Category Archives: Health

Tropical Spring! One million hit the streets across Brazil


Sparked by a public transportation fare increase in Sao Paolo a week ago, an estimated one million people showed up in cities across Brazil expressing  discontent with the limited opportunities they face and an indifferent government.

“It’s not really about the price anymore,” said Camila Sena, an 18-year-old university student at a Wednesday protest in Rio de Janeiro’s sister city of Niteroi. “People are so disgusted with the system, so fed up that now we’re demanding change.”  USA Today, June 20, 2013

Like the protests in Turkey over the past weeks, this is an urban phenomenon dominated by the young.  Many are college educated and under or unemployed.  For most, these are their first political protests.  They chafe at wasted public expenditures.  In Rio, for example, the government spend millions for an international soccer tournament while the people idle away with few if any prospects for meaningful employment or a future.  (Image: Brasilia June 20 Semilla Luz)

Public transportation fare increases have been rolled back in Rio, Sao Paolo, where the protests started, and other cities.  The crowds continued to grow.   Demands expanded from  fares to the general state of the economy and lousy governance.  This statement by Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes provides a clue to the indifference that the people see from the government:

“I come here after reflecting a lot on the topic, and I demonstrate that the twenty cents were not made with subsidies. We are going to suspend the increase that was implemented in the beginning of June. This concurs with the actions taken by the mayor of São Paulo, Fernando Haddad. However, we warn that we will have a loss of at least R$200 million for the city and we will have to redefine our priorities.” Eduardo  Paes, Mayor Rio de Janiero, Rio Times, June 20

The Mayor’s city and country is going up in smoke, massive protests in a nation not accustomed to mass action, and he’s been “reflecting on the topic.”  What topic?  Fare increases.  It’s not about that anymore.  The mayor would know that were he paying attention.  Its about a lousy government that is indifferent to the people.  So what does he do.  He decreases fares and, at the same time,  warns that other public service projects will suffer. (Table right:  BBC)

The mayor doesn’t get it?  Politicians around the world don’t get it.

The mass action in Brazil, the sustained protests in Turkey, the union backed protests in Tahrir Square, and Occupy Wall Street — these are all public outpourings by those left out of the workplace; those facing a future of diminishing opportunities.  They know what their leaders are doing about it.  Nothing!

“No more future” is simply unacceptable.


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Photographs from last night by Semilla Luz)


Brasilia June 20 Semilla Luz)


Rio de Janiero,  June 20 Semilla Luz




What's new in male contraception research?

An organization called the International Male Contraception Coalition makes a strong case for male contraceptives on its website. Some of the obvious reasons one might pursue male contraception are the risk of cancer associated with female birth control pills, and the lack of efficacy of other forms of contraception. (One might add that men should be able to share in the joy and responsibility of contraceptives with their spouse or partner.)

A male birth contraceptive in injection and pill form is getting some attention from researchers.

Read more about the research underway here and here.

Progress in Health: Trending Treatments for Rare Diseases

by Jon Dawson

People suffering from rare diseases often find themselves up against a wall when it comes to treatments for their conditions. The National Institutes of Health indicates that a disease is rare if it affects less than 200,000 Americans. To date, scientists have found over 7,000 of these diseases. Because they are rare, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and the FDA have been less motivated to find treatments in the past. But this is beginning to change; people suffering from rare diseases are finding more people who are eager to solve these issues, researching and promoting possible treatment options.

Targeted Radiation Providing Hope for Chordoma

One such rare disease is chordoma, a slow growing bone tumor that is often resistant to radiation. These tumors tend to be found in the spine near the cervical or sacral areas. Surgery is the primary treatment option, providing the tumor has not begun to spread; but because of the sensitive location surgery isn’t always possible.

Proton therapy, a newly popular treatment which allows for a higher dose of radiation to be targeted directly to the tumor, is proving to be an effective way to treat chordoma. There are relatively few proton therapy centers in the United States, and the Indiana University Health Proton Therapy Center was the first center in the Midwest and Great Lakes regions. The combination of a high level of radiation and the accuracy of the treatment allows proton therapy to be a successful treatment for this condition when surgery isn’t an option.

