Category Archives: Special Reports
November 21, 2016
The recent story over at WND tells us President-elect Donald Trump is getting ready to get tough, reportedly preparing to jumpstart a bill in Congress that would ban the Muslim Brotherhood by declaring it a terrorist organization. Warning us within their story that the subversive group had already infiltrated the White House, FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department, they included a photo of Muslim Brotherhood leader Anas Altikriti at the White House back in 2014, shaking Barack Obama’s hand as seen below left, just in case the MSM or liberal college professors shout out FAKE NEWS to their rapidly dwindling audiences.
With the Muslim Brotherhood having completely infiltrated the United States government during the past 8 years, and the incoming president allegedly preparing to outright ban them by declaring them a terrorist organization, we see a huge potential problem bubbling up to the surface within the next several months, especially considering recent warnings from the FBI of potential terror on Thanksgiving or Inauguration day and the Muslim Brotherhood’s stated goal of ‘destroying America from within’.
How will Trump be able to weed out the members of the Muslim Brotherhood that have already infiltrated the US government during the past 8 years and if the Muslim Brotherhood truly is a terrorist organization as we learn in the 1st video below, is there any reason that we should believe they’ll simply ‘go quietly’ into the night after having a seat at Obama’s table?
Read More: Here
Here’s my rant:
Why this argument about popular vote is invalid and needs to stop! (As you will learn, Trump actually DID win the popular vote too, not that it matters!)
There are several issues surrounding this discussion about popular vote.
This election campaign was fought with the goal of winning electoral votes, not popular vote. (Many are not aware that millions of votes that would favor Trump remain uncounted!)
There is a valid reason for the electoral college but that’s a different argument and I’m not going to discuss it here, other than to say that it helps keep the balance of power and ensures that each state has a voice.
If the goal of the campaign had been to win the popular vote the campaign team and the voters would have behaved differently. The campaigns would’ve focused MUCH more attention on high density population areas and would have ignored small-town America.
Voters in decidedly blue states would have been much more motivated to vote. Not only would they have been more motivated to vote, but their choice of who to vote for would have been affected as well.
In very blue states such as New York and California many Trump supporters didn’t bother to vote because they knew it wouldn’t change the electoral outcome, or chose instead to support one of the third-party candidates so they could reach their 5% targets for Federal funding.
It’s also important to recognize that millions of votes remain uncounted!
If popular vote was the goal, ALL votes would be counted. For time and cost efficiency sake, once a candidate wins a particular area and the remaining uncounted votes are not sufficient to overturn that district, they stop counting.
There are also currently millions of uncounted absentee and mail-in ballot’s remaining. Many of these are military ballots which would most certainly strongly favor Trump.
Lastly, there is also a significant voter fraud issue. It has recently been verified that there were over 3 million votes cast by noncitizens! I think most would agree that it’s highly likely that these 3 million+ fraudulent noncitizen votes went for Hillary Clinton.
Therefore, when those 3 million fraudulent votes are subtracted and the millions of absentee military votes are added, that alone gives Trump a land slide victory in popular vote as well!
Please share these facts with those who continue to cry about the popular vote. It’s an invalid argument.
Go Get ‘em @SLandinSoCal
(Lib-Tard) 1) Combination of the words Liberal and retard (see also: Libterd, libturd, libnerd, libsurd, libdiot, libored) 2) The result when a tree hugger successfully mates with a tree and the offspring is born with an extra chromosome. 3) Any helpless society that must always be liberated by the blood and sweat of others yet are too arrogant and stupid to realize that they owe their entire existance to others.(see also: French-tard, French-Tarded, Retarded-Frenchmen).
1) Hillary clinton and her husband, you know what’s his face. You know that libtard that got impeached for going down on that fat chick in the beret that looked like Rosie Odonnel.
2) Look at that tall mongoloid with the vote Kerry T-shirt. Must be one of them libtards.
3) Screw you Frenchie! You freakin’ Libtard.
I am publishing this “RANT” for my friend SL and her answer to libtards. I’s more than 140 characters so I felt it was better to publish it here so I could tweet it to the world; and thus re-tweet accordingly.
Here’s my rant:
I’ve just asked you to give me the specific examples of hate crimes committed on people from the right to people on the left.
Give me the actual crimes and not just what you’re hearing in the news
I want to hear about actual hate crimes. Give me a list.
And don’t tell me that some kid in school called somebody a name. According to the rule of law, calling somebody a name in school it’s not a hate crime. If it is, then please cite the rule of law that made that a crime. And show me where our free-speech ends and hate crime begins. (by the way, I’m not condoning the behavior of kids bullying one another or anyone making anyone else feel uncomfortable.)
You are being manipulated by the media!
You need to look at the facts!
I’m tired of the left-wing media having such a double standard and creating such division in our world.
The media is not holding the left accountable.
And they are not holding the left to the same standard as they are the right.
If saying mean things is considered a hate crime then look at all of the mean things the left has been saying to the right???
The entire right has been bashed this entire campaign and labeled a racist, sexist, bigoted, Islam a phobic, anti-Semite, Xena phobia, misogynist, deplorable, irredeemable, un-American etc. etc.!! And it’s not even true for the majority of people!
