, who lost congressional reelection campaigns in both 2004 and 2010, is not expected to face serious primary competition in the race to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Dan Coats.

Even in the two swing states where the party landed young, up-and-coming recruits to run, their options were awfully limited. In Florida, 32-year-old Rep. Patrick Murphy is one of only five House Democrats to represent a district that Mitt Romney carried in 2012—and his centrism has made him one of the most compelling candidates for higher office. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee quickly rallied behind his campaign (in part to squelch potential opposition from firebrand congressman Alan Grayson). But if Murphy didn’t run, the alternatives would have been limited: freshman Rep. Gwen Graham and polarizing Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz being the most logical alternatives.

In Nevada, Democrats boast one of their strongest challengers in former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, vying to become the first Latina ever elected to the Senate. But her ascension is due, in part, to the fact that other talented officeholders lost in the 2014 statewide wipeout. Democratic lieutenant-governor nominee Lucy Flores, hyped by MSNBC as a “potential superstar,” lost by 26 points to her GOP opponent. Former Secretary of State Ross Miller, another fast-rising pol, badly lost his bid for attorney general against a nondescript Republican. By simply taking a break from politics, Cortez Masto avoided the wave and kept her prospects alive for 2016.

(RELATED: Newly Released Clinton Email Detail Benghazi Correspondence)

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This isn’t an assessment of Democratic chances for a Senate majority in 2017; it’s a glaring warning for the party’s longer-term health. If Clinton can’t extend the Democrats’ presidential winning streak—a fundamental challenge, regardless of the political environment—the party’s barren bench will cause even more alarm for the next presidential campaign. And if the Democrats’ core constituencies don’t show up for midterm elections—an outlook that’s rapidly becoming conventional wisdom—Democrats have serious challenges in 2018 as well. It’s why The New Yorker’s liberal writer John Cassidy warned that a Clinton loss next year could “assign [Republicans] a position of dominance.”

By focusing on how the electorate’s rapid change would hand Democrats a clear advantage in presidential races, Obama’s advisers overlooked how the base-stroking moves would play in the states. Their optimistic view of the future has been adopted by Clinton, who has been running to the left even without serious primary competition.

But without a future generation of leaders able to compellingly carry the liberal message, there’s little guarantee that changing demographics will secure the party’s destiny. The irony of the 2016 Senate races is that Democrats are betting on the past, running veteran politicians to win them back the majority—with Clinton at the top of the ticket. If that formula doesn’t work, the rebuilding process will be long and arduous.

http://www.nationaljournal.com/against-the-grain/democrats-vanishing-future-20150521

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Nobody Does It Better Spying On People of The World — National Security Agency — Turnkey Tyranny Turned On The American People — NSA Budget $100 Billion Plus Paid By The American People — The Patriot Act Expires On June 1, 2015 — Both Republican and Democratic Parties Will Renew It! — Secret Security Surveillance State — Alive, Well and Growing — Videos

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Story 1: Nobody Does It Better Spying On People of The World — National Security Agency — Turnkey Tyranny Turned On The American People — NSA Budget $100 Billion Plus Paid By The American People — The Patriot Act Expires On June 1, 2015 — Both Republican and Democratic Parties Will Renew It! — Secret Security Surveillance State —  Alive, Well and Growing — Videos

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment originally enforced the notion that “each man’s home is his castle”, secure from unreasonable searches and seizures of property by the government.  It protects against arbitrary arrests, and is the basis of the law regarding search warrants, stop-and-frisk, safety inspections, wiretaps, and other forms of surveillance, as well as being central to many other criminal law topics and to privacy law.

https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/fourth_amendment

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N.S.A. Phone Data Collection Is Illegal, Appeals Court Rules

THE COMPUTERS ARE LISTENING

HOW THE NSA CONVERTS SPOKEN WORDS INTO SEARCHABLE TEXT

Most people realize that emails and other digital communications they once considered private can now become part of their permanent record.

But even as they increasingly use apps that understand what they say, most people don’t realize that the words they speak are not so private anymore, either.

Top-secret documents from the archive of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show the National Security Agency can now automatically recognize the content within phone calls by creating rough transcripts and phonetic representations that can be easily searched and stored.

The documents show NSA analysts celebrating the development of what they called “Google for Voice” nearly a decade ago.

Though perfect transcription of natural conversation apparently remains the Intelligence Community’s “holy grail,” the Snowden documentsdescribe extensive use of keyword searching as well as computer programs designed to analyze and “extract” the content of voice conversations, and even use sophisticated algorithms to flag conversations of interest.

The documents include vivid examples of the use of speech recognition in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in Latin America. But they leave unclear exactly how widely the spy agency uses this ability, particularly in programs that pick up considerable amounts of conversations that include people who live in or are citizens of the United States.

Spying on international telephone calls has always been a staple of NSA surveillance, but the requirement that an actual person do the listening meant it was effectively limited to a tiny percentage of the total traffic. By leveraging advances in automated speech recognition, the NSA has entered the era of bulk listening.

And this has happened with no apparent public oversight, hearings or legislative action. Congress hasn’t shown signs of even knowing that it’s going on.

The USA Freedom Act — the surveillance reform bill that Congress is currently debating — doesn’t address the topic at all. The bill would end an NSA program that does not collect voice content: the government’s bulk collection of domestic calling data, showing who called who and for how long.

Even if becomes law, the bill would leave in place a multitude of mechanisms exposed by Snowden that scoop up vast amounts of innocent people’s text and voice communications in the U.S. and across the globe.

Civil liberty experts contacted by The Intercept said the NSA’s speech-to-text capabilities are a disturbing example of the privacy invasions that are becoming possible as our analog world transitions to a digital one.

“I think people don’t understand that the economics of surveillance have totally changed,” Jennifer Granick, civil liberties director at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, told The Intercept.

“Once you have this capability, then the question is: How will it be deployed? Can you temporarily cache all American phone calls, transcribe all the phone calls, and do text searching of the content of the calls?” she said. “It may not be what they are doing right now, but they’ll be able to do it.”

And, she asked: “How would we ever know if they change the policy?”

Indeed, NSA officials have been secretive about their ability to convert speech to text, and how widely they use it, leaving open any number of possibilities.

That secrecy is the key, Granick said. “We don’t have any idea how many innocent people are being affected, or how many of those innocent people are also Americans.”

I Can Search Against It

NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, who was trained as a voice processing crypto-linguist and worked at the agency until 2008, told The Intercept that he saw a huge push after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks to turn the massive amounts of voice communications being collected into something more useful.

Human listening was clearly not going to be the solution. “There weren’t enough ears,” he said.

The transcripts that emerged from the new systems weren’t perfect, he said. “But even if it’s not 100 percent, I can still get a lot more information. It’s far more accessible. I can search against it.”

Converting speech to text makes it easier for the NSA to see what it has collected and stored, according to Drake. “The breakthrough was being able to do it on a vast scale,” he said.

More Data, More Power, Better Performance

The Defense Department, through its Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), started funding academic and commercial research into speech recognition in the early 1970s.

What emerged were several systems to turn speech into text, all of which slowly but gradually improved as they were able to work with more data and at faster speeds.

In a brief interview, Dan Kaufman, director of DARPA’s Information Innovation Office, indicated that the government’s ability to automate transcription is still limited.

Kaufman says that automated transcription of phone conversation is “super hard,” because “there’s a lot of noise on the signal” and “it’s informal as hell.”

“I would tell you we are not very good at that,” he said.

In an ideal environment like a news broadcast, he said, “we’re getting pretty good at being able to do these types of translations.”

A 2008 document from the Snowden archive shows that  transcribing news broadcasts was already working well seven years ago, using a program called Enhanced Video Text and Audio Processing:

(U//FOUO) EViTAP is a fully-automated news monitoring tool. The key feature of this Intelink-SBU-hosted tool is that it analyzes news in six languages, including Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Spanish, English, and Farsi/Persian. “How does it work?” you may ask. It integrates Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) which provides transcripts of the spoken audio. Next, machine translation of the ASR transcript translates the native language transcript to English. Voila! Technology is amazing.

A version of the system the NSA uses is now even available commercially.

Experts in speech recognition say that in the last decade or so, the pace of technological improvement has been explosive. As information storage became cheaper and more efficient, technology companies were able to store massive amounts of voice data on their servers, allowing them to continually update and improve the models. Enormous processors, tuned as “deep neural networks” that detect patterns like human brains do, produce much cleaner transcripts.

And the Snowden documents show that the same kinds of leaps forward seen in commercial speech-to-text products have also been happening in secret at the NSA, fueled by the agency’s singular access to astronomical processing power and its own vast data archives.

In fact, the NSA has been repeatedly releasing new and improved speech recognition systems for more than a decade.

The first-generation tool, which made keyword-searching of vast amounts of voice content possible, was rolled out in 2004 and code-named RHINEHART.

“Voice word search technology allows analysts to find and prioritize intercept based on its intelligence content,” says an internal 2006 NSA memo entitled “For Media Mining, the Future Is Now!

The memo says that intelligence analysts involved in counterterrorism were able to identify terms related to bomb-making materials, like “detonator” and “hydrogen peroxide,” as well as place names like “Baghdad” or people like “Musharaf.”

RHINEHART was “designed to support both real-time searches, in which incoming data is automatically searched by a designated set of dictionaries, and retrospective searches, in which analysts can repeatedly search over months of past traffic,” the memo explains (emphasis in original).

