El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana

El Conquistqdor Francisco de Orellana
The Conquistador who put the Amazaon baisn "on the map"....Francisco Orellana

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Is There a Lawsuit With Your Name On It?

How to Start Lawyer-Proofing Your Life in 72 Hours

By Bob Bauman JD, Offshore and Asset Protection Editor

If you’re waiting for a problem to start knocking – whether it’s an individual litigant or the U.S. government itself – it’s already too late. The best time for asset protection is long before a problem arrives.

Right now, like it or not, problems are heading straight up your driveway and your front door is within easy reach.

Through taxation and regulation, the U.S. government has stepped up attacks on our wealth. Eager to avoid dealing with our fundamental fiscal issues, our politicians will continue to dig deeper into our pockets to grab every penny they can, no matter who wins the upcoming election.

At the same time, a bad economy is making more people lawsuit-happy. Does your neighbor have a petty grievance against you and your barking dog? You’d better take that complaint seriously … anyone with money (even people of moderate wealth) can become a target.

As sovereign individuals, we understand these trends and guard against them. Wisely, we choose where we place our assets and identify places where we can find safety and privacy guaranteed by law.

For true security, we require a system that also guarantees maximum possible legal tax avoidance, the highest possible financial privacy, the strongest asset protection and access to the most profitable investments available worldwide.

Fortunately, there is one legal device that does all of this: the offshore Asset Protection Trust (APT).

The idea of setting up an offshore APT may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be a complicated process. In some of my favorite offshore havens, you can lay the groundwork for a solid asset-protection strategy in just three days.
Making Yourself a Hard Target

One of the biggest threats to your financial well-being is litigation. The American judicial system is too often an enemy of prosperity. Courts in the United States are clogged with civil suits demanding enormous sums for imagined or statutorily-concocted injuries that create supposed victims of harassment, disability or discrimination.

No matter how safe you think you are, it doesn’t take much to have a lawsuit filed against you these days. Recent headlines have warned that people are now being sued for “defamation” for writing negative product reviews on places like Amazon.

A U.S. group, Legal Reform Now, claims that more than 15 million lawsuits will be filed in state courts alone by the end of 2012, one new lawsuit every two seconds, one for every 12 adults in America. According to consulting firm Towers Watson, the direct cost of U.S. tort lawsuits in 2009 was $250 billion – that’s a little over 1.5% of the entire U.S. gross domestic product.

For lawsuit protection, the best tactic is to shrink yourself and your assets as targets … and an offshore asset protection trust can help you do exactly that. By transferring legal title and reducing control over assets through donating them to your offshore APT, you make yourself a smaller target. Once an APT is set up, this is something that can be done quickly and easily.

And any time hard assets are transferred to another nation (as when cash, stock shares or precious metals are moved to an offshore trust account, or an offshore trustee’s safe deposit box), a home country creditor will have difficulty reaching them, even if the existence of your offshore trust is known.

There is also the benefit of a harassing party knowing your assets are beyond immediate reach. The cost and difficulty of pursuit may discourage legal action or encourage an advantageous compromise.
A Foundation for a Secure Financial Future

Beyond being just a tool against legal threats, an offshore APT can serve as a powerful wealth-preservation structure in building a secure financial future for you and your family. The offshore APT has long been a favorite of those seeking a legal and safe way to distribute wealth to their heirs. While a U.S. domestic trust provides limited protection, that strength multiplies with distance when the APT is located outside U.S. jurisdiction.

As part of a sound estate plan, it can protect your assets while assuring that your heirs and chosen beneficiaries receive exactly what you wish after you’re gone. This can help you minimize estate taxes through planned giving, and also provide maintenance and tax-free income for a surviving spouse. Offshore APTs can also be set up to make sure you meet your family’s needs in the years ahead – paying for medical care or arranging funds to pay for your grandchildren’s college education, for example.

Even as our privacy in the U.S. continues to dwindle and disappear, the security of offshore trusts are rooted in the financial privacy laws of the country in which they are created. And these are often always more strict than those at home.

While the U.S. economy continues to sputter, and the dollar continues its decades-long decline, an offshore APT can serve as an excellent investment vehicle with access to offshore profits and exposure to stronger currencies. These will provide you with the income you need to help build a secure retirement.
Where to Set Up Your Trust

While it is possible to set up a trust in as little as three days in places like Liechtenstein, or in five days in Panama, the more time you allow yourself to draft a solid plan, the more it will be able to meet all of your needs in the years ahead. That’s why the time to start planning is now – when trouble is knocking at the door, it will be too late.

Many offshore financial centers specialize in the creation and administration of offshore asset protection trusts.

What the corporation-friendly State of Delaware is to U.S. companies, these jurisdictions are to asset protection trusts. Many are well developed, globally recognized financial centers. They boast modern, efficient banking, legal and other professional providers who understand servicing offshore APTs and offshore finance in general. Before you choose a place for your trust, always make certain of the latest developments in the jurisdiction you’re considering.

My top havens, based on my own personal experiences, are Panama and the Cook Islands.

Panama has had strong investor and asset protection-friendly laws in place governing trusts since the 1920s. The country has a growing, vibrant economy with a solid banking system that boasts maximum privacy.

A former British protectorate, the Cook Islands began adopting wealth protection laws in the 1980s that now have financial services second only to tourism as the biggest part of this island nation’s economy. The Cook Islands trust law embodies all the best legal concepts concerning modern trusts. As such, it has served as the example for many other offshore centers, from Nevis to Belize.

Both Panama and the Cook Islands can provide you with modern financial services and rock-solid financial privacy, making either an excellent home for your offshore trust. As places of both beauty and protection for your assets and your business interests, I would recommend either.

Faithfully yours,

Bob Bauman

Is it Time to Go Back to the U.S.?

By Dan Prescher

My wife, Suzan Haskins, and I have lived abroad for nearly 12 years now, in seven different locations in four different countries.

And at some point during each of those years, in each of those locations, we’ve asked ourselves, "Is it time to go back to the States?"

We’ve said "no" every time...but not for the reasons you might think. We didn’t leave the States because we hated it. We love the U.S. and all the family and friends we have there. We can go back any time we want, and often do for visits.

No, Suzan and I moved abroad in large part to cater to our sense of adventure. We need a certain amount of novelty in our lives to be as happy and engaged as we can possibly be...and we’ve gotten that in spades since we moved abroad.

Not that we couldn’t have found novelty in the U.S. But another large part of our decision to move abroad was for the economic challenge...to see if we could prove the International Living value proposition.

Could we really live lives that were just as happy and healthy as those we enjoyed in the U.S., for less money? Lots less money? Turns out we could. We are debt-free, our cost of living is a quarter of what it was in the U.S., and we’ve given up nothing fundamental in quality of life.

True, we don’t have 48 varieties of breakfast cereal to choose from at the store, and sometimes we can’t find real Greek olives or Italian roasted red peppers. But for us, that isn’t much of a sacrifice. Living abroad has given us the chance to relearn the difference between the material things we really need to be happy and the things we merely want.

So 12 years ago, we asked ourselves the question: "If we had the chance to live quality lives, without sacrificing the essentials, in an exotic location with perfect weather and good health care...for a quarter of what we’re paying now...would we do it?"

Our answer back then was "yes." And we’ve been doing it ever since. But of course, because we also love the U.S., each year we ask ourselves the other side of that question: "If we could have the same quality of life in the States that we have right now, for what we’re paying now, and be closer to all the family and friends we have back home to boot, would we do it?"

Again, our answer would be "yes." Which is why we keep running the numbers.

Trouble is, the numbers tell us every time that the U.S. still can’t match the deal we have abroad. Could we find a place in the States with scenery as beautiful as we have up here in the Andes mountains? Certainly...the U.S. is blessed with some incredibly beautiful spots. Could we find a place with near-perfect weather all year round? Yes, there are places like that in the U.S., as well.

Could we find a place with utility costs as low as we’re paying? I doubt it...it’s hard to beat $5 per month for cooking gas and $20 per month for electricity...but for the sake of argument, let’s say we could find that in the States.

Could we then find a place in the U.S. where our property taxes would total less than $40 per year? Again, I doubt it. But let’s say yes for the sake of argument.

Now, could we find all of that...majestic scenery, perfect year-round weather, miniscule utility costs, and ridiculously low property taxes...all in one location in the U.S.?

If so, we haven’t found it yet. And we haven’t even added in the cost of health care. Suzan and I aren’t members of Congress or government employees with lifetime, publicly-funded healthcare plans...we have to take care of our own medical care and insurance. And the difference in what we’re paying for high-quality health care and comprehensive private insurance in Ecuador compared to what we’d pay in the U.S. for the same level of care and coverage...that alone would put any move back to the States off the charts financially.

So as far as I can tell, the overhead of life in any single spot in the U.S. just can’t compete with what we have where we’re living in Ecuador.