Gene Therapy May Treat Rare Blood Disease

Gene therapy is another player in the treatment of rare diseases. Patients with hemophilia B, a rare blood-clotting disorder caused by a defective gene, are seeing promise from injections containing the correct form of the gene.

Gene therapy isn’t a new treatment, but over the past two decades it’s been met with a series of failures. The genes must be injected into the body via a virus, and the human immune system seems to be too effective at eliminating the virus before it can offer up its healthy genes. But in recent studies on hemophilia B patients, it appears gene therapy may be effective, as reported by The New York Times. Much more studies need to be done before this will be mainstream therapy for the condition, but for those who had little hope of a cure, this is promising research.

FDA Approval Proves Difficult

When patients face a diagnosis of a rare disease and a potential treatment option, it’s often the FDA that stands in the way of potential treatments. For example, eight-year-old twins Addison and Cassidy Hempel suffer from a rare disease called Niemann Pick Type C, which mimics Alzheimer’s disease in adults. Without treatment, the disease is eventually fatal.

The twins’ parents have been advocating tirelessly in hopes of finding a cure for their daughters and save their lives. When they found a treatment that was being studied on mice, they had to go through a huge amount of red tape in order to get FDA approval to try the medication on their girls. When the first trial did not work and a new delivery method was needed, they had to go through the process once again.

While these stories aren’t uncommon in the world of rare diseases, the FDA is trying to make changes: they’re recommitting the agency to spend time and money on developing cures for rare diseases, while eliminating some of the red tape that people pushing for approval must go through in order to get the treatments they need. By offering financial incentives to manufacturers, the FDA hopes to see more treatments for rare diseases reach the approval stage much faster. For patients and families like the Hempels, this is welcome news.

A diagnosis of a rare disease is life changing, but today patients and their families have even greater treatment options at their disposal and a government that is more willing to work with them. As medical technologies continue to advance, the outlook for those suffering from rare diseases is going to continue to improve. For around one in 10 Americans with a rare disease diagnosis, this is very exciting.

Jon Dawson is an attorney and professional writer living in Indianapolis. He blogs about law, technology, and health matters.

Injured photographer uses YouTube to request evacuation from Syria

Paul Conway, a photographer for the Sunday Times who was injured in a rocket attack in the Baba Amr district of Homs, Syria, on Feb. 21, appears in a YouTube video on Feb. 23. The rockets killed his colleagues journalist Marie Colvin, photographer Remi Ochlik, and 24 Syrian civilians. 

In the video, Conway says he is being cared for by Free Syrian Army medical staff. A medical team member points to the three wounds Conway received in his leg and asks for assistance evacuating Conway so he can receive proper medical assistance and escape future attacks. Edith Bouvier, a reporter for Le Figaro, also appeared in a video pleading for emergency evacuation due to injuries received during the rocket attack.

Marie Colvin’s final article in the Sunday Times, ‘We live in fear of a massacre,’ published February 19, is accompanied by Conway’s photography.


Virginia is for Misogynists

By Michael Collins

The Virginia legislature is about to enact a law that requires a transvaginal ultrasound procedure for all women who have abortions (except in the case of a medical emergency). Apparently, the legislators are unaware that the law violates existing sexual assault code or that Virginians oppose the law by a wide margin.

Here’s the procedure.

“You will lie down on a table with your knees bent and feet in holders called stirrups. The health care provider will place a probe, called a transducer, into the vagina. The probe is covered with a condom and a gel. … The health care provider will move the probe within the area to see the pelvic organs.” Medline Plus

This isn’t an option. It’s a requirement for an abortion in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The law is clear:

“a qualified medical professional … shall perform fetal ultrasound imaging and auscultation of fetal heart tone services on the patient undergoing the abortion for the purpose of determining gestational age.House Bill No. 462, Virginia Assembly (Also here)

The medical professional is then required to “offer the woman an opportunity to view and receive a printed copy of the ultrasound image and hear auscultation of fetal heart tone.”

Women will not only suffer the invasive procedure, they will be asked to experience a vicarious reenactment.

When used for medical purposes, this procedure can determine the risks of miscarriage, infections, and isolate the cause of any vaginal bleeding. The procedure is used detect cancers, birth defects, and infections that impact fetal health. It is an accepted treatment in voluntary reproductive medicine.

