World At A Boil With War And Economic Crisis

Monday, November 29, 2010
By Paul Martin

By Bob Chapman
TheInternationalForecaster.com

Koreas prepare for war, Fed beyond point of no return, silver manipulation charges, Ireland in economic collapse, pondering foreclosuregate, more Madoff fallout, TSA patdowns despised

There is no question that the world is at a boil. Germany is drawing anger; N. Korea has attacked S. Korea; flaying about the FED’s Mr. Bernanke blames China for America’s sad economic and financial dilemma; five suits, class action and RICO, have been filed against JPMorgan Chase and HSBC for having manipulated silver prices and class actions are rumored to be in process for naked shorting, which has been rampant in the market for years, a felony hedge fund investigation of insider trading, which the SEC has absolutely refused to pursue. The US is still occupying Iraq and has a war raging in Afghanistan to protect the opium and marijuana crops, the largest in the world, which generate $300 billion in profits a year. Socialists, having recently relinquished power in the US House of Representatives are calling Republicans an axis of depression. The socialist, what they cannot control, they attempt to destroy. It reminds us of Italy’s communists.

The New Fed policy of QE2 is considered by US detractors to be a step too far. The Fed has entered the inner sanctum of realm of no return. If QE 2 and a hidden QE3 don’t work, then the monetary game is over. The Fed is in a desperate position and instead of letting depression take its course, the groundwork of which was caused by the Fed, Wall Street and banking, it is again rolling the dice intent on extending and buying time. If the Fed and its owners refuse to bite the bullet great inflation will ensue dependent on the size of QE2. If it were to stay at $600 billion inflation would increase. If the Fed is forced to increase the injection to more than $2 trillion there will be far more inflation. Unfortunately, we cannot depend on government statistics because government has a track record and propensity for masking the truth. There are those that believe that this is a monetary experiment and that it is not. What we are seeing has been tried in different forms for centuries, quite unsuccessfully. As a result, to thinking people, the Fed and Mr. Bernanke have lost most of their credibility, and that view is justified. Mr. Bernanke’s recent reference to “rebalancing the global economy” is just another effort to justify current monetary policy. What Mr. Bernanke is really advocating is a world balancing where countries with surpluses use those funds to assist those with deficits. He wants a global village where interests of individual countries must reflect the interests of the global economy as a whole. Of course, nowhere to be found is sovereignty in this planned redistribution of assets.

This is the same goop Treasury Secretary Mr. Geithner fed us at the G-20 meeting. The concept of lets all of us go bankrupt together, utopianism at its finest. Fortunately in both cases the concept of global rebalancing went over like a lead balloon. Any honest economist knows this is a rehash of flawed policy. When government and the Fed abandoned the gold reserve standard on august 15, 1971, they knew where this would all end up, but they did it anyway in their march toward a world financial order and world government. After that historic date there would be no return to sound money until the system was totally purged. We have heard the call for almost 40 years of the amalgamation of nations for the interest of all. Individual countries must sacrifice their interests for the entire global economy. this is why the Fed has deliberately accommodated monetary excesses since then.

We have written about this embarrassment of planned destruction for 45 years and until recently our thoughts were ignored. Thanks to talk radio and the Internet, that reaches the entire world, we are finding that more and more people are waking up to the truth. Since the 1980s we have had one fiscal and monetary crisis – one after another. Now that the world is beginning to discover what Europe and the US have been up to for years these internationalists now find themselves in deep trouble. Their real problem is too many people now know what they are up to.

China just injected $2.3 trillion into their economy to spur domestic demand and create jobs. The result has been funds flowing into the stock market, real estate and the general financial sector, which has created a misallocation of funds and leaping inflation. Bank set asides were just raised, but that has happened a little too late to escape some major damage. Chinese are traveling to Hong Kong from the mainland to shop because the cost of goods is 10% to 95% cheaper. The Chinese obviously went along with US ideas to inflate domestic demand by stimulating their economy, so that consumption and imports would rise. Thus, we see China is having some of the same problems the US is having.