Rest assured, if we do the math next year and find that we can suddenly live in the States for $2,000 a month and have everything we currently enjoy, we’d seriously consider moving back, at least part-time.

There are so many things we love about living abroad that I don’t believe we could give it up altogether. But the U.S. is near and dear to our hearts, too, and we’d certainly plant at least one foot back on the old home turf if the numbers came out right.

So we’ll keep doing the math, and someday we may get the bottom line we need.

However, in the meantime we’re happy with the way the numbers are coming out right where we are.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The 12 Most Important Food Items To Stockpile

September 24, 2012 by Peggy Layton

Building a comprehensive food stockpile is a daunting task, to say the least. For that reason, I recommend you begin stocking your home grocery store with basic foods that will enable you to survive during a relatively short-term (two weeks to three months) emergency and then gradually expand your inventory to enable you to survive a long-term emergency (one year or longer) that includes a full array of food and non-food items necessary and tailored to your family’s needs and likes.

When considering what to store, keep in mind young children, babies, elderly family members and your pets. Keep special needs items on hand also such as baby food, formula and pet food. Don’t forget the toilet paper.

The following 12 categories of food items (stored somewhere in your home) could very well save your life and the lives of many others in an emergency situation.

1) Garden Seeds

I suggest you purchase non-hybrid garden seeds. The seed can be harvested from your own garden and saved from year to year. If we have a situation where garden seeds are not available, you will have your own. Garden seeds are a great barter Item. Garden seeds have a shelf life, so check the package for the expiration date.

Basic garden seeds to have on hand that will grow in most climates are: asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beets, cabbage, cantaloupe, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, green onions, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, melons, mustard greens, okra, pole or bush beans, parsley, parsnips, peas, peppers, pumpkin, radish, rutabaga, spinach, squash, sweet corn, Swiss chard, tomatoes, turnips, and watermelon

2) Sprouting Seeds

Many different whole grains, beans and legumes, as well as seeds, will sprout when soaked overnight. When you sprout these foods, they provide an excellent source of enzymes and nutrients that you would normally eat if you had fresh vegetables. After sprouting these seeds, grains and legumes, their vitamins and minerals increase by 75 percent. Sprouts can be used in place of salads and in stir-frying.

The most common seeds and legumes for sprouting are alfalfa; broccoli; lentils; radish; red clover; salad blends; sprouting peas; sunflower; wheat; and legumes such as adzuki, garbanzo, kidney, mung, pinto, red, beans and soybeans.

3) Grains

Wheat is the most common grain and the main constituent of bread. In many cultures, whole grain bread is considered the staff of life.

If you are allergic to wheat, there are other grains that you can use such as barley, buckwheat, amaranth, Kamut®, millet, quinoa, rye, spelt, triticale corn, farina, germade, oats and rice.

White rice stores much longer, but brown rice is much more nutritious. Brown rice can be stored in the freezer to extend the shelf life.

4) Beans And Legumes

A wide variety of beans are available, such as black beans, great northern beans, lentils, navy beans, pinto beans, or dried split or whole peas. Beans are a great source of protein. When combined with rice, they become a complete protein. They can be cooked whole in soups, stews or by themselves. They can also be sprouted. Beans can be ground into flour and used to make refried beans or thicken soups. Dried beans and legumes last at least 15 years if kept sealed and in a cool storage area.

5) Spices And Bouillons

With grains, rice, beans, pasta and other staples, you will need spices to make the bland food more palatable. Dried or granulated bouillons, gravy mixes and dried soup bases are very important and can be mixed with canned meat to flavor any rice or pasta dish.

6) Canned And Dried Soups

Canned soups that your family enjoys should be part of your emergency food. These soups are easy to fix and ready to eat. Canned soups can be great starters for a larger pot of soup or stew. Cream-based soups can be used as a gravy or sauce. Purchase soups you normally eat and rotate them.

Dried soup mixes will last much longer than canned soup. They are very important to store. And let’s face it: In a stressful situation, anything that’s easy to fix will be great.

7) Dried Eggs And Dairy Products

Dehydrated eggs are considered a protein food. Dried eggs are great for long-term storage because you can add a small amount of water to the powder and it reconstitutes into the equivalent of fresh eggs. They can be used in scrambled eggs and omelets or in any recipe calling for fresh eggs.

Dried dairy products are also great to store because they last a minimum of five years and can be reconstituted to the equivalent of fresh milk, chocolate milk, butter, buttermilk, sour cream and cheese similar to mac and cheese sauce. Dried dairy products last a minimum of five to 15 years if kept cool.

8) Canned Or Dehydrated Fruits And Vegetables

I suggest you store dehydrated, freeze-dried and commercially canned fruits and vegetables.

Dehydrated food weighs less and is much easier to store than wet-pack food. It requires far less space than wet-pack canned food. Dehydrated food will yield at least double and triple its dry weight and is less expensive. Add water to restore it to its natural state. The taste is still great, and the food value is excellent. Dehydrated foods store from five to 20 years, depending on the product. Dried fruits and vegetables are great for snacks. These dehydrated or dried foods are available here.

9) Protein Foods And Canned Meats

Protein foods are one of the most important foods to stockpile. Canned meats are an excellent food to store. I suggest you store tuna, salmon, Spam, beef dices, beef stew, chicken dices, beef, ham and sausage. Canned meats with a canned cream soup for the sauce are great over any rice or pasta dish. I stockpile canned ham so I can add it to my beans along with some dehydrated vegetables. It makes a great ham and bean dish.

Freeze-dried meats are available on the market and come in gallon-sized cans as well. They can be rehydrated and used in any dish calling for meat.

10) Baking Ingredients

Basic ingredients for baking include things like wheat for grinding into flour, powdered milk, whole dried eggs, baking powder, soda, salt and yeast. Sweeteners include sugar, honey, maple syrup and stevia. Fats and oils include butter powder, shortening, olive and vegetable oil.

11) Fun Foods

Fun Foods are foods such as canned juices, drink mixes, jams, jellies, condiments, olives, pickles, popcorn, pudding, salad dressings and anything else that would be considered extras. You might not consider putting these items in your storage, but they are a nice supplement to the food you already have. It makes a meal more interesting if you have some fun foods on hand. I keep several gallons of popcorn in my food storage.

12) Pre-Made Meals (Just Add Water)

I’ve been testing a line of nutritious fast-and-easy gourmet meals by GoFoods Global that will store for a minimum of 15 years. You just add water, cook for 15 minutes and eat. It reminds me of the pre-packaged food from the grocery store like soup mixes, Hamburger Helper® and Rice-A-Roni®.

Some of the features of GoFoods pre-packaged meals are:
The food is dehydrated from premium-grade, fresh raw fruits, vegetables, dairy products, grains, beans and legumes.
All meals are complete with everything in them. All you do is add water.
These meals can be used every day for fast, convenient and healthy food.
There are no genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in GoFoods.
There is no added monosodium glutamate (MSG).
No ingredients are imported from countries using illegal fertilizers and insecticides.
They contain no hydrogenated oils.
They are packaged for long-term storage in Mylar® pouches.

The company lets you try before you buy; simply go to www.peggylayton.mygofoods.com. Click on “sample” to receive three packages of sample meals that will feed two to four people per package. All you pay is $9.95 for shipping.

Meals include soups like cheddar broccoli, Italian chicken, vegetable beef, tortilla, corn chowder, minestrone, chicken noodle, chili and potato cheddar. Entrées and other baking items include chicken pasta Alfredo, cheesy chicken rice casserole, beef stroganoff, au gratin potatoes, instant seasoned potatoes, pancake mix, corn muffin mix, cornmeal dumplings, granola, powdered milk, wheat bread mix and buttermilk biscuit mix. Check it out at www.peggylayton.mygofoods.com or email me at splayton@sisna.com.

This information came from the book Emergency Food Storage and Survival Handbook. To purchase any of my seven books or other products including dehydrated food, water storage, water purification and preparedness products, go to www.peggylayton.com.

To Egalitarian Americans.....Nobility does exist in your country...

Family Associations

The associations of descendants of certain historic figures and the societies devoted to perpetuating a family name are equally worthy of mention. Such groups were started to commemorate the deeds and the spirit of the founders of families, thus maintaining the familial esprit de corps through the generations. They also act as a social unit ready to assist less fortunate members and help them to maintain their family status. More than two thousand family associations of varying types exist in the United States.(1)

A characteristic example of a remarkably aristocratic family institution is the National Society Washington Family Descendants. Founded in 1954, it aims to cherish, maintain, and fortify family ties and to perpetuate the memory of George Washington. To gain admission, a person must show that he descends directly and legitimately from George Washington’s family, on either the masculine or feminine side, and must be approved by all the society members. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II numbers among its honorary members

(1) Cf. Family Associations, Societies and Reunions (Munroe Falls, Ohio: Summit Publications), 1991-1992 edition.