As of 2006, RHINEHART was operating “across a wide variety of missions and languages” and was “used throughout the NSA/CSS [Central Security Service] Enterprise.”

But even then, a newer, more sophisticated product was already being rolled out by the NSA’s Human Language Technology (HLT) program office. The new system, called VoiceRT, was first introduced in Baghdad, and “designed to index and tag 1 million cuts per day.”

The goal, according to another 2006 memo, was to use voice processing technology to be able “index, tag and graph,” all intercepted communications. “Using HLT services, a single analyst will be able to sort through millions of cuts per day and focus on only the small percentage that is relevant,” the memo states.

A 2009 memo from the NSA’s British partner, GCHQ, describes how “NSA have had the BBN speech-to-text system Byblos running at Fort Meade for at least 10 years. (Initially they also had Dragon.) During this period they have invested heavily in producing their own corpora of transcribed Sigint in both American English and an increasing range of other languages.” (GCHQ also noted that it had its own small corpora of transcribed voice communications, most of which happened to be “Northern Irish accented speech.”)

VoiceRT, in turn, was surpassed a few years after its launch. According to the intelligence community’s “Black Budget” for fiscal year 2013, VoiceRT was decommissioned and replaced in 2011 and 2012, so that by 2013, NSA could operationalize a new system. This system, apparently called SPIRITFIRE, could handle more data, faster. SPIRITFIRE would be “a more robust voice processing capability based on speech-to-text keyword search and paired dialogue transcription.”

Extensive Use Abroad

Voice communications can be collected by the NSA whether they are being sent by regular phone lines, over cellular networks, or through voice-over-internet services. Previously released documents from the Snowden archive describe enormous efforts by the NSA during the last decade to get access to voice-over-internet content like Skype calls, for instance. And other documents in the archive chronicle the agency’s adjustment to the fact that an increasingly large percentage of conversations, even those that start as landline or mobile calls, end up as digitized packets flying through the same fiber-optic cables that the NSA taps so effectively for other data and voice communications.

The Snowden archive, as searched and analyzed by The Intercept, documents extensive use of speech-to-text by the NSA to search through international voice intercepts — particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Mexico and Latin America.

For example, speech-to-text was a key but previously unheralded element of the sophisticated analytical program known as the Real Time Regional Gateway (RTRG), which started in 2005 when newly appointed NSA chief Keith B. Alexander, according to the Washington Post, “wanted everything: Every Iraqi text message, phone call and e-mail that could be vacuumed up by the agency’s powerful computers.”

The Real Time Regional Gateway was credited with playing a role in “breaking up Iraqi insurgent networks and significantly reducing the monthly death toll from improvised explosive devices.” The indexing and searching of “voice cuts” was deployed to Iraq in 2006. By 2008, RTRG was operational in Afghanistan as well.

A slide from a June 2006 NSA powerpoint presentation described the role of VoiceRT:

VoiceRT: Index/Search of Voice Cuts

Keyword spotting extended to Iranian intercepts as well. A 2006 memoreported that RHINEHART had been used successfully by Persian-speaking analysts who “searched for the words ‘negotiations’ or ‘America’ in their traffic, and RHINEHART located a very important call that was transcribed verbatim providing information on an important Iranian target’s discussion of the formation of a the new Iraqi government.”

According to a 2011 memo, “How is Human Language Technology (HLT) Progressing?“, NSA that year deployed “HLT Labs” to Afghanistan, NSA facilities in Texas and Georgia, and listening posts in Latin America run by the Special Collection Service, a joint NSA/CIA unit that operates out of embassies and other locations.

“Spanish is the most mature of our speech-to-text analytics,” the memo says, noting that the NSA and its Special Collections Service sites in Latin America, have had “great success searching for Spanish keywords.”

The memo offers an example from NSA Texas, where an analyst newly trained on the system used a keyword search to find previously unreported information on a target involved in drug-trafficking. In another case, an official at a Special Collection Service site in Latin America “was able to find foreign intelligence regarding a Cuban official in a fraction of the usual time.”

In a 2011 article, “Finding Nuggets — Quickly — in a Heap of Voice Collection, From Mexico to Afghanistan,” an intelligence analysis technical director from NSA Texas described the “rare life-changing instance” when he learned about human language technology, and its ability to “find the exact traffic of interest within a mass of collection.”

Analysts in Texas found the new technology a boon for spying. “From finding tunnels in Tijuana, identifying bomb threats in the streets of Mexico City, or shedding light on the shooting of US Customs officials in Potosi, Mexico, the technology did what it advertised: It accelerated the process of finding relevant intelligence when time was of the essence,” he wrote. (Emphasis in original.)

The author of the memo was also part of a team that introduced the technology to military leaders in Afghanistan. “From Kandahar to Kabul, we have traveled the country explaining NSA leaders’ vision and introducing SIGINT teams to what HLT analytics can do today and to what is still needed to make this technology a game-changing success,” the memo reads.

Extent of Domestic Use Remains Unknown

What’s less clear from the archive is how extensively this capability is used to transcribe or otherwise index and search voice conversations that primarily involve what the NSA terms “U.S. persons.”

The NSA did not answer a series of detailed questions about automated speech recognition, even though an NSA “classification guide” that is part of the Snowden archive explicitly states that “The fact that NSA/CSS has created HLT models” for speech-to-text processing as well as gender, language and voice recognition, is “UNCLASSIFIED.”

Also unclassified: The fact that the processing can sort and prioritize audio files for human linguists, and that the statistical models are regularly being improved and updated based on actual intercepts. By contrast, because they’ve been tuned using actual intercepts, the specific parameters of the systems are highly classified.

“The National Security Agency employs a variety of technologies in the course of its authorized foreign-intelligence mission,” spokesperson Vanee’ Vines wrote in an email to The Intercept. “These capabilities, operated by NSA’s dedicated professionals and overseen by multiple internal and external authorities, help to deter threats from international terrorists, human traffickers, cyber criminals, and others who seek to harm our citizens and allies.”

Vines did not respond to the specific questions about privacy protections in place related to the processing of domestic or domestic-to-international voice communications. But she wrote that “NSA always applies rigorous protections designed to safeguard the privacy not only of U.S. persons, but also of foreigners abroad, as directed by the President in January 2014.”

The presidentially appointed but independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) didn’t mention speech-to-text technology in itspublic reports.

“I’m not going to get into whether any program does or does not have that capability,” PCLOB chairman David Medine told The Intercept.

His board’s reports, he said, contained only information that the intelligence community agreed could be declassified.

“We went to the intelligence community and asked them to declassify a significant amount of material,” he said. The “vast majority” of that material was declassified, he said. But not all — including “facts that we thought could be declassified without compromising national security.”

Hypothetically, Medine said, the ability to turn voice into text would raise significant privacy concerns. And it would also raise questions about how the intelligence agencies “minimize” the retention and dissemination of material— particularly involving U.S. persons — that doesn’t include information they’re explicitly allowed to keep.

“Obviously it increases the ability of the government to process information from more calls,” Medine said. “It would also allow the government to listen in on more calls, which would raise more of the kind of privacy issues that the board has raised in the past.”

“I’m not saying the government does or doesn’t do it,” he said, “just that these would be the consequences.”

A New Learning Curve

Speech recognition expert Bhiksha Raj likens the current era to the early days of the Internet, when people didn’t fully realize how the things they typed would last forever.

“When I started using the Internet in the 90s, I was just posting stuff,” said Raj, an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Language Technologies Institute. “It never struck me that 20 years later I could go Google myself and pull all this up. Imagine if I posted something on alt.binaries.pictures.erotica or something like that, and now that post is going to embarrass me forever.”

The same is increasingly becoming the case with voice communication, he said. And the stakes are even higher, given that the majority of the world’s communication has historically been conducted by voice, and it has traditionally been considered a private mode of communication.

“People still aren’t realizing quite the magnitude that the problem could get to,” Raj said. “And it’s not just surveillance,” he said. “People are using voice services all the time. And where does the voice go? It’s sitting somewhere. It’s going somewhere. You’re living on trust.” He added: “Right now I don’t think you can trust anybody.”

The Need for New Rules

Kim Taipale, executive director of the Stilwell Center for Advanced Studies in Science and Technology Policy, is one of several people who tried a decade ago to get policymakers to recognize that existing surveillance law doesn’t adequately deal with new global communication networks and advanced technologies including  speech recognition.

“Things aren’t ephemeral anymore,” Taipale told The Intercept. “We’re living in a world where many things that were fleeting in the analog world are now on the permanent record. The question then becomes: what are the consequences of that and what are the rules going to be to deal with those consequences?”

Realistically, Taipale said, “the ability of the government to search voice communication in bulk is one of the things we may have to live with under some circumstances going forward.” But there at least need to be “clear public rules and effective oversight to make sure that the information is only used for appropriate law-enforcement or national security purposes consistent with Constitutional principles.”

Ultimately, Taipale said, a system where computers flag suspicious voice communications could be less invasive than one where people do the listening, given the potential for human abuse and misuse to lead to privacy violations. “Automated analysis has different privacy implications,” he said.

But to Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, the distinction between a human listening and a computer listening is irrelevant in terms of privacy, possible consequences, and a chilling effect on speech.

“What people care about in the end, and what creates chilling effects in the end, are consequences,” he said. “I think that over time, people would learn to fear computerized eavesdropping just as much as they fear eavesdropping by humans, because of the consequences that it could bring.”

