Mar 20

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WASHINGTON, March 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Declassified files detailing an FBI investigation targeting the American Israel Public Affairs Committee are now available on the Internet.  AIPAC was investigated after it acquired and circulated classified government information provided in strict confidence by US industry and worker groups opposed to AIPAC sponsored economic legislation.

The 50 pages now available as portable document files (PDF) include:

FBI reports of Israelis circulating classified documents in the US Congress, “compromising” the authority of the U.S. President.    http://irmep.org/ila/economy/06201984.pdf

US Trade Representative concerns that AIPAC was tactically “divulging” classified information supplied by US industries opposed to AIPAC lobbying initiatives.  http://irmep.org/ila/economy/06211984.pdf

Reports from the International Trade Commission that AIPAC and Israeli operatives “usurped” US government authority and that an Israeli intelligence service operative was working undercover on AIPAC’s staff:   http://irmep.org/ila/economy/08131984r.pdf

Internal Department of Justice prosecutorial opinions that “theft of government property” had occurred:  http://irmep.org/ila/economy/08301984.pdf

An FBI director order that the Washington Field office give the AIPAC investigation top priority after Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard was caught on video surveillance stealing classified US national defense information:  http://irmep.org/ila/economy/11151985.pdf

FBI special agent interviews of Israeli minister of economics Dan Halpern who claimed diplomatic immunity.  Halpern admitted passing classified US documents to AIPAC but refused to name his source: http://irmep.org/ila/economy/03071986DHALERN.pdf

FBI special agent interviews of AIPAC’s former director of legislative affairs detailing how he made copies of the classified documents for AIPAC’s lobbying use after being ordered to return them to the US government.   http://irmep.org/ila/economy/02131986DB.pdf

FBI interviews of key AIPAC employees involved in handling the classified US government information (full document listing):  http://irmep.org/ila/economy/ Continue reading »

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Mar 20

Related articles:

FDIC Reports 27 Percent Jump In Problem US Banks

FDIC Report: ‘We Were Broke And Getting Broker’


Regulators shut 7 banks in Alabama, Georgia, Minnesota, Ohio and Utah

bank-failure

WASHINGTON (AP) — Regulators on Friday shut down seven banks in five states, bringing to 37 the number of bank failures in the U.S. so far this year.

The closings follow the 140 that succumbed in 2009 to mounting loan defaults and the recession.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over First Lowndes Bank, in Fort Deposit, Ala.; Appalachian Community Bank in Ellijay, Ga.; Bank of Hiawassee, in Hiawassee, Ga.; and Century Security Bank in Duluth, Ga.

The agency also closed down State Bank of Aurora, in Aurora, Minn.; Advanta Bank Corp., based in Draper, Utah; and American National Bank of Parma, Ohio.

The FDIC was unable to find a buyer for Advanta Bank, which had $1.6 billion in assets and $1.5 billion in deposits. The regulatory agency approved the payout of the bank’s insured deposits and it said checks to depositors for their insured funds will be mailed on Monday.

The failure of Advanta Bank is expected to cost the federal deposit insurance fund $635.6 million.

For the other banks: Continue reading »

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Mar 20

See also: Obamacare Tax Hikes


Wall Street Journal, US House Republicans Say Health Bill Expands IRS Power:

House Republicans said Thursday that the health care overhaul will expand IRS authority by giving agents the power to verify acceptable health care coverage and fine or confiscate the tax refunds of Americans without coverage.

Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee, a panel that oversees taxes and health issues, also charged that IRS audits will likely increase if health care legislation is passed. They added the IRS will require up to $10 billion to administer the new program. They also claimed the IRS may need to hire 16,500 additional employees.

“This dangerously expands IRS authority,” said Representative David Camp, (R., Mich.), the ranking Republican on the Committee on Ways and Means. “Most Americans will find it shocking and troubling.”

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

March 19, 2010

Prof. Paul L. Caron
Associate Dean of Faculty
Charles Hartsock Professor of Law
Univ. of Cincinnati College of Law

Source: TaxProf Blog

More on Obamacare:

Continue reading »

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Mar 20

Washington (CNSNews.com) – The White House declined on Thursday to rule out that President Barack Obama might sign future legislation, such as an immigration reform measure, that has not been put to a recorded yea-or-nay vote in both houses of Congress.

CNSNews.com asked White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs about the possibility of the president doing so because of a prospective lawsuit that Landmark Legal Foundation President Mark Levin has prepared to file against the president if he signs a health care bill that has not been passed by a direct recorded yea-or-nay vote in the House of Representatives.  The prospective lawsuit argues that the plain language of Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution requires that both houses of Congress hold recorded yea-or-nay votes on a bill before it can be presented to the president for his signature and before it can become law.

“I stated earlier that when this (health care) bill passes the House, the president will be happy to sign it,” Gibbs told CNSNews.com.

He twice declined to say, however, whether President Obama would rule out signing additional pieces of legislation that did not pass both chambers of Congress with a yea-or-nay vote.

CNSNews.com asked Gibbs: “Mark Levin, with the Landmark Legal Foundation, has prepared a suit against the president if he signs the health care bill not passed by the House with a recorded yea-or-nay vote required by Article 1 Section 7. My question on that is: Will the president rule out signing other bills, such as immigration reform, or finance reform you mentioned earlier, that are not subject to a recorded yea-or-nay vote in both chambers?”

Gibbs answered: “Again, this is–I think we’ve discussed on a number of occasions, certainly the last time we met inside – that this was the type of thing, the type of rule that you’ve seen pass on any number of instances. So, I understand that there are those that want to discuss this as being a unique thing. It is not. I stated earlier that when this bill passes the House, the president will be happy to sign it.”

CNSNews.com followed-up: “Is that still a constitutional argument in favor of it? That it has been done before?” Continue reading »

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Mar 20

* Charleston man surprised when he found one while camping with daughter

Last month, Herman Jacob took his daughter and her friend camping in the Francis Marion National Forest. While poking around for some firewood, Jacob noticed a wire. He pulled on it and followed it to a video camera and antenna.

The camera didn’t have any markings identifying its owner, so Jacob took it home and called law enforcement agencies to find out if it was theirs, all the while wondering why someone would station a video camera in an isolated clearing in the woods.

He eventually received a call from Mark Heitzman of the U.S. Forest Service.

In a stiff voice, Heitzman ordered Jacob to turn it back over to his agency, explaining that it had been set up to monitor “illicit activities.” Jacob returned the camera but felt uneasy.

Why, he wondered, would the Forest Service have secret cameras in a relatively remote camping area? What do they do with photos of bystanders? Continue reading »

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Mar 19

federal-reserve
The U.S. Federal Reserve (Bloomberg)

March 19 (Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve Board must disclose documents identifying financial firms that might have collapsed without the largest U.S. government bailout ever, a federal appeals court said.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled today that the Fed must release records of the unprecedented $2 trillion U.S. loan program launched primarily after the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. The ruling upholds a decision of a lower-court judge, who in August ordered that the information be released.

The Fed had argued that disclosure of the documents threatens to stigmatize borrowers and cause them “severe and irreparable competitive injury,” discouraging banks in distress from seeking help. A three-judge panel of the appeals court rejected that argument in a unanimous decision.

The U.S. Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, “sets forth no basis for the exemption the Board asks us to read into it,” U.S. Circuit Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs wrote in the opinion. “If the Board believes such an exemption would better serve the national interest, it should ask Congress to amend the statute.”