Leaving china behind for a moment we have to deal with corporate fascist Keynesianism, which believe it or not is being called radicalism even in mainstream circles of economic and monetary management. They are finally realizing that the Fed has inflated markets worldwide. In addition, it has long been a government and Fed policy to manipulate securities markets worldwide and provide finance as well. The insider trading the Justice Department is pursing is an example, as well as the JPMorgan Chase/HSBC silver manipulation cases. As we said, next comes naked shorting and front running. Let’s hope somehow we can bring these sociopath criminals to justice and at least for a time have an honest system.

As a result the financial world has turned to gold, which is up 24% and silver up 65% this year.

Investors believe that the rescue of Ireland is a done deal – not so fast. The Irish are really irate at having to bail out the bondholders. As we said before this is all about the banks being bailed out by the taxpayer.

In the US aggregate household net worth is $12.2 trillion lower today than it was three years ago at its pre-depression peak, a horrible decline of 18.5%, all in order to bring about the conditions to implement world government. That is about $100,000 per household. That money is never coming back nor is what was once known as the American dream and way of life. Baby boomers see it coming and denial is grudgingly becoming acceptance. The ratio of household net worth to disposable personal income has gone from 639% to 472% and it is still plunging. The savings rate, out of fear has risen from minus 0.5% to 5.5%, but still has to double from here to help get the economy going again. At the same time the Fed and Treasury are telling Americans to take on more debt. Homeowners equity has collapsed below $7 trillion from $13.5 trillion, making the situation worse – employment is off 7.5 million and full-time jobs are off 10 million, the worst numbers in 11 years. Real unemployment is 22-5/8%.

If QE2 is terminated at $600 billion watch out, because the economy will head straight into a great dark pit. All the numbers we see are signaling a strong need for more than $600 billion.

Ireland’s government has collapsed as front page headlines in Dublin blare we were lied too. We saw the same thing come out of Greece and next is Portugal and then Spain. Debt is being restructured and it won’t last. Who wants to live in depression for 30 to 50 years, while bankers get richer and more powerful?

America’s capacity utilization is 72.7%, up from 68.7% a year ago, but still in recession. Small business hiring is at a virtual standstill and part-time employment doesn’t cut it in feeding the family. Two million workers are about to lose extended employment benefits. YTD three million already lost their benefits and are losing their homes and they cannot feed their families. Already 42.4 million Americans are on food stamps. That is up 550,000 in three months. We peg inflation at 6-1/2 to 7 percent, officially YOY it is 1.2%. The plight of a once great country betrayed by Wall Street and banking, is a sordid mess with little hope of a quick recovery.

The US has spent two years sliding precipitously downhill. The socialists who have had the run of the country have brought two disastrous pieces of legislation, medical reform and financial reform. The former will bring euthanasia and the latter financial dictatorial government. This all in the guise of saving America, when in reality the legislation was passed with the assistance of financial payoffs.

As we predicted there would be QE2 this past May and that has since been verified by the Fed. QE2 is, as we said in May, a stepping-stone to QE3 and perhaps QE4 and more. You might call these stages of an ongoing heightening depression. One I might add that guarantees higher unemployment and the funding of sovereign debt. This policy will not produce wealth, but it will create inflation. This is a temporary lifesaver being thrown to a drowning economy. This is what corporatist fascism, also known as crony capitalism is all about. The EU is the same, the euro zone, G7 and G20 all under the same concept grounded in one form of socialism or another. We no longer have democracy; we have a kleptocracy from the top down. This is the reality of America today.

This is the reality that is America. This means you have to act in your own self-interest to preserve your wealth. You have to think outside the box. That means you have to be in gold and silver related assets. You have to leave the herd. You have to think for yourself. That means you do not listen to Wall Street, CNBC, CNN and Bloomberg, nor our politicians and bureaucrats. These are the same group of elitists that would have you believe they will have economic recovery by creating massive amounts of money and credit. Monetization does not solve anything in the long run. It is simply another Ponzi scheme, or just good old fashioned debasement. This is a make believe world where the Fed ends up with almost all of the US Treasuries and Agencies, after having spent QE1 bailing out the financial sector. That in turn via trillions of dollars has kept the bond and stock markets from falling. How is it intelligent and good planning for the Fed to own more Treasuries and Agencies than China or Japan?