Indeed, computer listening could raise new concerns. One of the internal NSA memos from 2006 says an “important enhancement under development is the ability for this HLT capability to predict what intercepted data might be of interest to analysts based on the analysts’ past behavior.”

Citing Amazon’s ability to not just track but predict buyer preferences, the memo says that an NSA system designed to flag interesting intercepts “offers the promise of presenting analysts with highly enriched sorting of their traffic.”

To Phillip Rogaway, a professor of computer science at the University of California, Davis, keyword-search is probably the “least of our problems.” In an email to The Intercept, Rogaway warned that “When the NSA identifies someone as ‘interesting’ based on contemporary NLP [Natural Language Processing] methods, it might be that there is no human-understandable explanation as to why beyond: ‘his corpus of discourse resembles those of others whom we thought interesting'; or the conceptual opposite: ‘his discourse looks or sounds different from most people’s.’”

If the algorithms NSA computers use to identify threats are too complex for humans to understand, Rogaway wrote, “it will be impossible to understand the contours of the surveillance apparatus by which one is judged.  All that people will be able to do is to try your best to behave just like everyone else.”

Next: The NSA’s best kept open secret.

Readers with information or insight into these programs are encouraged to get in touch, either by email, or anonymously via SecureDrop.

Documents published with this article:

Research on the Snowden archive was conducted by Intercept researcher Andrew Fishman

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/05/05/nsa-speech-recognition-snowden-searchable-text/

 

Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act

EFF sued the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the 10th anniversary of the signing of the USA PATRIOT Act in October 2011 for answers about “secret interpretations” of a controversial section of the law. In June 2013, a leaked FISA court order publicly revealed that “secret interpretation”: the government was using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect the phone records of virtually every person in the United States.

Prior to the revelations, several senators warned that the DOJ was using Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act to support what government attorneys called a “sensitive collection program,” targeting large numbers of Americans. The language of Section 215 allows for secret court orders to collect “tangible things” that could be relevant to a government investigation – a far lower threshold and more expansive reach than a warrant based on probable cause.  The list of possible “tangible things” the government can obtain is seemingly limitless, and could include everything from driver’s license records to Internet browsing patterns.

In response to a court order in our lawsuit, in September 2013, the government released hundreds of pages of previously secret FISA documents detailing the court’s interpretation of Section 215, including an opinion excoriating the NSA for misusing its mass surveillance database for years. In October 2013, the government released a second batch of documents related to Section 215, which showed, among other things, that the NSA had collected cell site location without notifying its oversight committees in Congress or the FISA court.

EFF’s lawsuit came after the DOJ failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on the interpretation and use of Section 215.  The suit demanded records describing the types of “tangible things” that have been collected so far, the legal basis for the “sensitive collection program,” and information on the how many people have been affected by Section 215 orders.

The lawsuit remains ongoing.

https://www.eff.org/foia/section-215-usa-patriot-act

Background Articles and Videos

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Through a PRISM, Darkly – Everything we know about NSA spying [30c3]

Published on Dec 30, 2013

Through a PRISM, Darkly
Everything we know about NSA spying

From Stellar Wind to PRISM, Boundless Informant to EvilOlive, the NSA spying programs are shrouded in secrecy and rubber-stamped by secret opinions from a court that meets in a faraday cage. The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Kurt Opsahl explains the known facts about how the programs operate and the laws and regulations the U.S. government asserts allows the NSA to spy on you.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit civil society organization, has been litigating against the NSA spying program for the better part of a decade. EFF has collected and reviewed dozens of documents, from the original NY Times stories in 2005 and the first AT&T whistleblower in 2006, through the latest documents released in the Guardian or obtained through EFF’s Freedom of Information (government transparency) litigation. EFF attorney Kurt Opsahl’s lecture will describe how the NSA spying program works, the underlying technologies, the targeting procedures (how they decide who to focus on), the minimization procedures (how they decide which information to discard), and help you makes sense of the many code names and acronyms in the news. He will also discuss the legal and policy ramifications that have become part of the public debate following the recent disclosures, and what you can do about it. After summarizing the programs, technologies, and legal/policy framework in the lecture, the audience can ask questions.

Speaker: Kurt Opsahl
EventID: 5255
Event: 30th Chaos Communication Congress [30c3] by the Chaos Computer Club [CCC]
Location: Congress Centrum Hamburg (CCH); Am Dammtor; Marseiller Straße; 20355 Hamburg; Germany
Language: english

Glenn Becks “SURVEILLANCE STATE”

Inside the NSA

Ed Snowden, NSA, and Fairy Tales

AT&T Spying On Internet Traffic

For years the National Securities Agency, has been spying on each & every keystroke. The national headquarters of AT&T is in Missouri, where ex-employees describe a secret room. The program is called “Splitter Cut-In & Test Procedure.”

NSA Whistle-Blower Tells All – Op-Docs: The Program

The filmmaker Laura Poitras profiles William Binney, a 32-year veteran of the National Security Agency who helped design a top-secret program he says is broadly collecting Americans’ personal data.

NSA Whistleblower: Everyone in US under virtual surveillance, all info stored, no matter the post

He told you so: Bill Binney talks NSA leaks

William Benny – The Government is Profiling You (The NSA is Spying on You)

‘After 9/11 NSA had secret deal with White House’

The story of Whistleblower Thomas Drake

Whistleblowers, Part Two: Thomas Drake

NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake speaks at National Press Club – March 15, 2013

Meet Edward Snowden: NSA PRISM Whistleblower

The Truth About Edward Snowden

N.S.A. Spying: Why Does It Matter?

Inside The NSA~Americas Cyber Secrets

NSA Whistleblower Exposes Obama’s Dragnet

AT&T whistleblower against immunity for Bush spy program-1/2

AT&T Whistleblower Urges Against Immunity for Telecoms in Bush Spy Program

The Senate is expected to vote on a controversial measure to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act tomorrow. The legislation would rewrite the nation’s surveillance laws and authorize the National Security Agency’s secret program of warrantless wiretapping. We speak with Mark Klein, a technician with AT&T for over twenty-two years. In 2006 Klein leaked internal AT&T documents that revealed the company had set up a secret room in its San Francisco office to give the National Security Agency access to its fiber optic internet cables.

AT&T whistleblower against immunity for Bush spy program-2/2

Enemy Of The State 1998 (1080p) (Full movie)

Background Articles and Videos

Stellar Wind

Stellar Wind was the open secret code name for four surveillance programs by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) during the presidency of George W. Bush and revealed by Thomas Tamm to The New York Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau.[1] The operation was approved by President George W. Bush shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001.[2] Stellar Wind was succeeded during the presidency of Barack Obama by four major lines of intelligence collection in the territorial United States, together capable of spanning the full range of modern telecommunications.[3]

The program’s activities involved data mining of a large database of the communications of American citizens, including e-mail communications, phone conversations, financial transactions, and Internet activity.[1] William Binney, a retired Technical Leader with the NSA, discussed some of the architectural and operational elements of the program at the 2012 Chaos Communication Congress.[4]

There were internal disputes within the Justice Department about the legality of the program, because data are collected for large numbers of people, not just the subjects of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants.[4]

During the Bush Administration, the Stellar Wind cases were referred to by FBI agents as “pizza cases” because many seemingly suspicious cases turned out to be food takeout orders. According to Mueller, approximately 99 percent of the cases led nowhere, but “it’s that other 1% that we’ve got to be concerned about”.[2] One of the known uses of these data were the creation of suspicious activity reports, or “SARS”, about people suspected of terrorist activities. It was one of these reports that revealed former New York governor Eliot Spitzer’s use of prostitutes, even though he was not suspected of terrorist activities.[1]

In March 2012 Wired magazine published “The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)” talking about a vast new NSA facility in Utah and says “For the first time, a former NSA official has gone on the record to describe the program, codenamed Stellar Wind, in detail,” naming the official William Binney, a former NSA code breaker. Binney went on to say that the NSA had highly secured rooms that tap into major switches, and satellite communications at both AT&T and Verizon.[5] The article suggested that the otherwise dispatched Stellar Wind is actually an active program.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stellar_Wind_%28code_name%29

PRISM

PRISM is a clandestine national security electronic surveillance program operated by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) since 2007.[1][2][3][Notes 1] PRISM is a government codename for a data collection effort known officially as US-984XN.[8][9] It is operated under the supervision of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).[10] The existence of the program was leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden and published by The Guardian and The Washington Post on June 6, 2013.