A True Story About the HIRE Act

By Matthew Apodaca, CPA

Is the 30% Federal withholding tax associated with the HIRE Act going to affect you if you have funds in an account overseas?

Short answer: No.

Misinformation around this has snowballed. Sloppy reporting and a misunderstanding of the HIRE Act means that the mainstream media has repeated common errors instead of going back to the hard facts. It’s caused confusion and worried a lot of good folks unnecessarily. But you just have to look at the Internal Revenue Service source material to set the record straight.

The HIRE Act aims to expand the IRS’s ability to track taxable dollars (specifically, assets held by U.S. citizens) in foreign financial instruments, like bank accounts, investments, and business interests. Its purpose is to have foreign institutions either disclose account-holder information to the IRS or generate 1099s and other tax forms reporting taxable transactions to the IRS, just as U.S. institutions do. When a foreign financial institution agrees to this, the institution receives an exemption from the IRS on the 30% withholding tax.

Most foreign institutions invest some of their assets in the U.S., seeking income from them. Under the HIRE Act, if the foreign institution refuses to comply or file for an exemption, then it will have 30% withheld from the institution’s U.S.-source income. This is a huge burden for most foreign institutions. To avoid this, a foreign financial institution will either file for the exemption or quit working with U.S. citizens.

Two things are important to understand:

1. If you’re banking overseas with an institution that has filed for an exemption with the IRS, then you will not be affected by the 30% withholding tax.

2. This withholding requirement is associated with institution-to-institution payments from U.S financial institutions to foreign financial institutions. It does not affect funds going in the other direction nor individual client accounts.

Essentially, the HIRE Act seeks to disclose the financial activities of U.S. citizens investing abroad. To accomplish this, it has two broad sections: The first is aimed at individuals and requires additional disclosures on their individual activity. The second section speaks to foreign institutions, requesting that they disclose the activities of U.S. citizens, just as U.S. financial institutions do. It leaves foreign financial institutions with a choice:

Comply with these U.S. reporting requirements…or stop taking funds from U.S. citizens.

It’s impossible to know how many institutions worldwide will take this route.

The HIRE Act does not impose an exit tax. If you transfer money from your U.S. bank account to a foreign bank account, the 30% withholding under the HIRE Act does not apply.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Is America The Most Materialistic Society In The History Of The World?

When it comes to materialism, has any nation ever surpassed what we are seeing in the United States right now? We define our lives by how much stuff we have, to a large degree our personal and business relationships are defined by how much money we make, and even most of the important dates on our calendar are all about materialism. Just think about it. We throw outrageous birthday parties for our kids and we shower them with gifts. Most of our “holidays” have become highly materialistic, and the biggest holiday of all in our society, Christmas, is an absolute orgy of materialism. We make lists of the “wealthiest Americans” and we glorify their achievements. We spend most of our time either making money or spending it. Even the phrase “the American Dream” reveals how materialistic we are. When most people are asked what “the American Dream” is, they start talking about a house, a car, vacations, retirement, sending your kids to college, etc. The American Dream has become all about money and stuff. Sadly, no matter how big our homes are and no matter how many shiny new toys we accumulate, we never seem to be happy. We always want more, and we always seem to be willing to go into more debt to get it. We are the most materialistic society in the history of the world, and our endless greed is going to end up swallowing us alive.

When it comes to materialism in America, there are outrageous examples all around us, but one of my favorite examples is the “Rich Kids of Instagram“. It is a Tumblr blog of photos from Instagram of young Americans showing off how they are enjoying the vast wealth of their parents. The following is how the Washington Post describes the blog….

The controversial new Tumblr is a collection of snapshots from the photo-sharing site that depicts the children of wealth and privilege — summering in the Hamptons, lounging on yachts and posing by their luxury cars.

One does a back-flip out of a helicopter near St. Tropez. Others snap pictures of their restaurant bills — allegedly paying thousands of dollars for lobster, champagne and high-end liquor.

In the warm patina of the Instagram, the youngsters appear to be living over-the-top lifestyles — and enjoying every moment.

“Our everyday is better than your best day,” reads one caption, a bit tauntingly. And, “Do you have a horse in your backyard? Didn’t think so.”

But just because you have a horse on your property does that make your life better than the rest of our lives?

Of course not.

Wealth does not equal happiness.

Unfortunately, however, most Americans have totally bought into this lie.

Most Americans believe that more money equals a better life.

In response to “the Rich Kids of Instagram”, the Huffington Post recently put together a piece entitled “the Rich Cats of Instagram” that features photos of cats as they “model upscale accessories, lounge with bottles of champagne, sail on yachts and ponder life while relaxing atop piles of money.”

Of course a lot of those pictures are quite funny, but they also reveal a deep truth about our society.

We have spent our lives chasing after the almighty dollar thinking that it will make us happy. Study after study has shown that we tend to link wealth and happiness. The following is from a recent NBC News article about one of those studies….

Many parents already know older children can be materialistic. Some tweens not only want the latest games and clothes, but also think owning these things will bring them happiness, friends and popularity. And marketers are eager to get them to buy: Tweens spend $28 billion a year, not including the more than $200 billion their parents spend on them, according to market research company C+R Research.

But even though we have an incredibly high standard of living compared to most of the rest of the world, are most of us actually happy?

No way. In fact, Americans take more anti-depressants than anyone else on the planet.

It is really easy to get caught up in materialism though. Let me share an example from my own life.

Several months ago our old truck completely died. Instead of pouring thousands of more dollars into fixing it, we decided that we would get another used truck.

So the other day I stopped by a dealership while my wife was grabbing some things from Home Depot. The salesperson started showing me some of the used trucks on the lot, but after a while I suggested that he show me some of the new trucks that were sitting on the other side of the lot.

Before I knew it, I was sitting in the most expensive truck on the lot and he was showing me all of the cool features it had.

And I have to admit – for a few moments there I was really enamored with that truck. It was the coolest truck that I had ever seen in my life.

Of course my wife and I don’t need a truck like that. We only need to haul stuff around a few times a month. And we certainly do not need the amount of debt that it would take to buy such a truck.

But for a few moments there I really wanted it. The pull of materialism can be very strong.

So would that truck have “changed my life” or brought me lasting happiness?

Of course not.

It would have brought some thrills for the first couple of days, but after a while it would just be sitting in the garage taking up space just like any other truck would.

So did I end up buying a truck?

Not yet. But we need one soon. My wife has been without a truck for quite a few months now and she is getting impatient.

But whether we get a nice used truck or a used truck that has one foot in the grave, it really isn’t going to change our lives much.

In the end, our lives should not be defined by what we own or by how much money we have in the bank.

But how do we refer to ourselves in this day and age?

The American people are called “consumers” and the truth is that we consume far more than anyone else on the globe does.

Just look at our eating habits. Of all the major industrialized nations, America is the most obese.

The next time you go into a store, take note of how many people are overweight.

It has not always been this way. Back in 1962, only 13 percent of all Americans were obese.

But now overeating is a national sport. At this point, approximately 36 percent of all Americans are obese, and it is being projected that number will rise to 42 percent by 2030.

While we are gorging ourselves with food, what else do we like to do?

That’s right – we love to watch television. In fact, the average American watches 28 hours of television every single week.

We have become completely and totally addicted to entertainment, and we have become trained to be constantly “plugged in” to something.

Our lives have become all about constantly feeding our greed and our selfishness. In fact, that is a major reason for the breakdown of the family in America. We tend to view marriage as a temporary condition that can be quickly discarded when it no longer makes us happy.

Sadly, the United States has the highest divorce rate in the world by a very wide margin at this point.

In addition, more Americans than ever are putting off marriage these days. Young Americans are being told that “an education” and “a career” are more important. According to the Pew Research Center, only51 percent of all American adults are currently married. Back in 1960, 72 percent of all adults in America were married.

As a result of these factors, we are an incredibly lonely nation. Today, the United States has the highest percentage of one person households on the entire globe.

In order to fill the void, the American people turn to things that will numb the pain. American use more legal drugs than anyone else on the planet and they also use more illegal drugs than anyone else on the planet.

We have more “stuff” than any other society in the history of the world has ever had, but it has not made us happy.

And how did we pay for all of this?

We paid for a lot of this with debt. In fact, we have accumulated the biggest mountain of debt in the history of the world.

During my lifetime, the debt of the U.S. government has gotten more than 30 times larger. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “27 Things That Every American Should Know About The National Debt“.

But the federal government is not the only one with a debt problem. The truth is that our entire society is absolutely drowning in debt.

Over the past 50 years, the total amount of debt in the U.S. has grown from less than a trillion dollars to nearly 55 trillion dollars….