The façade that has protected government regulators is coming apart. Time after time we have seen non-pursuit by the SEC and CFTC. Wall Street and the banks have owned our government for almost 100 years via the Federal Reserve. It is simple they buy almost everyone in sight. Look at the packaging, and syndication of mortgages. The rating system was total fabrication yet no charges civil or criminal for anyone involved. A new massive investigation by the US Attorney of insider trading by hedge funds, class action and RICO lawsuits against JPMorgan Chase and HSBC for manipulating the silver market. Then, of course, was the Madoff Ponzi scheme that the SEC was aware of for ten years.

Next on the horizon will be investigations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which should have taken place ten years ago. We have little or no protection from the crooks on Wall Street and in the banking establishment.

Unfortunately, we are very skeptical regarding the outcome of ForeclosureGate. The attorney generals are already buckling and a deal is being put together to let the bankers off the hook, and stick the taxpayers with the bills. As we wrote eight years ago the government wants to nationalize all housing and that is where this is all headed.

Housing starts have fallen 11.7% month-on-month, as existing home sales fell 2.2%. How can any sane person be building homes with a three-year inventory overhang. They must have a death wish or the government has found ways to subsidize homebuilders.

75% of the nation saw declines in home sales, only the South’s home sales rose 3.2%. The Northeast fell 12.1% reversing most of the 17.9% increase in September. The Midwest fell 20.4% reversing half of 53.1% increase in December. The West fell 23.4% versus 3.1% in September.

Inventory of homes for sale rose from 7.9-months in September to 8.6-months in October. That does not count the shadow inventory held by lenders that could push inventory up to three years.

Median sales prices fell 13.9%, which was the largest monthly decline on record since 1963 to $194,900. The YOY rate is at minus 9.4%, the fastest deflation since July 2009. Average sales prices fell in October to $248,200.

In the rooms in Manhattan federal court, the Justice Department is having more success establishing that many of the same banks fleeced taxpayers by investing, at below-market rates, some of the $400 billion of bond proceeds raised each year. Details of the scope and depth of this nationwide financial conspiracy are coming to light almost without notice, as one defendant after another appears to face justice.

It was see no evil and hear no evil by everybody involved. It was a conspiracy of silver. That money, instead of going to citizens, goes to Wall Street banks. Some of the top derivatives traders at the world’s largest banks stood to gain because their bonuses grew larger as they won more bids.

UBS AG was sued and accused of fraud by the trustee overseeing the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff’s investment firm, who is seeking to recover at least $2 billion for victims of the con man’s Ponzi scheme.

Irving H. Picard, trustee for the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, said today he aims to recoup redemptions and fees from Zurich-based UBS as well as damages and disgorgement.

“Madoff’s scheme could not have been accomplished unless UBS had agreed not only to look the other way, but also to pretend that they were truly ensuring the existence of assets and trades when in fact they were not and never did,” David J. Sheehan, a partner at Baker & Hostetler LLP and counsel for Picard, said in an e-mailed statement. The complaint, filed yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York, alleges 23 counts of financial fraud and misconduct against UBS “and related entities and individuals.” The full complaint was filed under seal, followed by a redacted version blanking out information deemed confidential by UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank.

“We have battled with UBS regarding disclosure of information about the bank’s knowledge of Madoff,” Picard said in today’s statement. “We intend to move to have that designation removed and the complaint made public as soon as possible.”

Applications for unemployment benefits in the U.S. fell more than forecast last week to the lowest level since July 2008, reinforcing evidence the labor market is healing. Jobless claims declined by 34,000 to 407,000 in the week ended Nov. 20, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median projection of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News called for a drop to 435,000. The total number of people receiving unemployment insurance decreased to the lowest in two years, and those on extended payments also fell.

Fewer firings lay the groundwork for a pickup in job creation that will generate incomes and spur consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of the economy. Even with companies firing fewer workers, unemployment will be slow to decline, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest forecast in which policy makers also lowered their growth projections.

