Thursday, May 31, 2012

LPACTV Overview - May 12, 2012

Published on May 12, 2012 by laroucheyouth

May 12, 2012 - As long as President Barack Obama remains in office, thermonuclear war is on the table. The LaRouche National Slate's Diane Sare and Kesha Rogers have called for this, especially in the context of a growing tension between Russia and the US over missile defense. It's time for you to do what Diane and Kesha are doing.

For more on Kesha Rogers & Diane Sare go to &

Join us by organizing your local city council to pass our emergency resolution


Wine is a mocker,..

Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
Proverbs 20:1


America’s Secret Empire of Drone Bases: Its Full Extent Revealed for the First Time

The US has used armed drones in Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. There are already around 60 military and CIA bases around the world connected to the drone programme and more are being planned.


Obama terror drones: CIA tactics in Pakistan include targeting rescuers and funerals

February 4th, 2012 | by Chris Woods and Christina Lamb | Published in All Stories, Covert War on Terror, Drones carousel

Hellfire missiles being loaded onto a US military Reaper drone in Afghanistan
Missiles being loaded onto a military Reaper drone in Afghanistan.

The CIA’s drone campaign in Pakistan has killed dozens of civilians who had gone to help rescue victims or were attending funerals, an investigation by the Bureau for the Sunday Times has revealed.

The findings are published just days after President Obama claimed that the drone campaign in Pakistan was a ‘targeted, focused effort’ that ‘has not caused a huge number of civilian casualties.’

Speaking publicly for the first time on the controversial CIA drone strikes, Obama claimed last week they are used strictly to target terrorists, rejecting what he called ‘this perception we’re just sending in a whole bunch of strikes willy-nilly’.

‘Drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties’, he told a questioner at an on-line forum. ‘This is a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists trying to go in and harm Americans’.

But research by the Bureau has found that since Obama took office three years ago, between 282 and 535 civilians have been credibly reported as killed including more than 60 children. A three month investigation including eye witness reports has found evidence that at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims. More than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. The tactics have been condemned by leading legal experts.

Afghanistan: our modern opium war

Washington justified this occupation by the 'war on terror'. But it makes more sense as another theatre of the failed 'war on drugs'

Pratap Chatterjee, Sunday 1 April 2012 11.19 EDT

Afghan farmer with opium crop
An Afghan farmer tends his poppy crop. Photograph: Shah Marai/AFP/Getty Images

Parween, the opium farmer in Badakhsan province, who supported her ageing husband. Haji Barat, the opium merchant in the provincial capital of Fayzabad, who built a health clinic with 50 beds with his profits. Images one does not expect from war-torn Afghanistan, a country that makes headlines now only when Qur'ans are burned or another massacre takes place.

The stories of Opium Nation, a new book about Afghanistan by Fariba Nawa, an Afghan American who was born in Herat but grew up in northern California after her family fled the Soviets, offer a rare and contradictory glimpse into the drug trade that is the economic life blood of Afghanistan. This is the actual narrative that the media and politicians should be grappling with.

The author takes the reader on a seven-year journey through many provinces, in her search for the story behind Darya, a 12-year-old opium bride, who was sold by her father to pay off a debt. As Nawa nears her goal of following the young girl-turned-woman whom she meets in the opening pages, she starts to understand the complexities of the drug trade.

She discovers, for example, that not all those involved in this transnational business are simply victims or villains. Some of the farmers and traders are small-town heroes whose tales are seldom heard because they don't fit the picture we want to hear.

Nawa also discovers that the same is true of the country of her birth. She writes:

"The western media propagates an image of a romantic Afghanistan, one that cannot be conquered or tamed. Its people are unruly natives unwelcoming to modern society. Others believe that it's the white man's burden to save it from ignorance and tribalism."

When she started this odyssey in 2000, during the time of the Taliban, Nawa says that she, too, believed these myths and believed that it was her mission to save Darya. At the end, having traveled to opium bazaars and rehabilitation clinics, visited the beautiful homes of warlords and attended the Blackwater-run police training sessions to destroy the trade, she discovers that the good solutions are much harder to come by than one might hope. She concludes:

"Darya is no longer a mystery or a victim I must liberate. The Afghan women who live there are not the weak, voiceless victims they are so often made out to be in the western media."