Over the past 50 years, the total amount of debt in the U.S. has grown from less than a trillion dollars to nearly 55 trillion dollars….
We have used massive amounts of debt in an attempt to feed our endless greed and materialism and we have gotten ourselves into a whole lot of trouble.

This is one of the reasons why I write. I want people to understand how bad things have really gotten.

Thanks to our foolishness, our economy has been declining, it is going to continue to decline, and a massive economic collapse is coming.

Some people believe that this is a message of “doom and gloom”, but that is not the case at all.

Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that somehow everything is going to be just fine is not going to do anyone any good.

Instead, I believe that warning people about the coming economic collapse is a message of hope.

There is hope in understanding what is happening, developing a plan to deal with it, and preparing yourself and your family for the storm that is coming.

It is the people that are ignoring all of the warnings that are going to be in real trouble.

Millions upon millions of people will be absolutely blindsided by what is coming. Many will give in to total despair once they realize that their prosperity is gone and they have done nothing to prepare for what they are now facing.

My hope is that the information that I write about will be shocking enough that it will wake people up and motivate them to get prepared so that they can handle the incredibly challenging years that are ahead.

And the truth is that our lives should not be about our money and our stuff anyway.

Your possessions are just temporary. None of them are going to last forever and you certainly cannot take them with you when you die.

Even though our economy has had some rough times, we still have a higher standard of living than 99 percent of the humans that have ever lived on this planet have had.

You would think that would be enough for us.

But it isn’t. We have hoarded our wealth and we have lived in luxury and self-indulgence.

When our debt-fueled prosperity disappears, most Americans are not going to know how to handle it.

Most Americans will believe that their lives are “over” at that point.

But those that are not caught up in materialism and that have prepared for what is ahead will understand that the next chapters of their lives can be the greatest chapters of all.

Michael Snyder
September 20th, 2012
Economic Collapse Blog

Britain silent on Ecuador Assange proposal


London, Sep 22 (AFP) Britain's Foreign Office was tightlipped today over a proposal from Ecuador that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange be transferred from London to Sweden but stay under Quito's protection.

Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said he was weighing such a transfer as a possible alternative for Assange to "remain under our protection while also satisfying the demands of the Swedish justice system.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The best investment strategy in inflationary times is HARD ASSETS

Early 2013: Prepare For A Massive Food Price Surge; Up 175% from the Year 2000

Mac Slavo
September 19th, 2012

The after-effects of 2012′s summer drought are far from over.

According to a new analysis from Rabobank this year’s crop failure and premature slaughtering of pigs, cattle and other staple meats will lead to an average 15% surge in food prices in 2013.

It may not sound like much, but when you combine this with monetary easing that threatens to rapidly depreciate the value of the dollar and an already indebted U.S. consumer, we can expect even more participants to enter government nutritional assistance programs.

It’s more expensive than ever before just to stay alive.

The record US, and global, summer drought has come and gone but its aftereffects are only now going to be felt, at least according to a new Rabobank report, which asserts that food prices are about to soar by 15% or more following mass slaughter of farm animals which will cripple supply once the current inventory of meat is exhausted.

From Sky News: “The worst drought in the US for almost a century, combined with droughts in South America and Russia, have hit the production of crops used in animal feed – such as corn and soybeans – especially hard, the report said. As a result farmers have begun slaughtering more pigs and cattle, temporarily increasing the meat supply – but causing a steep rise in the price of meat in the long-term as production slows.

“Farmers producing meat are simply not making enough money at the moment because of the high cost of feed,” Nick Higgins, commodity analyst at Rabobank, told Sky News. “As a result they will reduce their stock – both by slaughtering more animals and by not replacing them.” Somewhat ironically.

Food prices are now being kept at depressed prices as the “slaughtered” stock clears the market.

However once that is gone look for various food-related prices to soar: a process which will likely take place in early 2013, just in time to add to the shock from the Fiscal Cliff, which even assuming a compromise, will detract from the spending capacity of US (and by implication global) consumers.
The “mass liquidation” of animals – which Rabobank said will pick up pace in the beginning of 2013 – will contribute to food prices hitting new highs.

The cost of pork is expected to rise at the fastest pace - by 31% by the end of June next year – while beef costs could increase by up to 8%.

“This record cost of meat and dairy will combine with already-high crop prices to increase food prices by 15% by the middle of next year,” Mr Higgins added.

This would see food prices reach their highest level on record, up by 175% compared to the year 2000.

But the report stressed that the current situation is very different to the crisis of 2008 – in which food stables of the world’s developing economies, like wheat and rice, were severely affected.

The bank’s research follows official figures that showed inflation had slipped back to 2.5% in the UK – closer to the Bank of England’s inflation target of 2%

But Mr Higgins warned that next year’s food price rise could push inflation in the UK higher, and so further away from the Bank’s target.

Via Zero Hedge

But inflation is only at 2% according to the CPI.

Ben Bernanke and his helicopter air force have everything under control, just like they said they would.

That 15% in food price increases doesn’t even include the new money that is sure to hit the system now that some $80 billion a month is being committed to maintaining the illusion of economic stability and recovery.

All the while American consumers, who assume everything is as it has always been, are going to be paying 175% more for food by summer of next year than they were paying in the year 2000.

The only investment strategy available to ensure that you don’t run out of affordable food as the US dollar loses value and climate effects deplete available food stores is to invest in hard assets today.

Friday, September 14, 2012

What are the MiliPolice Planning On Doing With These Heavily Armored Vehicles?

With a massive biometric FBI surveillance system going live across the United States in recent weeks, tens of thousands of drones to be flying over American skies within just a few years, over 1 billion rounds of ammunition being acquired by non-military government agencies, and host of laws and executive orders outlining military and police emergency response plans to lock down the United States, it isn’t much of a stretch to suggest that our government is preparing for something that aims to fundamentally transform America as we know it today.

New evidence for a coming lock-down of America is presented to the public by citizen journalists and alternative media on an almost weekly basis, which suggests that whatever is being planned is on a much more accelerated schedule now than ever before.

The latest, from alternative news hub Rense.com, indicates that Department of Homeland Security is expecting significant push-back in the very near future, which explains why they would need some 2,500 heavily armored vehicles with DHS Police/Rescue logos:

What could they need equipment like this for here in the US? They are hitting the road with it. Caravans of National Guard equipment but with new never before seen equipment in the convoys. Take a close look at what is painted on the side of the Black Humvees. The Humvees are fully armored the same standard used by our military.

The use of the word ‘Rescue’ is an obvious psy op…makes it sound nice and benign, kind of like a life-saving paramedic ambulance and not a domination and death machine. The Posse Comitatus Act is gone.
They are gearing up for serious business and are training the National Guard, FEMA and Police with them. The latest batch of 2,500 GLS vehicles don’t come more heavily-armored. The GLS is the larger vehicle on the trailer below. It is a deadly serious piece of equipment and they have never been used inside the US until now. All information in this email has been released public
he United States government is and has been planning for unlikely events like war and societal collapse for many years. This year President Obama has implemented, by Executive Order, doomsday response plans that would essentially give the government an unprecedented ability to nationalize large industries, personal farm and ranch land, and even your skills and labor in the event of a declared emergency. A control grid is being put into place to handle what they know is coming.

The only question is: What, exactly, is it that is coming to America?

Author: Mac Slavo
Views: Read by 32,957 people
Date: September 12th, 2012
Website: www.SHTFplan.com

Gold Just Became Money Again

On June 18, the Federal Reserve and FDIC circulated a letter to banks that proposes to harmonize US regulatory capital rules with Basel III.

BASEL III is an accord that tells a bank how much capital it must hold to safeguard its solvency and overall economic stability.

It’s a global standard on bank capital adequacy, stress testing, and market liquidity risk.

Here’s the important bit:

At the top of the proposed changes is the new list of “zero-percent risk weighted items,” which now includes “gold bullion,” right after “cash.”

That’s the part to take notice of.

If the proposals are approved by regulators — and that seems likely since adoption of Basel III will be — then this is a momentous change for the gold market.

Now banks will be allowed to hold bullion in their vaults and count it among their Tier 1 assets — in other words, the least risky assets.

That by itself would be bullish for the gold price, as banks that recognize gold’s unique characteristics seek to stockpile more of it.

But that’s not the whole story...

Gold Regains Money Status

For one thing, Basel III also stipulates that a bank’s Tier 1 holdings must rise from 4% of assets to 6%.

That means that banks may not only replace a portion of their existing paper with bullion, but may use it to meet some of the extra 2% as well.

In addition, this vote of confidence from the highest monetary authorities gives further impetus to the remonetization of gold.

In essence, what’s happening is that from now on gold will be considered “money” in virtually the same way as cash or bonds.

And banks will be given the choice between holding more of their core assets in history’s most reliable store of value vs. paper backed by nothing more than the promises of increasingly wasteful governments.

Finally, there is the impact on individual and institutional investors.