“The labor market is clearly improving,” said John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina. “We’re seeing consistent job gains in the private sector. This suggests we’ll have a good holiday spending season.”

Consumer spending rose in October for a fifth month as a rebound in incomes lifted the biggest part of the U.S. economy at the start of the final quarter of 2010, Commerce Department figures showed today.

Americans increased spending for a fifth month in October and filed the fewest unemployment claims in more than two years last week, pointing to strength in the largest part of the economy as the fourth quarter began.

Household purchases advanced 0.4 percent after a 0.3 percent gain in September that was larger than previously estimated, the Commerce Department reported today in Washington. Incomes climbed 0.5 percent. Jobless claims fell by 34,000 to 407,000 in the week ended Nov. 20, Labor Department figures showed.

Orders for U.S. goods meant to last several years unexpectedly decreased in October, raising the risk that companies will scale back on investments in new equipment.

Demand for so-called durable goods dropped 3.3 percent, the biggest plunge since January 2009, after a revised 5 percent jump in September that was larger than previously estimated, figures from the Commerce Department showed today in Washington. A slowdown in capital spending would deprive the world’s largest economy of a source of strength just as household purchases are starting to accelerate. While overseas demand is helping companies like Rockwell Automation Inc., there may be less of a contribution to growth from inventory rebuilding in coming months.

Citigroup Inc. agreed to buy back $869 million of auction-rate securities it had sold to Hawaii and repay the state for losses on securities it had previously liquidated, Hawaii’s Attorney General Mark Bennett said.

The settlement means Hawaiian taxpayers will lose no principal on their investments in the securities, Bennett said in a statement posted on his official website. Citigroup admits no wrongdoing and Hawaii won’t pursue claims against the bank, according to the statement.

Hawaii has liquidated $200 million of the securities, which are backed by pools of federally guaranteed student loans, since February 2008.

Alexander Samuelson, a Citigroup spokesman, said in a statement that the bank was “pleased to provide this liquidity solution to the state.”

The securities get their name from the weekly, bank-run auctions where the interest rate they pay investors is determined. The market, which once stood at $330 billion, collapsed in 2008 as banks stopped using their own cash to prop up the auctions. That left investors with bonds they couldn’t sell and forced borrowers such as hospitals to pay a premium. Bloomberg News reported in March that the securities were sold to Hawaii as low-risk substitutes for U.S. Treasury bills by Citigroup broker Pete Thompson in Honolulu.

Mortgage-backed securities holders are pushing for a resolution of a 50-state probe of foreclosure practices, attorneys general in Iowa and Arizona said as talks with lenders and servicers expand to include investors.

“The mortgage backed securities are worth pennies on the dollar, so any kind of recovery would be better,” Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said in an interview. Owners of mortgage-backed securities are “one of the players urging a resolution,” he said. State officials have begun informal talks with some investors, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said. All 50 U.S. states are investigating whether banks and loan servicers used false documents and signatures to justify hundreds of thousands of foreclosures. The probe, announced Oct. 13, came after JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Ally Financial Inc.’s GMAC mortgage unit said they would stop repossessions in 23 states where courts supervise home seizures and Bank of America Corp., the largest U.S. lender, froze foreclosures nationwide.

The probe has since widened to include other mortgage practices, with attorneys general suggesting any potential resolution should include improving the loan modification process, barring foreclosures when people are modifying loans and creating a general fund to compensate homeowners who may have been victims of wrongful foreclosures. “Robosigning was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Goddard said, referring to the practice of loan servicer employees signing thousands of documents without determining if they were accurate. “It was proof positive that it wasn’t just in one state and virtually every financial institution was complicit.”

An Obama administration official says a preliminary investigation into the foreclosure process has found inexcusable breakdowns in the basic controls mortgage lenders should have been using.

Assistant Treasury Secretary Michael Barr said yesterday that a foreclosure task force composed of 11 federal agencies had found serious problems in the way home foreclosures were being handled. Barr told a new financial stability council headed by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner that the task force hoped to have a set of recommended improvements ready by late January.