I am feeling threatened! I am feeling fearful! I’m suffering! I can’t walk out in public with A make America great hat or a Trump shirt or a bumper sticker on my car for fear that I will be assaulted or my property would be vandalized!!!
I can’t drive down the freeway in LA for fear that rioters are going to block my way and attack me and my vehicle!! I’m in fear for my life. People are beating and killing Trump supporters! People are burning down their houses!!! People are destroying their property!!
Why are you not concerned about MY fear????
Why are you not concerned about MY life????
Why are you not concerned about MY rights????
Why are you not concerned about the hate crimes being committed against me????
I will not on tolerate this unfair behavior! My fears and my concerns are just as important as an illegal immigrants if not more so!!
I am an American citizen!!! This is my country! I have lived and worked here and pay taxes here and so have my parents!
My rights should not come after a noncitizen’s rights!
People have choices to obey the rules of law! And many LEGAL immigrants are angry that illegal immigrants are cheating them! LEGAL immigrants are citizens, illegal immigrants are not. That is not racist that is the rule of law and that is a fact!
When you choose to disobey the rule of law, you accept the consequences of that choice!
NO hate crime is acceptable! NO CRIME is acceptable. And that includes the crime of coming into this country illegally!
Go Get E’m SL
by Tyler Durden
Sep 6, 2016 6:30 PM
Why does it seem like almost everything is made in China these days? Yesterday I was looking at some pencils that we had laying around the house and I noticed that they had been manufactured in China. I remarked to my wife that it was such a shame that they don’t make pencils in the United States anymore. At another point during the day, I turned over my television remote and I noticed that it also had “Made In China” engraved on it. With Labor Day just hours in the past, I think that it is quite appropriate to write about our transition from an industrial economy to a paper economy today. Since the year 2000, the United States has lost five million manufacturing jobs even though our population has grown substantially since that time. Manufacturing in America is in a state of stunning decline, our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted, and our formerly great manufacturing cities are in an advanced state of decay. We consume far more wealth than we produce, and the only way that we are able to do this is by taking on massive amounts of debt. But is our debt-based paper economy sustainable in the long run?
Back in 1960, 24 percent of all American workers worked in manufacturing. Today, that number has shriveled all the way down to just 8 percent. CNN is calling it “the Great Shift”…
In 1960, about one in four American workers had a job in manufacturing. Today fewer than one in 10 are employed in the sector, according to government data.
Call it the Great Shift. Workers transitioned from the fields to the factories. Now they are moving from factories to service counters and health care centers. The fastest growing jobs in America now are nurses, personal care aides, cooks, waiters, retail salespersons and operations managers.
No wonder the middle class is shrinking so rapidly. There aren’t too many cooks, waiters or retail salespersons that can support a middle class family.
Since the turn of the century, we have lost more than 50,000 manufacturing facilities. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of gleaming new factories have been erected in places like China.
Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?
At this point, the total number of government employees in the United States exceeds the total number of manufacturing employees by almost 10 million…
Government employees in the United States outnumber manufacturing employees by 9,932,000, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Federal, state and local government employed 22,213,000 people in August, while the manufacturing sector employed 12,281,000.
The BLS has published seasonally-adjusted month-by-month employment data for both government and manufacturing going back to 1939. For half a century—from January 1939 through July 1989—manufacturing employment always exceeded government employment in the United States, according to these numbers.
You might be thinking that government jobs are “good jobs”, but the truth is that they don’t produce wealth.
Government employees are really good at pushing paper around and telling other people what to do, but in most instances they don’t actually make anything.
In order to have a sustainable economy, you have got to have people creating and producing things of value. A debt-based paper economy may seem to work for a while, but eventually the whole thing inevitably comes crashing down when faith in the paper is lost.
Right now, the rest of the world is willing to send us massive amounts of stuff that they produce for our paper. So we keep producing more and more paper and we keep going into more and more debt, but at some point the gig will be up.
If we want to be a wealthy nation in the long-term, we have got to produce stuff. That is why the latest news from Caterpillar is so depressing. In addition to the thousands of layoffs that had been previously announced by the industrial machinery giant, it appears that a fresh wave of layoffs has arrived…
Hundreds of mostly office employees received layoff notices at one of the largest Caterpillar Inc. facilities in the Peoria area this week, just as the company announced plans to close overseas production plants and eliminate thousands more positions.
A total of 300 support and management employees at Building AC and the Tech Center in Mossville this week received job loss notifications that included severance packages, 60 days notice and mandated Illinois Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act letters.
During this election season, you will hear many of our politicians talk about how good “free trade” is for the global economy. But that is only true if the trade is balanced. Unfortunately, we have been running a yearly trade deficit of between 400 billion dollars and 600 billion dollars for many years…
When you have got about half a trillion dollars more going out than you have coming in year after year that has severe consequences.
Let me try to break it down very simply.
Imagine that I am the United States and you are China. I take one dollar out of my wallet and I give it to you and then you send me some stuff.
After a while, I want more stuff, so I take another dollar out of my wallet and send it to you in exchange for more products.