A document included in the leak indicated that the PRISM SIGAD was “the number one source of raw intelligence used for NSA analytic reports.”[11] The President’s Daily Brief, an all-source intelligence product, cited PRISM data as a source in 1,477 items in 2012.[12] The leaked information came to light one day after the revelation that the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had been requiring the telecommunications company Verizon to turn over to the NSA logs tracking all of its customers’ telephone calls on an ongoing daily basis.[13][14]

According to the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, PRISM cannot be used to intentionally target any Americans or anyone in the United States. Clapper said a special court, Congress, and the executive branch oversee the program and extensive procedures ensure the acquisition, retention, and dissemination of data accidentally collected about Americans is kept to a minimum.[15] Clapper issued a statement and “fact sheet”[16] to correct what he characterized as “significant misimpressions” in articles by The Washington Post and The Guardian newspapers.[17]

History

Slide showing that much of the world’s communications flow through the US

Details of information collected via PRISM

PRISM is a “Special Source Operation” in the tradition of NSA’s intelligence alliances with as many as 100 trusted U.S. companies since the 1970s.[1] A prior program, the Terrorist Surveillance Program, was implemented in the wake of the September 11 attacks under the George W. Bush Administration but was widely criticized and had its legality questioned, because it was conducted without approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).[18][19][20][21] PRISM was authorized by an order of the FISC.[11] Its creation was enabled by the Protect America Act of 2007 under President Bush and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which legally immunized private companies that cooperated voluntarily with US intelligence collection and was renewed by Congress under President Obama in 2012 for five years until December 2017.[2][22] According to The Register, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 “specifically authorizes intelligence agencies to monitor the phone, email, and other communications of U.S. citizens for up to a week without obtaining a warrant” when one of the parties is outside the U.S.[22]

PRISM was first publicly revealed on June 6, 2013, after classified documents about the program were leaked to The Washington Post and The Guardian by American Edward Snowden.[2][1] The leaked documents included 41 PowerPoint slides, four of which were published in news articles.[1][2] The documents identified several technology companies as participants in the PRISM program, including (date of joining PRISM in parentheses) Microsoft (2007), Yahoo! (2008), Google (2009), Facebook (2009), Paltalk (2009), YouTube (2010), AOL (2011), Skype (2011), and Apple (2012).[23] The speaker’s notes in the briefing document reviewed by The Washington Post indicated that “98 percent of PRISM production is based on Yahoo, Google and Microsoft.”[1]

The slide presentation stated that much of the world’s electronic communications pass through the United States, because electronic communications data tend to follow the least expensive route rather than the most physically direct route, and the bulk of the world’s internet infrastructure is based in the United States.[11] The presentation noted that these facts provide United States intelligence analysts with opportunities for intercepting the communications of foreign targets as their electronic data pass into or through the United States.[2][11]

According to The Washington Post, the intelligence analysts search PRISM data using terms intended to identify suspicious communications of targets whom the analysts suspect with at least 51 percent confidence to not be United States citizens, but in the process, communication data of some United States citizens are also collected unintentionally.[1] Training materials for analysts tell them that while they should periodically report such accidental collection of non-foreign United States data, “it’s nothing to worry about.”[1]

Response from companies

The original Washington Post and Guardian articles reporting on PRISM noted that one of the leaked briefing documents said PRISM involves collection of data “directly from the servers” of several major internet services providers.[2][1]

Initial Public Statements

Corporate executives of several companies identified in the leaked documents told The Guardian that they had no knowledge of the PRISM program in particular and also denied making information available to the government on the scale alleged by news reports.[2][24] Statements of several of the companies named in the leaked documents were reported by TechCrunch and The Washington Post as follows:[25][26]

Slide listing companies and the date that PRISM collection began

  • Microsoft: “We provide customer data only when we receive a legally binding order or subpoena to do so, and never on a voluntary basis. In addition we only ever comply with orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers. If the government has a broader voluntary national security program to gather customer data we don’t participate in it.”[25]
  • Yahoo!: “Yahoo! takes users’ privacy very seriously. We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network.”[25] “Of the hundreds of millions of users we serve, an infinitesimal percentage will ever be the subject of a government data collection directive.”[26]
  • Facebook: “We do not provide any government organization with direct access to Facebook servers. When Facebook is asked for data or information about specific individuals, we carefully scrutinize any such request for compliance with all applicable laws, and provide information only to the extent required by law.”[25]
  • Google: “Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a backdoor for the government to access private user data.”[25] “[A]ny suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users’ Internet activity on such a scale is completely false.”[26]
  • Apple: “We have never heard of PRISM. We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer data must get a court order.”[27]
  • Dropbox: “We’ve seen reports that Dropbox might be asked to participate in a government program called PRISM. We are not part of any such program and remain committed to protecting our users’ privacy.”[25]

In response to the technology companies’ denials of the NSA being able to directly access the companies’ servers, The New York Times reported that sources had stated the NSA was gathering the surveillance data from the companies using other technical means in response to court orders for specific sets of data.[13] The Washington Post suggested, “It is possible that the conflict between the PRISM slides and the company spokesmen is the result of imprecision on the part of the NSA author. In another classified report obtained by The Post, the arrangement is described as allowing ‘collection managers [to send] content tasking instructions directly to equipment installed at company-controlled locations,’ rather than directly to company servers.”[1] “[I]n context, ‘direct’ is more likely to mean that the NSA is receiving data sent to them deliberately by the tech companies, as opposed to intercepting communications as they’re transmitted to some other destination.[26]

“If these companies received an order under the FISA amendments act, they are forbidden by law from disclosing having received the order and disclosing any information about the order at all,” Mark Rumold, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told ABC News.[28]

Slide showing two different sources of NSA data collection. The first source the fiber optic cables of the internet handled by the Upstream program and the second source the servers of major internet companies handled by PRISM.[29]

On May 28, 2013, Google was ordered by United States District Court Judge Susan Illston to comply with a National Security Letter issued by the FBI to provide user data without a warrant.[30] Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in an interview with VentureBeat said, “I certainly appreciate that Google put out a transparency report, but it appears that the transparency didn’t include this. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were subject to a gag order.”[31]

The New York Times reported on June 7, 2013, that “Twitter declined to make it easier for the government. But other companies were more compliant, according to people briefed on the negotiations.”[32] The other companies held discussions with national security personnel on how to make data available more efficiently and securely.[32] In some cases, these companies made modifications to their systems in support of the intelligence collection effort.[32] The dialogues have continued in recent months, as General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has met with executives including those at Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Intel.[32] These details on the discussions provide insight into the disparity between initial descriptions of the government program including a training slide which states “Collection directly from the servers”[29] and the companies’ denials.[32]

While providing data in response to a legitimate FISA request approved by FISC is a legal requirement, modifying systems to make it easier for the government to collect the data is not. This is why Twitter could legally decline to provide an enhanced mechanism for data transmission.[32] Other than Twitter, the companies were effectively asked to construct a locked mailbox and provide the key to the government, people briefed on the negotiations said.[32] Facebook, for instance, built such a system for requesting and sharing the information.[32] Google does not provide a lockbox system, but instead transmits required data by hand delivery or secure FTP.[33]

Post-PRISM Transparency Reports

In response to the publicity surrounding media reports of data-sharing, several companies requested permission to reveal more public information about the nature and scope of information provided in response to National Security requests.

On June 14, 2013, Facebook reported that the U.S. Government had authorized the communication of “about these numbers in aggregate, and as a range.” In a press release posted to their web site, Facebook reported, “For the six months ending December 31, 2012, the total number of user-data requests Facebook received from any and all government entities in the U.S. (including local, state, and federal, and including criminal and national security-related requests) – was between 9,000 and 10,000.” Facebook further reported that the requests impacted “between 18,000 and 19,000″ user accounts, a “tiny fraction of one percent” of more than 1.1 billion active user accounts.[34]

Microsoft reported that for the same period, it received “between 6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security warrants, subpoenas and orders affecting between 31,000 and 32,000 consumer accounts from U.S. governmental entities (including local, state and federal)” which impacted “a tiny fraction of Microsoft’s global customer base”.[35]

Google issued a statement criticizing the requirement that data be reported in aggregated form, stating that lumping national security requests with criminal request data would be “a step backwards” from its previous, more detailed practices on its site transparency report. The company said that it would continue to seek government permission to publish the number and extent of FISA requests.[36]

Response from United States government

Executive branch

Shortly after publication of the reports by The Guardian and The Washington Post, the United States Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, on June 7 released a statement confirming that for nearly six years the government of the United States had been using large internet services companies such as Google and Facebook to collect information on foreigners outside the United States as a defense against national security threats.[13] The statement read in part, “The Guardian and The Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They contain numerous inaccuracies.”[37] He went on to say, “Section 702 is a provision of FISA that is designed to facilitate the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning non-U.S. persons located outside the United States. It cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States.”[37] Clapper concluded his statement by stating “The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.”[37] On March 12, 2013, Clapper had told the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the NSA does “not wittingly” collect any type of data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.[38] In an NBC News interview, Clapper said he answered Senator Wyden’s question in the “least untruthful manner by saying no”.[39]

Clapper also stated that “the NSA collects the phone data in broad swaths, because collecting it (in) a narrow fashion would make it harder to identify terrorism-related communications. The information collected lets the government, over time, make connections about terrorist activities. The program doesn’t let the U.S. listen to people’s calls, but only includes information like call length and telephone numbers dialed.”[15]

On June 8, 2013, Clapper said “the surveillance activities published in The Guardian and The Washington Post are lawful and conducted under authorities widely known and discussed, and fully debated and authorized by Congress.”[40][10] The fact sheet described PRISM as “an internal government computer system used to facilitate the government’s statutorily authorized collection of foreign intelligence information from electronic communication service providers under court supervision, as authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (50 U.S.C. § 1881a).”[10]

The National Intelligence fact sheet further stated that “the United States Government does not unilaterally obtain information from the servers of U.S. electronic communication service providers. All such information is obtained with FISA Court approval and with the knowledge of the provider based upon a written directive from the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence.” It said that the Attorney General provides FISA Court rulings and semi-annual reports about PRISM activities to Congress, “provid[ing] an unprecedented degree of accountability and transparency.”[10]