Instead of trying to just save the victims and punish the villains of the drug trade in Afghanistan, she argues that the west needs to understand that it has taken Afghanistan 30 years to build a strong opium trade and it is unlikely to take less time to dismantle what has become the cornerstone of the national economy. "There are no short cuts, quick fixes, or shock-and-awe solutions," says Nawa. It is a lesson that would be well noted by those in power in Washington, if they are contemplating embarking on the even more ambitious project of introducing "democracy" to the struggling masses in Central Asia.

Bringing peace and prosperity to war-torn Afghanistan was a first and major mission of Barack Obama's foreign policy. Today, with the fresh new images of burnt Qur'ans and the innocent victims of the alleged rampage by a US soldier, the question of the endgame of this conflict has been pushed back to the front pages of the daily newspapers yet again. "When Qur'an Burnings Incite Riots and a Mass Murder Doesn't" was the headline of a New York Times article, puzzling over the eternal mystery of the unruly native.

Every day on TV network news, we hear the grave voices of experts on the "war on terror" speaking to us from Washington. Sometimes, it is Peter Bergen at the New America Foundation, who met Osama bin Laden; on other occasions, it is Lisa Curtis at the Heritage Foundation, who worked at the CIA.

Time and again, the media tell us that Washington is consulting books galore on how to "solve" Afghanistan. "The struggle to set the future course of the Afghan war is becoming a battle of two books – both suddenly popular among White House," declared the Wall Street Journal in 2009. Which would it be? Lessons in Disaster or A Better War, both of which are chronicles of Vietnam. Yet, with more than half the income of Afghanistan derived from the opium trade, it would a mistake to imagine that the war in Afghanistan has anything in common with fighting the Viet Cong or even Communism.

Opium Nation reminds us that Afghanistan is not just a war, but a country of many ordinary yet unique people, kind and cruel, rich and poor. Not least of all, Nawa points out the obvious, inescapable fact: the solution to the opium trade – and the war – lies not in bullets or military strategy, but in addressing the root cause, which is the demand for the drug in the west.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

US commandos parachuted into N. Korea: report

AFP – Mon, May 28, 2012

  • US paratroopers are dropped by a US airforce C17 (not pictured) during a training exercise over Maniago near Aviano air base, in 2011. The US military Tuesday vehemently denied a media report that special forces had been parachuted into North Korea on intelligence-gathering missions, saying a source had been misquoted. (AFP Photo/Giuseppe Cacace)

    US paratroopers are dropped by a US airforce C17 (not pictured) during a training exercise over Maniago near Aviano air base, in 2011. The US military Tuesday vehemently denied a media report that special forces had been parachuted into North Korea on intelligence-gathering missions, saying a source had been misquoted. (AFP Photo/Giuseppe Cacace)

US and South Korean special forces have been parachuting into North Korea to gather intelligence about underground military installations, a US officer has said in comments carried in US media.

Army Brigadier General Neil Tolley, commander of US special forces in South Korea, told a conference held in Florida last week that Pyongyang had built thousands of tunnels since the Korean war, The Diplomat reported.

"The entire tunnel infrastructure is hidden from our satellites," Tolley said, according to The Diplomat, a current affairs magazine. "So we send (South Korean) soldiers and US soldiers to the North to do special reconnaissance."

"After 50 years, we still don't know much about the capability and full extent" of the underground facilities," he said, in comments reported by the National Defense Industrial Association's magazine on its website.

Tolley said the commandos were sent in with minimal equipment to facilitate their movements and minimize the risk of detection by North Korean forces.

At least four of the tunnels built by Pyongyang go under the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea, Tolley said.

"We don't know how many we don't know about," he admitted.

Among the facilities identified are 20 air fields that are partially underground, and thousands of artillery positions.

In February, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that had built at least two new tunnels at a nuclear testing site, likely in preparation for a new test.


Vatican crisis highlights pope failure to reform Curia

By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor | Reuters – 1 hr 17 mins ago.

  • The Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele (bottom L) arrives with Pope Benedict XVI (R) at St. Peter's Square in Vatican, in this file photo taken May 23, 2012. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/Files

    The Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele …

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict in 2005, epithets like "God's Rottweiler" and "Panzerkardinal" suggested he would bring some German efficiency to the opaque Vatican bureaucracy, the Curia.

Instead, as the "Vatileaks" scandal has revealed, the head of the Roman Catholic Church can't even keep his own private mail secret. His hand-picked deputy, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, faces a "monsignors' mutiny" by prelates in the halls of power.