But that stuff only lasts for so long, and so pretty soon I find myself taking another dollar out of my wallet and giving it to you for even more stuff.
Ultimately, who is going to end up with all the money?
It isn’t a big mystery as to how China ended up with so much money. And when we can’t pay our bills we have to go and beg them to let us borrow some of the money that we sent to them in the first place. Since we pay interest on that borrowed money, that makes China even richer.
This is why I am so obsessed with these trade issues. They truly are at the very heart of our long-term economic problems.
But most Americans don’t understand these things, and they seem to think that our debt-based paper economy can just keep rolling along indefinitely.
In the end, history will be the judge as to who was right and who was wrong.
Evidence exposing who put ISIS in power, and how it was done.
The Islamic militant group ISIS, formerly known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and recently rebranded as the so called Islamic State, is the stuff of nightmares. They are ruthless, fanatical, killers, on a mission, and that mission is to wipe out anyone and everyone, from any religion or belief system and to impose Shari’ah law. The mass executions, beheadings and even crucifixions that they are committing as they work towards this goal are flaunted like badges of pride, video taped and uploaded for the whole world to see. This is the new face of evil.
Would it interest you to know who helped these psychopaths rise to power? Would it interest you to know who armed them, funded them and trained them? Would it interest you to know why?
This story makes more sense if we start in the middle, so we’ll begin with the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
The Libyan revolution was Obama’s first major foreign intervention. It was portrayed as an extension of the Arab Spring, and NATO involvement was framed in humanitarian terms.
The fact that the CIA was actively working to help the Libyan rebels topple Gaddafi was no secret, nor were the airstrikes that Obama ordered against the Libyan government. However, little was said about the identity or the ideological leanings of these Libyan rebels. Not surprising, considering the fact that the leader of the Libyan rebels later admitted that his fighters included Al-Qaeda linked jihadists who fought against allied troops in Iraq.
These jihadist militants from Iraq were part of what national security analysts commonly referred to as Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Remember Al-Qaeda in Iraq was ISIS before it was re-branded.
With the assistance of U.S. and NATO intelligence and air support, the Libyan rebels captured Gaddafi and summarily executed him in the street, all the while enthusiastically chanting “Allah Akbar”. For many of those who had bought the official line about how these rebels were freedom fighters aiming to establish a liberal democracy in Libya, this was the beginning of the end of their illusions.
Prior to the U.S. and NATO backed intervention, Libya had the highest standard of living of any country in Africa. This according to the U.N.’s Human Development Index rankings for 2010. However in the years following the coup, the country descended into chaos, with extremism and violence running rampant. Libya is now widely regarded as failed state (of course those who were naive enough to buy into the propaganda leading up to the war get defensive when this is said).
Now after Gaddafi was overthrown, the Libyan armories were looted, and massive quantities of weapons were sent by the Libyan rebels to Syria. The weapons, which included anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles were smuggled into Syria through Turkey, a NATO ally. The times of London reported on the arrival of the shipment on September 14th, 2012. (Secondary confirmation in this NYT article) This was just three days after Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed by the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi. Chris Stevens had served as the U.S. government’s liaison to the Libyan rebels since April of 2011.
While a great deal media attention has focused on the fact that the State Department did not provide adequate security at the consulate, and was slow to send assistance when the attack started, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh released an article in April of 2014 which exposed a classified agreement between the CIA, Turkey and the Syrian rebels to create what was referred to as a “rat line”. The “rat line” was covert network used to channel weapons and ammunition from Libya, through southern turkey and across the Syrian border. Funding was provided by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
With Stevens dead any direct U.S. involvement in that arms shipment was buried, and Washington would continue to claim that they had not sent heavy weaponry into Syria.
It was at this time that jihadist fighters from Libya began flooding into Syria as well. And not just low level militants. Many were experienced commanders who had fought in multiple theaters.
The U.S. and its allies were now fully focused on taking down Assad’s government in Syria. As in Libya this regime change was to be framed in terms of human rights, and now overt support began to supplement the backdoor channels. The growing jihadist presence was swept under the rug and covered up.
However as the rebels gained strength, the reports of war crimes and atrocities that they were committing began to create a bit of a public relations problem for Washington. It then became standard policy to insist that U.S. support was only being given to what they referred to as “moderate” rebel forces.
This distinction, however, had no basis in reality.
In an interview given in April of 2014, FSA commander Jamal Maarouf admitted that his fighters regularly conduct joint operations with Al-Nusra. Al-Nusra is the official Al-Qa’ida branch in Syria. This statement is further validated by an interview given in June of 2013 by Colonel Abdel Basset Al-Tawil, commander of the FSA’s Northern Front. In this interview he openly discusses his ties with Al-Nusra, and expresses his desire to see Syria ruled by sharia law. (You can verify the identities of these two commanders here in this document from The Institute for the Study of War)
Moderate rebels? Well it’s complicated. Not that this should really come as any surprise. Reuters had reported in 2012 that the FSA’s command was dominated by Islamic extremists, and the New York Times had reported that same year that the majority of the weapons that Washington were sending into Syria was ending up in the hands Jihadists. For two years the U.S. government knew that this was happening, but they kept doing it.