The opinion may not be the final word in the bid for the documents, which was launched by Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, with a November 2008 lawsuit. The Fed may seek a rehearing or appeal to the full appeals court and eventually petition the U.S. Supreme Court. Continue reading »

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Mar 19

Legislation to Establish Internment Camps on US Military Bases

fema-camps
FEMA Camps Courtesy of Google Earth (Click on image to enlarge.)

The Economic and Social Crisis

The financial meltdown has unleashed a latent and emergent social crisis across the United States.

What is at stake is the fraudulent confiscation of lifelong savings and pension funds, the appropriation of tax revenues to finance the trillion dollar “bank bailouts”, which ultimately serve to line the pockets of the richest people in America.

This economic crisis is in large part the result of financial manipulation and outright fraud to the detriment of entire populations, leading to a renewed wave of corporate bankruptcies, mass unemployment and poverty.

The criminalization of the global financial system, characterized by a “Shadow Banking” network has resulted in the centralization of bank power and an unprecedented concentration of private wealth.

Obama’s “economic stimulus” package and budget proposals contribute to a further process of concentration and centralization of bank power, the cumulative effects of which will eventually resul in large scale corporate, bankruptcies, a new wave of foreclosures not to mention fiscal collapse and the downfall of State social programs. (For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, America’s Fiscal Collapse, Global Research, March 2, 2009).

The cumulative decline of real economic activity backlashes on employment and wages, which in turn leads to a collapse in purchaisng power. The proposed “solution” under the Obama administration contributes to exacerbating rather than alleviating social inequalities and the process of wealth concentration.

The Protest Movement

When people across America, whose lives have been shattered and destroyed, come to realize the true face of the global “free market” system, the legitimacy of  Wall Street, the Federal Reserve and the US administration will be challenged.

A latent protest movement directed against the seat of economic and political power is unfolding.

How this process will occur is hard to predict. All sectors of American society are potentially affected: wage earners, small, medium and even large businesses, farmers, professionals, federal, State and municipal employees, students, teachers, health workers, and unemployed. Protests will initially emerge from these various sectors. There is, however, at this stage, no organized national resistance movement directed against the administration’s economic and financial agenda.

Obama’s populist rhetoric conceals the true nature of macro-economic policy. Acting on behalf of Wall Street, the administration’s economic package, which includes close to a trillion dollar “aid” package for the financial services industry, coupled with massive austerity measures,  contributes to precipitating America into a bottomless crisis.

“Orwellian Solution” to the Great Depression: Curbing Civil Unrest

At this particular juncture, there is no economic recovery program in sight. The Washington-Wall Street consensus prevails. There are no policies, no alternatives formulated from within the political and economic system. .

What is the way out? How will the US government face an impending social catastrophe?

The solution is to curb social unrest. The chosen avenue, inherited from the outgoing Bush administration is the reinforcement of  the Homeland Security apparatus and the militarization of civilian State institutions.

The outgoing administration has laid the groundwork. Various pieces of “anti-terrorist” legislation (including the Patriot Acts) and presidential directives have been put in place since 2001, largely using the pretext of the “Global War on Terrorism.”

Homeland Security’s Internment Camps

Directly related to the issue of curbing social unrest, cohesive system of detention camps is also envisaged, under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon.

A bill entitled the National Emergency Centers Establishment Act (HR 645) was introduced in the US Congress in January. It calls for the establishment of six national emergency centers in major regions in the US to be located on existing military installations. http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h111-645

The stated purpose of  the “national emergency centers” is to provide “temporary housing, medical, and humanitarian assistance to individuals and families dislocated due to an emergency or major disaster.” In actuality, what we are dealing with are FEMA internment camps. HR 645 states that the camps can be used to “meet other appropriate needs, as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security.”

There has been virtually no press coverage of HR 645.

These “civilian facilities” on US military bases are to be established in cooperation with the US Military. Modeled on Guantanamo, what we are dealing with is the militarization of FEMA internment facilities.

Once a person is arrested and interned in a FEMA camp located on a military base, that person would in all likelihood, under a national emergency, fall under the de facto jurisdiction of the Military: civilian justice and law enforcement including habeas corpus would no longer apply.

HR 645 bears a direct relationship to the economic crisis and the likelihood of mass protests across America. It constitutes a further move to militarize civilian law enforcement, repealing the Posse Comitatus Act.

In the words of  Rep. Ron Paul:

“…the fusion centers, militarized police, surveillance cameras and a domestic military command is not enough… Even though we know that detention facilities are already in place, they now want to legalize the construction of FEMA camps on military installations using the ever popular excuse that the facilities are for the purposes of a national emergency. With the phony debt-based economy getting worse and worse by the day, the possibility of civil unrest is becoming a greater threat to the establishment. One need only look at Iceland, Greece and other nations for what might happen in the United States next.” (Daily Paul, September 2008, emphasis added)

The proposed internment camps should be seen in relation to the broader process of militarization of civilian institutions. The construction of internment camps predates the introduction of HR 645 (Establishment of Emergency Centers) in January 2009. There are, according to various (unconfirmed) reports, some 800 FEMA prison camps in different regions of the U.S. Moreover, since the 1980s, the US military has developed “tactics, techniques and procedures” to suppress civilian dissent, to be used in the eventuality of mass protests (United States Army Field Manual 19-15 under Operation Garden Plot, entitled “Civil Disturbances” was issued in 1985)

Continue reading »

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Mar 19

Sen. Jay Rockefeller alarmed technology and telecommunications firms last year when he announced a plan for the president to seize “emergency” control of the Internet. Now the West Virginia Democrat is trying again with a new version that aides hope will be seen as less extreme.

During a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill on Wednesday attended by about a dozen industry representatives, CNET has learned, Rockefeller’s staff pitched a revised version of his controversial cybersecurity legislation.

It says that after the president chooses to “declare a cybersecurity emergency,” he can activate a “response and restoration plan” involving networks owned and operated by the private sector. In an attempt to limit criticism, instead of spelling out the plan’s details, the latest draft simply says that it must be developed by the White House in advance.

There is no requirement that the emergency response plan be made public, meaning it could still include a forcible disconnection of critical Web sites from the Internet–which is what the March 2009 version of the legislation had proposed. Continue reading »

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Mar 19

Here’s Why Putting The Fed In Charge Of Regulation Is A Joke (The Business Insider)


ben-bernanke

In the footnotes of a speech U.S. Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke would have given to the House Financial Services Committee on Feb. 10, lies a unique and startling disclosure.

Hosted on the Federal Reserve’s own servers, the written testimony of the bank’s chairman explains in plain text what expanding the Fed’s powers will do.

“The Federal Reserve believes it is possible that, ultimately, its operating framework will allow the elimination of minimum reserve requirements, which impose costs and distortions on the banking system,” footnote number nine, at the bottom of the page, explains without additional qualification. Continue reading »

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Mar 19

Latvia’s coalition government has collapsed after failing to tackle a crippling economic crisis.

PD*29254949
Banks had been braced for Latvia’s government to collapse

The People’s Party, the largest group in a five-party coalition, walked out amid disputes over how to cope with the country’s severe problems.

Unemployment has now hit 20 per cent and the economy contracted by 18 per cent last year.