Benedict's papacy has been marked until now by controversies over things he has said and done, such as his criticism of Islam at Regensburg in 2006 or his 2009 decision to readmit four excommunicated ultra-traditionalist bishops to the Church.

Now a goal he has failed to achieve -- gain control over the Curia -- has come back to haunt him. Leaks of confidential documents on everything from Vatican finances to private papal audiences make his papacy look weak and disorganized.

"We've almost forgotten that reform of the Curia was part of Benedict's program at the start," recalled Isabelle de Gaulmyn, who was Vatican correspondent for the French Catholic daily La Croix at the time.

"Seven years later, the Curia has never seemed as opaque, ineffective, closed and badly governed as it is today."

The "Vatileaks" scandal has revealed, among other issues, the infighting behind the sacking of the Vatican bank president. The pope's own butler has been arrested on suspicion of stealing documents that have since been leaked to the media.

The target seems to be Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state (prime minister), whose critics accuse him of playing politics and blocking their efforts to stamp out corruption and cronyism in Vatican management.


The Curia, a centuries-old bureaucracy dominated by Italian clerics, is essential to the success or failure of a papacy because it can effectively cancel or water down papal decisions if they go against long-standing interests or traditions.

Its name comes from the Latin word for a royal court and its jumble of overlapping departments, commissions and tribunals seems more suited to an intrigue-filled Renaissance monarchy than a modern and transparent democratic government.

The institution that gave the world the word "nepotism" is not always a model meritocracy either. Some officials are talented and dynamic while others are bureaucrats who seem to owe their posts more to connections than capabilities.

Each department has an advisory board of cardinals and bishops and those who sit on several boards can create powerful links that cut across department lines to influence policy.

Pressure for reform grew during the long reign of Pope John Paul. He announced changes in the 1980s to give local bishops more say in central policy-making, but focused more on his travel and preaching and did not really implement it.

Benedict was seen as the best man to reform it since he had been a Curia member since 1981 and reportedly knew it inside out. Now the task looks set to be handed on to his successor.

"I'm not sure anyone has ever really controlled it, or can control it," Thomas F.X. Noble, history professor at Notre Dame University in Indiana, said of the bureaucracy housed on the Vatican grounds and in office buildings nearby.

The Curia has held its own in Church power terms despite two non-Italian popes and the growing majority of Catholics from the developing world.

In February, the last time Benedict named new cardinals, 10 of the 18 who can vote for the next pope were Curia officials. That boosted their faction to 35 percent of the votes in the next conclave, meaning they will play an important role in the election and could try to win the papacy back for Italy.

Supporters of the tradition of Italian popes say only they know the culture well enough to control the Curia.


The crisis, which hurts Benedict's image as a leader just as he drives an increasingly conservative line in Church policy, is as much a result of the pope's diffident management style as of the institutional dysfunction of the Curia itself.

"He's a solitary scholar and he's not interested in the bureaucracy," said Chester Gillis, professor of theology at Georgetown University in Washington. "His real ambition seems to be to finish the third volume of his book."

Benedict, a leading Catholic theologian in his own right, has devoted considerable time in office to writing a major study entitled "Jesus of Nazareth" rather than administering the Church. The first two volumes appeared in 2007 and 2011.

His stern reputation stems from his long tenure as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), where he cracked down on liberal trends such as liberation theology.

But his CDF work focused on his own specialty, theology. "It was not about managing the Church," Gillis noted.

When he was elected pope, Benedict brought along several trusted CDF colleagues, including Bertone.

Bertone's critics call him an autocratic power-broker, a role the Curia lends itself to because its structure suits a Renaissance monarchy more than modern democratic governance.

There are no cabinet meetings among heads of departments, or dicasteries, and information circulates mostly on a need-to-know basis. Decisions with major implications for the Church are not always discussed with other departments that might be affected.


Benedict did start reforming the Curia in early 2006, downgrading its department for interfaith dialogue into a sub-department of the culture ministry and sending its experienced head away to be nuncio (ambassador) in Cairo.

But he restored it as a full department the following year after his Regensburg speech in September 2006, which suggested Islam was violent and irrational, sparked protests by Muslims in several Islamic countries.

Some Curia officials had vetted the speech but not warned him of its diplomatic dangers. At Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland earlier that year, Benedict added the word Holocaust to his speech after journalists saw an advance text and told his aides Jews would be offended if he did not clearly mention it.