And the FSA’s ties to Al-Nusra are just the beginning. In June of 2014 Al-Nusra merged with ISIS at the border between Iraq and Syria.
So to review, the FSA is working with Al-Nusra, Al-Nusra is working with ISIS, and the U.S. has been sending money and weapons to the FSA even though they’ve known since 2012 that most of these weapons were ending up in the hands of extremists. You do the math.
In that context, the sarin gas attacks of 2013 which turned out to have been committed by the Syrian rebels, makes a lot more sense doesn’t it? If it wasn’t enough that U.N. investigators, Russian investigators, and Pulitzer prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh all pinned that crime on Washington’s proxies, the rebels themselves threatened the West that they would expose what really happened if they were not given more advanced weaponry within one month.
By the way, this also explains why Washington then decided to target Russia next.
This threat was made on June 10th, 2013. In what can only be described as an amazing coincidence, just nine days later, the rebels received their first official shipment of heavy weapons in Aleppo.
After the second sarin gas fiasco, which was also exposed and therefore failed to garner public support for airstrikes, the U.S. continued to increase its the training and support for the rebels.
In February of 2014, Haaretz reported that the U.S. and its allies in the region, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel, were in the process of helping the Syrian rebels plan and prepare for a massive attack in the south. According to Haaretz Israel had also provided direct assistance in military operations against Assad four months prior (you can access a free cached version of the page here).
Then in May of 2014 PBS ran a report in which they interviewed rebels who were trained by the U.S. in Qatar. According to those rebels they were being trained to finish off soldiers who survived attacks.
“They trained us to ambush regime or enemy vehicles and cut off the road,” said the fighter, who is identified only as “Hussein.” “They also trained us on how to attack a vehicle, raid it, retrieve information or weapons and munitions, and how to finish off soldiers still alive after an ambush.”
This is a blatant violation of the Geneva conventions. It also runs contrary to conventional military strategy. In conventional military strategy soldiers are better off left wounded, because this ends up costing the enemy more resources. Executing captured enemy soldiers is the kind of tactic used when you want to strike terror in the hearts of the enemy. It also just happens to be standard operating procedure for ISIS.
One month after this report, in June of 2014, ISIS made its dramatic entry, crossing over the Syrian border into Iraq, capturing Mosul, Baiji and almost reaching Baghdad. The internet was suddenly flooded with footage of drive by shootings, large scale death marches, and mass graves. And of course any Iraqi soldier that was captured was executed.
Massive quantities of American military equipment were seized during that operation. ISIS took entire truckloads of humvees, they took helicopters, tanks, and artillery. They photographed and video taped themselves and advertised what they were doing on social media, and yet for some reason Washington didn’t even TRY to stop them.
U.S. military doctrine clearly calls for the destruction of military equipment and supplies when friendly forces cannot prevent them from falling into enemy hands, but that didn’t happen here. ISIS was allowed to carry this equipment out of Iraq and into Syria unimpeded. The U.S. military had the means to strike these convoys, but they didn’t lift a finger, even though they had been launching drone strikes in Pakistan that same week.
Why would they do that?
Though Obama plays the role of a weak, indecisive, liberal president, and while pundits from the right have had a lot of fun with that image, this is just a facade. Some presidents, like George W. Bush, rely primarily on overt military aggression. Obama gets the same job done, but he prefers covert means. Not really surprising considering the fact that Zbigniew Brzezinski was his mentor.
Those who know their history will remember that Zbigniew Brzezinski was directly involved in the funding and arming the Islamic extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan in order to weaken the Soviets.
By the way Osama bin Laden was one of these anti-Soviet “freedom fighters” the U.S. was funding and arming.
This operation is no secret at this point, nor are the unintended side effects.
Officially the U.S. government’s arming and funding of the Mujahideen was a response to the Soviet invasion in December of 1979, however in his memoir entitled “From the Shadows” Robert Gates, director of the CIA under Ronald Reagan and George Bush Senior, and Secretary of Defense under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, revealed that the U.S. actually began the covert operation 6 months prior, with the express intention of luring the Soviets into a quagmire. (You can preview the relevant text here on google books)
The strategy worked. The Soviets invaded, and the ten years of war that followed are considered by many historians as being one of the primary causes of the fall of the USSR.
This example doesn’t just establish precedent, what we’re seeing happen in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria right now is actually a continuation of a old story. Al-Nusra and ISIS are ideological and organizational decedents of these extremist elements that the U.S. government made use of thirty years ago.
The U.S. the went on to create a breeding ground for these extremists by invading Iraq in 2003. Had it not been for the vacuum of power left by the removal and execution of Saddam, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, aka ISIS, would not exist. And had it not been for Washington’s attempt at toppling Assad by arming, funding and training shadowy militant groups in Syria, there is no way that ISIS would have been capable of storming into Iraq in June of 2014.
On every level, no matter how you cut it, ISIS is a product of U.S. government’s twisted and decrepit foreign policy.