The President of the United States, Barack Obama, said on June 7 “What you’ve got is two programs that were originally authorized by Congress, have been repeatedly authorized by Congress. Bipartisan majorities have approved them. Congress is continually briefed on how these are conducted. There are a whole range of safeguards involved. And federal judges are overseeing the entire program throughout.”[41] He also said, “You can’t have 100 percent security and then also have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. You know, we’re going to have to make some choices as a society.”[41]

In separate statements, senior (not mentioned by name in source) Obama administration officials said that Congress had been briefed 13 times on the programs since 2009.[42]

Legislative branch

In contrast to their swift and forceful reactions the previous day to allegations that the government had been conducting surveillance of United States citizens’ telephone records, Congressional leaders initially had little to say about the PRISM program the day after leaked information about the program was published. Several lawmakers declined to discuss PRISM, citing its top-secret classification,[43] and others said that they had not been aware of the program.[44] After statements had been released by the President and the Director of National Intelligence, some lawmakers began to comment:

Senator John McCain (R-AZ)

  • June 9 “We passed the Patriot Act. We passed specific provisions of the act that allowed for this program to take place, to be enacted in operation,”[45]

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee

  • June 9 “These programs are within the law”, “part of our obligation is keeping Americans safe”, “Human intelligence isn’t going to do it”.[46]
  • June 9 “Here’s the rub: the instances where this has produced good — has disrupted plots, prevented terrorist attacks, is all classified, that’s what’s so hard about this.”[47]
  • June 11 “It went fine…we asked him[ Keith Alexander ] to declassify things because it would be helpful (for people and lawmakers to better understand the intelligence programs).” “I’ve just got to see if the information gets declassified. I’m sure people will find it very interesting.”[48]

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), member of Senate Intelligence Committee and past member of Homeland Security Committee

  • June 11 “I had, along with Joe Lieberman, a monthly threat briefing, but I did not have access to this highly compartmentalized information” and “How can you ask when you don’t know the program exists?”[49]

Representative John Boehner (R-OH), Speaker of the House of Representatives

  • June 11 “He’s a traitor”[50] (referring to Edward Snowden)

Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), principal sponsor of the Patriot Act

  • June 9, “This is well beyond what the Patriot Act allows.”[51] “President Obama’s claim that ‘this is the most transparent administration in history’ has once again proven false. In fact, it appears that no administration has ever peered more closely or intimately into the lives of innocent Americans.”[51]

Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI), a Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

  • June 9 “One of the things that we’re charged with is keeping America safe and keeping our civil liberties and privacy intact. I think we have done both in this particular case,”[46]
  • June 9 “Within the last few years this program was used to stop a program, excuse me, to stop a terrorist attack in the United States we know that. It’s, it’s, it’s important, it fills in a little seam that we have and it’s used to make sure that there is not an international nexus to any terrorism event that they may believe is ongoing in the United States. So in that regard it is a very valuable thing,”[52]

Senator Mark Udall (D-CO)

  • June 9 “I don’t think the American public knows the extent or knew the extent to which they were being surveilled and their data was being collected.” “I think we ought to reopen the Patriot Act and put some limits on the amount of data that the National Security (Agency) is collecting,” “It ought to remain sacred, and there’s got to be a balance here. That is what I’m aiming for. Let’s have the debate, let’s be transparent, let’s open this up”.[46]

Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN)

  • June 10 “We have no idea when they [ FISA ] meet, we have no idea what their judgments are”,[53]

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)

  • June 6 “When the Senate rushed through a last-minute extension of the FISA Amendments Act late last year, I insisted on a vote on my amendment (SA 3436) to require stronger protections on business records and prohibiting the kind of data-mining this case has revealed. Just last month, I introduced S.1037, the Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act,”[54]
  • June 9 “I’m going to be seeing if I can challenge this at the Supreme Court level. I’m going to be asking the Internet providers and all of the phone companies: ask your customers to join me in a class-action lawsuit.”[45]

Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)

  • June 9 “We will be receiving secret briefings and we will be asking, I know I’m going to be asking to get more information. I want to make sure that what they’re doing is harvesting information that is necessary to keep us safe and not simply going into everybody’s private telephone conversations and Facebook and communications. I mean one of the, you know the terrorists win when you debilitate freedom of expression and privacy.”[52]

Judicial branch

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) has not acknowledged, denied or confirmed any involvement in the PRISM program at this time. It has not issued any press statement or release relating to the current situation and uncertainty.

Applicable law and practice

On June 8, 2013, the Director of National Intelligence issued a fact sheet stating that PRISM “is not an undisclosed collection or data mining program”, but rather computer software used to facilitate the collection of foreign intelligence information “under court supervision, as authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (50 U.S.C. § 1881a).”[10] Section 702 provides that “the Attorney General [A.G.] and the Director of National Intelligence [DNI] may authorize jointly, for a period of up to 1 year from the effective date of the authorization, the targeting of persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States to acquire foreign intelligence information.”[55] In order to authorize the targeting, the A.G. and DNI need to get an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) pursuant to Section 702 or certify that “intelligence important to the national security of the United States may be lost or not timely acquired and time does not permit the issuance of an order.”[55] When asking for an order, the A.G. and DNI must certify to FISC that “a significant purpose of the acquisition is to obtain foreign intelligence information.”[55] They do not need to specify which facilities or property that the targeting will be directed at.[55]

After getting a FISC order or determining that there are emergency circumstances, the A.G. and DNI can direct an electronic communication service provider to give them access to information or facilities to carry out the targeting and keep the targeting secret.[55] The provider then has the option to: (1) comply with the directive; (2) reject it; or (3) challenge it to FISC.

If the provider complies with the directive, it is released from liability to its users for providing the information and reimbursed for the cost of providing it.[55]

If the provider rejects the directive, the A.G. may request an order from FISC to enforce it.[55] A provider that fails to comply with FISC’s order can be punished with contempt of court.[55]

Finally, a provider can petition FISC to reject the directive.[55] In case FISC denies the petition and orders the provider to comply with the directive, the provider risks contempt of court if it refuses to comply with FISC’s order.[55] The provider can appeal FISC’s denial to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review and then appeal the Court of Review’s decision to the Supreme Court by a writ of certiorari for review under seal.[55]

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the FISA Courts had been put in place to oversee intelligence operations in the period after the death of J. Edgar Hoover. Beverly Gage of Slate said, “When they were created, these new mechanisms were supposed to stop the kinds of abuses that men like Hoover had engineered. Instead, it now looks as if they have come to function as rubber stamps for the expansive ambitions of the intelligence community. J. Edgar Hoover no longer rules Washington, but it turns out we didn’t need him anyway.”[56]

Involvement of other countries

Australia

The Australian government has said it will investigate the impact of the PRISM program and the use of the Pine Gap surveillance facility on the privacy of Australian citizens.[57]

Canada

Canada’s national cryptologic agency, the Communications Security Establishment, said that commenting on PRISM “would undermine CSE’s ability to carry out its mandate”. Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart lamented Canada’s standards when it comes to protecting personal online privacy stating “We have fallen too far behind,” Stoddart wrote in her report. “While other nations’ data protection authorities have the legal power to make binding orders, levy hefty fines and take meaningful action in the event of serious data breaches, we are restricted to a ‘soft’ approach: persuasion, encouragement and, at the most, the potential to publish the names of transgressors in the public interest.” And, “when push comes to shove,” Stoddart wrote, “short of a costly and time-consuming court battle, we have no power to enforce our recommendations.”[58]

Germany

Germany did not receive any raw PRISM data, according to a Reuters report.[59]

Israel

Israeli newspaper Calcalist discussed[60] the Business Insider article[61] about the possible involvement of technologies from two secretive Israeli companies in the PRISM program – Verint Systems and Narus.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, University of Otago information science Associate Professor Hank Wolfe said that “under what was unofficially known as the Five Eyes Alliance, New Zealand and other governments, including the United States, Australia, Canada, and Britain, dealt with internal spying by saying they didn’t do it. But they have all the partners doing it for them and then they share all the information.”[62]

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has had access to the PRISM program on or before June 2010 and wrote 197 reports with it in 2012 alone. PRISM may have allowed GCHQ to circumvent the formal legal process required to seek personal material.[63][64]

Domestic response

Unbalanced scales.svg
The neutrality of this section is disputed. Please do not remove this message until the dispute is resolved. (June 2013)

The New York Times editorial board charged that the Obama administration “has now lost all credibility on this issue,”[65] and lamented that “for years, members of Congress ignored evidence that domestic intelligence-gathering had grown beyond their control, and, even now, few seem disturbed to learn that every detail about the public’s calling and texting habits now reside in a N.S.A. database.”[66]

Republican and former member of Congress Ron Paul said, “We should be thankful for individuals like Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald who see injustice being carried out by their own government and speak out, despite the risk…. They have done a great service to the American people by exposing the truth about what our government is doing in secret.”[67] Paul denounced the government’s secret surveillance program: “The government does not need to know more about what we are doing…. We need to know more about what the government is doing.”[67] He called Congress “derelict in giving that much power to the government,” and said that had he been elected president, he would have ordered searches only when there was probable cause of a crime having been committed, which he said was not how the PRISM program was being operated.[68]