Barr said the goal of the task force was to hold banks accountable for fixing the problems that have been found and making sure that individuals who have been harmed are given a way to seek redress. Bar said the investigation had found “widespread and, in our judgment, inexcusable breakdowns in basic controls. The problems must be fixed.’’ Barr delivered his comments before the Financial Stability Oversight Council. The group of top federal officials, including Geithner and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, was holding its second meeting.

The panel was created by the Dodd-Frank legislation passed by Congress last summer in an effort to fix flaws in current government regulation that were exposed by the financial crisis that struck with force two years ago.

Barr said that the federal agencies were coordinating their investigation with state regulators. He said the federal task force hoped to report back to the stability council at its January meeting. “Major financial institutions are being reviewed for problems across a wide range of issues in foreclosure processing,’’ Barr said.

Members of the stability council heard Barr’s presentation but made no comments during the portion of the group’s meeting that was open to the public.

U.S. home prices fell 3.2 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier as demand weakened without federal tax credits, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said. The Atlanta area led declines among the 25 largest metropolitan regions, with a 10 percent slump, the FHFA said in a statement. Prices rose 4.6 percent in the San Diego area for the biggest gain, according to the agency, which measures sales of homes with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Home sales fell to record-low levels after the April 30 expiration of a tax credit of as much as $8,000 for buyers. An overhang of distressed properties and an unemployment rate hovering near 10 percent will likely cause more price declines, according to Celia Chen, an analyst with Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

“Our overall expectations for home prices is that they’ll drop by another 8 percent by the third quarter of next year,” she said in a telephone interview before the FHFA report.

Measured from June 30, prices fell 1.6 percent, the Washington-based FHFA said. Economists had projected prices would decrease 1.1 percent, according to the average of 15 estimates in a Bloomberg survey.

The number of mortgage applications in the U.S. rose last week as purchases increased by the most in two years.

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s index rose 2.1 percent in the week ended Nov. 19 after dropping 14 percent the prior week, the biggest drop of the year, figures from the Washington- based group showed today. The gauge of purchases surged 14.4 percent, the biggest gain since November 2008, while the refinancing measure fell 1 percent.

Borrowing costs near a record low and reduced home prices are helping to stabilize a market struggling to recover after the April expiration of a government tax credit. A sustained improvement in housing may take longer as unemployment hovers close to 10 percent and foreclosures persist.

“The housing market takes one step forward but then one half step back,” Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania, said before the report. “The level of sales remains quite pathetic.”

The share of applicants seeking to refinance a loan fell to 78.6 percent last week from 80.3 percent the prior week, today’s figures showed.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage loan increased to 4.50 percent from 4.46 percent the prior week. The 4.21 percent rate reported for the week ended Oct. 8 was the lowest in records going back to 1990.

At the current 30-year rate, monthly payments for each $100,000 of a loan would be about $506, or $20 less than a year ago when the rate was 4.83 percent.

Mortgage Rates. The average rate on a 15-year fixed mortgage fell to 3.83 percent from 3.87 percent, and the rate on a one-year adjustable mortgage dropped to 7.09 percent from 7.11 percent.

Foreclosure moratoria at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and other banks, along with government investigations into faulty paperwork, threaten to further delay the housing recovery as residential properties slated for repossession take longer to come to market.

Sales of existing homes fell 2.2 percent in October, more than forecast, to a 4.43 million annual rate, a report from the National Association of Realtors showed yesterday. The median price dropped 0.9 percent from a year earlier.

Homebuilders are echoing concern about the lack of a pickup in demand. D.R. Horton Inc., the second-largest U.S. homebuilder by revenue, expects 2011 to be “challenging” for the industry as consumer confidence and employment remain weak, Chief Executive Officer Donald Tomnitz said on a Nov. 12 earnings conference call. The spring selling season, the strongest for builders, may fail to bring the traditional boost in demand, he said.

The number of banks on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s “problem” list grew over the summer, even as the industry posted solid net income and fewer loans soured. The number of troubled banks rose to 860 in the July-September quarter from 829 in the previous quarter. That’s the most since 1993, during the savings and loan crisis. The FDIC also said banks earned $14.5 billion during the third quarter. That was a decrease from the previous quarter’s result of $21.4 billion.