Now all of this may seem contradictory to you as you watch the drums of war against ISIS begin to beat louder and the air strikes against them are gradually widened http://www.wjla.com/articles/2014/08/president-obama-considers-possible-…). Why would the U.S. help a terrorist organization get established, only to attack them later?
Well why did the CIA put Saddam Hussein in power in 1963?, Why did the U.S. government back Saddam in 1980 when he launched a war of aggression against Iran, even though they knew that he was using chemical weapons? Why did the U.S. fund and arm Islamic extremists in Afghanistan against the Soviets?
There’s a pattern here if you look closely. This is a tried and true geopolitical strategy.
Step 1: Build up a dictator or extremist group which can then be used to wage proxy wars against opponents. During this stage any crimes committed by these proxies are swept under the rug. [Problem]
Step 2: When these nasty characters have outlived their usefulness, that’s when it’s time to pull out all that dirt from under the rug and start publicizing it 24/7. This obviously works best when the public has no idea how these bad guys came to power.[Reaction]
Step 3: Finally, when the public practically begging for the government to do something, a solution is proposed. Usually the solution involves military intervention, the loss of certain liberties, or both. [Solution]
ISIS is extremely useful. They have essentially done Washington dirty work by weakening Assad. In 2014, while the news cycle has focused almost exclusively on Ukraine and Russia, ISIS made major headway in Syria, and as of August they already controlled 35% of the country.
Since ISIS largely based in Syria, this gives the U.S. a pretext to move into Syria. Sooner or later the U.S. will extend the airstrikes into Assad’s backyard, and when they do U.S. officials are already making it clear that both ISIS and the Syrian government will be targeted. That, after all, is the whole point. Washington may allow ISIS to capture a bit more territory first, but the writing is on the wall, and has been for some time now.
The Obama administration has repeatedly insisted that this will never lead to boots on the ground, however, the truth of the matter is that anyone who understands anything about military tactics knows full well that ISIS cannot be defeated by airstrikes alone. In response to airstrikes ISIS will merely disperse and conceal their forces. ISIS isn’t an established state power which can be destroyed by knocking out key government buildings and infrastructure. These are guerrilla fighters who cut their teeth in urban warfare.
To significantly weaken them, the war will have to involve ground troops, but even this is a lost cause. U.S. troops could certainly route ISIS in street to street battles for some time, and they might even succeed in fully occupying Syria and Iraq for a number of years, but eventually they will have to leave, and when they do, it should be obvious what will come next.
The puppets that the U.S. government has installed in the various countries that they have brought down in recent years have without exception proven to be utterly incompetent and corrupt. No one that Washington places in power will be capable of maintaining stability in Syria. Period.
Right now, Assad is the last bastion of stability in the region. He is the last chance they have for a moderate non-sectarian government and he is the only hope of anything even remotely resembling democracy for the foreseeable future. If Assad falls, Islamic extremist will take the helm, they will impose shari’ah law, and they will do everything in their power to continue spreading their ideology as far and wide as they can.
If the world truly wants to stop ISIS, there is only one way to do it:
1. First and foremost, the U.S. government and its allies must be heavily pressured to cut all support to the rebels who are attempting to topple Assad. Even if these rebels that the U.S. is arming and funding were moderate, and they’re not, the fact that they are forcing Assad to fight a war on multiple fronts, only strengthens ISIS. This is lunacy.
2. The Syrian government should be provided with financial support, equipment, training and intelligence to enable them to turn the tide against ISIS. This is their territory, they should be the ones to reclaim it.
Now obviously this support isn’t going to come from the U.S. or any NATO country, but there are a number of nations who have a strategic interest in preventing another regime change and chaotic aftermath. If these countries respond promptly, as in right now, they could preempt a U.S. intervention, and as long this support does not include the presence of foreign troops, doing so will greatly reduce the likelihood of a major confrontation down the road.
3. The U.S. government and its allies should should be aggressively condemned for their failed regime change policies and the individuals behind these decisions should be charged for war crimes. This would have to be done on an nation by nation level since the U.N. has done nothing but enable NATO aggression. While this may not immediately result in these criminals being arrested, it would send a message. This can be done. Malaysia has already proven this by convicting the Bush administration of war crimes in abstentia.
Now you might be thinking: “This all sounds fine and good, but what does this have to do with me? I can’t influence this situation.”
That perspective is quite common, and for most people, it’s paralyzing, but the truth of the matter is that we can influence this. We’ve done it before, and we can do it again.
I’ll be honest with you though, this isn’t going to be easy. To succeed we have to start thinking strategically. Like it or not, this is a chess game. If we really want to rock the boat, we have to start reaching out to people in positions of influence. This can mean talking to broadcasters at your local radio station, news paper, or t.v. station, or it can mean contacting influential bloggers, celebrities, business figures or government officials. Reaching out to current serving military and young people who may be considering joining up is also important. But even if it’s just your neighbor, or your coworker, every single person we can reach brings us closer to critical mass. The most important step is to start trying.
If you are confused about why this is all happening, watch this video we put out on September 11th, 2012.