In response to Obama administration arguments that it could stop terrorism in the cases of Najibullah Zazi and David Headley, Ed Pilkington and Nicholas Watt of The Guardian said in regards to the role of PRISM and Boundless Informant interviews with parties involved in the Zazi scheme and court documents lodged in the United States and the United Kingdom indicated that “conventional” surveillance methods such as “old-fashioned tip-offs” of the British intelligence services initiated the investigation into the Zazi case.[69] An anonymous former CIA agent said that in regards to the Headley case, “That’s nonsense. It played no role at all in the Headley case. That’s not the way it happened at all.”[69] Pilkington and Watt concluded that the data-mining programs “played a relatively minor role in the interception of the two plots.”[69] Michael Daly of The Daily Beast stated that even though Tamerlan Tsarnaev had visited Inspire and even though Russian intelligence officials alerted U.S. intelligence officials about Tsarnaev, PRISM did not prevent him from carrying out the Boston bombings, and that the initial evidence implicating him came from his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and not from federal intelligence. In addition Daly pointed to the fact that Faisal Shahzad visited Inspire but that federal authorities did not stop his attempted terrorist plot. Daly concluded “The problem is not just what the National Security Agency is gathering at the risk of our privacy but what it is apparently unable to monitor at the risk of our safety.”[70] In addition, political commentator Bill O’Reilly criticized the government, saying that PRISM did not stop the Boston bombings.[71]

In a blog post, David Simon, the creator of The Wire, compared the NSA’s programs, including PRISM, to a 1980s effort by the City of Baltimore to add dialed number recorders to all pay phones to know which individuals were being called by the callers;[72] the city believed that drug traffickers were using pay phones and pagers, and a municipal judge allowed the city to place the recorders. The placement of the dialers formed the basis of the show’s first season. Simon argued that the media attention regarding the NSA programs is a “faux scandal.”[72][73] George Takei, an actor who had experienced Japanese American internment, said that due to his memories of the internment, he felt concern towards the NSA surveillance programs that had been revealed.[74]

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an international non-profit digital-rights group based in the U.S., is hosting a tool, by which an American resident can write to their government representatives regarding their opposition to mass spying.[75]

On June 11, 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the NSA citing that PRISM “violates Americans’ constitutional rights of free speech, association, and privacy”.[76]

International response

Reactions of Internet users in China were mixed between viewing a loss of freedom worldwide and seeing state surveillance coming out of secrecy. The story broke just before US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in California.[77][78] When asked about NSA hacking China, the spokeswoman of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China said “China strongly advocates cybersecurity”.[79] The party-owned newspaper Liberation Daily described this surveillance like Nineteen Eighty-Four-style.[80] Hong Kong legislators Gary Fan and Claudia Mo wrote a letter to Obama, stating “the revelations of blanket surveillance of global communications by the world’s leading democracy have damaged the image of the U.S. among freedom-loving peoples around the world.”[81]

Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch Member of the European Parliament, called PRISM “a violation of EU laws”.[82]

Protests at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

The German Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Peter Schaar, condemned the program as “monstrous”.[83] He further added that White House claims do “not reassure me at all” and that “given the large number of German users of Google, Facebook, Apple or Microsoft services, I expect the German government […] is committed to clarification and limitation of surveillance.” Steffen Seibert, press secretary of the Chancellor’s office, announced that Angela Merkel will put these issues on the agenda of the talks with Barack Obama during his pending visit in Berlin.[84]

The Italian president of the Guarantor for the protection of personal data, Antonello Soro, said that the surveillance dragnet “would not be legal in Italy” and would be “contrary to the principles of our legislation and would represent a very serious violation”.[85]

William Hague, the foreign secretary of the United Kingdom, dismissed accusations that British security agencies had been circumventing British law by using information gathered on British citizens by Prism[86] saying, “Any data obtained by us from the United States involving UK nationals is subject to proper UK statutory controls and safeguards.”[86] David Cameron said Britain’s spy agencies that received data collected from PRISM acted within the law: “I’m satisfied that we have intelligence agencies that do a fantastically important job for this country to keep us safe, and they operate within the law.”[86][87] Malcolm Rifkind, the chairman of parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, said that if the British intelligence agencies were seeking to know the content of emails about people living in the UK, then they actually have to get lawful authority.[87] The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office was more cautious, saying it would investigate PRISM alongside other European data agencies: “There are real issues about the extent to which U.S. law agencies can access personal data of UK and other European citizens. Aspects of U.S. law under which companies can be compelled to provide information to U.S. agencies potentially conflict with European data protection law, including the UK’s own Data Protection Act. The ICO has raised this with its European counterparts, and the issue is being considered by the European Commission, who are in discussions with the U.S. Government.”[82]

Ai Weiwei, a Chinese dissident, said “Even though we know governments do all kinds of things I was shocked by the information about the US surveillance operation, Prism. To me, it’s abusively using government powers to interfere in individuals’ privacy. This is an important moment for international society to reconsider and protect individual rights.”[88]

Kim Dotcom, a German-Finnish Internet entrepreneur who owned Megaupload, which was closed by the U.S. federal government, said “We should heed warnings from Snowden because the prospect of an Orwellian society outweighs whatever security benefits we derive from Prism or Five Eyes.”[89] The Hong Kong law firm representing Dotcom expressed a fear that the communication between Dotcom and the firm had been compromised by U.S. intelligence programs.[90]

Russia has offered to consider an asylum request from Edward Snowden.[91]

Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said “We knew about their past efforts to trace our system. We have used our technical resources to foil their efforts and have been able to stop them from succeeding so far.”[92][93]

Related government Internet surveillance programs

A parallel program, code-named BLARNEY, gathers up metadata as it streams past choke points along the backbone of the Internet. BLARNEY’s summary, set down in the slides alongside a cartoon insignia of a shamrock and a leprechaun hat, describes it as “an ongoing collection program that leverages IC [intelligence community] and commercial partnerships to gain access and exploit foreign intelligence obtained from global networks.”[94]

A related program, a big data visualization system based on cloud computing and free and open-source software (FOSS) technology known as “Boundless Informant”, was disclosed in documents leaked to The Guardian and reported on June 8, 2013. A leaked, top secret map allegedly produced by Boundless Informant revealed the extent of NSA surveillance in the U.S.[95]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRISM_%28surveillance_program%29

ThinThread

ThinThread is the name of a project that the United States National Security Agency (NSA) pursued during the 1990s, according to a May 17, 2006 article in The Baltimore Sun.[1] The program involved wiretapping and sophisticated analysis of the resulting data, but according to the article, the program was discontinued three weeks before the September 11, 2001 attacks due to the changes in priorities and the consolidation of U.S. intelligence authority.[2] The “change in priority” consisted of the decision made by the director of NSA General Michael V. Hayden to go with a concept called Trailblazer, despite the fact that ThinThread was a working prototype that protected the privacy of U.S. citizens.

ThinThread was dismissed and replaced by the Trailblazer Project, which lacked the privacy protections.[3] A consortium led by Science Applications International Corporation was awarded a $280 million contract to develop Trailblazer in 2002.[4]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ThinThread

Trailblazer

Trailblazer was a United States National Security Agency (NSA) program intended to develop a capability to analyze data carried on communications networks like the Internet. It was intended to track entities using communication methods such as cell phones and e-mail.[1][2] It ran over budget, failed to accomplish critical goals, and was cancelled.

NSA whistleblowers J. Kirk Wiebe, William Binney, Ed Loomis, and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence staffer Diane Roark complained to the Department of Defense’s Inspector General (IG) about waste, fraud, and abuse in the program, and the fact that a successful operating prototype existed, but was ignored when the Trailblazer program was launched. The complaint was accepted by the IG and an investigation began that lasted until mid-2005 when the final results were issued. The results were largely hidden, as the report given to the public was heavily (90%) redacted, while the original report was heavily classified, thus restricting the ability of most people to see it.

The people who filed the IG complaint were later raided by armed Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents. While the Government threatened to prosecute all who signed the IG report, it ultimately chose to pursue an NSA Senior Executive — Thomas Andrews Drake — who helped with the report internally to NSA and who had spoken with a reporter about the project. Drake was later charged under the Espionage Act of 1917. His defenders claimed this was retaliation.[3][4] The charges against him were later dropped, and he agreed to plead guilty to having committed a misdemeanor under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, something that Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project (which helped represent him) called an “act of civil disobedience”.[5]

Background

Trailblazer was chosen over a similar program named ThinThread, a less costly project which had been designed with built-in privacy protections for United States citizens.[4][3] Trailblazer was later linked to the NSA electronic surveillance program and the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy.[3]

In 2002 a consortium led by Science Applications International Corporation was chosen by the NSA to produce a technology demonstration platform in a contract worth $280 million. Project participants included Boeing, Computer Sciences Corporation, and Booz Allen Hamilton. The project was overseen by NSA Deputy Director William B. Black, Jr., an NSA worker who had gone to SAIC, and then been re-hired back to NSA by NSA director Michael Hayden in 2000.[6][7][8] SAIC had also hired a former NSA director to its management; Bobby Inman.[9] SAIC also participated in the concept definition phase of Trailblazer.[10][11]

Redacted version of the DoD Inspector General audit, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the Project on Government Oversight and others. [12][5]

The NSA Inspector General issued a report on Trailblazer that “discussed improperly based contract cost increases, non-conformance in the management of the Statement of Work, and excessive labor rates for contractor personnel.” [13]