The FDIC said earnings fell because Bank of America Corp took a one-time hit of $10.4 billion. That was because of new limits on debit card swipe fees that retailers pay to banks.

The industry’s third-quarter results were well above the $2 billion that banks earned a year earlier. The troubled banks were smaller, on average, holding $379.2 billion in assets. That’s down from $403.2 billion in the April-June quarter.

Federal agents arrested an executive of a research firm yesterday on charges that he helped hedge funds obtain improper information about publicly traded companies, the first of what is expected to be a new round of cases related to insider trading.

The arrest came on the same day that prosecutors won a major victory in their pursuit of insider trading, as a federal judge ruled that wiretapped conversations may be used in the trial of former hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam. The wiretapped communications form the linchpin of the government’s case against Rajaratnam and about two dozen traders and executives implicated in the investigation.

Together, the two developments appeared to increase the momentum in the government’s rapidly moving investigation.

On Monday, the FBI raided three hedge funds, including two Connecticut funds in which the Massachusetts state pension fund has a combined $65.6 million in holdings, as well as the Boston-based technology fund Loch Capital.

The government has also sent subpoenas to investment firms overseeing billions of dollars and has reportedly contacted the Boston investment firm Wellington Management Co. about the matter.

But the inquiry entered a new phase yesterday with the arrest of Don Chu, an executive at Primary Global Research, a so-called expert-network firm that provides “market intelligence’’ to hedge funds.

Federal agents arrested Chu at his home in Franklin Township, N.J., an FBI spokesman said. Prosecutors said Chu, 56, had been scheduled to fly to Taiwan on Sunday. A magistrate released him on a $1 million bond.

Chu’s lawyer, Jeffrey Plotkin, declined to comment. A spokesman for Primary Global, said it had severed its relationship with Chu “based upon recent events.’’

The government accused Chu of participating in an insider-trading conspiracy by arranging for his hedge fund clients to get illegal tips on technology companies, including Broadcom, Sierra Wireless, and Atheros Communications.

Primary Global, where Chu worked, is one of a band of expert-network firms that have filled a small but lucrative niche on Wall Street over the past decade as investment banks have scaled back their research departments and the number of information-hungry hedge funds has grown. The firms are essentially matchmakers, connecting hedge funds with employees at public companies and others who are paid to provide the funds with insight into their businesses.

The expert-network business has come under scrutiny through the years from regulators who have examined whether consultants have inappropriately disclosed nonpublic information about the companies with which they work.

Prosecutors said Chu helped provide illegal tips about companies to Richard Choo Beng Lee, a former money manager at Spherix Capital, a California hedge fund. Among other events, the criminal complaint describes a meeting between Lee and an unnamed employee of Broadcom in Taiwan during which the employee gave Lee the company’s financial results before they were made public

Don Ching Trang Chu, the “expert- network” executive arrested yesterday on insider-trading charges, had a roster of Asia-based employees of North American technology companies to feed information to clients, according to court documents.

Chu, who worked for Primary Global Research LLC of Mountain View, California, offered to set up hedge-fund manager Richard Choo-Beng Lee with employees of Sierra Wireless Inc., Broadcom Corp. and Atheros Communications Inc. when he planned to travel to Taiwan in 2009, U.S. prosecutors said in a criminal complaint yesterday in Manhattan. Lee, co-founder of Spherix Capital LLC, was secretly cooperating with the government after being ensnared in the Galleon Group insider-trading probe.

Primary Global billed Chu on its website as the firm’s “bridge to Asia experts and data sources.” In e-mails and recorded conversations, Chu, 56, said he liked arranging investor meetings in Asia because regulators weren’t too aggressive.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is “too strong,” Chu told Lee in a conversation recorded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in August 2009, according to the complaint. “In Asia, there, nobody cares.”

Primary Global is one of about 40 firms that connect investors with research and experts in a range of sectors, countries and thousands of individual companies. The detailed information they provide on product development, sales and company strategy complements, and sometimes supplant, conventional research provided by Wall Street firms.