The People’s Party quit after its action plan failed to get the backing of Valdis Dombrovskis, the Latvian prime minister, who labelled it “populist”. Continue reading »

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Mar 19

See also:

Timmy-Gate: Did Geithner Help Hide Lehman’s Fraud? (Prof. L. Randall Wray)

Dylan Ratigan & Eliot Spitzer on The Lehman Brothers Report (MSNBC)

Report: JPMorgan, Citigroup helped trigger Lehman collapse (Telegraph)

Lehman bosses used accountancy gimmick to cover up debt (Times)

EXPLOSIVE: Lehman Corruption – Where Are The Cops? (Market Ticker)


March 18 (Bloomberg) — Ernst & Young LLP, the Big Four auditor that failed to keep Lehman Brothers from misleading investors about its financial condition, still can’t get its facts straight.

Last week, after Lehman’s bankruptcy examiner accused E&Y of malpractice in a report on the investment bank’s collapse, the accounting firm issued a brief statement standing by its audit work and offering up its best defense.

“After an exhaustive investigation, the examiner made no findings in his report that Lehman’s assets or liabilities were improperly valued or accounted for incorrectly in Lehman’s November 30, 2007, financial statements,” E&Y said, referring to the last fiscal year for which it performed a full-fledged audit of Lehman’s books.

Part of that statement is a half-truth. The other part stretches the truth past the breaking point.

It’s true the examiner, Anton Valukas, didn’t find that Lehman’s assets or liabilities were improperly valued at the end of 2007. One thing E&Y left out: Valukas did find evidence that Lehman used unreasonable asset values for the first and second quarters of 2008, including one investment he said was overvalued by as much as $500 million.

E&Y issued signed opinion letters for both quarters. Those letters, which Lehman disclosed in its financial filings, said the firm had reviewed Lehman’s financial statements and found nothing wrong.

‘False and Misleading’ Continue reading »

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Mar 19

jellyfish_immortal

The turritopsis nutricula species of jellyfish may be the only animal in the world to have truly discovered the fountain of youth.

Since it is capable of cycling from a mature adult stage to an immature polyp stage and back again, there may be no natural limit to its life span. Scientists say the hydrozoan jellyfish is the only known animal that can repeatedly turn back the hands of time and revert to its polyp state (its first stage of life).

The key lies in a process called transdifferentiation, where one type of cell is transformed into another type of cell. Some animals can undergo limited transdifferentiation and regenerate organs, such as salamanders, which can regrow limbs. Turritopsi nutricula, on the other hand, can regenerate its entire body over and over again. Researchers are studying the jellyfish to discover how it is able to reverse its aging process. Continue reading »

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Mar 18

national-id-papers-please


Added: 17th Mar 10

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Mar 18

Embattled Governor: $1.5 Billion In School Aid Next To Be Halted

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Gov. David A. Paterson

NEW YORK (CBS) ― For hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, the check won’t be in the mail — at least not on time. New York State has stopped paying tax refunds and won’t start again until next month.

The tax refund delay is part of a bigger cash crunch.

Message to New Yorkers: don’t start spending your tax refund money because it’s going to be delayed.

Half a billion dollars’ worth of refund checks were put on hold last Friday, and state beancounters won’t start sending you your money until at least April 1.

“I apologize that we had to do this. I hope it serves notice on the public of how serious our financial situation is,” Gov. David Paterson said.

Several hundred thousand New York taxpayers will be affected with most getting an average refund of $1,000. People who filed in late February and early March might have to wait as long as six weeks till the checks are in the mail.

The governor said the move was unavoidable. He’s also planning to withhold $1.5 billion in school payments and aid to local governments. Continue reading »

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Mar 18

Bank of England warns families to expect fall in living standards (Telegraph):

Families have been warned by the Bank of England to expect an effective pay cut in the coming months because of the economic climate.

And the Bank of England banksters should know what they are talking about, because with their quantitative easing (= creating money out of thin air = printing money = increasing the money supply = creating inflation.) policy they are destroying the pound!

Inflation is a hidden tax on monetary assets.

“By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.”
– John Maynard Keynes

See also:

Europe’s Top Banks Brace For UK Debt Crisis And Sterling Debacle


Four million expats want to come home as savings and income plunge along with the pound

the-rising-cost-of-living-abroad

Almost 4million Brits living abroad are planning a mass return to home shores after seeing their savings and income stripped by the plunging values of the pound and their property.

The dramatic slump has slashed their income by a third and has turned Brits into the paupers of Europe.

Fears over job security and falling property prices are also giving expats second thoughts, according to research from foreign exchange specialist Moneycorp.

Some 845,000 Brits living in Spain and France have suffered an 8 per cent drop in house prices in the year to August 2009 alone. This wiped €30,000 off the average property on the Costa del Sol.

Sterling has slumped from over €1.50 to £1 in January 2007 to close to parity, taking a terrible toll on the estimated 5.5million British expats, and particularly the 1.1million pensioners living abroad. Moneycorp research shows that 70 per cent of all expats are now considering returning to the UK. Continue reading »

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Mar 18

‘Truth is treason in the empire of lies’
‘Let the revolution begin!’

– Ron Paul

So WikiLeaks must have done everything right.


Pentagon Sees a Threat From Online Muckrakers

the-pentagon-000

To the list of the enemies threatening the security of the United States, the Pentagon has added WikiLeaks.org, a tiny online source of information and documents that governments and corporations around the world would prefer to keep secret.

The Pentagon assessed the danger WikiLeaks.org posed to the Army in a report marked “unauthorized disclosure subject to criminal sanctions.” It concluded that “WikiLeaks.org represents a potential force protection, counterintelligence, OPSEC and INFOSEC threat to the U.S. Army” — or, in plain English, a threat to Army operations and information.

WikiLeaks, true to its mission to publish materials that expose secrets of all kinds, published the 2008 Pentagon report about itself on Monday.

Lt. Col. Lee Packnett, an Army spokesman, confirmed that the report was real. Julian Assange, the editor of WikiLeaks, said the concerns the report raised were hypothetical.

“It did not point to anything that has actually happened as a result of the release,” Mr. Assange said. “It contains the analyst’s best guesses as to how the information could be used to harm the Army but no concrete examples of any real harm being done.”

WikiLeaks, a nonprofit organization, has rankled governments and companies around the world with its publication of materials intended to be kept secret. For instance, the Army’s report says that in 2008, access to the Web site in the United States was cut off by court order after Bank Julius Baer, a Swiss financial institution, sued it for publishing documents implicating Baer in money laundering, grand larceny and tax evasion. Access was restored after two weeks, when the bank dropped its case.

Governments, including those of North Korea and Thailand, also have tried to prevent access to the site and complained about its release of materials critical of their governments and policies.

The Army’s interest in WikiLeaks appears to have been spurred by, among other things, its publication and analysis of classified and unclassified Army documents containing information about military equipment, units, operations and “nearly the entire order of battle” for American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan in April 2007.

WikiLeaks also published an outdated, unclassified copy of the “standard operating procedures” at the military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. WikiLeaks said the document revealed methods by which the military prevented prisoners from meeting with the International Red Cross and the use of “extreme psychological stress” as a means of torture. Continue reading »

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Mar 18

House Health Care Bill Includes 3.8% Medicare Tax on Investment Income:

The House Health Care bill unveiled today includes a 3.8% Medicare tax on investment income (interest, dividends, capital gains, annuities, rents) earned by those with incomes in excess of $200,000 (single) and $250,000 (joint).