Libya has plunged unnoticed into its worst political and economic crisis since the defeat of GaddafiTuesday 03 September 2013 by Patrick Cockburn
A little under two years ago, Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, urged British businessmen to begin “packing their suitcases” and to fly to Libya to share in the reconstruction of the country and exploit an anticipated boom in natural resources.
Yet now Libya has almost entirely stopped producing oil as the government loses control of much of the country to militia fighters.
Mutinying security men have taken over oil ports on the Mediterranean and are seeking to sell crude oil on the black market. Ali Zeidan, Libya’s Prime Minister, has threatened to “bomb from the air and the sea” any oil tanker trying to pick up the illicit oil from the oil terminal guards, who are mostly former rebels who overthrew Muammar Gaddafi and have been on strike over low pay and alleged government corruption since July.
As world attention focused on the coup in Egypt and the poison gas attack in Syria over the past two months, Libya has plunged unnoticed into its worst political and economic crisis since the defeat of Gaddafi two years ago. Government authority is disintegrating in all parts of the country putting in doubt claims by American, British and French politicians that Nato’s military action in Libya in 2011 was an outstanding example of a successful foreign military intervention which should be repeated in Syria.
In an escalating crisis little regarded hitherto outside the oil markets, output of Libya’s prized high-quality crude oil has plunged from 1.4 million barrels a day earlier this year to just 160,000 barrels a day now. Despite threats to use military force to retake the oil ports, the government in Tripoli has been unable to move effectively against striking guards and mutinous military units that are linked to secessionist forces in the east of the country.
Libyans are increasingly at the mercy of militias which act outside the law. Popular protests against militiamen have been met with gunfire; 31 demonstrators were shot dead and many others wounded as they protested outside the barracks of “the Libyan Shield Brigade” in the eastern capital Benghazi in June.
Though the Nato intervention against Gaddafi was justified as a humanitarian response to the threat that Gaddafi’s tanks would slaughter dissidents in Benghazi, the international community has ignored the escalating violence. The foreign media, which once filled the hotels of Benghazi and Tripoli, have likewise paid little attention to the near collapse of the central government.
The strikers in the eastern region Cyrenaica, which contains most of Libya’s oil, are part of a broader movement seeking more autonomy and blaming the government for spending oil revenues in the west of the country. Foreigners have mostly fled Benghazi since the American ambassador, Chris Stevens, was murdered in the US consulate by jihadi militiamen last September. Violence has worsened since then with Libya’s military prosecutor Colonel Yussef Ali al-Asseifar, in charge of investigating assassinations of politicians, soldiers and journalists, himself assassinated by a bomb in his car on 29 August.
Rule by local militias is also spreading anarchy around the capital. Ethnic Berbers, whose militia led the assault on Tripoli in 2011, temporarily took over the parliament building in Tripoli. The New York-based Human Rights Watch has called for an independent investigation into the violent crushing of a prison mutiny in Tripoli on 26 August in which 500 prisoners had been on hunger strike. The hunger strikers were demanding that they be taken before a prosecutor or formally charged since many had been held without charge for two years.
The government called on the Supreme Security Committee, made up of former anti-Gaddafi militiamen nominally under the control of the interior ministry, to restore order. At least 19 prisoners received gunshot shrapnel wounds, with one inmate saying “they were shooting directly at us through the metal bars”. There have been several mass prison escapes this year in Libya including 1,200 escaping from a prison after a riot in Benghazi in July.
The Interior Minister, Mohammed al-Sheikh, resigned last month in frustration at being unable to do his job, saying in a memo sent to Mr Zeidan that he blamed him for failing to build up the army and the police. He accused the government, which is largely dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, of being weak and dependent on tribal support. Other critics point out that a war between two Libyan tribes, the Zawiya and the Wirrshifana, is going on just 15 miles from the Prime Minister’s office.
Diplomats have come under attack in Tripoli with the EU ambassador’s convoy ambushed outside the Corinthia hotel on the waterfront. A bomb also wrecked the French embassy.
One of the many failings of the post-Gaddafi government is its inability to revive the moribund economy. Libya is wholly dependent on its oil and gas revenues and without these may not be able to pay its civil servants. Sliman Qajam, a member of the parliamentary energy committee, told Bloomberg that “the government is running on its reserves. If the situation doesn’t improve, it won’t be able to pay salaries by the end of the year”.
By Tom Bergin LUXEMBOURG | Thu Dec 6, 2012 3:18am EST
(Reuters) – In 2005, Amazon rented a historic five-storey building in Luxembourg‘s Grund quarter, right at the bottom of a steep rock-walled valley below the old town.
By setting up in Luxembourg, and channelling sales through its units there, the world’s biggest online retailer could minimize corporate taxes.
It was a move with big financial consequences.
Amazon’s Luxembourg arrangements have deprived European governments of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax that it might otherwise have owed, as reported in European newspapers. But a Reuters examination of accounts filed by 25 Amazon units in six countries shows how they also allowed the company to avoid paying more tax in the United States, where the company is based.
In effect, Amazon used inter-company payments to form a tax shield for the group, behind which it has accumulated $2 billion to help finance its expansion.
Amazon revealed last year that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) wants $1.5 billion in back taxes. The claim, which Amazon said it would “vigorously contest”, is linked to its foreign subsidiaries and payments made between them.