Benedict's aides apparently did not prepare him for the wave of sharp protests from Catholics, Jews and even German Chancellor Angela Merkel to his surprise decision in 2009 to readmit four rebel bishops to the Church after a 21-year schism.

The shocked pope had to write a long letter explaining the step and admit nobody in the Curia had done an Internet search for him and seen one bishop was a notorious Holocaust denier.

The Vatican has also reacted slowly and defensively to the clerical sexual abuse scandal shaking national churches around the world, giving the impression it puts its institutional interests ahead of the children molested by priests.

The cumulative effect of such incidents over the years and revelations of Vatican mismanagement now has been to cast Benedict's as "a tin ear papacy," said Christopher Bellitto, a Catholic Church historian at Kean University in New Jersey.

"This all seems to be a power game that matters only to the power players," he said. "It seems to be a Church hierarchy further distancing itself from the people in the pews."

(This story corrects name and university in second to last paragraph)

(Reporting By Tom Heneghan; Editing by Jon Boyle)


Black Gay and Lesbian Pastors Merge Churches to Promote 'Radically Inclusive' Theology

By Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter
May 28, 2012|10:52 am

Two predominantly black congregations in Harlem, NY., where the respective pastors are gay and lesbian, have merged to fight for homosexuality to be accepted by the Church, giving their congregation the message, "He (Jesus) got up so I can come out. He got up for you can come out!" However, their promotion that God created people gay has been firmly rejected by mainstream Churches, who maintain that the Bible clearly identifies homosexuality as a sin.

The Rivers at Rehoboth is a combination between Rivers of Living Faith, headed by Pastor Vanessa M. Brown, a lesbian, and Rehoboth Temple, which is led by Pastor Joseph Tolton, who is gay. The new church's message combines black church traditions but uniquely makes its core mission to minister to gay and lesbian people, The New York Times has reported.

"Aren't you glad Jesus got up?" Twanna Gause, Pastor Brown's partner, was quoted as asking the congregation at a sermon.

"He got up so I can come out," she continued to the shouts of "Amen" and "Hallelujah." "He got up so you can come out."

The Rivers at Rehoboth combines two similar philosophies upheld by the two previous churches – a message of being "Radically Inclusive," which preaches that Jesus Christ accepted all people no matter their circumstance; and "Gay by God," which is based on the notion that God created all people in his image, gays and lesbians included.

However, the doctrine of "Radically Inclusive" has been condemned by some who rebuke the idea that Jesus accepts all people regardless of whether people have repented of their sins. The promotion that God "created" people gay has also been rejected by mainstream Christianity.

However, the "Radically Inclusive" church has chosen to ignore the criticism. Brown, who will lead the new church, has said, "God doesn't make any junk. He made us knowing who we were going to be before we were it."

"We want people to know that they are loved, there's a safe space for them in the house of God, where they can truly worship the Lord and be their authentic selves," Brown remarked.

Tolton, who is now the Associate Pastor, said that for over 20 years, he believed his sexual orientation was a spiritual demon from which he needed to be saved, and asked clergy to pray for him.

"It broke my heart," he shared of an experience where he left his church after a friend of his told him he could not be the best man at his wedding because of his sexual orientation.

Pastor Brown has revealed she married a man who was gay to help protect his image in the church, but divorced him after growing tired of living a lie.

"I was ruining my own self," she said. "I wasn't happy."

The church boasts that it attracts 200 people each Sunday for service by promoting itself as a safe haven for gay and lesbian people who feel excluded in other churches that support traditional views on homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

"It's the safest place to go without being condemned at the end of service," said Julie Chisolm-May, who attends the church with her wife and six adult children.

Rivers at Rehoboth church insists in its articles of faith that it not only accepts gay and lesbian people; it celebrates all who are marginalized by society for their "uniqueness."

The Eighth Article on the "Radically Inclusive" guidelines states: "The radically inclusive ministry of Jesus does not encourage people to hide their 'unacceptable' realities (based upon the dominant culture' point of view or faith) in order to be embraced. True community comes when marginalized people take back the right to fully "be." People must celebrate not in spite of who they are, but because of who their Creator has made them. In order for marginalized people to have community they must develop community "naked" with their "marginality" in full view while often celebrating the very thing that separates them from the dominant culture."