March 18, 2010

WSJ: Obama’s ‘Sneaky’ New Tax on Investments:

Wall Street Journal editorial, Obama’s New Investment Tax: A Sneaky Medicare Levy on Dividends and Capital Gains:

The White House’s new health-care proposal promises the “largest middle class tax cut for health care in history,” which is a creative way of describing a vast taxpayer-subsidized insurance entitlement. Naturally, the fine print goes on to describe one of the largest tax increases for health care in history, too.

This new ObamaCare bargain would for the first time apply the 2.9% Medicare payroll tax to “interest, dividends, annuities, royalties and rents,” so-called passive income that we are told includes capital gains, though the latter wasn’t explicitly mentioned in the proposal. This antigrowth investment tax would apply to singles earning more than $200,000 and joint filers over $250,000 and comes on top of the Senate’s 0.9-percentage-point increase in the payroll tax, which would bring the combined employee-employer share to 3.8%.

The rate hike on investment income would presumably take effect at the same time the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts are due to expire next year, bringing the top rate to 22.9% as the current top capital gains rate would also rise to 20% from 15%. That’s a 52% jump, and the last time investors were slammed with anything comparable was 1986 when the capital gains rate bounced to 28% from 20%—or a 40% increase—as part of the Reagan tax reform that reduced income tax rates. …

If Americans need another reason to oppose ObamaCare, or more evidence of its destructiveness, here it is. Continue reading »

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Mar 18

ramos-lopez
Police say Ramos-Lopez, fired from a Texas auto dealership, went online for revenge as part of a “harmless prank.”

More than 100 drivers in Austin, Texas found their cars disabled or the horns honking out of control, after an intruder ran amok in a web-based vehicle-immobilization system normally used to get the attention of consumers delinquent in their auto payments.

Police with Austin’s High Tech Crime Unit on Wednesday arrested 20-year-old Omar Ramos-Lopez, a former Texas Auto Center employee who was laid off last month, and allegedly sought revenge by bricking the cars sold from the dealership’s four Austin-area lots.

“We initially dismissed it as mechanical failure,” says Texas Auto Center manager Martin Garcia. “We started having a rash of up to a hundred customers at one time complaining. Some customers complained of the horns going off in the middle of the night. The only option they had was to remove the battery.”

The dealership used a system called Webtech Plus as an alternative to repossessing vehicles that haven’t been paid for. Operated by Cleveland-based Pay Technologies, the system lets car dealers install a small black box under vehicle dashboards that responds to commands issued through a central website, and relayed over a wireless pager network. The dealer can disable a car’s ignition system, or trigger the horn to begin honking, as a reminder that a payment is due. The system will not stop a running vehicle. Continue reading »

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Mar 18

See also:

Rep. Dennis Kucinich willing to cast the vote that kills health reform

Rep. Dennis Kucinich: Health reform legislation ‘a bailout for insurance companies’

Dennis Kucinich has probably been told that the USS Titanic will sink very fast, if the health care bill is not passed NOW.

Have they put a gun to his head?

Dennis Kucinich is off my very short list of righteous congressmen.

More signs that health care bill is desperately needed to slow the sinking of the USS Titanic:

US healthcare bill to cut deficit, CBO says (Reuters)

Why has CNN removed this video?

Health care bill will cut deficit, Nancy Pelosi says. (CNN)

The healthcare bill cuts the deficit? Sounds like a tax increase, doesn’t it?:

Obamacare Tax Hikes


“This is not the bill I wanted to support.”


Added: 17. März 2010

More on Obamacare:

Continue reading »

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Mar 18

Reports of settlement overseen by bishop of Derry adds to abuse scandals surrounding Catholic churches in Europe

The Catholic church in Ireland was today embroiled in another child abuse scandal after allegations that a victim was paid to keep quiet in a deal overseen by the bishop of Derry.

Bishop Seamus Hegarty was named as a party in a confidential civil settlement after a woman claimed she was abused by a priest for more than a decade, according to a report in today’s Belfast Telegraph. According to the newspaper, the claim was settled without admission of liability but with a payment of £12,000 to the alleged victim. The settlement between the archdiocese of Derry and the woman, who was eight when the abuse began, reportedly contained a confidentiality clause preventing her from discussing the case.

See also:

Catholic Church Child Abuse: Nuns Now Also Accused (Radio Netherlands Worldwide)

Church: Pope Had Role in Moving Molesting Priest (Bloomberg)

Pope knew priest was paedophile but allowed him to continue with ministry (Times)

Pope will struggle to survive abuse scandal (Irish Independent)

Benedict’s involvement ’shows extent of cover-ups’ (Irish Independent)

Sinead O’Connor: I’d help Jesus to burn down the Vatican (Irish Independent)

RIGHTS-GERMANY: ‘Catholic Church Protects Paedophile Priests’ (IPS)

Child abuse claims sweep Catholic Church in Europe (AP)

Her ordeal allegedly began in 1979 and lasted for a decade before she revealed at her 18th birthday party that she had been repeatedly abused by the priest.

The allegation came as further developments in similar abuse scandals in Germany and Austria compounded the woes of Pope Benedict XVI. In Germany, the archbishop of Munich, Reinhard Marx, said Catholic bishops in Benedict’s home state of Bavaria felt “deep consternation and shame” at the reports of abuse. Continue reading »

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Mar 18

See also:

Banksters Bet Greece Defaults on Debt They Helped Hide

Greek Debt Crisis: How Goldman Sachs Helped Greece to Mask its True Debt

Greece: 2009 Budget Deficit Was Just Revised From 12.2% To 16% Of GDP!

The CDS Puppetmaster Behind It All And The Ever Increasing Parallels Between AIG And Greece

The people will have to pay the bill …

… and the elite that controls the banksters, the governments, the media and the central banks always gains more money, power and control.


george-papandreou1

George Papandreou, Greece’s prime minister, gestures during a press briefing at the European Union Parliament headquarters in Brussels, on March 18, 2010. Photographer: Jock Fistick/Bloomberg

March 18 (Bloomberg) — Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou set a one-week deadline for the European Union to craft a financial aid mechanism for Greece, challenging Germany to give up its doubts about a rescue package.

Papandreou said he may turn to the International Monetary Fund to overcome Greece’s debt crisis unless leaders agree to set up a lending facility at a summit March 25-26. The IMF option has already been dismissed by European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who say it would show the EU can’t solve its own crises.

“It’s an opportunity to make a decision next week at the summit,’’ Papandreou told reporters in Brussels today. “This is an opportunity we should not miss. When you have that instrument in place, that could be enough to tell the markets hands off, no speculation, let this country do what it’s doing.” Continue reading »

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Mar 18

Digital Economy Bill: From BBC Democracy Live

Legislation to tackle internet piracy, including bans for illegal file-sharers, has been passed by the Lords.

The Digital Economy Bill is now expected to be rushed through the Commons before the general election.

Peers had earlier rejected a bid by ministers to include wide-ranging powers over future online piracy law.

But despite criticism, the government said it was still committed to giving courts the power to block websites which are infringing copyright.

The bill, put forward by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, has been welcomed by the music industry because it includes plans to suspend the internet accounts of people who persistently download material illegally. Continue reading »

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Mar 17

‘Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren,” Obama said in a 2006 floor speech that preceded a Senate vote to extend the debt limit. “America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership.’

Exactly right!


barack-obama

The latest posting from the Treasury Department shows the National Debt has increased over $2 trillion since President Obama took office.

The debt now stands at $12.6 trillion. On the day Mr. Obama took office it was $10.6 trillion.