Jeff Clark, in Casey Research’s BIG GOLD newsletter, has been guiding gold investors for years. In his view, this news looks set to really shake up the gold market, because as regulators and banks increasingly view gold as having safety on a par with the various paper alternatives, it is logical that they will also see the need to beef up their own holdings.

There are a number of positives for gold going forward.

Though it remains speculation on our part, we believe that the net result of Basel III and associated adjustments to US regulations will be an increased recognition of gold’s safe-haven status across all markets.

And that translates into higher global demand for the metal next year, and a concomitant increase in its price.

If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to get informed on gold and begin adding it to your portfolio.


Doug Hornig
for The Daily Reckoning

WikiLeaks tweet blames US policy for attack on Libyan embassy

WIKILEAKS has sparked outrage - and a quick retraction - with a tweet claiming the Libyan embassy was attacked because the US supported Britain placing police outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

US Libyan ambassador Chris Stevens and three other embassy employees were killed on Tuesday night in an attack on the embassy in Benghazi.

On Wednesday WikiLeaks posted on its official Twitter feed: "By the US accepting the UK siege on the Ecuadorian embassy in London it gave tacit approval for attacks on embassies around the world."

The tweet referred to the police presence outside Ecuador's London embassy where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is staying. Mr Assange sought protection in the embassy from being extradited to Sweden to face rape accusations, and Britain has threatened to arrest him if he leaves the building.

But the WikiLeaks tweet quickly met with widespread disapproval. Even Jemima Khan, a high-profile supporter of Mr Assange, wrote "That last @wikileaks tweet manages to be both absurd and shockingly offensive".

Another follower wrote "@wikileaks you are losing supporters fast with comments like that".

WikiLeaks then deleted the tweet from its feed, replacing it with "By the US accepting the UK threat to storm the Ecuadorian embassy in London it helped to normalize attacks on embassies".

It followed up with "By the UK threatening to breach the Ecuadorian embassy in London it helped to normalize attacks on embassies, in general".

At one point during the stand-off, Britain had suggested it had the power to remove the embassy's diplomatic status in order to arrest Mr Assange.

Facing continued criticism for its earlier tweet, WikiLeaks commented "We have deleted and rephrased a previous tweet with the word 'tacit' in it, since the word is rare and was being misinterpreted."

However the explanation still did not sit well with the Twitterverse, with one person responding: "No, @wikileaks, we all know what 'tacit' means."

Mr Assange remains in the London embassy. The Ecuador government have offered him permanent refuge, but it is unclear if he would be able to make it out of the UK without being arrested.

Queen Paola of Belgium turns 75

September 13, 2012

According to the Radical Royalist blog:

She may be Europe’s least known Queen and she celebrates her 75th birthday today “dans l’intimité” – “in private” as the court announced – without public celebrations. But her Italo-Belgian charm can easily match that of the more famous European Queens.

Queen Paola was born Princess Ruffo di Calabria, on 11th September 1937, at Forte del Marmi in Italy. She is the youngest of seven children of Prince Fulco Ruffo di Calabria, a First World War flying ace, and Countess Luisa Gazelli. Her grandmother on her father’s side, Laure Mosselman du Chenoy, was Belgian.

To read the entire article on the Radical Royalist blog, please click here.

The queen stepped into her royal role in 1993 on the death of King Boudewijn.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The 9/11 Conspiracy Theory

September 10, 2012 by Bob Livingston

omorrow marks 11 years since the 21st century’s “Pearl Harbor,” the government’s attack on the U.S. Constitution, also known as 9/11, that launched the perpetual “War on Terror.”

Government, the mainstream media and an American populace blinded by normalcy bias, cognitive dissonance or faux patriotism — whatever you want to call it — and the powerful mainstream media propaganda machine consider anyone who questions the official narrative of 9/11 a “conspiracy theorist.” But the official narrative — that 19 hijackers, funded by Osama bin Laden and armed only with box cutters and a couple of flight lessons, commandeered four passenger jets and flew them into three buildings and a Pennsylvania field while U.S. air defenses dithered for almost an hour (in the case of the Pentagon) — is, as former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and retired Marine Col. Ronald D. Ray says, “the dog that doesn’t hunt.”

Examine the meaning of the words “conspiracy theory,” and you see that the official narrative is a conspiracy theory. Merriam-Webster defines “conspiracy theory” as “a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators.”

The official narrative is just that, as the 9/11 Commission report does not definitively state what transpired that day, but does flesh out the theory that the attacks were carried out by at least 19 conspirators (hijackers) or more if you include bin Laden (the purported financier) and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (the alleged mastermind) working out of a cave in Afghanistan. This theory is considered the gospel according to George W. Bush, and even many of those who acknowledge the Bush regime lied America into the Iraq war are unable — or unwilling — to see that the Bush regime likewise lied us into the entire “War on Terror.” To believe otherwise is to believe in miracles, as David Ray Griffin points out in his book 9/11 Ten Years Later.

There are too many questions, some of which I outlined last year, and the answers given are nonsensical, implausible or impossible.

The Bush regime came into office itching to make war in the Mideast. The neocon wing of Republican Party advocated a stronger military and an aggressive Israel policy and needed “a new Pearl Harbor” to bring it about. The main reasons were two-fold: oil (corporatists for years had been striving for a stable Afghanistan in order to run a pipeline from the Caspian Sea region across Pakistan and Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean) and justification for passage of totalitarian, liberty-stealing legislation that would become known as the USA Patriot Act (the bones of which were assembled by then-Senator, now-Vice President Joe Biden in the 1990s) and help to usher in pappy Bush’s “New World Order.”

The official story is a lie. Adolf Hitler’s axiom, “The great masses of the people will more easily fall victims to a great lie than to a small one,” is confirmed. Americans can’t conceive that the elites walking the halls of power are evil psychopaths unencumbered by normal mores.

Their evil knows no bounds. So they conceived of a heinous plot to bring down (at least) three New York buildings and one wing of the Pentagon to halt investigations into financial crimes and launch a multitude of wars and use the fear of terror to steal our liberties. It was also a boon for Larry Silverstein, a friend of pappy Bush through The Carlyle Group.

Ownership of the World Trade Center had recently passed from the New York Port Authority to Silverstein with a convenient out for Silverstein. A clause in the contract provided Silverstein with billions of dollars and a release from obligation in the event of a terrorist attack.

World Trade Center 7, which was obviously imploded — admitted by Silverstein in an interview in which he said the decision was made to “pull” the building — as it fell in free fall in its own footprint after suffering only minor fire damage, housed the Securities and Exchange Commission. So we are led to believe WTC 7 was the first skyscraper in history to collapse from fire alone. The collapse, of course, ended any investigations into illegal trading.

The explosion at the Pentagon that resulted, we are told, from American Airlines Flight 77 crashing into the building following a remarkable and almost impossible air maneuver pulled off by a terrorist who couldn’t competently pilot a Cessna conveniently halted an investigation into the disappearance of $2.3 trillion from the Pentagon, as announced by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld the previous day.

It was also the least occupied section of the Pentagon and the area the furthest away from Rumsfeld and top Pentagon brass. The idea that KSM would create such an elaborate plan and goof so badly in selecting the area of the Pentagon to target is absurd.

To believe that skyscrapers designed to withstand multiple crashes by airliners and fires would fall so swiftly and perfectly into their own footprint as a result of crash and fire damage requires a suspension of logic and the laws of physics. As Jim Hoffman writes, “NIST’s assertion that the Tower’s intact structure was ‘unable to stop or even to slow the falling mass’ is absurd: It requires us to believe that the massive steel frames of the towers provided no more resistance to falling rubble than air.”

And then there’s the “mid-air miracle” of the South Tower. As the building begins to collapse, the top portion above the crash site begins to tip toward the corner that had been most damaged by the airplane’s impact.

“According to the law of the conservation of angular momentum, this section should have fallen to the ground far outside the building’s footprint… But the rotation suddenly decelerated. Then it reversed direction even though the law of conservation of angular momentum states that a solid object in rotation will continue to rotate at the same speed unless acted upon by torque.

“And then, as if this were not miracle enough: We observe [wrote physicist Steven Jones] that approximately 30 upper floors begin to rotate as a block, to the south and east. They begin to topple over, not fall straight down. The torque due to gravity on this block is enormous, as is its angular momentum. But then—and this I’m still puzzling over—this block turned mostly to powder in mid-air! How can we understand this strange behavior, without explosives?” (source: 9/11 Ten Years Later)

The fact is there were explosives, as stated at the time by witnesses on the ground — including New York City firefighters — who heard and saw them.