The issue highlights the way multinationals reduce their taxes by parking intellectual property in tax havens and charging affiliates big fees for using it. Politicians in rich countries are beginning to target such practices, which have been used by other multinationals including Google and Microsoft.
U.S. Senator Carl Levin has called the tactics “gimmickry.” Michael McIntyre, a tax expert at Wayne State University in Michigan, said that while Amazon’s arrangement, and others like it, looked like commercial transactions, they actually only served to reduce taxes.
“The IRS shouldn’t be happy about this,” he said. “It sounds like they’re not.”
Amazon declined to answer questions about its tax affairs for this story, the latest in a Reuters series on corporate tax avoidance. In an emailed statement a spokesman said that “Amazon pays all applicable taxes in every jurisdiction that it operates within.”
The group has come under scrutiny from tax departments in at least six countries over the past six years. Tax authorities in the United States, UK, Germany, France and Luxembourg declined to comment, citing rules on taxpayer confidentiality.
The Luxembourg structure, outlined by media including the Guardian newspaper in April, fulfils a corporate obligation to shareholders to maximize returns. There is no suggestion the company has broken any laws; Amazon, which started out selling books and now offers everything from tools to toys, paid an average 44 percent tax on its U.S. earnings in the last five years.
This is an examination of how Amazon set up its tax shield, and how it works.
Amazon’s first foray abroad came in 1998, when it bought online retailers in Britain and Germany and rebranded them Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.de. In 2000, it launched a French website, Amazon.fr.
At first it did little to integrate these foreign units, former senior executives say. Even product purchasing – where Amazon would later squeeze huge savings by negotiating hard with suppliers – was handled independently in different markets.
“There were no real operational synergies in our early years. The units operated largely independently,” said Todd Edebohls, current CEO of recruitment website Inside Jobs, and Amazon’s Director of Business Development and Sales between 1999 and 2007.
But in late 1999, accounts for the UK business show, the UK unit’s principal activity changed from “marketing and selling of books via the Internet” to “the provision of services to other group undertakings.”
People shopping on Amazon.co.uk would now do business with a U.S. unit registered in Delaware. There were similar changes at the German business: in effect, the fast-growing European units had become fulfillment operations just to distribute packages and offer customer support. Amazon’s accounts show the bulk of its overseas revenues were now attributed to the U.S. parent.
That shift helped with a problem it faced at home.
Founded in 1995 and listed two years later, the company lost money every year until 2003. This was standard practice for a dotcom startup: Amazon focused on market share rather than profit.
But by the end of 1999 Amazon’s accumulated losses were so large – more than $1 billion – that its own accountants would not let the firm recognize them as a tax asset, because it was unclear it could ever make enough profit to use them up. Bringing foreign profits home allowed Amazon to set them against U.S. losses, so the company did not have to pay tax on overseas profits, according to Stephen Shay, a professor of tax law at Harvard University.
SERVICES, NOT BOOKS
That changed in 2003, when Amazon started making a lot more profit in the United States. There was a chance the foreign earnings would now increase its global tax bill, according to Shay, because U.S. corporate tax rates were higher than in other markets such as Britain.
Amazon turned to the tiny country of Luxembourg. The Grand Duchy has a population of 500,000 – half the size of Rhode Island – and offers a variety of advantages. It’s a member of the European Union, so businesses based there can sell across EU borders with less red tape. Then there’s the tax rate.
Luxembourg has a headline charge on corporate income of 29 percent, but under certain circumstances it will exempt income a company earns through intellectual property by up to 80 percent, a government spokesperson said. This cuts the effective tax rate to below 6 percent. Tax advisers and academics say rates close to zero can be achieved using other methods.
In June 2003, Amazon registered Amazon Services Europe SARL in Luxembourg, establishing an office in a drab grey concrete building overlooking the central bus depot. The initials stand for Societe a Responsabilite Limitee – a limited company, liable for tax.
A month later, it told clients in the UK its terms were changing. Contracts with third-party retailers who used Amazon to sell their products would no longer be handled in the United States but with the Luxembourg unit.
In June 2004, Amazon established another Luxembourg entity – Amazon Europe Holding Technologies – whose purpose was to hold shares in Amazon group companies and “to acquire … any intellectual property rights, patents, and trademarks licenses and generally to hold, to license the right to use it solely to one of its direct or indirect wholly owned subsidiaries.”
This group was set up as a “Societe en Commandite Simple” or SCS, a type of limited partnership that a Luxembourg government spokesman said is exempt from income taxes. It has not had any operational staff or premises, its registered address being the offices of a trust services company in an upmarket residential area west of Luxembourg’s old town.
A month later, this company established a third Luxembourg company, Amazon EU SARL, whose principal purpose was to “sell, auction, rent or otherwise distribute products or services of all types” via Amazon websites.
This taxable unit was to become, on paper at least, the supplier of all goods and services to Amazon’s European customers.
FROM NEVADA TO LUXEMBOURG
To be tax efficient, though, Amazon needed to shift the profit this unit would make into its untaxed parent. The easiest way to do this was for Amazon EU SARL to pay Amazon Europe Holding Technologies a fee to license the Amazon technology it would use to sell things.