Zogby Interactive: 61% Oppose Full Body Scans and TSA Pat Downs; 48% Will Seek Alternative to Flying Frequent Fliers: 59% Oppose Enhancements and 43% Will Seek Alternative to Flying –

The implementation of full body scans and pat downs by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) as part of security enhancements at our nation’s airports will cause 48% of Americans and 42% of more frequent fliers to choose a different mode of transportation when possible, a recent Zogby International Poll finds.

Overall, 61% of the 2,032 likely voters polled from Nov. 19 to Nov. 22, oppose the use of full body scans and TSA pat downs. Republicans (69%) and Independents (65%) oppose in greater numbers than Democrats (50%).

Of those polled, 52% believe the enhanced security measures will not prevent terrorist activity, almost half (48%) say it is a violation of privacy rights, 33% say they should not have to go through enhanced security methods to get on an airplane, and 32% believe the full body scans and TSA pat downs to be sexual harassment. This is in line with frequent fliers (fly more than once every 3 months), as 53% say the enhanced measures will not prevent terrorist activity, 48% believe it’s a violation of their privacy rights, 41% say they should not have to go through it to get on an airplane, and 35% believe it is sexual harassment.

While roughly the same amount believe the full body scans and TSA pat downs are necessary to keep the country safe and prevent terrorist activities on airplanes (34% of frequent fliers vs. 29% overall), frequent fliers are more likely to feel that the enhanced methods are not needed because metal detectors and bag screenings are working fine (33% to 26%). Just 16% of frequent fliers say no one has an absolute right to fly and if people don’t like the security measures, then just don’t fly compared to 20% of everyone polled.

The Zogby poll also finds when given a choice, likely voters will choose full body scan over the TSA pat downs (48% to 7%), but 42% would rather have neither. Frequent fliers feel about the same.

Pollster John Zogby: “It’s clear the majority of Americans are not happy with TSA and the enhanced security measures recently enacted. The airlines should not be happy with 42% of frequent fliers seeking a different mode of transportation due to these enhancements. It seems the airlines and TSA need to come together to find a solution before the American flying public abandons both.”

The interactive poll consisted of 2,032 likely voters and has a margin of error of +/-2.2%. A sampling of Zogby International’s online panel, which is representative of the adult population of the U.S., was invited to participate. Slight weights were added to region, party, age, race, religion, gender, and education to more accurately reflect the population.

North Korea operates 40,000 special forces troops, including the 11th or “Storm” Corps whose mission is to infiltrate South Korea and create havoc in case of war. It also has around 10,000 naval special forces and around 5,000 air force soldiers who can cross the border if a war breaks out.

The figures were revealed in a speech by former South Korean commander of special operations Kim Yun-suk to fellow veterans at the War Memorial in Seoul.
Kim said the Storm Corps, which has been trained to stir up confusion behind enemy lines, is composed of four light infantry, seven airborne and three sniper brigades. And the 4th Corps special forces, stationed on the Ongjin Peninsula close to South Korea’s Baeknyeong Islands in the West Sea, consists of 600 scout troops, 600 naval reconnaissance soldiers and around 1,800 naval forces.
The North also operates a large amphibious landing force in the region similar to South Korea’s Marines. Totaling 180,000 troops, North Korea has the largest number of special ops forces in the world. The 11th Corps accounts for 22 percent with 40,000 special forces troops, and 120,000 light infantry brigades make up 66 percent of the special forces. The reconnaissance brigade, which has been fingered in the sinking of the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan, accounts for around 6 percent of special forces, and the Navy and Air Force each have around 5,000 crack troops, which make up 3 percent.

“Ten thousand North Korean special forces are capable of infiltrating simultaneously through underground tunnels or aboard 260 hovercraft or submarines, while 175 AN-2 transport planes and 310 helicopters can transport another 10,000 troops,” Kim said.

The former officer said the South needs to come up with measures to deal with the so-called asymmetric threat by creating a powerful special forces brigade, operating a special military branch that handles North Korea’s irregular forces and boosting the number of anti-terrorism units and training.

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