The mandated transvaginal ultrasound procedure is not intended for any medical purpose. It is the consequence for seeking an abortion in the state that is credited as the source of the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution.

Women who choose abortion will have to endure vaginal invasion, seek abortion in another state, or complete the pregnancy.

Procedure Violates Virginia Law Against “inanimate or animate object sexual penetration”

The Virginia Code states that penetration of the labia majora … [for] other than a bona fide medical purpose” is an act of “object sexual penetration.” There is no routine medical purpose for a transvaginal ultrasound procedure prior to abortions. As described in the proposed law, the procedure “penetrates the labia majora … of a complaining witness.” Since we can assume the complaints would be nearly universal, the new law violates existing law.

§ 18.2-67.2. Object sexual penetration; penalty.

A. An accused shall be guilty of inanimate or animate object sexual penetration if he or she penetrates the labia majora or anus of a complaining witness, whether or not his or her spouse, other than for a bona fide medical purpose, or causes such complaining witness to so penetrate his or her own body with an object or causes a complaining witness, whether or not his or her spouse, to engage in such acts with any other person or to penetrate, or to be penetrated by, an animal,,,: Virginia Code

Legislators in Violation of Virginia Law Against “attempted object sexual penetration”

By the very act of proposing a law that “penetrates the labia majora” the state legislators proposing the bill are, by current law, guilty of “Attempted … object sexual penetration.” This is a Class 4 felony punishable by 5 to 20 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

§ 18.2-67.5. Attempted rape, forcible sodomy, object sexual penetration, aggravated sexual battery, and sexual battery.
A. An attempt to commit rape, forcible sodomy, or inanimate or animate object sexual penetration shall be punishable as a Class 4 felony. Virginia Code

Sanctioned Cruelty”

“History is replete with reigns of terror during which powerful institutions sanctioned atrocious behaviors. Consider the rape and plunder of defeated populations during the Crusades of the Middle Ages, or the execution of women during the Salem witch hunts in colonial America.” FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, Feb 1992

The state sanctioned cruelty has already begun. Women who choose to have an abortion, for whatever reason, must now deal with the emotional turmoil of anticipating an object placed in their vagina for no purpose other than to satisfy the vulgar inclinations of the legislators who passed this bill. Women seeking to end a pregnancy arising out of trauma, e.g., rape, will be re-traumatized by the invasive procedure mandated by this bill,

The invasive procedure proposed by this bill, a clear violation of existing law, is intended to (a) discourage abortion and (b) punish and humiliate those who choose to have the procedure.

This Law is Not Unique

The mandatory invasion of a woman’s body simply because she chooses to have an abortion is repellant and uncivilized. This law is not unique. Mark Adams pointed out that there are several processes sanctioned by the state for those in penal institutions. More than one million prison inmates have been raped, most anally, over the past twenty years. Juveniles have a high likelihood of raped within forty eight hours of placement in adult detention. Offensively invasive searches are routine. As Adams makes clear, the justice system is structured to allow all of this to go forward.

In the case of Virginia’s law, there may be an opportunity to act. Existing law is clear actual and attempted “inanimate or animate object sexual penetration … [that] penetrates the labia majora” are crimes. The legislators either didn’t know or didn’t bother to reword the laws on “object sexual penetration.” Their mere attempt to pass such a law is a crime. Any implementation of the law, starting with the first woman to seek an abortion, will compound the crime again and again.

It is difficult to fathom people who would even admit to fantasies similar to the events that this law creates. It is nearly impossible to imagine the type of people who would act in unison to make this the law — one that will harass, humiliate, and traumatize women simply because they don’t agree with those opposed to abortion.


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The Pennsylvania Sexual Assault Scandal, the Second Mile Foundation, and Penn State

By Michael Collins

The current focus on Pennsylvania State University, its football program, and former coach Joe Paterno will be replaced by a more pervasive sexual assault scandal in the coming days and weeks.  At-risk children and their often disadvantaged single parents were delivered up to a relentless sexual predator with exhibitionist tendencies as described in the findings of a special Commonwealth of Pennsylvania grand jury.