President George W. Bush still holds the record for the most debt run up on his watch: $4.9 trillion. But it took him over four years to rack up the first two trillion dollars in debt. It has taken Mr. Obama 421 days.

But the Obama Administration routinely blames the Bush Administration for inheriting a budget surplus and turning it into years of record-breaking deficits and debt — and then leaving it on the doorstep of the new president. Continue reading »

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Mar 17

irs1 facebook

Electronic Frontier Foundation, EFF Posts Documents Detailing Law Enforcement Collection of Data From Social Media Sites:

EFF has posted documents shedding light on how law enforcement agencies use social networking sites to gather information in investigations. The records, obtained from the IRS and DOJ Criminal Division, are the first in a series of documents that will be released through a FOIA case that EFF filed with the help of the UC Berkeley Samuelson Clinic.

One of the most interesting files is a 2009 training course that describes how IRS employees may use various Internet tools — including social networking sites and Google Street View — to investigate taxpayers.

The IRS should be commended for its detailed training that clearly prohibits employees from using deception or fake social networking accounts to obtain information. Its policies generally limit employees to using publicly available information. …

The documents released by the IRS also include excerpts from the Internal Revenue Manual explaining that employees aren’t allowed to use government computers to access social networking sites for personal communication, and cautioning them to be careful to avoid any appearance that they’re speaking on behalf of the IRS when making personal use of social media.

Continue reading »

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Mar 17

big_pharma_drugs_money

Who is Patrick McGorry and what does he promote?  He’s a psychiatrist just named Australian of the Year for his work in “youth mental health reform.”  What does that reform consist of?  What he calls a “new form of climate change.” It sure is.

[See TIME Magazine Article “Drugs Before Diagnosis?”]

He not only promotes youths being put on antipsychotics and antidepressants, cited by international drug regulatory agencies as causing hallucinations, hostility, personality change, life-threatening diabetes, strokes, suicide and death, McGorry goes a giant step further-drug them before they’ve even developed a “psychiatric” disorder.

The Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs (AHRPP) likens such concepts to “performing mastectomies on women who are at risk of-but do not have-breast cancer.”[i]

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has expressed “serious concerns” about child drugging and Senate investigations in the United States have found high profile psychiatrists who were pharmaceutically funded and using fraudulent research being among the heaviest promoters of psychiatric drug use on children. While the rest of the world is experiencing serious alarm at the rampant use of deadly psychiatric drugs on children, McGorry pushes full steam ahead to increase the amount of children being needlessly subjected to psychiatry’s most powerful drugs-antidepressants and antipsychotics.

His theory and practices are so controversial that even his colleagues in the United States have backed away from it.  And a parallel study done in the United States based on the same theory that McGorry uses was considered an abject failure-even by the investigators themselves.  Other psychiatrists have criticized McGorry’s pre-drugging practice as unethical and harmful to adolescents.  More on that later.

This is especially so as the “symptoms” McGorry and cohorts invented to “pre-label” youths as potential candidates for psychosis and “schizophrenia” (to start with) are, according to one U.S. psychiatrist, “remarkably common…adolescence is a period of life that is normally marked by tumultuous changes in personality.”

And what was the first thing he did to capitalize on his winning his “Australian of the Year” award?  He demanded the Australian government hand over another $200 million to fund more of his centers where he can drug more children.  Worse, the government is entertaining the idea. Continue reading »

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Mar 17
US Foreign Holdings

WASHINGTON (AP) — China retained its spot as the biggest foreign holder of U.S. Treasury debt in January even as it trimmed its holdings for a third straight month. The string of declines underscored worries that the U.S. government could face much higher interest rates to finance soaring budget deficits.

The Treasury Department said Monday that China’s holdings dipped by $5.8 billion to $889 billion in January compared with December. Japan, the second-largest foreign holder of U.S. government debt, also trimmed its holdings but by a much smaller $300 million, to $765.4 billion. Continue reading »

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Mar 17

fluoride

Fluoride is the main ingredient in rat poison and Prozac. It is also used in Sarin nerve gas. It must be safe!

Hitler and Stalin used it in the concentration camps and gulags.

Fluoride also uncouples the frontal lobe from the rest of the brain, destroys the pineal gland and creates cancer.

(As a sidenote: Fluorine is the most reactive element on planet earth.)

Fluoride is not added to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride in the amounts you and especially children are exposed to every day with fluoridated water destroys slowly & totally the entire bone structure of the human body.

See also:

California Begins Poisoning Millions with Toxic Synthetic Fluoride Chemicals

Health Professionals Call for End to Water Fluoridation
Over 1,600 Professionals Call for an End to Fluoridation of Drinking Water

Professional Perspectives: Fluoride in Tap Water

You really should be very happy, if they pull fluoride from the water supply.


Chinese Fluoride In Mass. Water Raises Concern

Team 5 Investigates After Amesbury Pulls Sodium Fluoride From Water Supply

fluoridation

AMESBURY, Mass. — Fluoride is added to the water most of us drink because the government believes it’s a safe and inexpensive way to prevent tooth decay.

However, Team 5 Investigates found the Amesbury Water Department pulled fluoride from its system amid concerns about its supply from China.

Department of Public Works Director Rob Desmarais said after he mixes the white powder with water, 40 percent of it will not dissolve.

“I don’t know what it is,” Desmarais said. “It’s not soluble, and it doesn’t appear to be sodium fluoride. So we are not quite sure what it is.”

Desmarais said the residue clogs his machines and makes it difficult to get a consistent level of fluoride in the town’s water.

Since April the fluoride pumps in Amesbury have been turned off and they will stay that way until Desmarais can find out what’s in the fluoride that’s imported from China.

Both state and federal health officials told Team 5 Investigates that Chinese fluoride is safe.

The Department of Public Health said it believes that more than 650,000 customers in 44 Massachusetts communities are getting the flouride in question and only Amesbury has temporarily stopped using it.

However, they were unable to say with certainty which of the other 43 communities are actually using the sodium fluoride from China in its water. Continue reading »

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Mar 17

Insider manipulation to manipulate public opinion.


We noticed this earlier, but didn’t quite process it.

The opening trade on the Intrade healthcare market this morning was around 35, well below what the bid/ask are at (around 50).

As a reader points out, someone obviously attempted a MAJOR selling attack today, to shift the sentiment — and we actually buy this, since even now CNBC is quoting the contract during the day. Right now the bid is back above 50, but if you want evidence that there’s manipulation

obamacare

Print Joe Weisenthal | Mar. 17, 2010, 9:21 AM

Source: The Business Insider

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Mar 17

russian-blogger-alexander-malyutin
Russian blogger Alexander Malyutin as he speaks in his office in Moscow in 2009

MOSCOW — It started with a golden bed and African drummers and led to Russia’s latest, surprising, political duel pitting tenacious bloggers against bureaucrats whose excesses went a step too far.

Russians typically shrug their shoulders at the lavish lifestyles of government officials, assuming nothing can be done about bureaucrats who take bribes and pocket state funds.

But when Russia’s interior ministry announced plans to buy a golden bed, it raised an outcry — and revealed the potential of the Internet for stirring up outrage against entrenched corruption.

While the docile, state-dominated media looks the other way, a small but determined group of Russian bloggers is challenging corrupt bureaucrats, rallying public opinion and goading prosecutors into action.

Their blogs have attracted unanticipated popularity, reflecting deep-seated anger at the high-handed behavior of officials in Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s government.