The 9/11 Commission was set up — as are all government investigative commissions — to whitewash the facts. George W. Bush first attempted to appoint Henry Kissinger to head the commission, but he backed out over requirements to report his lobbying clients and protests by victims’ families. When the commission finally got under way, it ignored the (often changing) timelines given in public interviews by Cheney, Rumsfeld and others, and the testimony of government whistleblowers — including FBI interpreter Sibel Edmonds — with evidence of complicity within government. Once it was finished, Commission Chairman Thomas Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton both said they had not gotten to the bottom of 9/11 because of stonewalling by the Administration and various government agencies involved. A member of the commission, Bob Kerry, has stated publicly the commission was set up to fail.

Left uninvestigated and virtually unreported was evidence of involvement by Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Recognizing early on that the official narrative may not play well, Bush stated: “Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th; malicious lies that attempt to shift blame away from the terrorists themselves, away from the guilty.”

But that is just what the majority of the public have done.

For more information, go to 9/11truth.org. You can also watch the documentary “9/11: Explosive Evidence — Experts Speak Out” on Colorado Public Television. At the very least, this documentary shows the government is lying about WTC 7. If it’s lying about that, is it beyond the realm of possibility that the whole government conspiracy theory is a lie?

Double Down: Vladimir’s Putin Billions Into Gold In Anticipation of Global Upheaval

Mac Slavo
September 10th, 2012

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says gold is not money. Berkshire Hathaway’s Charlie Munger claims it’s only for pre-holocaust Jews and that civilized people don’t buy it. The oracle of Omaha Warren Buffet scorned it as an unproductive asset and says he’ll never invest in it. Financial advisers rarely, if ever, recommend it for personal retirement portfolios and many people will argue that it’s not a worthy personal reserve because you can’t eat it.

For all intents and purposes, some of the most influential investors, monetary officials and financial pundits in the world completely deny gold’s value as a unit of monetary exchange and crisis reserve.

As worthless as it is, however, tens of billions of dollars have recently been shifting into this archaic asset of long forgotten empires.

In the last seven months alone the People’s Republic of China has added more gold to their reserves – over 500 tons – than the entire holdings of the European Central Bank. They aren’t alone.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has been aggresively investing into the precious metal over the last five years – spending some $500 million monthly as he diversifies his country’s assets out of Dollars and Euros. Currently, 9% of Russia’s reserves are held in gold.

This, of course, begs the question: why?

According to the World Gold Council, Russia has more than doubled its gold reserves in the past five years. Putin has taken advantage of the financial crisis to build the world’s fifth-biggest gold pile in a handful of years, and is buying about half a billion dollars’ worth every month.

No one else in the world plays global power politics as ruthlessly as Russia’s chilling strongman…

Putin’s moves may matter to your finances, because there are two ways to look at gold.

On the one hand, it’s an investment that by most modern standards seems to make no sense. It generates no cash flow and serves no practical purpose. Warren Buffett has pointed out that we dig it out of one hole in the ground only to stick it in another, and anyone watching this from Mars would be very confused.

But there’s another way to look at gold: As the most liquid reserve in times of turmoil, or worse.

The big story of our era is not that the Spanish government is broke, nor is it that Paul Ryan apparently feels the need to embellish his running record. It’s that the United States, which has dominated the world’s economy for several lifetimes, is in relative decline.

We will soon be the first people in two hundred years to live in a world not dominated by either Pax Americana or Pax Britannica. This sort of changing of the guard has never been peaceful.

The declines of the Spanish, French and British empires were all accompanied by conflict. The decline of British hegemony was a leading cause of the First and Second World Wars.

What will happen as the U.S. loses its pre-eminence?

Maybe this will turn out better than similar episodes in the past. Maybe the Chinese will embrace an open society and the rule of law. If you believe that, there is probably no reason to hold any gold.

On the other hand, we may be about to enter a much more turbulent and dangerous era of power politics and international competition.

Source: Market Watch [via Ulsterman Report]
Throughout history we’ve seen what happens when nations collapse under the weight of their own debt.

It has almost always led to war across the entire known world.

And when those nations collapsed and were overtaken, their conquerors often exterminated their populations and always confiscated their treasure, which usually amounted to gold, food and other physical resources.

Is this what is coming?

Vladimir Putin, like many precious metals investors, seems to think so, and he’s preparing for a world where the U.S. Dollar, the Euro and other paper assets no longer exist. Nearly 1/10th of his country’s reserves are held in gold. The Chinese officially report 2% of their reserve assets to be held in gold – but it’s often the case that the Chinese don’t like to show all their cards, so there is a strong possibility that they have much more in precious metals holdings than we’re able to verify.

Those who have lived through serious global paradigm shifts and studied history understand what has value when the prevailing political, social and economic systems collapse.

Financier George Soros, who knows a thing or two about crisis and calamity, was there when the Nazis were rounding up Jews in his home country of Hungary. He’s seen the signs before and recently warned of a massive financial collapse, conflict across Europe and violent riots in America. In August he unloaded all of his holdings in major financial institutions, and like Vladimir Putin, moved a portion of his wealth into gold.

If you believe that the economic recovery touted by the elite political class and mainstream experts is real, then by all means take out some more credit and buy a new car, pick up an investment property, and take a two week vacation to a far-off island.

If, however, you think that Vladimir Putin, George Soros, the Chinese and the many others who are warning of an unprecedented global crisis may have an understanding of geo-politics and the real state of the global economy, perhaps it’s time you follow their lead and diversify into investments that will keep you alive in a worst-case scenario.

Physical assets – they’re the only things that will matter when it hits the fan.

It’s time to double down.

What Will You Do When the Crisis Comes?

A Warning From Spain
By Bob Bauman JD, Offshore and Asset Protection Editor

Look to Spain

You can forget Professor Henry Higgins’ famous lyric from the 1964 hit musical, My Fair Lady: “The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain.”

There is a far more serious gusher in the Kingdom of Spain … an economic disintegration that could make financially failing Greece look like a minor problem by comparison – and don’t forget Italy, Ireland and Portugal.

The New York Times reports that capital fleeing Spain from May through July equaled a startling 50% of the country’s gross domestic product during the same period. While much of this outward flow was foreigners unloading stocks and bonds, a large portion was caused by Spaniards transferring their cash and savings to what they see as far safer foreign banks. The August numbers probably will be even worse.

As doubts grew about Spain’s financial system in July, Spaniards withdrew a record 75 billion euros (US$94 billion) from their banks – that equals 7% of the country’s total economic output.

Many worry that Spain’s economic tailspin could force the country’s withdrawal from the euro, and a return to its former currency, the peseta. The Times says: “That dire outcome is still considered a long shot, even if Spain might eventually require a Greek-style bailout. But there is no doubt that many of those in a position to do so are taking their money, and in some cases themselves, out of Spain.”

Experts say the deposit outflow from Spain is the most serious in the entire euro zone, and is indicative of a broader capital flight problem. The withdrawals quickened a trend that began in 2011 and came despite a European commitment to pump up to 100 billion euros into the Spanish banking system.

The capital flight began with the failure of Bankia, which shocked Spanish savers who were told by government officials that the bank was sound. Instead of calming fears, the state takeover of the bank recalled comparisons to Argentina in 2001, when peso bank accounts denominated in dollars were frozen in order to stem the flight of deposits.

In the face of all this bad news and the loss of faith in their government, reasonable Spanish people are doing what is natural: they are trying to save themselves and their families.

This exodus is starting to include members of its educated and entrepreneurial elite who are fed up with the lack of jobs in a country where the unemployment rate is 25%.

The Times describes the plight of a senior executive for a multinational payroll-processing company in Barcelona, who, after working six years, is cutting his professional and financial ties with his homeland. He moved his family to Cambridge, England, where he will take over a small software company, and he transferred his savings from Spanish banks to British banks.

As more money and more skilled individuals leave the nation, what does that portend for Spain? For those who didn’t take steps to protect their financial futures, things are looking even grimmer…
Could This Be in Store for America?

Now let’s see – surely Americans have not forgotten the massive Obama-Bush 2009 bailout using $700 billion of taxpayer dollars, or the separate bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Click here for an accurate but alarming list of all the U.S. banks that supposedly were rescued from failure – the likes of Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, to name a very few.

How stable do you think these U.S. banks are today? Is there a Spanish Bankia among them? As the old saying goes, don’t bank on any of them.

Of course, it’s not as if another bank bailout is the only economic problem looming. As I write this, the U.S. national debt has just passed the $16 trillion mark. Neither major political party is offering real solutions. No matter who wins this November, it seems clear that our politicians will continue to dig a deeper hole for our nation, rather than agree upon any real solutions.

Like those reasonable Spanish people, you should want to protect yourself from the next bank collapse, or for when our debt finally catches up with us. But if you wait for disaster to strike, it may already be too late.

So, I repeat:

When the crisis comes in America, will you have the freedom to escape that the Spanish executive who took his family to England had?

Will you have a safe nest egg in a sound offshore bank in a stable country such as Switzerland?

Will you have an official residence established in a safer country such as Uruguay?