The relentless deviate, former PSU defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, is accused of sexually assaulting children for years.  According to the grand jury, he gained easy access to children and early adolescents through the Second Mile Foundation which he founded in 1977 as a group home for “troubled boys.” He continued the assaults at his home and in the PSU showers on at least one occasion. Since hiring Jack Raykovitz, PhD, a licensed psychologist, as president, the foundation has grown into a multimillion enterprise serving over 100,000 at-risk children throughout the state.

A picture of alleged serial abuser Sandusky came into clear focus in the Pennsylvania Statewide Investigating Grand Jury release of findings about victims 1 through 8. Sandusky selected the eight boys from the population of those served by the Second Mile Foundation, it is alleged. He would start with mentoring, move onto hosting the boys for overnights in a bedroom at his home, and initiate oral copulation and anal sex, according to the grand jury report.

A critical fact listed in by the grand jury concerns the legal counsel for both the foundation and PSU. Wendell Courtney was the legal counsel for both PSU and the Second Mile Foundation during the period covering 1998 through the end of 2009. Courtney served as PSU’s primary legal counsel as a member of the law firm of McQuaide-Blasko. In January 2010, PSU hired a full time, in house counsel. During Courtney’s service to the organizations, Second Mile founder, PSU coach (in 1998), and PSU coach emeritus (in 2002) Sandusky was twice investigated on charges of sexual assault. Neither investigation resulted in either organization terminating Sandusky’s employment or access to facilities.

Where is the Sexual Assault Scandal Headed?

Penn State Scandal: Jerry Sandusky Rumored To Have ‘Pimped’ Boys To Donors: REPORT Huffington Post headline, November 10

This is a remarkable headline since it features rumors of incomplete investigations by unidentified reporters. The story that HuffPost says should break soon concerns Sandusky’s Second Mile Foundation and its donors.  There were other  reports concerning this new direction of the story.

The foundation raises millions of dollars a year from corporate and individual donors in Pennsylvania for the most part. Funds support educational and “leadership” programs and retreats for at-risk youth throughout the state.

The 2010 foundation annual report features a county map of Pennsylvania with total individuals serviced by county. For some reason, the totals are about even for individuals served in Allegheny County, population 1.2 million, and Centre County, population, 153,000 (and home of PSU).

Was Jerry Sandusky procuring at-risk youth for foundation donors as suggested in the headline? If so which donors? Where and when did this happen?

PSU summarily fired the university president, senior executives, and Joe Paterno this week. As of today, long time Second Mile president, Jack Raykovitz, PhD, retains his position as foundation president. The members of the Honorary Board of Trustees, a list of Pennsylvania notables, are in the uncomfortable position of endorsing a tarnished foundation. Major donors listed in the annual report are seen as offering public financial support for a foundation that remains passive despite the clear need for organizational change.


What about Victims 1 through 8 (and more)?

We have no way of knowing the level of help received by the reported Sandusky victims reviewed by the statewide grand jury.  Any delays to much needed evaluation and treatment is a true shame.

There is a wealth of data concerning the mid and long term impact of adult sexual assaults on children. In summary, victims of childhood sexual abuse have a much higher incidence of depression (major depression, dysthymia), anxiety disorders, including posttraumatic stress syndrome, and substance related disorders. Bipolar youth are more likely to have their first mood episode earlier as a result of sexual assault as are youth with schizophrenia.

Long term problems trusting any authority (Judith Herman, MD) are common if the assailant is a trusted individual, as Sandusky was at the start of his alleged abusive relationships.

Sexual assaults victims are also more likely to be victimized again (revictimization) than are those without this history.

The full impact of adult sexual assault of children is inherently limited by the reluctance of victims to report the crimes.

At the very least, the reported Sandusky victims deserve immediate assistance with medical and psychotherapeutic care, without any strings attached by the organizations who so thoroughly neglected to identify, report, and stop the abuse. Victims should not be asked to wave future compensation to receive this care.

Any victims associated with programs of Second Mile Foundation, Sandusky, or PSU should have free court guardians appointed to assure that they’re not victimized again by the wealthy and powerful through coercive legal tactics. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania should establish a fund immediately and a master of the fund who from out of state. Trials and settlements must be handled by competent courts outside of Pennsylvania.

The focus needs to shift to immediate identification and help for all victims and prompt investigation and prosecution of perpetrators.