The issue of black churches and homosexual affirmation has long been a controversial one, though most black pastors and congregations in America stand behind the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

Recently, Dr. Alveda C. King, the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., expressed her disappointment that the Africa-American civil rights organization NAACP backed President Barack Obama in his endorsement of same-sex marriage.

"In the 21st Century, the anti-traditional marriage community is in league with the anti-life community, and together with the NAACP and other sympathizers, they are seeking a world where homosexual marriage and abortion will supposedly set the captives free," King expressed.

In his argument that most African-American pastors believe that homosexual behavior is sinful, CP contributor and Nebraska pastor Dan Delzell expressed, "President Obama is leading the way on gay marriage for what he hopes will be a large following of black pastors and their congregations. Many black pastors are not following his lead. The vast majority of pastors in the black community do not want the children in their church being taught that homosexual behavior is no longer sinful."


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Game Over: Spanish Collapse Can Bring Down the Trans-Atlantic System

Published on May 27, 2012 by WikiIntelNews
Abruptly, but lawfully, the Spanish debt crisis has erupted over the past 48 hours into a systemic rupture in the entire trans-Atlantic financial and monetary facade, posing the immediate question: Will the European Monetary Union and the entire trans-Atlantic financial system survive to the end of this holiday weekend?

Late on Friday afternoon, the Spanish government revealed that the cost of bailing out the Bankia bank, which was nationalized on May 9, will now cost Spanish taxpayers nearly 24 billion euro—and rising. Many other Spanish banks are facing imminent collapse or bailout; the autonomous Spanish regions, with gigantic debts of their own, are all now bankrupt and desperate for their own bailout. Over the last week, Spanish and foreign depositors have been pulling their money out of the weakest Spanish banks in a panic, in a repeat of the capital flight out of the Greek banks months ago.

The situations in Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Ireland are equally on the edge of total disintegration—and the exposure of the big Wall Street banks to this European disintegration is so enormous that there is no portion of the trans-Atlantic system that is exempt from the sudden, crushing reality of this collapse.

Whether or not the system holds together for a few days or weeks more, or whether it literally goes into total meltdown in the coming hours, the moment of truth has arrived, when all options to hold the current system together have run out. more at


What ever Russia wants, Russia gets. (Syria)

You may or might wonder why Syria is the exception to the ARAB SPRING pattern?

Officially it is that RUSSIA is the major patron and supporter of Syria and the al-Assad regime. *This support from RUSSIA has allowed months of bloody internal rebellion in Syria - while the US, The EU, the UN, and NATO watch in distress, and are prevented from assisting OVERTLY in toppling the government. This is RUSSIA's back-yard, its domain, its prerogative, and the super powers reluctantly oblige. In other words Syria is no Tunisia, it has no Tahrir Square, because RUSSIA IMPEDES INTERVENTION.

The Hula Massacre on May 25, 2012 in Syria may be the tipping point, the straw that breaks the camel's back. Today the international community, the west, has expelled Syrian Diplomats to protest the killing of 'children' in Hula. Meanwhile, the UN holds security council meetings; KOFI holds talks (has Tea) with al-ASSAD; the international community becomes involved; and even RUSSIA succumbs to criticism from those opposed to the continued killing of 'civilians'.

In the meantime, the US SPACE STATION is shared with COSMONAUTS, and NASA Astronauts need to PAY to hitchhike on a SOYUZ to get in orbit. Funny how the COLD WAR and the toppling of the BERLIN WALL has given rise to Al Qaeda, Taliban, HAQQANI NETWORK, al shabab, and a bunch of other rag tag outfits?

OOOHHH, those guys are so dangerous! They are now keeping the world in a constant state of fear and suspicion. The loosely affiliated Stealthy Muslim Extremist Army. What an oxymoron?

Things were so much easier when you watched on ABC the GOOSE STEPPING MARCHES and the display of MILITARY WEAPON parade through the streets of Moscow (USSR) and PEKING. Things were much simpler WAY BACK WHEN.

RED is now good! Green has to be stopped.



The Kuwaiti Incubator Baby Hoax

A key event in generating momentum for the first U.S. War on Iraq, "Operation Desert Storm" was a fraudulent report of the murder of Kuwaiti babies by Iraqi soldiers. On October 10, 1990, the U.S. Congressional Human Rights Caucus held a hearing on the subject of Iraqi human rights violations. The centerpiece of the event was the emotional testimony of a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, known only by her first name, Nayirah. Her full name was supposedly being kept secret to protect her from Iraqi reprisals. The girl relayed a shocking story while sobbing.

