Stop us when the flashbacks to September 11, and its Patriot Act aftermath, become too close for comfort.
As Reuters reported moments ago, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Thursday the government will expedite plans to give more powers of detention and surveillance to security agencies in the wake of an attack on Parliament.
“They need to be much strengthened, and I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that work which is already under way will be expedited,” he told the House of Commons, one day after a gunman launched an attack on Parliament and was shot dead.
On the other hand, instead of giving the government even more authoritarian power to do with civilian liberties as it sees fit and appropriate, perhaps the government’s agencies could have simply done their work better under the existing laws and regulations, especially after the Sky News report that the Ottawa shooter, Canadian born Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was already on a terror watch list. Continue reading »
“They came in and there were two guys” Honig said. “I asked one of them what size he needed and he showed me a badge and took me outside. They told me they were from Homeland Security and we were violating copyright laws.”
They placed the underwear in an official Homeland Security bag and had Honig sign a statement saying she wouldn’t use the logo.
Internet users who ‘threaten’ national security, by causing economic or environmental damage, could face a life sentence under new government plans to crack down on internet crime. Campaigners say the move will target whistleblowers.
The government proposal claims the laws are needed to deal with “catastrophic” cyber-attacks that “result in loss of life, serious illness and injury, or serious damage to national security, or a significant risk thereof.”
Proposals would update the existing Computer Misuse Act 1990, and would give judges the power to hand down harsher penalties on hackers. The laws would also incorporate internet users spying on the activities of UK businesses. Continue reading »
Dear Readers, I now have for you the complete English transcript of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s speech to the United Nations. Lavrov’s speech, together with President Putin’s remarks in his Serbian press conference (excerpts posted on this site) clearly indicate that the moral leader of the world is Russia, not Washington.
The US government’s debt is getting close to reaching another round number—$18 trillion. It currently stands at more than $17.9 trillion.
But what does that really mean? It’s such an abstract number that it’s hard to imagine it. Can you genuinely understand it beyond just being a ridiculously large number?
Just like humans find it really hard to comprehend the vastness of the universe. We know it’s huge, but what does that mean? It’s so many times greater than anything we know or have experienced. Continue reading »
Domestic workers across the UAE have been subjected to horrendous physical, verbal and sexual abuse or passport confiscation in the abuse of the kafala, or sponsorship, system according to a new report by Humans Right Watch.
HRW estimates that some 146,000 domestic female workers have arrived to the UAE from countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, India or Bangladesh. They come on promises of good working conditions, higher wages, and a chance to escape the poverty of their home countries.
However, the NGO heard complaints that workers are forced to labor excessive hours, or are even being subjected to physical violence or sexual abuse – while they cannot leave as employers confiscate their passports. Continue reading »
With the US Shale Oil industry up in arms, Venezuela screaming, and Russia awkwardly quiet (as the Ruble slides with the falling oil price stabilizing domestic inflows), the ‘secret’ Saudi-US oil deal that pressured prices for crude down to $80 (18-month lows today) has ‘hurt’ a lot of the world’s producer nations. However, as Bloomberg reports, there is one nation that is very grateful. The number of supertankers sailing toward China’s ports surged to a nine-month high as over 80 very large crude carriers (VLCCs) – the industry’s biggest ships – sail toward the Asian country’s ports. At an average of 2 million barrels each, the 160 million barrels will help refill China’s 727 million barrel SPR which it started in 2012.
There are 89 tankers sailing for Chinese ports, 80 of which are VLCCs – the highest since January 3rd.
Dear NSA Employees, You Now Have a Green Light to Loot and Pillage. It’s Time to Get Paid:
Are you just another one of those frustrated NSA employees who feels that unconstitutionally spying on your fellow citizenry under false pretenses isn’t giving you same thrill it once did? If so, have no fear.
Are you are sick and tired of having to spilt your precious working hours defending the destruction of our nation’s founding document to those pesky terroristic media dinosaurs who still think investigative journalism belongs in Amerika? If so, have I got a solution for you.
While it may sound too good to be true, trust me it’s not. You see, in recent years almost all crony-capitalist criminal activities have been deemed legal in the land of the free (to pillage). This incredible opportunity allows you to directly leverage your intelligence skill-set to earn the big bucks you know you’ve always deserved. You can now do just that by working in the private sector without having to give up that cushy government day job! I mean if we’re going to have this banana republic thing going we may as well GET PAID. Am I right?