There was just one problem: Amazon Europe Holding Technologies had no technology to license. Amazon’s patents – including the Amazon brand and its ‘1-click’ ordering software – were held by Amazon Technologies Inc, a unit registered in Nevada, Patent and Trademark Office records show.
In early 2005, Amazon did an inter-company deal that solved this problem.
Exact details of the arrangement have never been made public and Amazon declined to clarify them. Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak told analysts on a conference call a few weeks afterwards that the deal to create the Luxembourg operation involved shifting “certain operating assets” offshore and that it would boost the group’s 2005 tax bill by $58 million but “beneficially impact our effective tax rate over time.”
Amazon’s Luxembourg arrangements have helped it pay an average tax rate of 5.3 percent on overseas income over the past five years, less than a quarter of the average rate across its major foreign markets.
Company accounts show that since 2005, Amazon Europe Holding Technologies started to make payments to Amazon Technologies Inc in Nevada of up to 230 million euros ($300 million) each year. At the same time it received up to 583 million euros each year from its European affiliates.
The difference stayed in Luxembourg.
Had Amazon remitted all that to the United States and then paid the headline U.S. corporate income tax rate on it, the firm would have incurred taxes of more than $700 million. But it has not and the deal has allowed Amazon’s Luxembourg unit to accrue tax-free cash worth more than $2 billion.
Historically, such inter-company payments might have been treated as a taxable dividend under U.S. tax law, but a provision introduced in 1997 known as ‘check-the-box’ allowed companies to have them disregarded by the IRS. Senator Levin, a Democrat, is among many U.S. politicians who want this loophole rescinded.
“HEADQUARTERS OF NIGHT LIFE”
For Amazon’s tax-free money-making machine to work, it had to show it had more than a nameplate in Luxembourg.
To benefit from favorable taxation, the Grand Duchy says firms “must ensure that they give adequate substance to their presence in the country in terms of both logistics and staff.” At the end of 2005, Amazon had just a dozen staff there. If tax departments around the continent were to recognize the arrangement, Amazon needed a meaningful corporate presence.
In February 2006, it transferred ownership of its UK, German and French businesses to Amazon EU SARL, and ownership of its UK and French web domains to Amazon Europe Holding Technologies. It also moved some U.S. executives to Luxembourg, hired more locals and began to call Amazon EU its European headquarters.
Filings show that in December 2006, the group relocated its Luxembourg operating units into the rented building on Plaetis Steet, a stone’s throw from the English and Irish bars that lead the city-state’s tourist office to describe the Grund and neighboring Clausen as the “Headquarters of Luxembourg’s night life.”
CASH PILE BUILDS
As the cash built up in Amazon Europe Holding Technologies, the firm started to lend to Amazon EU SARL. Besides funding international expansion, this has generated up to 45 million euros a year in interest since 2005 – all untaxed.
Today, Amazon calls its 300-person Luxembourg operation the nerve-centre of an operation which employs tens of thousands of people across the continent. It expanded into a new building, opened by Luxembourg’s Finance Minister, Luc Frieden, in October.
“All the strategic functions for our business in Europe are based in Luxembourg,” Amazon’s head of public policy, Andrew Cecil, told UK parliamentarians in November.
At home in the United States, though, the Internal Revenue Service seems unconvinced.
Amazon disclosed in October 2011 that the IRS wanted $1.5 billion in unpaid taxes. It has declined to say exactly what transactions the charge relates to but said it was linked to “transfer pricing with our foreign subsidiaries” over a seven-year period from 2005.
“We disagree with the proposed adjustments and intend to vigorously contest them,” Amazon said at the time. “If we are not able to resolve these proposed adjustments … we plan to pursue all available administrative and, if necessary, judicial remedies.”
Shay, the Harvard professor who contributed to a recent Congressional committee investigating tax avoidance, said the fact the Luxembourg unit charged a much higher price than it paid for the right to license Amazon intellectual property could open the company to an investigation into whether it is engaging in abusive transfer pricing.
“The price originally paid to the U.S. for the rights is something the IRS should want to look at,” he said.
Transfer pricing is the way corporations trade goods or services between their units. Many multinationals use it.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which lays down the rules on transfer pricing, stipulates that it should not be used to shift profits from high tax jurisdictions to low tax jurisdictions.
The IRS declined to comment.
(Additional reporting by Alistair Barr in San Francisco; Edited by Sara Ledwith and Simon Robinson)
- Europe targets Google and other tech giants on taxes (mercurynews.com)
- Investigate eBay over tax payments, says Margaret Hodge (guardian.co.uk)
- Europe takes on tech giants and their tax havens (miamiherald.com)
- How U.S. Firms Like Google and Amazon Minimize their European Taxes (business.time.com)
- UK lawmakers target multinationals for more tax (thehimalayantimes.com)
- Calls to investigate eBay’s tax bases (stuff.co.nz)
- Tax UK Tech Startups at the same rate as Google and Amazon (broadstuff.com)
- HMRC urged to get tough over tax (bbc.co.uk)