In 2004 the DoD IG report criticized the program (see the Whistleblowing section below). It said that the “NSA ‘disregarded solutions to urgent national security needs'” and “that TRAILBLAZER was poorly executed and overly expensive …” Several contractors for the project were worried about cooperating with DoD’s audit for fear of “management reprisal.”[5] The Director of NSA “nonconcurred” with several statements in the IG audit, and the report contains a discussion of those disagreements.[14]

In 2005, NSA director Michael Hayden told a Senate hearing that the Trailblazer program was several hundred million dollars over budget and years behind schedule.[15] In 2006 the program was shut down,[3] after having cost billions of US Dollars.[16] Several anonymous NSA sources told Hosenball of Newsweek later on that the project was a “wasteful failure”.[17]

The new project replacing Trailblazer is called Turbulence.[3]

Whistleblowing

According to a 2011 New Yorker article, in the early days of the project several NSA employees met with Diane S Roark, an NSA budget expert on the House Intelligence Committee. They aired their grievances about Trailblazer. In response, NSA director Michael Hayden sent out a memo saying that “individuals, in a session with our congressional overseers, took a position in direct opposition to one that we had corporately decided to follow … Actions contrary to our decisions will have a serious adverse effect on our efforts to transform N.S.A., and I cannot tolerate them.”[3]

In September 2002, several people filed a complaint with the Department of Defense IG’s office regarding problems with Trailblazer: they included Roark (aforementioned), ex-NSA senior analysts Bill Binney, Kirk Wiebe, and Senior Computer Systems Analyst Ed Loomis, who had quit the agency over concerns about its mismanagement of acquisition and allegedly illegal domestic spying.[3][18][19] A major source for the report was NSA senior officer Thomas Andrews Drake. Drake had been complaining to his superiors for some time about problems at the agency, and about the superiority of ThinThread over Trailblazer, for example, at protecting privacy.[19] Drake gave info to DoD during its investigation of the matter.[19] Roark also went to her boss at the House committee, Porter Goss, about problems, but was rebuffed.[20] She also attempted to contact William Renquist, the Supreme Court Chief Justice at the time.[19]

Drake’s own boss, Maureen Baginski, the third-highest officer at NSA, quit partly over concerns about the legality of its behavior.[3]

In 2003, the NSA IG (not the DoD IG)[19] had declared Trailblazer an expensive failure.[21] It had cost more than $1 billion.[8][22][23]

In 2005, the DoD IG produced a report on the result of its investigation of the complaint of Roark and the others in 2002. This report was not released to the public, but it has been described as very negative.[18] Mayer writes that it hastened the closure of Trailblazer, which was at the time in trouble from congress for being over budget.[3]

In November 2005, Drake contacted Siobhan Gorman, a reporter of The Baltimore Sun.[24][17][25] Gorman wrote several articles about problems at the NSA, including articles on Trailblazer. This series got her an award from the Society of Professional Journalists.[17]

In 2005, President George W. Bush ordered the FBI to find whoever had disclosed information about the NSA electronic surveillance program and its disclosure in the New York Times. Eventually, this investigation led to the people who had filed the 2002 DoD IG request, even though they had nothing to do with the New York Times disclosure. In 2007, the houses of Roark, Binney, and Wiebe were raided by armed FBI agents. According to Mayer, Binney claims the FBI pointed guns at his head and that of his wife. Wiebe said it reminded him of the Soviet Union.[3][18] None of these people were ever charged with any crime. Four months later, Drake was raided in November 2007 and his computers and documents were confiscated.

In 2010 Drake was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on charges of obstructing justice, providing false information, and violating the Espionage Act of 1917,[17][26][27] part of President Barack Obama’s crackdown on whistleblowers and “leakers”.[24][17][28][18] The government tried to get Roark to testify to a conspiracy, and made similar requests to Drake, offering him a plea bargain. They both refused.[3]

In June 2011, the ten original charges against Drake were dropped, instead he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.[5]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AXwwSq_me4

Boundless Informant

Boundless Informant is a big data analysis and data visualization system used by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) to give NSA managers summaries of NSA’s world wide data collection activities.[1] It is described in an unclassified, For Official Use Only Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) memo published by The Guardian.[2] According to a Top Secret heat map display also published by The Guardian and allegedly produced by the Boundless Informant program, almost 3 billion data elements from inside the United States were captured by NSA over a 30-day period ending in March 2013.

Data analyzed by Boundless Informant includes electronic surveillance program records (DNI) and telephone call metadata records (DNR) stored in an NSA data archive called GM-PLACE. It does not include FISA data, according to the FAQ memo. PRISM, a government codename for a collection effort known officially as US-984XN, which was revealed at the same time as Boundless Informant, is one source of DNR data. According to the map, Boundless Informant summarizes data records from 504 separate DNR and DNI collection sources (SIGADs). In the map, countries that are under surveillance are assigned a color from green, representing least coverage to red, most intensive.[3][4]

History

Slide showing that much of the world’s communications flow through the US.

Intelligence gathered by the United States government inside the United States or specifically targeting US citizens is legally required to be gathered in compliance with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) and under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA court).[5][6][7]

NSA global data mining projects have existed for decades, but recent programs of intelligence gathering and analysis that include data gathered from inside the United States such as PRISM were enabled by changes to US surveillance law introduced under President Bush and renewed under President Obama in December 2012.[8]

Boundless Informant was first publicly revealed on June 8, 2013, after classified documents about the program were leaked to The Guardian.[1][9] The newspaper identified its informant, at his request, as Edward Snowden, who worked at the NSA for the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.[10]

Technology

According to published slides, Boundless Informant leverages Free and Open Source Software—and is therefore “available to all NSA developers”—and corporate services hosted in the cloud. The tool uses HDFS, MapReduce, and Cloudbase for data processing.[11]

Legality and FISA Amendments Act of 2008

The FISA Amendments Act (FAA) Section 702 is referenced in PRISM documents detailing the electronic interception, capture and analysis of metadata. Many reports and letters of concern written by members of Congress suggest that this section of FAA in particular is legally and constitutionally problematic, such as by targeting U.S. persons, insofar as “Collections occur in U.S.” as published documents indicate.[12][13][14][15]

The ACLU has asserted the following regarding the FAA: “Regardless of abuses, the problem with the FAA is more fundamental: the statute itself is unconstitutional.”[16]

Senator Rand Paul is introducing new legislation called the Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013 to stop the NSA or other agencies of the United States government from violating the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution using technology and big data information systems like PRISM and Boundless Informant.[17][18]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boundless_Informant

ECHELON

ECHELON is a name used in global media and in popular culture to describe a signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection and analysis network operated on behalf of the five signatory states to the UKUSA Security Agreement[1] (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, referred to by a number of abbreviations, including AUSCANNZUKUS[1] and Five Eyes).[2][3] It has also been described as the only software system which controls the download and dissemination of the intercept of commercial satellite trunk communications.[4]

ECHELON, according to information in the European Parliament document, “On the existence of a global system for the interception of private and commercial communications (ECHELON interception system)” was created to monitor the military and diplomatic communications of the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies during the Cold War in the early 1960s.[5]

The system has been reported in a number of public sources.[6] Its capabilities and political implications were investigated by a committee of the European Parliament during 2000 and 2001 with a report published in 2001,[5] and by author James Bamford in his books on the National Security Agency of the United States.[4] The European Parliament stated in its report that the term ECHELON is used in a number of contexts, but that the evidence presented indicates that it was the name for a signals intelligence collection system. The report concludes that, on the basis of information presented, ECHELON was capable of interception and content inspection of telephone calls, fax, e-mail and other data traffic globally through the interception of communication bearers including satellite transmission, public switched telephone networks (which once carried most Internet traffic) and microwave links.[5]

Bamford describes the system as the software controlling the collection and distribution of civilian telecommunications traffic conveyed using communication satellites, with the collection being undertaken by ground stations located in the footprint of the downlink leg.

Organization

UKUSA Community
Map of UKUSA Community countries with Ireland

Australia
Canada
New Zealand
United Kingdom
United States of America

The UKUSA intelligence community was assessed by the European Parliament (EP) in 2000 to include the signals intelligence agencies of each of the member states:

  • the Government Communications Headquarters of the United Kingdom,
  • the National Security Agency of the United States,
  • the Communications Security Establishment of Canada,
  • the Defence Signals Directorate of Australia, and
  • the Government Communications Security Bureau of New Zealand.
  • the National SIGINT Organisation (NSO) of The Netherlands

The EP report concluded that it seemed likely that ECHELON is a method of sorting captured signal traffic, rather than a comprehensive analysis tool.[5]

Capabilities

The ability to intercept communications depends on the medium used, be it radio, satellite, microwave, cellular or fiber-optic.[5] During World War II and through the 1950s, high frequency (“short wave”) radio was widely used for military and diplomatic communication,[7] and could be intercepted at great distances.[5] The rise of geostationary communications satellites in the 1960s presented new possibilities for intercepting international communications. The report to the European Parliament of 2001 states: “If UKUSA states operate listening stations in the relevant regions of the earth, in principle they can intercept all telephone, fax and data traffic transmitted via such satellites.”[5]

The role of satellites in point-to-point voice and data communications has largely been supplanted by fiber optics; in 2006, 99% of the world’s long-distance voice and data traffic was carried over optical-fiber.[8] The proportion of international communications accounted for by satellite links is said to have decreased substantially over the past few years[when?] in Central Europe to an amount between 0.4% and 5%.[5] Even in less-developed parts of the world, communications satellites are used largely for point-to-multipoint applications, such as video.[9] Thus, the majority of communications can no longer be intercepted by earth stations; they can only be collected by tapping cables and intercepting line-of-sight microwave signals, which is possible only to a limited extent.[5]