“I didn’t expect the blog to become so popular,” said Alexander Malyutin, who runs a blog devoted to exposing suspicious government tenders, including the interior ministry’s infamous golden bed purchase.

Last August, the ministry announced plans to buy 24 million rubles (800,000 dollars) worth of furniture, including a bed “covered with a thin layer of 24-carat gold,” according to the official tender documents.

The documents were posted deep within a website where all the government’s purchases must be published, under a law passed in 2005 during one of the Kremlin’s periodic efforts to root out corruption.

After bloggers and journalists exposed the plans, the ministry defended itself from ridicule by saying the bed was needed for a special VIP guesthouse in Moscow where it hosts foreign officials. Continue reading »

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Mar 16

See also:

Nancy Pelosi: ‘But we have to pass the health care bill, so that you can find out what is in it.’

It’s getting better every day. Who needs Congress anyway?


nancy_pelosi
Nancy Pelosi

(Washington Post) — After laying the groundwork for a decisive vote this week on the Senate’s health-care bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Monday that she might attempt to pass the measure without having members vote on it.

Instead, Pelosi (D-Calif.) would rely on a procedural sleight of hand: The House would vote on a more popular package of fixes to the Senate bill; under the House rule for that vote, passage would signify that lawmakers “deem” the health-care bill to be passed.

The tactic — known as a “self-executing rule” or a “deem and pass” — has been commonly used, although never to pass legislation as momentous as the $875 billion health-care bill. It is one of three options that Pelosi said she is considering for a late-week House vote, but she added that she prefers it because it would politically protect lawmakers who are reluctant to publicly support the measure.

“It’s more insider and process-oriented than most people want to know,” the speaker said in a roundtable discussion with bloggers Monday. “But I like it,” she said, “because people don’t have to vote on the Senate bill.”

Republicans quickly condemned the strategy, framing it as an effort to avoid responsibility for passing the legislation, and some suggested that Pelosi’s plan would be unconstitutional.

“It’s very painful and troubling to see the gymnastics through which they are going to avoid accountability,” Rep. David Dreier (Calif.), the senior Republican on the House Rules Committee, told reporters. “And I hope very much that, at the end of the day, that if we are going to have a vote, we will have a clean up-or-down vote that will allow the American people to see who is supporting this Senate bill and who is not supporting this Senate bill.” Continue reading »

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Mar 16

Chossudovsky: US will start WW3 by attacking Iran

“Preventive war was an invention of Hitler. Frankly, I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing.”
– Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Allow the president to invade a (neighboring) nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose – and you allow him to make war at pleasure. “
– Abraham Lincoln

Any attack on Iran will start WW III. I told you before that it is the plan of the elite to start WW III.


Final destination Iran?

Exclusive: Rob Edwards – The Sunday Herald

“They are gearing up totally for the destruction of Iran,” said Dan Plesch, director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at the University of London, co-author of a recent study on US preparations for an attack on Iran. “US bombers are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours,” he added.

Hundreds of powerful US “bunker-buster” bombs are being shipped from California to the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean in preparation for a possible attack on Iran.

The Sunday Herald can reveal that the US government signed a contract in January to transport 10 ammunition containers to the island. According to a cargo manifest from the US navy, this included 387 “Blu” bombs used for blasting hardened or underground structures.

Experts say that they are being put in place for an assault on Iran’s controversial nuclear facilities. There has long been speculation that the US military is preparing for such an attack, should diplomacy fail to persuade Iran not to make nuclear weapons.

Although Diego Garcia is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, it is used by the US as a military base under an agreement made in 1971. The agreement led to 2,000 native islanders being forcibly evicted to the Seychelles and Mauritius.

The Sunday Herald reported in 2007 that stealth bomber hangers on the island were being equipped to take bunker-buster bombs.

Although the story was not confirmed at the time, the new evidence suggests that it was accurate.

Contract details for the shipment to Diego Garcia were posted on an international tenders’ website by the US navy.

A shipping company based in Florida, Superior Maritime Services, will be paid $699,500 to carry many thousands of military items from Concord, California, to Diego Garcia.

Crucially, the cargo includes 195 smart, guided, Blu-110 bombs and 192 massive 2000lb Blu-117 bombs.

“They are gearing up totally for the destruction of Iran,” said Dan Plesch, director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at the University of London, co-author of a recent study on US preparations for an attack on Iran. “US bombers are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours,” he added. Continue reading »

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Mar 16

Transparency we can believe in!


change-we-can-believe-in

One day after being sworn into office, President Barack Obama instructed federal agencies to ensure government transparency by complying with the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act law.

“All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher in a new era of open Government,” Obama wrote in a memo to federal agencies Jan. 21, 2009. “The presumption of disclosure should be applied to all decisions involving FOIA.”

“The presumption of disclosure also means that agencies should take affirmative steps to make information public,” the newly-installed president continued. “They should not wait for specific requests from the public. All agencies should use modern technology to inform citizens about what is known and down by their Government. Disclosure should be timely.”

One year later, Obama’s requests for transparency have apparently gone unheeded. In fact a provision in the Freedom of Information Act law that allows the government to hide records that detail its internal decision-making has been invoked by Obama agencies more often in the past year than during the final year of President George W. Bush.

Major agencies cited that exemption to refuse records at least 70,779 times during the 2009 budget year, compared with 47,395 times during President George W. Bush’s final full budget year, according to annual FOIA reports filed by federal agencies.

An Associated Press review of Freedom of Information Act reports filed by 17 major agencies found that the use of nearly every one of the law’s nine exemptions to withhold information from the public rose in fiscal year 2009, which ended last October. Continue reading »

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Mar 16

* Mole hunt mulled

It is claimed that leaked documents show the US Army felt sufficiently threatened by security breaches on Wikileaks that it considered ways it might wreck the site.

A 2008 report by the Army Counterintelligence Center, classified Secret, calls for a mole hunt and prosecutions to undermine potential sources’ trust in Wikileaks.

“Wikileaks.org uses trust as a center of gravity by assuring insiders, leakers, and whistleblowers who pass information to Wikileaks.org personnel or who post information to the Web site that they will remain anonymous,” the report said.

“The identification, exposure, or termination of employment of or legal actions against current or former insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers could damage or destroy this center of gravity and deter others from using Wikileaks.org to make such information public.”

None of the site’s sources have yet been publicly exposed, however. The site aims to guarantee their anonymity, and the counterintelligence assessment notes a “high level of sophistication in [staff’s] efforts to provide a secure operating environment for whistleblowers”.

The report is available in full, here (pdf), at Wikileaks.

The investigation appears to have been prompted by US Army leaks in 2007. Documents posted to Wikileaks included embarrassing internal reports on operations in Iraq, and equipment lists for Afganistan and Iraq. One report obtained by Wikileaks, on the 2004 US offensive on Fallujah, received particular attention from counterintelligence analysts.

“The leaked report could also provide foreign governments, terrorists, and insurgents with insight into successful asymmetric warfare tactics, techniques, and procedures that could be used when engaging US or Coalition forces,” they wrote. Continue reading »

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Mar 16

WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM ANNUAL MEETING 2010 DAVOS
DAVOS/SWITZERLAND – Eric Schmidt, Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Executive Officer, Google, USA; Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2010 talks during the session ‘Technology for Society’ at the Annual Meeting 2010 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 29, 2010 in the Congress Centre.

Power. Clean water. The Interstate highway system. It’s easy to forget that the advantages of modern American life result from basic infrastructure investments made by earlier generations.