I volunteered at the al-Addan hospital. While I was there, I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns, and go into the room where . . . babies were in incubators. They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators, and left the babies on the cold floor to die.
The massacre never occurred. The girl was actually the daughter of a Kuwaiti emir, and had been coached by the public relations firm Hill and Knowlton to give persuasive false testimony.

e x c e r p t
title: How PR Sold the War in the Persian Gulf
authors: John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton
In fact, the most emotionally moving testimony on October 10 came from a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, known only by her first name of Nayirah. According to the Caucus, Nayirah's full name was being kept confidential to prevent Iraqi reprisals against her family in occupied Kuwait. Sobbing, she described what she had seen with her own eyes in a hospital in Kuwait City. Her written testimony was passed out in a media kit prepared by Citizens for a Free Kuwait.
Three months passed between Nayirah's testimony and the start of the war. During those months, the story of babies torn from their incubators was repeated over and over again. President Bush told the story. It was recited as fact in Congressional testimony, on TV and radio talk shows, and at the UN Security Council. "Of all the accusations made against the dictator," MacArthur observed, "none had more impact on American public opinion than the one about Iraqi soldiers removing 312 babies from their incubators and leaving them to die on the cold hospital floors of Kuwait City."

site: page:



Monday, May 28, 2012

Clean and Unclean / The Whole Truth - Walter Veith


The Annan Assad Encounter

Kofi Annan
Kofi Atta Annan (ANNN-NAAN) the peace envoy is on a mission from the Arab League and the United Nations to meet with Bashar Hafez al-Assad (ASSS-ADD), President of Syria regarding the lastest Massacre in Hula, Syria.
Bashar al-Assad

Miami hardware store swears off the penny

Miami Herald reporter Douglas Hanks on why a hardware store has decided to get rid of the penny.

Tess Vigeland: Everyone loves money, right? But not so with the humble penny. Canada has recently banned their 1-cent currency. The penny debate has been raging in this country for a while. And one stateside store have taken matters into it own hands. The Miami Herald's Doug Hanks has written about Shell Lumber, a hardware store in Florida, that decided a penny saved is a penny that's not worth the effort. Doug joins us now. Welcome to the program.

Doug Hanks: Thanks for having me.

Vigeland: So you found this one hardware store in the Miami area that has actually banned the penny. Tell us why.

Hanks: Well, they decided that it just really wasn't worth the trouble counting pennies any more. The spending power is so low that this hardware store said, 'We're counting like a thousand pennies a day by the time it's all over and what do we get out of it?' They said let's just stop it. And they put up big signs with pennies and big slash marks through and said to customers no more pennies, we're going to round in your favor. So if the change says that you should get three pennies back, they'll just give you the nickel and they eat the two-cent loss.

Vigeland: Yeah, 'cause I guess you could certainly change your prices, but you always have sales tax. Right?

Hanks: Right. And that's the thing. They tried to work it out and the accountants weren't happy about it, but they really got sick of bookkeepers saying, 'Hey, your drawer is off by three cents.' And their answer basically was why do we care? They're not the only ones in researching this story. For instance, overseas military bases, they stopped using pennies in the '80s.

Vigeland: What happens if, say, a customer comes in and wants to pay with five pennies instead of a nickel. They'll take the pennies, right? It's currency.

Hanks: There are a few things that you could actually use pennies to pay for. Like, there's a little washer that sells for three cents. But basically when someone tries to make out the exact change, they just say keep your pennies, keep your pennies, we don't need it. Now, I think you could really screw 'em up by bringing in 100 pennies, maybe they'd have to take it. So far it looks like it's fairly popular. Some people thought that they were getting ripped off, but once they were told no no, we're saving you money, they're very happy about it.

Vigeland: So Shell Lumber has been doing this for a month now. How has it been for them?

Hanks: It's been popular. This is a store that likes to have the brand of the old-fashioned neighborhood hardware store. They give away snow cones on Saturdays, they have a popcorn machine. So they saw this as just another way to make it easier to shop at Shell Lumber than say, Home Depot, which is their big cross-town rival. So they say it's been well-received and it's just one more interesting thing they do.

Vigeland: What about, say, the gumball machine? What happens there?