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Cadaver Coach Hits L.A. Streets Just in Time for Halloween

by Sandy Sand

Just in time for Halloween, the cadaver truck arrived in the San Fernando Valley in California.

The Valley is the sprawling 400-square-mile section of the City of Los Angeles and just like the city, no stranger to food trucks of all types from the one-man hotdog stand to the lunchtime roach coaches to the exotic gourmet mobile food trucks, the routes of which are followed on cell phone APS.

From roach coach to cadaver coach slice and dice is the byword. The difference is that the cadaver coach doesn’t serve cadaver meals to its customers, rather it’s a mobile class room, teaching physicians how to perform various surgeries.

“I think it’s (surgery is) one of the greatest skills to learn,” said Dr. Ronald Belczyk, of Valley Presbyterian Hospital Amputation Prevention Center in North Hollywood, cutting a precise incision across a cadaver foot, still attached to a cadaver shin, in a surgical demonstration for resident surgeons.

Operated by Synthes, a Pennsylvania-based medical equipment company, Valley Pres was the coach’s first stop on its tour of L.A., and has visited hospitals across the nation since April.

Related: Big rig full of cadavers excites doctors





Michael Collins: Gaddafi Jihadist Rehab Program Spawns Rebel Military Leaders

Monday was the day we heard that the “US believes al-Qa’ida is on the verge of defeat after deputy leader’s death” as The Independent headlined the story. It stood out as a sequel to the recent United States action in Pakistan, which brought us the news (but not the body) of a dead Osama bin Laden. It appears that a US operated drone killed Al Qaeda’s top deputy, one Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan citizen. After decades as a jihadist, Rahman is no more. But is that the end of al Qaeda?

On Tuesday, foreign affairs columnist for the Asia Times, Pepe Escobar, published a remarkable column outlining the command structure of the victorious NATO backed military leaders. Abdelhakim Belhaj, the lead commander of the rebels, and the two top regional commanders were once affiliated with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LGIF). In fact, commander Belhaj was once the subject of a US led extraordinary rendition (aka torture) in Thailand. About the time the US planned to send Belhaj to Guantanamo Bay, the Gaddafi’s government requested his return to Libya.

Terrorist Rehab, Libyan Style

At this point, you may be thinking, “Good grief, that’s when the real torture started!” Au contraire! The request for repatriation came from none other than Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, son of Libya’s former dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Saif, and others in the Gaddafi government, began a bold program of repatriating and rehabilitating individuals belonging to LGIF and other jihadist groups. Many fled Libya for Afghanistan where they fought with al Qaeda against the Soviet Union and then the United States Afghan effort.  The LGIF had engaged in violent resistance to the Gaddafi regime. A large contingent of the LGIF fought the US in Iraq.  According to reports, they “officially joined al Qaeda” in November 2007.

Saif Al Islam Gaddafi had a better idea:

“Saif Gaddafi worked hard to get individuals from the Muslim Brotherhood out of jail and paved the way for increase cooperation between the LIFG and the security services. This helped boost the level of mutual confidence between them.” Combating Terrorism in Libya through Dialog and Reintegration, March 2010 p, 6

The gathering of terrorists in Libya served a purpose - terrorist rehabilitation or deradicalization, as the program termed it.  Efforts focused on intensive dialog and debate between those employed by the Gaddafi regime and the terrorists. The main goals were a renunciation of violence and surrender of their weapons. From there, a holistic approach was applied to lay the foundations for a reintegration into Libya society. Psychological and social factors were included to reorient those detained as they adapted to a peaceful existence.

On graduation day in March, 2010, Saif Al-Islam presided over a formal press conference. As he freed 214 former members of LGIF, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other groups hostile to his regime, he said:

“Today is an important day because 214 prisoners are released. However, its greatest importance lies in the release of the group’s leaders, and therefore, today, we have reached the crest of the reconciliation and dialogue program. Thanks to the efforts of our brothers and the Gaddafi Foundation, 705 people were released including of course this group. Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, Press Conference in Tripoli, March 23, 2010 p, 13

It was less than a year later that the February 17, 2011 days of rage marked the start of the Libyan rebellion led by the graduates of the deradicalization program. This was the same program initiated by Gaddafi’s son and sponsored by the Gaddafi International Foundation for Charitable Associations.