One method of interception is to place equipment at locations where fiber optic communications are switched. For the Internet, much of the switching occurs at relatively few sites. There have been reports of one such intercept site, Room 641A, in the United States. In the past[when?] much Internet traffic was routed through the U.S. and the UK, but this has changed; for example, in 2000, 95% of intra-German Internet communications was routed via the DE-CIX Internet exchange point in Frankfurt.[5] A comprehensive worldwide surveillance network is possible only if clandestine intercept sites are installed in the territory of friendly nations, and/or if local authorities cooperate. The report to the European Parliament points out that interception of private communications by foreign intelligence services is not necessarily limited to the U.S. or British foreign intelligence services.[5]

Most reports on ECHELON focus on satellite interception; testimony before the European Parliament indicated that separate but similar UK-US systems are in place to monitor communication through undersea cables, microwave transmissions and other lines.[10]

Controversy

See also: Industrial espionage

Intelligence monitoring of citizens, and their communications, in the area covered by the AUSCANNZUKUS security agreement has caused concern. British journalist Duncan Campbell and New Zealand journalist Nicky Hager asserted in the 1990s that the United States was exploiting ECHELON traffic for industrial espionage, rather than military and diplomatic purposes.[10] Examples alleged by the journalists include the gear-less wind turbine technology designed by the German firm Enercon[5][11] and the speech technology developed by the Belgian firm Lernout & Hauspie.[12] An article in the US newspaper Baltimore Sun reported in 1995 that European aerospace company Airbus lost a $6 billion contract with Saudi Arabia in 1994 after the US National Security Agency reported that Airbus officials had been bribing Saudi officials to secure the contract.[13][14]

In 2001, the Temporary Committee on the ECHELON Interception System recommended to the European Parliament that citizens of member states routinely use cryptography in their communications to protect their privacy, because economic espionage with ECHELON has been conducted by the US intelligence agencies.[5]

Bamford provides an alternative view, highlighting that legislation prohibits the use of intercepted communications for commercial purposes, although he does not elaborate on how intercepted communications are used as part of an all-source intelligence process.

Hardware

According to its website, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) is “a high technology organization … on the frontiers of communications and data processing”. In 1999 the Australian Senate Joint Standing Committee on Treaties was told by Professor Desmond Ball that the Pine Gap facility was used as a ground station for a satellite-based interception network. The satellites were said to be large radio dishes between 20 and 100 meters in diameter in geostationary orbits.[citation needed] The original purpose of the network was to monitor the telemetry from 1970s Soviet weapons, air defence radar, communications satellites and ground based microwave communications.[15]

Name

The European Parliament’s Temporary Committee on the ECHELON Interception System stated: “It seems likely, in view of the evidence and the consistent pattern of statements from a very wide range of individuals and organisations, including American sources, that its name is in fact ECHELON, although this is a relatively minor detail.”[5] The U.S. intelligence community uses many code names (see, for example, CIA cryptonym).

Former NSA employee Margaret Newsham claims that she worked on the configuration and installation of software that makes up the ECHELON system while employed at Lockheed Martin, for whom she worked from 1974 to 1984 in Sunnyvale, California, US, and in Menwith Hill, England, UK.[16] At that time, according to Newsham, the code name ECHELON was NSA’s term for the computer network itself. Lockheed called it P415. The software programs were called SILKWORTH and SIRE. A satellite named VORTEX intercepted communications. An image available on the internet of a fragment apparently torn from a job description shows Echelon listed along with several other code names.[17]

Ground stations

The 2001 European Parliamentary (EP) report[5] lists several ground stations as possibly belonging to, or participating in, the ECHELON network. These include:

Likely satellite intercept stations

The following stations are listed in the EP report (p. 54 ff) as likely to have, or to have had, a role in intercepting transmissions from telecommunications satellites:

  • Hong Kong (since closed)
  • Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station (Geraldton, Western Australia)
  • Menwith Hill (Yorkshire, U.K.) Map (reportedly the largest Echelon facility)[18]
  • Misawa Air Base (Japan) Map
  • GCHQ Bude, formerly known as GCHQ CSO Morwenstow, (Cornwall, U.K.) Map
  • Pine Gap (Northern Territory, Australia – close to Alice Springs) Map
  • Sugar Grove (West Virginia, U.S.) Map
  • Yakima Training Center (Washington, U.S.) Map
  • GCSB Waihopai (New Zealand)
  • GCSB Tangimoana (New Zealand)
  • CFS Leitrim (Ontario, Canada)
  • Teufelsberg (Berlin, Germany) (closed 1992)

Other potentially related stations

The following stations are listed in the EP report (p. 57 ff) as ones whose roles “cannot be clearly established”:

  • Ayios Nikolaos (Cyprus – U.K.)
  • BadAibling Station (BadAibling, Germany – U.S.)
    • relocated to Griesheim in 2004[19]
    • deactivated in 2008[20]
  • Buckley Air Force Base (Aurora, Colorado)
  • Fort Gordon (Georgia, U.S.)
  • Gander (Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada)
  • Guam (Pacific Ocean, U.S.)
  • Kunia Regional SIGINT Operations Center (Hawaii, U.S.)
  • Lackland Air Force Base, Medina Annex (San Antonio, Texas)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECHELON

Room 641A

Room 641A is a telecommunication interception facility operated by AT&T for the U.S. National Security Agency that commenced operations in 2003 and was exposed in 2006.[1][2]

Description

Room 641A is located in the SBC Communications building at 611 Folsom Street, San Francisco, three floors of which were occupied by AT&T before SBC purchased AT&T.[1] The room was referred to in internal AT&T documents as the SG3 [Study Group 3] Secure Room. It is fed by fiber optic lines from beam splitters installed in fiber optic trunks carrying Internet backbone traffic[3] and, as analyzed by J. Scott Marcus, a former CTO for GTE and a former adviser to the FCC, who has access to all Internet traffic that passes through the building, and therefore “the capability to enable surveillance and analysis of internet content on a massive scale, including both overseas and purely domestic traffic.”[4] Former director of the NSA’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group, William Binney, has estimated that 10 to 20 such facilities have been installed throughout the United States.[2]

The room measures about 24 by 48 feet (7.3 by 15 m) and contains several racks of equipment, including a Narus STA 6400, a device designed to intercept and analyze Internet communications at very high speeds.[1]

The very existence of the room was revealed by a former AT&T technician, Mark Klein, and was the subject of a 2006 class action lawsuit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against AT&T.[5] Klein claims he was told that similar black rooms are operated at other facilities around the country.

Room 641A and the controversies surrounding it were subjects of an episode of Frontline, the current affairs documentary program on PBS. It was originally broadcast on May 15, 2007. It was also featured on PBS’s NOW on March 14, 2008. The room was also covered in the PBS Nova episode “The Spy Factory”.

Lawsuit

Basic diagram of how the alleged wiretapping was accomplished. From EFF court filings[4]

More complicated diagram of how it allegedly worked. From EFF court filings.[3] See bottom of the file page for enlarged and rotated version.

Main article: Hepting v. AT&T

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T on January 31, 2006, accusing the telecommunication company of violating the law and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the National Security Agency (NSA) in a massive, illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans’ communications. On July 20, 2006, a federal judge denied the government’s and AT&T’s motions to dismiss the case, chiefly on the ground of the States Secrets Privilege, allowing the lawsuit to go forward. On August 15, 2007, the case was heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and was dismissed on December 29, 2011 based on a retroactive grant of immunity by Congress for telecommunications companies that cooperated with the government. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.[6] A different case by the EFF was filed on September 18, 2008, titled Jewel v. NSA.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Room_641A

List of government surveillance projects for the United States

United States

A top secret document leaked by Edward Snowden to The Guardian in 2013, originally due to be declassified on 12 April 2038.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_government_surveillance_projects

Section summary of the Patriot Act, Title II

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

President George W. Bush gestures as he addresses an audience Wednesday, July 20, 2005 at the Port of Baltimore in Baltimore, Md., encouraging the renewal of provisions of the Patriot Act.

The following is a section summary of the USA PATRIOT Act, Title II. The USA PATRIOT Act was passed by the United States Congress in 2001 as a response to the September 11, 2001 attacks. Title II: Enhanced Surveillance Procedures gave increased powers of surveillance to various government agencies and bodies. This title has 25 sections, with one of the sections (section 224) containing a sunset clause which sets an expiration date, 31 December 2005, for most of the title’s provisions. On 22 December 2005, the sunset clause expiration date was extended to 3 February 2006.

Title II contains many of the most contentious provisions of the act. Supporters of the Patriot Act claim that these provisions are necessary in fighting the War on Terrorism, while its detractors argue that many of the sections of Title II infringe upon individual and civil rights.

The sections of Title II amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and its provisions in 18 U.S.C., dealing with “Crimes and Criminal Procedure“. It also amends the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986. In general, the Title expands federal agencies’ powers in intercepting, sharing, and using private telecommunications, especially electronic communications, along with a focus on criminal investigations by updating the rules that govern computer crime investigations. It also sets out procedures and limitations for individuals who feel their rights have been violated to seek redress, including against the United States government. However, it also includes a section that deals with trade sanctions against countries whose government supports terrorism, which is not directly related to surveillance issues.