Hanks: Yeah, gumball machines have stopped taking pennies. It's really hard to find anything that's still taking pennies -- toll booths don't take them. The vending machine industry, they want dollar coins to catch on, but they're done with pennies. So it has very little use. Even the Federal Reserve, they used to -- when the banks would deposit pennies, they would weigh them to make sure the deposit was right. They stopped doing that about 10 years ago. Now they essentially say, we trust you. It's not worth counting all these pennies.

Vigeland: I know that there is this big movement in this country to get rid of the penny, so presumably this has caused celeb for them.

Hanks: It is. When Barack Obama was running for president, he actually sort of off-handedly endorsed getting rid of the penny as long as -- this is the senator from Illinois at the time -- they could find a coin for Abraham Lincoln.

Vigeland: For Abraham Lincoln, right?

Hanks: Yeah. That's the big stumbling block -- Abraham Lincoln.

Vigeland: All right. Well Doug Hanks, reporter for The Miami Herald, I would thank you for giving us a penny for your thoughts, but I'll round it up to a nickel.

Hanks: Thank you very much.

About the author

Tess Vigeland is the host of Marketplace Money, where she takes a deep dive into why we do what we do with our money.


Lloyd’s Of London Preparing For Euro Collapse As Greece Is Warned Of Possible Public Finances Collapse

05/27/2012 ICA

By Andrew Cave, The Telegraph – “Richard Ward said the London market had put in place a contingency plan to switch euro underwriting to multi-currency settlement if Greece abandoned the euro.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph he also revealed that Lloyd’s could have to take writedowns on its £58.9bn investment portfolio if the eurozone collapses.

Europe accounts for 18pc of Lloyd’s £23.5bn of gross written premiums, mostly in France, Germany, Spain and Italy. The market also has a fledgling operation in Poland.

Lloyd’s move comes as a major Franco-German provider of credit insurance for eurozone trade, Euler Hermes, said it was considering reducing cover for trade with Greece because of the risk the country might leave the eurozone.

When a company goes bust, it is often sparked by withdrawal of credit insurance for suppliers wanting to trade with it.

A spokesman for Euler Hermes, Bettina Sattler, told Bloomberg: ‘The outcome of the new elections in June remains highly uncertain. Consequently, the situation is further deteriorating. The risk of Greece exiting the eurozone has been revived.

‘In light of the recent developments, Euler Hermes will most probably have to switch to a more prudent approach. [We have] maintained a high level of cover for [our] customers until today. But now we are confronted with a changing situation.’

Lloyd’s fears are likely to be shared by a number of European businesses, which are watching developments in Greece.” Read more.

Greece warned of public finances collapse – “Greece’s public finances could collapse as early as next month, leaving salaries and pensions unpaid unless a stable government emerges from the June 17 election, according to Lucas Papademos, the technocrat prime minister who left office after this month’s inconclusive vote. Mr Papademos warned that conditions were deteriorating faster than expected with cash flow likely to turn negative in early June amid a sharp fall in tax revenues and a loosening of spending controls during two back-to-back election campaigns.” Read more.



Tropical Storm BERYL


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Lloyd's 'ready for euro collapse'

The boss of insurance market Lloyd's of London is prepared for a collapse of the euro, it has been reported, and has reduced its exposure to the troubled single-currency region.

Chief executive Richard Ward told the Sunday Telegraph that the London market has put in place a contingency plan to switch euro underwriting to multi-currency settlement if Greece abandons the euro.

Mr Ward has warned that the Lloyd's market, which is made up of around 80 insurance syndicates, could have to take writedowns on its £58.9 billion investment portfolio if the eurozone collapses.

Europe accounts for 18% of Lloyd's £23.5 billion of gross written premiums, mostly in France, Germany, Spain and Italy. The market also has a fledgling operation in Poland.

Mr Ward told the Sunday Telegraph: "I'm quite worried about Europe. With all the concerns around the eurozone at the moment, we've got to be careful doing business in Europe and there are a lot of question marks over writing business in the future in euros."

Mr Ward said Lloyd's had been working hard on contingency planning and had the capability to switch settlement of European underwriting from euros to other currencies.

The contingency planning comes as German politicians piled the pressure on Greece ahead of elections on June 17.

The country's crisis deepened earlier this month after leaders failed to form a coalition government.

If an anti-austerity party is elected in June, many fear Greece will be denied further tranches of bailout cash and the country will have to exit the euro.