Tomorrow the FCC will release a national broadband strategy. The plan will set goals for expanding broadband to unserved and under-served areas, promote greater speeds, and drive consumer demand. It will harness this communications technology to urgent national priorities, such as jobs, education, health, energy, and security. In short, the plan will lay the groundwork for investing in America’s future.

Yes, the Internet was invented in the United States. Yes, we once led the world in broadband development. But now, networks in many countries, from Western Europe to East Asia, are faster and more advanced than our own. Long after we recover from this recession, this broadband gap will be a dead weight on American businesses and workers, unless we act now. Continue reading »

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Mar 16

See also:

Dylan Ratigan & Eliot Spitzer on The Lehman Brothers Report


Timmy-Gate Takes a Turn For The Worse: Did Geithner Help Lehman Hide Accounting Tricks?

geithner-cfr
Timothy Geithner at the Council on Foreign Relations

By L. Randall Wray

L. Randall Wray, Ph.D. is Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Research Director with the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability and Senior Research Scholar at The Levy Economics Institute. His research expertise is in: financial instability, macroeconomics, and full employment policy.

Just when you thought that nothing could stink more than Timothy Geithner’s handling of the AIG bailout, a new report details how Geithner’s New York Fed allowed Lehman Brothers to use an accounting gimmick to hide debt. The report, which runs to 2200 pages, was released by Anton Valukas, the court-appointed examiner. It actually makes the AIG bailout look tame by comparison. It is now crystal clear why Geithner’s Treasury as well as Bernanke’s Fed refuse to allow any light to shine on the massive cover-up underway.

Recall that the New York Fed arranged for AIG to pay one hundred cents on the dollar on bad debts to its counterparties-benefiting Goldman Sachs and a handful of other favored Wall Street firms. (see here) The purported reason is that Geithner so feared any negative repercussions resulting from debt write-downs that he wanted Uncle Sam to make sure that Wall Street banks could not lose on bad bets. Now we find that Geithner’s NYFed supported Lehman’s efforts to conceal the extent of its problems. (see here) Not only did the NYFed fail to blow the whistle on flagrant accounting tricks, it also helped to hide Lehman’s illiquid assets on the Fed’s balance sheet to make its position look better. Note that the NY Fed had increased its supervision to the point that it was going over Lehman’s books daily; further, it continued to take trash off the books of Lehman right up to the bitter end, helping to perpetuate the fraud that was designed to maintain the pretense that Lehman was not massively insolvent. (see here)

Geithner told Congress that he has never been a regulator. (see here) That is a quite honest assessment of his job performance, although it is completely inaccurate as a description of his duties as President of the NYFed. Apparently, Geithner has never met an accounting gimmick that he does not like, if it appears to improve the reported finances of a Wall Street firm. We will leave to the side his own checkered past as a taxpayer, although one might question the wisdom of appointing someone who is apparently insufficiently skilled to file accurate tax returns to a position as our nation’s chief tax collector. What is far more troubling is that he now heads the Treasury – which means that he is not only responsible for managing two regulatory units (the FDIC and OCC), but also that he has got hold of the government’s purse strings. How many more billions or trillions will he commit to a futile effort to help Wall Street avoid its losses? Continue reading »

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Mar 16

Five lessons for would-be James Bonds and Bond girls — and the men and women who would resist them.

honey-trap

MI5 is worried about sex. In a 14-page document distributed last year to hundreds of British banks, businesses, and financial institutions, titled “The Threat from Chinese Espionage,” the famed British security service described a wide-ranging Chinese effort to blackmail Western businesspeople over sexual relationships. The document, as the London Times reported in January, explicitly warns that Chinese intelligence services are trying to cultivate “long-term relationships” and have been known to “exploit vulnerabilities such as sexual relationships … to pressurise individuals to co-operate with them.”

This latest report on Chinese corporate espionage tactics is only the most recent installment in a long and sordid history of spies and sex. For millennia, spymasters of all sorts have trained their spies to use the amorous arts to obtain secret information.

The trade name for this type of spying is the “honey trap.” And it turns out that both men and women are equally adept at setting one — and equally vulnerable to tumbling in. Spies use sex, intelligence, and the thrill of a secret life as bait. Cleverness, training, character, and patriotism are often no defense against a well-set honey trap. And as in normal life, no planning can take into account that a romance begun in deceit might actually turn into a genuine, passionate affair. In fact, when an East German honey trap was exposed in 1997, one of the women involved refused to believe she had been deceived, even when presented with the evidence. “No, that’s not true,” she insisted. “He really loved me.”

Those who aim to perfect the art of the honey trap in the future, as well as those who seek to insulate themselves, would do well to learn from honey trap history. Of course, there are far too many stories — too many dramas, too many rumpled bedsheets, rattled spouses, purloined letters, and ruined lives — to do that history justice here. Yet one could begin with five famous stories and the lessons they offer for honey-trappers, and honey-trappees, everywhere.

1. Don’t Follow That Girl

In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu, an Israeli technician who had worked in Israel’s Dimona nuclear facility, went to the British newspapers with his claim that Israel had developed atomic bombs. His statement was starkly at odds with Israel’s official policy of nuclear ambiguity — and he had photos to prove it.

The period of negotiation among the newspapers was tense, and at one point the London Sunday Times was keeping Vanunu hidden in a secret location in suburban London while it attempted to verify his story. But Vanunu got restless. He announced to his minders at the paper that he had met a young woman while visiting tourist attractions in London and that they were planning a romantic weekend in Rome.

The newspaper felt it had no right to prevent Vanunu from leaving. It was a huge mistake: Soon after arriving in Rome with his lady friend, Vanunu was seized by Mossad officers, forcibly drugged, and smuggled out of Italy by ship to Israel, where he was eventually put on trial for treason. Vanunu served 18 years in jail, 11 years of it in solitary confinement. Released in 2004, he is still confined to Israel under tight restrictions, which include not being allowed to meet with foreigners or talk about his experiences. Britain has never held an inquiry into the affair. Continue reading »

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Mar 15

A Pentagon official has been accused of hiring a secret network of private contractors to spy on militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan so they could be hunted and killed.

The employee is said to have paid firms using former members of the special forces and CIA under the cover of an innocuous government scheme to gather tribal and cultural information.

Their reports were then passed to military and intelligence units so they could kill militants and target insurgent camps, officials told The New York Times.

It was not clear if Michael D Furlong, the Pentagon official at the centre of the accusations, had approval for the scheme but officials said they had become alarmed he was running an off-the-books spy agency.

The network is alleged to have been blown when the CIA chief in Kabul personally complained to the US Defence Department.

His operation has now been shut down and he is subject to criminal investigation for offences including contract fraud.

One official said: “While no legitimate intelligence operations got screwed up, it’s generally a bad idea to have freelancers running around a war zone pretending to be James Bond.” Government officials alleged Mr Furlong could have improperly siphoned off funds from a scheme to supply commanders with information on the region’s tribes.

In 2008, he was put in charge of a £15m ($22m) budget to hire private contractors to glean political and tribal information for Nato commanders. Continue reading »

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Mar 15

Goldman Sachs Demands Collateral It Won’t Dish Out

lloyd-c-blankfein-chairman-and-chief-executive-officer-of-goldman-sachs
Lloyd C. Blankfein, chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., speaks during a session on day two of the World Economic Forum in Davos, on Jan. 24, 2008. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

March 15 (Bloomberg) — Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., two of the biggest traders of over-the- counter derivatives, are exploiting their growing clout in that market to secure cheap funding in addition to billions in revenue from the business.