Keep at it patriots, Michael Krieger
If the above sounds like a joke, unfortunately it is not. Last week, two very important stories came out; one from Reuters and the other from Buzzfeed. They both zero in on how current NSA employees are using their expertise and connections to make big money in the private sector while still working at the NSA. Let’s start with the Reuters story, which covers former NSA-head Keith Alexander’s business relationship with the NSA’s current Chief Technical Officer, Patrick Dowd. Continue reading »
TORONTO – In Quebec on Monday, two Canadian soldiers were hit by a car driven by Martin Couture-Rouleau, a 25-year-old Canadian who, as The Globe and Mail reported, “converted to Islam recently and called himself Ahmad Rouleau.” One of the soldiers died, as did Couture-Rouleau when he was shot by police upon apprehension after allegedly brandishing a large knife. Police speculated that the incident was deliberate, alleging the driver waited for two hours before hitting the soldiers, one of whom was wearing a uniform. The incident took place in the parking lot of a shopping mall 30 miles southeast of Montreal, “a few kilometres from the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean, the military academy operated by the Department of National Defence.” Continue reading »
“They know Baghdad. They’ve lived in Baghdad,” said Lt.Col Oliver North, warning over the weekend that sources in Iraq believed ISIS was planning a “major attack” against the embassy in Baghdad. Yesterday we get some confirmation – via ISIS – that they did in fact reportedly strike the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. As Inquisitr reports, on Tuesday the Islamist militant group took credit for a mortar attack against the embassy in Baghdad. The group bragged about the attack on social media, claiming that there were likely casualties – “Four rockets strike Green Zone in #Baghdad; helicopters hovering over the Green Zone; ambulances heading that way after strikes!!” one ISIS militant noted on Twitter. As North concludes, “They are at the gates of Baghdad. They’re coming for us.”
In North Carolina, managing the retirement savings of teachers, police officers, firefighters and other public employees is big business. As the sole fiduciary of the state’s $90 billion pension fund, Treasurer Cowell, a Democrat, was recently named the world’s 18th most important institutional investor by the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute. The State Employees Association of North Carolina (Seanc) estimates that North Carolina is on track to spend a billion dollars a year of retirees’ pension money on fees to private financial firms. Roughly half of all North Carolina pension deals involve placement agents, and Seanc estimates that has generated roughly $180 million in placement agent fees — costs that are effectively paid by the pension fund, according to critics.
Credit Suisse’s own internal regulations say the company aims to “establish a management organization that avoids the creation or appearance of conflicts of interests.” But the North Carolina agreement (the provisions of which were secret until Seanc’s open records request earlier this year) explicitly allows Credit Suisse to engage in “actual and potential conflicts of interest.” The agreement noted Credit Suisse could receive “placement fees” from the firms in which it invests North Carolina pension money.
– From David Sirota’s excellent piece in Investors Business Daily: Pension Deal Spotlights ‘Placement Agent’ Business, Raises Conflict-Of-Interest Questions
When it comes to how the U.S. economy of fraud functions in 2014, the following article has it all. A government official, a global investment bank and a businessman/politician, all working together to enrich themselves at the public’s expense. It demonstrates how big bucks are really earned by insiders in the new American Dream, characterized by extreme cronyism and corruption. Continue reading »
Grilled by reporters, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest addressed an order for a “surge” of immigration IDs of up to 9 million in one year, but said the move is no confirmation President Obama will issue a major executive amnesty after the election.
“I think those who are trying to read into those specific orders about what the president may decide are a little too cleverly trying to divine what the president’s ultimate conclusion might be,” he said.As reported by Breitbart News, USCIS is soliciting the materials to required to print green cards and employment permits of the type used to implement Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program. The draft solicitation says that in addition to a minimum order necessary to print 4 million such IDs per year, vendors must have the capacity to produce materials for a “surge” of 9 million IDs in 2016. Continue reading »
“When you’re out here filming the police for no reason you have to give us your ID.”
Tracy, CA — A video was uploaded to YouTube Tuesday which shows an infuriating interaction between a man practicing his first amendment right to film in public and arrogant SWAT officers. Continue reading »
THE SEANAD HAS passed a motion calling on the Irish Government to formally recognise the State of Palestine. Last week, 31 of the upper house’s 60 members signed the motion which was proposed by Fianna Fáil’s Averil Power. Fine Gael senators met to discuss their position on the motion yesterday and it was passed earlier today without a vote. Power said it was important that the international community “sends out a clear message of support for the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination” following a seven-week period of intense fighting in the Gaza region during the summer. Continue reading »
The Japanese Yen’s real effective exchange rate (REER) has collapsed to the weakest since 1982, according to Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities. Simply put, REER is a trade-weighted measure of Yen strength (or weakness) against, in this case, 59 trading partners; and as the nation posts an unprecedented 27th straight month of trade deficits [43rd straight month of Seasonally-adjusted trade deficits], Bloomberg reports MUFJ indicates “a structural shift” has taken place.