The rehabilitation failed.

The Bush Administrations Gaddafi Rehab Program

Before Muammar Gaddafi and his son started their terrorist rehabilitation program, the Bush Administration conducted its own deradicalization effort with Gaddafi. On May 15, 2006, the US restored diplomatic relations with Libya. Then Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice said, “We are taking these actions in recognition of Libya’s continued commitment to its renunciation of terrorism.”

Time Magazine heralded the Gaddafi’s conversion with a headline; Why Gaddafi is now a Good Guy. It noted that, “Even though Gaddafi has done little to loosen his dictatorship, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac, among other statesmen, have already visited Libya to signal the West’s pleasure. President Bush, or his successor, could be next to visit the leader in his tent.”

The diplomatic contacts went hand in hand with weapons and energy contracts and it was all good until those rehabilitated al Qaeda allies, the LGIF, began stirring the pot.

Now things have turned upside down again. The military leadership of the Libyan rebellion is wall to wall LGIF with their links to al Qaeda. The NATO military machine may have taken some advice from its deradicalized allies. There have been reports of NATO bombings in urban areas with a range of civilian casualties. Unfortunately, on May 10, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs stopped its tally of civilian casualties.  That was our only chance to know how many Libyans had to be killed in the name of freedom.

So what about the end of al Qaeda announced Monday? What about a Libyan revolutionary military command infested by al Qaeda sympathizers? It doesn’t really matter, it appears. The Libyan effort is about something more important - oil (Libya to honor all legal oil deals, August 24)

Just a few years after pronouncing Gaddafi civilized, the US now demands that he leave Libya. Instead of selling him billions in weapons, NATO forms an alliance with a revolutionary military command dominated by members of an organization with strong historical ties to al Qaeda. It is all about oil. Whoever has it is our friend. Those who had but could not hold the oil concession are forgotten.

The United States and Europe have no permanent friends or enemies, to borrow a phrase, just a permanent lust for oil. That can justify any sequence of events. Just bet on the winner and get the goods.


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The War on You

Let the word go forth from Washington!  The corporate rulers occupying our nation’s capital have declared war on just about every citizen.

Have no doubt: those in the upper ranges of the top 1% of wealth in this country (aka The Money Party) want to kick you to the curb.

They want to reduce your social security and make you go broke paying for medical care.

They want to lower your wages and trash your retirement.

They ignore the clear facts that we’ve had negative job growth since 2000 and the situation is just getting worse.

They want to ship jobs, factories, and entire businesses overseas and give companies that do that a big fat tax credit for doing so.

They’ve been given so much for nothing for so long.  Now, they’re ready to take it all.  It’s their time!
The most recent assault is the ridiculous debate about raising the debt ceiling.  There should be no debate.  Failing to raise the ceiling right now means deliberate default on debts, refusing to pay bills the government can pay.  It’s called fraud.

The pressing need to fix the budget is a separate issue.  Reduced spending and increased revenues should come through broad public involvement and open debate.  It mandates that the rulers behave like adults.

But this crisis isn’t about putting together a real budget.  It’s about creating a budget that punishes you, your family, and friends.  It’s about taking your attention away from your vital interests to maximize income and control by The Money Party.

Were the leaders on either side of the debate serious, the Bush era tax cuts would be rescinded.  These cuts on the top 1% were temporary.   Guess what?  Congress lied.  When the temporary tax breaks ran out a few months ago, they were revived and renewed just when we had the greatest need for revenues.

The Money Party won’t give up its wars either.  Iraq and Afghanistan have added $4 trillion to the national debt of $14 trillion.  Why not stop the wars?  How hard is that to figure that out?

Getting rid of Bush tax cuts for the super-rich, ending the wars, and moving out of the recession/depression would be huge steps toward balancing the budget.  But that won’t happen with this Congress and this president.  Why?  That would cost the financial elite money for taxes and lost income for all those weapons they sell to support the wars.

The Attack on You Began in Earnest Just Years Ago

Congress repealed Depression era banking regulation that kept your banks from risky investments in 1999.

Congress enacted legislation in 2000 that allowed extremely risky investments in real estate and other derivatives, illegal for nearly a century.