Making sure you have an escape plan will help secure your financial future no matter what lay in store here at home, so what are you waiting for? Act now!

Until next time,

Bob Bauman

The People of Ecuador Can't Wait for Julian Assange to Arrive

Adam Clark Estes
Sep 10, 2012

Now that the standoff between Julian Assange and British police at the Ecuadorian embassy has calmed down, people are starting to gather in the streets of Quito to welcome the WikiLeaks founder. They could be waiting a while.

We're not talking about thousands of people rallying for Assange in Ecuador. According to a fresh dispatch in The New York Times, "a handful of small rallies" anticipating Assange's arrival have popped up in Ecuador's capital recently. "Last Sunday, a half-dozen activists showed up at the main square in Quito, Independence Plaza," the report reads, "taking turns holding up a large banner that said 'Welcome Assange' and another one calling for a ban on bullfighting." That welcome sign is a bit premature, though. Assange himself admitted in an interview a couple of weeks ago at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he's been holed up for nearly two months, that he doesn't think the situation won't be resolved for six months or a year. That's a lot of time jogging on a treadmill in front of a sun lamp.

The country isn't just excited about welcoming a maybe-rapist, definitely slightly crazy hacker onto their soil. "[Assange] is an icon who has made Ecuador be seen not just as a small country but as something important," one student told The Times as he took a couple of Assange posters from a demonstration in Quito. Another student said that Assange was welcome to sleep on the couch in his two-bedroom apartment.

Then again, there's the flip side to that which is the believe that this the invitation to grant Assange asylum is just a political trick by Ecuador's president Rafael Correa. "I think [Correa] did it to get a political advantage, to increase his popularity," a small business owner said. "This president is always trying to draw attention to himself." (Sound like somebody you know?)

No matter what happens this is a unique moment for Ecuador. For the poor South American country that's probably better known for its name than anything else, there's the hope of soon being home to an international celebrity, however flawed or wanted by the law he may be. They're already talking about him like he's some sort of demigod. Scrawled in spray paint on the walls around Quito is the simple premonition: "Assange viene…" or, "Assange is coming."

Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments or send an email to the author at aestes@theatlantic.com. You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

June Foodstamp Recipients Hit All Time High As Three Times As Many Americans Enter Poverty As Find Jobs

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/04/2012 09:31 -0400

BLS Bureau of Labor Statistics

Following a brief period in which it seemed that US foodstamp recipients may have peaked, with those living in poverty maxing out at 46.514 million in December 2011, and then declining modestly for the next few months, June saw a new surge in those Americans living in poverty and thus eligible for foodstamps, with 173,600 new entrants into the system, bringing the total to a new all time high of 46.670 million and once again rising fast. Furthermore, with subsequent emergency events affecting the heartland due to the drought, the administration has made sure even more Americans will be eligible going forward. As a result expect the July and August numbers to promptly surpass 47 million on their way to the psychological resistance level of 50 million. Indicatively, the 173,600 increase in Foodstamps recipients in June was three times greater than Americans finding jobs (64,000, most of which part-time) according to the BLS. Finally, a new record was also breached for American households on foodstamps, which now hit 22.4 million, an increase of 106,298 households. The average benefit per household decline once more, this time to $276.5. Not an all time low, but just above it.

Households on foodstamps

Breakdown: Three Tons of Food Looted From Grocery Stores In Spain As Millions Struggle

Mac Slavo
September 5th, 2012

As the economic and financial systems of the world rapidly approach the real possibility of total collapse, signs of what we can expect on a mass scale in the near future are beginning to appear throughout Europe.

In Spain, a country that just a few years ago was heralded as a shining example of real estate entrepreneurship, international tourism and a rising middle class, the situation is so bad that many are unable to meet the most basic necessities for life.

Social safety nets across the continent are visibly under stress and breaking down, so much so that unemployed Spaniards have begun raiding supermarkets in order to put food on the table. As recently as last month the people of Cadiz and Sevilla, which have a reported unemployment rate of 32%, joined together to loot local grocery stores of three tons of food - some of which was distributed to local food banks:

Youtube link......


Fernando Ferfal Aguirre, author of Surviving the Economic Collapse, was in Argentina in the early 2000′s when the country underwent a hyperinflationary currency meltdown, and says that these acts of desperation are a carbon copy of what he witnessed in his own country and should be expected as the economic crisis accelerates:

To be fair they aren’t taking booze and big screen TVs, but taking what isn’t yours is still under the same principle. Would you do any different if you couldn’t put food on the table and spent months unemployed?…

Just a few years ago many Spaniards would joke saying that thanks to the new immigration wave everyone in Spain could afford to have a “Sudaca” as a maid. Sudaca is a derogatory term similar to wetbacks, commonly used in Spain referring to South Americans. This is pretty sad given that these “sudacas” are children and grandchildren of those same Spaniards that left to SA because of the Spanish Civil war. Now, its obvious that they are suffering many of the miseries their “Sudaca“ brothers went through in the past.

Spaniards eating out of garbage bins, many of them senior citizens, have become a common sight in Spain and in other European countries where they have emigrated to looking for work themselves.

n the following videos via The Modern Survivalist and Prepper Website, we can see what happens to civilized societies when there is no food on grocery store shelves or it’s so expensive that it becomes unaffordable for the majority of the population:

This link from Youtube.......

<iframe width="640" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/mbfoErxRW4w?feature=player_embedded" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

This morning we learned that 46.7 million Americans – a new record – are receiving government nutritional food assistance benefits, so the troubles we’re seeing in Spain, Greece and other European countries are not just limited to the other side of the ocean. They are happening right here at home.

The only reason stores in the United States are not yet being looted like those in Spain is that our social safety nets are still able to support the basic needs of most of the population. But as prices continue to rise, more jobs are lost, and record numbers of people join the ranks of the already 100 million receiving some form of government welfare, the breaking point is quickly approaching.

In Spain, just a few short years ago people were living the high life. Expensive homes, expensive cars, luxury vacations and dining, ever-expanding credit limits, and not a worry in the world. Does that sound familiar?

Those same people who would have laughed in your face five years ago had you told them the economy was going to collapse and their country would be facing a massive debt default that would leave the majority of their population in poverty – those same people are rumaging through garbage cans in the hopes they can find some bread, rice and vegetables to put on their dinner tables.

This is reality.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Ecuador Expert Reveals: Why I Love Quito

By Suzan Haskins
International Living

Why do I love Quito, Ecuador? The sweet-natured people…the extraordinary weather…the gorgeous scenery…the great restaurants, shopping, the first-class infrastructure and services…and, of course, the affordability…

It’s a city where you can still take a taxi anywhere in town for $1 to $5 and find a menu del dia…usually a four-course meal of soup, salad, meat/rice/vegetables, dessert and beverage…for $1.50 to $2.50. Yes, there are gourmet restaurants where you can spend more but compared to back home, it’s a bargain extraordinaire…

Today’s Quito is a world-class metropolis with happy surprises tucked in so many corners. You wouldn’t know that, of course, if you’ve only flown in and out of its international airport. If your only experience of Quito is spending time stalled in traffic on your way out of the city, your opinion may not be high. But spend even a few days getting to know her and I think you’ll agree that Quito is a very special place.

Often called the “most beautiful big city in South America” for its location in the palm of a valley cupped between towering Andean peaks, Quito has so many parks and plazas, it’s hard to pick a favorite.

The 14,000-acre Parque Metropolitano, bordering the city’s Bellavista neighborhood, is the largest urban park in South America. (For comparison, New York’s Central Park is just 834 acres.) Hiking here, in the maze of forested paths, is a nature lover’s delight—the air smells of eucalyptus and pine, and from atop the eastern ridge, the views of Quito to the west, and to the east the valley and volcanoes beyond is something you’ll not soon forget.

On a clear summer day in Quito, in fact, you’ll see the snow-topped Antisana, Cotopaxi and Cayambe volcanoes looming over the city. (That’s the way it appears, but they’re actually some distance away.)

Of course, when I use the word “summer” it means something different here than it does back home. In Ecuador there are only two seasons: summer—or the dry season—and winter, our rainy season. It’s hard to decide which I like best…the crisp, sunny days of summer or the cool, fog-enshrouded evenings of “winter.” In either case, average temperatures hover around 75 degrees during the day and 45 or so at night…every day.

So what are my “must see” Quito destinations?

If you only have one day in Quito, spend it in Old Town, the first-ever locale in the world to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Covering more than 800 acres, this is the largest historic center in the Americas, with an over-abundance of ancient thick-walled, tile-roofed colonial buildings, churches, museums, and more. I’ll never get tired of exploring the gold-gilded La Compañia de Jesus Church and the neo-gothic Basilica del Voto Nacional adorned with animals native to Ecuador instead of gargoyles. I dare you to climb to the top of its bell tower…

Art lovers, go directly to the Bellavista neighborhood to the former home of famous Ecuadorian painter Oswaldo Guayasamín and one of the city’s most impressive art museums, the Capilla del Hombre, dedicated to the indigenous and exploited people of Latin America. Call me a voyeur, but I always love snooping around in an artist’s studio and this one doesn’t disappoint. The museum itself, with its large-format murals, is hauntingly impressive.