“So – in conclusion – The Fed admits it knew about the risks of JPMorgan’s London Whale in 2010 (2 years before the blow-up) and did nothing about it, and now, two years later, The Fed tells banks it will get serious…”
A year and a half I wrote an essay on how the US chooses to view Russia, titled The Image of the Enemy. I was living in Russia at the time, and, after observing the American anti-Russian rhetoric and the Russian reaction to it, I made some observations that seemed important at the time. It turns out that I managed to spot an important trend, but given the quick pace of developments since then, these observations are now woefully out of date, and so here is an update. Continue reading »
“The convoys have to be approved by ISIS and you have to pay them: The bribes are disguised and itemized as transportation costs,” says an aid coordinator who spoke to The Daily Beast on the condition he not be identified in this article. The kickbacks are either paid by foreign or local nongovernmental organizations tasked with distributing the aid, or by the Turkish or Syrian transportation companies contracted to deliver it.
The State Department official said he, too, was conflicted about the programs… “Are we helping indirectly the militants to build their caliphate? I wrestle with this.”
The Daily Beast has been at the forefront of exposing the bizarre emergence of the latest terror threat known as ISIS, which is being used to take away civil liberties at home, and fuel more chaos and destruction abroad. It was their work in June that first highlighted the fact that ISIS was and is being funded and supported by U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf. I commented on the absurdity of the situation in my piece, America’s Disastrous Foreign Policy – My Thoughts on Iraq, in which I noted: Continue reading »
While we strongly suspect few are truly surprised by this turn of events, it is still yet another embarrassing stamp in the “do nothing stupid” foreign policy passport for President Obama’s administration. As The Daily Beast reports, an ISIS-associated YouTube account posted a new video online Tuesday entitled, “Weapons and munitions dropped by American planes and landed in the areas controlled by the Islamic State in Kobani.”
While the authenticity of this latest video could not be independently confirmed, there is no doubt that the ISIS fighters in the clip are in possession of a rich bounty of American hand grenades, rounds for small rockets, and other supplies. The White House stated on CNN, “we feel very confident that, when we air drop support as we did into Kobani… we’ve been able to hit the target in terms of reaching the people we want to reach.” Perhaps not all of them… Continue reading »
The sickening transformation of these United States into an authoritarian police state with an incarceration rate that would make Joseph Stalin blush, has been a key theme of my writing since well before the launch of Liberty Blitzkrieg. One of the posts that shocked and disturbed readers most, was published a little over a year ago titled:American Police Make an Arrest Every 2 Seconds in 2012. In the event you never read it, I suggest taking a look before tackling the rest of this piece.
Fast forward to fall 2014, and the Wall Street Journalhas a powerful article about how children in schools systems across the U.S. are being arrested or turned over to police custody for doing things that children have always done since the beginning of time. Things such as wearing too much perfume, sharing a classmates’ chicken nuggets, throwing an eraser or chewing gum.
As a result of our insane societal obsession with authority and disproportionate punishment, the WSJ reports that “nearly one out of every three American adults are on file in the FBI’s master criminal database.” Continue reading »
On the heels of Sweden’s military deployment (following the discovery of a damaged Russian sub), it appears Russia is taking no chances with its access to Arctic resources.As Reuters reports, the Russian defense minister announced today that Russian military units will be deployed along the entire Arctic border from Murmansk to Chukotka in 2014. Interfax adds that combat robots are also being deployed to protect Russian oil and gas infrastructure in the harsh environment of the Arctic. This should be no surprise as The Guardian notes, the Arctic’s hydrocarbon resources nevertheless exert a powerful pull. It has been compared to “a second Middle East”, with oil and gas reserves thought to represent 17% and 30%, respectively, of the global total.
Despite Washington spending $7.6 billion on counter-narcotic initiatives in Afghanistan, 2013 witnessed a record surge in the amount of opium poppy cultivation, according to the US inspector general for Afghan reconstruction.
The Central Asian country cultivated a record 209,000 hectares (516,000 acres) of opium poppy in 2013, beating the previous highest level of 193,000 hectares (477,000 acres) in 2007, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Battle-hardened Afghanistan produces more than 80 percent of the world’s opium. Continue reading »
Veteran Washington journalists and reporters, when they are being honest, will tell you that the current administration is the most political in modern history. Everything is about the proper messaging; optics are much more important, and policy is designed around perpetuating Democratic power.
What I see as extremes that must necessarily end badly, others see as mere extensions of recently successful policies and trends.
A long-time reader recently chastised me for using too many maybe’s in my forecasts. The criticism is valid, as “on the other hand” slips all too easily from qualifying a position to rinsing it of meaning.
That said, given that we’re in uncharted waters, maybe’s become prudent and certainty becomes extremely dangerous. I have long held that the financial policy extremes that are now considered normal are unprecedented in the modern era: extremes in debt, leverage, risk, complexity and willful obfuscation of these extremes. Continue reading »
The Chinese government doesn’t just censor its internet. It actually pays people to leave fake comments that make the country – and its communist regime – look good.
After reading “Blocked on Weibo” by Chinese researcher Jason Q. Ng, we recently learned China’s version of Twitter, Sina Weibo, banned the phrase “50 cents.” It references China’s “50 Cent Party,” a group of ordinary citizens hired by the government to post internet comments spinning that day’s news in China’s favor. Continue reading »