Both New York-based banks are demanding unequal arrangements with hedge-fund firms, forcing them to post more cash collateral to offset risks on trades while putting up less on their own wagers. At the end of December this imbalance furnished Goldman Sachs with $110 billion, according to a filing. That’s money it can reinvest in higher-yielding assets.

“If you’re seen as a major player and you have a product that people can’t get elsewhere, you have the negotiating power,” said Richard Lindsey, a former director of market regulation at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission who ran the prime brokerage unit at Bear Stearns Cos. from 1999 to 2006. “Goldman and a handful of other banks are the places where people can get over-the-counter products today.” Continue reading »

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Mar 15

Metro Atlanta foreclosures set new monthly record (Atlanta Journal Constitution):

Metro Atlanta’s foreclosure problem keeps getting worse.

The number of foreclosure notices this month — 12,568 — set a new record for metro Atlanta, according to data just released by Equity Depot.

Foreclosure notices in the 13-county metro area jumped 22 percent when compared with February and 24 percent compared with March of last year, Alpharetta-based Equity Depot said.

This month’s number also is greater than the previous monthly record of 12,318 notices, set in September of last year.

Foreclosures are still on the Rise in Illinois (The Chicago 77):

Foreclosures in Illinois increased 22% in February, 2010. The high foreclosure rate can be attributed to the high unemployment rate and declining home prices. With the declining market many people are finding themselves underwater in their homes. Meaning . . . they owe more on their home than their home is worth.
….
Lucky for those that live in Illinois, the state had the lovely distinction of having 17,312 properties in foreclosure, which is the fourth-highest state nationwide. California ranked number one

Foreclosures: February ties November for highest number of foreclosure filings (Daily Press):

Foreclosure filings were reported on 134 properties in Hampton last month.

That’s roughly one for every 449 housing units, ranking it 12th highest among Virginia cities and counties for its foreclosure rate, according to RealtyTrac’s latest foreclosure report.

Across the Peninsula, foreclosure filings were reported on 361 properties. That’s ties November for the highest monthly number recorded.

February’s 361 filings are up 18 percent from January and up 57 percent from February 2009.

–  Connecticut Foreclosures Up 3 Percent in February (New York Times):

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A new report says the number of foreclosures in Connecticut increased 3.4 percent from January to February, despite a national decline.

Foreclosure tracking firm RealtyTrac Inc. released its monthly report Thursday. It says there were nearly 2,300 foreclosure filings in the state last month, compared with about 2,200 in January.

Total foreclosures nationwide decreased 2 percent from January to February, raising hopes that the housing crisis may be ending. RealtyTrac says more than 308,000 households nationwide, or one in every 418 homes, received a foreclosure-related notice in February.

Md. foreclosure filings skyrocket in February (Washington Examiner):

Prince George’s County saw nearly 1,800 foreclosure filings last month — about one-third of Maryland’s total — as state and federal officials scramble to find a solution to the unrelenting mortgage crisis.

Nine of the 10 Washington-area ZIP codes with the most foreclosure filings in February were in Prince George’s. The county’s filings increased 71 percent from last February, pushing Maryland to the 10th-worst rate in the country, according to the online foreclosure tracking company RealtyTrac.

Just a few years ago, Northern Virginia was ground zero for the foreclosure crisis; Prince William County had more than 6,500 actual foreclosures in 2008, according to data from the county’s assessments office. Over the past 16 months, though, the crisis has shifted from the Virginia suburbs to Maryland.

Foreclosure starts up nearly 20 percent in California (Central Valley Business Times):

After reaching the lowest level in a year in January, Notice of Defaults, the start of the foreclosure process, increased by 19.7 percent in February, according to a report Monday from ForeclosureRadar Inc., a Discovery Bay-based foreclosure information company that says it tracks every California foreclosure.

More than half of mortgaged homes in St. Lucie, Martin are ‘under water’ (Vero Beach Press-Journal):

More than half of mortgaged residential properties in St. Lucie and Martin counties are “under water,” a recent report by a company that tracks home sales, price trends and foreclosures shows.

The report by California-based First American CoreLogic found that 56 percent, or 62,696, of all residential properties with a mortgage in the Port St. Lucie Metropolitan Statistical Area were in a negative equity position for the fourth quarter of 2009. That’s more than double the national rate of 24 percent.

The Port St. Lucie Metropolitan Statistical Area encompasses St. Lucie and Martin counties. First American did not report similar data for Indian River County.

Another 3 percent, or 3,345, in the two-county area had equity of less than 5 percent.

Jacksonville mortgage delinquencies rise above 10% (Florida Times-Union):

The number of Jacksonville homeowners who have fallen behind on mortgage payments rose steadily over the past three years and today stands at more than 10 percent, according to a national credit monitoring company.

Mortgage delinquencies of 60 days or more were 2.2 percent at the end of 2006 – a figure that grew to 10.3 percent by the close of 2009, according to TransUnion LLC, a company that maintains credit histories on about 500 million people internationally.

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Mar 15

Georgian opposition denounces phony TV war report

Georgia Invasion Report Hoax
Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili speaks during his meeting with the residents of the Rachisubani settlement, some 50 km (31 miles) south-west of the capital Tbilisi, Sunday, March 14, 2010. Georgians have been panicked by a hoax television news program announcing the Russian army had invaded and killed President Mikhail Saakashvili. The private television station Imedi, Georgia’s third-most popular channel, showed the faux report on its Khronika news bulletin at 8 p.m. Saturday, a time when many of the country’s 4 million population would have been watching. (AP Photo/Irakly Gedenidze, Presidential Press Service, Pool)

TBILISI, Georgia — Georgia’s opposition politicians on Monday denounced the government over a hoax television broadcast that said Russia had invaded and the president had been killed.

The broadcast Saturday, which simulated a news program, sparked wide anxiety in Georgia, which is still traumatized by the August 2008 war in which Russian troops advanced deep into the country.

Cellular phone networks briefly went down as panicked Georgians phoned each other. The show was identified as fictional only at its beginning — which many viewers apparently missed — and its end 30 minutes later.

Imedi, the station that aired the show, is private, but its director is a former chief of staff for President Mikhail Saakashvili. Opponents characterized the broadcast as government propaganda, aimed at discrediting them.

By MISHA DZHINDZHIKHASHVILI
March 15, 2010

Full article: AP


Moscow irked by bogus TV report of Russian invasion

bogus-georgian-tv-report-of-russian-invasion

The fake news report aired on Georgian TV was a provocation aimed at jeopardizing regional stability and security, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday.

The Imedi TV channel sparked panic in Georgia on Saturday with a broadcast that said Russian tanks had invaded the capital and the country’s president was dead.

“The provocative TV show has caused tangible damage to security and stability in the region, significantly heightening the intensity of an already complex situation,” Andrei Nesterenko said.

He added that the move was “irresponsible and immoral” especially with regard to Georgian society where it “caused panic.”

The broadcast, which used the channel’s normal news graphics, began with a warning that the program showed a sequence of possible events that could occur “if Georgian society is not united against Russia’s plans.”

Imedi head Georgy Arveladze said on Monday that the special report was a warning against a possible danger.

“Our objective was not to scare society but to show the dangers facing our country,” he said.

He added that he assumed full responsibility for the report and apologized for its negative consequences. Continue reading »

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