Shoppers will love La Mariscal, also called “Gringolandia” because of the hordes of tourists and backpacker hotels here. Plaza Quinde, at the intersection of Calles Reina Victoria and Foch, is my favorite place to settle in with a cocktail at an outdoor cafe and do some serious people watching. This is also the place to satisfy your shopping lust. Take a few bucks (that’s all you’ll need) and poke into the handicraft shops lining Avenida Amazonas or head for the large artisan mercado at the corner of Reina Victoria and Jorge Washington Streets. You’ll find carved items, ponchos, sweaters, scarves, rugs, ceramics, gourds, textiles of all kinds, and my weakness…artisan chocolate.

I could go on and on... If you take away one thing from this Postcard, let it be: Quito isn’t a place to pass through enroute to somewhere else. It’s a fabulous, grows-on-you destination and well worth your time to discover its many Old- and New-World charms.

Ecuador can offer Matt Bissonnette Asylum too!

When Is It OK To Tell The Truth In America?

Mac Slavo
September 1st, 2012

When the Obama administration announced Osama Bin Laden had been killed they provided a detailed account of how the raid in Pakistan took place, complete with a narrative that included a daring infiltration by Navy Seals, a shootout in the compound, and the terrorist’s burial at sea.

The incident was undoubtedly used as a political stepping stone for President Barack Obama, who had been suffering heavily in national polls. Thus, 300 million Americans and billions of citizens around the world were told a story that was, by all official accounts, the “truth.”

Shortly thereafter reports began to surface about inaccuracies in the story, with even the Obama administration providing inconsistent accounts of what happened and how. But, due to the highly classified nature of the operation, the only available information disseminated to the public came directly from White House officials.

President Obama’s administration was so desperate to look righteous and heroic in the eyes of the American public that they went so far as to support the production of a new movie detailing their version of the story. According to press inquiries, but denied by the White House Press Secretary, President Obama’s aides provided Hollywood producers unprecedented access to details and classified information regarding the killing of Bin Laden – no doubt slanted towards the White House’s version of events.

But just this week Navy Seal Matt Bissonnette made news ahead of the release of his new book No Easy Day, a firsthand account of the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Bissonnette, who originally published the book under a pseudonym to protect his identity, was outed by Reuters and other news agencies and has since been put on notice by the Pentagon for failing to have his book submitted for prepublication review, a process by which the Pentagon redacts or restricts the potential release of classified information by authors who work for the government.

Bissonnette reportedly signed non-disclosure agreements with the military and now faces forfeiture of royalties from the book and the possibility of criminal prosecution under the espionage act:

“I have a hard time believing that a book-length first-hand account of such a sensitive operation would not contain a single piece of classified information,” says Kel McClanahan, the executive director of National Security Counselors, a law firm that specializes in litigating secrecy cases. “[Just one] piece of classified information is what will cause the problems, even if it’s not in this particular section,” he said, reviewing last night’s disclosures.

Attorney Mark Zaid, who has provided legal services on some 20 military-related books during the classification review process, says the case against Bissonnette is a “slam dunk.” “There’s a high, high likelihood that officials with the U.S. government would render a determination that there is classified information within the book,” he said.

If any such disclosure were found, Bissonnette could be subject to prosecution under the Espionage Act. In addition, the Justice Department could claim all the proceeds from the book for Bissonnette’s failure to submit his manuscripts for approval, a condition he reportedly agreed to in a non-disclosure agreement.

Here we have a Navy Seal with a firsthand account of how the raid went down who has shared his story. And the story doesn’t mesh with the official narrative put forth by the Obama administration.

Former Navy SEAL Matt Bissonnette is going to tell his version of events surrounding the death of Osama bin Laden, even if the Pentagon sues him for every last penny.

“Mr. Owen sought legal advice about his responsibilities before agreeing to publish his book and scrupulously reviewed the work to ensure that it did not disclose any material that would breach his agreements or put his former comrades at risk,” wrote Robert D. Luskin, an attorney at D.C. lobbying behemoth Patton Boggs. “Mr. Owen is proud of his service and respectful of his obligations. But he has earned the right to tell his story.”

Source: The Atlantic Wire

The question now becomes one of ethical and moral character.

Should Bissonnette have released this firsthand information even though he signed a non-disclosure agreement with the government?

Is it not our duty as Americans to share the truth when a known a lie has been told to 300 million people, even if classified information may be released in the process?

The issue is one of transparency and the answer to the above affects not just Mark Bissonnette, but the many other whistleblowers under fire by the Obama administration.

U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning, who released videos of Western Coalition forces firing on innocents civilians and hundreds of diplomatic cables that showed the shadowy under-the-table dealings of government officials, is now facing life in prison for similar classified disclosure.

Julian Assange, who was passed this information by Manning and made it available to millions on the internet, is holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in the United Kingdom because western governments want to extradite him and try him for espionage and a host of other crimes.

Former CIA employee Valerie Plame and her husband Joe Wilson, who leaked details about the falsity of weapons of mass destruction which were used as a pretext for invading Iraq, came under fire by the Bush administration for getting the truth out.

Are Manning, Bissonnette, Plame, Wilson and countless others who expose political lies and financial fraud at the highest levels of government and business enemies of the United States or are they Patriots who, despite the personal attacks and potential for prosecution they knew would be lobbed at them, took it upon themselves to get the truth out?

Transparency is something that all Americans want from their government, but the fact is that transparency is not as easy as each politician and government official taking it upon themselves to tell us the truth. It is often the case that those individuals involved in cover-ups and lies to the American public are acting in their own self interests out of self preservation, thus anything damaging is often hidden from the eyes of the people.

To get to the truth requires investigation by the fourth estate, pressure from the American people and disclosure by insiders.

Those insiders are often branded and prosecuted as traitors. In fact, President Obama, who stood on a platform of transparency during the 2008 campaign, has prosecuted more whistle-blowers to date than any previous administration.

So, where can we draw the line? When does it become our duty as Americans to cross that line and let the truth out, even if it is supposed to be cloaked behind a veil of national security?

When is it OK to tell the truth in America?

What in the Heck Was I Thinking?

By Edd Staton

On a leisurely stroll to the drugstore this morning, I was reminiscing about what a typical Thursday was like in my previous life in the U.S. As a marketing rep my days were a perpetual blur of rushing from one appointment to the next. I was constantly checking my watch and hoping I’d have time to cram down a quick and often unhealthy lunch.

After five days of that stress and pressure I could look forward to a weekend of yard work, chores, and errands. And maybe there would be time for a dinner out with my wife.

Does any of this sound familiar?

As these memories came flooding back, I literally stopped walking and asked myself, “What in the heck was I thinking?”

You see, my wife and I decided to get off the ''hamster wheel'' over two years ago. We moved to Cuenca, Ecuador. And we're now living “life in the slow lane.”
After my visit to the drugstore I decided to stop off for a $3 manicure. Shortly after I got back, my wife Cynthia returned from yoga class and is now off to a “ladies’ lunch.”

I’ll spend the afternoon writing and painting (I’m pretty sure a siesta will somehow find its way into the mix), then we’ll prepare and enjoy dinner together before maybe watching a movie.

It wasn’t always this way. When we first arrived in Cuenca we brought our Type A multi-tasking selves with us. The delays and frustrations began to pile up like a train wreck, and I felt myself on the verge of blowing a gasket.

A local friend then gave me some wonderful advice that changed everything. She said, “Here you should plan on accomplishing one thing a day. Everything else is a bonus.”

Wow. I’ve since discovered the truth of these words over and over. Latin America is slower paced, and what North Americans view as a commitment is merely a suggestion in this culture.

And none of it is going to change for you.

By relaxing into this very different lifestyle I began to understand maybe it didn’t matter whether something happens today or manana or whenever (which is often the same as manana).

I recognized that I could create my own life instead of letting my career or cultural expectations define my experience.

And most importantly, I realized I could never go back to that old life again.

Perhaps writing, painting, and yoga don’t appeal to you. I’m guessing there’s something else you’d rather be doing than whatever is now occupying most of your time.

If so, let me ask you a question: What are you going to do about it?

“Wishin’ and hopin’,” as the lyrics to the old Dusty Springfield song say, are not the answer. I encourage you to entertain the possibility that you have options.

Living overseas is certainly one of them. Decide what you want, then be open to locations around the world that might support your dreams.

In Ecuador, Cuenca was our answer. Find the place that’s right for you. It’s out there.