In 2001, the big banks and Wall Street celebrated its newly purchased freedoms with a decade-long binge of fraud and risky investments.  Like a greedy con artist, they took everything they could from people here and around the world until there was no more to take.  We have now hit the wall thanks to them.

The outrageous expenses of wars based on lies caught up with us and shoved the deficit to new heights.  The tax cuts for the top 1% took away revenues needed to balance the budget.

The money they steal from the Social Security surplus is no longer enough.  They want to keep the tax in place for us and take an even bigger rake-off.

This crisis is manufactured by the ongoing greed of The Money Party.  It is funded by the US Treasury.  You pay for it, all of it.


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Congressional Criminal Conspiracy! Defaulting when you don't need to is a crime

If we defaulted on our debt when we were perfectly capable of paying it, we would be be prosecuted for fraud. But when Congress does it, they call it politics.

The crazies in the United States House of Representatives would have you believe it were so. They say fix that budget before we’ll raise the debt ceiling. If we don’t get our fix, they announce, there’s no deal. We’ll just default until things get straightened out. (Image: George Romero)

Let’s see what would happen to you or me. We are unable to pay our bills, unless we tap a special line of credit that we’ve used in the past, one that has never failed us. We’ll have to raise some money and cut some expenses too.

We’re tired of paying bills and just want to stop for a while. We file for bankruptcy following all of the required procedures. The minute we file, we’re granted an automatic stay on our debt. We are now protected, no bills to pay.

Then we get a few visits from creditors. They let us know that they know we can pay. Other people owed money show up also and ask, what is your problem? You owe us the money. You can pay and you will. The combination of angry creditors and recipients of our funds forces us to do what we could have done in the first place.

We tap the line of credit, cut expenses, and increase income. We make the payments we could have made all along. Once again, we have the choice of fixing things long term or repeating the process yet again.

What would happen to us? We would certainly hear from federal attorneys and the bankruptcy court. We lied to gain the stay. That’s more than just inaccurate representations. It’s fraud, a prosecutable offense. We would also hear from the creditors and recipients of our funds. They would demand restitution for damages based on any demonstrable harm from our fraudulent default.

In addition to criminal and civil consequences, we would be regarded as shady characters and real fools by our peers.

If Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling, something it has done nearly seventy-four times since 1962, we will face similar consequences.

We have been accumulating significant debt since the Reagan administration, the claimed inspiration for many of the new members of Congress. Democrats and Republicans have participated in the annual tradeoffs of political benefits today versus neglected long term fiscal responsibilities. Robert Oak’s article shows new expenditures contributing to the current debt. The main offenders are the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the Bush era tax cuts. This represents 3.2 trillion in new debt.

What happens if the United States defaults on its debt?

The US dollar is the world’s reserve currency. People all over the world rely on the stability of the dollar. Since the dollar is tied to the government, if the government defaults, so much for the dollar. It plunges in value. There will be a world reserve currency to follow and it won’t be the dollar. This will translate into immediate hardship here and abroad.

The cost of everything will go up as a result of default. Why? The credit rating for the United States will be downgraded and cost of borrowing will increase substantially for governments - federal, state, local - and for business.

The cost of credit and the general disruption will have an immediate impact on unemployment. Remember 2009? It will be much worse.

Since the United States has no need to default, the act will tarnish our image even more than it has been tarnished by dysfunctional government, military aggression, and financial fraud perpetrated by Wall Street (see Numerian’s article). We’re not the only game in town. There are alternatives. Imagine a marginalized nation seen as the world’s leading grifter.

The default is not necessary. When you can’t pay your bills, you cut expenses that don’t generate revenue, war and defense spending. You increase available revenues. The Bush era tax cuts were to expire by now. Put them back in force. Those in the top 1% of the income bracket have had a nice run (see graph Let them pay their fair share.

Offer the public input through an open debate based on honest information. What is the impact of cutting spending in a time of recession? What should be cut? What should be increased? What does a serious budget look like, one that benefits the people and nation in the mid and long term?

If default takes place, it will be predicated on a conspicuous fraud, just like our example of the fraudulent default by the individual who had no need to default.

The debt ceiling and a balanced budget are entirely separate issues.

Anyone who behaves as though this is not the case is simply lying. Worse, they’re the enemy of the vast majority of citizens.


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